New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, August 31, 2009

Addition to the last posting

Well, I was able to locate the name of someone at our local newspaper, something that the customer service unit was not willing or able to provide. I sent him a polite e-mail describing what had occurred, and copied his boss. He called back within fifteen minutes of my note, talked rationally with me (speaking negatively about their customer service vendor, which amused me somewhat) and I agreed to continue my subscription after he offered to have someone come to the house with the missing material from yesterday's paper.

He even agreed to contact my wife about the problems that her office has been having with the same organization. Not bad.

So, in the end, if we can complain about bad service, we should take equal effort to celebrate good service. I hope I've done that successfully here!

Modern American customer service

I hate to rant about anything, but I had an experience with which I'm sure many will identify.

We have a single local newspaper in my home area, and for the past few months have been receiving this publication via subscription on a Friday-through-Monday basis. We had gone without a subscription for some months due to my travel schedule and a general lack of interest, but resumed on the basis above. The only day where we really look forward to the paper's delivery is Sunday, understandably, as there's more content, plus we rely on the weekly retail fliers to determine what products might be on sale and we appreciate the coupons that are generally contained therein.

Yesterday during a leisurely breakfast my wife and I were perusing the paper and I could not help but notice that the comics were from LAST SUNDAY. I remembered because I am a Dilbert fan and remembered the previous Sunday's strip. I then noticed that the Parade magazine insert was also from the previous Sunday. Now I was curious, so I began to check all of the retail fliers and, sure enough, all of them were dates for the week of August 23-29.

I went to the phone and called the newspaper, as there's a number to call if you didn't get your paper, it was damaged or wet, etc. After navigating the maze of options in their automated system I reached a live person. She was apologetic but stated flatly that redelivery would not be possible, as I had waited too long to report my problem. I asked for the name of the circulation manager, and was told that this information was "not available at this time." After a few more questions she finally stated that she was "offshore" and unable to assist. I prodded and she noted that she and her entire service unit is in the Phillipines.

Now, be advised that my own company uses an organization in India for certain function, but none of them have direct interaction with customers. Nevertheless, I asked for my subscription to be cancelled and this polite woman assured me that it would be. She apologized for the tenth time and wished me a good day.

This morning, a Monday edition of the paper awaited me on my doorstep. I attempted to call the paper to again cancel the subscription but found no option to allow this. Nor did I find one on the paper's website, so I sent a customer service inquiry labeled "other" about an hour ago with a plea for someone to call me to discuss.

I'm still waiting.

Isn't it embarrassing that we have come to this level of indifference toward those who spend their money on our products and services? Similar experience recently with a national pizza chain....big mixup on when my carryout order would be ready, waited over 30 minutes, only to find that the pizza was there all along. I demanded my money back (they always have you pay BEFORE you wait) AND the pizza and got it, but posted something on the company's website requesting the opportunity to discuss with the franchise owner. That was three weeks ago, and I've heard nothing.

Given these experiences, I always take note of businesses that seem glad you're a customer, and act accordingly. I don't mind paying for good service, but I detest paying for bad service, especially when there's no discussion of the bad experience that accompanies the payment.

So my list keeps growing. You probably have one of these lists, too, whether it's an actual or a virtual list: a list of places with which I don't do business. I'd like very much to stop adding to it, but....

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Test message

This is a test post.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Time spent on the road

I just returned from a business trip to Las Vegas and observed a few things that I felt warranted comment:

The last three times I've visited Las Vegas I am immediately assailed by cab drivers telling me how bad things are there. I can tell that the volume of visitors is down just by looking around the airport, but I'm still not quite sure what a cabbie would like for me to do about the situation! It's just me back here, pal, and I'd like to help you out, but....

I remain astounded at what folks will wear in a place like Vegas. No one I saw on the streets, in a handful of restaurants, in my hotel or in the airport was dressed in an objectionable way, but here's an example. I was passing through the airport on my way to my departure gate yesterday morning when I saw two men sitting side-by-side at a couple of slot machines (first thing to remember about Las Vegas is that gambling opportunities can be found in MANY places!). As I got closer I noticed that they were both wearing replica soccer jerseys and speaking with a Scottish accent, and likened that to me wearing a University of Kentucky football jersey. Then as I passed, I noted that they were both wearing kilts that coordinated (nicely at that) with their jerseys. Later when they boarded their flight I saw that they both were wearing the tradtional belted leather pouch in the front, ostensibly to keep that kilt from blowing up in the breeze.

I've often thought of buying knickers and long argyle socks for the golf course, a la the late Payne Stewart, but I don't have the build to pull off that look.

The other prevailing sentiment that I want to convey this morning regarding my travels this week is that someone, ANYONE, needs to do something about the absurd amount and size of baggage people are bringing onto airliners these days. When fuel prices spiked and the airlines all struggled for ways to increase revenue, the layup for most of them was to begin charging for checked baggage, with fees increasing for the second bag and beyond. Now, let's be clear...I'm as frugal as the next guy, and don't want to squander money needlessly. But at some point there needs to be something done about what's brought onto planes and the endless delays it causes while people search for a place to stow their oversized, overstuffed, expandable "rollaboard" that's large enough to house a litter of puppies. I'm fortunate that I have frequent flyer status on a couple of airlines (about the only real benefit to traveling extensively as I do) and I board early and can always stow my luggage without a struggle OR have the option of checking bags without charge. But I know everyone does not enjoy that benefit, so it looks like someone will have to do something about this before luggage compartments begin falling from the ceilings of airliners nationwide from the sheer weight of all of these bags.

Enough complaining, as I arrived home safe and sound with nothing lost or broken. And I don't have to do this again for a couple of weeks, so that's even better!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lost lions

Politics aside, one has to privately thank the late Senator Edward Kennedy for his many, many years of dedicated public service.

Lots of things have been said and written about him over the years, but, like him or not, he has left an unmistakable record of achievement in issues that affect all of us every day. He was well respected by his own party and the opposition, a rare feat in American politics. I hope that when I reach the age of 77 that I have put together a similarly extensive and impressive body of work.

Speaking of great Americans, I'm in the midst of reading Douglas Brinkley's wonderful book about Theodore Roosevelt, "The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America." TR was a fascinating figure in American history and his legacy transcends politics, as this book illustrates so completely. If you like history it's (so far) a great read!

Where's Harry Truman when we need him so?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The risks of blogging

Did you see the news item about the blogger who was sued by someone about whom she commented on her blog? Now the blogger is apparently suing Google (the owner of this hosting portal) for "outing" her. I suppose I'll have to be a little more careful with my opinions than I thought!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, here we go

I've read a lot of blogs over the years since they first came into existence. Some are/were good, some not so much, but they've all had at least something that first caught my interest.

I hope that's the case for you with this blog. I'm not famous, I don't have advanced degrees in anything, but I do have 49 years of life experience and I am what I would consider to be a pretty normal person. Hopefully we'll find some common ground.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the blog's name, that phrase has rolled around in my head for a long time. To me, it typifies "real life" in that in "real life" we take the good with the bad. Good: I got new shoes! Bad: I got caught in a heavy downpour IN MY NEW SHOES!

I'll be posting stuff here that I find interesting, amusing or at least worth a comment. I welcome, encourage and even beg for your feedback to anything you read here!

Thanks for visiting. Less about me next time--I promise!