Early Christmas in the UK

So last week was spent in the UK. For our annual early Christmas holiday.

I have to warn you this post is mostly going to be a gripe about the worst Monday we have had in a while, combined with some Tesco bashing!

So last Monday we were going to fly on the Monarch flight to Luton, or that was the idea. The weather in Gib had other plans for us. We were told in fairly quick time that the cross winds would be forcing us to divert to Malaga. No worries. I rather sit on a coach than crash in a plane, if you catch my drift. I witnessed the attempted landing of The British Airways plane (which did another loop around Gibraltar and landed OK on the second attempt, so I am told) I was sitting next to a gentleman, he in the window seat, myself in the aisle seat and the plane bounced on the tarmac and then flew off. My heart was in my mouth, and I am fairly sure the actual passengers on the flight probably claimed for new under garments.

The only thing I will grumble about from the Gibraltar end was the Gib Air staff on the tarmac, who when they heard the flights had been cancelled, cheered loudly before laughing, even though the viewing deck was knee-deep in disgruntled passengers. That fellas is bad karma. Sure we understand that you get to go home, but there were so many unlucky people who were missing connecting flights home. It was bad enough for everyone else, but some consideration of others feelings could have been exercised. Do your ‘half day dance’ behind closed doors in future!

So we board the coach. Fine and dandy. We get off the coach at the border. We then retrieve our luggage. (I need to point out the trip from the airport to the border is less than two minutes walk. There are probably people who can spit the distance it is that close. This coach trip is just stupid in my opinion; I know it probably happens for security reasons, but seriously what a waste of time!) We walk through the frontier, having our cases x-rayed again. We then congregate in the car park on the Spanish side and wait for the coach again. (This was luckily a fast process, no queues. Had there been queues, I think our trip would have been cancelled.) We then fling our cases on the coach and get settled in for the drive. When you are originally allocated a place on the coach, your flight ticket is labelled with a coloured sticker, you then remain with that coach. Blue sticker? Blue coach. Simple. Or not as it would turn out.

We get to Malaga in good time. We check our bags in again. We then make another dash through security. I can’t praise the staff enough for shoving us all through in double-quick time. Then we get in another queue to board the plane. We get on the plane after a while. And then we wait. Now I am quite proud of one quality the British have and that is our unadulterated skills at queuing and waiting. We do it like no other nationality. We can mutter under our breath in a queue for eons. Most of our fellow passengers are sitting. We are sitting. A couple of stragglers come along and board, I have no idea what they were doing in the airport, but they seemed to think this was another chance to raid duty-free or sample some of the restaurants perhaps, no rush, we are only two and bit hours behind schedule folks!

Then we get told there is an issue with baggage.

Checks are being made. Gibraltar is being called. A manifest has gone missing…

I won’t bore you with all the tedious details, but we sat there for hours. Our 2pm landing became a 9pm one, and all because baggage with no owners somehow ended up on our flight. Passengers Perkins and Burgess I hope that you were eventually reunited with your cases. Our luggage was taken off of the plane, and we were all requested to go and identify our cases so they could be reloaded, and so the offending cases could be removed. Oh my goodness. I swear I used up all of my good humour. This particular episode took place in the dark. With our eyes being aided by torches. I wondered and still wonder what happened. Would you check in twice and then not show for your flight? Or was this a case of the other diverted flights luggage getting mixed up in ours? I feel this is more likely. I know that flights can’t take off with unidentified bags for security reasons, but so much time was wasted with ‘waiting’ as opposed to acting whilst waiting for phones to be answered. Oh well.

Anyway after many hours of delay we landed at Luton Airport. We had lost the first day of our holiday and because of the time we eventually got in, we had to cancel a reunion dinner with about 15 of Mr BOTR friends which really sucked, but we landed safe and sound with all of our bags, so we were grateful for that at least!

The day that we lost was going to be spent getting the Christmas gifts we couldn’t bring with us. One of those gifts had been researched at home in Gibraltar, and we found that our supposed best value option was available at Tesco. However once we actually got to Tesco, we discovered that should you purchase a PC from Tesco you don’t actually get to return to them there, should they be faulty or otherwise. They are now third-party retailers and you have to go around the houses to get any repairs, advice or customer service. TESCO BOREHAMWOOD excelled themselves at diabolical customer service. The staff there were so bad, one in particular, clearly didn’t give a hoot if we purchased from her company or not, and her rude and abrasive attitude really brought home why I a) strongly dislike the company as a whole and b) am glad I no longer have to deal with them as a customer. Neither of the staff on the ‘click and collect’ desk could inform us, if the recipient of the gift couldn’t use it or if it was faulty, where or how they could get advice. I don’t understand how Tesco have ruined other businesses when some of their own staff have zero knowledge of sales and return processes. One lady was apologetic and said she would try to find out, but the other woman, was just dismissive, uninterested and very possibly the worst person Tesco could have picked to deal with customers. So we left. We went home researched a bit more and thought as they had another store close by we would try there.

There we got better service, and almost handed over our card to pay for an item, only to be told that we would have to come and get it the following day as it wasn’t in stock. Even though it showed on their system as being in stock. At that very moment I have never so much missed Gibraltar since we moved there. Go into a shop on Main Street for a PC, laptop, tablet, and you pay and leave with the goods. Very simple. Very easy.

A giant company like Tesco have a lot to learn. To tell people something is in stock, means you have it there NOW, not that you can lay your hands on it in 24 hours time. Fools. In the end we went and picked up what we needed at PC World, I have no idea why we didn’t just go there in the first place!

Other than that run in with Tesco the rest of our trip was great. We managed to catch up with most of our friends. Mr BOTR caught a football match with his brother; we got to spend time with my nieces and sister, had some amazing food with friends, were spoilt with two amazing Christmas dinners and generally enjoyed ourselves. And in typical British fashion we watched the weather and although the skies remained mostly grey we only got rained on once while we were away. We also avidly kept an eye on the weather for Gibraltar and I checked in with some Twitter pals to see what they thought our chances of landing would be, (thank you @MeteoGib for your info!) we kept our fingers crossed and luckily this Monday there were no diversions for us. Although there were a few silent prayers and one scream / squeak from me as we came into land. I tell you even after a few years of landing here; it still scares the beejesus out of me!

 

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