Monthly Archives: April 2015

Only Child deals with multiple snafus

Only Child down from running in circles

Only Child rests after running in circles

I’ve been running in circles today. Not only too much to do, but too many snafus to deal with at the same time. The worst part may be they are caused by others. Bad enough dealing with your own mistakes. And that’s why I’m late with this blog post. At least I made the day in posting.

Not going into a big long rundown of them all – but just for a taste here’s the really stupid one. There ought to be a string of jokes about bad banking deeds. Or maybe there is. The latest one to happen is on Friday I withdrew $30 from the bank – my bank, but not my branch. The teller gave me $30 cash but took it off my account twice. Sorting it out isn’t simple. When I caught it early Friday evening online back home, the bank branch was closed, so I had to call the main bank line for all branches. Nothing could be done because that branch is closed weekends but I got the Customer Services supervisor’s name and phone number plus the person from the main bank line said she was sending the info to that person now.

Yeah right. Not according to the Customer Service Super when I called her Monday morning. The latter might just be covering her ass because she hadn’t checked yet. So, once more I launched into my spiel and she said she would investigate and get back to me no later than Wednesday morning.

Today it was telephone tag. Her first call to me went into voice mail because I was outside dealing with a more serious snafu. “Snafu” may be a misnomer as this was some of the damage caused by God’s winter weather. Mike, my handyman and I were outside looking at and talking about the downspout and rain barrel damage and what he needs to do and cost. “One snafu at a time,” I said to Mike when I heard the phone inside ring.

Outcome (after several telephone tags with me stating when I was going out and not being listened to) was an apology from the bank’s customer service manager and the money has been credited to my account. Of course when I asked how the double posting could happen I got the loop answer. Maybe it was only $30 but going into May I have multi-bills to pay – all the utilities (some aren’t monthly) AND property taxes. At least Mike is understanding – I think he kept his work cost down and he agreed to let me come to the hardware store(s) with him so I can pay for the supplies with a credit card. The latter won’t need paying until June when the two extra utilities and property taxes don’t have bills.

The scary thing here is the cost for this property repair will probably be within ten or twenty dollars of the two utility bills and property taxes combined.

But the damage outside can’t wait until June. I hope all the stuff that needs repairs inside can wait until June.

I know. I need to go sit outside in my garden to relax. Wait a minute. Out front is the damaged juniper thanks to God’s extreme weather the past two winters. Out back is the rain barrel etc. stuff.

But Mike is coming Monday morning to fix the damage in the back – if it doesn’t rain then. I won’t be holding my breath.

I’m still going to sit outside and do some gardening. Maybe not this evening. Because this evening…

Nancy Bullis is interviewing me on Howl about my new mystery novel Beyond Blood at 10 p.m. this evening (April 28) on the University of Toronto radio station CIUT 89.5 FM. Don’t know if it is live-streamed online but you can check their website at http://www.ciut.fm/listen-now/

Howl is right. That’s what I feel like doing over all the snafus.

And I’ve only covered the surface of them.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bank service, Banking, Beyond Blood, Garden Destruction, God, Life demands, Money, Problems, Snafus

Only Child on what’s wrong with labour union strikes

Only Child  contemplates the strike issue

Only Child contemplates the strike issue

Back in the grey ages when I was 16, I learned a hard lesson about labour union strikes. As a teenager I had many pen pals (regular mail, no email then) and got close to some of them, particularly one living in Saskatchewan. I checked the mailbox regularly (and that included Saturday delivery then) for pen pal letters and replied soon after receiving them. I loved learning how my pals lived, and despite different living conditions, we all went through the usual teenage angst. We confided our deepest secrets and concerns to each other and often provided a lifeline. We were friends.

One angst not expected was a big postal carrier strike Canada-wide. No mail – in or out. I was devastated. But I learned a hard lesson – labour strikes don’t just affect the unions on strike and the employer – there is a third party, an innocent party – general public. From then on I have been against this so-called right to strike.

Now in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, a wave of possible teacher strikes has started. Durham Region secondary school teachers walked off the job yesterday. But something interesting happened. Instead of just the teachers picketing, a group of students held a demonstration and they were not supporting their teachers going on strike. The students weren’t taking sides and their message was for the teachers to get back to work as they (the students) loved learning and wanted to finish their school year. See the news story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/high-schools-closed-in-ontarios-durham-region-as-teachers-go-on-strike/article24025795/

 

Last month it was the TAs at two of Toronto’s universities – York and University of Toronto – who went on strike. Their strikes overlapped somewhat in time. Students did support the TAs but there was some scuffle with picketers blocking non-strikers driving in to one of the university campuses.

That’s not right.

This whole strike situation with third party suffering presents the analogy of two divorcing parents using their kids as pawns in custodial and financial battles. Because aren’t the third parties in strikes essentially pawns to get both sides to “smarten up” and settle.

Not fair. And that is the essence of my being against strikes. If strikes didn’t harm a third party and just affected the employer and employees I would say “go to it.”

Unfortunately that is not the case.

You’d think that after all these years of strikes being legal, people would see how damaging they can be. But history doesn’t seem to teach us much it seems. Sure, the powers that be (read governments of different levels) have stepped in – even making some services essential. For example, the City of Toronto has done this with the city public transit (TTC), police have had a no-strike rule for years. The list goes on – but it isn’t long enough.

And before you think I’m whistling Dixie, I have belonged to a union – but one where no strikes were allowed. And guess what – we got a good deal with increased wages and excellent benefits.

I think it is time an alternative to strikes was found. First, contracts need to be renewed when they fall due and that means both sides starting negotiations months before so a new contract is in place when the old one is finished. And maybe these unions with the strike clause need to take a page from those who aren’t allowed to strike. Binding arbritration. Often that is how prolonged strikes end up anyway.

And take a page from medical doctors’ Hippocratic Oath.

“Do no harm.”

The present strike setup sure doesn’t do that.

Just ask the students in Durham Region.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Arbitration, Ethics, Goverment Legislation, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child gets gardening finally

00240021Over the weekend we had lovely spring – almost summer – weather and I finally got out in my garden on Sunday. I cleaned off the patio table (bird shit – but at least it means the birds are back), brought out the rakes to the backyard. Took a side trip to the local gardening centre a few blocks away and bought some pansies. Some I repotted and all were set outside – on the patio picnic table, on an old baby’s porcelain bathtub I use to hold plants and on a couple of stands on the front veranda. Brought out a folding chair for the front. Even spent a bit of time sitting there reading and drinking some wine. And eating my meals out on the patio.

The garden is coming to life with tulip plants, irises, peonies, sedum, lamb’s ears, hyacinths, day lillies (the plants, no flowers yet), some onions that didn’t come up last year, chives, and my big surprise – a mum plant sending up new shoots. Usually these mum plants don’t do this – at least not the big ones I buy in the fall, even though they are supposed to.

The photo at the top is not from this year’s garden. It is what my garden and I aspire to. When there are some actual flowers, I’ll take photos and post.

So I got busy raking the grass and cutting off last season’s dead branches from the perennials. Lots to do here, but I am taking it gradually as it is too soon to plant anything new, although when I was growing up in the 1950s, Mom and Dad were out turning the soil and planting seeds – in April.

I am also assessing the damage done by God’s winter weather and what I need done – who will do it – and what I can afford to do. I have put it out there for all this to be fixed and where necessary for the money needed to do so to come to me.

I firmly believer that whoever causes damage must repair it, or at the very least, provide the tools (people, money, etc.) to do so.

But for now I will enjoy being out in my garden.

And doing a search for a new rain barrel. The old one and its setup unfortunately have to be replaced, “unfortunately” because it will cost me money.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, God, Home and Garden, Only child, Tulips

Only Child dismayed with bad customer service

Only Child  contemplates quality vs quantity of life

Only Child contemplates bad customer service

The past few days have brought me grief dealing with some retail. Not talking big box like Target or Staples, but small independent retail and one small chain. All businesses that I go to regularly. Now they seem to be forgetting this thing called customer service. Maybe they ate too many Easter eggs.

It all started on Saturday when I headed down to the Danforth shopping area in Toronto – it is called Greektown although many shops aren’t Greek. But the area’s charm includes it is not a mall but all street shops, the majority small, independently (sometimes family) owned.

My first stop was the shoe repair I had been going to for years. Usually the two brothers who own it go out of their way to help customers. One even delivered a mended purse to my door because it wasn’t completed at the time promised and I couldn’t return an hour or so later as I had a client meeting.

So imagine my surprise and dismay when I found a “Sorry, closed Saturday” sign on it. True, it was Easter weekend, but Saturday was not a stat. holiday. I had to carry my running shoes around with me as I did my grocery shopping. This closure seemed to get the bad vibes and bad service going wherever I went. And no, I wasn’t expecting that.

Among other items, I had to buy gluten-free rice crackers as I’m one of those supplying the snacks for an event this evening. I knew that No Frills carried them at a price I could afford, but I was trying to avoid that extra trip to another area.

Next stop was Healthy Planet to get some health supplements. While there I looked at the rice crackers selection and found one only 60 cents more than those at NF. The cashier rang them in – with sales tax. Excuse me. I told her there is no tax on rice crackers. She said they are a snack so there is tax. I said “Rice crackers are not a snack. I don’t pay tax on rice crackers when I buy them elsewhere.” She said something about that’s what they are set up in their (computer sales) system. I refused to pay for them, left the crackers and walked out.

I checked a couple more places for rice crackers. While no bad service, they sold only expensive rice crackers. I’m on a budget.

I also went to Strictly Bulk to get some Fisherman’s Friend. Those throat longezes cost much less there. They didn’t have the original version, just the cherry. When I asked if there were any in back, I got a no and when I asked when they would be getting in, the young clerk said, “next week.” She couldn’t narrow it down to what day but did finally call her supervisor. The supervisor’s answer? Sometime next week. They are doing business with the public and they don’t know when their supplies are delivered? (mental picture of me scratching my head here).

So, I finished my Danforth shopping, took all those groceries home on public transit, put the purchases away, and headed out the door again for No Frills Grocery chain store. Fortunately it is not far away from me. So I walked the three-quarter mile each way instead of taking the bus. Yes, they had rice crackers and even somewhat fancier ones than I usually buy at a price lower than those at Healthy Planet. So I bought two boxes.

This tale of bad service doesn’t end here. Yesterday, which technically was Easter Monday but only governments and schools had it as a holiday, I returned with my running shoes to the shoe repair shop on the Danforth. It was open but only one brother was there. In a somewhat unfriendly tone he said that his brother was away for a week so he wouldn’t be able to fix my shoes until next week and it would be better if I waited until then to bring them in as then they would only be in for two days. I mentioned I had brought them down Saturday and the place was closed. All he said was “I know.” No apology.

Sheesh! I can understand the brother taking a week off at some point. But around a long weekend? And it might have been better to stay open at least the Saturday to get some of the work done.

I’ll probably bring my shoes in there next week but I’m considering looking elsewhere after that. Don’t know where. There is a shoe repair closer to home – in a mall – but last time I checked there they wanted all the cost paid before they did the work. The excuse? People just left their shoes and boots there. Well, they could charge a small deposit. I do with my editing clients.

I can’t help comparing this to when I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s – there was an independent shoe repair place a 10-minute walk from home. You could sit and wait while they fixed your shoes. Now, I’m not expecting this anymore – way too many people needing service for shoes, etc.

But a little empathy and understanding for the customer might help. And what happened to apologizing in person?

All this makes you want to stick to the big box stores only.

Anyone else have some bad customer service experiences with small retail?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Grocery Shopping, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford