The best in a long time

The best in a long time
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Yesterday I was throwing up my arms in frustration over getting nowhere with clueless and incompetent staffers. I did mention, however, there was one (and sadly only one) shining example of great customer service that I’ve encountered here in a long time. Good customer service is hard to come by so this is worth raving about.

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I called the company’s hotline and was put through to Person #1, then Person #2, then Person #3 and I had to repeat my story 3 times. Sound familiar?

Turned out 3 was the magic number. Quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. The number of times I’ve been given the runaround, I’ve learned not to expect too much. But I was in for a surprise this time. For a start, Person #3 was asking the right questions and making sense. That’s got to be a good sign, right?

At first, he said it couldn’t be done. They’d never had anyone ask for this before. But I told him technically it can be done and that he should go ask Department X. Well, basically I explained to him how it would work. Oftentimes, I find it speeds up the process if I suggest possible solutions and get them to check it out rather than to wait for them to figure it out. It kinda reminds me of the days when my staff would come to me and say, okay, I’ve done this and that but it doesn’t work, and I tell them, but have you tried this, this and this, now go and don’t come back till you figure it out. Sometimes staff just need their butts kicked, gently, of course.

He said he wasn’t sure (it takes a great person to admit they don’t know) but he promised to look into my problem (and an even greater person to go look for answers instead of making up a whole load of bs which is quite the trend these days). He said he would call back. I half-believed him. I’ve been lied to too many times. I asked for his name in anticipation of having to track him down like I’ve done with all those people who promised to call back but never did.

My phone rang within an hour. That was quick. I had 3 missed calls. I was in a basement parking lot where the reception was poor. Point is when he couldn’t get me the first time, he kept trying. Most people give up after the first try as if they expect me to drop everything and sit there all day waiting for their call.

He had checked with Department X and it would take a couple of days for them to do what I suggested. Wow, I’m impressed! He promised to call me back and I believed him. He did call a few days later to get me to test the fix. He said he would give me some time to test it and he would call me back in the evening.

And he did! And the fix worked like a charm! And my problem was solved!

See, THIS is what I call customer service. He did everything right. I never met the guy but he’s one darned good customer service rep, the best I’ve seen in a long time. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. So I’m writing an email to his company to commend him on a job well done. How’s that for a happy ending?

Getting nowhere

Getting nowhere
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Man, where has the week gone? These non-stop days show no signs of easing up. I drag myself out of bed at the unearthly hour of 6:00am. This is wa-ay too early to be up on cool mornings like we’re having now. But get up, I must.

Sometimes I feel like I’m running a marathon. Time to put on my running shoes and I’m off with Tonto HipebDaughter1 by my side attacking that endless to-do list with a vengeance. Errands, errands, errands. There’s never a shortage of clowns to deal with wherever we go. Good thing there’s always something to laugh about, not right there but later. Case in point, true story:

Me: My daughter wants to open a savings account please.

Staff hands me a change of address form.

Me (puzzled): This is not the right form.

Staff (looks at form): Oh. (hands me a housing loan form).

Me (puzzled and p*ssed): Er, wrong form.

Staff (impatient): You want to apply for a credit card?

Me (losing patience): No!!

Staff (completely clueless by now): Oh, internet banking, right?

Me (totally losing patience): No!!! I just want to open a savings account (for crying out loud!!)

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Really? Which part of savings account do you not understand??!! At this point, I’m ready to yank her out of her seat and take over her spot as bank officer at a major bank!

It’s people like her that make my day so much more fun 🙄 . There’s lots more everyday scenarios like this and I’m sure everyone’s had their fair share of dealing with clueless and/or incompetent staffers, just that they’re probably too wimpy nice to talk about it. To be fair, not everyone is clueless and/or incompetent. In these past few months of running around like a crazy woman, I’ve met one customer service staffer who actually knew his job, followed up as promised and went out of his way to help.

So yeah, I look at my watch and an errand that should take no more than a half hour can sometimes take triple the time to accomplish. Is it a wonder I’m getting nowhere with my to-do list? *sigh*

Rear-ended

Rear-ended
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I have often lamented about how insane driving has gotten over the years. And so it has finally happened. Reason #279,301 why driving is a real hazard these days!

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My minivan got rear-ended by a monstrous city bus yesterday!

Was this a surprise? NO, absolutely not!

As it happened, HipebDaughter1 and I went downtown and there we were, trying to turn onto an impossibly busy road. I was at a full stop and actually looking and waiting for everyone to pass before turning out. Frankly I didn’t even know there was a bus behind me I was so busy craning my neck to see when it would be clear to turn.

I was just beginning to roll forward when boom! Clearly I wasn’t moving fast enough for Mr Bus Driver. He confessed that he wasn’t paying attention when he rammed into the back of my minivan. That’s nice, with 50 people in that bus, you weren’t looking where you were going? you should be real proud of yourself!!

Strangely enough, I didn’t even flinch when I felt the impact and heard the boom but HipebDaughter1 was slightly shaken up.

I’m a super cautious driver from years of driving with my kids in the car. I don’t take chances with the way people drive these days. They’re either on the phone, don’t know the traffic rules, don’t use their brains, plain don’t care or all of the above. So if this happened to me, it could happen to anyone out there.

Of course, I’m hopping mad. My first thought was, doublya tee eff! Honestly I don’t have time for this, I really don’t. I have 300 other things on my to-do list. The last thing I need is this mess and my minivan ending up in the workshop. So yeah, there are good days and there are not-so-good days. This just happened to be one of them. But I’ll get over it 😀 .

Just your regular grocery run

Just your regular grocery run
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HipebDaughter1 and I were out and about on a weekday. It wasn’t crowded so we took our time over lunch and were in an incredibly good mood as we walked into the grocery store. And then, bam!

The grocery store had run out of plastic bags. Hello?! People were cradling their fruits and vegetables like babies. We had managed to snag the last few bags before they ran out and people were eyeing us like hungry hyenas.

We got to checkout in one piece, only to be met by an incredibly rude cashier. Who knew such a sweet young thing could be so vile? What was that they say about never judging a book by its cover? Yeah, that!

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When she swiped my 2 boxes of cookies, I noticed we were being charged regular price. Yes, I do keep an eagle’s eye on the prices. I have to, after the many times I’ve been ripped off when the prices on the barcode are somehow conveniently higher than those at the shelf. Not cool.

I pointed out the price discrepancy and she gave me an exaggerated eye roll saying that’s the price on the barcode and where did I even get this whole idea? Don’t you just love it when store staff assume you have nothing better to do than stand in line making up prices to kill time?!

Well, I tried not to say anything. But I couldn’t help myself. I think it was the lime juice, much too acidic. So I told her off about the promo price being right there on the shelf. Most other cashiers would’ve run in to check and just rung up the items and we’d be out of there.

But Ms Eye Roll went the extra mile and shoved said items plus promo sticker at us and rudely gestured us to pay for them at Customer Service!! And so for all her trouble, we felt we just HAD to leave her management a glowing report of her stellar performance.

We had to stop and pick up some other things at the grocery store down the street and there were these incredibly long checkout lines. Only 5 out of the umpteen counters were open. So what else is new?

Along comes a little old lady (who incidentally looked and behaved exactly like her) and coolly cut into the line right in front of our cart. Like many queue cutters, she feigned innocence pretending she couldn’t see us or the long line of people who’d been standing there long before her.

So there’s our regular grocery run for ya. Even such a routine thing can be so much fun! Have you ever encountered people like this on your grocery run? Or maybe yours is even more interesting. At any rate, we’d love to hear about it.

From kitchen helpers to budding chefs

From kitchen helpers to budding chefs
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And we have lift-off… in the kitchen department. Hip2bDaughters have picked up the skillet and spatula and swept me off my feet with their cooking skills. I wonder where that came from?! 😉 Well, it all started when Hip2bDaughter1 and I went to Cali for Hip2bSon’s graduation and Hip2bDaughter2 had to stay home. For the first time in her life, she had to make some of her own meals. Here are some pictures she sent us of her cooking.

Doesn’t this look amazing?

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Chicken Pot Pie, heck yeah! Hip2bDaughter2 wants you all to know I cooked the filling for her before I left for Cali, and that she merely assembled this dish. Which is good enough for me. When I was in high school, I’d never even fried an egg on my own, let alone assemble a pie!

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Hip2bDaughter1 too has recently been inspired to pick up the spatula. This was the Dijon Chicken she served us last weekend. She says she can’t take all the credit because I created this recipe and she was merely putting it all together. Still, I didn’t lift a finger. She did it all.

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Hip2bDaughter1’s first attempt at Red Potato Salad was inspired by the gorgeous red Australian potatoes we came across at the grocery store. Best potato salad ever, what can I say? So it’s goodbye, russet (for now), hello, red.

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And her latest rendition of a new (to us) chicken recipe served over pasta.

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I couldn’t be happier, of course. I’ve always encouraged my kids to learn to cook. Cooking is a life skill, a very important one, I might add. In order to eat healthier, we just have to get in there and get cooking, no two ways about it. Ordering the “healthy” items when we eat out isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be when we have no control over its preparation. So I’m glad my teens are getting in there and dishing it out 😀 .

Your turn: What are some skills you encourage in your kids, or hope they will develop? And why?

Now this is what I call service!

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We’ve been making several trips to McDonald’s. With a 40-piece crispy, crunchy (not soggy!) chicken nuggets going for $8+ a pop – are you freakin’ kiddin’ me? – who can resist, right?

On one particular trip to the drive-thru, Steev ordered a lunch set. I forget which one but here’s what happened:

Steev: Um, isn’t this set supposed to come with 2 Cokes?

Drive-thru server: Um, no, just one.

Steev: Oh, I see, okay, I thought it was 2.

Drive-thru server: Okay, no problem, I’ll give you another Coke. Here you go…

What was a recent experience you had with great customer service?

Of stereotypes and luggage space snatchers

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And so it is that when some people find out you’re going away on vacation, they’ll stay up nights to draw up their shopping list for you to take on your vacation so you can shop for them. It’s inevitable that something like this would happen. Growing up, I’ve seen often enough how the grown-ups have been “obligated” to take on such burdens for the sake of not offending someone.

I don’t like to impose on people. I say it’s their vacation, let them enjoy themselves without the burden of your demands hanging over their heads. Since I don’t do it, I don’t appreciate people doing it to me either. If it’s not out of the way and luggage space is not an issue, I might do it but no guarantees. I’m certainly not obligated to do anything on my vacation time except to have myself a great time. Fair?

Inadvertently the friend of a friend (Friend#2) who lives in the Bay Area heard about us coming to town and immediately informed us they had some gifts for us to bring back to our mutual friend (Friend#1). Apparently Friend#2 visits Friend#1 three times a year and he can’t bring those gifts himself? Amazing how some folks think nothing of inconveniencing other people!

Oh, Friend#2 offered to put us up in their home and show us around San Francisco. Being that we don’t know Friend#2 + wife from Adam+Eve, I’m not particularly keen to stay over at their house or have them show us around. This is our family vacation. If we’d wanted to travel with a bunch of strangers, we’d have signed up for a guided tour. And we know San Francisco like the backs of our hands so we really have no need for a couple of self-appointed tourist guides.

As expected, he insisted. We said no. How about lunch or dinner? he insisted. Obviously some people can’t take no for an answer. Finally we had to spell it out – we’ve planned our hotel booking and agenda, thank you very much. I know some folks are all up for exactly this sort of free ride with complete strangers anywhere in the world. I’m not “some folks”.

The issue remained that we still had to meet up somehow so they could pass those gifts to us. Friend#2 suggested we met at the Coach outlet where his wife wanted to do some shopping and where, he told Steev, he was “sure your mom would be shopping” too.

So here’s the thing. Without ever having met me, how could he presume to know me or what I like? Big question mark there! The only thing left to say is, so sorry to disappoint you, old chap, but I don’t do Coach! *faking a British accent, just for the LOLs*

Well, I do own one Coach bag, only one, which I bought wa-ay back in 1997 long before Coach was cool. Beautiful black leather! Classic design and very classy! Coach bags in those days were simple and classy, and rare, a far cry from what they are today. I’m so done with Coach!

But I’m glad he suggested meeting at Coach because it gave me the perfect excuse to send Steev as the messenger and not show up myself. Friend#2 had been insisting from the very start that he wanted to meet me. Unfortunately for him, the feeling is not mutual. I’m a very busy woman with a long shopping list to fulfill. At some store other than Coach, I’m afraid.

It was a bright sunny day but as soon as Steev showed up, it started to rain questions. Friend#2 wasted no time launching into a fullscale interrogation about our family. So typical. My kids know the drill. If you don’t make a hasty enough retreat, you might find yourself charting your family tree up to 5 generations back right there on the sidewalk.

Saturday Snippets 4

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I am officially tired.. of driving, that is. Some young college punk hit the back of my stationary minivan while I was sitting in lunchtime traffic just around the corner from Raine’s college. It comes as no surprise, of course, given that practically everyone leaves their brains at home when they jump in their cars.

I know there’s a whole movement of bloggers who have never had a bad day in their lives, uttered a single judgemental remark or written a negative post or rant. Well, I’m not one of them and frankly, I’ve had it up to here with stupid drivers.

True, there was no damage to my car but that’s not the point. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of an apology. People here don’t apologize even if they’re dead wrong. But I will give him credit for attempting a pseudo-apology, no doubt uttered defiantly.

That was yesterday. I’m glad it’s the weekend. The girls and I were up early. We don’t like to waste our weekends sleeping. I managed to get my workout in before we left for a nice, leisurely lunch at Friday’s followed by our weekly grocery run.

I’ve set up a gym at home so we don’t even have to leave the house to get our workouts. Woot woot! No more smelly gym with no air-conditioning, stinky air circulation and dirty old men who are there for the sole purpose of gawking. Why didn’t I think to set up a home gym sooner? It’s the coolest thing ever!

The one in a million

The one in a million
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Running errands isn’t something I necessarily enjoy. Mostly it has to do with me having to go into vulture mode circling the parking area trying to grab a parking spot. Apparently it’s not easy being a vulture when clearly there are no parking spots to be had in the first place.

Double parking is a fact of life if you live in this city where there are a thousand more cars than there are parking spots. I’m not a big fan of double parking but it’s simply not an option. The difference between me and most other folks though is that when I do double park, I never leave my car unattended. I usually bring someone along so they can sit in the car and alert me when someone needs to get out.

So there I was, double-parked at the bank while I scooted in for a few minutes. Raine was in the car and called me as soon as she saw the guy that I was blocking approaching. She told him to wait and said I’d only be a minute. And the guy replied…

It's okay, I'll wait (image credit: memegenerator.net)

It’s okay, I’ll wait??

No way he said that!! No one ever says that!! But Raine insists he said it not once but several times. The thing I’ve come to expect when I block someone’s car is that they’ll be blasting their horns, pacing up and down, pulling their hair, bending their fingers backwards, waiting to jump on me the moment I step out.

But here was this guy… with a huge friendly smile.

“That your car?” I asked as I sprinted past him. I came out right away. I don’t like to keep people waiting.

“Yup!” he chirped.

“So sorry, I’ll move,” I grinned as I jumped into my car.

What an absolutely nice guy, and how rare is that?! If everyone were like him, I might even be forced to change my mind about errands.

A kind smile and a little patience – it costs nothing yet it works wonders!! I like it… and dude, you definitely made this busy mommy’s day 😀 .

Have you met a nice person lately?

Skyfall, the sky is not the only thing that fell

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Okay, so we decided to make a movie night of Skyfall, the latest Daniel Craig Bond movie. Actually it turned out to be 3 movie nights because we fell asleep halfway through the first 2 nights and had to finish up the rest of the movie on the third night.

When you watch a Bond movie, you come to expect certain things. I’m used to Bond being dashing, debonair and dignified. Think Pierce Brosnan. Clean shaven and immaculately dressed, he is a smooth talker and infallible superspy who flaunts high-tech gadgets, never breaks a sweat and has women dropping at his feet like flies.

Along comes a stubbled Bond with disheveled hair and not so suave who spends more time chasing or being chased and sweating it out than strutting into a room and surprising the heck out of the enemy with his fancy gadgets. And the only two women in the movie were hardly your regular slinky, sexy Bond bombshells. It’s a whole different Bond.

Then, there’s Q. Looks like he fell into the fountain of youth. How on earth did the tall and stately Q become a skinny Korean-looking dude with a bad haircut? Shocking!

And Moneypenny. Since when did Moneypenny become a field agent chasing and shooting at bad guys? I seem to remember her as the demure secretary who flirted discreetly with Bond whenever he dropped by the office.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Sadly, even Skyfall’s movie plot had us scratching our heads. Excuse me but how did the chase for a disk containing a list of names that must never see the light of day become the villain’s witch hunt for M? Yes, M, the somewhat unlikely little old lady who is, or was, Bond’s boss? Did I fall asleep and miss something here?

After waiting 2 nights for Bond to reveal a swanky watch that can set off deadly bombs a mile away, or an unassuming pen that can launch missiles from out of nowhere, only to see him attempt to fight off an army of baddies with his father’s ancient shotgun! Heck, even his Aston Martin went up in smoke!

Where is Double O Seven as we know him? 😯

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