Archive for November, 2011

Still wating a response from Best Buy . . . . .

November 30, 2011

Dear Mr. Dunn, Ms. Smith and Mr. Paragi,

I am writing to inform you that I have simply never experienced such a monumental break down in customer service that I have endured for the 6 days with BestBuy.com.  While I realize many customers say they won’t shop an establishment again as a mere threat, I won’t shop with you again.  You won’t miss my business: I purchase very little in the way of electronics and when I do, I prefer to use local merchants.

However, this year, my sister wanted to purchase a Sony Computer Entertainment America-PlayStation 3 (160GB) Complete Entertainment Bundle-98310 which, as you know, was Black Friday door buster for $199.99.  This pricing or item was not unique to BestBuy: Wal-Mart and Target also offered the same product at the same price.  My sister’s preference for BestBuy had me purchase the item for her.  I used my credit card, had it shipped to my address.  On 11/24, I received an order confirmation stating that Order Number: BBY01-429769002426 was in process and expected to ship in 0-1 days.  On Monday (11/28) I received an email telling me there was a problem with my credit card or order.  As the on-line status indicated the item could not be cancelled and was in process, I did not pursue it feeling it might be an on-line scam.

Once I received as second email on 11/29 (Tuesday), I felt there might be a problem.  I called my credit card company, American Express, and they verified an authorization in the amount of $297.47 (American Express authorization number xxxxxx) to BestBuy for my order.  At this point, I called your customer service number to inquire as to the problem (I surmised it might have been a missed CIV number).  After spending 10 minutes on hold, to be transferred where I sat on hold for another 20 minutes, my day of sheer lunacy with your company began.

1)      Call number one: I was disconnected after being on the phone for approximately 46 minutes.

2)      Call number two: after second hold time of approximately 30 minutes, I spoke to “Judy” who claimed to be a supervisor.  She opened case number 9296255 regarding the multiple issues with this order.  I asked to speak to her manager: she stated that she did not have a supervisor as she “was” a supervisor.  I pointed out to her that everybody had a supervisor, even Mr. Dunn who reports to the Board of Directors.  I asked to hold: she declined and took my number and said one would call me back “within the hour”.  22 hours later, I am still waiting for a call back. During my conversation with Judy, she explained that because my order shipped in 2 parts, my credit card had to be re-authorized.  At this point, I explained your organization is still holding a charge pending and it’s a debit system back and once all 3 items are deducted, the balance owed to you from American Express and ultimately me would be zero.

  1. I discussed with the next 3 people the lack of “ship complete” options available on BestBuy.com.  I verified this when I made the order and then again today.  I would have done ship complete as the controller and blue-ray DVD remote are of no use to me without the PlayStation.  This is a basic feature for web sites.  In the early 1990’s (fully 20 years ago), Talbots had this feature available for telephone orders.  BN.com has this available today.
  2. I do not understand the logic behind multiple re-authorizations of a credit card when the credit has already been reserved by the credit card company.  At this point, BestBuy.com is holding $279.97 AND $212.49 of my credit for an order that totals $279.97.

3)      After contacting American Express, they agreed to one-off a second authorization to BestBuy.com for $212.49 so the item may be shipped.

4)      I called BestBuy.com again and provided the credit card number: the individual I spoke with was unable to verify that the charge went through (BestBuy case number xxxxxxxx)

5)      At 2:19 pm, I contacted the customer relations department listed on your web site and spoke to a gentleman named Lee.  He informed me it was not his job to handle complaints from BestBuy.Com.  At this point, I would like to point out the insanity of listing a customer relations department on your web site that does not handle web issues.  He then transferred me to “web research”.

6)      After spending 7 minutes on hold, Amy, verified that she was unable to do anything, unable to expedite my order and unable to explain to me why there was not a ship complete option and why the dual charge/charge release was your business practice.

7)      As of 10:38 this morning, the tracking number for the controller and remote are not showing tracking information.  My order for the PlayStation is still showing as “pending” and I have an additional charge (with no credit release) to my credit card company.

I am quite disgusted with BestBuy.com on several fronts: first, my calls were routinely dropped after 10-11 minutes of hold time because the phone lines were “too busy” according to the automated reply.  Second, your employees are not empowered to provide customer service to individuals who purchase from your store/on-line shop.  Third, there is not a mechanism to re-enter a credit card number during your on-line system when you have indicated there is an issue with a credit card number.  Fourth, there is zero point of escalation for individuals when resolution is complex.

I am not asking for a free PlayStation (although that would go a long way in taking your organization off of my blacklist) for my sister.  I do believe that your organization should do something to compensate me for my time and sheer lack of customer service provided by your organization.  At this point, I expect delivery of all 3 of my items by the end of the week and my American Express card to reflect a total charge of $279.97 with no pending debit holds from your company.

As you know, customers are exceedingly choosy about who they shop with for a myriad of reasons.  I had a choice when selecting who to purchase this item from: I made a mistake. The “bargain” that this item sold for has been nothing but a nightmare, between charge/charge backs to my credit card, unable to ship complete on web orders, employees who have lied to me and a simple inability to find out when I will receive my product.

I look forward to your reply,

(A not so) Best Buy: Tales in (missing) Customer Service

November 29, 2011

I’m sure this is karmic revenge for my friends who are tired of hearing me rail on the evils of on-line box stores.  First, let me be clear, this was my good deed of the decade as I was trying to help my sister surprise her tweeners.  It turned out to be my pro-local business, über vigilance coming back to bite me in the butt.  (Really, Santa, it was a GOOD DEED!).  My sister wanted to purchase a video gaming system for her kids for Christmas: since she has prying eyes, we agreed I’d get it for her, she’d pay me back – thus avoiding the problem of a possible false flag for credit card fraud and a surprise on Christmas morning.

Somehow, I managed to check every hour, on the hour, until this blasted thing went on sale.  I pre-notified my credit card company of out of habit spending.  I got it! I received the happy email from Best Buy saying “we will be sending this shortly”.  Great, I could see the authorization hold on my card and thought nothing of it.

Yesterday, I received and e-mail saying their was a problem with my credit card.  Since I don’t shop at Best Buy (and note, never will again), I decided to call them (being a bit paranoid about credit card scams since the on-line status said my order was pending).  I was on hold 10 minutes. .  .to be transferred to the department that handles payments for games.  Ok, seriously? It’s a CREDIT CARD.  I sat on hold for 27 minutes (thankfully, I was working on a table at work) before being told my credit card had been denied. What? I provided them the authorization number given to me by the always fantastic American Express.

So, it turns out when you have an order shipped in more than one package (and there wasn’t a ship complete option!), Best Buy re-authorizes your credit card. Each. Time.  My credit card company thought it was fraud. Fast forward 6 hours (!!!!).  I had called Best Buy numerous times: including a supervisor who when I asked to speak to a manager said she didn’t have one: I pointed out she had a boss, even the CEO has a boss, called the customer service number listed on www.bestbuy.com and was told this number wasn’t for dot.com orders (what?) and that customer service couldn’t help me.  After much frustration and a bit of laughter from my co-workers I finally found somebody who could answer my question: the order was forced through after calls between Best Buy and American Express.  The person who “researches” internet issues told me she’s had a few hundred of these complaints.  Gee, I wonder why? Charging-refunding-charging cards? All with fees attached to both the consumer and company?

I’m livid with Best Buy, I’ll be writing several individuals in the company.  But oh, did I deserve it: I knew I should have bought the damn thing locally.  And trust me, I’m not going to purchase anything from Best Buy Worse Experience Ever again.  And the kicker? People asking me what they could do to help: hint, fix my order.

Why I shop local, can and all those other things.

November 27, 2011

My friend the author of Vegaparadise, posted a link on a recent article that appeared in the Washington Post regarding the increase in of ‘urban gardening’, canning and other activities that seem to be taking hold with members of GenX and GenY . The article which you can also find floating around FB, raises a few interesting thoughts.  Are those who are participating taking a step back for “feminist ideals” (note, yes, that was a gagging sound you heard coming from me) or empowering.  Ok, how about something that isn’t a simple cliché answer.  Maybe we are the generations that aren’t interested in chasing the a 24×7 lifestyle? Maybe after a hard look at the rampant consumerism which lead to an economic collapse, we’ve decided to try to be as local as possible (let’s face it, most of us would be pretty hard pressed to live a 100% locally sourced life – especially if we take any medicine).  I’m not going to rant on the evils of processed foods (I like them … and I know they are bad for me.  Some days, really, all I want is a donut) but maybe part of the resurgence of canning/cooking/scaling down is a recognition of just trying to minimize the chaos.

Part of the “local movement” does come from my desire to support small businesses in my area. Why? It’s better for me.  Chances are a local business owner lives in the surrounding area.  Local businesses have to pay taxes to my town, county and state.  Big box retailers often receive tax abatement deals to come into a town: often with disastrous consequences for the local and state economies.  There are a series of studies that can be found here.   Maybe my decision to support local business, farmers markets and other  local initiatives is one way I can contribute back to my local economy in an easy manner.

Perhaps there is another lesson in this: maybe the GenX and GenY members, having lived through a more, more, more childhood and early adulthood started to settle down when the economy started to nosedive (pick a time), realized there was more to life than a McMansion with a pool and never thought of it is an oppressive act.  I know for me, there is a certain amount of self satisfaction in opening a jar that I canned.  I know what is in the jar.  I know the food is probably not going to be under a recall.  I know that I can pronounce every word.  When I make the decision to spend the extra $2 on fairly traded items, I know that the people involved will be compensated fairly.

Maybe for me, part of my decision to be a locavore is based on this: I can’t ship jobs out of the country.  But I can make sure that where I spend my money supports my local economy so I’m not shipping my money out-of-state or out of the country.  And another reason I like to can, for me anyway, there is something meditative about the process: about combining, mixing and creating.

But I’m 100% sure I’m not taking a step backwards for women: I’m pretty much doing it for me, for the fun and the adventure.  And it’s a small way I can help my local businesses.

Eating Local in Winter

November 19, 2011

For November . . . .

I stumbled upon the Shared Harvest CSA earlier this fall and found it to be a perfect addition to the summer canning madness (and it was madness, but I have to admit that even I find a bit of self-satisfaction with that pop of a jar I’ve canned. . . . ).  Yes, I found another slightly bat shit insane challenge to partake in (it keeps me creative in the kitchen and when you’re cooking for one …) during the winter.

Is buying 100% local the most economical: no.  Is it something I can realistically do.  No.  I’m not 100% committed to giving up citrus and avocados and those don’t grow IN New England.  Plus throw in the allergy to shellfish (only our most common protein) and a gluten-free diet, it’s not feasible.  I’m not going to rant (at least today) about the benefits of local economies, see the Occupy Wall Street stuff for that (although I could probably make a more coherent argument for the benefits of local foods, industry than some of that mess) debate.

There is a challenge floating about on the web, Dark Days of Winter Challenge, that is about one meal a week that is S.O.L.E (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical).  Will it be a challenge, yes, maybe? There are a few farmer’s markets in the winter (Wayland, Somerville, Winchester), plus the Mass Local Food Co-op.  The challenge will be finding the flavors, getting over my unrealistic fear of kale.  I’m going to try for 2 days a week for a few reasons.  First, I’m cooking for one so I don’t have to worry about kids and flavors.  Second, I did a ton of canning/freezing this summer.  Third, there is something inventive about cooking.  I cook on the fly.  While that will be possible, it will be a bit harder. And fourth, while we don’t have a long growing season here … we do have dairy.  Yup, I’ve already stalked out my local ice cream source.  Isn’t that all I really need to survive? It will be an adventure and I promise to try to post pics and recipes.

Up for tonight? Roasted potatoes, onions, carrots from the Shared Harvest CSA and round steak from my favorite place in the world, 8’Oclock Ranch  (seriously, if you are in their CSA delivery area? What are you waiting for? SIGN UP!).

And given the 3 bushels of apples?? Expect a few more canning adventure tales. . . .

I’m so mad I could. . .

November 12, 2011

think about how we (usually) fill in the blank in moments of extreme anger: kill some one (or if your like me axe murder somebody with a crossbow – don’t ask how that came about, I’m pretty sure that beer was involved).  I think I wrote about this earlier this year when Rep. Giffords was shot and some of the blame was heaped on Sarah Palin.  As much as I’d like to, I can’t blame her for the act of a mentally ill person (it’s like blaming Jodie Foster for the actions of John Hinkley).  The scandal at Penn State had me thinking about how we use language in a new way.

This has been stuck in the back of my head for a bit: I’m trying to think the last time I heard the word ‘rape’ in causal conversation to mean anything other than an act of sexual violence.  Of course, it is with much irony I note that the word ‘rape’ in Spanish means monkish as I learned while in Spain.  We use our language carelessly: I’m sure fluency in most languages leads towards metaphors that may have some what violent underpinnings.  I wouldn’t know: I’m a fluent mongolot.  Well, sorta, I can understand slowly spoken French, German and Italian.  Reading, add in Spanish – especially within context like a menu, traveling, art.  Speaking, with a trusty guide-book I can stammer out what I need.  But, I digress.

At some point we learn, it’s ok to say we are so mad we can murder/kill somebody.  We also learn we don’t say “I’m so mad I can rape somebody”.  Is it because it of the intrinsic understanding that the violation that comes with rape might be worse than murder? (And really, nobody is around for a cross comparative study).  Is it because at some level we know the probability of being murdered (or knowing somebody who has been murdered) is low compared to the high probability of knowing a survivor of rape?

Is it, because it is a visceral fear or the worst reality? That something that should be an act of intimacy becomes an act of brutal horror that has us saying we’d kill somebody because we know that is a statement of extreme anger and unreality versus the very reality so many have survived?

Maybe the lesson of the tragedy of Penn State will be that open conversation about rape and sexual violence, about how reaching the tentacles can be for survivors and their loved ones.  Hopefully, we won’t move on to another tragedy once the football season ends, that we will take the time to pause and think about how we can make this world a safer place for everybody. If we can’t manage that, maybe, just maybe we can embrace those who struggle with recovery from sexual violence helping to lessen the shame.

Penn State Missed an Opportunity

November 10, 2011

I can’t find the transcript of what Penn State representatives chose to say to the media last night. Quite honestly, I’m not interested in reading it.  I’m going to let the college students rioting thing be what it is: hopefully in a few years they will understand why it as a dumb move.  I made the mistake of reading the grand jury findings.  I’m not sure what I was looking for when I read the document.

I found myself becoming angry.  Angry at the conversations about the way “Paterno had to leave”.  Joe Paterno sealed his fate: he stated he “regretted” his decision when the graduate student came forward: he had years to speak up, this didn’t happen in June.

Paterno said in a statement he was “absolutely devastated” by the case, in which his former assistant and onetime heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with molesting eight boys in 15 years, with some of the alleged abuse taking place at the Penn State football complex.

“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”  So do we all, Joe. So do we all.  Coming forward the day of your firing to try to have one more home game shows, to me, that you can’t do the honorable thing.  You should have walked away.  Penn State, instead of firing you and others involved should have said “We are Penn State University: we do not tolerate this behavior at any level by anybody associated with our school.”  Penn State isn’t alone in this, but any school that doesn’t say when dismissing an individual for ethical violations to crimes against others we do not tolerate this here is just as complacent as those who stood by and did nothing.

Joe Paterno has 17 grandchildren.  Statistically speaking one of them will be the victim of sexual abuse before his/her 16th birthday (actually, probably 2).  How can he look at them and know that he condoned through in action the type of behavior which destroys a life.

It does destroy a life.  The life can be rebuilt but there is always something missing.  Rick Reilly has a sublime article on ESPN: read it.  There is always something missing when you have been the victim of sexual abuse as a child.  You intrinsically learn distrust (and some where Erik Erikson is smiling as it’s one of his flipping 8 stages of human development).  You learn silence. You learn self-doubt.  You are told people won’t believe you.  I can go on but I won’t out of self-preservation.

There are 8 young men who had their lives ruined by an iconic institution.  They came forward and spoke out through the legal system.  They will rebuild their lives.  Slowly.  We all do and at some level the pain never goes away.  I hope they have people around them who will support them and hold them through the difficult days.  They are the heroes.  They said what many adults can only say in a whisper and many years later.

But Penn State? What should they have done. Cancelled the remainder of the football season, cancelled it until they were sure that every member of the Penn State faculty and staff who were involved in the cover-up of the rape of children were no longer welcome in Happy Valley.

Instead? The game goes on – with the witness coaching.

And Paterno? I hope he can find a way to look in the mirror and answer “were those wins worth the lives I destroyed” honestly.  Only then would I think about letting him out of the seat next to Sandusky in hell.

Because I’m always looking for something new to drive me nuts. . . .

November 9, 2011

 

Dark Days

 

So my friend Amy over at Vegparadise found this challenge.  Since I joined her in the no grocery store challenge, she figured (correctly), I was up for the task.  Now we are up to this one: The 5th annual dark days challenge.  Ok, this one is a bit of a twist: in winter, cook one meal a week with items only grown 100-150 miles from your home.  Since I’m a pure lunatic, I’ve decided that I’m going to try for 5 days (15 meals) a week.  I’m adding one caveat: my meat and cheese will come from the fantastic 8’Oclock Ranch in upstate New York which is 300 miles from my for a few reasons: they have humanely raised, organic meats and a fantastic CSA program I’m already a member of!

Now, I did  get lucky in that I placed an order for dried beans from my current CSA from a western Massachusetts farm.  There is also a great winters farmer’s market in Somerville and a decent one in Wayland close to my place.  Finally, for staples like oh, eggs, I can rely on the Mass Food Co-op.  Still, it will be a challenge.  I mean, first, it’s New England: things like oats, rice, avocados simply don’t grow here.  Fortunately, my canning hobby addiction kicked in and I have a variety of items in jars and frozen for the winter.

For me, part of it is about supporting local farmers through the winter – but it’s more than that.  When I leave in the dark and come home in the dark, it’s easy to want to hit a drive thru and head home to curl up.  And yes, there will be pictures, it’s part of the challenge.  Have I mention yet that I created a root cellar in my storage unit? Hmmm.  What can I say? I hate the grocery store!