‘The Customer is King’ and other lies we’re told.

I am a stickler for good customer service. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and neither should you.

However, as you go through life you realise good customer service is often in rare supply, many a business promises it but only a few actually deliver it. Unfortunately, most of us find this out the hard way; when we’re face to face with a rude waiter at dinner or listening to music as we’re placed on hold in the midst of a battle with customer services of some online retailer. I for example, was in a battle with a courier company late last year who had a package of mine that they decided to deliver to a random address I did not even put on the payment form at checkout. However, because of the pandemic I really had no one to complain to because this courier company thought it would be great idea to close down their call centres throughout most of last year – a business decision which makes no logic sense to me but I digress. Sigh.

Fighting for your rights

Me when I’m put on hold by customer services (again)

As much as it sucks to accept, that age old marketing phrase ‘The Customer is King’ doesn’t always seem to translate in the reality of how many businesses operate nowadays. If you, as the customer do not push for what you want (in a reasonable manner, of course) you will often not get the results you want to see. Whether it’s having your burnt food replaced with a new dish, or getting a refund for a holiday cancelled by an airline (as many flocked to do during the start of the pandemic.) It may require lots of angry emails to customer service, visits to store and even letters and phone calls but hopefully it will be worth it when you’re tucking into your newly made dish or rolling around in refund flight money.

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to know our rights as consumers – there’s many podcasts and online resources out there which can help with this. Many in the UK, for example, will be familiar with TV and consumer finance expert, Martin Lewis who offers a lot of advice on customer rights on his site MoneySavingExpert.

Of course, I hope you’ll never get to the point where you need legal ammunition but it’s always worth having in your arsenal if a company gets lazy and won’t budge regarding your query.

The right formula

From the retail side of things, I can understand that good customer service can be tricky, you’ll often get a variety of customers you have to serve and not everyone will be pleased with the type of service you offer – even if you think it’s great and quite extensive. Some may like the chat bots you offer on your site for example, whilst others – like me – may find them extremely annoying and ineffective – just get me a human to talk to, please!

Yet, customer service at its core is quite simple. People want transparency, quality products and when being dealt with, want it to be done with respect and honesty. Although how those components look on a pie chart may have changed percentage-wise, those demands themselves have not. Additionally, as people within the age of social media, users of brands are being more vocal than ever before about their experience with brands and what they want. In other words, what customers want is not exactly a mystery – businesses just need to make sure they’re doing leg work and keeping their ear close the ground to figure out what we want and then actually make steps to make it happen.

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What do you think? Let’s talk! Do you have any good or bad customer service stories to share and what do you value most from customer service?

If you liked this you may enjoy my previous article on our toxic relationships with brands.

Why Google shouldn’t always be the answer

There is no doubt that the internet has changed the way we learn things – online courses, Youtube tutorials, how-to blogs, even e-books – the list is endless when it comes to the rich resources at our disposal.  Whenever we’re stuck on something, for example for me – it may be some weird glitch on Excel; I’ll have a browse on Google and suddenly find myself scrolling through a random IT advice forum thread looking for an answer. And let’s not lie – Google is pretty good at its job and will (eventually), four times out of five, usually provide a helpful answer to your query.

Cheers, mate: My polite response when someone gives me the ground breaking advice of ‘just google it’.

However, before the vortex that is the internet, humans were our first port of call for learning things. Apprentices in jobs that require the mastery of the hands – would closely shadow a professional in that field, carefully watching them at work, taking notes and eventually imitating. Similarly, before the numerous recipe blogs and Youtube vlogs out there – recipes were passed down orally or learnt through the close observation of family members preparing a certain dish.

Humans have and always will be valuable to the learning process – and this doesn’t stop in the face of the internet. It’s why I get slightly annoyed when someone asks a simple question and others patronisingly say ‘Why don’t you Google it?!’. Yes, they could definitely do that – and perhaps they will or plan as a second step; but is it so wrong that their first port of call was to actually ask you, a fellow human for your opinion? I don’t think so.

Of course, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some instances where this attitude is justified. For example, when it comes to educating ourselves on the struggles of marginalised communities, referring to digital resources can often be a more thoughtful approach. This is simply because when asking questions to members of these communities, many people ‘on the outside’ often do so with a sense of entitlement – they don’t owe you or have a duty to educate you. There is often also an emotional labour that comes with explaining the struggles you go through as a marginalised person that can often threaten your peace or happiness, especially if you have to do it repeatedly. For example, many black individuals have to repeatedly explain why non-black people should not use the n-word; explanations that often go on deaf ears and knowledge that you probably have just gotten from Google without involving a poor soul who is probably tired of having this conversation.

This aside though, and overall – I think we need to be find a way to tip the balance and bring humans back into the learning process once more. And by that I mean, asking a question to someone as your first port of call. At the moment, it feels like the balance is skewed and the internet always takes priority – people will trudge through several pages and PDFs for answers, if it doesn’t mean apparently inconveniencing another soul. (To be honest I can’t say I’m 100% innocent on that front!) Yet, the danger is even when it comes to matters dealing with life or death, people will apply this mentality – they, for example, don’t want to bother doctors or they want a quick fix answer (which has a high chance of being incorrect depending on the source), they’ll therefore go to Dr Google and hope for the best.

As a world bombarded by tech, how do we go about changing something so ingrained into our behaviour and normalise…well, just asking people? God knows.

All I’ll say is next time someone asks you something – accept that yes, it could be googled but they’ve asked you and probably for a reason. Don’t chide them and sneeringly say (or type), ‘you should just google it’ – give them some credit. If you don’t know – just apologise, admit you don’t have an answer (or point them to another person or resource) and move on. It’s not that hard, it’s nice and it’s free.

Why don’t you like me?

I think this dance we do through life for the approval of others is interesting. On the one hand you’re told to stop seeking such approval, all you need is your own validation. But does that really transfer to real world? Honestly, the answer is no. Every now and then in certain situations you’ll find yourself hiding or exaggerating parts of your personality in order to be liked or gain the approval of the people in your company. Job interviews? You hide your insecurities and fact you can easily get overwhelmed. Instead, you exaggerate your intellect and ability to work with others. In that very moment you want to be liked, even admired if you’re lucky.

Relatable? This doesn’t make you superficial, don’t worry. However, is does make my point that to some extent we are all walking shapeshifters; adapting our personalities or perceptions of self to gain likability to various social situations. It’s actually necessary for survival and to achieve life goals we have; without being likable to others, we most noticeably wouldn’t be able to inspire or influence others. Teachers and coaches giving pep talks wouldn’t inspire their pupils or team respectively without the recipients of the talk liking their teacher enough to listen, if not respect the words they’re saying.

I was thinking more about this human longing to be liked, to gain approval from peers as I binged watched the first few seasons of The Office US during the first lockdown. For those familiar with the show. you’ll know that Michael Scott, the show’s regional manager and protagonist yearns to be liked by his colleagues a little too much, despite being their superior. This leads to him often pushing the boundaries of his working relationships with them which makes for uncomfortable yet hilarious viewing. Despite how exaggerated the trait is in Michael, it is a relatable one nonetheless, particularly in this age of social media where everyone is a small business of one – hoping to get more views and more likes on their content.

Love me or Hate me

So, we’ve established that people long to be liked and care more about it than they would admit. Yet, it’s impossible to be liked everywhere by everyone, so how do we reconcile our fantasy with our actual reality; that more often than none, people will strongly dislike you for no (obvious) reason.

Two things should be noted here:

  1. In the face of hatred always remember the people that love you – they’re the ones that see something special in you, and will always be your biggest fans. You realise how rare such people are when you realise how unkind the world can be. Never neglect these people or take their appreciation of you for granted!
  2. Be open and willing to take criticism: Dare I say it; sometimes a person’s disliking of you may have valid roots. I remember being close to a friend at university; we would often have random banter or go to society events together. After a few months had gone by I realised we hadn’t met up in a while and messaged her because I missed her company.‘Hey, we haven’t met up in a while, I hope you’re okay… blah blah’

As we discussed how quiet it had been between us, she admitted honestly ‘you always bail out of things we arrange to do and it’s annoying’. At the time I was obviously a bit annoyed and met that response with a flurry of denial. But looking back, what If she was right and in pointing out my flakiness had highlighted a bad habit I had overlooked?

That last point in particular makes a case for importance of self-reflection – sometimes it can be the key to spotting not so obvious bad habits in us before others do.

Then again, self-reflection can be a double-edged sword sometimes, as I find with myself, if we do it too often, too deeply we may find ourselves annoyed about traits we don’t need to change or can’t change [easily] but feel pressured to do so anyway.

There are no simple solutions to staying out of these mental thought traps (unfortunately.) It is worth reimagining it as a tight rope balance between self-worth and likability. The former shouldn’t depend on the latter, it should be something unshakable at our core. Of course, the reality is much different from this ideal, but there’s no harm in keeping it as something we can aim towards, right?

Three Things I wish I had known before starting University

We’ve reached that point in the year where people have graduated in the summer in a flurry, albeit virtually due to government restrictions. September now marks the month many start university for the first time and others start the application process for university. I write this with these groups in mind as I hope I can relay some wisdom to them in order to help them make the most of their university experience.

  • Mental Health Matters

When I say university can be tough, I mean TOUGH in all caps. Reading can pile up and the occasional pest of essay writers block means writing an assignment is not a simple thing you can add to your to-do list and then quickly tick off. Rather, you have to chip away at it over gruelling hours of intense thought and typing. In the midst of all this it’s definitely easy for your mental health to take a back seat. From personal experience sometimes it seemed like every time I took a break i.e. listened to music, took a nap or decided to read something non-academic I was wasting time which could potentially be used to study. From that comes guilt which deters you from doing such relaxing activities often.

Stress can eat away at you for such reasons so it’s important to attend a university that has the mental health of its students high on the agenda; counselling services, leave of absence policies and available resources or stress reducing activities i.e. sports, Pilates, arts, baking etc are important to things to have on campus, for example. If I had known about this in advance, I would have definitely added mental health services to my list of criteria when choosing a university and I would advise prospective students who are shortlisting universities to do this too.

  • Any Placements available? 

I did a philosophy degree so I didn’t see much universities offering this option and I may be wrong but placements don’t often get offered with humanity degrees like the one I did. They’re unfortunately often only for practical based subjects like STEM degrees. But whilst on the search for my first graduate role I realised what a difference one year of work experience (which is what you get on a placement) could make. It would particularly help when trying to tackle the now very common issue of employers require 1-3 years work experience for entry level roles. Or…employers could just be more realistic with expectations and become more willing to invest and train graduate employees, but I degress…

  • University can be lonely.
Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

I think this realisation kicked in more in third year if anything. Particularly if all your friends are studying different courses or live away from you this can cause difficulty in frequently aligning your schedules to meet up. This becomes more of the case during exam season where everyone tends to cut themselves off from people more than usual in order to minimise distractions. It puts you in a weird position where you tend to savour social interactions and become more grateful for them. I remember watching late night dramas or having conversations about philosophy and politics with my flatmates in second year and those are honestly some of my more treasured memories. You go away feeling lighter, feeling happier and feeling closer.

Friends are what help to shape the university experience since its purely not enough to attend and attempt to survive with a ‘I only came here to study mentality’. When they say you get what you put in, this applies well to friendships at uni. Where I met most of my friends is through my course and through random societies – socialising with people within these two groups is the best way to bond with people who have similar interests/passions to you.

That’s it from me! I hope this was helpful; people often tend to romanticise the university experience and although yes, it can be rewarding it definitely has its difficulties too. This shouldn’t put you off but it’s always worth having such knowledge so you dive into the experience well equipped and well informed.

Your Work & Your Worth

When you find yourself out of a job you suddenly have access to 1000s of resources and benefits stripped away; from software to exclusive networking events. Even deeper than that you find yourself violently shaken from your routine. Suddenly, people, you considered friends who you may have worked with for years are gone. Sally your manager who loved Friday pints at the pub after work no longer calls so you find out the hard way you were only friends out of convenience. On top of all that you find that due to lack of money you have to start declining social events, you would have happily attended – or even have organised – when you were working. These things all tend to slowly knock your confidence and erode your happiness.

It, therefore, can’t seem surprising that your job can become entangled with your perception of your self-worth. I noticed this in the little things once I quit my role earlier this year and was looking for another. For example, when I would introduce myself to new people it felt weird that I couldn’t jump to the topic of what I do and the industry I’m in. It’s a classic icebreaker topic although I now realise it doesn’ reveal as much about a person as we may think. Another instance was when I went to an industry panel event and the sign-up form required me to fill in my place of work – which was nowhere of course. I ended up putting something to that effect in the field just to fill it but it did annoy me that that was even part of the form, therefore technically ruling out people like me from coming. That is people who are looking for work and still want to go to such events to network and stay informed on industry trends.

Anyway – moving on…

marten-bjork-rH8O0FHFpfw-unsplash
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

As we find ourselves in mandatory lockdown, unexpectedly confined to the walls of our homes, it’s easy to put pressure on ourselves to be productive. It’s after the all the currency we use to measure our days when we’re out and about. Being able to tick tasks off our physical or mental to-do lists also gives a little dopamine rush; thus making us want to get even more done. We’re seeing a lot of things from various articles and social media influencers of things to do during a lockdown or a showcase of things they’ve managed to do. Learn a new language. Read 11 books. Become a master of coding and video editing (because one skill clearly isn’t enough.) In all honesty, I am not guilt-free when it comes to failing to listen to this pressure. Recently, I decided to try and increase my proficiency in WordPress and get better at promoting my blog content a bit more.

To be honest, the pressure feels quite burdensome and the demands stemming from it unrealistic. It feels like we’re worker ants constantly scuttling, never knowing when to be still and rest. This Guardian article which covers similar ground makes the interesting point that these pressures, coming primarily from the ‘hustle culture’, don’t actually benefit us. Rather, it benefits the Capitalist structure we are engrained in; that worker ant mentality drilled in us from childhood (i.e. school) is only done so with the endpoint being too make us ideal employees. And it does. It makes us great, efficient employees but can also spill over into our private lives causing unnecessary stress because productivity at home will never look like productivity does at work.

Why should it be a bad thing that my to-do list just consists of blog writing and shows to watch on Netflix? The time for such things may as well be now because once we’re back to normalcy, it will be like we had this moment to pause and recuperate. Overall, it is not a bad thing to decide on a personal endeavour like earning a language or instrument etc. Just know two things:

  1. Do it because you want to; don’t do it because you find yourself bowing to that external pressure I referred to. Be driven by interest and passion, not because you want to be able to cite a long list to people post-lockdown of all you accomplished.
  2. Your worth will not change even if your productivity levels do; you may be busy and buzzing some days but not on others and that’s perfectly fine.  This is a stressful time for everyone but in different ways; so we are all dealing with it how we can.

That last point also applies to those like myself who are reading this and are in the middle of a job search. I encourage you to keep going, know that you’re not alone and always have value – with or without a job.

 

 

 

 

Turning T&Cs into TLC

I walked passed a store recently which had a sign saying ‘free goody bags’; a sign which of course piqued my curiosity as someone who is a shameless lover of free goods. But when I paused to read further I saw that it only applied to those who spent a certain amount in the store- £60 or more.

I perceive life to be like that too; with terms and conditions (T&Cs) attached to every decision we make. Will the decision cause our financial hardship? Will it cause us mental or physical harm? The problem is- we don’t always know what those terms and conditions are until we living with the decision we have made.

This is something I’ve come to accept recently since I tend to be overly cautious with decision making. Simply because, I don’t want to live with easily avoidable regrets (but then again, who does?) But something occurred to me recently- there’s something to be learnt in every regret we have- or rather, every instance that caused a regret. Seeing regrets as learning curves changes things dramatically; for one it helps shift our perspective. Wade through the shame, embarrassment and self-resentment that your regrets have burdened you with and find a learning point you can take away from it. Maybe the lesson is to appreciate those in your life more, to leave fewer words unsaid, or maybe it’s to make more time for the things you love.

That learning curve will hopefully prepare you for a future situation and when the time comes; you will be thankful you went through that regretful situation.

 

Pressure makes diamonds…eventually

 

food healthy yellow broken
Some eggs make it, some don’t. (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

I remember when I was younger I used to whack ice cube trays on any kitchen surface I could find in order to get some ice cubes out. I did that more recently with (what proved to be) a less sturdy ice cube tray and it broke, much to my surprise. Similarly, a popular science experiment kids do in school is to wrap an egg in newspaper etc. and drop it from a window to see if it breaks. Sometimes they survive the fall, sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes I feel like we’re like that unfortunate ice cube tray or a smashed egg. We seem sturdy and strong – and believe we are so – but when faced with a high-pressure situation we suddenly find ourselves crumbling under the intensity of it all.

It’s worth evaluating once in that situation, a ‘storm’ of sorts, how we can we find a way to navigate the waters much more easily. For me, prayer is key for guidance but another thing that helps is self-reflection; how can I channel this feeling of pressure into productivity? What assistance do I need? And most importantly; what is my mindset and how is it feeding into my current situation? For example, I can unknowingly be quite negative at times, so literally forcing myself whilst working to think ‘I can do this‘, works more wonders than we give it credit for.

Cutting through the noise

You’re enough. You’re blessed. You’re fabulous. In fact, you’re pretty darn amazing. You may not see it from time to time and sometimes the negative thoughts become like a dark haze, causing your amazing-ness obscure from view. But trust me, it remains a fact- so never forget that.

I write these words for anyone who is going through a rough patch and needs to hear it. But I also write these as a note to myself. Recently feelings of self-doubt and insecurity have been slowly flooding the walls of my mind and it has honestly felt quite tiring and unbearable at times. But insecurities are like that, they can end up silently leeching your energy and you won’t even know until you have none left. A good visual image to imagine how it feels is a cliche film scene where the female character enters the bathtub and submerges herself in the water. There’s a deafening pause as you wonder if she will arise again and choose life. And she always does. Gasping for air and slightly panicked, but she always does.

In the same way, when flooded with the thoughts we have to come back fighting. It’s definitely hard, but equally as possible. I believe that for every deafening feeling of self-doubt we have God is screaming even louder the words I started the blog with. Constantly. All the time. We just have to make the active choice to cut through the noise and listen. Over the voices of society or our peers. But most importantly, over the voices of ourselves.

From Graduation to the Grind: the Post-university Experience

accomplishment ceremony education graduation
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Graduating from university is such a surreal experience. Funnily enough, when starting a university course- you don’t actually imagine what it will feel like for that course to end. All your energy is focused on studying and surviving your degree. The graduating process- and even the run-up towards it- is an ideal time for reflection and thanksgiving. Everyone’s experience has been different, with most people at some time or the other experiencing the feeling they may not actually make the end of their course. Yet, that moment as you secure your parchment or stand with family under the lens- smile beaming is a testament to your perseverance and hard work. You can proudly look at your transcript and say, ‘I did that.’

The significance of the completion of this specific stage in your life, especially for many BAME students is immense- with many being the first generation in their family to enter and complete higher education. As you sit in the hall for your ceremony waiting along with pride and excitement, there is a sense that anything is possible; a room packed with students will be tomorrow’s politicians, lawyers and entrepreneurs.

For those that recently graduated, along with a huge congratulations, here are some tips to steady you in this new phase of your life:

  1. Remain Positive– for those that are starting their job search positivity can easily be lost in the midst of your worries about the future. What do I want to do? Where will I be doing it? There is no denying that job hunting can be laborious- especially for graduates who are up against fierce competition when applying for roles and schemes. Additionally, as black people we are up against institutional racism which constantly remains a silent (and often covert) enemy in many industries. For example, in 2016 TUC research found that unemployment amongst BAME students is higher than that of their white counterparts; and this is regardless of their level of qualification i.e bachelors or PhD etc. However, there is also good news since the same statistics also showed- employment rates amongst BAME people are the highest they’ve other been since records started in 2001. This simply shows that yes, despite an intersection of struggles (partly due to being a graduate and partly due to being black), success is indeed possible.
  2. Everyone’s path is different– although very exciting and a great doorway to various opportunities, graduate jobs are not for everyone. This means if you find yourself in a non-graduate role, or an entry-level role different from your envisioned ‘dream job’, don’t be disheartened. This applies even to those who aren’t recent graduates but yet find themselves in this position. You may even discover you are lacking skills for the industry of your choice and therefore choose to invest in yourself by gaining a qualification, doing some formal training or a course. Remember, success is not instantaneous; rather it is a process that requires planning and premeditated steps.
  3. Your experience tells a story– getting the grades is only half of the purpose of university; the other half centres around your experience. Thousands of people can go to the same university but grades aside, what will distinguish you from the rest is your experience. Maybe you were the treasurer of the dance society? Or helped with charity fundraising and ran for a student union position? Such experience not only indicates you possess a variety of skills, it always reflects your character; you’re likely to be a go-getter, a team player and someone who is driven. And it is this experience- and the traits they indicate that is going to carry you the extra mile when applying for jobs. So, if you are applying; whether that be for a full-time graduate job or simply a summer job before starting your postgraduate reflect on your experience and ask yourself what exactly you got out of it- good and bad; both types of experiences count!

Essentials for University

So you’re heading to university soon, congrats. Everyone says it’s a life changing experience- and maybe they’re right- but the the truth is the more prepared you are, the better the experience will be. To make your life easy I’ve compiled a list of uni essentials.

Gadgets

Having a laptop means convenience- you can work in your room instead of having to rely solely on the computers in the campus library. When buying a laptop you
preferably want something lightweight that you can easily carry around campus. If your laptop is quite heavy- you can opt for a tablet; by design they are generally lighter than laptops and usually cheaper too.

university-sign
Independence is on the horizon!

Take precautions and make sure you buy protective cases and screen covers for your gadgets too!

Data Back Up

A hard drive can be used to back up your computer’s contents and that of your USB’s just in case you lose the data on either. Other alternatives to a solid hard drive could be by using online forms such as iCloud, Microsoft’s One Drive, Dropbox or Google Drive.

Stationary/Calendar

These are useful for keeping yourself organized and sticking to deadlines.

Post-it notes are a great way to remind yourself of things you need to do urgently. They can also be used to write summaries of chapters or key quotes needed for essays and revision.

Post-It tabs are good for bookmarking important pages for future reference; they can be labeled too. This is handy especially for library books which you have to avoid writing on or folding pages.

An A3 paper sketchpad is great way to brainstorm ideas or make collages presentation posters.

Academic calendars are useful especially if your commitments transcend your studies e.g. volunteering, part-time job(s) or society events.

Railcard 16-25

This card allows you to get 33% any National Rail ticket you book which is very useful for any students that are studying long distance. It also makes it cheaper to visit friends studying too! The railcard comes with two options; the year long card- which is 30 pounds- and the three year card- which is 70 pounds. The rail card also entitles you to discounts from restaurants, theatres and other experiences.

Santander offers a four year free railcard to all their student account holders.

Insurance

Accidents happen. One day you can be drunk and accidentally smash your phone.  Or your tablet may accidentally slip off your desk. To avoid hassle in such ‘what if’ situations it’s good to have your important possessions insured. This means they can be replaced fairly quickly; which is a relief especially if what is damaged is very valuable. Endsleigh are the most popular provider of insurance for students; they even offer discounts if you insure more than one item with them.

Most student accommodation will automatically come with contents insurance but it is good to double check just in case. Contents insurance means you are covered if anything is stolen from your room, or maybe even damaged e.g. by leakage or flooding.

Uni Days app/ NUS card

The NUS card can be used as a form of ID and enables you to get multiple discounts. It is 12 pounds a year but a portion of this money goes back to your university’s Student Union to help fund it. Unidays on the other hand, is free! It doesn’t have as much discounts as the NUS card but the little offers it does have are quite varied.

Many times just carrying your university ID with you to shops will also get you offers; but not as many as you would get with Unidays or the NUS card.

Student Bank Account

Upgrading your bank account to a student one is vital. There are many banks to choose from, but remember you can only have one student bank account, which is intended to receive your maintenance loan. You have two main options when choosing an account; you can either upgrade your current bank account. Or you can choose a different bank to hold your student account. The great thing about these types of accounts is that you aren’t charged interest if you go into your overdraft.

Many websites such as savethestudent.com offer useful comparison guides to help you choose what bank is best. Things to look out for would include the overdraft maximum, the interest charged on the money in the account and the incentive offered by the bank. For example, NatWest offer a coach card to all student account holders which give them discount over National Express coaches.

Other bits and bobs

In terms of other household things such as drying racks and kitchen utensils; the best thing to do is buy them the first day you move in to your accommodation. This means you avoid buying things in London and transporting them to Leeds, for example, when you could have just bought them all in Leeds.

Documents such as your passport or birth certificate and NI documents may prove useful; so take those along if possible.