Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Washing Machine in Need of a Quick Fix

I only have good things to say about my Speed Queen Washer.  When I was young, we had Speed Queen machines in the Laundry Room in our apartment building.  You would put quarters in it to do a wash. Same for the dryers. Those were commercial machines but they were big and always worked. 

Last year I purchased a fairly simple model with knobs and limited cycles since I found I rarely use the other cycles anyway.  They have a great setting called Auto Fill where it determines how much water your wash actually needs.  The other setting I love is Normal Eco which uses a spray rinse for less water consumption and less hot water.

Recently I had noticed that the vinyl ring sitting over the drum was shredding and pieces were getting into my clothes.  I called Speed Queen, which is an Alliance Laundry Systems LLC company, and asked about this.  They told me that this problem is new and that they will cover the replacement parts and service. 

So I called the Appliance store and made a service appointment.  The parts were ordered and service was done.  It was actually a more involved repair than just the vinyl top of the drum.  The inner and outer drums were also replaced.  The unit was tested and the machine was working.

Before I did a wash using my now repaired machine, for some reason I held the agitator and turned the drum.  I have no idea what made me do this as I had not tried that with the machine ever before.  Hearing water splash around worried me since it seemed to be coming from between the inner and outer drum. I did two loads of laundry and all worked fine but that water sound still remained.

I looked online for answers to washing machine issues and all I would read is that a pump runs to remove water from the drums, so of course I assumed that I should not be hearing water.

First thing this morning I called Speed Queen.  After explaining what I was hearing since the repair was done, the representative assured me that when turning the drum and hearing water swish around is normal.  That water has a lubrication solution in it and is necessary to be there. If I didn't hear water, then I would have a problem.

By the way, I also have the matching dryer which works perfectly.

There is something to learn everyday.  And I thank Speed Queen for excellent customer service and taking care of an issue with great speed!




Thursday, April 4, 2019

Going on a Safari...Hold on to your Hat!

It has been some months since I returned from a safari in East Africa, yet my memories are still very clear.

The strongest memory I have is how long it took my body to recuperate from riding in Land Rovers for 12 days!

Don't get me wrong, the trip was terrific.  And with all the research I did in preparation, there are still some things you find out after the fact.

Depending on how much wear and tear your body can take, an important item to have with you is a cushion for the seat.  Each camp has more or less the same type vehicles but not all are equal.  You are travelling on roads where you will get bumped in every direction.  The Safari guides love to say that it is like an African Massage, but I told them it also feels like an African Martini...totally shaken not stirred!

Now that you have your cushion, we can get started.

Choosing the camp(s) you will stay at is an interesting process.  I don't mind roughing it to a point so the choices are many. There are permanent camps which offer running water in your tent although how much water and if hot water is always available is another matter.  Some camps have bucket showers, which for 2 days was not bad.  You tell the person in charge of showers when you want to take your shower and he makes sure you have hot water which comes down from a bucket over your tent into your shower.  Not a problem if you need a second bucket.

If you want a slightly higher end type camp you can look at Sanctuary and Lemala brands.  One of the Sanctuary camps we were at heats water by solar and there was a limited amount of hot water available at a given time.  Once you decide on the camp, I would try to find out if you could reserve a specific "tent" since the location of each one in a specific camp may make a big difference to you.  Basically you follow a path and the "tents" are usually in numerical order, although some have names only. Some require a longer walk from the main area, which you may not mind, but if you forget something and have to go back, the walk starts to matter. In the evening once dark you have to be escorted to and from your tent for safety reasons, and that is another reason to consider the distance of your particular "tent."  We found that it was nice to be midway from the main area.

The vehicles do vary such as some are open where windows would be, some with windows have an open top, some seats are better and some don't have doors!  In our last camp, a vehicle pulls up and I kept looking at it, wondering how we get in.  Well, you climb up into it! Ha, just what I wanted to do towards the end of our trip.  My advice is to ask ahead of time about the vehicles to determine what works for you.  We preferred the windowless ones since they are much easier for taking photos but...those with an open top allow more freedom to take photos, especially if others are in the vehicle.  It's easier not to be blocked by anyone. 

Most of the guides we had are well informed and answer most of the questions you may have.  Some are more enthusiastic in regards to how fast they drive to get you from place to place.  When it comes to seeing a Migration or a leopard, a guide's driving speed may make all the difference as to getting there fast and getting a good space to watch all the excitement.

We also found that if you rather stay out all day, you can arrange that with your guide.  We liked having an early breakfast then going out for the day until as late as possible.  A picnic lunch would be prepared for us and we were always happy with what was presented.  We would come back to shower and go to dinner.  After that long of a day, we could not get into bed fast enough.

Each camp gave us a different experience and we enjoyed that.  Some smaller camps have one large table at which you have your meals so all the guests sit together. A nice way of meeting other people from all over the world.

Clothes are easy.  Comfort is the word and layers are a must.  You do not need to dress for dinner, at least where we stayed and to do anything else is not necessary. Definitely have a sun hat or baseball cap or two.  For shoes, anything comfortable and easy to wipe down since lots of dirt and dust will dirty your shoes.

Use insect repellent on your skin and you can also treat your clothes with various products to be double safe.  Sanitary hand wipes help a good deal, especially if you do a lot of pit stops during the day on Safari.  Take various meds to help with diarrhea, infections, stomach issues for starters.

Drink the water supplied by the camps which are either bottled or treated.  Brush your teeth with the supplied water, not from the faucet.

The food we had at most of the camps was terrific and beautifully presented. Had great coffee all the time, not to mention wine!

If you have a special occasion to celebrate, let your booking agent know since some camps help you celebrate with an experience you won't forget.  

Wishing you a wonderful trip!




Monday, April 2, 2018

When a Verizon Reward is Not Rewarding


While going through a pile of papers, I came across a Verizon Reward+Cards, issued by MasterCard.  

Having no idea if any money was left on it, I made a call or two.  What I found out was not good news.

The first call I made was to Verizon Rewards.  The agent was able to tell me that I originally had money on the card but could not tell me what the balance was.  It was suggested to call the actual card company and gave me the number.

I make call number 2 and through voice prompts I was able to find out that I had $0 balance on the card so that was good.  I connected to customer service to find out what I need to do with this "empty" card.

Here is what I learned:

1.  If you are going to redeem points for cash to put onto a Rewards+ MasterCard, you should hold on to the card while money is on it or if you will eventually add to it. Otherwise they will charge you a fee for a lost card.  They do not want to send you a new one unless you pay for it.

2.  You have 12 months to use the money that you put on the card THE FIRST TIME.  After that, any balance remaining on the card or added to the card at another time, is charged a monthly fee, starting with the 13th month, for as long as you keep a balance, no matter how small a balance. Remember, this is after the initial 12 months of having the card.

In other words, you are paying MasterCard for the privilege of having this Verizon Rewards+ card after the initial 12 months, as long as money remains on the card or if you reload it.

The agent at MasterCard was very nice and very upfront when I asked all the questions one would ask when they just can't wrap their brain around something which makes no sense, at least to the consumer.  She said that if I read the back of the card I can see that it states all I was told about fees.  My problem is that even with my good reading glasses, I cannot read the small type on the back of the card.  

In the agreement, even if you read it all, you have to look at the back of your card for more information:





Thank you very much MasterCard.  Wouldn't it be nice if Verizon would be upfront about this also? 


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

American Airlines Flies Away With Facts

By now you know me well enough to know that I need to share my experience when I don't care for the way a company conducts their business.

Well hats off to American Airlines.  They really did it this time.

Let me set the scene:  I was planning a trip.  I wanted to use my miles.  I want to book flights and because I didn't have enough miles, I was going to buy some right before I confirmed the booking.

My flights took me on an American Airlines flight to a British Airways flight.  Same, but in reverse, on the return.  The representative told me that if I fly AA at least part of the way it would save on taxes and fees since BA charges more when flying over the water.

I did it all and was ready to book but we changed our travel plans so our dates of travel changed.

I called AA and moved the flights.  Unfortunately there were no seats on an American Airlines flight using miles so I had to book British Airways all the way.  That led to higher fees and taxes.  OK, I can deal with that since it was still less money than buying a ticket outright.

I had some questions for which I needed answers to before confirming flights and booking. Because my original flights had American Airline segments, I was able to get seat assignments on those AA flights. Now I had all British Airways flights. What about getting seat assignments on the BA flights?  At least three AA agents said that as soon as I confirm my flights and pay, I can call BA and get my seats.

Sounds good, right?

So now my dates are set and I call American Airlines to pay for miles and book the flight.  For starters, I had been told that it is best to call to buy the miles I need so that the miles and the bonus miles they were offering would go into my account ASAP vs buying online and waiting for the miles to actually move into my account.

I call.  I explain that I need to buy miles, book flights.  The agent was totally clueless about the Bonus miles I was to get.  I told the agent that I need to buy 48,000 miles and that I would get a 9,000 bonus miles to get me to the 57,000 I needed to buy the tickets.  She had me on hold for almost 15 minutes because she thought the bonus miles get put into the account after I booked the ticket and that I had to purchase 57,000 miles.  Now I am telling the AA agent that she is wrong and that I spoke to 3 agents over the past few days all who said the Bonus miles are immediately added to my account when I call.  I had to leave for an appointment so I gave the call to my husband.

When I return home, my husband and I discuss the amount charged for the additional miles as well for the tickets.  You also have to pay fees and taxes when buying miles.  The total  seemed wrong, so I called American Airlines.  The agent told me that because we did this over the phone, they charged an additional $80 for the phone booking vs online booking.  I was ready to explode.  I told them that the agents before told me to call and never mentioned it would cost extra money.

I am steaming at this point.

Finally they reverse that extra charge.  I then get on the phone with British Airways.  I am informed that in order to book a seat assignment now there are fees charged.  Needless to say, I am in shock.  Not once did American Airlines tell me that British Airways charges for seat assignments and considering I mentioned getting seat assignments 3 different times, I was in disbelief. I am told that unless you are an AA Executive Platinum member, you have to pay unless, are you ready for this, you get your seat assignments 7 days in advance of flight date.  Well, when we are that close to a departure on a popular route, what are the chances that my husband and I would get seats together on a very long flight?  AA did not charge for seat assignments when I made the original reservations.

So I paid the extra fees which totalled $928. Each flight segment per person gets a fee charged. It seems that the idea of using and buying miles, then paying for seat assignments was not the great deal I thought it would be.

I called American Airlines to tell them how disappointed I was in what I went through and it was a waste of my time.  They couldn't have cared less. They knew that there were charges to get seat assignments.  In fact one agent I spoke with afterwards laughed and said that "of course you have to pay for that on British Airways."  I told her I wished I had her for my booking agent because then I would have used a different airline.

I then tweeted and DM'd with AA and got nowhere.  They basically washed their hands of the fact that it would have been good customer relations had they at least mentioned that some airlines charge for seat assignments, especially since they partner with BA.  I told them that in all the years I have been flying, I never had to pay for a seat assignment so how would I have ever imagined that this could happen.  So they say they are sorry that I didn't know there would be a charge.

My fault!

I end with this:  from now on, before booking any flight, whether using miles or paying for a ticket, it wouldn't hurt to inquire whether or not you have to pay for a seat assignment.  And if you are using miles, remember that there are taxes and fees on the miles so nothing is free. If you are buying miles, you also get fees charged to your purchase.

And to American Airlines I say, "Go fly a kite!"  








Sunday, May 28, 2017

Directv Should Call Itself MisDirectv





The times we live in require the need to be a Consumer Advocate almost all the time. When you have to spend hours dealing with a company to constantly resolve issues, you need to take action.

Today's rant has to do with Directv.  In the past 2 years, I have had one issue after another all because the information I am given is always misleading.  I am not sure if there is an actual lack of understanding on the part of the reps or that the reps are just not trained well enough to actually offer a solution to your issue. Or, and let's hope not, they do all this on purpose.

You may be asking why I would continue to work with a company that causes so much aggravation.  The answer is that there are few alternatives where my service is located. My challenge is to make the best of a bad situation.

What I had just experienced these past two weeks will make your head spin.  I cannot understand how you are told one thing from one rep and the opposite from a different rep and then a third rep tells you that what the first rep said was correct, followed by a fourth rep telling you that it wasn't.  Confused, frustrated? Yes!

I have taken to social media as my last resort.  Whomever is out there responding is much better informed than anyone you speak with on the phone.  They want to resolve your issue so that you don't keep Tweeting the negative.

What I managed to accomplish via Twitter Direct Message, that is after sending a general Tweet, was an appointment set up, as well as service, equipment and invoice explanations.  It was much easier than making that phone call and batting zero. 

Do you like to hear that your call may be recorded or is being recorded to help improve their service?  Let me know when they actually put that logic to work.  

It begs the question:  do companies like Directv believe that many people don't ask enough questions and accept most of what they are told?  

The take-away from this is to make your life less stressful when trying to resolve a problem with a company.  Dealing with the social media segment of a brand may be the best solution if you don't get your issue resolved by making that call.  I would send a tweet to the specific company first to see if they respond.  Hopefully their response will be to ask you to send a Direct Message to them and that will be the start of a productive outcome.

For me, this is one of the best reasons for using Twitter.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What One Can Accomplish with Creativity and Determination



Usually I write to compliment a business or make mention of an issue I had with them or to tell you about something of interest. 

Today I am writing about my husband, the most creative and determined person I know.

Aside from his talent writing for years in the Advertising business, he possesses a mind where any challenge is welcomed, no matter the subject.

We have been spending more time in our home in Martha's Vineyard, and having more time here gives us more time to do work around the house.  Going to the beach...well we can always do that.

Since we have been here we have had to do repairs, some of which would mean ordering expensive parts from the manufacturer or hiring someone to fix the problem.

Not my husband.  He has repaired everything, without ordering expensive parts or hiring anyone.

All began with our desire to improve the water pressure in our shower.  For 24 years we could not enjoy the shower since the water came out so poorly yet no one knew why. Lee decided to change the shower arm, thinking it was too wide and the water flow was too dispersed.  From Home Depot, we purchased a new arm for $10.  The original one was removed, but to our disappointment, there was an additional copper pipe jammed inside the wall and which took 2 days to get it out thanks to sheer determination and some WD40.  After the new arm was installed, out came great water pressure!  Now our shower days are happy ones. 

The mice love to eat away at our garage doors.  Aside from patching the wood which was eaten, he devised a stop gap using metal along the sides of the door, which the mice can't eat.

Then the door jam was eaten away and he used wood filler and all sorts of materials to make it look brand new. That project took almost a week, but looks great.

The best was when the light went out under the oven hood.  We pulled the trim kit and bulb out but one of the springs holding the trim in place snapped and disappeared up into the oven hood.  We struggled for an hour trying to find the spring since the trim piece would not stay in without it.  We dismantled the hood and finally found the spring.  But the spring was sprung and was not usable.  I called the company and they seriously wanted $136.80 for a piece worth 5 cents. They actually offered to waive shipping costs. There was no way we would spend that.  After contemplating the situation, he just bent an edge of the trim up into the opening and it held in place!

Today he wanted to change the electrical receptacle on a light switch in a closet, which only had 1 switch for a light, but we needed an outlet and a light switch. After removing the original switch, he found the wiring lacking in order to add the light/outlet combo. Rummaging through our storage room, he found wiring from old lighting we had and is using that to attach to the existing wiring in the wall to get the switch to work. Watching YouTube helped to figure out the repurposing of the wiring and now we can set up our office equipment in the closet!

Now onto the garden.  After 36 years of marriage, we finally have a garden.  It started out small since we are such novices, though before I knew it, Lee doubled the size, bought all these tools (thanks in part to our friend, an avid gardener who made some suggestions,) put up fencing and stakes, laid down soaker hoses and now we watch while the plants grow! Spending much too much time working in the garden but the rewards are many.

And here is the final accomplishment so far...last week we were dining at a restaurant and the person next to Lee started to choke.  Lee looks at me and then says that he will try doing the Heimlich Maneuver although he had never done it. He completes the movements 3 times and the person is fine.  What a night!

Here's to all of you out there who go the extra mile! 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Whole Foods Does Not Have Their Whole Act Together




If anyone has watched South Park lately, you would have seen that Whole Foods became the object of ridicule.  In the end, the store leaves town in the form of a spaceship, possibly returning to the planet it came from.

Sounding negative is not unusual for me.  This time my complaint is about shopping at Whole Foods.  And it is the little things that really bug me. When it comes to Customer Service, I feel that is one area a business should put in some effort.  My following comments relate to the store in the Time Warner Center in NYC. 

After going down an escalator, I land smack in the middle of people going every which way, with or without their shopping carts or baskets.  It's enough to make you want to march right back up the escalator. There is no rhyme or reason in how entering the store is structured and you can have people walk right into you while they are wandering around trying to make some sense of their surroundings.  So one thing that needs to be done is make entering the store more manageable. I should not get stressed in a store which sells products to help you stay healthy. 

Today all I wanted/needed was apples.  I walked over to Customer Service to ask if I could check out with them since all I had was a bag of 4 apples.  The response, in a tone which made me feel she did not give a hoot, was, "I don't have a scale so you will just have to get in line."  She could have at least said she was sorry but unfortunately she has no scale.

They have an express line for 10 items or less.  Two weeks ago I got on that line and the line which was not express, moved much faster.  On my way out I asked Customer Service if that made sense and was told, "It just depends."  Today I went to a non-express line with my bag of 4 apples and again, it moved faster than the express.  I guess people buying their lunch think that they will get out faster on the line meant for small purchases, so the line gets longer than the regular check out line.  There is something wrong with the way that is set up. Maybe they should call it the "Less Item Lane" for people who want to spend even more time in Whole Foods.

Another time I had come in and they were out of a bakery item which was on sale.  I went to Customer Service for a rain check since I didn't think I would get back there before the sale was over.  It took over 20 minutes for Customer Service to get someone who worked there to go back to the bakery to ask about the sale and come back to report the findings and only then was I issued a rain check.  You would think I asking for my lottery winnings and they had to prove my ticket was real.

It's this attitude that makes me wonder why I would go back to shop at Whole Foods.  At least make me feel that you care if I remain a customer.