Customer Service

Recently I needed to contact customer service for three different companies. The first was for a monthly magazine subscription that had not arrived. The next was for an internet order that had not arrived (nor had I been charged for it), but I had placed an order on the company's website 8 weeks before. The last one was an online purchase where I'd entered a voucher code but I had not been given a discount.

I was amazed that in two of the three cases, I sent multiple e-mails to which I got no response. In the case of the magazine subscription, the missing issue arrived on my doorstep a week after the second e-mail with no explanation. In the case of the rebate, a similar thing happened - the money was refunded into my account after two e-mails, and I never got a response.

A Breakthrough
For the last one (the product I thought I'd ordered), I actually phoned, and got great service. The company checked to see if they could find my order, they apologised when they figured out that they lost the order, and finally they took my details over the phone and sent out the goods.

It makes me wonder if I got good customer service in the first two cases. They did what I asked, but left me with a bad taste in my mouth because there was zero communication back. I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything wrong (like lose the magazine or not enter the voucher code), but I don't really know. The phone approach worked in one case but I had been on the phone with one of the other companies, and they insisted they'd "call me back" (which they never did) - so it can't just be the phone...can it?

Still Not Happy
In summary, I feel a little jibbed by my recent customer service experiences. Not enough to complain back to the companies themselves (because technically they did the right thing), but enough to need to vent on my blog :-)

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Us, Winter 2007

I love winter in Victoria, most likely because that's when my birthday is :-)

Winter is cold (it was 7 degrees this afternoon, before it started hailing) and although we don't live too near the bay, I reckon we still get a sea breeze which keeps the temperature down. The roof of the car is icy some mornings. Your nose starts running if you spend too long outside.

Although outside the air is icy and fresh, inside we have a gas wall heater and a wood log heater in two different rooms to keep our house warm. The kids like to sit in front of the gas wall heater in the mornings. At night, the wood log heater is perfect for sitting in front of to watch TV (or even toasting marshmallows).

With shorter days and clear, crisp nights we've done a lot of sitting inside in front of the fire and TV at nights, or playing our latest acquisition Settlers of Catan (a boardgame). We first played Settlers with friends at their house, and within a couple of weeks had our own copy of the game. It's addictive and simple to play, and works best with more than two players but can be adapted for only 2. Olivia and I play have played it frequently; the only downside is that Olivia keeps winning!

The photo above is me and the kids - TJ, Maya and Heath - spinning on the chair at my desk. Heath pulls himself up to standing but is not quite walking. Maya started 3-year-old kinder today which was very exciting. TJ wrote Olivia and I a card the other day all by himself, and is loving school.

Well, that's a quick wrap-up of us in winter!

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Simple Church

I don't often post about my church. As a quick refresher, here's the short version of my recent church history:

Olivia and I were left without a church when Peninsula Baptist at Mt. Eliza closed down around August 2001. We kind of drifted and didn't find another church until we stumbled on Real Life Community in Carrum Downs in January 2002. Since then, we've been part of Real Life and have made many long-term friends.
This is not to say that the past 5 years at Real Life have been easy...but it has been worth it!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
What initially drew us to (and continues to appeal) about Real Life is that the people are friendly, our gatherings are low-key and relaxed, the leadership takes it's responsibility seriously in terms of teaching from the Bible, and the church as a whole always looked to see how it could be a part of the wider community in Carrum Downs.

Over the past 5 years Olivia and I have attended, Real Life has had some excellent, passionate people leading it. It has been exciting to see people "shine" and develop and demonstrate their talents. On the flip side, I realise now that the longer I stay at any one place, whether it's church or work or a club, the more I'll see people leave - and I feel a little sad when I think of the people that have moved on from Real Life for whatever reason.

Anyway, now Real Life is at a crossroads. Running a semi-traditional Sunday morning service was never one of it's goals, yet that's what we've found ourselves doing, and it drains a lot of time and energy.

Simple Church
Our plan is to move towards a more simple church. We have been discussing house churches. This is an exciting move, but it's also nerve-wracking for me personally because it's a big change and I don't like change :-)

It has been interesting to work with the leaders in the church over the past 12 months especially, which was when the cracks first started appearing in the drain of a Sunday morning service. I'm not saying Sunday morning services are a bad thing: just that they did not work for us in terms of getting people to chip in, and they left a lot of us feeling empty after attending. In short, not a good thing.

This weekend marks the end of one era and the start of another for Real Life. I don't know what will happen on the other side in our transition to "simple church" or even where I'll be, but I do know it will be an improvement!

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Yep, it's my birthday. I'm now 3% older.

This means I'm now qualified to say things like "well, 20 years ago..." because I was there :-)

Olivia and the kids really put on a great morning to start the day for me - the kids gave me their presents (and then we threw the wrapping paper at each other) and Olivia made pancakes with fresh coffee for breakfast. Thanks also to my family and in-laws who rang or e-mailed to wish me happy birthday.

Olivia has planned a great day out on Saturday as my birthday present with some spending money at Borders. So far I've received some fantastic presents like a pair of Collingwood Magpies boxer shorts, a Billabong jacket, the complete 1st and 2nd series of 'Extras' on DVD, and a Beastie Boys CD.

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to meee...

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