Monday, June 28, 2010

Shipping and Handling Charges

Smells like a SCAM.

I believe that the Attorney Generals in all the States should make sure that this practice of collecting "shipping and handling charges" on items purchased via Television Ads, Internet, and other means, should be abolished or curtailed, especially when cancelling an order before it reaches the shipping department or when "it is not yet in the system.

I am not blaming the employees for this; they are only doing what they are told to do. The blame goes to the one who institutes this practice. I can't even blame the CEO; it is usually the upper-scale employee who best qualifies as the "Madoff" of the company, although the CEO is responsible for his employment and actions.

I am going to try at this writing not to mention names, but if the order I placed at 1:oo am this early morning of June 28, 2010 (by calling a number shown on the TV-ad) is not cancelled as per my request approximately ten hours later, and was informed "it is not yet in the system", then I shall come back and expose the name of the company. Who, in spite of my early cancellation and the fact that "it is not yet in the system" will ship the order, charge me for the product, plus shipping and handling charges. Then when the product arrives, I can refuse the product. After it is returned and again redeemed by them, they will issue a full refund for the product, less the shipping and handling charges.

Now you have no product, but they have gained a revenue of about Six Dollars by shipping a product which you cancelled before it was even in the system. In this particular case, the shipping and handling charges are $6.95. I am willing to bet that the actual mailing would be less than a dollar. A profit to them of about $6.00 on an order that was cancelled before 'it was in the system'.

If the cancellation is made before it is in the system, I just cannot understand why it could not be retrieved before it reached the shipping department. The response can only rightly be that the moment you place an order, you are charged immediately.

If I go to the supermarket, the store clerk does not follow me around with a calculator and ask me to pay for items I have not yet placed in the shopping cart. When I get to the shipping department (in the supermarket, it is known as the 'cashier's counter), each item is charged, wrapped and placed in the cart. It has been 'shipped' to me and charged properly.

Nothing is free. Be especially aware of those that offer a Free Gift with the purchase of a non-tangible offer, but charge 'shipping and handling charges' on the free gift which can only be used with the offer. Here's the catch: You are allowed to cancel the so-called offer and receive a refund. But what are you going to do with the Free Gift that you cannot use, on which you paid rather steep shipping and handling charges which are not refundable, and on which they paid a miniscule amount of money to mail to you.

You can believe all of the above or not. In several weeks, God willing, I will be 100 years old. I worked in the business world until I was eighty years old and saw the many changes that took place and reveled in them most of the time. I am a clipper and a saver and want to assure you that I can prove with actual documents, that the postings I have submitted are not fairy tales.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Putnam Hospital Center - Valet Parking

I don't know how many people would say that they enjoy a visit to a doctor's office. Well, here I am admitting that I look forward to my visits to my eye doctor's office. Dr. Allan Farquhar is renouned in our area as a young dedicated ophthalmologist surgeon and I have placed myself completely in his hands. It is with the knowledge that he will do all that he can within his power, to enable me to maintain what vision still remains, so that I may continue to blog for a little while longer. I always leave his office in a very happy mood, filled with exhilaration from all the attention showered upon me, not only from his staff, but from Dr. Farquhar himself who takes time from his exceedingly busy schedule to answer all my questions.

When I leave, I usually sit on a bench in front of 664 Stoneleigh Avenue building (which is part of the Putnam Hospital complex) and wait from zero minutes to an hour for a bus to take me home. I don't mind waiting; I'm happy.....and I watch the perpetual 'movie' enfolding before my eyes.

As people enter or exit the building, I try to decipher from their facial expressions and demeanor what brought them to the hospital today. Have they come to keep an appointment with a doctor in his office, for an x-ray, or have they come to visit a loved-one who is lying in a hospital bed?

Look over there to my right! The new Camarda Building. And my thoughts flow back to the day several weeks ago, when Angela and I had occasion to enter its lobby, and I said: "Wow! its beautiful. Just look at that grand piano! Is this a Music Hall or a Theatre? It certainly should be used for fund-raising events."

At this point, I wish to emphasize that unless I quote " " something, all the thoughts and observations are strictly mine and I'm solely responsible for them.

When I initially came to Carmel, I remember trips to Putnam Hospital required visitors to park their own car and then paying an hourly fee on exiting the grounds. However, on a visit to a doctor's office, you could obtain a validated coupon for free parking. But now, several years later, parking is completely free. To me, this is an Act of Kindness. After all, people do not go to hospitals or doctors' offices for enjoyment; why add insult to injury?

As my eyes roamed the area, I focused on a small shelter tucked-in between bushes just a few feet before the entrance to the building. I realized it was placed there for the use of the valets. I do not know when this valet service began, but I thought it was a nicer way to garner revenue rather than charge everyone for parking. And I wondered what the fee would be!

The shelter was occupied by two, three or four young boys or men wearing bright orange jackets. As a car approached and stopped, and after all passengers were discharged, one of the smiling valets would hand something (a ticket I assumed) to the driver/owner, and wisk the car away.

Then I noticed that some of those, that exited the building, would walk over to the shelter and hand a ticket to one of the valets, who would hustle out to the parking lot to retrieve the car. And here is when I noted two different scenarios work out:

1. When a car was retrieved and presented to the owner, I noticed the owner stretch out his arm and shake the hand of the valet, both smiling at each other. Then the valet still smiling raised his hand as if in an army-salute, but probably more as if waving goodbye.

2. When a car was retrieved and presented to the owner, I noticed the owner look away from the valet, get in the car and drive away.

I sat there saying to myself "I don't understand this; I must get to the bottom of it". I rose and slowly walked to the shelter. I approached the valets and said "I've been sitting on that bench and watching you boys work....and I'm puzzled. How much is the fee and how and when is it collected?" With a great big grin on all their faces, each eager to explain: "Lady, there is no charge; its free." Then I asked a question which I prefaced with 'I probably should not ask this and you don't have to answer' but "are you volunteers?" There was just a slight hesitancy, but then one young man spoke for all of them........and let me put it this way for my blog-readers: Its a great service the hospital offers and they gladly volunteer to serve as valets at a minimum wage. The tips, of course, make for a descent living, especially in this bad economy when lots of boys and young men can't find a job. They are rendering a service and enjoy doing it.

Kudos to Putnam Hospital for expending revenue by hiring caring young men to serve the visitors that make use of their facilities. Every hospital should follow their example.

However, I believe an Act of Kindness should, at least, be rewarded by an Act of Appreciation. So to those who just keep taking and not giving....Shame on you! The next time.....just look at the person and say 'Thank you"; it doesn't cost anything.