People Say The Darnest Thing

  • I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. ~ Bill Clinton
  • Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night ~ Woody Allen
  • A hard man is good to find ~ Mae West
  • I always remember how her smell sticks on my skin ~ an idiotic whatshisface ex
  • Someone actually pays you money for work? ~ ex relative
  • It doesnt hurt ~ my dentist as he peeped into my mouth.
  • It only costs less than RM2,000 ~ The Teenager talking about her dream camera for her Broadcasting course.
  • Deodorant is bad for you. I like au naturel ~ another idiotic whatshisname
  • I see a white hair! ~ my hair dresser
  • Why didnt you marry him the last time? ~ my sometimes-memory-lapse mom talking to my old friend
  • It is just a cigarette away ~ the Orang Asli man telling my grand dad as we walked towards the waterfall in the jungle (took us close to half a day….)
  • My gf never cooks for me as you did ~ ex husband
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And Aidil Fitri Was Here

(Hanie blogging away with The Teenager playing with Snowy the Cat, and waiting for dins to be ready in the oven)

 

The Teenager

I woke up this morning and realized that Eidil Fitri was last Monday. Where did the time go?

I remember that it was all frenzied activities towards the days leading to Eidil Fitri. There was the last minute shopping for cookies and a few more items as we planned to go back to Raub on the afternoon of Raya. The teenager  was all dressed very early and eagerly sallam my hands asking for forgiveness. A yearly affair we have been observing and this year was no different.

Eidil Fitri was a mixed bag for us this year. For one thing, it  was a great trip back home to the kampung and meeting up the whole clan. We had put up the night at my aunt’s- Mak Andak. The evening was spent catching up on news with the rest of cousins, aunties and uncles. There were so many little nieces and nephews that I lost count for.

 The morning of second day of Eidil Fitri, we did the obligatory visits to my dad’s grave and offered prayers. Then we hopped over to the ancient cemetery which was next to the new one, and visited my grandmother’s grave. I never knew her. But I guess  for someone who had given birth to my dad surely is worth visiting and offering her some prayers too. The next stop was at my grandfather’s grave which was in Dong. Unlike the cemetery in Gali where my dad’s was, this was a well kept cemetery by comparison. As years pass by, there are more and more cemeteries to visit and to offer prayers to.

Raub

Lyn and Hanie

The rest of the day was filled with visiting cousins’ houses and by 4pm we drove back to Kuala Lumpur, back to the hustle and bustle of the city life and bright lights.

Final Friday Before Eidil Fitri

Today is the last Friday before Eidil Fitri of which it was supposed to fall on either the coming Sunday or Monday.

Sept 19 has been fixed for the sighting of the moon to determine the date for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal announced in a statement, Saturday.

Malaysia, unlike some other Muslim countries, relies on calculation (hisab) and sighting of the moon (rukyah) to determine the day of Eidil Fitri. So, if the calculation is right, then this year’s Eidil Fitri will fall on this coming Sunday.

colourful fairy lights

The Teenager and I had decided to look for some festive cookies at AMCorp Mall by afternoon and we were delighted to get our favourites. These traditional cookies such as kuih bangkit, biskut suji are mostly sold during festive seasons like this. I simply look forward to eating the lemang and ketupat  with my favourite rendang daging.

Old Hari Raya songs somehow sounded so much better than the new ones that play on the radio, at least to my ears.

Unfortunately, George will be away for this year’s Eidil Fitri although we have made some plans later to make up for this.

This year, George and I had gotten The Teenager a lovely pair of blue kebaya for her Eidil Fitri attire. She was commenting that for next year the theme colour of the family attire would be black. Both husband and daughter love black so I guess I am outnumbered.

My Car Celebrated The Eid Before I Did

 EmptyPocket

My jaw dropped.

My skin felt clammy.

My cheque book quivered as I fished it out from my bag.

My eyes glazed as I looked at the repair bills – lots of zeros to the total sum.

Steven The Mechanic nodded gravely to me as I gave him a weak smile.

Looks like my car has celebrated the Eid before I did.

My Poor Car Is Not Well

…..and so is my cheque book….

engine head gasket

The car has been giving out some warnings for the past week. The temperature would go up while driving and it was no fun looking at the indicator while you were speeding up on the road at 100km/hour. Just in case any part of the engine would go off and, you know, nasty stuff can happen. Just so saying.

The annoying oil patches at the house porch left more warnings. I scrubbed it over the weekend just to see was it my imagination or was it the car?

Yeap, it was the car.

So, Steven my mechanic was doing his stuff, hovering over the hood and running his expert fingers on the oily engine block. Seems that engine head gasket is leaking at two places. The aircond fan wasnt moving too. He sighed.

Ok, not a good indication.

Just two months back George and I were at the workshop as something else was not well either. Cost us/him quite a bit on that one.

This Proton car that I am driving is, well, how shall I put it…an old lady? It still looks good, takes you from Point A to Point B, never gives so much a hoot about where I drove her, and I drove here well and everywhere, but shes probably tired and have a few things that need to be replaced. Like old citizens that need knee replacement or back ache management, this car is in the same predicament. But it is a faithful one. Never really gives me much problem before.

They Found Me!

(Hanie blogging from uh, some part of the house before leaving home for work)

My husband thinks that I was being off-topic at some point when I complaint about the services of P1. He was right, of course.

Ok. I admit it. I was being a bit personal. BUT, I was an angry customer and when you blog while you were angry, well, you tend to say stuff that usually wont be said. That said, I took full responsibilities for whatever that I said last Saturday.

Applause to Sunny Beh of P1’s Branch Ops who found me ranting away about my customer dissatisfaction experience at his hub. I remember opening up my email and my jaw dropped when I saw there was actually someone from P1 who read my blog. And what better is, he was addressing my issue! What a recovery modus operandi they have.

Wow!

Just a little update on what happened after I came home from the hub on Saturday. I left the hub for AM Corp Mall thinking that it would be a great idea visiting the flea market there and buying some Raya cookies. It would take away my boiling temperature! (or so I thought)

Reached home at 3.30 pm. No Raya cookies. The lady who sold my favourite cookies wasnt there. Still fuming mad.

But wait, the modem was blinking green! Could.it.be?

I quickly logged in and opened my browser and there it was! The line was restored! Yeay!

But ..hmm..I was thinking that I spent 3/4 of the day in the hub with such mixed feelings and anger. Of course I was elated that I got my line back but I had to endure such a stressful day on top of the frustration over the past week.

But anyways, P1, thank you so much. And yes, I will not return my modem just as yet. I will give you guys another chance to buck up on the customer service. If you need someone to draw up the customer service satisfaction engagement survey, please holler this way.

Customer Service: From the Other Side of the Counter (Part 2)

(George)

Here are a few typical and interesting interactions with customers:

Rude and Impatient Customer

Context: there are three of us on the sales floor and all of us are busy with customers. I am ringing in a sale for a customer. There are 4 or 5 other customers waiting for help.

R&I (butts in while I am in the middle of ringing up a sale for a customer): Excuse me! Can you call someone and get some extra help down here? There several people needing help. I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to wait.

Me: Um, there are two other sales people on the floor. One of us will be with you as soon as we can.

R&I: I don’t see anyone else. Can’t you call someone?

Me: Ma’am, I am with a customer right now.

R&I (sarcastically): What? And you can’t pick up the phone and call for help…?

Me (thinking): OK, this is Ramadan. I am not going to break the spiritual element of my fast by arguing with her…

Me (speaking to her in a calm, but deliberate manner): No, I can’t. I am with a customer right now and I am doing one thing at a time.

R&I broods, and looks at me with eyes that could kill. Customer I am serving says to me in a low voice, “I was thinking to let her go ahead of me but I don’t like her attitude…”

I finish with my customer, but if I serve R&I then I am rewarding her for rude and bullying behavior – and being unfair to other customers that may have been waiting longer. So I walk right past her and ask the other waiting customers “Who’s next, please…? R&I is eventually served by another employee.

Reminders for customers: 1) You will sometimes have to wait longer than expected on sale days because all of us are busy; 2) DEMANDING or BULLYING behavior will NOT dispose me to want to go the extra mile or make an exception for you. Ask nicely. Please. And understand and accept if I may not be able to help you: I may need the consent or help of other customers or staff to do so and I may not get it.

The Haggler

Context: Selling a treadmill to a couple. Price appears to be an issue, even though the item is on sale for $999 from a price of about $1599.

Customer: So you can take off the GST, right? It says in the flyer.

Me: Sorry, we don’t do that down here. I know they do that sometimes for furniture and major appliances. You can still use your scratch and save card today and save between $20 and $100.

Customer: You deliver for free then…

Me: No. Delivery is $60 on weekdays and $75 on Saturdays.

Customer: Come on, you make me a deal…!

Me (thinking): Ma’am, this is CANADA. We do not “bargain” in this country… If you want it then the price is what it is…

Me (calmly but deliberately): I’m sorry, but this is the lowest price I can give you…

Customer: What about senior’s discount if I bring my mom to buy it on Senior’s Day…?

Me: Well, yes, you could do that. Only, the sale ends tomorrow and it will be back up to regular price by Senior’s Day. So it will still be cheaper if you buy at the sale price today.

Customer: You sure you can’t take off the GST…?

Me (internally): Sigh…

Reminders for customers: 1) This is not a big box store or “Crazy Eddies Bargain Bazaar”. You are paying higher prices at our store because we have higher overhead and provide better ambiance and service; 2) I can get into trouble from my employer, and our store from the human rights commission, if we sell to some customers at one price, and to others at another.

Failing to Read the Fine Print

Context: We are offering a scratch and save promotion, where you can save either a percentage or dollar amount off of certain classes of items.

Customer: What’s the price of the lawn mower?

Me: It is $XXX.XX

Customer: What about the scratch and save? It says save 10 to 50% off…

Me: The 10 to 50% off doesn’t apply to this class of products. The savings would be from $20 to $100 off on this part of the card. And the scratch and save doesn’t apply to this item because the price ends in .XX

Customer (indignant): Well, there’s a sign right next to this that says save $20 to $100 off, isn’t there…?

Me: Yes, there is. But the sign says “almost everything” and that “certain exceptions apply”. One of the exceptions is “items ending in .XX”… It’s right here on the back of the card…

Customer (annoyed): Hmmpf! This is the last time I am shopping here… Stomps off.

Reminders for customers: 1) Take the time to read what you are given, and ask questions if you don’t understand. Or even if you think you do.

Out of Stock

Context: Customer wants to buy something they see on sale in the store’s flyer but we have no stock.

Customer: I’d like this product advertised in your flyer…

Me: I’m sorry, but we’re all sold out of that item.

Customer (upset): But the sale just started today. How can you be sold out?

Me: Well, I haven’t seen any of that item here in the store in a long time.

Customer: That’s false advertising! How can you sell something you don’t have…?

Me (empathizing with customer): Well, the sales are planned six months to a year in advance. At the time they are doing the planning, there may be lots in the warehouse. Or they may have placed a large order with the supplier. But we could have sold out everything in the meantime, or there might have been problems with the manufacturer or supplier… If you’d like, I can check our other stores in the city to see if they have stock. Or, alternatively, I can see if it’s available from the warehouse and I can place an order for you…

Reminders for Customers: 1) There are certain things that are out of my control. I am prepared to do what IS within my control to try and help you.

It is interesting to note the influence that a full moon has on customer behavior. I encounter the most outrageous and annoying customer behavior on days/nights with full moons…

Customer Service: From the Other Side of the Counter (Part 1)…

(George) My Other Half blogged earlier about crappy customer service she recently received. Being a customer, like her, I empathize with her plight – especially after hearing this pretty much in situ shortly after her encounter with customer service from hell.  To provide some context that might explain why she encountered what she did, I would like to present a slightly different aspect of customer service – from the other side of the counter…

As part of my feverish attempt to keep the wolves from the door, and also to honor my financial commitment to my children, creditors, and the like, I have a second job working part-time evenings and weekends in a major department store. Now, I could have looked for an office job, or something in a warehouse or factory where I wouldn’t have had to deal with people. But I didn’t, precisely because I could see things wrong with customer service in retail and I felt that  perhaps I could make retail and customer service a better place by getting involved and doing things differently. So I joined the retail “team”. And herein is the first problem I encountered in customer service: The Illusion of Team.

It is true that there is no “i” in team. There is also no “team” in team in a lot of retail establishments. Why? Because team-building takes an investment of time, energy, effort, and a bit of coin. And you have too few in management, working too hard, for too little, who are too jaded and cynical over their own lot in life (or over their own past failed attempts to change the system), to motivate them to want to create a team. Teams can do amazing things in retail. You work off of your individual strengths, recognize and mitigate for individual weaknesses, and support one another to do the best job possible. If you hold team meetings where everyone comes together as one, then you ensure that everyone gets the same message about policies, pricing, promotions, product knowledge, etc. One of the banes of a customer’s existence is to be given contrary messages about any of the foregoing by different members of a supposed retail “team”. This can easily be corrected by creating a true team.

Customer service problem #2: Unknowledgeable Product Knowledge Specialists.

I work in a department within the store that requires a LOT of specialized product knowledge. We deal with tools, seasonal products (lawn and garden vehicles and equipment, winter equipment and vehicles, patio furniture, barbecues, etc.), fitness equipment, and sporting goods. I admit it: my product knowledge in more than one of these areas leaves something to be desired. Now the store does have online training that you can take by computer. Problem is, the modules are outdated, and they focus more on developing SELLING skills than on product knowledge. Right. Tell me how I can use these valuable new selling skills to sell something if I don’t have the proper information about the products that I am supposed to be selling? It’s true that management does provide us with selling aids, like brochures. Often times, however, these arrive too late in the season to be of much use to us at the critical START of the season. I’ve asked for hands-on training and product knowledge in several areas. I guess I’m still waiting for hell to freeze over, because there is no hands on training. So, I resign myself to picking up what I can from other sales people, from reading instruction manuals, and from the brochures that arrive too late in the season to be any more useful than the paper they are printed on.

Customer service problem #3: Computerized, “Just In Time” Merchandise Orders

I don’t have anything to do with ordering stock. We get boxes delivered to us in carts that magically appear in our back room from time to time by the folks in receiving. One of my tasks is to open the boxes and put stuff out. Let me tell you that there is no apparent rhyme or reason to the merchandise that we receive. The other day I opened up a box that contained several sanding discs. Fine. Let me just put these 3 sanding discs on the peg with the other 6 discs that have been there and haven’t sold since hell last froze over… Meanwhile, the latest weekly flyer advertises a very good deal on “weed trimmers” – something that will draw customers to our department where they will likely find other things with higher gross margin/profit they will want to buy. Do we have any weed trimmers to sell? Nope.

Stock shortages = lost customers. The big box stores can operate on a hell of a lot less overhead than we can, and every customer we lose to the big box store is another nail in the coffin of our department store. Gotta wonder if someone higher up takes the merchandise order that is prepared by department management, goes into the warehouse and takes a look at all unsold crap sitting there, then ships every store a portion of that crap in an effort to try and get rid of it. Oh, all the while cancelling the order for legitimate items that customers want and that WILL sell, because your department has a buying budget that is now being used to solve a warehouse overstock problem. Well, it could be a person making the decision but it often isn’t nowadays: it’s a computer doing the buying, based on historical sales levels, current sales budgets/targets, and programming designed to minimize inventory by placing “just in time” orders. Just in time is fine in theory, but it supposes that there are no manufacturing or logistical hiccups that will get in the way. Uh huh. Think “Murphy’s Law” here, people…

Customer service problem #4: Lack of Staff Empowerment / Direction / Motivation

Sales policies and procedures are designed to cover 90% of “best-case” scenarios that occur between 9am and 5pm, when you: have the greatest chance of finding someone empowered to interpret the policies and render a judgment to solve a problem in the customer/store relationship. Remember Murphy’s Law…? Well the remaining 10% of worst case scenarios are always the most perplexing, and are guaranteed to occur after 5pm or on weekends when your chance of finding someone to resolve an issue immediately range from fair to impossible. I have only limited empowerment to solve difficult issues. The people with that empowerment work weekdays, so I am going to have to inconvenience a customer by telling him/her to come back on Monday, when the only free time they have to resolve the issue is in the evening or on weekends. Maddening. From both the customer’s point of view, and from my position being caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. Lack of empowerment to problem solve, and lack of  team approach, mean that we are provided with no consistent direction to solving problems, and no motivation to want to go the extra mile to solving a problem for a customer.

Customer service problem #5: Society’s Acceptance of Mediocre Effort (Good Is Good Enough)

Mediocrity is everywhere in society. It used to be that people took pride in a job well done. Well, we’ve had that pride stripped away over the years in our need and desire to compete with others that can do the same job as we can, both faster and cheaper than us. We’ve had to cost cut to compete. And you know where the cost cutting hits first: human resources. Proper staff training, and ensuring a high degree of product knowledge are now frills, where once they were considered essential. With retail wages so low, staff are disposable. So there is no longer any expectation that staff will excel at what they do. Just showing up, and getting money into the till, seems all that most retailers are interested in. Staff that do go the extra mile to provide excellence are not recognized or encouraged. So what is the point?

Oh, it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world out there, people – regardless of which side of the customer service counter you are on. But as customers, and as employees, we do have a choice: to lead, or to follow…? The right choice can make all the difference to satisfaction in either role…

Excuse Me, Where Can I Get Customer Service Please? And, Make That Quick?

(Hanie blogging from the comfort of her red sofa at home with Snowy The Cat purring away at her feet.)

I reached P1 Hub in PJ at approximately 12.50pm. The weather was hot and I was bothered with the humid. I looked at the sky and wondered would it rain tonight? Parking lot was pack with cars and the Gurkha guards were busy directing the newly arrived cars towards the limited parking space behind the building.

1.02 pm. I stood infront of this lady at the P1 Wimax counter. She smiled. Oookay…good so far I thought. Then she begin asking me what sort of transaction I would like to make?

My brain flashed back to the early week when I had been trying in vain to get in touch with their Customer Care. Their idea of Customer Care involved me calling a certain toll free number, asked to punch a few options and finally was told by the computer that their Customer Service line is receiving an influx of calls and therefore could I please leave my number so they can call me back? As soon as I heard the beep sound as the indicator to leave a message and my mobile number, another message kicks in, saying the in-box is full.

WTF?

The reason being is that I didnt want my line to be blocked by Thursday. I badly wanted to pay my internet bill. But I wanted to make sure that the payment will reach P1 by the set date. I can have an option to pay via counter at the bank but the question is, when will this be picked up by the system before the deadline?

That was Monday.

Tuesday came. Same thing. Huh? Dont they clear their in-box? I BADLY want to speak to these people.

Wednesday. Oh uh. D-Day. What the heck happened to P1 customer service line?

Thursday. Cuss words each time I called the line. Dont these people work?

Friday. I resigned to the fact that I just had to waltz to the Maybank downstairs and make. that. payment. and pray that it will be picked up by the system. I came home that day and duh, obviously saw the modem blinked red – no signal. The line was blocked. Great!

1.08pm Saturday. Anyways, explained to Miss I-Give-You-This-Number at the reception and she promptly pressed me a waiting number at 2008. Saw the current serving number at 2005. Hmm…3 more to go.

1.45 pm. Miss I-Give-You-This-Number came to me who had started to pace the waiting lounge like a pissy lioness and reading a Thursday old newspaper trying my best to be calm and not to have my BP shot up through the roof. Gave me a stupid question – “Oh, you are still not served?” Huh? Are you blind? Then, she asked me the same question she asked when  I stood infront of her at 1.02 pm.

“It will take 3 days for your line to be re activated” so she said. OMG…I just got gray hair and old by the hour as I sat on my ass on their red lounge chair, wasted my 45 minutes just simply because she was half deaf when I told of my transaction at 1.02 pm earlier.

2.00 pm. I simply refused to talk to her. She slouched when she walked. She wasnt interested to help her customers. She was skinny. I hated her rabbit teeth. I was so ready to talk to the customer service who sat at the counter with the fancy looking computer! And with God’s grace, able to help me.

2.05 pm. My number was called. So much for waiting for 3 customers. A freakin 1 hour.

P1 Wimax hired really good talents for their counter service. They are very skilled at multi tasking. Mr Customer Service Officer did exactly that. He was busy filling up a form, not looking at me, and at the same time asking me questions and expected me to recite the whole nine-yard and expected me to believe he was really listening?

2.10pm. “Sorry, I cant help you. The system still havent picked up your payment”. Hello?! Havent you heard that I have been trying to call you guys since Monday to avoid this exact problem??

2.15pm. I walked out from p1 Hub. It had started to drizzle. I sensed a big headache coming. I was in a pissy mood. Pissy, pissy mad.

I swear the CEO will get my email and a link to my blog so he can see the blow by blow account of my customer  experience at his floor.