watervole: (Default)
Kudos to Funding Circle.

They've improved their system for withdrawing money so that it's much easier to use. As part of the change, you now get an email saying how much you've withdrawn and when.

Unfortunately, for a British company, the message gave you dates in American format 7/6/16 rather than 6/7/16, which is very confusing for some dates.

I wrote in pointing this out, and five days later, they are now sending out dates in British format.  A fast response, and a good one.

BTW, if anyone wants to invest in Funding Circle, (a peer to peer lending business), the average rate of return is 6%, it's dead  easy to withdraw small sums at any time and not too difficult to withdraw larger sums if you need them.

They're currently repeating their offer of £50 for new investors who invest over £1000 before the end of August.  You get £50 and I get £50 for the referral.  If interested, just ask me for a referral.  (Two LJ friends have taken up the offer in the past, and both have been happy with the results.)

I've been with them a couple of years now and find it a flexible way of investing my money.  A big plus for me is that the money is all invested in British businesses.


Rather less kudos to Worcester Funeral Services who have finally returned my mother-in-law's wedding ring two and a half months after she was cremated.  
watervole: (Default)
 If you recall my problem with a book I recently bought on Amazon, here's how it worked out.

I filed an A-Z complaint - I think it was Aralias who suggested that - and I just got a full refund from Amazon of  £2.81.

I strongly suspect that Amazon are aware of this firm's 'no return postage' policy and tacitly allow it.  I imaging most customers give up early on in the process and either pay the postage or accept the crappy book.  But if you stick to your rights under the Amazon policy, you do eventually get your refund.

It probably helps that I regularly buy from Amazon and post positive feedback for the many good sellers there, so I clearly wasn't just trying it on.

It was a lot of effort for a refund that small, but I take a real dislike to people who try to con me.  Maybe it will make them describe their books a bit more accurately in future....
watervole: (Default)
 I recently bought a second-hand book on Amazon (as I do regularly)

This one was advertised as 'very good' condition.  

When it arrived, it was clearly in 'poor' condition.

The seller refuses to pay return postage or to give a refund unless I return the book paying for the postage myself.

I've not encountered this kind of policy before.  It is not mentioned anywhere when you buy the book and appears contrary to what I can determine of Amazon's policy with regard to marketplace sellers.

The book is of no great value, one of the endless supply a one penny plus postage.

It's the principle of the matter.

The fault is theirs.  The book was not as described and I would not have bought it if it had been properly described.

I do not see why I should be out of pocket.

The seller is based in the UK.  

IN the meantime, I suggest you avoid buying any books from SNayler books
watervole: (Default)
 My daughter in law is allergic to grapes.  Looking for an alternative drink for Xmas dinner, I decided upon mead.  A couple of morris friends introduced me to Moniack Mead in the summer and it's very morish.  

C said it sounded good, but she'd been told that some mead actually contained grape juice.

I followed up with Moniack to ask them if their mead was grape free.  They said it was now, but only since February 2015 as they'd changed the recipe to pure honey at that point.  Very kindly, (and this was only two days before Christmas, when they must have been pretty busy) they offered to check the bottle number for me to see which batch my bottle was from.

Pleased to say it was grape-free.

Thank you, Moniack Mead.

I think I may skip wine next Xmas, the mead tastes better.  (Though you have to treat it with respect, as it's a very high alcohol content)

Ectricity

Aug. 19th, 2015 12:56 pm
watervole: (Default)
 I think I like my new gas/electricity company...

I just got a letter from them last week saying that my account was £58 in credit, so they are reducing my monthly payment.

My past experience of other companies is that they sit on your money for as long as possible and never reduce the payments unless you phone and request this.

So, kudos to Ecotricity for good customer service.

They also score well on the tariff front.  They only have ONE tariff.  Everyone has the same deal regardless of how much they use or how long they've been with the company.  In other words, they don't hike up the tariff after the first year in the hope that you won't notice.  So I don't need to tart around any more - I was getting tired of having to change electric companies every year.

Their prices compare very reasonably to other companies and all their electricity is renewable (they're working on biogas projects so they can offer renewable gas, but it's early days as yet).

Ethics actually seem to be important to them.  (They remind me of Riverford organic vegetables in this regard)

If you want to try an ethical electricity company, I'd definitely give Ecotricity a try.  And I'd also recommend them if you want a reasonable consistent price.
watervole: (Default)
 I've been investing in Funding Circle for five or six months now.  It's a peer to peer lending system.

I like it for several reasons.  

Firstly, I'm getting an average interest rate of 6% and that will increase slightly over time (the minimum lending rate has increased over the time I've been with them, and reinvesting interest pushes up the overall rate).

Secondly (and very important for me) it's  very ethical system.  All the money is invested in British businesses, so I'm investing money in my own country which means it's benefiting the people around me.  But more than that, I can choose exactly which companies I invest in.  I have small investments in everything from organic farms to  companies producing improved paint for exterior walls.  I never invest in anything involving cars or aircraft (bad carbon footprint) and I can be as selective as I like.  I chose not to invest in a firewood company this morning as their blurb said nothing about planting new woodland, just about buying up stuff they can fell, but I chose to invest in a firm making children's play materials.

Thirdly, I can invest small sums.  I typically invest £20 - £60 (usually £20) in each business. ( £20 is the minimum investment.)  Therefore, I can invest small sums when I have them, but I'm not tied to any regular schedule or amount.

Fourthly, it has play value.  It you don't have much free time, you can use the autobid facility which will invest across a spread of businesses at the rate you request (but you lose the ethical advantages of choosing where you invest).  If you have a bit more time, you can treat it a bit like a computer game.  It works very much like ebay in reverse.  Investors bid the interest rate they will lend at, and when the auction ends, the lowest bidders get accepted.  (But as the business needs lots of those £20 bids, they may end up accepting 1300 bids at 6.2%, 231 bids at 6.3%, 20 bids at 6.4%, etc.)  If you like sitting around near the deadline, you can often slip in a high value bid and get it accepted.

Fifthly, the borrowers are mainly small businesses who have difficultly getting bank loans at sensible rates.

Sixth, you can choose your risk level.  Funding Circle assign each business a risk level which is essentially their estimate of how likely the loan is to default.  Higher risk loans attract higher rates of interest.  (their estimate of risk seems reasonably accurate.  I've had a few defaulters, but no more than feels right statistically)  I'm currently beating the odds by about 2%, but then most of my loans are still in the early stages.  (They pursue defaulters, so you don't get involved in any legal hassle)

Seventh, capital is repaid as the loan progresses along with interest.  I like this as it means I get back a steady trickle of money which I can either withdraw or reinvest.  (you don't have to wait until the end to get all your capital back)
(You can 'withdraw' money by selling your loan parts to other investors, but you may have to take a small loss if you want to sell them quickly)

NB. (pasted fro Wikipedia) The peer-to-peer industry adheres to standards set by the Financial Conduct Authority. Peer-to-peer depositors do not qualify for protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which provides security up to £85,000 per bank, for each saver[12] but the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association mandates the member companies to implement arrangements to ensure the servicing of the loans even if the broker company goes bankrupt.

If anyone would like to try Funding Circle, they've got an offer whereby I can send you an invitation.  If you invest a minimum of £1000 in your first month, we both get £40.  


watervole: (Default)
 The last few years, I've been hopping between energy suppliers, changing whenever the prices did.

This saves money, but is frequently a fraught process as suppliers muck things up and change tariffs the moment your minimum period is over.

After NPower managed to lose two direct debit authorisations and sent me another snooty letter (their guy on the phone the week before had admitted they had a computer glitch on the DDs, so I know it wasn't my fault), I thought 'to hell with it' and did what I should have done years ago.

I moved to Ecotricity.

Today's experience confirms that choice.  I phoned them to give them an initial meter reading and it was a bit like dealing with First Direct.  Quick reply, no 'press 1 to do this and 2 to do that'.  A human being there, right from the start, friendly and helpful and not working from a script.

Ecotricity aren't the cheapest, but they are always a reasonable price and not that far behind the best prices. More to the point, they only have one tariff, so they don't jump you with price rises every time some funny deal ends.  There are no exit penalties if you leave them.

They are also the greenest of the British power companies. All their electricity comes from renewable sources and a small % of their gas is from biogas (they're hoping to increase that).

Their profits are invested back into creating more renewable energy.

So, good customer service, a reasonable price and the best deal environmentally.

I hope to be with them for many years to come.

watervole: (Default)
 I bought an item off Ironmongery Direct a month or two ago.  I ended up with an item that didn't fit the charity shop's existing slot shelving system - which was entirely my fault as I'd assumed single and double slot systems were compatible without checking first.

What really impressed me, apart from the amazing speed of delivery, was they they not only gave me an instant no-quibble refund, but even gave a pre-paid return postage label (it was in the package when it arrived, but I hadn't noticed it).

And, they also replied quickly and helpfully to my emails.

In short, a firm I happily recommend for excellent customer service.

I mention them now, because they've just given me a code that's good for a 20% discount for the next seven days.

Sadly, the voucher is non-transferrable, but I could probably get something mailed to another address....

Banks

Mar. 28th, 2013 03:32 pm
watervole: (Default)
My bank is changing some of their basic terms and conditions...

I read the letter, waiting for the bad news...

1.  They're making a sensible change to deal with cancelling recurring debit card payments

2.  If my account doesn't have enough money for a direct debit payment, they'll try a second time later in the day before bouncing it. (makes good sense)

3.  By May, I'll be able to withdraw cash and pay in cheques via post offices.  (that could be really handy for me)

4.  They've reduced the minimum amount that I have to have in the account to avoid paying bank charges.  (very useful!)

No bad news, only good stuff.

Then again, I do bank with First Direct...

(they did actually make a small goof last month, but it was sorted out with courtesy and understanding)
watervole: (Default)
 Remember that free Sony voucher I had the other week?

I got my credit card statement today...  They billed me.

I phoned up and complained.  They said the voucher was only valid for one of five books.  This was not stated on the original email, nor on the page the email too me too, not by the person I queried about the fact that I was taken to the billing page after entering the voucher number.

So I've phoned my credit card company and made a chargeback.  £3.99 may not be a lot of money, but I've had it up to here with Sony.  I wonder how many other people made the same mistake?
watervole: (Default)
 Last week, I wanted to do a payment from my First Direct account.  There was a problem with their web site, so I phoned them. The phone answered in one ring (which is pretty normal for first direct).  I explained the problem, the nice Scottish lady said "I can do that payment for you" and did.

This week, I had a problem with a standing order on my Barclay's account for the morris team.  There was a problem with their web site, so I phoned them.  Went through the usual tedious phone menus.  Explained the problem to a guy in India who misheard my account number and I had to give it to him again.  He said it was probably a browser problem and insisted I try Internet Explorer.  The web site failed at exactly the same point as it had with Chrome.  He transferred me to another guy who at least had English as his first language.  He talked me step by step through a complicated path that worked around the web problem and finally allowed me to edit the standing order.

Basically, First Direct sort things out faster and with less hassle.  Every time.

The only reason the morris account isn't with them is because First Direct don't do community accounts.

There's a reason why First Direct score 95% on customer satisfaction.
watervole: (Default)
 We've been getting a veg and fruit box from Riverford for several years.

This week's melon started erupting.  Literally -interesting frothy stuff was bubbling out of it, with sound effects.

I left a message on their web site explaining the problem. (and popped the melon in the compost bin)

Within five minutes, a lady had phoned, apologised for the problem and offered me a choice of items to have next week as a free replacement for the offending melon.

So, next week, we're getting extra mushrooms.

Nice people, always friendly and helpful. I think the boxes are good value too.  It's rare that we get a duff item, but they've always been replaced without any stress or hassle.

Happy to recommend them any day.
watervole: (Morris dancing)
 I post this mainly because I know there's a couple of teachers on my flist.

If you ever want to buy a maypole, get it from Educational Aids.  Firstly because their maypoles are excellent quality (expensive, but will outlast cheaper models) and secondly because their customer service is stunning.

I lost one of the screw fittings from my maypole.  There's a giant screw that you use to secure the pole once it's assembled and you use another one at the top to determine whether you want the heads to be fixed or freely rotating for a given dance.  Not that easy to lose, but I suspect I lost it when I was working on the beach at the end of last summer and had to take down quickly when it started raining.

I phoned them up asking how much a replacement would cost.  When they asked how long I'd had the pole and discovered it was less than a year, the lady on the phone looked up my address from the order record and said it was simpler just to mail me a new giant screw than to go through the hassle of my paying for one.

But not only that, she clearly mailed it first class as it arrived this morning - and there were two screws in the packet, so I even have a spare!

Hopefully, I've managed to make a sale for them as well.  The school where I teach maypole has a pole of their own, but it only takes 12 ribbons.  They have the crown of an Educational Aids maypole, but on a wooden pole.  I've worked out how to add the lower crown of the EA model to theirs, and I think they're going to buy one.  12 ribbons is a bit limiting with a typical size class.
watervole: (Default)
Trying to buy a camera tripod for my dad and finding the very limited information about the product on Amazon to be a real problem (reviews were saying things like - this tripod wasn't rated for a camera of my weight).

Went looking elsewhere and found Park Cameras  who have a phone number that you can ring to ask about the products.  After chatting to a very helpful lady over the phone and explaining what my dad wanted to use the tripod for, I have now bought one off them that I feel confident will suit his needs.

I deliberately didn't compare prices - I consider professional advice worth paying for.
watervole: (Default)
 When I got my car insurance renewal from ASDA, it was £1869 (and they could no longer include breakdown cover in that as the car was getting older).

Thank goodness I shopped around.  My new premium is under £800 and includes RAC Roadside.  And my new insurer has a telephone number.  ASDA used to stress me out terribly as you could only communicate by email - and they didn't always reply even then.  Most things had to be done by logging onto the policy and manually editing it to change anything (like a new driver) and I just hated it.

I'm now with IGO4, via Moneysupermarket.com

If that sounds like a bit of an advert, I guess it is.  Saving £1000 means a lot to us at the moment.  And having an insurer where I can also speak to a human being (I phoned up to ask a question about one part of the policy and had an instant helpful answer) is important to me.
watervole: (Default)
It's interesting to see how many of my friends are pen geeks.  Stationery porn is how I think of it - the drool that ensues over different coloured inks, propelling pencils and the precise choice of the hardness of pencil lead.

For anyone who wants to geek over ink, here's a nice little article

If you're looking for a pen or pencil, you can't do better than Cult Pens.  Their range is wide, their site makes it easy to find what you're looking for, and their customer service is excellent.  They'll change things without a quibble, even when the mistake wasn't theirs (speaking from personal experience here).  They respond to queries (telephone or email) quickly and with friendly, helpful staff.  I've bought from them before (found the leads for my 40 year old propelling pencil in the B hardness that I prefer), have a new fountain pen from them and am happily toying with the delights of different colours of ink.
watervole: (Bloody Torchwood)
Comet join my list of totally incompetent (or dishonest) companies.

Got a letter explaining that my TV warranty was expiring on 30th of this month and that I could purchase and extended warranty from a firm called 'Life's Good' (a part of Domestic and General).  The letter was addressed to 'Mr Potter'.

Spelling our name wrong is bad, but trying to tell us the warranty on our month-old TV set has expired is just plain cheek - or incompetence.  And I do not recall giving Comet  (where we bought the TV) permission to pass our details onto other companies.
watervole: (Default)
I just ordered a tabor from the Music Corner.  Their web site was having problems with the credit card payment - probably 3D secure (which I loathe with passion) playing up as the shop said they'd had a lot of problems today.

Pleased to say that when I phoned them up (number easy to find on their site), a friendly, helpful staff member was able to process my card payment over the phone.

I'm very happy with their customer service, so I'll check them again if I need anything in the musical instrument line.

(I notice they also stock rosettes for the Monster Raving Looney Party, in addition to those for all the other parties!)

watervole: (gold star)
I'm helping organise the cabaret for Constitution (so if you have any cool ideas and want to join in, catch up with me and volunteer).

We're looking for acts: singers, dancers, sketches, etc.

I knew we were probably going to be scrounging for extra people at the con itself, so I decided to take one or two items to assist those who wanted to perform but had no act.

Funny monologues were an obvious step. 

Those of you who know Les Barker will already see where I'm heading.  Those who don't, look here.

So, on Monday, I went looking for copies of his song books.  You can't get them via Amazon or ebay, but they're for sale on Les's web site.  So, I selected a copy of 'The Mrs Ackroyd Occasional Table Book' and prepared to pay with my credit card.

Then I fell foul of Verified by Visa.  I've had endless problems with Verified by Visa. On this occasion it told me my name wasn't on the data base and I should input the correct one, except that there was no box where I could input it....

I gave up, looked for other methods of payment. The page on that topic had a duff link.

Help! I wrote to the 'contact us' address, which looked like it was Les and explained the problem and that I really wanted the book by Friday, as that's when I leave for Constitution.

No problem, he said.  Mail me a cheque, and I'll send the book out right now.

He was as good as his word.  I have the book in my hands now.  Les mailed it on the 28th, before my cheque could possibly have reached him (I mailed it first class on the 28th).  He trusted a total stranger not to rip him off for a book costing £14 including postage.

He's a great guy, very funny on stage and also very funny on his CDs (of which I have several and you can buy your own copies on his web site) 

I notice that his site links to Oxfam Unwrapped and encourages people to shop there as an either/or to CD buying, so I've just donated a fiver to Oxfam as a way of saying 'Thanks, Les'.
.



watervole: (Bang Bang)
I find myself in need of an even angrier icon than Gene Hunt, but I don't have one equivalent to "I'll tear you into little pieces and then stamp on the pieces."  --  Where's Arthur Dent when you need him?
Read more... )

Shopping

Feb. 7th, 2009 06:33 pm
watervole: (Default)
There's something highly enjoyable about going shopping when you know you're no longer totally skint and having to watch every penny.

So I decided to celebrate, enter the big time, make a purchase I'd been putting off for years...

I bought a new doormat.

With some purchases, I price compare all over the place, but for this item, I knew exactly where I was going to buy it.  There's a shop down Poole High St called Boones.  It's been there 28 years that I know of (from having lived in the area) and possibly for much much longer than that (100 years would not totally surprise me).  It's an old-fashioned hardware store of the kind that is virtually extinct. The floor is bare wooden floorboards that are worn by the passage of feet.  Behind the long counter is a wall full of little wooden drawers that hold every kind of item.  The shop itself is packed with every kind of item from fishing gear to garden tools.  It's the kind of place where you go if you want a three amp fuse and know that nowhere else is likely to have one, and if anywhere else did, they'd make you buy a packet of 20.

I went there a couple of weeks ago seeking a single link to repair the chain fastening my cape.  Hadn't had any luck elsewhere.  In Boones, they not only found one (20p) but even fitted it onto the chain for me for no extra charge.

That's why I went there for my doormat.  I want that shop, with it's wonderful range of goods and wonderful, helpful, knowledgeable staff to be there as long as is humanly possible.

Nat West

Jan. 19th, 2009 10:53 am
watervole: (Money)
I don't know how they rate on other fronts, but I do know that NatWest have the most helpful phone system of any bank I know.  No call centres, just real people at an actual bank.

I have the number of the branch that the Redemption account is with.   I phone them, and a really friendly, helpful person on the other end of the phone helps me to do exactly what I wanted, with the minimum of fuss.  Here's to the staff at NatWest, Winton!
watervole: (Bah)
Got pissed off with a cleaning company that cold-called me this morning.  Actually remembered to ask them what their phone number was and then told them I was was registered with the Telephone Preference Service, and was going to report them, which I have now done.

I had to find the offending company's address on Google, but it wasn't very difficult.  I expect they'll get nothing more than a rude letter, but every little helps.


Have also noted that if I ever need my carpets or curtains cleaned, I will NOT be using Enterprise Cleaning Services of Bournemouth.

(Just in case anyone asks, no, I have never used the company in the past, nor have I ever contacted them.  There is no existing relationship to give them a valid exemption to the laws forbidding cold-calling people who have opted out.)

watervole: (Bah)
Those who saw my earlier posting about the effect of bid retractions on ebay   (if you bid £10, maximum bid £20 and someone else bids £25 and then drops out, YOUR BID IS INCREASED TO £20 even if there are no other bids on the item)

I queried ebay about this.  Their first reply was a standard one that didn't even bother to read my email (just bunged back a standard answer on how to bid).  Their second reply was clearly more concerned that I had cancelled my bid in protest at their mechanics rather than any concern that people bidding for valuable items could be duped in this way.

However, it did also list when you are allowed to cancel a bid, so read carefully if you are worried about this particular problem. 
watervole: (Default)
I got a letter today from Alliance and Leicester.

They are apparently doing me a favour...

They've changed their 0870 and 0845 numbers to 0844 which costs a 6p connection fee and no more than 5p per minute.

That's compared (because I just looked it up) with the old 0870 which was 6p a minute and no connection fee (so I'm better off it it takes them more than 6 mins to solve my problem) and 2p a minute with 0845...

I'm not impressed with Alliance and Leicester's customer service in this regard.  If I phone my bank, it's generally because I have a problem and the bank screwed up.  I don't expect to be charged for solving problems that they created.  (the last time I had to make a long phone call was because their web banking service didn't tell you that all references had to be in capitals - thus, I was unable to carry out any BACS payments)

Potatoes

Apr. 14th, 2008 04:04 pm
watervole: (allotment)
A few weeks ago, Riverford, our organic veg supplier (we still get stuff from them, though a lot less than we did in pre-allotment days) sent us some really fantastic potatoes.  They were a pale gold inside and had a flavour like no other spud I've ever tried.

So I wrote to Riverford yesterday and asked what variety they were.  Riverford, who are good at customer service as well as wonderful veg, promptly replied that they were either Sante or Valor depending on exactly when we got them.

Looking on the web, they were probably Sante, but Valour has blight resistance and that is a really big bonus.  Maybe I'll try growing both next year.  (We're trying four different ones this year, and only one of them is one we tried the previous year)
watervole: (Default)
I'm heading up north tomorrow to see [personal profile] kalypso_v and [personal profile] julesjones and [profile] auntygillian.  I had to book a ticket at short notice as I didn't want to commit until I was sure I still had a voice after Orbital.

Found tickets on Trainline, but was unable to buy them as it's too close to the date to mail them to me and Poole station lacks the necessary electronic machine to print out the tickets.  Bournemouth doesn't have one either.  Grrr.

Went to bed stressed and with a sore shoulder.

This morning, I decided to try and phone Poole station to see if there was any way of collecting tickets there.  Not listed in phone book.  No surprise there...

Phoned the only number I could find in my phone book for South West Trains (Wareham station).  Human being gave me a customer service number 0845 6000650 which I rang with some trepidation.  (A lot of these numbers now use voice recognition and my voice is usually to bad to work with them - besides, there was the risk of going through the entire process and then finding I couldn't collect the ticket in any case.)

Amazingly, only one button press got me to a human being who said that someone from ticket sales would ring back in about 20 mins.

They did. And within 20 mins.  Not only that, the English gentleman on the phone found a way to collect my ticket from the station and came up with a return route that was £10 cheaper than the best one I'd found on the web.

All hail South West Trains!
watervole: (Default)
I've been meaning to cancel Sky for a while now.  90% of what I watch is available on Freesat (which only costs £20 if you already have a dish and Sky box).  The remaining 10% is stuff I can rent on DVD or stuff that I like to watch with Henry when he's home from university so don't mind if I see it later on terrestrial or DVD.

Finally got around it today.  Was talking to the man at Sky who was trying to talk me out of it and sell me Sky phone services and all the rest of it.  I was content to let him waffle until I remembered we were on an 0870 number.  I said "I'm sorry, but we're on an 0870 number, this call is costing me money.  If Sky want us to hang around, they ought to get an 0800 number, please skip to the end."

Blow me!  He did exactly what I asked.  He immediately said (politely) that he'd put the stuff I needed in the post.

Top marks to a helpful man at Sky.  (they may have lost me as a customer at present, but they've also just improved their chances of getting me back in the future if I feel rich again)
watervole: (Default)
 Thingimijigs  a web site I'd recommend for good customer service.  I'd been struggling yet again with 'Verified by Visa' a supposed security feature that regularly causes me to swear and fail to buy things that I've already put in my card details for.  It turned down my first credit card and managed to turn down the second one as well - in spite of my having all the data correct as far as I could tell.

Fortunately, someone in their customer service department was willing to believe that I was a genuine person, using my own card, to send things to my own address, and accepted the order.

Not only that, but their prices include UK postage - and they sell things like Spiderman swimming towels, which are perfect for my nephews.
watervole: (shock and awe)
I've been struggling for over an hour to buy a rail ticket to Cambridge. You'd think it would be easy. Not so.

Trainline informed that there were no legal ways to travel between Poole and Cambridge on the desired dates. Another ticket site told me it could be done for £112 return.

Not believing either, I went back to the original site and split the journey into two separate return trips to London, whereupon it suddenly became possible for a mere £35.

However, this involved buying two separate tickets in succession and my debit card was declined for the second transaction. Far too many repeated attempts and phone calls later, I find that this is because it was assumed to be possible fraud. (So much for 'verified by Visa' and the extra password I correctly input for that)

I've now got to wait 10 mins for my card to be reinstated, by which time the train times I've set up on Trainline will probably have expired and I'll have to put all the data in yet AGAIN.

Nope - added ten mins later. At least I didn't have to put the train times in again. One small mercy.

Now, all I have to worry about is whether the tickets will make it safely through the postal strikes...

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Judith Proctor

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