The Company you Keep

again from the Big Blue!

There is no shortage of things to complain about in this world, is there? Prez
tells me I am not allowed to complain about the heat. His logic is thus:
Because I am always cold in Canada, wherever we travel that is hotter than our
homeland I must love it whether the temperature is “pleasantly balmy” or
“surface of the sun hot”. It is two in the afternoon and I have just completed
my third cold water shower of the day. My hair is still sopping wet, parts of
my body are only now drying, and I am already sweating. 

But I’m
not complaining. Just for the record.

Add to
the list of Things to Complain About : customer service. I’m sure I have
ranted, in past Coconut Chronicles, about the dismal state of customer service
these days but, like ice cream, there’s always room for more. Top of the list
for bad customer service, in Canada, has to be telecom companies, (followed closely by the
cable company…very closely).

home, the largest purveyor of inferior products and dismal service is Telus.
Their slogan is “The future is friendly…The present, however, is full of pain, agony,
and a great deal of waiting.” I might have made part of that up but I think my
version is closer to reality. Mention the name Telus in mixed company, anywhere
in BC, and you will undoubtedly notice at least half the faces in the room will
suddenly look as if they’ve suddenly swallowed a mouthful of sour milk.

history with Telus began a few years ago. We were preparing to leave the
country – this time en route to the Cayman Islands, and then Mexico – and Prez
called Telus to see about the possibility of canceling our cell phone service
as we were planning to be gone for at least six months or more. I was
skeptical; we were only given our “free” phones by signing up for a 107 year
contract, (I believe we had to sign in blood and Satan was present at the
time). Imagine my surprise when I was informed the nice man at the store was
completely understanding of our situation and had told Prez, “No problem, we’ll
cancel your service right away, valued customer, with no fees!

I think
you may have an idea where this is going.

recovering from a British Columbia November in the dry, Baja air, we received an email stating
we had an amount of several hundred dollars owing to Telus…due last week. Never
trust a nice telecom employee, they are either lying or this is their first day
on the job and they have yet to understand company policy, which is to say an
unequivocal “NO!” to every customer request. In Don Quixote-like fashion, Prez
tried to do battle with this phone giant and that lead to another notice
telling us our account had been sent to a collection agency. At this point,
even my hero conceded the chances of us winning were non-existent, and so he
sucked up his pride, called Telus, and told them to just reactivate our account
and we’d pay for the months we’d missed. Oh no, no, no, it was too late, out of
their hands, too bad, sorry Charlie. In other words, Big Daddy was going to
teach us a lesson. 

We paid
the money. Switched cell phone providers. And swore never to use Telus Mobility

problem is, we needed a land line in Nelson and our choices were: Telus, Telus,
or Telus. There was that other start up company “Two Tin Cans and a String
Inc.” but they don’t send their customers free calendars every Xmas, so we
passed. We signed up for a land line account but used another company for
internet. Telus was not going to get one penny from us we didn’t have to give

went fine until…we were getting ready to leave the country for the Cook Islands, (is there a pattern
here? Are they trying to keep us prisoner in Canada?). I made a thorough list
of all the utilities to be canceled and sat down one afternoon – well in
advance of our departure date – to spend a few hours on hold with various
companies, listening to an automated voice tell me how important my call is to
them between static-laden muzak. When I got through to Telus, I informed them
we needed to cancel our service for October 15th as we were leaving
the country. A chipper voice on the other line assured me that would be “no
problem”, made a witty comment about how lucky I was to be moving to the Cook
Islands, asked if there was anything else she could help me with, and wished me
a good day.

Fool me
once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. 

could I not know when a telecom customer service person says “no problem” it
means there will be problems galore?

October bill arrived online. I paid it. The November bill arrived online.
I…hey…wait a minute!!! Now, thousands of miles from Telus Headquarters, (which,
I think, are located beneath a dormant volcano in Antarctica), I was reduced to
emailing my displeasure. In the end, it all came to nought – as I thought it
would, despite my use of LOTS OF CAPS to express my anger. They backdated my
cancellation to November 15th and I paid for a month of phone
service I did not use. I tried to explain that on October 15th I was
in Vancouver, and by the 29th I was in the Cook Islands, with a plane
ticket to prove it, and if they checked the line they’d see no calls had been
made from October 14th on; they didn’t care. (*To be fair, in one of my emails I mistakenly put "November" instead of "October" but if they read my original complaint they would easily see the month I meant).

I don’t
think telling the already pissy customer service person that you are living in
the tropics really does much to help your cause.

Now, you
could make the argument that smearing Telus’s good name across the internet is
an abuse of my blogging powers, except they don’t have a good name. And until
they return the $560 of mine they stole, publicly apologize, and promise to
only use their super powers for good, I will not retract a single word. (Next
week’s Coconut Chronicle will be an explanation of how Telus is suing me, FYI). I will never do business with the Telus corporation again – and I encourage my readers to do likewise if they have any other possible choice.

After my
futile battle with Big Daddy Telecom, a package arrived in the mail that
restored my faith in humanity. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome “Maui Jim”,
makers of quality eyewear and all around wonderful company!

purchased a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses in 2003. We were getting ready to leave
the country, (you may wonder why we ever bother coming back into the
country), and I wanted a real skookum pair of polarized shades for boating in
the Bahamas. Now, Maui Jim’s are the Cadillac of polarized glasses, and worth
every penny of the two hundred plus dollars I paid for mine. I loved those
glasses. I literally wore them out, and that’s hard to do! 

coming to the Cooks, I called the Maui Jim company – with not much optimism, I
must admit – to enquire about getting my glasses repaired and shipped down
south. The angel on the phone assured me this was one hundred percent possible,
and gave me instructions to do so. “No Problem.” Yeah, I’d heard that before.

I sent
my glasses, with a note, and credit card info to Toronto and awaited

they didn’t ship them to the Cooks but they did ship them to my friend in Coquitlam,
and he forwarded them on to me. And when I opened the package…

sent me a spanking new pair, complete with case!! WOW!!!!! Free of charge!!!!!
WOW, WOW, WOW!!!! They didn’t have to do that; those glasses were five years
old and I was happy to pay for repairs. So…wow. I didn’t believe customer
service at that level existed anymore. I say again, wow.  

they lost out on about a hundred dollars in repair fees, or a couple hundred if
I’d bought a new pair, but what they got is free advertising. All of you now
know how terrific Maui Jim is, and, believe me, I will tell everyone I
know. When I buy my next pair of sunglasses, guess who’s going to get my

For a couple hundred dollars, a drop in their bucket, I’m certain, they bought
themselves a good reputation and a life-long customer. Kudos to you Maui Jim,
wherever you are! 


If only
they provided telephone service. 

has been booming for us. New bookings are flooding in and email after email people thank me profusely for “getting back to [them] so quickly!” Once guests
are here, Fred becomes Super Host, organizing movie nights, setting up bocce
ball games, mixing up fresh fruit smoothies for everyone. It doesn’t take much,
just a few minutes out of the day, sometimes a couple of dollars, to do a good
job and let people walk away feeling happy. And sometimes, it’s better to lose
thirty dollars and keep a good reputation. It bothers me that we’ve forgotten
the importance of making people happy. Not just our friends and family, but our
neighbours, co-workers, and even that stranger on the other end of an email who
just wanted to have her phone service canceled on the day she asked for it.

May 2008
be a year of happy surprises for all of you! 

Your best customer service experience? Your worst?

next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy, and lovin’ life!


I’ve loaded a new photo album, have a look!

This entry was posted in Life. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Company you Keep

  1. Cindy says:

    My best customer service experience?  JCPenney … I had a pair of tall-size jammies which I bought online that shrunk unbelieveably after a few washings.  I sent an email to them expressing my disappoinment.  They not only took back the items even though I didn\’t have the receipt but she sent me a $100 gift certificate.
    Worst?  Sears … It took them several weeks this past summer to fix the air conditioner even though we informed them that my mother is on oxygen and was having trouble breathing in the heat.  Each time I called them they informed me that my parents were SilverCertificate HIGHLY valued customers.  Hmmmm …
    I\’m going to have to agree with Prez here … as I gaze out at 5 inches of snow and shiver under three blankets while trying to type this … you CANNOT complain about the heat.

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