Post office woes

The Post Office in Inverness luckily does Poste Restante so I’ve had a few items delivered there. The last things to be collected were the two new portable drives I am going to use as replacement for the exiting backup drives, which are now too small. I picked a parcel up which I thought was them but on returning to the van it wasn’t. I checked online using the tracking number and it appears the drives were delivered 2 days prior.
So I rang and asked where my parcel was and after a brief discussion was told that the parcel would be sent to the Washington post office as I would be there by Tuesday, and someone would call me today to confirm.

It got to late afternoon and no-one had called so I phoned the number I’d called the day before and got some shop called Pandorum in Inverness. How odd! I found another number which said I needed to try another number and then had to try a third, as none of the constant robot number pressing menus had the option I wanted. Finally I had to ring the complaint line, it was the only way I could get to speak to a human.

When I did, I was told that post office’s number is ex directory. Why do they do that? Anyway I spoke to the really nice lady that had given me my parcel yesterday and she had my other parcel there. Quite why I wasn’t given it I don’t know but as I am due in Penrith in the morning and had travelled to Glasgow last night, I was not able to go back and pick it up. No worries the lovely lady said, we’ll send it on but it will cost you £17.30 for insurance, tracking, signed for and 48 hour delivery! HAHHAHAHAH

Apparently after 18 days if I did not collect it would be returned to sender so I said do that cos no way am I paying for this when it was your office’s fault I wasn’t given the parcel. At some point she finally decided she would post it on and they would pay for it.
Why does life have to be so difficult lol
I swear the post office is one of the worst organisations I have to deal with and when I use to sell stuff on ebay we all called it Parcel Farce cos they would lose or damage a full third of all packages.

Lets see if my drives actually arrive at Washington.

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Thanks DVLA

Just got round to contacting DVLA today about my lost driving licence. Someone told me you could contact the British Embassy and they’d sort you out but when I rang them they were about as helpful as a sack of garden waste. I tried to get a replacement online, but the DVLA’s system won’t recognise my address and when I rang this lovely patient girl said “It will work, log in and I will talk you through it.” 15 minutes later she agreed it would not work and she could only think that the Post Office had not updated them with post code details LOL

Never mind I paid £20 over the phone and will have a new driving licence in the post within 2 weeks. So in 2 weeks I’ll order my mail, then book onto a campsite and wait for it to come.

By the way I did pop back to Lidl’s and the camping shop and ask again if my wallet had been handed in but no luck 🙁

IMAG0378My thermometer said 36 degrees today. I doubt it was really, but it was very hot and Jack, freshly shampooed again last night and having enjoyed an early morning walk today, has a long relaxing sleep on the sofa. It’s a dog’s life eh?

Pass problems

I was going to say you may not believe it but, you might…my brakes burned out on a pass in Austria lol

It was a 16% hill and in 2nd gear the rev counter was going over 5,000 so I went into 3rd but then had to continually brake on and off most of the way down. The brakes got so hot that by the half way mark there was smoke coming from the wheels and the stench was awful. I pulled into a restaurant car park that offered itself and noticed a camper about the same size as mine but about 10 years older pull in after me. They didn’t have problems 🙁  Here’s the car park: MK3_2601

So, I decided to sit here and have some lunch. It’s blazing hot and I have no idea how much of the hill is left, I suspect a lot. I may not even reach Italy tonight grrr

*Update: I had to stop once more on the way down but from then on it was flattish so no problem. It’s concerned me though so I’m getting the brakes checked out when I return to UK.

**Update 2: I was chatting on a motorhome forum and a guy gave me this link http://www.brick-yard.co.uk/VehicleSpecific/T3/info/brakefluid.htm It’s an article that basically says brake fade is due to old and poor condition brake fluid and not pads. Bad pads cause brakes simply not to work. I am dubious as to the authenticity of this but I’ll be checking it out.

I decided that as it was over 2 hours quicker using the toll roads through the Brenner Pass, I’d pay the fee. It was €19.80 to get through the first few miles of the pass, but the next 150 miles or so of Autostrade into Veneto was only €5.60. Total tolls paid since leaving Calais including the French ones is a wallet busting €71.90 Thanks in part to my SatNav which although I told it NOT to use toll roads, it did. So after the second time it did it in France I bought a map and stopped using the TomTom. I’m heartily fed up with TomTom’s unreliable mapping so that’s my finish with it. It’s useful for marking POI’s and that’s about it.

Total mileage covered from Dover is 1006, which equates to about 156 litres of diesel which at the average price is just less than £250 or so.

Anyway, I got into Mestre and headed for Punta Sabbatini as I’d been told there was a sosta there. I found a free car park and parked up and went to bed shattered.

Oh update on the money card. I rang them and they said the last transaction had not worked as he had not sent it through as the correct transaction type. It needs to go as chip and pin and not a swipeable card. Well he managed to do my Visa card OK…anyway, the stop before that she said did not work as the Money Card does not work at automated fuel pumps and it says this clearly in the terms and conditions. What about the previous time near Strasbourg? Oh wait, it doesn’t matter, just put all the money back on my bank card as this has cost me dearly in time and stress so far and failed to work so I don’t want it any more. Yes Sir, that’ll be up to 5 working days to go into your account, or £21 if you want it immediately. I wish I could say “You useless, greedy robbing bastards!” but it wasn’t her fault she simply works there.

Post Office Money Card

Post-Office-Travel-money-cardThe Post Office Money Card has proved to be useless so far. Here’s the story:

I applied months ago after walking into a branch and getting  a pack. Supposedly you top it up online, then when you use it as a Mastercard abroad there are no fees. You are allowed £750 per year or £5,000 if you prove your address. I gave my address but their system did not find it (Typical!) so I had to send in ID. I don’t have a scanner so I took a high quality photo of my passport and the header of a bank statement.

I got an email back about a week later saying the header is no good. They need to see all 4 corners of the bank statement clearly, including any transactions. I baulked at this as the transactions don’t prove my ID, and are private. However a quick call to the data commissioners office and a very abrupt and blunt man told me that it is not against regulations to ask for this and if I don’t like it I can find a different card supplier. WoW!

Anyway I sent in a copy of my drivers licence instead of the bank statement. About a week afterwards I had heard nothing so I called again and guess what? The image of my passport was no good as I had obscured one corner where I had held it down for the photo. No they replied, we would not contact you for this, you’d only find out when you call. Oh wait, but they did when my bank statement was incorrect? Anyway, can I make a formal complaint please, yes Sir I’ll log it and a manager will call you within 24 hours. (I’ve heard that before too!) Anyway, I sent in another copy of my passport. 2 days later it had not been processed, I’m patient, I can wait.

In the meantime I can still use the card, and I put a second £100 on it just to make sure it works and there is enough diesel money to get me to Venice. 1st fuel stop in France, near Reims. Top up the tank and a jerry can and buy a map (cos the stupid TomTom is useless) for €97. Only problem, card not accepted. (Sigh) Thank goodness for my Visa. I check in the garage and yes they accept Mastercard. Next stop juts outside Stuttgart. A little more diesel and fill up the 5 litre diesel container and guess what? Yup: card not accepted. I checked and they take Mastercard.
Next stop isn’t til Munich in Germany. A half a tank and guess what? Hahahah you’re right, card not accepted and yes they take Mastercard! So, when I get a signal on my phone I’ll be checking to see if there is some problem I’m not aware of.

*Update…here’s a random photo of a lovely scene in Austria. The benefits of coming off the toll roads and using a map instead of TomTom! MK3_2585

Not stopped spending yet

I’ve just ordered some LED festoon bulbs for the interior light, which has always been crap. I got one ages ago for the bathroom and the difference is amazing. This all came about because I wanted some spare headlight bulbs to go to Europe with. I’ve got tons of all bulbs except the dipped beam H7s, so I went to 3 car accessory shops today, 2 in Windermere and 1 in Bowness. In Windermere they wanted £9.99 each in the shop ad £8.99 in the garage. Sod that I went into Bowness and the small car shop there wanted £7.99. Sod that too. You can get a pack in Tesco with half a dozen bulbs and some blade fuses in for about £4!

Anyway I ended u having a look at Amazon and have ordered some festoon bulbs, some LED sidelight bulbs, and a pack of 4 x H7s for only £3.50 for the four!! I’m also going to sign up with myByBox to try out their delivery system. Fed up with miserable and rude Post Office staff giving me grief for using their free Poste Restante service.

Money Card sorted

I’ve been looking around for the best choice of card for Italy and the Post Office’s Money Card seems my best option. It works as a Mastercard, and you simply top it up a you go. What I like is that I don’t have to put £5000 Euros on it in one go, I can top it up weekly from my bank account, even using my phone if I wish. That means if I lose it I don’t lose much. You have to pay £6 I think to convert any money left to Sterling when you return, but I’ll juts make sure  spend it before coming back, on diesel if need be.

I popped into the Post Office in Barrow today to get one and you have to put €50 on as a minimum so that’s all done.  I’ve also sent my driving licence off it’s ten year renewal today and that should be back in a week. I tried to do it online but surprise surprise the Govt website didn’t work lol

Not much left t do now before Italy!

Getting mail sent to you wherever you are…even Europe

Getting mail sent can be a particular problem for some but there is an easy way around this covering most of Europe and which is commonly called Poste Restante. Quite simply your mail is sent to a post office and held there for you until you collect. It’s normally kept about a month and is mostly free although some places such as Portugal charge a small ‘tax’ for the service. Some small post offices in the UK refuse to do it as they get no money from it, but all Crown post offices offer the service. You must take ID when you collect, preferably a drivers licence and passport.

It’s much preferred in the UK to check with the post office you are planning to use first and ensure they would agree. Many smaller places have not even heard of it, some simply refuse to do it, and some want to charge you which is wrong as there is no charge in the UK. I find the majority even if they had not heard of it before are fine if you pop in and let them know who you are and what you’re likely to have sent.

There is a protocol for addressing and collecting items and you must ensure the following protocol is adhered to: 

  • There must be a return or senders address
  • Addressing must follow this pattern:
    Poste Restante
    Your name
    Post Office name
    Post office Address
    City and post code
  • You must check with the post office first and ‘register’
  • It is not to be used as a permanent address, it’s for use when you are visiting a place and need to collect mail once or twice
  • Mail is only held up to 28 days
  • You must provide preferably 2 forms of ID to pick mail up, 1 being photo ID, and sign a receipt

If you are not in the UK you should check each country you visit as they all have slight differences in their protocols. Portugal for instance requires mail addressed in this format:
Name of recipient
Posta Restante Loja (then name of the post office)
Address of Post Office
Postcode and place
They will also only keep mail until the first day of the following month when it was sent and Portugal is one of the few that charge a small ‘tax’ for this service. They will accept an EU driving licence as sufficient ID although I’ve found even in the same country many post offices ask for different things so it’s best to take a passport too. 

In Spain it is not called Poste Restante or any variant of that it is called Lista de Correos and the address must reflect that. In the USA it is called General Delivery, and in most countries you will find that post is only accepted if it is sent by the national postal delivery service and not a third party courier. Having said that some accept post from firms such as UPS but only with the appropriate sticker attached by the sender. 

Poste Restante works in almost every country in the world but where you can’t find it, or where the rules don’t fit your circumstance, I’ve found that any campsite will happily receive mail for you as long as you are booked on the site for at least 1 night. I found this helpful when I lost my wallet in Venice and I had to get a new driving licence, debit cards etc sent and then packaged up and sent registered courier to Italy. I had approached the campsite and they held the mail for a couple of days when it arrived so I booked on for that night to pick it up.

There is a post office in Venice itself by the new bridge Ponte della Costituzione (which is often called Ponte di Calatrava a Venezia) but I did want to try the campsite method and I’ve done that many times now.