It’s probably best to stay at home… Nightmare in the North West

The last few months has seen a lot of activity, mainly away from the Crazy City.

A week in Sun City on their “Weekday Special“.  It was at The Cabanas – so we were not expecting The Palace experience (plus we had 2 kids on their first visit to SC).  What we were expecting was just some good accommodation, decent food and a good time for the kids.

We were not happy with the room we were initially booked in, it was dark and there was a lot of foot traffic with little privacy unless we closed the doors and kept the curtains drawn.

So the staff obliged and off we went to our next room.  After grabbing a bite to eat at the food court, we hit the sack.  4 am saw us waking up – not because we wanted to but God only knows what the people were doing in the room above us … if they were taking the opportunity of shagging between sleep and their baby sleeping remains a mystery.  What doesn’t was the sound of furniture being dragged around.  At 5 am I couldn’t take it any longer and I stormed off to reception to be met by the most unsympathetic sleepy night manager – and my request was simple : murder would be committed or they had best sort out the issue.  Security was apparently dispatched to investigate.  We eventually dozed off into a broken sleep.  Intermittent dreams were broken with the sound of a drill … we had booked in during the renovations – but there was a big sign at reception saying that the noise period would be between 10am – 4pm – NOT 8am.

Guess where you could find me a few moments later …

This time the day manager was more understanding – and at least awake.  He saw my point (which other point was there to be seen under the circumstances)?  He promised to arrange an upgrade to the Sun City main hotel.

So we packed bags for the 2nd time in 24 hours and moved to a very nice room at the main hotel.  Happy customer.

Well until 3 am that morning when were awoken by s “scruffling” sound.  More “scruffles” and the lights went own only to discover one of the small milk containers from the tea/coffee station on the floor with some puncture marks in it.  Good God!  A small milk vampire?  No – a mouse (we didn’t want to think rat) decided to help itself to our milk.

Guess where you could find me the next morning ….

Guess what were doing a couple of minutes later ….

Guess what our new room was like ….

We were in Sun City in July 2015 – obviously not season and the reason for the Weekend Special, but the Queen of the North West province is a tarnished jaded products.  The Entertainment Centre is an anachronism of 80’s indulgence.  She is tired.  The only place to get food is at the fast-food food court (3 foods in fast succession).  So extended stays can be tough or expensive if you eat at the few restaurants that are open.

The kids enjoyed The Valley of the Waves though.


Bid or Buy Bye Bye

Can you imagine the following: you go to an online auction, post an automatic bid (for those not in the know – an automatic bid is a bid which is a fixed amount which you automatically bid against others bidders until you hit the fixed bid amount), get notification that your bid amount has been accepted and go to sleep. Next morning you wake up and find out that you have lost the auction. You win some you lose some. But then you see that you have lost the auction to a bid lower than your automatic bid amount. So you contact the online auction owner and they tell you that you did not have an automatic bid! You respond with telling them that you received an email notification saying that your automatic bid has been received. Then the auction company representative says they had a system glitch … in the form of a power failure!!! What?? A power outage in Johannesburg – WTF, are we living in a 3rd world country? You contact the seller to tell them that they have been short-changed in the auction. The company says that they will do what they can, but can’t do too much, sorry for you and goodbye.

Well not so fast they, the fact that you had a system meltdown and until I complained had no idea of the extent of the system cock-up and posted a very vague “…we experienced system issues…” on a forum on your website (that who the hell reads is a total mystery) doesn’t mean that you can deny all forms of responsibility because your an “online business”.

I have called twice to speak to the CEO – Jaco and Cuan, presumably the Head of Tech – do you think they have had the common decency to return my calls?

So here is the issue that I have: the BidorBuy system is flawed in a number of ways:

1. If they experienced a power failure which took down their systems means that their management team is downright negligent for not having a UPS, needless to say a Disaster Recovery in place.

2. They are responsible for the losses incurred by the seller – in my case, the seller did not get the the maximum value for the goods they were selling. I had an automatic bid that was higher than the winner bid – how many other sellers were put in this situation?

3. They have an obligation to buyers who in deed have winning bids – but didn’t win such as myself.

4. They need to deal with the lower bid winners in one way or another.

If BidorBuy was in the league of the e-Bay’s, Amazons of this world they would have full disclosure and a public apology to all parties concerned. You think this is going to happen if they can’t even return a phone call?

How time flies…

Yes I know, I’ve been really bad. It’s been ages since I wrote a blog, despite drafting a whole range of stories, life has consumed most of my free-time. Modern day living (not that I can compare it to any other form of living) is just so fast-paced, that at times I’m quiet happy to vegetate in front of the TV. Now that we are in mid April, with the national elections looming (and the DA is seriously pissing me off with calls from call centres and SMSes in the middle of the night), complete plans disappearing (anyone think they’ve been abducted by Aliens) and with THAT trial coming to an end, there is enough material to write about. However, the ability to find the creative time is what is so challenging.

I fear for the kids of today – it’s this life that forces them into a performance model, no matter what. You remember the old days when we were at school – assuming that if you are reading this you are over 35. Do you remember when we had “special” classes, when the kids who plugged a standard more than twice were moved into? Socially, we may have been mean to them by calling them horrible names, but what was our defense against someone who was 3 years older than us in the same standard? Special classes just seemed to have disappeared as did the pupils who were confined to them. I wonder where some of those kids ended up? Did they ever “reach their full potential” as is the precursor today for to determine if your child being misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD? Did they disappear because some PhD’s decided that it would be better to socially group them in one environment? Maybe name calling by your peer group isn’t as bad by being called names by the “normal” kids? Time has been consumed by having to protect my kids (but that is material for another story).

Time … so precious when used correctly.


Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer ….

I’m on a quest: to find a restaurant that can live up to it’s reputation. These are going to be quick posts, because the less I have to think about them the better:

7:05pm Arrive at Thomas Maxwells. It’s fairly full. We are promptly seated

7:25 Order starters and main – stock standard menu items – Fried Camembert and Steak Tartare

7:55 Call the maitre d’ to enquire where the hell our starters are …

7:58 Starters arrive – seriously: 40 minutes for a bit of fried cheese and some raw mince …

8:15 Starter finished ….

8:30 Nothing ….

8:45 Excuse me, can you tell me where our main is?

8:57 Mains Arrives

9:00 Mains sent back – a medium to well done steak that arrives and is meant to be medium rare … this is a rookie mistake, I think my 7 year old boy could have prepared a better steak.

9:01 Wine is finished and we haven’t even started main – and this is supposed to be one of the top restaurants in Johannesburg?? Oh dear, maybe it was just “one of those nights”…

9:15 Seconds out! Round number 2 : Mains arrive … again. With apologies that “we will be sorted out” – I’m thinking “Oh crap, they going to call in bouncers?”, but no – desserts wine and desserts will be on the house. I’m dreading the fact that we may have to wait an hour for that… Steak was mediocre. Couldn’t get through the 2nd round of creamed spinach, butternut and chips (Butternut and Spinach??? Is this a canteen or a fancy restaurant, I double check, but yes still at Mr. Maxwells Bistro).

9:45 Mains removed and complimentary dessert and ports delivered.

9:50 Maitre d’ informs us that the wine will also be on the house!

10:00 Dessert removed and cup cakes delivered. Yes cup cakes – as a farewell gift? As a peace offering? Not quite sure.

10:05 Being avoided by all and sundry, we leave. Did we vow never to go back? Nope. Will we go back? No. In their defence, they knew they cocked up and tried to make ammends. Maybe it is just that we are quite demanding, but I don’t think so – maybe it’s just that consumers today accept mediocrity and are too afraid to complain.

Our quest continues…

Are these things just sent to challenge me ?

I am not even going to bother to explain ….

My total disappointment with Stationery & Print Sandton


I’ll make this email very simple. If I was buying a cheap pen I wouldn’t give a continental about the issues I have with it. When I get bought a very expensive Montegrappa Emblema I expect service second to none. None of this half-baked rubbish that I have receieved to date.

The brief history
– The pen was bought from Stationery & Print at the beginning of March 2013
– It was given to me on the 4 March 2013
– As part of the purchase agreement I have the right to exchange the nib within 6 weeks after date of purchase.
– We informed Gareth on the 11 March that I wanted a Finer NIB
– He gave us a story that we would have to wait till May for the exchange nib to arrive.
-He said that I could continue to use the pen and it that when the nib arrived he would replace it.
-There were no issues with the pen other than the Nib size
-The pen was taken in last week to have the new nib fitted. I was not there, but from what I can gather, no tools were used in the exchange process.

Now – I own a number of fountain pens, and I generally know that pens require specific tools to exchange nibs, particular premium branded ones.

The pen has not worked properly since it was returned – the ink does not flow correctly. I suspect that the experienced Montegrappa nib changer in the form of Gareth has damaged the feeder. Also there is a horrible mark around the neck of the pen – which is generally caused by slippage when trying to change nibs with the proper tools.

Simply put – the experience has been shocking.

So here’s the deal from my side – you either replace the pen with the Nib I want or return our money in the next 7 years or we will exercise our legal rights.

If you don’t know how to sell expensive pens – then don’t. You have done nothing for the Montegrappa brand.


David Epstein

Adventures in a private hospital somewhere in Gauteng …

Originally published: Oct 11 2011

How’s this for decadent. I am sitting in Sunninghill hospital, a private hospital in Johannesburg. I have been here a couple of times before, the normal stuff: birth of my children, stitches in my children, gunshot wound, normal run-of-the-mill living in Joburg stuff. The difference tonight is that I am here, unprotected, vulnerable, naked … I don’t have the comfort blanket of medical aid on this visit. Well that’s a bit of a lie, I do have medical aid but I am here with with my domestic who, as the bulk of domestics in this country, does not have medical aid. The choices I had are not really a choice – roll the dice with a State Hospital, or bite the bullet and assume the brace position, because this is going to a painful exercise (not as much as the pain that our domestic is in), but financially painful.
I feel likes mobile ATM, I have done nothing in the last 3 hours, but wait around and be asked by all “… How will you be paying…?) and when I say cash, I don’t know if the look of derision I get is one of “you poor bastard” or “serves you right for employing a Malawian”.
4 hours and 2 grand later and I am still waiting for the results of the x-rays, bloods and the fraud department of StandardBank to call me to enquire about the unusual purchases on the credit card. I am in terror of what it is going to cost me in parking fees when I try to leave this cash consuming beast. Bring on a National Healthcare System I say.
The first R1 000 went on two separate payments, why I have no idea, actually I do, I asked: R400 went on the privilege to see a doctor, no prob, just a bit more than my GP. R600 was for a bed fee … Yes the doctor has to see you somewhere, apparently the parking lot is not an acceptable venue, so for the privilege of sitting in a 4×4 cubicle, on a bed – 600 ZAR. Cash thank you very much. Bloods tests for Malaria, close on R700 and R400 for 2 chest x-rays.
So just over 2 grand to get a numb ass from the crappy chair I was consigned to(I was tempted to sleep on the bed but our domestic really needed it more than me).
The diagnosis doesn’t look good, for my domestic or my bank balance. Malaria will mean admission. I gingerly enquired about the cost of this. I waited a few minutes while the staff tried to find the price list, of this the most expensive drive-thru around. They found it. I tried to break the ice with some poor cliche and again took the brace position, tightly clenching my ass-cheeks.
“Did you get that Sir”?
It was like a movie in slow motion. My mind had blocked out the beginning part of what she said. My numbed ass had suddenly shifted to my head for a brief moment. I am told that the body has an automatic reflex action, that if it knows it is going to be hurt, it anaethitises itself against the pending pain.
“excuse me” I said, my knuckles gripping the counter for support.
“And that is cash upfront sir”
Can we go back a few frames … What was the amount?
“R20 000”
Thank god there was a wheelchair I could fall into as my knees buckled, but no, the thought of it being a pay-as-you-go wheelchair made my grip on the counter even firmer, my resolve steadfast.
“is he going to be admitted for the month?”
“2 nights sir at R1 800 per night excluding medication”
“I do get change don’t I”
“that would depend on the medication”
Gulp, was a gulp free I asked myself? It must be. If I do it slowly no one will see.

To be continued…

Whay Facebook will increase the suicide rate amongst it’s users

Originally published: Sep 24 2011

WARNING: there is a lot of swearing in this article…

Why Facebook will increase the suicide rate.

There is a Facebook post going around (or maybe it’s old, who cares the jist of it remains the same). It was about how wonderful it is to have Facebook friends and if you are also happy to have Facebook friends then post the article on your wall. My sweet fuck! How desperate can you be to think that the 500 friends you have on Facebook actually give a shit about your life and your universe? You decided to tell your FF about how shitty your day is (worse … You give a hour-to-hour account of how shitty it is) to your closet 500 friends … Who in turn feel compelled to support you in some form of solidarity with a ridiculous “I like” or to comment with their own inconsequential mundane response to your compulsion to share all. Am I missing a trick here? Am I really over the connected hill? Social networking is tantamount to the following:
I call a friend using that dated cellular technology aka a cellphone. He/she answers. This is how the conversation goes:
Ring ring … Ring ring…
“where have all the hours in this crap day gone?”
“thumbs up now fuck off”
Click. End of conversation.
At least in the above scenario 499 of my other friends haven’t had to endure a reason to commit suicide.

Another reason to commit suicide

Yay yay it’s the weekend
I know it’s the damn weekend. Thank you, thumbs up and fuck off as well.

At least thumbs up is easy today. The one’s who feel serially compelled to comment on a posting, such as the yay yay it’s the weekend brigade, with inane statements, like “enjoy”, “have a good one”, etc. Deserve to have their fingers cut off. Wtf, get a life dudes. Throw the tech away and experience the weekend, and yes you guessed it – I don’t want to know if you had a crap or a good weekend. Just do it for yourself.

Comments popularity contest.
Here’s another reason FB is going to increase the suicide rate. I wonder how often people, who think they’re witty, and in fact are not, or have nothing worthwhile to say in real-life social environments let alone to their closest 500 Facebook buddies, feel when they post some mundane crap that wouldn’t interest their own parents, get no comments or thumbs up on the post. Loser. Big time. Dude, not even you Facebook buddies actually give a crap.

Checking in …
Why in this entire world would anyone be interested in knowing when a person has checked in to all places … Like an airport! Why would anyone want to tell anyone else that they have arrived at an airport, let alone all their fiends. are they really friends you must ask yourself if the best that you, as a socially inept individual feel compelled to tell not one, but all of them that you have checked into a goddamn airport.

Check-in showoffs…
You’ve all got a couple of these friends. The one’s who have to remind you how wonderful their lives are with a blatant display of, in this instance , fuck you I can check into some exotic destination, in-place, hotel, club etc. Etc. They made it onto their own self created A-list and now want to tell the world that they have arrived! Why??? Is it because they think people are really interested? Is it because they believe that by association, it will give them that level of “hip” that they only get by dropping their Beemer key rings onto bar counters?
As if anyone give a rat’s ass. Yet another thumbs up go fuck yourself now. Look at it this way though, it is only a matter of time before we have our first real world Facebook serial killer, good thing for this phsyco to make it easier to hunt you down – in fact the sooner the better. Please continue to “check-in”.

P.S. Please like my article by clicking here… Thumbs up and fuck-off.