In reply to M0DFA:
Geoff 2E0BTR (with Mrs. 'BTR) and myslf just went into the Kidderminster store to see how exactly our mileage would vary. I set about removing poles from their packaging (which is designed such that the process is non-destructive) and threading them together. The first two pushed through at an unsuitable joint - third or fourth down (I didn’t pay particular attention other than it was definitely within the “useful zone”). The third attempt yielded more useful results - it was the top joint that pushed through. As we intended to discard the top two sections, this suited us fine.
The deputy manager was stocktaking but a few feet away, as well as a store assistant - neither seemed to notice our antics. I took the two duffers (poles not parents) to the D.M and explained that we had read on here of the bad batch and that those two were faulty and liely to be returned if sold. We also explained the condition of the one we took, as well as the faulty units purchased by others at Shrewsbury and Wednesbury. She seemed politely grateful and interested and said she would inform the store manager.
I would say that overall this batch looks to have a poorer quality finish that the one I have from a previous batch, and the one I had from an even more previous batch, though we have managed to find a useful one it does not look quite as polished as mine. YMMV.
Dave M0MYA (for the next few days)