Customer Service

This is a tribute to Uncle Dan's, a local chain that sells outdoor gear. But first, a short report on bad customer service. My internet wasn't working late last night or this morning. I called AT&T and after waiting, I talked to "Mark," who had me unplug and re-check plugs and asked me, Where are you? I thought he meant which room, as in: Are you in the room where the wire is plugged into the phone jack? But that wasn't what he meant. He said, No, where are you, which state? I said, Illinois, where are you? He said, The Philippines. Aha. That explained his difficult-to-understand, non-idiomatic English. I should feel sorry for him because AT&T will stop outsourcing customer service in January, and he'll be out of a job, but I felt more annoyed than anything because he wasn't helpful. I put his name in quotes up above because I think that people overseas in outsourced customer service give themselves American names. I read that somewhere. After "Mark" I spoke with someone named Dexter, who had me do a bunch of things, none of which helped. Then I was on hold for about 15 minutes, and talked to a woman who had me plug and unplug, and who told me I needed to order a new modem. And then about an hour later, the connection fixed itself. Which is what L had said would happen. This sounds rather benign and calm but I was upset about all of it. The service personnel are all required to thank you and to tell you to have a good day. You would have a better day if the company hired more people so you wouldn't have to wait so long.

But on to Uncle Dan's. Last week I went to the shoe repair place to see if the cobbler (Is that word still used?) could replace the elastic shoestrings on my Keen sandals. The woman there seemed doubtful. Then I had a brainstorm: I could go to Uncle Dan's up the street, where I'd bought the sandals in summer '06 and see if the store sold replacement shoestrings. I went there, without a receipt, just with my word, and the people there said they could replace the pair or send the shoes to Keen to get fixed. I said to send them, because I didn't think it was fair to the store to replace shoes I'd worn for a year. Today I got a call from the store. The woman said that Keen had replaced the shoes and I could come get them. We're talking a new pair of shoes for free. I mean, these shoes were worn. So I did. I tried on some winter shoes, but none fit. The shoe guy started brainstorming about other places in town I could find the shoes. And there's a nice shiny black dog who hangs out in the store on Southport. So for customer service and nice dogs, I recommend Uncle Dan's. I got my foldable Cancer Bitch sunhat there earlier this year.

Tonight was the first night of Chanukah and we rounded up a few suspects at the last minute for candle-lighting and eating of latkes. One last endorsement of a product that's good for those of us who don't have a good exhaust system on our stove, and so can't fry food without the apartment filling with smoke: Frozen latkes from Trader Joe's. Just put 'em in the oven.