b3ta.com user Doomladen
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Doomladen is a perfectly nice solicitor living in Sussex.

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» Cheap Tat

My dutch bike
I spent part of my university years at the Universiteit Leiden, in Holland. Now Holland is even bigger on bikes than Oxford or Cambridge, and it immediately became obvious to me that I'd need a bike to get around, if only because all my mates there had one and I'd need to keep pace with them whilst out on the piss.

The only problem was, I didn't want to spend actual money on it. I'm not a tight-arse, this was a tactical decision: I'd rather spend the money on beer and women, than on a fucking bike.

Being a resourceful chap, I hit upon a solution. This was Holland - bike theft is more endemic in Leiden than the clap is amongst prostitutes in the red-light district. I didn't have the skill (fair enough - or the balls) to nick a bike myself, but the by-products of bike theft littered the streets - the odd wheel here, a rusty frame there, maybe a saddle or two. My block of flats also had a communal bike garage, where there were a few sorry-looking bike carcasses. So I decided to build my own bike from abandoned parts - a Frankenbike, if you will.

Over a period of a week or so, my bike took shape. The frame I'd found was painted in Rasta colours, and badly painted at that. The tyres were so bald that bits of inner tube actually poked and bulged through holes, like some rubber hernia. And - this was the bit that surprised me most - the front wheel was bigger than the back wheel. Turns out that there are two different commonly-used wheel sizes, and I didn't have the privilege of having more than two wheels to choose from, so a matching set was impossible.

The result was awesome to behold. The bike looked like some demented, broken-down, Rastafarian chopper. It was so shit, it was actually cool. Of course, it got punctures every second day, but I loved it. Even when I got a puncture taking a girl back from a bar to my love-nest, and she spent the entire journey berating me for my shit bike whilst she walked beside me, I still loved it. Mainly because she still put out regardless.

But karma was enforced. Despite my bike clearly being the shittest, most broken contraption within the Amsterdam-Leiden-Hague metropolitan area, it still got nicked from outside Leiden railway station. I never replaced it because I couldn't bear to ride any other bike.

And, of course, because I was still too tight to buy one, and I'd now used up all the available parts on the streets.

No apologies for length - you love it.
(Sun 6th Jan 2008, 12:05, More)

» Little Victories

New car
Case 1:

About 10 years ago, we bought our first brand new car from an internet dealer (now ceased trading). It was being built to spec in Italy, and so we were told to expect a three month build period - ordered in late April, the car was due to arrive in August. We were told that they'd call us when it arrived with the dealer from Italy.

August rolled around, and we heard nothing. After calling the dealer a gazillion times, and being promised callbacks that never arrived, we eventually found out that the car that was delivered was completely the wrong spec from that ordered. The dealer generously offered to sell it to us with no discount, alternatively they'd re-order the car and we'd need to wait another 3-4 months for delivery.

We agreed to re-order and wait, but I reminded them that we'd sold our car because we'd been expecting the new one to be delivered, and so were now without any means to getting about. The dealer was unsympathetic. That changed when I wrote a five-page letter citing why, in law, they were obliged to provide us with a free car whilst we waited for the new one to be built, citing appropriate caselaw.

The next week, we took delivery of a brand-new Clio, which we ran into the ground over the three months it took for the new car to be delivered.

Case 2:

I bought a new projector from a well-known internet retailer for watching films on a big screen, and it was a real bargain, about £300 cheaper than anywhere else, but still claimed to be brand new. It arrived, but had previously been returned, as the setup menu reported that the bulbs had already had 380 hours' use. I asked the retailer to swap it for a new one, but they teld me that they'd run out, so I could only get a refund. Now, I'd not have been able to buy a new one anywhere else for the same price if they refunded me, so I explained how damages in breach of contract work, and that they were obliged to either give me a new one, or give me enough money to get a new one from somewhere else. They declined, I sued them, and their solicitors realised I was right and settled the claim. I ended up keeping the projector and with £400 in my pocket. In fact, I ended up better off overall than if I'd never bought the thing in the first place.

Being a lawyer has its perks. Shame the hours are so shit.
(Thu 10th Feb 2011, 12:54, More)