Posts Tagged customer service

The Experiment

I bought a Sidekick II in early 2005. It was my first smart phone, and it changed my life. I’d had other phones with web access in the past, but it just wasn’t good enough to be anything more than a curiosity. The Sidekick II was very usable. I could get out and about while managing my business and helping my clients. I was no longer so tied to the computer.

I’m on my 4th Sidekick now, the Sidekick LX 2009. The first one I bought at a discounted rate and signed a contract with T-Mobile, but all the subsequent ones I bought outright, so I’ve long since been out of contract.

T-Mobile/Danger/Microsoft decided to shut down the Danger servers on May 31st 2011. Without the servers, my phone is a dumb phone, with an excellent keyboard.

T-Mobile handled the transition in a piss poor fashion. I had to spend hours on the phone with them, I could detail it all out, but who really cares. It was hideous and offensive. No two people would tell me the same thing. At first I was told that even though I was off contract, I’d be given a discount on a new phone because of the inconvenience of my phone no longer having the features I bought it for. By the end I was told that no way would I get any discount at all, unless I would sign a contract, at which point I’d get exactly the same discount as anyone else buying a phone and signing a contract. Zero compensation for the inconvenience.

I originally planned to leave T-Mobile and go to Virgin, where I could get a plan that suited me well (unlimted data and very limited talk (I hate to talk on the phone) for $25 per month. I’d have to buy a new phone outright, but I wouldn’t be under contract, and it was cheaper than what a new phone with similar features would cost me to stay on T-Mobile. Plus it was cheaper per month than T-Mobile. It, admittedly, has for less minutes, but I basically see the less minutes as a bonus.

I cut back the T-Mobile plan, because we didn’t need two phones with data plans anymore. At that point I realized it only cost us $5 a month to just have a phone that shared the minutes.  $5 is less than $25.  Of course it is cheaper, it has no data, but…

What if I just went without?

I’ve been living with a smart phone for several years now, and I’m addicted to the damn thing.

I think it is a useful device, but it is possible I am deluding myself over how useful it is. It might simply be a luxury item, or it could very well be a monkey on my back, ruining my ability to think properly, since I store half my brain functions in the cloud, and keeping me from really living in the moment, because I am too damn busy posting about the moment online from my phone.

So, I didn’t replace my smart phone. I just have a dumb phone. I’m seeing what that means for my life.

For one thing, I find I don’t reach for the damn phone immediately upon waking.

Actually, I sometimes leave it in the car or another room for the whole day, and don’t pay any attention to it.

It’s inconvenient to not have the internet on my phone, but my world hasn’t fallen apart, yet.

We’ll see.

Anyhow, that’s why I am a little less responsive than you might be used to.


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Energy Suck

When we bought our house, it came with a crappy old refrigerator that the old owners didn’t want to bother taking away. It made things cold, which is really all a refrigerator needs, but the door pieces were broken, so things could not really be kept in the door, drawers were cracked, etc. It was difficult to organize things inside, because some parts didn’t hold things well.

We put it out in the garage and got a new refrigerator for inside, and it worked well as a second refrigerator. However, I often feel some stress over the poor energy efficiency of the old unit, so I finally decided to make use of the SCE rebate program to get rid of old refrigerators or freezers.

I filled out the form online, and picked June 3rd as the pick-up date. It was the first available date. When selecting the date, it says “We will call you prior to the date you choose below to confirm your appointment and you will be given a four hour time slot. We will call you within a half hour of our arrival on the day of your pickup.” Then they called and reiterate this information (yes, somebody called to tell me that somebody would call). Then they sent snail mail, to let me know that they would call me the day before pick-up to give me a window, and would call me just prior to pick-up, and that if I did not answer, they would reschedule me.

June 2nd rolled around and I got no call or message letting me know what my 4 hour window would be. I called and left them voice mail asking if the pick-up was still happening on the third, and if so, what the 4 hour window would be.

On June 3rd, the doorbell rang at 7 AM and woke me up. They wanted my refrigerator.

At 9:30 AM they called to reply to my voice mail, wanting to provide me with a 4 hour time window for pick-up.


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Volcano Lunch

My birthday is next week and a friend of mine took me out for a mani/pedi and lunch yesterday as my gift. The mani/pedi went without incident. We sat next to each other in the massager chairs and tried to converse while people tickled our feet and manhandled us.

For lunch we went to a sushi place that neither of us had been to before. Some people, especially when treating a friend to a birthday meal, might prefer to go with something “tried and true” but both of us enjoy checking out new restaurants in hopes of finding a new gem.

This sushi place was chosen based on the fact it was very close to the nail salon and a couple of HER friends eat there regularly and like it.

We arrived and were given a choice of sushi bar or table. I almost always prefer the bar, however it had been more than a month since the last time my friend and I had seen each other or really spoken. A lot had gone on in that month and we had things to talk about. Some of what I wanted to tell her about, I did not want people to overhear. We chose the table.

They brought us menus and the sushi ordering form. We carefully opened the menus with our newly manicured and not really dry nails. The menu was the type that is filled to the brim with specialty rolls, a great many of them in combinations that have little thought put into them. Each roll was listed by number, name, ingredients, photo and price. It was a full color menu. It makes for a very crowded design, but gives you a decent idea of what you are ordering. We discussed our order and as we settled on what we wanted the waitress came by to check on us. We told her we had decided, but had not marked the sheet yet. She said she would do it for us.

We ordered. We ordered by number, name, and pointing at the item on the menu. Triple specificity.

#8 Crazy Boy
#10 BSCR
#11 Volcano Scallop
#24 House Special
#26 Sexy Roll
#39 Sashimi Salad

The waitress went to give our order to the sushi chef and we started to go over some of the topics we needed to cover.

Before long the waitress reappeared announcing “Sexy Roll,” and placed it on the table. The overall presentation was not the same as in the photo, but I am fine with that. Each chef has a slightly different style for things and I do not expect plastic food that looks exactly the same. We dug in. It tasted good. We continued to talk.

We were not finished with that roll when the waitress reappeared carrying two more items. “Crazy Boy,” she tells us. She pauses stressed because she is not sure where to put both plates down. Mind you, we are two people sitting at a 4 top and only have one item on the table so far, but it is apparently exactly where she wanted to put the other plates. I move what is left of the Sexy Roll and she puts down the Crazy Boy and the Sashimi Salad. She does not tell us the name of the Sashimi Salad since she had gotten distracted by the placement problem. I could easily tell what it was, because there was lettuce involved and there was nothing roll like involved in it, and everything else we ordered was a roll.

Crazy Boy looked similar to the photo. Sashimi Salad did not. Again, I am not overly concerned with the look matching the photo, but when that difference in looks is caused by a change in ingredients, I am less excited. The Sashimi Salad in the photo has hunks of fresh fish, atop mixed greens with a non-creamy salad dressing. The mixed greens on our plate did have an oil and vinegar dressing on them, but the fish itself was tossed and slathered in creamy sauce. Had that information been on the menu in some form, I would have told them to leave it off. I made a mental note to be sure to alter the order if I ever came again. I was in no mood to complain, and just wanted to get back to our chat. I didn’t eat any of the Crazy Boy, but my friend liked it.

A different waitress brought two more plates, announcing, “Scallop Roll and Lobster Roll,” as we made room for them on the table. My friend and I exchange looks and stare at the plates. (Huh?)

I stopped her, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we ordered a Lobster Roll, and this Scallop Roll, is it the BSCR, or the Volcano?”

“It’s the Volcano,” she informs us. “You ordered the Lobster Roll, right?”

“No, I don’t think so.” (No, I definitely did not order the Lobster Roll. Nothing we said SOUNDS like Lobster Roll.)

She goes to get the waitress who took our order and they consult the piece of paper and come over to the table.

The waitress we ordered from says, “You don’t want it?”

“Well, we didn’t order it.”

“Sorry,” she tells us as the other waitress takes it and gives it back to the chef.

I point to the roll on the table and inquire, “Is this the Volcano Roll?” I am asking again because it does not look like what I was expecting.

“No,” she tells me, “it is the BSCR.”

“Okay, the other lady said it was the Volcano. So the Volcano is still coming?” I ask.

She looks at me confused, “You want the Volcano?” My friend and I exchange looks. (What’s happening?)

“Yes, we ordered it, right?” The waitress looks at the piece of paper and nods and walks back to talk to the chef. My friend and I start up our conversation again expecting the rest of our order soon, but we only get a few words in before the other waitress interrupts again.

“Do you want the Volcano?” she asks. My friend and I look at each other again. (Obviously somebody is confused. Is it us?)

“Yes, that’s the spicy one, right?. We like spicy things.” I tell her.

“Oh, you like the spicy sauce?”

“Yes.” I smile at her encouragingly. She goes away and talks to the chef again and we get back to our conversation.

In a flash, she returns. “You want the Volcano Roll too?” My friend and I exchange looks again. o.O

“Right, we still have two more rolls coming, right? How many rolls did we order?”

She looks at the paper, “Six. So you’re okay? You want 2 more?”

“We’ve had four so far, right?” I say, trying to get us all on the same page. She nods. “So you are bringing two more? We still need the Volcano Roll and the House Roll?” At this point everything seems questionable.

“Okay.” She goes back to talk to the chef again, and once again we try to get back to our conversation.

She brings us a roll that looks ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like any of the photos of what we ordered, not even close. “House Roll,” she announces and sets it on the table. The House Roll on the menu was a roll completely covered with three kinds of chopped up raw fish GOODness. This thing was a small, very plain roll with two types of fish, all wrapped inside. My friend and I look at each other. (WTF?)

“Can I see what we ordered?” I gesture toward the paper. She hands me the paper.

I look over the checked boxes.

#8 Crazy Boy
#10 House Roll
#11 BSCR…

What? These numbers do not match up with the menu numbers. Also the prices on this piece of paper are all considerably higher. For instance this #10 House Roll is $9.75 instead of $7.75.

I look down the rest of the sheet and see a mark by #26 Sexy Roll. #24 is not called the House Roll and is not marked. Written at the bottom in a box is Volcano Roll and Sashimi Salad.

“Oh, House Roll on the menu is number 24, and this looks different,” I mention.

The waitress nods happily, “We changed it, but I checked the right name.” I smile at her. She smiles back. “The BSCR and the Volcano Roll are the same,” she tells me. My smile fades.

“What? They are not the same on the menu.” I point out.

“Just two different names. They are the same. See, BSCR is short for it. B. S. C. R. It is the initials,” she explains cheerfully to me. “See? That’s why the chef is confused.”

My friend and I look at each other again. (B S C R is short for for Volcano Roll, yes, it all makes perfect sense now.)

“But they are different on the menu, the Volcano Roll is spicy. Also, the House Roll is different on the menu.”

“Yes,” she agrees. “They have changed it. They have the wrong picture. We keep trying to tell them to change the menu.”

The chef speaks now, “See? The Volcano Roll and Scallop Roll are the same.”

“But, on the menu they are different.” I reply. I am not trying to be argumentative. I am speaking in a polite tone of voice and am genuinely feeling confused, sort of as if I have wandered into The Twilight Zone.

“No,” he tells me.

“No?” I ask.

He motions at the waitress to bring him the menu. He looks at the menu. “See? It is the same. The BSCR has scallops, and the Volcano has scallops and lobster and spicy sauce. They are the same,” he states firmly.

(Perhaps we do not have matching definitions of the word same. ) “Oh. Okay.” I tell him. (I don’t want to talk to you anymore.)

“I can make it for you.”

I glance at my friend and raise and eyebrow. Her answer is written on her face, as clearly as if she had used a Sharpie (OMFG Let’s just Get. Out. Of. Here.)

“No thank you. I think we’ll be fine.” I tell the chef.

“No, I can make it for you.”

“No, it’s okay,” my friend tells him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. We’re fine. We’ll be fine with what we have. Thank you.” I respond.

“What about the other one? You don’t like the other one?”

“It’s fine.”

He says something I can’t hear to the waitress and she shows him on the menu. He gestures toward our table. “Bring it here, I can make it like that.”

“It’s okay. We’re fine, really.” (We just want to finish and go far away now.)

They drop it and we try to go back to our conversation.

A loud voice interrupts, “What’s wrong?”

We look and another man has come out from the kitchen and is staring angrily at us.

“Nothing, we’re fine. Just some confusion with the menu.”

“What’s wrong?”

“We’re fine now, everything is…”

He cuts me off, “What’s wrong?!”

The waitress steps in and starts talking to him. I cannot hear what she is saying, but he is sufficiently distracted.

We go back to lunching and talking, but soon my friend interrupts me and says, “I think they are talking about us.” I glance back at the sushi bar. Both men have angry faces and are waving their hands around. The women are standing there looking uncomfortable. The men get louder and louder. Soon the men are yelling at each other. They are yelling loudly. They are yelling about us. The man from the kitchen yells at the man who made our food. This pisses our chef off and he begins to yell back about some other customer who was there earlier. They get louder and louder, and more and more angry. The women start arguing also, but not as loudly. I cannot make out what the women are saying. All four of them are just standing up at the bar arguing while we try to eat our lunch.

Eventually the man who had been in the kitchen storms back into the kitchen in disgust. The other man begins to clean up his workspace with a vengeance, slamming and banging things. The waitress comes over to ask if we want anything else.

My friend smiled, “Just our check, and a to go box, thank you.”

My friend scooped into boxes, paid, and we left as quickly as possible. As we walked out the door the waitress called out, “Thank you! Come again!”

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