Friday, November 20, 2009

"Polite-ing to Death"

That, for those of you that haven't seen it before, is a Southern-ism. Whereas if you angered someone in NYC they'd rip you a new one, in the deep South things are different. Especially with the ladies. If someone, especially someone with a whip hand over you, is unfair or rude, you "Yes'm" the hell out of them. Everything is said in a tone of deep respect, not a word out of place, leaving the angry person no ground upon which to stand. (I know that is grammatically correct, but English is so awkward that way, basing so much on Latin rules when it's not really a Latin-based language. But I digress.)

So why do I mention that technique? Because customer service in all walks of life has resorted to it as a means of dealing with a consumer, irate or not, and to be honest, I am sick of it.

As an I received an email from my younger sister, B. I had drawn her name for Christmas this year. With four kids in my family, spouses and adult grandchildren, we went to this system several years ago. Much more sensible. Said sister lives in Georgia.

The day before we did the drawing, my other sister J and I were shopping in Kohl's. She spotted some serving pieces in a snowman theme, and remarked that they would be perfect for B, who apparently has a snowman fetish of which I was heretofore unaware. When I drew B, I knew what to get.

Rather than go to the store and pack it all up myself, I went online - how I do 90% of my gift shopping, btw - and placed the order. I wanted to send it early because a) it was on sale; b) I had the money; and c) not much sense giving a holiday item that will be immediately put away. So I placed the order, and watched the tracking to see when she'd get it.

The cheapest shipping option was Fedex, but the kind where they get it there, then give it to the USPS to deliver. This seems to me like a Montague trusting a Capulet with their goblet of wine, but there you have it. Since no one was home to sign for delivery, they had to go pick it up at the Post Office. And one of the two pieces I sent was shattered. Not broken, decimated. B. called Kohl's to report it and they said they would credit my card.

Naturally, I still wanted my sister to have the piece I sent, rather than the pieces it became, so I called customer service, using the number on my email confirmation. Which did not take me to regular customer service, but to Kohl's charge card service. I don't have one, don't want one, and if you own a store card that you don't pay off every month, you're insane. Their rates are usury, pure and simple. But they kindly connected me to the correct department, and I got a rep right away, a rarity that I found pleasing. And even better, I spoke to someone in the USA.

And got Polited. I wasn't upset when I called, I know that doo-doo happens, but this is the way we're all treated now. Everything was over-enthusiastic. Provide your name, and you'd think you just went potty on your own for the first time. Confirm your address and they're practically orgasmic. When I called Sprint awhile back, everything was "Thank you sooo much for that information!" The woman I spoke with at Kohl's was very nice. Don't get me wrong. She got the item re-ordered for me, and was delighted to find it was on a deeper sale and I would save two whole additional dollars. She exclaimed over the adorableness, and informed me she should order one (I was forcibly reminded of the Target lady on SNL!). She told me of her deep longing to visit Georgia, and thrilled to tell me there would be no shipping. All very sweet.

And it made me irritated where I wasn't before. Yes, I know, you're thinking it's perverse of me. However, I prefer to deal professionally. I'm not adverse to a little schmoozing of clients when there is a relationship there, as in our business. But with luck, I won't speak to Suzy Sunshine again. No relationship to develop. Instead, a call that could have been completed in half the time was elongated by all the verbal ego stroking.

I'll grant you, it's preferable to the surliness I was on the end of on another call today. Another company with whom we have no business, nor would we, attempting to fax our voice line. After six of these in rapid succession a few days ago, I looked up the number on Google, found their voice line (no, you really don't want to mess with me) and called. Spoke to a young man who was properly apologetic and guaranteed to take care of it.

Uh-huh. Got six more today. After the first two, I called them, and this time got a young woman. She informed me that I would need to speak with the young man again, and he would have to call me back. I suggested that while I wait on that, she could walk herself to the fax, or call wherever it is, and ask them to knock it off. She got very snippy, told me I'd have to wait for the call, and hung up on me.

That sucks as customer service. If he does call, I'll rat her out in a heartbeat...after all, they are harassing ME, interrupting my work, so what right does she have to be pissed at me for asking that it stop? I didn't use any rude words, or raise my voice. And if they don't call me, you can be sure I'll be on the horn to them soon.

But on the up side, at least I didn't feel like I was covered in sugar syrup when I got off the phone. Not a good feeling for a diabetic. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Elfine's Socks

I finished my socks this weekend, and after beating my mother and sister (more on them later) off with a stick, I managed to keep them! These are unblocked except by my foot.
Yes, I have cankles, and you can go sit in the van.
This are the Elfine's socks by Anna Bell. It's a free pattern which you may find here. I knit them in the Socks That Rock Spinel colorway. Here's a tighter detail of the picture above, and this color is a bit more true. These took about a month to knit, alternating with another project or two.This is only my third pair of socks, and I'm really pleased with them. I discovered that knitting plain socks doesn't suit me at all; too boring! But this was fun, so I'm looking forward to my next pair. Right now I'm knitting a Christmas stocking, but no pictures till it's done. Be patient, my little chickadees!
In a spirit of fun which, let's face it, is the best spirit of all, next to rum, I thought I'd share....
This weekend my mom and sister Joyce were in town for the annual birthday dinner for Mom and I (mine was Friday and face it, you sent NOTHING) and we went shopping. Well duh. So- we're stopped a light, and the little chippy in the pickup next to us has some noxious crap passing for music rudely blaring out her truck windows. Mom grumbles, and I said, "Hey, Mom (I call her that), turn your music up and drown her out!" When was the last time YOU heard Johnny Mathis cranked up, pouring out of car windows? I laughed my @$$ off!
The real kicker is that after we had our giggle and turned the music back down, the chippy had cut hers back too! I suspect good ole Johnny won her over. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


One of the types of photography we do in our business is sports, including action work. Usually we go out, take pictures of the kids playing, then have the edited shots printed, and take them to the field and sell them toward the end of the season. Once we've sold at the field, we also put the images online to garner additional sales. This isn't just good for us...think of the bitterly divorced parents you know - Dad snaps up all the pictures before Mom can get there, and you KNOW he's not sharing. Or Grandma lives at the other end of the country but wants to get pictures too.

We hand out flyers as we shoot telling people what we're doing. We enclose flyers in the envelopes with the pictures we sell too. It tells them specifically that the password-protected photos will be available online after a certain date. So of course we get the semi-literate dweebs who call us three weeks before we even sell the photos, complaining that they cannot find them online. Yeesh.

But today the DH shared an email that had us both in stitches. A lady wrote in, wanting to know how to find the football pictures of her son online. The DH sent her a list of instructions, ending with "enter the password shown." The woman writes back a few days later saying she still can't get into the pictures, because the website wouldn't accept the password when she typed in "shown."

I laughed till I cried, but that wasn't the kicker. Oh, no. As DH checked the rest of his email, he found an order from her! Can't you just SEE the lightbulb going off, and her desperately wishing she could retrieve her prior email?

I can, and it's absolutely made my day. LOL!