What did I buy at Bed Bath & Beyond?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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.

My UPS saga...

Friday, July 11, 2014

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. 

A creative use for Bike Sharing….

Thursday, July 3, 2014

   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.  

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