WHAT DOES THE DOCTOR THINK THIS MONTH? December
Now that my medical problems are settling, Management and I have started to travel again; we recently spent a couple of out-of-season weeks in the Algarve in the south of Portugal. I had forgotten how stressful travel can be, even when when all goes well. I have come home with some advice to share with the avid reader. If you are ever considering hiring a car abroad, avoid GOLDCAR and INTERRENT I have hired abroad for 30 years or more and I have never been treated as appallingly as I was at the Inter Rent desk at Faro airport on arrival. I have been aware for some time of GOLDCAR's appalling reputation, mostly to do with applying extra charges at the time of pick-up and, for this reason I always avoid them. The Daily Mail has carried several articles detailing GOLDCAR's nefarious practices at Malaga airport. This time, I booked with Interrent.. However,it appears that GOLDCAR have set up Interrent as a “front” company as the credit card payments went to GOLDHIRE, my car had GOLDCAR stickers and I had to collect it from their pound. I have always had a stand alone insurance policy to cover all the possible extra damage charges which could occur. So far, no problems have occurred – I politely decline the hire company's offer to provide the excess insurance at the airport and they lend me the car. This time, I came upon a really aggressive person dealing with my pick up. He told me very forcefully that my excess policy was worthlesss. If I did not take out his policy, upon returning the car, each scratch would cost a minimum of 600 euros or more. He went on to tell me that 68% of hire vehicles in Portugal were returned with vandalised scratches on the bodywork. If I shredded a tyre on the motorway, my policy (which he had not seen) would only pay a percentage of the cost of the tyre and would not pay anything for the pick-up truck. It went on and on! Eventually, I became convinced that, if I failed to take out his extra insurance I would have an absolutely torrid time when I returned the car so I agreed to his “cover all” policy. Much work took place with my credit card and I subsequently discovered that they had removed 414 euros from my card. To add insult to injury, after I returned the car, they had it away with another unexplained 54 euros. Conversations will happen! During our stay, we reminded ourselves that you should always turn on the shower and sort out the temperature before getting into the shower; this avoids freezing or scalding. We were re-introduced to the over friendly plastic shower curtain which cuddles you in its cold embrace as soon as you take a shower. In one of the hotels, we could not make the bathroom extractor fan work. I have always been ambivalent about having the bog in the bedroom, albeit enclosed in an ensuite unventilated bathroom stolen from the bedroom. Steam is one problem and bathroom odours are another. We could not get rid of either. Hotel ensuites never have a window you can open. I discussed the failure of the extractor fan with the front desk and I was told that the extractor fans are all on a central system and that they only come on at certain times of the day but no-one at the desk knew what those time were! Further discussion was limited by my appalling Portuguese and the desk clerk's limited English. A discussion about adjusting our bodily functions to suit the extractor system would have been interesting but was not possible. They did tell me that “lots of people had complained about the fan system”. The first hotel at which we stayed had a coffee machine and full tea-making facilities in the bedroom. The third hotel, which was a sister hotel to the first hotel, did not. I did my “I don't seem able to find the kettle” speech and was immediately give one by reception. I was mightily impressed. They told me to borrow the cups from Room Service who informed me that there would be a £5 delivery charge, if that was acceptable. I told them that it was certainly not acceptable and liberated a couple of cups from the dining room. When I mentioned the proposed charge at the front desk, they said “Oh yes, lots of people complain about that”. A man and a woman were having a quiet romantic meal in a posh restaurant, gazing lovingly at each other and holding hands.A waitress noticed the man sliding further and further down his chair and under the table.The woman continued to look straight ahead. The waitress said “Pardon me Madam, but your husband just slid under the table”. “No, he didn't” came the reply “He just walked through the door”. A group of men persuaded a girl to climb up a pole. The girl was proud to be asked and told her mother who berated her and told her that they had only wanted to see her underwear. The next evening, she came home grinning from ear to ear “I totally showed them today and got my own back for them playing that trick on me. Today, I climbed the pole again but I wore no underwear at all for them to look at”.
Deannie joins me in wishing all of you a very happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.We miss you all.