Why don’t more women moan like me
Every week in Femail for two years, she’s let rip at rudeness and sloppy service, now Liz Jones has a bone to pick with the rest of us
Liz says she cannot bear living in this bossy-boots world where the customer is no longer king
Everyone has their snapping point. For me, it was a pair of Marc Jacobs knickers that I’d bought only to discover, when I got them home, that they were ‘Dry Clean Only’.
You can only imagine my rage, especially when I tried to return them. ‘But we have a policy of not allowing returns of lingerie,’ the robotic sales assistant told me.
‘I have a policy of washing my undies,’ I said. ‘Well,’ the robot said, staring at a spot just over my shoulder, as if to gaze upon me would damage her exclusive fabulousness. ‘Maybe you should shop at Marks & Spencer.’
That was it. Time to fight back
against the culture of complacency, shoddy service and mindless
ineptitude that we all seem to tolerate in British life. I
resolved to complain as noisily and often as I could — charting my
attempts in Jones Moans, the weekly column in Femail that fought back on
behalf of Ignored, Slighted, Middle-England Woman.
the years I have moaned about everything from hunting fruitlessly for
plastic gloves on bleak petrol station forecourts, to struggling to open
Lilliputian bathroom products in expensive hotel suites. More
often than not, it was shoddy service that was to blame. Yet when I
dared to complain — noisily, publicly — the subjects of my wrath have
reacted with astonishment.
the check-out girl in Tesco who hadn’t felt moved to clean her sticky
conveyor belt in, ooh, a million years. Or the Eastern European lout at
Starbucks in Bristol Airport who groped his crotch before making me a
latte. When I pointed out their
vile habits, they were aghast that I’d dared to challenge them, which
tells me that not enough of you are taking my post-menopausal, battleaxe
My major adversaries over the past two years, the particularly woody thorns in my side, have been easyJet, employees of which can now rest a little easier in their orange beds as I take leave from my weekly Moaning slot. No longer will I be able to describe what it is like at check in, and I quote: ‘Your caase. Eez Soft! You deposit over THEYARE!’ All without the lifting of lids to even glance at me. Apparently soft cases now have to be checked in at a separate location. Why Not for our benefit, that’s for sure.
And BT. Oh God, BT! I still have flashbacks of my dealings with the chairman’s office over my attempts to get a broadband package installed. Eventually, I lost the will to live and got broadband from elsewhere. But for ages afterwards, BT still sent me bills and equipment for the service I didn’t even have.
Other regular targets, over the years, have included Kirstie Allsopp: in a piece about her wearing fur to go sledging, I wrote that, ‘surely her fat should keep her warm’. I guess that’s me off the handmade Christmas card list, then. Or how about First Great Western railways, who insist you use their website to choose your ticket from an infinite number of choices (‘Two single tickets may be cheaper.’ May!!! Will they or bloody won’t they).
And then, when you sit in your narrow
seat in the quiet carriage, you are assaulted every few seconds with,
‘Ding dong! Will passengers in the quiet carriage refrain from using
their mobile phones!! In the buffet car, we have hot sandwiches and
Liz says that over the years she has moaned about everything from hunting fruitlessly for plastic gloves on bleak petrol station forecourts, to struggling to open Lilliputian bathroom products in expensive hotel suites
The moan that ricocheted around the world — discussed endlessly on TV and radio stations as far afield as New Zealand, and leading to 6,000 emails from similarly slighted females in my inbox — was the one about the Death of Chivalry: the day my BMW broke down in Kensington. I described how white van men, taxi drivers, even normal men in suits walking past, either ignored me, or shook their fists, or called me the ‘C’ word, even though I had hazard lights flashing, was in tears, and clearly on the phone to the emergency services. The final straw came when a parking attendant started to write me a ticket. I stuck my head out my window. ‘I have broken down!’
‘No understand’ came the reply. He crept round to my passenger window. I wound it down. ‘Why don’t you talk to me through the driver’s window’ I asked. ‘Health and safety. We are not allowed. On that side I might be run over.’ I had broken down in a cul de sac!
But I have mainly, over the years, attacked our financial institutions. My prime target has been Santander, which, in my own end of year awards (held in my sitting room with an audience of 17 cats and four collies) won my Worst Bank of the Modern Era award. Typical exchange.
have no female friends, having written about Competitive Tiredness,
Competitive Illness and women who overuse the word ‘stress’
Me: ‘Your automated service does not work.’
Santander Robot: ‘What is your date of birth’
Me: 050958. Robot:
‘What are the first two letters of your password’ ‘Um. It’s Guccigirl.’
‘That was the whole password. You are not allowed to tell me the whole word. I cannot proceed with this call as you have failed our security test.’ Slam!)
Runner-up (and it was close) was the Halifax, with whom I have the misfortune to have a mortgage. I have for nearly two years, and over many meetings, been trying to persuade them to allow me to reduce my mortgage by 700,000 by selling my current home and downsizing. Apparently, that’s not allowed. After a very long, very public battle, I received a letter last week. ‘We have investigated your complaint and are sorry you feel ‘trapped, unable to move on’. In compensation, we are enclosing this cheque for [wait for it . . . Cue drum roll] . . . 50.’ Gah!!!!!!!!
But moaning in such a high-profile way has had its drawbacks. Having written so extensively about NatWest and Santander, I was left unable to even get a current account with a High Street bank. Having found a private bank who would take me on, I then had to sign a confidentiality agreement, promising never to write about them. Having written about how independent, local shops should work harder to gain our loyalty, I have been excommunicated from my local pet store, as I wrote that — since this is no longer the 1950s — it should consider opening on a Saturday afternoon.
Liz says having written so extensively about NatWest and Santander, she was left unable to get a current account with a High Street bank
I cannot get a local GP, as I wrote about the shirty receptionist refusing to fit me in for a vaccination to allow me to report on the famine in Somalia without catching yellow fever. I have no female friends, having written about Competitive Tiredness, Competitive Illness and women who overuse the word ‘stress’. My assistant, who insisted she had depression and pneumonia, resigned, as did my cleaner of 11 years. After I wrote about her she called me to say: ‘Lizzie, I’m so depressed I can’t stop crying.’ To which I replied: ‘If anyone has a right to kill themselves, it’s me.’
When I wrote how tired I am of receiving emails from young women, during a recession, with the following message: ‘I will be out of the office from today until December 2012. In my absence (and thank you for all the gifts at my baby shower), please contact [email protected]’ Never mind that I have neither the time nor the inclination to learn a new person’s name and email address, and doubtless will never glimpse said child in the Brora cashmere outfit I sent it.
Afterwards, I received eight emails from colleagues bleating along these lines: ‘Um, Hi Liz. Were you referring to my maternity leave email in your last moan I’m sorry I never put Caspian in the  cashmere cardigan you sent, but he loved it. Here is a photo of him during our three-month holiday at our second home in Cornwall. See you in 14 months!’ Don’t women know they should dress their child in its presents It’s etiquette!
Other regular targets, over the years,
have included Kirstie Allsopp: in a piece about her wearing fur to go
sledging, I wrote that, ‘surely her fat should keep her warm’
Some, over the years, have accused me of overreacting, wondering how one woman could have so much to moan about. Yet I don’t believe I’m slighted more than anyone else. I think what happens to me happens to most older women who can no longer flirt or simper to get their way. I often wonder, as I crash my skull to my desk in frustration at people who have not learned to say: ‘Good morning, Madam,’ how people less articulate and bolshy than me manage in this new, modern, moronic, jobsworth world.
Take my bed-ridden, insensate, 92-year-old mum. Every year, yet another final demand for a TV licence is floated in front of her pale, unseeing eyes. For about a decade, she would receive nasty letters from the local council, asking her the same questions, about whether or not she has had a mobility assessment to ascertain whether or not she really needs that disabled sticker.
She was often reduced to tears by her landlord, who would not allow a safety rail by the loo, and by the dustmen, who would always leave some random object at the base of her wheelie bin, a dirty protest for being unable to ‘be whoever you want to be, you are special’, which is what their helicoptering mothers must have told them growing up.
I am able-bodied, resourceful, and even I cannot bear living in this bossy-boots world where the customer is no longer king. But enough. I have decided I need to stop moaning for a while, if only to stave off the chest pains. In the meantime, I’m on hold with West Somerset Council, trying to explain why wheelie bins do not work in rural moorland scenarios, as they have all blown over, spilling their detritus to blight this once great nation. I could be some time.