Archive for May, 2013

How to unsubscribe to The Times… you hope

I yesterday took out a sub to the UK Times newspaper ( to read something I needed. I was looking to see how easy it would be to unsubscribe (I don’t have any plans to – or rather I didn’t have any plans to – but I wanted to see how easy it would be should the need arise).

Couldn’t find anything, so contacted their live customer service. This was the exchange:

Customer Services: [Private Message to Guest]  Hi, To cancel your subscription (subject to contract) you must call freephone 0800 018 5177 and select option 3 (for overseas customers call 0044 20 7711 1527). Opening hours: 0800 – 2000 Mon-Thur 0800 – 1900 Fri – Sun Regards name redacted

Soilman: [Private Message to Customer Services]  Sad that a simple ‘unsubscribe’ option is one you’re too afraid to give. Already I have that nagging, nasty feeling that the day I DO try to unsubscribe I will find it incredibly difficult. Or worse, that I’ll find you stealing money from my credit card long, long after you’ve officially ‘unsubscribed’ me. That’s the message one infers, you see, from your current set-up.

Customer Services: [Private Message to Soilman]  I apologise Soilman if that’s how you feel, however we are not thieves and we don’t like to be accused of being one. The reason that there is no tab there is because of the security involved allowing account access to members of the public. We hope to incorporate this as a feature at some point. If in the meantime you have any difficulty in cancelling your subscription or you find you have been overcharged please call 0800 018 5177 and press option 2 to report it. Regards name redacted

Soilman: [Private Message to Customer Services]  Thanks name redacted. Appreciate your reply, but your bridling at my perfectly reasonable point – made in good faith – makes me even more worried than I was already. I’ve not been a customer for a day and I’m already being reprimanded by you. Wow.

If this is customer service, I wonder what customer abrasion looks like. The Times has had THREE YEARS to get used to the rigours of dealing with customers in the digital era of instant feedback and instant response.

What have they learned? Not much, on this evidence.

[Oh, and BTW: What exactly is ‘the security involved allowing account access to members of the public’? Isn’t that the same security protocol needed to access every other aspect of your account (which the Times otherwise provides)? How does one need more ‘security’ to cancel an account than to set one up and upgrade it… both of which, naturally, the Times allows?

I do so love having my intelligence insulted.]

Posted on 31st May 2013
Under: Rants | 3 Comments »

No posts, because no gardening

No activity on this blog because there’s been so little movement on the allotment.

It’s still so very cold. My roses, blooming at the end of May in a good year, are barely out of winter dormancy. Chestnut trees, usually in full flower on May 1st, have only just produced their first white candles.

I had to re-sow my cauliflowers last night. The first batch, sown in early April, were stunted and hopeless. It’s just too bloody cold for anything to grow properly.

The worst of it is that the weather pattern is beginning to look depressingly like last year’s: A low jetstream ‘trapped’ over the UK bringing endless low pressure weather systems from the northern Atlantic.

I really don’t think I can face a fourth CRAP summer in a row.

Posted on 17th May 2013
Under: Rants | 7 Comments »

First asparagus of 2013

First asparagusVery exciting to see some asparagus at last. More than a month after the earliest date I’ve cut it, but better late than never. This lot will make a very welcome supper.

The potatoes remain a mystery. Still no sign of ’em, and I’m afraid there never will be. One suspicious piece of evidence: I gave a few to my mother, who lives at the opposite end of the country – and none of hers have come up either.

Is there such a thing as dud seed potato?

Postscript, May 10th: Two tiny leaves have finally appeared today. That’s two plants out of 50 seed potatoes planted.

BUT it may mean the others are following on behind. Let’s hope.

Posted on 5th May 2013
Under: Asparagus | 3 Comments »

Help: Potatoes not growing!

Weirder and weirder: my first early potatoes haven’t grown. At all.

I put them in in March, just before that ghastly late cold snap. The maincrop ones (which I put in a month later) are just starting to show above ground. But of the first earlies, no sign.

I dug one up and it had a few spindly roots (and a few small slug holes), but no shoots. This is absolutely unprecedented. I’ve never had potatoes simply not grow.

Was it the frost? I’ve never known tubers underground to get frost damaged, but is it possible? Has anybody else every experienced this? Would love to hear from you if so. I’m baffled as to what’s going on.

What I really want to know is this: will they grow if I wait long enough? Or are they dead and ruined?

Posted on 4th May 2013
Under: Potatoes | 8 Comments »