Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Did you buy Local for Small Business Saturday?

Maybe you saw the commercial before Thanksgiving with pleas from small business owners asking you to support us on Nov. 26? You're familiar with Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (dubbed this before everyone got the internet at home and on their phone because internet sales would spike tremendously when workers returned to the office on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend). And now the new movement is Small Business Saturday. American Express started this promotion a few years ago to reward their card holders for using their AmEx cards in a small business on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. If they spend at least $25 (after registering their card and pledging their support) they will get $25 credit on their next statement. Although I am not an AmEx cardholder I support what the intention of this movement. And no matter how I pay for my purchases, I try to support other small businesses year round. As a solopreneur, I appreciate the support and attention to us "small fries". Here I am featured in a story for local news channel WTNH.

I got a few calls and new customers out of the press. And I hope people will continue to support in years to come. I truly believe small businesses are going to be the foundation for rebuilding America's economy.

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Should a cell phone cost more than a wedding dress?

Of course not! Doesn't that sound absurd? I confess that I watch reality tv shows featuring women shopping for wedding dresses and think to myself, "Why would anyone spend that much for a wedding dress they are going to wear once?" I will also confess that what I paid for my wedding dress 4 years ago was an unbelievable bargain! My dress shown here was on clearance at David's Bridal for $125 and was perfect for my destination wedding.

But for illustration's sake, I had budgeted up to $500 and even considered renting a dress. But this post is not about wedding dresses its about customer service failure. Failure over and over again. Mostly by Verizon Wireless and once by FedEx. These are not mom and pop operations. These corporations take in billions of dollars every year from millions of Americans. You'd think they'd have customer service down to a science by now.

So my rant begins a few weeks ago on a Monday. My phone was stolen from my place of business. Not pleased but took the blame for being careless so I ordered another through Verizon's customer service. The process was surprisingly smooth and my replacement (same model) was to be overnighted. The next day when my replacement doesn't arrive I find out I had to accept a new 2 yr contract before my phone could be shipped. I would have done that immediately had I known. Now I had missed 3pm daily shipment and was told the phone would be shipped the following day. On Wed I got a confirmation that my phone was being shipped via FedEx and given a tracking #. I track it on Thurs afternoon hoping it will be waiting on me at home and FedEx website shows it never left Memphis hub. Huh? Thurs evening I call Verizon back and their agent calls FedEx and they promise I will have Fri. Track again on Fri and still in Memphis w/o any updates?! I call FedEx directly and FedEx assigns a "trace agent" and I'm asked to call back in an hour. Instead I call Verizon ask if I can go to local store and pickup the same model because I cannot go another day without a phone? Verizon's rep cancels the lost phone and orders it be returned to HQ, calls the location I specified to explain my situation, they say tell her they have one and are expecting me. I get there and no one there by name I was given (Chris). Verizon store employee speculates the customer service agent must have called authorized retailer in same town instead of corporate store. What? Why would she not have called the correct store and sent me to a non-corporate location? This store doesn't have my phone in stock. Now 4 days w/o a phone which is critical to running my business. I'm so fed up that I decide to buy the next comparable which is twice as expensive as the phone I was supposed to get. I call customer service to complain about runaround on Saturday and was told that the original lost phone is still lost and no Droid Pros within 100 miles of me because that model has been discontinued. Also told because I used my early upgrade to get the phone I bought in the store that I would have to return the phone I bought let them process the return before I can order the original again. Unless I want them to charge my account the full retail value of $399.99! Inconsistent and even false info at every turn. Everyone passes the buck I'm left holding the bag.

So I resigned to the fact that I have purchased a more expensive phone, and signed a new 2 year contract with Verizon after being victimized in the 1st place which caused this whole mess. I get the bill which I expected to reflect the equipment charge for my new phone which will cost me about $150 after my $50 rebate card arrives. And to add insult to injury there is the original charge for the phone FedEx lost still on my bill! C'mon! Really? Another phone call means I have to retell the story. Just makes steam come out of my ears again and reminds me how unhappy I am with Verizon. Seriously thinking its worth it to pay the early termination fee and move to another company.

I feel bad enough that I'm so dependent on this contraption or technology in general but its a necessary evil when you're running a business and need to answer emails and phone calls no matter where I am. But its not right to fleece your customer because you know you have them in by the ehem... cahones. It sickens me to think I paid more for a cell phone that is sure to get lost, stolen, damaged, or otherwise fail and need replacing in the next year or so than I paid for the dress I wore on what some call "the most special day in a woman's life". 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Santa Claus is coming to (down)town!

You know the song! Well, this year avoid the long lines at the mega-malls and get your portrait with out without Santa in front of a beautiful winter wonderland backdrop. Photography and props by Connecticut Photography Plus. This photographer specializes in daycare portraits so Carmen Nieves is very good with children. You can RSVP on Facebook if you like. Dec 3 and Dec 10. No appointment necessary. Here are a few from last year!