Friday, 25 September 2015

"It Started With A Cracked Screen" Do your research about where NOT to go to get your phone or computer fixed #consumer #tech #mobilephone #repairs

It's just a crack in the screen......

Not my usual kind of blog post.

The smartphone has become part of everyday life. For a business like mine it had opened up new avenues to spread the word about my clients as a PR. I found some of these shut suddenly when my phone hurtled to the kitchen floor. Just a cracked screen.

I worried the phone may cost a fortune to fix, but got similar quotes from about 3 people and so when one of them called back promising a 48 hr turnaraound, and 6 months warranty, I thought, I could trust the friendly voice of "John" at the other end of the line. The UPS driver arrived within 10 minutes and my phone was in a padded envelope off to Elite Phones And Computers in Manchester. This was a mistake. I hadn't checked the reviews online, something I always do, and warn other when I find the bad ones.  I sent the phone on Friday and on Monday checked on progress, using the on-site messaging service the company prefers to use instead of email. I screen-snipped the conversations as I felt this looked a bit unusual. On Monday their reply had the title "Complicated". The phone had further issues and more work would be required. Only then did I check the online reviews, and what a shock.

Elite Phones and Computers has an incredibly large number of negative reviews on Yell, on its Facebook pages (which are multiplying)and on Google. People complain their items fail to come back (Elite blameUPS), items come back in a worse state than they went out, and Elite ask for bigger and bigger fees for people to get their items returned in one piece.  There are CCJ's agains Elite for money people are asking them to refund. One of the rare positive reviews is by a girl in China (why use a Manchester firm to fix your phone then?) who coincidentally sells spare parts for phones. People say parts have been stripped from their tech, and items have been returned in bits. Some people have waited many months with no returned item or refund.

Trading Standards, Action Fraud and the police have all been informed of people's suspicions and the things that have occurred. Elite seem to be doing very well at the moment, and they tell me this is because of all their happy customers. I ask those customers to get in touch then, where are they? The 80+ people in the Facebook Group are in various states of despair that they will ever get satisfaction.

That Monday I messaged the company saying I had seen the reviews and demanded my phone back within a week. Magically, "complicated" became "already fixed". The phone came back to me the following Friday, in a takeaway tub wrapped in "Fragile" tape by Royal Mail. Elite had messaged me to say I must open the package before signing for it. This is not the usual Royal Mail procedure so i checked it looked ok externally then went inside to try and get into the package. Not something I could do in front of the postman. The phone looked fixed. On closer inspection there were little traces of glue around the screen and some minor scratches on the frame, but I still felt I had got off lightly. The phone worked. It worked for a week, and then the top of the screen stopped responding. I pressed the area at the top of the screen gently thinking maybe it had lifed, the screen immediately broke and then I could see how very thin it was. This was not like the screen the phone had before, but rather like the thickness of a microscope slide coverslip. I've heard of protective glass covers phones can have, and wondered if one of these had been used as a screen. Also I wondered how they managed to fit it without cracking it.

Having read all the other people's tales of woe, the idea of sending my phone back into Elite's hands didn't seem wise. I told them they had failed to provide a repair of sufficient quality as it had failed within a week. They replied repeatedly that the warranty was invalid as the screen was cracked, I replied their warranty was irrelevant and they had not fulfilled their side of the contract. I am now dealing with my credit card company as the amount I paid, well over £100 after they had added the VAT they never, ever mention in their quotes, is not something I will just write-off. This story is to be continued..

Trading Standards say they cannot say anything but may be able to find things out using a Freedom of Information request.

Meanwhile some other stories:

"Still no return of my kindle or a tracking number despite being told 4 times in the last week that it would be posted back to me unrepaired. Have now reported the matter to Salford Trading Standards & Action Fraud."

"It came back. Unrepaired. With all the screws out and the back taped on. Great."

"I took my Nintendo dsi into the shop directly nearly 4 weeks ago now for a top screen LCD repair. When I called to book it in they took a £10 deposit over the phone and said it would cost £50 to fix in total, shouldn't take more than a day they said....Said they'd call me when it's ready. I have not once received a call from them to update me, first call said they were waiting on the part to arrive from China, second call said they've ordered the wrong part so they have to order it again! I'm so fed up with being fed lies I told them I'm coming to pick it up tomorrow from the shop as I'm not confident they know what they're doing. I'm a bit worried about what I'll be walking into tomorrow and doubtful that'll I'll get my dsi back.  Absolutely disgusted."

I'm not saying Elite are stealing people's phones and other tech, cannibalising them and stealing parts to sell, selling other items and claiming they are lost in the post. I'm not saying Elite are incompetent and shouldn't be allowed near your valuable items. I'm not saying don't use them. I can't, that would be slander. However, the number of people who are now wishing they hadn't used them is growing every day. My 1st world nightmare continues.... is the full conversation with Elite...I'm obviously reluctant to go much further with this as they are trying to threaten me now, despite the fact they are turning down court dates for people they owe money.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

@pands_music #interviews @HanzelUndGretyl about music, life, touring, DIYing music, and about upcoming @TheCluny gig.

Hanzel Und Gretyl Interview

Described as a “Neue Deutsche Härte” (new German hardness/ dance metal) band, Hanzel und Gretyl are stopping off in Newcastle on October 15 at The Cluny during their European Tour.

We had a little chat with Kaiser Von Loopy and Vas Kallas (both actually American) :

JO: Hi, we’re looking forward to seeing you at the Cluny in October, looking forward to your European tour?

Vas: Greetings! YES!  We’re looking forward to our yearly adventure throughout Europe and very stoked that we are coming back to the UK and this time to Newcastle!! The last time was in 2007 as support to Cradle of Filth. That was 8 years ago! That’s nuts! I remember it being crazy good and! I also remember that Cronos from Venom was sitting in the back lounge of our tour bus as I walked in nonchalantly and then acted like a silly fan girl. Yes! Newcastle we are ready!!

KAIZER VON LOOPY: It's been way too long!! I can hardly wait to sample the Nukie Broon!!!  in a repeated fashion!! 

JO: What can we expects from your stage show?

Vas: Well, we’ve been a two-piece band now for 5 years. We crank up the uber a bit more with this format. Distorted bass loud guitar and a lot of attitude. We will most likely do songs from our last CD “Black Forest Metal” and all the super hits from most of our CD’s over the years! We intend to please and serve beer while we do this. No cocktails, just bier.

KAIZER VON LOOPY: in an intimate setting we like a fair amount of crowd interaction in the set!! that sorta thing always goes over particularly well in the UK as crowds there are always up for a good time!!During songs like  "DAS BOOT" or "BAVARIAN BIERHAUS BLOOD" we normally offer German beers to our drinking age audience but I'm guessing i'll be well stocked with Nukie Broons!! i just like saying Nukie Broon!! let's face it, it's a great beer!! you get hammered pretty quick!!  

JO: (Loves German Bier) You’ve been through a lot of change since 1993. How do you think your writing has changed? And also your perceptions of the music industry?

Vas:  Yes, we started out in 1993 when the music Industry was a completely different animal, as we all know.  We had labels fighting over us, tour support, huge money advances, publicity and major touring. Today we find ourselves with Metropolis Records but mostly on our own for tour support, publicity and management. 
As far as the music and art of writing it’s every changing cause there are no rules. We began as an experimental band with no boundaries of self expression. Complete innocence. We still do that to this day, but just a little bit smarter and a lot wiser. We’ve gone from experimental to techno dance metal to biker rock German metal, stomp punk metal and now industrial black metal and onwards to noise metal. Who knows what kind of crazy we will conjure up next!
We are very fortunate that our fans keep coming back to see us!!

KAIZER VON LOOPY: The music industry is certainly an ever-morphing entity and it can be rather cold and unforgiving! you need to develop deft survival skills to stick around. Around 2006 i thought it would be a good idea given the scaled back nature of things to simply book smaller venues and be some sorta traveling oktoberfest themed metal bar band!! i wrote a song called "FUKKEN UBER DEATH PARTY". the idea was have the proverbial "good time all the time" despite everything in life and the world going to hell in a hand basket and to drink till you die in protest of it!!   probably not a great idea in  reality but it seems to be a crowd pleaser!! (more so than a bar owner pleaser!!)  all this being said our writing of late has taken a turn for the satanic!! adding a dash of the dark arts to our existing  melange of uber madness was just the thing take our wonderfully nihilistic oktoberfest to the next (lower) level !!  

JO: You’ve supported such stars of the alternative scene, as Cradle of Filth and Marylin Manson. Don’t you think it’s time for an alternative act like yourselves to reach the dizzy heights they did, or is music TV just not able to give people the chance to see/hear these videos any more? I miss MTV2 ! Of course the internet has opened up to a whole new audience..

VAS: Yes, we should be on that level with the Mansons, and the Cradles. We’ve been at it now for 20 + years. But even though we toured with those bands and hobnobbed with their managers and such, they all expressed interest in helping us but nothing ever came of it. Therefore we learned to take care of the business ourselves and not rely on anyone else. TCB!!! This i believe has made us stronger and able to deal with the highs and lows of the industry. 
We are fiercely DIY.  Even today booking agents approach us with promises and do absolutely nothing. In the meantime we book our own shows and tours ourselves with greater results than any “big name” booking agent.  It’s a hell of a lot of work, but this is who we are.
…oh yes, the question about music on TV. Well, if there was an Uber Musik Channel  we would DEMAND to be on it!

KAIZER VON LOOPY: Yes, we have been very fortunate to tour extensively with what I'd have to say are the biggest names in the genre! and we have done so without ever having a manager in the 20 years we've been a touring band. We are however always on the lookout for a manager or some unusually perceptive person of influence that has the same sense of  danger and reckless abandon as we do but at the same time enough composure and intellect (satan) to get us to those dizzying heights!  yes, I think it's time!  \m/ 

JO: Your name suggests an interest in Grimm fairy tales. Have you any advice for small children who encounter a gingerbread house in the woods? This is important stuff to know.

Vas: Don’t eat the cookies, they are not Gluten free.

KAIZER VON LOOPY: know what you're getting into!!
Try not to get eaten!! always have a pocket full of breadcrumbs and don't trust old ladies with candy!!  

JO: And finally a new album due out later in the year Satanik Germanik, is everything going well for the release? Can we expect any ballads? What sort of album will this one be?

VAS:  We are writing it now as we speak, and it’s still in the incubating period,  but we promise it to be Satanik and Germanik with a dark mystical noise intensity….. It will piss off the parents for sure and we promise no ballads!

KAIZER VON LOOPY: It's pretty much in the title! Expect our most Sataniky and Germaniky offering to date!! this is basically on open letter to satan written in backwards German (for extra evil) to materialize with a standard rich and famous contract for us to sign!!  I think it might have gone to his spam folder though... 

VAS:: LOLOLOL!! Satanic Spam Filter!! Sounds like a new side project!

JO: Haha! Sounds rather epic.Thanks for talking to us!

The Event On Facebook

@RFTKPromotions #livereview @DogFashionDiso and @Psychostick at @TheCluny 13/09/15 also gigs from @HanzelUndGretyl and @SkarlettRiot

Psychostick and Dog Fashion Disco at The Cluny 13/09/2015

A respectably sized crowd filled the Cluny in anticipation of a night of raucous metal with American band Psychostick and Dog Fashion Disco. The bands are clearly enjoying the UK tour, for Psychostick, their first visit over here.

Dog Fashion Disco are a very talented group of musicians with music that shows possible influences as diverse as early Black Sabbath, Faith No More and Slayer. The variation in the music made it more than just metal, with jazz and ska making an appearance in some songs. Not content to just play on stage, Jason Stepp,  guitarist, jumped into the crowd to create a mosh pit in the very polite audience. The throng had no choice but to be part of the gig. The many years of experience showed in this performance, and vocalist Todd Smith really has a versatile voice, flipping styles to fit the songs.

Psychostick achieve something at which many bands fail. They combine metal with comedy. Observational humour about everyday struggles is turned into roaring hardcore metal. I was reminded of gigs in the early 90s with comedy thrash band Lawnmower Deth who also had audiences ready to do special dances and even had catchphrases. Psychostick treated the smiling crowd to songs about subjects itching nether regions, boobs and a less than reliable car. The performance is choreographed for comic effect and the music is infectiously heavy. Without the skill so obviously possessed by all the band members this could have been a one off novelty, but no Psychostick is a keeper. The two bands made for a very satisfying gig, I would certainly recommend catching them on another date.

Words and pictures © Joanne Oliver for Jowheretogo

More RFTK Promotions Gigs: 

Skarlett Riot on 4th October at Think Tank
Hanzel Und Gretyl at The Cluny on 16th October

Coming soon: Interview with Hanzel Und Gretyl

Monday, 7 September 2015

@LoveHateJizzy comes (no pun intended) to #Newcastle on 5th November..a Bonfire Night to remember!

Has it really been 25 years?

Photo ©Jizzy Pearl 

In 1990 Columbia Records released the debut album by Love/Hate ‘BLACKOUT IN THE RED ROOM’ and although singer Jizzy Pearl has stayed busy touring and making albums with such platinum artists as L.A. Guns, RATT and most recently Quiet Riot – ‘Blackout in the Red Room’ was the starting point, the beginning, the bar to which all else has been measured. 

This record – voted “Album Of The Year 1990” by Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines – would not have been possible but for the exceptional loyalty of the band’s UK fans, they were there when the world was young and they are still there 25 years later. 

Now it’s 2015 and once again Jizzy Pearl returns to the UK for 5 exclusive concerts, this time celebrating 25 years of Love/Hate music by playing the Blackout in the Red Room album in its entirety, with other Love/Hate fan favorites, along with a select group of top notch musicians. 
The Voice, The Songs & The Fans all come together this November:

4th – EDINBURGH SCOTLAND – Bannermans

5th November, Newcastle, Think Tank


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