And Finally – a Toast!

I’ll leave you with a little reading to keep you amused whilst I am gone. On one of my favourite message boards, there is a fellow City fan whose posts always entertain Billy and I, and he has kindly given permission for me to share his latest with you.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy Mick’s story and his subsequent e-mails. Thank you Mick – not just for allowing me to share this, but also for making us laugh when we were in need of it. 🙂

My toaster packed up! After many years of faithful service, there was a bit of a click and that’s it – dead. We made do with the grill for a couple of days, but it’s terrible – you have to stand and watch the toast to make sure it doesn’t burn, you have to turn it over – it’s just all too much.

So I went to Argos and bought another. I was well pleased with it, but when I got it home it didn’t work properly. So today I exchanged it – and the NEW one doesn’t work properly either. You can imagine, I’m pretty hacked off about the whole thing. I CARE about toast.

Anyhow, I’m emailing this Russell Hobbs bloke who made it, and I’ll let you know how I get on – because I know you will want to know.

“Dear Mr Hobbs, or may I call you Russell?

Yesterday I bought a 4-slice Russell Hobbs toaster from Argos in central Manchester. It really doesn’t matter what the model number is, I don’t want you to do anything with it. It was £17.99 if that helps.

When I got it home, I ran it without bread, like the instructions said, then I put some bread in it to make toast. I like toast. No, really, I like toast a lot. This is why I bought the toaster. Toasters are important to me, and our previous one had died after many years of service.

Imagine my horror (ok, maybe that’s a bit over the top there, but I DO like toast) when I saw that the number two slot (counting from the left) didn’t actually produce a nice piece of toast, it produced a piece of hot bread which was toasted on only one side. That’s not what I wanted or expected at all.

After a nice cup of tea and a sit down, I felt I’d recovered from all the horror sufficiently to investigate further. The elements to the right hand side of number two slot don’t glow as brightly as the others. Now, I’m only guessing here, but I think perhaps that means they aren’t as hot. The ones on the left of number three slot were a bit on the dim side too. Didn’t seem right to me at all.

Never mind, I thought, Argos are good about returns and it’s obviously faulty. So I took it back and exchanged it today. I asked the helpful Argos customer service person if they’d had any others back, and he told me they rarely get toasters back at all.

So, I got my shiny new toaster home, and unpacked it in high excitement. I plugged it in, and went through the whole “element curing” ritual (I love how you imbue the thing with a sense of mystery). I waited impatiently while it cooled down, just like it says (you don’t have to tell me to RTFM with something as complex as a toaster) then I whacked a couple of slices of Kingsmill into it.

Imagine my horror (have you guessed where this is going yet?) I got exactly the same results as I had with the first one. Hot bread, toasted on one side. I don’t claim to be a toast expert, I don’t have a degree in toastology or anything, but I think I’m safe in saying you’d normally expect it to be toasted on both sides. You see, I do have some toasting experience – our previous toaster used to toast both sides of the bread (at the same time!!) and you didn’t have to take the toast out and turn it around halfway through or anything complicated like that.

As I said at the outset of this email, I’m not asking you to do anything. I like my toast, and your device seems incapable of making it, so I’ll go back to Argos and exchange it for a Kenwood or a Breville or something.

But I’m writing this because I’m curious. Toasters are not exactly the latest word in high-tech. I know you rattle on about “the electronics” in the instructions, but toasters have been around for years. They can’t be that hard to manufacture, and Russell Hobbs has been making kitchen appliances for as long as I can remember. I’d have thought you’d have got the hang of it by now.

So why are you marketing a toaster that doesn’t make toast? I mean, anybody who doesn’t have severe learning difficulties is just going to take it back to where ever they got it and get one that works, aren’t they? I’d really love a reply to this, because I think the whole situation is utterly bizarre . As I hope you can tell, I’m not jumping up and down in rage or anything – actually I think it’s quite funny – although I won’t be buying anything else with Russell Hobbs written on it in a hurry.

The other thing I’m curious about is why you put a label on it which says it must be removed before use, but then use too strong a glue so it won’t peel off properly and leaves sticky gunge on the front of the machine. Really, it must take some doing for you to make such an unholy mess of a simple thing like a toaster.

If this ends up in the wrong department, please forward it to somebody who can deal with it, it’s the only address I have.

Thanks and regards

Toastless in Lancashire”

I got a response. As promised, here it is. It’s dead boring, though. And the lady who replied on Russ’s behalf had the cheek to cast aspersion at my bread quality – the nerve! T’was a fresh loaf of Kingsmill, and in any event the uneven browning was consistent, which was consistent with a faulty element. What’s another word for consistent?

Still, she apologised, was polite, and addressed all my points, so there’s nowhere to go with it. Tough audience, though.

Here it is:

“Thank you for your e-mail where we are sorry to learn that you have been unhappy with the performance of a Russell Hobbs 4-slice toaster which you had recently purchased.

Although it may be of little or no consolation to you we can advise that generally, consumer feedback has remained extremely positive in relation to both the design and the performance of our complete range of toasters and consequently, we have sold large volumes of these with few complaints of any nature.

However, without first being given the opportunity to inspect the toaster in question in our Service Department at Wombourne we would be unable to comment further as to the precise cause of the variable browning of the toast being produced and can only assume, from the comments made in your e-mail, that this has resulted from the type, thickness and freshness of the bread being used rather than a fault with the actual product and it may be that over several uses, you would have achieved good results on some occasions and inferior results on others, with the variables relating to the bread being the reason why this occurred.

Taking the above into account, whilst we do take every effort during development of our toasters, via extensive test work, it may be that the toaster in question was not ideally suited to your requirements and as you have already stated in your email that your intention was to return the product to your local Argos Store for exchange with another brand we can only apologise that on this occasion one of our products has failed to provide you with complete satisfaction.

Finally, with regards the difficulties you report to have encountered whilst attempting to remove the adhesive label from your toaster we would advise that all our labels should be “low tack” for easy removal and consequently we have now passed a copy of your e-mail to our Technical Manager so that he may look into this with our supplier.


Customer Service Administrator”

Here’s the email I just sent to Kingsmill:

“Dear Mr Kingsmill,

I’m a long-standing fan of your bread, and find it makes excellent toast – I’m a big fan of toast. My toaster recently died, and after a decent period of mourning I bought a nice new 4-slice Russell Hobbs toaster from Argos. To my shock and horror, it toasted two of the slices on one side only, so I had hot bread toasted on one side. I exchanged it for another with the same results. I emailed Mr Hobbs to complain, and mentioned that I’d used your bread. Somebody (not Hobbs himself, I note) responded politely and apologetically, but along the way had the cheek to imply that it might be a problem with my bread! Notwithstanding the foul calumny on my bread procurement and management skills, I felt the gratuitous defamation of your fine product should be brought to your attention. I’d love to hear your views on this.

I paste below for your information our exchange – my email first. Please note their third paragraph, in which they cast doubt on the quality of my bread, and blame “variables relating to the bread” for possible toasting inconsistency issues.

I am sure you will be pleased to learn that my new 4-slice Kenwood makes excellent toast with your bread – I commend it to you.



I’ve heard from Kingsmill. They didn’t hang around. I think their response is a bit boring too, what’s the matter with these Customer Service types? Here’s me, trying to brighten their day along whilst advancing the cause of good toast….

Still, they’ve offered me some vouchers, so that’s free toast in Badger Towers – huzzah!! And who knows, perhaps their Marketing Team may have something to say on the matter.

Here’s what they said:

“Allied Bakeries Issue Reference 416****

Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your information regarding our Kingsmill bread that we bake. We were very interested to receive the comments from Russell Hobbs about our bread, and have passed your e-mail onto our Marketing Team as we know how much they appreciate consumer feedback and information.

Please forward us your full postal address and will arrange some vouchers to be sent to you.

Yours sincerely,”

And finally, in response to suggestions that Mick had given in:

I haven’t let Hobbs off the hook, I’ve just set Allied Bakeries onto them. After all, they make the raw toast that Hobbs’s infernal machine fails to toastify.

Now I’m going to stand back and watch for the corporate blood on the carpet. Divide and conquer, and all that. Give us this day our daily toast, that’s what I say.

The Kenwood is still going strong, I’m pleased to report. It’s clearly a better product, as the Hobbs device had a red light on it, and the Kenwood has a blue light. It didn’t say that in the Argos catalogue, or I’d have gone for the Kenwood in the first place.”

Hope you enjoyed all this as much as I did. Mick – you are a legend 🙂


  1. Oh, that is just so funny (to an onlooker at least) customer services for all companies seem to have a language all of their own.

    Re the sticky label, I had the same problem with a Morphy Richards breadmaker. In the end it took several applications of a sticky label remover and much elbow grease to remove it.

  2. Maybe we should all use Mick’s mails as templates and start a revolution 😉

    Hi Elaine and welcome 🙂

    Anji – X


  1. […] found just the thing in Argos, bought it, and we immediately tested it out. Now we don’t have a degree in toastology but we do like our toast! We give this toaster 10/10. Several perfect slices later, we declared ourselves in love and […]

%d bloggers like this: