Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sofa not so good

My daughter bought an apartment. Actually she bought a fully furnished apartment. It was brilliantly designed and decorated. The only thing she wasn't keen on was the white leather sofa. When she was able she decided to replace it with a dark grey one. When the new one was ready for delivery she arranged to have the white one transported over to our garage where it is now in residence (it has replaced her brother's derelict Triumph Stag, which we finally had removed for scrap, and the electric bike that I foolishly purchased thinking I was too decrepit to peddle unaided).

Here was the first problem. One of the metal legs of the white sofa had snapped off. Of course, the developers had long moved off site and an e-mail to them asking where the sofa had been purchased from led to a dead end. Never mind, I found the same legs on the Internet. They were manufactured by a factory in China. Unfortunately, this factory does not answer e-mails. Never mind, my daughter found the same legs on offer from an American company on e-Bay. They were only $3.75 each. Of course, she had to buy a set of four. She paid her money but they didn't arrive. Eventually an e-mail informed her that they had only charged her for overland transport. International orders would cost more.

Now I have heard it said that one third of Americans believe they could drive overland to Paris. Perhaps, because Tony Blair has been such a strong supporter of GWB, many Americans believe that England has become the 51st State? Perhaps, some Americans believe that the US is still a British colony? Perhaps it is that because we speak a language very similar to American that some Americans believe we are Americans. After all, Bill Clinton did list splitting the atom as an American first, and there was that film claiming it was an American rather than a British submarine that captured an Enigma machine from the Germans. A lot of American actors have featured as pilots in films about the Battle of Britain, and Winston Churchill was half American. Perhaps it is not surprising.

After paying the extra postage the legs were held up by the post office. Apparently there was duty to pay. This was surprising because it is permissible to import duty-free items costing less than $36. In order to release the legs she paid the duty and found that the American seller had written on the label of the parcel that the value of the goods was $112 rather than $20. Was this to make her feel she was getting a bargain? We are in the process of trying to reclaim the duty.

Worse was to come. She had bought the replacement sofa from John Lewis, a company with a high reputation. It was an elegant design. An 'L' shaped sofa that by some maneuvering would turn into a bed. It did not come in a flat pack. It seemed ideal. It comes as two pieces that fit together. But instead of a left hand end and a right hand end, they delivered two left hand ends that don't fit together. It seemed that someone somewhere has two right hand ends, but no, when we contacted the factory they told us that they would have to make another right hand end and that would take two months. We are still waiting. I find it very hard to believe that when it finally arrive that it will be the same color of wither of the two left hand ends we have.

What galls me is that, as doctors, if either my daughter or I had made these sorts of errors we would have been struck from the Medical Register, and have lost our livelihood. Standards are falling.


Anonymous said...

In America we're taught to tell our left from our right.

Anonymous said...

Please. Although it is true that political correctness deems it more important to know the history of the union movement than when or why we had a war to preserve the Union in 1861, no one except the mentally ill, I suppose, would believe that you can drive to Paris (Chunnel anyone?).

The 51st state? Isn't England, like, big? Wouldn't it be, like, five states? Maybe Londonstate, Hampshire (or Old Hampshire), Birmingham, maybe Bath. Maybe it would be cool to have a state named, 'Bath'.

Nah, we shed lots of blood to get rid of the Brits, though they couldn't take the hint and tried to burn down the White House in 1814. But we whipped them again.

And if we went to war again, we'd whip the Brits again, don't you know. That's why they are most often fairly nice to us.

Yes, we know the submarine to capture the Enigma machine was a British submarine. But what's a little history when you want to sell tickets to an American audience.

One of my favorite films was 'The Patriot'. I really did enjoy it when the evil Brit dude it in the end. Fantastic! The British have earned a pretty rotten reputation down the ages, and they were quite nasty people. There was a civil war in England wasn't there? And how did the English treat the Irish? The Scots? The Welsh? Etc.

When I visited Ireland years ago, I was talking to a nice family in a fish and chips place. Somehow, we got on the subject of politics, (which is not really the smartest thing to do in Ireland). Anyway, we commiserated about getting rid of the British.

Then there is Canada. In 1982, Canada finally decided to become an independent country. But the queen of England had to sign off on the changes in their constitution.

Boy, that would NEVER happen in the US. The queen is OK, but if she tried to meddle with the US, she'd be looking for her crown somewhere hidden on her person.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. H.,
It is so funny you posted what you did.
I was scheduling a facial with a Brit today. I said to her you know a difference between you and
me is, when you say something, no matter what, it just sounds nicer.

Our public schools are in a terrible state. I chose a combination of both private and public for my children. So far, it
has worked well.
I love my country but I think we could be so much more successful if, as a country reassessed our priorities.
Having more than a touch of idealism, I feel we need to work less for money and more on our future generations.
There is where the value of my country could be improved.

I know we are not a part of your country nor you guys are part of ours. That is the reason I find visiting England so thrilling.
Your country is amazingly beautiful. You guys are so blessed to be able to combine the stately old with the modern.
We are just winging it here. The esthetics are suffering for such beautiful, diverse land.

You have to watch yourself on Ebay. I have used it for years with very pleasing results. I have been ripped off, maybe four times
and have used it over 370ish times. It is wonderful for artist collections, as long as you know your stuff very well. Also sold out
clothes and shoes. Lighting fixtures, so much choice and truly a value.

Terry Hamblin said...

There have been several civil wars in England. Depending on the definition, you could call 1066 a civil war between the Vikings who settled here. Certainly the Wars of the Roses were civil wars between the Normans who settled here. In the Seventeenth Century the First Civil War proper had Charles the first's head off, but there was a Second Civil War a few years later. In 1688 the Glorious Revolution was in effect a civil war, and the Jacobite uprisings in the Eighteenth centuries were also civil wars of a sort.

It would be dangerous to accept the views on Ameican history of anyone who regarded The Patriot as a good film.

Among the many things that I admire about Americans is their ability to make great fantasy movies: the original Star Wars trilogy (not so keen on the more recent ones) Star Trek Nemesis, The Terminator, The Incredible Shrinking Man, JFK, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Patriot, Terminator II, U-571, Blade Runner, etc.

And if you know your right from your left, how come you drive on the wrong side of the road? India, China, Australia, Japan and most of Africa can get it right.

Manu Manickvel said...

Hilarious, Doc! Americans (once 2% of the world using 20% of its resources) are just too insular, most of'em just do not seem to care to take the trouble to know more than superficial gleanings...and in matters that matter - it takes one to recognise one.