Friday 22 September 2017

Burton Menswear - A farcical organisation!

This just has to be written down in order to understand the frustrations as a customer I've been through trying to order a suit!
I needed a good suit/tux for a black tie event I'm attending on Saturday 23rd. So, me being a little last minute (I'll admit to this bit!) I ordered what I wanted on Sunday the 17th.

So I placed the order online at at 18:19 and got email confirmation. I selected and PAID for next day delivery, which as it was a Sunday, it would be Tuesday 19th when it would arrive.
Tuesday 19th it arrived, I took it home and tried it, it was the wrong size. So next day I thought I'd go into the nearest Burton store to exchange it, hopefully getting it off the peg and swapped there and then.
Wednesday 20th went into local Burton store and looked for the outfit, of course they didn't have the right sizes in store. Assistant said that we can order online for next day, so she brought the suits up and found the right sizes, type and everything on her iPad. She then carried out the return/refund and went to pay for the new order. However, the card readers on the iPad were currently not working, so she couldn't simply refund me and then charge me again on my card. So she had to use a gift card, charge it with the refunded amount, get it authorised then pay for the new order via their online (staff) ordering process. This seemed to work (Only took 1hr in total!) and she was very apologetic that it was a hassle. I thought fine, it'll arrive tomorrow and all ok. I gave my email for the order confirmation.
In an hour I got an email through confirming my instore order and delivery to me (at work), for Thursday the 26th! (A week later) Again something has gone wrong.
I got straight on the phone (2pm 20/09) to their support, sat for 45 minutes waiting (long hold times) and spoke to somebody about the issue. They said yes they must have chosen the wrong delivery option, very sorry, and will need to cancel it, refund and I can then re-order it again myself.
However, it was a gift card, so they can't refund to me, they have to refund to another gift voucher, which I can then use. They were going to credit it with the full amount+next day delivery to be sure, and I would receive the gift voucher within 1hr. OK fine, so left it there and waited. And waited. And waited. Now admittedly I should have rang back after 1hr passed, several passed and still no voucher. OK I'll leave it until the morning.
Thursday 21st, still no gift voucher, so back on the phone (25 minute wait this time) and they said that gift vouchers take 12-24hrs to come through, couldn't have got it in the hour as last advisor said. However, they went and spoke to the right person who found the voucher request and said they would do it for me to come through. They said, definitely 1hr, if not ring back and be doubly sure! They were true to word this time, the voucher came through within 30 minutes. Great, I can now go on and order again!
So I order the items again online, choosing fastest next day, expedited delivery, product was down to low stock so was getting worried, but order went through. Order confirmation came through and confirmed delivery Friday 22nd. I get an order dispatch note late on 21st evening, all looks good and tracking data will appear tomorrow.
Friday 22nd I click the tracking link to Yodel, and it states "21/09/17 23:35 Your parcel is at our sort centre (Wednesbury)" as the last update. Hmm, I'd have expected it to be at local sorting office by now (Which as it happens is nearby where I work, so I know it's not a far delivery!)
I then go on e-chat with Yodel to get a more concise update. Here is the chat (After i've given security info, delivery address, etc):
YODEL: Thank you. I will just be a few moments looking into this for you.
ME: no problem. Thank you
YODEL: Looking at your tracking, this parcel is currently in the sort centre. At this point in the delivery process we are unable to confirm the delivery date. I would expect the tracking to update within the next 24-48 hours. If
there have been no further scans within this time, please come back to us and we can advise you further. You can also track your parcel at
ME: the parcel is due for delivery today so it can't update in 24-48hrs? This was a timed/paid for Friday delivery
YODEL: I'm sorry to say this parcel will not be delivered today. Its still in transit
Now it's not specifically Yodel's problem, although they have failed to deliver on their paid for service, but that's an issue between Burton and Yodel.
So again I ring Burton, again 30 minute waiting time and get through to Ricky Russell on Burton support who sounds like a trainee, as he has to put me on hold almost after every statement or question! He states that it's dispatched and according to the courier will arrive today. I explain the above chat and he says, ah, so unfortunately we can't do anything for 24-48hrs. Which is of course no use at all! So I then ask the order be cancelled as I'll go and get something myself from another shop that I can find (hopefully!), but this is problematic. The order has dispatched, so they can't cancel it now, I'd have to return it.
Finally we agreed that I would refuse delivery, when they got the delivery back they could then refund it. TO THE GIFT CARD, so I then stated that I never bought a gift card, this was their own do-ing but apparently they have to refund to the gift card. I then would need to contact and complain and get the gift card refunded to my bank account. How well this goes remains to be seen, but for now I'm down the money spent to Burton, plus I'm now going to have to go and buy it again myself.

All in all this has been a terrible experience with Burton, online and in-store, and unfortunately means I'll never be using them online or store again after this farce of an order.
I'd like to know if anyone has had other experiences, I will of course me adding my review to as many online review portals as I can to express my displeasure.

Oh and to top it all off, I had a rant on twitter @'ing Burton, whose twitter account replied to me later on saying to DM them should I wish them to look in further, only to find that they have not followed me, therefore I cannot DM them!

UPDATE 25/09:
I've had an email from "Arcadia group customer service" who own Burton, and they advised:
Dear Customer,

Regarding your recent online order.

Thank you for shopping with us.

Unfortunately, Yodel have advised there has been a slight delay with your parcel 
and you may not receive it in the timescale requested however, we will aim to 
deliver your parcel as soon as possible.

As your order will not be received on the requested date, if you have paid for 
delivery this will be refunded and credited to your original method of payment 
and will take up to 5 working days, dependent on your bank processing times.

If you do not receive this refund within the timeframe advised please contact 
your bank for further assistance.

Unfortunately, we are unable to make any amendments to the delays above.

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Should you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me by 
replying to this email address.

Kind regards,

Arcadia Group Customer Care
Which isn't a great way of explaining how they've messed up with this. I've replied back to continue and push them to cancel and get the money returned to me.

UPDATE 02/10:
I've had an email from Arcadia customer service again advising:
I would firstly like to thank you for your patience in awaiting our reply.

I am sorry to hear that you have not yet received your refund on your recent order.

After looking into this further, I can see that this has now been received by
our warehouse team and I have therefore processed the refund today.

An amount of £85.00 has been refunded to both the Gift Card and the Paypal
account on the order. With £63.20 to the Gift Card ending ***8330 and the
further £21.80 to the Paypal account. Please be advised these funds can take up
to 5 working days to show in your account. If you are unable to locate the funds
in your Paypal account, please contact them directly.

If you no longer have your Gift Card, please reply to my email and I would be
happy to arrange a replacement.

I hope that this now resolves your query and I apologise again for the delay.

I reply the next day to this confirming that it was their gift card and that I wish the full refund in cash to my account/paypal as that was my original purchase method. That reply was sent by me on 03/10.
No reply as of 06/10 so I send a reply for an update.
No reply as of 12/10 so I send another reply (I've now removed the # reply number in the subject, knowing this will generate a new ticket in their system so another set of eyes then can take a look)
(I got an automated reply with a new reference number so will see what that reply shows)

17/10 - I got a reply from Arcadia Group Customer Service and it said:
Dear Mr/Mrs Andy

Your query is very important to us and we know you are waiting.

We are experiencing a high volume of contacts, however we are working to respond 
to your email as soon as we can.

Thank you for your patience.
Excellent, thank you! So more waiting.
18/10 - I then get anothe email from them:
Thank you for your email received 12 October 2017.

I am sorry to hear about the problem you are facing.

Having looked in to your matter further I can see that the funds from your 
Gift-Card have been moved to your PayPal account and the funds are of £69.15.

So can you wait up to 5 working days to allow the funds to go back in to your 
account but if you do not receive these funds with in this timeframe please 
contact your bank for further information.

I apologise for any inconvenience that we may have caused.

If there is anything further I can help with, please do not hesitate to contact 
me by replying to this email address.
OK, that looked hopefully, they've sent it back to my PayPal so wait 5 days to check and see what's going on.
On 23/10 I then get an email from Burton (Not Arcadia) which is just comical, so I'm pasting it here:
Dear Andy,

Good news! We’ve now dispatched your order. Your order number is: 351845086

*Delivery Type:* Standard Delivery
*Delivery Address: ***** (My address was here) *****
*Scheduled Shipping Date:* Tuesday 26 September 2017
Huh? The email date/time was 23/10/17 13:01 but the times and dates in the email were old. Was this their system trying to make everything right and sort my refund, or deliver, or something! I checked and nothing new got delivered!

By the 29/10 I still didn't see the refund in paypal and there was nothing pending according to Paypal so I again replied to Arcadia support saying that it still hasn't and to get back to me on what is going on, YET AGAIN!

29/10 3:11pm - I get a phonecall from Arcadia support, not long after my email reply (Quite good actually) who then explained that they CANNOT refund using the PayPal system due to the way the system works (probably as it's not the original order) and that they can refund to my Burton giftcard and that had taken place and to use that card. I again explained that I did not HAVE this card and that it was useless, they'd failed their part of the deal so I wanted my bank crediting with this. He said he'd have to go away and speak to a manager as he didn't understand why the system wasn't letting him do this.

29/10 3:14pm - Another phonecall, from the same guy who again stated they cannot refund to PayPal as the money wasn't from there it was from a giftcard and that they couldn't refund it, so at that point I said you have to return my money as at the moment I'd class this as fraudulently taking my money, he said that I'd need to speak to his manager. After a few minutes I spoke to his manager who'd already reviewed my account and stated he can put me through to accounts who will refund me manually to a VISA card of my choice. RESULT! He transferred me and they did exactly that.
Whilst they were taking my card details I heard the recognisable beep of a streamline credit-card terminal beeping as he put the digits in, etc, so this makes me think they don't often do this! After processing I even heard the printer fire up and print out what I remember (long time ago since I did this!) as the REFUND process. Sure enough within a couple of days the order was refunded straight to my VISA bank account. Yay!

Just a quick reminder:
My event was on 23/09
My order was placed online on 17/09
My final refund was 29/10

Thursday 21 September 2017

Tiny chinese MD81S 9527 CCTV camera

This was an odd impulse buy, after ordering other stuff from I added this to my cart. It was cheap, under £10 shipped from China, so shipping time was a few weeks. Surprisingly it arrived in a UK post bag with UK postage so I'd assume they have UK shippers that handle the final leg.

Firstly, ignore the badly translated manual that it comes with, bits of it are correct but bits of it are totally miselading! "it can also automatically penetrate and apply to all the walls" and other such exciting Chinese translation failures!

Anyway, the unit is tiny.

The large black piece is the rechargeable battery pack. The smaller black piece below it is the circuit board (covered in heat shrink) and on the end of the ribbon cable is the camera. The camera is tiny pinhole sized.
Less than a finger nail width!

So, powering it on, either by USB or by battery you get two LEDs on the top of the unit flickering. RED appears to show power and BLUE some sort of activity indicator. It takes around 10-20 seconds to boot up, once booted if you do a WIFI search you'll find MD81S.
Download to your android phone the "9527" application. Which is used for setting up, etc.
Then connect your phone to this AP and set WPA2 password to 12345678. It'll connect and give you a 192.168.1.x IP address. One you have connected, launch the app (It's called Plug&Play) and after clicking through the tutorial, along the bottom menu, select LAN.
It should then find the camera, if not click the top right refresh icon and the camera should appear. To view the camera image click the image to the left of the screen and you'll get the streaming video.
To setup the camera, click the blue right arrow. You can then join the camera to a WIFI SSID.
NOTE: I couldn't add it to my hidden wireless AP that doesn't broadcast it's SSID, but that may be a limitation. Join it to the AP.

At this point you will be told it will reboot. Mine never rebooted so I pulled it's power. You then switch the AP switch (J on the instructions, so for mine it appeared to be the switch on the right of the unit, where the battery cable comes out the bottom on the left). Switch that and it should switch over to connect to AP.
Mine appeared to do this. If it has problems it will revert back and the MD81S wifi AP will re-appear, which is a reasonable indication of problems.

Once done you can access it from your normal WIFI.

They also have their own "cloud" at which lets you view it over the web. You put in the username and password sticker on the device itself, and in theory you can view this over the web. I've not got this working again at the moment, but need to do some more investigations and testing!

Example image:
(NOTE I wasn't particularly trying or framing a good image here! it was just random where the camera was hanging/pointing at the time!)

All in all, the camera image is really impressive actually, considering it's tiny lens. And it just works, once you've got the hang of the configuration and settings. Longevity? I'm not sure. The main board gets very hot when it's powered so I suspect a component is being over-driven, I may peel the black shrink-wrap off at some point and take a look at the components to find out what is getting so hot under there!

Let me know if you've got this or given it a go and your opinion too!

Extra notes:
If you plug into a USB power supply that isn't enough power, you seem to get a red and dim blue LED on constantly and it doesn't boot.
RED solid, BLUE flashing in a slow pulse seems to be the boot sequence.
Rapid BLUE flashing seems to indicate activity/ready

UPDATE: After a few days of use, I'm finding it only stays operational for less than 24hrs, it seems overnight it stops working. I've yet to discover when it fails, my guess will be during a DHCP renew, wifi renew or similar. The blue light stops flickering and I only have a red LED lit. I'm also going to try an alternative power supply in case this is the issue in that it's not receiving enough current.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Grandstream VOIP phones - Mass reboot script

Here is a little snippet of code that I've written to reboot all Grandstream phones on a VOIP system (Asterisk).
It's very simple, it queries the Asterisk running process for all extension numbers, then uses the SIP NOTIFY method to send a reboot to the phones.

I've tested this on GXP1620 handsets so far and it works great, the phone reboots almost immediately. I've added a 25 second sleep in between each phone reboot, the idea is not to reboot your entire estate at the same time, leaving no phones available. Change that as required. My plan is to schedule this on a cron job overnight anyway, but still spacing reboots out seems to be more sensible.

Caveats: The script simply grabs all extensions and iterates through them all, so it'll try extensions that aren't Grandstream, or aren't phones (e.g. trunks) but those will just get ignored anyway.

EXTENSION_LIST=`asterisk -rx "sip show peers" | cut -d "/" -f 1 |cut -d " " -f 1 | grep -o '[0-9]*'`
while read -r line; do
    echo "Rebooting extension: $line ..."
asterisk -rx "sip notify spa-reboot $line"
echo "(sleep)"
sleep 25
done <<< "$EXTENSION_LIST"

It's very simple and rough but will do the job!

Saturday 16 September 2017

5 in 1 Satin Wave curling wand

You're probably wondering already, how did he use a curling wand on what is a quickly reducing amount of hair? Well in this case my daughter and wife tested this product out for me, immediately opening the packaging up as soon as it arrived home.

It comes in a nice gift box, so you can give this as a present with minimal wrapping up. All of the accessories are in the box, and there are loads of them!
You have the main 'wand' itself that has the electronics and the wire to plug in, then you have the 5 attachments for different thickness of curls. When plugged in you can set the temperature, you click through 9 different temperatures which are displayed on the LCD screen.
My daughter gave it the first go, she has long thick black hair and it tacked it with ease! Curls abounded and she found it really easy to use and light enough (She's complained in the past of them being too heavy) to get the job done. The curlers get hot right to the tip so makes it easy to make sure you get maximum curl!
One minor point was that the warm up time is a little long, but that's a teenagers impatience for you. Otherwise she liked them, and they've now vanished up into her bedroom which is normally the thumbs up from her, using them regularly now.

Take a look for yourself:;keywords=curling+wand
And I think you'll agree for the cost they're an excellent buy, let me know what you think of them in the comments or if you have any questions before buying.

Note: I received this product in exchange for our review.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Vauxhall spark plug assembly

This one is a minor rant, it's about a stupid design that a manufacturer went for, apparently for no other reason than to be different, or to make parts difficult/unique to them!

This is for the Vauxhall Corsa (D edition 2010), and it came about when I was carrying out a routine service. I decided to change the spark plugs, so duly took the top plastic cover off the engine, and found that Vauxhall did things differently!

This is the top of the spark plugs, no rubber boots per plug or anything "normal", this large block houses a set of 4 rubber boots with springs in them that push down onto the spark plugs.

Now, slight problem here. The rubber boots are a very tight fit around the plug housings. Add to that heat, cooling, vibration, etc. You can imagine the rubber isn't so great! Therefore seeing a crack in the rubber boots isn't exactly surprising.

However, what is a problem is that when these rubber boots have cracks or damage to them, they can cause the spring in the middle not to make perfect contact with the spark plugs, and hey presto you get:

Which is of course because the electrical contacts aren't connecting properly to the plug!
Luckily you can source just the rubber boots from our friend ebay and replace that alone, otherwise the whole thing is almost £150!

So I've ordered the above to solve the problem. Thanks Vauxhall for making that more difficult than it should be.

SENSSE hot and cold facial toner

Here's an unusual one for me, this is an electronic gadget but it's for health and beauty! The Sensse hot and cool facial toner unit is a compact device, charged via USB that will heat up to open up your skin pores to help cleanse, then have a cooling action to close the pores and tighten up the skin around your facial muscles, to give your face a 'temporary facelift effect'. All in a little gadget!

And here it is, very small handheld unit, and it's charger base (It uses inductive charging so no need to plug into the unit itself to charge, just drop it on the base).

Before you open it, it comes in a nice presentation box, so this one is again a good idea as a present, as it comes all included and in this nice box with instructions, charging base and the "wand" itself.
After unboxing, you charge it up, and it's ready really quickly. You run it on hot and run it over your face for a couple of minutes, make sure you hit all the curves and creases (I have many!). Hot also has the vibration function which helps absorption of heat and was the setting I felt it worked best on.
The second option is the one that I'm sure many will want to use, the cooling function as the cooling effect helps to tighten face muscles and skin and helps to remove those tiny lines and wrinkles that most of us are starting to get. You do this 2-3 times a week and it helps!

note: I received this product in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Let me know if you have one or tried on and how you got on with it!