Last month, we came back to the UK after some time abroad.
Since we were moving back before Christmas, and there was going to be chaos for a while, I rented a car from Heathrow for a couple of weeks. Through the various discount voucher companies, I found a no-brainer of a deal: GBP160 for 9 days for a Golf Estate (we had a family of 4 with luggage), brokered by AutoEurope, with the rental from GreenMotion. The excess was not quite as stupid as it can be – GBP1500 – but it was the usual case of knowing that if you put a foot wrong at any point, the bargain would turn out to be a horrendous money pit! That’s likely how they make their profit.
Now – I ‘wised up’ to these deals a long time ago, so I had an annual carhireexcess.com policy, and then always turned down every offer of insurance. The policy seems pretty straightforward and not too onerous, and I was nervous of the catch that had to be there, but I kept it and used it.
So – when I reversed the high-spec Volvo C70 (we upgraded for GPB25) into a bollard, my heart sank! Definitely my fault, and no way to hide it. I was returning the car to GreenMotion that day, so I took refuge in my excess insurance policy, and paid out the GBP939 for the damage to the bumper and panel on my card.
A few days later, when the statement was on my credit card, I phoned carhireexcess, got put through to their insurance company OSG, and got sent a form. Completed form, drivers’ licence, documents from Green Motion, card statement, all got scanned and emailed off, and I hoped.
And… to my surprise, a few days later, without a single further question or attempt to wriggle out of it, I received a short email: “We’ll reimburse you in full”. Another few days later, I received a cheque (cheque!!?). I paid that in, and this morning, it cleared. Paid in full!
So – to my surprise and happiness, this is a positive review for what was a no-nonsense policy and process. I’ll have to wait and see whether my premiums go up elsewhere, or whether they insure me again, but for the moment, I’m pleasantly surprised, and will use them again.
Well, my doubts were misplaced. Although it took three years since our canceled Easyjet flight for them to pay out our EU-mandated compensation, pay out they did, and we received our bank transfer for around GBP150 each from Bott & Co (who were passed the files and accounts from EUClaim), today.
It was all pretty effortless – they use electronic PDF forms that we can fill in online without ever printing out or scanning a document, making the whole process seamless. I’m not even sure what cut they took – I believe it was set at around 27% – but for me it’s more the principal of Easyjet paying out what is due, and hopefully deciding to invest some more cash into the resilience of the computer systems that fell over that day, rather than risk paying out a possibly larger sum in compensation to travelers.
All in all, not a bad result!
I have finally ticked off the “Chase EUClaim” item that I had on my ToDo list for around a year now, having checked on the status of my claim every few months, until finally giving up.
We originally filed a claim with EUClaim in October 2010, after having a terribly delayed journey with Easyjet, due to computer failures on their part. Full of fury, we looked at whatever method we could find to get back at them – as you do, at the end of a ‘journey from hell’. EU legislation beckoned, and by all rights, we were entitled to compensation; it also seemed an open and shut case. We googled for the best way to do this, and filed with EUClaim.
It seems a great idea: no hassle, everything is done online, including filing your flight details and uploading supporting documents. Sure, they take a significant portion, but it’s no win, no fee, and I’m as interested in penalising Easyjet as getting some money back. And they get efficiencies from all the data being submitted online, and probably even get cost efficiencies from filing in bulk, if multiple people claim from the same flight. Job done, I thought!
After a week, a notice in my messages showed EUClaim sent a letter to Easyjet. After another few weeks, a second letter threatening court. Then in Nov 2010, they issued a summons, and sent me a message saying they were filing a complaint with a regulator, which would take 6 months. In Jan 11, they asked me for a letter of authority, which I think I sent. Another reminder in June 2011. Then I chased in Feb 2012 (again by the portal) for a response. I got a reply a week later saying that they were being selective about test cases, and there would be a ‘slight’ delay about processing to conclusion, and to check for regular updates.
Nothing new as of mid-March 2011, so now I’ve basically stopped checking.
I’m sure EUClaim’s business practices are sound, but I wonder, will I ever see the money? If Easyjet finally pay up, and I’ve moved house, country, perhaps even died, and am uncontactable, what happens to that money? Who keeps it? I don’t remember what I signed, what was agreed, and most people will forget they even submitted after a few months. There’s a lot of money involved; what happens to it?
So, you’ve booked your flight, your hotels, all the details. And then your colleague asks you “so, which flight are you on?” “Where are you staying?” “What time do you land?”
Enable sharing for your trip and send him the link? Easy, no?
No – because while I want to share the time I take off, land, when I get to the hotel, and maybe enough for him to book the same flight – I don’t want to share with him my Frequent Flyer Number, Reservation Code, the size of room I booked on the company coin, and my e-Ticket number. I don’t know him that well. And I certainly wouldn’t post it on Facebook/Twitter/etc for all and sundry to see.
However – that detail has escaped TripIt. Because that’s all they let you share. All. Or Nothing.
So I’m back to writing an email with stuff like 09/11 1910-1955 QF322 SYD-CBR in an email. Which I thought was something I’d put behind me.
Working as I now do for a major multinational, I get all sorts of minor perks and offers. One of those is a BUPA Health Check as part of my annual benefits package, paid off in monthly instalments. I’m at an age where I thought it might be worth checking how I was doing, and so booked myself in.
It starts with an extensive questionnaire, which you can file online. Any concerns, family history, specific problems, diet, exercise regime, etc. Maybe 150 questions?
The booking was sorted out at short notice, for 2 weeks’ time. When I got there, at the Docklands/Canary Wharf centre at BUPA Marsh Wall, they were quick and effective.
The check is 2 hours – the first is general checks and samples by a… Nurse? Mine was an ex-fitness instructor, but she was very efficient. Height, Weight, Waist, ECG, Body fat check, Blood, Urine, Sight, Blood Pressure, Lung Capacity, Hearing (in a soundproof chamber), all in an hour.
Then I saw a doctor, who took me through my results. She did a quick exam – 10 minutes, maybe? The rest was taking me through my questionnaire and results. The blood tests weren’t in due to a problem with the machine, so she’d send them to me.
And… That was it.
Was that really £400, maybe more? To be honest, they didn’t uncover a single thing that I didn’t already know. I’m healthy – I’m not old enough for a lot to go wrong. Cholesterol, Blood pressure, Body Fat, BMI, were all almost exactly as I expected. My eye diagnosis was less precise than an optician, as you’d expect, but that’s fine. The ear test was new to me and interesting, but that’s about it.
As for the doctor – she took me through parts my questionnaire on the computer system. I eat veg once a day. That’s fine. I exercise 2x a week. It should be more. Etc. Etc. It really was nothing more than the various government campaigns (5-a-day, 20 mins exercise a day, and all the rest) would give you.
Hoping for a personalised service? Well, not really. They’re working to a 1-hour clock, and it’s quite tight for that – although the doctor had some time left. I wanted the health check to get a break from the staring-at-the-screen form-filling approach that I get at my GP’s, but it wasn’t really that different. Just different forms.
So, would I recommend the BUPA Complete Health Check? Well – if you’re fat, unfit, suffering various ailments and don’t know it, and need a doctor to tell you… Then Yes! But if you’re well aware of your health problems, or what you SHOULD be doing, then all this will do is confirm them.
I’ve just re-activated the Loc8tor tags we use on the cats, since we’ve just moved home, and they would be very handy should the cats not return.
However, despite buying 10 new batteries (the tags use 2 each), the tags work briefly, and then stop after around 30 seconds. I watched one tag fade in real-time as I tracked it.
It seems, after time, or perhaps water/other damage, the tags short-circuit in some way, and drain the batteries. After removing the fresh batteries from the tag, I watched one change from 0.0V upwards, as the battery slowly recovered from the load imposed by the tag.
Interesting. So – be warned. Weatherproof your tags, and even then, be wary of any issues
Having just bought my DeLonghi EC330S, I thought I’d write a “First Impressions” review.
Firstly, it is initially noisy, but it quietens down at the same time as you get used to it. The first few seconds of running cause vibration and doesn’t sound great at all, but this is probably because the pump is running on air, and it quietens to reasonable levels once water is through the system.
As for a plasticy taste – the reservoir certainly smells of plastic initially, and I washed in soapy water (as recommended) 5-6 times before the smell had just about gone. I also ran the system through 10 times before making a cup of actual coffee, and when I did finally make it, it didn’t taste plasticy, at least.
Also note that this isn’t an “instant” machine to use. From turning on, you have to wait for the OK light to come on – I timed this as 65 seconds. You are then advised to run it WITHOUT coffee twice to warm up all the parts, and cup, waiting for the OK light to return each time (this only takes 30 secs each time). Hence, it’s maybe 3-4 minutes to get your first cup of coffee out after power-up. Successive cups take 30-45 seconds.
The cappuccino frother I tried quickly and unscientifically with some skimmed milk and a mug… and it worked beautifully. A small amount of milk transformed to froth in 15 seconds.
And my first espresso, with the supplied Illy ESE pods? Well… Not great! No crema, and not intensely strong. I’ll have to try a few times to get a better opinion, I guess.