Archive for the ‘Insecurity’ Category

Service of Antidotes to Decorating and Fashion Insecurities

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Alexandra & Michael Miller, Everyman Works, Brooklyn

Americans’ insecurities about decorating their homes is well documented. Google the subject: you’ll see. I know this first hand from interviewing retailers and interior designers over years, starting with a stint eons ago at Art & Antiques Magazine. Fine antique shop owners had a heck of a time fighting a fear of being different. For starters, people dread unsolicited feedback from friends and mothers-in-law, as in “Why did you choose THAT style, color or pattern?” on walls and upholstery to china. Frame shops thrive when called in to fill a new house with art because a homeowner doesn’t know where to start [and perhaps would like someone else to blame?]

Renee Weiss Chase, Cloth2Clay, Collingswood, N.J.

The good news: According to Newton’s third law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I maintain that there are those who bend over backwards to achieve a special look in their homes filled with visual surprises that they love—that are the decorative equivalent of a squeeze of lemon or lime to perfect a dish or drink. And these people are in luck: American-made decorative accents, photography, sculpture and furniture will be exhibited this weekend at the Brooklyn Museum at my client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn. [The Eastern Parkway subway stop is literally steps from the museum door and there’s a large parking lot.]

Lori Kaplan, NY jeweler

Does the same self-doubt apply to fashion? I’ve not studied the industry so I can rely only on my own experience and observations: A remarkable accent—scarf, jewelry, hat or jacket–on a classic ensemble brightens the wearer whose posture and expression beam with joy and confidence. Imagine giving such a bonus with your holiday presents this season. One Brooklyn Museum member, a loyal craft show visitor and successful business owner told me: “My whole wardrobe this year was from [last year’s] show. ”

Why do you think so many fear decorating their homes? Do you? What is one of your favorite fashion accessories? Where did you find it or was it a gift? Do you explore fine craft shows as a resource for unusual, handsome gifts and additions to your home and wardrobe?

 

Milliner Karen Morris, Minneapolis, Minn.

Catherine Joseph, C Joseph NY, Huntington

Furniture maker Bok Read, Media, Pa.

Service of I Should Have Walked Out

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Kick mysek

I admired this story that I’ve mentioned before and could kick myself every time I don’t do the same—which is often. Someone recommended a NYC steakhouse to my aunt and uncle so one evening during a trip to the city they started to give it a try. When my aunt opened the menu she was horrified by the prices, which she could have easily paid, and said to my uncle that she’d like to leave and they did.

Mass cardI did not do the same when I went to a church near my office to buy a dedicated mass card. I wanted the pastor to say a mass for a friend who had just died at the first opportunity. The attendant said that there were no free masses until September and she recommended that I opt for the general mass card which means that prayers are said but for a group of people–none are called out. Six months away to dedicate a mass to someone? Ridiculous.

But I’d already given her cash, the name of the deceased and selected the card and felt uncomfortable saying, “Please give me back my money.” So I ended up sending his widow what I didn’t want.

Walking by another church on my way to work to gauge the mass card situation the sign on the office says it’s open from 10 to 4. The neighborhood is largely residential so I guess they don’t expect “business” from anyone who works.

If I walk out of a commercial operation, say a boutique, having bought nothing I’m OK, if a little uncomfortable, unless I know the shop owner. Then it’s harder not to buy a little something. What about you?

brouse in a store

Service of Do It Yourself in a Digital Age: Saga of Installing a Cable TV Digital Adapter

Monday, August 19th, 2013

 Digital Adaptor Box

Our cable television service provider sent us a letter headlined: “Name of Company is going All Digital” followed by the subhead “Order any Digital Adapters you may need today.”

The letter noted: “This will affect you only if your cable line is plugged directly from the wall into your TV, VCR or DVD.” Our TV is. The letter warned, “Please order before August 6 to avoid losing your picture on August 13.”

calling customer servieTo get the box, which should have taken two minutes online, I spent over 2 hours in some eight to 10 follow up phone calls for reasons ranging from “your payment is past due,” which it wasn’t to my asking “where is the box you said would arrive on Saturday?”

Another call was to cancel a visit by an installer that we learned about through a message left on our home phone. We never requested this. From the start I’d opted for the do-it-yourself setup to save 1) $40+ and 2) the aggravation and stress of waiting for a service person to come on time–if ever.

The box arrived last week and after work one night my husband and I laid out all the elements on the bed in the order described in the brochure and methodically removed the existing cable from the original installation and attached the coaxial cable here and there, where it belonged. We were elated when the new digital box blinked at us with green flashes as it should.

TV blank screenWe had no TV picture so I called the toll free number to activate the system as instructed and a recorded message said to wait an hour and call back if the system wasn’t up by then. I set a timer, ate dinner and called because the green flashes had turned to red ones and I couldn’t turn on the TV.

The nicest, kindest, most patient customer service person told me that I wasn’t going to believe what he was going to say. I thought, “Fiddlesticks: That I need a new TV.” That wasn’t it: “You don’t need a digital adapter, Ma’am. I will help you restore the setup you had.”

The coup de grace: Lucky I confirmed the next step: that I should return the digital adapter, cables, remote and instruction booklets in the box using the Fed Ex label supplied. “No,” he said, “Please return it to the Name Of Company‘s store.” Translation: More time wasted. I’m planning to hand them the open box–photo at the top of the post–so as not to spend another second on this project.

I have a while to return it before I’m charged for the device. The store isn’t convenient to my office or home. I hope there isn’t a line as the customer service man implied that I’m far from the only person in this situation. “Did you find out you needed the adapter via letter?” he’d asked me. We decided that I and all the others in my boat received the letter due to a database error.

I feel so insecure about my TV signal that I’m waiting for a blackout when I try to turn on the TV one night. If this happens, I’ll know how to avoid the phone and online technology and where to go to get another box and thanks to the dry run, just how to install it.

Have you experienced or heard of a similar mix-up? Think it is too much to ask that the database that caused the wrong people to get the misguided letter send out a second one telling those customers to ignore the first? Do corporations so hate admitting a mistake that they’d rather cause their customers to waste countless hours in fruitless pursuits while smugly charging them a tidy sum every month?

Oops

Service of Buzzwords

Monday, September 20th, 2010

buzzwordsMatt Mecs shared some of the buzzwords that drive him crazy these days. He is an excellent writer, uses words precisely and creatively, his copy is never tired, in fact, he invents words and turns of phrases that create buzz. Matt is director of sales at Local Focus Radio and media studies adjunct professor at Metropolitan College of New York where, along with his strenuous job, he teaches four courses this semester.

Here’s Matt’s list of irritating buzzwords:

Hard Stop: When a person has to take that call at 4 pm s/he might say: “I’ve got a hard stop coming up.”

Bandwidth (synonym for attention span): “I don’t have the bandwidth to talk with you right now, maybe next week?”

Verticals (synonym for categories)

Transparency

 

Organic

 

lowhangingfruit1Low hanging fruit

With that said

Do you eat your own dog food? Aka Do you drink your own champagne? {use your own products} Matt noted about the newer, champagne version: “Perhaps people are whistling past the recession graveyard with the talk of grander things.”

And mine [along with low hanging fruit]:

Drilling down

next-levelNext Level: “This initiative will take our marketing efforts to the next level.”

Unique {when it’s not}

Needless to say {then don’t}

24/7

Paradigm shift

Low fat

Like every few words {especially if the speaker is over 13}

Matt and I are also allergic to trite, greeting card expressions, especially when said with a straight face, but these overlap this topic. I should cover them in another post.

hipBuzzwords and trite expressions exist for the same reason: They make people feel good as well as cool, hip, connected, with-it and they are easy to use and remember.

Please tell us if any of these buzzwords annoy you and share any that we haven’t listed that have worn thin or never worked in your opinion.

buzzing-bee

Service of E-Mail Acknowledgements

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

E-mail acknowledgements drive some people nuts—but not me.

 

If I ask someone a question or send them information that they have asked for, or that might help them, I expect “don’t know” or “drowning in deadlines—more next week [or next month],” “tx,” or “thnx.”

 

I have a vivid imagination. When I don’t hear back after two days, I first think the person was in an accident and then I get annoyed because I feel dismissed. One colleague says being ignored makes her feel insecure. My annoyance increases 10 fold if I know the silent person owns a handheld device and is capable of using it.

 

One friend ties the attitude to a demographic—“young people.” In my experience, while there are recent glaring exceptions, most of the students I work or am involved with are responsive.

 

However it may be a societal trend. Not responding seems to be an equal opportunity characteristic that touches people of all ages. I’ve written glowing comments about some businesses in this blog and make every effort to send the posts to strangers at headquarters. While most respond, some don’t. I figure they are inundated with e-mails or that mine ended up in spam. But as I often jot a comment on a web site if a company makes a game of hiding the names of H.Q. staff, spam isn’t an issue: Not reading and responding to online comments is.

 

How do you feel about responses to your e-mails–yea or nay? Do you assume that a person is off and running, doing what you asked for, without bothering to let you know and are you comfortable with their silence? What do you think the non-communicators are thinking, or haven’t they thought through what their silence says?

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