Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I've been thinkin'... YAY + NAY

-PBS' coverage of the DNC Convention in Denver that showcased most of the speeches
-Tropical storm Fay bringing north Georgia much needed rain - and lots of it!
-PR firms, headhunters, and others that actually, personally return Emails and/or calls.
-Sami Hayek's groovy collection for Target - especially the stationery and notebook line
-Krystal's new Key Lime Pie MilkQuake
-Kroger's new 10 for $10 offerings
-Cloris Leachman on Dancing with the Stars!!

-CNN's coverage of the DNC Convention in Denver that showcased the dozen talking heads endlessly discussing what was wrong with the convention agenda and Wolf CONSTANTLY pointing out that they were on the air more than other networks - of course CSPAN kicked their butts with no irritating punditry!
-PR firms, headhunters, and others that simply do not return calls or Emails. Even a stock bounceback "thank you" response is more acceptable than not knowing if you've thrown your resume into a black hole.
-Politicos [left and right] rehashing words or activities or issues of the past. What's next?!
-any and all Kardashians
-FOXNews' "Red Eye" - what a stinker...a lame attempt to "counter" The Daily Show.
-Wal-Mart's new logo designed to showcase their new, upscale offerings and lifestyle experience. HUH? Let's face it - they took the star out of their logo because they've driven manufacturing overseas.
-Pizza Hut's new "Dunkers" - imagine the brainstorm... "How can we use our dough one more way and make sure to make it as tasty and unhealthy as possible..."

Friday, August 22, 2008

um...thank you?

Ahhh...automated response mechanisms...

Sometimes they're a polite punctuation to a process that can overwhelm a person or company: "Thanks for your interest...we'll keep your information on file..."

Sometimes they just add insult to injury.

My current search for work - be it creative consulting or full-time, senior-level staff positions - has taken me down many paths. One of those paths led to a cool position with a woefully low salary [and sky-high expectations, I imagine]. I was - undoubtedly - overqualified. But as the Bush economy sputters on - it's about the bird in the hand - if you know what I mean - and it was a cool opp with what I thought was a decidedly groovy company....

BUT - nearly a month after I was personally rejected for the position by the focused 20-something I interviewed with - I received one such automated rejection letter. LOL!

I know the technical aspects of data entry and resume follow-up... However, since its signature was from the EXACT property I was interviewing to rep [albeit a generic HR signature] and not corporate HR it did cause me to pause...grimace...then laugh a little...then laugh a bunch...

Then I opened the metaphorical window and yelled - NEXT!!!!!!

"Dear Michael,

Thank you for your interest in Starwood Hotels and Resorts. We have received your application for the position of Marketing Manager (Job #60066130) at W Atlanta, Downtown and regret to inform you that we are not able to offer you a position at this time.

We recognize that you have many options available to you regarding future employment, and we sincerely appreciate your interest in us. We extend to you our wishes for a rewarding and successful career and invite you to visit us at to view and apply for future career opportunities.

Best Regards,
Human Resources Department
W Atlanta, Downtown

TGIF Ya'll!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A tire gauge and a smug gesture...DRAW your own conclusions

This is just great. I love CBS Sunday Morning anyway... but this little segment really encapsulated the difference between our two presidential candidates. Normally everyone knows my political bent so I steer clear of political topics. But - it just paints such a clear picture between the two "choices."

Click HERE to see the cool video
[I am having a devil of a time embedding video - damn!]

McCain - the former firebrand, former independent thinker has really taken the Bush and party line (along with the hook and sinker) since 2000. His mad rush to drill off our shores would - EVENTUALLY, at best yield oil resulting in 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline per year - when all is said and done. And - when would that be?

Barack Obama's simple suggestion (just one little part of a greater plan) for all Americans to drive with properly inflated tires would save 3%. What's that? That equals 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline per year. One simple step. Immediate. Actionable.

The real difference lies in the good Senator from Arizona's response - which was keep big oil happy and to hand out tire gauges and smugly deride Senator Obama's suggestion. It's that same, smug, smart-ass, superior attitude that we've been saddled with for 8 years.

It's time for change. A generational change. A seismic change.

Meanwhile - I've gotta go. Gonna fill up my tires!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Service with a Shrug© 2.0 – shame on Comcast, Walgreens, Concentrics Restaurants and Trois, and Georgia Power

My first post about service standards, issues and opportunities was much more in-depth than this round-up will be. Though the tales may be accompanied by specific recommendations and solutions for the individual service issues I encountered.

Well…wouldn’t you know less than 4 hours after my first post about this conglomerate [who just purchased Daily Candy – by the way] inexplicably raising my rates with no notice, no reason, no increase of service I received an Email from a customer service representative.

The cordial missive asked if they might put me in touch with a local representative since money “…seems like a great concern to you [me].”

Not money. Service.

I wrote back and explained that while money is of a particularly urgent concern for me at the moment – poor customer service shows up more dramatically on my radar. I invited the rep to learn about how my Atlanta payment ended up in Chattanooga and how I had to pay a reconnection fee and how I had to drive 35 minutes to the nearest center to do so....

Interesting. Ms. Melissa never wrote back. In fact, I’ve not heard a peep from anyone at Comcast. Half-assed customer service efforts are more offensive than being completely ignored.


Trois / Concentrics Restaurants
I have to get this one off my chest so that I can gush later about Concentrics’ newest Atlanta venture – Parish – which I’ve enjoyed. Sadly – I had been under self-imposed boycott due to the completely unacceptable customer service experience I had at swanky Trois.

One cold winter evening a visiting friend and I had some appetizers and drinks at Trois. Service was swell. Food was good. We asked for some bread to accompany our soup course. Simple. Once we left and examined our check/receipt closely – we noticed that we were charged $4 for two [2] small demi-baguettes – dinner rolls really.

Seemed chintzy and out of character for the company. I logged on to their site and shared my surprise and disappointment via their online customer comment page. Had we just ordered drinks and wanted some bread – maybe charge us. $4 – no. When we ordered 4 or 5 different apps – NO! I thought perhaps I’d get a response and perhaps they’d reverse the $4 from my visitor’s charge card. I mean – at the very least I expected a response. Sadly none came.

Here’s where it gets ugly. Further disappointed I logged back and sent another comment to the company. When – yet again – I received absolutely no response – I decided to remove them from my groovy visitor go-to list. IF you have a comment process on your site – have someone to monitor those comments and respond. If that part of your site is down for some reason – note that on your site. If it’s there and it works and you simply ignore disgruntled guests – shame on you. OK – off my chest so I can enjoy Parish without too much guilt – as their baked goods are much more reasonably priced than the sad rolls we paid $4 for.

ACK. This one really got to me. Thankfully I can shop at CVS and Rite Aid – which I intend to do from now on. Makes me sad since Walgreens is a good, old Chicago company.

I’ll spare you the story of my printer cartridge debacle and the team member that snuck away. I’ll get straight to the point here. I was picking up pictures I had developed. Standing at the photo counter. The person helping me – was several feet away at the register. Standing DIRECTLY in front of me were two other people with their backs to me – making sure, I sensed, that I knew not to ask them for anything. Less than 36 inches away – two people had their own conversation as though I didn’t exist – even engaging the associate attempting to help me.

Someone walked in the store – on the opposite side of the whole space – and asked if they sold lottery tickets. This is where it gets icky. The fellow standing in front of me turned on his heels and said “NO.” Then proceed to tell his colleague that “that’s all we need is those kind of people in here.” He continued – “…besides I don’t like gambling. It really bothers me.” Really?! Do I care? Do I need to hear you disparaging other customers? Is this appropriate? When I joked “Hey! Be careful…my parents live in Las Vegas.” Bitchy again spun on his heels and barked, “Excuse me - I was NOT speaking to you sir!” and returned to his conversation. WHOA! NOW – that’s more than a SHRUG! And – dear reader – make no mistake – when you’re less than 3 feet from someone making loud, judgmental comments about things, other customers, etc. – you ARE speaking to me. And you should think about what you’re saying and how it represents your store – and ultimately – your brand.

Employee training and standards would make a HUGE difference here.

Georgia Power
At first I thought this didn’t exactly fit – but – it actually does. Let me begin by saying that as a responsible adult – if I thought for one moment that my power would be cut on the hottest day yet in the deep, down dirty I would’ve moved heaven and earth to avoid it.

SO – when the Georgia Power site pushed a pop-up disconnect notice at me informing me of an impending service interruption on August 27th – I made note of it. Then about 30 minutes later on August 5th my monitor went black.

One plaintive call later the first snitty rep I spoke with informed me that the cut-off date was, indeed, that day despite the clear and specific notice I had just received from their own site. The explanation was convoluted, senseless and NOT consumer friendly!

Needless to say – I hustled and made a payment over the phone [love my landline and non-digital phone). When speaking with a slightly less snitty rep on my follow-up call letting them know of my payment [for which I was charged a $3.95 processing fee – REALLY?!?!] I was informed, at least somewhat politely, that they’d get the power on as soon as possible today – not specific – but much nicer than the first bitchy reps “Some time before midnight…”

Here’s the rub – BIG companies embracing the web is good for a myriad of reasons and purposes. BIG companies embracing the web but not synching their info, facts and finances – combined with company reps who can’t converse like people instead just repeating scripted answers and phrases – is bad.

That’s digital Service with a Shrug!

P.S. - if the tech turns on the power - but shuts off the box because of a power surge - couldn't the tech walk the 10 feet to my door and let me know and let me know that I need to shut off my breaker box - flip the switch outside and turn on my breaker box? It happened twice - meaning the tech had to visit twice and I had to wait an additional 2 hours until a phone rep [this one quite nice and helpful] explained the situation and how to remedy it. Otherwise - I'd still be sitting in the dark.