Thursday, August 17, 2017

Compensation

So, I claimed and obtained compensation of 600 Euros from Air France as per EU regulations. (That's not going to change my stance on EU and Brexit though, but more on that maybe later.) I must say I am pleasantly surprised at the speed they dealt with this. I was expecting months of waiting, and it came less than a week.

Now maybe I should change my mind and take this particular flight combination every time, hope that they delay every time and then I will have indefinite free flights...

Lesson: if the pilots do not mention reasons for the delay, it is a very big hint that it is for a compensatable reason.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Complaints against Air France and Ibis Styles Paris CDG

After venting my anger on Twitter:

here is the full story.

The flights

I was due to take the following flights:
AF1565 19/7/2017 19:45 BHX - CDG 22:00
AF188  19/7/2017 23:35 CDG - HKG 17:35 +1

The BHX-CDG flight was heavily delayed. No one ever explained why the flight was delayed, but when we arrived at the gate, there was no plane there. After a while, the plane finally arrived - to offload its passengers! So clearly the incoming flight was also delayed.

Eventually the plane took off about 75 minutes later than scheduled. There was a surprisingly large number (20+) of people on the flight who looked like Hongkongers, all connecting to AF188. Somehow many of them were rather inexperienced about this kind of situation. When some of them asked the crew, they were simply told to "run very quickly" to try to catch the connecting flight.

The rebooking and accommodation arrangements

The plane touched down at 23:05, but with CDG being CDG, it took until 23:20, perhaps even later, for us to get off the plane. Obviously the gate for AF188 closed by then, but I still ran to it hoping they would have waited for us. It seems to make rather more sense to wait about 20 minutes for such a large group of passengers on a long-haul flight like this, than to go through all the trouble of rebooking so many passengers and to fly a plane with 20 passengers short. Still, it may be beyond their control (the security staff have already gone off work) and if you are those sitting on AF188 you would think otherwise.

So a whole queue of people waited at a transfer desk while 2 staff members dealt with this - extremely slowly. It took a long time until eventually more staff arrived. Quite frankly, they should be more prepared. They should have known, even before AF1565 took off, that all these people were going to need to be rebooked.

I was handled by a reasonably helpful staff member. She said I was the last one to be able to book onto the same flight 24 hours later (so it was worth the running...) Although that was not 100% true - the next day I recognized one girl on the same flight. But I was also aware of people being booked onto some Beijing-connecting flights. Anyway, I was reasonably happy with this arrangement and this particular staff member. She spent an awful long time on the phone (presumably to AF backoffice) about arranging my meals. The hotel booking included breakfast, and I was told the hotel would give me lunch as well - by her handwriting something onto the hotel voucher. I was also given a voucher for dinner at the airport the next day.

The whole process of arranging hotels and food and getting there was chaotic. I was told to go to somewhere at the departure level to collect some food. Then I was told to walk across to the opposite terminal to get transport to the hotel. Could you not do things more centrally? When I eventually found my way there, I was simply directed to go elsewhere. Conflicting information was given - no one seemed quite sure when the CDGVAL train or some shuttle would have stopped running late at night. Somehow, after bumping into a bunch of overly-passionate Brazilians heading to the same hotel, I managed to arrive there. (Actually not the same hotel, they were booked into Ibis and me Ibis Styles, but fortunately they were just next to each other. They have an annoyingly large number of similarly-named hotels...)

Rude hotel staff

But here is my real complaint.

When I checked in, the guy collected my voucher. Fearing now I lost "proof" to my lunch entitlement, I asked him about this and he said I have to speak to reception the next day. Fair enough. The next day, when I checked out and asked reception about this, the woman simply said "no". She was VERY RUDE and EXTREMELY UNHELPFUL. I asked to see the voucher they collected the day before, she again said "no", without offering any reason. After repeated questioning she finally uttered a little bit more, along the lines of "you should have gotten a voucher last night, if you do not have one we will not give you lunch". At no point did she show any interest to help, offer any alternatives, or try to find out whose fault it was. She did not even try to blame Air France. As soon as she finished the word "no" she went back to her own business, even though I was still standing there. Not that she was really busy with anything. There was no attempt to even pretend to be sorry about what happened, or show any sincerity. Her attitude was basically like "Your trick (to get a free meal) won't work, I have seen this many times".

Twitter to the rescue?

Then I went on Twitter to complain about them. Both AF and Ibis responded very quickly. Unfortunately, it simply ended in more disappointment. After a long exchange of messages with AF, where they basically offered to reimburse my lunch if I produce the receipts (which I cannot produce other than a 2.70 euro snack, since I didn't take a proper lunch), I was told to make a formal complaint. I'm not sure what's the point of your twitter team if all they do is to redirect people to your conventional complaint mechanisms. (Though it seems to be what most companies do these days...)



I'm not going to go through the whole process to get 2.70 euro refunded. You ought to offer something better than this. It is like when you are caught stealing things at a supermarket, and you just offer to repay the value of the stuff stolen. And I'm sure the lunch promised was worth more than 2.70. If I had known you are going to refund, I would have gone about my day entirely differently.

Conclusion

I wouldn't call myself a "frequent flyer" but I fly this BHX-HKG route very regularly (not always AF though) and I think you should treat your customers better. Now I only need a way to use my mileage points and be done with you. As for that hotel, is it your hotel's policy to treat customers with that sort of attitude? If not, I would demand to know what action is being taken about that staff member.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Unorganized thoughts on GE2017 (2)

More:

(5) Tactical errors: the focus on who is the strong leader is not a wrong one. But these are the sort of things that should be done subliminally, not saying out loud. You want people to subconsciously accept the message. Saying it out loud makes people think and then question whether it is right.

(6) More tactical errors: if you think this is about giving you a stronger hand for Brexit, then you should have no new policies. Just stick to most of what is promised in the 2015 manifesto. Instead, she was initially too confident, too greedy, and tried to grab "Labour heartlands" and the working class by those things such as pension lock. Trying to not rely on bribing the elderly for winning the election was a principled thing to do. (The "dementia tax" row is frankly quite ridiculous - who would have thought Labour is the one who want to encourage accumulation of wealth?) She tried moving towards the centre, ended up in the middle of nowhere.

She has broadly good intentions or ideologies (for those on our side), but frankly was very incompetent in carrying them out.

(7) So grammar schools are not going to happen er? Meritocracy has lost. (Well, it has lost a long time ago.)

(8) I never understand this "mood on the doorstep" thing. Surely the young people and those who need to work are not there to answer the door.

And speaking of young people... well this is what happens when they are mobilised into politics. The young voters obviously have not experienced the 1970's when the trade unions brought the country to a grinding halt. (Neither have I.) There are some very good reasons why some left-wing policies are perhaps good for society - for example, I am not actually that against some of those nationalisation policies, e.g. water, since clearly there is no meaningful competition whatsoever - but I very much doubt those 18-year-olds know anything more than the simplistic "liberal" ideologies that was being stuffed into their heads at school.

Unorganized thoughts on GE2017

(1) The happiest person in the country right now must be George Osborne.

(2) I didn't believe Brexit would win the referendum until that very day it won. I didn't believe Article 50 would be triggered until the very day it was. I still don't believe Brexit will actually happen (in any meaningful form) until it actually happens.

The liberal "establishment" would not just sit there and accept defeat to the so-called populism. They will fight back. They are in control of the world economy and power for so many years, there may be temporary setbacks but they would not go away easily. 

(3) Speaking of populism or anti-liberalism or anti-globalization or localism, whatever you call it... they are so short-lived. We had high hopes, but now it seems it is all gone and everything is about to return to what it was before, indeed worse from our point of view. In Hong Kong, the localism movement barely lasted a few years. In electoral terms it only began in February 2016. A defeat in September of the same year, and now everything is dead. In Britain, UKIP had its moments in 2015 and is now dead. In France, a widely Eurosceptic electorate somehow ended up choosing the most liberal candidate (he calls himself centrist, I call that extreme liberalism).

For those of us fighting against political correctness, we are now pegged back to the corner and are going to need to defend for our lives from all sides. Prepare to embrace for more "choose love" and "hope not fear" and "social justice".

(4) I have some sympathy for May. I always felt her hand was a bit forced when she had to call a general election, due to the slim majority. She cannot call it before triggering Article 50, and cannot do it much later. The police cuts, for which she was heavily criticized, were obviously made under the reign of Cameron and Osborne (again, laughing happily now).

But she made MANY misjudgments. She should not have gone all the way to the Supreme Court regarding Brexit (that will save a few months, allowing triggering Article 50 earlier and calling the GE earlier. If the GE happened before the local elections, the result may be reversed.) Then there was the NI contribution saga, then the social care reform, then of course calling the GE itself. 

The campaign is a complete disaster. She looked shaken from start to finish. For some reason, in her speeches when she wanted to sound powerful, those "Come with me..." were voiced like Darth Vader saying "... together we can rule the universe."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

On hatredphobia

I am certainly a negative person (unashamedly so - I don't think there is anything wrong with that). As such I am really quite fed up with this kind of blind positivity and optimism. Every time something like this happens, all you keep hearing and seeing is
  • "We are not afraid, because that's what they want"
  • "We must carry on with our lives, we can't let them win"
  • "You cannot defeat us"
  • "Make love not war", "Love trumps hate", "Choose love", and hand gestures and drawings full of "love"
What's wrong with these, you say? Well, I cannot explain that. Those are such correct and positive things to say, how can you possibly argue against them? I am certainly not articulate enough to express any argument, I hope someone else could and I also kind of hope that deep down people feel that it is not right.

Saying these things obviously does not help solve the problem. (Seriously? You carry on with your lives as normal, so they just carry on with their lives as normal and continue to kill people. Is that your definition of them "not winning"?) But that's ok; showing solemnity, solidarity and respect is absolutely the right thing to do. Even fooling yourself with a false sense of confidence and optimism is sometimes necessary to keep morale up.

But more importantly, I feel that is not even the reason they say such things; rather it is to let them (subconsciously) "feel good about themselves", to convince themselves that "I'm a good person, I don't hate people" (even after they do terrible things to you). This self-indulgence of "love" and the idea that love can magically solve all problems is alarming. (As in HK where "love and peace" can allegedly break through the armour of a tank...)

People are being so conditioned these days, that no matter what atrocities happen, there is no anger, no rage, never mind hatred. There is no fight. These "negative" emotions have been suppressed. And I am not only talking about the "recognized", politically-incorrect forms of "phobia"; this also can be seen, for example, in the Jo Cox murder (killed by someone presumably far-right, and the husband repeatedly told people not to hate), and a while ago I posted on a case of a Taiwanese killing an innocent girl.

If Daleks purged all emotion other than hatred, then the left is about to succeed in the exact opposite*. Both, I would argue, are anti-human.

And I suspect this post may get me into some trouble...

(*): Actually that's not quite true, they have no problem hating certain political parties or figures, ironically accusing them of spreading fear.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Excuse me, whose Parliament is it supposed to be?

It always baffles me why some political parties in this country openly stand for foreign interests and are against British interests. Like Labour who say they will unilaterally guarantee EU citizens' rights on day one. Also Lib Dems at the House of Lords. We are electing members of the British Parliament, we are choosing a British prime minister. Why should they put foreign interests ahead of British interests? You don't need to worry about EU citizens' rights, because the other 27 countries are going to fight for it. That is what they are demanding and rightly so. The British government should be fighting for the rights of British citizens residing in EU; otherwise who is going to speak for them?

And if it is such an "honourable" and "decent" thing to offer a unilateral guarantee, why don't they ask the EU to do this decent thing?

Monday, November 28, 2016

The benefit of hindsight on Black Friday...

I consider myself to be pretty good at holding out for the best discounts for lego, but lately I'm not having any luck (or skill) and keep buying at the wrong place at the wrong time.

First, 21303 and 21304 were bought last year, at full price, as soon as they were released; the Ideas theme was usually rather exclusive and difficult to get. Then, last month, they together with 21302 were in Tesco 3-for-2 (on top of heavy discounts)... I could have got all three with £75 but buying separately costed me £125. That was £50 lost already...

Then two weeks ago, I bought on ebay 42056, a set that probably is the only one in the past 10+ years where the box is seriously important... and of all things, it is the one that got damaged. Not only that, this weekend I saw it £5 cheaper on Amazon, which is £20 cheaper than its previous lowest (and when its availability was very patchy... now, at the lower price, it is always available!)

And next, 10214, that strangely is still out there 6 years on. There was hope lego.com could have it on 20% discount on Black Friday, but it wasn't. I ended up picking it at John Lewis at 10% off. Normally I wouldn't even think about buying anything only 10% off - have to be at least 20-25% - but (again) this set was meant to be exclusive and rarely you see it in any discount at all. They put it in a box more than three times bigger than necessary. I almost killed myself bringing it home. Then two days later, on Monday, lego.com made it 20% off... A 10% difference is otherwise not that big a deal, but it was on the most expensive set I ever bought! The first and only set with 4000+ parts! Plus a free exclusive set 40223 that probably worths £20 or so that lego.com offers, I lost another £40 here...

Eventually I did buy something 20% off on lego.com, 42055. Interestingly, I held out longest for this one when this is the one I really want and really couldn't afford to miss. I held out when it was £149 at Amazon (and elsewhere).  Together with the gift, surely it can't go wrong this time?

Still, I think of these as investments. Just like buying shares, often you buy when you think it is low enough, only to see it drop another 10% within a week... bad, but this happens to all of us.

But after this spending spree I won't be "investing" for a very long time...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On grammar schools, nuclear plants, and protesting outside Russia embassy

When we voted Brexit, absolutely nobody could have imagined Theresa May would become Prime Minister and Boris Johnson the Foreign Secretary. So, where are we now? For politically incorrect people like me, things couldn't be better (policy-wise; my pockets continue to be deeply hit...)

Theresa May tries to bring back grammar schools. You wouldn't bet this would be the first non-Brexit issue that she decides to take on. Especially given that she was unelected and it was on nobody's manifesto. She must truly believe in it to do this. Leftists don't like the idea of any kind of selection based on ability. They believe everyone must be equally capable at everything, no one is a failure even if only in some areas, everyone should go to university and so on. In the end academically stronger students get pegged back, academically weaker students are forced into doing things they are not good at, and everybody pass every exam because the bar is so low. And when you can't distinguish people based on ability, you end up choosing them based on money, "guanxi", etc.

And she tried to block the nuclear power plant. I had some (foolish?) hope that she would have the guts to actually block it. This is probably asking too much, though. It was a suicidal idea inherited from someone else. But at least we get it delayed by several months; this may well give us several extra months to live after a future nuclear disaster that is bound to happen. Have nobody told you that everything made by China will explode? But this is still better than the situation of Hong Kong where we will be surrounded by tens of nuclear power plants soon, ready to blow up any moment.

She tried to position the Tories in the centre ground. A "centre" not in the sense of traditional political ideologies, but in the sense of "what ordinary people think". Let's hope some common sense can come back to politics, so people don't have to support the embarrassing UKIP, or the dangerous hard-left, or the muddled "centre-ground" parties that silently exploit you for big businesses.

And then Boris Johnson said those activists should protest against Russia's war crime. Though obviously not helpful to the situation, it is good that someone in his position cares and dares to point out the hypocrisy of those people. Those "peace activists" are not against war: they never protest against any war crime committed by Russia, or communists, etc. They are against America or the West. Which is perfectly fine; it is a perfectly legitimate position to take. Just say it out loud. Don't hide behind the banner of peace.

And the Russian response is equally interesting, calling it "Russophobia". Leftists used the -phobia suffix on anything these days. Just add it after any thing, and that "thing" suddenly becomes sacred and any argument against it are all just irrational hatred. In fact you are not allowed to discuss that sacred matter at all. I am getting more and more phobiaphobic...