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UPS Failure

WayfairEvery now and again I will write about good and bad customer service issues, today I’m sharing a story about UPS.

I ordered some furniture from Wayfair Canada. My friends rave about them especially those who work in Real Estate as they feel this is a great method of ordering items to prepare a property for sale. Before I get onto my experience with UPS I will start with the positive about Wayfair:

  1. They have a lot of choice on their website, high end and budget items
  2. Ordering was easy, a few clicks and it was done
  3. Unlike other companies, I wasn’t bombarded with emails after the order was complete
  4. Their customer service is pretty amazing

Wayfair uses different courier companies depending on what you are ordering, for the item I ordered, pictured, they used UPS. This is what Wayfair and myself went through with UPS.

  1. Supposed to deliver on Tuesday 15th October
  2. After waiting at home all day UPS pinged me a tracking update to say my address didn’t exist.
  3. I phoned UPS who had all the correct details. They said they didn’t have a name but seconds later contradicted themselves saying they did have it.
  4. They promised they would re-deliver the item on Thursday 17th October
  5. I called Wayfair to provide feedback at this point, they were kind enough to put me on hold while they contacted UPS. UPS also promised Wayfair the package would be delivered on 17th October.
  6. So 17th October came along, I waited in for a good portion of the day and didn’t see any tracking updates so I called them.
  7. After a challenging 45 minutes on the phone, UPS said they had lost the package and had to “open an investigation”, whatever that means.
  8. I called Wayfair again and they were kind enough to offer me a refund, which I accepted.
  9. I sent UPS a message through their website to ask them to return the package to Wayfair should they ever find it.

I looked up the UPS Depot who should have delivered the item which is in Delta, British Columbia. The reviews on the Yellow Pages website are pretty bad which explains the horror story I’ve been through. When I go to a UPS store for printing or other needs, whether it’s been in Washington DC, Denver CO or Vancouver Canada, the experience has been great, so I’m sad they don’t have the same service levels in their delivery branch.

Sorting this out consumed a lot of my time which was quite draining. Wayfair did everything they can to resolve the issue but UPS performance was obviously out of their control. So I will buy an alternative product at one of the local furniture stores here in the lower mainland. I’m sad as I was looking forward to doing business with Wayfair.

By |2019-10-17T23:27:24+00:00October 17th, 2019|Customer Service|0 Comments

Review of Debut

Debut is a Chinese TV Show that was broadcast, in China, between 7 February 2018 and 14 March 2018, I recently saw this show and here is my review.

The original name of the show is 二分之一美少年, which translated actually means, roughly, “One-Half Beauty Boy” or “One Half of the Beautiful Boy”. The show is produced by Horgos Graphical Media Co Ltd. and Beijing Fast-forward Culture & Art Co Ltd. The show is directed by Xin Juzhen.

As I see it there are two distinct story lines in this show:

  • A manufactured boy band is in training but preparing for their debut in front of the world
  • The lead in the band is in an accident, survives but gets split into two separate bodies sharing the same thoughts. Those two people cannot be awake at the same time, when one is awake the other is asleep. One body is slim and other is overweight.

I would say the genre of the TV show could fall into these categories: Youth, Comedy, Drama, Musical, SciFi, Fantasy. It really does have a mix of everything.

Here are my general thoughts on the show:

  • The script could have been tightened up, but I would say just sit back and enjoy it for what it is.
  • It is a very cute, non-stressful, bubbly show where you more or less like every character, even the ones who are possibly considered nasty.
  • There are some very talented actors and actresses in the cast, the support toles often give more amazing performances than the main ones.
  • Maybe fat shaming is prevalent in China so I do like how it handled those issues. However, the guy who was supposed to be overweight didn’t really seem that way to me. I wasn’t keen on how they kept calling him “fatty”, he has a name.
  • It handled some suggestion of gay relationships pretty well too, there was some hint of that in many episodes, maybe some that would never have made it onto US TV. There was one overly camp bisexual character which was badly done, maybe it was comic relief but it didn’t work.
  • The last two episodes were actually really well done, with some unexpected twists and turns. There was one part of the ending that I didn’t like, relating to the supposed overweight character, you may know what I mean when you watch it.
  • The closing song to every episode is very cute and jolly [YouTube Link], something I kept singing in my mind afterwards. The other songs in the show were good too.

You can watch the show on YouTube, just search for “Debut TV Show”, it’s on 3 separate office Chinese Television accounts, English subtitles provided.

If you want to watch something that is not too taxing on the brain, that is cute and bubbly, then this show is for you. I would give it 7/10.

By |2019-10-02T21:02:04+00:00October 2nd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

What Not To Say on Social Media

What you say on social media can lead to ruining your privacy, reputation and brand. It’s always best to engage brain before hitting “Post” on your device, in other words, “planning”.

Most organizations will have a strategy in planning their social media in advance to coincide with their projects, goals and timelines. Most likely they will go into review by other members of staff including those on the senior leadership team and marketing. It’s helpful to keep this in mind for your own individual posts. If you aren’t careful what you say you could either lose followers or the worst case scenario be your own risk to reputation.

We’ll just dive into what I think people should not post.

  1. You dislike your job
  2. You dislike your boss or work colleagues
  3. You dislike your customers or complain about their looks/ethnicity etc
  4. You dislike your life partner or shame him/her over social media
  5. You dislike your family or shame them over social media, even in conversations they are not a party to
  6. Constantly shame other people over social media (being a troll)
  7. Don’t be an emotional vampire
  8. Don’t provide details of when and where you are going on vacation (tells the world that your property will be empty)
  9. Don’t provide details of your daily schedule (again tells the world that your property will be empty)
  10. Don’t say that you are having an affair
  11. Don’t reveal your financial status, whether you are poor or rich, need or have loans, in serious debt
  12. Don’t reveal or give any clues as to what your usernames and passwords are
  13. Scams about how many followers people can make if they listen to you
  14. Photos of you being too familiar with other people than your partner
  15. If you are going through some legal investigation don’t say anything that might jeopardise that for yourself (friends could let slip about something you have mentioned on Facebook)
  16. Your toilet habits
  17. Medical records or photos of your condition
  18. Extreme views about politics or people ie racism, homophobia.
  19. Photos with documents that users can zoom in to in order to find confidential information about yourself or loved ones
  20. Photos of strangers in embarrassing situations, obtain people’s permission before posting
  21. Post too much on yourself, show you are considerate of others too
  22. Death and other threats
  23. Lies
  24. Steel someones work/data and say it’s your own (always cite your source)
  25. Repeat the same message day after day or constantly retweeting yourself. Always come up with new and exciting stories to keep your visitors engaged.
By |2019-10-01T00:52:09+00:00October 1st, 2019|Social Media, Technology|0 Comments

My Customer Service Approach

Customer ServiceEvery year I appear to have more than one trauma dealing with customer service departments of various companies, mainly blue chip in size. Whenever I approach a company it is for fairly basic and reasonable requests, shouldn’t be out of the ordinary, but they do appear to have many issues dealing with them.

Here is how I have handled customer service queries in the past, these are my expecations on how I should be treated.

  1. Thank the customer for reporting the issue
    Often you can learn something from the customer, about a gap in the product or service levels, as they really are your best asset in finding bugs. So, be thankful, show empathy, apologise, and of course professional.
  2. Timescales
    If the issue cannot be dealt with immediately agree a turnaround time with the customer. A customer doesn’t like to be kept in the dark so it’s also important to continue to touch base with them during the process. I find it useful to have an online system where I can look up ongoing isses and their status.
  3. Deal with the issue
    Either deal with the issue or escalate it to a subject matter expert within the organization, but keep an eye on it to ensure it’s not forgotten.
  4. Sign Off
    Get back to the customer to thank them for reporting the issue and let them know it’s resolved BUT ensure they are happy that it has been sorted.
  5. Product or Service Enhancement
    If there is an error in your product or service ensure that it’s added to a roadmap for a fix, if it can’t be fixed immediately. Getting it fixed will limit other customers having to call in and the bug can be marketed to say your company is on top of product development.
  6. CRM and Data
    Personally, I use a CRM (SuiteCRM) to register all issues for which I can pull of useful data ie 1) reports of open/closed issues, 2) current or past bugs, 3) time spent, and so on.

If I can keep to this basic workflow so can other small businesses and especially larger companies, I don’t think I’m asking for too much.

It’s been another bumper year with bad experiences with customer service departments, which I will be reporting on soon.

By |2019-09-27T23:38:24+00:00September 27th, 2019|Customer Service|0 Comments

iMac Trauma

iMac 2017I thought I would bite the bullet and soup up my iMac which I bought in mid-2017.

RAM

I’ve been running on 2x4Gb RAM since I bought the computer and noticed recently it had been slowing up especially with Adobe products and Firefox. So I went ahead and bought 2X16Gb RAM to upgrade it to a total of 40Gb. I ordered Crucial RAM from Amazon. If I had bought the RAM from the Apple Store it would have most likely cost me 2 or 3 times that cost, quite unaffordable.  The RAM was so easy to install, instructions on how to do that are on the Apple website, and everything worked perfectly, what a relief.

Mojave

Next, was to upgrade the operating system from Sierra (yes I was still using that) to Mojave. This is where the horror story began. Generally, I read that the upgrade should take between 45 minutes to 1 hour, well 4 hours later it finally finished. Then when I went to log in to my user it wouldn’t work. I looked online and saw literally hundreds of people have faced the same issue, I wasn’t happy.  So, these are all the things I went through to get my system to work, with assistance via Apple on the phone:

  1. Went into Recovery Mode to change my user password to something else, twice. Still couldn’t log into my computer.
  2. Found that I could log onto my computer in Safe Mode.
  3. Created a TEST user with administration rights and could logon with no problems.
  4. Back in Safe Mode, I deleted Comodo, a virus checker I had installed on my system.
  5. In Safe Mode, I deleted my scanner software from login items as I thought it might not be compatible with Mojave.
  6. In Recovery Mode I ran First Aid
  7. Checked the Activity Monitor to see if something was tying up my computer.

Well, none of this worked so I was booked into the go-to Genius Bar to see if they could resolve the issue. It was a strain on my back to get the computer all the way there, I was not a happy person.

  1. Apple performed their diagnostics and couldn’t find any issues with my computer
  2. They went through some of the steps I had already gone through just to double check
  3. Then they went through the startup files to see if there was anything in there, this is where they found the issues.

So, the resolution was to delete DivX player and Comodo Virus scanner from the startup files, the computer returned to normal. I was extremely happy.

What I’ve Learned From This

  1. Many people have had the same issue and ended up re-formatting their hard drives, I didn’t want to go through this and tried to see it through so I didn’t have to do this.
  2. Trying to resolve this issue with Apple on the phone was a mistake.  I was actually on the phone for 6 hours without making any progress.  While I appreciate their time it wasn’t very productive for either of us and just made me more upset and frustrated.
  3. When I visited the Genius Bar at the Apple Store the engineer didn’t take long to diagnose and resolve the issue. While lugging the computer all the way to the store, and iMac’s are very heavy, it was worth it to get a quick fix.

So, unless it’s a quick question I always recommend taking your computer to the Apple Store.

At least now I can sit back and enjoy my souped-up computer.

By |2019-08-08T05:04:56+00:00August 8th, 2019|Technology|0 Comments

Forced Separation

The issue of visitor rights and medical decision making has been addressed numerous times in recent years as same-sex couples still continue to face obstacles and discrimination in this area. When the same-sex spouse is admitted into hospital other family members work with the facility to deny the spouse any access to their wife/husband. This is extremely cruel and traumatic not only to the patient but also to the same-sex spouse as well.

Unfortunately, such cases still occur today in 2019 and one such similar incident is happening to my friend right now. So, I will share the story of Marcia and Mary in the hope it raising awareness to others but to also to gain support for the couple I know.

Marcia and Mary’s Story

I met Marcia and Mary when I lived in Colorado as we were all connected to the same non-profit, a branch which I ran in the early 2000s. Mary is from the United Kingdom and Marcia is a US citizen.

Marcia served her country in the US Navy from 1983 to 1998, we are all proud of her achievements dedicating 15 years of her life to protect us all. Unfortunately, Marcia had a stroke in 2017 which lead to many medical complications but Mary, her wife, stayed by her side to ensure she received not only the best health care possible but also to extend her life by keeping her active, providing her constant attention and love. In fact, if it wasn’t for Mary’s dedication Marcia’s health would have seriously declined.

Marcia’s medical issues include being left with dementia and seizures, she takes a lot of medications, some provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs but also by a private neurologist for her seizures and dementia. She also takes blood thinners making it common for small superficial bruising to occur, this just means the medication is working but can lead to misinterpretation by those who are not educated on the matter. As I have learned from personal experience it takes a huge amount of work to look after someone with dementia, to ensure there is a routine and stable environment to live in, often that care facilities cannot provide round the clock, hence the decision they made together to look after her at home. Mary has in fact been a full-time carer for Marcia and unfortunately, the US doesn’t acknowledge or respect them in the same way that Europe does.

Marcia Taken Away From Mary

Recently the police came to their home and took Marcia away from Mary. They removed her while only in her underwear and wouldn’t listen to Mary’s pleas to allow her to get dressed. Marcia was of course extremely distressed about being removed to the extent that neighbours heard the screaming. Marcia was taken from the home without any of her life-saving medications. Now, Mary has been denied access to Marcia, therefore that facility won’t be able to get an update from her on Marcia’s recent condition, progress or other matters.

How has this affected Mary? As you can imagine Mary is overwhelmed and totally distraught over the matter. Thankfully she has some friends around to ensure she is doing ok. Mary has been through a few medical challenges herself recently, but despite that Marcia hasn’t seen any interruption to her care, which is how dedicated she is. Imagine if you were forcibly separated from your partner of many years, it really is such a traumatic thing to deal with, most things you can cope with when your partner is by your side but when that is ripped apart it feels as though your whole life is collapsing before you.

Why has this happened? From what I can see, there has been a long history of Marcia’s family not wanting her to be taken care of by Mary. This is not the first time they have tried to interfere with their wishes. In fact, I personally would have thought Mary should be supported more, financially and emotionally, being the one who is dedicating her life towards Marcia’s well-being. There are better ways of negotiating the best for Marcia, based on the long-term plan the couple had in place, rather than using strong-arm tactics that serve no helpful purpose.

What next? Mary faces a court hearing in the coming days to resolve this matter. Unfortunately, they are a low-income family only barely surviving on small monthly payments which means she needs to raise money for legal costs. They don’t qualify for free legal assistance and it’s impossible to find a lawyer who will take on more pro-bono work. Lawyer fees are expensive and there are bound to be other related costs in the future, for example, getting Marcia back to where she was prior to being taken away, ensuring some legal protections so this doesn’t happen again.

Please help where you can, by donating any small amount or by sharing their story with others. Thank you!

Mary and Marcia
Mary and Marcia
By |2019-07-08T21:48:37+00:00July 8th, 2019|LGBTQ, USA|3 Comments

Review Canadian Kit Kat

KitKatI’m not too bothered with the KitKat chocolate bar, it’s not something I eat on a regular basis but thought I would review the Canadian version of the product since it was on sale.

Each country appears to have its own quality of chocolate they use in their recipes and Canada is no exception. Whenever I used to visit Paris or Brussels friends used to ask me to buy KitKat there as the quality of chocolate appeared to be better than the UK.   So, how does the Canadian version pair up to its European counterpart?

Review

  1. The quality of the chocolate isn’t too bad at all, certainly wasn’t gross, I had the milk chocolate variety.
  2. Either my hands have got bigger or the bars have become significantly reduced in size and the price has increased.
  3. I couldn’t eat the whole bar in one go, it lasted me two days. I just don’t eat as much chocolate any more.
  4. The packaging has changed since the last KitKat I had in the UK, many years ago. It had an inner foil wrapper and an outer paper wrapper.  I actually prefer that compared to the one wrapper they provide today which I found fiddly to open, but not a big issue I guess.
  5. The chocolate melted quite quickly and I had it on a fairly cold day, I don’t recall that happening before.
  6. There was no bad after taste in my mouth.
  7. The wafer didn’t feel as crunchy as I remember it to be in Europe.

Summary

It was just….ok, but not something I would buy on a regular basis.  I would save up my money and buy chocolate from independent stores or small businesses.

Last Word

The KitKat website displays a range of products that I have never seen before, at least they aren’t available at any of the locations I shop at.  I often see a couple of different varieties in Asian supermarkets not available from Canadian retailers.  Some of the products listed on the KitKat Canada website link to Amazon, London Drugs etc but some I have no idea where you would purchase. Maybe they want to devoted fan to go out there and hunt for them but don’t have the energy for that.

Websites

By |2019-05-30T18:01:35+00:00May 30th, 2019|Food|0 Comments

Chat Applications

I use quite a few chat applications mainly because I have friends who use a wide variety of them. So, I thought I would review the ones I do use.

I started using chat type apps many years ago the first ones being:

  • ICQ – originally created by an Israeli company then bought by AOL it was finally sold to a Russian entity, it was at that stage I decided to stop using it.
  • Yahoo Messenger – many of my friends were on this application probably because there was no other choice, but it closed in 2018.

My current favourites:

Skype

Skype LogoI wasn’t on Skype until Microsoft bought the company and it was amalgamated into its product line. I start using Skype for Business but didn’t have it for personal reasons.  I guess I got used to using the program and now it is my most used chat type app.  Of course, it is multi-functional so I have the ability to a) make international phone calls, b) chair online client meetings by video and screen sharing.  Companies are reaching out/finding me more over Skype than they are over LinkedIn.  Skype is my preferred chat type app to use. The only thing I will add about the Desktop version, it is a little confusing to get around, as there is so much there, compared to the other basic chat apps.

Telegram

Telegram LogoI’ve been using Telegram for a few weeks for personal use and like the simplicity of the design. It does seem to be working out very well although it would be better if more of my connections used it.  The company suggests they are the best for security but there are reviews for and against this, they are most likely they are the best on the market today, everyone needs to make up their mind.

My not so favourites:

Google Hangout

I have found the interface not as easy to use as the other apps, or at least I am not that familiar with it as I’ve only used it a few times. In my experience startups and agencies use it as they prefer the general Google Suite of applications.  I am also quite concerned about privacy on Google so I generally avoid it and don’t promote that I am on it.

WhatsApp

Since WhatsApp is owned by the Facebook family of products I rarely use it due to privacy concerns and well, I don’t trust the company. I only have one friend on the app but when I have used it, always on a Desktop, it performs well.  I have tried to encourage my friend to try out Telegram.

Worst chat apps:

WeChat

As soon as I registered I was told that there was something wrong with my account and was locked out. I tried to resolve it with them but they were pretty non-responsive not only via Twitter but also but logging a ticket on their system. Therefore I abandoned trying to use this application. It might have been useful in China but alas it wasn’t to be. I only had one friend who tried to encourage me to use the application so all is ok.

Facebook Messenger

When I started receiving adverts through Facebook Messenger and encouraged by companies to use [FAQ] bots through it (rather than speak to live human beings) that was my last straw. Of course, there is also the privacy issue with Facebook too. There are some humans behind companies on Facebook Messenger, for example:

  • Shaw Cable – able to answer some basic questions on a certain subject quickly even though the initial response was incorrect
  • London Transport – took them about 48 hours to respond to a message but not with enough detail in order to resolve the situation

Summary

With so many chat type products on the market and a number of friends scattered around them it’s tough to stop using certain ones but often I have to consider privacy and online safety as my number one priority.

By |2019-05-30T16:09:17+00:00May 30th, 2019|Technology|0 Comments

Review Being King Is Not Easy

King Not EasyWe have recently finished watching another Chinese TV show called “Being King Is Not Easy”, also known as “King Is Not Easy”, “Not Easy Being King” or by its native title “大王不容易”. The show is a historical costume drama which we enjoyed very much.

About the Show

The show is about a lady, Da Xi, who runs a popular food stand who falls in love with Shao Yong, a Royal Guard. In order to be closer to him, she becomes a maid at the Palace. Through some other uncontrollable events her soul is switched with Ji Man, the Emperor, which is when the hilarity begins.

The show had 20 episodes and was broadcast Wednesday through Saturday between 30 August to 28 September 2017 in China.

Review

Chinese humour isn’t that much different than the British variety and this show also tends to be quite slapstick.  I would say this is one of those shows that is quite a gay-friendly as we are seeing a lot of on Chinese TV right now.  Da Xi, whose soul is inside the Kings, is besotted with Shao Yong, so you see some touchy-feely encounters between the two.  In one of the episodes there is a discussion which goes along the lines of “there is nothing wrong with two men being together”, this I believe is the general Chinese view of homosexuality but the conflict is they are encouraged to have a more traditional family.

So 75% of the show is focused on the body switch situation but towards the end, it goes into another interesting direction to wrap the story up.  I won’t give anything away here.

I am also surprised by the extravagance of Chinese drama’s, for a 20 episode drama they seemed to have spent quite a bit of money on it, for example, the scale of the palace, interior palace sets, costumes and special effects.

Summary

Despite recommending the show to a number of people I think people in the west don’t want to give Chinese dramas a chance. Maybe people are put off by sub-titles or they have certain views about China, I don’t know.  I think the show would suit a younger adult type of audience and hope you give it a chance.

By |2019-05-23T17:04:27+00:00May 23rd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Heathrow Express Review

Heathrow ExpressHeathrow Express is a train service from Heathrow International Airport to Paddington Station in the heart of London. I prefer flying into Heathrow rather than Gatwick because I find it less stressful and more convenient due to good access to Paddington. The train takes about 15 minutes and although more expensive than other routes it’s still worth it for the convenience. I’ve also been happy with the performance in the past, never had a problem, that is until now.

This is a review of my journey on Heathrow Express in March 2019.

Online Booking

Booking was easy enough, no issues online.

When printing off the tickets a QR code was split over 2 pages. This is because they are designed for A4 paper and not for US letter size, therefore I added them to Apple Wallet (as I discovered later that may have been a mistake).

8th March

They didn’t have a gate into the train service before and appeared to be causing customers some issues, including me.  I had 4 QR codes in Apple Wallet, 2 each for my partner and I, scanned the first one in without problems, my partner went through, swiped to scan the next one in which was rejected. The customer service rep at the gate seemed disinterested in helping out as he was talking to his colleagues.  Eventually got him to scan me in.

The journey was ok but crowded, but enough room for us to sit down, not enough room to store luggage. Some senior passengers were having issues so we helped them out.

At Paddington had problems getting out of the gate, one rep was extremely rude and wouldn’t help, he was shouting obscenities at customers, and another was just slumping against a wall with her eyes half shut pretending not to notice the chaos going on.  Eventually, she responded, with a very bad attitude, making me out to be a criminal who hadn’t paid my fare but eventually let me out. Part of me, at that point, wanted to cancel my return journey and just organize a taxi back to the airport.

14th March

At Paddington, there was only one member of staff and the gates were open. Maybe a sign that they weren’t working out due to the multiple reports of chaos on other occasions.

Plenty of room on the train and the journey was pleasant. Someone came round a read our ticket.

At Heathrow, the gates were operational, a little bizarre if they were checking tickets in the train. I had no problems using the gates but I decided to use the paper tickets, I came to the conclusion that the QR codes in my Apple Wallet would not work.

Summary

Due to the number of errors, and bad attitude, on the Heathrow to Paddington trip, my view of Heathrow Express has somewhat changed. When people arrive at the airport they are tired and want a seamless, and polite, journey to their destination. For me, Heathrow Express failed to deliver that experience.

Hopefully, they have learnt from feedback provided by customers, especially on the gates, and reviewing the situation in order to improve the journey and experience for all.  By the time I am reading this hopefully all is well.

By |2019-05-21T16:49:28+00:00May 21st, 2019|Review|0 Comments