Helen Martin: I’m waving buy to online shops

Shopping online can be a frustrating experience. Picture: Getty
Shopping online can be a frustrating experience. Picture: Getty
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IT wasn’t that long ago that I lost my online shopping “virginity”. I bought a little pantry fridge which arrived on time and fitted perfectly in the space available.

Perhaps I could yet embrace the bargains, deals and “effortless” shopping everyone else seemed to enjoy?

So last week I ordered a kettle and toaster. E-mails and texts allowed me to chart the progress of my order like kids follow Santa online at Christmas. I knew the goods were due to be delivered from the Broxburn depot by my driver Paul between 12.39 and 13.39. He arrived at 12.40. I should have known it was going too well.

They were more turquoise than teal. With only the online picture to go on, the kettle was smaller than expected and the toaster was gigantic. Such are the risks of online shopping.

At first I thought the kettle didn’t work but it just took an age to boil. The toaster only operated on one side. I phoned the company, reported the fault and was told that was “no problem”. I assumed that meant no problem for me and they would send another and pick up the dud. But no, they would send me a Royal Mail postage label by e-mail which I would print out and slap on the toaster once I’d repacked it, protected with bubble wrap and parcel tape, before taking it to the post office. They would receive it, test it and, only once satisfied it was broken, would despatch another.

Having no bubble wrap or package tape I cannibalised the box both had come in, slathered it with sticky tape, slapped on the label and drove to the PO . . . where the postmaster wouldn’t accept it as the label only covered up to 3.5 kilos. I phoned the company back. They told me another Click and Collect label would be sent that I could take to my local garage. It would be in my inbox by the time I got home.

It wasn’t. By then I decided I didn’t want the toaster at all and told them so. They suggested I “relax and have a cup of tea”. On the point of exploding, I went shopping instead but then decided I didn’t want the kettle either, so e-mailed them back suggesting they send two labels. I bought the shopping (including package tape) and begged a suitable box from the supermarket, then got a reply saying I would have to get them both into one box as they were only sending one label.

By this time it was 4pm. My day off had been devoted to a disappointing purchase and a tortuous returns procedure. The new label had arrived so I pieced together the cannibalised box patched with the new one to contain both items and mummified the lot with brown packing tape. The sense of relief when I handed that parcel over at 4.30pm and got it out of my life was immense, even though I must wait for the refund.

Was I happy with the product? No. Was it quick and convenient? Anything but. Was it cheaper? Well, it might have been if it worked. Am I now out of pocket? Yes. Have I got anything to show for it? No. Will I buy anything over the internet again? Certainly not. Why are internet sales soaring and putting shops out of business? I haven’t a clue.

Let’s flush out misuse of toilets

WHAT goes through someone’s mind when they put a condom, sanitary ware, cotton buds, wet wipes and even nappies down the loo?

No really, I’m not being sarcastic. Do they think of the blockages they are causing, the birds and fish they are putting at risk or the disgusting end result on the beaches? Or are they just daft enough to believe the lie unscrupulous manufacturers put on the packets of all these materials – that they are flushable? Edinburgh’s beaches are among the dirtiest in the UK thanks to what, regrettably, must be our own local numbskulls for some reason putting seven times as much non-flushable debris down the loo as anywhere else in Scotland.

Apart from bodily substances and fluids, there’s one thing only that should go down a toilet – toilet paper, and as little of that as possible.

Donald’s just blowing his own Trump-et

ROBERT D Hare, the world famous researcher in criminal psychology who developed the checklist that assesses and diagnoses psychopaths, has estimated that there are four times as many in high echelons of business and the corporate world as in the general population.

Many are also narcissists. But since both conditions are personality types rather than illnesses, they can’t be cured.

Donald Trump, who is considering running for the White House next year, has announced: “I am the only one who can make America truly great again.”

Some people might think that statement alone qualifies him. If only we knew which “truly great” period he was referring to it could, as they say Stateside, be a slam dunk.

Cameron needs word in his ear

DAVID Cameron has a transparently self-defeating, bewildered and simplistic view of Scotland, failing to realise an SNP vote isn’t necessarily one for independence and an independence vote isn’t necessarily one for the SNP. Surely Ruth Davidson should be explaining it all to him – assuming she gets it, of course.