Thursday, May 29, 2008

the big apple

I've used my share of "customer care" services from various industries. And I've had my share of run-ins with service staff who believe that pushing their own agenda is more important that listening to the customer. And I've written my fair share of "I will never buy another product from you again" letters. Needless to say, I'm a little weary anytime I have to deal with customer service.

A few weeks ago, my iPod Classic started to make squeaking noise. It was that "hard drive squeak is never a good sign" noise. Ugh. I could already feel my blood pressure rise at the thought of dealing with customer service. So, I asked some of my Apple-savvy co-workers what I should do. It turned out, coincidentally, that Apple had just opened it's only store in Vancouver. My co-workers suggested I go there to see if they could help.

I decided to make the trip one day after work. My iPod in hand, I was worried that I would be denied service because I didn't have the original receipt. Even though I had already been online and the Apple Web-site confirmed that I was still within the 1-year limited warranty, I was skeptical.

I walked into the new Apple store in the Pacific Centre and I was immediately greeted by 2 people - one wearing an orange shirt and another wearing a blue shirt. My first thought was "sales vultures". But it wasn't like that at all. The guy in the blue shirt explained the "shirt" system, different shirts for different service needs, and it made sense.

He went on, very congenially, to talk to me about my iPod troubles and quickly diagnosed that I needed help at the Genius Bar. I know, it's corny, but catchy (in a marketing way) at the same time. It turned out that I needed an appointment to get to the Genius Bar, but they were all booked for the rest of that evening. They suggested that I could wait for a bit and see if there were any short appointments or no shows. I figured that I wouldn't make it back downtown for a few days, so it would be worthwhile for me to wait.

Luckily, there were 2 consecutive no shows and I stepped up to the Genius Bar in less than 5 minutes. The guy at the Genius Bar, in a different coloured shirt from the first two, examined my iPod, heard the squeaking and with no hesitation, said they would replace my iPod. He double-checked my warranty and handed me the brand new one. A brand new, shiny, unscratched iPod. I was ecstatic! I was in the store for a total of 20 minutes. Now THAT'S what I call service. And I didn't even have their extended "Apple Care" warranty!

I was so impressed by this no-hassle service that I wanted to buy a laptop right then and there. Fortunately, I'm not THAT impulsive a buyer, so I resisted the urge. But you can bet that my next machine will be an Apple. Let that be a testament to the power of great customer service!

Monday, May 26, 2008

a jewel in the okanagan

We went camping in Osoyoos this weekend at a provincial park campground called Haynes Point. In one word, it was a jewel. I've been meaning to go to this campground for awhile now. Everytime I would pass through Osoyoos on my way to the interior, Haynes Point would stare enticingly at me when I crossed the bridge. It sits on a finger of land that juts out into the middle of Lake Osoyoos, touted to be the warmest lake in Canada. Well, it wasn't particularly warm at the end of May! But that didn't matter.

Most of the 40 campsites are situated lakefront. We were a group of 9 adults and 6 kids and we had 3 campsites, all were lakefront. Perfect! It was a very relaxing weekend of doing nothing. Also perfect!

We had such a good time, I'm thinking of trying to book it again in September. But by far the biggest problem with Haynes Point is trying to book a campsite. That's why we went at the end of May. From end of June through the beginning of September, you have to book right when the campsites come available (exactly 3 months in advance) or you won't get a spot there.

Going in May was nice, but if you stay longer than a few nights, be warned that you may have to brave the chilly lake, as there are no showers on the campground. We're hoping that the water is a little warmer in September!

Below is a mosaic of photos from the trip. They are a combination of our photos and the Edzel's photos (thanks, Ed and Liezel!). But before I go, I wanted to give a shout out to Doug's Homestead - located on Highway 3 just on the west side of Hedley. The Edzel's got a recommendation to go there and they recommended it to us. They have AWESOME jerky, pepperoni and I'm sure all their meat products are just as delicious. We'll have to think of a reason to travel Highway 3 JUST so we can go to Doug's Homestead!

Brian the monkey manFinding a good place to set-upCampsite pre-arrivalHow many Basra's does it take to setup a tent?Mmmm...bananas......I think I'll just sneak one......curses! Foiled again!Please can I go in the water!This bread is so yummy......I think I'll eat it through my nose.Hmmm...can't seem to taste it this way!What'll you give me if I help you escape?!Now that the site is set up, it's time to relaxThe Basra's set-upThe Van Dop/Low-Lorico set-upJosh and Brian pounding them backJosh's first girlfriend, TashaYou like sand?  I like sand too!He likes me because I'm SO cuteWhere should we go now?Time for a morning dip!It's a bit chilly, but Nikita doesn't mind!Josh agrees that it's chilly, but throwing rocks is cool!Daddy, can I swim like those ducks?The beach beside our campsiteJadin contemplating another dipConan, Mabel and Charlotte singing songsWhat would you like, monkey?I want Uncle Ed's water!Or maybe I just want to play with the bottleThe beach viewWalking on waterThe road to the campsitesWith scenery like this, what more do you need?Welcome to Haynes Point, OsoyoosManjit and the kid's tentDal and Robbin's tentWho gave that guy an axe?!OK, that's a much more suitable axe for Ed!Dal, where's the pony keg?Liezel enjoys the sceneryEd organizing his boozePlaytimeIsn't everytime play time at that age?!Mid-afternoon siestaOr gather around for social hour!Josh is finding he likes the dirt!Goofy BrianConan and Josh enjoy a snackJosh's first corn on the cob.  Yum!Here duckie, duckie!I think these 2 live on the propertyObserving the ducksHelping Ed read in the darkThat's not really coffee in the coffee mug!The Edzel'sBrian pretends to read in the darkEnjoying a drink after Josh goes to bedDal, Thierren, Tasha, Manjit, Robbin and JadinEnjoying the Sunday morning sunshineBeauty!Waking up after a good night's sleepThe geese are on the moveSo peacefulEnjoying a morning milkLast little dip before we leaveChef EdI saw a duck and it was THIS big!Woo! Hoo!  It's fun being this far off the ground!One last look at the viewJosh and Uncle EdClose-upNikita had a GREAT weekendPacked up and ready to head outOur campsite