Monday, April 28, 2014

Of Comcast and Customer Rage

When trying to decide what to blog about today (I'm trying to adhere to a new Monday/Friday schedule) I was interrupted by a call from Comcast. Comcast, both as a company and a top-notch example of how to fail in every aspect of "customer service," has been bleeding my energy lately. Not in the sexy way, like current pop culture vampires who are all brooding and sensual. No, in the disgusting way, like a tick who doesn't realize it's a parasitic drain on resources.

"Circle round people, we need to talk about first quarter returns."
An actual Comcast executive.
photo credit: graftedno1 via photopin cc

Since April 1, my Internet-the only service I have through Comcast-has been unstable. This wouldn't be such a major problem if 1) both I and my husband didn't work from home and 2) if I weren't paying nearly $100/month for a service Comcast doesn't seem all too interested in providing. What follows is an abbreviated version of the epic journey I've undertaken over the last 28 days.

I called the number provided by Comcast, which was my first mistake. I've been transferred, disconnected, blatantly lied to, deliberately hung up on, accidentally hung up on (she didn't know how to use a phone, bless her heart), given false information, condescended to, and generally fooled around until I have actually gone over my monthly allotment of cell phone minutes. When's the last time I went over cell minutes? WHEN MY SON WAS BORN. In context, that means Comcast has taken more of my time and energy than anything except physically birthing a tiny human. Honestly, it's also been more painful.

In addition to calling, I've emailed. I've direct messaged. I've done everything but send up smoke signals and beat out some Morse code. You can probably guess the competency of the response I've received in return. The only thing Comcast representatives seem able to do with any small scrap of ability is attempt to sell additional services. Yeah, the ones I'm paying for now aren't working, so let me go ahead and start forking over more cash based on promises of impending competency. That's exactly what I'm going to do, just after I go check out a bridge that's up for sale in Brooklyn.

I finally thought I'd gotten it straightened out after yesterday's stroll through the halls of bungling blather (i.e. "Customer Service"). Finally, FINALLY, a technician has been scheduled to physically come to my home on Tuesday and discover the source of the problem. It's my fault, really, for being naive enough to believe. I may as well have clapped my hands and hoped Tinkerbell would show up with a new modem and wireless router.

Tink doesn't want to be associated with Comcast any more than the rest of us
photo credit: Dustin Diaz via photopin cc

The call I got this morning was to apologize for ALL the inconvenience (special note to Comcast: click here) and confirm my appointment for Thursday.

Well, it is the only other day starting with a "T" in the name, so I guess they get credit for that. But no, my most specialest of special snowflakes, the day in question, the one I rearranged my entire schedule to be available for? Yeah, that's a Tuesday. The day after Monday. The day before Wednesday. I know it's a hard concept. There are 7 whole days to memorize, and the organizational pattern, where one ALWAYS follows the next? Yeah, that's tricky.

What makes this all even sadder? I'm 100% certain the only reason Comcast "Customer Service" (no, I really can't write it without irony quotes) contacted me is because I gave my frustration the 140 character treatment. That's right, I tweeted about it, and hashtagged Comcast when doing so. Had I not bothered, had I just been the victim of ridiculously bad "customer service" but kept it to myself, Comcast would not have cared one bit. Why should they? They're still getting my money and they have a monopoly in my area; they have no reason to care. But because that tweet has the potential to add to the ongoing dialog of how horrible they are at providing even the simplest services, the services their company is supposedly known for, now I'm a liability that must be mitigated.

Helpful hint to those on the problem mitigation squad: PROVIDE THE SERVICE I'M PAYING YOU FOR. Bastards.

Pretty much accurate.
Picture from the Comcast Sucks Balls Blog. If it's yours, let me know and I'll happily provide credit. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Of Love and Family

I get a decent amount of stuff posted to my Facebook wall. I try to keep up with it, often fall behind, and respond when I can. The response time will run longer if the post is a video. 30 seconds or 3 hours, it doesn't really matter. I do most Facebooking (totally a verb) from my phone, while in public.

What else are you supposed to do in grocery lines, interact with other human beings? Psh!
Photo credit: Consumerist Dot Com via photopin cc

If it requires sound, like a video, I'm not likely to watch it until I'm in the comfort of my author-hole (aka office) where I and my technology can be as loud as we want with out attracting nervous glances.

A friend of mine posted a Honey Maid video to my Facebook wall almost a month ago. Now, I enjoy the occasional swiped Teddy Graham as much as the next mother of a toddler, but nothing about Honey Maid or my idea of what they could possibly have put in a video really excited me. Does it have snarky cats or hot men or snarky cats getting the better of hot men? Because if not, let me introduce you to the rest of the Internet. I'd watch it, but I was in no real hurry.

And this is why I need to trust my friends more when they say "Watch this, you'll love it." My friends, they know me. They're also a pretty awesome group of people.

This video is beautiful. That's really the only word for it. To see a large corporation like Honey Maid, who literally succeeds or fails based on their image, take a stand and refuse to bow to criticism and hate from a fraction of the populace is a hopeful thing. The initial message is powerful in its simplicity; family is family, love is love. Their response to the negative comments they received in regards to that message is the best they could have made. Watch this, you'll love it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Of Toddlers and Truisms

I follow a lot of different writers for a lot of different reasons. On social media, I mean. Not in an unmarked panel van down dimly lit streets or anything like that.

Don't mind me, I'm just chilling in my Stalker Van
Photo credit: djwudi via photopin cc

Some offer great craft advice, some are business savvy gurus, and some are living the type of career I want. Then there are a few who are just the entire package. For whatever reason, I can identify with what they're saying, whether it's about writing, business, or any of the random absurdities that make up life in general. One of the authors on my "must-read" social media list for precisely this reason is Chuck Wendig. His foul-mouthed, no holds barred approach to discussing writing, life, and the writing life works for me. One particular post had me rolling this morning.

Anyone who knows me knows that The Boy (my number 1 and only progeny) is a toddler. Actually, he'll be turning 2 in just under 2 weeks. Chuck has a child around the same age. Being the parent of a toddler immediately places you in community of toddler parents, or Parents of Toddlers, Stressed & Delirious (PTSD for short, and no the acronym is not an accident). We've seen the battle, been on the frontline for more tantrums than we care to count, and we have the battle scars and clothing stains to prove it. Those who have come before us, who've raised their respective offspring into adolescence, teenagerdom, or even adulthood remember the toddler years and sympathize, but they often do it through the rose-colored lens of memory and time passed. Or, they all-too-well remember the fresh trials each new phase of advancement brings and truly miss the simplicity of a 45 minute sobbing fit brought on because the doggie walked too close to the toy truck and in Toddlerlandia (where logic dare not go) this breaks all rules of decorum and is punishable by wailing. Wailing, incidentally, is the primary form of both punishment and torture in Toddlerlandia, and they have not adopted the Geneva Convention. Be warned.

What can I say, parenting is work. And while I truly appreciate the advice and encouragement of all those who've gone before, you can't help but feel a kinship to those currently laboring in the trenches beside you.

On March 24, Chuck posted 25 Things You Should Know About Life with a Toddler. If you have a toddler, have had a toddler, think you may someday want a baby that will inevitably become a toddler, or just know that you will be unable to avoid all toddlers for the rest of your life, read this post. It is hilarious. It is sadly and depressingly (in some places) true. One of the parts that struck me as most true is number 5:
5. Without Food and Sleep They Are Basically Hill Cannibals:
Two guaranteed meltdown triggers, however, are: hungry and tired. May the gods help you if both the SLEEP and FOOD boxes remain unchecked because I’m pretty sure that’s how you get the Reavers from Firefly.
Um, yes. This exactly. The Reavers may have been self-mutilating, cannibalistic , murder crazy ragebeasts without conscience or morals, but you let a toddler stay up too late and then fail to produce the requested sippy cup within moments of the screamed, repeated one word request (JUICE! JUICE! JUICE!), and by God that toddler will turn into a thrashing creature of violence and despair who makes Reavers look civilized.

Photo credit: Gretchen Stull

The toddler years are crazy, but they aren't all bad. They aren't even half bad, truth be told. There's something amazing about watching this little human being trying to make sense of a world that is all-too-often insensible. And for every lost moment of sleep and extra load of laundry and 800th re-watching of Elmo's Adventures in Grouchland (Mandy Patikin now haunts my dreams), there's an unexpected hug or an eerily accurate observation or something so damn cute you want to instagram it immediately for the world to see. I love my son and I can't imagine life without him. But even though toddlers can be fun, they are definitely exhausting. And I have learned to always, ALWAYS have snacks on hand.