Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Beware of the terms and conditions of Harveys ‘Feel good’ Furniture

Soon after we moved into our new house we bought a sofabed from Harveys Furniture Store - the ones with the tagline ‘Feel good furniture’.

Quite a lot of weeks later we get a phone call saying that it will be delivered in a couple of days and they will text us the day before to give us a time slot.

Yesterday afternoon we get a phone call to say they will be there in 10 minutes! Fortunately we both work from home so the delivery can take place. Unfortunately the sofa didn’t fit up the stairwell - by a centimetre or so.

To be fair we were warned when buying the sofa to check that it would fit but in reality this is easier said than done. It would never fit square up the stairs but then it doesn’t fit through doorways square either. My estimate that it would fit was very nearly correct, but that doesn’t help the sofa bed get up the stairs.

We asked the delivery men (who were not at all keen to try different ways to get it up the stairs) what we should do and they said they would take it away and we should ring the store.

We ring the store to find out that as it’s our error we either have to pay another £60 to get it redelivered or pay 20% of the price of the sofa PLUS we can only have a credit note for the remainder of the amount to spend in Harveys. The furniture is not feeling so good now.

It’s all there in the terms and conditions in very small writing on the piece of paper that is waved in front of you in the shop before you sign in agreement. Non-negotiable.

Now, considering that Harveys, home of that feel good furniture, don’t sell a smaller sofa bed that would fit up the stairwell; that leaves us with a problem.

The latest news is that we may have to pay more than 20%, they are kindly checking this so we can feel good about our lack of furniture.

So here’s the maths.

We paid £499 plus £59 delivery for the sofa four weeks ago so feel good furniture Harvey has had our money for a while.

We lose 20% - £99.80 and the remaining £399.20 we have to use to buy something else in Harveys. So we either pay another £59 in delivery to have a sofa we don’t have anywhere to put, or we have to buy some other furniture that we will have to pay another £59 delivery charge. This leaves us still needing a sofabed.

I can understand that Harveys might feel bad about having an extra sofabed in their show room that they will have to sell so charging a fee is not unreasonable. However, 20% plus no refund shows they are behaving like banks and making a cash cow out of customers who have problems.

If it is such a good feel good sofa they would be able to sell it quickly. Especially if they point out that it can be delivered in a week rather than a month as it does not need to be ordered.

At the moment we are looking at getting the sofa lifted up via the roof. We feel that any money that doesn’t go to Harveys feel bad furniture is money well spent . It seems that we are not alone. Take a look at the Harveys Facebook page to see just how many people don’t feel good about Harveys Furniture. A long list of complaints about products and also about their recent TV jubilee advert.

My favourite is the “I am disgusted, appalled and will MAKE SURE that all who cross my path know what ROBBING DOGS HARVEY'S TRULY ARE!” comment. Their response?

“We're taking a short break but we'll be back again soon with more updates, news and offers for you. If you need to contact Harveys customer service please do so on 0844 372 1000.”

Doesn’t look so feel good to me. If you wish to leave a comment of your own you can do so at the Harveys Facebook page or on their Twitter account @Harveys_uk so they can respond after they have had a little rest on their feel good furniture.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The pain of watching England play football

I didn’t watch the football last night. It was film club at my local cinema and they were showing the French film Le Havre for one night. Walking to the cinema I felt pangs of guilt as I walked past England flags draped outside windows. I had to jump out of the road as a car sped round the corner driven by a bloke wearing an England shirt in a hurry to get to the pub to see the game.

I hardly watch football but I can tell you where I was for all the major tournaments. I’ve watched from home, pubs, in Germany and even music festivals and there is always something to cheer about, but it always ends in disappointment.

Euro ’96 stands out in my memory as it was a magical time in my life. I had the most amazing girlfriend (who is now my wife), the sun actually shone in the summer and England got behind its football team on home soil and took back ownership of the national flag from the racists.

We were all singing ‘Three lions’ and really thinking that maybe, just maybe, the’ thirty years of hurt’ without winning a major competition may soon be over. Of course it all ended in a penalty shoot out against those pesky Germans. I’ll never forget the despondency of the next day. The cosmopolitan city of Cambridge where students of all nationalities mix together was dead, weighed down with dejected faces and heavy feet.

Since then the games always seem to be blighted by poor referee decisions or key players being sent off (usually helped by impressive play acting by the opposition).

Then in the 2006 World Cup I watched England being knocked out in the quarter finals by Portugal at a music festival in Scotland surrounded by hostile Scots who were cheering Portugal. As the Scottish jubilation threatened to turn violent around us I realised that the magic of watching England play had truly gone.

In Euro 2012 it was always obvious that England did not have the star power to win the trophy. This is why I saved myself the experience and went to the cinema instead. I’m glad I did. The film Le Havre is beautiful, heart-warming and poignant - a tale of a poor shoe-shiner who has nothing except abundant charm and the love he has for his wife. However, his wife is dying of cancer and he risks everything to try and help a young African refugee escape from Le Havre to London.

I left the cinema full of the experience that only a truly great film gives you and get home to discover it’s still 0-0 and they are just about to start extra time. Stupidly I watched it and went to bed tense and irritable as England lost a game on penalties again.

The worst part is that the value of the England players on the pitch runs into tens, maybe hundreds of millions of pounds. It seems a lot of money for a team who can’t even pass the ball to each other to stop the opposition getting it. By comparison, the film Le Havre was low budget and exquisite.

At least I don’t have to watch England struggle against Germany.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? is now available in all e-reader formats

It’s fresh, laugh-out-loud funny (read the reviews!), a true life snapshot of running your own business and has a healthy dose of lurve - because it’s not money that makes the world go round.

Even better my romantic comedy novel Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? is now available for all types of e-readers.
You can now read it on Kindle, iPads, Kobos, smartphones or just on your computer.

So what excuse have you got not to buy a copy now? The base price is £1.98 / $3.10. That’s cheaper and funnier than a greetings card; cheaper, funnier and lots more entertainment than a magazine; and the characters get up to lots of entrepreneurial stuff so you could experience an inspirational moment that changes your life!

Then again, you could just read it with a smile on your face and annoy other people by laughing out loud occasionally. This is best done in public places as it really annoys other people around you.

Finally, all profits will be invested wisely into my next novel which I’m hoping will be just as funny, but in a much darker, passionate format that will leave you with gnawed-off fingernails by the end.

You can buy Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? at the following stores and more:
Amazon - this link will take you to your local Amazon shop.
Smashwords (This can be used for all formats of e-reader so check here if your e-reader is not covered above).

Lurking behind the garish facades of the multinational corporations are the small businesses that are the pulsing heart of every town. These entrepreneurs are meeting strangers for breakfast, infiltrating our Facebook accounts and working in their pyjamas.

When a huge multinational pharmaceutical company leaves the town of Overchurch there is an emergence of new freelancers intent on working from home. This includes Jonny and Cat who find themselves struggling to find enough work to pay for the necessities in life like beer and shoes.

Can they manage to mix business with pleasure? And is it possible to keep your bank manager happy by following the bohemian cornerstones of freedom, truth, beauty and love?

Most of the reviews so far are on here are some excerpts:

“I'd read the hype and all the 'I laughed out loud' comments about this book, and thought 'yeh yeh, over-used cliche' and expected to read a book that might, just about, make me smile. But, I have to say, cliche or not, I did indeed 'laugh out loud'. You don't have to be a writer or someone working from home to appreciate this comedic, romantic, tale. But, if you are either or both, then you'll get an additional insight into the reality of the experiences of the characters and find yourself smiling and nodding knowingly to your kindle as you read. You will truly love some characters, and actively dislike others. The forked progression of two tales blending into one mirrors reality, and many of us can empathise with the situations imposed on the main characters along the way.”

“I read this book in one sitting on a flight to the US. I laughed out loud on many occasions, much to the amusement of the bloke next to me (who took the details to download his copy!!)

The author really captures the corporate world so well, very insightful. But it's the characters in the "world of local networking" that really bring the book to life, we've all met them in our lives I assure you! And I wonder if, after you've read it, you'll beleive in the power of conincidences?? Or if you actually know a farmer from Ohio???

This book would make a great movie, and I can't wait to see it!”

"If you are struggling to read the normal self help books for business, you know the type where the blurb says the book will tell you how to raise your business profile and you will soon have thousands of clients, but after the first few pages you are bored, well GET THIS. Or if you just fancy a good read this is well worth it for entertainment alone.

Not having a kindle I started to read it on my lap top on the train and was happily sniggering to myself for most of the journey. I later had to take my computer to bed to finish the book.”

“The book is well written and witty, easy on the eye and captures that kind of familiar style of dialogue present in conversations in social networks. King has handled the complexities of relationships that bounce back and forth between the virtual world and real life brilliantly, giving anyone who has never experienced it a very realistic taste. He highlights the rise of self-employment, the fast way that people reinvent themselves these days and the general lack of reference points in today's infrastructure.

"The story line is funny, sexy, playful and warm and I enjoyed getting to know the characters and how they developed and related to one another.”

Buy your copy of Working from home today!:

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The charm of Working from Home in pictures

People often tell me that a picture paints a thousand words so here’s a very short summary of what you can expect from my novel Working from Home: Mixing business with pleasure? in 7 pictures or 7000 words.

This story is about the quest to make money from home without having to sell your soul to a corporate employer. However, as I believe that it's love, rather than money, that makes the world go round it is also a story about love.

A large pharmaceutical company closes a huge site in a small town giving the employees both a shock and a reason to escape from corporate shackles and work for themselves.

The main players are:

The uber-organised events co-ordinator Cat who is living with her dog Ferrero after her fiancé cheated on her. She is a gym bunny who has a collection of kinky boots and has more clothes than the local charity shop.

Web expert Jonny who has no problem approaching attractive women but finds it really hard to sell his services to other small businesses. He is living in a small flat with his best mate Antonio and it is getting cramped as Antonio's sexy girlfriend has all but moved in. Jonny is feeling like a gooseberry with all their flirty behaviour.

They set off individually into the world of social and business networking; trying to get business via Facebook and meeting strangers for breakfast. Jonny keeps getting distracted by beer and barmaids and so is Cat who is helping her impulsive younger sister run the local pub.

Cat also has to work out whether she can really trust all these people who keep telling her that they genuinely want to help her. Are they trying to create mutually advantageous long-term business friendships or are they just trying to get in her knickers?

They discover that making lots of friends by networking is both fun and daunting and is not actually making them a profit.

Jonny starts being 'mentored' by a gorgeous self-starter who is not used to taking no for an answer from anyone. As tensions rise in his flat, his sales are non-existent and he really needs someone to give him some business assistance.

Conversely everyone is leaning on Cat just at a time when she needs a genuine friend. Secrets are flying around so can she make the right decisions to launch her business and open her heart to the right person?

Is it really possible to earn a living working from home getting sales from virtual friends and customers?

Does anyone really 'pay it forward' and send sales leads your way without hope of anything in return?

Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure blends the bohemian vibrancy of the film Moulin Rouge with the blunt real world where you have to trust people to survive. Even if you don't particularly like them.

Oh yes, and there's tango dancing and football in it. And it's REALLY funny.

You can buy Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure for practically all e-readers. Prices vary but is about £1.98/$3.10

(Also available in Germany, Italy, France and Spain)



Smashwords (gives you a variety of e-reader formats to choose from)

The photos in this blog post are just to paint all those words, the people in the pictures do not necessarily match the appearance of the characters in the book.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Working from Home reviews: Voices of angels by Hannah Davis

Voices of angels is a young adult novel about a 15 year old girl struggling to fit in at home and at school so how did I end up reading it?

It was partly because I read as many different genres as possible to help improve my own writing, but also because it was set in Andalucía, a part of the world that fascinates me.

So did I enjoy it? Oh yes, I loved it. I can’t see it having the same cross-over success as that Potter boy or the vampire/werewolf stuff and nonsense but it’s spot on for the target market.

Fifteen year old Lizzie Fisher is an outcast at school after falling out with her best friend and neighbour who just happens to be one of those annoyingly popular girls at school. Her secret trysts with a stone angel in a cemetery start to look positively normal when she starts to see black marks over her teacher’s head. Seven days later her teacher is dead.

After being the centre of trouble Lizzie is sent away to live in Andalucía with her bohemian granny who she hardly knows. In the blistering heat of Spain she falls in love with a talented goat herder and discovers that the insular world of her school and home town is not nearly as important as she thought.

The plot moves quickly, Lizzie’s struggles are instantly recognisable, and the laid-back Spanish approach to problems should strike a chord with people of every age.

I would say that I wished there were books like this when I was 15 but I wouldn’t have read a book about a girl then and I was already devouring adult books. This is a shame as this type of book would probably have given me the confidence I have now much earlier in life.

My one criticism is whether the supernatural element is necessary to the plot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well executed. However, the concept of stepping away from a troubled place to a totally different lifestyle to evaluate what is important, is strong enough to stand on its own. This would make it resonate even more with troubled teens with 'real-world' body or self-confidence issues.

No doubt other people disagree and want to know how Lizzie comes to terms with her macabre skill. You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Voices of angels by Hannah Davis is available at Amazon here

Friday, 1 June 2012

Seven things you didn’t know about me

This blog is in response to being nominated by Rebecca Leith on her blog, you can also find her on Twitter at @Rebeleith. According to the rules I need to introduce my nominator, then suggest 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or that I follow regularly.

Erm, if this was the case I would never do any work. I must admit that I drop in and out of people’s blogs according to what grabs my attention, but you can find some truly interesting people here. Some blog and some are just on Twitter.

At the end of the recommendations you get to find out seven things you possibly didn’t know about me.

Rosie Slosek @1ManBandAccts and Uber geek with a full complement of common sense. She also bakes fab cakes and runs a number of small but active online empires.

Julie Cohen @Julie_Cohen and Friendly author, writing coach and kebab eater.

Tasha Harrison @TashaHarrison_ and Writer of sunshine summer reads and common-sense tweets tinged with humour.

Sarah Arrow @SarahArrow and although as the undisputed queen of blogging she has a hand in a multitude of blogs such as Birds on the Blog.

Ben Hatch @BenHatch Travel writer and persecutor of ants. He’s funny and more than a little bit mad.

Mar Dixon @MarDixon and Her job title is Social media and audience development consultant in cultural and creative fields. Basically if there’s something going on the world of libraries, museums or anything remotely useful she’s right in the middle of it.

Claire Agius @ClaireAgius and Charming, thoughtful and more of a star than she realises – adopter of Pickle who uses up more patience than is healthy.

John Cogan @John_Cogan Because he is one of the few people who are consistently funny.

Keith Kendrick @relucthousedad and The ultimate stay at home dad because he cooks fantastic food and shares it in his recipe shed.

Nigella Lawson @Nigella_Lawson and Yes I know, celebrity stalking and all that but I blame John Cogan and I enjoy the sheer pleasure of food/eating that comes through in her tweets/blogs.

Wendy Griffin @beatlebrain Because she doesn’t have a huge amount of money but she volunteers via the Citizens Advice Bureau to help people who are facing bankruptancy. What a star.

And back to the title and those seven things

1) I have bared my right nipple on peak time BBC TV in the name of science – for Tomorrow’s World.

2) I have a degree in zoology and a PhD in animal learning that was mainly spent working on experiments that didn’t work in a smelly shed on a farm hidden away in Cambridge University. It was through this background and by being a really nosy git that I have become deceptively good at the art of people watching. I can spot an adulterous couple at 20 paces –assuming they go to a bar and order drinks.

3) My wife has a patent in her name for a slow-release formulation of Viagra (so the effect lasts longer) from when she worked in Pfizer. Cue predictable jokes about her bringing work back home – it will never stand up in court etc, etc.

4) Still on a sexual theme I was once interviewed for a pornographic film. Yes, that’s right. However, it’s not what you think. I was being interviewed as a script writer. I had an idea for a funny film based on the sexual power of women. I saw a request for a porn film script writer for a project that already had funding and I put the two together. After all, what better challenge for a budding scriptwriter than persuading people to focus on the script in a porn film? In reality I was humiliated as I confided to the director that I was only applying because she was a woman and this made me confident that none of the actresses would be used against their will, etc. This comment earned me a severe verbal dressing down, but she did like my script idea and thereafter laughed at the right places and not just at me.

5) I got drunk with the late, great Jeff Healey, the blind blues guitarist who played his guitar flat on his lap, and his band (you probably know him from the film RoadHouse with Patrick Swayze). I have a strong memory of him deciding to go to the toilet in the nightclub we were in, refusing all offers of help to show him the way, only to walk directly into a six foot speaker that was blasting out dance music. I remember very little else.

6) I have a phobia about cutting my fingers and often feel faint if I cut my fingertips. Getting a blood test is a nightmare as apparently my brain diverts the blood flow from my fingertips because of my anxiety. The poor nurse has to jab harder to get a pinprick of blood and I turn a whiter shade of pale. Perversely needles, injections or blood samples in other areas are no problem; it’s all about the fingertips.

7) As the group R.E.M sang “I don’t sleep, I dream” if I don’t do something creative on a regular basis. Much of my plots and ideas come from my dreams and I’d like to have a beer and a chat with my sub-conscious as he obviously knows me better than I do. Unfortunately I don’t just dream, but also sleep talk, walk and fight. My wife used to be alarmed when experiencing the special view of a naked man from behind with his bum in the air while he attacked imaginary goblins at the end of the bed. We had to get rid of one bedside light as I kept attacking it while asleep – all for valid reasons such as saving the world of course. Strangely enough whenever I have an ‘interesting’ night my young son has strong dreams/nightmares too.