Category Archives: Consumerism

Only Child hits beauty scam in Toronto’s Yorkville

It’s a good thing I was a journalist for 35  years. My instincts about when to be wary and question what is going on are still with me. Like yesterday when I was walking along Cumberland St. on the way back to Bay St. and was stopped by two young men in dark suits standing outside 108 Cumberland. No, not Jehovah Witnesses. As much as some of us don’t like their tactics, at least they are real and upfront.

Not so these young men and the bitch sitting inside the beauty shop. One young man handed me a packet of some face cream and gave me a talk about it. I mentioned something about allergies and have to be careful what I put on my face and he lead me inside the store to show me something else they carry. At first I thought it was another sample packet, but he gave me a demonstration of some under the eye reducer of puffiness. Okay, so far. Then he opened a photo album and showed me some before and after photos of his mother who he said was in his 80s in relation to another product, an anti-aging cream

Then the bitch sitting at one of the tables jumped into the act. The young man at first said she was his eye doctor and she only worked three hours a day. But when she went full force into her act it was clear she was not that. She worked for this store and was probably the manager. She went into a big spiel about I look like someone famous (the name of who escapes me now) and I said I was not her but was a mystery writer. Her tirade went on something like this.

I have nice skin on my cheeks but there are wrinkles around my mouth and my neck is a disaster.

I was wearing sunglasses because the sun was shining and my eye doctor (a real ophthalmologist) says I must wear my heavy duty-prescription sun glasses out in the sun. Ms. Bitch said, “you won’t even remove your sunglasses for me.”

She tried some collagen cream on me – said it was hyper allergenic and then went into her try to get me to buy the product spiel. Non-stop she went and when I said I couldn’t afford it she said “it’s not that you can’t afford it, you are just cheap.” She said I should do something for myself and insinuated that writing was not doing something for me.

She obviously knows nothing about writing. Writers write because they have to – for whatever reason – but they are doing it for themselves; if for no other reason it is their creative outlet. But what does this bitch know – she is too wrapped up in scamming people.

I told her I needed to see if the product caused an allergic reaction before I even considered buying it. She said that I could return it in two weeks and get a full refund if I got an allergic reaction.

No! No! I needed to see if the sample gave me an allergic reaction first. But she kept on with her spiel, which included lowering the price of the cream and then saying she would throw in  for free he other product which the fellow had put under my eyes. She said one time offer and if her manager (who she said was away) found out, would not like it. Really? I bet she is the manager.

And the guy? He wasn’t as bad, but give him a few months more of practice. No way his mother is in her 80s as he is around 35. She would be just past menopause when he was born then. Do the math. The woman in the photo may not even be his mother.

Ms. Bitch kept pushing and pushing for me to buy. I finally said, “I don’t like to be pushed.” And walked out of the store.

I didn’t look back to see the looks on their faces. But I’ll bet they didn’t see that coming.

As I continued walking along Cumberland, I could feel some reaction with the cream near my mouth. I whipped out a facial tissue and wiped and wiped. Fortunately I seemed to have caught it in time. Strangely, the cream under my left eye gave me no bad reaction and actually reduced the puffiness temporarily.

Back at home, on my laptop, I did some Google Research. The number 108 Cumberland Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, appears to have three different businesses. One, Forever Flawless, seems to have been taken over by Lionesse Cosmetics and Bar. Lionesse Cosmetics is a US chain and has a reputation for these hard sells and some even call them scams – at least at their Cumberland Address and their Las Vegas address. The company is not a member of the Better Business Bureau in Canada or the US.  Here’s a link to what others who have run into this have to say about this Cumberland location on Yelp. And for their Las Vegas location. Read down a bit and you’ll see the scam part. Sound familiar to my experience?

I felt elated and empowered that I stood up to this scam – and without yelling at them. Just that one sentence “I don’t like to be pushed.” And walking out.

What do you think? Have you ever been scammed? Or caught a scam and ?

Comments, please. The public needs to be educated and warned.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Only child, Seniors

Only Child says beware telephone fraudsters

telephone_rotaryWhen I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s the worst telephone problems were wrong numbers, kids playing tricks with possibly the odd harrassing call. The funniest one my Mom, Dad and I received was from someone calling for a taxi. We weren’t a taxi company but we had almost the same phone number as the cab company, except for one number. The taxi calls were annoying but not dangerous.

Not so nowadays. Telephone fraud is running rampant. Sometimes I think it gets forgotten with all the online scams and frauds. But phone fraud is real and sometimes  connected to your computer.

We seniors have to be especially vigilant as we are prime targets for these fraudsters. I am a former journalist with a jaded suspicious outlook on life, so I am vigilant. And angry when these buggers call me. Often it is a recorded message – even when you mistakenly pick it up and don’t let it go to voice mail.

The past week it has been two calls in particular – coming repeatedly during each day.

One is the fake Canada Revenue Agency call that if you don’t call them back you could be arrested. If you call the number they will want you to pay thousands of dollars and they use the arrest threat. I haven’t called them back because I had heard of this scam before. In fact my friend across the street was getting them last week too (do they target by geographic region?) and after four calls he phoned the Toronto Police Services. So beware calls from this number with the message to call the same number back 855-888-5927. This is not the CRA. I haven’t called the police yet because my online research shows they and other regulatory organizations are well aware of this fraud and this number.

The second call (again recorded) claims to be from the CIBC (bank), a Mississauga, Ontario branch and the caller (a woman) even has the nerve to state “this is not a scam.” But the kicker, what alerted me was the start of the call  where it mentions the name of the person they are contacting. It wasn’t my name and the name was inserted into the recorded message. They gave a reference number (8581721) you are supposed to use when you call them back at 866-751-2167. I didn’t call them back but I did put a complaint (online) into the National Do Not Call list. I also finally put my name and number on their list for those not wishing to be called by Telemarketers – although there are some exceptions of who can still call. And it takes a month to be effective – telemarketers have to update their lists you know.

Third one I’ve been phoned on is the Microsoft computer fraud. First off it is not Microsoft doing this – Microsoft may be guilty of other things, but not this one. I believe the way this fraud/scam works is that after the caller says he is from Microsoft, he tells you there is a problem with your computer and you have to give him your password. I didn’t let the fellow get any farther than stating he was calling from Microsoft. The first one I called him on his scam and he hung up. The second one stayed on the line a bit longer saying “It’s Microsoft.” Not likely. Microsoft doesn’t call you. I finally told him if he didn’t stop calling I’d call the police and I hung up.

What can you do when you get a suspicious phone call?

Never give out any personal information, including passwords.

If you are suspicious, you can hang up – but if you can get their phone number that is even better. Then you can go to http://findwhocallsyou.com/ and type in the phone number. Or chances are there are many more who have complained about the same number. Scroll down their numbers and click on the comments. The fake CRA one is listed.

Call your police department.

If in Canada, there is the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre run jointly by the RCMP, OPP and Federal Competition Bureau.

Get on a national do not call list.

Don’t answer the phone, but take note of the number and time of call. Chances are the most insistent fraudsters will leave a message in your voice mail.

More information on what to do and what not to do is at the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre 

And yes, details about the tax scam is on their site. So are details about other current scams – phone and online and who to report to about them. There is information on how to contact them as well, to report a fraud instance, online or call 1-888-495-8501. The website is updated daily.

Unfortunately we can’t go back to simpler phone times. And if I sound like an old you-know-what longing for past days, you got that right. Our world today is not really nice in many ways. So be vigilant while trying to enjoy what is good – like books, gardens, food, friends and family (not necessarily in that order).

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only child prepares to battle telephone fraudsters.

Only child prepares to battle telephone fraudsters.

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Consumerism, Microsoft, Telephone Fraud and Scams

Only Child condemns high utility bills

Only Child  digging in her purse for non-existent money to pay soaring utility bills

Only Child digging in her purse for non-existent money to pay soaring utility bills

Like many other individuals I am going broke just keeping up with paying all the high utility bills. And only one utility service has a legitimate reason to raise the rates. Two of the others are penalizing the consumers for their (the company, not the consumer) mistakes. A few, like the phone company, cable TV service and property taxes are just normal rates tied into inflation. This latter I may grumble about but it is acceptable.

So, who are the two companies “stealing” from the consumers – why Enbridge Gas (and other gas companies) and all the municipal hydro companies as well as Big Daddy in Ontario – Hydro One.

Enbridge apparently can’t learn from past mistakes. For winter 2012 into 2013, gas consumption for heating homes rose. Enbridge didn’t factor this possibility into their equal monthly billing. Most of us got hit with an extremely high bill to pay off the difference at the end of the company’s fiscal year. That’s what I found out when I called to complain. Apparently they no longer raise the equal billing rates mid-winter season if necessary. Guess they received too many complaints about that set-up, but my guess is that not as many complaints as the number who complained of the year-end monstrous bills. Consumer advocate here (me) pushed for a deal and got the okay to pay half one month and half the next month.

So, the equal billing amounts were raised only a smidgeon for this 2013-2014 inter and we consumers thought we were getting a good deal – at least compared to what the hydro company was doing. Hah? Now the gas companies, including Enbridge, are raising the rates starting with April’s bill. Enbridge’s rate increase is 40 per cent while Union Gas (southern Ontario) is 28 per cent. Enbridge claims that it had to buy “more spot market gas” and that costs more. See http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/03/27/enbridge_gets_hefty_interim_rate_increase.html

My first question is the obvious one: why didn’t these companies factor in that we might just get another bad winter, if not worse and just maybe they might have to purchase more gas elsewhere? Hello consumer company big whigs – severe weather is now the norm – everywhere and every season. Tunnel vision doesn’t work.
The second question is – why should we consumers have to pay for their costly mistake – or at least to the tunes of 40 per cent and 28 percent, which the Ontario Energy Board okayed? This same energy board is investigating ways to make it not so bad for consumers to pay. Why couldn’t they hold off payment until they found a way? Talk about doing something ass over backwards. So, as usual, consumers are stuck. Those who have gas stoves and gas fireplaces will get hit even harder. Fortunately, I have just the gas furnace and water heater. And here I thought I was “lucky.”
To make matters worse, the head of the Industrial Gas Users Association, Shahrzad Rahbar compares it to getting a root canal and do you blame the dentist for that? Bad comparison. The dental patient may be responsible for dental problems requiring a root canal. But consumers responsible for a gas company’s mishandling of  their bad choices and lack of foresight? I think not – at least not to 40 per cent and 28 per cent all-at-once increases. See http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/03/28/natural_gas_rate_increase_angers_consumers.

I know – you have to turn on the gas furnace with an electrical switch and thermostat. Apparently that wasn’t always so. Back in what I’m now more and more realizing were the “good old days” you could get your gas furnace going without electricity.

And now for the other utility money-grabber and that situation is even worse. The gas companies are merely guilty of stupidity but Hydro One and all the Ontario municipalities (the latter have to base at least some of their costs on those of Hydro One) rate increases are for the wrong reason.

In a nutshell, we consumers are paying off Hydro One’s debts.

There is also another shady going-on with Ontario Hydro customers – some smart meters giving excessively high readings, causing some users to go bankrupt from over $2000 monthly hydro bills. Smart meters? Stupid meters. Stupid idea Hydro One and former Ontario premier Dalton McGuilty (McGinty). There are 600 plus complaints about this one to the Ontario Ombudsman so he has launched an investigation into these dealings. Some people say it should go much farther into a fraud investigation. See http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/ontario-ombudsman-launches-hydro-one-investigation-1.1670529

I can’t remember how hydro and gas bills were set up when I was a child (my parents had oil heating, not gas in our little bungalow) but we were billed for water at a flat rate. I’m not saying we should be billed a flat rate today. And water rates are going up on a continuing but scheduled basis. However, Toronto Water and Waste is doing something with this money. They are upgrading all the old sewers pipes, water pipes – the infrastructure that goes back 50 plus years, and doing extra on their part to stop basement flooding in Toronto areas prone to that. So, while I may complain about the high water rates, at least I know my money is being put to good and necessary use.
Unlike hydro rates, which despite the mess-up with some “smart” meters, has gone up three times in seven months.
Something is really wrong here. We can conserve energy (heating, etc. not our own personal energy) until the proverbial cows come home, but it doesn’t seem to matter much.
Come to think of it, with this situation, do the cows really want to come home anyway?
What do readers think? Are you experiencing similar utility hikes where you live?
Please comment.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Extreme Weather, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Weather

Only Child on more government/consumer issues

Only Child gearing up to tackle government depts and companies that screw up her life

Only Child gearing up to tackle government depts and companies that screw up her life

Last Saturday morning was grey, rainy and windy. A perfect premonition for snafus. If that didn’t warn me then my bus being nearly 10 minutes late should have.

It didn’t. And although I put it out there (God, universe – take your pick) to have things work out for getting my Photo ID card – they didn’t. So much for any smidgeon of trust.

No trouble finding the new Service Ontario outlet – a short bus ride from my home. Somewhat long line-up inside but it seemed to move quickly enough – until I got to one of the four wickets.

When I phoned the day before I was told for a photo ID card I needed a birth certificate, my Ontario Health Insurance card and my divorce papers (the latter bridgingthe name change gap as well as giving certified dates of marriage and divorce.)

The latter two were no problem. The unfriendly government employee behind the counter said my original birth certificate wasn’t valid – I needed one issued by the City of Toronto and this one looked like a church one – was it?

“I wouldn’t know; I was a baby then,” I replied.

Then I pointed out that the title said “Birth Certificate” and the part where the issuer was the City of Toronto in the County of York (back in the grey ages) and that it was signed by a Toronto City registrar. She wouldn’t buy it so faxed a copy to her superior in the downtown office. This “superior  idiot” agreed with her. She said that it was issued by a hospital. Now there was no indication of a hospital issuing it and if that were true, it should be valid. Even as late as 1978 when my son was born, his original certificate came from the hospital (but has all the city – Newmarket here – info on it.). In the 1980s I used my original paper birth certificate to obtain the laminated one the Ontario Government were creating and this ***hole Service Ontario employee stated that the laminated ones were valid.

Why has the original paper birth certificate worked for proof of birth elsewhere?

Why has the Ontario government been considering chucking issuing new laminated birth certificates? What will they accept then? Invisible birth certificates?

The photo ID is supposed to be for those of us who don’t have a driver’s licence and costs much less. Is what happened to me a variation of being discriminated against because I don’t drive?

I have a laminated birth certificate. Yesterday I took it (and other ID cards) out of my safety deposit box. They were all in there for safety purposes – the police tell us to do this instead of carrying them around with us or leaving them lying around in our homes in case of b and e’s and/or muggings.

But with government stupidity it looks like you have to constantly carry them around. You never know when you might need them.

I talked to a few people at the CARP Zoomer show (for adults 45 plus) Sunday and was told to complain to the Ontario Ombudsman and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Will do – once I get my damn ID card and get all the other becoming senior issues and procedures done.

For the record, at this point here are my lists – gratitude/good companies/government depts. And my *hit list of the baddies. Note: some get on both lists – short explanation in brackets afterwards.

Only Child’s Gratitude Good Companies/Government Depts.

  1. Service Canada – phone and in person, in particular one branch at Gerrard and Pape in Toronto – others praise their helpfulness, friendliness. What government service should be like.
  2. Dell Canada (in part – for being able to lease laptops for years at a continually reduced monthly rate)
  3. Sears Canada (in part – Optical Department, Home Services – particularly window blinds – and watch repair)
  4. State Farm (they handle my house and business insurance and did a good job switching the former to monthly payments)
  5. Kristin Green and Associates (manage my website and domain and I have two email accounts connected to this) – despite their switchover to a new server, after my email request for help, Kristin phoned me back and walked me through any changes to my accounts that I couldn’t do. And explained it all in a friendly helpful manner.
  6. Scotiabank – for usually being helpful – and they accepted my original paper birth certificate for eliminating some costs for seniors

Only Child’s *hit list

  1. Service Ontario – see beginning of blog post.
  2. CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) – for lack of  knowledge of recent changes to paying taxes with CPP payments – cost me a lot of time and phone running around and delay paying the extra which I was required to pay (but was first told it wasn’t necessary)
  3. Empire Life Insurance Company for never informing me about the setup for my life insurance premium – it’s part investment –  and that there is a built-in what’s it that if you don’t add in extra to cover  increase in premiums you get a letter stating that if you don’t pay the extra by a certain day, your policy is canceled. The kicker? You have to phone them at the end of each fiscal year that you want to increase your premium or they don’t on your bill. I’m looking into other companies’ life insurance premiums where a medical isn’t required and will take this company to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Ontario Ombudsman for unethical stupid practices. Today I put my foot down and said if they didn’t send me a bill for the real amount owing for the next quarter I’m paying the faulty lower one they just sent – technically and legally I can do that.
  4. Sears Canada (because the idiot new CEO is planning on closing the flagship store in downtown Toronto in the Eaton Centre. That’s my store for optical, etc. Now I’ll have to go further into Toronto outskirts – if they have Sears Optical there for any warranty-covered follow-ups to new eyeglasses which I would get before the anticipated February 2014 closing. Also I like their clothes better than Hudson Bay)
  5.  Direct Energy for trying to tell me my heating protection plan with them was not valid.
  6. Enbridge Canada for closing my account because they thought I moved and some guy named Peter moved in. They mixed up our streets – same name except mine is a Crescent and Peter’s is a Circle. This was two years ago and was fixed after I phoned several times.
  7. All utility companies for raising the rates and putting many of us deeper into the poor house – no matter what we do to save energy.
  8. The Canadian federal and Ontario provincial government for their service-cutting (mostly the feds) and its results and the province’s errors with hydro and gas and making the taxpayer pay (there is a debt repayment amount in our bi-monthly hydro bills).
  9. Dell Canada for screwing up my original new laptop lease order – they didn’t put in the order and wouldn’t admit they made a mistake. But they ordered it again and it is now here.

The list can go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Income Taxes, Problems, Seniors

Only Child says the customer is never right – apparently

Only Child  rests before doing more battle with companies screwing the consumer

Only Child rests before doing more battles with companies screwing the consumer

The wonky consumer issues keep on coming. It’s at the point where I’m afraid to open my mail, partly the regular mail. Now going into a store can be downright dangerous – at least if you want to be treated fairly.

Added to this list of consumer woes are the two biggies the past week.

My life insurance premium just went up up and up, thanks to the insurance company’s policy which they never bothered to tell me. Sure, the policy is 30 plus years old, it’s gone through several company mergers and the premium has not gone up for years. But the quarterly invoices have always been the same until now. When I phoned the company I did get a knowledgeable person (where was he years ago, including when I called for some clarification two years ago?) Hw explained the situation and walked me through my now ancient policy…and yes, I kept a copy.

In a nutshell,the way it operates is the premium goes up every year but the policy holder doesn’t know that and it won’t show on the invoices unless he or she phones the company to find out and state they want the increase added to their invoices. The policy holder can also request being billed extra to add in to the investment. It is this latter which would show up as extra in my “insurance kitty” – my words, with each annual year-end amount decreased I receive a letter to that effect annually. That amount ran out this month, according to the fellow I spoke to and that’s what triggered the letter. The “lady” at the insurance company I spoke to two years ago didn’t tell me this. Basically, she said if I miss a payment, the extra in “the kitty” covers that and to just keep on paying what I’m billed and that would do it.

Oh really?

The policy itself has a list of increased yearly rates but no info on how to calculate the amounts it transfers into dollars and sense (spelling intentional). The fellow at the insurance company gave me those figures and went through the calculation with me.

The letter I received wanted post-dated cheques for the next 10 months (remember, I’ve been paying on a quarterly basis) or a lump sum equal to that or the policy will be cancelled. I’m almost 65 so don’t need to go through the red tape for a new life insurance policy. I’d cancel this old policy in less than a heartbeat but the small pay-out when I croak will pay for my funeral expenses, lawyer fees to settle the estate, etc. and give my son a little bit more. On my living-just-above-the-poverty level situation I can’t do this otherwise. Instead I’m stuck with my not-so-open (policy-wise) life insurance policy.

I will do as this fellow suggested. But, I’m taking this insurance company’s (Empire Life) policy issue to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Insurance companies have the right to raise the premium but they have to let the customer know and change the invoice to reflect this. The utility companies and the insurance company insuring my house and business do this (State Farm for the latter two – giving credit where credit is due).

The other was Shopper’s Drug Mart and I’m a long-time customer here, particularly the one in my area (for 15 years). Last Thursday, they didn’t have any of the cheese on sale so I asked for a rain cheque. They wouldn’t give it to me because as the manager said (and I insisted I speak to him).

  1. That particular Shoppers is smaller and they don’t carry the full Shopper’s food selection.
  2. Despite Shoppers allowing rain cheques across the board in stores, Shoppers won’t give out rain cheques for anything that particular store doesn’t carry. Note to manager and I said so: I have bought that cheese product in that size before there. The manager said I could go to the next nearby store a larger one (a 15-minute walk) to get it or the rain cheque. I told him I didn’t have time that day. Which brings me to No. 3.
  3. Because of the long Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Shopper’s sales went only to Thursday, not to the usual Friday. Note to manager: Thanksgiving is on a Monday; the Friday is not a statutory holiday.
  4. Shoppers new screwed-up method of issuing rain cheques. They are done like receipts through the computerized cash register and to do this they need the UPS number from the product or its posted price sign, which the manager said, they can’t do for the cheese because that particular Shoppers doesn’t carry it. All other stores have rain cheque forms which are filled out when a customer requests a rain cheque. Loblaw just bought Shoppers. Perhaps Loblaw should push through some of their procedures – like rain cheque issuing – through to Shoppers.

The customer gets blind-sided into a black hole yet again. At my insistence, the manager gave me the head office number. So I’m not done with Shoppers or Empire Life. Next week I go into action with both. This week I have follow-ups on previous screw-ups – CRA for receipt of my tax cheque; Dell for where is my laptop (again)? And the annual included-in-the-contract furnace cleaning which the first person, the jerk, I talked to at Direct Energy wasn’t going to give me. And I have to visit Service Ontario for an ID Card as I don’t have a driver’s licence.

And people want me to devote 15 minutes of my time to what they want.

Screw that.

My parents are lucky not to have lived long enough to deal with this type of nonsense.

Cheers

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Consumerism, finances

Only Child faces more worries and snafus

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 where Only Child grew up

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 where she grew up

Last Saturday was wasted dealing with worries and snafus, including a new one – the cable part of the cable TV not working. Late Thursday evening the picture started breaking up on four channels but not on the rest. One program showed fine on the US station but not on the Canadian station doing simultaneous airing. The cable TV tech department booked an appointment for Saturday between 4 and 6 p.m. but put me on a waiting list for anything sooner.

Saturday I had to go out to deal with another house repair/replacement issue, so called the cable company and they sent someone right away. He fixed it but it took him over two hours because he couldn’t find one end of the cable in the basement (I didn’t even know a TV cable was down there as previous cable tech visits had concentrated outside or with the TV in the living room). So this clown decided he would have to drill holes in the inside wall (living room) and the outside brick wall to set up the new cable there. He got the permission form which I signed but he didn’t and got to work. After he drilled four close-together holes in the inside wall, he had another look downstairs and found the other end of the cable. He told me and when I asked about the holes he’d drilled he said he put an electric outlet cover there. He also made a mess with the foam insulation in the basement laundry room but did vacuum upstairs in the living room. I seldom fill out surveys but filled out the automatic one that comes when you phone the call centre – the comments section was where I “blasted” the technician’s work – but I kept it factual and polite (although I threw in the “senior’s card”).

The errand to deal with the other issue – replacing the defunct window air conditioner turned into a customer service mess. I had done some online research but I like to see the air conditioner up front. I had already checked out Home Depot but wanted to see what else was available before buying one. So off to Canadian Tire as they are supposed to carry one brand of vertical window air conditioners. Also there was some indication they do installations.

It was like a civilian version of Keystone cops or Keystone-like service snafus. I talked to four employees (when I found them). The first staffer said “oh we don’t do installations” and gave me the wrong aisle for air conditioners – at least none were there – the ones on sale (not vertical) were at the front and I finally found them with a note for installation to call an 800 number or speak to staff. I was there so staff it was. Canadian Tire’s customer service is both for returns and product information with one clerk handling a long line up of customers with returns. I asked a couple of other staffers who were up at the counter for other things. Both phoned the person responsible for the air conditioning section. No one arrived. Then I nagged another clerk, explained the situation and asked to speak to the manager. He looked for him, returning a couple of times with a progress report. Eighteen minutes later (he counted) he returned and said he hadn’t found the manager, this wasn’t acceptable, gave me his first name and an 800 number to complain about the manager. Of course, you can probably only get someone on weekdays. News flash. I work weekdays, albeit from home and resent any house-related problems I have to dealt with then. But I’ll call sometime this week. Guess where I won’t buy my air conditioner.

A friend said that nothing is perfect in this world. But I know there are too many screw-ups caused by too many people. And if you mess up – at least where it concerns others – you should be held accountable – one way or the other.

I certainly don’t remember my parents having to deal with all this nonsense but maybe that’s my child’s view and remembrance. I do remember for plumbing problems that Ken, a friend of dad’s from his work area (geographically), would come and fix the situation, although Mom, Dad and I had to listen to Ken sing opera. That might be why I’m not a fan of opera. But Ken recommended a carpenter to build our rec room and he did a good job. One shoddy job – after Dad died (he had been the house painter and was so good he is still the benchmark for excellence here), Mom hired a painter who did a so-so job… and spilled paint on the front lawn which killed that spot of lawn. But whenever the TV needed fixing we called in a repairman and he came in and fixed it.

One good thing – the friend mentioned above – removed all three of my old computer and printer equipment (she rolled them up the stairs; I helped her carry out the heaviest one into her van’s trunk). She hauled them away to the recycling depot.

At least the water meter installers/retrofitters can’t complain about space to get to the water meter. They better not.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Family and Friends, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, Responsibility, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only Child on the real Christmas spirit

Christmas carolers showing the Christmas spirit in song

Less than a week until Christmas and the Grinch is making himself known. He’s there in the mall parking lot as shoppers circle around and wait, wait for a parking space. He stands in line at the cash register, making sure something goes haywire (price check anyone?). Can you hear him laughing as some people still argue about what is the politically correct term for Christmas and worse, some offices, etc. are banning Christmas decorations?  Check out http://woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Xmas/oldmeaning.htm for some of the craziness in the name of political correctness surrounding previous Christmas years – including a sarcastic politically correct ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.

Christmas time was so much simpler when I was growing up in the 50s and early 60s. I write a bit about this in my memoir.

My parents give me a few dollars to buy Christmas gifts. I buy Dad socks or some other dad present and Mom, well, I put a lot of thought into her presents. After I check out the local jewellery store, I drag Dad in to look – not at jewellery – but at a ceramic wall decoration in white with red apples and purple plums painted on the front.

But the real joy of Christmas is wrapping the presents. A closed wooden door separates us – Mom at the kitchen table and me at the dining room table. Amid the “pass the scotch tape; now keep your eyes shut,” and the hurried covering of unwrapped presents, we could be wrapping side-by-side. I didn’t realize it then, but it was giving to someone I loved that filled me with contentment. It didn’t matter that the fireplace was electric; or whether Santa existed, when Mom and I wrapped Christmas gifts, we were like one. Dad never helped wrap presents, at least not when I was awake. He probably ate the raisin bread and drank the milk that Mom and I left for Santa.

 (Copyright 2011, Sharon Crawford. Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons)

Does it really matter whether we call it Christmas or just a holiday? Does it matter if we equate the Christmas spirit (which many seem to find only in a bottle) with Santa Claus or Jesus Christ or (substitute your own version here)? And please don’t all the Christians ride herd on me for saying that. I may not be big on religion but I do believe in Jesus Christ. My point is that many of us don’t have any Christmas spirit. We stress ourselves out trying to make the perfect Christmas with the perfect gifts, the perfect dinner and the perfect family gathering. Doesn’t usually happen. In short, we become our own Christmas Grinch.

First we need to think of  what  the Christmas spirit means to us and then put it into action. It is not charging around shopping malls at the last minute, but maybe it is helping out a family who has fallen on hard times. Or maybe it is visiting a senior member of your family (or any senior) whom you’ve neglected visiting because you were just too darn busy. Maybe it is opening your home to a friend who would otherwise spend Christmas alone (and maybe you would otherwise, too). To me the Christmas spirit is sharing who and what you are with others, trying to make a positive joyful difference. One of my writing colleagues blogs about random acts of kindness. Check it out at http://50gooddeeds.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/write-by-your-side/   – particularly this post – to get some ideas. I’m trying to adopt some of this. Every time I go out the door, I try to be open to any situation where I can help someone – even if it is only holding a door open or giving someone older than I a seat on the bus…and thanking the bus driver or streetcar driver when I exit.

And for those of us getting stressed out over Christmas, here are some tips to get through and over the stress and maybe enjoy Christmas. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Christmas_tips_to_reduce_the_stress

Ho! Ho! Ho! Joyful and happy Christmas to all.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas holidays, Christmas spirit, Consumerism, Grinch, Only child, Only child memoir, Santa Claus, Sharon Crawford, Stress