Category Archives: Complaining tactics

Only Child on people’s stupidity wasting my time

Your customer service rep today

Lately I’ve been getting up feeling that there isn’t too much to look forward to for the day – or I have one or more nagging problem to face. Even today, on an untypical winter’s day. Sun is shining and it going to be warm – 54 F on the old scale.

I’m feeling better now and I think it is because I’ve been busy tackling my time and getting back on track with starting my workday on time. I also re-recorded my voice mail message – much shorter and to the point – starting with if this call is personal, please call… and I state when – not during my business hours. I also mention when I will take calls for writing and editing. And I finish with “Or leave a brief message. Thank you.” Emphasis on the “brief”.  I don’t want your life story as some do. Now, with long messages, I will delete them once the life story finishes, that is.

I also thought a brief summary of some of the ridiculous problems I’ve been dealing with the past month – at least 90 per cent caused by “outside”, i.e. I didn’t cause them; they were caused by big business, government, other people, etc. But I’m stuck with fixing the problem. So, here is a short summary of the most ridiculous. People can be so stupid. WARNING: I name some names.

1. I belong to CARP – the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (a misnomer as members can be anywhere over 45 and many of us are not retired). But they are good with advocating for our rights as older people, especially to  government, plus you get deals with things like insurance and pharmacies and they publish the Zoomer magazine. But apparently their in-house administration needs some fixing. My membership runs out the end of February according to my membership card. For the first time I did not receive a renewal notice (I’ve been a member for more years than I can remember) so I phoned earlier this month. My “new” card arrived a week ago – dated February 2018. What’s wrong with this picture? i phoned and complained and asked for a correct new card to be sent to arrive by the end of the month, send it priority post if necessary and that because they screwed up I deserve that – this latter after they said it takes two to three week to send it out. Well, they didn’t listen -priority post would have gotten it here before now, which is one week later.

2. Empire Life Insurance Company which has had my life insurance policy for years and increases the payments every year, but never tells me ahead of time or how much. Just sends me “threatening” letters six months or so before the fiscal year is  up or after, stating that my policy will  be cancelled if I don’t pay X$ right now. I have repeatedly phoned them on this, stating I have no problem paying any quarterly increase that starts with each new fiscal year – but they have to let me know what the quarterly increase is. This year I did the math on the amount they say I owed until August 1 (fiscal year end/start) and it works out to the two quarterly payments I still owe when I am billed for each quarterly. I was just going to pay the current quarterly when the annual nasty letter arrived. This time I think I got someone who has some idea what she is doing and she said she would put a note in my file that I requested receiving notice of the actual quarterly increase a month before the fiscal year end/beginning and to just mail in the actual quarterly payment due now and the next one in May. Which I did for the quarterly then due. And I have complained about Empire Life to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and they said they don’t cover life insurance – just car and property insurance companies. I have also looked into getting life insurance elsewhere but have been warned to be careful here. Maybe I’ll go to CARP again on it and see what they have to say. Oh! When I get my new correct membership card.

3. I wasted last Thursday morning on the phone with Dell Canada trying to extend the service warranty on my leased desktop PC for another year. I might have been asking for them to deliver the sun and the moon. Except for instructing me how to do a check on the hardware in the computer to make sure it was all working (it was 100 per cent), the customer service rep in the finance department I got didn’t know what to do (she kept putting me on hold to check with her supervisor) and I had to repeat several times what I wanted and how I was going to pay for it. She finally gave me a quote and transferred me to someone else to take my payment info. Then back to her and after waiting some time she told me that there was a problem processing it but it wasn’t my card – it was Dell but she worded it like the problem was connected to me paying with a card. After being put on hold for more time, I hung up and tried to call back (to get somebody else) at the number she gave me. I got the usual Dell runaround from operator to operator to wrong country to wrong department until I landed back at the original place – but with la different rep who knew what she was doing. She got me a quote and it turns out the first rep had quoted higher because she had included a laser printer. Huh? I don’t have a Dell printer and that was never discussed with rep No. 1. This rep No. 1 had emailed me a “how am I doing?” email – twice – while we were still talking and there was a link to her supervisor. So I emailed him to complain. Got a quick reply and he wins the prize for stupidest person on the earth. He said the first rep. did it right, there was a “tool” causing the processing my order problem (Tool? We weren’t gardening or doing house repairs here? Did he mean software?). His grammar and spelling were atrocious for a supervisor. And he didn’t even apologize. But I may have gotten my just desserts in all of this, though – when I filled in the survey form that came in yesterday.

The list goes on. But that’s enough. People can be so inconsiderate and stupid.

So, I’m looking out the window at the sun shining and hoping I can go for a walk at lunchtime.

What is one stupid problem caused by someone else you had to deal with? And how did you deal with it?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Something to look forward to in a few months

 

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Filed under Complaining tactics, Consumer action, Insurance, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Snafus, Zoomers

Only Child Tallies 2015 and previews 2016

Only child ponders 2015 and 2016

Only child ponders 2015 and 2016

I know I’m a day early posting but I’m experimenting – might change to Mondays for weekly postings after last week. Then I wrote the post on Monday but set it to go live Tuesday at noon. But I wasn’t too clear about when exactly I was writing and with the weather timing, it became confusing when it was posted as I had set it.

2015 has finally come to an end. It was a roller-coaster year all over and personally. Here are a few highlights of the bad and good – not just personal. And I promise it will only be some – if I put all in, it might fill the proverbial book.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (in no particular order)

Health:

In the past 13 months four friends have been diagnozed with cancer. The first of them is clear after one year. And my friend next door has a very aggressive lung cancer and is now undergoing chemo-therapy. I will talk about this more in another post about cancer. As for me, I have had to deal with an on-again-off-again respiratory infection for five months, going 85 per cent deaf for six days, new and old allergies (including a local allergic reaction to a wasp sting, an injury from a fall, and a dental emergency. Plus some of my usual health issues. Getting old is no fun. But wait a minute – my friend with cancer is only 50.

Weather – all over it is catastrophic – too much rain, too much snow, floods, floods, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like, too dry weather, forest fires, etc. etc. You name it and somewhere on this earth it is happening. Don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating? Go to the The Weather Network and check it out. My take here is it is a combination of green gas/climate effect and to quote what the lady on the bus back in May said “God controls the weather.”

On a personal level with weather, water got in the basement three times from rain – not a lot. But it isn’t supposed to be happening because it was all waterproofed nearly five years ago. It worked for nearly two years, then stopped. Attempts to get the contractor to fix it haven’t worked, so I mention his name to warn people not to hire him. Nigel Applewaite.

House repair problems – from iced eavestroughs and downspouts, to unlevelled toolshed, to broken rain barrels, to electrical upgrades, etc. etc. The latest – discovered New Years Day 2016 – a window with a non-working lock – suddenly – this is a year and a half old window with a lifetime warranty (well longer than I will live anyway). I have to phone the window company today and being the untrusting person I am from previous experience – there could very well be problems with how it gets fixed/if it needs replacing and if they try to charge me, saying I damaged it, which I didn’t. It stopped working; it’s defective.

Consumer issues – mostly with utilities from the long (month and a half) business with Rogers Cable taking 8 visits to find out the cause of the on-again-off again no service. I pay  my bills so that is not it. What it was is a cable outside between the poles – which I kept telling each of the seven technicians (one was sent for two calls – not two in a row) who came. Only the last one listened – a seasoned technician. He checked outside – yes, a cable needed replacing and he called in for the service technicians who do that to come in. Cable TV service was up and running within a couple of days. In November and early December , the digital cable adapter has been acting up – they are documenting that and it can be replaced if necessary. If so, I may have to pull my senior ticket to get someone to come here and install it for free. I haven’t a clue how to do that. But I’m hoping all the reception works fine.

The other utility screw-up was when I had to change my Enercare heating protection plan to the more expensive boiler one. Unknown to me, years ago. one of the previous companies (Enercare took it over) had signed me up for the wrong plan. The fellow I talked to said I could get the discount for the first year because it was a new plan for me. I also booked a furnace cleaning – included in the plan. A few weeks later after I received an email about this plan with the full rate being charged, I phoned Enercare. Not only had my furnace cleaning appointment mysteriously disappeared, they were saying I wasn’t allowed the discount for the plan itself. I kicked up a big fuss and finally got a supervisor, who said they would check the recording of when I was signed up and get back to me. I was told I couldn’t book a furnace cleaning until then, but I called in again and did so. And I wasn’t pleased with this techs cleaning summary – he never said anything except that all was okay – until I got the electronic version of the checking – my furnace which is 13 years old got a rating for a 20-year old furnace. But I finally heard back about the heating protection plan. Yes, I had been promised the discount, so I have it.

Computer problems – including the old desktop computer with Windows XP finally not able to handle all programs. My son, Martin to the rescue who helped me get signed up with another Dell Lease . Microsoft’s bad move trying to shove Windows 10 at those of us who have either Windows 7 (that’s me) or Windows 8.1 on our computers, including “accidently” downloading it on some people’s computers. That, plus any new PC will have Windows 10, and the not-so-good screen setup for good lighting and vision (tied into Windows) and trying out my son’s Mac laptop has convinced me to lease a Mac laptop this coming fall when the PC laptop lease expires.

Public transit problems – from city subway and other upgrades to service disruptions to VIA rail never failing to screw up the service when I return from holiday – no matter how my travel itinerary is set up. This latter has actually happened in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Never enough time to do what’s important – partly because of having to deal with some of the above such as the consumer and house issues.

That’s a sampling.

On the good side for 2015, I will mention now and elaborate in next week’s post on a few of them.

  1. My family, especially my son, Martin and his partner Juni – for their support, help, etc.
  2. My friends – same reason and for just being my friends – Margaret, Nola, Tanya, Marlene, Diane, Bob, Sheila, Reccia, Ellen, Rosemary, etc.
  3. My neighbours for their help – some are friends, too.
  4. My writing and getting books published, writing books, promoting my books including presentations with other crime writers,  my writing group, my clients – the list is endless here.
  5. My health – what works – I can still walk, hear, see (the latter two have some “getting old” features), talk (some people probably wish otherwise).
  6. Good books to read
  7. Good TV programs to watch.
  8. Cooking, trying new recipes, and eating, too.
  9. Walking around and exploring Toronto.
  10. My garden – despite tree problems. I miss the garden now in the cold snowy winter weather. Spring to fall going out in my garden even just to sit calms my nerves, gives me hope and peace, that not all is bad in the world.

These are only a few. May we all have a good, prosperous and interesting 2016 without a lot of the bad stuff from 2015 or new bad stuff.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under cancer, Complaining tactics, Computer problems, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Faulty Contractors, Floods, Gardening and depression, God, Health, Help and Support, Martin Crawford, Only child, Public Transit, Railways, Rogers Cable TV Service, Time management, TTC bus and bus station upgrades, VIA Rail, Weather

Only Child tells tale of two photo ID ops

Only Child getting ready for photo ops for photo ID

Only Child getting ready for photo ops for photo ID

It’s all in the level of government you tackle. The Municipality of Toronto (Ontario, Canada) may have a questionable character as mayor, but their TTC consumer service is sure going great, and I suspect improving a lot since Andy Byford became the head honcho at TTC.

Not so Service Ontario and its “parent” ministry – the Ministry of Government Services. (I spit on that last word).

So, the baddie first.

Last Saturday was almost a repeat of the previous Saturday’s venture to the Service Ontario centre near my residence. That includes it was again raining, again I waited ages for a bus, and again a line-up inside the Service Ontario Centre, which again kept moving.

Finally I got to the head of the line and with a different counter clerk this time. I might as well have been dealing with a brick wall. This bitch did clarify that the paper certificate isn’t valid but also wouldn’t accept the laminated version because she said it didn’t have a registration number. Bitch No. 1 the previous Saturday said they accept laminated versions. I was so upset I said I’m a journalist and I’m not letting this one go and stormed out of the place.

It wasn’t until I got home and had another look at my laminated birth certificate card that I noticed –yup, it does have a registration number.

I went to work online and used my journalistic research skills. First I found more rules and regulations for obtaining an Ontario Photo ID card. The only reference to a laminated birth certificate card was in the footnotes to the tune of if your original birth certificate says that any laminated version is void, you can’t use the laminated version. Well my non-valid original birth certificate was issued decades before laminated versions came along.

Then Ms. Google came through with finding out which Ontario Ministry oversees this photo ID business. Found a complaint form and did a generic form of my story (no personal information was allowed except I put in I was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada – but so were a lot of others) and I did mention the actual Service Ontario Centre giving me grief.

They got back to me two days later by email. Are you sitting down? It gets more ridiculous. The reply clarified that my paper documents isn’t valid and why. Okay, I accept that. But for the laminated one they said that any issued after 1982 isn’t valid. (Mine was issued in 1970) and it is up to the individual Service Ontario clerk whether to accept the laminated version or not). Monty Python would be proud. For some reason their dead parrot skit is running through my mind.

My next step was to forward the response from the MGS (including my online form complaint to them) to my Ontario Member of Parliament with a few comments to start off the email and a request to help me get my Ontario Photo ID using my valid laminated birth certificate card. And I gave my phone number and times when I’m available in case the MPP prefers to phone me.

Next step will be the media.

Now the goodie – the TTC.

Yesterday morning I phoned the TTC Metropass department to find out how to get my adult pass changed to seniors effective next month when I officially become senior. The fellow said he could do it over the phone and after a few questions (like my birthdate, name, address), he said the seniors metropass would start from December and would be in the mail for then. Plus the lower amount will be deducted monthly from my bank account (I will save about $22.25 a month). Then he transferred me to the TTC photo ID department.

The lady answering the phone was polite and told me that I would only need my Ontario Health card for ID and that they were open to 7 p.m.

I showed up there around 6.20 p.m. yesterday and I couldn’t be more impressed. These young counter clerks, late teens to early 20s, need to be complimented publicly for their professionalism, concern, helpfulness and friendliness. Actually the guy standing by the short lineup (mostly students for their cards) was probably closer to earlier 30s, but he checked my Health Card and then I went to the first clerk behind the wicket. At first she said I was too early and to come back the last week in November (because I’d have the actual Dec. senior card received in the mail) but when I explained that I had called earlier in the day and wasn’t told this, she said she remembered speaking to me. She said to save me another trip, she would issue the card but I wasn’t to use it until Dec. 1. I agreed. That makes sense.

The poor guy who had to take my photo – three tries but that was me not standing in the right place. But he was friendly and helpful and the picture turned out okay – just a bit of glare on my glasses. My new photo ID card spewed out in one minute flat.

I was out of there in five minutes.

Service Ontario you need to take a page from the TTC.

I still need the Ontario photo ID as it is a substitute for those of us who don’t drive and have no driver’s licence. The TTC one doesn’t have an address on it and can’t be used cart blanche.

The battle against Service Ontario and I suppose MGS continues.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Complaining tactics, Consumer action, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Sharon A. Crawford

Only child learns lesson in banking service

Only Child ponders that banking situation

Yesterday I had an experience with my bank that throws out the usual premise of  “big banks, big bucks, low concern for the lowly customer.” It might have been because I was polite when I complained instead of my usual storming in and shouting.

To backtrack. It was the first day after the long Canada weekend and I expected somewhat of a lineup inside the bank.  I had to go in as I had to get into my safety deposit box. When I arrived, counting a couple of older adults (well, older than I am), nine people were ahead of me, including the two standing at the only two working tellers. This bank branch has four teller wickets. A third teller, a fellow I’d never seen before had the “another officer will be pleased to serve you” sign up and was busy doing whatever tellers do when they close but still have to finish up. The lady ahead of me in line told me she’d already complained – to a loan officer as the manager wasn’t in and that third “teller” with the closed wicket was really a teller. I waited in line 20 minutes and during that time counted 12 people and one dog behind me in line.

The teller usually takes you to the safety deposit boxes, but because they were so busy she had another staffer do this. Clearly, he’d never done the safety box detail before and I had to instruct him. I maintained my civility with him and the tellers – none of this was their fault.

And maybe deep down in my subconscious I remembered another visit to another bank years ago right after my mother died. Her pension cheque had just arrived and my godmother-aunt came with me to deposit it in my now late mother’s account. I had no idea if I could do this but my godmother said it was okay as I was just depositing it into her account, not cashing it. And I was going in as me, so my name would be on the deposit slip. In my memoir I write about this scenario.

What I do remember is something else connected to money. Mom’s pension cheque for August arrived just after she died.

My godmother takes me to Mom’s bank…

“Just fill in the deposit slip in your mother’s name and deposit the whole amount,” my godmother says. “Don’t even tell them she’s dead. You can do that in a few days when the cheque clears the bank.”

I hold my breath, keep my mouth shut and pass the deposit slip (copy made for my records) to the teller. As she looks at it, I imagine someone, God, my conscience personified, but definitely not my Mom, shouting in the teller’s ear.

“Julia Langevin is dead.”

The teller rubber stamps the cheque and the deposit slips, gives me one, and puts her copy and the cheque in her drawer.

The cheque clears. Of course the estate lawyer has to notify the company issuing the cheque of her death. They write back instructing me to return the cheque if it hasn’t already been processed,

(excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

The key words above are “if it hasn’t already been processed.”  The key word’s for yesterday’s bank incident could be “how to process.” I decided to phone head office and complain about the branch situation. No contact number was on the bank’s website so I phoned the general 800 number in the print phone book. Here a fellow told it me was the office of the president for complaining, and gave me a phone number…the French connection. Despite my French maiden name I can’t speak much French. So I left a cryptic message in English and checked online under the bank’s name and “president complaints” and found the English phone number.

I phoned and a pleasant man answered and took down my information. I made it clear that I gave full marks to the two tellers who were trying to cope. He replied, “thank you.” He took my name and phone number and said he would get back to me. I expected to wait a few days but it was more like a few minutes. The problem was one teller quit unexpectedly on the Friday, the third teller was a student who could only come in for the morning, and a new manager was coming in on Wednesday. And this bank representative apologized to me for the bad service.

So, is this a case of the old axiom of catching more flies with honey than vinegar? Or can bank employees – even connected to the president’s office – be polite and quick to sort out the problems?

Take your pick. Now, if only my bank balance could increase that easily.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only child writes

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Filed under Bank service, Bank service complaints, Banking, Civility, Complaining tactics, Only child, Only child memoir