Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Humor: Being placed on hold

Have you ever been placed on hold for what feels like eternity? I have and I've decided I don't like it. Usually my demeanor includes plenty of patience, but there comes a time when enough is enough and and the well runs dry. In my book, long wait times on holds with businesses creates a severe patience drought. I have worked in customer service and never, in all good conscience, would I ever have placed a customer on hold for perpetuity.

Once I received a rather large bill, which was an anticipated expense, but the invoice arrived stating an amount significantly less than what I was supposed to owe. Wanting to do the ethical thing, I grabbed the phone to call the vendor to inform them of their colossal blunder. I tend to believe in the thought of what goes around comes around, so I figure it's a good idea to pay what I owe rather than try to "cheat" the agency by paying the lower amount they actually noted on the bill.

So…I let my fingers do the walking (yes this was in the days pre-mobile!) and dialed up the vendor. I'm immediately greeted by an overly-friendly automated voice who sounds extremely happy I called. As quickly as the call is answered, after my impersonal yet lovely, greeting I am quickly transferred to another line. This time for my listening pleasure I'm treated to some upbeat cheesy music. As if that wasn't bad enough, the transition to each new song was horrible.

I thought to myself, "With the outrageous prices they charge, you think if they could at least afford some decent music, and splurge and invest in an automated system which has the capability to smoothly transition from one awful song to the next".

Anyway, I figured if this was my biggest gripe of the day, no big deal.

Eventually, maybe some 20 minutes later, as I paced my kitchen floor, a customer representative gets around to answering the line I'm on. He's pretty useless. First off, he doesn't understand what I'm saying and tries to address another issue, totally unrelated to my current one. It wasn't hard to see this company's customer service reps didn't take notes each time they talked to a customer.

Since he can't understand what the issue is I'm trying to report, he apparently feels the helpful thing to do is create a different problem he can solve. One that no longer existed.

Unfortunately, someone had already beat him to the punch because it was one which I had already explained on the last go around on a previous endless, on-hold telephone call. Buddy, that was last year's issue. The ticket should have been closed by now. Now I have two problems. Great!

After a few minutes of insisting I really don't need the solution he's offering, he says he's going to refer me to the escalation department. Oh joy!

Muttering to myself, "Just what I need, they gotta take a simple error on their part (which actually benefits me) and make it into my problem to sit on hold for eternity."

Nonetheless, I patiently listen to clueless Mr. Customer Service rep, giving him the benefit of doubt. Friendly, but dense, customer service guy warns me it's going to be several minutes.

I ask, "How many is several? Are you talking 10 minutes or 45? I've got a toddler running around I need to tend to."

"Ummm, errrr, 5 minutes," he stammers.

OK, I figure I'll play along.

I get transferred to another line and am immediately am greeted by another cheery automated voice who is also elated I called. After pushing the requested keys on my telephone, I'm given another musical serenade. This time it's 1970s music which sounds like something which would have been offered on the "Loveboat" soundtrack — had one been released (or was there one?)

If the music wasn't bad enough, the looping of songs was even worse. Imagine cheesy bubbly music combined with the hula all in one tune; same three songs over and over. Oh well, at least this line transitions its songs a little better than the last.

Ten minutes pass by and I decide I'll give 'em some slack.

At 15 minutes I figure, "Well I waited this long, they should answer any minute."

At 25 minutes my kitchen floor is beginning to have a definitive worn path where I've been pacing, so I decide to sit down. At 30 minutes I seriously ponder hanging up, but then I debate the logistics with myself, and envision having to call back at another time and go through this process again.

Ultimately, I end up weighing the pros and cons and decide since I already have time invested in this nonsense — I'm in for the long haul. Settling back in my chair to catch up on some reading as I faintly hear my toddler creating all sorts of havoc in the other room with an older sibling.

Eventually, in what seems an eternity has now gone by, a very optimistic representative answers the phone. She immediately understands my issue. She tells me it will take a few days, but not a problem and for me not to pay until it's straightened out. Phew. I won't have collections banging on my door. My conscience could be clear.

My discussion with this woman was all of about 2.5 minutes and problem resolved.

I figured with the amount of time I spent on hold, the hole in my kitchen floor from pacing, and the damage done to my den while I was being entertained by cheesy music, this probably equates to the difference which was not reflected in the bill.

I ponder the fact they should be paying me at this point. Perhaps I should have billed them instead?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Humor: Men and grocery shopping

Rules to observe when you ask your man to go grocery shopping

"Honey, can you please go to the store and pick up some eggs, milk, cheese, bread, soup mix, carrots, diapers, mayo and..."

Stop right there. Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you are one of the many women who have not yet realized that verbally rambling off a list of grocery needs to your mate just doesn't work. If this rings familiar, you're making a big mistake. 

This is because most men can only handle a few items for the grocery store without receiving a written list. While women can run into a grocery and instinctively know exactly where each item is and know what it should cost, men just don't seem to have this natural intuition. Women may spend big money on shoes or handbags, but they sure know how not to be overcharged for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk.

CC0 Image by beeki / Pixabay
There are some cardinal rules to observe when you ask your man to go shopping.

Rule #1 - Make the list: When you ask your mate to go grocery shopping it is imperative you make a written notation for anything more than three items. If you neglect to do this, it is likely you'll be disappointed upon his arrival back home. That is because most of the items you asked him to pick up will be missing. Especially frustrating if you specifically needed one of the items for a recipe you want to make.

Rule #2 - Give explicit directive: So your mate happily takes your list and arrives at the store, now what? As he stands bewildered looking at the numerous aisles wondering where to start, a light bulb goes off. He has an idea to go up and down each aisle so he doesn't miss a thing.

As he attempts to select the items you've requested, he finds he's run into a bit of a dilemma. He thinks to himself, "All those brands! Difference prices! What is the difference between baby carrots and regular carrots? Which diapers should I select? There are five different sizes!"

Most men will do one of two things, if he is in a hurry and just can't wait to get the heck out of dodge, he'll either grab the first item which catches his eye, or if he's are on the more frugal side, he'll carefully analyze and choose what he perceives as the cheapest item. The problem with this is once he's made the executive decision to peruse all the aisles, there's bound to be plenty of impulse buying going on.

Yikes! First off, don't men know we freak out when the wrong brand is purchased? You gasp when you go through the grocery bags "you chose that brand of diapers? What in the world were you thinking!?! You've got to go exchange those!"

Consequently, if our mates come home and has spent too much money, we also react, "you spent how much? That's ridiculous, we don't need a gallon of mayo or a five pound bag of carrots!"

He replies, "Yes dear, but after carefully considering the cost-ratio per ounce, the larger size was the cheaper deal."

Rule #3 - Just go to the store yourself: As you rifle through the bags and begin to put away groceries you see all those extras which were not on the list and are likely to sit on the shelves until they either grow mold or expire. Wouldn't it have made more sense to just do it yourself?

When will we women ever realize it's quicker, cheaper and more efficient to just run to the store ourselves? Is it really all that hard? Every time he goes shopping we vow to do this. The thing is we conveniently forget the next time we run out of milk . . .

"Honey, can you please run to the store and get some milk? While you're there grab some potatoes, bread, spinach, pie . . ."

Then he comes home with potato bread and a spinach quiche. Oh and since you didn't make the list, he forgot the milk.