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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Watercolours – I have a whole new respect for my friend Wendie

This week at art class was water colours.  All I can really say about watercolours is that I have a whole new respect for my friend Wendie.

Kathy made it look so easy!  I did not find it to be so.

 

straw splatter sponge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salt and Wax

 

 

 

 

 

 

WC orchid

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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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Portraiture and Colour – two difficult concepts!

self portrait 1Last week we did portraiture…our own.  That was way more difficult than you can image.  Look at yourself in a mirror and draw what you see.

I sent the final product to my friend Wendie and my daughter Olivia and said “what do you think”.  I got responses like – it’s too wide across the cheeks, the chin is too narrow, there’s something not quite right but I’m not sure what it is and my favourite – it looks too young!

During the week, I tried again, added lots more lines/wrinkles, made it less wide across the cheeks but it still isn’t right.  Then I discovered why Olivia said “there’s something not quite right but I’m not sure what it is” when I stood in front of a mirror and held the two sketches up and realized …duh…the self 2sketches are what I see in a mirror, not what Olivia sees when she looks at me.  So, I’ve taken some pictures of myself and will try and do another sketch from them.  Here are the original two.  I will add a third when I get around to it.

 

This week:  Colour!  Sounds like fun, right?  Conté and different types of pastels; sheesh, is it messy and dusty and smudgy and…frustrating!  I’m actually kind of glad that’s over and now Olivia can have back the conté she lent me back at the beginning…not likely to play with that again.  Bring on paint!

 

My conte effort

My conte effort

And my pastel effort

And my pastel effort

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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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