PDA

View Full Version : WARNING FOTO.ru CANON



lyndsay
06-02-2005, 20:35
Sorted - new camera is fine.. maybe the pen is mightier than the sword:-))

DPG
06-02-2005, 20:43
That is a truly terrible thing to hear...I want to buy a digital camera in a few weeks (hopefully) and will definitely not be going there for it...

Can anyone here on the forums (Sadie perhaps) fill us in on what exactly the law here says about customers returning goods to shops??

I.e. in the UK you get 28 days no questions asked if the item is unsuitable and unused and certainly a refund or replacement if it turns out to be faulty...

Lyndsay - Get a lawyer on the case...perhaps if you can even get one to phone the shop and give them a good shouting at, they will exhange it for you?!

koba65
06-02-2005, 20:47
That's one reason why I stick to Partiya for purchases of electronics or household goods. They'll exchange it without a question. (At least in my experience)

Halyavshik
06-02-2005, 20:54
I'm not sure what the law is, but I would imagine that they are obligated to do SOMETHING. Do you have a lawyer friend you can go there with ?

Even if they're somehow NOT responsible for anything (which I'd find hard to believe), I'd find the Canon rep office here and write them a scathing letter about your problem and where you bought it.

koba65
06-02-2005, 21:07
Представительство в Москве

Космодамианская наб., 52, стр. 3, этаж 5
115054, Москва
Россия

Тел.: +7 095 258-5600
Факс: +7 095 258-5601
Часы работы: 09:00–18:0


Here's Canon's coordinates in Moscow.

lyndsay
06-02-2005, 21:30
that I've just devoured a bag of chuppa chups..

Will see what happens at this so called service centre.

Thanks, but really, it's outrageous!

koba65
06-02-2005, 21:47
Originally posted by lyndsay
that I've just devoured a bag of chuppa chups..

Will see what happens at this so called service centre.

Thanks, but really, it's outrageous!

Might I recommend watching the film "Falling Down" with Michael Douglas? It always makes me feel better after getting ripped off by a merchant!

DPG
06-02-2005, 22:10
It makes me want to follow in his footsteps when I see it - especially the "roadworks and bazooka" scene!!

boscoe
06-02-2005, 22:23
If you bought it on a credit card (I really hope you did), phone the credit card company, you are covered (if it is a UK card, not so sure about other countries) for a month - stop the payment and then take a trip down to the shop (with a witness) and return it… you could even take a photo of it, for evidence, and just to rub it in.... I’ll even lend you my digital camera to take it with… sh*t I’ll go with you and take the shots myself:D

lyndsay
06-02-2005, 22:33
I bought the camera cash, but some accessories about $130 on credit card..

I will wait to see what the service center says tomorrow and if they are as rediculous, I'll be camping on Canon's doorstep next week and foto.ru.

Viagra Girl
06-02-2005, 23:06
Originally posted by lyndsay
I'm not one to complain much... wander through life and survive cultural differences mainly by smiling, being flexible, hardly ever judgemental and could honestly be said to never say a bad word about anybody.. even the muppets...but today... that changed.

I have been looking for a camera for 3 months. A major purchase at 12 - 1500 dollars for anybody. Today I went to foto.ru - the one in Manyesh.. y'know it gives you a sense of consumer security that place. The assistants were miserable - but not to be put off by frowning faces I briefly looked at the 300D and bought it for 1200 dollars with some accessories.. yippee I ran home bursting with joy. It's a Canon.. it's a major store... 'bloody idiot forgot where you're living didn't ya'...

Needless to say after an hour charging the batteries I leapt enthusiastically down to the river to get some shots.. erm, wierd, what seemed to be two what I can only describe as 'mites' had appeared on the lense.. strange... couldn't see them on the camera before.. really wierd... 136 SHIT shots later.. erm something very wrong... blur, tinging, LINES...

I had the camera in active service for all of 5 hours.. but the fun really began when I went to the lovely foto.ru people.. from the beginning they backed away, thumbed the camera, poked it, stared at each other with guilt written all over their wretched faces.. (the buggers probably switched it) you must have done it they actually said.. maybe you dropped it!! what followed was a rather pathetic attempt to 'tell me to go away'.. finally, I am told that only Canon can decide if I planted the micro flies in the camera or they did and also why the pictures are carrying lines like a grannies arse.... I must go to Canon Service... it is not foto.ru problem the assitant said with an evil and satisfied smile.. oh, yes they enjoyed that very much..

I have to go to Canon (not foto.ru) .. Foto.ru want nothing to do with you THE CUSTOMER WHO JUST SPENT 1200 with them... YOU are zip, zero, nada, nobody to them at all... I was aiming to get a $400 lense from them next week (that's called repeat business you stupid bastid, CU@%TS

Just remember that while you live in this wretched country... I for one feel Canon should be more responsible on who represents them internationally as these cretins are unbelievable.. In fact... I am beginning to loathe this place.. really... makes feel sick to my stomach!!

THE WORST SERVICE I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE!!!


Sorry to hear that!
Can I ask you what kind of documents do you have with your camera? Receipt? Warranty?

lyndsay
06-02-2005, 23:40
all the documents, but my girlfriend will have to try to deal with them tomorrow as I just have this paranoia of being an expat = victim = does not know rights.

She's so tiny, I hope she'll be able to deal with them.. at least she will understand better than I do in broken Russian. I just hope they do not continue with their present line of 'get lost'.

I'm just really dissapointed about this. .. I chose what I thought was a big professional company. I was just amazed that when I put it on the counter they refused to take it from me and check it over...

It just does not make any sense at all!!

Viagra Girl
07-02-2005, 00:00
Originally posted by lyndsay
all the documents, but my girlfriend will have to try to deal with them tomorrow as I just have this paranoia of being an expat = victim = does not know rights.

She's so tiny, I hope she'll be able to deal with them.. at least she will understand better than I do in broken Russian. I just hope they do not continue with their present line of 'get lost'.

I'm just really dissapointed about this. .. I chose what I thought was a big professional company. I was just amazed that when I put it on the counter they refused to take it from me and check it over...

It just does not make any sense at all!!
I can`t be precise but they MUST take it back for exchage or to give money back in 2 weeks starting today if
1. you have documentation +receipt
2. you did not drop it, break a seal etc. - not your fault.
Let me know how it is going, I will check smth tomorrow.

peyote
07-02-2005, 00:23
lyndsay, bloody terrible! but don't ask me why i'm not surprised at all...

Filimon
07-02-2005, 00:34
Chilling stuff!! Wonder though why the whole country gets bollocking for the shortcomings of one lousy store??

Olim
07-02-2005, 00:49
Perhaps because in the countries where we come from, you would never hear of such a thing happening whereas here you can well believe it -expect it, even.

Filimon
07-02-2005, 02:15
Originally posted by Olim
Perhaps because in the countries where we come from, you would never hear of such a thing happening whereas here you can well believe it -expect it, even.

Now that's *******. It happens here (in UK) all the time - you just have more protection from it.

And nothing like that ever happened to me in Russia.

In any case, there are good things and bad things in every country - it doesn't mean that bad things make the country totally unliveable.

DPG
07-02-2005, 03:05
If that were to happen in the UK, the watchdogs and trading standards agencies would be upon the shop/company involved in an instant - it's why major retailers not only have such policies in writing on display behing the counter and printed on the back of receipts and warranties, but have also trained and empowered their employees to act autonomously to solve the situation as is neccessary.

I can honestly say that only once in the entire 23 years I lived in the UK did a retailer refuse to refund me for something that I'd purchased and that was because it was a fairly long period of time since the date of purchase and there was actually nothing wrong with the item in question.

The above notwithstanding, I at least recieved an apology which it seems is more than Lyndsay got in the case he described above, even though the item about which I write was but a mere CD and not a $1200 camera.

Thinking about Lyndsay's predicament further, would I be labelled an utter cynic were I to suggest that the salesperson from whom Lyndsay purchased the camera was likely working on a commission basis and would probably lose said commission if the item were returned??

No one is saying that Russia is, as you put it 'unliveable', rather simply acknowleging the fact that customer service here undeniably leaves a huge amount to be desired, even from top-end retailers and service providers and that the same situation while it exists elsewhere, exists to a far lesser degree.

Lady Marmalade
07-02-2005, 03:30
I suggest you raise a little hell at the photo store by asking for the customer complaint book which they must have somewhere in the store, it's their little black book. It's got a name in Russian, perhaps ask your girlfriend or PM Polly as she knows what the name of this book is as it was going to be my tipping point when I returned a coat quite a few months ago. As far as I know, legally, granted we are in Russia, anyhoot, legally if you have all the stuff your camera came with and the original package, and the receipt, they have to refund you your money as long as you return the merchandise within 14 days of the purchase date. I wish you the best of luck because "some" [not all] retailers can be real d**kw*ds in this country and other countries most especially when you are the foreigner and the law tends to be lax.

Sheepy
07-02-2005, 09:18
Originally posted by Filimon
Now that's *******. It happens here (in UK) all the time

I second DPG. Nothing like that has ever happened to me in the UK and if it did I would most certainly get in touch with the Citizens' Advice Bureau and report it to the Trading Standards.

In fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. Marks and Spencers, for example, gave me a full refund on an item given to me as a Christmas gift and which in fact was no longer in stock. They refunded me the money inspite of 1) not producing a valid receipt and 2) the item having been bought 12 months earlier. Now that is what I call great customer service! :thumbsup:

yankee@moscow
07-02-2005, 09:27
I buy the least amount of stuff possible here. Without exception, I shop out of the country unless I absolutely have to buy it here. If I do buy here, I always make sure that it works before I leave the store. If there is any doubt what so ever, I don't buy. It's a pain in the neck, but, as we've demonstrated, you don't have a choice. Once you leave the store, your on your own for the most part in Russia with few exceptions.

Sorry to hear about your nightmare!:(

koba65
07-02-2005, 09:44
Originally posted by Sheepy
I second DPG. Nothing like that has ever happened to me in the UK and if it did I would most certainly get in touch with the Citizens' Advice Bureau and report it to the Trading Standards.


I'll echo these comments. Had a problem with a BSkyB system I purhased in York. The company sold me a crap unit and wouldn't fix it. One little call to the CAB and next thing you know I'm getting a call from the company saying they were coming out to replace my unit.

In the States you usually get quick resolution to problems - the beauty of so much competition.

I've also had good customer service in Russia (but from the bigger companies). Bought a digital camera in Vladivostok and they even gave me the address and number of a dealer/service center in Moscow uncase something happened to my camera. Actually, found the service personnel in Vlad in most stores I went to pretty damn good (Trebor, is this common, or did I get lucky?).

corp_fin
07-02-2005, 10:07
Salespeople are probably earning commissions on sales, and on a 1200 USD piece it's quite a hefty commission. This, most likely, explains their reluctance to refund you the money and they do not have another one like this to do an exchange.
It would help to call the HQ of the company and complain, reiterrating your rights. Should do the trick.

JeffK
07-02-2005, 10:09
I had a similar experience there. Bought a Canon 20D and a bunch of accessories at two of thier shops just before New Years. Well the camera broke in one day and the flash in 2. They wouldn't/couldn't help me. I was to wait with my over $3500 in purchases until after the holidays and then wait 21 days for them to determine the fault. Needless to say I was not happy! I wrote to thier customer service center (in Russian)and copied every address I could find at foto.ru. Within a few hours I received a letter from a very appologetic person at foto.ru and they found a new 20D (they were scarce in Moscow at that time), exchanged it that day and the flash the next day. This is a condensed version of the story, but I suggest that you write in Russian to the company (something like service@foto.ru) and see what they can do.

Filimon
07-02-2005, 13:20
DPG, koba65, sheepy - I agree totally. I agreed above too. What you described was precisely what I said - same problems, but better resolution. Whether it warrants calling the whole country "wretched" and start "loathing it" - that's another matter.

Shall start loathing UK because some ******* stole my two bikes that were chained to the railings in a locked building? Or because I stood for 30 minutes on the platform waiting for a train, running late for work only to be told after all that time that the train is cancelled? Or because the cable company only cabled my block of flats for TV but not for phone, so I now have to pay for cable TV, phoneline and Internet separately, which costs me twice the normal combined package fee, and the company does f... al about it?

I once got sold bogus Sony earphones in some dodgy kiosk in Moscow. I came out, opened them and immediately saw that they were bogus, despite costing the same as Sony's. I went straight back and demanded refund. When they refused (their excuse was that I should have seen they were bogus BEFORE buying them :) ) I simply said that they were in breach of consumer laws and they should not sell a product claiming it is from one manufacturer when they weren't even close, it was false advertising. They gave my money back.

My point is that no matter what problems one encounter he should not blame the whole country for it. Are you saying that it is impossible to buy a good working camera in Russia? Koba, you yourself know a good retailer, so what' the point of all that screaming?

lyndsay, first come back there, present the camera and the documents and tell them that you are going to court tomorrow and sue them under Article 4, 13, 18 and 19 of the Law on Protection of Consumers unles you get a refund or a replacement. Under that law you have a right to demand from the SELLER a replacement or a refund for any defective goods, provided you brought them back withing the warranty period set by the maker or the seller himself. Since they sent you to Canon, I assume they did not set the warranty themselves, so they are liable under the Canon's warranty.

I assure you, the manager will become very nice to you!

DPG
07-02-2005, 13:26
Originally posted by Filimon
I once got sold bogus Sony earphones in some dodgy kiosk in Moscow.

Lol - that reminds me of something that happened to me once at a kiosk near Univesitet metro station - I'd finishing working down there and it was getting dark, as I was walking toward the metro, I saw a kiosk/market stall type thing and remembered that I needed some batteries for my walkman or something.

I picked up what looked like a packet of Panasonic AA sized ones, paid the woman and rushed home (it was winter) giving it not a second thought.

When I dug them out of my bag the next day, I realised that not only was Panasonic misspelt, but they weren't even batteries - they were pieces of wood that someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make look like batteries - even little metal things stuck on the ends!!

I was cracking up with sheer disbelief for days afterwards!!

Needless to say, I buy batteries at large supermarkets nowadays!!:)

peyote
07-02-2005, 13:30
Originally posted by Filimon
Chilling stuff!! Wonder though why the whole country gets bollocking for the shortcomings of one lousy store?? LOVE

85StoneWhiteFurball
07-02-2005, 13:31
Originally posted by Filimon
My point is that no matter what problems one encounter he should not blame the whole country for it. Are you saying that it is impossible to buy a good working camera in Russia? Koba, you yourself know a good retailer, so what' the point of all that screaming?

Look. People get upset and rant. Plain and simple. There is no reason to jump on someone who has a legitimate and serious grievance for that which he or she posts while upset. I know that photography is very important to this particular poster - it might even be his full or partial means of livelihood - and having been a serious amateur photographer myself years ago (although fortunately never really beset by problem equipment - just horrendous expenses ;)), I know what defective equipment means to him.

Filimon
07-02-2005, 13:45
Originally posted by 85StoneWhiteFurball
Look. People get upset and rant. Plain and simple. There is no reason to jump on someone who has a legitimate and serious grievance for that which he or she posts while upset. I know that photography is very important to this particular poster - it might even be his full or partial means of livelihood - and having been a serious amateur photographer myself years ago (although fortunately never really beset by problem equipment - just horrendous expenses ;)), I know what defective equipment means to him.

I didn't "jump" on anyone, my initial post was a one-liner. Then I got jumped on for saying it.

I understand that when a person is upset he can SAY something rash. How he can write something rash - is beyond me.

DPG
07-02-2005, 14:04
If there is no one on hand to say it to........

Olim
07-02-2005, 15:40
No one is blaming the whole country. I was merely pointing out that if something like this happens in Russia, no one is very surprised. If it happens in, for example, the UK, I for one would be shocked.

Russians haven't really cottoned on to decent customer service yet and how it can drastically affect future sales -they are merely interested in how much money they can make in the short term. Mind you, until Russian customers themselves refuse to put up with the shoddy service you get over here, nothing will ever change.

RDV
07-02-2005, 17:09
Some sugegstions to get your money back or the camera exchanged:

0. Don't go anywhere!!
1. Write a complaint and have them accept it. They must make a photocopy which says: accepted and give it to you. They must respond within a week.
2. Ask to speak to the manager of the salesperson who refuses to refund the money. Get the manager's name and write it down (in front of him).
2.1 Try to settle the matter with him.
3. If the above fails... Type up a complaint, have it with you when you go to the store and show the actual letter to the manager and tell him that within an hour this will be sent to Canon/Russia (copied to the chain headquarters) to remove Foto.ru Canon dealer authotization. Then ask the question: Na Vash vzglyad, kak dolgo vy ostanetes' v Vashei dolzhnosti?
4. Consider getting a replacement instead of money back from them if you can check and verify that everything is OK right there on the spot. This should be more agreeable in this case.

lyndsay
07-02-2005, 18:09
I was at the store today and quoted: sue them under Article 4, 13, 18 and 19 of the Law on Protection of Consumers unles you get a refund or a replacement as I had done my homework, which is exactly what I put in my letter to the company.

My girlfriend is presently taking possession of a replacement camera as I type. I should add that the final decider may have been that the serial number of said camera did not match said guarantee... why? I will let you decide yourself.

Now, I am being flamed for showing a severe level of disbelief for the service here, which has, granted also a reflection on the country. I posted to inform (and rant to friends) as I feel consumers should be informed.

In addition, to the camera purchase, I was gazumped on an office rental last week too. Faced with a bidding situation which was contrary to the prior agreement. My friends were ousted from an office by new owners several months ago - threatened and kicked out with no notice..I was also shaken down by a police man in red square.. who after seeing my documents were correct focused on my girlfriend.. who did not happen to have her passport, but did have a student ID... I was robbed of 800rr. READ that ROBBED (not for the first time)!! So, a culmination of events for the new year.. I am financially independent and I can stay here for eternity trying to deal with life... but if not for myself, I look at her who will be looking at a salary of maybe $400 a month as a doctor and I do feel sick to my stomach.. somethings we can change and some things we can't..

Now, you may sit back and convulse over any misguided, or angered, remark regarding ones living situation here, but that is the actual fact of it. After 6 years. I have noted that this country has a rising intolerance for expats... .. check the new employment laws... taxes... it all ssems to say GET OUT!!... I can't accept the rational of 'Oh well it's Russia?... that simply won't do. What I used to muse over and find entertaining and even enlightening and humorous has become a sense of feeling 'dissillusioned'. Maybe it's my English sensibilities of fair play (tried to get rid of it), Catholic guilt, or whatever. What was an adventure has become, frankly, boring. I've experienced what it is to be a foreigner in this country and I no longer have a taste for it as life is short and there are more attractive places in the world to raise a family.. and well, just 'BE'.

So, I'll be leaving here in May with some fond memories, saddened by being separated from some dear friends (and missing those lovely summer legs and skirts) - both Russian and expats' but essentially, some extremely negative memories go with me too.

I want to be able to purchase items without feeling such anxiety... drive home without the threat of being robbed by the police... rent an office without being conned so blatantly... I mean if you're going to screw somebody at least try to do it well. The level of stupidity is actually the biggest insult.. Have some finesse in your disregard of others.. and finally, more importantly, get rid of this emerging sense of distrust which is a direct result of living here and absolutely not part of my natural constitution .. sure, defend the place... I used to stand up snarling and protest the countries innocence.. no longer. I have been here long enough to join the masses and simply no longer care about the obvious state of affairs..

I have lived in several countries and this is the country where I felt some kind of soul bonding, but the Russian soul that reached that part of me in 1998 has simply vanished from my eyes - jaded (or educated) whatever... Russia is unique and I will celebrate my time I spent here, but as much as you hate to hear it, the country is corrupt to its core... and I could quote from several multi nationals who have pulled out of here for that reason alone with several billions going with them.. and also some insignificant little people who have done the same.. people like me (Russians included!

I'm just a journey man and this part of the journey is over..


:p

Moderator - you might as well delete me as I hate goodbye notes and the company in question have come through albeit under duress and formally apologised for all inconvenience. One bad store.. maybe just that. I hope so.

RDV
07-02-2005, 19:07
Originally posted by lyndsay


In addition, to the camera purchase, I was gazumped on an office rental last week too. Faced with a bidding situation which was contrary to the prior agreement. My friends were ousted from an office by new owners several months ago - threatened and kicked out with no notice..I was also shaken down by a police man in red square.. who after seeing my documents were correct focused on my girlfriend.. who did not happen to have her passport, but did have a student ID... I was robbed of 800rr. READ that ROBBED (not for the first time)!! So, a culmination of events for the new year..


So why on earth after going though all of this are you still here? Doesn't seem like your ratio of fun vs. pain of staying here is in favor of fun.


I am financially independent and I can stay here for eternity trying to deal with life... but if not for myself, I look at her who will be looking at a salary of maybe $400 a month as a doctor and I do feel sick to my stomach.. somethings we can change and some things we can't..


Seems more like you are her dad not a boyfriend...



Now, you may sit back and convulse over any misguided, or angered, remark regarding ones living situation here, but that is the actual fact of it. After 6 years. I have noted that this country has a rising intolerance for expats... .. check the new employment laws... taxes... it all ssems to say GET OUT!!... I can't accept the rational of 'Oh well it's Russia?... that simply won't do. What I used to muse over and find entertaining and even enlightening and humorous has become a sense of feeling 'dissillusioned'.


Six years... Let me ask another straightforward question. Did you think the system/mentality would change overnight? Or were you going to change the system? If you have this get-out feeling, why force yourself and double and triplecheck it? Isn't it easier to simply do what's best for YOU?


Maybe it's my English sensibilities of fair play (tried to get rid of it), Catholic guilt, or whatever. What was an adventure has become, frankly, boring. I've experienced what it is to be a foreigner in this country and I no longer have a taste for it as life is short and there are more attractive places in the world to raise a family.. and well, just 'BE'.

So, I'll be leaving here in May with some fond memories, saddened by being separated from some dear friends (and missing those lovely summer legs and skirts) - both Russian and expats' but essentially, some extremely negative memories go with me too.

I want to be able to purchase items without feeling such anxiety... drive home without the threat of being robbed by the police... rent an office without being conned so blatantly... I mean if you're going to screw somebody at least try to do it well. The level of stupidity is actually the biggest insult.. Have some finesse in your disregard of others.. and finally, more importantly, get rid of this emerging sense of distrust which is a direct result of living here and absolutely not part of my natural constitution .. sure, defend the place... I used to stand up snarling and protest the countries innocence.. no longer. I have been here long enough to join the masses and simply no longer care about the obvious state of affairs..

I have lived in several countries and this is the country where I felt some kind of soul bonding, but the Russian soul that reached that part of me in 1998 has simply vanished from my eyes - jaded (or educated) whatever... Russia is unique and I will celebrate my time I spent here, but as much as you hate to hear it, the country is corrupt to its core...


It is indeed a fact. Actually I have never heard anybody say that it's not :)


and I could quote from several multi nationals who have pulled out of here for that reason alone with several billions going with them.. and also some insignificant little people who have done the same.. people like me (Russians included!



I'm just a journey man and this part of the journey is over..


:p

Moderator - you might as well delete me as I hate goodbye notes and the company in question have come through albeit under duress and formally apologised for all inconvenience. One bad store.. maybe just that. I hope so. [/B][/QUOTE]

Ned Kelly
07-02-2005, 19:20
lyndsay, we've all been through these sorts of feelings, especially after six years when you know the place and it really does seem like home. everything you've said makes perfect sense and i couldn't argue with a word of it.

but also remember its february, a truly miserable bastard month, dark and cold and you've had a shitty run. i'd wait til the weather is a bit warmer and the days a bit longer before making a final decision.

i relate to you because i've been here five years and eleven months...and to the month i lose the plot every february (except this one).

Kingwillhe
07-02-2005, 19:46
i haven't been here very long, but because of personal reasons and a burn my brideges attitude, i'm here for a while.

this thread makes me sadder than you will ever know. i hope you really don't bail as you have invested all that time, and i suspect you are much younger than i! perhaps some timwe will take the edge off? i'd hate to think that things are really getting worse!

Filimon
07-02-2005, 21:32
Originally posted by Ned Kelly
lyndsay, we've all been through these sorts of feelings, especially after six years when you know the place and it really does seem like home. everything you've said makes perfect sense and i couldn't argue with a word of it.

but also remember its february, a truly miserable bastard month, dark and cold and you've had a shitty run. i'd wait til the weather is a bit warmer and the days a bit longer before making a final decision.

i relate to you because i've been here five years and eleven months...and to the month i lose the plot every february (except this one).

I agree. One February in UK I nearly toppled myself: my dissertation tutor was ill (again!) and I was late submitting the next part of the paper, the weather was awful, a hundredth bank refused to give me a student loan or a credit card because I wasn't British, I had 4 quid on my account, which I couldn't even withdraw, about 2 quid in loose change in my pocket, nothing in the fridge and rent due in a week and last instalment of course fees due in a month - together standing at around Ј700. Bleak did not even start to describe it. I had almost noone to turn to, no friends to speak of. I could only work 20 hours a week but could not find a job to fit around studies... I wanted to leave, go home, but I didn't even have money to buy a plane ticket.

The situation changed very quickly come March. A friend happily lent me some money, the weather improved, the tutor gave thumbs up to the next part of the dissertation, I found a cosy little job with an insurance company, AND met a nice gang of Russians, Ukrainians and Lithuanians, with whom I still keep in touch. That was 6 years ago. Never turned back.

Lyndsay, I am glad it has been resolved, but surely it is not enough for a "straw that broke the camel's back".