Thursday, 8 August 2013

Just because I do not like to leave things unfinished... Here are our first (sho) dan certificates from last year. :-)

Monday, 6 December 2010

1st kyu

They say a picture says more than a thousand words. So let's start with the pictures.

Graded for our third brown belts yesterday, and we both got them.

A HUGE thanks must, as always, go to our sensei Tony Grunwald. Without him we would never have reached this far! He is a great inspiration for us both and we are so lucky to be able to train for him. His expertise and passion for karate does rub off a little bit on us. Like he is sprinkling a bit of karate fairy dust over his students. :-)

This time we got our first "temporary grade", which means we have to refine some parts of our techniques and then show them again for the examiners board. Feels a bit like we have disappointed our sensei, but the head of SSKA was ever so nice about it (which was a bit of a surprise for us, really). "This is only a small remark to know what to improve for the black belt grading, so I don't have to fail you there on it" he said (or something very similar, I might have been a bit tired at the time.) A bit later when Clare asked a question about the brown and black belt training sessions, if we were allowed to join them with the "TG", he again said that this was not a big deal, it is like a question mark in the margin, nothing to worry too much about.
And I will take his word for it and be happy with my new belt!

I can live with the fact that I had a remark on my stances. I think I know what went wrong. Got a bad man-flu (Yes, a bad one, even! Imagine! ;-) ) and I was completely knackered half way through the grading and from there I _really_ focussed on hips and fingers. (Which I consider being my two weakest points right now) So my stances probably went out the door... Next time I will not have the flu and I will know to think a bit more about the stances. And I will have focussed a lot on that in training of course!

Clare got more or less the same remarks about stances and considering her broken foot that is something that will improve as the foot gets better. Considering that she had something going wrong in her back during warm up and couldn't get off the floor for ten minutes, she did bloody well I'd say! I am so proud of her!

So congratulations to us both, and I will be a bit proud and happy this week. Until the discomfort have left the body. The black, green and blue toe nail will probably take a bit longer to heal. Can't speak for Clare, but I can imagine her back will not be back to normal for a little longer than that. At least it takes the focus off the foot problem for now. :-)

After this week of being a bit happy and proud, the humble focus will be back on! First on improving the remarks, then on improving everything and learning a bit more. That is what it is all about, improving and bettering yourself.
There is a kata competition coming up in May. It is a little bit tempting to try and get a team together for the team kata. Clare and myself, plus a third person. Anyone interested?? :-)

And for the overseas people out there interested in what a 1st kyu belt looks like in SSKA, here it is - a brown belt with two white stripes:

Monday, 29 November 2010

How hard can it be to buy a treadmill online? Part 3

So, after two failed attempts to get a treadmill on-line, what did we do next? Carried on on-line shopping? Well, yes and no.
We went to and looked around a bit.
Found a NordicTrack 2000 treadmill that seemed to fit us perfect: This one

And the company had a showroom in Northampton!
That's not too far away from us here.

So we went there one Sunday in the Transit van, and got a treadmill with us back home.
This treadmill was brand spanking new and if something goes wrong I can go back and shout directly at people. :-)
Now we' have had the treadmill for a while and it is running (!) just perfect.

So FINALLY we got us a bloody treadmill! ;-)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How hard can it be to buy a treadmill online? Part 2

Yes, how hard WAS it really, to get a treadmill?

Well, this is the second instalment of the saga...

After the bad experience with the first try to buy one, we took a slightly different approach this time. We found what looked like a decent treadmill from a decent supplier. The price was not as good as the previous one, but this model we wanted now were out of stock in most places. But one supplier claimed to have them in stock: Ikonika Fitness

Now they have completely revamped their web site, and now it is very clearly stated that their equipment is not brand new. But this was not the case when we looked on their web site in September.

Clare gave them a ring, to have a chat and see if they sounded serious and to make sure the treadmill was new and not used or an ex-display model. The nice man at the other end of the phone claimed to have the model in stock, that is was brand new and if we paid the same day, which was a Thursday, their designated delivery guy would deliver the treadmill on Monday. He even sent a payment request through Google checkout stating , and I quote: "Please find payment link for a New But Tatty Boxed York Aspire Treadmill to Include Delivery." So we decided to give it a go and I paid through Google checkout the very same day (30 September).

Monday came and went, and surprise surprise, no treadmill delivered!

On Tuesday I got an email saying "Your order has shipped", so I thought OK, they're running a bit behind. And I expected to have a delivery within a day, since they have their own delivery guy.

When I had heard nothing more one week after ordering, I sent them an email:

from Tony Andersson
date 7 October 2010 13:06
subject Status please? Google order number: 454179411046879


What is the status of this order please? (Google order number: 454179411046879)

My partner spoke to you on Thursday about ordering this treadmill and you said that if we ordered it that day it would go out on your delivery round on Monday. So we did order it (as per the order confirmation below). It is now Thursday and no treadmill in sight. So I start to wonder where it is and when it could be expected here...

Kind regards,


And the reply I got the next day;

from Lauren Varley
to Tony Andersson
date 8 October 2010 08:47
subject Re: Status please? Google order number: 454179411046879

Hi Tony

Firstly I must apologise as I thought I had sent you an update a few days ago as is my normal practise, but for some reason I cant find any email, so again sorry for that. Ok the courier Steve is collecting the York today to deliver over the weekend, he willcall you and arrange a more acrrate ETA to suit you. REgards

Yep, that's it. I have not changed the formatting or removed anything at the end of the email.
Not impressed to be honest. It is a "don't call us, we'll call you" answer, and there's no explanation whatsoever to why they (might) deliver the treadmill almost a week too late.

Had a call from the delivery guy on Friday evening, telling me he would be here at 10 am Sunday morning. And he actually showed up within 15 minutes of that time.

But what he delivered could in no way be considered as a "brand new treadmill". First of all, it came in a box for a completely different treadmill (a Reebok box and not a York), badly packed and partly assembled already. It looked just as it had been taken apart just enough to fit the box. It came with no manual, assembling instructions or any other paper work.

At this stage I was rather tired of this whole thing of trying to get a treadmill, so I left it a few days. But then I sent this email to Ikonika Fitness:

from Tony Andersson
date 13 October 2010 14:15
subject Ref: Google order number: 454179411046879

Dear Sir / Madam,

It is with more than a little bit of irritation and a lot of disappointment that I have to write this letter to you.

On the 30th September I ordered and paid for a York Aspire treadmill after my partner, Clare, had spoken to a David at your company. She was checking that 1) The treadmill was in stock, and 2) It was brand new (more specifically that it was not a refurbished or ex-display model). David promised not only that the treadmill was in stock and brand new, he also assured Clare that if we ordered that day then it would be sent out for delivery the upcoming Monday, the 4th. After sending you an email at 13:06 Thursday the 7th your Lauren Varley replied on Friday that the treadmill would be delivered on Sunday the 10th almost a week after promised delivery date, with no further explanation than “I thought I’d told you”.

Now that I could live with, but when the treadmill arrived, it arrived badly packaged, in the wrong box (one for a Reebok treadmill) and now when I have tried to assemble the treadmill I can see it has got a lot of scratches and scuff marks on it including damage to one of the grip handles and was covered in filthy black dust. It also came with no instructions and half assembled. In fact it came with no paperwork at all, especially no warranty registration card from York!

So it is very obvious this is NOT a new treadmill, which is what we paid for and should have had delivered! After assembling the last bits of the treadmill (after downloading instructions from the Internet) and starting it up, there is a knocking noise coming from the engine part as well

I am absolutely not impressed!

Quoting from the Google payment request sent by your David:
Message from Ikonika Fitness :
Please find payment link for a New But Tatty Boxed York Aspire Treadmill to Include Delivery. Please return link if you wish to proceed or call if you need any questions answering. Regards David

Payment for:

York Aspire Treadmill Free Delivery


Since this is not the case at all I request that you either replace the treadmill with what we paid for e.g. a brand new fully working York Aspire treadmill, or you give us an immediate refund and come and pick up this piece of junk.


Tony - having a really bad day

And the reply

From Lauren Varley
to Tony Andersson
date 13 October 2010 20:01
subject Re: Ref: Google order number: 454179411046879

Hi Tony

Just got your email and sorry your having a bad day, Can you kindly send a contact number and I will call you tomorrow to resolve this situation. Regards

And a call later I sent this

from Tony Andersson
to Lauren Varley
date 14 October 2010 16:06
subject Re: Ref: Google order number: 454179411046879

OK, now David has spoken to Clare, and I just tried to call him, with no luck. Left a voice mail and would appreciate if someone could give me a call. I am available this evening after 6pm on 0771 ********.

From my understanding after speaking to Clare, you are still claiming this old machine with a new mat and very visible traces of use in other places are a "new machine". I am not interested in having a discussion about swapping parts on the machine at all. It is not new and that's where the discussion ends as far as I am concerned... Will try and call again if I get some time in between meetings this afternoon. Otherwise I look forward to you calling me after 6pm.



What David did over the phone was first to try and convince Clare the machine absolutely was brand new, and when that didn't work, he offered to send replacement parts for all the scuffed bits. And when _that_ didn't work, he refused to talk to her anymore. (Go Clare!) He then said he HAD to talk to me. But when I tried to call his mobile, he did not pick up. I left a voice mail, but he never returned the call. Ever... Maybe I wasn't too overly nice when I left the voice mail, but I wasn't rude either.

Instead I got this email:

from Lauren Varley
to Tony Andersson
date 14 October 2010 23:19

Ok not much more to say then please repack the item and I will arrange its collection. Once inspected we will refund in fiull. Regards

Then it actually didn't take too much hassle for arranging with the same delivery guy to come and pick the treadmill up, and the refund was made within a week.

One funny thing was that the delivery guy, Steve, asked why I returned it. And when I said "I ordered a new treadmill and this one is not new. I'm not paying a premium price for something second hand" he just said "Oh ,OK" like it was a rather common thing for him to hear.

Do you think I was picky? Well, you judge after looking at the pictures below... You can click on them to have a larger photo pop up. This is only a few of the markings on the machine, but I think this is enough to prove my point here. none of the markings you can see is dirt, they are all scratches and scuff marks, clearly from usage.

This last picture might need some explanation... The electric motor that is driving the running mat is mended with an Allen key! Clearly this is nothing done in the factory, where they would have the correct part to fit in between the wheel and the axle. This whole crap repair had the treadmill vibrating and making squeaking and knocking noises when switched on. This is absolutely not a new machine, and the sheer fact I could not find a serial number where it should be (according to the York web site) didn't really help either. I didn't trust Ikonika to honour any warranty repairs at all, and without a serial number I couldn't register the machine for the manufacturer warranty. (The treadmill itself came without any paper work, remember? So no warranty registration card.)

Monday, 1 November 2010

How hard can it be to buy a treadmill online? Part 1

Yes, how hard can it be??
Apparently extremely hard!
My first attempt started on the 29th of August this year, with me ordering a treadmill from
I ordered a Reebok Edge Treadmill - Model REE-11301 or REV-11301 for £299.99
As per usual for online shopping, I paid with my credit card at the time of placing the order online. And of course my card was immediately debited with that amount and £29.99 "delivery".
The first warning sign should have been that I received no order confirmation at all, only an email from the payment company stating they had debited my card with £329.98.
OK, I waited a bit, as the gullible person I am... No: "as the gullible person that I would like to be" is more appropriate. ;-)
But after over two weeks of complete silence I sent them this email:

Subject: RE: Your Order at Euro Broker
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 15:29:11 +0100

Dear Sir / Madam,

Placed this order below on the 29th August with yourselves and have heard nothing since.
Could you please give me an update: What is happening with the order? Is there anything on my side I can do to help to expedite the delivery? It is after all almost three weeks since I placed the order and I have had no communications from yourselves, except for the first automated order response below. So I thought I'd ask.

Kind regards,

Tony Andersson

I then heard nothing at all for another two weeks, not a single reply to my email. Which then lead me to send this email to them. The second address is to Warren Hatton to whom the payment went to, according to the automated email I got from after the initial order.

Date: 09/29/10 13:47
Subject: Please refund my order!

It is now a month since I ordered and paid for this item. I have still yet not heard anything from you, despite emailing you asking for an update. When phoning you on the 17th of this month you vaguely claimed the item was out of stock but would be in stock again within a week. That was almost two weeks ago, and no communication has been received from yourselves, ever actually. Not even an order confirmation or a delivery estimate. Let alone have I seen any treadmill.

I'll put this in simple words:
PLEASE REFUND MY ORDER IMMEDIATELY, or I have no other choice than to contact the credit card company and the police and file a claim against you for fraud. You cannot just take my money and then disappear. It's as simple as that.


Tony Andersson

Apparently that's what I had to do. Threat with legal action. Because this time I got an answer:

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 14:56:07 +0100
Subject: Re: Please refund my order!

Good Afternoon Mr Andersson

Thank you for your email

I am sorry for the delay. Our last load came in on Thurs of last week and any outstanding orders are being checked prior to despatch

I am not sure the police would entertain such a civil matter, therefore I would advise not wasting their time

Upon receipt of cancellation, we have 30 days to issue a refund, however, I will cancel your order now for you, and send your refund for processing very shortly

We are sorry to hear of your disappointment

Kind Regards


And here's the following correspondence, I don't think I have to comment very much... (Their email client is apparently set up for US date format, so don't be confused!)

Date: 10/13/10 13:01
Subject: RE: Please refund my order!

I still have not received this refund! Please do this immediately or reply with a post address where I can send a registered letter to yourselves.



Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 13:15:37 +0100
Subject: Re[2]: Please refund my order!

Good Afternoon Tony

Thank you for your email

Cancellation of your order was received on 02/10/10, and will therefore be with you by 01/11/10, this complies with Trading Standard Regulations. We do however try to prcess these as early as possible

Contact details are available on our website

Kind Regards

Euro Broker

Date: 10/13/10 13:29
Subject: RE: Re[2]: Please refund my order!

This is complete nonsense. I have tried to help you understand the Distance Selling Regulations before, but apparently completely failed. You have not fulfilled your part of the agreement and should therefore refund me IMMEDIATELY. Any 30 day excuse is only valid in case of a customer returns the purchased item, to give the merchant sufficient time to examine the returned item. This is not the case here so you can hold on to money you never should have had in the first place, since you could not deliver what was in your fulfilment. That is simply fraud and will be quoted so in my review of your "services" on Internet.

/ Tony

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 13:40:45 +0100
Subject: Re[4]: Please refund my order!

We are fully aware of the regulations, it is just unfortunate for yourself that we are only human and can't keep everyone happy all of the time, I do not know of a company that can!!!

As I stated in my last email, we have 30 days to issue a refund, we work closely with Trading Standards, but again, we do try to process these within this time frame. You are not our only customer, we do have hundreds and hundreds of other customers of whom are very happy with their purchases, and the service they receive from us. Like I said we are only human, and work very very hard to avoid such conversations

For this I can only apologise and process your refund as quickly as I possibly can

I will try to organise this by the close of business today, that's all I can do

If this is not sufficient, I am more than happy for you to speak with my Managing Director who may be able to help further


Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2010 12:38:36 +0100
Subject: Refund Processed

Good Afternoon Mr Andersson

Just to let you know I have received an urgent refund request, and I can confirm this will show in your account within 3 Working Days

This has been done via your original method of payment

Kindest Regards

Euro Broker

The refund then showed up the 22nd, six banking days after they claim they had refunded me. (It would not take more than two or three days for a refund to show up on my account, worst case scenario.)
If you wonder if I have left any names out, I haven't! Not a single email from Fitnesstimes / Euro broker was signed with a name. And also if you wonder about how "their hundreds and hundreds of happy customers" are creating so much work for their "returns department" I can't help you there. :-) Neither do I know how company that is registered as a sole trader can have a Managing Director, let alone a Managing Director for a specific department (which is what is implied in" to speak with my managing director"). But if that is what Mr Warren Hatton would like to be addressed when the lady (Possibly? Have no clue since no correspondence have been signed with a name or a reference) who can write emails is talking to him, that's between them...
And why or how they can "work close with Tradng Standards" I can only theorise about. The "Distance selling regulations" is a collection of regulations, published by the Office of fair trading. If they have to work closely with some governmental body to fulfil their obligations, something is very wrong. The alternative is that Fitnesstimes / Euro broker or the sole trader Warren Hatton is lying to me. And that wouldn't be a nice thing for me to assume, would it?
But as I said before, to take my money and then not respond to any communication until threatened with legal action and then further try to blatantly delay refunding my money is nothing short of a scam, if you ask me.

So, no, I would not do business with Fitnesstimes / Euro broker or the sole trader Warren Hatton again. In fact, I would recommend anyone who asks me, to steer clear of any fitness "supplier" in the vicinity of Doncaster...
Why that last brave statement about Doncaster? That you'll have to read about in the next instalment of this saga a bit later. I think this is enough aggravation for one day now.