Round 2 The Complaining Cow Meets IDS

On the 17th January I went to see IDS in a surgery. No personal issue but I had decided to take on others’ issues just because I could. I thought I’d go again. Here’s how easy it was to make another appointment……

22/01/14 Emailed the office asking for further appointment
28/01/14 Emailed pointing out that IDS told me emails were answered within 48 hours but not had a response hoped I wouldn’t have to go to the media…
04/02/14 Response to say email forwarded to Jo Nash (IDS’ researcher/assistant) and shortly afterwards response from Jo Nash to say FOI had been forwarded and to give details of new case to “…see if an appointment will be necessary” (with Iain) 🙂 (That smiley face was mine not hers!)
06/02/14 Emailed Jo saying how nice it was that we were all on first name terms and I shall put them on my Xmas card list. Pointed out discrepancy in how long it had taken to forward FOI, I had not had a response to letter re the #WowPetition and I wished to discuss further the issues that we had run out of time with before and that Iain had agreed to this
10/02/14 Forwarded email asking for response
10/02/14 Response referring only to FOI
10/02/14 Jo forwarded email showing she had asked someone to draft a response to the #wowpetition letter. You can see the response here, here and here
10/02/14 Responded pointing out it was the last two paragraphs of the email I needed a response for. One of which said specifically “As regards the next appointment, I am sure you will recall that Iain very politely said that he would answer another question after we were out of time and that I said it was fine I could arrange another appointment to which he agreed. So in summary I would like to finish that discussion regarding benefits and fraud and also ask Iain about ATOS.”
13/02/14 Response saying copied in Lynn into email to make appointment
13/02/14 Email booking me in for the 21/02/14

Five emails and 22 days to get another appointment….. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Wait ’til you see the response to my request for a third go…!

Anyway, here follows 3 clips of my surgery with IDS.

Firstly “bedroom tax” he blames councils, housing associations and doesn’t agree with the National Housing Federation figures….. he was a little confused when I mentioned James from LBC (he had quite a row with him on LBC radio)


The Bull heard me editing these and told me to  “Leave the poor bloke alone” Frankly he’s heard me give a lot worse so don’t know what that was about! Then we talked about ATOS. Unfortunately not enough ammo at my finger tips but I had a little stab. I raised my voice a little but controlled myself! Not really the grilling that he got at the committee hearing on Universal Credit last December but every little helps and we know I love that phrase! (Too many of my posts to which I could link!) Look to see how he doesn’t answer a question, blames the last Government, dismisses stories of people in comas and with degenerative diseases as isolated and media spin.

Wouldn’t be me without a little bit of fun, so a couple of clips of taking something, can’t think what….! Asked him to take a selfie… see what happened! I gave him cake. Well I did offer to Jo and him to come to my house where the kettle was always on and if I knew they were coming I’d bake them a cake. But unfortunately despite saying he makes home visits they are only for disabled people. No mention of sick people though. They may have thought I fell into this category of course though…

So yes, I asked for another surgery with Iain. He’s my mate now don’t you know? This is the response I got:

“Hi Helen,
I understand from CWGCA that you are seeking another surgery appointment with IDS. As I’m sure you can appreciate, we have a large number of constituents requesting surgery appointments, and it would not be fair for us to see one constituent on a monthly basis and not other constituents. Our next surgery is on Friday 28th March and I know that this is already getting full up with some very urgent cases. I would therefore ask if you could be patient and wait for a surgery appointment in April or May, once we have dealt with some of the much more urgent cases.

So, that’s it then. No more meetings, obviously hoping to put me off indefinitely.

Ok, so who believed that then? What? Are you new to this blog?! I’m just lulling her into a false sense of security and not responding for a few days… but I will… keep an eye out on my Facebook page and Twitter to keep updated!

06/03/14 update – emailed 12 follow up questions last week and chased today for answers, still no reply. I will NOT give up!

Would be interested in your comments. Do you think things will improve? Do you think he’s getting a handle on it? Will those error figures go down? Do you think he cares? Are the cases we hear about just isolated? How much should that percentage error decrease? What do you think of the “bedroom tax”? Were enough homes built in your area? Do you think it is incompetence or targets or both? Would you like one of our cakes? Should I leave him alone now?


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Beware of Warning Labels!

Remember Millie? She had a problem with Kelloggs.  Well a little time before that her mother had a problem with Lakeland Plastics.

Laura purchased their “Blitz that Mould” mould and algae stain killer to tackle the mouldy patches around her house. Upon reading the label on the front & back she duly made sure the rooms were well ventilated and tested on an inconspicuous area (as advised). Upon finding no adverse reactions she continued spraying the affected areas, returning 30 minutes later to see amazing results!

She decided to spray the damp patch inside her wardrobe which is an alcove in the bedroom with a door on (so not a standalone piece of furniture). The damp patch was on the sloping ceiling part so after checking the instructions again, she opened the windows and lightly sprayed the black area. She returned 30 minutes later and the spray had stained her clothing (which she did not remove prior to spraying as the label did not stipulate it was unsuitable for fabrics) – in total the spray ruined 4 jackets, 3 shirts, 1 cardigan and a top! Ummm!

Beware the warnings!

She re-read the labels which merely stated it was not to be used on enamel, marble, aluminium wood and granite, it did not mention anywhere that it should be kept away from fabrics or that it contained bleach – only “Contains: Less than 5% Anionic Surfactants, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hypochlorite” – which means very little to the general public.


So, step forth The Complaining Cow. I wrote up the above and added in that Under the Sale of Goods and Services Act the product was not fit for purpose, not of satisfactory quality and misleading which also falls under the Consumer Regulations 2008. (Misleading omissions Part 2 Prohibitions). Ah you didn’t know that one did you? Always do your research to throw everything you can at them – there’s another tip to the other 20! 🙂

Photos were sent with the email with a breakdown of the costs of the damaged clothes totalling ÂŁ365 and photos.

Off went the email and Laura got quite a speedy response back. They wanted her to ‘phone her. HATE that. So off went another email saying No! Everything in writing, always. Eileen came back asking for Laura to return the bottle. Now, you have to be careful here too, what if it gets lost in the post? What if they test it and say it’s ok when clearly it wasn’t? You ask for them to pay postage and you tell them that you are keeping some in case you need to do your own tests if you take the matter further, that’s what you do.

Well, she got an email back saying that the product had actually been recalled and it now has a warning about a bleaching action. She offered £400. My guess was that their insurance kicks in at £500 so we tried to up it. Asked for a further £100 and got £50. So not a bad result. I have to say they were pretty good in the way they dealt with the matter. But why is it that all the high pay out complaints I do are for other people?!


How to Get an Extra 3 Hours on Your Holiday!

Last October teachers went on strike. For the Complaining Cow’s Calf school this meant he had a day off. The following day his school had an INSET day. Result!




For the family it meant getting away for a long week end much much cheaper. Third to half the price!

It was right at the end of the season so just perfect for people who hate people! Majorca here we come we decided!

We booked with Alpharooms. We paid for everything including the transfer. There was a shuttle bus or a super saver bus. One cost just ÂŁ1 more per person so we thought we’d do that, maybe it was a private bus or at least smaller. Wrong. We weren’t alone in thinking this. It appeared that everyone on that bus had booked the same bus, paying the extra ÂŁ1 per person. But most people thought that it was only a couple of quid and forgot it methinks. However, I am not most people and remember, it’s the principle of the thing. How many people paid this extra ÂŁ1 and how much profit was made? Just the same as this. Typically we were the last drop off of course. Hour and a half later we were dropped off. This can’t be helped but we thought they might pick us up last going back the other way round as we were less than half an hour away from the airport. When we got the time of when we would be picked up we found that this was not the case and we were to be picked up in the early hours of the morning with no breakfast!

So guess what I did? Yep. Fired off a quick email to Alpharooms asking what the difference was and why the bus couldn’t go the other way and given the time of our flight why were we being picked up so early. Actually, even with allowing the hour and half for the journey it still got us there 3 hours before the flight! So I got the standard response about having to investigate. We were only there for a few days so I got seriously annoyed when I still didn’t hear from them. In fact so did the Bull and we booked a taxi for the transfer. I’ll get that back I thought.

I’m The Complaining Cow. I thought right. Had to email the CEO (you can find contact details for any CEO at to do it but pointed out the unfairness and idiocy of the transfer times, the misleading of customers re transfer buses and the inconvenience. Got the full transfer costs back (both ways which was a couple of quid less than the taxi!) plus ÂŁ10. I complained a bit more and got another ÂŁ15 for the “potential loss” of breakfast. A total of ÂŁ65. I think that was all about right.

However, there is a serious point here. After chasing for an explanation regarding the difference in prices of the transfer I was told “Alpharooms use various providers for the services that we offer. As a result some of the services are described in slightly different ways depending on the information we receive from our providers. The Super Saver Shuttle is the same as a Shuttle bus service; the difference is simply in the branding of the product” All well and good EXCEPT, the two shuttles were the same and were listed at exactly the same time. Do you think their explanation covers that? You decide and if you think not, think how many ÂŁ1s were made last year as pure profit. Then you might not think me daft for complaining about a couple of quid here and there. It’s the principle of the thing, if more of us did it then perhaps consumers wouldn’t be ripped off so easily when it comes to larger amounts. What do you think?


This Isn’t Just Praise, This is The Complaining Cow’s Praise

Remember Calmer Cat? She bought The Complaining Calf a birthday present. A walking roaring dinosaur. Except it didn’t roar. One very disappointed 6 year old. This dinosaur wasn’t just any old dinosaur this was a Marks and Spencer’s dinosaur. I looked on line to see if I could get another one, nope. None in Bluewater and none in Lakeside, our two nearest places.

So, I knew I’d get my money back. Obviously. But The Complaining Calf did want a replacement. So, I tweeted Marks and Spencer. I said I had a very disappointed 6 year old. They spent two days searching the country for a replacement. Now, why they couldn’t just type in the stock number and have all the M & S shops come up on the system in a few minutes I don’t know, but they did keep coming back telling me that they were still looking. But then, their online feedback/complaint process is utterly appalling too. (Not the people, the system).

They didn’t have one anywhere in the country! But while they were looking they said they would send a present to The Complaining Calf to say “Sorry”. They sent him this:

Glow teeth dinosaur
Glow teeth dinosaur

It had to be put together. The Bull helped with that. he said the instructions were rubbish. Make of that what you will……

Look at those scary teeth. I could cope with the instructions for that bit….




Anyway, I thought that was pretty good service and really going the extra mile. One cynical person said that perhaps my reputation went before me and got in their first….! Possibly, 🙂 but even though I am highly cynical, I haven’t (yet) written a post complaining about them, my ego isn’t big enough to think that Marks and Spencer staff read my blog! Who knows??? But I did think it was pretty good and so did The Complaining Calf. The only things about this though, is that that child is going to have a very distorted view of customer service as he grows up…….