Friday, April 24, 2009

Letter to Ryan air

Dear Mr Ryan,

You know I hear a lot of people bad mouthing Ryan air; people saying 'Ryan air are bastards', 'Ryan air make you pay for oxygen' or 'Ryan air stole my baby'. I understand that as your prices are low you need to cut corners, you need to hide charges and over-charge for basic amenities - I understand this, I really do. I, personally I had never had any gripe with yourselves, until now.

What I do have an issue with however, is that you could actually Rape someone. That Ryaniar, is a step to far. Permit me to remind you…

Whilst planning travel back to Ireland with my girlfriend recently I threw caution to the wind, disregard my numerous previous and generally positive experiences flying with BMI baby and decided to try my native country's own bastard son of an air line - Ryan air. I ordered my tickets, careful to ensure that I did not want to book a seat in advance, have travel insurance, require a car on arrival, require food, and check in luggage. Then, as if like clockwork 4 days later received notification of my booking via e-mail.

Some weeks later I packed my things and made my way to the airport. I arrived with my girlfriend in toe, with plenty of time to spare and danced my merry way to the check out desk. I was on my way home to the Irish motherland, I was going to spend the next week being fed and watered by my loving parents; there was nothing that could break my mood. Nothing.

I made my way quickly to the front of the line, handed over our passports to the lady on the desk and made polite chit chat and was my usual charming self. Earlier in the day I had had the forethought to check in on-line, thus having myself time and £12 - shrewd. Then I put my bag on the scales and; RESULT! Under 15kg! Take that weight restriction Nazis. Then to my shock my girlfriend's bag is under too, could this the best day of my life?

But halt. The check-in girl, that expression on her face, something's up. I can feel it in my bones. She looks at me and says the words that haunt the bones of any traveller or regular commuter; 'there seems to be a problem'. My heart sank and I asked the girl what was wrong, she replied 'can you go over the to the customer service desk?’ So, confused and deflated and with my tail between my legs I dragged my feet along the walk of shame to join the crew of fellow disgruntled Ryan air rejects. I took my place overhearing an older couple who were being told that a full driving license was not sufficient ID to travel domestically - despite the fact it was for a funeral later on that day. Soon, still unaware of that the exact problem with me was, it was my turn.

I advised the customer service assistant that I had been advised to come over and explained that I was not sure why but also definitely not a terrorist. She took my passport and looked us up on her computer. She looked up and said 'your name is spelt wrong', a tidal wave of relief washed over me! Just my name, thank God! I mean, my name is 'Tiernan' I expect people to get it wrong. I’m annoyed when people don’t. She rolled her eyes 'not you, her' she said gesturing to my patient girlfriend. 'Her' I thought, my girl friend ‘Lauren’. How could anyone spell that? She continued 'yeah, her name is LAUREN SHARP on the passport but it's different on the ticket'. 'No problem' I said, what is it? 'LA SH' she replied. 'LA SH' I said, 'surely it's just been abbreviated to that?’ 'No' she replied, 'the name has to be the same on the ticket as it is on the passport'.

Suffice to say this conversation went on like this for a bit. In order to address the issue and keep all parties happy I requested that the name was changed and a new ticket be produced. I was not surprised to hear their was a charge of this, but I didn't care. After all I'd already saved a fortune, what with my skilful on-line checking in and using my scales at home. So yeah, bring on your 'spell check' charge I thought.

'The cost for the change of a name is £150' she mumbled. 'Fifteen pounds' said, 'that's a lot considering all you are going it typing a new name!'. 'No sir, One hundred and fifty pounds' she repeated, her confidence growing with every syllable. I laughed, honestly I laughed in her stupid face. 'One hundred and fifty pounds' I gasped, 'for what?!' 'For changing the name sir'. I composed myself and attempted to hide where I had soiled myself. 'Excuse me', I asked 'How can you possibly consider charging one hundred and fifty pounds for a simply pressing 11 keys on a keyboard? I don't mind paying ‘a’ fee for this, but the labour involved hardly qualifies for a £150 charge. Additionally, my girlfriend has 25 years experience writing her name and I am confident that this 'mistake' is probably not her problem.’

The woman was clearly bored with me and more or less immedialty told me that she would get her manager, for this I thanked her and arrogantly placed my bag on the counter to confirm m place in queue and intention of not backing down. Moments later I became very aware of a woman’s voice shouting in the background, I looked around and was confronted with the vision of a middle aged woman advancing towards me already bellowing about something or other. Soon she became audible and I heard her screaming 'you have to pay the charge if you want to fly, if you don’t you can’t!!’

Honestly, this woman was like some kind of demented end of level boss. She was taking no prisoners and clearly wanted the entire foyer to know my personal business. By the time she reached me she was already out of breath, given me ample time to retaliate in kind. I told her I was appalled at this charge and was now entirely unsurprised by the awful reputation that Ryan air carried. At this point she advised me, ‘advised me’ that if I didn’t like it to try a different airline. I asked her for her name which she give up reluctantly, I then took great pleasure emphasising the ‘Miss’ part for the rest of the conversation. Our skirmish continued for some time, with Miss Hipkirk refusing to budge or even acknowledge that 150 pounds to change the spelling of a name might be a bit excessive.

Reluctantly, I paid the fee. I had to. And this is the thing that gets me; I went back over to re-check-in, and do you know what? The name hadn’t even been changed. After all that, the £150 administration task had not been completed.

You may be wondering why I am writing this letter Tony; well first off I want you to know what it’s like to have half an hour of your day wasted. I also want Miss Hipkirk to be tarred and feathered. And finally there’s the money; now I don’t want nor do I expect to receive a full refund. What I would like is for you to tell me how my £150 pounds was spent. I would like a breakdown of the service I relieved and, if it seems fair to charge £150 then we have no quarrel.

Or perhaps we negotiate? I believe that the task in hand equates to 1 minutes work, therefore I am happy to pay for 1 minutes pay for the steward who dealt with my query, I work this out to be just over 1 pence, I will forward my address and look forward for my cheque for £148.98 (I’m being generous).

Yours genuinely sincerely,

Sgt. Tiernan Welch

I am not Charlie Brooker, know my limits

I did write a long piece about St. George's day, but have decided not to past it makes me sound a bit racist. Here's a clip of me attempting to break the world record for eating 3 crackers. It's pretty much the most impressive thing I've ever done.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today I wrote the first in what will likely become a long, pointless, futile diatribe of my pathetic frustrations.

Day 1: Maryland Fried Chicken.

To whom it may concern,

Apologies if I have not located the correct department for my query, however given that my issue does include air pollution and quality I felt it appropriate. I am writing with some concern regarding the Narborough Road branch of Fast Food ‘restaurant’ Maryland Chicken. I live nearby the establishment and have for some time had an concerns.

My first issue relates to the amount of waste and litter that the shop produces. The area surrounding the shop, which is largely residential, is more or less perpetually camouflaged with a checking of rotten chicken carcass and Maryland brand boxes and containers. Admittedly, the proper disposal of waste and litter is a social responsibility; however I do believe that the proprietors of Maryland Chicken are to a degree accountable for using such excessive packaging. Perhaps they could be advised to use less, or a more biodegradable packing alternative?
My other, and more immediate concern, is more of a thorny issue. Given that this branch of Maryland Chicken has been given license to virtually never close, I now have to live in a world that smells eternally of a rancid cocktail of mutated poultry and rancid fat. A dense fug rich with the bitter aftertaste of depravity, disappointment and failure hangs in the air following me around like a malevolent hooded man.

I am under no delusion of how fried chicken is made; I work in the city centre which is a relative hot-spot for fried chicken takeaways and ‘restaurants’, yet none of this have such offensive or challenging aromas. I am very concerned about the pungent stench that this particular restaurant exudes; and this is why I write. I believe that whatever ventilation system the restaurant has is either not working correctly, or is insufficient.

I would be grateful if someone could check that the ventilation in the restaurant is sufficient for their needs, as the current heat we’re experiencing is resulting in further exacerbating the already dire situation and may well result in my gagging or voluntary asphyxiation when nearby…which is daily.

Yours sincerely,

Tiernan Welch MBE