Posts Tagged wagon

The customer’s sometimes right

My co-worker Rob (who reads this blog, so watch what you say) sometimes handles things a little differently than I do.  I hear him arguing with people on the phone from time to time, and he likes using phrases like, “Wait wait wait, let me get this straight,” “Hold on, let me make sure I understand what you’re saying here,” and a very sarcastic, “Thanks, you’ve been a great help.”  He now knows that I’m listening when he starts getting that tone, so he said something specifically for me while arguing with someone on the phone last week: “Hold on hold on, are you in customer service?  Then how ’bout you try SERVICING THE CUSTOMER?!”  He knew I’d like that one, and he was right.  That little exchange leads me to two recent incidents involving customer service and people actually servicing the customer…whether they should’ve or not.

In December, my parents bought a two-seater wagon for our adorable twins.  They weren’t yet a year old at the time, so I didn’t open it to try putting it together for months.  When I did, the box appeared to be missing the giant (and very necessary) handle that pushes or pulls the wagon when the kids are in it.  I’m historically bad at seeing things when they’re right in front of my face, so I went back to the box two more times over the next couple of weeks to confirm that it was really missing.  Once assured that I wasn’t situationaly blind, I went to the website of the company that makes the wagon.

The site had an online form for customer service requests, including a space specifically for missing parts.  I wrote a nice email and made sure to mention how we couldn’t wait to use their great product.  They replied the next day with an email saying that if the product was under warranty, they’d send me a replacement one.  I asked my lovely wife about that and she said, “Your parents bought it from Amazon, so I’ll just contact them and see if they can help us.”  After a lengthy online chat with Amazon’s customer service department, we were set.  The only way it could work was for us to send back the whole wagon (on their dime, nicely) and get a new, complete box in return.   That seemed fair enough (since they didn’t carry replacement parts for everything sold on their site), and we went about the process.  As expected, a brand new wagon came in the mail with all of the necessary pieces.  What I didn’t expect was a separate box on another day addressed to me.  I opened it up and found a long plastic handle.  “Per email inquiry,” said the note inside from the wagon company.  My first thought was, “Well that was nice of them!”  Then I thought about it a little longer and had two more thoughts.  First, “They said it needed to be under warranty and I never wrote them back at all.  They took that to mean…it was?”  Second, “Why couldn’t they just tell me that they were sending me a new handle so we wouldn’t have to do the whole Amazon process and have me lug a big box into a UPS Store for no reason?”  Despite those questions, it was refreshing to see a company try to do right by their customers.

The thing about that story as compared to the next one is that I actually deserved the assistance I received.  I can’t say the same for the main character of this next tale.

That same co-worker Rob and I went to the Coffee Bean right near our office a little while ago.  I’m normally a pretty good eavesdropper, but I had missed a lot of the conversation between a customer and an employee, both women in their early 20s.  There was something about an iced drink melting and the employee eventually (but begrudgingly) saying she would remake the drink but “only this one time.”  After we walked out, Rob asked me if I’d heard the conversation.  “Kinda,” I said.  “My best guess from contextual clues was that they called her name to say her iced drink was ready, but she didn’t come in and get it for ten minutes.  Then she complained that it was melted.”  “Oh no,” Rob said, “You missed the best part of the whole thing.”  He went on to recap the whole story (which he’d paid close attention to instead of whatever I’d been saying to him at the time).  The employee made the iced drink, called the customer’s name, and the customer picked it up before sitting down at a table with her friends.  Ten minutes later, she went up to complain that it had melted.  Why had it melted?  Because she sat there holding it for ten minutes outside while talking with her friends instead of, ya know, drinking the damn thing.  It’s the exact equivalent of someone ordering a hot coffee, waiting until it got cold, and then complaining that s/he wanted a new one made because it’s supposed to be hot.  It’s that ridiculous, and yet the employee knew that the end result should always be having a happy customer, so she did her job.

I can’t help but wonder what I would do in those customer service positions when faced with the same situations.  When I think about it honestly, I end up being more of an asshole in both scenarios.  If the wagon owner never replied to say that it was indeed under warranty, I would never think to just go ahead and send the handle anyway.  And if I were that Coffee Bean employee, I would definitely have thrown in some more sarcastic lines about how “actually drinking your drink is where most of the enjoyment comes from.”  One thing is for sure: I would’ve enjoyed hearing Rob play the Coffee Bean employee role.  “Hold on, let me get this straight…”

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Music for small ears, Part II

Hello again.  Since ending my last post mid-train-of-thought, I’ve had an unsettled feeling, akin to how you might feel if you heard the “Shave and a haircut” tune without the “two bits.”  So I’m back and ready to re-dive into the world of children’s music.  I think I mostly covered the section on classic kid songs, so I’m going to move forward now (knowing full well that I’ll probably be jumping back and forth between sections).

I called the second category, “Songs That Might Be Classics But I Didn’t Know.”   On our double cd of kid songs, there’s a good handful of these.  I didn’t know the “Mr. Golden Sun” song on there (though my lovely wife did), for example.  Another new-to-me song is “My Little Red Wagon.”  It’s catchy enough, but part of the song bugs the shit out of me every time.  It’s not the song’s fault either – it’s whoever produced these cds.  (Strap in, here comes a long ass tangent.)

Thanks to these cds, I’ve realized that there’s another thing in this world of which I’m not so fond: adults singing in kids’ voices.  In “About a Boy,” Hugh Grant’s character hates it when people sing with their eyes closed; stand-up comedian and actor Bryan Callen hates carolers because he can’t stand when people smile at him while they’re singing.  For me, it’s picturing grown women in a recording studio talking, singing, and laughing in their best pre-pubescent voices.  That said, these cds already had an uphill battle. 

Back to the “Wagon” song now: the part that bothers me is after the first chorus when the “kids” have a little “impromptu” chat.  “Hey Michael,” says one, “Have you ever thought of painting your wagon green?”  “NO!!” he answers, “It’s a RED wagon!”  Then together: “Yeah!  Hahahahaha!”  Are you fucking kidding me?  That’s what passes for dialogue in this genre of music?  Wow.  When I was three, I made up a joke: “Why don’t you put mustard on a hamburger?  Because you put ketchup on a hamburger!”  I think those are on the same level, though it’s worth noting that I was an actual kid when I came up with that and not a 50 year-old woman pretending to be a kid way older than three.

Crap, now I’m fixated on that cd.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re catchy songs and I’ll continue to sing along and dance to them as long as that makes my kids smile.  That doesn’t mean I have to like all of their artistic choices though.  Speaking of which, they erred on the side of being overly safe and politically correct in ways that no one would’ve thought twice about.  For example, they sing a version of “We Are Family.”  “I got all my sisters with me,” they sing.  Then – where there’s no room and it’s nowhere near in rhythm with the song – a voice adds, “And brothers!”  Heaven forbid we single out the females in a song.  Similarly, they have the “Baby Bumblebee” song that I learned at camp a long time ago.  My version had the speaker get stung, then smash the bee in retaliation, lick it up, and then vomit all over the place.   This one…doesn’t.  I can’t even remember what they do instead, but after getting stung by the bee, of course one of the “kids” throws in, “It didn’t hurt though!”  I think that’s a much worse direction to go in.  Why would we try to teach kids that getting stung by bumblebees doesn’t hurt?  I realize that they don’t follow up with, “Let’s go play with that beehive!  Yeah! Hahahaha!” but it’s still irresponsible if you ask me.  (And yes, I realize that nobody asked me.)

To be perfectly fair, I really like one choice that they made on this collection of songs.  You know “Bingo” (sorry, “B-I-N-G-O”), right?  Well I was standing over my kids’ playmat and being a silly dad for them when some pretty funky disco music came on.  “Aw yeah!” I said, as I wondered what song it might be.  Then the lyrics came: “There was a farmer who had a dog, and Disco was his name-o.”  Nice touch, fake children. 

Ok, I’m stopping here.  I plan on posting something sometime soon about the third category, but since I just said something nice about the music, it’s probably a good place to stop before I think of another part that bugs me.  Have a nice Saturday.  (And Sunday! Hahahaha!)

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