There are some weeks, and we all have them (at least I hope we all do, I’d hate to be the only one) when nothing goes right. The last seven days comprise just such a period of time. I thank you in advance for the free therapy session I’m getting as I recount it.
It started with a deceptively happy event, as so many unfortunate occurences in my life do. The first shipment of paperback versions of Dangerous Mistakes arrived. It’s been available on Amazon for several weeks, but this order is for people who prefer not to order online. I opened the box, opened a book and gasped. I tried another book, and another book, and another book. All the same. The margins were off, and the books looked bad.
My sales/distribution team (aka my husband Gary), who is motivated always by the urge to cross things off his list, tried to talk me into thinking they looked all right. But no matter how I squinted, they didn’t. I called the publisher and arranged to send them back. I was assured that a reprint could be shipped out after the original order was returned and checked, and shipping would be expedited.
Disappointing, but not really a major frustration, right? Ah, but we’ve only just begun. Later that night, our LED television died. Readers of previous posts may recall that TV fills many a happy hour for me, so it was not a question of if we would replace it, but when. Gary, the man of action, had purchased and wall mounted a new television by the time I returned from lunch with a friend the next day. We did a test run, but after a few minutes, the picture and sound began to flash off, then on again. I tried my limited repertoire of fixes for awhile — unplugging, switching cables, turning things on and off — to no avail.
So I went to the company’s website. I spent time in an online chat with Vishnu, who instructed me to do everything I’d already done, which still didn’t work, then sent me a link to request technical service, which ironically also didn’t work. I returned to the online chat and was connected with Shiva, who asked me to take all the steps I’d previously taken under Vishnu’s direction.
When the problem wasn’t resolved, he sent me the same link Vishnu had. But this time, I was able to enter the request for technical service and I was given an 800 number to call to confirm it. When I did, I was connected with Dawn, who requested all the information I’d already provided on the form and then asked me to go through all the steps I’d already gone through with Vishnu and Shiva. Nothing worked, so she agreed to connect me with a technician. But when she came back on the line, it was to tell me no one was available and I’d have to call back in two or three hours. Having already spent over three hours trying to fix the problem, I declined.
Instead we returned the television and decided to buy one online from a store that provides installation services. Once I made the purchase, I received an email notice that the TV was backordered. I was offered the option of picking up the television at the nearest brick and mortar store that had the item in stock. So the next day, we drove two hours to get it. Once home again, we made an attempt to set it up ourselves, but when we ran into problems, I called to schedule installation by the experts.
Anita, the customer service rep I spoke with, had some sad news for me. Once I had decided to drive two hours to pick up the television, my request for installation was linked to that store, she explained. But because I was two hours away, I was outside the service area for that store. And I would have to go in person to another store (about an hour away) that served my area to request installation. The request couldn’t be made over the phone or by email, nor could Anita override the requirement that I appear in person at the store to make my request.
During many more minutes of conversation and consultation with Anita and a supervisor, I tried a firm demand for satisfaction, a placating plea for help and an empty threat to take my business elsewhere. They were not moved. I still couldn’t get anyone to come to my house unless I drove to the store first. I had just about reached the point where life without television seemed a viable option, when a friend of Gary’s stopped by to help him with his printer. He listened to our sad story, and diagnosed the problem as HDMI cables that were too long. And he was right and joy returned to the land. But not for long.
Then it was back to the book order awaiting reprinting and shipping. Having heard nothing from the publisher after several days, I called to be sure the returned books were there. They were, but the people in charge of resolving printing problems were not. No one would be able to check out the problem until Monday. Which seemed to make it unlikely I’d receive the new shipment by midweek as promised. On Monday evening, I hadn’t heard anything and emailed a query, but got no response.
On Wednesday, at the urging of my increasingly agitated sales team, who had orders he wanted to fulfill, I called again. The customer service representative told me the file hadn’t been looked at yet, but it should be soon. If I didn’t hear, I should contact them again. As of this writing the issue hasn’t been resolved and I’m not having a good feeling about this. I could go on with multiple other things that went wrong this week, but even I’m getting bored with the litany, so I can imagine how you feel. So I’ll just give you this last one.
There is no outside force to blame for the final calamity that rounds out my seven days of sorrow. I administered the blow to myself, though not intentionally. When new readers sign up for my Leah Nash Mysteries mailing list, I send an email thanking them. This week I had a batch of new names, and I decided to personalize the note so that it would open with “Dear Mary” or “Dear Mark” instead of a generic greeting. I wanted readers to know that I value them. It seemed pretty easy to do, I ran a test, and then I pushed the send button. I always include myself on the mailing, so I’ll know that it’s arrived.
Later in the day, I spotted it in my email, clicked it open and read: Dear *|FIRSTNAME|*.
Yes, I’d managed to make my personalized email as impersonal as possible. Aarrgghh! I went back in, figured out what I’d done, and sent a short and abashed note apologizing for the impersonal nature of my personal communication.
As far as I know, that went all right, and so maybe this is the end of my string of disasters for awhile. In the meantime, dear FIRST NAME readers out there, may your days be error free, as well as shiny and bright this holiday season.