Customer Service (aka Target FTW!)

Ready for the flip side?

I don’t want to be a complainer, so I figure if I was going to write the Jimmy John’s story, I had to write something complimentary as a counterpoint.

About two weeks ago, I was desperately in need of some staples. Both product and grocery. Since I basically despise this sort of necessary shopping, I decided to do it at Target and save myself some grief. I made a list, I clipped the coupons, I was set. I went after work and it was busy. BUSY. The WB Target is pretty much always busy, but evidently all Target-goers shop after work, instead of on weekends.

At any rate, I started in the Halloween store, because I needed a couple tiny accessories for Arionna’s costume. I was muddling through the mess that is Halloween accoutrements when a nice employee approached, with a smile, and said “is there anything I can help you find?”

Now, I’m not an idiot, I can probably find it on my own, but heck, I have a lot to buy and don’t want to be here all night, so I figure I could save the time and let her help. It worked. I thanked her and she left with a final smile.

I am pretty sure everyone who is reading this has been to Target. I have to ask, when is the last time this happened to you in Target? Me, I am pretty sure never. Employees do not offer help in Target. I have generally found that if I do need help, they are nowhere to be found and if you do ask, they are begrudging at best. I’ve actually gone on rants about disliking Target’s service levels. I think they take advantage of their virtual corner on the market and disregard their customers.

But then…

So I continued to shop. I was in the kitchen area looking for….I forget, honestly, but it was a weird thing I don’t normally buy. Like magic, a young man in red and khaki came around the corner and asked if there was anything he could help me find. I told him and bam! I was off to the next item on my list.

I needed kitchen hand soap. I could not find it. I went up and down aisles looking for it (because how hard can it be?) and suddenly an older man approached in his Target uniform “you look like you’re looking for something” he said with a warm smile “can I help?” I asked and he led me right to it. By the body wash, for the curious, which makes no sense at all.

During the maybe 90 minutes I was shopping that store, I was approached SIX different times and offered help. Can you believe that? I don’t think it has ever happened ONCE, and suddenly it was all that was happening. I honestly was amazed. I can often get annoyed by sales people in stores, they come across as pushy because they are trying to sell me something, but this was different. They came across as helpful and friendly, and, face it, I actually needed help.

I don’t know if Target corporation is making changes or if it is just the management of my local store, but this was the most I’ve ever loved Target.  Then, when I went to check out, I was the annoying woman with a full cart using the self checkout. I love self checkouts, use them everywhere. My grocery store has made them express stations, so I don’t often get the chance to do it, but Target has not. Until they do, yeah, I’m gonna be that person. At any rate, of course after ringing up my huge cart, I had a ginormous pile of coupons.

I started scanning them and they didn’t work. Not all of them. The girl working that area came over and helped. When I needed help again (HUGE pile of coupons) she popped over. The third time, she smiled at me and said “you know, so you don’t have to wait, I’m just going to stand over here, instead of at the podium, so I’ll be on hand if you need me.”

I mean, come on, the service was practically over the top at that point. But, true enough, she stood by my side and keyed in her code probably 10 different times in order to allow me to use my coupons. (Side note, I save THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS in straight coupons that day!)

I left that Target happy, content, and encouraged to go back, which is exactly what good customer service does. I never thought Target would make this list, but they deserve kudos for their increase in service.

I’m headed back tonight to pick up a few things, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Neither breakfast, nor a meal at all. More of a snack, really.

But it was, actually from Tiffany’s.

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I know the photo is grainy, but you can clearly see our happiness and those robin’s egg blue wrappers, signifying cookies we picked up at Tiffany & Co. True story, we wandered in to browse and they had free cookies, so we each took one, because it will probably be the only time in either of our lives we actually get anything from Tiffany’s.

It was a fun day, with my very favorite mom, holiday shopping when we both have our lists complete, the very best kind of day.

Sail Away and Ride a Cowboy

Happy Birthday Kelly!

Last night, I took Kelly out to dinner for her birthday. She chose an Italian restaurant in the Mall of America. Tenucci’s or something. The restaurant was mediocre at best. The goat cheese and kalamata pizza was very good, and Kel reports the lasagna was good, but that’s about it.

However, that is not the point. The point was dinner with a good friend, presents and shopping.

Let’s start with presents. My mom started, in the spring, knitting a scarf for Kelly. Just because she saw some yarn and thought, “Kelly would like this”. She’s very sweet. So she gave Kelly a beautiful handmade scarf for her birthday “to keep her and the baby warm”.

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I think Kelly liked it. She was really touched my mom would make her a customized gift. Who wouldn’t be?

After that, I gave her my gift. Which I’ve had for AGES.

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(I remembered to turn the flash on) She’s torn between excitement and laughter in this photo.

This is what she’s looking at:

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It says “My Two Favorite People, Mommy and Jordan” with a picture of Kelly in her NKOTB gear and Jordan Knight.

I mean, really, it doesn’t get much cuter than babies sporting NKOTB paraphernalia.

After dinner, we hit up DSW. Kelly was disappointed that the clearance room was too picked over. I was in the market for a pair of black, “every day” boots. I struck out. However, I did find brown “every day” boots. And bought them. My feet are very happy right now.

We did a “quick stop” at Bath and Body Works, mostly because they closed in 8 minutes when we walked in the door. Kelly stocked up on her favorite holiday scent, Winter Candy Apple. I stocked up on my favorite all-time scent, Cherry Blossom. They were debuting their new scent, Forever Red. We both liked it, but it’s super expensive. More so than all their other scents. So I bought mini-perfume samples of it for Kelly and me. Win!

Then we headed out.

We got back to my house and Kelly said, “oh, we forgot to ask the waitress to take our picture!”

Remember last’s year’s Kelly-montage? I actually asked her, “do we not take pictures on YOUR birthday, Kel?” Turns out, we might not! But, thankfully, the iPhone reverse camera helps out. But, you do need good lighting for those. What to do when it’s 10:00 pm?

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Stand in the mini-van’s headlights, of course!

Happy birthday, and have a fabulous weekend!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

As I’ve mentioned, time is not on my side these days. In the rare day or hour that I have to myself, I’m not motivated to do anything that I “should” do. This includes, rather strongly, the grocery store.

I’ve been fairly good about going and stocking up, but, lately, it’s just too much. When I even think about it, it becomes overwhelming. The only free times I have tend to be on the weekends and the grocery is just so crowded then. It is also so large and I need so many different things, it’s a whole production to get groceries. Then, of course, I have to bring it home carry it in the house, up the stairs and put everything away. Then some of it gets carried back down stairs to the freezer in the garage. It’s a lot of damn work for one girl.

Then, on Sunday, I had an epiphany.

Hagbergs.

It is a small country market in Lake Elmo. A tiny, community grocery store. Not too large, not overwhelming and they hire strapping young lads to carry your groceries out to the car for you. Bliss.

Now, I’m no fool. I understand that a small market like this will cost me more money. Right now, it is totally worth it. I will happily pay the higher prices for the convenience, and that it doesn’t take so long and it does not overwhelm me. On Saturday, late afternoon, I also needed gas (did I mention that Hagbergs is ALSO a gas station?!?) and I left LEPL and drove straight there.

Before getting out of my car, I grabbed for my wallet. Gone.

Dammit. I could have cried. I knew exactly where it was, on my bench in my entry way, where I had placed it last night, when I got home. I have a habit of putting anything I need to take with me on the stairs, because I then have to pass by it on my way out the door and I don’t forget things. I didn’t follow the system and it cost me.

I had no money of any kind.

I went home. Once home, good luck getting me to leave again. I was in for the night. I still had leftovers, so I ate that. But then, Sunday morning, no food and a week of 75 hours staring me in the face; it was go to the store or eat out all week. And since starting this schedule in June, I’m already supremely sick of fast food. I psyched myself up to go to the store.

No dice. It made me miserable to think about it. My only day off and spending close to two hours dealing with groceries made me want to throw a damn tantrum. Which is only effective when you don’t live alone.

Then, that same epiphany struck me again. This time, harder. “Hey dummy, there’s no reason you can’t go to Hagbergs NOW!” Somehow, I had it in my head that it was only convenient because it is two blocks from LEPL. But, it’s only about a 15 minute drive….and off I went.

I got gas in my car and then went inside, with my wallet and list in hand. I shopped and got everything I needed. Yes, I was right, it is more expensive. Not prohibitively, but surely. The only thing that caused my mouth to gape open was milk.

A single gallon of milk was $3.95

FOUR DOLLARS for a gallon of milk. At Rainbow, where I usually shop, it is $2.29. This is almost double the price. Even the gas station, which is higher, runs it for $3.00/gallon. I actually considered stopping at a completely different gas station just to save a dollar on a gallon of milk. Then I realized the stupidity of that idea and I just bought the damn thing.

Eventually, I was done, someone else bagged my groceries and a strapping young lad loaded them into the car and I was off for home. I pulled in the garage and started unloading my groceries.

I had a bag in my left hand and reached into the car with my right to grab that gallon of milk. Somehow, and I’m not really sure how, something caught the bottom of the open door. My clothes? The bag of groceries? I don’t know. But when I shifted, pulling out the milk, the movement caused the door to shut. I was still in the motion of pulling out the milk and the closing door clipped that gallon.

Just like that, in the blink of an eye, I lost my grip and the milk flew from my hand. Up in the air it went, and down it crashed onto the cement floor.

Naturally, just naturally, it broke open in a big way and there was

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It splashed on my legs and my car, but mostly, it flowed out onto the floor of my garage and out into my driveway.

I stood stock still, willing myself not to cry in frustration. I watched that milk pour out of the broken container and I saw the mess and didn’t know what to do. I don’t own a mop (well, not one I am willing to use outside in my dirty garage) and I don’t have a hose out front and I was unable to fathom how I would clean this mess.

Finally, I shook off my stupor and carried the rest of the groceries inside. I came back down and saw that the leaking had stopped. I picked up the milk jug and there was still milk inside. I carried it in the house and poured it in a glass. 1/2 a glass of milk. That is all I was able to salvage.

I took a photo of the broken jug so you could see just how thoroughly it broke.

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That bugger broke wide open.

Now, it was downstairs to figure out the mess in the garage.
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That’s the bulk of it. I couldn’t even fit all the splatter in a photo, so I settled for the bulk of the mess. And yes, it is running rivulets down my driveway and into the street. Seems my garage, like my driveway, slopes downward. This is to my benefit, it seems, but I still had to clean it up.

Then, my eyes lit upon my tiny watering can. My mom bought it for me last summer and she deliberately bought me a small one because I only ever have one plant. I filled it up and watered the garage floor.

And refilled it.

And refilled it.

And refilled it.

Ten times I had to fill it and rinse milk out of my garage. I then pulled out the push broom and “swept” out as much of the mess as possible. Sweeping was more effective than I had imagined….

Finally, there was no visible trace of milk in the garage. It gets so hot in there during the day, I didn’t want to come home and smell spoiled milk after work tonight. Fingers crossed.

Then I walked out to the street to see the mess out there.

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See that car? The trail of milk extends further than that car. It runs pretty clear by my house, but gets considerably milkier as it trails onward.

Dear God, what a messtastrophe.

But, including milk cleanup and drive time, the whole trip to get groceries, spill and clean milk and put away what I didn’t destroy only took an hour and 20 minutes, so that’s a positive.

However, this is now the tale of how I spent $3.95 on a 1/2 a glass of milk.

And how I have to stop at the gas station, tonight, to buy milk.

It wouldn’t really be so bad if I cried over spilled milk, would it?

Headphontastrophe (cont.)

You may have remembered reading about the first story of my earbuds and the slight update.  Well, of course, I am here to give you the final (I hope!) update.

My earbuds DID arrive, from Hong Kong, on March 16. The day after my birthday, which I, of course, considered a present. I was so happy that I had three new pairs. On Monday, I took ONE of the three pairs with me to work, leaving the others at home for safe keeping.

I used them Monday and Tuesday and I was thrilled to be back in business.

Wednesday (yesterday) rolled around and I got to work. I had a bunch of things I needed to pound out, so I started early with the music. I opened the drawer where I keep my earphones….gone! What? I checked the computer, because I sometimes listen to things on my computer and plug them in there, and then I forget and leave them plugged in overnight. Not there. I searched the entire desk area and they are nowhere to be found.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!?!?

I kept my other pair here at the library for close to two years and they were fine. In fact, they were still in the drawer when I was searching for the new ones. I finally just threw them out. How can I have waited this long and get to use them for only two days before someone steals them?

And who the hell steals earbuds? They go IN someone’s ear, isn’t that gross?

Lucky for me, I have two more pairs, but I’m thinking it might be a good idea to buy a backup kit from Hong Kong right NOW, just so they get here before I burn through two more pairs.

There you have it, the full and (hopefully!) complete story of my earbuds.

Headphontastrophe

When I got my iPhone…two years ago? Three? Whatever. It came with headphones, as they always do. I generally find that I am far more productive with music playing than otherwise. I play music in the morning to get up and to get me through the shower. I play music when I cook. I play music at work when I’m doing dreary tasks. (I also, like now, play music when I’m blogging)

With music on, things flow more smoothly for me and I accomplish more. I’m also far less likely to get distracted, perhaps because I’ve already split my focus between the task and my music.

When at work, I can’t just play music all day, but I can listen to it on headphones. Typically, I only put one of the earphones in, which allows me to hear what people are saying to me and still gives me the music I crave. No one seems to mind that I do this, so I keep on doing it.

Now, I don’t know if the standard iPhone earbuds are just cheaply made or if it is because I use them so frequently, but mine are toast. TOAST. (We’ll get to that in a second). I haven’t even been using them the whole time, because I started out using the pair that came with my iPod, until those were trashed, and then I dug these out of the box and began using them. I’d say a year, give or take.

It certainly seems to me that earbuds should last longer than one year.

Just so we’re clear…

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…that is what an earbud looks like.
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This is what my right earbud currently looks like, and it no longer works. No sound will come out.
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This is the left. The covering doesn’t stay on, but if I hold it against the earbud and slip it in my ear, it lodges in place. When I remove it, the covering stays in my ear until I dig it out, but I get sound, so I work with it.

This is pretty trashed, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m not particularly hard on them, I keep them in a drawer at work, they don’t travel with me unless I am going out of town (they did go to Chicago twice last year, maybe that was it…) I just use them daily.

Okay, so aside from the fact that these are junk, there is the crystal clear fact that I have to replace them. Do you know how much a new pair goes for? The exact same ones I have are $29 at the Apple store. TWENTY-NINE DOLLARS. How ridiculous is that?

Obviously I am not paying that kind of money for them. So, I turned to my friends at Amazon. I finally found a deal for 3 pairs of knockoffs for under $4. Less than FOUR DOLLARS. That’s a bit over a buck a pair and totally worth it to me. Plus, they were on free Super Saver shipping, and I had a couple other things to buy.

Well, I put the order in back in January. When they submitted the order it said, “estimated delivery date, March 1- March 8. That seemed crazy to me. Did they need time to knock over an Apple supply truck in order to give me such a good price?

Finally, after some sleuthing I realized I bought some generic knockoffs from a sweatshop in Hong Kong. It’s a proud day. Had I known, I would have asked Mindy to pick some up next time she was there (I still might…) and saved me some time.

The long and the short of the story is, the sound has starting cutting in and out of the sole, remaining, working earbud. I’m nervous that the new ones won’t arrive and I will be music-less for a few days. I won’t be able to handle it, I might even break down.

Cross your fingers that my earbuds cling to life for a few more days. And someone please explain to me why it takes six weeks for something to get from Hong Kong to the US? I feel like I could paddle a canoe there in that amount of time. (I actually made myself laugh out loud while typing that last line. Like I could paddle a canoe across my pool, much less the entire ocean. I’m a dork.)

At any rate, we’re down to the wire. I need those earbuds to come through. The upshot is, I am excited to go home and check my mail tonight.

Dear Woodbury Wal-Mart,

My friend Kelly was having issues with the Wal-Mart near her home. Due to those issues, she had to send her photo order to you, Woodbury Wal-Mart. As I am visiting her today, she called me and asked if I could stop, yesterday, and pick up her already-paid-for pictures. I was happy to do it.

When I arrived at your store, I found that evidently, the entire populous of Woodbury shops at 5:15 on a Thursday. I parked approximately 17 miles away and hoofed it up to the store. Upon entering, I was surprised to learn that you’ve added an entire grocery store since my last visit. I guess it’s been a while, sorry about that.

When I got to the photo department, a woman was already in line, she was dealing with the photo associate, who might have been alive when photographs were invented. He simply could not find her pictures. He looked and checked the computer and…nada. She was very upset and, while he was pleasant, he did nothing to alleviate her distress. She couldn’t find her confirmation number, even though he was still able to look her up online. Her concern was that her pictures were already paid for. As the associate did not one thing to help her, he offered no advice or solutions, I finally stepped in. I told her if she ordered her pictures online (she had mentioned that she did) she would have had to use an email address and Wal-Mart.com would have sent her a confirmation number to her email, so she can go home and print it off. That relaxed her enough she was able to step away. My turn.

I asked the associate for pictures, using Kelly’s name. He looked in the H’s. Nothing. He asked if there were 8x10s, of course, I didn’t know, as they aren’t my pictures, so I said, thinking quickly, “actually, my husband printed them, so I’m not sure, could you just check?” I don’t know why I felt the need to lie, but I did. I didn’t want there to be any hassle, since the pictures weren’t in my name…and I somehow felt hassle headed my way.

The associate, let’s call him Don, looked again and couldn’t find them. He then checked the computer–I think he might have called it “that darn-tootin’ newfangled machine” or something. He told me the computer said the pictures were printed. Well, of course, that’s great. But he couldn’t find them.

Again, Don offered no solutions. So, I stepped up and said, “why don’t you check under other letters in case they were misfiled?” Don checked the letters immediately preceding and succeeding Kelly’s last name, but no others. I suggested Don call the associate that was working when the pictures were printed, to see if they could help. He did not seem inclined to follow that suggestion. Finally, I asked Don what he could do to help me.

“I can reprint them.”

Now, you’re talking! It’ll mean another trip back to the store, but to actually get the pictures, I’m willing. “When will they be done?”

“About a day.”

Okay, we’re back to no good. I needed them absolutely no later than noon on Friday (today). So I asked Don if a day meant actually 24 hours, or just Friday.

He said, “well, it’s hard to say, my printer’s broken”. Which means, I suppose, that he couldn’t actually do the one solution he offered me. Eventually, I settled the matter by trading numbers with Don. I gave him “Kelly’s” number (mine, but he thinks I’m her) and got the store number from him. He promised to call if he could get the printer fixed and print them last night.

No call came.

When I woke up this morning, I called you, Woodbury Wal-Mart. The very unpleasant woman who answered the phone responded to my request of “photo department, please” with…nothing. There was a click and then deafening silence. No elevator music, no ringing, just nothing. I checked and I was not disconnected. I waited 90 seconds before hanging up and calling back. Same woman, same reaction. I, again, requested “photo department, please” and received that same silence. Who has no sound when someone is on hold? It’s worse than the terrible music.

After about 90 more seconds, the unpleasant woman came back on the line and said, “no one seems to be answering, what can I do for you?” but though the words read courteously enough, they were said in what can only be described as a snide tone.

I politely (though I am not at my best in the mornings and I was quickly losing my patience) told her my story and said I just wanted to know if the pictures were done. Her response?

“Oh, you said PHOTO department. I thought you said SODA department and I didn’t know what to do.”

Um, so you just set the phone down and did nothing? That’s why I was getting silence? Why not just ask me to repeat myself? When did, “I’m sorry I didn’t get that, could you repeat it?” stop being acceptable?

I took a bracing breath because this was already the most frustrating phone call I’ve endured in 2012 and I had yet to get to the heart of things. I was transferred and this time, the phone rang. And rang and rang and rang and rang.

Eventually, the idiot/snide woman picked up again and said, “what do you want?” No kidding, that is what she said. This time, I snapped, “I want the photo department, do you think you can manage that?”

Deep breath.

She said she’d page overhead.

Finally, someone picked up the phone. I explained my issue and asked her to check for the photos. She came back and said she couldn’t find them. I asked if the printer was fixed. She didn’t know. I was ready to kill someone when she saved herself by admitting that she didn’t work in that department, she worked in hardware (I don’t know why she felt that was pertinent), and she was just trying to help out.

Then she ruined it by adding that there was not an associate in the photo department that morning, they don’t start until 9am.

Perhaps, Woodbury Wal-Mart, you could explain why the woman who answers the main phone and directs calls is unaware that no associate will be in the department I am calling for at least another HOUR. That seems like information she should have and should share with the customer. Had she said, “no one in that department will be available until 9am, I would have just called back.”

Now, back to the hardware associate I was currently dealing with.

She said she didn’t know how to help me, but she could clearly tell my annoyance level was off.the.charts.

I asked her to please find someone who could. I was polite, but very firm. I was done with this. This is terrible customer service, Woodbury Wal-Mart, and I wanted satisfaction.

She said “I’m going to put you down for a second.” And she did. Why she chose not to put me on hold is beyond me, but I could hear every little sound of your store as I waited. I lifted the phone away from my ear to check the timer. When she came back, I checked again, she left me like that for two full minutes.

Her answer?

She said her XYZ (I don’t remember what she called him, some acronym) which she explained is the boss above the store manager (Yowza!) was there and he was going to help. They were going to look again for the pictures and could she “put me down again?”

I gritted my teeth and said “of course.” I figured after all this hassle, if they came back and said they couldn’t find them I was going to lose it and argue until I got Kelly her pictures for free AND a compensation of some kind, like a gift card. This was beyond ridiculous (as you can probably tell by the 1,500 word essay, that is still not complete).

I checked the timer again.

I waited.

And waited.

And

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I kept checking the timer.

Finally, after SEVEN solid minutes of waiting, not on hold, a man picked up the phone.

“Ma’am?” (FYI, Woodbury Wal-Mart, I detest being called ma’am, you might want to advise your above-the-store-managers of this. There are other greetings)

I braced myself to hear bad news when he said, “your greeting cards are finished and they are here waiting for you.”

I didn’t know they were greeting cards, but it seems like Kelly, so I assumed we’re on the right page….finally.

I thanked him and hung up the phone. When I checked, my total time on that call?

Would you like to guess?

No?

Fine. 17 minutes. SEVENTEEN minutes. Does it seem necessary for that to have taken 17 minutes, for something that should have been done the day before?

And, that should have been the end of it, it really should have, but when I got to work, I was doing some things and I was just going to let this go.

Then, at 9:55am, my phone rang. I answered and the voice on the other end said, “Kelly?”

It was Don. Remember him, from the beginning of this novel?

He was calling to tell me that my photos were done. Really? He said he’d finally gotten his printer fixed and just printed them this morning.

Wait. What?

Don claimed the pictures were just printed this morning. I know from the previous marathon call that Don did not start until 9am, but my pictures were done by 8:23 am, so, they were either printed last night and Don was LYING to me or a fairy came in and printed a copy this morning and Don printed a second set, unaware of the fairy’s work.

Which one do you think is the more likely scenario, Woodbury Wal-Mart?

I’m guessing this was just the final straw in one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had, with any company. Of course, as I haven’t yet picked them up, it is possible that this saga is not yet over. I’ll have to let you know. But for now, Woodbury Wal-Mart, I hope it is clear that this is unacceptable.

Get your shit together. It ain’t rocket science.

Sincerely,

Liv “A for Effort” Life

***UPDATE***

Here’s the end to this very long story. When I arrived to pick up the photos. Don couldn’t find them! <gasp> I know, it’s shocking. He looked and looked. Finally, a guy from another department (perhaps the mystery manager, I don’t know) came over and said, “oh, they’re in here” and pulled out the small box of photos. Don then said to me, “sorry, guess I was looking in the wrong place this whole time.”

So, I guess Don lied to me…again. Clearly, he never reprinted them or he would have known where they were when I arrived. Someone else found them, right where they were supposed to be, and had been the entire time. Awesome. All this hassle and the pictures were there all along. Good work, Woodbury Wal-Mart. {sarcasm font needed}