An Incontestable Explanation


It was an interesting day.

We began by searching out a garden parasol that would meet the exacting requirements of the Head Gardener. Beginning with Stewart’s at Christchurch, where we at least bought a dahlia with this month’s half price offer token, we travelled to Redcliffe Nurseries where we failed again.

Patio parasol

Finally we found the very thing at Everton Nurseries, just along the road from us.

Having spent most of the morning on this, I set about tackling an item I did not recognise on my monthly NatWest MasterCard statement. Having gone through the usual hoops to reach an advisor, she rang me back after taking details, and referred me to someone else, I learned that Laithwaite’s wine merchants had been taking a regular annual subscription fee since I last used their service in 2004. Yes, I know, I should have checked my statements more thoroughly.

NatWest could stop any further payments, but they could not do anything about the last 12 years. Neither could they negotiate with Laithwaite’s. That was up to me. With some reluctance, the adviser gave me a telephone for the wine merchant. There were some digits missing, so I couldn’t get through. Rather than phone the bank again, I thought I’d look them up on line.

Google was down.

I called the bank again. Another person gave me another number.

I phoned Laithwaite’s who couldn’t identify me because they had no account with my card details at my current address. I explained that I had once been a Laithwaite’s customer many years ago. I was asked for the postcode of the address at which I had been living when I last used them. Assuming it was probably our home in Newark, fortunately I remembered it. I would receive a phone call as soon as permission for a refund had been granted.

I couldn’t even write this up until my search engine recovered.

We had a coffee on the patio and I sought solace in plants like various


dahlias, such as Coup de Soleil


and another, whose name escapes me (not that I ever had it);


Phlox 1Phlox 2


and phlox.


The scent of these lilies rivals anything else in the Rose Garden perfume parlour.

In fairness to Laithwaite’s their customer services department sorted this out and rang me back as promised. I will receive a full refund. Apparently they had been sending letters to Lindum House and receiving no reply. I said that I was grateful for their speedy response, but, when I expressed surprise that in those circumstances they continued to take my money, there was an incontestable explanation.

This was an opt out system, not an opt in one. In other words once you have ever opted in  you are in forever unless you opt out. Clear? Clever.

Then Google began operating again.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, with which she drank Kingfisher and I drank more of the Hawkes Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon.



  1. Phew! Glad you got that cleared up. We rely so much on technology these days, we forget how it can really mess us up sometimes!!

  2. Your umbrella is perfect – as are those chairs – and the flowers going up the wall? Not sure how that happens, but it is stunning. Love that picture – And your beautiful flower photos calmed me down after all of that billing hullabaloo. Glad you got it settled, Derrick – I believe that they count on us not thinking it is worth the trouble to fix such things. With me, as with you – they count wrong.

  3. Heck you’ve got willpower, after that snafoo with NatWest I’d have sought solace in more than plants 😉 (well but some can be used in alcohol non?) 😉 The patience of a saint! Beautiful flower shots (btw at least you’re not dealing with a UK bank from America, I had that fun experience a few times, NOT good!). xxxx

  4. The Laithwaite’s episode would be enough to drive one to drink. Your umbrella is identical to mine – although mine, being 9 years old, is faded (just a little). I’m glad we share a similar taste for quality.

  5. The garden is looking lush around the lovely new umbrella – I hope you have many days seated in her shade, enjoying a little something and admiring the view. And maybe, now and again, checking your credit card statements!

  6. The umbrella seems just right – tastefully demure in its setting – and I do love those chairs (do I recall you first spotted one in red when out on a shopping jaunt?) Glad the rest of your day gradually resolved itself, Derrick. The irksome elves must have been working overtime today I think, as we had ‘one of those days’ too! I can imagine the garden was a welcome refuge 🙂

  7. ‘Opt-ins’ are the bane of the interwebz, as are pop-up ads and newsletter requests, but that’s another story … magnificent colours in the garden today. Compliments to the Head Gardener, and her gorgeous assistant. 🙂

  8. I like the umbrella! And you are something for pursuing the payments to the wine store. Goodness. Glad you got it back! But do pay more attention to your statements!!!!

  9. Love the dahlias! A friend used to grow and exhibit them – stunning! Re the over-payment. I thought that is one of the reasons that debit and credit cards have an expiry date, and that firms cannot continue to make deductions without the current date. So much for that assumption. I scrutinise my statements every month – hubbie thinks its overkill. Think I’ll continue doing it “my way” 🙂

  10. Oh those damned opt out things. They should be illegal. My umbrella is brown and those red and white dahlias are divine!

  11. The anonymous dahlia is striking. My parents grow one that is entirely that magenta. I’m unable to grow them in my region because when I take them out for overwintering, they’re invariably full of a strange “worm” with tendrils that eats them. (Quite startling the first time I discovered them!)

    I’m glad you were reimbursed. That’s quite a long time to be receiving payment without giving service.

  12. Lovely photographs and your spot for lazing out in the sun looks wonderful. I really love the dahlias. Btw, you can always use Bing if google is not working 🙂

  13. I can almost smell those flowers! We joined Laithwaites in 2007 – at first it was great – good wines at reasonable prices. Then we found the wines were being delivered to the wrong address – when we complained, they delivered again but we were paying double orders. They did sort it out to be fair. Then we became poor and tried to cancel – if we wanted wine we would visit our cellar (Lidl or Aldi whose wines work out a lot cheaper). It seems as if Laithwaites are like the Hotel California – you can check out but you can never leave. I am going to check over our statements just to see there is no annual fee – thanks for the tip.

  14. Gracious, how I detest when this happens. Such a large number of times we are hit with concealed fess or memberships we didn’t know we had. Disappointing. At any rate you cleared it up..The furniture is an impeccable expansion to your stunning greenhouse, Derrick. That first bloom photograph is AMAZING!

  15. A similar system is the 0% finance deals on furniture and furnishings. Usually, you are allowed to wait exactly a year to make your first repayment, but if you miss it, then the rate of interest increases up to credit card levels. Not a very nice situation for the people who go looking for good deals on furniture in the first place.

  16. I am glad you got that sorted – it is the sort of thing I do. I once forgot all about an AA subscription and the person at the house I left was pretending to be me! My fault though. But I hate DD for that reason. Love the phlox

  17. I”m glad you got the situation straightened out. I think so many places now make it so you’re automatically enrolled unless you specifically opt out. But it’s great that they did promise you a refund.

    The garden and umbrella look lovely!

  18. This post made me worry about my own silly account, Derrick. I tend to sign up for things and then set the phone number in my checkbook to opt out or stop when the “free promotion period” is past!
    I liked all the flowers, the dahlia’s look beautiful with one which resembles a circus tent with red and white stripes. Hope you are cool, calm and collecting the refund soon! Hugs, Robin

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