Posts Tagged With: shopping


 I recently complained about Belkin’s horrible customer service. A rep read my blog and called to tell me they were refunding me post-haste and investigating the people who put me through that alienating experience.
 Hanging on the phone for minutes or hours is an affliction of our modern commerce that bugs me. It makes me think twice before I buy anything on-line. But, all of us can make changes and I had read this before, but I forgot it. So, I’m reminding you and myself again,  that we have a law that can help us fight back against this kind of abuse.

I got this note from a friend of mine who lives in Virginia:  “A gas company recently moved their call center back to Phoenix from India last year after numerous customer complaints.  What a difference now when you call them…and it created 300 jobs.  I know this works because they were so bad that when India answered I wouldn’t even deal with them.  I’d simply ask to be transferred to a supervisor in the U.S. and they would comply.

 Now that I know it is the LAW – I will do it for sure

 Any time you call an 800 number (for a credit card, banking, Verizon, health and other insurance, computer help desk, etc) and you find that you’re talking to a foreign customer service
representative (perhaps in India , Philippines , etc), please consider doing the following:

 After you connect and you realize that the customer
service representative is not from the USA (you can always ask if you are not sure about the accent), please, very politely (this is not about trashing other cultures) say, “I’d like to speak to a customer service representative in the United States of America ..”The rep might suggest talking to his/her manager, but, again, politely say, “Thank you, but I’d like to speak to a customer service representative in the USA.

That’s the rule and the LAW.

 It takes less than one minute to have your call re-directed to the USA. Tonight when I got redirected to a USA rep, I asked again to make sure – and yes, she was from Fort Lauderdale .

Imagine what would happen if every US citizen insisted on talking to only US phone reps from this day on.

 Imagine how that would ultimately impact the number of
US jobs that would need to be created ASAP.

 If I tell 10 people to consider this and you tell 10
people to consider doing this – see what I mean…it becomes an exercise in viral marketing 101.


The goal here is to restore jobs back here at home –
not to be abrupt or rude to a foreign phone rep.

You may even get correct answers, good advice, and solutions to your problem – in real English.”

Thank you Guerry for reminding me of a law that makes sense for America. In fact my daughter, after the economy took a tumble, got a job for a brief time in a call center. The rules were draconian, you had to stand all day rather than sit because your presentation is better when standing. Within 3 months, I think it was, the call center was transferred to the Philippines. She, and the other employees were out of work. She found a better job, but it took three moves to get to something tolerable. The way people are treated, on the job without unions, is nearly as bad as the “Snake Pit” of the 1920’s meat-packing industry and the horror of the garment industry in New York City after modest reforms.

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After a gorgeous sunrise in Superior…one of the loveliest things about living on the road, we see the sun go down each night and the sun rise each morning. We left Superior, WI about nine, crossed this unique curving bridge into the State of Minnesota right at Duluth, and parked practically in an alley in Grand Rapids, MN.  In fact, we are parked between signs, one reads, No Overnight Parking and another Overnight Parking Violators will be towed at owners expense.  We actually got permission from a bank manager to park here in our constant hunt for free parking.  Thank you Wells Fargo.

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We are parked in “Old Town” Grand Rapids. Old fashioned light posts, beautifully festooned with flower baskets so full I could reach then with my nose,though petunias are not particularly fragrant. To the left of this photo is an open lot with a farmers market just closing up as I started my walk about town. I bought delicious cherry tomatoes of every color. My goal was to visit Central School on the corner of 169 South and 2 West. We are beelining for Washington State and sticking tight to Highway 2.

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Central School is on the National Register of Historical Places. The wooden central stairway and hardwood floors, are a thing of beauty. Four classrooms upstairs, four downstairs and a basement that once held offices and a cafeteria. The building now rents to shopkeepers, with a bakery, a quilt shop, antiques, quality wood work and jewelry and unique gifts. A lovely stop.

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No matter how many times I see this sign, it brings me a chuckle. The other one I like is: “She who dies with the most fabric wins.” I guess you can tell I’m a quilter.

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I’d never seen this pattern before. It is called stepping stones. ABC’s of Quilting carries some neat quilt kits along with the usual fabrics and quilting supplies.

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The owner of Whispering Woods Gallery displays the work of many artists. These lovely items above are placed on a basswood plinth. He makes furniture, beds, desks, benches and uses various woods including basswood, which is unfamiliar to me.

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He demonstrated the cambium layer of bark of the basswood tree because it is known for its strength. He uses it for bucket handles, it can provide rope for a bunk bed, or braided   hanging ornaments or lamps. The wood is soft like pine but very strong.

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I loved that you can stop here for a game of checkers, another little area is set aside with floor pillows and a children’s reading library. Too fun.  You can sit and enjoy a treat from the bakery. Gifts, antiques, old and new items. A lot to offer.

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I left the school and directly across the side street was a line-up of nice shops, Hopperton’s Moccasins and gifts. Nice stuff.

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MacRostie Art Center where Ashley Kolka was in the process of setting up a new exhibit.

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Fine arts, sculpture, jewelry, fine paintings, multiple medas.  this chair is exquisite with a price tag to match at $6,000.

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Next door, a clothing store with wearable art, bags, shoes, scarves.

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At Stained Glass With Class, I asked, “Are you the glass man?”  George Berkholz answered: look at my hands, I’m always full of cuts.  You really can’t tell, they are more like scratches. He and his wife Lisa work the shop and also host classes. I watched him work for awhile. He cuts glass so fast you can’t get the action with the camera.

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He makes some unusual items.

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Nice Shop, friendly people.

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The Yarn Gallery was my favorite stop, well, a toss up with the wood gallery. The yarns are varied and pretty amazing, but I loved, loved, loved the yarn chair.

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I’m goofy about art chairs. I don’t know quite how or why I’ve come across a bunch of objects turned art with yarn. My photos include a yarn bus, a cab, a bench I think an elephant or a giraffe. Too fun! For a quick stop, this was a nice area of Grand Rapids to be in.

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This is my town, where wine is king with twenty-six tasting rooms on Main St. Murphys. As recently as 1969, ranchers were still running cattle down this same street,  kicking the manure off their feet and guzzling a cool one at the Murphys Hotel. When I first moved here rents were so cheap and business so slow,  two guys paid $25 a month and opened up The Office. They weren’t selling anything, they just invited people in to chat.

Now you can enjoy a champagne reception…

…or buy sophisticated, pricey goods without going all the way to San Francisco. Old timers, now gone,  would be agog at the changes. But the charm is in the mix.

You can just as readily stop by the Spice Tin and chat with Coach Shultz and enjoy a roasted chestnut, or…sit around the coffee roaster, enjoy the wood fire,  and play checkers with your brew and sweet roll.

My friend Margo Osborn, (right) walked the streets with me for Murphys Annual Open House, always held the first Friday in December.   I like to run into old friends. We stopped to say hello to Cathy Courtright.

We started late and didn’t get to every business, but we did see seven places that had live music.

We stopped to see an Itsy Bitsy Art Show, where you can lounge around and study the pieces.

I liked this matched set of posters with  predominant colors, red and yellow.

As you move from place to place, if you get cold, you can warm your hands or feet at one of several fire rings. A new feature this year.

The breezeway at Newsom Harlow had their own fireplace and live music for folks enjoying a bite to eat with their wine.

Someone at Twisted Oak tasting room set out creative lights.

Local kids practiced their Christmas music. I heard bells, and carolers and music at every turn.

No where else will you see candles like these. The glass jar is hand decorated to hold a special candle. When it burns, you can buy a refill for your beautiful jar. A local invention.

Appealing  rag-dolls for two cute little girls. (And, I only have grand sons.)

The best eats on the street, apple dumplings and cider, chocolate or wine at Tanners.

Peace, the best Christmas gift we can have.


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Most “toads”, like Jim’s Bronco, are outfitted for storing things like our lawn chairs, books, tools, the brake buddy, emergency kit and any number of useful items that one might need on the road as a full timer. Jim has the bronco divided into two layers to store twice as much stuff.  We went to the grocery store and recycling center yesterday. While Jim put the groceries in the back of the bronco I took this picture:

In Palm Springs, people scoot to the store in their Rolls Royce. The parking lot sometimes resembles a sports car dealership. And, instead of playing the music from the local radio show, or standard elevator music, here you listen to Vivaldi or Chopin while you shop.
But, I regress. Back to the “toad”. Everyone kind of accepts that when you go somewhere with other couples, everyone goes in their own separate vehicles. Living in snowbirdville, as RVers, comes the problem. I decided to sign up for one of the activities at the lodge, a “Girls Day Outing”. Its lunch at the Elephant Bar and shopping at three different second hand stores. I love cruising the second hand stores and I’m particularly looking for another plastic drawer divider for my spoons, knives, forks, etc. You can find them for five bucks or less at any store selling household goods, except, RV drawers are so small, none of the standard size fits. You can go to an RV store like Camping World and buy one for $16.95. That is so clearly a gouge that I simply refuse to buy one. Instead, I stick with what I’ve got, even though it is stained and looks dirty when its clean.

When I signed the list to go, 14 people were signed in, every one of those save two,  needed a ride. Only two drivers had room in their vehicles for others. Jim had previously arranged  to visit his friend,  Bill Dobb, and can’t drive me. It will be interesting to see what happens when we all show up on Thursday.

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I chuckle, now, about shopping madness in the 1980’s. Remembering one particular Christmas with kid’s high expectations; siblings too numerous to afford; trying to find the right gift with funds inadequate to make a dream come true. Tradition played its part as well. All of which placed me frazzled and desperate for last minute sales in Stockton at a Penny’s Department Store on Christmas Eve. The lines were daunting and dispirited I stood, contemplating why I was in this horrific line, instead of sitting in front of the stove with a bowl of popcorn and a hot toddy enjoying my home and family.
Someone in front of me said, “Let’s go to fabric. The line will be short. No one buys fabric this close to Christmas.” I hesitated to give up my place in line, but, followed, went upstairs, and there, the line was like all of the others. Tired shoppers struggling with packages, waiting in line with purchases from other departments. The only glimmer of hope was this clerk had an assistant, a bagger, which could conceivably make the wait shorter.
We plodded slowly forward. About seven deep, I heard someone voice my own thoughts. “Why do you have an assistant when none of the other clerks do?”
“Oh, I don’t work here,” chimed in the bagger. “I’m a customer. I just thought I’d help out and now I can’t quit.”
It took a second or two for the information to percolate and suddenly my tiredness left. The clerk and bagger were happily and furiously removing tags and loading bags and bantering with the people closest in line.
I proposed a hip-hip-hooray, thrice, and the word spread down the line as everyone gave voice with lifted spirts.
I walked out into the cold night with my parcels, enjoyed the crisp wind on my face, and went home a new person. It ain’t about the stuff.

Two years later, our family gave up shopping and agreed to donate to charities instead. We found such enjoyment in each other, I can’t believe it took us so long. I know this is anathema when the economy is depending on spending. But none of us would change it.

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