I only want to buy an Office Chair for God Sake *!


Some months ago I treated myself to a  handmade desk to fit in my home office space.  The old one had served me for 20 years and was too big when we moved house. Even better was the fact that my new desk was made in the UK! I would highly recommend the company not just for the quality desk but for their delivery and customer service.

Office Chair

Since then I wanted to buy a new office chair to go with the desk, for months, I've been using one of our dining chairs which is not ideal. The space where my desk sits is quite small so I needed to be mindful of the dimensions.  I also wanted a chair that has a decent guarantee and was shocked how many expensive chairs are sold without one or just 12 months (with lots of loopholes).  I also wanted a chair that was comfortable since I spend more time than I should at my PC.

After months of research and debate I bought this one from a company called Chair Office

Ergo Chiar

It was an added bonus that the chair was manufactured in the UK! Great I thought lets support a British company and comes with a 5 year guarantee!

Unfortunately, when it arrived the back section was leaning to one side (see photo). 

1st Chair

I did not attach the head rest, I did not see the point as I was returning it but I did notice the headrest was stamped made in Italy! So much for being made in the UK, naive me!

So I looked it up online and this is what I found on a site called mlplaw

"To label your products as being made in the UK, you will need to demonstrate that there is either a ‘substantial transformation’ and/or that at least 50% of the manufacturing of / value added to such products is completed in the UK".

So a product can be labelled made in the UK if only 50% of it is made here, I bet not many UK consumers know that!

So I called up Chair Office and they apologised and arranged a replacement chair, which would take a few days.  They said they would put a rush on the replacement but I just asked them to please make sure the replacement had no problems.

When the second Ergo Sit High Back office Chair arrived it was full of problems. First of the cardboard box was beat up both inside and out, "That doesn't bode well" I thought to myself.  My next impression was the plastic bags the chair componants were in were dusty as if the pieces of this replacement chair had been lying around a warehouse. Rather than trying to explain the condition here are a few of the photos I took of chair number 2.

2nd chair cardboard packing
2nd chair cardboard packing
2nd chair cardboard packing
2nd chair base

It is obvious that the replacement chair from MDK office seating was even worse than the lopsided one. Chair Office the company I had bought the chair from were "most apologetic" but as far as I was concerned both they and the manufacturer should have made sure the replacement was what I paid for, a brand new functional chair.  Chair Office offered me various solutions but by now my faith in both them and MDK were zero so I got a refund.


Long Story Short

Eventually, I bought an office chair that is comfortable and not too expensive but even that took two more attempts which left me with spare parts (predrilled screw holes not lining up with the bolts).

Buying any big ticket item on the internet is a roll of the dice. It takes research, tenacity and sometimes sure bloodymindedness to get what you pay for.

I always look to buy from a physical shop when I can but those choices are shrinking as we sleepwalk into mediocrity heaven where measurements and quality don't fit the description on the website. 


The Tossers Called DPD

Broken cabinet door

Did you know that the initials DPD stand for Dynamic Parcel Distribution?   I can only guess that dynamic refers to the way its couriers toss the parcels around either at a distribution hub or on to a delivery truck, or indeed over your garden fence.

I have lots of things I need to do, but I just had to put those tasks to one side to vent my incredible frustration at DPD UK.  The above photo is of an item delivered to me on November 14th 2021 to my home address.  This was supposed to be a replacement stainless steel backed mirror door for my bathroom cabinet but it got smashed very badly in the hands of DPD, despite being wrapped first in polystyrene board, then 3 metres of bubblewrap and then 2 layers of corrugated cardboard.

I called up the company Click Basin who were very apologetic and offered to send another door out to me, but cautioned this was the last spare door they had in their warehouse. I thought about my options for 24 hours and called Click Basin and told them I would prefer to drive to their warehouse and pick it up in person.  So I drove a round trip of  275 miles to ensure I got the bathroom cabinet door undamaged.

Then today, December 8th, a DPD driver buzzed my apartment at 8am to tell me he had a delivery for me.  It was a stainless steel 10 litre stockpot I had bought as a present. The company Empire Supplies warned me not to sign for the item until I had inspected it.  So I explained this to the driver who tried to convince me just to sign, I refused to sign before inspecting the stockpot.  I began to open the box at which point the DPD courier ran off.  I inspected the heavy duty professional stockpot to find a serious dent close to the base. 

DAmaged Stockpot

Time to fight back via Social Media

Of course I phoned Empire Supplies and took photographs, hopefully I will get my damaged pot replaced or refunded, but WHY oh WHY are so many British consumers having to put up with such terrible quality of delivery service ??  It is not just a waste of time but a terrible waste of carbon emissions in this age of Global Warming. The waste of energy to make the stockpot in Spain (why can't we make it in the UK anymore?) to ship it to me and then to pick it up and replace it with an undamaged one!

So I'm making a point of sharing my experience, not just here but on Twitter, LinkedIN, Facebook, Pinterest and more.   I encourage everyone who has received damaged goods because of courier carelessness to also share their stories and photogrphs. Social Media pressure can sometimes embarrass large corporations into rethinking the way they operate.

Christmas is a Coming

In the next few weeks thousands of Christams parcels could be damaged because of careless courier companies across the UK. We need to speak out and name and shame them!


DPD What Happened?

DPD, used to be one of the better couriers for companies to use, so what happened in the boardroom, or at head office that put profit before customer satisfaction?

I'm sure if I ask the company for a comment on this article, DPD would just give me "corporate speak" and not address the current problems, though they are welcome to contact me.

Are they underpaying drivers, putting profit above customers? Giving drivers ridiculous work loads that force them into cutting corners? Have all the bad ex Yodel couriers been hired by DPD as part of their expansion drive? You don't have to look hard on the internet to find videos of DPD couriers abusing our parcels and I recommend you look! 

If you go to the employment site called Indeed and see how DPD employees rate their company it gets a 2.8 stars (out of 5) from 1,500 reviews. Emplyees quotes included "Poor Management" "Avoid at all costs" "Terrible place from top to bottom, management speak to you like dirt". If those quotes are true then it seems the employees take their frustrations out on our parcels!

In 2015, DPD decided to change their logo (see below). 

DPD old Logo

Copyright Theft has become Rampant on WordPress

Grumpy Old Men

I often have to defend my food blogs from Copyright infringement (people taking and using my photographs and or text without seeking my permission even though I clearly claim copyright on my photographs and text, but it has become Rampant on WordPress.  

Why does this matter?

My blog traffic and sometimes work is generated by the posts (recipes and articles I write). So I defend my property, because when I don’t it costs me money or opportunities to do a travelogues (I have done in Croatia, Austria, Spain and Canada amongst others or be a chef judge at a food show in the UK, Ireland, Spain and France.

Google Rankings

Your rankings on google and other search engines are closely connected to the posts you write and publish, in simple terms the more they are seen the the higher they will climb the rankings. But if you allow someone else to post your work it may help them, but hurt you.  For example if they are better at SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) their version of your post could rank higher in search engine results than the original. Over the years blogging since 2006 I have learnt if i don’t defend my intellectual property then not only could it hurt my Search Engine ranking but others can make money on my work.


In recent years I have notice more and more occasions when my copyrighted  images and text have been used without my permission. Usually, in the past when I fill in a DMCA take down notice then WordPress will make the blogger remove the post.

But every day I am finding more and more anonymous blogs with no one  named as the owner, no information as to where they live and much of their content re-blogged posts from other WordPress bloggers.   

June 15th 2021

For example I found a blogger called Cheflytical who had copied and posted a photo on their blog without the owners permission, this is theft. https://cheflytical.wordpress.com/2021/03/02/grilled-steak-tacos-foodie-crush/

Original post here https://www.foodiecrush.com/grilled-steak-tacos/

Reblog Button

The reblog button at the bottom of many bloggers posts compounds the problem if then others unknowingly reblog a stolen photo, and the poor author has to chase WordPress and hope in time their stolen property does not end up on multiple sites.  


Whether a person is blogging as a hobby, creating a diary or trying to make money their posts should be protected by the blog platform, especially since they are already making money on our content by selling adverts. It adds insult to injury when the WordPress system allows theft to happen so easily. 

When I set up my main food blog in 2015, I removed the reblog button and expressly claimed copyright all of my posts in the hope readers will respect my wishes and not repost my images and text without seeking permission.

But then I found that if people only see and like my posts in the WordPress Reader they can share my work without knowing I have claimed copyright! This is outrageous and I have sought help from Automattic (the company that deals with copyright infringement for WordPress and is infact the global distributor of WordPress.  The CEO  Matt Mullenweg was the lead developer in the open source WordPress. So far neither Matt  or his assistants have bothered to reply to my plea for help.

My exit from WordPress

WordPress say they have no plans to remove the reblog button and its ability to steal my copyright material without my knowledge in the Reader.

Of course to move my well established blogs to another platform is a very large, time consuming undertaking, which in the short term will hurt my google rankings and obviously loose me followers, but I feel I have no option unless WordPress the now imperious juggernaut recognises that whether a bloggers chose to share their content or not…that choice should be theirs and theirs alone.

Update October 2023

Finally, Wordpress acted and took down Cheflytical for multiple copyright infringements, to mine and other sites, but Wordpress still refuse to acknowledge that their reblog button encourages copyright infringement.


The Slow Motion Decline of the BBC


British Broadcasting Company

Things like Sky, fast internet and the arrival of streaming services have helped to speed up the glacial decline of the BBC,

but it is also true to say that the British Broadcasting Corporation has played a key roll in its own shrinking fortunes.

From unnecessarily over paying its "talent" to turning a blind eye to scandals until the scandal overtook them as was the case of Jimmy Saville.

Or wasting money sending an helicopter and camera over Cliff Richard's house and getting ultimately sued once the star was cleared of all scurrilous accusations.


Of course BBC can not compete with the the likes of Netflix spending power, but they keep making bad decisions that make their situation and viewer numbers shrink ever further.

BBC News

Once upon a time the reputation for honesty, fairness and objective reporting the news was the envy of the world, but now as the mandarins cower behind their leather chairs

the decision making when it comes to choice of stories, and number of stories has fallen to former Sky News employees.  People who resent and deflect complaints by going through the motions no matter how sustained and numerous those complaints are.

Hard to tell whom within the organisation decides to go softly softly in their reporting of recent Conservative governments and extremely harsh when interviewing Labour or other opposition politicians.  To the point of hand picking a Tory biased audience for Thursday's Question Time, the current affairs show, or more recently shouting down former Question Time presenter David Dimbleby on the One Show BBC   

David Dimbleby being silenced on the One Show

Watch yourself  https://t.co/4yCB1KSpBf

The delicious irony of course is that at the same time Auntie Beeb is pleading UK viewers to support it and help fend of the plans by some Tory MP's to remove the licence fee (we play) that keeps it afloat.

BBC24 hour News

In the past 4 years the BBC News organisation seems to have become obsessed with the America President  often at the exclusion of British news. I'm unsure whether this is a deliberate tactic to deflect from the continuous screw-up and U-turns made by UK's Conservative government, after all we'd all prefer to laugh at someone else's inept leader wouldn't we? 

These days if I want to know what is going in News, both in all parts of the UK and the world I go to the BBC website, which still at the moment (October 2020) for the most parts an excellent source for factual news. The website too still avoids any in-depth criticism of the Conservative government, but it too seems to be tainted by bias against the Labour party, which after all gave us the NHS and many other things we now take for granted. The bias got so bad by some of their reporters in the run up the last December election they were taken to task by Ofcom (UK's communications regulator). 


In the future the UK, what is left of it after the selfish supposed Conservative & Unionist party have finally left office, we need a completely revamped BBC, but even the name is now sullied.  So I suggest the name should be Public Broadcast Company owned by the public, funded directly by the taxpayer that the sole remit is to report the news without fear or favour. This would include investigative documentaries and current affairs programs that have a live audience.  

The news department would have no Washington junkets or similar that allow large numbers of reporters and crews to spend weeks in a place reporting things like the US elections. Things like beyond 100 days is not needed when their is far more important issues that need reporting from the UK. By all means report the result of the US election, the day after the vote (as it used to be).  There are lots of meaningful UK wide stories you can find on the BBC News website that never see the light of day on the rolling 24 hour News program. 

The BBC has totally lost its way and ignores its own charter and we the people should press the big Red Button for a complete reset.

Tories marching the UK towards Chlorine Chicken

Chlorinated Chicken in the US

December 2019

Before the UK general election of December 2019, the Conservative party promised us all lots of things with slogans like "Brexit is Oven Ready" and "After Brexit British Food Standards would remain as high as the EU, if not higher".  Of course millions of fools (sorry I should say voters) swallowed this....But the thing about the Conservative party is they only keep their promises when there is something in it for them. 

October 2020 

There is an Agriculture Bill going through the Houses of Parliament at the moment. This bill is needed to replace EU laws and rules as the UK leaves the European Union.

During its 3rd reading in May 2020, 183 Labour MPs, 44 SNP MPs, 11 Liberal Democrats, 8 DUP, 4 Plaid Cymru as well as Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, voted for an amendment 

to enshrine in British law, the high standards we have enjoyed as members of the EU for the past 40 years. The amendment was defeated because 328 Conservative MP's  voted it down.  Here is a full list of the Tory Members of Parliament who voted to in effect to lower UK Food Standards go see if your MP is on the list?

This will open the flood gates to cheap lower quality foods being imported into the UK, particularly from the USA once a trade deal is done. To anyone with half a brain , once again the Tories have told us one thing and done the opposite.  I keep bumping into people who are surprised  at this behaviour?

Go  Watch The Damning Documentary About American Food, here is a sample on Twitter

Chlorine Washed Chicken

Battery farmed chicken in America live in very crowded conditions which bred more diseases than UK chicken so to kill the higher levels of bacteria the chicken at the end of the production process they are bathed in bleach (see above photo).  Now even though Donald Trump recommend using bleach to help fight and or protect you from CoVid 19 in his balminess, I for one  do not wish to eat chicken that has been dunked in a bath of bleach. Of course the poorest people will end up buying the chicken once it appears in UK supermarkets.  Chlorinated Chicken will end up in cheap meat pies and school dinners where the profit margins are thin. Would you want an "Oven Ready Chicken" like this???

UK Food Standards

This threatened lowering of our food standards has been like a car crash in slow motion. 72% of British people have repeatedly said they will not buy Chlorinated Chicken or Genetically Modified Food in our supermarkets.  Various groups, the National Farmers Union,  GreenPeace UK, consumer group WHICH, 38Degrees and Change.Org  all have worthy petitions for the public to sign but none of the keys figure in each organisation have managed to bring the various groups together and form a "rainbow coalition" for the sake of the British public.  To me this failing is unconscionable and as bad as the greed of the Tory party to lower the food standards and get on the "gravy train". Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

The Petitions Updated Nov 4th 2020

I have spent 4 weeks tweeting about the 327 Tory MPs who voted down Amendment 16 on October 12th. The amendment was attached to the Agriculture Bill that would have guaranteed in law that all food imports after (Brexit transitions ends) would have to met the same high standards as UK produced food. Of course it was voted down by the Tories because they are hell bent on getting a trade deal with America at any cost.  For each MP I tagged the area they represent so that voters in their area could see what they have been doing. Since the beginning of my marathon tweeting the number of signatures have gone up by almost 100,000.  Collectively the campaign called Bite Back gathered 2,650,000 signatures and counting which a brilliant achievement.  British MP's rarely face this kind of scrutiny for their voting choices.

The Campaign continues 

Below are links to the 5 Main petitions and I do urge all UK residents to sign them. Of course it would be better if there was one large petition with 4-5 million signatures on it, instead we have 5 petitions (at least) with 2.65 million signatures on, giving slippery politicians the opportunity to say the interest in Food Standards is not so great, and they will say a few people have sign multiple petitions.  Given that fact, the best way forward is to encourage everyone to sign all of the petitions to get the collective number of signatures up to 4-5 million.

National Farmer Union petition has been signed by over 1,056,343 people

Which Magazine have a petition signed so far by 227,466 people

Green Peace UK have a petition signed so far by 490,195 people

Change.Org petition started by Eric Millstone 2018 so far signed by 467,253
Keep British Food Safe after Brexit

38Degrees Petition started in 2018 has had 228,576 signature so far
Don’t weaken our food, farm, & animal welfare standards

There are currently approximately 53 million adults out of our total population of 66 million, Surely this is not to much to ask if 72% of Brits want the keep Chlorine Chicken and GMO's out of our shops?

Genetically Modified Foods
In the US, 88% of corn and 93% of soy are genetically modified (GM) and products containing GM ingredients are commonly sold. In the EU, GM is widely rejected due to concerns over its safety and and lack of scientific proof of its purported benefits. Indeed a growing number of studies have shown harmful health impacts for humans and animals, and the crops have been associated with some environmental problems, including weed and insect resistance, and degradation of soil health.  One of the most used GMO varieties of corn has been engineered to be pesticide resistant, so now US farmers use approximately 5 times more pesticides than UK farms. The global company Monsanto make both the corn and the pesticide to spray on the crop, does anyone else think this is bad to engineer a crop to sell more pesticide?  One of the ingredients in their Roundup pesticide is called glyphosate, which has now been linked cancer.  If that wasn't bad enough US farmers have found that weeds have accidently crossed with Genetically Modified Corn to produce super 8 foot weeds that are pesticide resistant.  This worrying resistance to pesticide is growing and has reached epic proportions as this one report shows: US Farmers Lose Superweeds Fight as Glyphosate Resistance Tops 75%


courtesy of Cosmos Magazine

For anyone who thinks what is all the fuss about I strongly recommend you go and read the book Genetic Roulette written by Jeffrey M. Smith. This isn't a book written by some eco warrior fantasist but an acclaimed book that is backed up with science. 

I wrote an article about this book back in 2008 which you can find here.  The article also includes just a sample of the endorsements by eminent scientists. It book goes into detail, but can be understood by anyone.



The Internet of Stings

Mark zuckerberg

Like it or not I have a namesake, another Kevin Ashton, he too was born in Birmingham, England and he is the person who coined the phrase "The Internet of Things". With the imminent arrival of 5th  generation wi-fi this phrase will become known more widely, as cars, fridges, lighting and heating in your home, washing machines and even toasters can all be connected to the internet.

Me, on the other hand, would like to draw your attention to the "The Internet of Stings", where people are crying out for governments to protect us when we are using the internet.

Protect us from fake news, because internet giants like Facebook see no profit in it. We keep expecting  social media companies to show compassion, to have a moral compass and do the right thing; we haven't quite grasped the idea that Facebook, Google and others are businesses, and just like bricks and mortar businesses, they will only do the "right thing" when governments make laws to curb their excesses and lack of responsibility.  If you are not familiar with the term sting, I have helpfully added a dictionary definition below.

Sting picture


Shopping Experience

Am I the only person in the world who's frustrated at the total crapshoot that making a purchase on the internet can be? Wasn't the internet supposed to make our lives easier?

Like it or not,  much of the stuff we buy these days is made in China.  Sometimes you can buy something inexpensive and you find over time it was a bargain because it lasted longer than you expected given the price you paid.  But equally other times you have to deal with wrong sizes, poor quality, poor communication, inaccurate descriptions, so sometimes you need tenacity and dogged determination to get your money back.  To me, this is not just about the waste of money it is about being cheated!

If Amazon or eBay were physical high street shops they would face far tougher scrutiny and more stringent laws than they currently do, and this must change.

Because  Amazon and eBay operate around the world they manipulate out of date tax laws to pay as little tax as they can. For example, in 2016, eBay in the UK paid £1.6million in corporation tax, even though the US parent company took in £1 billion in revenue from its UK operation. This avoidance of tax on a massive scale, deprives governments of much-needed revenue to help fix the crumbling infrastructure in the UK and elsewhere.  This tax dodging by multinational companies put the shops on our high streets at a great disadvantage, which is one of the reasons our high streets are under threat of disappearing altogether.

There are times when you are buying a big ticket item where it is preferable to go and physically see before you buy, but in 2019 that is getting harder, because bricks and mortar shops cannot compete on price. People even look at the item at a shop and then purchase online. You can't blame people for wanting the lowest price, but governments need to do more to create a level playing field.

Idiot manufacturers don't help the situation because they produce too many different models, making it virtually impossible to see all of your potential choices in one shop, again discouraging consumers from physically going to a store to buy their electronic goods. Some manufacturers in the UK will make a model specifically for one company and then tweak it ever so slightly for the competing company, which makes it hard to comparison shop.  


Poor quality photographs and the wrong information 

How many times have you shopped around for something expensive, only to find you might have to make your decision based on one grainy photo. You know the type of Ad where you click on the option to enlarge and the new larger photo is about the same size! Or you find the same item in two places but find the measurements different?  And details like that can be critical when choosing a fridge or a piece of furniture.

CEO of eBay

Barmy Times on eBay UK

Today a teenager with a PayPal account, or their parent's credit card, can buy packs of Sterilised Scalpel Blades - currently there are 2,301 listings.

I first heard about this from a young British adult 6 years ago, who used to buy sterilised scalpels to self-harm and told me that is where young people get their blades.

About the same time, eBay had told me that I could not sell an antique carving knife and fork because it was too dangerous and against their policy?

If you think I'm making this up then check my links, and here is a GB YouTube video on "How to make a Paypal account if you are 18 or under for free" 

Because eBay is selling other people's products they love to distance themselves from the untruths told in product descriptions

In my opinion, sterilised scalpels should only be sold to medical facilities (hospitals, surgeries and veterinary practices) under strict control.  Often eBay hides behind its vast size when things are listed on their sites that common sense says should not be allowed.

Lack of competition

Neither the USA  or the UK would allow one person to own all the newspapers, television stations or for one company to make all the cars, monopoly commissions would get involved and prevent a dominant company from buying up all the competition, but so far this has been allowed to happen on the internet. Google dominants search engines, to the point were even Bing is offering people rewards to use it. Facebook owns Instagram and Whatsapp. Even eBay hoovered up various companies included Gumtree, LoQUo, and Opusforum (all classified sites) where people could buy and sell new and used goods. Ebay also bought Qoo10.jp, to expand into the Asian market.  

Not that I'm giving Amazon a free ride!

Two areas Amazon need to focus on and improve are, getting rid of sellers who buy fake reviews and stopping sellers from relisting an item, once it has received a series of bad reviews.  Fake reviews not only misinform the buying public, but this bad practice also hurts Amazon's reputation.  Some sellers try to cheat customers in other ways by relisting an item so that potential buyers don't see the existing bad reviews. Roomy Khan wrote a great article about this subject for Forbes in April...see link .  Like eBay, Amazon needs to be shamed by us users into policing its sellers better, for the common good. Both companies make billions of dollars each year but try to distance themselves from criticism, rather than properly resource and solve them. 

GDPR, what a bad joke

In 2018 the EU passed a law called GDPR, (General Data Protection Regulation) that was supposed to protect European Union citizens and the use of their data. But so far this law has been a bad joke. For example, in the UK, if I go to a read an online newspaper I have to untick a lot of boxes to prevent data on me and my choices from being gathered, and in some cases sold. But the reality is that sometimes I have time to untick these boxes and sometimes I don't, so instead of protecting my privacy lawmakers have made the new rules so cumbersome people won't get the protection they need.

Sleepwalking to our dystopian future?

We can complain about our individual governments, we can lampoon the current US president, but no one thing until now stood to hold so much power over humans. The power that comes from larger annual revenues than many countries, the power to communicate with such a large segment of the earth's population and sway their choices. So far the abuse of this has allowed elections in various countries to be influenced, often from outside of those countries, and terrible crimes have been shared, even broadcasted live, thanks to social media.

Outside the realm of the world-wide-web people and businesses are held to certain standards, and when they break those laws and standards they are held to account, but so far internet companies have mostly done whatever they wanted.  To me this issue is as important as climate change!! And we need to protest about it. 

A wake-up call is needed and soon before our freedom and privacy are a distant memory and we live in a Dystopian world, for real.

Crazy Footnote-Toaster Madness

Crazy Toaster

The other day one of the plastic knobs on my 20-month-old Russell Hobbs toaster broke, the knob that covers the slider control. This knob doesn't prevent the toaster from working but it does make more challenging to use. Since the toaster was guaranteed for three years I was hoping Russell Hobs could send us a new plastic knob and solve the problem, but no, that would be too easy, too environmentally friendly. Russell Hobbs didn't offer me a replacement knob instead they offered a replacement brand new toaster up to the value of £45.  Most people might think their offer great, but is it great for the planet???? So I'm supposed to take the brand new toaster, and take my current toaster down to the local landfill because it is missing a plastic knob? This, in a nutshell, is a prime example of how bad our throwaway society has become.  Companies who disrespect our planet and are happy for working devices to be thrown away, all for the sake of ordering a batch of spare plastic knobs when the toasters are manufactured.


*eBay logo was downloaded from www.freeiconspng.com

The sorry tail of the dress I bought from Debenhams

Wallis Shift dress story

Several weeks ago I wanted to buy my wife a dress, something classy since she had an important work appointment coming up.

I found this particular Wallis camel textured shift dress you see in the photo in her size petite size 10, she liked it so I ordered it on December 5th.

On December 6th (according to Debenhams own site) it was dispatched and then the Odyessy began..........


Unlike when I have bought Debenhams own items this Wallis dress could not be delivered to my local Debenhams store, why I still don't know?

After several days the so-called tracking information had not changed, so I began to wonder if there was a problem?

So my wife called the customer service number (which can take a while to get through) and was reassured that the dress had been dispatched from Wallis and would be delivered by Tuesday 11th December by the latest. Well, of course, you guessed it no dress on Tuesday, so whilst I fixed dinner Sophie called to try and find out why her dress had not come?  She was told sorry with no explanation as to what had happened to the dress I had paid for. The customer service person said they would send an "urgent email" to Wallis to find out where the dress was? Hearing this in the background (as I prepared dinner) I asked why it wasn't possible to phone Wallis rather send them an "urgent email"? I was told this is the system they have to follow.  The Debenhams customer service person continued.....Wallis should reply to the urgent email within 72 hours.  This customer service person also said they would call my wife (since they had her mobile number) as soon as they had heard from Wallis.

It was at that point I knew I would have to do battle and shame Debenhams into pulling their finger out and find the dress I bought for my wife.

I can buy all kinds of items on Amazon UK and have them delivered the next day complete with tracking information but Debenhams couldn't even give me a tracking update after 7 days!  In recent times it's been reported that Debenhams is in financial trouble and their spokespeople say they want customers, but the management doesn't seem to know how to set up customer services and use common sense decisions about communication.

I reached out using my social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to try to find someone who worked for Debenhams who actually cared for the customers, someone who would not just quote platitudes and tell me that's the way it is. 


I started writing this story last December, and in the end, I got a refund but I was left feeling very reluctant to shop online at Debenhams or Wallis again.

The UK high street is shrinking fast because of Amazon and other online retailers, but the remaining department stores need to be run better and improve their customer service if they want to stay in the game.  In April 2019 Debenhams went into administration and is in the process of trying to trim down its number of stores to stay in business. By mid-May 2019, Mike Ashley began to mount a legal challenge to the rescue package because he lost £200 million when his shares were wiped out when the company fell into the hands of its lenders.

Ashley's company (Sports Direct) offered to inject an addition £200 million but his offer was rejected mainly because it was conditional on Ashley becoming chief executive of the department store chain. So thousands of jobs and pensions put at risk as these powerful men put egos before the good of the company's long term survival.

The future of the UK's 241-year-old Debenhams still hangs in the balance.  It is such a shame that the for years British high street stores have been run by numpties and bone heads, who seem to have totally lost touch with the concept of customer service and speedy service.  



A Rogue Food Site Called Recipeler

Recipeler logo

A few posts back it seems I could both make a point and be humorous, but at the moment it is hard to raise even a rye smile particularly when talking about the internet.

The internet has brought the possibility of worldwide communication, the chance for an oppressed people to tell their story to the world, for small businesses to sell their products/ services around the globe and for wrongdoers to be exposed.

For most of us the workings of the internet is a mystery, but just like owning a car we shouldn't have to be a mechanic to take advantage of the benefits.  But unfortunately at the moment, unscrupulous people are stealing from us left right and centre and we need to fight back!


Rogue sites

Continue to steal my photos and recipes and post it on their own sites; they do this first and foremost because it boosts their own search engine rankings, and because they think you won't notice.  In September 2017 I wrote about the theft I suffered from a website called The Black Pudding Club http://grumpyoldmen.typepad.com/grumpyoldmen/2017/09/the-black-pudding-club-theft.html  Currently, I am fighting with a rogue food site called recipeler.com

As far as I can tell all of the content on the food site called recipeler.com is content they have stolen from search engine results.  I'm not talking a few dozen recipes but a few hundred recipes, taken from sites like All Recipes without their knowledge or permission. A few of my high ranking photos were also taken and posted on this rogue site without my permission.

Although theft like this has now happened to me many times, it still doesn't make it any easier to take, I feel violated as if someone has robbed my house.  My copyrighted recipes and photos help me to get work, as such I defend them fiercely. 

I don't just blame the individuals that steal my stuff, I also blame the big players like Google and other search engines that make it so easy to illegally copy other people's property. Both Google and Facebook make billions of dollars selling adverts, but this is only possible because of the content we (all of us) create.  Without that daily tide of content, the world would not be watching and reading those ads.  Google and Facebook should be protecting our content against theft, if for no other reason than to protect its own financial interests, but that is not the case at the moment, so lawmakers need to step in and force them to do the right thing.

Worse still...

I found out the other day that Google+ Tumblr and Twitter are selling access to our data to third party companies such as compute.info

Haven't any lessons been learnt from the Cambridge Analytical scandal?   The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable said, "People should be "empowered" to sell their own

data if they want to, to share in the profits of technological advances." He continued to say "data was "the new oil" yet people were happy to give it up for free."



Back to the Recipeler story.......

As the internet has grown up and become more sophisticated so have the tools and methods to aid the theft.  In complicated situations, you can have several different companies that host a site or a conduit in the process.  Like other shady websites, recipeler.com do all they can to hide who owns them and what company has been used to host the site.


Telltale signs of dishonest intent

Recipeler has no contact information on their site, none whatsoever, which is always a bad sign about the honesty and intent of a website or blog.  So I'm forced to spend time trying to track that information down.  At the moment I am still sending emails off to verify which hosting company Recipeler uses, but I am close very close.

Here are a couple of Screenshots of my stolen photos on Recipeler.com

Recipeler theft 2

Recipeler theft 1

Here are links to my original recipes

Roast Belly of Pork with Apple Cabbage

Green Tomato Soup with Roasted Chillies

As part of my fightback, I have begun to contact other websites that have had recipes stolen to make them aware of the illegal behaviour of recipeler.com 

I will update this post as I uncover who is the host company and their response to the outrageous theft by recipeler.com

The Black Pudding Club Theft

Chicken Stuffed with Black Pudding

It seems that every year I have to fight hard to defend my recipes and photos from unscrupulous bloggers that think it is fine to cut and paste one of my recipes onto their site.  

The Why

Climbing up the Google rankings is a slow process if you are a new site; however, if you are unscrupulous you can copy and paste say 20-30 of the top black pudding recipes, and suddenly your site is now in the nosebleed section of Google page1. Having gotten onto google page 1 using other people's work, the site can now get organic traffic because most people will click on a link from page 1.  Which of course helps to keep them on page 1 and makes the selling of adverts possible.  


If a piece of work has been copyrighted then it should NOT be used without the owner's permission, period!!

Making lame excuses saying that they credited me as the author and my blog as the source, is not good enough by a country mile.

Why should they gain google ranking benefit and possibly money (by selling Google Ads) from stealing my work? Just because a recipe on the internet is less physical than a car doesn't make it okay, in fact, it's worse because at the moment too much theft like this goes on, and perpetrators are shocked when you call them thieves.

The Culprit is a site called Blackpudding.club

They have lots of black pudding recipes from popular sites, some without permission, including one of mine they posted in January 2017.

Here is the recipe that was taken without my permission:  Chicken Stuffed with Black Pudding © Kevin Ashton 2005 

I did not realise this theft until September, so they benefitted from my high Google ranking for 8 months!  I wrote to the site. also to the facebook page and here is what I said and their reply:

Plagiarism by Black pudding club

Dealing the faceless perpetrators

It has often been my experience (when plagiarised) that the perpetrators hide their identity, as was the case with the blackpudding.club.

Even when they wrote to me via email they signed it  'Club Secretary', which just shows their desire to stay in the shadows.


The Damage caused by the theft

Even after the plagiarised (stolen) work is taken down, it takes weeks, sometimes months for the original recipe and photograph to regain the search engine ranking it had.

This sort of illegal behaviour goes on a lot but at the moment; the internet stakeholders (internet providers, search engines and social media) don't do enough to remind users what a breach of copyright is and remind them that using other people's property without permission is theft, plain and simple. 

 Links from my plagiarised recipe and photo were still linked back to this wretched blackpudding.club 7 days later on Bing, AOL, DuckDuckGo, MetaCrawler, Yahoo, here are just 2 examples. 


Yahoo Search 18th Sept

Right now, on the internet, you have to be ready and able to defend yourself and make them wish they had never plagiarised your work.

Tools To Defend Yourself

  • Plan of attack: Although it is tempting to send an angry email to the site that has stolen your work immediately.  You are better off to take screenshots of the stolen work on their blog, also take screenshots of the results in Google and Google images, to prove not only the theft but the dates it occurred and show if it damaged your own search engine ranking.
  • DMCA Takedown Notice: If the site ignores your messages then you need to send them DMCA takedown notice ( you can google blank forms you can use as a template). Once you have sent them a takedown notice, you should also send another to the company that hosts the site.
  • Host Site: Often the host company 's initial response is they can't  be held responsible for what is done on the site, which is true in the first instance. But once you have sent them a DMCA takedown notice with the details of the plagiarism, which is a legal document, they are then also liable if the stolen material isn't completely removed from their servers.
  • Shout & Blog about it: If your copyrighted work has genuinely been used without your permission then blog about it and let the world know. You have to be factual, but if you stick to the facts, then you are only telling the truth.  Of course, the people behind the rogue site will be angry about the world knowing of their dirty little secrets, but it might make them think twice before that they do this to any other site.
  • Their Advertisers: If they are selling Google Ads or some other scheme, send them copies of the takedown notice to let them know the kind illegal behaviour they are being associated with.


Brexit Explained

We at Grumpy Old Men decided we should give the outside world an idea of why Britain voted to leave the E U.


We signed the papers to join the EU (which was called the Common Market) back in  1972 and we became official members on January 1st, 1973. Back then it consisted of France,Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and ourselves Great Britain.  Our attempts to join were not straight forward or short. We had in fact applied to join back in 1961, but our attempt to join was vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle. This was the same Charles de Gaulle the British had sheltered during the Second World War and helped to rebuild and equip his French army (who had also been also exiled to Britain).

Common Market 

The Common Market was supposed to be a free trade block that would give British exports easier access to European markets, which it did.

But gradually, the idea of  having a European parliament and an ever closer union began to take shape. Historically this diametrically opposed our fierce feelings of independence.  All through our time in the EU, most people could see the benefits, but also the growing negatives of membership.  


As the Common market enlarged and the move towards having a European Parliment, Germany and France exerted more and more influence on important decisions and the directions the EU moved in. European laws: the European (supreme) court began more and more to supersede the UK's own laws and wishes.  It seemed to many if France or Germany did not back an idea, then it did not move forward.


Belonging did not benefit the workers

If you look into the touted benefits of belonging to the EU most of them benefit businesses rather than the workers.

Many industries now have layers of new Health and Safety regulations, some are good but many are an example of bureaucracy gone mad.  To me, the litmus test the EU should be judged by is: are all of the people of the UK better off than before joining?  The answer is complex but in short, for most lower-paid workers, the answer is a resounding NO.

The free movement of people allowed British companies to hire people from the former Eastern block countries at lower wages, resulting in wages being kept low. Additionally, whenever the EU created laws to improve the working conditions many industries such as catering managed to lobby the European/British governments so they could opt out. In the last 30 years, protection of workers rights to sue for wrongful dismissal has diminished not grown.      Workers are often hired on much longer trial (probationary) periods than 30 years ago and can be dismissed without explanation.  Just like the rust belt of the USA,  whole swaths of the Midlands and Northern UK, heavy industry was allowed to go bust due to globalisation, but high paid jobs were replaced with low paid jobs.  

In 1999 a type of work grew up called zero hours contracts, it was touted as a way protect casual workers and their rights, to give them flexible working hours but in fact, it has had the opposite effect.  Large companies used it to cut their payroll costs, often calling in workers at the last minute to cover shifts, even making then clock out before they went through security checks after finishing work. Sports Direct have abused it to such an extent that the owner Mike Ashley was called in front of a parliamentary committee. Once again the EU didn't protect UK workers from this abuse, so from the point of view of a British worker what is the point of EU membership?


Some in Britain who wished to remain in Europe said that people who voted to leave were racists, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  In my lifetime, for the most part, the United Kingdom has grown and progressed into a multicultural and tolerant society.

The issue of Immigration was never about Polish people or others coming to the UK for a better life, we all understand the urge to improve and create a better life for ourselves and our families. But UK businesses used this to drive wages lower and keep them low. Another fundamental part of this thorny issue is services like Hospitals and medical facilities.  If you allow an extra 3.3 million people to live in the UK then the government needs to build more Hospitals rather than close some down.

Throughout history, immigration to any country can become a more difficult question during downturns in the economy such as the Financial crash of 2008.  Since the crash, the Tory government has chosen to tighten capital spending rather than build or renew infrastructure, despite interest rates being at a record low.

When other poorer countries have joined the EU, all of those countries use English as a second language so it is understandable this has fueled the desire to work in the UK, because from their point of view UK wages are higher than the wages in their own countries.  

The free movement of people to work and live within the EU has become a cornerstone of EU policy but frankly, it is one made without thought for the future.  Britain is half the size of France but has roughly the same size of population (64Mill UK) (66Mill Fr) so when France's population reaches 132million then perhaps it too might start to wish for immigration limits. 



UK citizens have had benefits of being able to work more easily in other EU countries, cheaper travel, easier travel (at least before 9/11).  Quite a few better off Brits have been able to buy second homes in France, Spain etc because of being members. Socially, I think it has been good up to a point of cultural integration and understanding.  It is argued that food prices have come down (in relative terms) due to our membership but since I can also buy many non-EU foodstuffs cheaper I think that is also down to globalisation. Often things in life have a balance and when that balance falls out of kilter it will cause a reaction.


The Shock

Many people, particularly in the southern wealthier part of the UK were shocked at the result of the referendum, and some continue to  be churlish about it like a petulant child.  European leaders were perhaps shocked even more so, never dreaming anyone would wish to leave the "club".  Perhaps if they had understood this they might have offered some meaningful concessions to keep the UK in the EU.


If you were to talk to most UK voters who wished to remain in the EU and ask them did they wish to be part of an integrated United States of Europe, most would say NO;  when pressed for an explanation of how we could achieve remaining in the EU and  avoid the move towards a federal state they never offer any suggestion of how this could be done?



I suspect in the end leaving will create a long needed debate between the remaining countries, as to the future direction of the EU and whether it should become a looser trading block or a federal United States of Europe.  I hope the divorce is done in a reasonable way, though I doubt it, after all, we are talking about politicians.


Keeping our sense of Humour or Humor 

Just to show we at Grumpy Old Men can lead by example and show we still have our sense of humour..........

During my recent trip to Austria, I visited a well known Schnapps and fine vinegar maker called Gölles. During our private guided tour (by the owner's son), I was shown a room full of oak barrels and told for some years that they had been making and maturing whisky. Rather than join the growing number of Austrian single malt whisky producers Gölles made 5 separate whiskies from corn, rye, barley, wheat and spelt and when mature blended them together. Deciding to go in a fundamentally different direction than the rest, what else could they call their Whiskey other than Brexit!

Brexit Whiskey.png