It was after Ikea had pissed me off with their “You have to make an appointment to give us several thousand pounds of your own money” attitude that I rang B&Q for a design appointment whereupon a very nice lady took my details and proposed a time for us to pop in and meet their designer.
“It won’t take long” I told her, “We already have a design from another supplier who pissed us off”
She asked if she could ask who it was and I told her, she was quite surprised that a company who’s primary role was to sell you things didn’t want to sell you things when it came to the crunch and she assured me that B&Q were in the business of selling things and they’d be ecstatic to remove the cash from our account, so we went on the appointed day, it was a Bank Holiday Monday.
A rather busy day for shopping in a B&Q.
I got a phone call from the designer in the morning to inform that as our appointment was for 3pm and as Leeds Utd were playing at home at the same time, and as their car park often got full from people who popped in to buy one screw and then left their car there while they went to watch the football, it might be a good idea if we got there a little earlier, so we did.
We arrived in the car park at around 2pm and I suggested that we go for a meal first what with this being a red letter day and all, the day that we finally got rid of our old kitchen and bought a shiny new one, so having already espied the McDonalds in the car park I steered the good wife towards it and bought her a chicken-something with fries and a drink of something fizzy, I am nothing but an old romantic and know how to treat a lady thats for sure.
I probably had a Big Mac with BBQ sauce and extra fries and a strawberry milk shake for ’twas mid afternoon and only a light snack was in order.
So eventually we wandered over the car park and took up our appointment and told the designer that he should start again and not just replicate our Ikea design and so he did but given the layout came up with something quite similar and told us the price, it was a grand less than Ikea, “We’ll take it” is all I said.
We took home the details to think some more, made a few changes overnight and then I rang him in the morning to pay for the whole thing, the payment was declined, we tried again, the payment was declined, there was £2000 more in the account than needed being that we’d budgeted for the original Ikea plan so none of this made any sense, so I rang the bank.
They confirmed that there was more than enough money in the account and went away to think about it for a while then came back and said “Its B&Q’s fault, they are trying to process a card payment as “buyer present” whereas of course you are not present” basically the card machine was asking for my PIN and I think they were just pressing enter – I used to have a card processing terminal in my own business and there is a stage in the inputting when you are asked “Buyer Present ?” if you press Yes then you hand the terminal to the buyer for their PIN input, if they are not present then it skips the PIN input but the transaction is less secure and the seller takes on the risk that the buyer may not be the actual cardholder and the transaction could be rejected days later.
I rang B&Q and told them this, “You need to press No when it asks if the buyer is present” I told them with a slight edge to my voice that may have hinted “You should surely know this shit what with you being a retailing megalith and all”
The B&Q man went away and came back a few minutes later to explain that he had told this to his boss and they had both stood there and said “Ahhhhh, now I see…” but unfortunately their card machines didn’t have the “Cardholder not present” option, they are only the largest DiY retailer in the UK of course and so hadn’t invested in that sort of technology.
“You’ll have to come into the store I’m afraid” said the man, “but my boss says that he’ll discount £50 off the price for the inconvenience”.
Pragmatic as always I couldn’t argue with that sort of deal so jumped in the car and sped off to the other side of Leeds to pay the bill – at last we had ordered our new kitchen.
And then a couple of weeks later we received in the post a letter from a company called “Parking Eye” who informed us that on Bank Holiday Monday last we had overstayed our welcome in the B&Q car park and that one of their magic cameras had spotted the fact that we’d exceeded the two hour limit and could we therefore send them £100 forthwith ?
Fortunately there was an email response form to fill in, so I scanned and attached the B&Q receipt for £2600 and typed a short reply which simply stated “No” and went on to borrow a line from The Godfather to explain that within the next 24 hours either they or B&Q would pay or cancel the fine and if they didn’t then B&Q would be receiving a call to cancel my order within the agreed 14 day cancellation period, also that I hadn’t yet told B&Q of this and so if they wanted to not upset one of their clients for whom they must do a lot of business then it might be within their interests to reply with all haste and cancel the “fine” (they don’t “fine” you for that would be illegal, they apply a “penalty charge” which you apparently agree to just by being there).
To their credit they replied within two hours with a mumbled apology and their managing director probably had to cancel his caravan holiday in Filey what with this loss of income and all.
And so we sat back and waited for our new kitchen to be delivered.