Saturday, 27 August 2016

Going: Part 2 of 2

Cancellation fee is $75?

That's correct.

Is there any room for negotiation here?

Yes Ma'am (patiently). The negotiation is from $300, the regular fee that you SHOULD be charged, to $75, what they are WILLING to charge you.

Even though it's the hotel's error?

I'm looking at this Ma'am, and I don't see any error.

Well. I called to cancel my reservation. To me, that meant all the hotel rooms associated with that reservation. How would I know that only one room was covered?

That's how we do it. Each room has it's own reservation.

Unless I worked for your hotel, I would have no way of knowing that. We are a family travelling together. When I called to cancel my reservation, of course I wanted to cancel all the rooms associated with that reservation.

I see.

(Encouraged, I continue.) I had one reservation number. I thought that all my rooms were linked under the same reservation. Obviously I am not sending my children to the hotel without me Especially since it is so exorbitantly priced.

One moment please Ma'am.


Ok, Ma'am I have spoken to the hotel and they are willing to waive the $75 cancellation fee. Your whole reservation will be refunded.

Excellent.  Thank you very much.

Complaint Lessons Learned:

  1. Pushing too far is not always smart but in this case it worked
  2. In retrospect, sending kids on vacation without us may not have been the worst idea
  3. Complaining is ultimately about the pursuit of justice. If something is unfair, like in this case, your chances of winning are a little higher.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

And Going And Going And Going And: Part 1 of 2

Needed Just-In-Case hotel reservation in Highly Desirable Area.

Booked two rooms.

Sold a kidney. Cost a fortune.

BUT can cancel with no penalty up until Certain Date.

Put Certain Date in phone with several alarms to Be On Safe Side.

Turns out we don't need rooms.

Called to cancel. 

Received cancellation e-mail.

Went on shopping spree because now it's found money.

Two days later received confirmation e-mail.

Hmmm that's strange. Already cancelled this. Why are they confirming?

Called the hotel.

Funny story. Blah blah cancellation blah blah confirmation blah blah so refund please.


? I have cancellation number right here.


Shall I read it to you again? Kilogram Harry Never 90-

I need to transfer you to our Customer Care Centre.

Hello Customer Care. Funny story. Cancellation, Confirmation, etc.

Yes I see that here, but it looks like you only cancelled one of the rooms.

What? Why would I only cancel one room? I called to say no longer going to High Traffic Area so no longer need Exorbitantly Expensive hotel. 

Just one moment Ma'am.


Ok, I've spoken to the hotel and their normal cancellation fee is $300 but they are willing to reduce it to $75 for you.

Now let me pause here to acknowledge that  someone who does not make their living complaining may be willing to accept this dramatic reduction in charges. However, it still struck me as unfair so I kept going.

But unfortunately we have reached our word limit so I will tell you the rest of the story tomorrow.

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Plan That Didn't (Really) Work

Wanted to do a funny series about how to stop your kids from complaining this summer.

Hint: You can't actually STOP kids from complaining, but you can make it less painful.

Plan was to interview unexpected people.

(Example: For column on "You Don't Listen to Me", interview hearing specialist.)

Problems Encountered:
1. The pieces didn't really work

Possible Reasons:
1. Too long
2. Too boring
3. People didn't get the joke (e.g., why would you interview a hearing specialist for a column on listening?)
4. Too much else going on in the world (e.g., let's make fun of American Presidential Candidates, Who Cares about the kids)
5. Timing (kids are away for the summer, pass the tequila)

Other Problems Encountered:
1. Interviewees bailed at last minute
2. Didn't have a Plan B, C, etc

End Result (half-empty):
1. Three columns at her Magazine, pathetic and alone
2. Excellent interviewees may screen my future calls
3. Social Media makes everything worse

End Result (half-full):
1. Learned from mistakes re: need to book more interviewees next time
2. Gained experience in interviewing those that showed up
3. Generated additional content which can always be used later
4. Topic for today's blog

Nu, already, so where can I read these columns?

1. here
2. here
3. And here

Friday, 19 August 2016

Silver Lining 4: Where the Story Ends

Hmmmm that's strange.

(I'm afraid to ask but have no choice:) What?

I just pulled out the Opera tickets? For Friday?


And it says here: Keep this number for when you Place Your Order. Does this mean I didn't place my order? Is it possible that we don't actually have any Opera tickets?

I don't know, let me see.  But FYI I'm just recuperating from pneumonia, so even if you find them, there's no way I can possibly…

Did I forward the tickets to you?


Did I forward the tickets to you?


(There are eight of us. Imagine this question repeated and responded to with variations on the phrase No I Don't Have The Opera Tickets).

Finally, someone says: Nope. Check your Visa statement.

I bought them with American Express.

At this point we aren't sure if you bought them at all.  Fine. Check your American Express statement.

No Opera tickets.

Not the six Opera tickets we thought we had.

Not on the Friday we thought they were for.

No need for the pneumonia I was relying on as an excuse a valid medical reason for not going.

Happiest ending of an Opera story ever.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Silver Lining: 3

Amy, you may not be able to go to the Opera after all.

I know what you mean. I am still a little (mild cough) short of breath.

You actually sound fine, that's not what I meant. 


We are, what, eight people?

Yeah. I think so.

I only got six Opera tickets.

Phew. That's too bad. I was getting kind of nervous that there was no way out excited about it. 

Sorry. I feel terrible. I don't know who I wasn't counting.

That's OK. I completely understand. I'm terrible at numbers too. In fact, my business card has a tip chart on the back so that I'll always know how much to tip the pizza guy.

But you'll be all alone while we're at the Opera.

Yeah, sounds terrible. An evening to myself with absolutely no one to answer to. Yuck.

I'll sit this one out with you, says C. We can get Aperol Spritzers.

Even better.

Lessons Learned:

1. Even when you think a story is over, it may keep on going
2. Aperol trumps Opera in the card game of life
3. When your Grade Nine teacher said Math skills would be important later, she was right

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Silver Lining: 2

Don't worry, you don't have to cancel your vacation.

No wonder they call you the cough Good doctor.

You just have to bring this inhaler, this inhaler, these antibiotics and this special over the counter pill.

Cough. Cough. Thank you.

And stay out of the hot sun.


Oh, and also, try and rest whenever you can.

Cough. Cough. Not. A. Problem.

(Fast forward 12-15 hours and make yourself an iced coffee)

Of all the places to recuperate, I am probably in one of the best. Surrounded by some of my favourite people in the world.

And, on the bright side, if anyone wants to do something I don't want to do  go to the Opera, I will just say Oh I'm Sorry. I wish I could. But Unfortunately (cough) I've been recently diagnosed with (dramatic pause) pneumonia.

What about cooking lessons? What about making cheese? The beach? Hiking through caves?

Oh I will be well enough for all of that. But if I have to sit in a chair and listen to an Aria, my lungs may just react. Plus, I don't want to disturb any of the other Opera goers.

(Fast forward 12-15 hours and make yourself an aperol spritzer)

Great news. We have Opera tickets for Friday night.

Oh I'm sorry, I couldn't possibly. I have just been (weak cough, antibiotics now working) diagnosed with pneumonia.

Which lobe? Higher or lower?

Dunno. But something important and non-opera-going.

What anti-biotic are you taking?

Pass package over.

Oh, Opera tickets aren't till Friday. Don't worry, you will be fine by then.

Lessons Learned:

1. If you travel with a doctor, you may get what you deserve
2. Opera tickets may not be as hard to come by as one would think
3. 200 words don't go as far as they used to. End of story to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Silver Lining: 1

Cough, cough, cough, cough.

Dr. does thorough examination and writes on prescription pad: Bad Cold. Patient would like Day Off.

Hands me piece of paper.

Cough, cough, cough, cough.

Brush off indignity and go back to office. Work all cough day.


Sister and Husband insist that I go back to clinic because (cough) cough is persisting.

Go back to clinic.


Nurse says I think I know you from somewhere.

I say Maybe. I used to work at blah, blah, cough, blah.

Oh, yeah that's it she says. You are Really Sick.

You think? I cough. Dr. said all I had was bad cold.

You need to see another Dr.

Good Dr. sends me for stat chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.

Bad news.

Lungs showing cough evidence of pneumonia.

Oh this is a cough problem.

I'm cough cough going on vacation tonight.

Oh NO Amy this does not sound good. What did you do? Where did you go? Where is the silver lining?

I would love to answer all your questions.

Unfortunately, I've been getting feedback that my blog posts are too long.

So please tune in tomorrow for the next 200 words.