Category Archives: customer service

WestJet vs Air Canada Vacations: Who has better customer service?

Yesterday morning, while doing my bank and credit card reconciliations, I found a charge by WestJet for $19.17 USD from a recent flight.  I searched everywhere for the receipt and couldn’t find it.  Since I thought there was absolutely no hope of seeing my money again, I tweeted “$19.17 USD for a turkey croissant sandwich?  Seriously #WestJet?”. That was at 7:55 a.m.

At 8:21 a.m. I had a response from WestJet saying “that’s not right”.   Within the hour, despite having no receipt, WestJet began processing a refund.  Now that’s awesome customer service!  Because I will tell everyone!

At 9:36 am I tweeted “Well done #WestJet.  Once again your customer service is excellent as is your reaction time”.    You can see,  by the times indicated, how quickly they reacted.

Meanwhile, in January a group of 14 of us went to the Dominican Republic on #AirCanadaVacations.   One couple on the trip paid for an upgrade to a beach view.  They did not get it and requested a refund.  I was promised if I got more than 10 on the trip, I would get a discount on my fare.  Since this was done through a travel agent, he’s dealing with the refunds but it sure isn’t happening fast.    We returned on January 22nd.  Today is February 28th and we’re still waiting.

No contest.  WestJet wins hands down in the customer service game!  Well done #WestJet.  This is the 2nd time you’ve stepped up to the plate…immediately…for me.

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You want how much for a teabag?

For years I have been a loyal Starbucks customer, eschewing alternative establishments whenever possible.  My large tea with lactose free milk has been $2.05 for as long as I can remember (before that I think it was $1.95).

Imagine my surprise back in late November/early December when I dropped the grandson off at hockey and did the tea run to my local Starbucks, gave my usual order “large black tea, one teabag, lactose free milk on the bar, please” and was told “that will be $2.57”.   I said “I only want 1 teabag”, the response: “we’ve put it on the side”.

After arguing with the barista briefly, I asked to speak to the manager.  Same story.  We only ever sell Venti tea with 2 bags.  Well, my friend that was not the way it was from the time the store opened until that moment in time.    So I walked out and left my tea sitting on the counter, walked up the block and went to Tim Horton’s.

$0.52 for a teabag?  You have got to be kidding!

Many emails and phone calls to #Starbucks later, I was told that the situation would be rectified and of course I could buy a tea with 1 teabag.  So I ventured back into the same store in late December and gave my usual order.  Same story.  After they rang in my tea at $2.57 I walked away and joined my friend, sat in a Starbucks’ chair, used their wifi for 2 hours and didn’t buy a $0.52 tea bag.

More emails and phone calls and finally today I spoke to the District Manager for the store in question who advised that when they changed tea suppliers, the new supplier insisted they change policy and the 2 larger sizes of tea must be sold with 2 bags!

So although I’m the customer, I can’t get what I want.

Years ago my daughter divorced Tim Horton’s because she couldn’t walk in without buying a confection with 4000 calories.  That was not Tim Horton’s fault.  Today, I officially divorce #Starbucks and their $0.52 teabags!  Now if I can just get the money back off my card!

 

UPDATE:  On my recent trip to Florida, my only choice at the airport was Starbucks or Starbucks.  But I figured it out.  When it was my turn, I asked the barista for the largest cup of tea she could sell me for which I only had to purchase one teabag.  The lovely young woman sold me a Tall tea in a Venti cup (I had to look those sizes up, I just used to ask for Large)!  Well done Lovely Young Woman!

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My favourite: Extraordinary Customer Service

The other day we watched Paddington, the movie, and I hauled out my Paddington Bear which I purchased at Hamley’s of Regent Street (London, UK) in 1978 only to discover that poor bear’s hat is in shocking condition.  I also purchased one for my sister, Catherine – hope her hat’s in better shape.

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So I emailed customer service at Hamley’s to see if I could get a new hat. Imagine my surprise when the phone rang a few minutes ago and it was Libby from Hamley’s responding to my query! Unfortunately, her best suggestion is to find someone who can make me a new hat as Paddington is no longer made in the UK – as mine was.

Now THAT is extraordinary customer service!

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Has it really been that long?

You know it’s been too long between blogs when you have to look up your password.

Where has the time gone?  Let’s see, last blog, November 6th from Florida.  So, since then we’ve had the drama that is always December, New Years, my birthday and now we’re approaching the doldrums of February.

Perhaps time to use to be creative?

I haven’t done any painting since…the fall sometime…other than continually touching up my painting of the cottage.  I’m afraid to say “It’s finished” and I’m afraid to keep touching it up in case I go one touch up too far!  Finally today I started gessoing (not sure that’s a word) a canvass to cover up another attempt at the cottage but I don’t really have any inspiration at the moment so not sure what to do with it…but at least I did something.

cottage 012714 3  Believe it or not touched it up again after I took this picture.  Sigh.

Work has been crazy busy – best December I’ve had since I started the business in 2003 – so I guess my attitude about customer service is paying off.  But it doesn’t leave much time for more personal, artistic endeavours.     And life so easily gets in the way.  It seems I would rather be helping other people, looking after my customers’ needs, than doing things for myself.

Perhaps it’s time to force myself to do another art class but I don’t know what I want to do.  The first classes were great, but they almost confused me.  Try a little conte, try a little pastel, now it’s water colours, now acrylic, don’t forget the charcoal.  I was talking to my friend Wendie about my confusion and she suggested “go back to where you started, sketching people because that’s what got you into this”.  So perhaps I just need to grab a sketch book and sketch, sketch, sketch.  Maybe whomever is the speaker at my next BCX meeting can be immortalized or caricatured more likely.  Should I warn him?

So I’m on the hunt for inspiration.  It probably just takes keeping one’s eyes open and having a sketch pad or camera handy but it’s not something I’m used to – a new boundary to cross.  In other words, all suggestions gratefully appreciated and possibly immediately rejected.

Oh, and to follow up on my last blog, I’m now on a daily dose of Rhus Tox – which seems to be working.  Now as well as snake venom is working for a friend of mine, but I’m much improved.  Hmmm…poison ivy, I could draw/paint some poison ivy…

Happy New Year to all and best wishes for 2014!

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Filed under art classes, customer service, family, Health, Homeopathy, lessons, The Virtual Alternative, Virtual Assistant, Wendie Donabie

Customer Service par Excellence!

Some time ago, I blogged about an example of customer service that stood above the crowd:  when Jennifer of Oust-A-Mouse offered me a second unit, “on loan”, to help battle my cottage mouse problem.  Well, I am extremely happy to report that I have not seen any evidence of mice…no actual critters, no tell tale droppings, nothing.

And that, despite continuing to find new spots that we never cleaned in the first place.  Needless to say, those spots are being cleaned and bleached as they are found but still no new critters have made their way inside.

We even had renovations done to our fireplace hearth and the workman took the hearth out and left the inside wide open to the outside.  Still no critters!

Many years ago when I was newly in business, I had a client named Graham who gave me a fairly small job to do and for whatever reason, it just went wrong at every turn.  When I finally completed the tasks assigned, I was incredibly frustrated with myself that a fairly straightforward job had gone so awry.  I eventually handed Graham the finished job and never sent him an invoice.   Years later he came back to me with a $3500 project, which I was able to complete on time and on budget; a project I never would have seen had I billed him for the $100 job years earlier.

In the case of Oust-A-Mouse, it wasn’t that the product didn’t work, it was that I had so many mice, I needed two units to do the job properly.

In my opinion, anyone who stands as firmly behind a product as Jennifer does should be applauded and promoted.  In this day and age of disposable everything and an attitude of buyer beware, it’s truly refreshing to find a company like Oust-A-Mouse and an owner like Jennifer who offer an exceptional product and exceptional customer service.  I hope that at The Virtual Alternative we always strive to live up to Jennifer’s example.

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Another example of great customer service: Paragon Travel

I write a lot about good customer service because it so often goes unnoticed in our busy world.  Paragon Travel deserves recognition.

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Thursday I flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland for my annual trip to visit our property manager.  On June 21st I had the major surgery on both feet (as you know).  I was led to believe I would be substantially more recovered than I am, however Wednesday when I was doing some “running” around, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to stand in lines at the airport…or walk substantial distances to my Gate (which in my life I knew would be at the far end of the airport).

So at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday I emailed Paul at Paragon Travel and said “Paul, is it way too late to try to organize a wheelchair for tomorrow?”  My flight was at 8 a.m. so I figured he would laugh at me.

Nope, no laughing, he got on the phone and sat on hold for an hour…and got me wheelchairs in both airports both coming and going!  Now Paul’s shift is over at 5:30 but he stuck it out until he had accomplished what he set out to do.

Paul could have completely ignored by email, pretended he didn’t see it, but that is not the service that Paragon Travel provides.  in the beginning, Paul worked with me to make sure I got flights that worked for me, getting me to St. John’s as early as possible and back from St. John’s early enough to actually still make it to the cottage on Friday.  I couldn’t find them when doing the research myself.  This final request was above and beyond and ridiculously last minute of me.

But once again, Paul and Paragon Travel came through for me.  As someone who has never used a travel agent before, I now completely understand the value of using a travel agent and will highly recommend them to anyone needing travel assistance and a pleasant experience.

Way to go Paragon Travel!

 

 

 

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Of course you don’t need a wheelchair! by Liz Saunders

I don’t need a wheelchair?  Are you kidding?  What else can go wrong?

No matter who I asked prior to my surgery “Am I going to need a wheelchair?” the answer was categorically “no”.   Clearly none of these people have had a total toe bi-lateral arthroplasty.  I was told I would need crutches to get home, so crutches I had.  But if you don’t have one stable foot to put down on the ground when you lose your balance, what good are crutches going to do I ask you?

It all started off so well.  First I was to be at the hospital at 6 a.m., then 8:30 a.m. (right as Jaden gets put on his bus so I actually got to the hospital at 8:36 a.m.).  I was told my operation was at 9:30 and got very excited…bad idea as they came for me at 11:15 a.m. (must have been an emergency arthroplasty ahead of me).

When the nurse was getting me ready she said “take your shoes off and put them in this bag, then take your clothes off and put them and the shoe bag in the other bag”.  I said “since I won’t need my shoes later, I was going to have my husband take them home because both feet will be in casts”.  Nope, I had to put them in the bag.  (I didn’t, I gave them to Joe to take home. )

Then as I was being sent back out to wait, I started bleeding out of my IV because it hadn’t been put in correctly.  Blood everywhere being forced out by the IV fluids.

Then the 2 hour wait.

After surgery, a nurse brought me juice and water but put it on table out of reach and didn’t tell me if I could have it or not.  Tease!  Then I got my clothes – YAY, the end was in sight.  Unfortunately, being a little groggy as I tried to insert my feet into underwear leg holes, both feet went into the same leg hole.  Extricating my left leg meant dislocating my cast – yup, it came right off with my knickers!  At least by then I was allowed to have my juice.

dislodged cast

That is the cast for my left foot sitting on the bed between my feet

So, new cast, trip to the bathroom to continue getting dressed and have a whiz, but the nurse left the wheelchair in the door and the door wide open!  Still, I learned to do “the girl thing” well years ago so I was all right.

Then the fun began.  Got home, got out of the car with my crutches…what was I thinking?  Got about 5 feet and realized I was going to do a face plant and that trying to walk was a seriously bad idea.  Borrowed a walker from a neighbor and ultimately found a wheelchair (thank you so much Sheila!!!) which I have been using since.

Off the painkillers last Monday, taking my homeopathics religiously and definitely on the mend, but boy will I have words with my surgeon who’s clearly never operated on his own toes!

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Water or Mice: opening the cottage 2013

What a glorious weekend for opening the cottage!  Sunny, temperature in the 20’s, no bugs to speak of and ridiculously high water levels.  Apparently it’s a 100 year high water level.

one of 2 government docks under water

one of 2 government docks under water

The road from town to the cottage is actually closed unless you’re “local” which everyone out here is because it’s the only road in and out of town.

While running around taking pictures for Facebook so my kids could see how crazy the water is, I met the new neighbour, Dave.  He lives in the Pride of Muskoka house and works at Pride of Lake of Bays.  Seems like a very nice guy.  For the record, Pride of Muskoka is substantially under water.

The cottage however was completely untouched by the high water levels as we’re on a hill so we’re lucky that way.

Last fall Jennifer at Oust-a-Mouse loaned me a second O-a-M unit to see if we could get the mouse population under control so it was with great oustamouseanticipation that I started on a mouse poop expedition.  Since we didn’t install it until the week between Xmas and New Year’s it’s hard to say for sure – at this point – whether it helped but, Jennifer had said “bleach everything” so I started cleaning – with bleach – so that I could get the fridge up and running, etc.

Turns out it was a good thing that I was cleaning with bleach instead of water because on day 3 (Sunday a.m.) we still have no running water.  We do have a lot of very clean surfaces though.  Unfortunately, have not been able to move the fridge single handed to bleach under/behind it and check the wiring – that will have to wait until water is running.

As husband, Joe, struggles on with the water situation (I’m staying out of the way as he’s agitated), I’m trying to find more areas to bleach and enjoying watching the bird that’s building it’s nest under the eave again, right outside the kitchen window.

So, this week will be the real test – will there be mouse poop next week?  Fingers crossed that the answer is a resounding NO!!!

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Creating a Safe Environment by Liz Saunders

On Friday I wrote about a nasty experience during Jaden’s swimming lesson.  At the time, I was told I needed to speak to the Crescent Town Club’s General Manager, A.N.   Today, since I had to go to Olivia’s and feed feline horribilous, I thought “I’ll kill two birds with one stone and see if A.N. is in the office”.

On arrival at the pool office, I ran into Ken who had been my witness and instrumental in calming the situation down on Friday.  He took me into A.N.’s office and we had a meeting.  Both A.N. and Ken agreed that the other woman’s behaviour was outrageous and they will be happy to help the police in figuring out who she is.  They have a zero tolerance policy in place which they want to enforce as well, so they have every interest in finding her too.  They had a really good picture of her from their security system and I confirmed that it was the woman in question.  Apparently it shouldn’t be long before she’s identified.

We then discussed possible solutions to dealing with the issue of getting Jaden in and out of his swimming lessons…which I’m pleased to say can now continue.   I think that they were very pleased that I was not trying to ramrod what I wanted through, but was willing to work with them and be as reasonable as possible.  They clearly understand that this is an issue and that it’s an issue that will continue to grow, rather than diminish.

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Swimming Lessons Shouldn’t be Dangerous! by Liz Saunders

A few years ago, Daughter Olivia moved into the complex known as Crescent Town.  At the time, I was worried because when I was her age, Crescent Town was not a place I would have even gone, let alone lived.  But she’s been very happy there and she’s never been mugged.

So last fall, after having difficulties with Toronto Parks and Recreation’s swimming programs for Jaden, I was surprised to find that Crescent Town Community Centre offered private swimming lessons for $90 for 5 and that they were available to the public.  I never would have considered it if Olivia hadn’t lived in the complex – unharmed.

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Off Jaden and I went to swimming.  Jaden is a special child and suffers from severe anxiety in certain circumstances and impulsivity at the best of times.  Sending him into the men’s changing room alone was just not an option.  From the first day, Jaden had instructions to keep his eyes down and to stick close to me, while I found a quiet corner where I could use his towel not just as a shield for him but also from him.   There’s no family changing room so that was about the best I could do.

On one of the first occasions, there was a woman in the change room who totally freaked out on me for having Jaden in the room.   Not much I could do.  She was extremely aggressive, rude, loud and in my face but I carried on, continuing to instruct Jaden to be respectful of the fact that he was in foreign territory.  Funny, when I left that day my house keys were no longer in my jacket pocket.

The second time this happened (different woman), I asked his swimming instructor if there was an alternative.   She said, “don’t worry about it, I’ll make sure it’s okay”.  I thought that would be the end of it.

Last night, as we approached the door of the change room, Jaden said to me “eyes down, right grandma?” and we went to our corner and he changed.   Imagine my surprise when an employee followed us into the shower saying “people are complaining about him being in here”.  I said “this has been taken care of, tell them to complain at the desk”.  She repeated herself, I repeated myself, she repeated herself…you get the picture.  When we got into the pool, I told the swimming instructor about it and she said “that shouldn’t happen”.

In any event, I left Jaden in Niv’s care – not without a major wobble on Jaden’s part about me leaving – to go and pay for 5 more lessons (including the one he was about to have).  As I waited at the counter I was aware that another woman had also come to stand near me.  When the pool employee finally came to the counter, rather than speak to me, although I was there first, he spoke to her.    She raised her arm, pointed at me and started shrieking that I had a 9 year old boy in the woman’s change room.  I turned and looked at her realizing it was the same woman who had shrieked at me on the previous occasion.

Things escalated and when I turned my back on her in disgust she shoved me, hard enough that she hurt me and, although I didn’t back down, frankly frightened me.    Thanks goodness she did it in front of the pool employee!

So now I had a dilemma – am I going to be able to bring Jaden for more lessons?  Do I bother buying more?  How do I get him out of the pool, showered and dressed after his lesson other than using the Women’s?  The pool employee was very good, calmed me down and suggested I lay a complaint against the woman.  He assured me that the pool staff would be able to determine who she is because the whole event was videotaped!

When Jaden and I returned home and told Joe about it, there was no doubt in his mind that I needed to call the police about the assault.  I was reluctant at first but then realized that as this was not an isolated incident but the second encounter with this woman and things had escalated.  I was also reluctant to go back to the pool because of it.  Sure signs of dealing with a bully.

Toronto’s Finest were called; I requested that charges not be laid at this time but that the woman be found and cautioned.  Fortunately, as a special child, Jaden has the right to access facilities like this pool and either they must find accommodation for us or they must ensure that we have a safe environment and women like her must leave us alone.

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