Category: customer service

Serendipity in Action

Published / by Molly Whitehouse

I get performance leads from several places. Some people Children's party entertainmentrecommend me as the birthday party magician or I have some listings online. One such lead company is Gig Salad. I get a few leads, and I follow up, usually with a phone call. On this particular day, I had a lead from “Emad”. No large amount of specifics, just “birthday party for 7 yr old daughter”. Name: Emad, phone and email. I called the phone number and got a recording like “Please leave a message for 612 555-1212”. Well, I had not called “612-555-1212”, so I knew the number must have been forwarded. I left my message, and went on with my other leads. A few days later, I followed up with another phone call. Same message. At this point, I figured the lead was no good. No harm, no foul.

A couple of weeks later, I was attending the “Kinect For Developers” meeting. This was a group of about 50 developers who wanted to learn how to “HACK” the Kinect. Very geeky, and technical. I had an idea for an application, so I decided to join in. When I arrived, the room was set up with 15 or so tables so that attendees could group in about four to six per team. I sat at a table that was already occupied by another gentleman. We exchanged pleasantries and then got down to getting the wireless to work on the laptop. Yossef joined the table next. Then Bob and Larry. And finally, one of Yossef and Larry’s co-workers: “EMAD”. We all had name tags, and of course, having the experience with Gig Salad the several days earlier, I was stunned to find someone named Emad at my table. More jokingly than serious, I asked: “Were you looking for a magician for your daughter’s birthday party a couple of weeks ago?” Emad looked stunned! “Why, yes I was. Why do you ask?”

Well, I’m MrGoodfriend, and I left you a couple of messages. I guess you realize that since this coincidence is so outrageous, you will HAVE to hire me now!

His daughter opted for a bounce house and clown.

How To Use Your Gift Card Online

Published / by Molly Whitehouse

party magician in DallasSo, we got a few gift cards recently. American Express gift cards, to be exact. And the problem is that AE charges merchants more than V/MC charge and so, it makes finding a merchant that accepts AE a little more challenging. Then what happens if you find an online place and they take PayPal or whatever, so AE is accepted. Well, if you have a gift card, it will be declined if you don’t do the little magic “trick” you learn later in this post. Additionally, when it gets declined, you’ll have a $1 or $.99 charge (reducing the value of your gift card.) When you go to to check the value, you’ll see the charge and have an “AVS” fee (Address Verification.) It will get removed after 8 days.

So, how do you keep from getting declined? Here it is:

Look on the back of your gift card.
Call the 800 number.
Enter the card number.
Push the button that states something about having “Other” issues.
Then press “0” for operator.
Tell the live person that you want to register your name and address for the gift card. They will verify your possession of the card. Next they will ask for your name (spell it like you will online), address (same address as you use online), and that should fix you up to use it online or with PayPal.

Now get out there and spend them there (sic)  gift cards.

And if you happen to feel particularly charitable, you can always use it with my PayPal. This birthday party magician can always use an extra few bucks for the next magic trick!


Bye Staples. Hello OfficeMax!

Published / by Molly Whitehouse

My wife does coupons. I mean she really does coupons. And she has gotten THOUSANDS of dollars in savings for us. We have often gone to the Staples office supply store in Allen, TX on McDermott Road to shop. Occasionally, we have an OfficeMax™ coupon that Staples accepts. It’s nice to save some $$.

Last Saturday, I needed some things to finish up a few props for my new magic show and I drove the 2 miles up to Staples. In my hand I had another OfficeMax™ coupon for “20% off everything you can fit in your shopping cart!”* See the “*”? That means there are serious disclaimers. No monitors, computers, store brand ink cartridges, HP ink cartridges, Canon ink cartridges…. yada yada yada…. It just so happened that I needed construction paper, and a KODAK ink cartidge. Total price RETAIL? about $35. I had something else in my hand too. My lovely little Angelynn. 2½ years old and full of distracting daddy. So we go to the checkout, and the young male cashier can’t make the 20% work. He asks the more senior cashier (she must have been at least 3 months older than him), and she called someone. The someone said, “we can’t take the 20% off coupon from OfficeMax™.”

So, I left my purchase and started out the door. Then I stopped. I needed more of a reason than some phone call to some office. I asked to speak to the manager. After about 7 minutes (a LONG time when wrestling with a 2½ year old), here comes Jayme Browder strolling from the back of the store sucking on some fast food soft drink. I surmised from a distance that she was the Manager On Duty. She looked to have been recently graduated from SFA (go Lumberjacks.) She passed me and Angel standing in the middle of ‘no-man’s-land’ and inquired with the cashier who called her as to with whom she should speak. Of course, she was directed to me.

I explained I didn’t understand why they would not accept the coupon since it had been their policy to accept competitor’s coupons before. Here was her explanation, which was so well spoken, it had to have been a part of management training (Staples should be proud.) The coupon is for all you can get in your shopping cart and there is no way they could honor that.

I countered with the massive amounts of exceptions plainly spelled out on the coupon. She countered with there was nothing she could do.

I countered with showing my wife’s Staples reward card with thousands of dollars of purchases made on it, explained that the $7.00 discount she was avoiding giving me would result in no more purchases on the Staples reward card. She countered with “If I do this for you, I would have to do it for everyone else.” Now why would a 50+ year old man get flustered by a early 20’s manager girl (I know ways that SOME men would get flustered, but this was NOT one of them)? I simply thanked her and said good day.

Here’s what I SHOULD have done and said (of course I would not have gotten my satisfaction.) I should have looked around and said, “What others? There’s no line of people here with 20% coupons. They are all at OfficeMax™ using their coupons which is what I’m about to do!”

Staples is 2 miles, OfficeMax™ is 6. That’s 4 miles I can use to talk to my brother and sisters.

See you next time, OfficeMax™. Staples, Staples management, and Jayme truly made this an Easy decision.

Keeping Keen

Published / by Molly Whitehouse

Happy birthday do me! Today is the anniversary of me discovering America. And since it is an event that marks the passing of youth, I take this time to tell you how to keep the youthful vim and vigor not expected of the old and ancient.


A lengthy discussion about the things going on at work with one of my colleagues led to some observations of how to implement fixes. And this lead to discussion of reading material. So, two books were brought to my attention, and I immediately made obtaining them top priority.

360 Degree Leader by John C. Maxwell was the first one we discussed. In just the first two chapters, I can tell I’m going to get a lot out of this book. Of course John C. Maxwell is renouned in his leadership writings.

Next we discussed Love Is The Killer App. Just by the title I didn’t think it would move me too far, but I was mistaken. This is really a good look at how to get the most from everyone you come in contact with; not in a commercial way, but to get the best from them when you give your best.

Hopefully, I’ll be full of vim and vigor for many years to come. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have.

Time Warner Cable and Burglars

Published / by Molly Whitehouse

It was late February 2008. I was living in a 2 bedroom condo near Walnut Hill and Webb Chapel in Dallas. I didn’t have a lot to do that day, but I went to visit a couple of near by customers. Even though the neighborhood was not known for being pristine and crime free, I had not had any significant trouble since residing there in 2006. I locked my door, but not the patio gate, as was my normal procedure when leaving. I had finished with my first customer, and contemplated going home for lunch, then returning to the other customer. But I decided I would just rather get it all done, and then when I got home, I would be done. When I did arrive home, about 1:45pm, I noticed the door was messed up some. I instantly thought that workers doing some work around the condos might have been working on it. Then, when I got inside, and noticed some computer parts in the living room that had been upstairs, I wondered why someone I had given a key to my condo had come by and moved my stuff? After realizing that something bad had happened, and not knowing if they were still in the place, I dashed outside and to the town home office. There I was informed that one of the employees had chased three teens from my condo. He wasn’t successful in catching them, and it probably was a good thing he didn’t. They took some stuff, including a handgun (I didn’t have a safe then) and my cable box. The cable box is what this story really is about.

Obviously I couldn’t watch TV. So after the emotions of being burglarized eased, I was able to go about the insurance, police reports and everything else to get my life back in order. New steel door, dead bolt locks, safe, burglar alarm, etc. Then, I went to Time Warner Cable (TWC) near my office. I had called by phone to inform them of the burglary and stolen cable box. I also asked for a value so I could claim it on the insurance. No one could tell me a value. Even with a supervisor, face-to-face in the office, I could get no answer on what the amount was. No one at TWC would provide me with an invoice. They did give me a new box, though, and I gave them the police report.

I filed my insurance claim, listing the cable box, but no dollar value. I got a check less deductible for all my stuff (except the cable box.) Texas Fair Plan was exactly that! FAIR! Thank you, Russ Davis.

One service issue I was having with TWC was concerning High Definition. Seems I was paying extra for HD, but EVERY night, I would lose the HD signal. Some times it was for a few seconds, most of the time it was for a couple of minutes. They made two or three trips to test the lines from their system to my box. Every time, they could not find a cause. Once they reburied the cable to my condo. So fast-forward to Oct 2009. We bought a house in Allen. Since I knew I would be leaving TWC, I decided to stop paying for service. And of course I got the phone calls from collections. Even months before making the decision to stop paying, I had been trying to get TWC customer service to do something about the outage. It got to be a game: call in, first person couldn’t help, would check with a supervisor, supervisor not available but would call back. I documented 49 times (YES, FORTY NINE TIMES) that I was promised a supervisor would call me back. A couple of times, I did get to speak to a supervisor after being passed from the customer service representative. But they would always say they would investigate further and call me back. And those failures to call back are included in the 49.

I did say ‘fast-forward’ right? Okay, now we are moving from the condo, and I have disconnected my TWC. I go to take back my equipment, and the guy says: “Where’s the other box?” I had actually forgotten about the stolen box. But when I realized what he was talking about, I remembered what the supervisor at the TWC center in Irving, near my office, had said when I pressed her for an invoice: “Don’t worry about it.” At this point, I am VERY upset. Weeks later the collections calls and other things started happening, and I decided it would be me against them, and I wasn’t going to give in! And I didn’t. I told multiple callers from TWC that they could have a supervisor call me, and one never did. I did finally get a bill for a couple of months of over due service AND $325 for a cable box. I just laughed.

Then one day, I was checking my credit, and there was a “bad debt” from TWC. So, I finally decided to see if I could slay this dragon. I sent the invoice of $325 to Texas Fair Plan. This was in March 2011. They paid it! Then I went to the TWC center near my office again. I wanted to pay what I rightfully owed, the cable box cost. I got to speak to a gentleman, Antwon Whiteman, Retail Supervisor. You won’t believe what he did. He LISTENED to my issues, he APOLOGIZED for the trouble, and he TOOK CARE OF IT! I told him that he was fighting an uphill battle and that I hoped he was rewarded adequately for his service at a place that seems to have forgotten what customer service really is. He wrote me a letter that I can post to any lingering credit bureau blots.

Needless to say, I had less trouble with the burglars than I did with TWC. But in the future, if you have issues with TWC, try to talk to Antwon Whiteman.