Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swagbucks: Crappy Customer Service Continues

First it was big fat stinky Leroy with Delta Airlines accusing me of lying to him. Then we all heard about TSA randomly selecting people for either a radiation blast or grope session. And now it's Swagbucks, a search engine that I've been faithfully using (and promoting) for over a year.

What do Delta, the TSA, and Swagbucks have in common? They operate outside of US law. If someone takes you to court to charge you with a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty. Outside of the courtroom, however, you're guilty until proven innocent, and in some cases you don't have the chance to prove your innocence.

I've already told you about Leroy. Let me tell you about Swagbucks. It's a search engine where you can randomly win "bucks" with every search. As you accumulate the money, you turn it in for free stuff. Not a bad deal, eh? I'd been using it for about six months when my husband noticed. He asked about it, and I helped him set up an account.

Last week my account was deactivated. No warning, no explanation. It was just deactivated. There was an email address listed where I could write if I felt it had been a mistake. I emailed them immediately. That was Wednesday, November 25. It is now Monday, November 29. I have not heard back from them. My sister's account was also deactivated on that day. She not only heard back from them, but she was eventually reinstated. My husband also emailed and heard back from them when he wanted to see if we could figure this out. But me? Nothing.

This is what they told my sister:

After reviewing your account, we did determined that you were deactivated due to opening a new account. This action violates our terms and conditions.

Please remember, only one account is permitted per household.

Due to past experiences, this is a method used to protect our Swagbucks Community from cheaters and potential fraud activity.

We apologize for any misunderstanding. Thank you for your time and have a nice day.

I can only assume this is why my account was deactivated (but I still don't know). If this is a case, it's an honest mistake. Matt opened his account in May - we didn't realize we could only have one per household. They could have denied his account when we tried to open it (since our address was already in their file), or contacted me when they found the error and either given me a chance to explain or cancel one account. Instead, I've been ignored.

At one time I actively promoted Swagbucks. I had links posted on both of my blogs. I recruited friends on Facebook to join them (I had nine referrals). Now, because of a genuine misunderstanding, I've been labeled a cheater (I assume, since they won't contact me). Once again I'm a faceless minion that the big companies treat like a criminal because they've been cheated by others - they don't need to know anything about me, they just assume that I'm evil.

Swagbucks, I'm truly sorry. I know that I broke your rules, but I really didn't mean to do it. I hope that other people treat you better than you treated me. I will use your "customer service" techniques in the future as a reminder of what not to do.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why The Holidays Are So Exciting

Three days ago I enjoyed a "first" in my life - Black Friday. This wasn't my first Black Friday experience, it was my hubby's. I had the pleasure of sharing it with him.

The pre-dawn alarm clock, the ant-like trail of traffic, insane lines of pajama clad women. We hustled, scooted, pushed, and saved. I loved every minute of it!

Isn't that what makes the holidays so exciting? I certainly hope not.

I love the thrill of Black Friday, but it's just a day. I'd have as much fun if it happened every June right after the full moon. The shopping and saving doesn't have anything to do with Christmas - it's a bargain lover's dream, nothing else.

Then what makes Christmas so exciting?

It's not the presents, the parties, or even the  excessive family time. It's much deeper. It's even more than birth of Christ. You have to keep going deeper.

Love. Jesus didn't come to earth because he wanted to know what life as a human was like. He came because of love.

God loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us. Jesus knew his birth would be his death sentence, but he did it anyway. We have freedom, joy, and peace all because of love. We have families and friends so we can buy presents, throw parties, and cook elaborate feasts all because of love. God IS love.

That's what makes the holidays exciting - knowing that everything we celebrate stems from love. We are extremely, thoroughly, and completely loved. That's what really matters.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coming next week - the Christmas Blogs!

Are you ready? Are you READY?!?

Next week starts my holiday blogging! Every Monday I'll have a little Christmas post. The topics were picked by someone else. Since she can't host the blog tour on her blog this year, I decided to go ahead and share my posts here.

I hope you'll stop by and enjoy my Christmas thoughts!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gettin' Into the Christmas Spirit

I'm definitely not organized when it comes to posting blogs on this site - sorry about that. I'd like to say I'm changing that, but I don't want to lie to you, so here's the deal:

A few weeks ago I agreed to be on a "blog tour" - a lady set up a schedule and then would invite people to different blogs on different days. It helps you discover new blogs (and lets new people discover you). Unfortunately she's had some stuff come up and she won't be able to get it going this year...but I've already written my posts!

Since they're already done, I'm gonna post them over here (how's that??). The plan is to put up one a week for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I'm pretty excited about this - it should be a good time. It was fun (for me) to sit back and write a stress-free article (no worries about tone or word count). I'm always thinking about how things will look in the paper or periodical that I sometimes miss the good ol' blasts of random thoughts.

So that's the deal, peeps. I promise I'll have fun pictures - k? K.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tired Matt-isms

Matt: "I bought iPod listening thingys."
TRANSLATION: I bought headphones.

Matt: "I'm trying to protect your rotundra, I mean your de'fu'mwa."
Karin: "Deffy, what?"
Matt: "It's a French cheese."
TRANSLATION: I'm trying to protect your papasan chair. (I still haven't figured out the mysterious French cheese thing...)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big, Fat, Stinky Leroy

Today I spoke with six customer service representatives at Delta to try to figure out some tickets. I have to travel with my Aunt Linda because she's mentally handicapped and needs a companion. I'm flying her out to Vegas in December so she can spend some time with my parents and sisters. I'm flying back out in January to pick her up.

Here's the problem - I live in TVC, have to fly to DTW to get Linda, then we travel to LAS. The trip back, therefore, is LAS to DTW to TVC. We booked the tickets in May with Linda and me on the same flights. Delta has since canceled their 8:20 pm Saturday flight from DTW to TVC, which was supposed to be my trip back home.

Delta has a policy regarding schedule changes - they will put you on another flight or refund your trip. Here's the problem - to reschedule me mean rescheduling all of Linda's flights, which we have to coordinate with people in two places to make sure she can get rides to/from the airport. It's hard enough to find one day/time that works for everyone. Trying to find a replacement day would be another headache. The other policy, of course, is to cancel the flight and give me my money back. Well that won't work unless we cancel Linda's trip, too.

For the most part everyone at Delta was wonderful. They were very understanding of my situation and did everything they could to help me. I ended up having to book a flight for a day later, so I have to spend the night near the airport and will get home almost 24 hours later than expected. I asked the gal if there was any way Delta could help me with the cost of the hotel room and three meals. She couldn't, but she offered me a $100 voucher.

Let me preface by saying that I was thrilled that she offered me ANYTHING! I was happy enough that it only took me 30 minutes on the phone. Though it was an inconvenience, the experience was overall an easy one. Everyone I spoke with was completely understanding and friendly.

Here's where it gets good: as the gal was giving me my ticket number, we were disconnected. I called back to confirm that I would receive the credit. The new gal didn't see it mentioned anywhere, and she only had the authority to give me up to $50. She offered to transfer me to a supervisor who could override that authority.

Introducing big, fat, stinky Leroy.

When Leroy got on the phone he was already on the defensive. Even though he had my file and explanation in front of him, he started off with "We don't compensate for schedule changes. You can change your flight or cancel." Here are the highlights:

Me: "Delta canceled my original flight--"
Leroy: (interrupting me) "It wasn't canceled. It was a schedule change."*
*Um, if flight 1234 no longer exists and I'm now on flight 5678 is that a rescheduled flight, or did you cancel one and put me on another one?

Me: "I can't reschedule. I have to travel with my aunt, so if I have to reschedule, then she has to reschedule."
Leroy: "We're only talking about your ticket here."

Leroy: "There's nothing that says anyone offered you anything. We don't compensate for schedule changes, so even if someone did offer you..."*
*Translation: Liar

I can't even tell you how many times he said, "You can reschedule or take a refund, but we don't compensate." I pointed out that he's the supervisor and has the authority to compensate, and he'd repeat his mantra. My personal favorite was when I kept trying to make the point that if I canceled  my ticket I'd have to cancel Linda's and my earlier ticket. Like a mean ol' teacher he kept snapping, "We're only talking about this ticket. We're only talking about this ticket."

When I asked to speak with someone else he told me I could call back and try to reconnect with someone else, or I could write a letter to complain.


He's the customer service supervisor! When I pointed that out, he repeated the mantra. When I told him he wasn't actually providing customer service, mantra, mantra, mantra. I asked for his employee ID number so I could complain, but he would only tell me that he was the Customer Service Support Supervisor in Cincinnati.

I did finally hang up on him. I called back Delta to speak with someone else just because I needed to know that all of their supervisors aren't like big, fat, stinky Leroy. I spoke with John next - not only did he apologize, but he gave me a $50.

I'm happy with that because my intent was never to fleece Delta. I asked for something because the worst that could happen was that they'd say no and I'd be no worse off than before, but I wouldn't know if I didn't ask. I completely understand how the airlines work - I don't agree with it, but I understand it.

Of the six people I spoke with today, five of them were fantastic. Just as I realize the schedule changes aren't their fault, they realized that spending time on the phone rescheduling a previously scheduled flight isn't my fault either. They were polite and friendly; I was polite and friendly. Everything was find until big, fat, stinky Leroy.

I took his advice and hung up on him. I will absolutely take his advice and send a letter. I'm exacting my own revenge by letting you know that Cincinnati Customer Service Support Supervisor Leroy is a big, fat, stinky jerk who has no business working in customer service and definitely shouldn't be a supervisor. If you're ever flying Delta through Cincinnati, consider yourself warned.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Entitlement Issues in the Blogging World

Wow! What kind of a jerk do you have to be to do this?? And isn't this just a "nice" way of saying you plagiarized??

Magazine Lifts Blogger's Article, Then Says She Should Be Grateful
From Online Media Daily

Media and entertainment companies have long accused Web users of infringing copyright by sharing music or movies on peer-to-peer networks, or by reposting newspaper articles on blogs and other sites. But the tables were turned on Thursday when accusations flew that a traditional magazine, Cook's Source, had lifted a blogger's article.

College student Monica Gaudio wrote on her blog that she discovered through a friend that the Massachusetts-based magazine had used her piece "A Tale of Two Tarts" in its print edition and also online. Gaudio's article explored how a 14th century English apple pie recipe differed from one dating to the 16th century.

After exchanging emails with the editor, Gaudio says she asked the magazine to apologize and to give $130 to the Columbia School of Journalism.

Managing editor Judith Griggs allegedly responded by telling Gaudio that not only was Cook's Source entitled to use Gaudio's post, but that Gaudio should be grateful because the magazine had edited her piece.

"Honestly Monica, the web is considered 'public domain,' and you should be happy we just didn't 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it!" Griggs wrote. "If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio."

Gaudio posted the exchange on Wednesday night. By midday Thursday, Web users had flooded Cook's Source Facebook page with angry comments, and the magazine was one of the top trending topics on Twitter. In addition, Facebook users are now investigating the magazine in an attempt to uncover other instances of alleged copyright infringement.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What to do when your husband is away...

Bake bread, duh!

I didn't make the loaves big enough, so I ended up with four small artisan loaves. Thankfully size doesn't matter - these are YUMMY!

I'll try to save one for Matt :)

Friday, November 05, 2010


Monday is the start of a new season in my life. After years of hosting my own personal blog (this one), then adding my professional blog (over here), I'm finally going to start contributing to a regional blog - The Barn Door.

This is a midwest blog, written by midwest writers about our midwestern lives. Being a lifelong midwesterner, I'm quite qualified to participate in said blog. It's not a blog about writing (though we are all writers) - it's just about life (through a midwesterner's eyes). I'm really looking forward to it!

My contributions will appear on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every month (and I may throw in a couple of others, if needed). I'm not doing this along, though. In fact, I've done very little of the work. Lisa and Patty have really done the hard stuff.

I hope you'll stop by and see what it's like to live in our neck of the woods. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

Changing of the Guard

Here it is - the moment you've been waiting for...

Gone are the pretty, pretty pastels (they're for sale, if anyone wants them), and here are...

...jewel tones!! We ordered service for eight - four with the design, then one each in green yellow, purple, and blue.

We like 'em!