S is for Suction

SMany years ago now, I worked for a vacuum cleaner cult company for a few weeks.  I’d gone for an interview, followed up, didn’t hear anything and then, several weeks (and 2 other failed candidates) later, I was offered the job. I didn’t know the part about the 2 other failed candidates when I started.

A large part of my job was producing daily and weekly reports. This should have been easy, but there was such a convoluted way of doing it, it was a real pain.  I quickly found that the person who was in charge of forwarding me the information I needed to do the reports was often late and didn’t care one bit about whether the information was accurate. When I went to take inventory, I found a horrible mess. Things were not where they should have been, product had been taken out of sequence and there was a lot of really heavy lifting I hadn’t been told about.

The onboarding procedure for new hires was horrible and the pressure to make quota for the sales reps was unbelievable. Reps leaving the manager’s office in tears was pretty normal. Turnover was high.  I’d just learn someone’s name and they’d be gone.

When I asked a clarifying question about one of the reports in my third week of work, the manager told me I should have that all down already.  When I came in the next morning there was a note on my desk to fax an ad to the Newspaper. The ad was for my job.  When I went to talk to the manager to find out what was up, his secretary smirked and said “He only speaks to employees, you’re not one anymore”.

I never heard another peep from them.  I saw the ad for the position about every 3 weeks for months.  I have no idea how many people they ended up hiring and letting go, but I feel bad for every one of them. It was truly a job that sucked.

R is for Really Behind!

RIt’s been a busy week. And not even a good busy, more a STUPID busy.  Taking care of all sorts of crisis things and details and distractions.

And, because I’ve been dealing with all of those things, I haven’t really been here blogging like I should have been. I am going to try to get caught up this weekend, though, and finish the Blogging Challenge strong.  It’s a lot harder than you would think, blogging every day.  I even have it on my calendar. But there has been so much going on that I’ve been putting it on the back burner.

Hopefully things will calm down soon and I can get back on track!

Q is for Quest

QBecause of our house fire, we had to find a new home. This quest involved six motels, one executive suite and a hell of a lot of travel looking at houses. Unfortunately, it also involved some very questionable business practices along the way.

On my recent voyage, I broke a tooth. It happened because I trusted a dentist to do her job years ago and every single thing she did to my mouth, every filling, veneer and crown, went bad within a few years. I spent over 8K in 4 months in her office. Seriously, I would have sued her if I could. But, the long and short of it is that my tooth swelled up, causing me so much pain that my eardrum perforated and my jaw was infected, because of a missing filling in a back molar. And the one next to it rotted underneath the crown, which apparently wasn’t sealed correctly. When the crown came off, it knocked out the filling next to it. There went $1,500.00.

So, at 4:30 am, I called one of those 1-800-(find a dentist) numbers because I could not sleep. We were staying in Pueblo, CO and they set an emergency appointment 50 miles away in Colorado Springs for 7:30 am. I left at 6:30 and arrived in plenty of time, only to find out at 10 minutes to 8 that the doctor would not be in that day due to a seminar. (There was a note taped to the window). So I get set to drive back, very upset and still in pain. I called to inform “the service” that the dentist was out of town. They were very apologetic, asked me three times if I was in the right building and at the right suite number. “Yep, I’m looking right at it, they are NOT here. No one is, not even the receptionist.”

Then they set another appointment in Pueblo for 9 am. Good. I get back in the car, clutching my face, barely able to breathe over my teeth and drive 50 more miles. I call from the parking lot, to be sure I’m in the right place. That dentist’s office told me the doctor was on vacation this whole week and they had blocked that time off with the 1-800 service. HMMM. I was not even on the schedule, no one was, except those in need of routine cleanings. They too, were very sorry, but could not help me.

So, I call AGAIN. “Well, we’re very sorry, but we do have another dentist back up in the Springs, if you want to turn around and head up there now.”

Another 50 miles? NO. My face was in agony, I needed some relief NOW. So I sought out the nearest Urgent Care. They, in turn, had a 3-hour waiting list and no chairs to sit on. Not one. They were all occupied. And sick children were running everywhere. I almost started to cry. So we went back to the hotel and I put ice on my cheek, figured out how much OTC pain medication would kill me, then backed the dosage off a little bit. It was a rough day.

When I awoke at 7:40 this morning after an extremely fitful night, I had some new e-mails.

1-800-GO-EFF-YOURSELF wanted to know if I had enjoyed my dental experience and would I please rate their service. OH-HO. YEEEESSSSS, my pretty, I will rate your service. But first, I have a few questions for you: When did it become common practice to waste people’s time, blame THEM for your mistakes and generally not give a sh*t when you send them on a 100-mile, 3-hour wild goose chase? How is this good business? Do you expect these dentists to keep using your “referral” service when this is the way you run their patients around?

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The dentist in CO Springs just called as I was writing this. They have an opening at 11:45. At least I can get some pain meds and antibiotics for the trip home.

P is for Platform Perils

PI’ve been in my field for about 30 years. I strive to be one of the best in the business. But, periodically, I fail. Miserably.  Such was the case today.

I have a client who, I have to admit, has sortve been a thorn in my side for a while. One of those people who, no matter what I do, she finds fault with it. I do social media work for her and I check up to make sure things are posting where and how they should be.  As so many who deal in social media do, she prefers her post scheduled in Hootsuite. Fine. I personally dislike Hootsuite and one of the reasons why will be covered in a minute.

I schedule posts about a week at a time for several of this clients accounts. I periodically check Hootsuite to make sure that the scheduled posts aren’t rejected. Everything has been looking fine. I didn’t give it a second thought. Until today.

I was out running typical Saturday errands and got a frantic message from the client that her posts had not been posting for the past week on one of the forums where she posts. I don’t know WHY I thought she said Platform A, but she really said Platform B.  Probably because I unplug on the weekends (from work stuff) and was trying to deal with everything from my phone (which I don’t have platform A loaded on). I checked from my tablet and all seemed well (still not catching that I was looking at the wrong platform).

When I got home and back to my computer, something compelled me to read her message again and I discovered that I had been referencing THE WRONG PLATFORM. (Cue feeling like a gigantic idiot) Not only that, but on the platform she had been referencing, yeah, the posts weren’t there.  Did some poking around and other Hootsuite posted posts were not posting properly to that platform, either.

Did a quick internet search and found out that there had been several people who had complained that Platform B posts from Hootsuite weren’t posting. The absolutely maddening part? There was no error coming up on the Hootsuite end, it was showing that they were posting.

So now, I had a stupid reaction because I looked at THE WRONG THING when I really should have been unplugged for the weekend in the first place. (Insert cussing and facepalming here)

Emailed off an apology but am thinking that maybe this is The Universe trying to “force” a breakup with a client who, if I am honest with myself, is not my ideal client.  Something tells me that the Administrative Professional’s Day flowers are NOT coming to my house this year. Phooey.

J is for Judgement Day

JI worked for a woman who screamed at me in her office for at least an hour every day for 8 months. And not even all about work. She would tell me I was a “fat, ugly, lazy worthless pig, just like my mother.” (To clarify, she was comparing me to her own mother).  She’d criticize everything I did, was never happy with any of my work and if I ever got praise from another colleague she’d dismiss it saying “Well, it was fine after *I* corrected all of her mistakes.”

She’d come in, in the morning and say “Dr. Laura had a loser JUST LIKE YOU on her show this morning, I’ll talk to you later about how Dr. Laura set her ass straight!”

Everyone KNEW she was doing this but no one would tell management.  I said nothing because I had a family to support  and she’d told me if I crossed her she’d make sure no one hired me ever again. (I was young and the job was 2 blocks from home, I didn’t have a car so to find a job within walking distance that paid well was a HUGE blessing, no matter how awful the boss).

Right before Xmas, when we were going into a 3-day holiday weekend she said “Monday we’ll be having your review… we’ll see if I feel like keeping your worthless ass on the payroll.”  She smiled smugly.   Think of the smile on the Grinch’s face when he was plotting his plots and you’ll have the face pretty perfectly in your mind’s eye. So all weekend, all through Xmas, I worried that, come Monday, I would be unemployed.It RUINED Christmas that year.

Monday morning, I walk in…hmmm, nobody around. Walked back to where the staff mailboxes were and there were a bunch of people milling around…which was strange.

It got REALLY quiet when I came into sight. I was SURE that I’d been fired.

I pulled the mail from my box. On top was a memo.It stated that effective immediately, BitchBoss was no longer employed at the company. That she “had another opportunity” come up.

I read it about 3 times and then quietly said “There is a God”.  And everyone present broke into applause.

But later, I heard the REAL story about her departure:

Thursday night, after everyone had left the office except for BitchBoss, The Director’s secretary and the Director, the Director was making some copies.BitchBoss made some snide comment because the secretary was still there and “not doing her job” (making the copies) and I guess the Director just ‘snapped” and went on a full-on rant about how she was tired of how BitchBoss treated support staff.

A screaming match ensued…And then.. BitchBoss crossed the line -She attempted to assault the Director!

The next and final words out of Director’s mouth were “You are fired. Have your office cleaned out by Sunday and never come back here again!”

Rumor was (never got confirmed) that BitchBoss did not collect her final paycheck.  She threatened to sue and was informed that an assault report had been filed and charges would be pressed if she pushed it.

A couple of weeks later, I had my review done by another of the Senior Staff and was rated “Excellent” in all categories and got a big (for me, at the time) raise.  I had survived Judgement Day!

“C” for Customer Service

CFirst, a little history about me. My father owned businesses in the Midwest that total 67 stores today. I worked for them since I was 13. Therefore, I KNOW how you’re supposed to treat a customer: no matter how upset they are, no matter the size or duration of their tantrum, no matter how pissed you might be, my parents taught me one lesson above all – the CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

So, if you have ever been the victim of poor customer service, you know firsthand how frustrating that can be. Now, we’ve all seen the 17-yr. old at the convenience store who paints her nails whilst talking on the phone, to her boyfriend no less, who rings up your items without any eye contact, total amount due or spoken words whatsoever. That’s bothersome, even annoying at times.

I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about hair-tearing, jaw-clenching, weapons-grade epic fails.

The kind that remind you of trying to claim your lost luggage at an airport while the person behind the counter looks you straight in the eyes and asks, “Has your plane landed yet?”

For instance:

While living in a suburb of Denver, I was the recipient of several such incidents, the most egregious of which concerned a regional phone/internet provider.

Situation: At 11:05 pm, my home phone goes out. It is provided by and connected through the internet company and that service is still up and running just fine. At the time, I did not have a cell phone. So, I go to online chat, a wonderful new service I thought would be the answer to my current problem. I sign on and I wait. And wait. Annnnd wait… finally, a connection.

Customer Service Person (CSP): Hello, welcome to (XYZ) Internet Services. My name is (let’s call her Bambi, shall we?)

Me: Good evening. My phone service has gone out. No dial tone, no connection whatsoever. What can I do?

Bambi: Let me take a look at what’s happening…

Me: (waiting for 5 minutes while she checks all the connections)

Bambi: Looks as though everything should be working. Did you unplug and re-plug all of the cords?

Me: Yes, I did that.

Bambi: Hmmm, did you reset your modem?

Me: Yep, I tried that too.

Bambi: Well, that’s all I can think of on this end. Here’s a phone number where you can get ahold of customer service, as what we can do here is really quite limited. 1-800-DON’T-KNOW. Or you can try, 1-888-DON’T-CARE.

Me: But, my PHONE is out. How can I call them?

Bambi: Don’t you have a cell phone?

Me: No.

Bambi: Can you go to a neighbor’s?

Me: It’s after midnight now, so, probably not.

Bambi: Can’t you just wake someone up? [Not kidding]

Me: Um, not really, I’d like them to talk to me from now on.

Bambi: Can you get to a payphone?

Me: Don’t have a car and the only one in the neighborhood is broken. I’ve tried to use it before. [Note: Not too many payphones available that haven’t been vandalized within an inch of their lives in Denver.]

Bambi: I’m sorry, but that’s all I can offer.

Me: Wait a minute, then what is THIS chat service for?

Bambi: For when the internet is having trouble.

Me: So let me get this straight, if I’m having trouble with my internet, I can chat with you online, but if my phone goes out I can call?

Bambi: That’s right. Sorry I couldn’t help you. You’ll just have to borrow someone’s phone tomorrow. Bye.

[Leaves chat]


Honestly folks, I’ve been on both sides of that scenario. I used to do incoming customer service for the now-defunct MCI, all right? But I have never, NEVER encountered someone as dense and unhelpful as the folks being hired nowadays. So please, companies, when you hire people, don’t just cut them loose after a half-day of watching others perform this task. TRAIN them for the love of God.

Back to you…