Post Office – Doesn’t Complete the Process

usmailSo you ship a package completely on-line. You pay for the postage on-line for a guaranteed service that they don’t meet. You file the request for refund on-line. Amazingly in just a few hours you get a call saying….ready for this…..you need to come in to the post office to file the request for refund and fill out the paperwork……Now how does that make sense? Impressed with the response time but really you can’t just issue the refund electronically? The entire process was done on-line….up to that point. That is the problem with our government. They got most of the process but not the part that really matters. The easy part yes but not the part that would really complete the process. SMH – but I am not surprised.

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What cycling trips are on your bucket list?

Trek 520 Touring Machine

Trek 520 Touring Machine

I’ve always dreamed of riding a bicycle cross country. Upon reflection I wished I had done it after graduating from college and starting a full time job. It hasn’t happened yet but it will someday, hopefully sooner then latter. Yesterday I took a step towards making that more of a reality.

I finished building a bike that is capable of making the trip, a heavily modified 2013 Trek 520. A stock 520 is a great bike to make the trip but I wanted to add my own touch to it. This build uses the stock wheel set, frame, fork, headset, stem and seatpost. From there I made changes. I really wanted my shifting in the brake levers versus bar ends shifters which come stock so I used SRAM Red shifters that we had in stock. For braking I choose Avid Shorty Ultimate canti lever brakes. These brakes are really cool and feel great paired with the shifters. Needing a super low gear range I used a compact SRAM crankset that we had in stock along with a XX SRAM rear derailleur with an 11 – 36 cassette. A super low gear range. I added SKS fenders to keep me dry and mounted Ortlieb Classic Roller panniers to the rear rack that came stock with the bike. I also have a Topeak Tourguide front handlebar bag that I plan to install. I switched out the tires to some Bontrager H5 tires. These aren’t tires that I would ride cross country but they are going to be perfect for my first trip.

The first trip I have planned for the bike is to ride from Pittsburgh to DC using the GAP Trail (Great Allegheny Passage) and the C & O Canal. Another trip I hope to take in preparation is to ride the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Some day I’ll be able to check the cross country ride off of my bucket list and yesterday was one of the first steps of making that a possibility.

Certainly I am looking forward to the first ride. What trips have you dreamed about taking with your bike? I’d love to hear from you.

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10th Anniversary – 10 Great Years

It’s hard to imagine but 10 years ago last night Amanda and I were busy counting inventory on the eve of closing on the purchase of the store. Today marks the 10th anniversary of our ownership. I can’t thank her enough for her love and support of the store over the years. As I sit here typing this I am thinking of the countless people who have made this possible. The employees who have been with us and who are with us over the years thank you for all of your work and support. Yet none of this would be possible without our great customers. Thank you very much for your support! I’ve gained a lot of new friends over the years and I am forever grateful for the last 10 years and am super excited about the next 10 years. Thank you everyone and I hope you and your family are enjoying the holiday season.

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Hotel Loyalty Program

I used to stay in hotels more then I currently do and while I don’t have as many room nights as I used to I still travel some and maintain membership in my favorite hotel brands loyalty programs. One of these is the Hilton Honors program. On my last trip I was in Hampton Inn Billboardsearch of a hotel and the billboards for the Hampton Inn kept speaking to me. So when it was time to stop I sought out an exit with a Hampton Inn. As I was checking in I presented my Hilton Honors membership number and told it was no longer valid. I inquired as to why stating that my Marriott nor Holiday Inn memberships never expire. The lady said that they just do. Since I was there I decided to stay instead of seek out another hotel. Somewhat surprising the evening desk person at this time never offered to sign me back up for the program during the check in process. Once settled into my room I tweeted about this and I have to give Hampton Inn credit that they responded to my tweet the next day. Simply saying they would refer it to their customer relationship group. Once I returned home I even received an e-mail survey from Hampton asking about my recent stay with them. I expressed the same concern there as I am here so it will be interesting if I get a response. Typically I wouldn’t expect a response from a survey but with how they responded to my tweet I have a little higher expectation. They never asked for or confirmed my e-mail during the check in process. So I guess I am important enough as a customer for them to keep my information but not important enough for them to be part of the Hilton Honors program.

Maybe I am not their target guest because I don’t stay enough with them. What is the cost to them to keep me part of their program? They still have my information and I never receive mail from them, just an occasional e-mail. I think they have a greater cost to not keep me in their program because now I will remove them from consideration when I need to stay in a hotel or to host an event. For a company this size I would think it would be more cost effective to keep customers in their programs which seems to be the standard of others in the industry.

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Simple Clear Signage

Available at Crofton Bike Doctor

Cycling ornaments available at Crofton Bike Doctor

Simple clear signage is important in the retail setting. It eliminates surprises when the shoppers arrive at the cash wrap and it makes it easier for the sales associate. I didn’t have that experience recently and either did a few others that were shopping with me at Homestead Gardens. The sign said “Purchase 3 Ornaments and get the 4th Free”. When I got up to the register the person in front of me had ornaments but didn’t get the savings she expected. When she inquired the associate apologized but said only ornaments with loops on them qualified and those with clips did not. I quickly peered at my selection and confirmed that all of my ornaments had loops on them. I was up next and noticed that my sale didn’t have a free ornament on it. I was then informed that ornaments that were in boxes didn’t count towards the promotion. I like the person was given the option to set some of them a side but I didn’t. It made me think that this was a ploy by the Management to increase sales. So after I checked out I went to Customer Service and asked to speak to a Manager. In a few short moments Mary arrived and I expressed my concerns. She was friendly apologized and said she hears complaints all the time about the signage and if she could change the signage she would but that management wasn’t interested.

Nobody seems to win in this situation, the customer is upset, the sales associates get to deal with customers upset about the situation and upper management has rendered their floor managers powerless to address a customer service situation. The signs were simple and printed on paper so it is not a huge investment to replace them. A few days after this experience I was still irritated by this since the fix is so simple, I tweeted about this to Homestead and never heard from them. Apparently do they not only not listen to their managers but their customers too. I feel bad for their sales associates and managers who have to deal with this on a daily basis. Simple clear signage outlining the offer would solve all of this.

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