June 2015


A couple of months ago I bought a Hot Tuna rucksack for Little Boots. It was blue camo with orange trim and immediately designated as “Epic!”.
We left the shop and were 10 yards away when the zip broke.

So we took it straight back & changed it.

The following day on rucksack number two a zip broke. (it was a different zip – the bag has three).

This time we took it back and since they had no other blue camo bags got a refund.

We tried to interest Little Boots in other bags, even visiting several shops, but to no avail. They just weren’t epic.

So a week later, against my very best judgement bought a third Hot Tuna blue camo rucksack.

Entirely predictably one of the zips broke. Unfortunately it was just over a month from purchase and so too long to be able to take the bag back.

Even if I could have taken it back there seemed little point as we would doubtless just end up with a fourth broken zip.

So I bought a heavy-duty zip and strong thread and spent three hours sewing it in.

Of course Little Boots was delighted and said it was better than ever. I should here mention that the original zips were branded Hot Tuna on the puller and so it wasn’t just a case of them having cheap generic zips.

Whilst the bag owner was chuffed I certainly was not and emailed Hot Tuna explaining the sequence of events that had left me cross and disappointed at their poor quality merchandise. Adding that I was also out of pocket and tired having wasted three hours.

I received an email back from Hot Tuna Customer Services:

“Thank you for your email.
We will endeavour to respond to your query at the earliest opportunity, normally within 1-3 working days.
During busy periods this may be longer, should you need to follow up on this case please quote the reference below:
Reference: CAS-xxxxxxxxxxx
Kind Regards,
Customer Services”

That was a month ago. Mid-way between then and now I sent a second email, received the same automated reply and nothing else.

Now compare this pathetic customer service the great service I got from Moonraker Knives.

I ordered a brass fitting from them for a little project I’m working on. The piece arrived swiftly but had slightly the wrong dimensions. Within hours of my email querying this they replied with an apology and said they would send a replacement out. It swiftly arrived and they told me that I need not return the original piece.

Now THAT is customer service.

Currently I’m reading a book that I heartily recommend and will review in full at some future point. Eric Hanson’s Stranger in the Forest (on foot across Borneo) is remarkably good for many reasons.

One small one that I enjoyed is that I learned something, actually two things. First, that you can create fire from bamboo. Now I have seen on TV people using bamboo to make a “fire plough” but I have never seen, or even heard of making a fire using bamboo and flint. Flint?!

You don’t believe me? This is the excerpt.

“Bo ‘Hok showed me how fire was made before the Penan discovered Bic lighters. He cut a two foot length of green bamboo with his parang and from his tin tobacco box produced a smallish flake of flint. He called it batu api, the fire rock. Holding the flint and a thin mat of tinder between his thumb and first two finger-tips, Bo ‘Hok vigorously struck the smooth surface of the bamboo at an oblique angle. To my astonishment sparks appeared. The tinder soon glowed red in patches and was then placed into a prepared handful of dried fibrous sago bark mixed with ash from burned leaves. This mixture, he explained, was tidak takoot angin, not afraid of the wind. Bo ‘Hok added wood shavings, blew two or three times, and within seconds we had fire,”

As someone who manged to light a fire using flint and steel for the first time last year (that’s flint and STEEL! STEEL, not bamboo. And another thing – it wasn’t exactly simple) I find this astounding. I just can’t see how this works.

Using burned (or part burned) leaves as part of a tinder bundle is also something I’ve never come across either. It makes sense though. Fire dogs (part burned logs) are quick to take when lighting a fire and something we put at the centre of a new fire at home. When we go to a campsite that has fire pits one of the first jobs, once we’ve set the tent up is to go scavenging around old fires for any fire dogs.

Using leaves like this is something I plan to try out soon.