Tag Archives: customer service

How not to do it yourself

A few weeks back we changed the lock on the back house, a good thing because the lock that was on the external door was not exactly secure. It was what is termed a vanity lock, one key fits all. So anyone could have gone to the hardware store bought a matching lock or spare key and opened the door. One key fits all.

So we changed it. However the only way the new lock including handle would fit was upside down. Not ideal, but at least the lock was secure.

With time on our hands and it being too hot to do much, we decided that correcting the upside down door handles and lock would be a good idea. At the same time we though it worthwhile getting someone to come and look at our fridge door, it seemed not to seal properly.

So we got back home with new lock fittings and an appointment one hour later for some guys to look at the fridge door.  Ashley started to dismantle the lock on the back house door.  All was going well. Famous last words: Ashley decided to show Hilary a problem with what happens when the lock mechanism is inverted so the handles will be the right way round. Hilary could not see the problem, Hilary has spatial issues. So Ashley decided to demonstrate by closing the door. Bad move.

With the mechanism inverted and loose we could not refit the handle. Hence we could not open the door. So we were stuck inside the back house. Credit cards, screwdrivers, all manner of things were tried. All failed.

And in half an hour we had people booked to look at the fridge door.

Not good.

Ashley removed the iron window bars and got out. It really was the only way out. We should at some point replace those screws so the bars cannot be so easily removed but right now we are not complaining.

There is however a certain irony about having to break out of ones own home.

It got us out of the back house in time to meet the guys booked to sort out the fridge door. Fortunately the fridge in question is in the front house. They came looked at the fridge door, pronounced that it was not the door seals but that the door hinge had dropped. So they took the doors off, used some washers to raise the door, refitted everything and all is now working properly. Callout, work and stuff was 40 lira, just over a tenner UK.

Meanwhile Ashley was still busy attacking the door to the back house trying to get it open. And failing.

So we called a friend, who sent a locksmith. He arrived within half an hour. Initially he tried everything Ashley had tried, and like Ashley he failed. Ashley was watching, thinking, I tried that, but it is always better to say nothing, it would never have been believed.

Anyway, after half an hour or so, he got it open.

He then insisted on dismantling the lock mechanism, inverting parts, and reassembling, something Ashley is perfectly capable of doing. Ashley is not sure whether this is locksmith professionalism or “you stupid foreigner”. Either way, after another half hour everything was fitted, no longer upside down and working perfectly. The cost? 30 Lira. Cannot complain, and maybe there is sense in letting someone else do the work in the first place.

Road Tales

Of course no road trip would be complete without a story about the road. After a day walking in the local area we decided it would be good to jump on the bike. Initially to Geyik Canyon. We had a short walk in the area, but access to the canyon seemed to be closed off. A pity, but it was a lovely ride to get there, some great scenery which Hilary got to enjoy more than me given the variable road surface.

Back to the highway and for some reason the indicators stopped working, along with the tacho, speedo, and dashboard apart from a red ignition light warning. Damn I thought, looks like a fuse has just blown, well either than or an ignition circuit error. I thought about it for a while as we headed around Lake Köyceğiz, concluded not an ignition circuit error, so probably fuse. Best sense got hold me of me, I knew we were low on fuel, but how low I had no idea and the dead controls were not going to tell me. So we called off going to Kaunos and headed  instead to Köyceğiz with a plan to find an auto electrician.

In Köyceğiz the problem became a lot more clear. A quick inspection and we found broken wires hanging from the tail light assembly. The wiring that runs under the rear fender to the rear lights had clearly detached from its mounting and been torn apart by contact with the rear tire. So, off to the Sanayi we went in search of a repair. We found the auto electrician, he was not sure how to access the wiring so everything moved to a motorcycle repair place.

How-many-menThey had never seen a Harley before, but this was not a problem, off came the saddle and the rear fender. This prompted some questions about the not strictly speaking legal efi unit and further questions about the air intake / filter and exhaust. Clearly they understood this sort of thing, very much reassuring me they knew exactly what they were doing.  To add to the fun and games, numerous photographs were taken and friends were called to take more.  From somewhere a printout of the entire wiring diagram for a Softail appeared, not strictly speaking needed mending-the-bikebecause they could just bridge each wire.  Instead armed with this, the entire rear assembly was rewired with a new cable running to beneath the saddle, one new junction box, and plugged back into the main loom. One thing I am very sure of is that the new assembly will stay clear of the wheel, that amount of epoxy is never going to fail!!!

Rewired, one quick test proved the earlier failure had indeed taken out a fuse as well.  None of us were surprised by this. New fuse fitted, everything worked.

Two hours from start to finish and we were back on our way.  Kaunos can wait, we have been there before, it is a lovely site.  No doubt we will be back in the area laer this year.

On the bike. It is 9 years old. 6 years of Istanbul winters, so rain, snow, ice, salt and grit, much like the UK.  Motorcycle wiring is more exposed, so this sort of thing is expected, as was the need to replace ignition coils a year back and more recently due to the old coils, the battery. But as this stuff gets fixed life gets better. We’ve had the bike just over 2 years, we’ve done close to 24,000 KM on it, plus the 28,000 KM it had on it from the previous 7.  It is doing just fine.

How our Bike got it’s TÜVTÜRK in Izmir

TUVTURK-PlaketteWhat is a TÜVTÜRK you may well ask…  Well, it’s a bit like an MOT in the UK – a kind of roadworthiness test that has to be taken by vehicles at regular intervals.  Our bike needs one every two years and it’s now two years since we acquired it, the guy who sold it to us took it for a test before we could transfer ownership, so our test was due last Friday.

So, first we rode to Izmir, met our friend and got taken to the TÜVTÜRK istasyon in Bornova to make our appointment.  We booked a slot for midday on Friday.  We also had the bike pre-checked (for which we were not charged) by a friend of a friend.  We will go back to him for a routine service as his place is very good (they even gave us tea and roasted chestnuts whilst we waited).

Friday saw us back at Bornova Istasyon ten minutes before our appointment.  We were given a numbered ticket (keyed to appointment time) and asked to wait.  At midday on the dot we were called up to a window where the bike papers were taken and we paid 84.75 lira for the test.  We were sent round the back to wait for the test.

They have a real production line for the tests at Bornova.  We waited whilst they tested a whole ‘batch’ of cars and a few trucks.  This took about 45 minutes but it was interesting to watch the cars go over the ramps, have their headlamps measured, their spare wheels, safety belts and other bits and pieces checked out.

When it was our turn our headlight was measured, our indicators and brake lights checked, tyre tread (we have ordered new tyres but they haven’t arrived yet so this was a bit of a worry), frame number, engine number, suspension etc. etc. etc. then we went around the side of the building for our brake test.  This involved Hilary running along beside the bike, translating instructions for Ashley.

We passed.  Or rather the bike passed.  We got our sticker.  It was all very efficient and a great deal less complex that we had been led to believe.  So that’s that for another two years.

Renovation Work

Well we’ve talked about builders and little things in the middle of a big thing but we’ve not yet got round to talking about the latest improvement works on our ‘compound’…


Terrace before work

Sometime around late September early October we took a look at the back house terrace, or porch.  It’s where we spend the vast majority of our time in summer.  It’s shady and pleasant and conveniently close to the house.  But, back then, it was very small.   We decided to try to have it extended.  We went to buy some tiles that matched those already present and rode home on the tractor.  We started to ask around for an usta who would be prepared to take on the work.

We didn’t have much luck initially.  It was summer.  All the good builders were busy and had no time for our little extension. Whilst we were making these enquiries we had a little problem with the window in the back house bathroom which led to speculation about removal of the bath (never got used, always needed cleaning) and renovation of the bathroom (a lot of the fittings had suffered from neglect by long-term tenants)…  In the end we went through a friend who said everyone was busy till 21st November at which point our Usta came round and said he would be back in 15 days or so…  We began to wonder whether he would be back but, a week ago last Tuesday he showed up and took a good look at what would need to be done.  Hilary was in the back house at the time, pinning together some pieces of a quilt which ended up being done in double quick time to free the house up for the building work…

Next morning he took us off to the builder’s merchants to choose tiles.  This was fun.  They showed us lovely tiles.  We selected some.  They went off to find out whether they were in stock.  They weren’t.  So we selected some different tiles – light grey and dark grey.  The dark grey were in stock but not the light grey.  OK, we decided, dark grey alone would be fine but we’d want a border…  Eventually we found a combination of tiles and borders that we liked and were in stock.  And…. In the intervening period we had chosen a new shower fitting and a new tap for the wash basin.

Work begsteps-day-1-endan…  The tiles were ripped out of the bathroom and from theck house steps…  Then they were rebuilt.  Everything went very quickly.  By Sunday everything was finished, except for ‘montaj’ in the bathroom.  Most of that was done whilst we were out walking and the final touches were put on the work after we got home.


Little things in the middle of a big thing – Part 2

In the middle of the renovation and other work and the plumbing problem the front house telly decided to take on a mind of its own.  It turned on, pulled up various menus, went to standby, then turned on again.  At times did other weird things.  It refused to turn off.  We did not think this was a simple problem, it was obviously electronic, something like a motherboard and it clearly needed replacing.

When we first retired and moved to Turkey we were very cautious about money, kept records of everything, were trying to work out what we could afford or not.  To be honest we worried too much, were mean with ourselves, but back then we simply did not know how far a vastly reduced income would go.  Electronics are particularly expensive.  This is when we bought the TV in question.

There are a few discount electronics outlets, places like Bimeks and Teknosa.  They sell IPads, cool kit, and more.  They also sell seriously cheap stuff made in China, PRK and so on, and discontinued models from LG, Sony, and the rest (which represent very good value).  None of these outlets have branches in our town – we have to go to Izmir or to Aydin to take advantage of what they offer.  Also, whilst the goods do come with a guarantee, we doubt if they would come to our house to fix any problems.   The telly in question was a really cheap flat screen one from PRK.  It lasted more than two years (well beyond the guarantee period) and survived the power chaos a year ago which destroyed all manner of goods up and down the street.   So it really didn’t do so badly.

The situation was, however, that we had a TV that needed replacing.  An expense we did not really want, but now we are far clearer about how far the money goes.  With all the work going on we were not in a position to head to Izmir to hit the outlets, and locally we can get TV’s from Beko, Vestel, Arçelik all of which are perfectly good, and come with a guarantee that can be called upon locally.  So we took a short trip into town, browsed what was available and came back with a new TV.  We were told not to unpack it, that people would call to do montaj (set up in this case).   Setting it up yourself is easy, but invalidates your guarantee.  Our understanding was that they would come early in the afternoon.

By 16:30 we had not seen them.  So Hilary phoned the shop who gave her another number for Servis.  She phoned that number, explained the situation and was promised that Servis would be round to do montaj in half an hour. Very confidence boosting for her ability to communicate in Turkish!   About an hour later the TV was all set up and the guarantee papers signed and correct.  We know that if anything goes wrong within the guarantee period, we can call Servis who will come to our house.  If anything goes wrong after the guarantee period we can call Servis who will come to our house and charge us a reasonable fee for the privilege.

So tonight it was back to watching Torchwood.

Little things in the middle of a big thing – Part 1

It has been an odd few days.  We are having some major work done on the house, more on that later, but in the middle of that work other things happened.

The drain from the kitchen sink blocked.  We did the usual, dismantled the pipes beneath the sink, cleaned them out, tried a plunger.  No better.  Then we got the local stuff that is called sink opener (lavabo açici).  It’s caustic soda.  Tip it into the drain, add boiling water, stand back.  This too failed.

11954219911140919487h0us3s_Sign_danger_corrosive.svg.medIt was time to call a plumber.  The plumber came with a length of hose pipe, tried to unblock it.  Despite many metres of it going into the drain it failed.  He said he was going to get some stronger drain medicine, but that none was available in Selçuk.  Anyway, he came back a few hours later with a 2 litre plastic container full of a clear oily liquid.  He opened windows first, saying there will be smells, at which point Ashley started to get a good idea what was in that container.  Some went down the drain, gurgling noises started.  Then boiling water, then some more of the strong drain medicine, then more boiling water.  Then loads of it.  All manner of noises started coming from the drain along with powerful blasts of hydrogen sulphide.

It did the trick.  The basement garage needed serious ventilation to get rid of the fumes.  The kitchen sink now drains perfectly.  The odd smell that was noticed in the bathroom has gone.  Ashley suspects he left it a few hours because he wanted to be sure there was no caustic soda still in the drains.  So there you have it, if all else fails….  Concentrated sulphuric acid will probably succeed in unblocking drains, it certainly cleared ours.

The miracles of modern bureaucracy

Ukpassport-coverOn 20th November Ashley sent off all the paperwork to renew his passport, application form printed from the internet, old passport, proof of address, new photos, and the form for paying.  This now goes to Liverpool (not Germany as it did for a few years).  It was sent from the PTT (post office) via their courier service (EMS), which was pretty reasonably priced.  It could be tracked on the PTT site to Istanbul, then on the Post Office site once in the UK, so we knew when it arrived.

A day later the Passport Office took the money.  It cost slightly more than applying in the UK, the extra is for the courier back.

The day before yesterday we had a text from DHL. This resulted in a few emails and phone calls  because there was apparently some issue with our address this was all swiftly resolved and yesterday a courier arrived….  We signed for the package, opened it eagerly thinking it must be the new passport.  But no, it was the old one and a letter we had sent them as proof of address.  This resulted in a phone call to the Passport Office to check what was going on.  We learnt that they send two packages, one containing all the old material, and one containing just the new Passport.  However they did provided us with a tracking number for the Passport and we quickly learnt the passport was at that time in Izmir.

Today it arrived.  15 days in total, from posting to the UK to back with us.

Little Surprises in Life

Today Ashley started the process of getting new glasses since his old ones are more than two years old and we were pretty certain the  prescription had changed.  We went with staff from the Optician in Kuşadası to a local hospital for an eye test, and learnt that for some unknown reason our GSS (Health Insurance) was no longer in place.

We paid for the eye examination (at 100 lira it was not unreasonable).  It should have cost a lot less, but had we cancelled, gone to Tire to sort the insurance out, then back to Kuşadası, all the running around would have significantly eaten into any savings.

Back at the opticians we ordered the lenses, varifocal, transition, with anti-glare coating and scratch protection, at a very reasonable price.  They will be fitted, into Ashley’s existing Flexon frames, and should be ready for collection on Friday afternoon.  As part of the general customer service Ashley had his current lenses fitted into older frames, Hilary had hers adjusted and çay was provided.

Then since we were in Kuşadası  and it was approaching lunch time we went for balık ekmek in the much improved square near the fish market.  It was, as always, cheap and delicious.  We did look into the fish market just in case there might be some tuna or swordfish – unfortunately no such luck.  We did learn that the restaurant / locanta next to the fish market will cook fish bought by customers on the market.  There was a good deal of trade in giant prawns, selling and cooking.  Ashley may give this a try at some point.

We’d gone on the dolmuş in case the eye exam involved something that would make riding unwise but, once we got home with a few bits of shopping we hopped on the bike and went to the SGK office in Tire (about 35 km up the road in the opposite direction from Kuşadası).  Which was fun and games as it is market day in Tire and, of course, we couldn’t resist a couple of purchases.  Anyway, the people in the office were as puzzled as we were about why our insurance was suddenly stopped.  They checked our documents, took some photocopies, filled out a form, and  they reinstated it…

With all the issues we have had with GSS we will be checking in the pharmacy that we are both properly on the system, but they definitely did something, as we have now been able to pay our current premium.

Immobilised in Yanıklar

ride-to-sparta-14Our motor cycle has a very handy device called an immobiliser.  This is there to prevent thieves from making off with the bike.  Unfortunately, from time to time, it also prevents us from moving the bike anywhere.

We had pulled into a service station in Yanıklar, a small and as far as we know, unremarkable village about half way between Fethiye and Göcek.  We pulled in to have a short break, stretch our legs and drink water.  We were, at this point, about an hour away from our destination (Koyceğiz, where we intended to stay for the night).  After about ten minutes Ashley clicked the immobiliser button and… Nothing happened.  He moved the bike (sometimes mobile phone masts can interfere with the immobiliser signal).  It made a lot of noise and flashed its lights.  He tried again.  Several times.  The very helpful pump attendant attempted to charge the battery.  We were not convinced you could charge a watch type battery that way but didn’t like to argue.  The immobiliser still failed to work.

Hilary took the battery and caught a dolmuş to Fethiye to attempt to buy a replacement part (and hope that this would make the bike mobile again).  The first few didn’t want to stop but, eventually, she embarked on a three quarter of an hour journey to somewhere near the bus garage.  Then she had to find a place that sold this fairly obscure battery, find her way back to where she could get the dolmuş then get off the dolmuş at the right petrol station.  This was very challenging for someone with no sense of direction who can easily get lost less than five minutes walk from home.

She set off in one direction, asking at some vaguely possible shops.  In the end she got directions to a saatçi (watch mender).  She followed those directions and came across a Curry’s / Computer World.  Where the very helpful assistant explained that they had sold out of the particular type needed but would have one the next day.  Hilary explained about the husband and the bike waiting in Yanıklar and got directions to Bimeks (a local electronics chain).  She understood that it was pretty much opposite the PTT (post office) but, before she found it, she found a saatçi in a little booth.  He threw the example battery to one side, scrabbled about in a box of batteries for some time, then came up with the desired item.  For 5 lira.

Hilary headed back to the place to catch her dolmuş – miraculously she did not get lost (and she passed Bimeks on her way).   Ten minutes and a can of ice tea later, she was on the dolmuş where, after a brief misunderstanding, the driver said he would drop her off at the appropriate garage (she had had the foresight to write down the name).

Back on the forecourt the battery was installed.   Two and a half hours after the problem was noticed, the bike started fine and we were on our way!

And yes, we did get to Koyceğiz in plenty of time to watch the sun set.


Would not happen in London

Well apart from having solar water panels which are pretty pointless for most of the year, plenty of hot water in the summer, when hot water is not required very much and very little in the winter….  One morning a week or so ago we noticed that water was flowing out of the top of the solar water unit.  This was cold water and Ashley had a vague idea that there was probably something like a ballcock regulating the water flowing into the system.  So, after a quick hunt for the right business card we phoned a local company that installs, maintains and repairs solar water systems.

We were told someone would be around in half an hour, this turned out to be an hour, but this really was not a big issue.  One of their staff lives across the road and it looked like they timed it to coincide with a tea break.  After being assured there was not an immersion heater in the system, (necessitating a dictionary to ensure we were all talking about the same thing), they drained some water and examined the interior.  Ashley was right, a broken ballcock, not so much broken, but half of it was missing.  This was replaced and everything connected back up.

The work took about 20 minutes.  The bill,  10 lira….  Less that £4.00.

In London.  75 quid call out, then labour, plus parts.  £100 minimum, probably more like £150.00.