Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Pens. Muji. Hmmm…

by Suw on November 11, 2003

I'm happy to discover today that I can buy Muji pens online. Only an act of strict self-discipline is stopping me from needlessly spending money on more Muji pens. They're just so gorgeous – nice to hold, nice to write with, nice colours. Hmm… nice. But I am relieved to know that I can get these pens online because my oft-used red one is running out and I was starting to worry about how I would cope without it.

Question is, what can I do with all the crappy free pens I've collected over the years that I don't use? I'm really pernickety about my pens, and stationery too. (I love paper – there's something particularly lush about a nice, crisp, blank piece of paper.) I dislike cheap, nasty pens that leave blobs of ink all over the place, or that don't write smoothly, or that simply look ugly or don't feel comfy in my hand.

But then again, I dislike throwing anything out that's still potentially useful. There should be a pen donation service to provide free pens for struggling students, writers or whomsoever is short of a pen. A Free Pen Exchange.

Tell you what, if you need a pen, email me and I'll bung one in the post to you. And the exciting thing is that you won't know what colour it's going to be…

Calm yourself, now.

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Tesco's: Weevil prevail!

by Suw on November 11, 2003

I took my weevils back to Tesco's this afternoon. One of them was still alive and munching away on the few grains of rice that had been sealed in the bag with him.

I spoke to a 'manager' at the store, showed her the weevils, and was offered a measly 99p and free bag of rice. Her line of argument was that weevils are a simple fact of life and that by buying a packet of rice I was accepting the risk that there might be weevils.

I don’t bloody think so. I'm sorry, but I disagree that finding livestock in rice packets is normal – it's not hygienic and it’s certainly not acceptable. After stating my displeasure at her assertions that weevils are here to stay, we reached in bit of an impasse:

Her: So, what do you want?
Me: It shouldn’t be up to me to ask for something, it’s up to you to make me an offer.
Her: I did, I offered you 99p.
Me: That’s not good enough.
Her: So what do you want?
Me: What are you offering?
Her: What do you want?
Me: What are you offering?
Her: Well, what do you want?

I think you get the drift…

Eventually, she offered me a five pound voucher, which I think is risible considering that I may well have ingested a damn weevil. I was so fed up by this point, I just told her to give me the damn voucher and let’s get it over with.

She went off to locate a voucher, then came back and said she’d call Head Office for me and see what they said. Fine. Call bloody Head Office.

When she came back she said that they’d take the details of my claim and get back to me within a few weeks and then she buggered off, leaving me and my weevils in the hands of a shop assistant (who was, it must be said, looking not a little disgusted herself at the whole fiasco). She took my details and that’s that. No voucher, no 99p actually, just a bag of rice. And not wholegrain rice either – we got white rice just in case the whole damn batch was weevil infested.

I feel a snotty letter or two coming on, firstly to the Ferndown store manager, secondly to Head Office and thirdly to Trading Standards.

Thing is, the whole situation is stupid. Ok, so I had weevils in my rice. What do you think would be good customer relations? Apologise profusely, give me a voucher for a decent amount of money (certainly more than a fiver – you can’t even get a good bottle of wine for a fiver these days), promise to check the rest of that batch of rice and to bring the problem to the attention of the appropriate department.


Instead we had a debate about whether weevils should be forming a part of the normal British diet and the pathetic offer of 99p and a free bag of rice. Tesco’s pre-tax profits for the first half of 2003 were £625 million. I think they can afford to give me a bit more than 99p.

Plus I think they’ve had a weevil problem for months. I virtually lived off wholegrain rice and wholewheat pasta when I was in Reading, but since springtime it has been nigh on impossible to locate either in the huge Tesco’s there.

About a week or so before I moved, I went to cook my dinner only to find weevils in my wholegrain rice. I’d thought then that because the packet had been open and only loosely sealed in my cupboard, that it was my fault that it had weevils.

In retrospect, I suspect that the weevils came with the rice rather than from anywhere in my house.

This makes me even more cross – obviously Tesco’s knows that there’s been a weevil problem, because otherwise why would they have cleared the shelves of all wholegrain rice for months? Seems to me that they don’t have adequate quality control checks in place on their products.

Anyway, I shall enjoy writing a suitably annoyed letter tomorrow. Meantime, I’d advise you all to check your rice carefully for small beetles before you cook it, particularly if it came from Tesco’s.

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