Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time to Move On

Moving does not mean packing up the household belongings and hitting the road. As a child with a father in the military, and then later in my youth working for a major construction management company I got to redo my life on a regular basis via United Van Lines. Home was just where my parents lived. And given their lives not anywhere I had lived often.

Now I have lived in the same house for almost 15 years and in the same geographic area for almost 23. I until recently would image moving house just to not have to be trapped. But I have at last discovered that movement can be a rather static thing. It can be just a shift in attitude. Or turning just a bit to be aware there is another path to follow. It can be not calling the same friends for lunch or belonging to the same board of directors.

It can be like the newly emerged butterfly just quietly pumping its wings full so it can fly - a movement so still as to be almost no movement at all at first. Then that leap of faith. Leaving that comfortable space.

I have done a lot of moving this summer. Changing people and goals if not place. And while a bit scary it feels good. And it seems that the universe has united behind my shift in direction. Or should I say directions. To a lot of my old friends it seems that I am going all ways at once; that I am leaving behind what they believe is important.

The biggest visible shift has been to photography. But, never fear, I am still painting. I just am not painting for fairs or the expectations of galleries. I am painting what I want to paint. And I am painting at a pace my muse can support. A lot of energies are going into the photography just now but that is understandable. It is new and exciting to me especially given my success with it thus far. To the outsider this seems all so sudden. But it was a change in some ways long coming.

In some ways I was pushed by the economy, the down turn in fairs, the death of the Astro Van that took me to those fairs, my stand against giclee prints of my paintings, and just plain got to move off this damn leaf I am on. If I hadn't moved I could have been gobbled by some frog.

But yes I am still here. I have not moved house as the Brits say. I am still blogging but the focus of my blogs may have shifted a bit. More poetry on Creative Journey. Less politics and more consumer issues on Travels with Charley. A tad more introspection on Sidetracked Charley. And I have left groups I began on Facebook as I consider new groups I might want to start.

Times they are a changing. Like the butterfly whose new wings are at last dry: Move or die.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Modest Proposal

Aiming for the Ponytail Joe
As the previous blogs indicate I have been battling HP computer company and Fedex shipping over the issue of incompetency when it comes to dealing with my under warranty HP Pavilion Desktop computer that broke over Labor Day weekend.

I was promised it would be fixed in 7 to 10 business days and we are now on the 7th business day and it sits boxed and ready to go but without a shipping label. HP forgot to include it in the box shipped to me. But Fedex refuses to allow HP to e-mail me a label to print. Not the label has to be shipped Fedex!

I live in a rural area and we love our UPS service. And know our mailman by name. We often chat with both before they go on with their scheduled deliveries. But nobody in my area likes Fedex or Ponytail Joe, the current Fedex man. We groan when some internet company we have purchased from gives us confirmation of shipment and a Fedex tracking number. I personally shifted from one art supplier to another due to their shipping methods. DickBlick ships USPS or UPS depending upon the product. Cheap Joe's shipped Fedex.

I know big companies sign contracts with shippers, but these contracts are not exclusive. When I had my mask business I, for a short while, had accounts with both UPS and Fedex so they would pick up. So why can't the Internet customer be given a choice on shipper. We are already given a choice on bargain, standard, second day air, etc. Just a couple more options, an invisible to the consumer calculation behind the scenes to figure shipping cost and the customer is happier.

I love shopping on line but it gets complex for me because my billing address is a rural route box and my UPS or Fedex delivery address in a street address with a different postal code. Unless I know how the company I am dealing with plans to ship I don't know what address to give them. UPS has developed an agreement with USPS and hands over a package with a rural box number to the delivering post office. Fedex doesn't. But if I could choose my delivery method no problem. And I would never, ever have anything delivered Fedex.

We are being denied choice. I have complained to HP that admits the error Fedex made by not delivering a second day air package on the second day. And they admit that not being allowed to e-mail me a label creates further delay. They apologized for the error of their shipping department with the label. Fedex complaint department apologized for any inconvenience the tardy shipment or their new policy has created but that does not get my business computer fixed.

Yesterday I was told that the label would not be picked up by Fedex till Wednesday ergo I might be lucky to get it Friday and maybe not. If I had the money I would just buy and MAC as long as it would be shipped UPS.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fedup with Fedex

My HP computer broke again. Mother board this time. And of course it crashed on the first day of Labor Day weekend. It was under warranty and I have a laptop, but my desktop is where I do all my company business and all my photo editing. And, of course, I had a deadline on getting some photos printed for a show I was accepted in.

HP agreed that only 8 months old the computer was under warranty. They would send me a shipping box. It left their center on Tuesday with second day express shipping. It was schedule to be delivered by Fedex on Thursday.

That delivery date was critical because I could then box the offending computer and call for pickup on Friday. With any luck it would be in the repair center on the following Tuesday at the latest. I cancelled all appointments to not miss the Fedex delivery van. I rushed downstairs after making the bed just in time to see it pull out of my driveway.

No box on porch where most drivers leave packages, no box at my renter's apartment. She saw the Fedex very distinctive white truck drive away too with nobody getting out of it. Checked with my immediate neighbor to the west. He gets constant Fedex shipments of chemo drugs. No the driver had not left it there. I called Fedex Help line (now that is a misnomer) and they said the driver could not find my address.

I mentioned he was in my driveway. They asked if he had left an attempt to deliver tag. He had not. He did not get out of his truck because it was raining. Pony Tail Joe has quite a reputation in the Angel Fire area for non-delivery. As 29 comments to a community Facebook page attest. This is just a sampling:

  • We would have to start a new page to list all the complaints about Fed Ex deliveries in Angel Fire. My new skis were dropped at a local business that was closed the following 4 days. Home delivery was never attempted despite the tracking saying the package was delivered to my house.
  •  does seem to be the norm here with Fedex. He recorded that he could not find my address even though he was in my driveway.

  • I wonder if it's the same driver that lied about (not) picking up our package at the Resort last week. Even though it's not a public drop-off, the Resort has been kind enough to allow us to take our overnight lab work to their Fed-Ex drop off for the last few years because it (was) the most reliable pickup spot in town. We left our box in the usual spot and Fed Ex hadn't picked it up in 3! days so we took it to the Chamber. When Jo at the Chamber mentioned it to him she said he rudely said, "that box hasn't been at the Resort" - liar!! They need to get Fabian back as a driver - he was great!

  • This guy needs fired. And I plan to collect all these experiences and put them in a blog and mail it to Fedex

  • If it was the younger kid then yes! I filed a complaint just last week! Er

  • I never saw him because he did not get out of his truck

  • He better show up with my new Mac tomorrow after I paid for overnight shipping fees

  • I used to accept packages for people at the old bookstore. One of the reasons I quit doing it was because I had sooooo many problems with Fedex. Never had a problem with UPS.Fedex delivered a package to me yesterday....I met him at the top of the pass. I asked him if he was the regular guy and he said no...he was probably mid-to late 40's, with a pony tail. Heavy-set guy. White econoline van with FEDEX on it. That's all I can tell you...didn't get his name.
The Fedex agent on the phone insisted my box would be delivered later Thursday evening and to call back in a half hour. I did and the computer record had deleted the bit about the driver could not find my house. Package was not in the truck on Thursday for delivery. They apologized for the inconvenience and promised it would be delivered on Friday - hardly second day air I was paying extra for.

It has not been nine days since my business computer crashed. I did finally get the box on Friday at 6:30 but only because I saw the Fedex truck parked in the middle of my county road ready to once again drive off. I understand from a friend that Fedex is now commercializing their service in rural areas. I can only say . . . . well, I try to keep my blogs clean. I have for sometime tried to avoid all FEDEX shippers when I shop on line. This recent experience with them (see previous blog about VAS too) as validated that decision.

I am definitely worried about my computer being picked up and delivered to HP in a timely manner now that I finally have the box. I would drive it to a repair center if I knew where that was but HP forgot to include a return pre-paid label. So add that I am also fed up with HP.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Customer Service an Oxymoron?

In the old days before technology ran wild you had a chance of talking to a real receptionist or a real operator. Note I did not say human. Ma Bell, the mega telephone company we insisted on breaking up, gave all their operators and service personnel a list of questions and responses from which they could not vary. One of Ernestine's lines on the old Laugh In comedy show was, "Is this the person to whom I am speaking?"

I was reminded of Lily Tomlin that made Ernestine famous yesterday in a series of telephone calls to HP and Fedex concerning the undelivered package to ship my broken computer back in. Both have a set list of questions and responses from which they are not allowed to vary regardless of how inappropriate the are.

 "Your driver failed to deliver the chemo drug package this week and my husband has died."

" We are sorry for your inconvenience."

"The funeral is Wednesday."

" We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."

AND both have Voice Recognition Software as do several other companies I can mention. I had several well chosen words to say about VRS last night. None of which I think the software recognized. But then it also did not recognize what is was designed to recognize. In short, Voice Recognition Software is an oxymoron. It does not recognize voices and it is more hardware than software.

VRS might work with your home security system because you get to program it to match your voice and is not filtered through two telephones and miles of, if you are lucky, fiber optic cable. But VRS as used by companies on service lines make absolutely no allowances for the device you are speaking from, your sex, your regional accent, or any speech impediments, static on the line, or a major lightning storm. Most VRS used on customer service sites are programmed for the male voice in the lower registers (name the last time a man placed his own service call?). Screaming at it when it fails for the fifth time to know the difference between J and K just raises your voice an octave and makes you harder to understand. It does not like repetitions unless it is asking for it, will not start over if you say, "whoops, I meant 5 not 9," does not get that Alpha, Beta, Charlie is ABC, . . . well this list could go on. And there is a lot of GIGO as with HP last night that wanted one zip code to match one telephone number when for my problem they had two of each. Any one remember set and subset theory?

Let me say that the first few times I had to repeat something, because what it read back to me was so far from correct, I was a bit amused. When it thought 2300 was 1350 I pressed zero (once operator now what passes for a human voice) and figured I would rather talk to Ernestine. Instead I got Pakistani who had only a fleeting acquaintance with English and Ernestine's canned script. Even reverting to my 6th grade vocabulary did not help. In the end I reverted to screaming which had the same effect on him as it did on the VRS.

"Sorry if this caused you any inconvenience. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I declined to mention he had not helped me with anything to that point and hung up. Sometimes all you can do is hang up and see of you can find an e-mail address on the website to which you can send your queries. Or never use that company again! Bring back Ernestine.