Hppy Annversy Txting! I <3 U!

This month marks the 15th anniversary of text messaging.  I remember seeing a text message feature on my old Motorola Startac phone but I didn’t have text messaging feature on my phone, so I never used it and thought that it was kind of silly – with a cell phone, isn’t it just easier to call someone.  Now I send and receive several hundred texts a month.

And in a totally unrelated topic, slot machines are about 100 years old, and are getting a make-over.  I’m not a gambling type of guy though I appreciate the simple brilliance of slot machines.  You win and lose just enough to keep you pumping quarters in there.  Adding other elements makes them even more addictive, since everyone likes a little healthy competition.  They industry is smart for changing now so that they can appeal to all those current Halo and World of Warcraft players who will eventually be little blue-haired old men and ladies sitting at the casino all day.

My First Wedding Topic Blog

So I am in the middle of a planning a wedding with my fiancée.  We’re about two months into our engagement and we got off to a pretty quick start.  Within a month of being engaged, we picked a wedding date, reception site, church, minister, our wedding party, and the color.  Two months in and we are down to a choice between 2 DJs and we have a photographer, as well as picked out 90% of our dinner menu.  So we’re doing pretty good.

However, one thing that we noticed very quickly is how varied the customer service levels are among independent companies.  While nearly everyone (myself included) complains about customer service operators being outsourced to India and other places where someone named "Mary" (ha!) tries to help you with your inquiry, perhaps we should be glad that we’re at least getting a response. 

Nearly every business "guru" out there will tell you that the key strategic advantages for small, independent operators to differentiate themselves from the big, giant monster corporations is quality and service.  If that’s the case, the wedding industry is in deep trouble. 

Maybe its because it isn’t something you do very often (hopefully only once….) and they know they can drag you along, but so far, customer service and just general response has been pretty bad.  Our best experience has been with the Hard Rock Cafe (a big company), where we might have our rehearsal dinner.  Even our photographer, who we love, left us hanging for a few days after the Thanksgiving holiday, leaving us to wonder if we were really meeting with them last weekend or not.  Clearly the culture of "customer first" is far more alive in corporate America than in entrepreneurial ventures.

A perfect example happened today – from a bridal gown company.  Here is the exchange between my fiancée and whoever was answering this email (click to see the screen capture).  As you can see, clearly no one was actually READING the email.  So I called – you know, just for shits anMarys_emaild giggles – and spoke with a heavily accented woman who explained that customer service doesn’t read the emails… the OWNERS DO!  That’s just what you want to hear from a company that you’re looking to spend a couple of thousand dollars with on your wedding dress.   

I like supporting local merchants and have myself lamented the loss of local stores and chains.  My parents had a small bakery that eventually fell victim to supermarket bakeries, so I know the pain that comes with losing the local flavor.  While I know that we didn’t always provide perfect customer service, I’d like to think that we tried harder than a lot of people out there.

So that’s the first of what I am sure will be many other wedding observations in the coming year or so.   I won’t bore you with details – just try to entertain you with the silly and interesting stuff.

How To Get Pine Sap Off Your Hands

I know this has NOTHING to do with pop culture other than the fact that it is the Christmas season and people are putting up Christmas trees, but I wanted to share with everyone a great little tip. 

If you get pine sap on your hands – or your clothes or car for that matter – the best way to remove pine sap is with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  You can do a search on-line and find recommendations for olive oil, peanut butter and nail polish remover, but I have found that hand sanitizer works fast, won’t hurt your hands, and it sanitizes them at the same time as a bonus!   It is basically the same principle as removing it with rubbing alcohol, just easier to handle.

I’ve even used it to get pine sap off of my car as well.  I don’t know what alcohol does to a car finish, so I use it sparingly and wax it right away after using it.