Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Hard Day

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. It was a hard day at work for everybody, but, by Your Grace, everyone kept their tempers in check and did what needed to be done.  And still we failed to achieve our aim, at every possible level and in every possible way.  We failed. And today, after this morning, work is going to be a serious place where we are going to take owership for what we did do and what we didn't, and be responsible and responsive to our coworkers.

Thank you, LORD, for all the support I received today, so that at least i could deliver what we said we would, and in a working state, too. Thank You for Alejandro, for showing me a young man dedicated to getting things done, regardless of what sacrifice he made to do it.

LORD, thank You for my family.  I pray for Aaron and Trish. And I thank You for my father, a mand of generous spirit.  Thank You for the kindness of my wif in coming to fetch me from work, even though she was tired beyond measure, and it was past 10:30 pm.

LORD, I am surrounded by such self-sacrificing and self-giving people. Help me to be deserving to such goodness. It's Holy Week. Help me to be Holy, sanctified.

We are going up to Vermont for Easter weekend, please let this be a family gathering that is peaceful for my sister Beki, a weekend filled with Your Spirit.

I ask all these things in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Prayers: My Family, Our Popes, Steubenville, Our Nation

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today.

Thank You for the Precious Gift that is my family: my wife and daughters, and thank You for their safe journey home from the Philippines.  It was a long time that they were away, and, in retrospect, quite painful in the solitude I endured, ... but only in retrospect.  Thank You for giving me the fortitude to bear through and to press on through each day that they were away.

Thank You for another Week of work.  This marks me entering my third year of employment with Celerity and Fannie Mae, and I ask You to bless them abundantly for their generosity in giving me and so many others work to do during these hard times that is both purposeful and fulfilling.

LORD, please watch over and bless my nephew and niece, Peter and Sofia, as they are baptized this Easter. Please bless my dear brother and sister Beki and Howland, their parents, as they have their children baptized.

LORD, watch over our new Pope, Francis, as he begins this Petrine ministry. LORD, please watch ove our old Pope, Benedict XVI, as he ends his.  Both have so much wisdom to guide us, both are a blessing from You. LORD, please help us to see the blessings our Popes are to us and incline our ears and our hearts so that we may listen to the wisdom they have to share and that we may act in accord with that wisdom.

LORD, a special plea and prayer to be with the girl in Steubenville as she recovers from her ordeal. Please, LORD, give her care, love, support, and everything she needs to let go of resentment or bitterness or (self)blame. Please, LORD, Steubenville was such a beacon  of hope and prayer and goodness for young Catholics going to college, and so much good came from that little, unremarkable town. Please, LORD, may some good come out of this terrible National attention. May, in all this awfulness, Your Will be rediscovered. May Your Will be done. May Your Spirit come to rest on Steubenville and upon our Nation and provide strength, comfort, compassion, and healing.

Today was St. Joseph's Day, Patron of the Church, and the name-day for Pope Benedict XVI, né Joseph Ratzinger. I ask St. Joseph to pray for our Church, to pray with Mary, Matron Saint of the United Sttes, as he prays for our Nation. I ask him, and especially the Holy Family to pray for families and especially to pray for my family, that I may provide for it and protect it, as You, LORD, provide for us and protect us. 

I ask all these things in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


So, I did get a response from BBBY (Bed, Bath, and Beyond):

Thank you for bringing to our attention the issues you experienced with our customer service team in-store and online. We are truly disheartened to see that any one of our customers had such an experience. At Bed Bath & Beyond we strive to deliver excellent service, however, in this instance we fell short of our expectations. Please rest assured that we will use this example to retrain our staff, to ensure no customer receive this type of service again, because this is not acceptable for any of our customers, and especially not acceptable for Bed Bath & Beyond standards.

We see from the situation you described how it can leave the impression that "the entire corporate culture is callous", but nothing can be further from the truth. Our first and highest priority is to always take care of our customer. We take every customer feedback seriously and act quickly to ensure we improve how we deliver our services and make every effort to retain our customers. We would like the opportunity to resolve this matter to your satisfaction and keep you a satisfied Bed Bath & Beyond customer. We have the phone number you provided on your original email and I will contact you by phone tomorrow morning.

We sincerely apologize for the issues you experienced and look forward to speaking with you soon. Please feel free to contact me directly at [redacted]. I am in the office Monday through Friday from 8AM to 6 PM EST.

Best Regards,


See? That's what I wanted. I think any wronged customer would want that, that their complaint is heard and the company is taking corrective action.

I did reach out to Raj, and the phone conversation was a reasonable one. He told me his efforts to determine how things went wrong, and what he was doing to make them right.

After several missteps by BBBY, Raj made every corrective effort.

What were the missteps? That I asked to be treated as a person who wanted to do business with them: a customer, and instead of treating with respect, they processed into their workflow, and when the square peg (that is, me: a human being) didn't fit into their round hole, they tried to make me conform.

But I'm not a BBBY employee. I am a customer.

That's where they screwed up. "We didn't provide the service we said we would? Fill out this complaint form." "You filled out the form incorrectly [I didn't]. Fill out the complaint form again with the same information." They didn't want my business, they wanted to punch the ticket and move the work from the inbox to the outbox.

Raj, however, threw out the processing aspect of the business and met me, person to person, talked the situation over me and addressed my concerns directly.

Then he offered to change BBBY by adding an entirely new SKU so I could buy the items I was originally promised.

But the problem here for me was: what did I do the second I got out of my car at my house after BBBY showed me they weren't good for their word? I went right to the Yankee Candle online store and ordered the candles myself, like I should have done a week prior instead of getting in my car to get not 'no service' but the 'brush off.'

But what have I been harping about in these posts? I've been harping on 'diligence' and 'dignity.' I've been demanding BBBY employees do their job, for a change, and treat me with respect, for a change.

Raj did just that.

So what did I do when he asked for my credit-card information so he could place an order of Yankee candles for me? Did I give him the brush off? No.

No. I had made all these demands, and BBBY listened and followed through, exactly as I asked. So would I reward their diligence with what?

I do not Raj going back to report on this with a half-hearted response and a zero-result. I want him to go back to his boss with no reservation, knowing he did everything he could to make things right, and he did make things right.


Because, at the beginning of each day, I look into the mirror and see a man there, and ask him: did I do what I said I would? did I do what I asked others to do?

Today, I can say 'yes, I did.' Because, today, somebody in BBBY, and not just somebody, but Raj from eSupport said 'yes, I did,' too. I answered his 'yes' with mine.

Thank you, Raj. And thank you, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for listening to me, and following through.

Evening Prayer at the Perpetual Adoration Chapel

Dear LORD,

thank you for today, this week, this month, this Lent, this time of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the Christ's sacrifice to save us all.  

Please be with the Cardinals as they discern Your Will for the Church in these coming months and years as they choose a new Pope. Please be with my family as they prepare to come home. 

I ask all these things in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013


So, here's the response from Bed, Bath and Beyond corporate:

"Dear Douglas, 

Thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention. In instances such as this, the complaint is forwarded to the District & Regional Customer Service Managers for that particular store. However, we are unable to distinguish store location with the information provided. Please forward the exact street, city & state, so we can contact the Manager for that store along with your contact telephone number and a good time to call you. Once we receive this information, you will be contacted by the District Customer Service Manager within 24 - 48 business hours.

We truly apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have additional questions or concerns, feel free to forward your response via email or contact Customer Service by dialing 1-800-GO-BEYOND (1-800-462-3966).


Customer Service
Bed Bath & Beyond 

So, what's wrong with this response?

Nothing. It's business as usual. 'Kiara' did nothing outside of her job description.

She didn't read my complaint, for if she did, she surely would have seen the words 'Loisdale' and 'Bed, Bath, and Beyond' juxtaposed. I mentioned the word 'Loisdale' twice, in fact.

So if we go to google and enter 'Loisdale Bed Bath Beyond' we get the following top response:

Bed Bath and Beyond - Springfield, 6642 Loisdale Road VA 22150 ...

That took less than a second for me to do.

How hard was that, Kiara, to do your job with any diligence? You're welcome, by the way, for letting me do what you are supposed to do, as customer service.

Do you see how this is endemic? I got the same shoddy service from you as I did from your store representative. You didn't bother to read what I wrote, you just looked for checkboxes to fill, and when you saw that it wasn't exactly in the format you were expecting from me (an expectation you did not communicate a priori, by the way) you defaulted to 'well, I can't handle this, this is outside what I'm programmed to understand.'

You didn't care at all, nor exert one bit of effort.

My complaint is not (just) against your Springfield, VA 22150 location, it's against your entire corporate callous culture. Please remand to your C.E.O. to read, review, laugh at, and get on with his day. After all, he has a business to run: he doesn't have time to address the concern of a customer.

My contact information was in the original complaint. With my cell phone number and a good time to contact me. I'm not going to repeat myself because of lack of care or concern or competence on your part. Thanks.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Customer Focus

There are some things I don't like, one of them is being lied to, even if this lie is supposedly 'unintentional.'

I think that's what infuriates me more, is that these service people have no intentionality in their lives, and that shows up in their work.

So, today, I went to purchase some Yankee kindle candles. And I did my research, I found out that the Bed, Bath and Beyond was a Yankee Candle reseller, and I found the nearest location: on Loisdale road.

I called them to confirm that they had Yankee kindle candles in stock.

Emphasis mine.

The customer service rep responded right away and crisply. Yes, they have them in stock.

So, I get into my van, drive there, search the store.

What do I find?

Mmhm. Yes, we have no bananas.

So I go to a POS rep asking where can I find Yankee kindle candles.

Emphasis mine.

The rep pointed me to the Yankee candle section.

Not good enough. I tell him I've been to that section and could not find Yankee kindle candles.

Oh. Yankee kindle candles? That's different.

He refers me to the manager.

The manager sucks on his lip and says, after checking his inventory, 'We don't even have those in inventory, are they new?'

'Are they new?' is what I get.

I said I called in. I said I was informed they were in stock. He asked was it this store I called? Because other stores have more expansive inventories.

I gave the address and phone number of this store.

He apologized.

That was nice. An apology.

I got out of my house, into my car, and drove to Bed, Bath and Beyond, so I could not purchase the item I wanted, but instead get an apology.

He said he didn't know why the service rep would tell me they have Yankee kindle candles in stock without even checking inventory.

He didn't know why.

But I know why.

But do you see, Bed, Bath, and Beyond why an apology doesn't cut it? It cuts it for your manager, but not for me. I don't want, nor need, an apology. I wanted customer service, in that when I was told you have something in stock, you do, actually have that thing in stock.

What does your word mean? to you?

Because now, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, your word means nothing to me. You, through your representative told me you had something at the store I was going to, and you did not even have that ordered, nor in inventory.

You lost a customer today. You lost a guaranteed purchase, and all you needed to get my money was to actually back up what you said.

You didn't.


Here's why.

You don't listen, and you don't care.

When your service rep heard 'Yankee,' she stopped listening to everything else I said, even with my emphasis. Do you know why she stopped listening?

Because she's not 'customer focused,' she's not even focused at all. All she wanted to do was to get me off the phone and get onto the next thing.

So did she do due diligence? No. She didn't listen to what the customer was asking, and, then, even if she did listen (she didn't), she didn't even check inventory: a 1.75 second check (I watched the manager check: it took him precisely that long).

Bed, Bath, and Beyond: I am not even worth 1.75 seconds of your time.

I got the same (lack of) focus from your POS rep. I asked for Yankee kindle candles, all I got was a hand-wave to the section of the store I just came from.

You lost $50 in sales today, and a customer, because your representatives can't spare me 1.75 seconds, can't focus, and can't put any intentionality into their words.

Their words are your Word, and your word, for me, now means nothing, because what was said had no basis in truth.

Thank you for that.

Now, let's focus on some real customer focus.

Last week I was at the Ravensworth Safeway. I bought a bottle of wine. The POS rep was the MOD that day.

He was a huge, jovial man, just doing his job. If you've seen professional baseball players, this guy had that look: tall and built massively.

He asked for my id. Of course. Vendors are required to card when selling alcohol to people who look 30 or under.

I smirked, and handed him my drivers license.

He scanned it, then started to hand it back.

Then scanned it again. Then gave me a double-take, then a triple take.

We both started laughing at the same time.

"Wow! Whatever it is you're doing is really working!" he exclaimed.

And I was proclaiming delightedly how I just love it every time I'm carded.

This was probably the first time in his life he carded a man pushing 46, thinking he was in his mid-twenties.

But what happened?

To him, I was just another customer, and he was just pushing me, my order through the system, doing his job. But then, something happened, his expectations were subverted when he saw a young man (so he thought) buying alcohol, but found out this young man is nothing of the sort, and then he wanted to know about me.

Then he stopped treating me as an order being processed, he started treating me as a human being, and he reached out and connected with me: person, to person.

And it wasn't just me. As I was pushing my cart out, I saw him be relieved from the register, and he greeted an elderly couple, customers, by name and with a smile, and asked about their day.

And that: right there, was the real 'Point of sale.' That manager exemplified 'customer focus,' because ... intentionality? Yes, he showed it. He actually did focus on the customer right in front of him, and from those customers he did focus on, me, and that couple, he smiled and received smiled back.

It was a pleasure doing business with that man.

And what did that little bit of intentionality cost him?

Not a dime. In fact, I would go so far as to say he had a better, more productive day on the job, being (actually) customer focused and being intentional than the customer service rep I talked with at Bed, Bath and Beyond at Loisdale Road, who was probably trained to be 'customer focused,' but was she focused, and did she treat me as a customer? that is: a person with whom she wanted to conduct business with?

Was her day better, just trying to get by and blowing off people? Does she have high job satisfaction?

Is this what you wish to project as your image, Bed, Bath and Beyond?

Do you know what I prefer?

I prefer to be treated as a person. I prefer that when I ask you a question, I'm actually heard, and that the answer I'm given is actually correct.

And I will make that preference known by conducting business with companies that do that.