Posts Tagged ‘Oxford’

Blackwell’s on-line book service (update)

March 11, 2021

Yesterday I reported appalling service Blackwell’s on-line book orders. Two days to process an order, not delivered, messages left on social media ignored, unable to find telephone number on their website, find via google, call, inaudible message telling me not to leave a message as it will not be read, another message left on social media.

Today I received a response, edited ensuing conversation.

Zoe (Blackwell’s Bookshop)

Good afternoon Mr Parkins, I am very sorry to hear of the issues you have had. Could you please let me know your order reference so I can take a look into this for you? With best wishes, Zoe


Coffee – Jonathan Morris

I also added order reference number.


I will expect this book to be delivered by tomorrow, if necessary by courier.

Your service is appalling. I will not be ordering again.

I contrast with Oxford, where service in-store excellent.

Had I ordered from Amazon, it would not have taken two days to process the order. The book would have been delivered the next day. That is why Amazon is always first choice. It is not that they are cheaper, it is that they provide service.

Service an alien concept Blackwell’s on-line ordering.


Thank you for providing this Mr Parkins. I’m sorry that your order has not yet arrived.

To confirm, this order was despatched on 3/3 by standard post to the address on your order. For standard UK delivery, we usually advise 2-4 working days after despatch but at the moment we are finding that it can take longer than this.

I can see here [tracking data] that your order has been handed over from our courier to your local Royal Mail centre yesterday, 10-03-21. Beyond this point, as this order has been sent via standard post, there is no further tracking information available but this does mean that it is in the final stage of delivery.

I’m very sorry that it is taking longer than expected for your order to arrive but I would be grateful if you could please allow a bit more time for your order to be delivered.

If it has not arrived with the post on 17-03-21 then please let us know – this will be 10 working days since the date of despatch and from this point we are able to advise further if your order remains delivered.

I’m very sorry once again for the delay and inconvenience caused – Zoe

Zoe also provided tracking data.


No, if you cannot guarantee deliver today or tomorrow, then I require a refund, with confirmation of refund. I can then place an order with Amazon for delivery tomorrow.


Good afternoon Mr Parkins. I have refunded your order as a gesture of goodwill, when the book arrives please keep it with our compliments.

Once again, I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused – Zoe

I will send an email confirming this refund now, please expect one shortly, and please allow a few working days for the money to show on your account – Zoe


Thank you for your gesture of goodwill. I have received your e-mail.

But …

Your on-line service appalling. It does not take two days to process an order. Handed to your courier service on 3 March, they do not hand to local delivery until 10 March. What were they doing?

I do not know if this is a one off, or the norm. But you either have to pull the plug on on-line or dramatically improve. This is giving Blackwell’s a bad name.

Last autumn I travelled to Oxford to pick up a signed copy of a book by my friend Yanis Varoufakis, Another Now, to take to a friend in Cyprus. I have often passed by, but never ventured inside. I am usually heading to and from coffee shops.

  • Café Society
  • Colombia Coffee Roasters

I encourage support indie bookshops, but no way could I recommend order from your on-line service, not unless wish to wait weeks before receive book.

I would still encourage support indie bookshops, if in Oxford pop in Blackwell’s in Broad Street, an excellent bookshop, the staff very helpful, but on-line, unless can match Amazon for service, let alone price, not unless happy to wait days for delivery, in this case weeks, and as I write, I am still waiting (maybe it will arrive today with the post).

If order from Blackwell’s, their phone number, not that anyone answers and the inaudible message they do not listen to messages left.

  • 01865 333536

What I am highlighting here is not restricted to Blackwell’s. If to compete with Amazon, it may not be possible to compete on price, but have to provide service as good as if not better than Amazon.

To her credit, Zoe did accept that something had gone wrong, as a gesture of goodwill refunded, and said I could keep the book when it arrives.

The book I ordered, Coffee: A Global History, which luckily I did not require next day, my concern was it had not arrived weeks later.

Coffee: A Global History has been turned into a podcast, A History of Coffee, a collaboration between James Harper of Filter Stories podcast and Jonathan Morris, Professor of History and author of Coffee: A Global History.

A History of Coffee a six-part podcast.

Note: Late afternoon, the post delivered long awaited very late delivery from Blackwell’s.

Jericho Coffee Traders

September 23, 2019

When a coffee shop slags off another coffee shop, we know there is something wrong.

On a visit to Oxford I was heading to Colombia Coffee Roasters in the Oxford Covered Market only to my annoyance I found closed.

I have passed by Jericho Coffee Traders in the past, but never found open. With Colombia Coffee Roasters not open, it afforded the opportunity to try.

I have had mixed reports on Jericho Coffee Traders, none of which were favourable. Time to see for myself.

An interesting building on the outside, quite small on the inside, roast their own coffee.

My cappuccino was ok, not great, nothing to go out of my way for, not on a par with the best coffee shops in Oxford.

I was somewhat surprised to be told Colombia Coffee Roasters do not know how to roast coffee. This I queried as I know not to be true. Not my experience nor that of anyone I know who knows good coffee. They roast excellent coffee.

My only criticism of Colombia Coffee Roasters is their failure to note roast date on their bags of coffee.

I queried, asked to explain the reasoning.

I was then fed bullshit. It was my opinion, it was their opinion. Lacked any understanding coffee.

Then followed by a diatribe of how bad Colombia Coffee Roasters treat their staff. Not my experience, indeed it has been quite the opposite.

Afternoon in Oxford

August 1, 2019

Coolish in the morning then turned hot.

GWR Gatwick to Reading train no water in the one and only toilet. Disgusting. This spreads disease throughout the train.

Why do we have to put up with these Third World Conditions when travelling by train?

CrossTrain was waiting at the platform. It was empty, by the time it left full.

Why a bull outside Oxford Station hidden down the side of the Said Business School.

Oxford is starting to experience the same problem as Berlin, rental cycles dumped everywhere.

Interesting wheel lock on the cycles. The cycles are very heavy. Cannot be pleasant to ride.

I spoke with a traffic warden. He said it was a major problem. He said the bikes are ridden slowly, the problem being the weight. He told a coach to turn off its engine.

The problem is an unregulated sector. Who is responsive if someone trips over an abandoned cycle? The rental company, the cyclist?

From Oxford Station, a pleasant walk along the Oxford Canal to Jericho.

Many of the houseboats are little more than barely floating wrecks.

Cross over the canal on the foot bridge, zigzag, and it brings out opposite 101 Coffee Espresso Bar.

Beyond the footbridge the paintwork on a boat being scoured. The water full of pollutants.

Note: Oxford City Council were notified of this major pollution incident, sent a reminder. They lacked the courtesy to reply.

I carried on until the next bridge, crossed the canal, more dumped cycles, then walked via the road to 101 Coffee Espresso Bar.

101 Coffee Espresso bar. Excellent coffee.

Coffee on the shelves a little old. They had been at a festival and surplus left over. I suggested the Colombian coffee from Coffee Gems was an absolute must to order.

Looked in Branca Food. A little deli, though not so little when walk in. I think I will try one day.

The local recommendation is, good place to eat, but avoid the coffee, for coffee 101 Coffee Espresso Bar.

Then back along the canal to main road, then to the street food market.

I could have carried on down the road past Branca Food, but the canal is a more scenic route and avoids the traffic.

The standards on the market are abysmally low. How many have hand washing facilities? Ice cream van with engine running. Too many using plastic.

I asked one stall why using polystyrene boxes. At least he was honest, would not make enough profit. No, it is not ok to externalise your costs. If your businesses is not viable, close down.

Looked in The Handle Bar. Downstairs empty, moronic music blasting out. Upstairs empty.

Quirky, worth looking in, The Handle Bar though is not somewhere I would recommend. Coffee mediocre, always noisy, service poor and the staff rude.

To Society Café. I was only looking in to see of they had issue 3 of Society. No. I picked up issue 2. No copies left of issue 1.

Commonsense has broken out. They have reverted back to accepting cash.

I stayed and had a V60. As it had now tuned hot, I would have preferred an iced filter coffee. Barista knew how to make, but too much trouble to make.

A brief chat with head barista. I suggested the Colombian coffee from Coffee Gems was an absolute must to order. Currently guest coffee from Origin and Round Hill Coffee.

I have been able to have a coffee in the past at Society Café but only because I was with a Chinese friend and she paid with her Chinese credit card. To her surprise it was accepted.

Filming by one of the colleges.

A new Endeavour? A lot of film crew.

Note: Radcliffe Camera not Ratcliffee Camera. Android not so helpfully auto-correcting.

On to Oxford Covered Market to Colombian Coffee Roasters.

I stopped off and had a 1/3 pint at the craft beer stall.

Excellent cappuccino at Colombian Coffee Roasters. Not so the smoothie. It sldudl be made from fresh fruit.

Indians taking coffee. Must have filled the cup of coffee half full with sugar.

A bag of Wush Wush coffee. Expensive, £25 per 250g bag.

A alk alng thev River Thanmes.

I watched a duck usher duckling across a path.

By now I was running late.

I psoke to an Ethioppain girl. I do not think I have eber met a girl from Ethipia. She was intetsred in the vcoffee shops. I took her ona tour and showed her Cafe Society.

Wer tenwlaked to the Oxford Canal sayt and had a chat.

Now I was going to be very lucky if aI cuaht a train at at nine. I was lucky, I caught, what I thought was a slwo train was no stop to Readin.

Shock horror. In time to miss a train. No trains for at least an hour.

For once I was gateful for a train being delayed. Otherwsie over an hour late fo the next train.

— to b e continued —

No trains Reading to Gatwick

July 10, 2019

I thought leaving Oxford at 7-30 I would catch the same time train as I did a couple of weeks ago leaving at 6-30. Either I was too late or no CrossCountry train, which I had assumed runs hourly. Wait until 2006 and catch train for Paddington which stops at Reading.

Train ran slow. I just missed a train from Reading.

Next train at 2235, no trains for two hours for what is a service of two trains an hour.

What of trains to Gatwick, planes to catch, what alternative transport has been arranged? Nothing, no information, no announcements.

I was told to find a Duty Manager.

A train to Basingstoke, leaving at 2107. I could go a very long way round. Guard and driver see me not looking very happy. Asked what’s up, I told them. I asked could I catch the Basingstoke train. They said yes.

At Basingstoke just missed a train. Have to cross to a central platform to see display for trains, then cross back again. A girl came in late from Salisbury, next rain to Reading cancelled.

She asked did the train I was waiting for go to Woking. I said yes, then told her she had just missed a Woking train.

On reflection I realised if she wanted Reading, she wanted Wokingham not Woking.

I caught the train to Woking, then bus. Arrived home 2220, 15 minuted before the train would have left Reading had I waited two hours.

Nightmare. Go out anywhere, never know if will get back home. Last week stranded at Alton, no trains, all trains cancelled, no information.

Situation is not helped by stations not manned, or at large stations like Reading, no staff to be, no announcements, no apology. And no one cares, at least the train companies do not care. The staff are almost begging for the trains to be taken into public ownership as they a see on a daily basis how bad the service has become.

101 Coffee Espresso Bar

July 10, 2019

101 Coffee Espresso Bar could not be easier to find.

On a summer’s day, a pleasant walk along the Oxford Canal, after the first lock, cross the canal over a footbridge to Jericho, a zigzag, out of Juxon Street, opposite the other side of the street, 101 Coffee Espresso Bar.

Only no sign, nothing to indicate 101 Coffee Espresso Bar. Only on walking in, thinking this looks interesting, did I see on the counter 101 Coffee.

I was the only one there, or at least I was, a steady stream of customers.

Pleasant ambience, natural wood tables with an impressive polish. Excellent varnish. No, it is resin.

Coffee I have not come across before, Quarter Horse Coffee. Apparently they were in Oxford, a coffee shop and roastery, then upped sticks to Birmingham, closed their Oxford coffee shop.

101 Coffee Espresso Bar an unusual set up, a tiny coffee shop, up narrow stairs on the first floor a tiny barber shop. The only indication of this, as walk into 101 Coffee Espresso Bar a barber’s chair. I commented on this, asking had I walked into barber shop or a coffee shop?

Excellent cappuccino.

Copies of Standart, to read not for sale.

Something I had never seen before, water in a can not a plastic bottle. From what I could make out the can was in itself unusual in that it was resealable.

Columbia Coffee Roaster revisited

June 22, 2019

Excellent coffee at Columbia Coffee Roaster.

Earlier it was too busy. It was still busy. I do not think I have ever seen a coffee shop so busy. Sad to learn their coffee roaster no longer in use. They have a Probat at another location in Oxford but not nearby.

I asked of chocolate. They have bean-to-bar from Colombia, but not in stock and do not know when next consignment.

— to be continued —

Carmina Burana rehearsal

June 22, 2019

Oxford University Church stayed a while for rehearsal of Carmina Burana thatt was to be performed at a concert that evening.

Sadly unable to stay for the evening performance.

— to be continued —

Oxford Covered Market revisited

June 22, 2019

Oxford Covered Market established in 1774.

A committee was formed in 1772, when it was decided to build a covered market to rid the town centre of untidy market stalls. Half the money was provided by the town half by the university.

Explored more than my previous visit to Oxford Covered Market when I walked through but still only small part of this amazing market.

Three stalls worth visiting, a craft beer stall, Colombia Coffee Roaster and a cheese stall.

I was reminded of the Spice Market of Istanbul, without the pungent smell of spices.

This is how markets should be, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of wonders. It puts to shame the Central Market in Lincoln.

Society Café revisited

June 22, 2019


A little further down St Michael’s Street from The Handle Bar, opposite Oxford Union, Society Café.

I looked in Society Café a few days ago, but no coffee as do not take cash. Today I tried credit card, but did not work. A friend tried her Chinese card, surprisingly it worked. I think because of one of the card readers which bypasses the banks. I am still though not happy their refusal to accept cash and they need to think again. Use of cards profits the banks and tracks people.

From Society newspaper

A place for everyone

Not exclusive
All welcome
Cant’t wait to meet you

But not if wish to use cash or for what ever reason lack the credit rating  to obtain a card.

I had a cappuccino which was excellent.

Espresso from Origin, guest coffee for V60 from Round Hill Roastery.

Staff very professional.

Picked up Society and down the cellar found an earlier issue. It started as newspaper, now a magazine. Next edition due soon.

They also had latest edition of Standart. My friend paid with her Chinese credit card and I gave her the cash.

Note: On a later visit I am pleased to report now accepting cash.

The Handle Bar revisited

June 22, 2019

Looked in The Handle Bar but did not stop, upstairs too noisy and the coffee bar downstairs no time for a coffee.

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