Category Archives: Good experiences

Upstanding companies, products or customer services that we would like to see more of

Product Reviews: Smart Home

A bit more than a year ago, I finally fell onto the Smart Home and automation bandwagon. I wanted to monitor temperature and humidity in a few spots of the house. I ended up using Aqara Temperature & Humidity Zigbee sensors. I set up Home Assistant to keep everything local, and used a Nortek HUSBZB-1 Zigbee/Z-Wave adapter (affiliate link).

It didn’t take long until I frantically was adding more stuff: Mirabella Genio and Kogan Smart Bulb light globes, a Genio Power Plug with 2 USB ports and a Davis AirLink air quality sensor.

The rest of this post reviews all those products, with pros and cons. All in all, they are generally positive.

Continue reading Product Reviews: Smart Home


As Van Badham wrote this week, the people who have gone plastic free have all had some breaking point. After months of trying to be mindful of our plastic use, but accepting that for some things, it was inescapable, I was finally pushed to the edge by an article which reported that micro-plastic had been found in ice in the Arctic. THE ARCTIC. That, and finally internalising that recycling isn’t really a thing – it is just a distraction from solving the real problem of masses and masses of plastic that doesn’t need to be made.

So, now our household doesn’t get to eat strawberries, or blueberries, because of the little plastic punnets that they come in.[Update: now growing our own plants] Polyester is out, natural fibres, bamboo in particular is in. Milk in plastic bottles is out, waxed cardboard is in. The roll of Glad wrap that we have in the drawer is the last one I’ll ever buy, ditto for the garbage bin liners. Pasta in a plastic package is out, cardboard boxes are in.

Lush have a good range of solid shampoos (this one is particularly good – makes my hair fresh, and scalp non-itchy), and I’ll try their face-wash this week.

I’m struggling with inescapables: toothpaste, medicine, bread and cheese packaging.

I know on some level that our small family isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference in the scheme of things. There is already too much plastic. Some companies are trying to do the right thing, by offering corn-based plastics, but, it seems like there are a lot of problems with that too.

Anyway, we will continue to minimise our plastic waste, and, in doing so, we get to create a whole new category of complaint letters – emails to companies to complain about their plastic use.

Here is our first, probably of many, to Carman’s. Well, many emails in general, not specifically to Carman’s.

Continue reading Plastic

Buying shoes online – don’t do it to yourself

I have been banned from buying shoes online by the resident Frenchman. Why? Because I have had to return 5 pairs over the years, because they NEVER EVER FIT. And then I end up paying extra for postage and more recently, experience anxiety because I worry that they won’t fit.

Continue reading Buying shoes online – don’t do it to yourself

Wondoflex Yarn and Craft Centre

After my issues with Lincraft, I tried this place

A lady from there rang me after I had placed my order and told me that didn’t have the dye lot that I requested but had another that was very similar. As I am newish to knitting, she helped me ascertain that I was using the right ply etc.

Customer service that has years of experience with genuine want to help. Amazing!  Also the prices were lower than other places, and postage was cheap and fast.

NoteMaker: Consistently Good

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is the third order that I have placed with you (the first was before I created an account I think) and each time I have ordered with you, I have been impressed by the order status update communications, and the speed with which you dispatch and deliver the items.

Each item that I have received from you (some Noodlers Ink and a notebook – stationary porn!) have both been of the highest quality

Queenspark Fashion – Alexandria Store

Having bought a dress for a wedding about 3 months ago, I finally got around to buying matching shoes for it, tried the outfit on and realised that I looked like I was on my way to a funeral. This unfortunately was the day before the wedding.

I remembered that Queenspark was just around the corner from my house, so went there in the morning, about 4 hours before I had to leave for the wedding to find an emergency-last-minute dress.

I am pleased to report that the sales lady there was WONDERFUL. Not only did she do the usual “Do you need another size?” thing, but also made honest, helpful comments about all of the 20 dresses that I tried on. I don’t want to be told that I look fantastic in everything that I try on, because its just not true, and comes across as being rather disingenuous. She even laughed when I informed her that I looked like a fat elf in one of the dresses that I tried on.

In the end, I settled on a dress, the only problem being that the straps for it sat very slightly above my shoulders (stiff material). The woman very helpfully gave me directions to an alteration place down the road who would fix it cheaply and quickly.

With this kind of customer service, I will certainly shop at Queenspark for all other formal needs.

BigWarehouse Spares: Positive

Our washing machine isn’t doing a proper spin-cycle – it just kinds of wobbles around slowly like a geriactric lost on the way home from the bingo.

After much research and staring at the base of the washing machine, I determined that the drive belt was loose, as it did’nt make a ‘ping’ noise when I plucked on it.

Deciding that this was was indeed the source of our problems, I looked on the interwebs everywhere to replace this part.

Eventually I stumbled upon BigWarehouse Spares which has the most user friendly seach of all the sites. They also happened to have some evidence that our washing machine did actually exist (it is an older model) and even had some parts for it.

Though they didn’t have the exact part that I needed, I emailed them. Within the hour, I received not one, but three emails from them, updating me on their search for the part. The third email detailed the link to their site where I could purchase the item.

A positive experience indeed. Though lets hope that it was the loose drive shaft making the spin cycle go so slowly.