Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sports Illustrated Customer Service Sucks

Sports Illustrated is mad at me. They've sent me quite a collection of nasty letters stating that my account is in arrears, pay up now. They're tired of asking.

Now I've had some deadbeat journalism clients in my time, so I understand the frustration. The problem is, their own records say I've paid.

It started when I called in to see what it would take to switch my premium from a t-shirt to the Colts wind jacket my brother wanted for Christmas. "That's our online offer," the customer service rep told me, and she proceeded to walk me through the steps to pay that way. They sent me an electronic receipt on November 8, and the full amount appeared on my credit card two weeks later, which I paid. They mailed me both a t-shirt and the jacket in the same package.

End of story.

Until these "you owe us" duns started pouring into my mailbox. I called immediately after the first, explained my story and was assured they erased it. I ignored the next two, waiting for the database to catch up with mailing. But this week the language was very hostile, so I picked up the phone again. The 800 number asked me to punch in my account code (handily printed in the upper hand corner of the letter), and a recording cheerfully announced I was paid through November 23,2010.

Definitely time to hit 0 and talk to a live person ... in India.

I tell my tale of woe to "Diana," who informs me that the record shows my account is paid up. Yes, I said patiently, so why am I still receiving letters accusing me of welching on the bill? Diana goes into investigative mode big time now, asking me when and how I paid. Sigh. "Online on November 8," I repeated.

"Oh, I'll bet our letter crossed your check in the mail," she replies. "If you get it again, be sure to call us back."

Yah, so I can spend another half-hour of my life getting useless advice of this caliber. I hung up too stunned to ask for a supervisor, whom I'm sure would require American Sign Language to communicate.

It took less than 15 minutes for me to state my case in the most old-fashioned form of all. I mailed a letter to their Tampa headquarters with copies of my receipts, and a threat of my own: Send me another dunning letter and I'm canceling the subscription.

And you'll have to come to Greenwood to get that stinky t-shirt out of my laundry pile.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Best Trip, by Julie Sturgeon

My blogging buddy Michelle put up a challenge yesterday at her site, Blessed Quiver, that I can't resist. Even at 11:30 p.m. when I haven't wandered upstairs to do my treadmill slavery yet.

She chose some prompts at Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop (and yes, it killed me to type cat with a K) and asked if anyone could get something out of this collection:

1.) You’re so vain. You probably think this post is about you…don’t you?
2.) Tell us about your trip!
3.) A difficult conversation.
4.) Can you almost stop time with your words? Write about the fastest ride you ever had, but describe only a few seconds of it…as though it was happening to slow motion.
5.) Who blind-sided you? Write about a time someone caught you totally off guard.

OK, #4 ain't happening. It sickens me to think of all that writing creativity and when I get done, I've described nothing useful. But you want to know about my trip? Well, OK, here's my famous one:

Same camera, same position. Different location.

I was walking across a parking lot in a little quaint shopping area in San Diego where we were killing time before our dinner reservations. My friends and I had split up because they wanted to hunt for Beanie Babies as I recall, and I just wanted to wander around. Like a good tourist, I had my camera around my neck. The Nikon. The one that cost more money than I want to confess to my husband that I spent.

Suddenly I saw one of our friends on the other side of the complex, so I headed toward him, waving my hand and yelling, "Mike!" WHAM! My face was kissing cement. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I tripped over a knee-high barrier. Let that soak in for a moment. Not a pebble or an uneven surface. Not a parking bump, or a log but a big, yellow barrier twice the size of my dog. It takes a special kind of oblivious to make that mistake.

People came running from every direction. Shop owners left their cash registers to see if I needed someone to call 9-1-1. I was woozy, and hearing their advice about a concussion from what sounded like the next state over. When 150 pounds goes splat so quickly you don't even have time to register that you're falling ... well, it's a miracle I didn't break my neck. Not to mention the gentleman I was hailing was a total stranger.

But the really stupid part? Although my brain didn't think fast enough to warn me a hard surface was approaching and it would be prudent to brace myself, it priortized enough to protect the camera. My head took a beating because my hands had pulled the camera out, up and away from danger. Which I suppose was only right. I could take an aspirin for my pains. The camera could not.