I don’t always listen to what they say…do I?
I never listen or do what I am told I always seem to have my way of doing it. I’ve said this because its true. It is, honest. I am going to have to admit that if my gorgeous wife says “no, best not do it that way” I will sneakily just try it anyway. My self-discipline is shocking. Its naughty, I know, it’s a kids trick but having said that nine times out of ten no one suffers other than me. Elaine just smiles, shakes her head and life goes on. Thursday we went shopping and guess what?
“It happened again………….”
We were at the White Rose Shopping Centre as Elaine needed to do the thing every man hates; buy clothes. Electrical outlets are becoming few and far between here now so switching in to “Man Mode” and escaping into one of those is a non-starter; there is a shop called Menkind which caters for the average “Mr Gadget” but I draw the line at that. So, I am left with a number of options:
- Follow her around the shops looking like a lost sheep
- Wait outside the shop on the seats looking like I need assistance
- Sit with coffee (alone) looking like I’m single and allergic to alcohol
- Sit in the car and look like I’m waiting for someone to connect the hose pipe
- Browse for “Man things” …. like a man…..Yeah !
It was a no-brainer really. Option 5 it is. There was a sixth item on the list but as it wasn’t optional it was omitted at the last-minute for fear of reprisals. (In case you are wondering, the last item was to purchase a birthday card for Elaine and it wasn’t really optional, it was and still is compulsory). It would have been nice to think that as usual Elaine’s’ last words to me as she left were……..”I love you” but no, not this time. The normal words of “I love you” were now co-joined with words “Don’t sign anything” and a whole new equation came to the forefront. I do not have to justify myself here but you will see her side of it shortly as the last time this happened I ended up buying a Porsche……that was a joke by the way. It was an Aston Martin DB-9…..no, seriously you know what I mean.
I’m not going to ramble on like Ronnie Corbett telling the tale and diverting all over the place so I will get to the point. My mobile phone is up for renewal in four weeks and I am struggling to make a decision on which handset to upgrade to. I was falling in to the category of Iphone 5 or Samsung S3. But I was unsure, afterall Ive currently got an iphone and upgrading that seemed like a sideways move as opposed to something new. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I had wandered towards the O2 store only to find it closed for refurbishment, and this was still the case. My quest for a little “tinker” with some male gadgetry was shot down in flames as work was still undergoing. This left me looking like a lost schoolboy and as I stood scratching my head I had to think on my feet and weigh up my options on the pre-drafted list.
That is when I wandered off my planned route and headed towards another phone shop. It was like this invisible magnetic field drew me over to it, I can’t explain it really, it was weird. Anyway I stood in front of the window just gazing. I hadn’t been there long when an “official shop person/woman” came out and asked me if there was anything I needed, I had to really think about the answer for a few seconds as I was daydreaming. The window display obviously had trance like powers and I had slipped off in to Winterbourne land. I responded after a brief silence with “No, its okay I’m not ready to upgrade yet I’ve got a few weeks to wait”. Now that’s the right answer Mark, yaaay well done. My wife would be proud of me, I was proud of “Me” I had done it, I had stood up to my inner temptation and resisted the opportunity to have a play with a brand new shiny man-toy.
For the record, this is where it all went “Pete Tong“. Rule number two in the New Book of “Doing the Right Thing – A Guide for the Modern Man” is what? “After making the initial decision to suit all parties….walk away”. And the ficticious book has got it spot on too…..walk away power is good yeah? Right….err… this didn’t happen. What happened next was this……..on Thursday the 7th March at approximately 12:23 a mysterious force from another universe descended on the White Rose Centre . If you saw any strange lights or cigar-shaped UFO’s then this would back up my theory and explain my decision not to listen. Her words “No, that’s okay we can do your upgrade today, you don’t have to wait sir” are what initially caused the problem. The second part of the problem was that I made the mistake of all mistakes, I broke the golden rule of temptation and looked at her while she was talking to me. I made eye contact. Big mistake, huge, enormous, gargantuan even. I was drawn in by this strange unknown energy that forced me to walk through the shop doorway and sit down. I don’t remember doing it, it was like being in a time warp, totally out of my control I had been teleported forward in time and through a shop doorway. I was Mr Benn. Anway, no worries… I could explain all this when Elaine rang and then all would be ok. That was my story and I was sticking too it.
If I had believed what the “official shop person/woman” had said then I wouldn’t have entered the shop. I knew that I couldn’t upgrade the phone as O2 had specifically told me this a few weeks earlier. As I sat down she ploughed in to the same old sales routine of what phone did I have now, did I know what I wanted…you get the drift. Anyway, with every good deal comes a catch or a flaw. In the deal I was about to be offered I couldn’t find the flaw nor the catch for that matter. I tried to move matters on quite quickly for fear of getting caught in said shop. It was a bit like the scene from Love Actually where Alan Rickman is buying a necklace for his secretary whilst out shopping with his wife…he is just paranoid about getting caught and Rowan Atkinson who is serving him is insisting on doing everything by the book and even adding cinnamon sticks to the bag… except I was just browsing. After passing all my details to the “official shop person/woman” she handed me over to an assistant, now to be known as “official shop person/woman’s assistant”. I went on to explain that if what she said was true then I would have two contracts that needed renewing (thinking I might as well kill two birds with one stone and that way I might get a better deal as I could do Elaine’s too). Well, that was it… that was music to her ears. The deal was this, I would have to ring up O2 and state that I was an O2 customer in an O2 shop and I wanted an account settlement for an upgrade. Well, for starters the first part of that was a downright lie and the second bit was impossible because I already knew that they wouldn’t do it. After telling the “official shop person/woman’s assistant” this, she informed me that depending on who I spoke to at O2 would depend on whether they would do it so it may take a couple of calls before someone agrees. It all sounded very unofficial but she was right. It took a couple of attempts but they did it. I spent so long on hold in the first call it got me thinking….the O2 call centre is right next door to the shopping centre, I was really wishing my next line after coming off “hold” was “I could have walked round and told you this“…. but it wasn’t to be, as I was cut off and had to start the whole process again. This is where the next incident rears it ugly head………
Whilst on hold, the “official shop person/woman” and the “official shop person/woman’s assistant” asked me for my credit card to swipe for security etc…ahhhh….Elaine had my wallet in her bag…mmm time to ring Elaine on the other line and ask her to come to the shop. Now before we get the wrong end of the stick here I had struck a good deal. After obtaining the settlement figures from O2 all I had to do was pay it and the shop would then give me the money in cash…bingo, I wasnt even out-of-pocket. I even got the phones for free instead of paying a huge amount of advance for the handsets. I asked Elaine for my wallet and proceeded to remove my card….I thratched around in between other cards but couldn’t see it. Then it struck me….it was at home. I had left it in the Pin Sentry machine when I did the banking on the PC this morning. That’s ok I said to the “official shop person/woman” Elaine has got her card we can use that. No, you cannot. It has to be in your name Mr Winterbourne. So that was it my fate was sealed I had to make a dash home to collect my card. “Official shop person/woman” kindly agreed to put the two handsets behind the counter as they were very low on stock. I said I would be back in an hour or so. By this time three members of staff were involved.. “official shop person/woman”, “official shop person/woman’s assistant” and “official shop person/woman’s manager”
Elaine was due at work for 4:00pm so I agreed to go-it-alone to sort this out. We got home and I went to retrieve the card out of the PIN Sentry and to my dismay it wasn’t there…mmmmm I wonder. I opened my wallet and did a rummage that any officer from Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise would have been proud of. Guess what? there it was cowering between the Flourescent Red Ikea Members card and the Yellow Morrisons Fuel Points card. My Barclays Card is bright blue for god sake how could I have missed it. Off I went, in all hope that the traffic wasn’t building for rush hour and I would get there in time. As it happened I found out later that they were there until at least 8.00pm. I arrived back in the shop and was immediately recognised by all the staff, why wouldn’t they…I had already spent 2 hours in their shop and I was becoming to feel like part of the furniture. I had been told by “official shop person/woman’s manager” to get the settlement figure and they would pay it in cash. Deal ! The figures I had been given on the earlier call were suddenly in question as they differed from the ones from the second call…no matter said “”official shop person/woman’s manager” we will pay it.
I have to give them credit…they were all fantastic and very apologetic for the amount of time it took to sort it all out. The delays were all down to O2 and their stubborn attitude and the inability to budge when it came to silly rules and regulations. It wasn’t as if they were losing my business was it? I just wanted an upgrade three weeks early, so they were still getting my money. Personally, I just saw it as “keeping the customer sweet”… I don’t think they quite saw it that way. I was later informed that had I threatened to go elsewhere then they would have been totally unphased and just let me go. We obviously live in a world where loyalty is no longer rewarded and that dedication we all used to have to our favourite businesses is something of the past. Recently my mum and dad changed from BT to Sky and despite being with BT for nearly 40 years BT didn’t bat an eyelid when they said they wanted to leave. What have we come to eh?
As a token of apology the “official shop person/woman’s manager” offered me £100 worth of accessories to accompany the new phones and I left with a feeling of satisfaction, all in replacement for a day that had faded in to oblivion. And I returned home happy.
On a final note, you might not always listen to what someone says, but when they say something you want to hear, you wont forget it. I know that. Just saying.
Oh, my wife Elaine…I love her to bits, shes my wife, my best friend and my soul mate. I know I never listen.