Tag Archives: tv

canada’s worst customer service

so, do you recall my tales of woe back in the fall (here, here, here…) about my stupid silv-ah ipod shuffle? to give a pictionary-ish summary, the story goes: dead ipod -> future shop -> apple store -> make an appointment -> apple store -> out of stock -> apple store -> replacement ipod -> dancing and singing in joy. unfortunately, we now continue the saga…

the week before christmas, silv-ah suddenly quit mid-katy perry. when i plugged him in to my laptop, he refused to play nice and reconnect to itunes, either. well, if you think i was going anywhere NEAR the apple store the week before christmas, you can think again. i just pulled out dad’s beastly ipod (which i still like better, anyway) and made do.

on sunday, i went up to the apple store at my pre-booked appointment time. child genius-dude eric/aaron/andy met me and schmoozed quite nicely. he examined silv-ah and said he had corroded. eric/aaron/andy fiddled with his handheld to find me a new shuffle. of course! the store had none in stock. well, he’d order one in for me, and when it arrived, it’d be mine for the low, low price of $49.99. hold your horses, charlie eric/aaron/andy! $49.99???

yes – apparently it is MY fault that silv-ah bit the dust after five weeks of song-playing. i pleaded my case to get a free replacement to no avail. i almost laughed out loud, despite my frustration, when eric/aaron/andy kept repeating that “it really upset him” to deliver this news to me. yea, i’m sure you’re right broken up, buddy!

now get this! so i get home, and i plug in silv-ah just to see what would happen. he connected to my laptop, i kid you not! so who knows where this story is going next. i will rely on dad’s borrowed beast and silv-ah (when he’s co-operative) as long as i can.

…and this is now the perfect segue to today’s main feature about customer service!


if i ever want a part-time gig with occasional hours, i think “mystery shopper” would be right up my alley (much better than “catering assistant,” for example!). i love shopping, i work in retail -> both sides of the coin are covered. plus, it’d be fun to peruse the aisles with an undercover motive…kind of like being a detective, but with no danger involved!

last week, i noticed that the cbc tv show marketplace was going to do an episode entitled “canada’s worst customer service.” that topic sure piqued my interest, and i was jazzed to check it out! i watched the show over the weekend (thanks to the parents’ pvr!).


marketplace covered a vast amount of content in their hour-long episode – everything from the results of trying to return a defective product to how long it took companies to reply to twittered complaints. if you’re interested in more info, click here for the link to the online show.

i enjoyed the broadcast, but it also frustrated me because i don’t think you can fairly critique a cross-canada major retailer by picking out isolated situations and sales associates.

as a starting point, marketplace solicited a survey asking canadians to name the retailer with the worst customer service. the *winners*? walmart, zellers, and crappy canadian tire (for years, my pet name for ct has been crappy tire). thanks to hidden cameras and microphones on volunteer shoppers, the producers demonstrated how all three stores fell short in customer service, helpfulness of the staff, and store cleanliness. no surprise, to my mind.

here’s my beef with the angle of this show: if i choose to shop at any of these three giant retail operations, i should expect that the money i am saving is because the retailer is cutting corners with staff training and development and available associates on the sales floor. want personal attention? visit the independents or smaller retail stores.

in the end, the very worst offender was…zellers. i agree that i have no recollection of ever receiving exemplary help at this store. but, i’ll reiterate that friendly knowledgeable sales staff is not what drives me to shop at this money-saving department store. [and as it was wryly noted on the show, zellers are being turned into target stores, beginning next year…].

coming from the retail perspective, i feel sympathy for walmart, zellers and canadian tire because spotlighting one or two isolated incidents does not provide a fair overview of country-wide store operations.

as a personal example, let’s highlight canadian tire. i have always been amazed because whenever i shop there, if i ask, “where would i find x item, please?” the sales associates, without fail, promptly reply with the correct aisle number – it’s uncanny! also, when i returned a knapsack with a broken zipper, without my receipt, i received a replacement bag at no cost, no questions asked.


getting back to the marketplace show, i really enjoyed the responses from random people on the street about what annoys them most when shopping. some answers: being ignored; uninformed, untrained and disinterested sales associates; long check-out line-ups; sales associates who point out where to find a product instead of walking the customer directly to the item.

in the end, the show revealed that the store that canadians voted for BEST customer service was…walmart! it’s not surprising that this store could be on both the best and worst lists…i think the stat mentioned was that walmart has over a million customers per day at its canadian locations!

do you think that superior customer service and low prices are mutually exclusive? i often hear from customers that they come to see us at the store because they will receive correct information and personal attention. yes, sportchek may offer very low prices – but good luck trying to find helpful staff and answers to your running footwear questions! as another example, if i shop at lululemon for workout wear, i do expect better service than if i am at old navy.

to whom would YOU award a “worst customer service” *award*?! me = future shop and the apple store!!! both places frustrate me to no end – as you are well aware!!

new experience #37: watch “a charlie brown christmas”

on the twelfth day of december...

i know!!! who gets to be my age and hasn’t seen this christmas classic?? i am chagrined.

pause to reflect: we watched oodles of christmas specials, when we were kids: frosty, rudolph, grinchie…all these, and more, were holiday favourites. but never charlie brown! [i can only surmise my parents were not cb fans??]. and in school, in those final, high-energy days before christmas holidays, weary teachers would play christmas cartoons for the class – somehow, my teachers did not include charlie brown in the mix. [tangent: i do know the supporting characters – linus, lucy, snoopie, et al because i had a peanuts jigsaw puzzle when i was little].

so here we are, christmas 2011, and it’s time to see what “a charlie brown christmas” is all about.

dad pvr’d this classic for me last week (i fear mom and dad are going to start charging me an admission fee -> lotsa tv time at their place already this month! i’m thinking of pitching a tent in front of their home theatre system, and just watching all tv specials all the time).

friday eve, i snuggled into comfy sweats (not quite as cosy as the pajama sleepers with feet that we had as kids), and trundled over to the ‘rents.

all we were missing was the popcorn!

the eve’s tv viewing agenda: a charlie brown christmas and how the grinch stole christmas. might as well add on my favourite christmas show ever, while i’m already plopped in front of the tv!

we started with charlie brown.


right from the opening scenes and song (i DID recognize the song) i enjoyed it. what a delightful little story! we all laughed out loud, even, from the cuteness! i esp appreciated the inclusion of the biblical christmas story – that is rare, nowadays, and was interwoven into the storyline very effectively. also, the simple anti-commercialism and true-meaning-of-christmas messages are good reminders for kids.


my favourite character? lucy!


we all laughed at her bossiness and take-charge attitude…because i am lucy, lucy is me! at the end of the 30 minutes, i was all full of warm fuzzies. add a charlie brown christmas to my list of annual must-watch shows. i’d love to watch it with little e! she’d be all over the singing, dancing, and acting.


next, dad queued up the grinch…except he pvr’d the jim carey movie instead of the boris karloff cartoon! oops! luckily, grinchie is being shown about 37 times between now and xmas, so we are all set to tape it again, tonight.

and…i finished mitten #2 during charlie brown!

perfectly pumpkin-y!

it’s official: christmas knitting is finit-o.

i think.

what is your favourite christmas special? there was one the brother and i loved when we were kids called emmett otter’s jugband christmas that i have not seen on tv for years. on the other hand, i have adamantly refused to watch the little drummer boy for about 30 years – it is way too sad when the little lamb gets run over – i can’t handle it. in our teens, we started watching this version of a christmas carol, starring george c scott, or this musical version featuring albert finney, every year!

simply TERR-ible!

the condo casa is a tv-free zone, and 99.9% of the time, i am fine with that. besides, the shows that i love and adore (jersey shore! real housewives!) i can find online, at my convenience.

but last friday, i realllly needed a pvr – it was regis’ final show, and i wanted to catch this piece of talk show history.

i don’t watch regis and kelly regularly, any more. [tangent: kelly ripa has always reminded me of my friend, julie!]. i started tuning in to regis when his co-host was still kathie lee gifford, and continued watching when kelly took over from kathie eleven years ago. any time i do catch the show, regis never fails to make me LOL at least once. i just find him very, very funny! i have also read his memoir, “i’m only one man” and watched a lot of episodes of who wants to be a millionaire. but his best role, by far, is as daytime talk show host. what i most appreciate about him is his storytelling ability and his sense of witty repartee – and his willingness to laugh at himself.

so, i asked mom and dad (well, dad since mom doesn’t do prv taping) if they would be so kind as to tape the show for me, and i’d come over and watch it sunday eve. they graciously accomodated my request.

now THAT'S a classic regis-being-regis expression!

please note that mom and dad are NOT regis fans. so, i was all the more grateful for their generosity in lending me their telly! and, mom and dad kept me company while i watched!

in a nutshell, this farewell show was the absolute pits! it was so incredibly, disappointingly awful! the tributes were trite, the tone was fake and schmaltzy, kelly read every one of her lines from the tele-prompter or from the paper in her hand, regis was trying too hard to be cool…i will stop now before it sounds like i’m complaining.

the closing remarks...thank goodness.

mom and dad were such good sports to sit through this wretched tv viewing time. to be honest, at one point, i told dad he could fast forward. i couldn’t TAKE it any more! (say that in your head using regis’ distinctive intonation, ok?!).

ugh – it would have been much more enjoyable to watch a “regular” regis and kelly – my favourite segment has always been their opening chitchat, and that lively banter and natural vibe was completely missing from the farewell show.

i wish regis well in his future endeavours (he is not retiring, remember!) – and i will try to erase this last show from my memory!

did you watch the final show/have you ever watched regis’ morning talk show? he’s had an impressive career – think of all the celebs he’s met!!

favourite talk show host? over the years, i’ve gone through phases: rosie; regis; dr phil; marilyn (cityline)…i’ve never watched ellen, and only watched oprah sporadically.


november thankfulness:

(for monday november 21): yesterday i was thankful that this huge blister that i have had on my big toe has popped and is getting better. it was the size of a quarter! and YOU can be thankful because i am sparing you from any photos!

no wake up jeff!

it’s aunti day!

file photo from this summer

this autumn, we’ve *fall*en (punny!) into a lovely routine in toronto: after everyone’s home at the end of the day, the brother and sil ana duck out for some time to themselves, and little e and cutie c and i get to have girl-time all together.

after supper, we typically gather around aunti’s computer while the girls enjoy their fruit dessert and we watch the wiggles!


our usual routine is that the girls take turns picking from the list of songs that pops up when i google “wiggles, watch online” – they now have their favourites: little e is big into “brown girl in the ring” and “ensalada de fruta” while cutie c quite loves “five little ducks.” i like ’em all! we have a lot of fun cuddling up and having a sing-along.

the other week, i decided to get a wiggles dvd from the library. i think aunti will *forget* to pick up another one…while i truly don’t mind the wiggles’ songs (i know they are not every grown-up’s favourite, but i’m cool with them) the dvd was a little much. let’s just say the wiggles songs, one by one, are much better than their inane overly-enthusiastic bantering and cheesy dialogue!

anyway, also over the past few months, a funny situation has developed with little c: as soon as we settle in to enjoy our music time, she turns to me with a look of terror in her eyes and implores, “no wake up jeff!” she doesn’t mind the character of jeff when he’s in other songs or on-screen – she just has taken a huge dislike to the SONG entitled “wake up, jeff.” i’m not sure why! it’s a really upbeat song, so i doubt it’s the tune. the running gag with jeff is that he sleeps a lot…and snores. so, i’m not sure what aspect scares cutie c, but we just can’t watch that song! (luckily, there are 200 other songs for us to choose from).

cutie c’s reaction made me think of when i was little – i didn’t watch a lot of tv, but mom let me watch mr dressup and sesame street. i distinctly remember that on sesame street, there was a segment that popped up from time to time: it was a guy dressed up like a chef and he was carrying a platter of cakes. he’d walk up stairs (i think the purpose of the sketch was to count from 1-10) but then at the top, he’d fall down the stairs. for whatever reason, this skit scared me to pieces! as soon as i’d see this chef-guy, i’d quick run and hide behind the couch. mommy would tell me when he was gone, and then i’d go back to watching the show. what scared me was the tumbling down the stairs – maybe i thought he’d hurt himself? or maybe i was caught off-guard the first time i saw the chef fall, and it surprised me too much.

so, never fear, cutie c! we’ll avoid wake up, jeff. we’ll just go bananas, instead!

any characters that you had an inexplicable fear of, as a child? or, if you’re a parent/relative/caregiver, any funny aversions from your little darlings? it’s interesting how something adults find harmless and funny can evoke quite the opposite reaction in kids!


continuing on from yesterday’s cereal theme, towel #3 arrived in the mail yesterday:

three for three, all free!

this one is my favourite, colour-wise. too funny that i have never had a lucky charm in my life, though!

four takes on friends

yesterday after work(s), vfbf joanne and i met up for our monthly get-together. it makes me very happy that we have gotten together every single month since we reconnected in march. time sure flies in between visits!

march 2011...

...and october 20th/yesterday!


bff debbie sent me another funny:

FRIENDS are like panties…
Some crawl up your butt.
Some snap under pressure.
Some don’t have the strength to hold you up.
Some get a little twisted.
Some are your favorite.
Some are holey. Some are cheap. Some are naughty.
And some actually cover your butt when you need them to.
Some never let you down, but grow with you..old and all.
And some you will never ever throw away.


by now, you know that i was/am big into seinfeld. do you remember when it used to be a 1-2 punch on thursday eves, friends followed by jerry and the gang? that was a good tv night (oh, and that comedy hour was followed up with er).

i was trying to decide who my favourite character was on friends…but i can’t choose! each one of the cast members was humourous. friends was one of those shows that could make me laugh out loud, and is still funny in re-runs.



and last but not least, today is gina’s bday! ❤

happy birthday, g! 

grade 13 graduation, june 1989!

gina's last visit east: june 2011

we’ve come a long way, baby!

look at this coincidence!…

that's gina on the L and joanne on the R, in my ~age 5 photo album!

so cool that i am STILL friends with childhood friends. what a gift.


what was your favourite tv night, in the past? prior to the friends/seinfeld/er era, i enjoyed thursday eves with the cosby clan!

any current comedies on tv that you can recommend? i am so behind the times. probably the last sitcom that i watched with any regularity was king of queens (funny, but not anything to rave about). i have heard good things about modern family, parks and recreation, the big bang theory…but have never seen any of these shows.

New Experience #20: Watch Real-Life Friends On a Reality TV Show

Do you watch a lot of reality tv?

I’m not an addict, but there have been a few series I have followed avidly over the years:

  • the very first season of Survivor
  • a few versions of Top Chef
  • one year of Canada’s Next Top Model
  • Season One of Real Housewives of New York
  • one round of The Amazing Race
  • every episode of Jersey Shore [my absolute fave!]

[Sidenote: I have never seen even one episode of American Idol; I keep meaning to catch any of the dance contest-type series; I categorically refuse to watch The Biggest Loser].

Back in April, I introduced you to my friends Lee and Jeannie from the store.

lee at the store on sunday, during run club; jeannie wasn't out this week

They are quite the adventuresome couple – last fall, they had the opportunity to participate on a Canadian reality TV show: Wipeout Canada. The show filmed in Argentina. At the time, Jeannie was traveling in South America anyway, and Lee was able to join her for a few weeks.

Since filming their action sequences segment, Lee and Jeannie have not breathed a word about how they fared, so I was excited to see what would happen on the show! Given the title of the show, I had a feeling that my overriding impression would be better them than me.

Sunday evening on TVTropolis, their episode finally aired.

This was a New Experience for me – I’ve never personally known anyone on any of the reality TV shows I’ve watched – or on any reality TV show in existence, period!

Sunday evening, then, I excitedly plopped myself in front of the TV, ready to watch. The show aired from 8-9 p.m. Yes, that is late for me. But it’s not like I haven’t stayed up late before just for the sake of the blog!

I knew absolutely nothing about Wipeout Canada before Sunday eve. I suppose I could have done some research, but I decided to just go in blind. Here are the notes and photos I took while watching (real-time blogging, the method I used when I watched Oprah Goes Vegan).

~This week it’s Wipeout Canada: Family Smackdown Edition. The contestants are parent/child, sibling or spouse partnerships.

~ Lee and Jeannie’s team tshirt colour is orange! That’s Lee’s favourite colour (and mine!) – that’s a good sign!


~ Qualifier round: each challenger attempts to complete an obstacle course:

make it past the punching gloves!

go, lee, go!

~ More teams participate…then Lee and Jeannie are back! They replay my friends hamming it up: swats on the bum…

hippy shake!

…and Jeannie yelling “I love you!” at Lee as he attempts to cross the big bouncy balls.

jeannie cheering on lee as he leaps across those giant bouncy balls - mud underneath, if you slip!

~ Wipeout Canada is sophomoric in terms of humour: example – Lee and Jeannie are placed in the category of “domineering wives…” – that’s not how I see Jeannie!

"the setup"

~ I would liken the way Lee and Jeannie are depicted to a caricature drawing: one feature is exaggerated and played up. The producers chose to turn Jeannie’s zest and enthusiasm for life into bossiness.

~ Jeannie moves on from the qualifying round! Yea, Jeannie!

ready for action!

~ The second round is the Sweeper Round – contestants are standing on an elevated pole, and have to hop over a giant rubber toothbrush as it swings around. This looks hard! Jump up, jump over the sweeper, and land on your pole? Eesh!

pole + sweeper

~ “Nagging Wife Jeannie” makes one successful hop, then falls on her next attempt:


Jeannie, you’re awesome for completing one hop!

~ Next is this spinny thing:

i guess you could practise at canada's wonderland!

Great close-up of Jeannie as she begs the spinny thing to stop!

hope the spinning didn't last too long!

~ “Meannie Jeannie” charges off of the spinny thing!

go get 'em, jeannie!

~ There are several shots of Lee as he watches on the sidelines with other family members and the host(ess):

lee = orange tshirt

~ “Meannie Jeannie takes her time…she’s used to having her husband do everything for her.” Ouch! [The scripted comments about all the competitors – esp 17 year old John Jr – are pretty merciless, and keep getting worse – they’re trying to be funny but make me wince].

~ Eventually, Jeannie is knocked out of the competition.

~ The Final Round sees the remaining four challengers competing to win the $50 000 prize. Wow! That’s sizable prize $ up for grabs!

It was really fun to watch Lee and Jeannie on this show! Jeannie made it further along than I had thought (sorry, Jeannie, but it’s true!) so I liked the surprise factor, and I liked scouring the TV screen for shots of my friends.

Lee and Jeannie were kind enough to give me some feedback:

Jeannie: “Lee and I had to summon up all our courage to click the play button on the website to watch us make fools of ourselves. But I have to say that it was quite entertaining. You know that I am a way worse nagging wife than what was portrayed on the show, right? =)Yes, we’re very proud of being a prized part of the Carstar “Make it Unhappen” moment. That was seriously excellent comedic timing.”

Lee: ” Jeannie and I both watch the episode today together. We enjoyed it, and thought it was pretty funny. It was nice for us to see all the other people on the episodes wipe-outs and interviews because we were not allowed to see it when it was taped. As for our comments…
We both are glad we did it, and would do it again if asked, but the episode could have looked a lot different if the editing was changed. In the end, I think we find it so funny because the way we are portrayed is so different from who we are, so it just looks like some characters on TV to us. But I guess in the end that’s what they we’re looking for, you know … ‘for good TV’.”

Way to be good sports, Lee and Jeannie! I’m proud of you!

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

If you could be a contestant on any reality tv show, which one would you pick? I would choose Dancing With the Stars. I’ve always harboured a desire to be a professional dancer. In my next life!

Royal Accolades

Wasn’t it a beautiful wedding?


*Le sigh*…

I got up yesterday morning at my usual 5 a.m. However, it’s not EVERY morning, that I get to watch a Royal Wedding to start my day!

You know, earlier this week, I thought I’d not bother to watch. During the pre-wedding build-up, I really haven’t tuned in to the general hoopla, interviews, TV specials, speculation, and gossip.

But a funny thing happened once I turned on the TV…I got more and more caught up in the proceedings as the minutes ticked by.

See, “Watch a Royal Wedding” could not count as a New Experience. While I missed Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981 because our family was on vacation in P.E.I. – although now that I think about it, why did that impact whether or not I watched?! – when Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson got married in 1986, Gina slept over and we DID get up at 5 a.m. to watch the TV coverage in our pj’s. That was a REALLY. BIG. DEAL! Fun memory!.

Now, if you and I had been curled up on the couch this morning with our spot of tea and vegan scones, here’s what I would have randomly commented upon…

◊ We’ve got the best seats in the house, us TV spectators! Just like at a major sporting event or concert: at home, you miss the electricity and excitement in the air, but you sure do get great close-ups – and no one’s head blocks your view!


◊ If I had been in attendance, I would have joined this girl, for sure:


Never pass up an occasion at which you can sport festive nails!

◊ Seeing William and Harry arrive at the church evoked a real sense of nostalgia…


I felt like a Proud Auntie because I remember when Wills looked like this…


I couldn’t help but think how proud Diana would have been.

◊ My new Favourite Girl’s Name is Pippa.


[Tangent: Eyebrows have been raised over the cream-coloured bridesmaid’s dress. To my mind, it’s the perfect choice: classy, formal, sophisticated…and if an actual colour had been worn, you’d have heard how *wrong* the shade was. Also: apparently, this muted shade is a British/royal tradition].

◊ I loved the fashion parade, and have nothing but good things to say about the choice of attire:

~ Kate’s lace was spectacular.

~ The Queen radiated in yellow.

~ Mothers-of-the-Bride, take note of Carole Middleton’s attire. That is an example to follow!

~ Beatrice and Eugenie…unique. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

◊ A few Cliff Clavin-ish facts, learned thanks to the CTV commentators (among whom was my close and personal friend Jeannie Beker, providing the fashion input!):

* the engagement was announced 22 weeks ago

* Sarah Ferguson was not invited to the wedding, and is considered “a disgrace” in Britain

* the first hymn sung (Guide me, O thou great redeemer) during the service was chosen in tribute to Princess Diana [happens to be one of my all-time favourites, too!]

*Le sigh.*

◊ He was dashing, she was gorgeous. Congratulations, William and Kate!

All in all, so glad I watched. Set me up with Warm Fuzzies for the entire day.

I had to leave for work just before the Balcony Appearance at Buckingham Palace, but thanks to the oodles of online and televised resources, I can catch that part of the celebrations…now, if I wish!

Did you watch? One observation or comment? Can you imagine getting married in front of millions of TV viewers, the throng of adoring spectators, like that?!