Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bug Wars

Ah, my husband and his antics. Honestly, he's the one who should have a blog.

So first, the background.

Corinne has been into bugs lately. She loves searching for them and putting them into her "bug catcher", a small plastic death trap where innocent unsuspecting bugs are imprisoned and then forgotten in the hot sun with no access to food or water. She likes bugs of all kinds, even if she is afraid to touch many of them, like spiders.

Given this, Pete, being the great dad that he is, decided that it would be very cool to order some praying mantis (mantii? who the hell knows) online to hatch and release into our "garden" (i.e. weeds, the aforementioned rhubarb, and some crazy raspberry bushes threatening to take over the yard). He ordered 600 of them. Six hundred. Have I ever mentioned that I hate bugs, by the way? Especially big creepy ones that are capable of this. He also ordered 1,500 ladybugs to round it out.

Sadly this is not a story of big gross bugs in my garden. For that I am both relieved and disappointed. No, instead it is a tale of poor customer service and strongly worded emails.

Here is the email that we received from the bug company:

Your insect order has been shipped. If your area is more than 90F, then your order will go FedEx or UPS two day air at your expense, extra bugs will be sent for compensation. Ladybug orders of 18k to72k are sent second or next day air depending on temperatures. We choose the most economic, safest and fastest means of shipping. Upon arrival, cool ladybugs for 4 to 12 hours, then mist down the released area. Release in the very late afternoon or early evening. Orders of more than one package are packaged into a single bag of ladybugs to keep a low cost. Directions can be found on the links below. Please mail payment when your bugs have arrived. No part of your order other than shipping will be charged to you credit card as stated at check out. Please pay the total as shown on the invoice you will receive with your purchase.

So we eagerly began awaiting the shipment, checking periodically throughout the day to make sure we were ready to cool the little buggers off. Well, after a week we realized they weren't coming, so Pete sent an email to the company. No answer. He sent another one. Still no answer. He called and left a voice mail, no answer. So Pete sent this email:

Dear Growquest,
I have sent two emails to the address and left one voice mail message at the 805 921 3900 number, asking for clarification regarding the invoice (enclosed) and instructions for requested (and apparently) shipped items. To date, I have received nothing from your company, either as product or customer service.

I suspect that the season is over. All I can say is that both I and my autistic daughter are incredibly disappointed. We planned and discussed this event of rearing praying mantis and planned a release of the lady bugs with her peers. She was very excited for this experience. Thank you for ruining it with your inattentive and customer adverse model.

Upon doing more research into your organization, I've learned much, none of it positive. It would appear that I am one of hundreds that have been negatively affected and cheated by your organization. As you've already been reported to the CaBBB, and clearly have an extensive following of haters, there is little recourse for my frustration.

Thanks for nothing except disappointing a little girl that already has enough hardship and a father that wanted to make her happy.

Go Pete! Pullin' the autism card! He also started doing some research on this company, which turns out to be one guy, and found that this guy has screwed tons of people, and it seems his MO is not getting back to people. He had over 100 negative, in many cases scathing, reviews. This time we received a response within 12 hours:

Well that is a bit dramatic. First you have been charged for nothing, so there is nothing to be cheated on, second ifthe matter was that urgent nothing stopped you from making the purchase from another mroe responsive vendor.

Third, my voicemail was very clear from the middle of May to the mid June " I AM OUT OF LADYBUGS DUE TO A LATE HARVEST THIS SEASON" really a little individual responsibility would have helped.

I am happy to send your daughter a free package of ladybugs, one does not rear mantis, one allows them to hatch and then release them.

Perhaps a better lesson to teach children is not to sit on your ass blaming others for 6 weeks, nearly 4 of which you would have found notices posted on my facebook page and my voice mail and my twitter feed NO BUGS, and to take decisive and immediate action to satisfy your needs.

Whooo boy. Now that's some great customer service. Them's fightin' words. Pete's response:

First, thank you for finally replying. I had honestly given up and simply sent an email in complete frustration with the process. Your response is priceless and has clarified everything.

My assumption, based on the message sent below (including invoice), was that you were shipping the products as ordered. Updates provided on your voice mail message? Facebook? Why would I check Facebook to determine the status of an order when you sent me an invoice and shipping statement (see below)? Perhaps if you replied when customers were simply inquiring, instead of irrate, you wouldn't receive angry emails and the extensive following of dissatisfied customers. If any of my prior requests were greeted with a reply or call back, we wouldn't be in this situation. To belittle me as an upset client is, to be honest, pretty incredible. As an FYI, the voice mail message stated that lady bugs were on order, with extras being sent to make up for potential losses. Also, no mention of the other half of the order for the mantis eggs. Rearing or releasing, you didn't send them.

In one communication, you have solidified every outlandish review that I have read about you. I am shocked at their accuracy and your belligerence. I'd like to follow your company's progression, but my understanding is that your company is reborn under a new moniker periodically to shed dissatisfied customers. Please watch for your well-crafted response anywhere I can post it. There are enough sites focused on your business dealings and ethics.

You'll notice that I'm not sitting "on my ass" to deal with this. The lesson that I'll pass on to my daughter is to do on-line research before engaging with any vendor. Given how easy this would have been to avoid had I done a simple satisfaction search of Growquest Growers, it really is my fault. Shame on me for now having to join the hundreds of cheated and disappointed customers.

I am sorry to have engaged with you, for your treating me like an idiot for ordering from you, and the whole experience which should have been positive and easy. Instead, painful and appalling.

In closing - keep the ladybugs for the next misled customer, fuck you, and good day. If you are able to honor any request from a customer, do not contact me again.

Ah, I love my guy! I particularly like all the corporate jargon that I refer to as Pete's "work voice", and the "good day sir" nod to Willy Wonka. I also love that this whole thing is over something as gay as lady bugs. The lesson here: don't come between a father and his desire to please his little princess. And do your research first.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

Please forgive me for straying so far and for so long. Again. You know you are the one I truly care about... Facebook means nothing to me, I swear. Just a quickie here and there, purely physical. You know I always come back to you for the real intimacy.

Has it really been 5 months since I last posted? I don't even have anything to say for myself. On a day to day basis there's nothing Earth-shattering to report, nothing blog-worthy, just lots of good Facebook fodder. But then all of a sudden 5 months have passed and Lily has gone from sitting to crawling to walking and has developed a distinct personality, and I haven't documented any of it. It's that second child syndrome! And then I just get so far behind that it becomes overwhelming to get it all up to speed.

To refresh my memory I went back and read all my Facebook posts since October. Here it is, in a nutshell.

Loser Family Inc.- What You Might Have Missed (the Clif Note version):
Painted some murals; cats suck; kids are driving me crazy; Lily has sleeping issues; kids are sick; trip to San Diego; Lily has sleeping issues; Corinne says something wacky; Lily crawling; Corinne's a jellyfish; Corinne doesn't need speech anymore; sick kid(s); Lily climbing stairs; sick dog; Lily eats dog's meds; plantar fasciaitis sucks; did our wills; Lily has sleep issues; Christmas= stressmas; cats suck; dogs suck; Lily has sleep issues; basal cell nose surgery sucks; sick kid(s); sick me; sick everyone; computer sucks; Lily eats cat puke (cats suck); Shamu sucks; sick kid; cats suck; another sick kid, sick husband.

And there you have it. That brings us up to date. Yes, many of these topics certainly deserve their own posts, and I will try to at least address the most important ones in the very near future, namely: 1) Corinne's progress (subtitle: Corinne is a super star) 2) Lily is Trouble, with a capital T (subtitle: it's a good thing she's adorable) 3) So, is Lily "Typical"? It's the question on everyone's mind...

All these topics, and more. I save my best for you, dear blog. Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Other Shoe Falls

Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. The first real meltdown over not wanting to share with Lily. And the thing Corinne didn't want to share was my attention and affection.

There were signs it was coming. Like asking me to lift her over my head like Lily, or tickle her like Lily. Also her obsessions have been getting worse; everything has to be about sea creatures, fish, and Shamu. And then there's comments such as "I don't feel like listening to Lily crying" (she got that one from me) Plus she has been having small random meltdowns all week over insignificant things, so we suspected that there was more than meets the eye going on. But she never complained or even seems to notice when I pay more attention to Lily, and I was starting to think her indifference was maybe a PDD thing.

No doubt Lily is taking up a lot of our time. It seems like all I ever say is, "in a minute Corinne, I need to feed Lily" or " soon as I get Lily to bed". Lily is 8 months old and very "typical", which has actually been a big adjustment for Pete and I. We're not use to a baby that is into everything, endlessly curious, and fearless. She just started crawling last week, and is really gaining confidence, speed, and a devilish gleam in her eye. She's already pulling up onto everything, and the only thing that stands between her and walking is balance. She's got the strength, she's got the technique, and she certainly has the desire. She is a lot of fun, but, like any baby, she is also very demanding. I've been so focused on treating her the same way we did Corinne as an infant and avoiding the "second child complacency" that I think I've been overlooking my first baby.

So I think it started because Pete had to leave this afternoon, on a Sunday, to go to New Jersey for work for a couple days. Corinne picked right upon the change in routine: "Why you have to go to work now, dadda? Will you be home for dinner? Why you have to work so much, dadda? (I swear I didn't put her up to it!) She seemed sad that he left, and then she decided she wanted to go inside (it was a beautiful day and I was trying to get some yard winterizing done, so while we were outside together, I was not giving her my undivided attention) I told her a couple times that we would go inside in a little while, but she just wouldn't let it go and then the tears came. She said she was tired, which has been her thing lately. She says she just wants to lay on the couch, which is what we did a few weeks ago when she was sick, and now I think it's her ruse to cuddle with me. I told her that maybe she should take a nap if she's so tired, but then it became all about reading a book first and we just weren't getting anywhere. Finally I sat her down and told her that I noticed she'd been getting upset a lot lately, and asked her if something was bothering her and out it came: "I want to have just Momma time with no Lily. I never get just momma and dadda time anymore. I don't really like Lily". There was something so... I don't know... big girl... mature, about her tears. She was trying to keep herself under control and failing, and when I told her that Momma and Dadda still loved her very much and how I knew it was a big change and how hard it was, she cried even harder. It broke my heart. I must admit that as a fellow first born, I distinctly remember feeling jealous and resentful of my sister. I had so been hoping to prevent this with my kids. My heart wants to be supermom, and be all things to both kids, to give both of them all the attention they want/need/ deserve. I want to do crafts with Corinne, teach her things, take her places. I want to entertain Lily, help her along with her milestones, stimulate her mind. But in reality I am so very tired. I just don't have the energy. Frankly, there are times I can't wait to put them both to bed so I can just have a couple hours to myself. There are days when I count the minutes. And there are many nights when I go to bed feeling guilty, inadequate, impatient, selfish; worrying about how my actions today will impact them down the road.

I don't mean to complain. I love my kids, I love my husband, I have a wonderful life. I just never dreamed it could be so draining, physically and emotionally. This parenthood thing got exponentially harder with the addition of a second kid. I remind myself of the most important lesson I learned with Corinne: this too shall pass. No matter how dark things seem when you're in the thick of it, when it seemed like the issue du jour would never be resolved, when you weren't sure how you'd possibly get through another day or week or even another minute of it, in reality most things were just a phase that eventually ended. A few months later looking back on it, you barely remembered how bad it was. I know Corinne will adjust to being a big sister, that eventually Lily will become fun, that we will be able to do things as a family instead of the "divide and conquer" approach we have adopted as of late. I know I'll find the groove and find a balance between the two, that we'll all become increasingly independent. As for today, we both had a good cry, skipped the nap and played a game, did a puzzle, read a book. Corinne seemed no worse for the wear and I've convinced myself that she won't become a convicted felon because I can't play sea creatures all day long with her. Now both kids are asleep in bed, I've got a glass of wine and a bunch of episodes of "ER" and "Bridezilla" on DVR. Until tomorrow morning, it's all about me. This too shall pass... this too shall pass.