• My experience with Specsavers

    I basically stopped wearing contacts over a year ago. The grittiness, dryness and discomfort eventually got too much for me, and with a 20-hour class schedule, plus work, and 8am shorthand classes, I happily exchanged the hassle of lenses for glasses. Bonus: I could let my hair do whatever I wanted! (Glasses fill up my face. Contacts don’t. And unless my hair is nicely cut and/or styled, next to all that vast, pale, skin, I start to resemble the walking dead.)

    But glasses are a pain, too. In the summer, when you can’t wear sunglasses. In the winter, when you’re caught in the rain. And when a new Specsavers opened around the corner from work, and I was handed two free eye exam vouchers, I thought maybe it was time to revisit my plan.

    Specsavers brags that it’s friendly, cheap and of course was backed by Gok Wan when it first launched. In terms of pricing, eye tests and the like are on par with OPSM and other optometrists (costing about $60). But if you’re looking for new frames, they do some great deals, especially on multiple purchases.

    However, when it comes to service? Hmmm. I’m a little iffy on that.

    Everything started off well. They booked me in and gave me some trial lenses to wear in on the day (and didn’t charge me upfront for them). But when I arrived, things went downhill. There was a big kerfuffle about the lenses I’d been given, and I was told I should have had my eye test first, before being given a test pair – the COMPLETE opposite of what I was originally told, which was wear a pair of contacts when you come in.

    I sat and waited while the consultants debated in hushed voices for, I don’t know, ten minutes? I seriously thought they were going to ask me to reschedule the appointment. But after a lot of back and forth-ing, they finally ushered me into the test room. I couldn’t read a damn thing on that letterboard, either.

    Then I was ushered back out, asked to sit and wait for about five minutes, then led into another room. They made me peer down one of those binocular-like machines at a picture of a balloon at the end of a long road, and then asked me to (you guessed it) sit and wait. And while I waited, the optician brought out my bag to me and proceeded to consult with a walk-in customer. Er, WHAT?

    Thankfully, that only lasted about five minutes, because I was thisclose to simply walking out. Eventually, I got to sit my freaking eye examination, and found out that the reason I couldn’t see with my contacts was that I now have astigmatism. Oh, joy. And apparently I had a superficial scratch on one eye, which explained why I was already feeling the grit.

    I really didn’t feel like the optometrist was listening to me; she seemed distracted and barely looked at me.  She warned me to throw out the contacts when I got home, and asked me TWICE whether I had a pair of glasses with me. I also asked her what might have caused the scratch (possibly the lenses?) to which she merely said it was fairly shallow and would heal.

    After that, the optician seemed to warm up to me. She booked me in for a consult for toric lenses, told me they’d have to be specially ordered in, and instructed me to come back immediately if my eye got worse. I appreciated her concern, but for me it was a case of too little too late. In future, with all things equal, I’ll stick with other tried and true chains for my eye exams. If for the same price, I can get a more professional service, the choice is obvious.

    As for the astigmatism, a quick sweep of the internet suggests I’ll be paying at least double for toric lenses. *chokes.* Stay tuned. More blog fodder, I suspect…

  • Downtown dining

    When I heard one of my best friends changed the venue for her 21st to a Viaduct restaurant – a Thai one, no less – I was wary.

    We all know what kind of, uh, patrons the Viaduct clubs are famous for. As for restaurants, they’re all overpriced and usually get mediocre reviews at best. Especially “ethnic” ones.


    It was a Friday evening. I’d left the house at 8am, been to classes, been to work, slashed on a bit of makeup and flipped my head upside down to try entice a bit of body into my pancake-flat hair. I was on time. No, make that seven minutes early. She’s notorious for being late to everything, and this time was no different. The six or so of us who got there on time waited 40 minutes for her. I was tired, hungry and grumpy. And stressed, of course, I’m always stressed. Did I mention stressed? This has seriously been the most stressful year of my life. Moneywise. Uni-wise. Flatmate, landlord, house, car, neighbourhood…you name it, it’s gone sour-wise. Except very, very few of my friends live in the real world. They live in the comfort of family homes, and as much as I love them, uni and family problems are the extent of their stress. They don’t understand what it’s like to actually be a grown up, for lack of a better expression. So I just try to smile, shrug and say I’m fine, because it’s a celebration and all. It’s not the place or time to launch into my woes, even if I wanted to. I don’t want to burst into tears or anything, so I keep quiet.

    Our table was long and thin and there must have been about thirty or so of us. I was the third to order. And I was, for some reason, second to last to receive my food. All I can think of is that soups must take a hell of a lot longer to make than other dishes. At least it was good, I’ll give em that.

    And then it came time to pay. She’d told us to bring cash, so I got out a $20 note and made sure I kept under my limit.

    Except that someone, somewhere had made the decision to split the bill EQUALLY.

    Fine. $20.43 is not that much more than $20, and my dish was (I think) $18 or $19.

    One of my dear friends duly paid her $20.40 in cash, and another kindly pitched in 40c for me.

    The waitress then pointed out that we were short and insisted on extracting a further 10c (no more 5c coins here) from BOTH of us.

    Never mind the fact that ONE SINGLE 10c would have covered BOTH of us for our 3c shortfall.

    No, they HAD to have that extra 7c from us both.

    It was seriously the last straw for me that day, and I had to walk away to take a brief timeout. Thanks to my friends who stumped up a further 10c on my behalf.

    Sorry, I know this is incredibly petty to whine about. But so were they for doing what they did. It’s really not the amount, it’s the principle of the matter, and that that was blatant overcharging for no reason. No two ways about it.

    Wasn’t planning on returning anyway, and definitely won’t again.

    Sorry, WangThai. You FAIL.

  • Weekend wrapup

    It’s been a hell of a week.

    Sunday: Plumber was meant to come, according to LL. Never showed. Man, am I sick of being fucked around.

    Monday: Up at 6, went with BF to sit his full licence. His friend N turns up to pick us up (he was sitting his too, straight before BF, and lending BF the car for his)…only to inform us his registration had run out two days ago and he’d only just realised. But at 6.30am, there ain’t nowhere to buy a new rego. NOWHERE.

    Instructor tells friend he can fit him in at 3.30. BF rings around to see who he can borrow a car off. My friend M obliges, but turning up with one headlight out. It’s the instructor’s last day, and he says he’ll let it slide. Off they go. But they’re back in five minutes, because there’s a bit of fog and they need both headlights. In the meantime N has hurried off to VTNZ to renew his reg, and has returned. Instructor sets off with him to take his test. BF, me and M gun it to Repco to buy a new headlight. By the time N returns, it’s time for the instructor’s next test and BF has to wait half an hour.

    Halfway through BF’s test, he pulls back into the carpark. He comes over to me and M, stony faced, and informs us that the instructor pulled him over halfway through because of a scratching sound on the left side of the car, got out, KICKED both sides of the bumper, and caused it to fall off. (M’s car is a junker. But it is warranted, roadworthy, and has never had the bumper come off, that is, until this instructor saw fit to assault it). He then declared the car unfit to finish the test in.

    We ask the AA for a complaint form, which we fill out and return to the counter staff. Counter staff flat out REFUSE to fax it off to Christchurch HQ, despite not being busy and having a fax machine right behind them. No, we have to waste more of our morning, after that appalling experience, and invest more of our time and money into following this up. BF is fairly controlled, all things considered, and simply spits out “You make it impossible to complain” and we stalk out. You would think they would appreciate feedback and the opportunity to improve, but clearly their policy is to make it difficult to complain and hope that puts people off.

    BF calls up the LTNZ call centre, has a girl take down all the details, and she says he’ll get a response within three days. She says he may get a full refund. Which would be nice, even if it doesn’t make up for the time wasted. It’ll be weeks before he can get a resit. That’s how backlogged the AA are. Pity we can’t even boycott them, because nobody else does driver testing.

    Tuesday: Lugged BF’s crutches to town and around uni (well, to one lecture). Fax off complaint form to LTNZ for verification purposes (costs me a dollar and ten minutes waiting time). Bussed up to Grafton, walked across the bridge and to Auckland Hospital to return them. Lady at reception told me to leave them “by the doors where the lino starts”. Well, where the said lino started was by the lifts, and a corridor which clearly stated “staff only”. I wandered further down the wing and took a look all around to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I also stuck my head into the “admin reception” to check there, and the receptionist told me there would be an “equipment pool” at the main reception. Trudged back there.

    Out of all the three staff, I HAD to be served by the same first lady. She snapped at me and insisted there were double doors there and I had gone “way too far”. I went back to the “start of the lino”, saw no doors, and promptly started crying. Stress, tiredness, and tiredness of everything in my life having to be so goddamn complicated. Even returning one pair of crutches.

    Thankfully, a security guard and a female volunteer took pity on me. The guard told me to leave the crutches by the lifts, and the woman had a little chat to me as I blew my nose, tried to dry my eyes and straighten my skirt. Then back to the reception with my receipt for my $35 refund. GOT THE SAME GODDAMN LADY again. She directed me round to the cashier around the corner….who refused to help me and insisted I had to go back to ED and fill out some sort of form there. Seriously. No wonder people go on shooting sprees for less. (Jokes. Sort of)

    Trudged down to ED, on the verge of more angry tears. Amazingly, the staff there were really nice. I filled out a form, and after a brief explanation of the situation to the puzzled girl I offered to go and try retrieve the crutches from where they were. Luckily, they were where I’d left them, and I signed that form and was told to expect a check in the mail. Well, all right then.

    After a full day, went to a pub quiz at the Horse and Trap (great atmosphere, pity the place is always packed, but we’ve been lucky enough to get a table every time as someone leaves right before the quiz starts). Started feeling weird aches in my neck, but tried to ignore them all night.

    Wednesday: Woke up feeling like the behind of a donkey. Except I had six straight hours of class starting at 8, and a test I had to sit and pass. (I aced it, BTW, 100%). I struggled through the day, feeling strange aches and pains in my neck, shoulders and back, alternate chills and flushes, whole-body numbness and that awful burning mouth feeling you get when you’re coming down with the flu. I made sure to hand in the two assignments I had due the next day, texted to say I had the death flu and wouldn’t be coming in to work, and left at 1pm to go home and pass out.

    Thursday: Awoke around 9, with the aches and pains gone, but a huge lump in my throat. Went back to sleep. Up at noon, sore throat staved off and feeling well enough to email my tutors to explain my absence. BF got the car towed to the workshop which did his clutch in December, where they said they’d have a look tomorrow and if it was in fact the clutch, then it would be under warranty still and all we’d have to pay is labour.

    Friday: No word back from the mechanics. Struggle through morning class, six hours of work, and home to dinner and bed.

  • I haven’t been very impressed with the sales assistants I’ve come across this week. We tripped it over to the Warehouse and picked up two shirts and two singlets for the boy (30%, came to just under $5 each!) Got to the car, realised we’d been charged for five things instead of four, and had to get in line at the infamous customer service desk queues. They refunded the money to my credit card – something which I think is really cool but am always a bit wary about – how can you REALLY know they returned the money, until you can go away and check your statement? Even more so with a credit card, as transactions don’t show up for a few days.

    Yesterday we spent about two painful, arduous hours at Dick Smith. We unfortunately had the pushiest, most annoying sales lady. A super fob Asian type, whose favourite phrase seemed to be “Yes, this is the same, but different” when asked about various computer models. Even when one was far superior, with double the RAM, hard drive and a way better intel chip. Pissed me off no end. That, and the fact she asked “So which one do you want?” about five times. Lady, I get that we were the hardest sale you ever made. You were annoyed. You wanted us the hell out of there but wanted your commission. You were trying to close the deal. IT DID NOT WORK. WE WEREN’T READY. And phrasing it that bluntly did not endear us anymore towards you!

    DSE needs to train their staff up a bit more. For example: one of the laptops clearly stated: 2 year warranty. One of the salesmen who nudged in was insistent it only had a one year warranty, despite the contrary evidence. He also refused to believe that the Toshiba came with a $1 camera, phone or tech pack deal, despite it very clearly being advertised in their current mailer (but for some reason not on the stand).

    Same with the fobby woman. I went to ask her what was included in the camera pack, to which she responded “that deal is finished – no more!” That’s when I nearly lost it, after her constant nagging “which computer do you want?” I pointed out the mailer was current until 16/2, there was no “limited time only” or “until stocks last” disclaimer. Lady had to go consult her manager, for christ’s sake. I always thought that advertised specials should be honoured in store, no dramas – clearly an outdated concept.

    So to summarise – I did, in the end, get me a Toshiba – and a camera with SC card, batteries, cable and bag for 849. Well, half of that, courtesy of my dear mother. It’s great to rejoin the online world! it’s a bit of a step down – the specs on my stolen Compaq were approximately double everything on this. although, I do prefer the keyboard on this one. As long as it lasts the rest of the year, I’m happy.

    I was keen on an Acer with dual core processor and 2g with two year warranty, however my mum preferred a similar Compaq with a one year warranty. BF couldn’t stomach the thought of getting the Compaq as the Acer had far superior graphics for the same price… but as I was only paying half, I didn’t really feel I could push the issue. And I went with what I’d planned to get all along, this Toshiba with the Olympus Fe-20 camera. Beggars, choosy, etc. However, I’m not keen to repeat that two hour ordeal – as much as I appreciate my mum’s contribution, I think next time I’ll suck it up and pay for it all – and choose a better computer, with longer warranty, and be out in half an hour, tops.

  • Displeasure……warning, rant!

    So Bollard’s called for electricity providers, among other companies, to drop their prices.

    Not likely! We just had our power prices increase last month and I don’t see our company reversing that right now.

    The boy’s car loan rocketed 2% in the course of a few months as interest rates bounced around. Now that the OCR’s fallen to 5%, there’s been absolutely no decrease in his interest rate (I think it was around 7.5 when he first took it out).


    I’m not impressed with Vodafone. If we had any other options other than Telecom, Id be changing in a jiffy. Not only are they charging to send out paper statements (doesn’t apply; we’re on prepay), they’re charging $1 just to speak to a human CSR. Ha! What a joke. Everyone knows it’s damn near impossible to even get through to a person, let alone charge us for it! You can call their service line on 0800 from a land line phone, but wait – you still need to have that $1 on your cell phone.

    Of course that doesn’t really work when they f* up and don’t roll your Text 2000 over, resulting in you having zero credit because it all went to texting that should have only cost you $10. So when you ring to complain, you’re stuffed, because you can’t afford to speak to them!!!

    And no, topping up is not an option. Don’t even go there. Times are tough, it’s hard enough to top up once a month, let alone any more than that.

    You’ve also just gotta love how they now have $5 IOUs….but charge a 20c fee everytime you use it.
    Now if that doesn’t get your goat what does?

    Now that banks have started charging for basic automated services – how ASB kindly offers to save your bill payee’s info for next time, for a $2 fee – looks like everyone else will be too.

    Come on telecomms competition!

  • Disappointment and frustration

    The hunt for glasses has become rather depressing.

    Mainstream chain places – zilch.

    Ugly, half-rimmed glasses – all the rage.
    There’s not much choice between the trendy chunky frames (too thick and overpowering for my face) and the nanna wire-frame type ones.

    And I’m really not liking the new plastic craze – I like the lightweightness but I want something sturdy to last a few years, and HATE that the new plastic ones don’t have actual nosepieces. How can you adjust them to fit your face properly? They only have small plastic ridges, which might work fine if you are almost any ethnicity but Chinese. I HAVE NO NOSE. I have nothing to perch these plastic frames on; pushed up my nose, they sit millimetres away from my eyeballs. I look like a goldfish. Each time I blink my eyelashes touch the lens. It’s very, very uncool.

    However, I  succeeded in finding a pair at Beale and Beale in town, and plan to buy them online from lessforspecs. The frames are something like $60-70 less and lenses up to $200 less. Hurray!

    I also had a rather unpleasant experience at Auckland Uni’s Grafton optometry clinic. First I signed in at reception and asked if they had a range of frames I could look through. She said I’d need a student to help me out (WTF? Since when does trying on frames mean you need supervision?) and asked when I last had my eyes checked. She then disappeared into the back for ages and came out saying she couldn’t find my file anywhere. At this point I patiently explained I had not had my eyes tested there.


    What the hell. They were all happy as Larry, until it turned out I hadn’t had my eye test there? I told a friend had recommended the clinic for eye tests and frames to which she told me that they must have it all wrong.

    I asked her, “So where did they (my friend) get their frames from then?”

    Her response: “Oh, they must have gone to their own optometrist.”

    Huh. And yet she had been willing to oblige right up till then, when I explained I hadn’t had my eye test there.

    So my friends are stupid, and liars, and so is their own website?

    I walked out puzzled and frustrated that I’d wasted all that time and energy walking to Grafton over the bridge and then missioning it all around that particular building trying to find the bloody place. Worst waste of time ever.

    I was going to email in and complain, and suggest to them to remove the following: “Spectacle Dispensing – a selection of quality frames available” from their webpage, but can’t find an email address on their site.

  • It’s been a bad day…

    I am so incredibly mad.

    I just can’t believe the sheer rudeness and unprofessionalism of certain insurance agents.

    I don’t recall a single good experience I’ve had with insurance companies, but I think this one tops the cake. Not that this is directly involving me, but I wish it was because I have some choice things to say to this person.

    This is meant to be a representative of a massive national company dealing in motor vehicles and insurance, one with the same initials as another organisation known as Alcoholics Anonymous.

    This particular individual has been ringing someone I know while they are at work (and they are not in a job where they can simply take calls at leisure), telling them to “stop being cheap and top up your phone” to ring somebody else (maybe this agent is so well paid that $20 is a drop in the bucket to him, and he’s never experienced being broke at the end of the week), SWEARING at the person and then hanging up.

    That’s beyond rude, beyond unprofessional and is, frankly, harassment. What I find most inexcusable is the cursing – understandable perhaps had the other person provoked him by swearing at him FIRST – but that wasn’t the case.

    It absolutely disgusts me – this “agent” has ruined my good perceptions of his company. As their representative he should be acting ethically and professionally at all times. Whether you’re a politician, police officer, debt collector, shop assistant, bus driver or teacher, you simply can’t speak to people any bloody way you like. You sure as hell can’t start swearing at them

    What gets me the most is that there was absolutely no reason for these calls. The matter should have been conducted through writing and there was no need for telephone contact whatsoever. I sure as hell hope I get to speak to this character and set him straight about his job and take the matter to his manager.

    Just as an aside, why does virtually everyone in the insurance industry seem to lack a rudimentary grasp of English? Almost all of the ones I’ve dealt with seem incapable of understanding what I’m saying let alone answering my queries (although that’s also to do with poor training, I suppose, and the fact that insurance companies really aren’t there for you – they’re out for themselves(.

    In other news, I feel terrible for Austin Hemmings and his family. It’s awful to think that he was doing the right thing, trying to help someone in trouble, and ended up dead. If I was trying to intervene in a fight I’d probably expect to get punched in the head or something – I wouldn’t expect to get stabbed for my trouble.

    That’s a whole new level, and I think in this country we still don’t quite have that mentality. But it’s only a matter of time.

    It’s amazing though how much difference it makes to be able to put a face to tragedies like this. When it was just an unnamed man, sure it was horrific, and depressing, but once his name and a photo of him smiling and alive was released, that added a whole new dimension. It made him a real person, who now no longer exists. A person who got killed for no reason at all.

    I think it’s the sheer randomness of acts like this that scares us. That and how close to home it was – just metres from my office. Most people still believe in the inherent goodness of human nature; but incidents like these make it hard to do so.

    I just can’t understand how people can do things like this. Much like I can’t understand how people can hurt their own children. Once you’ve held a newborn in your arms , I think your entire outlook on life shifts a little. And that’s something I never thought I’d say, being one of the least maternal people I know.