Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Computer Error"

So after reminding my company that cutting off the health insurance for Luis was completely illegal, I got a follow-up phone call mighty quickly from the Benefits Department at home office. It seems the whole thing was 'computer error.' They were switching over systems, and some files didn't get sent correctly to Kaiser. Of course, they caught the error and everything is fine. In fact, they caught it back on April 11th and he's definitely covered.

Wow...I almost believed them. Too bad the letter canceling Luis' insurance is dated after April 11th. Guess that blows a big hole in their story.

At any rate, I struck another blow for domestic partners everywhere. Well, at least in California.

Prejudice Night At Denny's

Luis had to work particularly late this evening, so we decided to catch a late night meal at Denny's. It took us forever to get a table, as there were only two servers on and the place was a bit busier than usual.

We eventually got seated in a booth, at the edge of a curve of three tables. On the far end of the curve was a table with four Latino men. The next table at the curve held a group of six or seven high school boys who, from the looks of their uniforms, work at the local Go-Kart racetrack. Then there were us, followed by a table with an African-American woman having dinner with an older white lady.

As we were sitting down in our booth, we started getting he hairy eyeball from the table of Latinos, who commenced to start making some discussion amongst themselves with frequent looks in our direction. Although my Spanish is pretty rusty, I DO recognize slang for "faggots." I'm not sure what it was about us that was bothering them. Too bad one of them was really hot...the nasty looks and comments made him a whole lot uglier.

Meanwhile, the group of high school boys had been visited by the waiter, who was also Latino and whose English wasn't that great. Since there were six or seven of them, he said he needed to put all of their items on one check. As he headed back to the kitchen, the boys started making snotty comments about his inability to speak excellent English and saying things like "oh yeah, I've got your tip" and pulling their hand out of their pocket to show their middle finger. Of course, being teenagers, they also kept referring to things as being 'so gay.' Completely rude and immature.

Meanwhile, the woman behind me remarks to her African-American dinner companion: "I think she was Asian. I mean, she was awfully slanty-eyed." Then she actually tittered. I've only read about tittering...she actually pulled it off.

I wonder if there was some sort of coupon in the newspaper for a discounted meal if you brought your prejudices to Denny's tonight. Needless to say, it was NOT one of the better experiences I've had there.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I received a letter on Saturday that informed me that Kaiser Permanente HMO was canceling my husband's health insurance PER THE INSTRUCTIONS OF MY EMPLOYER! Oh yeah....this was effective MARCH 17TH! Absolutely no notice from my company to me, and no explanation given. I jumped through hoops to get him the medical in the first place, mostly through a loophole because we are registered domestic partners here in California and he is automatically entitled under Kaiser. We even had to submit copies of our domestic partner registry to my home office.

They also have continued to deduct money from my paycheck for the last month for coverage for two people, not one.

I am BEYOND furious. I realize they don't have a domestic partner benefits program (oh yeah, but they DO have common-law...go figure) but to cancel coverage without any notification to me, which is required in writing by law and not after the fact, is seriously illegal. My District Manager is going to talk to the head of HR. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


OK, so it's no secret that I absolutely can't sleep at night. When I was on tour, nobody wanted to share a room with me because I snored so bad (when I lived with my friend Sue, it's amazing she didn't come in at night and try to smother me with a pillow). It's kind of funny that my hubby claims he can't sleep at night UNLESS he hears me snoring.

At any rate, I'm the type that wakes up a million times a night. The other day, while walking through Whole Foods Supermarket (a chain that specializes in organic foods and all-natural remedies), I came across the following product:

Now, I'm dubious at best about 'all natural, herbal remedies.' However, I decided what the hell and took it home. That night, two squirts on the tongue (of the Rescue Sleep, that is) and I went to bed. AND SLEPT ALL THE WAY THROUGH! No hangover, no nothing. Tried it again a couple of nights later and once again slept all the way through. Recommended it to a co-worker who tried it and....SHE slept all the way through.

According to the website for the company, it's basically a shot of a flower garden. I kind of cracked up over the flower for 'irrational thoughts.' Wow.....there's a flower I oughta try more often.

So, I have absolutely no idea why it works...but it does. And no, it has virtually no alcohol in it, and the only alcohol in it is to get the flower juice into your bloodstream quickly. This ain't Nyquil.

I guess maybe it goes to show that sometimes the oldest remedies are better than anything a lab can cook up over a Bunsen burner. Makes me darn happy, though, to sleep all the way through the night.

Interesting Idea...

Ever wonder whether or not you're supposed to be flying your flag at half-mast (no, I'm not talking about the Viagra kind)? Over at they'll give you the opportunity to sign up for email alerts as to when you should lower Old Glory. I thought that was sort of a neat idea. For example, I had no idea that the flags were to be lowered for the Virginia Tech killings until April 22nd. I always assumed the half-mast thing was just for the death of presidents and so forth.


My boss decided to quit yesterday, giving absolutely no notice. I talked to her briefly today, and she gave me her reasons. I won't go into them here, but they certainly seem valid and make me question a little bit about continuing on with the company. I was REALLY fiercely loyal to her...she was hands-down one of the best bosses I've ever had. Who knows what the next one is going to be like?

I also have been wanting to move up to a District-Manager-In-Training position. Today, I found out that a mandatory part of this process is that I have to be willing to travel to different regions and help manage several stores for a few months at a time. I don't think I'd really mind this...if I was single. However, the thought of leaving my hubby behind and only getting to see him a couple of times a week is really awful. So do I make the sacrifice with the idea that it MIGHT pay off one day in a DM position, or do I put more emphasis on my relationship and know that I'll be stuck as a store manager for a long time to come?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Bad Customer Service Story

When my man and I went to visit the parents in Florida last November, we went on a buying binge. We had to buy a separate suitcase to bring home all of the clothes and other items we purchased.

As many of you know, I have quite the addiction to penguins. We have decorated our bathroom primarily in penguins (and some dolphin stuff to appease my mate). Therefore, we figured we'd be on the lookout for some penguin stuff while we were down that way.

We stopped by Cocoa Village and found a little bath shop called The Bath Cottage. Inside, we hit the motherload...penguin-shaped bath oils. I picked up a bunch of them, with the intention of filling up a glass jar for the counter in the bathroom.

Recently, I decided I didn't have enough to do what I wanted, so I called my mom and asked her if she could check with them and see if they had any more. They informed her that they had a few left. Mom asked them to ship UPS to my store, but the owner of the shop told her that since there weren't that many, they'd fit in the mailbox. However, she'd put them in a box to make sure they survived the trip. She collected Mom's info over the phone, got the credit card, billed her for the shipping and the product and I sat back to wait for it to arrive.

A few days later a package arrived in the mail from them. However, it wasn't a box, it was a padded envelope.

Oh was also empty. Apparently, somewhere along the way, somebody in the postal service decided to help themselves to my penguins. And the lovely people at The Bath Cottage failed to send the items with insurance, so there was no way for us to make a claim with the post office.

I called the people at the Cottage the next day, and got a really nice girl who was very understanding and apologetic and collected my information to give to the owner's daughter who would be in the next day.

The next day, I received a phone call from this woman, named Theresa. Below is pretty much how the conversation went:

Theresa: "So I guess I don't understand what the problem is."
Me: "Well, we received the package completely empty. Somebody in the postal service must have taken the contents. Since it wasn't sent insured, we have no way to make a claim for it. I was hoping you could help."
Theresa: "Well, I talked to somebody at the post office who said you can file a claim on your end without having the insurance."

(Wait a second.....didn't she start off telling me she didn't understand what the problem is? How did she know to call the post office if she didn't understand the problem?)

Me: "That's fine, I guess. But this wouldn't have happened if you had sent it through UPS. I would have a tracking number and $100 insurance, and this is what my mom asked for."
T: "Well, we decided that it was ridiculous to spend $7.50 on shipping for such little product when we could just mail it through the post office."
Me: "That's actually not for you to decide. My mother specifically asked to ship it UPS, AND she was told it would be in a box. She had no problem paying $7.50 to make sure it would get safely to California."
T: "I find it hard to believe your mother would want to pay the $7.50. I've never had a customer tell me they didn't care about the shipping."
Me: "Well, considering it was a gift, you just met somebody that didn't care. And why wasn't it in a box, when she was told it would be? Who sends something like bath beads in a padded envelope? They'll smash!"
T: "We ship all the time and nothing ever happens. I don't see what the big deal is."
Me: "The big deal is that you have my mother's money and we have an empty package."
T: "Why would the post office deliver an empty package?"
Me: "How should I know? The bottom line is you did a bad job sending this stuff insurance, a padded envelope and you shipped something fragile cross country. I'd like to know how we can take care of this."
T: "Well, I'm already out the money, so I don't know."
Me: "You're not out anything. You have all of my mother's money in your cash register and I have nothing to show for it."
T: "Well, I could order some more from the vendor, but then I'd be out the money for it because we'd have to pay for it."
Me: "Well, if you had shipped correctly the first time, this wouldn't be an issue. And right now you're not out anything. You have my mother's money for both the shipping and the product."

Now is when she begins to get this extremely nasty tone of voice with me.

T: "Well, I can send out the penguins, but you'll have to pay the shipping."
Me: "I'm not paying any shipping. We already paid you for shipping and got nothing, including no insurance."
T: "Well, I can ship them out UPS but you'll have to pay for it."
Me: "Wait a second. We already paid for shipping and got nothing. Why should we have to pay for it when you didn't do your job right in the first place, or fulfill the order the way you promised? Heck, why should I trust you to send them out correctly this time when you didn't do it the way we asked the first time?"
T: "Then your mother should come down here and pick them up and mail them to you herself."
Me: "This is unacceptable. I can't believe you're putting everything on me and not willing to admit you did anything wrong."
T: "I have a store full of customers and I really don't have any more time for this. I'm sorry that I couldn't help you. Goodbye."

And she hung up on me. Guess what makes me the angriest in the world? Hanging up on me. Especially when that person is 3000 miles away and I can't reach their neck to wring it.

So, I called Mom who proceeded to call Theresa and launch into her. Theresa continued to play it that she shouldn't have to do anything. Finally, she also told my mother that she was too busy to deal with her anymore and she'd just send her a check 'to make her go away.'

So in the end, Mom got her money back. I got not penguins. The Bath Cottage lost my business and got a bad blog post out of me, as well as a spread of nastygram emails to my friends and family to avoid the place.

So terrible customer service, right? But here's the kicker. The bath oil beads plus the three stamps on the padded envelope totaled about $11. Was it worth it for me to call? Yes, because the business who collected my mother's money failed to deliver on promised goods or to take adequate steps to ensure safe delivery and/or insurance of the product for arrival. Was it worth it for them to fight with both my mother and I over it instead of saying simply "You're right, we didn't send it the way we promised and we should have checked with you first. We'll make good on it."? Well, I'll let you guys decide that one. I can tell you I've done a lot more than that for MY customers to ensure they are taken care of.

Free At Last, Free At Last.....

I'm happy to announce that my man has finally quit the gas station job entirely, and is now working full time with the inventory service. It may mean a little less money here and there, but he's infinitely happier and more well-rested. Not to mention, we get to spend a lot more time together. Guess that makes us both happier!