Tag Archives: Customer Service

Is Retail Customer Service a Myth?

Only Child contemplating bad customer service

I’m beginning to wonder if some retail outlets are now operating under a hidden slogan. Something along the lines of  “The customer is never right; but we are” or “We do as we wish and the hell with customer service.”

My recent experiences in two big retail chain stores are making me wonde.

 

Is this the new wave of customer service?

First off – Shoppers Drug Mart. Double Whammy here.

Shoppers has the penchant for suddenly stopping carrying certain products, which is their prerogative.  But when it isn’t across the board with all stores and when it gets even pickier, i.e., one selection of a particular product at one Shoppers’ store, you begin to wonder what’s the idea behind it.

I was in my local Shoppers last week to buy a specific product on sale that week – PC tinned pink salmon. I had bought it last month and before that at this particular Shoppers, but it wasn’t there last week. PC tinned sockeye salmon and one other PC tinned salmon were available, but not on sale. There was no space and no price sign (sale or otherwise) for the pink salmon. So I talked to the manager – he checked and that branch is no longer carrying the pink salmon but he gave me a rain cheque and clarified that I could buy the salmon at another Shoppers Drug Mart. I said it was too hot to walk to Woodbine (the next nearest Shoppers) and I wasn’t friendly about it.

The second whammy. Another customer and I were looking for help with products and there were no clerks around in the store (except in makeup and checkout). So, the other customer boldly opened the “Employees only” door and called out – twice she had to do it. And I stuck my head in and said “me too.” The other customer claimed she had been waiting an hour  for someone to bring her some Sprite pops cans. I think she was exaggerating – but I do remember someone asking for some pop earlier as I went about collecting what I wanted to buy. The store manager finally came out and told her they were out of Sprite. You can imagine her reply…and I don’t blame her.

Over the weekend in  my local No Frills grocery store, they were not only down to about a dozen bananas of dubious quality, when I took my four purchases to the express checkout I ran into grief. Two of  the purchases – two containers of I Can’t Believe it’s not butter were on sale at another grocery store, so I had that store’s flyer to do a price match – something No Frills does. Imagine my dismay when the young clerk said they don’t do price matching anymore at the express checkout. I said, “I didn’t see any sign for that.” He pointed to a tiny sign posted  up on the side of the debit machine.

Huh? By then you are way in the checkout counter with one person behind you, putting her groceries down. I pointed this out to the clerk and that I had only four items. And I finished with “It might help if you put the sign up right at the front so people can see it before they put down their groceries.”

He didn’t make me go to another cashier and honoured my price match. But he got his just desserts, thanks to the lady right after me in the checkout. Never have I seen what goes around comes around happen so fast;  because if this price match is now a no-no at Express to save time, well the lady after me just foiled any quick move through the cash with a price check – a dispute in the price of strawberries.

Mentally  I was cheering her on.

And you may know, both No frills and Shoppers Drug Mart are part of the big Loblaw chain owned by Galen Weston Jr  since 2006, and who in 2017 t00k over as CEO of the  big parent company  George Weston Ltd. from his father. Galen Weston Sr. Junior is worth 9.3 billion according to a Wikipedia article on him.

Is this the new way he is doing business? Make it difficult for the customer?

I’ll have him know that the competitions, the Rexall drug store chains are making waves in Ontario. And there is another grocery chain, Metro,  that owns Food Basics as well.

Better watch out Mr.  Big Business. Your competition has some better customer service tactics. No Frills doesn’t offer rain cheques, but Food Basics does.

What are some of the “no” or “bad cust0mer service issues you’ve run into lately?

Let’s start  posting comments here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Customer Service, George Weston Limited, Loblaw chain, Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills

Only Child on why so angry – sometimes

This scary miserable little person is making another appearance this week because the snafus coming from others continue to happen, leaving me to deal with the aftermath.  People ask me why I am so angry? This is why and I’m going on the record that I am not angry all the time, but would like less cause to be angry so I’m angry just a minuscule part of my time.

Since last week the following has happened – so far. If some sound weird, they are all true. As a former journalist, I still try to stick to the truth, although the telling is “as I see it” as a late Toronto radio personality used to say.

Here we go:

1. My current phone and Internet bill which I get mailed (yes, regular mail) to me, didn’t arrive. Fortunately I also have online access to my bills so could check it so I can pay it. But I still decided to phone Bell Canada to find out what was going on. They did send it out. So, it could be Canada Post messing up. I’ve had mail addressed properly to me go elsewhere, including to someone also in Toronto with the same address except the extension (road, street) is different than mine. I also get his mail occasionally. If the postal carrier dropped it in the wrong mail box in my neighbourhood, unless the person knows me they might just have dumped it back in the mail.  From experience, I know that can take weeks for it to be re-delivered to the correct address. The Bell customer service rep checked to make sure there was no funny business going on with my account – he couldn’t find any. When I asked if there was any discounts offered for seniors, he went into a long explanation about a new way to get Internet which I’m not interested in at this point. So I told him. So far I was polite but when he started pitching this service again, I gritted my teeth and said I just told you I don’t want it and thanked him for checking on the other and the conversation was ended.

But he never said he would get my bill resent, although future bills will also still be sent by regular mail – as long as Bell and/or Canada Post don’t screw up.

And if you think I’m being a Luddite here, I have good reason. A few years ago I changed my method of receipt for my heating bill and the Gas company screwed it up – mixing it up with that guy at the similar address and closing my account. Somebody got you know what from me, but it was fixed. And I returned to bills by regular mail.

2. This is the one that really upsets. me because it hits at my book Beyond Faith and book sales. Beyond Faith is available in print and e-copy to order online at the usual suspects – Amazon, Barnes and Nobel – but in Canada also through Chapters Indigo – the big bookstore chain here. The book can be ordered online at their sitet and usually the print version can be ordered through the bricks and mortar stores – from the actual stores. Well, there is a note under available online that says “unavailable in stores” which is not the package my publisher has with the distributor, Ingram. I found this out  (I had thought it meant there were no copies in the stores yet) on Saturday when I visited one of the book chains small Coles stores. The manager was very enthusiastic about getting copies of both Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith and having me do a book signing in the store one Saturday afternoon. While I was there, she went into the system to order the books – no problem with Beyond Blood, but she couldn’t order Beyond Faith. She said to contact my publisher and when it was fixed she would be happy to order in copies and have me do a book signing session.

I emailed my publisher as soon as I got home, explaining the situation and also that small independent bookstores have ordered the book in at my request and it is in the store (I checked in person). He got on it right away – said it was probably a glitch when Ingram, the distributor put it into Indigo-Chapters online. The publisher got on it right away, emailing Ingraham and re-iterating the contract contents he has with them and asked them to fix it. He ccd me.

That was three days ago. I checked BF on Indigo-chapters website. Still saying not available in stores. It better get fixed this week because April 18 I’m supposed to be part of a Crime Writers’ Canada presentation at one of the mid-town bigger Indigo bookstores and they need to order in copies of Beyond Faith for that.

And I still haven’t received my corrected CARP membership card as mentioned in last week’s post.  The old one expired February 28 and it’s March and I can’t get my benefits. I decided to go above customer ?service? – yes there are names for all the board, including Director of Communicaitons, but no email address.

With this widespread seemingly endless list of sanfus, i can’t help wondering if someone out there or up there (word beginning with “G”) has something to do with it. Call me crazy, but i don’t think it’s in the water, as the saying goes.

No wonder I get angry sometimes. I think I have the right to feel this way. At least it get me going to get it fixed.

What is the most recent snafu you have had to deal with? Or are you lucky and get little or none?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Beyond Faith book cover

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Beyond Faith, Books, Life demands, Only child, Utiiities

Only Child asks: Is this good customer service? Part 1

Your customer service rep today

Customer service is becoming non-existent in my life if the past two weeks are any indication. Here is one of those real stories.

The Bank and the Safety Deposit Box

For 19 years I have had a safety deposit box at the same bank branch. The box’s location? Floor level. Not great for a senior with bad knees and bad feet and a bad temper when the first two act up.

So, I decided I would get the box changed to one higher up. Might as well get up in the world.

Well, pardon my knees – maybe I should have gotten down on them and screamed bloody murder.

No one at the bank branch seemed to know what the procedure was. First time near the end of the rental year for the floor box, when I went in about it, a teller told me to come in a few days before the actual fiscal year end. So I did and those who should know better were running around like the proverbial chicken with no head – except the chicken would score higher on the intelligence level.

The teller didn’t know but at least had the sense to check with Debbie, the Customer Service Manager. Debbie didn’t know how to close it either. Isn’t it her job to know the ins and outs of customer service? I was told that only the teller named Tina knew what to do and to come back the day it closes and she could do it all then.

It was beginning to sound like some secret ritual.

So I showed up the last day of the rental contract, the last day I could pay. Tina was there and transferred my payment from my chequing account. Tina tried to close the account and open a new one so the box could be moved.

The computer couldn’t do it. Tina said it would have had to be done a few days before and I said I did come in then but nobody knew what to do. She figured it would work on the Monday so said to come in then. Monday arrived and I was too busy with writing work (and dealing with other snafus – for another post), so decided to be courteous and call the branch and leave a message for Tina.

And ran into recorded voice mail hell. You can no longer just leave a voice mail message for someone at the bank branch. You get this female robot voice asking what you want – of course their less than pea-sized robotic brain has a limited number of what they will recognize. So the voice asked for my bank card number. Which I gave her. She said it wasn’t recognized and I immediately got back to square one when you call in.

I ended up calling the main line, complaining, and a very nice and smart representative named Dennis got me transferred to the branch…to Debbie, the customer service manager – oh excuse me, her voice mail. So I just left a message to pass along to Tina that I couldn’t come in today and was just calling as a courtesy. Tina called back shortly and I said I couldn’t come in before Friday but she wasn’t going to be in Friday. Friday is the only way this damn bank branch is open to 6 p.m. and I couldn’t see why I should steal from my work time to waste time at a bank because they don’t know what they are doing.

So I went in around 3 p.m. Thursday and got into the line. The manager, Vince, was walking by and I told him loudly all about my problem and that only Tina knew what to do to change safety deposit boxes, etc. etc. And that the others, particularly Debbie,  the customer service manager needed some retraining. He apologized – but I wasn’t impressed. He always comes across as an unintelligent jerk – a yes man who doesn’t listen. The previous bank manager, a woman, was so much smarter and helpful. She was quick to straighten out a mess one of her tellers made including writing the utility companies involved to tell them it was a teller’s error and I always pay my bills on time. But she’s not there and we are stuck with Vince and Debbie.

Tina did straighten everything out and I got my new safety deposit box at eye level. Tina also got my up-to-date email where  she said I would receive a survey. and I could tell what happened.

I expected the survey, but not a place to put everything.

The survey, not only had a place for comments about what happened, but asked the question “What would correct this situation?”

My answer? Get rid of Vince; retrain Debbie and train the rest of the staff.

Then I rated them: Tina A+, everyone else at the bank involved F-

Now when I go into the bank branch I’ll be looking to see if Vince is Gone Boy.

There are many more customer service snafu stories in the city of Toronto. Hang on – I’ll be writing more in upcoming posts. No one will be spared and sometimes I will name full names.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

4 Comments

Filed under Actions Consequences, Banking, finances, Problems

Only Child slams bank “service”

Only Child ponders bank disservice

Only Child ponders bank disservice

I don’t physically go to my bank branch very often anymore but when I have to I expect service.

Am I being naive here?

Take this morning. Five minutes after the bank opened, I walked in on this first day of another month. At that point, the waiting lineup wasn’t too bad. (It became worse and longer as I waited). However, there were only two tellers working. The other two wickets were open but no one was there unless the bank (it is Scotiabank by the way.) is hiring invisible tellers.

The bank manager was flitting back and forth from teller to bank patrons, so on his way back to his office I spoke to him and wanted to know why on the first day of a month, a very busy day, there wasn’t a full slot of tellers from 9.30 a.m. (when the bank opens). He said, “another teller is coming in at 10 a.m.).” I blasted him with why all four tellers aren’t in when the bank opens.

“There should be a full slate of tellers from when the bank opens on the first day of the month. When I’ve come in a day or two later the tellers always mention how busy the first day is. And today, I have to go to my safety deposit box and that will leave one teller at the counter.”

After re-iterating that another teller was coming in at 10 a.m., he added, “I’ll keep that into consideration for future months,” he said. Then he passed the buck. He said he would talk to the branch officer in charge of staff and he would have to get permission from head office.

Oh really? He is the bank branch manager, so he should have charge of that.

Oh, I get it, the unspoken words. Bank costs. Let the tellers work part-time and scramble the hours around to cut costs. This doesn’t go with the big profits of Scotiabank. At the end of August, 2016, reports from Scotiabank stated that the bank  had a profit of over $1.9 billion in its third quarter. This amount is up from last year’s $1.8 billion

Something is screwy with all this.

After Mr. Bank Branch Manager returned to his office, I had a discussion with the young woman behind me and  a senior in line behind her. This lady, a retired teacher, had a walker,  but I’m glad she had something to sit in. The three of us agreed with what I complained about to the manager. And I’m not surprised it was me that did the complaining – I’m a former journalist turned unofficial consumer advocate, the latter by necessity.

The safety deposit necessity today  (as it is the beginning of every month) was the only reason I had to go into the bank branch. Usually I pay bills online, through direct payment from bank accounts or credit cards, and the odd one by regular mail. I’m not a fan of ATMs so I do a lot of my “bank withdrawals” using Cash Back at grocery and other stores.

If I could get money from my bank accounts through my computer I would.

Or I could pull a Stephen Leacock, the late Canadian humorous author who wrote a funny piece about a fellow who kept his money in a sock.

Hmm. Might be worth a try. Oh, I guess not, for security reasons. But I wouldn’t need a large sock. Might be a use for one of the odd socks people seem to accumulate.

Comments, please. What are some of your “customer service” experiences with financial institutions?

And that last word “institutions” might just say it all.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bank service, Bank service complaints, Banking, Only child

Only Child give kudos to Hudson’s Bay optical dept.

Only Child and son Martin - glasses run in this family

Only Child and son Martin – glasses run in this family

One of the few, maybe the only corporate entity I have dealt with lately, who has been exceptional in customer service is the Hudson’s Bay Company’s optical department. So, today, I’ll tell this story and leave the start of dissing the companies and organizations who are and have been maligning the phrase “customer service” to future blog posts.

Like my mother and father before me, I have been wearing glasses all my adult life. When I reached my 21st birthday (back in the grey ages), I was suffering from a constant headache. My mother was in the hospital for tests for her severe arthritis, so I was worried about that, so much so that I barely ate anything and lost a lot of weight. The other three ladies sharing a room with Mom suggested I go across the street to the optical company and get my eyes tested. So, scared, I did. I made sure I told them I didn’t want drops in my eyes because back then the drops left you temporarily sight challenged. I had first experience with this when my then fiance had his eyes tested and I had to literally lead him back to work because he had trouble seeing – except for pink elephants.

That optical company was not Hudson’s Bay. Over the years I have switched optometrists and opticians, depending on service and depending on where I lived. Last December, when my annual eye tests at my optometrist’s showed I needed new glasses, right away, I decided to go to the Hudson’s Bay Optical at their Bloor/Yonge Streets store in Toronto. I had gone to Sears the past four years and although their optical service was good, Sears management in its infinite wisdom decided to close their big downtown Toronto store. No way was I going to (and fro) the optical department in the Sears store in a mall in North Toronto – too far and too many transit changes for return visits.

So, I switched to Hudson’s Bay optical and I’m glad I did. Here is my story as I sent it to their customer service department.

This is praise for all the opticians at The Bay optical on the lower level at the Bloor/Yonge Store. I don’t have their names but they have been very courteous and helpful from when I brought in my eye prescription last December to last month and Wednesday when I had a problem with the frames on my prescription sunglasses.

 

Very helpful in helping me choose my glasses in December, even making sure the receipt was dated then (well, I did pay by credit card then) instead of early January when the glasses were ready (the date for tax purposes).

 

Early September when the arm of my sunglasses fell off – first when I called and said I couldn’t find my receipt and the optician said not to worry, we have you in the system so just come in. I did find the receipt anyway so brought it in.

 

Great service – even though the glasses frames were no longer being made I was told if none were still in stock I would still only pay the $20 (percentage not covered by the warranty for the price of replacement frames) because that wasn’t my fault that they didn’t carry the line anymore). They even glued the arm back on for the time being as I was going on holidays in a few days.

 

This past Wednesday (Oct. 7) I decided to get the frames replaced or whatever was necessary to be done. Again I couldn’t find the receipt, phoned again and was again reassured I was in the system so come right in. This time I did not find the receipt. The optician said that there was still brown frames (I had black originally) for my sun glasses. I tried that on and decided to take it. Only had to wait about 10 minutes for the lenses to be put in the new frame. And the optician, at my request, even wrote out a replacement receipt for the original order.

 

Now that’s customer service. I would like this put into each of the opticians’ personnel file.

 

A satisfied customer.

 

Now onto dealing with the idiots from other companies who have screwed things up for me. Next week, I plan to write about one of them.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

2 Comments

Filed under Arthritis, Consumer action, Eye gkasses eye tests, Family, Hudson Bay Company, Mom and Dad, Only child, Opticians and Optometrists, Sears

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

Leave a comment

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

Only Child on railway customer service

Only Child loves train travel although engines aren't steam anymor

Only Child loves train travel when it runs smoothly.

Last week I returned from a one and a half week holiday visiting cousins in southwestern Ontario. Holiday was great; the train trip home was not.

For this railway brat, a two-hour wait in the middle of nowhere in the dark (outside, not inside the train) did not go over very well. Remember what I said in last week’s post about the stupidity of others and how I act. I put that into action last Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

Yes folks, a nearly two-hour train ride that should have deposited me at Toronto’s Union Station by 11.20 a.m. dragged into early Thursday morning.

It all began about 10 minutes or so after leaving the Guelph station when suddenly the train slowed to a stop. The steward quickly announced that we were waiting for a green signal to continue and it would just be a few minutes. About 10 minutes later she announced that we would be here for longer than expected. Half an hour after we stopped, the steward announced that we had to wait for the two engineers to be replaced by a new crew and it would be another hour’s wait. She walked down the aisle to answer questions, but to my question “Is one of the engineers sick?” she replied “None of my business.” (Unclear if she meant whose business – hers or mine)

I felt every anxious and worried. As much as I like train travel I don’t like the uncertainty and also not being told all. If one of the engineers was taken ill or injured, and we knew, we might have a little more sympathy. If he was drunk – no. A young guy was also concerned and started complaining to Carol (the steward) and I joined in. I said that it wasn’t their (the two stewards) fault; I didn’t know whose fault it was but VIA rail as the corporate owner owed us. I pulled my senior’s card and said I could not afford to take a cab home from Union Station and I was going after VIA Rail for my fare to be reimbursed. The young fellow and I were concerned that we would not arrive at Union Station in time to take the public transit home.

The young lady sitting across from me asked about us being bussed to our destinations but Carol said that normally they would do that but we were in the middle of nowhere with no way for a bus to get to us and no place for us to go if we got off the train.

I could not concentrate on the book I was reading and alternated between sitting with arms crossed on one side of the table and moving to the other side. VIA Rail now gives us reserved seats and because we had a business class coach, I was at the end with a table in between the facing seats (two on each side). No one else was sitting there. A lot of good reserved seats do you if you are stuck.

The replacement crew finally arrived – two hours after we stopped. And when we pulled into the next stop – Georgetown – in six minutes I was furious. That close so why didn’t the second engineer “drive” the train into Georgetown where the other engineer could get “medical” attention promptly and we could be bussed home much sooner. Somebody higher up who was on the phone to Carol and probably the engineers was giving bad decisions. And probably going by the VIA Rail rules and regulations – probably requiring two fit engineers. Sometime rules need to be bended a little for the best results for all concerned. Sometimes a little common sense is the best route.

After several calls with her supervisor, she announced that we would get 50 per cent off our next VIA rail trip if we gave our ticket number when ordering them – by phone or in person – if we travel within the next six months. I’ll do that when I go to Cobourg, Ontario in a couple of months. We were also told to see the station master in Union Station to get chits for a free taxi ride.

The train arrived at Union Station two hours and 10 minutes late. I had to ask the station master where to get the cab because off all the construction on Front Street. She said across the street – it’s always been there. Could have fooled me with all the construction you can’t see over it and the walkway is very narrow, made narrower by construction crew working on it at 1.30 a.m. I was furious and started complaining out loud. But I made it over and got a cab home.

Will I still take the train? Yes. But VIA Rail gets only a 70 per cent (and that’s generous) for damage control. What happened with the engineer is out of their control, but making us wait for two hours until a replacement crew arrived when we were just six minutes outside Georgetown is plain stupid and gets a D in my books.

My late father, who worked as a timekeeper for CNR (they had the passenger service then) is probably rolling over in his grave.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Anxiety, Consumer action, Holiday Travel, Only child, Problems, Railways, Sharon A. Crawford

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

2 Comments

Filed under Consumer action, Consumerism, finances

Only Child asks “Where’s the customer service?”

Only Child with her parents in saner times at her grandfather's farm

Only Child with her parents in saner times at her grandfather’s farm

Are people working at call centres/customer service and even sales getting dumber and/or are they just not being trained properly?

Been hit on again dealing with businesses and public utilities. Snafu with my new laptop order from Dell and the dufus in customer service for Direct Energy insisted I had to pay more than the confirmed amount for my furnace heating plan or I couldn’t book the annual cleaning.

Huh?

First, Dell…and with apologies to my cousin Bill in Stratford, Ontario (he’s an independent who fixes computers – hardware and software) who warned me that Dell isn’t what it used to be since founder Michael Dell decreased his ownership in the company. Well, Michael Dell is supposed to be back later this week with the reins in his hands so hopefully service will improve.

The fellow who “took care” of my order to get the new leased laptop messed up. After we straightened out what I wanted (and I got help from my son, the computer techie here), he sent me an email that the order had gone in and gave me the link to track its progress. The link also put the outside delivery date as Oct. 2, 2013.  On October 2, no laptop had arrived and the “progress” report still said “order being processed.” I emailed the sales rep and his reply said that the order didn’t go through with that order number. Oh really? He put the order in again under a different number and requested that it be expedited. But the outside date is after this coming weekend so my son will have to come a later weekend to finish doing all the software updates/additions, transfer from the old laptop, etc. I just checked the tracking online now and it still says “in production” which in Dell speakeze means “Time spent for actual build up of your order until it is picked up by Carrier.”

Good think I didn’t phone in my request to return the current laptop. And also good thing I extended the contract on a month-by-month basis in May (when that three-year-lease was up) and extended the service warranty for hardware. I was told then that after 18 months the laptop was mine. I laughed off that then. Now, I’m wondering. I’ve been a Dell customer for11 years (four laptops on three-year leases each) and never all these problems, which I told Mr. Dufus in my email about the new laptop not arriving yet.

Today I phoned Direct Energy to book the annual furnace maintenance – as suggested in the letter they sent me that I had  automatic renewal of my home heating protection plan. This is usually a no-brainer but some extreme dufus whom I could hardly understand what he was saying, insisted I needed to change my agreement to something else that cost more because of the type of furnace I have and until I did I couldn’t get a service maintenance call. I saw red, purple and a few other colours. In no uncertain terms (and several times I had to repeat it –where do they get these dufuses for customer service?) that this was the same contract I’ve had for two or three years and the first year I had a discount but I’ve had no problems with the contract renewal and booking the maintenance service call. I said, “connect me to a manager now.” He did.

What a change with Wendy the manager. I am getting a new contract but at a discount rate. She said any year I can call in and get the discount rate for a year. She said she would make changes to my plan and said when the new lower rates would start. And she booked me an appointment for next week to get my furnace cleaned and serviced as I still had that included service not done for the current contract.

My boarder and I were discussing this lack of customer service – what happened to “The customer is always right?” she asked. Gone the route of the dodo and music tapes I suppsed. We tried to figure out when customer service started sprialling downhill and couldn’t decide. The 1980s? The 1990s? Or once we hit the millennium where I believe a lot of things in this world started going very bad – worse than rotting food.

One thing I’ve discovered – you have to be on your toes, assertive, persistent, and sometimes use anger to get the service you deserve. And the people in Customer Service and Call Centres need to be trained and monitored better. It might also help if they were at least in the same country as the person calling for service.

Another “at least” but a good one. In the City of Toronto we have one number to call for any city service – 311 – and despite a few stupid people working there, for the most part, you can get things sorted out. It sure beats trying to figure what section of the city you live in – according to the city – to know which number to call and do that for every city service. If 311 doesn’t work, I can call my local councillor.

To quote and add on to my grade six teacher’s saying:

 “I’ll give credit where credit is due.” I add “and discredit where discredit is due.”

Like I said in last week’s post. I want to go back to the 1950s and 1960s. I don’t think my mom and dad had to deal with a lot of this crap. The 2000’s stink.

Thanks to those who commented last week. Any more comments re bad service or even good service?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Consumer action, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford