Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Frustrations

I had lunch with a friend today who said sometimes she doesn’t want to read my blogs because they make her sad. It’s a Catch-22 because she knows I speak the truth about my life and wants to know what is going on, so what to do? I really do try to develop positive mindsets, but I guess the blog-worthy stuff tends to be the more difficult things…

I don’t have a great topic today. I have spent the last 24 hours dealing with cell phones. Mine hasn’t worked properly since January. When I say that, I mean it totally stops making phone calls or sending texts. It’s as useful as a paperweight. My dad was eligible this week for an upgrade.

I know I have mentioned before that the age of consumers is close to dead. I’m an intelligent woman with four businesses and a Master’s Degree. Yet I think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the hell is even going on nowadays.

First, let me say that seeing a Verizon logo on a store does not mean that the store is a corporate store. That is the first thing you need to know. How do you tell the difference? The only way I can tell is to call the Verizon number and ask. An authorized Verizon retail store is still not the same as corporate. They don’t have the same information and services, but they certainly want you to think they are all alike.

For example, yesterday I took Dad in. He wants a simple phone. No touch screen. No internet. Eligible for an upgrade. I ended up paying $108 for the phone, and will pay a $40 upgrade fee on my bill as well. They make it sound great because you get a $50 rebate eventually. I still thought it seemed like a lot considering it is only a basic phone and he was entitled to an upgrade.

This morning I called Verizon because I was having problems with his texting. In that call, the wonderful woman on the other end said she noticed I’ve been a Verizon customer for over 15 years. What do I think of them? I told her I was trapped. Verizon has the best actual phone service out there. But their customer service has sucked the last few years. After we talked for a few minutes, I was already in my car driving back to the store before I got off the phone with her.

Turns out my dad’s phone should have only cost 99 cents. Yes, you read that correctly. If I wanted to buy the phone outright, it costs $89. That joker told me yesterday if I bought the phone it would cost $349.

I could go on and on and on with all the explanations and excuses and reasons I’ve been given today. In the end, I don’t care. I understand businesses have to make a profit, but PLEASE. This was ludicrous.

Literally four hours later, Dad and I both have new phones and paid reasonable amounts after going to a CORPORATE store. But now I’m back in idiot mode. I couldn’t even figure out how to answer the damn thing. I have a long list of questions that I have to figure out. I’m sure I will spend many more hours on the phone and computer trying to set up the phone and use it properly.

On a good note, while I was blogging, the woman I spoke with on the phone actually called me back to see how things worked out. She gave me her email address to contact her, and has set up follow-up appointments to check in with me. I told her she gets a special paragraph in the blog 🙂  So customer service isn’t dead, but it is barely breathing. It is now 5:15 and I’m well aware that I have lost another almost entire business day just trying to get things to work that are supposed to work.

Yikes. Sigh. Eye roll.

Tomorrow is another day.


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Dying, Not Dead

I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru to get my 54 cent ice cream cone. The kid on the speaker was exceptionally friendly and pleasant. When I got to the first window, I asked if he was the guy that took my order. Yes, he was. I told him how nice it was to be treated in such a friendly manner and he grinned from ear to ear. He told me he tries to make a difference every day. He said about once a month or so, someone makes a comment like I did and it makes his day.

I chuckled and told him about the blog I wrote entitled “Customer Service is Dead.” He asked for the web address. Then he asked me to promise him I would write an update and let everyone know there is hope in the world. I gave him my word.

I drove to the next window to get my ice cream and asked for the manager. She walked over with that look on her face. You know the one. “Now what the hell happened?” I told her the boy at the first window was fantastic and again I saw a grin from ear to ear. She said they love him there. He’s a great kid. Very active in his church, pleasant, helps people all the time. Then she said, “You know, there isn’t much customer service to be found these days.” So I told her about my blog too.

So here you are, young boy who brings hope to the world. If you actually read this, please send me a comment.


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It’s Official: Customer Service is Dead

We all need vacations or getaways to stay refreshed and keep perspective. I remember after Tim died, two of my friends took me away for a night. We went to Skaneateles and did a spa day. It was just what the doctor ordered.

If I ever needed a break, it has been in the last couple of months. My vacation to Virginia Beach fell through which was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Except, just when you think you can’t take anymore, something else happens…

My consolation prize was a night away in Lewiston, NY at the Barton Hill Hotel. It’s not the beach, but I figured it would at least give me a breath of much-needed fresh air. The package came with a massage. I ordered the groupon deal after calling the hotel to be sure it had the services we wanted. Then came the first blow. After purchasing it, I called to make the massage appointment. Oops. No appointments available until after we check out of the hotel. Yes, you read it right. I checked with them before I purchased the thing. But you know how it is. The hotel desk is a few feet away from the spa desk. They can’t possibly actually know what they are talking about, even being in the computer age.

I’m a reasonable woman though, right? So they said they would give us late checkout so there would be no issue with getting the massage, being able to shower and then leave the hotel. It wasn’t the best, but it was a pretty close second. I got through the beginning of an exceptionally tough week (more serious issues than the norm like suicide and rape) by counting down the days til my getaway.

Here’s the short version of what happened.

Check in at hotel. Drag all your stuff up to the room, only to find the keys don’t work.
Drag all your stuff back down to the lobby and wait for new keys to be programmed.
Get to the room, discover the clock/radio doesn’t work. No music. It gets replaced.
It takes FOUR trips to the lobby to actually get the towels that were requested.

MOST DISTRESSING ISSUE OF ALL: the door to the room doesn’t even actually lock. It can be pushed open. All our stuff is in there and we are leaving for the day. Back to the lobby AGAIN. We are told that it is a humidity problem (which we suspect isn’t true) but are told they will check on it immediately. When returning to the room after dark, of course our door still was open. Luckily, nothing was stolen.

Now I have to admit to myself that I guess I’m not a reasonable woman after all. I mean, who expects their hotel room to actually be secure? Most places you go to, even the shadiest of motels, don’t have a locked door. That is just too crazy of a thing to hope for when you travel. Right?

After traveling to a different floor for ice buckets and ice (because they are not easily accessible), I wake up in the morning to discover the bucket had leaked all over. My cell phone was laying in a pool of water. Nice.

But hey, look at the bright side. We go for our complimentary breakfast on the terrace at this “beautiful” inn (that is if you don’t mind all the water damaged ceilings and other run-down aspects) and are pleased to find that it consisted basically of cereal and toast. I’ve stayed at cheap motels with better breakfasts than that.

The kicker? We go for a walk in the morning and decide to just double-check on the arrangements for our late check out time. Even though this was literally the FOURTH conversation I have had with the staff about this, suddenly there is a huge problem. They are booked for the weekend so they can’t possibly accommodate us. In fact, it appeared from the looks on their faces, that we were crazy for even thinking that was a possibility. Check out time is literally in the middle of the massage time and that is too bad for us.

A manager? I want to speak to a manager? Silly me. There is none on the premises. Of course not. Literally every employee we talked to looked like they were in high school or barely graduated. No idea how to handle a business, much less one fraught with problems.

In disgust, the massages were canceled and we checked out EARLY.

Now, everyone is allowed to make mistakes. I make enough of my own so I try to be gracious to others. But what I can’t stand, is when a person(s) doesn’t take responsibility for it.

After countless phone calls, emails, and other such follow-up, here is what happened:

Nothing.

The hotel offered a free night. Are you kidding me? I’m no dummy. That doesn’t cost them a cent. I kindly explained that we have no desire whatsoever to ever set foot in the place again. I want my money back. I work freaking hard to be able to afford a getaway. I needed to be refreshed and instead I paid for a stress-filled 24 hours. So the hotel says, sorry. We would love to give you your money back, but the deal was through groupon so their hands are tied (which is also a lie, but I’m willing to work with it).

Groupon? I could have fell over when they told me that… guess what? The hotel refused to allow them to give me a refund. So they gave me money off my NEXT groupon purchase. Not much better than the hotel offering a free night. I WANT MY MONEY BACK, or at least a portion of it. Disgusting. Like I want to purchase another groupon offer in the near future.

I shouldn’t be surprised. The old me would have shrugged my shoulders and made the most of it. The new me isn’t wired that way anymore. I’m pissed off and can’t seem to help it. I needed to do something for ME after exhausting so much energy day after day helping other people. I just want what I paid for. Is that so crazy?

So it is official. The age of the consumer is no more. I’ve already wasted enough energy on this. The Better Business Bureau lists complains similar to mine. In the end, the hotel just refuses to do what’s right, so what’s the point?

Anyhow, I’m trying to find something clever and funny to end with. My creativity seems to be lacking. Must be because of the lack of soul refreshing that was sought after and not found…lol.

Moral of the story? GO TO VIRGINIA BEACH!!