Monday, June 14, 2010

Blinking Pratts

Recently Mine Host has done much gloating. His heart soars with joy to see one of his enemies receiving quite a deal of negative press. (Wicked of him to feel this way)

This enemy is an oil company, which shall not be named, but has allegedly spilled oil accross half the ocean's surface, and shall be referred to by the (you'll never crack this one) code name of: "Bippy"

Until recently Mine Host had been a long standing customer of Bippy. Years ago their staff, needing to increase the number of credit accounts, had entered the Wayside Tavern and signed up a willing Mine Host.

Issued with his own fuel card, Mine Host soon became blind to other brands of fuel. Over the subsequent 10 years or so it became a small pleasure to talk others into buying all their fuel at Bippy, and Mine Host did what little he could to steer all business in their direction.

He should have known better. Bippy is a corporation, thus cannot conceptualise the word "loyalty".

One day, in driving rain and far from home, Mine Host wheeled into a suburban Bippy station and filled his empty tank......... then the Bippy fuel card was rejected by the card-swipe machine. The attendant enquired did Mine Host have "an alternative means" to pay for the fuel.

They sorta gotcha at this point, as one can hardly take the fuel back out & return it to them.

No, Mine Host was not carrying cash nor credit card. The attendant got "the credit department" on the phone, who informed Mine Host that his credit was cut off, as the bill had not been paid. A robust exchange of opinions followed, at the end of which Mine Host was not likely to be forgotten by the credit manager (regional) for Bippy. Good.

Fortunately Mine Host was able to contact a relative who dwelled nearby to attend the station & pay for the fuel in his tank.

Mine Host then had his office provide evidence to the Bippy credit dept that the account payment had cleared a couple of weeks previously. Mine Host then telephoned the Bippy credit manager to rub his nose in this snippet of information.

Bippy credit staff had banked the payment, but not entered the payment onto Mine Host's account statement. How did Bippy handle this incredibly stupid and for them embarrassing oversight?

By telephoning Mine Host & acknowledging that, Yes, the bill was technically paid, but that (in a heated & belligerent tone of voice) "It isn't just us, You've got to wear some of the blame for this!"

Hmmmm..... (This is where Mine Host should have parted company with Bippy.)

A year later, Mine Host fills up at the nearest Bippy, (the one from which staff had proactively recruited him as a customer). The fuel card was rejected by the card-swiper. Mine Host, having learned from experience, knew payment of the account had cleared many days previously.

The attendant called the manager. Mine Host cooled his heels for several minutes until the manager, a female aged about Thirty, appeared. She started off by asking Mine Host (in a none too friendly manner) how he intended to pay for the fuel that he had put in his car?

Mine Host indicated his Bippy card. The manager (obtusely) spoke to Mine Host as if he wasn't very smart, pedantically stating the he had to pay with either cash or one of several well known credit cards. Mine Host rarely carries any means of payment, and said so.

The manager (now with chin out) thrust a printed form onto the counter & stated (loudly) that being as his credit was cut off "for non payment of the account" and that he was refusing to pay, Mine Host was obliged to identify himself, and (right there in public) he would tell her his birthday, home address, full name, and prove all this by displaying his driver's licence.

This was too much. Carrying a Bippy fuel card, with "Wayside Tavern" branded on it, within sight of the Wayside Tavern (on the next block), and having paid the bill, Mine Host was now rather offended.

By now the entire shop full of queued fuel customers was intently watching & listening.

Mine Host would drop dead before he would tell most people, especially in public with other people watching & listening, his full name, home address and date of birth. And he said so.

The manager belligerently stated that if Mine Host did not, she would "call the cops". Unintimidated, Mine Host advised her that it was a free country and with or without his permission she could telephone to whomever she wished.

She disappeared, reappearing several minutes later to (with a smirk) inform Mine Host "they're on their way". Mine Host wasn't particularly interested in anything she had to say, and hadn't been since she stated out loud in public that he didn't pay his bills.

Meantime Mine Host had telephone his secretary, telling her what had happened, and asking her to pop down to the Bippy with $17.40 for him to pay the bill with.

In the interim a police car pulled alongside the shop, and Constable Concentration alighted. Entering the shop he was claimed by the manager, who commenced explaining the "crime" to him.

Mine Host paid little attention, knowing she would be busy for quite some before Constable Concentration grasped what business this affair was of the police's, if any.

Meantime secretary arrives, with $17.40 in cash, and paperwork to prove the account payment is up to date.

Mine Host then strolls over to where the manager is vainly attempting to explain the matter to an ever more flummoxed Constable Concentration. Mine Host leans past Constable Concetration, plonks the $17.40 on the counter, in a brittle voice instructs her that she will provide a receipt for payment, and thrusts at her a copy of the paperwork proving the account is paid, informs her that this proves the bill was paid, and that perhaps she should brush up on her facts before making loud public proclamations on the subject of Mine Host's bill paying proclivities. Mine Host went on to state that he would accept a written apology from her, and nothing less.

Then Constable Concentration, who as far as Mine Host was concerned wasn't involved, chimed in with an angry and most incorrect "hang on, it is not her fault, don't start getting stuck into her!"

Unable to believe (actually well able to believe) that someone could be so stupid, yet remain in the police force, Mine Host rounded on Constable Concentration & stated "When I require your advice, I'll make it abundantly clear to you, until then be quiet"

Then followed several seconds while every muscle in the officer's face contorted, creating a most amusing spectacle of varied facial expressions, all underlined by a most black cloud forming over his head.

He then spluttered something lame (most police have debating skills of zero, and if unable to arrest or write a ticket, make fools of themselves). Mine Host ignored him, gave the Bippy manager another free character assessment and left, but not before advising Constable Concentration to not overdo it and blow a gasket.

Since that date Mine Host has not darkened the door of a Bippy service station.

Mine Host now directs needy motorists to anywhere but Bippy, and though has made no comment to his staff, he notes that all 60 of them have been politic enough to not fill up at Bippy, ever.

From time to time Mine Host delights in reminding Bippy of this.

Mine Host did contact senior personnel at Bippy, who sealed his opinion by rounding on him for his "bad credit history". (Card refused Twice, you see) Then followed a most robust exchange of opinions, ensuring Mine Host is not forgotten by them. Good.
They may be "executives" (whatever that may mean) but they aren't smart enough to know that as a business ethos "the customer is always wrong" is taken them down the wrong path.

Every square inch of extra oil spill, every dollar of lost value, every dollar of cleanup cost, (all reported on the news) is music to Mine Host's ears.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Back it Up

Mine Host, when overseas a few years ago, was amused by many quirks of the country he was in. These quirks didn't worry him much, as he didn't have to live with these aberrations, there were merely another difference to enjoy.

Amonst these quirks were the passenger side mirrors on motor vehicles. Instead of regular mirrors these were convex, and actually had the phrase "Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear"

Convex mirrors certainly give a wider field of view in the passenger side mirror, however they also make reversing using the passenger mirror rather difficult. Nigh on impossible to reliably reverse in a straight line.

What does it matter some greenhorn will ask? Plenty if reversing into a tight spot, or even into a parking bay between shed trusses.

Body tippers, twin steer bogey drives, were Mine Host's charge at one point in his life, and as anyone who has reversed trucks knows very well, using the passenger side mirror allows for far more accuracy in reversing, especially with larger machines.

One can image Mine Host's distress when upon returning to Australia he discovered that in his abscence passenger side mirrors had been "improved" from flat to convex!

Instead of hamstringing those who can drive, the law should instead penalise those who are unable to reverse properly.

Mine Host could (with a flat mirror) reverse for as far as you like, to within 2 inches laterally of a line, using the passenger side mirror, or within 6 inches using the driver's side mirror.
Not important the greenhorn may say.
Stick to your field of expertise Mine Host will say.