It’s always in the last place you look. I’ve never understood that saying. It’s always in the last place you look. Well of course it is. You don’t find whatever it is you’ve lost in the first place you look, but keep on looking for it anyway. I was reminded of this saying just today, at the culmination of an episode of life which I shall call “The Phone Receipt”.
On 24th October 2016, my husband and I bought a new phone. Not a smartphone, or an android phone…not even an iPhone. Just a regular, run-of-the-mill landline phone. It was more than necessary, given the fact that the phone we had in the office (it’s actually a spare room but because it has a computer and a phone in there, we call it an office) was on its last legs and every time we used it, the person on the other end of the line could barely hear a word we were saying.
So off we trundled to MediaMarkt (for those of you who don’t know it, MediaMarkt is a large chain of electronics retailers), to see what deals they might have on offer. We looked at a few phones, many of which were way out of our price range, leading us to wonder how and why the price of mobile telephony is coming down, while the price of fixed telephony – which, let’s face it, has been around the longest – seems to be ever increasing. Eventually, we found a phone that was perfect. So perfect in fact, it even had my husband’s name on it! Honestly, it did!
Taking it to the cashier, my husband asked, “This has got my name on it. Does that mean I can have it for free?”
The cashier gave him a look as though he’d just said something obscene and then shook her head. Even when he said, “I’m only joking, but honestly, it does have my name on it”, not the faintest hint of a smile passed her lips. We paid, gave our ID card (which they use for the guarantee), and then, as we left, I asked the cashier if she’d sued them.
“Who?” she asked.
“The charm school” I replied, and wandered out.
A few days later, last Friday (November 4) in fact, not long after I’d returned from the UK after visiting my parents, my husband informed me that there was a problem with our new phone. It seemed that every now and again it would ring once or twice, very quietly, as though the volume had been turned down low. Whenever he picked it up, the line was dead. If he replaced the receiver and picked up the phone again, he had a dial tone. If anyone actually called him, the phone would ring as normal and everything would be OK, but then, soon after, there would be the quiet ring again, followed by a dead line.
“We’ll have to take it back then” I said “Where’s the receipt?”
“I don’t know” he replied “I thought you had it”
“I haven’t got it, I’m sure I haven’t”
Even though I’d claimed to be sure that the receipt wasn’t in my possession, I checked anyway, going through all my coat and jeans pockets, my wallet, and even my desk drawer. I didn’t have the receipt. My husband then searched his own pockets and wallet, but to no avail. After that we searched – both individually and together – the whole house, including all the office drawers and cupboards, the kitchen drawers, living room cupboards, the attic (we thought maybe we may have put it in an empty box by mistake), the garage, and even the car. This whole process took an entire day, after which, we had to face the fact that we hadn’t got the receipt.
With this in mind, we took the phone back to the shop, all the while going through the hypothetical – but nonetheless expected – argument with customer service about the fact that their product was faulty but that we didn’t have the receipt. As it happened, that was all by the by, as when we explained that we had given our ID for the guarantee, the customer service manager announced that we would be in the system so it was no problem, although she made it clear that she was doing us a favour. She could, she said, insist that we had to have the receipt, even though the computer system showed that it was a valid purchase. There was a problem, however, in the fact that it was longer than fourteen days since we purchased the product. “If it’s after fourteen days,” the customer service manager said in a smug tone, “I can’t give you a refund or an exchange. I can only offer you a repair”
“But it hasn’t been over fourteen days” I protested.
“Yes it has” she countered.
“No it hasn’t” I said, “We bought this on October 24. It’s now November 4. That’s only 11 days”
She raised her eyes to the ceiling and her fingers twitched, as if she were trying to work out whether or not I was correct. Eventually, she said, “Oh yes, so it is. In that case, I can offer you a replacement”
“Oh well only if you’re sure” I said, though the sarcasm tumbled around her, like a tumbleweed through a desert.
We got our replacement phone, and thankfully, up until now (touch wood) everything is fine with it.
One thing that isn’t fine is our car exhaust. It has a small hole in it, a tiny pinhole, but it still makes a noise. Not wishing to have buy an entire new back section for it, we decided to get a kit to patch the hole. We fixed it this morning. Well, my husband fixed it, while I stood watching, on hand to helpfully pass him sundry items and make cups of tea. As he proceeded to get under the car, he realised that to properly access the part of the exhaust, he would have to take the back wheel off. He rummaged around in the boot of the car until he found the wheel wrench, which, he grumbled, was all entangled with rags and cloths. In the process of disentangling the wheel wrench from the multitude of rags and cloths, a piece of paper fluttered onto the floor. Not wanting to be a litterbug, I picked it up.
“What is it?” he asked, getting back under the car as I examined the piece of paper.
I laughed out loud. “It’s the phone receipt!”
It’s always in the last place you look.