Friday Reflections…


Dearest Readers:

If you follow my blog on a regular basis, you will know I haven’t written much in this column in about two weeks. Last week was truly the week from Hell for me. Beginning with suspected car problems where the technicians replied, “The engine light wasn’t on when we checked it…” Of course, that is a typical response from men to a woman at a service department…now, isn’t it — WOMEN! They were slightly mistaken. The engine light icon returned, and on Wednesday, it took over three hours to get it repaired. Of course, the main reason it took so long is due to the fact my car warranty was purchased with the car ($1549.00) at Car Max. Still, I am furious with Car Max; however, I will go on record to say that the service tech at Dodge possessed an amazing amount of patience with them — JUST — to get the warranty approved. Thank you, Dodge…and NO THANK YOU…to Car Max!

But — that chapter is closed and I am pleased to share that the repair that I had to pay for in the amount of $477.21 has been compensated to me – minus the $100 deductible since I DID NOT USE CAR MAX FOR THE REPAIR… Heck, I could not get Car Max to return a phone call, or the Mouse Lady to acknowledge me! Can you detect my frustration with Car Max???

Enough about Car Max! I suppose this post should actually be Friday frustrations, instead of Friday Reflections; however, since I am a person who looks for the positive in life and not the negative, I will do my best to reflect with a positive attitude.

While I am reflecting on Friday and this week, I would like to share that I was finally able to attend my weekly Weight Watchers meeting yesterday — the first meeting I’ve attended in four weeks. I confess, I anticipated a weight gain of 3 or 4 pounds and was a bit happy when I had only gained .06! It was wonderful to get back to my REAL life again. This reflection proves to me that I cannot complete my Weight Watchers journey alone. Like someone with an addiction, I must attend weekly meetings to share my ups and downs with all. I confess, I think the only reason I did not show a weight gain of four pounds or more was due to the fact that I have worked out on the treadmill every day since last Saturday. It was suggested at the meeting for me to ‘shake up’ my exercise routine a bit, so this week I will go for an extended walk — on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, and I will return to walking my dogs again. I’ve been slack about walking my dogs ever since we lost my precious Shamey-Pooh. The last time I walked the dogs on our three-mile journey someone actually stopped me to inquire where the ‘beautiful silver dog was,’… when I replied that he died, they apologized and I burst into tears.

Undoubtedly, there has been a black cloud over me for a few weeks, or maybe it is the full moon returning; nevertheless, this week started off — shall I say unpredictable. Monday afternoon, Phil and I left the house a few minutes after 5pm, headed to the Coastal Carolina Fair. What would normally take about 30 minutes was at least 1.5 hours. We arrived at the fair at about 7pm. Never did Phil get annoyed about the traffic and we had a great time at the fair. Little did I know how things would change within 24 hours!

For those of you who do not know – My husband has PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you do not know what it is like to live with someone with PTSD — count your blessings! Tuesday afternoon when Phil returned home from work, he had a strange look in his eyes. I know that look well — PTSD! Within 30 minutes, we were fighting. I cannot recall what set him off, or me off – but our fight continued. I decided to shut myself away in the bedroom. That night, I broke our rule – a rule made when we were newlyweds…the rule of “never going to bed angry, or without a good night kiss!”

Wednesday – we had the same scenario. No matter what I said, we could not stop the fight. Listening to someone is difficult with him. I approached him carefully, telling him ‘we need to talk.’ When someone has PTSD communication does not exist. Every time I said I needed to talk to him, we fought. The real kicker was when Phil shouted to me that I was exactly like my mother. Yes, he does know the right buttons to push! I exploded although with a calm, diplomatic voice letting him know that I was ‘nothing like my mother!’ Never did I behave, or deceive him in the manner my mother deceived my father.

I gathered my dogs and off we went to the bedroom. I pretended to be asleep! No kiss. Nothing! Breaking the rules continued. I should add, Wednesday, Phil called me several times. No doubt, he wanted to end this scenario on the phone. I stood firm.

Thursday morning, after Weight Watchers, I had lunch with a close friend from Weight Watchers. As I was leaving the car to meet her, my cell phone beeped with an e-mail. From Phil. Subject – Peace! He said he was tired of fighting…recognized that at times he could be difficult, only that is not the word he used! And he was sorry. I phoned him. Fight over.

No, I was not refusing to take the first step to end this emotional battle, but when you live with someone with PTSD there does come a time when you must be firm so they can see the issues related to PTSD. I’ve had several friends ask why I tolerate his behaviors and mental treatments. My reply – simple –he is the only person who has ever loved me. He rescued me when I needed rescuing. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, reading my issues with my mother and the domestic abuse of my family, then you must understand. When someone grows up in such an environment, never do you anticipate a life of love and peacefulness. Never did I EVER see my parents hug or kiss, so — due to LOVE(??) that is why I tolerate such behaviors. I do recall my parents shouting and I shall quote:
Mother – expressed to my father: “I hate you…You no good Son of a B—-!”

Dad’s reply: “I wish I never married you!”

Mom’s reply: “I hope you die soon…”

Those cruel expressions echoed in my ears as a child, and they still echo in my ears. Once you live in an abusive family situation, you never forget it!

Maybe that is why I strive so hard to be positive. When I hear others gossiping, ridiculing others, I say something positive about the person. Maybe that is why I’ve lost “friendships” because I do not wish to gossip about others. I do not function well with gossip or negativity. As a child, I recall my mother dragging me to the beauty shop in Bibb City, GA where she would sit for hours gossiping about women, men and the couples within the village of Bibb City. I hated these moments and would rush outside, or sit with my head covered with one of the bubble hair dryers so I would not hear their shrewd gossip. Women can be so dangerous and cruel. I suppose those ‘toxic stories’ made my mother feel better about herself, and I do recall saying to my mother, “God don’t love ugly.” My grandmother’s favorite expression! My mother’s response, “You shush your mouth, you stupid girl!”

Later in my life, I focused on a new definition of STUPID!
S – Sensitive
T – Tenacious
U – Unique
P – Passionate
I – Imaginative; Independent; Intimate
D – Dignified; Dependable; Desirable

Perhaps for today, these are my Friday reflections. I am hopeful next week will be a positive, happy week for me, and for you. What are your Friday Reflections?

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Whatever Happened To Customer Service In America???


Dearest Readers:

Today is Sunday, November 02, 2014, a beautiful, but chilly day in Charleston, SC. Undoubtedly, this week has been a week filled with much stress, starting with last Sunday. Late that afternoon, I drove my car to dinner with my husband; I heard a distinctive ‘ding’ noticing my engine light was on.
“Oh no…what is wrong with my car?”

I purchased the car from Car Max in Charleston in March, 2012. A beautiful gold 2010 Dodge Journey with everything I desired in a car. Although not brand new, it was affordable. I gave my old car, a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo with 92,000 miles to one of my sisters in Georgia.

I pulled the file for my car, reading through the warranty, phoning Car Max, leaving a message. Since the office was closed, I waited for a return phone call early Monday morning. I left an additional message with the local Car Max Service Center. And so, the wait began. On Monday morning I waited…and waited…and waited. Deciding to be pro-active, I drove to the local Car Max Service Center.

Instead of parking my car in the parking lot, I pulled up to the service center and walked inside. Two customer service reps were at the counter. One, a woman, was moving a computer mouse around the screen while glancing at the computer. The other, a guy, was assisting a customer. The woman never looked at me, or acknowledged me. She continued to play with the computer mouse, never acknowledging me. I was curious if I was invisible. I pinched my wrist. Nope I’m not invisible. I feel the pain. I cleared my throat, hoping the woman would acknowledge me. She was more concerned with playing with the mouse! The phone rang. Quickly, she answered it.

After her conversation, I approached her. “Excuse me,” I said. “I need someone to check my car. The engine light is on.”

“Do you have an appointment?” She asked, in a condescending manner.

“No. I’ve been waiting for a return phone call this morning. When no one phoned, I decided to drop by.”

“You can’t just drop by. It’s been a busy morning and I only received one phone call.” She said. Reaching for her mouse.

“Excuse me…Didn’t you hear me. The engine light is on. I need it checked.”

“You have to have an appointment and it will take two weeks to get an appointment. You can’t just drop your car by for service. You MUST have an appointment.”

“The only service I need is the engine light checked. Something is wrong with my car.”

“You need an appointment…” She repeated.

“No…I need to have the engine light checked.”

By now I realized I was getting nowhere with the tall woman who had the customer service skills of a mouse. Maybe that is why she and the computer mouse were so closely connected.”

“You can take the car to Dodge. They’ll check it for you.”

And then…this woman with the customer service skills of a real mouse returned to her mouse, ignoring me!

I was livid! No one else approached me. I left Car Max with the visual discussion playing in my mind, recognizing that this woman, whom I shall refer to as Ms. Mouse, had reprimanded me? She truly had the customer service skills of a robotic mouse!

I drove to Dodge. When they checked my car, I was informed that the engine light was not on. Nothing could be done. By now, I am ready to attack the next customer service person that walks nearby. I drove the car home. Less than five miles from the Dodge dealership, the engine light winked at me again.

Thus began one of the most disappointing weeks for 2014 for me. When my husband arrived home from work, he wanted to know if my car was repaired. I rolled my eyes, explaining how lacking customer service was at Car Max. “Funny…” I said sarcasm spilling from my lips. “When I bought the car their customer service was terrific.”

I should say, I have a history with customer service, both in retail and the educational industries. I’ve won awards for my customer service skills!

My husband phoned the service manager at Car Max. They placed his call on HOLD…….!

For over one hour, he held on his cell phone and the home, cordless phone. Deciding that one of the calls would be answered. He was mistaken!

When the phone calls disconnected, he slammed the phone down. “Let’s go to Car Max,” he said. I did not want to go back to them. My discussion with Ms. Mouse played in my mind, and I felt like a little girl filled with shame because she did something unforgivable by driving to the Service Center at Car Max, in anticipation of ‘customer service.’

We returned to Car Max. The engine light still on and my lack of confidence growing. I should say, I am one of the rare people who actually does maintenance service faithfully. In August, the oil was changed – every 3,000 miles…the air filter replaced…cabin filters replaced…and the fuel maintenance performed. The engine light should NOT be on!

Arriving at Car Max, Ms. Mouse was still – standing tall – PLAYING with the mouse! The service manager was at the end counter. My husband approached him. Of course, he was on the phone!

When he hung up, we approached. I shared my experience of the morning and how I was reprimanded for ‘dropping by without an appointment…’ Now, I asked, “What is one to do WHEN the car engine light is on and she cannot get a simple phone call returned or someone to check her car?”

“Customer service is a busy, unpredictable service,” Fred began…I interrupted him.

“I have over 18 years of service in the customer service industry and I returned phone calls quickly…”

Ms. Mouse’s ears appeared to be stretching to listen to our conversation, but NEVER…NO NEVER…did she approach. She probably knew I was not one to intercept with her thoughts.

It was suggested that since Car Max was ‘overbooked’…with only four technicians to service cars, we should go to Dodge.

I had an appointment booked for Dodge…for November 3, not until. “I have two important appointments this week. What am I to do? Continue driving my car with the engine light on, in hopes the car does not blow up?”

Fred discouraged me to drive the car. He phoned the Dodge dealership, managing to get me an earlier appointment for this Wednesday.

Rejoice! So much for customer service!

On Wednesday, the car was repaired; however. When the customer service rep at Dodge made the attempt to contact Car Max to get approval for the manifold repair, it took him almost one hour just to speak to someone!

Car Max reported that I would have to pay for the repairs, $477.21 — minus $100 deductible, since I did not take the car to Car Max and they would reimburse me within two days of the receipt of the invoice. Returning home for the evening, I wrote a letter to Car Max, faxing the invoice and letter to them.

Remember – that was Wednesday! I am hopeful that my check will arrive this week – however, considering the customer service at Car Max – I DOUBT IT!

Perhaps my next blog posting will reveal the date I receive the check! Something tells me it will probably be sent to me – via Pony Express, or a slow train!

Whatever happened to customer service in America! Yes…Indeed. Customer service? What a JOKE!

My suggestion for anyone buying at Car Max – I say – think twice! The customer service to make a purchase is most professional. Customer service when you REALLY NEED CUSTOMER SERVICE – well, let’s just say, let us hope you do not meet a “Ms. Mouse…” She cares more for her mouse…not the customers who approach her!