BEING NICE TO CUSTOMER SERVICE – Marilyn Armstrong

Usually, by the time I call customer service, I’m already mad about something. It’s just the way life is in these crazy days of long hold times, people who speak some other language, but whatever it is, it’s definitely not one you speak.

Kaity and camera (and phone too)

Last night I went to look at an order I placed on Amazon. It was for a camera. Birthday present for my granddaughter. Believe it or not, she has finally worn out her camera. I offered to get her a new one last year, but she really loved that Canon and couldn’t believe it could ever wear out.

Well, they do wear out. If you read the fine print, every camera has a “designated number of shutter hits.” Usually, it’s somewhere around 150,000 which sounds like a huge amount, but if you take a lot of pictures, over the course of seven or eight years, you can run up some pretty big numbers. A few weeks ago she admitted the camera was slowing down and not delivering like it used to.

I wasn’t surprised. In the olden days, we’d send the camera into the shop and have it rebuilt, but you don’t do that with electronic cameras. When they die of old age, you replace them. In the time since I got that camera — 2011 I think — the Canon DSLR has undergone considerable changes.

In keeping with my understanding of what she really wants as opposed to what I want for her, I knew she wanted the same camera. New. Faster. But basically, the same otherwise. So that’s what I got her.

From the Canon T3, we have moved up to the Canon T6. It is not one of Canon’s top cameras, but that’s what she wants. She has lenses — one for each birthday.

Kaity looks for something to shoot …

I found a seller on Amazon who had the camera body only, no lens. Just the body, battery, charger, eye-cup, strap with and a full warranty for a good price. I bought it.

And when I went to look at delivery schedules, there was a big “PROBLEM WITH ORDER” showing, but no information about what the problem could possibly be. Since I had already paid for it, it wasn’t money.

There were only two other possibilities. They ran out of the camera and I was supposed to wait for them to restock (no way) — or they realized they needed to raise the price. In fact, they had already charged me $10 more than their list price. I really hate when they do that.

I had a funny feeling they were going to ask me for even more money. I noticed in their new listing, the camera’s price had gone up by more than $50, which made it the same price as every other Canon Rebel T6 camera.

I didn’t have time to wrangle with the seller. Since I hadn’t placed the order directly with Amazon, I understood it was sort of their problem, but also, sort of not.

It was late, maybe two in the morning. I got a customer service woman on chat. I explained this was a gift and I didn’t have time to turn this into an extended issue. I needed to just cancel it, get the money back, and order the camera somewhere else.

I said: “This is a really popular camera and there are tons of them on Amazon and elsewhere. I wasn’t expecting a problem or I’d have ordered sooner.”

Honestly, I forgot to order. I meant to, but I was looking to see where the best deal was and didn’t actually order one until a few days ago. I wasn’t expecting a problem, so I didn’t think it was a problem.

Kaity

I told her I understood it wasn’t entirely in her control since Amazon was not the seller, but I could not wait a week for them to figure out what to do … and surely there was nothing to prevent me from canceling. They obviously hadn’t shipped it.

She assured me I’d she’d make sure it got canceled and I’d get all my money back. Then she sent me a letter saying “thank you for being so nice.”

No one ever says that to me because usually, I’m not all that nice. But Amazon has been good to me, so I try to be nice in return. They always try to work things out for if they can. Not only did she say thank you, she gave me the secret telephone numbers to get hold of Amazon service directly! That’s like the keys to the kingdom. NO ONE gets those numbers.

Canon Rebel EOS T6 DSLR bundle

Plus a $30 credit — for being nice.

Me?

Ultimately, I bought the camera where I usually buy cameras. It cost a little more, but I got the normal zoom, which I knew Kaitlin wanted. It came with a case, a few filters in a nice little case, battery with charger, a good quality SD card, and Corel software.

I spent an extra hundred dollars, but she got a better setup — and I know Adorama will ship it quickly, pack it properly, and provide a real warranty. They have a physical address in New York. I used to shop there years ago when I lived in New York.

Being nice apparently has some good points.

MEASURING THE DAMP AND THE DEHUMIDIFIER

It all started with a notice from National Grid about dehumidifiers. We have one. It’s pretty old, but we need it because otherwise, the basement gets soggy. And smells damp. I hate that smell.

A few years ago, we had to replace all the window air conditioners because they were old, heavy, and grimy … and they weren’t really cooling the place like they should. This year, it’s time to take on the dehumidifier. Not nearly as bad as replacing five or six window air conditioners, but not free, either.

I needed something that would fly lower under the electrical radar.

We have recently become “that family” to which all other neighbors are compared, with the lowest electricity bill in our neighborhood. No one was more shocked than me when they sent me that same message two months in a row. But those days are about to end because as the outside temperature heats up, the window A/C units get installed … and whoopee, those electric bills fly up and away.

Meanwhile, getting the damp smell out of the basement is looming large. A new unit? Okay. But … how big?

None of the units I found myself staring at seemed ready to offer me information about how big an area they could handle. I needed numbers. How big a dehumidifier to dry up a damp basement? The size of a unit is measured by how many pints of water it can suck out of the air. The smallest for an average-sized basement would be 30 pints, the biggest probably 70 pints. If your basement is just a little bit damp, you might get away with a little one. If you have small pools of water on the floor, bigger is better.

I typed my question into Google.

I love Google. You can type anything into it and the answer comes up before you finish the question. Where was this marvel when I was researching papers for school? Come to think of it, I doubt it would have helped me much comparing the writing of Thomas Wolfe to Lawrence Durrell. I don’t think you find that on Google. Yet. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, I found a couple of sites and eventually, rating our basement of 1350 feet (and only half of it is damp … the other half is bone dry), calculating it as “damp, but not really wet” — which would be discounting drenching rains, hurricanes, or run-off from snow plus a spring rain — I went for the 50 pint. The 70 seemed to be overkill. More would not hurt the basement, but it would use more electricity.

The prices were pretty much standard. Between $170 and $250 for 50 pint model. Frigidaire had the top rating, no matter where I looked. The difference in price was minimal and I have learned to not buy the cheapest appliances. When I do, I wind up buying them again and you don’t save anything when you have to buy the unit twice.

Price: $200 plus tax. Including free shipping.

It took me a surprisingly long time to coördinate the size of the basement — which I know from all the times I’ve refinanced the house — with the “damp level” of the area. This process chewed up my morning. I didn’t even look at Serendipity until I realized the WordPress daily prompt was “measure.” Nothing could be more measured than my morning.

All of which reminded me of why I was so good at technical documentation. When I’m thinking measurements and numbers, my brain locks down.

So, to reiterate, if you have a soggy basement — and so many of us do — maybe you need a newer dehumidifier. If the basement is damp, but you don’t see actual wet spots on the floor — and your basement is in the 1000 to 1600 square foot size, you probably need a 50-pint unit. Especially if you hate that damp basement smell wafting up the stairs. Save yourself the extra effort. Get one of the Frigidaire units. I’m told the wheels work well too, so you can roll it reasonably easily from room to room.  Good to know!

There’s always something new …

Just when I thought it was safe, that I have every camera I could ever want, out comes the new Olympus E-P5. There’s some kind of law that as soon as I buy the camera I’ve finally saved up for, out comes the next generation that’s got all the nifty features I hoped to see.

Olympus E-P5

Actually it isn’t coincidental. I wait until the price on the equipment I want drops before I buy it. The price drop nearly always signals the imminent release of a new generation of equipment, or at least a new model. So I’m likely to remain at least a generation behind in camera technology.

That’s what happens when one lusts for the coolest newest stuff, but don’t really have the money to buy it. Moreover, I have nothing more than the flimsiest excuse to get another camera, even with my rationalization engine turned up to full. Lucky for me there isn’t much the P5 is offering that I don’t (more or less) have with the P3/PM2 combo. So it’s lovely, but I can resist it.

On the other hand (trumpets and a drumroll) … the new Panasonic (Leica in all but name) LUMIX DMC-LF1 was announced this afternoon. She’s lovely, scheduled for delivery in June. Just a few short weeks from now.

Lumix DMC LF-1
Lumix DMC LF-1

It’s got a built-in (be still my heart!) optical viewfinder, shoots in JPG or RAW, has a fast Summicron F/2.0 medium-long telephoto lens. At $499, it is almost affordable. Could this be the perfect do-it-all camera for which my soul yearns?

LUMIX DMC LF-1 (back)

I have a longstanding policy of never buying a new model of anything  (cars, cameras, computers, software) until I’ve heard from regular users, not the PR spinners. I want to feel the love before I start hoarding my pennies and quarters.

Since it won’t even be available to regular users until next month, I figure it will be a while before feedback starts coming in. There’s a strong possibility by the time I might be able to afford it — assuming I hear really good things about it — my computer will stop having intermittent seizures and quit working entirely, ending any chance of getting another camera no matter how wonderful.

Somehow, I think I’ll manage anyhow.

It’s new, better, exciting, cool. But if I miss it, there will be another — and another after that.

Because there’s always something new on the way. Trust me.

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