Thank You, Sears. May I Have Another?

As a small businessman, customer service is VERY important to me. I can't afford to unintentionally get customers angry. That would send me back to a cubicle. Anything but that. Things happen. Yes. People get upset. Yes. That's part of life, and part of business. How you react to things happening and people getting angry says a lot about yourself and your business.

I bought a treadmill from Sears about 3 years ago. Lately, it started to smell like it was burning. I called Sears, since we paid for the 5 year service plan. I was scheduled for a service call between 1 and 5 PM this afternoon.

Guess what? It's obvious. They didn't show. Nobody called. And of course, with a 4 hour window requiring one of us to be home, it placed us under a huge inconvenience. We had an errand that both of us needed to do, but I ended up doing it myself. It required a lot of labor.

Christina called me after 5 when it was obvious that a large, billion dollar corporation can't keep an appointment. She called them. The call center rep was rude to her. She asked for a manager. She escalated 2 levels in the call center, and did not encounter a single person who cared. We've already been waiting a week and a half for this service call. Now we're waiting until July 18. That's a Saturday. In my business, Saturdays are workdays. Thanks, Sears, you could have just cost me money.

Guess what Sears offered us for our inconvenience? A "free" consultation for air conditioning or siding or some other home service. Right. It would be free anyway. What idiot would pay for a consultation for that? Sears already demonstrated their unreliability and lack of caring about us as customers. If I needed anything done on my home, I know several good and reliable contractors who would do the job right. And I know where they live…

If you live in south Jersey and need air conditioning or siding (or any other contracting service) performed, please contact me. Spend your money on a good small businessman who cares about doing a good job. I can refer you to several. Don't give your money to Sears.

I'm writing this as sort of an open letter to Sears. Some companies actually monitor social media and blogs. When you're as large and soulless as Sears, it's a good way to find out what's really going on when several levels of corporation are between the executives and the customers. Of course, when you're as large and soulless as Sears, you probably don't care about one inconvenienced customer. Or two, or even a thousand. You'll do just fine no matter how many upset customers you leave in your wake.

So if you're reading this, Sears, I hope you don't miss the few tens of thousands of dollars in sales that you just lost from me. I have a long memory when large, soulless mega-corporations tick me off. Just ask Lowe's.

Banks Getting Rid of Free Checking?

I saw a post on Lifehacker this morning about banks getting rid of free checking. Apparently they have their customers back over a barrel and can do what they want once again.

I've only used the services of one "bank" in my life. That was Commerce Bank. But I got tired of their stupid games and closed my account. Commerce bank had some silly policy that if you deposit a paycheck on Thursday, somehow the funds would not be available until Tuesday even though they were reflected in your balance. That is, unless you get out of the car and go in the bank and cash out part of the paycheck at the counter. Then the entire thing was available. It never made sense to me at all.

I have almost always conducted my banking at credit unions. I started with Security Service Federal Credit Union in San Antonio, Texas, when I was 13. I started with a savings account, and opened a checking account when I was 16.

Continue reading

Book Review: Mystically Wired by Ken Wilson

I haven’t read many books on Prayer. It’s one of the spiritual disciplines that I believe I’m weakest in. Most of the books on Prayer I’ve read are expositions of the “Lord’s Prayer”.

I remember a comment Bob Bly made on the difference between a “what to do” book and a “how to do” book.  For instance, a book that tells you that you should pray, and lists the benefits of prayer, and maybe even tells you stories about other people’s prayers, would fall under a “what to do book”.

I think Mystically Wired is a “how to do” book. It’s different from other books I’ve read on the subject of prayer.

The point to the book is our brains are wired for prayer. Even if we don’t think we’re good at it, we can learn the discipline of prayer by forming new habits. We can rewire the synapses in our brains by forming new habits around the discipline of prayer.

I’ll admit, I was very skeptical in the first chapter. Looking at my notes in the early chapters of the book, you can tell that I was gearing up for a disagreement with the author. He convinced me of his point of view though by the 3rd chapter.

The author discusses current studies about the brain to make his case that we’re Mystically Wired to pray. Much of the information he cites agrees with what I read in This Is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin. The author shares his own experiences in prayer over the course of his life, as well as several methods he’s used in his prayers. He then includes many practical tips for forming new habits in your prayer life. I will probably incorporate most into mine.

If you’re looking for a practical book on prayer, get this one.