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Posts Tagged ‘India’

Timeless Memories of Goa

In Hotels, Uncategorized on 13 February 2011 at 18:54

Holidays evoke all sorts of wonderful memories and over lunch today my wife and I were having some laughs about a first magical trip to Goa in 1993.

Having duly arrived on Boxing Day after a gruelling charter flight from Gatwick it seemed to take hours before we were eventually shunted, tired and weary, through the immigration sheds at Dabolim airport to be ‘processed’. As we waited in the car park amidst grazing cattle we could have had stepped onto the set of some bizarre television sitcom.

It was here that we met Daren and Tina, a couple from Berkshire who were as bemused as we were by the activities surrounding us. White suited, buttonholed holiday reps clutching clipboards looked totally out of place as they rushed about like headless chickens to shunt their clients on to a fleet of buses.  We were with a different tour company and our rep was late arriving so we sat on the kerb watching local families cramming, nine or ten at a time into Ambassador taxis. As it turned out Daren and Tina were heading for the same hotel, the Penta by name but not to be confused with the chain of the same name. Eventually the four of us boarded an ageing bus but turned down the offer to put our bags on the roof for fear they would drop off somewhere en-route.

Next day, having acclimatised to the regular power cuts and a mysterious trickle of water that appeared in our bathroom ceiling that created a hole, we bumped into Daren and Tina relaxing by the pool. We struck up a conversation, swapped information about the peculiarities of our rooms and laughed at discovering that the restaurant windows contained no glass and the bar had ran out of drinks. We hit it off and have remained firm friends ever since, although we still do not know if it was something we said that caused them to later emigrate to Brisbane!

It was one of those holidays when all you want to do is absolutely nothing. The balmy days spent around the swimming pool were interrupted only by the four o’clock water polo match between the Brits and the locals and, because I cannot swim, confined me to the shallow end. This enabled us to forge acquaintances with a mixed band of other guests who, like us, did nothing but sit around with our heads buried in a book while we drank warm Kings beer or slept.

Middle-aged Tom, brown as a berry, had arrived from England and decided not to leave.  The only time he stirred was to make up the numbers in the polo game. This was soon joined by Adrian Mole a young lad holidaying in Goa with his parents who we assumed was about 14-years of age – or if he really had been the creation of Sue Townsend was really 13½. Mole was assigned the job of ball fetcher shouting “I’ll go Tom” every time the ball sailed out of play irrespective of whether it was Tom’s turn to muster the energy to fetch it. Mole became the subject of much jocularity as did Levine, a henpecked Jewish husband in his mid-fifties who claimed to be a mature student. Levine became our entertainment as we watched while eating breakfast in the windowless restaurant as he attempted to organise towels and sun beds for his lazy wife to occupy on the far side of the pool. He would meticulously spend half an hour carefully positioning the loungers ahead of his wife’s arrival but never ever got things right. After being chastised publicly for not placing the loungers just-so he would sulk away to the games room returning an hour later to complain to anyone prepared to listen that he had once again been short changed for a soft drink. At breakfast one day poor Levine was at breaking point when he sat out our table to eat his Kosher bacon. Pouring his heart out, we feared we were about to hear his confession to murdering his wife, but she appeared and he shuffled away from our table like a lost soul to resume his daily sun bed arranging duty. That evening he came second in the weekly quiz at Zee Bops – the beach bar where we spent our evenings. He won a ‘willy warmer’ but he was far from pleased. Levine really hadn’t enjoyed his holiday.

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Orange takes the biscuit for dreadful customer service

In Business, Customer Service, Email providers, Orange, Telecoms on 11 February 2011 at 15:42

I am at the end of my tether with Orange. Over the last few days I have been unable to receive any emails on my Broadband setup and I understand others are experiencing the same problem. This is the latest in a whole catalogue of complaints I have made to Orange over faults with their system over the last six months but it is difficult to move my service provider because I have to change so many resources including my Blackberry that are used to promote my email address. Last year the system kept emptying my inbox of all mail and then in their wisdom Orange has told me that I am on a ‘pay as I go’ account and, despite a week-long exchange of emails, this still has not been resolved.

Calling the help line is a thorough waste of time and effort and I can feel my blood pressure rising.  If you call from a landline or mobile it can be expensive to boot just to get Orange to provide the service I am paying for. The call centre … guess what … is in India and without being accused of causing a racial issue, I have found that many of the operatives are extremely difficult to understand. Although I have been aware of other subscribers that are experiencing the same email problems, nobody at Orange is prepared to admit that anything is wrong. I have been told they will take 3-5 days to investigate the problem that they are not admitting exists, and when I explain that having no emails is like losing a limb they merely repeat over and over ‘that they will investigate in the next 3-5 days’ as if it is their mantra. Yesterday I was prompted to ask whether I was actually talking to a person or robot, but the call centre operative missed the point and now, as we roll into the third day I am receiving spasmodic batches of emails during parts of the morning, things come to a grinding halt during the afternoon.  Now that the weekend is here I guess I will not even get this barrage of day-old correspondence.

I have resorted to writing several emails a day to customer support (now that is a joke!) using my msn connection but it takes the a day or more for Orange to respond and then all they will tell me is that they either have no record of my account (I had inherited Orange after Freeserve was taken over) or the engineers will be looking into the problem. As the same person never deals with an issue, for much of the time you have to go over what you have said previously.  I have written several letters to their CEO who hides behind his customer relations team, who delight in saying that the CEO does not read customer letters. Well he bloody well should as he might discover just how diabolical his company’s customer service is.

It is all extremely unsatisfactory and frustrating and in the end I guess I will have no alternative but to change service provider with all the inherent problems that will entail.

If anyone out there can recommend a reliable email provider please let me know.