Tag Archives: customers

Day 113

Two poppies today. That is four so far this year. We also have some self-seeded honesty growing by the front door. There are two plants on one side (both white) and one plant on the other. That one is purple streaked with white – I suspect some cross breeding has taken place and the purple one we had last year has been diluted. This happened a few years ago with alyssum. We have plenty of white (who doesn’t?) and I planted some blue. The blue didn’t thrive and only lasted a year, but in the next year a lot of our plants had white flowers with blue edges.  Unfortunately they had all disappeared by the next year.

I may have said this before, but it bears repeating – I like self-seeding flowers.  Cheap, easy and capable of generating a lot of interest.

We are gradually running out of marigolds, so I may have to plant a few extra, but the valerian is still going strong and we have so many teasels I am going to have to do some thinning out. The trouble with spiky plants is that you can’t just let them grow where they want.

That is really all there was to today – got up, went to work, saw a few customers, packed a few parcels, went home, ate and watched TV. It was veggie burgers again. Bought in again because it’s a cheap and easy thing to do and because our shopping arrives on Friday night so the cobs are still nice and fresh to put the burgers in. They were a bit too spicy this week so, once again, I am talking about making my own.

I may have said that before . . .

Day 109

When I got home tonight the first of the orange poppies was out. They have been developing buds for the last few days, so this was good to see, I am going to try to keep a count this year and see how many flowers they produce. They do well for a self-sown flower growing from cracks in the concrete.

We had the customary crop of vexatious calls and emails from people who shouldn’t allowed out without a carer.

One buyer, who gave us a thorough grilling before purchase, has already sent his purchase back. We found this out from eBay as he didn’t have the courtesy to get in touch. We are waiting to find out what was wrong with it, as we are certain it matches the description we used to sell it.

Someone rang, as is usual, with an enquiry about whether we bought rare coins. And as usual it turned out to be a 50p piece that was worth . . . 50p.

And so it went on.

When I had a few minutes during the day I had a go at pushing the levers on my new chair. It is, when properly adjusted, much more comfortable than the old one. That’s a measure of how far we have advanced – everybody seems to have swivelling office chairs now. I only tried one when I started at the shop, until then I’d just had chairs with four legs.

Traffic was strange on the way home. I got halfway home with no traffic on the road, a rare, but welcome event.The second half was absolutely blocked solid – and I have no clue what caused it, as there was nothing there once it started moving again.

The only other point of note today was that my fingers are giving trouble five fingers from eight are stiff and several are painful. I’m hoping it is on of those temporary glitches and not a sign that the drugs have stopped working.

 

 

 

 

Day 99

We had an email waiting this morning. It had several blurred screen shots, several paragraphs of broken English and a declaration that the would be purchaser would only pay £30 for postage and packing. We deciphered the note, calculated the cost of the parcel and found that it was going to cost a lot more than £30.

The trouble is that some people fixate on the P&P, ignore the fact that eBay charge us commission and fees on our postage costs and don’t appreciate that if we are sending a parcel with £400 of goods in it we want to insure it.

On top of that, this is now the ninth message we have had from him this week and the 22nd we have had this year. Not one of them has actually resulted in a sale. The problem is that as soon as you say yes to one of his irksome suggestions/demands he starts with another.

It’s £400, some of the stuff has been hanging around for a while, and the idea of making the sale is quite attractive. However, the sale is only good if you actually get the money. If anything goes wrong, eBay will undoubtedly side with the buyer and we will end up losing £400 plus postage fees. It’s easier, as I pointed out, to save postage and the labour of packaging and arguing, and just flush £400 down the toilet.

Some deals, as was pointed out to me as a young man working in sales, are simply not worth the effort. It seems counter-intuitive but I made one or two of those sales, including one where I lost the company £7,000 (which was a lot of money 30 years ago) and that always comes back to haunt me.

In summary – today was a day of frustration, annoyance and ghosts from the past.

We had veggie burgers (which we ended up buying from the shop rather than making) for tea, in nice fresh cobs, and I enjoyed them. We also had chocolate brownies as Julia saw them whilst shopping. Then we slept in front of the TV. Is this, I ask myself, where all that hope and ambition ended up?

I suspect there may be a poem concealed within that thought.

For some reason, whilst snoozing, I dreamed of cream teas.

Day 20

I sat down with a cup of tea, fell asleep in a draught and woke up an hour later fee,ling distinctly lazy. So I shelved the plans for a healthy vegetarian meal and ordered pizza. That’s twice this year already. It will last for three meals but it’s not the sort of diet I would like to admit to.

Whilst eating pizza I watched The Apprentice, but they seem to be running out of idiots with character/ All they have now is commonplace idiots, and they aren’t very interesting. They have also got rid of all the decent assistants and gone the “no character” route again. Karren Brady actually seems to be getting more boring as time goes on and I don’t know who the other one is. So far I find him virtually indistinguishable from the apprentices.

We are trying a new method at work, loading more on eBay and using less description. It seems to work for some of the big sellers. Most of the stuff we sell doesn’t need  much additional information and even people still ask us about things even though all the information is there. As each email represents time wasted, and therefore money wasted, We might get a few more queries if we cut down on the information we give, but we will be saving time on writing the sales. It will be an interesting exercise.

We’ve exchanged a string of emails with someone today already. It’s not about details, it’s about unrealistic offers. He’s made several offers on something, the changed to making unrealistic offers on something else. We don’t mind doing a deal but we need to cover the costs of running a shop. Some people can’t see this.

We have stopped replying to him.

Sometimes, despite the doctrine that “the customer is always right” you have to put an end to things.

The top picture is a group of pre-decimal halfpennies. There were 480 of them to a £1. They are about the same size as  modern 2p – where there are only 50 to a £1.  That is one way that decimalisation has been an improvement.

The bottom picture is a propaganda Iron Cross from 1914 – highlighting the destruction of Belgian cities, raising the martial ardour of the British and raising funds for charity. When the price rose above £5 I stopped buying them. We sold this one for £40. If only I’d kept buying them . . .

British made propaganda Iron Cross 1914

 

 

Day 17

More of the same. Parcels. Customers. Miserable weather. The only difference was that the car got covered in a fine spray of dirt thrown up by cars passing by the shop on the main road, and a bird, which appears to have dined on something quick-setting and durable, deposited the digested remains in the middle of my windscreen.

I spent 27 minutes on the phone at one point, being cross-questioned by a customer with “jut one last question” being promised more than once. In the end he said “Well, why do people collect if you can’t make money from it?” My reply was that collecting is about the pursuit, the assembling of a collection which is greater than the sum of the parts and, with luck, the knowledge you gain.

If you want to make money you take a second job, put the wages in the bank, buy shares or buy precious metals.

He said: “Oh!”

It’s a good thing the boss wasn’t in. That’s half an hour of my wages down the drain just so that my pearls of wisdom can bounce off someone who thinks numismatics is the way to get rich.

Before that we had someone in who kept asking for dates of coin which don’t exist. He couldn’t get his head round the idea that there were no pennies minted in  1941, 42 or 43 as there were thought to be too many in circulation. In 1949 most of them were held back, and they were still being issued as new coins until 1956. In 1950 and 1951 very small quantities were struck and were stored until 1956 when they were sent to Bermuda (all the 1950 mintage and most of the 1951 too).  They say that British dealers started travelling to the island and offering £1 for 1951 pennies – 240 times its face value (there were still 240 pennies to the £ in those days).

There is one coin known from 1952. I don’t know why, some arcane Mint purpose. In 1953 they struck pennies for commemorative sets. Only one is known from 1954, used for die testing. Somehow it escaped melting and ended up in circulation. Then there were no more until 1961. They were struck every year until 1967 and all the pennies struck in 1968 and 1969 were dated 1967. Again, I haven’t a clue why. After that they minted them in 1970 for the final £sd sets and, after a thousand years, the old penny made way for the decimal issue.

It’s amazing how many we have being brought in , and even more amazing how many collectors haven’t bothered to learn that there are years when certain denominations weren’t stuck. The saying “Before you buy the coin, buy the book.” does not seem to have reached everybody.

The pennies in the picture are Australian pre-decimal pennies – but they are the same size and shape, just that they have a kangaroo instead of Britannia.

Day 7

Not much to pack this morning but the owner’s promotional efforts yesterday produced a couple more sales. Two extra sales on a day that only produced four sales is 50%, so it was worth doing. We actually had three sales in the afternoon, so the day didn’t finish too badly. In terms of footfall, which is why we have a shop instead of working from an industrial unit, we had four people who came to sell, two who came to buy and two who came to irritate us.

On the phone we had several useful calls and one from a man when we had three people in the shop (and only two serving). He had a 1995 £2 coin, which, he said, is made of solid gold. That was one of the single-metal £2 coins we used to have. They weren’t really made for circulation so people aren’t familiar with the, They commemorate things like the Bill of Rights (1689) (or Claim of Right (1689) for those of you in Scotland, the Commonwealth games and the end of WW2.

It was this WW2 commemorative coin that the enquirer had. He knew it was gold because it was yellow, shiny and, when he scratched it , it was still yellow and shiny in the scratch. Unfortunately, as my colleague explained, these things are true of the base metal variety, which is made of nickel-brass and is therefore yellow and shiny all the way through. The caller wouldn’t take his advice and my colleague, being a nice man, kept answering questions even though we had more pressing matters in hand. The gold version should have a box and paperwork with it. The Royal Mint is currently out of stock but values a gold one at £1,180.

So to sum up – the ordinary nickel-brass one is valued at a maximum of £10 by Numista, the collecting site. There were over 6,000,000 minted. The gold one came in a box, with papers, there were just £1,000 minted and, as a rule, you are unlikely to be given one by someone you know in the pub.

However, he wouldn’t be told and insisted that his was gold (because it looks just like the gold one on the internet), before asking how to test it and whether we would test it, and, as we wouldn’t, who would test it. I don’t mind people asking for advice, because we are specialists and we are happy to share what we know, and it’s nice when people go away happy and better informed. It’s also good when people just go away. Hanging on the phone arguing and citing the idiotnet as their source, that’s not so good.

Eventually my colleague told him to try the gold-buying stall in the market. They always send their idiots to us, so it seemed only fair to repay the compliment.

Other stuff did happen, but this is a ten minute slice of the day that sticks in my mind.

A Tale of two Customers

We had two contrasting customers in today. One was caught stealing a coin. He palmed it and slipped it in his pocket. The owner was serving him. My co-worker went through to say hello, as we hadn’t seen him since before the first lockdown, and spotted the the theft.

He is now banned from the shop, and we are wondering how much he took in previous visits. When you have so many individual items about it is difficult to spot when things go missing unless they are very obvious. He was banned from the Birmingham Coin Fair years ago after being caught stealing, but the owner gave him the benefit of the doubt. It seems not to have paid off.

The next customer brought us ice creams,because he knows the shop is like an oven in summer. The part of the front room within 6-10 feet of the air conditioning vent is OK but the rest can be fairly unpleasant and the back rooms are very stuffy. We could open the back door.There is a grille on it and security would not be compromised, but the alarm can be tricky to reset so it’s easier not to mess with it.

After ice cream I went home and made a conscious effort not to go on the computer. I have tendency to switch on as soon as I get home and it can soon swallow up several hours without producing much benefit. Over the years I have turned into a browser of trivia when I really meant to turn into a producer of Great Literature. That is what happens when you allow yourself to drift. If I’d taken more control of my life I could have become a leader of men instead of a shop assistant.

The Blotted Copybook

Oh dear.

I watched TV, I ate the curry that Julia had made. I watched The Great British Sewing Bee. Then, having listed the jobs I needed to do, I fell asleep. When I awoke it was too late to finish the shopping and when it arrives there will be no bread. More annoyingly, because I have failed to make it to the minimum order level, I will have to pay a £4 surcharge.

The moral is clear – order earlier. The secondary moral is that it doesn’t matter. We can buy bread seperately and £4 isn’t enough to worry about, It’s annoying but it won’t break me.

It wasn’t the only blot on my copybook, I failed to post a second time, as I intended. Then, having dragged myself from my sleep at 1 am I proceeded to make sandwiches and after that,  foolishly, sat down for a few minutes at the computer. Over an hour passed. I am closer to completing some submissions (everything seems to be dragging at the moment) but I am also late to bed, which will mean more sleep-based problems tomorrow.

Dream sequence of a clock, hands turning quickly…

Fourteen hours later. I am in trouble for passing the boss a phone call which I could have handled.

Stephen Hawking 50p

“I’ve already had a dozen like it,” I said, “and if I hadn’t passed it over to you I’d have ben rude to him.”

“I was rude to him.”

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m paid to be polite and I have reached breaking point.”

I then had another dozen, but that one pass saved my manners and the day passed off without incident. It was close though. I don’t know why people think a coin from the 1980s is of any value, or why a 50p that you can pull out of your change would be worth £6,000.  If you could pull a £6,000 coin out of your change, do they think I’d be sitting in the windowless middle room of a shop answering their calls.

I don’t mind the enquiries, it’s sensible for people to ring up after seeing yet another outrageously inaccurate story in the press. It’s the ones that clearly don’t believe me that get on my nerves. I once offered a woman a selection of coins for £2.50 each. She didn’t buy them. But she did want me to buy hers for £3,000, and left the shop chuntering about me knowing nothing.

Again, did she think I’d be standing there serving her if I could buy five coins for £12.50 and turn them into £15,000.  If I could make that sort of money every day I’d stay at home and employ a butler to go down to the shop and insult customers.

1973 50p

Cold Day at Work

We don’t have heating at work. Well, we do, but we don’t have any in the room I use. The front has a so-called air-conditioning system, which blows warm air in summer and then in winter blows out warm air. I suspect that the air is the same temperature when it emerges, but feels either slightly cold or slightly warm according to the room temperature.

In the back room we have an oil-filled radiator, but that is set to stop the back room becoming damp rather than make life more bearable for the downtrodden staff.

Fortunately, I had enough sense to dress in four layers this morning, which became five layers when I added a fleece to the ensemble. I also had a coat with me, but didn’t need that. There is, as they say, no such thing as bad weather (even inside!), just inappropriate clothing.

You can tell we’ve been having a cold snap because there is ice in some of the nooks and crannies of the car that has been there since the beginning of the week. When I started the car this evening at 5.00 it was already below freezing, and I’m not sure if it had been much above that all day.

The day wasn’t too bad, but as usual on Friday, a couple of people decided to order just as I was going to the Post Office. The PO shuts at 4.30 and doesn’t open again until Monday, so I always try to get last-minute orders in the post. This does not stop me cursing the people who order late. I post them because I am professional and because I’m being paid to do it.  I swear while I’m rushing to pack the parcels because I’m a miserable old git and am not a nice person.

After wiping down my work station (as I call the cluttered piece of board where I work, somebody rang me about “rare coins”. So I had to clean the phone again. Typical of my day.

At least the heated seats offered some comfort on the way home.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Dull anecdote about a parcel

I just had to use my printer as a scanner – Number Two son needs copies of documents to support his bid to remain in Canada, and anything I can do to make sure he stays away from my fridge is good. However, despite owning the computer and the printer I have had to register with HP to be able to scan. I don’t know why. I just know it is very annoying, and very intrusive.

I’m afraid that there is nothing much happening either at home or at work. The only episode of any interest (and I use the term lightly) was when I packaged a parcel, only to find that the same customer had ordered something else a bit later. Because they were seperated by three other items I had not picked up on the fact. There are two things you can do when this happens (apart from swearing and declaring that customers, though necessary, are also frustrating). You can carry on and pack the second parcel, but this often results in a complaint that you could have packed it all in one and reduced the postage.

Fair comment, but they could either have done all their shopping at one time, or have sent you a message to let you know before you start packing.

Second choice is to repack the parcel. That’s what we did in this case. It involved a bigger envelope and cutting the front off the other envelope to stick to the second so that we didn’t waste the stamps. This is slightly more complicated when using padded envelopes, but it went OK and I used the rest of the old envelope instead of using bubble wrap. In the end, nothing was wasted apart from a little time and a sliver of vocabulary.

The Post Office was crowded today. It’s a long shop and the queue was out of the door. I suspect it is the last posting day for some places.