Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Rant if You Please

I paid our store power bill at the bank as usual in April. The May bill did not reflect the payment so I queried the Power Company and they said they had received no payment in April. I got out my records, found the receipt of payment and faxed it to them. Whatever they said, we did not get the money go to your bank and find out what happened. OK, I thought but upon reflection I thought they could liaise with the bank, they had all the required paper work etc so I asked them to handle it as I was the customer and I had paid the bill. Meanwhile we are getting collection notices even though our bill is completely up to date except for the missing April payment. We got a phone call from the power company that said the bank had sent them a letter saying we did indeed pay the bill but an error occurred and they would solve the problem in due time. We got another collection letter from the power company. We got a hand delivered cut off notice from the power company. Of course I called and the gist of the conversation was this: We, the power company, don't give a crap why we didn't get the money or whose fault it is, send the money by tomorrow or we will cut off your power. I produced all the receipts and correspondence from the bank and they said: We, the power company, don't give a crap why we didn't get the money, send the money by tomorrow or we will cut off your power. I explained the situation again and again as I went up the food chain at the power company until I reached the prime customer service person who said: We, the power company, don't give a crap why we didn't get the money, send the money by tomorrow or we will cut off your power. Did I mention that our bill is completely up to date except for this missing payment. I called the bank who told me the money was wrongly sent to Revenue Canada and they were doing their best to get it back. Good luck with that I thought. Once again I called the power company etc etc. The bank, realizing my power was in jeopardy actually paid the bill for me and said they would recover the money from Revenue Canada at a later date. Thank you Royal Bank, actual service. Newfoundland Power is run by people who have no idea what customer service is about and frankly I think they are not very bright (no pun intended) This is what happens when there is a monopoly. If I could choose another power option they might be forced to treat me with a little respect.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wandering staff

If you have a working knowledge of our store or have ever worked for me it's best to stay away during business hours. Many years ago we hired a high school student on a work term. She was young and fresh and periodically over the years she helped us out, often, as she recently pointed out, by being abandoned in the store the moment she walked in. I'd see Elizabeth coming and dart out for coffee or some small errand. I hadn't realized I did this until the other day when she came in after a long absence. I hadn't seen her for a year or so and the moment she came in I stuck her behind the counter with not much more than a hello and went to the drugstore for packing tape. When I came back and saw her there I realized she is far from being the girl that worked for us way back in high school. I basically conscripted a grown woman and she says she doesn't mind; she likes feeling at home in the store. That's success. I am very proud of that but more than anything I like to score a few minutes of free labour now and then. It helps make up for all the idiots I've suffered over the years.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Talking to Children

I always address kids when they come in the store as separate individuals from their parents. It freaks them out. Kids are not used to adults talking to them. Often they hug Mom or Dad's leg hard and shyly hide. After a short time, when they observe and decide I am not actually dangerous they will come out and start talking. Sometimes we have a great conversation, much to the shock of the parents as kids can be very candid and often say delightful and embarrassing things about their lives and their families. When I was a kid I often felt marginalized and not taken seriously and all of my life I've tried to give kids a chance to share their views and like Art Linkletter used to say, kids say the darnedest things. A little girl opened up the other day to tell my Mommy liked Jack better than Daddy and they had to live in a new house. She said it was fun because everyone was buying her things and they never got mad but Daddy doesn't like Jack anymore. Dad was right there, turning red but I knew this was a revelation for him; his five-year-old daughter was way more self aware than he thought. He learned a lot that moment that I hope stuck with him: kids hear everything and understand a lot more. It happens quite often that the parent is surprise by what their kids say. Maybe they should talk to them more too.