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Organic veg to your door step

On the search of finding options that will make it easier to eat healthier and life a better lifestyle, we came across a leaflet through our door a few month ago. It was from Abel & Cole and offered local and organic vegetables and other fresh produce for home delivery – and we gave it a try.

First of all, we compared the prices of organic produce in the supermarket and Abel & Cole and found that it more or less does not make a big difference. The charge for delivery on adds another £0.99 on your overall bill which is really cheap when you compare that Tesco wants you to pay about £5 for each delivery.

Another great things about Abel & Cole is that you can have your seasonal fruit and vegetables put together and chosen for you in a weekly box. The company will put the things together and you can easily add your likes and dislikes. When you go on holiday or still have enough for the next week, just let them know on time and you can skip a week.

We decided for the smallest vegetable box for the moment and are really impressed. Check out this lovely picture of our first vegetable box with some fair trade bananas and organic lemons!

I really love the colours and everything we tried so far, just tastes so much better. I also like that in coming weeks there will be some vegetables in this box that I have not used for cooking before, such as fennel. This ill add some fun in the kitchen and we can explore some new recipes with some lovely produce.

A few more things I like: you can check out the farmers that contribute most of the produce online. They take the box back on your next delivery – perfect recycling or even reusing! Very easy to use website and fantastic customer service. Delivery is usually very early morning and they leave the box at a place where you ask them to. Additional great produce including milk, cheese and lot’s more.

Therefore, if you live in London and want to eat healthy or spice up your cooking, try Abel & Cole. And if you do not live in London, I am sure that there is something similar on offer in your city.

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Customer service at the Experimental Cocktail Club, London

You are probably wondering if this will be another great story about one of my customer service experiences – and you are right. I was thinking actually for a while if I should write about my experience at above mentioned cocktail bar in the heart of China town and finally decided to do it. Bad service or better bad complaint handling needs to shared with others.

Here we go! We made our way after our Christmas party about two weeks ago to the Experimental Cocktail Club as recommended by one of my colleagues. It is one of these places that still serves alcohol after midnight during the week. I do remember this place from some late nights five or six years ago when I started to explore the night life of London and at that time it was a bit shabby and not necessarily a place where you wanted to spend an awful lot of time.

When we arrived the bar was quiet busy for a Tuesday night, but it was easy to find a nice table. We ordered the first round of cocktails and a friend of mine opened a tab at the bar. The cocktails were delicious and the atmosphere was great. The service staff seemed very unexperienced but tries their best to make a good impression. I have to say, it is really tough to impress me as I have worked in hospitality and gastronomy for about 15 years now.

After finishing the second rounds of drinks the waitress asked us to pay as last orders were done and we should leave soon. When they came over to us with the card, the waitress already apologised and set down next to us not knowing where and how to start. She explained that unfortunately they mixed up the cards with another customer and this customer was already gone. They did not realise that the cards was swapped even after entering the pin code three times. The other customer just used another card to pay the bill and took the card.

Here we go! There was this waitress, first day on the job trying to explain the situation and being really apologetic. We then asked to speak to the manager as she just mentioned that the other customer would probably notice the mistake the next day and would be back and we could swap cards. Great idea! I usually do believe in the good of people, but as only the pin code was blocked it would be possible to order some nice stuff via the internet where a pin code is not needed.

My colleague immediately tried to cancel his card with the bank who straight away asked for the card number, which we obviously did not know as the card was gone. What a great idea from call centres to asked for the card number of a stolen card. Who actually knows their card number by heart? He finally managed to cancel the card after being on the phone for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, we were sitting with the finished drinks around the table trying to speak to the manager who clearly was not in the mood to speak to us. He was actually trying to avoid us by constantly sending the waitress back to us to mention that he is busy and could talk to us right now as he would need to cash up all the tills.

Finally, we did manage to speak to him. He actually made a face as if he could not care less as it was his last day. He explained to us that all cards are kept in a glass and the names would be in the system to identify which card belongs to each table. A system that is made to fail on many occasions especially in a busy cocktail bar like this. They did give us the drinks for free as were not willing to pay for them, but were still sitting there for half an hour without anything – not even water, the bar staff looking at us like we should get it all sorted a bit quicker as they want to go home. After a lot of discussion and the manager telling us several times that it is not such a big problem they also invited us back, but overall I have to say never open up a tab at this bar and hopefully you will have no complaints to make as these guys don’t really take them serious.

Looking back it is kind of funny how some establishments, shops or companies get away with when it comes to customer service.

Finding glass bottled water in super markets

Here we go! After an absence of about 9 days from blogging due to life happening, I finally managed to write my next blog post. I am really behind with my 365 project, but I will catch up during my holidays in October when I will be off to Germany for 2 weeks and can spend all the time I want for blogging and other things that sometimes don’t fit into a busy schedule.

Street view down to Covent Garden Market.

Image via Wikipedia

But back the actual issue of me trying to find glass bottled water in a Marks & Spencer on Sunday last week while having a little walk through London in the Covent Garden area.

It was a great day and it was just great to be out with my baby and discover some new areas that I did not manage to see in the past 6 years in London. After some extensive shop hopping we were looking to get a bottle of water as a refreshment and went into Marks & Spencer. In my opinion, Marks & Spencer stands for the more environmental kind of super market with a lot of good ideas to minimise the impact on the environment. However, it was very difficult to find some glass bottled water. We found all kinds of plastic bottled water from all different brands, but nothing really bottled in glass. We asked a very friendly customer service agent who gave us a really astonishing look when we were asking for water in glass bottles. But he managed to find us the only water in a glass bottle that was in the lower corner of the last row on the bottom shelve, which was San Pellegrino.

To my shock it was the only glass bottles water. I was really under the impression that are more companies that still fill their beverages into glass bottles. Having been glad to find at least one brand of mineral water in a glass bottle, we enjoyed the healthy refreshing water and continued our walk.

However, the next challenge was coming up on the horizon. Recycling. It took us several streets to find a recycling bin that would take glass bottles. We did not really want to use any available bin. Anyway, there are not many bins around in London when you compare it some other major metropolis in Europe, but there is a relatively small amount of recycling bins in London as well. Still much to do when we really want to make a difference.

I really hope that in future we will have more people asking for glass bottles water and make retailers change their product offer, because at the end we as customers have a great power with our buying decisions.

I will also have a look in a German supermarket when I am back home and will try the same thing, os watch this space for a comparison!

Friendly service makes all the difference….

As I was the other day writing a post about bad customer service, I needed to write about the service I experienced last night at Pizza Express at Holborn. Usually Pizza Express is not my preferred Italian Chain restaurant, but it served the purpose of getting a nice Italian meal in the Holborn area and I could not really look for other options as the battery of my smart phone was dead – so foursquare could not really help.

And exactly this little misfortune was the reason I got one of the best customer service I have ever received in a restaurant. And here is the story – I was supposed to meet some business partners from Germany at this restaurant, but could not find them in the restaurant. The waitress that approached my with a big smile offered me to look at the downstairs area, but my friends were not there. As I was running late, I was 100 percent sure that there must be already be seated. The lovely waitress then suggested to give them a call and checked if I was sure that I was in the same restaurant. Having been in this situation before, in most restaurants or places people give you that weird look like you are dumb and cannot even find the right restaurant. However, this waitress did with a big smile and empathy. I asked her if there would be more restaurants of this chain in the area, but only at least 10 minutes away. Therefore, I was sure that I was at the right place. When she suggested I should give my friends a call, I mentioned that my phone is out of battery and I will not be able to call them. Then, she asked me if I know the phone number and I agreed while wondering where the next telephone booth is and where to get change to make a call. And here came the moment of truth – she offered me to make a call from their phone. She placed on an empty table and asked me to wait until she could get me the phone. I would have never even imagined that this would be an option. This person just really made my day!!! But I never managed to make a call as my friends arrived and there was no need to make a call.

I can only say, it was such a little thing to offer me a phone to make a call and I know for a fact most restaurants or businesses would not allow or do. I think even most people working in restaurants would not even get the idea to offer this. But for me it was one of the best things that happened to me for while and I will certainly remember it for a while.

Additionally, we exchanged details to see if we have an opportunity for her in my business that she can make sure all our customers are happy as well. I think, people with a natural passion for customer service are hard to find these days especially in these kind of restaurants that go for volume and are situated in the tourist areas of London.

However, I think that it also depends on the customer how much service he gets. I truly believe that when you asked nicely and treat service staff with respect and give them a smile your chances are much higher of receiving great service in return. Give it a try!

Dell and customer service

Only three days in my challenge and I already struggle to find something I can write about. It is not that I don’t have enough ideas or subject I would like to write about, but most of them actually need a bit of further research to put together something really good of a post. I also might need to get used to writing a bit quicker as most days I will not have the time to research and write for about 2 hours. But enough of the waffling for now and here we go with my next post about customer service gone a bit wrong.

Dell Logo

Image via Wikipedia

I purchased a DELL XPS 1330 laptop about 3 years ago and was really happy with its performance design and the overall service. DELL is known for good customer service and value for money products as the company mostly uses the internet to distribute their products. About 3 weeks ago, my laptop started to running hot on a regular basis and actually switched off completely with a nice blue screen – we all don’t want to see – in order to prevent damage to the processor.

As I had this problem about 2 years ago and knew that after the while the ventilator will lose some performance due to dust blocking the filters and overall flow of cool air.

Knowing that I did purchase a 3 year guarantee package which I think came at a great deal at that time – I am even thinking about renewing it, knowing the potential problems with XPS machines – I called customer service to get an engineer over to replace the ventilator part. Having done that before I thought that it would not be much of a challenge for DELL as the first time I had that problem about 2 years ago, everything was done to my total satisfaction. Therefore, I was confident it would be the same this time, but it all went a bit different from what I expected. After some time explaining my case the help desk person ran mr through different scenarios of I should try before they would sent somebody out. As these checks determined that it must be a problem with the ventilator, we agreed to have an engineer sent out to my home to repair it in 2 days time, which I think is just great. However, they would not be able to give me a time slot for the engineer to arrive. The help desk clerk actually pointed out that they do not offer the option of morning or afternoon services as the engineers were running late and they got too many complaints. Therefore, DELL decided to not give time of day at all to increase customer service satisfaction. I could not believe what I was hearing!!!

Here we are – a customer service got reduced because too many people complained about the service delivery falling short of the companies promise and below customer expectations. I can only tell you that if we would work in the hospitality industry like that than we would lose customers very quickly.

Back to DELL  and me having the customer service clerk on the other line, I had not much choice but to agree to spend a day waiting at home for an engineer that might come between 8am and 5pm, as I was told.

The engineer arrived and was very pleasant to talk to and after 45 minutes everything was changed as requested. At that point, I was very happy and could not wait to get back on my laptop to catch up with some work, while discovering that the ventilator would not make a move at all and the laptop was running hot after 20 minutes worse than before.

It was time to call customer service again and I tried to speak to a supervisor straight away to get some quick results. I asked DELL customer services to call me back as I was calling from a mobile and the clerk declined my request as it was a busy day for them – by the way they usually offer to call you back, but not this time. After some discussion I got my call back from a supervisor who sincerely apologised and was able to help. The supervisor helped me to have an engineer arranged on a weekend as I was working all week and was not able to see anybody at my work place to fix my laptop. When I was asking for compensation, she first declined but finally agreed to send me a 500 GB external hard drive for the inconvenienced caused of not being able to work on my laptop for one week. Until now, three weeks later, I did not receive the promised external hard drive, which is again a bad experience of poor customer service.

To sum it all up, in general DELL seems to have good customer service, but in this case they did not deliver what they promised on two occasions. Do you have some bad customer service experience with DELL or any other company then please share it here in the comments.

Shopping at Tesco

Today, I was shopping at Tesco and was overwhelmed by the cheer amount of people going shopping there around midday on a Friday. It seems like many more people work shifts than I thought or are still on holiday….!?

The reason, why I noticed this time the many people rallying through the corridors and stuffing their trolleys full with products, is that I was making some research on competitor products and their costs. It was amazing how many people spent time researching the right product for the right price and fight offer the best offers, when I was able to disregard these product areas at Tesco (or any other super market) in the past years as my products got delivered home and I had no intention of making price comparisons or worry about if it does what it says on the packaging. Amazing how much time and nerves I saved being able to avoid these areas.

Nonetheless, I committed myself to check out what is on the market and especially did some research on ecover products that are supposed to be market leading in regards to environmental friendliness. The result after checking out the prices and comparing them with products that I am selling in my business was shocking. I cannot believe that people are still buying these products in supermarkets and paying these prices when they are so many alternatives out there….!? The secret is free delivery on top of better value for money. Smart shopping is better than fighting about the best products offers in a super market on a weekly basis.

All in all, another succesful day that showed me that there is a big market out there for my business and the products as many people don’t seem to know the alternatives that can save them time and money.

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