Friday, August 21, 2015

Small Update on Matthews Holidays

It has now been 2 days since I emailed Mathews (please see previous posting) And I have had no response from them.  I know that they have seen my message...

Your message

   To: Information
   Subject: Re: Matthews Holidays Accommodation Voucher
   Sent: 19 August 2015 19:29:25 (UTC) Dublin, London

 was read on 19 August 2015 19:43:47 (UTC) Dublin, London.

 So clearly I do not warrant a reply.  Time to call them....

I have just spoken to a lady called Kate, she would not give me her last name (I wonder why?? she knows all my details).

Apparently Matthews do not acknowledge emails, they get so many it would take a long time.  You would have thought that a letter of complaint would warrant a response?  Or maybe they get so many it really would take a lot of time?  I guess the question is "Why don't they have an automated system for acknowledging emails?”  I did offer to assist them with modernising their systems, but Kate did not want to take me up on my offer!  I would like note at this point that their website is very old looking.  It appears to be Wordpress, but it needs a serious redesign.

Kate tells me that they will respond within (or was that just "in") 28 days.  They need to investigate the situation.  I do not quite see what that takes 28 days, it's quite simple, phone the lady on site, phone the area manager.

Alas they do not seem to have a Twitter account.  I have found their Facebook page.  Lots of complimentary comments, but none of them referenced in any way that I could confirm they are real.  Apparently “Liz” liked “La Tranche (Camping Des Dunes)” But that came from AirBNB ( I have had a good look at AirBNB and can’t find the campsite or the review).  And the review was about “Don and Khampa” the hosts, not Matthews.

I have left a couple of comments, let’s see if they reply, in the next 28 days maybe?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Matthews Holidays

The story so far....  

We wanted to go on holiday to France.  We had done it before and always had a great time. A good google around found a really nice looking camp site called "Domaine des Ormes" in Dol de Bretagne. 

We had left it a bit late, and did not want to loose the spot, so we booked with the company we had found (Matthews Holidays).  Had we thought, we would have looked for other companies that booked the same place; that we had heard of (note to self for future!).

Off we go.  One positive note to start.

Last time we were stressed on the way home as we got stuck in traffic and thought we would miss the train.  So we thought we would avoid the stress and pay the extra for a FlexiPlus ticket from EuroStar.  Basically it means that you can arrive at any time and just jump on the next train.  There was some mention of a lounge, but as we usually blast on through, I did not take much notice.

So we arrived at Folkstone and followed the Flexi+ signs, thinking that we would just go straight to the train.  But what's this??  A special lane and (through some coded barriers, hmmm...) a Hut.  What's this all about?

We had some time so we thought we would investigate...

In the hut we find....  a very nice lounge with some very nice serving staff (one of which speaks Greek (ok a coincidence, but it made my mum happy)) who ply us with ... Sandwiches, Fruit, drinks, yogurts, enough coffee to sink a battleship, papers   All for the grand price of...  Nothing, it's part of the deal!  Having missed breakfast in the rush to get going, it was most welcome.  But it gets better!  

"What time do we have to leave to catch our train?", I asked.  "Any time you like", they replied.  "Err... OK", said I.  So we ate drank and made merry and then decided we had better make tracks.  Back in the car, we exit the special lane and guess what??  Someone stops the traffic for us and we went to the start of the line and were boarded immediately! 

There actually was not really that much traffic, but on the way back there was loads and the special lane etc.. must have saved us at least an hour of sitting around waiting and we would have missed our train.

FlexiPlus, worth every penny!!!

Anyway, moving on....

We arrived at the campsite.  The letter below takes up the story.


Sent: 19 August 2015 19:29

Dear Matthews Holidays,

We have just returned from our trip to France and I would like to bring a number of items to your attention.

1.       We were told that the accommodation had 4 beds but the front room would sleep 2.  This left us with the impression that the couches would pull out and become, if not full sized, at least reasonably sized beds.  You can imagine our surprise when we arrived and the poor lady on site a, did not know there was 6 of us and b, did not know that the vans could hold 6!  My Mother and Mother-In-Law had to attempt to sleep on the hard couches, which resulted in both of them falling out of the bed, at least once during the week.  They are both in the 70’s and not exactly sturdy!  Also there were not enough quilts for all of us, but fortunately Christine managed to find some extra ones for us.

2.   We were charged a premium because we had extra people!

   Site    : DOMAINE DES ORMES       7 Nights           
             35120 Dol de Bretagne   Accom Supp   7    14.00   98.00     
   Dates   : 08 AUG 15 for 7  nights
   Accom   : Lodge (25ft x 12ft)
             2 Bedrooms+Shower+WC             1dbl/2sgls+bunk/1sgl
3.       None of the gas equipment in the Van had any certificate or indication that they had been serviced at some point  (or ever!).  We had no choice but to use the cooker and the hot water, but chose not to risk our lives by using the heater (which had no instructions as to how to use it anyway). 
4.       I note there were no C02 detectors  in the van.
5.       The Grill did not have a handle, so we could not use it and the van did not have a toaster.
6.       You can see in the attached pictures that the furniture, outside, was disgusting and mouldy.  We did try to clean it, but, as I was on holiday, I really did not want to spend my time up to my arms in bleach. 
7.       The Sun shade was broken and poorly repaired.  As you can see it drooped in just the right way to poke someone (such as an OAP) as they walked past.  I attempted to make a small repair, in order to avoid accidents, but with the limited tools to hand there was not much I could do.
8.       The Van was generally in poor condition and very poorly equipped. 

We raised these points to the “Area Manager” John.  His response was somewhat noncommittal.  There was nothing he could do about anything, but he found us a grill handle.

We did note that the 4 vans closest to us also ALL complained.  One family were threatening to cut the holiday short and leave (and in fact I do believe they did leave early).

This was our first family holiday in 2 years (and will probably be the only one for the next 2 years) and we are greatly disappointed by the standards that you provide (or not as the case may be).  This may have been ok 20 years ago, but we expect better nowadays.

Firstly you really should not have accepted our booking.  When we said that there were 6 of us you should have done the decent thing and pointed us to one of the other operators on the site that had accommodation that was suitable for 6!

Secondly you should not have had the temerity to charge us £98 accommodation supplement!

Lastly I note that your paperwork, attached,  refers to “1dbl/2sgls+bunk/1sgl” Where is this mysterious 2nd single? You can’t be referring to the couches in the front room I hope.

Now as a starting point I think that you should refund the £98.  I do not see what that is for.

Plus whatever else you think is appropriate to rectify the awful situation you put us in.




So lets see what they say.  I will attached the pictures below....

Looks safe

Apparently not


Wot no pads?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

In the spirit of fair play....

Following my last post, moaning about Gambados Beckenham, I feel it is only fair to let you know that the general manager of Gambado Beckenham has been in touch and has resolved the situation.  I will not post his name (and the email he sent) here, as he was very nice and I have not asked for permission.

Suffice to say that "All's well that ends well" and thank you Mr Manager.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Not a good start to the New Year

An Open Email to Gambado.....

Sent to and



I wish to register a formal complaint against your Beckenham location.

Today we went to Beckenham in order to entertain our kids on a wet and windy New Years Day.

We checked the website and saw that you were open.

Typically we get there for 15:00 in order to get our 2 hours in by 17:30, but today we went in a bit early as we expected it to be busy.  See attached receipt.

We actually got in immediately and the receipt says that we have until 17:09.

You can imagine our surprise when at 16:00 (barely an hour later) the manager (a tallish chap in a white sweat shirt (not Gambado uniform)) informed us that we had to leave as they were closing!

I pointed out that it was 2 hours early and I was told that there had been a poster up for a month (that he had just taken down), the information was on the website, and Gambado don’t give discounts!

I found the managers attitude to be rude and disinterested.  He clearly just wanted to get rid of me and the other customers.

I spoke to some of the other customers and all of them were upset by the situation.  NONE of them had seen the fabled poster (there are quite a few posters in the windows of Beckenham advertising this and that and so no one pays any attention to them).  We ALL, however, HAD seen the poster that still said that we only had 2.5 hours during peak times (as it was prominently displayed.  Why was the other poster not so prominent??).  The young girl on reception had said nothing to us as we paid the usual rate to come in.

When I got home I checked the website and found the following….

Which makes no reference to early closing.

Then I spotted this.

But was unable to find a “News Section”.

Shortly thereafter this popped up.

Which makes no reference to early closing on the 1st!

I am, or should I say “I have been”, a regular visitor to Beckenham over the last 11 years and am appalled the lack of well-presented information and at the attitude of the “Manager”, who clearly needs to go on a customer service course.  I am in customer service and I am sure I would not be in business for long if I treated my customers in such a way.  It is only by dint of the fact that we are a captive audience (in that there are few other choices in the area) that will keep many people coming back.

By my calculation we only received 3/5 ths (1.5 hours) of the 2.5 hours we had paid for and should be entitled to the equivalent of 2/5 ths (1 hour) in compensation (2/5 * £26.75 = £10.70).

I would appreciate a response and assurance that someone will be speaking to the rude chap in Beckenham.

Thank you and Happy New Year.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

What is the point of social networking?

I always thought that the point of social networking was to talk about things (to be social). To exchange ideas, to perhaps have your ideas challenged. Throughout my professional career I have been in an environment where almost every utterance is examined by my peers and, generally, mercilessly torn apart if they do not hold water (and sometimes even if they do hold water). With most of my friends we maintain a level of banter where stupid comments are responded to with stupid answers (All in a spirit of jest).

I have always viewed myself as being of a scientific bent and, as such, view most ideas I put forward to be just that “ideas” until they have been peer reviewed and tested. I have written a few programs and scripts over the years (nothing of any consequence, in case you are interested) and have found that regardless of the time I spend testing something, users seem to have the ability to break anything in new and creative ways, that I never imagined. In security a system is not viewed as secure until it has been beaten on by experts and remains secure.

Getting back to the question. I have noticed lately that most of the social media platforms, far from being a conversation, seem to be a platform for people to show how clever they are, with no come back (or tell the world how much they love their kids/cats/dogs/choice of diet). Similar to someone standing in an empty room and shouting. The only acceptable response seems to be “here, here” and “I agree”. If I have the temerity to disagree or point out the flaws in the logic people seem surprised. It’s as though they had not realised people were reading their utterances and can respond.

While it is possible to turn off comments on most platforms, no one ever does. Is that because they don’t know how, don’t realise they can or are simply soliciting positive reassurance? Is it because the art of conversation is dead and people just want to rant?

Basically. Have I missed the point or is it that many of my “friends” have and I need to “unfriend” them (would that life was so simple J ). I have actually taken to unfollowing certain individuals (half-way towards unfriending them and not as far as blocking them).

<Zipp…> Ok the flame suit is on. Tell me that I am just an unpleasant human being, do not deserve to be in society and have missed the point. Or is it that I am just a socially inept techy (bit of a bugger as I am in customer service).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chiropractors. Is this Snake Oil or do they do anything?

I have a problem with my neck/spine that may require me to go under the knife.  I would rather not have my neck sliced open and my vertebra pummelled/replaced and so, in common with many people in a similar situation, I am looking in other directions for a "cure".  I have seen a Chiropractor twice now (at a cost) and, apart from an ok'ish massage, I am failing to see what benefit it brings.

Clicking a device (a bit like a weak automatic centre punch) against my spine will not (as far as I can tell) achieve (“adjust”) anything.  Selling me a foam pad and telling me some exercises to do may help, but definitely lines the Chiropractors pocket with 40 more of my pounds (I did not go with that idea!.)  I am doing the exercised with my own “scientifically” designed foam pad (that did not cost £40).

“Adjusting” my posture, in the way that it apparently is being done just seems like voodoo.

I am a simple person.  I can understand that if something us not right you do something that changes something and it then things are better than they were.  If a computer or a machine is broken I can replace a part or reset some settings and then it works.  This is often a process of trial an error and sometimes makes things worse before they get better.  Standing on the outside shouting incantations will not help.  Running pseudo diagnostic scanners or fake virus scanners (lots of them about) achieves nothing apart from making the person who wrote the scanner, or who is charging for running it, richer.

I am sorry to say that, so far, the Chiropractor feels like the latter and the surgeon feels like the former.
Our local chemist (who apart from being a grumpy old git, also seems to know his stuff) is vehemently of the opinion that much of this alternative stuff is bunk and I should go with the surgeon (he is also of the opinion that they are all quacks and I should go for a second (surgical) opinion).

The only thing that is for certain is that I am in pain and it will only get worse.  I can delay the op for a while, before they drop me off the list and I have to start the whole tedious process again.

I can really understand how vulnerable people are duped in to paying a fortune for “treatments” that do nothing and delay getting real help.  I will be carrying on with the Chiropractor for a few more session, if it works on me then maybe there is something to it.

Why am I writing this?  Not sure really.  Maybe I want some other opinions, maybe someone can convince me that this is not all quackery and I am not being duped.  Or maybe someone will convince me that the op is safe (ish) and I am right in the opinion that is slowly crystalizing.

Anyone got any contacts in the neurological unit of Queens College Hospital?