Part 148

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  Some thoughts on the cost of living crisis, and a rant about dealing with incompetent companies.  Also, the usual financial updates and a potential development with our next BTL investment.

Weekly Update

I’m sick of dealing with incompetent people and companies.  It seems that virtually everyone I’m dealing with lacks any sense of even basic competence.  

Ikea

We decided to get the bulk of our new furniture from Ikea.  Their stuff looks decent, and the prices are reasonable.  It has to be assembled yourself, but I’ve done this a lot in the past and I generally find it quite relaxing.  Starting with a bunch of parts and watching them come together is therapeutic.  Oh, how naive I was…

Rather than getting everything in one bulk order, we staggered it and ordered what we needed by room, i.e. bedroom furniture, living room furniture, etc.  Here is a rough list of what we ordered for the bedroom:

  • Bed
  • Double wardrobe
  • Two single wardrobes
  • Four wardrobe doors
  • Door handles for wardrobes

Here is a list of what items were faulty:

  • Bed
  • Double wardrobe
  • Two single wardrobes
  • Four wardrobe doors
  • Door handles for wardrobes

I wish I was joking.

The issues were exacerbated with the faults only becoming apparent towards the end of the assembly process, once you’ve already spent hours working on it.  Ikea said they’d replace the items, which sounds ok on the surface but makes no allowance for the time and effort of putting the pieces together.  Also, whilst they deliver to our apartment, they would only pick up from the curb, meaning we’d have to drag the faulty items from our fourth-floor apartment downstairs.  With every item being faulty, I have no faith the replacements would be in acceptable condition.

What was actually wrong with the items?

The bed is one of those where you can lift the mattress and store stuff under the bed.  The hinges on the lifting mechanism are out of alignment with the frame of the bed.  It took hours to try and rectify this.  Eventually, after Ikea offered no reasonable options, we managed to fudge it so it works.

The double wardrobe is just bizarre.  Ikea offers a service where you design your own wardrobe and the inserts you want, such as shelves, drawers, rails, etc.  When the frame of the wardrobe was complete, it turns out the side panels have a different number of holes spaced unevenly, meaning the inserts would be skewed and not level.  How the hell does this even happen?  So I had to dismantle the wardrobe and put together a whole new one, which Ikea sent out.

The doors have a coloured film, which we chose to complement the colour scheme of the bedroom.  Right out of the box the film on three of the four doors was already peeling.  Also, the pre-cut holes in the doors for the hinges are unevenly drilled meaning the doors do not hang in line with each other.  

The door handles we chose, which should be compatible with these doors, are not.  It’s just so bad you’d think it was all being made up.

The single wardrobes have several scratches and scrapes out of the box, but at this stage we’d just given up.

The problems with Ikea didn’t stop at the bedroom.  We also had issues with the sofa we bought.  The sofa came in two large boxes, each having half a sofa.  Then, additional boxes with cushions and whatnot.  

Under the sofa, there are four places you use screws to fix the whole unit together.  Or, more accurately, one half has four holes and the other half has three.  In addition to this, there are six legs to attach to the sofa.  One in each corner of the completed unit, and then two that straddle the two halves.  One of the legs simply did not fit over the two connected ridges.  The leg is solid metal and I couldn’t bend it to force it to fit.  I tried for hours to hammer it into position, but it wouldn’t work.  In the end I had to chisel some of the base to make it narrow enough for the leg to fit.  

I could just about accept these problems if the service from Ikea was ok, but it’s not ok.  It’s not even poor.  It’s fucking non-existent.

The first fault we had was with the bed.  We were promised a call back regarding our complaint.  It took several days before this call happened.  The call came on Oana’s phone but she couldn’t get to it, so I answered.  A woman stated she was calling from Ikea.  I asked her to hang on a second whilst I passed the phone to my girlfriend, who then answered.  The woman from Ikea hung up.  She then emailed us saying she had called but the call did not connect (lie #1), but we could call on the number in the email (lie #2 as the number does not accept incoming calls) or respond to the email (lie #3 as the email bounces back as undeliverable).  We later found out this complaint had been closed down as we’d “accepted the resolution” (lie #4).

We also made a complaint regarding the wardrobe as Ikea had refused to assist in the disposal of the faulty items.  We were promised callbacks that never happened.  

Another issue was caused when we tried to replace our mattress.  The one we ordered wasn’t comfortable, and as per the T&Cs, we could exchange for a different mattress and just pay the difference (£90).  This is where we entered the Multiverse of Madness.

I called Ikea to make the payment.  The customer service agent stated I had to speak to payments, and gave me a number to call.  I called that number.  The agent in payments said they couldn’t take the payment until I spoke with customer service.  I called back customer service, who told me I needed to speak to payments.  So, I called payments again.  The payments team then had to transfer me to someone else to make the payment.  The line went silent before it was answered by someone with a very strong accent who just kept saying “bear with me” whilst children were screaming in the background.  After a minute or so, I hung up.  I didn’t feel comfortable giving credit card details to someone in that environment.  We contacted Ikea and were sent a link to make the payment.  When we clicked on the link, it said our order had already been paid for.

I spoke with Ikea again, but they could not confirm if the order had been paid for until they spoke with another department, who explained it hadn’t.  The agent said I had to call payments.  At this stage, I’d had enough and explained I wouldn’t do that because of all the times I’d already tried.  I asked if someone could call me from that department.  They refused.  

In terms of the sofa, I called Ikea whilst I was putting the item together.  They said they’d send a replacement.  Seeing as though I was trying to put on the last leg, and this was the very last thing needed, I explained I wasn’t happy with that.  I didn’t want to have to take it apart, drag it down four floors, just to have to start again with a new item.  I’d settle for a partial refund.  The agent offered 10%; less than what I hoped for but I had zero energy left to contest this.  After a minute or two, the agent said he couldn’t actually offer the 10% until I sent in photos.  Not a problem, I took photos of the faults.  I was told I’d receive a response in 72 hours.  This was over a week ago and I’ve had no response.  

Faced with all this, Oana and I decided to go into the nearest store to try and resolve our issues in person.  We spoke with the customer service manager.  He’s a decent enough guy, but couldn’t do anything because we ordered the items online.

We’re basically in a situation now of waiting for Ikea to get back to us.  It’s just insane.  Every major item ordered has been faulty.  The service is non-existent.  I’m tempted to just get them in to take everything we’ve ordered for a full refund.  I’ve already cancelled the mattress exchange, and we’ll just get a mattress from elsewhere instead.  At the very least we want some sort of financial redress.  The customer service manager in the store told us he’s seen customers get their items for free in this situation.  That would be nice, but we’ll have to wait and see. 

It’s not only Ikea that we’ve been having problems with but they are by far the worst.  I don’t have anything else to update you on for this week, as most of my time has been spent stressing about this, or dealing with this.

Cost of Living Crisis

The current cost of living crisis (COLC) is like something from a dystopian horror film.  A lot of people will look at it and think it’s only a recent problem caused by Covid, and Brexit finally going through.  It’s not though.  If you go back just a few years, we’ve been talking about the COLC under a different name; austerity.  

When the Tories came back to power just over a decade ago, they embarked on a policy of austerity which resulted in public services and benefits being slashed.  The use of food banks has increased at a level that should embarrass us all.  Note; I’m not saying people should be embarrassed to use food banks, I’m saying the fact food banks are necessary is a national embarrassment.  In 2010 approximately 60,000 packages were handed out from food banks in the UK.  In 2021 over 2.5 million were given out.  Estimates vary, but it’s thought that over the last few years approximately 750,000 people in the UK relied on food banks to some degree.  The urban population of Sheffield, my home city, is roughly 735,000.  

It seems as though some Tory voters just don’t care.  Talking to some of them goes a little like this:

Me: under this Tory government the UK has gone backwards in almost every way.

Them: at least we don’t have Corbyn in charge.

Me: You mean to tell me Boris is better? The man who led a government that resulted in thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths?

Them: He got Brexit done.

Me: That’s hardly a ringing endorsement considering how it’s gone.

Them: But he got it done.

Me: What about soaring energy bills?

Them: He got Brexit done.

Me: What about partygate?

Them: He got Brexit done.

Me: The refurb of the Downing Street flat?

Them: He got Brexit done.

Me: Owen Paterson?

Them: He…

Me: Chris Pincher?

Them: Got…

Me: All the wasted money on PPE?

Them: Brexit…

Me: Suspending Parliament?

Them: Done…

The quality of life in the UK, for many people, is only going to get worse over the coming months.  It’s not too alarmist to predict that people will die because of the COLC.  The fact that everything is getting more expensive means that some people will have to cut down on food and heating, which will in turn impact their physical and mental health.  Having a poor diet will weaken immune systems, meaning some people will succumb to illness.  Other people will choose to take their own lives as the COLC takes a horrific toll on mental health.  This government, and its inadequate response to several crises, has blood on its hands.  

The only people I despise this much are those who bang on about not having heating, food, etc as children, yet they “turned out ok”.  Someone on Facebook put into words my thoughts on this so eloquently that I have to quote them:

“If you think people should suffer because ‘you suffered and turned out ok’ then you did not in fact turn out ok.”

As an absolute minimum, every person should have;

  • A safe, clean, home.
  • Access to affordable, healthy, food and drink.
  • Access to basic utilities such as heating, power, water, and internet, at a reasonable cost via companies run for the national good instead of profit.
  • Affordable clothing.
  • Free at the point of use, physical and mental health care, including dental and optical.

These are not luxuries.  These are just the basics of living in 2022 in a supposedly developed country.  No one should have to choose one over the other, yet this is the prospect facing many in our country.  Please, when the next election comes around, let’s get this incompetent bunch of asshats out of government.

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog, and I’ve met some great people because of it.  Maintaining a website costs money though, and if you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider a donation to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 125.9kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books (4/10)

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) ✅
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC) ✅
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) ✅
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605) ✅

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before (13/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅
  2. Nicole Perlroth ✅
  3. Sabine Durrant ✅
  4. Luke Smitherd ✅
  5. Max Skittle ✅
  6. Harlan Coben ✅
  7. Jo Spain ✅
  8. Kate Elizabeth Russell ✅
  9. Kiersten White ✅
  10. Rob Hart ✅
  11. Edward Aubry ✅
  12. Marina J. Lostetter ✅
  13. S. J. Morden ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: Hostage by Clare Mackintosh.

What I’m listening to: One Way by S. J. Morden.

What I’m watching: MCU in timeline order. 

I got weighed for the first time in ages, and as feared, I’ve put on all the weight I’d lost in recent months.  This is what stress can do to the body.

I’m still reading Hostage.  Don’t judge me.  I’m nearly done.

I recently finished, and enjoyed, The Flight of the Aphrodite by S. J. Morden.  As I often do when discovering a new author, I looked him up and it turns out he studied at the University of Sheffield.  It’s always nice to see people with a link to this city doing well.  I’m now listening to another book of Morden’s called One Way, about a mission the Mars.  I’m about a fifth of the way in and enjoying it so far.  

After watching a couple of the recent Marvel shows we decided to get our geek on and watch the whole MCU in timeline order (i.e. the order the films/shows take place, rather than when they were made).  We’re up to the first Thor film.  The first Iron Man film hasn’t aged well, but it is fifteen years old. 

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £8,200.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £62,020.45 (down £1,005.76 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £1,000.00 (no change from last update). 

Pensions: £54,482.21 (down £579.13 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £229,159.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £147,876.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £502,737.66 (down £1,584.89 from last update). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £182,507.87 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,316.74 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £287,824.61 (no change from last update).

Total Wealth: £214,913.05 (down £1,584.89 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £3,174.94 (target £6,000).

A few knocks to my assets but nothing too alarming.  I’m in that part of the monthly financial cycle where I’ve made my regular investments and I’m just waiting for my mortgage payment to come out on the first of the next month.  

Looking ahead to September there are some important milestones I’m expecting to hit, such as passing 2021’s income total.  Assuming nothing negative springs up, and my calculations are accurate, I should exceed £4,000 of investment income by the end of September.  That would leave October, November, and December to make up the remaining amount to the £6,000 target.  I suspect I’ll probably fall slightly short, but I’m relatively happy with the progress made in 2022. 

We have a viewing coming up on a potential BTL property.  From the pictures, it needs some work but it’s a location we know well.  I’ll talk more about the viewing next week, and hopefully, I’ll be reporting only positive news.  Our BTL progress has been much slower than originally planned, but as the saying goes, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

One last thing before I sign off this post, I published a lengthy article earlier in the week in response to criticism aimed at landlords.  You can see the article here.  It’s been one of the most read pieces since I started this blog.  If you have any feedback, please leave a comment.  

Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

bio.link/davidscothern

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

www.darrenscothern.com

3 thoughts on “Part 148

  1. Sorry you’re going through this madness with IKEA but thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve been contemplating new sofas for over a year now. After asking various questions at nice mid-priced places that grab your attention with their swanky marketing, I’m not convinced that there’s enough of a difference in quality to justify their higher prices. Just yesterday, I resigned myself to instead get a nice looking sofa at IKEA. Found one I liked that also has a 10 yr limited warranty which was reassuring to some degree. Now however, the vague chance that I could be caught in a customer service nightmare like this is enough to deter me from IKEA. I’ll buy a nice sofa from a mid-priced place that delivers and assembles.

    BTW, I look forward to your weekly post but think this is my first comment on your blog. Love the content, the GIFs also help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alana, apologies for the delay in replying. Ikea have been the absolute worst in terms of customer service. Hope you get a good sofa with no hassle! Thank you for your support as well. If you ever have any questions feel free to reach out. 🙂

      Like

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