Friday, December 16, 2011

The Squirrel Incident

I came home from work yesterday to what I thought was going to be a normal evening at home. I was greeted at the door by my two dogs, and then immediately went down to the basement to let them out back to do their business. I came back upstairs and put food and water in their bowls, as I normally do. This was where the normal after work routine ended. My dogs usually stare at me and salivate as I'm pouring their food and telling them to wait until I'm ready for them to eat. However, they were no where near me or their food dishes. 

I went into my dining room to find the dogs going nuts and trying to get under my sideboard. This is when I finally looked around my living and dining room area to see that everything looked out of place - my dog's bed was on the other side of the room, all of the couch cushions were knocked over, random items were on the floor that were on our coffee table, and a bunch of boxes and bags from our wedding that have been sitting on the floor next to our sideboard were pushed across the room and/or torn up. The first thought that crossed my mind was that I was robbed. The second was that something or someone was in the house. So I did what any normal twenty-something who was home alone with her two dogs would do - I went next door and asked my neighbor to come search the house with me. 

We entered the house to find the dogs going absolutely crazy by the sideboard. We concluded that there must be an animal under or behind it. My neighbor started moving things out from under the piece of furniture, yet there was nothing there. We then took a flashlight and shined it underneath, but still nothing. I then turned on the flashlight on my cell phone and shined it behind the sideboard only to see the outline of what I considered a giant animal. Of course I immediately freaked out and started to back away when the first thought that crossed my mind was that it was a huge rat. It was a good thing that my neighbor was a lot braver than I was because she shined her light and took a closer look as I was now standing across the room. She discovered that it was a squirrel that was trapped and shaking with terror.

It all made sense now! The squirrel came in through the chimney (the flue was open), only to be startled by the dogs. It then ran under one couch and across the room to the other, where it finally ran across the dining room and under/behind the sideboard where it was now trapped. At least that's what the path of destruction indicated to us. 

I immediately took the dogs upstairs and put them outside on the balcony off our master bedroom. When I came back down to the dining room, my neighbor had already disappeared into the garage and was looking for items to build a path from the sideboard to the door across the room that led to our back deck. She found a box that once held the light fixture for our dining room and a broom. She then moved another box and a cooler along the path so that the furry rodent couldn't escape under the couch. Lastly, I was instructed to hold a towel from the end of the couch to the door frame, so that the animal knew the way out. 

While my neighbor did all of the dirty work, I have to tell you that I was absolutely terrified that the squirrel was going to get misguided and end up jumping onto me from under the towel. Yes, I'm a wimp! 

So it was go time... My neighbor asked if I was ready, which of course I replied with a whiny, "noooo!" She replied with, "well too bad, we are doing this." So on the count of three she slid the sideboard away from the wall. What happened next freaked me out even more. The stupid critter was trying to climb back up off the floor and all we could hear was the sound of its claws against my sideboard. So gross!

My neighbor then moved the other side of the sideboard out and gave some extra encouragement with the broom. I can't tell you how fast the squirrel then bolted from the sideboard and across the dining room, straight out the door. All I saw was a blurry ball of brown fur. Success! We spent a few minutes laughing while I tried to hold in the tears, then followed up with a hug for our great effort of neighborly teamwork. SHE IS A SAINT! 

Of course my husband called about 30 seconds after the squirrel exited our house... I gave my hero (otherwise known as my neighbor) a gourmet cookie as a thank you (I probably should have offered her hard liquor, but the thought didn't cross my mind until later in the evening) and we said our goodbyes. I then let the dogs back into the house and watched them search the dining room for about 10 minutes for the squirrel. The only perk to all of this was that my dogs wore themselves out and passed out for the next hour or so.

New lesson of home ownership: invest in a chimney screen to keep future wildlife out of the house.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog Redemption: Delta

Last week I posted a blog entry about how Delta's customer service department failed me. After my post, my experience only worsened when my husband and I boarded our flight only to realize we were seated no where near each other (he got stuck in a middle seat next to a guy with horrible B.O., and I was stuck next to a man who snored the entire flight from Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale). 

However, after posting my blog on Delta's Facebook page and linking it to their Twitter account, I was able to speak with competent Delta employees. Through Twitter, I started off by explaining my frustrations, especially once I was on the plane and my husband was seven rows behind me. I worked with an employee with initials WG who was great! He (I'm going to call him a male because I am unsure of the sex so my apologies if you are female) definitely was helpful and sympathetic. He checked into our return flight to ensure we were indeed seated next to each other. He also said that he was going to send my blog post to a manager, well above the supervisor who was so rude to me the previous day. While I was still very much upset with Delta, he helped tremendously and like I told him on Twitter, was a "breath of fresh air."

I was dreading calling Delta again today to have them refund my baggage fee for my flight tomorrow morning. I wasn't in the mood to explain the entire situation over again and I had zero faith that the jerk of a supervisor from last week actually followed through and made note of this in my file. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was; my call was pleasant and my situation was handled immediately with no questions asked. It was like all was calm and good in the world again with Delta, which is how my previous experiences have always been. 

I want to give a huge thumbs up to alias KT on Delta's Twitter account. She was who I conversed with today through direct message. She was not only was sympathetic, but being that she is also a supervisor, she was able to award my husband and I each a $50 voucher to use in the next year. While I wasn't looking for anything more than to get a manager or executive to call me and make this all right, I am very appreciative for her make-good. She also promptly called me to discuss the issues I had while trying to change my name with my Delta SkyMiles account, and to briefly discuss how rude the other supervisor was and what actions would be taken. I explained that the name change process needs to be fixed and made easier for future brides or anyone who legally changes their name. She agreed and said she would escalate this to the right people. Hopefully changes will be made in the future. 

Delta - you have reminded me why I am such a loyal customer, and for that I am grateful. The best thing your customer department has done is having your Twitter account, @DeltaAssist. The folks that work it are fantastic and should not be taken for granted.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Delta Customer Service Fail

Delta, you have failed me! It pains me to say this since I am an extremely loyal customer - my husband and I have the American Express Delta Gold card, we are both frequent flyers and we will always fly Delta as long as a competitor isn't more than $50 cheaper.

I got married in May and legally changed my name about a month later. However, one of the hardest challenges with getting my name changed on documents was my Delta SkyMiles card. After a few fax attempts and a number of calls, it finally got changed. However, my flight to South Florida for Thanksgiving was booked before this change was made, so my maiden name was listed on my ticket. I noticed this issue yesterday (Tuesday) morning, for my flight which is tonight (Wednesday). I called Delta's customer service number and was immediately helped with no issues by a very nice woman. She told me that my reservation was updated with my new last name and I was all set. Great!

Around 7pm last night, I received the E-mail alerting me that it was time to check-in. I signed into Delta and saw both my husband and my reservations waiting to be checked-in. When I tried to check us both in, I was able to successfully check-in my husband, but I was given an error message for my ticket. I was told to check-in with security at the airport. This wasn't going to fly with me (no pun intended) since I would be flying out on the busiest travel day of the year and I was traveling out of the Atlanta airport, which is the busiest airport in the country. 

This is where phone call #2 to Delta's customer service department came in. I spoke with another nice woman who was able to fix the error and allow me to check-in online for my flight. However, because my husband was already checked in, she had to give me a new confirmation number. She assured me that I would still have my seat next to my husband and all would be the same, except that I was now on my own reservation instead of with him. Fine. I thanked her, hung up and signed back onto Delta's site to check-in. 

As I was going through the process everything was fine until I indicated that I needed to check-in a bag. This was supposed to be at no charge since we booked our flight with our American Express Delta Gold card, which allows each passenger to check-in one bag at no cost and also gives you priority seating. There was NO WAY I was going to pay $25 to check-in my bag. So here comes Delta call #3 for the day. This one didn't go so well...

I was connected to a woman who barely spoke English. I normally don't have a problem with customer service reps with broken English except that she wasn't understanding my issue. I also try never to get worked up or raise my voice at anyone in customer service since I know that ultimately my problem wasn't caused by them. However, in this case it was. I started to get frustrated after going back and forth for almost five minutes with her telling me that she could do nothing on her end and I had to go to the airport and have them check my bag in without the fee at the service desk.

This was not going to work for me. I explained to her that I was flying on the busiest day of the year and out of the busiest airport in the country and I needed this to be taken care of now. I finally asked her to put on a supervisor, which she said she would do but that they couldn't help me either. At this point I'm on hold for another 10 minutes and I can feel my blood pressure rising. I was finally on with a supervisor, who immediately answered the phone by telling me that there was nothing he could do. Here is where I lost it (I was calm by the attitude definitely came out). 

I told him that he needs to figure this out now as I am an extremely loyal customer and a frequent flyer and as the customer I need to be helped. He explained to me that when I called earlier that morning to switch my last name, I was removed from my current reservation with my husband and was put on my own. Clearly, the rep didn't tell me this, which is why I had the issue checking in. When I called the second time, the rep didn't tell me that because I was on a new reservation that I was going to lose the perks from booking with the Delta credit card. This was screw up #2 on Delta's part.

However, instead of the supervisor apologizing for the lack of communication on his staff's part, he blamed me. ME! Now I was EXTREMELY angry and frustrated. I told him that I work in a customer service industry and I am the client and he was handling this situation wrong. He again disagreed and told me that the best he could do was to have me pay for my bag online and then he would refund me. Fine. But I wasn't happy that he and his staff caused me to waste over an hour of my day on the phone with them. I then asked him if I would have to call back on Monday to get my fee waived for my flight back to Atlanta and he said yes. So now I was going to have to waste time during my vacation because of Delta's screw up.

After he did the refund, he tried to immediately hang up with me. He didn't even ask if I needed anything else, which everyone knows is customer service 101. But you all know me, I wasn't about to let him get off the phone that easy. I then told him that he needed to give me some sort of make-good for my troubles. He was silent. I told him that he could upgrade my husband and I to emergency exit row seats. He said no. I asked him if the seats were taken and he told me he could not reveal this information. Um, excuse me??? So then I told him that he needed to give me some free miles. He said no again. I told him I refuse to hang up until he does something for all of my inconveniences. So after I heard him huff and puff, he told me he would give me 100 miles. I told him, try 1,000 minimum (which is the equivalent of $10). I could hear him rolling his eyes, he sighed again and said fine, and more of less hung up on me. DOUCHEBAG!!!

I was exhausted at this point and it was getting late and I still needed to pack for my trip. I was about to throw in the towel when my husband came into the room and asked me what happened. After I explained everything, he was even more mad than I was. He decided to call American Express and tell them what happened. He was lucky enough to speak with a really nice guy who informed my husband that they get so many calls complaining about Delta. He saw that we are very loyal Delta and American Express customers, and even though AmEx had nothing to do with my issues, he gave us 10,000 miles for our troubles. 

Delta, you could learn a thing or two from American Express' customer service department.

Sincerely, 
A VERY angry customer!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Vent Session: Animal Adoptions

As most of you know, I volunteer my Saturday afternoons as an Adoption Counselor at Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption. I work with potential adopters to fit them with the right dog for their lifestyle and family, or in some cases, I send them home without a dog if I see they are unfit owners. While I absolutely hate having to deny certain people, I do it knowing I have the dogs' best interest at heart.


I also volunteer my time as the admin for Atlanta Pet Rescue's Facebook fan page. In the past two days, I have had to share two very sad circumstances with two animals who were, in one way or another, abused or neglected. While it is hard to write about these situations, it helps to educate people on why we can be categorized as "strict" when it comes to adopting from us.

I have a number of families with small children who come to the shelter to look to adopt a small dog because they are considered "cute." Yes, Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles are very cute, but they are also very fragile. So your three year old child who cannot be disciplined is practically a death wish for any of these tiny dogs.

Point in case:
We currently have a 4 month old Toy Poodle named Roscoe at the shelter who was surrendered by his previous owners who had purchased him (either from a breeder or pet store, this information is unknown) for their small children to have as a pet. Unfortunately, one of their kids dropped poor Roscoe, which caused his front leg to break at the ankle. We did not get Roscoe in our possession until 10 days after the incident, and the only option we now have to help him is to amputate his front leg.

Roscoe in pain with a broken front leg
 This is one of the many cases we have had to deal with because of ignorant people who buy a dog because they think it's cute, yet when something tragic happens as a result of their own negligence, they magically don't have the money or time to treat the dog and get it healthy and safe. So yes potential adopter with a really well behaved kid - I understand your child is a good kid, but that does not mean that their friends will act this way when they come to the house or that an accident won't happen at the dog's expense while you aren't monitoring play time with little Fido.

We had two (now one) adorable 1 year old Maltipoo males who came from a puppy mill situation. These two dogs were unsocialized and very shy. Over time, they have learned to trust humans through the examples set by other dogs at the shelter. While they have come a long way since their initial intake, the only way to set them up for success and continue with their progress is to go to a home without small children and also with another dog. It is nothing against people with young kids or who only want to have one dog, but rather it is what we feel is best for this dog to thrive and have a happy life. I can't tell you how many people I have had to tell they cannot adopt these dogs because they don't fit the qualifications.

While most people do understand, I did have one woman who kept telling me that she had saved all of her money to adopt one of the Maltipoos from us. When I told her that because she doesn't have another dog she would not be the right home for him, she decided to tell me that her sister has a dog. Clearly, she didn't get it. She then tried to persuade me that she would give the dog so much love that he would be happy. Loving an animal is great, but there are other needs for these pups that she could not provide. She then tried to ask me about adopting two dogs, which I asked her how she was able to afford two since she had only saved up for one? Busted! The next question almost made me laugh - she asked me how much it would cost for her to go to a breeder and purchase a Maltipoo. I love when people ask rescue groups about buying dogs from breeders. We wouldn't be in this industry if it weren't for the overpopulation of dogs and cats made possible by irresponsible breeders and puppy mills who are in the business just to make a quick buck. Of course there are reputable breeders who are doing it to better the breed. When I told the woman who only had enough money to adopt one dog from us at $275 that a breeder would charge close to $2,000 for a Maltipoo, I thought she was going to faint. Needless to say, she left without a dog.

I always try my best to educate people on why we are saying no to a specific dog that doesn't fit their current lifestyle, and instead recommend a dog that would fit in seamlessly and set them up for success. I will continue to do what is in the best interest of the dogs since they don't have a voice of their own. I just wish people would be logical and understand where APRA and I am coming from.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Macy's Registry Fail: Follow-Up

Back in July I blogged about the horrible experience my husband and I had with the Macy's registry department at the Lenox Square location in Atlanta, GA. Since then, the Regional Manager has been in contact with us with her deepest apologies and a few make-good items (pieces from our China set). While this has helped us with our perception of Macy's registry as a whole, it has not changed the fact that nothing was ever resolved by the Department Manager, LaRonda. She still never followed up with my husband's phone calls and E-mails, and we hadn't heard form her in months, until last week.

This is the E-mail I received from our dear friend, Laronda:

Dear Ilene:

 
We are having an October/November Completion Event beginning October 26 through November 13, you can take 20% off the regular, sale and clearance prices on most items* left on your registry.  This even includes electrics. This event is open to all wedding registries from January 2011 through November 13.
 
Please stop by or give me a call at 404-231-2601.   If you cannot make it in, just let me know what you need.  If the items you purchase total more than $50 and are not in stock in the store, I can ship them directly to you for FREE. 
 
Please email me if you would like to schedule an appointment. Please include your preferred date and time and I will confirm your appointment.
 
Thank you for registering at Macy’s.  I look forward to hearing from you!
 
Sincerely,
 
LaRonda Brewer
Macy’s Lenox Square

After being totally confused as to why this woman actually thought we would magically want to attend her store event and spend money to help her reach her sales goal after the way she and her employees treated us is beyond me. I know this is an E-mail sent to all of the brides who registered at her store, however it sickens me that after all of the back and forth her and my husband had, she didn't even remember us. So I did what I thought was right in this situation and forwarded her E-mail to my husband who so kindly responded:



LaRonda,

This was sent to my wife last week, but I felt that I should respond. To say that our experience with your store was less than satisfactory is an understatement.  While it is great that you are offering a discount, I feel it is important for you to know that we will NEVER make a purchase from the Lenox store's gift registry again. The service we received there was terrible. If you would like to understand more about our experience, my wife wrote a blog about it: http://sayingwhatyourethinkingsince1983.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html

Your regional manager did read and respond to the blog and. She did a lot of things to apologize, and our opinion of Macy's is not completely tarnished. That being said, we will not be attending this event, and please know, that we have advised all of our friends that when registering, they should avoid your store. If you do appointments, perhaps letting us know that when we were in the store the first time would have been a good thing. Customer Service goes a long way.

Sincerely,
Husband (Name left off on purpose)


Somehow, I doubt good 'ole LaRonda will reply at all, since it is in her fashion to ignore customer complaints and issues. While we will continue to shop at Macy's, as we have had great experiences with other stores and even other departments at the Lenox Square location, we will stand by our promise to never shop off their registry or go into that area of their store ever again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

UPS Fail

Since moving to our new office building, my coworkers have lost a number of personal packages. While I haven't had any lost myself, I can relate to their frustration.

Here's the issue: We work on the 18th floor (suite 1800), yet the elevators only go up to floor 17. We have to take another elevator (which I call "the bat cave") up to our office in the Penthouse. There is a sign with an arrow as to where our secret spy elevator is. Yet, apparently the delivery workers hired by UPS cannot read, since no personal packages ever get delivered here. They not only cannot read the sign, but they also can't read the delivery address since it clearly stated Suite 1800.


The major question is why hasn't the delivery person asked the concierge in our building how to get to our floor? This, to me, is the most obvious approach for when you cannot find something - ASK!

In conclusion, I would suggest using USPS or FedEx. Hopefully one of those companies hires delivery people who can read and follow directions!

{This is specific to the delivery person in Dunwoody, GA 30328 as I love the one I have in 30324}

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Overheard in the Elevator at Work

I work in a building that has 18 floors, but the main elevator only goes up to 17 and well, I work on the 18th. So I have the pleasure of riding up two elevators everyone morning, but one of which is for my office only. Since my company moved to this building in May, I have had some pretty strange encounters in what I call "the commoners elevator."

The other day I had the pleasure of riding upstairs after my lunch break with three men - one of which was in his early thirties and the other two were well over fifty. The conversation went like this:
Older Man #1: What did you do this weekend?
Younger Guy: Your mom!
Older Man #2: Me too!
Older Man #1: Typical weekend for my mom...
This was followed by high fives all around, all while ignoring the fact that I was standing there with them in a confined space. 

Being that I work for an animal rescue group, it is pretty hard for me to understand why anyone would purchase a dog from a pet store. A breeder I can understand, as long as you do your research and know they are breeding to better the breed, and you also prepare yourself to bring home a really young puppy. However, I just cannot fathom anyone purchasing a dog for an insane amount of money unless they want it to be a show dog. This is the conversation I overheard in the elevator between two fresh-out-of-college girls who work on the 15th floor, which is an advertising agency:
Girl #1: Like, did you hear what so-and-so and her boyfriend did over the weekend?
Girl #2: Oh em gee, tell me!
Girl #1: They went and bought a dog! I can't believe they have only been dating for 3 months and are purchasing a dog together. They are so in love!
Girl #2: I know right! What did they get? 
Girl #1: Ugh, they bought a Bichon, which I don't get because like I totally told them to get a designer dog like Jessica Simpson had. And you'll never guess what they paid for it.
Girl #2: Hmmm... $600?
:::Elevator doors open and they exit:::
Girl #1: $1,800!!! What a rip off!
:::Elevator doors shut:::
And I'm in complete disgust since we have Bichons, Poodles and Maltipoos at the shelter right now. Ignorant spoiled bitches!


While I was on my way downstairs to meet a friend for lunch, I had the pleasure of riding in the elevator with a man who was dressed as if he was stuck in 1986 while on a vacation in Hawaii. As if this wasn't bad enough, he decided that he would converse with me. While I can't recall the actual conversation, I do remember him asking me if I like older men. I also recall telling him numerous times that I was married and this was awkward. The next time I saw him in the lobby I waited behind so I didn't have to be in the same elevator as him. Total creeper!



Every Friday during football season I support my team by wearing a Gators shirt or colors to work. And since I live in Georgia, the home of the most obnoxious football fans, I constantly have people trying to talk football to me. Here was the conversation I had two Fridays ago in the elevator heading out for the day:
UGA fan: Do you like the Gators?
Me: Yes. (but I was really thinking, "no jerk off, I just wear the shirt because I like the colors)
UGA fan: Did you go to school there or are you one of those bandwagon fans?
Me: I went to school at Florida. What team do you support?
UGA fan: Them Dawgs!!!
Me: I'm sorry they suck this year.
UGA fan: (said while looking down) Yea, they do suck this year, but we're going to kick your ass!!! 
:::long pause:::
UGA fan: Maybe... Have a nice day!



One of my coworkers was in the elevator with a woman who forgot to take out her hair roller. Another coworker kindly held the elevator for someone to get in and then that person turned to her and said, "12 please" like she was her personal butler. 


So in the past four months or so that I have worked in this building I have learned that if I don't make eye contact with anyone I don't know while in the elevator, I am either considered unfriendly or I don't exist, which are both fine by me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dragon Con as Experienced by a Non-Geek

The closest knowledge I have of Fantasy or Sci-Fi is Harry Potter and Twilight. I have never seen Star Wars (ok I sat through the last one ever made with a friend, but I had absolutely no idea what was going on), nor have I seen Star Trek or anything on the SyFy channel on TV. In conclusion, I am not a geek. However, I was beyond excited when I was invited to sneak into Dragon Con this year to do some people watching at the Marriott Marquis, which is otherwise known as "Ground Zero." 
William Shatner - I only think of him as the Priceline Negotiator
I ventured into the unknown and what I experienced blew me away! While I didn't know half of the costumes that had to do with sci-fi or fantasy films, I did appreciate the artistry, time, effort and money put into the costumes. And let me tell you, these geeks knew how to party! Dragon Con is a weekend of panels with famous actors, directors, writers, icons, etc. and also concerts that go throughout all hours of the night. 

Enough chit chat - the photos speak for themselves...



Let's start with some photos of characters from family movies:



Poppins


Professor Snape and my family friend
Mad Eye Moody



Pee Wee's Playhouse!
Yip Yips from Sesame Street
What would Dragon Con be without dragon costumes:





Of course there were plenty of movie characters:

Labyrinth
The original Edward
Iron Men
Of course there were plenty of Star Wars characters



Costumes full of humor:



And others who were completely dedicated to their look:




I learned about a new trend called Steampunk:



And here are the rest of the photos that are blog-worthy:

It's a family affair
Bender


Rock n Roll
She caught a lot of attention!
Pope and Death





Love this!
{A special thank you goes out to my family friends Caryn and Alan for sending me their amazing photos from their weekend spent at Dragon Con. My photos were good, but the quality of theirs were amazing! I am looking forward to next year.}

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pinterest is the New Black

I was recently introduced to a very cool site called Pinterest. At first, I didn't quite understand what it was all about, but now that I get it I am absolutely addicted. And here is why you should be, too!

What is Pinterest? In the words taken straight from the site, which of course describes it best:

"Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."
Pinterest Home Page
This site has opened my eyes to so many different recipes (for the husband to cook, of course), DIY projects, new places to travel to, decorations, awesome products, ideas I never would have thought about on my own, and even some great tips (i.e. photography) - basically anything of interest. The best part is that if the people pinning do it right initially (by grabbing it off the web), then when you click on a pin of interest it will take you back to the original website. This way you can shop for the product, see an entire recipe, or read information about the picture itself.

What's best about this site is that it's simple to use (once you figure it out). You basically have your own boards that you "pin" to. You can repin from other people that you follow, or you can choose the "Everything" option, which allows you to see what everyone on the site is pinning. You can like, tag and comment on other people's pins. It's a fun site that allows your creative juices to flow while seeing what other people are interested in.
My Boards
I also have enjoyed finding new quotes and photos that are absolutely hilarious. This has definitely allowed me to contribute to the daily humor email that I am on with some friends.

So request an invite and get pinning today! It definitely helps pass the time (along with Facebook stalking of course).