ZELLA COMPTON: I’ve been left short, thanks to a ‘glitch’ in the system

Wildflowers are in danger
Wildflowers are in danger
The red squirrel is in decline across the UK   
Picture by Harry Hogg

ALICE ASHCROFT: The plight of the red squirrel

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Imagine my surprise to find a hotel had helped itself to more than £200 from my bank account this week.

I booked the rooms in January, but within seven days I’d realised that the booking wasn’t going to work (for many reasons, which are totally dull).

But when I’d made the booking I’d given my bank account details to secure the rooms, with cancellation at any point up to 24 hours before check-in. So I cancelled and, for once, I made sure that the hotel confirmed the cancellation by email.

Call it caution, call it sixth sense, call it what you will. But I’m so thankful that I did because when I spied my bank account, and trawled the internet for contact details and rang the hotel, they denied I’d ever stayed there.

It was one of those comedy sketch moments where I agreed I hadn’t stayed, and they said yes, that’s why I was billed, I’d been charged for not turning up.

The discussion went back and forth, like arguments among a large family about who’ll get the last roast potato, everyone being very polite while obviously passionately hating the other person.

We were getting nowhere so the hotel, a large national chain, decided to up the argument and simply deny taking the money, and my existence.

Seemingly there was no record of me at all, so how could the money have gone?

As much as I witter on about the ill-effects of the internet, this time around I was joyous to be able to trawl through my inbox and find an email with a booking number on to prove there was a booking.

This I gave to the hotel, who then informed me I was charged as a no-show. Around and around and around.

It finally ended when I sent the email which said they would send me a cancellation email (which never arrived, but at least I could prove the conversation had taken place).

And, after a three-day silence at their end, communication that the money is going to be repaid in the next 10 days.

Thanks for that. I’m so grateful that you’ve had two weeks’ worth of my grocery shopping for over two weeks, or my utility bills, or a large portion of my mortgage. I’ve been left short all thanks to ‘a glitch’ in the system.

Check your bank statements.

EMBRACE OUR WILD PAST AND GIVE NATIVE FLOWERS A CHANCE

News this week tells us that our native plant life in the form of wildflowers is in danger of disappearing.

According to Plantlife, many native flowers are now only growing on roadside verges as their natural habitat of wild grass meadows has all but disappeared since the 1930s.

And the plants’ new life on verges is looking tenuous with mowing by councils taking place earlier in the year, thus not allowing time for seeding and re-growth.

I like to see wild flowers on verges and, while some people need theirs clipped for parking, many of us don’t.

Let’s embrace our wild past and urge our councils to give rarity a chance to seed. There’s a petition to protect our native flora and fauna – search for Plantlife online.

IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE ALL GET A BALANCED VIEWPOINT

How can we make rational decisions in an era of fake news, especially when it comes to our elections?

This isn’t restricted to social media.

It’s time that we all woke up to the political agendas of national newspapers and the way in which the truth is twisted and presented to make one person or another, one idea or another, sit right with the readers.

I urge everyone who reads a national newspaper, or consumes news via the television or radio, and who believes that they listen to unbiased reporting, to take time out over the next few weeks and read/watch/listen to something else, something other than their usual fodder.

Twice a week, to get a bigger picture, a balanced viewpoint.