Tag Archives: Shopping

My Christmas Internet Shopping Disaster

It’s safe to say that as December approached I wasn’t really in a good place, just ask my friends at my Connect Group, I couldn’t really explain what the issue was, it was just an amalgamation of a number of things. The last few years I’ve struggle at Christmas, it just seems there are too many bad memories that I dislike about myself and too many good memories that I long for once more. I know I was locked in my own mind and I was struggling to get out, my poems reflected this from time to time, none more so than The Cave.

By the time I got into December things hadn’t really improved, but my birthday did bring some relief, it was probably the best birthday I’ve had in many years. The next day for a brief period a big cloud that loomed large over Christmas was lifted, the money I was owed by the Architects came through. This was a big deal for me, it was money that was owed from the beginning of the year onwards, it was difference between my kids having the Christmas presents I wanted to give them and us just scraping through Christmas once again.

But then later that evening the clouds came back, I received a phone call from my Dad, his younger brother had finally lost his battle with lung cancer. Just before Christmas last year he had surgery to remove part of his lung, they also found the cancer had spread to his ribs, so they removed a number of them too. Earlier this year they found they hadn’t stopped it and gave Andy a year to live. Unfortunately he never made it that far.

A couple of nights later I dropped in to see my Dad on the way home from work, he said he was okay, but deep down he was struggling, he kept calling me Andy, he did it a number of times until he realised what he was saying. Andy had accepted his fate, he had prepared for everything, all my Aunty Sue had to do was register the death and arrange a date.

Andy’s cremation took place on Wednesday 23rd, just two days before Christmas, which was hard, but the family wanted to bring closure before Christmas and not have it hanging over them during that period, I think Andy would have wanted it that way.

The Online Nightmare

So with two weeks to go before Christmas, the money in my account I went onto the Internet to order presents. I logged on to the Argos website, chose what I wanted, arranged to collect in store and tried to pay for everything, then it all started to go wrong.

Firstly my bank got in the way, they stopped the payment, flagging it as fraudulent, so I responded to their security procedures and tried again, same problem! So this time I called the bank, they said it now wasn’t them, but Visa who were now stopping the payment, they sorted that for me and I tried again.

I should have by this point, just arrange to pay in store, but I persevered, this time though something was not right, after confirming payment details and my security details, nothing seemed to happen, the web page just returned to the home page and there was no order confirmation, something was not right, I tried again, same problem, so I called the bank again.

This time they said they weren’t stopping it, but as I was on the phone to them the transaction flagged up on their system and the money was reserved for Argos in my account, they gave me the authorisation details and suggested I speak with Argos, but at that time of night there was no one available to speak with.

So next morning at work I called Argos, no one could find my order, to be honest they didn’t seem that helpful in getting to the bottom of it all, I spoke to a guy who promised he would fax my bank and ask them to release the funds back into my account as they would not be collecting it, it he blamed their website timing out!

Later in the day I dropped into the bank to see I f they money had been released back into my account, it hadn’t and the woman there was totally unhelpful, it wasn’t a small amount to me, in total it was over £1000 that was tied up in my account, she suggested they give me a temporary overdraft, which she then said I would be charged for! Hang on a minute this isn’t my fault and I’m not paying for it, if they hadn’t blocked the transaction this probably wouldn’t have happened, I wasn’t happy when I left the bank, until I got that money back, Christmas was on hold!

I rang the bank when I got home and after about three phone calls and numerous different people, I finally got through to someone who made sense and could explain the situation. He explained the money was held for Argos and if they didn’t claim it, it would be back in my account sometime on Monday, as it was now Friday, that wasn’t that bad, why couldn’t the woman in the bank explain this? He in the end put £50 into my account as a gesture of goodwill from the bank. He did say if they received the fax from Argos they would release the money immediately, but as yet there was no fax.

Later that evening I checked if the money had gone back in, it hadn’t, so I called Argos to see what was happening. Once more I was passed from pillar to post, finally I got through to someone who seemed to be interested in sorting the problem. She agreed that I could called her on Monday when the money was back in my account, she would put the order in for me with discount and free delivery, I couldn’t argue with that, now I just had to wait for the money to be released back into my account.

I checked numerous times over the course of Monday, the money finally came back into my account about 9pm, too late to call Argos, so the next morning at work I tried!

I couldn’t get through to the woman I spoke with Friday and once again no one seemed interested, I was passed around the phone system and not one person would help me out, so after losing my temper and swearing at the guy on the phone I hung up, livid.

As Argos weren’t bothered, I decided to try Amazon, I logged on and ordered the same items and proceeded with the order. I thought it odd that the website hadn’t taken any security details for my card, but appeared to proceed the order. Then later that afternoon I got an email saying they couldn’t process the order, they needed further security details, until then my order was on hold, I emailed back saying to cancel the order and decided to give Argos one more try.

After getting passed around once more, finally someone took my order with the discounts promised, everything was now sorted. Then later that evening, there was just one more thing I needed to order from the Internet, but once more the payment failed, here we go again, I called the bank to find I was overdrawn by over £300, no way! It then transpired that both Argos and Amazon had had their payments accepted and reserved in my account which technically left me overdrawn. I was mad because I couldn’t see how Amazon could do this with no security information, surely this was wrong, unethical and possibly illegal, how wonderful the banking system is that it allows for this loop hole, technically the money does leave the account until they claim, so once more if I got Amazon to fax the bank it would be released immediately, otherwise it would return into my account in three days, which would be Friday, one week before Christmas.

Next day when I got to work, there was an email saying my Amazon order had been dispatched, what? The order that had been cancelled, the one they couldn’t confirm the payment details, the one that required security details was now on its way and would be delivered later that day. The last thing I wanted was two of everything and no money, so I contacted Amazon and cancelled everything, which they did, but they wouldn’t contact my bank and wouldn’t explain how they could process the order without my full banking security information, surely this wasn’t right!

As the day progressed there was no sign of my Argos order, so at the end of the day I called them, only to find that they had cancelled the order because they couldn’t confirm my security details, they said they tried to call me, but at work I certainly don’t answer calls on my mobile with 0845 numbers I don’t recognise, so they cancelled the order without informing my. So I had gone from believing in the morning that I had two orders on the way and no money, to now having no orders and no money.

So I called Amazon, surely if they have that money, they can reinstate the order, no such look, not even interested, they wouldn’t contact my bank and wouldn’t do anything with the order, they said their complaints department would contact me within 48 hours, yet at the point of writing this they never bothered. To say I was livid was an understatement, I was back beneath the dark cloud which was my dread of Christmas, for the first time in years I thought I could get things right and now everything was going horribly wrong. All I could do now was wait for the money to drop bank into my account and then hope I could still get everything in time for Christmas.

By Friday afternoon the first payment had dropped back into my account and the by the end of the evening the other one was back too. In a small town like Newark, there aren’t many shopping options, I don’t drive and I was working Saturday morning, so going elsewhere wasn’t possible either, so I gave in and went back to the Argos website, reordered everything and arrange to collect and pay in store, not going through this Internet payment nightmare again. So Saturday afternoon I finally collected everything, all the money was back in my bank and things seemed to pick up. The other item I wanted I was too late to order, so I managed to pick up an alternative from town, everything was back in place.

So far I haven’t pursued either complaint with Argos or Amazon for their performance or treatment. I decided for my own peace just to order the goods from Argos and leave it at that. I’m still undecided whether to contact both parties or just leave it, I think I will just leave it, move on now, but I certainly won’t be ordering anything over the Internet with either of them ever again.

In the end my Christmas was the best I have had in years, members of my Connect Group made it so much better, one couple give me a gift that was unbelievable and another family insisted I join them Christmas Day, rather than be alone at home, I had a great time with them, it made my Christmas.

I’ve been wanting to write this rant since all this kicked off, but managed to resist, I think it would have been pretty angst ridden and I didn’t want this blog to be used for such purposes, but now I write just to bring closure to the situation and hope that as the New Year approaches all the darkness that led up to Christmas is a thing of the past and the New Year is going to bring some amazing things, not just for me, but for everyone.

I hope and pray also that everyone had a great Christmas and the New Year is an amazing one.

I am going to post this song today, normally I used Christian songs or songs of encouragement, this one though is the one my Uncle Andy chose to be played at his service, I thought I would share it.

MANY RIVERS TO CROSS by UB40
Many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost as I travel along
The white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years and,
I merely survive because of my pride.

And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s such a drag to be on your own
My woman left and she didn’t say why
Well I guess, I gotta try.
Many rivers to cross but where to begin,
I’m playing for time
There’ll be times when I find myself thinking
Of committing some dreadful crime.

I’ve got many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost as I travel along
The white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years and,
I merely survive because of my pride.

Who Was I Really Hiding It All From?

After completing my 14 mile walk this morning I nipped into my local Co-Op supermarket, we needed milk and I forgot to pick it up last night, the only thing I went to the shop for and the only thing I didn’t get, so I was getting it this morning instead.

But as I usually do when I go into these places I end up buying stuff I don’t really need, this morning was no different, as I walked round the store with the usual offers in baskets around the isles, I passed an offer basket containing sparkling fruit juices, these looked nice, in glass bottles, not bad price, I might treat myself here, so I did.

When I got home, laden with bags, I got to the door and the two bottles clanged together, immediately a sense of panic came over me, I quickly got inside took my bags to the kitchen and started to unpack (I didn’t forget the milk this time, just in case you were wondering), I took the bag containing the two bottles straight into the front room without showing anyone, I was acting like I had two bottles of wine in the bag, I was reverting back to the dark days prior to 29th March 2012, when sneaking carrier bags of wine into the front room was common place in my life.

I took out one of the bottles and immediately scanned the label, one was sparkling blackcurrant and one elderberry juice, there was no mention of alcohol, so I was safe, but why was I sneaking these through the house, I have nothing to be ashamed of here, it’s just juice, I did have a look at the label in the shop, but I had to double-check, I was doubting myself here and acting like the tortured addict that I was many months ago!

In those dark days of the previous two to three years, I would often go out to the shop, I made no secret of that, I would even ask if anyone else wanted anything, but I would come back conscious of what was in my bag, trying not to the let the bottles bang against each other, sneaking them straight into the front room, everyone knew what I was going out to get, indeed the empties would be left in the kitchen in morning, but I felt the need to hide them, to sneak them into the house, as it went on the more I sneaked them in.

Eventually I would not only sneak them into the house, but I would hide them down the side of the sofa, after drinking them I would hide the empties and sneak them out to the bin in the morning, it didn’t matter about wine glasses, I never used them, I just drank straight from the bottle, no faffing about, I just got the stuff down my neck as quickly as I could.

Cans of cider were different, I didn’t hide them so much, just brought them into the house, put some in the fridge, downed them and then left the empties on the kitchen side, but it seemed I was becoming conscious about how my drinking, in particular the wine, was being conceived by my partner. But the thing here was she knew, she challenged me about how much I drank, the empties weren’t hard to see, even if I sneaked them into the bin, so who was I actually hiding it from, who did I feel the need to deceive the most?

Well the answer is myself, it couldn’t be anybody else, only myself and my partner knew about my level of drinking at home, the kids I don’t think fully appreciated the situation and as I was rarely drunk, the problem was not as visible to them.

I guess I didn’t want challenging anymore so I did my best to sneak it in, but I also didn’t want to challenge myself, I chose to try to hide it, I was hiding the stuff even if there was nobody in the house, I would sneak it in, hide it, then drink it in full view of everyone, so why go to the trouble of hiding it in the first place?

Was it the money? Bills weren’t getting paid, but I was still spending good money on this stuff that the family didn’t need, but I was convinced I did, here are the sums of my average week:

Pints of Cider at the pub: 20 pints @ £2.95 = £59.00
Cans of Cider from the shop: 8 cans @ £1.00 = £8.00
Bottles of Wine from the shop: 8 Bottles @ £5.00 = £40.00

Average Spending: £107.00 per week.

So I managed to average around £107.00 a week, that’s not including all the add-ons, crisps at the pub, money in the quiz machine, sweets, crisps and chocolate from the shop, I was out of control, I couldn’t help myself, I just couldn’t stop the madness, I couldn’t escape the crazy cycle that had become my sheer existence.

The sad fact is this, I didn’t want to admit to myself I had a problem, I hid it all from myself, convinced I needed the stuff to be able to sleep, I needed the stuff to cope with my life, I just needed the stuff and no one else, until it was too late, far too late.

I had a problem, but I didn’t want to admit it, I was hiding it, I was trapped by my own inadequacy, I was hiding from my weakness, if I hid these bottles, I hid the secret from myself, as well as everyone else!

Then it all came back this morning, these bottles were innocent sparkling juice, okay they were glass, they looked like wine bottles, they look a lot like wine bottles, the same colour liquid as white and red wine, but they contained no alcohol, but I still felt the need to hide them, once they clanged in the bottom of the bag, I went back to my old self, protecting my secret!

As much as I enjoyed the contents of these two drinks earlier today, I won’t be buying them again, it has scared my a little, it was too close to my shocking secret life, that I don’t want to feel like that, I want to feel open and truthful, the fact is I didn’t feel like that this morning.

Don’t get me wrong I have no urge here to shoot out to the shop for a bottle of wine, even though the taste was a little too similar, I am well passed those cravings, but I don’t want to feel that way.

So I am consoling myself with a bottle of Dr Pepper Zero, it’s not a good as normal Dr Pepper, but it has fewer calories, get me! That list of my weekly alcohol intake also totalled about 10,000 calories, is it any wonder I’ve lost weight over the last few months.

With addiction, it is clear to me now, that the person we hide it from the most is ourselves, an addict doesn’t want to admit what they are, they don’t want to hear it from others either, so we hide it, until we get to the point of no return, when at that point we don’t care about anything anymore, the rest of the world no longer matters.

I want to live an honest life, I want to hold my head up, walk tall and proud, living a clear and transparent existence, it’s not easy, I’m working at it, everyday, still making small changes and still refining others, but I will get there.

I’ve replaced that craving for alcohol with something healthier, something great, something that fills the soul, I simply replaced it with my faith. When I was convinced I needed the drink to sleep, I was proven wrong, when I prayed after getting through a night without it, I was given the greatest night’s sleep I’ve ever had, I’ve not had bad night sleep since, I have received peace.

I will give you peace when the walls come crashing down
I will give you peace through the night
When you’ve had all you can take can’t face another day
I’ll give you peace, I’ll give you peace
(Give You Peace by Echoing Angels)

I prayed for help to beat this at the very start and help was received and it’s been there all the way through, even in pain, even in moments of doubt and moments of anguish, I’ve been able to call on our God and the fantastic people he has brought into my life to pull me through, to help me make it through to 34 weeks sober!