Friday, December 18, 2009

Real Estate Agents...

I was clearing out some old files and found this little puppy. This was actually the first time I wrote a letter like this after being pissed off with a customer service experience.

What you need to know is we had a dispute with our landlord about some services (gardening among others) that they did for about 18mths and then stopped all of a sudden stating that it was our responsibility, despite the lease saying otherwise.

We took them to the relevant tribunal (and won ultimately) but there was some magic stuff throughout. When I invoiced them for doing the gardening work ourselves (we're talking literally weeding, mowing the lawns - but a shit load of it...) they came back that we were "Not experts in the area of weeding and gardening maintenance"

The next day I responded with the following:

facsimile transmittal
To: XXXXX, Ray White R/E Cronulla Fax: XXXX XXXX
From: XXX XXXXX Date: 17/8/06
Re: 7B Orient Ave, Cronulla
Pages: 4


As per our conversation yesterday, I include here the breakdown of costs and remittances that we seek.

Please send me a copy of the sheet shown yesterday outlining the grounds maintenance.

Facilities paid for, but not working: $20/wk X 18 weeks. 18 weeks is from the first time this was reported to your office in writing, (not the verbal notification months earlier) to the date of the tribunal notification.

$45 X 3 people X 7 hours = $945.00
This is based on a $45/hour quote from Jim’s mowing. We have not charged for transport and use of a Garden Shredder.

Total: $1,205

But say



In our meeting yesterday you expressed some concern at the level of professionalism with the gardening work conducted by myself, my father and my wife compared to a “professional” from Jims Mowing. I felt it necessary to explain in agonizing detail the experience of the three of us which undertook the gardening work at 7B Orient Ave, Cronulla.

I attended the Highly Regarded Academy of Weeding and Gardening Maintenance (HRAWGM) at their main campus located at Kareela, in Sydney’s south. I am proud to say I am one of their longest attending students (1976 - 2004). There is also a smaller campus in Wollongong and HRAWGM’s headmaster, Giovanni “John” Lenzo (also for clarity, the fearless founding leader of the Orient Avenue Gardening Troupe) has been seconded to many locations throughout the Sydney region and has some 35 years of Weeding and Gardening experience, as well as some landscaping and garden architecture to his credit. No doubt, I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

As I may have mentioned during our meeting, my own personal skills in the garden are not the best. Sure, I became Treasurer and Secretary of the Orient Avenue Gardening Troupe, but frankly the odour of bovine or chicken excreta is not good for my sensitive nasal passages. I was often picked on by the other students at HRAWGM for my lack of skills and was left to do the simpler tasks like mowing the lawn (a real sort of gardening 101, if you will. With the HRAWGM flare however – I did pick up a few things), or picking up the leaves from around the faculty pool or picking up the vines that had been trimmed from the monster long wall vine thingamagig (see what I mean, I could never remember the names of these things) on the HRAWGM quad and jamming them into the shredder. Actually jamming is the wrong word, ‘cause they can actually jam if you put too much in it at once, but I digress.

One of my forced servitudes was to Shell Tennis up at Gymea. They had a massive lawn out the back that must have been 12 feet high if it was a foot! I made the mistake of saying “Hey Mr Newman, I’ll mow that lawn out there for $100.” Now, at the time $100 bucks was a big amount of money. I think I bought a Transformer (you know the one that changes into the plane – I forget his name) and a space lego from ToyWorld at Jannali. I remember that lego sucker cost me 52 clams and was a big ticket item at the time. Took me ages to put it together, but I was the coolest kid on the street. Sadly after that I became embroiled in a lawn mowing for tennis lessons scandal that I fought hard against, but my mother wanted to instill a decent work ethic into her only son.

Although I was not the best graduate of the fine institution that is HRAWGM, I did not feel this would hold me back in life as gardening was really not one of my interests, This kind of thinking comes in handy say for instance when you sign a lease for a duplex at Cronulla that says you don’t have to do the lawns and gardens. Despite turning my back on my training, it did kick in during my field expedition at 7B Orient years later. ficus elastica of the moroceae family. That’s what it is in Latin. That thingamagig I mean. Or Edra in Ital… Sorry, where are my manners? Fig Leaf is the English word for it. That’s one thing I did like at HRAWGM. Languages. I suppose I did retain more than I thought. This fax has really made me nostalgic. Thank you.

I remember my best friends mother at the time, circa 1988, (Graham Smith* was his name – moved to Melbourne, embraced God and went a little off the rails, let’s not dwell) used to stop by the HRAWGM grounds all the time to marvel at the wonderment of our garden. She was also my piano teacher and told me that she had passed other people walking past the Academy that had stopped to comment on the garden. Charming woman to be sure and while I love her dearly, there was a time when she took up the organ instead of piano and put in some stain glass windows in her lounge room and just went a little wacky in general. Come to think of it, perhaps she’s not the best person to bring up. I don’t really know why I did…

You’ll have to excuse my verbosity. I’m sure you won’t think I’m rambling or anything like that, it’s just that I feel it prudent to allay any fears you may have with regard to our training and professionalism in all areas of Gardening. With that off my chest, I’ll press on.

A sister school of HRAWGM, the Oft Maligned Gardening Institute located at Sylvania was where my lovely wife Kim (and the third member of the Orient Avenue Gardening Troupe) attended class. OMGI had a very good reputation in years gone by, but were forced to change their name (to include “Oft Maligned”) after a nasty incident with some “weed” killer (or “killer weed” as the students – and some of the faculty staff - called it) a pair of doves and a banyan tree. Suffice to say, that although this once fine institution has fallen on hard times in recent years, I can assure you that at the time my wife was attending, the school was regarded in the same category of distinction in gardening circles as HRAWGM.

So, while I understand that you may have initially thought you were talking to people who were unfamiliar with the detailed care required for gardening and weeding, I’m sure you’ll agree that a Leading Academic in the gardening field and two graduates of highly sought after gardening academies are able to handle the gardening task at 7B Orient Ave. Further, I believe you will find many similar such learning institutions around the world, training the fine men and women who not only go on to tend the gardens in their very own white picket fenced homes, but also those that answer the gardening call and go into the game professionally.

After our meeting yesterday, I have written to both HRAWGM and OMGI. As it seems that you are very concerned with the quality of gardening throughout your managed facilities, I have taken the liberty to acquire the services of these esteemed institutions to Ray White Cronulla for below market rates. HRAWGM is looking to landscape the main campus for the summer and getting money for this sort of things out of the Board can be like getting a real estate agent to fix… Well, you know what I mean. Perhaps some sort of contra deal can be organized whereby in return for work performed, there could be some sort of advertising done. Look, I’ll leave the details to you, just let me know if you want to do anything and I’ll have their people contact your people.

We have not moved into brain surgery ‘cause mum says that after the fiasco of that lobotomy attempt in Queensland the cops might get suspicious and that surgery is for professionals, but I reckon that gardening should still be ok.

Please do not forget to send the maintenance sheet you showed me yesterday. It can be faxed to:

C:- Highly Regarded Academy of Weeding and Gardening Maintenance

Yours Sincerely,
* Some names have been changed to protect the real names of certain persons involved in this story.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Virgin Mobile Accounts Access: Rebooting - A Panacea

Had some hassles accessing my virgin mobile online account. I could log in, but couldn't actually read or download any of my invoices, past or present.

I tried this on 2 pc's and a mac with IE and Firefox... I reckon I've covered my bases.

So I ring Virgin to see what the problem is and they go through it with me. I explain that I've tried it on a couple different machines and browsers, so they try to log in and do it from their end. They can!

So, he tells me to reboot my system. I explained again that I've tried it on 2pc's and a mac with no luck, so asked what he thought rebooting would do? He says that "sometimes a reboot helps".

I asked him whether he thought I should reboot PC1, PC2 or my Mac? Dead silence - after which he said try the PC... I explained again that this would not work, but asked him whether if he could access my account and save the file as a pdf (which he'd already said he could do) he could email it to me. "Sure," he says.


"That will take 14 days."

I shit you not! I went through the palava with him and his supervisor. They both had the actual file, right there, on their systems, and in less time than it took to explain to me why they couldn't do it, they could have done it but no...

The supervisor told me to try rebooting the system as well. I explained again about multiple pc's/browsers and he said he knew that, but I should just try it... I asked him if he felt I should give reinstalling Windows a try too!

Suffice to say, I don't have my bill and after getting off the phone I had to reboot a little later in the day. Just for shits and giggles, I tried getting my invoice again. No joy!

Maybe I should try reinstalling Windows... Naaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Encounter with and Spam!!!

Hey All,

I had an encounter with recently that I thought I'd share.

For some background, many moons ago (years) I bought some flowers through their site. It would have literally been a few years ago. A few months ago I started getting spam. It eventually annoyed me so I unsub'd.

I got another spam mail.

I unsub'd again.

Got more spam mail.

So, realising that the "Unsubscribe here" link was useless I went to their website and sent a polite email (no, really) to their customer service asking them to unsub me. I did state that I'd tried twice before and didn't want to have to do this again. I was firm, but polite. I got an email back very quickly apoligising and assuring me that I was removed from their list. Great!

Until yesterday.

Up and at 'em early in the morning, I get another spam email. So, I shot off another email to customer service, which I will print below.

It begins as follows:

What is it with morons???

I have unsubscribed from you(sic) service several times. After this not working twice, I have sent an email to your customer service explaining that when I want to order something, I’ll contact you. I do not want to receive your spam. I also explained that if I get something again, it would actually ensure that I never, ever purchase anything from you again. I’m assured “IT will fix the problem”.

Lo and frikkin’ behold, if not 2 weeks later another spam mail. Did you fuckknuckles think I was kidding? If I take the time to actually send you a frikkin email telling you I don’t want your shit and you send me more, do you think I’m actually gonna go:

“Well, yeah, they completely and utterly ignored me their past and potentially future customer, but whatever, I’ll buy up big”


“Fuck Off, you’ve been told. And now, instead of just me not buying stuff from you, I’m gonna tell everyone I know, not to do the same, because if you make that mistake, they’ll never leave you alone.”

Take a guess.

If I get another spam from you, I won’t bother sending you an email, I think I’ll start a blog. Done it before. Very successful. Go on send me a spam.



I stand by the sentiment 100%. If you have an unsub button, make sure it works and if you then tell the customer they're unsub'd, frikkin' do it. However, it did lack the more subtle nature of most of my work and just went in fairly hard and with fruity language, which I tend to try and avoid if I can.

What can I say? 6:30am, bit of a nob, I should just get over it. Yeah I get that.

I very quickly received an email apologising and assuring me that I had been removed. Fine!

Today however, I received this:

(Name), personal apology for not having unsubscribed you before you have had to send your last email.

Not sure why this happened. Not our nature to spam anyone.

I know that you have been unsubscribed now.

Best of luck with your business.

James Stevens
Roses Only: Founder & CEO

Well, blow me down! I can't say whether I'll use roses only again or not, but this very quick email from the ceo at least gets them back to even ground. Shows at least someone there cares about what is going on. I still say, get the unsub thing button working 100%, but nice clawback.

Why else am I saying they're back on even ground?

I sent my email from a work address. The ceo sent an email to my work company's public email, addressed to me. So he (or someone at least) took the 30 seconds or so to check the website from my email's domain name and use a public address as opposed to sending me more "spam". Intentional or not, nice touch!

I call out dodgy customer service all the time. I praise good attempts too.