breaking up is hard to do

One of the topics of conversation this summer all over our area has been trash pick up. The formerly always reliable AJ Blosenski went off the rails.

There is no need to rehash all of our missed pick ups and all of our piles of trash and how hard it is to get them on the phone. Today I only waited half an hour. And waiting half an hour is utterly ridiculous.

A few days ago, I wrote the post to see embedded below.

I really wanted things to work out with Blosenski. I really kept hoping that they would fix their issues but when we had to start again this week with streets just arbitrarily being skipped for pick up with no prior notice and not getting notice until two days later after you had left multiple messages and filled out a missed trash pick up request online. This is why we decided we had been patient enough. We’re paying for a service and trash is stinky. So when you have a couple of weeks where the trash is fine and then the exact same problems start to repeat themselves and you’re the customer. the aggravation point isn’t worth it anymore.

So three days ago I called Opdenaker. I did not sit on hold forever before I spoke to a customer service person, and when that customer service person answered the phone, they were polite and friendly, and wanted to speak with me and wanted to be helpful. Essentially everything you want a customer service person to be.

This morning they dropped off our two new cans. They apologized profusely because they were actually a day late from their normal schedule of giving new customers cans but apparently they’ve been getting a lot of new customers because of the mass exodus from AJ Blosenski. And the man that drop the cans off was just so nice.

My husband had called to break up with A.J Blosenski formally. I had called the very nice regional person from Waste Connections that I have been dealing with to let him know. I wanted to extend that courtesy to him because the regional people have been so nice to us, trying to fix our missed deliveries. The Blosenski office told my husband that they would not be picking up our cans until August 28. Yes, almost a month from now.

I couldn’t believe that was true. So I sat on hold today to find out if it was and it was and I was told by the “customer service”person that arguing with him wouldn’t get it picked up faster I mean really? I wasn’t arguing I was however somewhat incredulous that they could have already charged us for the next quarter of service on an account we had canceled. Oh and we have to wait for that to be refunded, and they haven’t yet refunded the missed pick ups that they owed us for previously.

I’m not trying to be a difficult customer on the way out the door, but this is ridiculous. It’s like they are going out of their way to be as unpleasant as possible, and make this as difficult as possible. And it is indeed, a shame, because the regional person I had been dealing with from Waste Connections couldn’t be nicer.

So this is almost closing the door on A.J. Blosenski for us.

The trash photos you are seeing are all different examples of missed pick ups all over the area. There are some corporate acquisitions that go smoothly, this isn’t one of them. I am kind of shocked actually because prior to this we had a great service from them. But I guess the people that work there can’t handle being part of a larger, corporate structure. I hope it gets figured out. But we are moving on.

Oh and Opdenaker is a little less money.

customer service is dying in the u.s.a.

This started out as a simple phone call to Harry & David, now owned by 1-800-Flowers. You see, friends from far away sent us an unexpected and lovely but very perishable Christmas present. The gift shipped out of Harry & David in Atlanta, GA on December 3rd, 2022. It arrived, rather warm, not frozen yesterday…December 11th. That is 1-800-food-poisoning territory. FedEx Home Delivery was the shipping partner they chose. FedEx rarely does anything screwy, ironically.

We thanked our friends, and today I called Harry & David. I wanted to let them know this happened. That’s bad when it’s something truly perishable. This was truly perishable.

The first time I phoned I got an offshore call center and I could not understand the person. So I was polite and ended the call so I could call back.

The second time I phoned, I got an even worse offshore call center person, so I said please transfer me to a United States based customer service representative. They argued with me. I said look, it’s complicated, please transfer me. Oh no we can’t do that, was the reply. Yes, you actually can I said. They transferred me to another person within their offshore call center. I hung up.

The third time I phoned Harry & David customer service, I was still in an offshore call center. I repeated my request for a United States based customer service person. They transferred me within their call center…again. The woman starts her spiel and I flat out interrupted her. I told her this was my third phone call and I know for a fact they can transfer customers to the US call center. Wouldn’t do it. So I ended THAT call.

My fourth phone call landed me offshore again and I repeated my simple request to THAT person. She actually transferred me. Once in a US call center I got a super nice lady named Karen who understood my issue and me.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to get a customer service representative on the phone.

I also penned a little note to the companies and their CEOS:

Dear Harry & David1-800-FLOWERS.COM, INC. and Steven Lightman,

Your customer service leave a great deal to be desired. It is now offshore. It took THREE tries today to get someone to transfer me to a US based customer service person. They kept saying “Yes ma’am” and then transferring me to others in their offshore location – not sure where. I finally got through to someone in US with my 4th try, so should I bill you for my time at my hourly rate?

The reason I was calling is someone sent us an expensive and perishable gift. It shipped on December 3rd. FedEx Office Small Business Resource Center delivered it on December 11th or yesterday. (Hey Raj Subramaniam I guess you need to hear this too!)

Customer service is a dying art form, and US companies need to stop outsourcing it.

I mean that. Customer Service is a dying art form. Take a recent experience with Slice, the Pizza App. I had liked using them because local businesses I liked were on them. And you could use PayPal and not store a credit card. Their customer service at first was excellent.

In November I ordered Pizza one night. Whom I wanted to order from wasn’t delivering that night so I used Slice to order from Tonito’s on Boot Road in West Chester. Quite possibly the worst pizza I’ve ever had. The entire order was also wrong. I don’t know how else to explain it. Nothing was right and the pizza was overcooked with skimpy toppings that made Dominos looks better, and local Dominos is NOT good. We threw it out.

I contacted Slice and they contacted Tonito’s. Basically Tonito’s said I was lying, so I went back to Slice with the actual order. No surprise, Slice said “Oh, you are right.”. Tonito’s gave me a teeny sliver of the $74.00 I spent back. I said to Slice, I never ask for refund, but this order screw up was the worst ever so I am asking for a refund. Slice tells me no at first then their corporate owner contacts me via Twitter and says yes I deserve a refund. I never got the refund.

Slice and I are breaking up. I decide to send them one more note now since I was writing about the death of customer service in corporate America.

Gosh another bad customer service #shoutout since I am now writing about customer service being a dying art form. Slice, you are also on a highlight because I am still waiting for that refund I was supposed to get since like….November 22nd? The one your corporate owner/founder Ilir Sela said would happen.

So Slice and the whole giving me a refund? A lie. So we are breaking up, and it’s sad because for a while they were better than GrubHub and Door Dash (which I will not use.)

Yes I know, it’s a take no prisoners kind of day. But part of my corporate life was always customer service. You are nothing if you do not provide customer service in customer service driven industries. I am not saying take countless gobs of crap unnecessarily, but I am saying provide actual customer service. Off shore call centers are cheaper and make corporate bean counters happy, but it doesn’t make customers happy.

Another example? A senior friend got scammed via her A T&T account. I don’t even want to think of the countless hours she has spent filing police reports and reports with A T & T and more to prove that no, she didn’t actually buy a shiny new over-priced iPad and goodness knows what else.

And then there is another friend, a widow in upstate New York. She bought a deer that lights up from Cracker Barrel . It arrived broken. All $432 of it including tax. She can’t get anyone on the phone or to return a phone call.

Customer service in the United States is all but dead. Customer service departments are all outsourced to people who do not necessarily or literally speak our language and only read off of a script.

Mind you I know businesses which pride themselves on customer service, but they are the exception rather than the rule and they are mostly local and small businesses who still care about their customers.

R.I.P. Customer Service.

let’s talk about cvs

CVS used to be a super reliable chain pharmacy around here. But now it’s a hot mess.

I started using CVS 10 years ago, within days of my breast cancer surgery because Rite-Aid wouldn’t let my husband pick up my meds post surgery, and made me go into the pharmacy and wait 40 minute for meds that had been called in an hour before I left the hospital which was close to an hour away. I had to stand there practically drooling from anesthesia and in pain. There was no chair for me to sit on. So that is how I switched to CVS. (But I digress.)

My great uncle was a pharmacist. He was dedicated and beloved in his community back in the day. But that was before the time of chain store pharmacies eating up the market share, and small independent pharmacies have a really hard time competing, so there aren’t many of them left. Which sucks because (for example) if you have allergies to what binds and holds meds together, it’s really hard to find compound pharmacies. I miss the small independent pharmacies we all knew growing up.

But back to CVS.

CVS pharmacies are flailing, or failing, choose your descriptive adjective.  I do not believe it to be the fault of the employees, it’s a systemic corporate issue because I do believe they DO NOT treat their employees well as they seem unable to retain/attract them.   I used to think it was just our area, but given all of the media articles I have read I guess they have this issue all over?

I will only give a couple of examples locally of CVS issues although I can tell you Exton, PA and Berwyn, PA also are also having issues – just go on social media. Facebook and Twitter. Every day someone is talking about issues with CVS somewhere.

CVS located at 1450 Pottstown Pike West Chester PA (Store #3875) has had issues which precede COVID. Since COVID their pharmacy is closed more than it is open, and currently has no pharmacist other than floaters. It’s a new store, they can’t keep it staffed.

We switched to CVS in Frazer PA because of Pottstown Pike CVS issues. Frazer is located at 335 Lancaster Ave, Frazer PA (Store #5064).  I had to call THREE times to get my monthly prescriptions this month alone.  I am on automatic refill, only they didn’t fill them.  When I called, I sat on hold for quite a long time because they are seriously understaffed. When I asked why I didn’t get the text my prescriptions were ready when I actually called them into CVS a second time fearing they weren’t on automatic refill any longer, I was told they weren’t being filled unless people called in.  Then it still took three days to get them because both prescriptions were not ready when they said they would be. I am just lucky that I finished 10 years of breast cancer meds in September, not that the meds I still am taking are optional because they aren’t. And they are conditions related to having had breast cancer and had treatment and a decade of breast cancer meds.

Someone else I know has been trying for a week to get prescriptions refilled.  There are some days you go, and the pharmacy is just closed.  Then when you do go, the line inside is over an hour, and the drive thru some days without warning is your only option and during the work day can you personally afford to sit in a drive thru lane over an hour? They still do not have their meds.  Oh and our CVS in Frazer MAY have a pharmacist by tomorrow (Saturday), only people are all over social media saying THAT store will have a closed pharmacy until Monday or Tuesday of NEXT week.  And there is a CVS in Malvern, PA in the Target a few minutes away, which is also closed today.

So when people are off prescription meds because they can’t get them filled how does that affect efficacy? 

Again, I do not blame the staff CVS has, I blame the CVS corporate team.  They sit in the gilded tower, so perhaps they fail to see what is actually happening, except how can that be?

Thanks to a lovely New York Times article a while back, I know they mark certain patients via a form as “media threats”:

 …The specifics and severity of errors are nearly impossible to tally. Aside from lax reporting requirements, many mistakes never become public because companies settle with victims or their families, often requiring a confidentiality agreement. A CVS form for staff members to report errors asks whether the patient is a “media threat,” according to a photo provided to The Times. CVS said in a statement it would not provide details on what it called its “escalation process.”

~Ellen Gabler New York Times

I am sure after this post, I will be added to the list.

I am writing this blog post mostly because I took the time to TRY to reach executive escalations in their corporate headquarters yesterday,  and a very rude woman in in their corporate HQ could not be bothered with speaking to me, so she transferred me to some random customer service line where I sat for 90 minutes until the CVS end disconnected the call.

With health plans being what they are, many people do not have options for where they can go to get prescriptions filled.

(only locally they can’t even stick to those posted hours)

What does it take for CVS to wake up?

We can’t even count on CVS locally for COVID or Flu shots at most locations. 
Yes there are staffing shortages everywhere, but CVS is the worst.  And my local CVS is staffed by nice people who work hard, but they aren’t slaves on the CVS Plantation.

So CVS, what do you have to say for yourselves that doesn’t involve blowing smoke up the derrieres of your customers? Inquiring minds want to know.

For my readers, these are the email addresses I found for CVS: , , , , , , , ,

I went Internet hunting and that is what I came up with, I like going to Executive Offices because it wastes less time and their regular vanilla customer service is somewhat useless and you can never get through to anyone.

As I close this post a reminder that I fell this is a systemic CORPORATE issue due to crappy corporate culture. The employees I have encountered from CVS locally have been very nice. So I encourage all of you to contact CVS at the corporate level. Take the time to tell them what is happening. I will note that CVS has been fined in other states for issues like this. (Refer to New York Times article CVS Fined for Prescription Errors and Poor Staffing at Pharmacies Regulators faulted four locations in Oklahoma, a rare action that followed complaints at drugstore chains across the country. By Ellen Gabler)

Have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

apparently complaining about the postal service is un-american ?? their customer service doesn’t think so…

Yesterday I finally had enough of mail going missing, arriving opened or damaged, and so on.  So I blogged about it.

I have received many, many comments and not just the ones I have published on my blog.  Here’s one  I received off blog:

I mailed a couple of things a couple of months ago. It never got there and was never returned. The guy I spoke to said they have had problems since they go through Wilmington. My question is why did they have to change things?  🙁

I totally understand how the commentor above feels. I am actually sitting on hold for the United States Postal Service in Washington DC, not that I feel it will do any good.

My mail , even local mail, also gets routed now through Wilmington, Delaware. I find it ridiculous that is a Pennsylvania resident, my mail goes out of state before comes back in state. 

Other commenters mentioned similar issues of mail not arriving, arriving damaged, arriving reeking of cigarette smoke.

But then there are the commenters who feel they have to defend the United States Postal Service at all costs. I am exaggerating , I don’t understand how hard they have to work , and how they now have to pay for some of their benefits and so on.

Here’s  one of my favorites, because it had absolutely nothing to do with what I was discussing in my previous post:

Perhaps you need to learn something about the USPS … it has to sustain itself since it does not receive US tax dollars. However, it has Congress critters who are determined to kill it since USPS has to ask Congressional permission for virtually any action to become more efficient or to streamline. On top of it, USPS is the ONLY entity that has to prepay retirement liabilities for retirees decades in advance … for future employees who are not even born yet. That was a bon-bon that Congress enacted during the Reagan years on the march to privatizing the USPS. Of course, private companies are not going to maintain service to Podunk USA. After all, for those places,UPS hands off the packages to USPS since USPS, by law, must deliver to Podunk.

Funny, I don’t remember writing about their retirement benefits or “liabilities”. And I’m sorry it has to sustain itself as a business and it is supposed to be a business? And as a customer isn’t my part in sustaining this “business” dependent upon the service received and delivery of my own mail? And yeah, Podunk. Sorry, I kind of live in Podunk so I hope that’s not too dreadfully inconvenient to deliver mail to us?

Then there is the man who keeps writing in that I am exaggerating and basically he knows this because his mail is perfect. HUH?

I am not exaggerating. My mother sent me a card, nothing fancy just a greeting card… Over a week ago. She lives in Center City Philadelphia.  Still hasn’t arrived.  Someone else has sent me something from Holmdel, New Jersey twice in two and a half weeks. Neither times has it arrived. Things mailed to me from Berwyn and Wynnewood have also not arrived. 

A package marked fragile containing a gift for someone arrived yesterday looking like it had been kicked around like a soccer ball. And that was sent some degree of “Priority” mail.

I have a great postmaster at my local post office, and the gentlemen who handle our residential route know where everyone lives and do a great job. But they are only as good as the mail that the actually reaches my local post office. Obviously there is some sort of problem with where my mail goes before it reaches my post office.

So it has been a while since I started this post.  I called the hotline number for the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Postal Service this morning. Hotline phone calls are answered M-F 11:00am – 3:00pm EST 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644).

The customer service woman I reached took close to an hour with me on the phone going over delivery issues and opened, destroyed, and missing mail. I have opened a case and she also gave me the number to consumer affairs in our area which I’m going to share with you my readers. That number is 215-863-6060.

This woman I spoke with tracked the path of some of my mail that she was able to track using basically the tracking numbers that a couple packages arrived with.  And she agreed there was an issue with my nail because I wasn’t just telling her about one type of mail going missing routinely, it’s a little of everything , bills included.  

I told her honestly that I was a blogger and I had written about this on my blog. And that I was doing a follow up post. I told her about the comments I had received, and she was very polite and didn’t discount anything I was saying. She also told me if mail is arriving and it reeks of cigarette smoke that means my mail is sitting somewhere for longer periods of time then it should be. She said people smoke, but for me or anyone to get mail where the odor is pervasive and strong and lingering it means that your mail was sitting somewhere. For quite  a while. And I have read this complaint in groups I belong to.

Maybe this hour out of my day will amount to nothing, but I hope it will amount to mail reaching me better and reaching my friends and neighbors having issues with their mail delivery as well.  

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they used to sort or mail through Southeastern PA, and now it sorts  through Wilmington Delaware. This woman also suggested that we contact our Congress people. So Ryan Costello tag you’re it.

I end with USPS trivia: the new postmaster general is a woman and she hails from Pottsville PA

corporate america and the lost art of customer service


So while breaking news out of Washington the other day was Pat Toomey is now in charge of the candy drawer in the United States Senate, life goes on. My only comment on Senator Toomey is I hope he will be paying for candy out of his own pocket and is not expensing it to United States taxpayers. He was already sending out junk mail news updates about it this morning, and somehow I doubt he paid for that personally, right? Fair is fair, he wants to live his conservative values, he should be paying for the candy.

Meanwhile, let’s focus on what we, as every day people “pay for”. I would like to particularly zoom in on customer service. Now there’s a loaded topic, right?

Customer service. I think it is a lost art form. 2015/01/img_2768.gif

Let’s begin with Pennsylvania based banking giant, PNC Bank. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, they used to offer terrific service. Today, I’ve discovered not so much once you get past a friendly local teller and lots and lots of fees and service charges…..but not customer service one would expect. It seems like they want your money, but they don’t really care about the customer.

In November, I walked into a local PNC branch during their posted business hours to open another account. I was told I couldn’t open it that day, but I would have to make an appointment to come back another day.


Yes it sounds like the opening lines to a very bad standup comedy routine but it was true. A woman walked into a bank to open an account check in hand and was told to come back another time. Yup, it happened.

But no worries, the gentleman I spoke to on the phone from the branch when they told me as an existing customer with check in hand it was not possible to open a new bank account in a bank branch during business hours has been having a swell time checking out my LinkedIn profile. (Yes dear, peek a boo, I can see your profile too!)

I wrote to PNC Bank about this, and basically, they don’t care. They sent me a brief note in response to my feedback and said they would notify the branch and regional managers. Can you hear the crickets chirping?

My better half and a lot of people I know asked me why I still deal with PNC. Having been an account holder there in good standing for so many years (errr decades actually) , it’s probably habit as much as anything else. After my year-end negative experiences with PNC Bank, I’m thinking a New Year’s resolution might be to shop for a new bank. I opened the new account PNC couldn’t be bothered opening that day at Citizens Bank. So far they have been amazing as far as service. But this wasn’t my only customer service issue with PNC before the end of 2014.

2015/01/img_2764.gifAt the end of December, I paid off a credit card balance in full. I don’t like carrying balances, so I chose from their menu the painful option of pay the full balance off. It wasn’t the largest balance on the face of the earth, but I honored my obligation and paid it off. The credit card was with PNC.

A few days later, even though I paid off the balance in full, they added on one last finance charge. So instead of pulling up my account and finding a zero balance, what I found was what amounts to a nuisance charge. One would think with computer software being what it was that if you choose the option of paying off your entire balance that they would include all charges right?

It was just a few dollars, but at this point I have decided it is the principle of the thing. So I decided to contact customer service. I could not contact customer service on this topic from my account online and conveniently send a message that way, I had to physically call them. That happened to be New Year’s Eve day. I sat on hold for 40 minutes two different times without getting through. That’s 80 Minutes total of the inanity of hold music and the occasional syrupy voice saying how valued you are as a customer without reaching a real person.

My time is worth something I think, so I gave up and contacted them through their social media customer service. On Monday, as in this most recent Monday, January 5th, I received a form letter dated December 31 from a retail escalation specialist at PNC Bank telling me they were unable to reach me by telephone. The letter wasn’t even on letterhead, and my contact information is always updated. I spent many years working in the financial services industry, I know how important that is.

I called the woman Monday who was listed in the letter and left a message with my phone number. I will admit it wasn’t the most pleasant message because I’m pretty hot about this at this point. But it’s Friday, and no one has been able to return a phone call, and that is even after I contacted them again this morning asking why their escalations specialist hadn’t contacted me yet even though I responded promptly to the form letter not on letterhead. How is that customer service? But they thanked me for following up…..


Of course because I contacted back their social media customer service and told them I hadn’t heard from anyone and that I was going to blog about it, I expect now the phone will ring eventually. I have come to the conclusion that as PNC has grown, customers aren’t really valued any longer unless they are giant mega millions depositors. That’s sad.

But moving along let’s talk about another Pennsylvania corporate giant, Comcast. Comcast is based in Philadelphia. If you live in the city of Philadelphia depending on where you live even in Center City you have very little in the way of choice for cable. Where my mother lives it’s Comcast or Comcast.

So my mother is a senior citizen, she wasn’t weaned on computers or fancy cable and digital television equipment. But she’s not an idiot. She’s been calling Comcast for a couple months at this point with problems with her service. Service she continues to pay for even though she isn’t getting all of the service she is paying for which includes basic customer service.

I wish I could switch her to Verizon FiOs but she’s like prisoner of Zenda because they don’t offer it where she lives. She has lost hours and days off for life waiting for Comcast to come and fix the problem. She is incredibly frustrated by the fact that they outsource their customer service offshore to foreign countries at this point. She said she would have no problem speaking with someone from any country if she could simply understand them, and they her.
My mother is very clear spoken as well as well spoken, and there’s nothing wrong with her hearing. But when you call Comcast customer service and you go to one of their call centers offshore, the accents are pretty heavy, and they also don’t get apparently a lot of the nuances of every day colloquial American English. And they seem unable to deviate from an inane script for the most part, and frustrate her by not addressing the questions she’s asking.

In the good old days of the not-too-distant past, you used to be able to call Comcast and get call centers in Delaware or Northeast Philadelphia, if not other areas of the United States.

So in addition to the frustration of my mother dealing with Comcast offshore “customer service”, there is the frustration of they are now worse than Time Warner apparently in timeliness of keeping appointments. My mother has been blown off completely for some appointments, and kept waiting hours after the “appointment window” without a phone call on others. And let’s discuss the technicians.

They arrive, and no one seems to know what to do. It’s always someone else’s responsibility to fix it I guess for lack of a better description. Finally they decided that they would have to rerun part of the wiring in her home that they had run in the first place, and not too many years ago. So my mother said okay fine, just have to put the carpet back the way it is supposed to be. Apparently that was a big huge to do and in the end what happened is some technician stapled my mother’s expensive drapes to the floor when they stapled the cabling all around the apartment again. She takes pride in her home, personally I would have been apoplectic when I discovered my curtains stapled to the floor. What kind of slob does that kind of work anyway?

I guess I don’t understand how they could be that sloppy and if the cable was originally run under carpets and such so as not to be obtrusive or a trip hazard or visually ugly why they couldn’t do that again? I get that they don’t want to do extra work, no one does, but if they had installed it in a certain way using their Comcast technicians in the first place, why couldn’t they just put it back that way??

Comcast has a lot of expensive real estate around the greater Philadelphia area, including their monster buildings in the city of Philadelphia. But what they have sacrificed as they have become giants is customer service.


I’m beginning to think in corporate America, customer service is a lost art because so many companies don’t want to really offer actual customer service. It almost seems as if they feel customer service is counterintuitive to their best practices and bottom lines, as some of these giant corporations have so many more people that they should be able to service so many more people. But they don’t. You spent forever on hold losing your mind to that hold music and a syrupy automated voice thanking you for your patience as you mentally throw darts at a dart board trying not to scream. If you do tough it out and get an actual “customer service representative”, you might get someone who will listen to you but in the end will they actually do anything that is “customer service”?

It used to be American-made and American corporate customer service meant something. But today everything is outsourced or automated in addition to the customer service shortfalls. So when you call for the most American of companies, like American Express for example, you don’t know where your call center is, and that is if you can stand going through all of the call menus, the prompts, the autolady computer voices, and so on.

I remember once years ago having to call American Express on behalf of my then boss who was traveling in Europe. I got a call center in India, and I couldn’t understand them and they couldn’t understand me.

A recent call to my health insurance company Aetna, landed me in a call center in the Philippines. The customer service rep I got on the phone was incredibly pleasant, but she totally didn’t understand what I was trying to do. All I was trying to do was find out where my ID cards were and to verify my binding premium on my new policy was correctly credited.

The only thing this girl got out of our conversation (and was somewhat unable to process or think outside of her script) was she kept trying to sign me up for automatic debiting every month. As a matter fact I had to call back and say I want to be transferred to a United States on-shore call center to make sure I wasn’t signed up for things I didn’t request. And I had been signed up for the automatic debiting I did not want. In this case the language barrier was incredibly frustrating, but there was a true attempt at customer service.


When I get a good customer service person on the phone these days, I am so complementary I’m sure they think I must’ve lost my mind. But, it is so seldom you actually get really good customer service any longer on the phone that I feel compelled to praise those who actually take the time to do their customer service jobs.

And I tire of the outsourcing, it’s all about the corporate dollar bottom line and what does it do besides line the pockets of executives of that company with a little extra jingle? What does it actually do for the customer who is frustrated by language barriers and hold times?

What about the person to person customer service in bank branches or with your cable service guy comes to fix a problem? Where has it gone? Why has it disappeared? Why is it inconsistent? I spent years in the financial services industry and even when a customer was driving me crazy I didn’t want them to get off the phone feeling less than 100% satisfied. So basically, I treated them the way I wish to be treated.

To me, good customer service should be part of the work ethic. I don’t think you can just do the job, I think you need to do it well. And if people are paying for customer service no matter how small or how large a customer they are, how old, how ordinary, how important, it shouldn’t matter. The customer is a customer is a customer.

This is why I like supporting small businesses so much. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule too. A local Chester County exception would be Athena Pizza in West Chester.

When they are “on”, their food and customer service is excellent, but their largest downfall is their inconsistency. And when you have a problem with an order, it all depends which member of the family owned business you get on the phone. There is literally the nice brother and the horrible brother. When you get the horrible brother, you understand how comedian Jerry Seinfeld got inspiration for one of his most famous characters the soup Nazi.

For 2015 it would be really nice if corporate America, or any business actually practiced what they preached as far as customer service goes. It doesn’t take much to be nice and helpful to customer. Not every customer is going to get the precise resolution they seek, but at the end of the day it’s all about how you treat the customer. And sometimes it would be nice if the company actually admit it when the customer is actually right. And yes the flipside of this argument is we is customers should try to be nice to the companies and their employees.

However if you want corporate customer service anywhere to pay attention to you these days you have to take your complaint to social media it seems. It’s like dog shaming for business. Why can’t the simple phone call take care of things anymore?

One final note is a couple of places where customer service is awesome on a local level is the Wegman’s in Malvern and Kimberton Whole Foods in Malvern. Wegmans is a big chain and Kimberton Whole Foods is a small chain, but somehow they managed not to forget the core values of customer service. Also the Verizon Wireless independent non corporate store in Frazer next to the Giant in the Lincoln Court Shopping Center should be mentioned as they are terrific.

Thanks for stopping by today.


bah humbug u.s. postal service!


WARNING: this is a RANT against the United States Postal Service. So if you think they are fabulous, turn away now.

I ordered a small something. It was breakable. The seller thought a super padded, bubble wrapped, and cardboard shield of protection would keep it safe. Unfortunately, they didn’t ask me about it or I would have told them differently.

I have seen it happen dozens of times. You’ll be standing there and the post office and inevitably someone ahead of you will ask whoever’s behind the counter “is this wrapped well enough?”

Of course most of those people behind the counter say yes, especially during the holiday season. They don’t want to be slowed down at all.

And then there is the issue of postage is getting so darn expensive, that people are looking at ways of getting things to recipients less expensively.

One also can’t forget the fact that sometimes the post office just doesn’t deliver things. That happened last October when I mailed my sister her birthday present two and a half weeks ahead of time Priority Mail. You know that overpriced service that is supposed to take two or three days?

She lives in New York City. You would think that a city so fabulous would also a fabulous services like mail delivery. The phrase “Hell no” applies here.

I made the United States Postal Service reimburse me for postage on that package. It took a couple weeks to get them to do it, but I had paid for service I had not received. The idea was to get the birthday present to my sister ahead of time, not after her birthday had passed. It took the post office 2 1/2 weeks to deliver something I paid for Priority Mail delivery on.

My sister’s stories of United States Postal Service in New York City are legendary. My favorite stories are always her recounting how she is treated when she actually has to go stand in line for something in the post office. Apparently Mother Russia has nothing on all of those postal workers in New York City.

For years I had the same post man. He was awesome. When I moved out to Chester County, it was like getting indoctrinated into a new society. Once again, I have an awesome post man, but there are these rules I’m just not used to.

For example, because of liability now they don’t get out of their post office delivery vehicles unless they are delivering a package that doesn’t fit in your mailbox.

So, say that you are having something delivered when the mail arrives, or a work person is at your house and parked on the road. If their work vehicle is blocking your mailbox, you don’t get your mail that day. Or if you are having company, and they foolishly want to park in front of your house, the same thing applies.

How did I discover that? When we had just moved into the house and had some work truck parked outside doing something, the post man left us a note in our mailbox telling us about that? But if we did not have a nice mailman, we never would’ve known.

So yesterday this package was delivered. Usually, when the mailman is delivering something, he rings the bell. This time he didn’t and I just happened to hear the truck pulling away from the house.

I went downstairs to retrieve the mail left on my front porch. I see this small package with red stamps all over saying “DAMAGED IN HANDLING IN THE POSTAL SERVICE”. There was nothing affixed to the package however, telling me what to do about this.

I picked up the package and all I heard were the sounds of broken glass. I am so glad that the person who sold me this tiny Currier and Ives print shipped it Priority Mail aren’t you?

Not only is the glass shattered in dozens of pieces and shards and nearly cut me opening it, but the glass was the vintage kind that was painted on the back to look like matting.

The glass shards sliced the brittle paper of the old print. So the whole thing is useless. And it is a waste, and that pisses me off.

Now granted, the seller should have rethought her packaging. There are plenty of helpful bits of information out there on how to ship artwork. But this was so small a piece, I know she thought she would be fine.

The person who shipped this to me will be reimbursing me for my entire purchase. But the United States Postal Service seems less than interested in this. They have definite culpability here.

I tried contacting them by phone twice yesterday, and couldn’t get through. I tweeted a picture of the package at them on Twitter, they didn’t flinch. I sent an email to “customer service” but never received even an auto reply.

The United States Postal Service likes to tell us “We deliver for you” and “With Priority Mail, we’re here to help.” But they seem to do neither.

When I ship a package I don’t usually use the United States Postal Service any longer. I use UPS or FedEx. They aren’t perfect either, but they do seem to have a slightly higher degree of accountability.

I’m getting ready to put my Christmas cards into the mail, just a few, I’m not doing a full load this year. Yet still I wonder how many will actually reach the intended recipients.

This is the busiest season of the year for the United States Postal Service outside of tax time, and among my friends I am already hearing tales of things that are just delivered in pieces.

It would be nice if the people at the counters of the physical post offices actually took a minute to tell people that certain packages probably weren’t packed securely and should go in a box, or have more padding. But I know that won’t happen.

It would also be nice if the people behind the counters and post offices were little more pleasant during the holidays. But, if the West Chester main post office is any indication, that’s not happening, either.

Sign me irritated.


domestic diva blows a gasket over sears “service”

searsI cook.  So for me to be without an appliance to achieve said end result is a big deal.  A few months ago I was a lucky girl and got a new wall oven. And then mysteriously six months after install, the digital thermostat gives up the ghost. If we wanted things only 350 degrees or above, I was golden.

Yes, you guess it: the thermostat goes up, only up. It doesn’t come down. (As a slightly related aside read this amusing article about oven temperature on Slate.)

So anyway, my new oven which is brand name came from Sears.  Sears appliances come with these warranties and “Blue Crew” repairmen who are truthfully awesome.

Unfortunately I am learning the customer service as in when you call the toll-free numbers is not so hot. To the point of frustrating enough to make you want to toss the telephone out the window after dealing with them.

So back to the beginning.  The oven is wonky so we call the number on the warranty paperwork.  We tell them what is wrong, give them all the data off the oven door and they say they will dispatch a repairman.  A few days later, we get the repairman.  Only he could only LOOK at the oven, the part had to be ordered. And the fact that warranty repair is this multi-step process like this is not exactly explained to you by the “customer service” people.

We are told the part would arrive by last Thursday (I am not sure it even came Thursday, I think it came Friday). When the box arrives we were told to call Sears toll-free number right away.  So like good little robots we did.  We were scheduled for repair between 8 a.m. and 12 noon.stove 3

This morning begins with a robo-call from Sears at quite the uncivilized hour stating the repairman would be there at 7:30 a.m. O.k. in a civilized world unless someone is bleeding on the side of the road or it is the snow day phone tree, the phone doesn’t even ring then! At that hour in the morning what is happening with families this time of year? Oh yeah, getting people off to work and school or they are trying to enjoy vacation and might shock or shockers sleep in a few minutes extra.

The repairman arrives.  As always, the best and most competent and professional part of Sears Home Repair are the actual repairman. They are pleasant, competent, know their stuff.

So I hand my repairman the box that got shipped from Sears via the manufacturer. I had not opened the box as I did not want to invalidate any warranty if only a licensed technician was supposed to open it.

The repairman opens the box and turns to me with a pained look on his face “Is this all they shipped to you?” he asks.

I replied yes, just that box which I had not opened. Well it ends up what they shipped was not the actual digital panel part but the cover for it.

The repairman excused himself and went out to his truck to call his office or headquarters or whatever. He comes back with an even more pained look on his face.  Apparently my part is on backorder and will arrive on Monday, September 2nd…you know, Labor Day. As in national holiday?

I said to the repairman, I know it is not his fault but how come they can robo-call and call for everything except for things like to tell the customer who has been waiting for over two weeks to get to this point and will be at over three weeks if the part arrives that a part was on back order???

He gave me a card with a “resolution hotline” listed in it.  Resolution my fanny.donna reed

I called the number (888-236-1885).  They said the call center was Houston, it sounded more like the Dominican Republic or something.  The gentleman who answered the phone was very nice, but his voice was so heavily accented that I donnacould not understand him.  And I don’t speak Spanish so I couldn’t converse with him that way.  So I politely said I could not hear him and asked for a supervisor.  I was placed on hold and listened to a mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune for about 10 minutes before he came back to the line and said he had permission to transfer me to a supervisor.


So a woman named Patricia (still with an accented voice, though not as heavy)  comes onto the line a few minutes after being placed on hold again and forced to listen to more of the same mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune.  I go through the whole situation with her.  She then replies to me and I could tell she was reading a script or something off a computer screen.

I listened and then I said, look, I need to know what you are going to do to try to resolve my issues, and I need more than being read to off a computer screen. So she tells me that the manufacturer (Whirlpool) is specially making my oven part – yes specially. I laughed and said I wish that was true but we all know the parts are manufactured overseas in factories and there is nothing “special” about it.built in

She tells me there is nothing she can do for me.  I asked who else I could speak to.  She replies “Customer Resolution” but won’t give me the direct number.  She transfers me.  I spent the next 50 yes 50 minutes on hold listening to SAME mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune and then the call was picked up and DROPPED on Sears end.

I was forced to call again and start the process again. This time although I could have been in Brazil or Cuba, I was told I was calling Florida.  A happy sing songy voice wanted me to go through it all again. So I did and then she transferred me to the super secret Customer Resolution area where the phone rang and rang and rang for 20 minutes before I swear the extension was picked up and disconnected.  I did not even get to the mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune part of being on perma-hold this time.

Now my better half is having a go at Sears.  And I decided to write about it. And Sears? Your repairman is awesome and none of this is his fault.

There's a simple way to keep your home spring-clean fresh all year through.I just want to know what happened to real customer service? What happened to valuing my time as a customer?  Is my time not valuable?  Am I just  supposed to be Donna Reed sitting on the sofa in the living room with a nice gin and tonic and am not supposed to worry my pretty head about it?

My final word is usually I try to give local businesses more of a shot. Only after lots and lots of looking we discovered no one could beat Sears prices on brand names we were interested in. However, I think next time I might weigh the pros and cons of paying a little more and knowing I will get actual customer service vs. Sears magic carpet ride.

Am I experiencing desperate housewifery?

And I would really like to use my oven……

the lost art of customer service

sleepyUPDATE: Sleepy’s reached out to me.  They are working with us and I will update post as needed

So we bought ourselves a new bed frame and mattress for Christmas.  The frame came without incident from – and they only had one delivery man on the truck that delivered.  And he bought every box up to the master bedroom cheerfully and carefully.  He was probably one of the NICEST delivery people I have ever dealt with.

The mattress experience was not so pleasant.  We ordered from Sleepy’s, which after my experience should be renamed Cranky’s.

As I told the Sleepy’s folks in an e-mail:

So we just bought a rather expensive mattress from you and the customer experience on delivery was enough to not ever use your company again and encourage others also NOT to patronize you.

The delivery was timely, but upon arrival delivery man #1 announced my new mattress was frozen, so it would not be able to take it up to the master bedroom (2 sets of stairs, 7 steps a piece).

What he wanted to do was dump my new expensive mattress in the front hall and block everything.

When he came into the house he complained about everything. Considering I was a paying customer I found that offensive. In another home when I used 1-800-Mattress they moved a bed frame, mattress, and box spring up an incredibly steep and narrow staircase and down a hall without a complaint.  And set everything up and removed another bed damaged in the move.

Your delivery man #1 then called your office, and basically I asked the woman what Sleepys was going to do for me and the answer was nothing.  “Well you got free delivery” she said in a horriblly accented voice like that should make it all better.

After much complaining delivery man #1 along with delivery man #2 (who was very nice) moved my new expensive mattress to the second floor hall.

Now while I get the gel stuff in the mattress caused it to freeze and couldn’t go up to master bedroom, the fact that I had to push to get them to do partial placement was ridiculous!

And I will note that I along with someone else had managed to move heavy dressers, a bed frame, and a large and heavy area rug up those two sets of 7 steps without complaint.

I have never seen a perfect mattress delivery, but at least my other experiences with other companies meant not feeling offended after spending a pretty penny. For the first time ever in my life I did not tip delivery personnel. But I was not going to tip after feeling offended and being given a hard time.

Again, I get the mattress was frozen and couldn’t be placed on the bed, but I should not have had to work SO hard to get the mattress part way to its final location when all I was talking about was a straight shot up 7 short stairs!

I have learned a valuable lesson that your company only cares about the customer up to the point you take our money.

A friend of mine who owns a business driven by customer service, and also offers delivery had this to say:

I will note that I think it’s ridiculous that they allowed your new expensive mattress to freeze.

You did not purchase a frozen mattress, did you?  So why did they allow it to become frozen before delivery?

The mattress should have been kept in temperature regulated storage before delivery, as I am guessing that the only way for it to become frozen is that they loaded the box truck the night before and left it outside.

These mattress are probably not tested to withstand freezing conditions so what if the gel foam substance is damaged from being frozen now?

How can you be sure that the mattress is not permanently damaged and will be less supportive as a result of poor product care prior to delivery?  I think they should refund half the cost of your new expensive mattress because of unsatisfactory delivery of a damaged product.

She’s not wrong, and I had not thought of that.  I wrote to them because the customer service to me the customer was not exactly what I was expecting. 1-800-Mattress is better, is better, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are also better.

I expect nothing more out of Sleepy’s as with them obviously customers are out of site and out of mind once they take your money.  Then it is onto the next sale. I think it is great they donated mattresses to Super Storm Sandy Survivors on the Rachael Ray Show but I think more of the credit there goes to Rachael Ray for arranging it.  After all, Sleepy’s corporate gets nice write offs for donations, correct?

I am thinking true customer service is a lost art unless you are patronizing smaller and more local businesses.

Lesson learned: if you purchase anything from Sleepy’s don’t expect much.  A good deal is not so fabulous when it comes with cranky customer service.   When it comes to them Caveat emptor. And when you can: shop local.

do you think banks care about customers? PNC doesn’t. not really.

Customer service in the financial services industry is paramount.  Not so many years ago, I actually received national corporate honors on more than one occasion for my attention to detail and for going above and beyond for customers and finding solutions.

I here to find out from my readers today what banks you think provide excellent customer service and which banks should be skipped.

I am also  here to tell you I think PNC is one of those banks which should be skipped. Unless of course they can correct their inconsistency from branch to branch in customer service.

Without going into details, I have been trying to help someone navigate a banking issue at PNC.  It has involved multiple phone calls, multiple e-mails, and research on my part.

Last week I plopped something on a PNC Facebook page and a very nice woman named Jessica called me back.  She found me the name and number of someone to speak with at the branch giving an older person I know the run-around.

The name I was given was Steve Curry.  So I called this Steve Curry late last week after jessica gave me his name and number and told me his work hours so I could reach him and not experience further frustration.  Amazingly enough when I called there was a pause and you could imagine in the background whomever answered the phone was having an “oh crap, she actually called us” moment.  So although it was well beyond the imagination of corporate lunch hours, this Steve was “out of the office….errr getting lunch.” (Translated: he/they did not want to deal with me.)

So then a while later this guy calls me back from the same branch.  Was all sugar and spice and big banking words until I did not accept his answer as the oracle from above.  (When you spend enough time in financial services you know that often there is something more that can be done, a one time exception, a move that is pure discretion on the part of the branch manager.)

Dude’s name this time was Don Singh.  And well, I asked Banker Charming (do you sense heavy sarcasm? I found him incredibly rude after he was finished giving me the overly syrupy condescending little woman treatment) who was above him in the food chain because he did not get where I was going and I needed to discuss this with someone who actually knew what I was speaking about, he told me TFB in essence he was king of his branch and I could call Pittsburgh. His supervisor was not located in his branch.   But he did not offer me a number.  That’s o.k., I am resourceful that way, I found the number to the Chairman’s Office in Pittsburgh, PA and called.

Next a very nice lady in Pittsburgh transferred me to “Dan” in customer service.  Dan was very polite and professional and said he would have a regional manager above Banker Charming call me on Monday.

It’s now Tuesday.  No call.  No e-mail.

In the interim, I think I found as a now non-financial services industry professional a solution to this problem.  Something that this bank should help their  client with.  Did I mention the client is a senior citizen? Customer service? Well, it’s their job after all  and PNC collects enough fees and what not off of customers that these people should not only be more respectful in some of these branches (the offending branch here is in Philadelphia, PA at 1511 Walnut Street, Philadelphia and I will note I found a website specifically reviewing PNC Bank and 92 reviews give this institution 2.5 out of 5 stars so I must be onto something). I found reviews that lined up nicely with what I experienced at this Walnut Street branch.  And while the other people were pleasant enough to me and this older person I am attempting to assist, there is also the issue with the misinformation that was also provided to this customer.

Now because I have not heard back from anyone, I am swiftly reaching the conclusion that PNC does NOT in fact really care about its customers, especially small deposit ones.  It used to be that bankers tried to accommodate customers, and bank managers actually did their jobs and extended themselves towards solutions – let us not forget bank branch managers have a fair amount of discretion that they can choose to use.

Have any of you out there had any negative PNC issues you would like to share?  Any horror stories with any other banks?  If you were going to switch banks, what bank would you choose today?

I also discovered PNC including this branch was the subject of a protest this past November.

The bottom line here is customer service:  what banks actually offer consistent, honest to goodness customer service?  PNC has had in my experience very good telephone based customer service reps.  But as for the rest of it, it depends on the branch as it is all inconsistent.  Bank branch managers are not God and without deposit accounts they would have no salary and benefits.

In banking is good customer service just a thing of the past?  What do you think? And while you are at it, tell me what banks in Chester County you think are worth it and where they are located.