Friday, September 28, 2007

Why I Love Bad Customer Service

Today I came into work with a message from a new customer on our answering machine. She wanted us to know that her co-worker had received the gift that we sent out for them and was "completely blown away" by it. She loved everything that was sent in her "Road to Recovery" basket and thought it was 20 times bigger and better than the gift she was originally sent.

We were given a nice budget of $120. Apparently they were unhappy with first gift company that was used because much of the food products were out of date and the recipient thought the gift looked like it retailed for about $30. She couldn't believe that both packages had the same budget.

I live for calls like this!

The first company used was found on the internet, was not local and appears to be primarily a wire service of sorts that uses affiliates across the country. By going through so many middlemen, it is difficult to give a good value. It is also hard to control the quality of what is sent. You get much better results if you find a small, local company that you are dealing directly with.

Moral of the story is: Support your local small businesses that give you good service. In today's economy they need your business to ensure they will be around tomorrow. In return you'll get your orders handled with extra love and care!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lottery - Week 2

This is my week to buy 5 sets of lottery numbers. I have to admit I was a bit intimidated. I waited until the last day which is today.

I left work a little early tonight, at 4:15. First I had to stop at the bank to make a deposit. Then I had to decide where to get my winning ticket. I chose the supermarket nearest to my house as it was on my way home.

As the automatic doors opened, I picked up a shopping basket and made my way to the "Guest Services" line. I felt a bit nervous. I've never bought lottery tickets at the grocery store. I also am a novice at this form of legalized gambling.

I was in luck, there were several people in line which gave me time to get my bearings. On the second attempt, I found the correct form for the Mega-Millions game. My plan was to pick my own numbers, using at least one of the combos from last week that I felt good about.

I borrowed a pen from the service desk and pulled out last week's not so lucky ticket. The lottery form looked like a punch card. As I tried to find the numbers to x out, I found the numbers on the card blurry and almost impossible to decipher. Reading glasses would have come in handy.

The line was starting to grow, but lucky for me it was slow going. I gave up trying to make out the numbers and changed strategy. Instead of choosing my numbers, I made pretty patterns with my x's. This took me back to my school-days. I would do this on multiple choice exams when I did not know the answers.

I overhead two men behind me in line talking about a recent winner who didn't realize he had been filling out his card upside down until after he finished picking what turned out to be the winning numbers. This story gave me hope that being sight impaired might enhance my chances of winning.

I had just finished my picks when it was my turn for service. I was a bit uncomfortable and nervous, like I was buying something illicit. I held my breath as the clerk ran the ticket through the machine.

The card was rejected. The clerk studied the ticket to see why. "Come on, come on, come on..." I said silently as I squirmed.

I had forgotten to pick the + number in each row.

"Do you want to pick the numbers or have them done on auto-pick" the clerk asked.

"Auto!" I tersely answered. I didn't want to hold up the line.

The card was put through and rejected again. The clerk scanned my ticket and discovered that I picked an extra number on one line. I guess I was too focused on pattern making and trying to pick in a hurry. He asked which number I wanted to get rid of and I randomly picked the number 12.

At this point I felt eyes burning into my back like lasers and I wanted this to be over. I took a deep breath and hoped the machine would finally spit out my ticket. Thankfully it worked!
I snatched my change and receipt from the cashier.

I took my empty basket to fill with a few random groceries to justify my trip. I hurried through the checkout line and to my car. I felt a rush of adrenaline.

" I did it!" I thought to myself. I called David on my cell phone. " Do you feel lucky?"

I told him I would email the numbers to him when I got home. I also confided being proud of overcoming my fear of buying lottery tickets. He told me that I should feel good about myself.
I was doing a good thing. I was making a donation to our schools and helping pay for my children's education.

A few more hours to find out how we fared.

I feel like a winner already!

Update - Later the same weekend

P.S. In case you are wondering we did not win. In fact I only had one number right. Hope David does a better job this coming week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Child Labor in the United States

While activists take aim at sweatshops and factories that violate labor laws overseas, there is a growing problem here in the U.S. This issue affects children as young as pre-school age and is common place in our Elementary Schools.

It starts out seeming innocuous with fliers and booklets that are sent home in September. Soon the propaganda is spread in school assemblies. Before parents realize it, their children are brainwashed into becoming door to door salespeople.

Armed with catalogs of gifts, gourmet food, candy, wrapping paper and more, our children are enticed into sales positions by promises of prizes. Fueled by pep rallies and peer pressure, our sweet innocent children take to the streets to beg our neighbors, friends and family members to buy their wares.

We have developed a " Just Say NO!" policy to these fund-raising tactics. We prefer to make an outright donation of money that the school would have received from our sales, had we participated. The last thing I want to do is buy or sell items that I have at my store or have wholesale access to. Why would I want to buy $6 or $8 rolls of wrapping paper that I can get for $2 or $3? We also save the time and stress involved in cornering "victims" into buying things they probably didn't need.

Having three school-age children , we usually get three copies of sales materials. We either return or recycle two sets, keeping one set, which is placed on a table near the front door. It comes in handy when other children ring our bell to sell us items we do not need. We whip out our stack of catalogs to reverse the pitch.

That usually sends folks running!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Put a Fork In It!

My friend David called me yesterday to inquire what I thought was the proper shade of pink for Breast Cancer. Baby Girl Pink or Shocking Pink? He had a client throwing a party for Breast Cancer who wanted to have "Breast Cancer Pink" Mums planted around his patio.

I thought the standard color was baby pink. I asked a co-worker and she thought the same thing.

I guess it's trendy now-a-days to throw parties for diseases! We're taking theme parties to a whole new level. I wonder what type of food is going to be served? Will the host go to the local "naughty" gift shop and get ice-cube, jello & cake molds in the shape of breasts? What about putting out bowls of "Peppermint Nipples" mint candy? Will there be party games? How would Colin Cowie ( a premier party planner ) throw a party in honor of Breast Cancer?????

Anyway David only had two choices of pink flower spray dye to use, Baby Girl Pink or Shocking Pink. He decided to go with Shocking Pink. When I asked why he made that choice, he explained that the lighter shade might go noticed and that the bright shade would be much more dramatic. He went on to say "There's a saying in the Gay community. It's not done until it's overdone!"

I think I am going to have a party for Prostate Cancer. Meatballs and Cocktail Wienies anyone????

Monday, September 17, 2007

Free Money

The other day I was driving with my favorite 6 year old back-seat driver. Out of the clear blue, he asked me if I could take him to National City Bank. When I inquired why, he told me he wanted to open an account there.

"Why do you want to switch banks?" I asked.

"Because you can earn points and get free checking!" he replied.

In the discussion that followed, my future banker explained what he thought free checking meant.
He thought you could write checks for whatever amount you felt you needed, to buy what you want. I then had a case of deja vu when I explained how checking accounts work.

I remembered back to when his oldest brother was five years old and we were in the Wendy's drive thru line. We had just come from Karate class from which he had recently received his membership card from Nationals.

As I was digging in my purse to pay for our meals, he stopped me.

"Here Mom, I've got this!' he proudly announced while handing me his Karate ID Card as if it was a credit card.

After choking back the laughter, I politely declined. Later that evening, we took a walk as I explained how credit cards work.

I think that's how a lot of adults get into credit card debt. Their parents never explained that there is no such thing as free money!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Didn't Visualize Hard Enough!!!

Well, I didn't win the lottery last night. I suck at visualizing! I was at a luncheon last week with a motivational speaker. There was an audience participation part where we had to close our eyes and visualize where we want to be in life. I couldn't bring myself to shut my eyes. I was in luck, our Life Coach-Speaker had her back to me.

I could not help but look around the room. I caught a woman across the table peering about with one eye open and the other shut.
"Ha!" I thought. "What good is visualizing with only one eye closed? At least I made a commitment to keep both of mine open."
Besides, what's the worst that can happen? If I get caught by fellow attendees, they are in the same boat. If I get caught by the speaker, she'll take me off her prospective client list!

That's my problem in life. I have no goals, unless "Winning the Lottery"counts as a reasonable objective. I prefer to go where I am led rather than lead where I go. I think this makes life more fun.

Oh, shit! How the hell am I going to win the Lottery with that kind of attitude? I better go buy THE SECRET book. It's my turn now to buy the next set of numbers and I will need all the help I can get!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Winning the Lottery

A few hours from now, I am going to win the Mega Millions Lottery. Actually, I will be splitting the jackpot with my friend David. For the past 24 hours, I have been visualizing our big win.
Isn't that the "Secret" to winning in life?

This week is the first week of our joint lottery venture. We made a pact to take turns buying $5 worth of numbers each week. We plan to start our own village with the jackpot. Kind of our version of Mayberry. A town where everybody knows each other and there is a sense of community. Community and accountability!

That's the problem with society today. No one is accountable for their actions. Our citizens are more mobile and are not as connected to their township like the good old days. Neighbors keep to themselves. There is a disconnect.

Back in the days of Mayberry RFD & the Andy Griffith show, if something of consequence happened, the whole town knew. If Opie was out of line, he would have to answer to Aunt Bee and his dad, Andy Taylor. This was a village where you could raise a child!

What would you do if you won the lottery? I bet you'd want to live in our "Mayberry" town!

Less than 2 hours to go! Gotta visualize some more.......

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Note to Paris Hilton & Michael Vick: Thanks for finding God, I didn't know he was lost!

Sex, religion & politics are the three topics that are taboo for conversation at cocktail parties, yet makes for great news! Lately God has been making the celebrity gossip/news headlines.

".....I have become much more spiritual. God has given me this new chance." - Paris Hilton quoted from a Barbara Walters interview.

In response to his guilty plea for involvement in dogfighting and animal abuse:
"We all make mistakes," said Michael Vick
. "Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I reject it ... I found Jesus and turned my life over to God. I think that's the right thing to do as of right now."

This week at the Emmys, comedian Kathy Griffin created quite a stir with her acceptance speech.
"A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this. He had nothing to do with this," Griffin said. "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now."

I was a bit surprised at the level of protest over Kathy's remarks. Of these three celebrities, I found Ms. Griffin's remarks the most honest. While I feel what she said was in poor taste, especially for an awards show, she had achieved the "buzz" she was going for. I can't help but wonder to what degree her remarks were influenced by so many "A-Listers" recently "finding" god.
Come on people, Kathy Griffin is a shock-value comedienne ! There is nothing virtuous about her shtick. Do you think God wants credit for her award?

I am more offended by celebrities like Paris Hilton and Michael Vick who announce to the world that they have "found" god, as a way to erase their sins and gain public acceptance. I rank their sudden re-birth as believable as the now popular "48 hour Rehab"!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sea Monkeys - Making a Comeback!

When I was a child, my parents would not let me buy Sea Monkeys. I really wanted them! I was sucked in by the ads that were placed in the comic books we read back in the 60's. I was convinced that this is how they looked. ( see above image ) I fantasized about growing these tiny underwater people and how they would be my tiny pet-friends. My dad refused to let me waste my allowance on brine shrimp.

Almost 40 years later, I came across this blast from the past in one of the wholesale toy catalogs that I have at work. I once again felt the urge to own these mail order pets.
I asked my boys what they thought about Sea-Monkeys. In addition to the picture in the catalog, I showed them a few actual images from the web. "Ew!!! They look like mosquito larvae!" was the response.

Yet when the Sea Monkeys Magic Castle boxes arrived at my shop, the same kids that were repulsed, suddenly wanted to take a kit home. Even though my boys were aware that the images on the package, is not what "Sea Monkeys" actually look like when hatched, they still had to have them. This is the power of good (albeit misleading) packaging!

The Best Sea Monkey Story

This past week, I was at a gathering where somehow the subject of Sea Monkeys came up in a discussion of nostalgic toys. A gentleman in our group, also a child of the 60's , was lucky enough to have owned these sea creatures. That is until his sister's friend drank them!

Why would someone drink Sea Monkeys?

Apparently the teenage friend was drunk and mistook the glass container the Sea Monkeys were in for a glass of water. She vomited after she realized what she had done. She also was afraid that she might become pregnant from swallowing these tiny sea creatures.
What would these hybrid babies look like? How would she explain this to her parents??? Who would put their beloved pets in a glass of water?

This would never have happened if only he had owned the Sea Monkey Magic Castle!!!