Posts tagged ‘customer service’

Customer Service: It’s a Gas

October is one of the months of the year when natural gas suppliers offer rates/contracts. I’m shopping because I got an auto-renew letter from my current supplier with a rate of 64.21/therm. I thought I could find a better rate. (I was right.)

Continue Reading October 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm 2 comments

Say Cheese

I mentioned previously that I’ve had a camera since age 8. About five years ago, I made the big leap from 35mm to digital.

I know we are not supposed to love things. But. I loved my Olympus, like an adorable pet, like an old comfy friend, like a cherished Christmas-morn toy.

It took a lot of convincing to get me to set my beloved Olympus (and it’s wonderful zoom and macro lenses purchased over the years) aside, and it took a lot of money to get a digital camera that would give me the quality and versatility I was used to. The keys to purchasing something new were the assurances (from the camera seller at Ritz Camera) that (1) digital cameras had become capable of providing the same quality and (2) the camera I was purchasing offered a variety of lens attachments that could be purchased later.

Now, I will admit the quality is there. And of course, the ability to know you got a shot before waiting to get pix developed is fantastic. Similarly, eliminating that sickening moment of realization that the film had not caught and advanced properly is beyond awesome.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to pick up an accessory lens. I’m heading on a vacation of a lifetime soon (walking tour in Ireland). And, if that doesn’t warrant a bit of a splurge on camera accessories, I don’t know what does.

I returned to Ritz. Not the same store where I bought the camera, but the same chain. They’d be able to help, right? They’d be able to fulfill the promises they made when I purchased the camera, right?

I began by asking if there was any possibility to get an adapter to put old Olympus lenses onto a Canon. Clerk 1 says no. I ask if it’s possible to buy a digital Olympus base that would take old Olympus lenses. She said maybe but she’d need to see the lenses. (Okay, you’re a kid who doesn’t know cameras all that well, that’s fair.) I asked what lenses they had available for a Canon G5. She told me that camera won’t take any other lenses.

I explained that, when I bought the camera (at a Ritz), I was assured I’d be able to buy lenses.

Clerk 1 asked Clerk 2. Clerk 2 explained that my camera can sort of take other lenses but you need an adapter and the lenses aren’t very good and the lenses are quite expensive for the quality you’d get.

Okay, well, can I see what you have?

“No, we’re in a tiff with Canon and aren’t selling any Canon lenses right now.”

Hmm. Can you show me any of the newer cameras that WILL take additional good lenses?

Clerk 1 gestured at the display case and then looked at me expectantly. I asked her to please pick one out to show me.

So, I looked, but there was pretty much no way I could rationalize buying an entirely new camera (plus lenses). It’s not just the cost; it would feel wasteful when I’ve already got a “good” camera, y’know?   

I was about to leave and had a thought:  Do you have any kind of trade-in program? They do! Can you tell me the trade-in value of my G5? Well, it depends on the condition. Well, can you give me a ballpark? Um, no. Well, could you look it up? Let’s pretend it’s in mint condition, just to give me a ballpark number.

I waited 10 minutes for “the program to load.”

And, going just short of a giving me a drumroll, Clerk 1 announced . . . $36.

I laughed out loud. Yes, you could characterize the sound as a guffaw.

I bought a good camera for nearly $800. A replacement plus a lens attachment is going to cost me about $1,000. And the trade in (for the camera you sold me by telling me I’d be able to purchase a variety of lenses) is $36?

Clerk 1 did not see the humor in this. She even felt compelled to underline the fact that I’d only get $36 if the camera was in mint condition. I really did try to stifle the next laugh. She looked a bit offended, poor thing.

Boy, it seems crazy that Ritz stores are going out of business everywhere, don’t it?

So, for now, I’ll stick with what I have. I have no tiff with Canon. But I still love my Olympus more.

Are there any good camera stores left? You know, some small shop tucked away somewhere, run by some old guy who actually knows something about cameras and appreciates photography? If you know of one, please share.

May 29, 2010 at 2:04 am 1 comment


About three weeks ago, I was sitting on an airplane with my work laptop. Never used the computer on a plane before; have always been more of a book person when flying. But, it was going to be a long flight, and I wanted some variety. So, I turned on the work-Mac, slipped in my ear phones, and sat back to enjoy some music.

But then the music stopped, and the screen went blank as the computer turned itself off. I turned it back on and got one of those international no symbols, with the circle and the slash?

Now, those of you who know me know I am a bit technology-challenged. You likely will not be surprised by the following confession.

I thought this meant I could not use the computer on the airplane. Not as in “you don’t have permission” but as in “we’re too far from earth or some setting is searching for something and can’t find it up here in the clouds.”

Those of you who are not technology-challenged know exactly what horror that symbol announced. But, for the sake of those like me, I’ll explain. The circle stands for “O crap!” and the slash is representative of the sound “pfft.”

My hard drive was gone.

I lost a lot of stuff. Including:

  • About a thousand or so family photos, slides, and movies that I spent about 6 months gathering and digitizing last year. Had been meaning to get those onto a DVD . . . and the road to hell is now paved with my baby pictures.
  • Every setting, add-on, preference, bookmarked web page, etc.
  • A few work files. (Computer gods be praised, I had done a backup not too long ago.)
  • All of my itunes, about 180 purchases and about 10 hours of uploaded (or is it downloaded?) CDs.

I thought my tunes would still be accessible because I had itunes (with the same login) on my home pc.

O crap!

I thought, well, they’ll be on my work backup server.

And pfft!

I figured, well, these were purchased electronically, and the company will replace them. Uh . . . not according to their Help page.

The Official Policy is, basically, “Tough beans you should have done a backup you moron.”

To my credit, I have done itunes backups previously, when leaving a job or changing computers. But . . . it’s been a while.

Well, after trying the click-here-ho-ho-try-this-ha!-how-bout-here?-omg-snicker-she’s-still-trying!-heh-heh snipe hunt for over an hour, I figured that was it. But decided it couldn’t hurt to send a note to someone.

I snagged the next Contact-Us email address I found (which was completely unrelated to my question) and sent a plea. I got one of those immediate emails that say things like “We got your question! And we’ll get back to you,” which younger, less cynical types might feel pleased or even hopeful about.

But I am in my mid(ahem)-forties. It’s been quite a long time since Hope swung it’s little hobo stick over a shoulder, flipped me off, and strolled out the door.


Get this.

I heard back from Apple the very next day. Got a very friendly, very helpful note from a customer service rep (who seemed to be a real person) that demonstrated empathy for the problem, provided easy-to-understand instructions, and granted me a one-time deal of replacing all of the music purchases I had lost. FOR FREE. Couple of clicks and it was all downloading.

I am still a bit astounded.

In this day and age when overworked-ness or over-lawyered-ness or budget cuts or just plain bad manners have amped up the Useless Jagoff Meter in nearly every aspect of so-called service, there is a company—that already has my money—that helped me? Even though their Policy says otherwise? And they did it for free, without secretly adding an automatic deduction from my checking account somewhere deep in the fine print? And they were nice about it?

This my friends is what I call the international symbol for yes:

April 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm 7 comments

Customer Service Jumps the Shark

Today at lunchtime, I went to a sub shop touting really great sandwiches in an old-fashioned atmosphere. (In other words, not a Subway; nicer seating than a fast food place but without menus or waiters.) Standing in line at the counter to order, I spied “cheese steak” among a sparse list of choices. Now, for the past few weeks, I’ll admit I’ve had an unhealthy, totally-not-vegitarian, artery-clogging, there-is-no-way-I’m-getting-one  hankering for a cheese steak.

My resistance to this point was aided by the knowledge that the cheese steak I was really craving hasn’t been made for 20-some years. What I wanted was a Delti Chi cheese steak. (And I say that with apologies to any college friends who may read this who will now also be hopelessly craving one.)

Nothing else on the list really appealed to me, so, with naughty glee, I stepped up to the counter. The conversation went something like this.

Overly Cheerful:  What will you have?

Me:  The cheese steak.

Overly Cheerful:  What size?

Me (looking up at the various signage and thinking, if I’m going to be bad, I’ll feel better if I just get the): Small.

Overly Cheerful:  What type of bread?

Me:  Um, what are the options?

Not Quite As Cheerful:  There’s wheat, everything, and sesame.

Me (thinking that none of those sounds like the basis for a good cheese steak):  Uh…

Overly Patient:  And, we have seedless. (Note:  Apparently, seedless is what normal people would call a plain white hoagie roll.)

Me:  Yes, I’ll have that.

Obviously Relieved:  Okay.

Me:  I’d like that without green peppers.

Back to Overly Cheerful:  Okay.

Me:  Do you have mushrooms?

She Finds This Question Very Odd:  No.

Me (thinking, who the hell makes a cheese steak without the option of mushrooms but for some bizarre reason, I am bending over backwards to be very polite because of that sorta-kinda embarrassment even the most grown-up or confident human being among us feels when forced to follow some secret process that the teenagers behind the counter expect you to be familiar with):  Oh, all right, no problem.

Rattling:  D’ya-want-mayo-mustard-ketchup-Italian-‘r-any-dressing? D’y’want lettuce? D’y’want tomato?

Me:  No. No. No.

Incredulous:  You don’t want anything else?

Me (hmm, she seems so surprised, I must have forgotten something. What did I forget!?):  Um, no?

Speaking Really Slowly:  Sooooo, you just want onions and steak…?

Me (smiling and laughing a bit, cause, ya know, on a cheese steak, one would assume you don’t have to ask):  Well, I want cheese.

Why The Hell Are You Just Telling Me This Now?:  What kind of cheese?

Me:  (Well, it should be provolone, shouldn’t it? Oh my gawd, the way she is looking at me? What if I get this wrong? I have the urge to yell “Mulligatawny!” It is provolone, isn’t it?): Um, whatever you normally put on a cheese steak?

Blatant Eye-rolling:  We have American, Swiss, Mozarella, Provolone…

Me:  Provolone, please. (omg, did I just say please? I did. I just said please.)

She mumbled something (she was standing there in person but as incomprehensible as if she were talking to me through a drive-thru speaker) and gave me a dirty look. I took that to mean that my order was complete, and I moved forward toward the cash register, too intimidated and rattled to even consider a side dish, a beverage, or a cookie.

So. It wasn’t the worst cheese steak I’ve ever had. But it certainly wasn’t worth the hassle or the 8 bucks.

I understand that restaurants think it is swell of them to let you have things your way, but it’s not like I walked in and said, “Hullo, I’d like a sandwich.” I ordered A Cheese Steak. And, I would be willing to bet that, to 99.99% of anyone who has ever ordered one, options like swiss cheese, “everything bread,” mustard, or Italian dressing do not even cross their mind.

Burgers are made for a variety of options. Same with hot dogs. But a cheese steak is a thing. It is very thinly sliced, fried meat; it’s cheese melted to that point of a moment before a solid becomes a liquid; it’s juicy enough not to require any dressing; and it’s all greasy enough to magically morph with the inside layer of the (seedless) bread.

That’s a given, isn’t it?

February 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm 6 comments

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive email notifications for new posts.

%d bloggers like this: