Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What did I buy at Bed Bath & Beyond?

Bed Bath & Beyond is one of those danger zones for me.  The one that is less than a mile from my home is gigantic, well-staffed and has a million different things that you can buy.

They have:
- amazing bedding
- fluffy towels in every single color that you can imagine
-an outragous selection of kitchen & dining products
-a full sundry store
- travel gear
-organizing stuff
and a ton of tiny little things that I often throw into my basket that seem to pad the bill

I went in for one boring thing today and given that it is summer time, I leisurely strolled through just about every aisle.  Here are some of the interesting things that I came across. Can you guess which one that I actually bought?

1. Diguise Push Pins ($5.99)
These little things allow you to pin a hat, mustache, sunglasses or lips over any photo that is on a cork board. How fun!



Did I buy them? Of course not.
Why not? I think that my six dollars could be better spent on something else.

2. Solemates High Heelers ($9.99)
Someone is a genius. You put these little things grip the bottoms of your heels to prevent them from sinking into the grass as a wedding or other outdoor event. So clever!


Did I Buy them? No.
Why not? I don't have any outdoor events scheduled where heels will be worn. This is probably because it is a 100 degrees here in SoFla and one breaks into a total sweat while walking from target to your car in the parking lot.



3. The Phone Fetcher ($9.99)
I carry large handbags and can never find my phone when it rings. I'm forever digging though like a maniac much to the annoyance of my loved ones.  This little thing is a problem solver for sure. You clip one end on the strap of your bag and plug the other one into the little headphone jack of your phone. When it rings, you will be able to locate your phone quickly by following the little bungee cord.

 Did I buy it?: No
Why Not? : I actually considered it for a minute but I realized that i don't even put my coins in the coin section of my wallet. I just throw them into the bottom of my purse,  so what makes me think that I would be organized enough to remember to put my phone on the leash every time? I also thought that my friends and family would make fun of me if I did actually use it. It seems very old-ladyish. (Yikes!) I was also worried that the clip would damage the handles of my precious leather babies.  

Camisole hangers ($7.99 for pack of three)

These are clever little hangers for hanging tank tops. I have a lot of tank tops and I hang them in the closet (vs. putting them in drawers) so I thought this would free up some room.



 Did I buy them? Yes
Will I return them? Probably not. They are really, really cheap feeling but I hung them up and put my tanks on them and it seems to be working. I will update in a week or so to see if this was a good purchase.

Friday, July 11, 2014

My UPS saga...

I sold this stunning retired piece by Mackenzie Childs on ebay last week



I spent over $20 on bubble wrap and sturdy cardboard boxes to prepare it for shipping. I wrapped it better than a museum curator would wrap a priceless artifact for a trip across the ocean. I taped it like a mad woman and double boxed it.   In fact, there was so much packaging involved it cost over $35 to ship it via UPS ground from Miami to New Jersey. I, of course, insured the package with UPS.

Imagine my horror when the buyer contacted me to say that the package arrived with the side of the box smushed in and this is what was inside….

Had I just thrown it into a box with some newspapers and hoped for the best, I would have just refunded her money and moved on, but there is absolutely no way that this gorgeous piece could have been destroyed like this unless the box was either opened in transit or handled roughly.


I immediately filed an insurance claim with UPS.  Before I could even upload photos or proof of the value of the item, they sent me an email stating that they would go to the buyer's house to inspect the package.  I emailed UPS and asked how to upload the photos and the valuation papers. They sent me back a form email.

I don't use UPS to ship a lot and I don't ever recall filing a claim for damage with them. I wanted to make sure that they had everything that they needed to process this obviously valid insurance claim quickly. I called the UPS customer service line. After going through one of those irritating long menus where you have to talk to a computer who never understands what you are saying, I was put on hold to wait for the "broken package " department or whatever UPS likes to call it. 

While I was on hold (which was  quite a long time) I googled something like "How to file a UPS insurance claim" and realized that A LOT of people have these claims denied. Like a lot, a lot.  This made me concerned. Once I finally spoke to the  customer service rep, he seemed to want to rush me off of the phone and pretty  much said that they would be by the buyer's home sometime on Monday to view the package and that they did not need any more information.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. The lawyer in me wanted to make sure that the photos and proof of value were attached to my claim. The customer service rep started to argue with me a little bit. "Why do you want to speak to a supervisor?" was his lovely response.  He put me on hold for 8 minutes and then I mysteriously got disconnected.

I called the 800 number back. Went though the whole menu thing again and after being on hold for at least five more minutes, (these minutes were spent googling  "class actions against UPS for insurance fraud" and "taking UPS to court over insurance claims") I finally reached another customer service rep. I explained to her that I was on hold for a supervisor over an insurance claim and I wanted to be connected to a supervisor.  She started to ask why I wanted to be connected to a supervisor. 

 I explained that I had already wasted at least 30 minutes of my precious summer day on the phone with UPS and I wanted to speak to a supervisor. She refused to connect me to one unless I told her the whole story again. I was having none of it. I asked for a fax number for the customer service department as I already was drafting a letter. She flat out refused to give me a fax number. She insisted that UPS did not have one.  While I was fighting with her, I started a live chat with UPS and the person/computer chatting with me in a box on the side of my screen also insisted that there was not a fax number for anyone at UPS.

Let me digress here. I was asking for a fax number because in my history as a lawyer and excellent letter-writer, I've found that emails don't always get read. A paper copy or a fax is always a better way to start a paper trail.  

At this point I was not only upset about the loss of the lovely $350 plate, but at this horrible treatment from UPS, which I now refer to as the "House of No". I googled "UPS fax number" and finally found one. I also found the email addressees of six of the top executives in the company.

I wrote and faxed a letter explaining the situation and the horrible customer service that I received to the COO of UPS . I copied it via email to all of the executives at UPS and wouldn't you know it,within three hours,  I received a phone call from a delightful man named Scott from UPS who is now working on my case.

Stay tuned. Will UPS do the right thing and pay the claim so that the buyer can go off and search for another fabulous piece of Mackenzie Childs pottery? OR will UPS make me toss off my summer sandals and put on my uncomfortable lawyer shoes ? 



Let's hope for my feet that UPS does  the right thing. I will be sure to keep you updated. 




Thursday, July 3, 2014

A creative use for Bike Sharing….

   While other countries have been doing it for a while(there are 20,000 available bikes in Paris!), Bike Sharing is a relatively new concept popping up in cities across the US. It basically is the short term rental of a bike. The idea is to allow people to get from point "A" to point "B" without having to worry about owning or storing a bike.  In many cities, people use these systems to tour around a city or to get from a train or a bus to work. 

   I've been using Bike Sharing in a more creative fashion,  I use it as my workout tool. My bike sharing card is like my gym card.  For $45 a year, I can rent a bike for 30 minutes a day. If I go over the 30 minutes (which I usually do) it is another $1 per 1/2 hour.  Way cheaper than any workout classes or gyms around Miami for sure.   The place that I go is the Hollywood Beach. The bike path that I ride on is 7 miles round trip, next to the Atlantic Ocean, car-free  and most of it has the million dollar view like this shot taken at 7 a.m. this morning....


I love that I don't have to worry about maintaining a bike. I don't have to put a bike rack on my car to start to ride. I don't have to worry about my bike being stolen.  I just drive up and hop on.

When I started this over a year ago, I just rode without a plan. Now I use an iPhone ap called "Seconds Pro". It is a high intensity interval training program. In normal-person terms, it means that it plays different pre-determined songs and tells me when to go slow or fast. It is a suggested way of burning calories quickly and making your heart healthy. It is hard but fun. 

I am not a person who loves working out. It was always a chore for me. I've been riding for over a year now and  I wake up and  jump out of bed, excited to go at least three or four times a week. I ride with a smile on my face as the beach is always stunning and gorgeous. I get some good thinking done during my rides and get great exercise. I am cranky when I can't go. 

Bike sharing is super easy. The one that I use is called B-Cycle. They have an ap and you can see where there are available bikes near you.   I got the last one today...


I have a card so I just walk up and place it over the sensor. The green light goes on and I just pull the bike out and off I go!

The bike that I rent has a generous sized basket that fits my giant tote. No need to fanny-pack it!



Here is a shot of some additional bikes in the area.


This is the start of my 7 mile journey. 

 Here is the machine that you go up to if you don't have a membership.  It is $5 per half hour to rent a bike here. Not bad if you want to try it out or bring a friend. There are three or four stations in the area so you could drop off the bike at another part of the beach if you are just using it for transportation.

It takes about one minute to check out a bike if you're not a member. Just swipe your card and you're good to go.  You can only check out two bikes per credit card so if you are taking the whole crew, bring more than one card!



 

Also, helmets are not provided so you should really bring your own. Especially if you are traveling in areas where there is traffic.  

 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The winner is…..

In a very old-school way, I  put all of the entries in a cool Lyoness baseball cap and pulled names and the winner of the Fresh Produce Giveaway is SUSIE of She Junks.

Susie is one of the sweetest bloggers out there in bloggyville. She's always full of positive energy. I guess all of that positivity works because the t-shirt is heading her way.

Thanks for all of you who entered!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FREE GIVEAWAY Courtesy of Fresh Produce...

Fresh Produce  has sent me an awesome t-shirt to give away. It is an adorable number and is one size fits all so all of you can try to win. All you have to do is leave a comment.  That is it!  I will pick a winner by drawing out of a hat on Sunday night so you have a few days to enter.




Fresh Produce is celebrating 30 years! If you have not checked out Fresh Produce lately, you should. It is not your grandma's store anymore. They have really cute summer looks! See??



To show appreciation for its customers, Fresh Produce Stores are hosting a party inside their stores all weekend. They will give away stuff including a girl's weekend and much more. Your invite is below.



My local Fresh Produce store is in Ft. Lauderdale. Here is the info on their party this weekend…

What: Fresh Produce 30th Birthday
When: Sat., June 28 – Mon., June 30
Where: Fresh Produce Ft. Lauderdale
912 E Las Olas Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Check out your local store or Fresh Produce online if you can't make it to the Ft. Lauderdale party!

Thanks Fresh Produce for hosting this giveaway. My readers and I loooove free stuff!~ 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It pays to shop around...

While I love those blogs where the writers seem to know how to get the best deal on everything, I usually just buy what I want,  when I want it. When I am buying something on the internet, I certainly surf around for a good deal but when I am in a B&M store (Brick and Mortar, or for those of you who hate internet speak, a real live store), I just buy what I need. For shoes, clothes, food and household stuff, I don't search ads or drive all over town pricing things. If something seems like a decent price, I buy it. I'm too busy to do anything else.

HOWEVER, I was in DSW today and decided to check online prices on two pairs of shoes that I was coveting.  DSW is a huge shoe store. They have mid-range shoes and are supposed to be off-price.   There is no Gucci or Prada here but they have a good selection of sneakers and sandals in the $50-$150 range.   The best part about DSW is that all of the shoes are right in front of you. No waiting for the salesperson to run to the back. You can try on every single pair of shoes in the place if you want. 


I needed new sneakers and found a pair that seemed amazing  but I needed a half of a size smaller than what was out. DSW has a website and I could have ordered them but I pulled out my phone and opened the Amazon.com ap. All I had to do was scan the bar code and the exact same shoes popped up. They were 20% less and had free shipping.  They will be arriving on Saturday. 

Uh Oh. I started to look online for some sandals that were calling my name. They are silver and have faux diamonds on them. They are super fabulous.  Amazon did not have them but a wholesaler  was selling a new pair on Ebay in my size and they were $15 cheaper including shipping and no sales tax.

To make matters worse, a stranger saw me in the sneaker aisle and just started talking to me. She asked if I had ever tried a certain brand. I shook my head no and she went on to tell me that she gets orders them online and picks them up down the street at Sports Authority for $75 and they are $85 at DSW.

 I'm not alleging that DSW is overpriced on all items. I really have no idea. They do have a pretty good clearance section and send you gift certificates after you spend a certain amount. 

This is what happened to the bookstores. We would all go in and feel, touch and smell the books and then order them at a discounted rate online or download them to our e-readers. That is why there are no bookstores around anymore.    

I almost asked the salesperson at DSW if they would match the amazon price on those sneakers because the instant gratification of wearing them tomorrow during my workout seemed nice, but I did not.  Would that have been obnoxious? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Best Thank You Gift for Teachers...

   I live in the land of complainers.  Present company excluded, the moms that I know are big whiners. Sure, it is coming from a place of love and dedication to their children, but the administration and staff at the schools that my children attend are probably very happy that school is out if only so that they don't have to answer parent phone calls and emails for the next 80 days.   

  They complain about everything as mundane as the color of the PE uniform shorts to important things like bullying and school safety.  There is not a lot of discrepancy as to the tone of their concerns. Everything is a major emergency.  If a child is not placed in the same room as her friend during the overnight field trip, calls placed to the administration have the same sense of urgency as ones made about the child not being able to pass a reading test. 


Funny T-shirt from Zazzle.com


   They are a tough crowd so I have made it my business to make sure that when a teacher has done an outstanding job, I write a letter at the end of the year. Not to the teacher, but to her boss.  I only write when I feel that it is heartfelt and honest. I don't blow smoke.  Some years, none are written. This year, as I exit a school that I've been involved with for many years, the letter will be sent to the " superintendent" and will praise more than one person by name.

    Not only do I live in the land of complainers, I live in the land of major gift givers.  It has been rumored that court-side seats to Miami Heat games and complimentary weekends at local five star resorts have been given as Christmas and End of the Year gifts to teachers and staff by well connected parents. While well intentioned, that $10 gift card to Starbucks or a scented candle that most of us pass out seems a little chintzy. My letters are appreciated though. In fact, one of the teachers that I wrote a letter about many years ago, came up to me during the book fair this year and told me that she still has a copy the letter in a box of mementoes from her first years of teaching. She said that she had really been touched by the fact that a nice letter was written to her principal about her. 

   So along with that #1 Teacher Coffee mug which included a thank you letter to the teacher herself, you might want to pen a few lines to her boss about how lucky the school is to have her on staff.  Use examples but make it short and sweet. (One page is enough ). Send a cc to the teacher.   Even if your school year is over, it is not too late. Principals still work for part of the  summer.  It might not be extravagant but it is a thoughtful gift.