I am, let us say, particular about customer service--that's what happens when you work retail for 11 years and train a whole passel of people and write training manuals and are generally fussy in the first place. Over the years, I realized that keeping a customer happy in light of mistake is pretty simple--the business at fault, be it restaurant or store or website, should first do what they can to fix the mistake and then offer a bonus, as it were, to get you back shopping with them. Discounts, free desserts or drinks, gift certificates for the next time--these are all little perks it's pretty easy to offer, on top of whatever is done to correct the original problem.
So yesterday, I got a long-overdue plant shipment from Oregon's Jackson and Perkins. They kept me updated on when I could expect the plants, and the delay wasn't a big deal; plants are weather-dependent and I understand that shipping times are approximate. They arrived yesterday and I was all excited, until I looked at them outside and realized that, regardless of the tag on the plants, they weren't the right color. As in, they were bright pink with yellow middles rather than being more uniformly bright orange. I thought, well, perhaps they just need to be out of their box for a while, perhaps I'm not remembering them correctly, color is subjective, blah blah blah. I looked again this afternoon, and yes, they were still pink and yellow and still not orange. I compared the actual plants to the online images and decided there'd been a mix-up someplace.
I called J&P, not entirely sure what to expect--I mean, each little pot had a tag that proclaimed it to be orange, and the packing list said "crackling fire", not "cherry pink", and maybe it was all in my head. Within about 30 seconds, the nice Mr. Phone Man said, no problem, we'll send you a new set of plants, don't worry about it, just use the ones we sent you or give them to someone else, don't send them back, no extra shipping fees, they'll be there no later than the 14th. No paperwork, no hassle, no explanations. Is it sunny up there? Happy gardening!
Hello, what? Did I take the wrong sleeping pill last night and have some kind of wacky hallucination? Presumedly not; presumedly, Jackson and Perkins customer service is the most pleasant ever, and I they have just earned my total and complete brand loyalty as far as a condo dweller needs loyalty to an online purveyor of roses and annual bedding plants. The next time you want a plant for your garden or a gift for someone else's garden, get it from them.
The rose I bought from them earlier in the season is doing just beautifully. I can kind of see why they called it Hot Cocoa --as the color fades, it turns from a warm red-orange-brown to a pale orange-purple color, somewhat like Swiss Miss cocoa before you get to the bottom layer of unmixed brown goop. The petals get this cool matte finish that makes them look like paper--not the usual cheap velvet of faded roses--and the blooms are way bigger than other floribundas I've seen. Plus they have more scent than promised--this neat mix of in-your-face rose and lemon, so they're all rosie without smelling like grandma. (Except my grandma mostly smelled like cigarettes and Harvey Wallbangers.)
Now that the corporate placement is out of the way, I have a suggestion for all y'all democrats out there in angry land, which came about in light of Mr. Bush's speech this week, the one that connects, yet again, his little i-rack project with 3,000 dead people in NYC. My suggestion is this: every time you read something online about Bushy and the Bushites that makes steam pour out of your ears, just go make a donation to the DNC. Think of it as a drinking game--every time Bush says something about 9/11, add a buck. Everytime he says "activist judges", add a buck. Every time a Bushie senator/congressman says something directly offensive about a senator/congressman you admire, add a buck. Every time you see a White House press release issue on a Friday, add a buck. I'm debating adding "every time you see McCain bend over and take it like a man, add a buck", but I never really trusted him in the first place; the point is that each of you will have your own "this man needs taking out" moments.
Every Monday morning, sit down at your desk and click over to the DNC and throw them the appropriate amount of money and feel slightly better about it all. In past years, I would have urged the money go to the small PAC of your choice, but I'm focusing on the DNC for a couple of reasons--Dean is kicking ass and making enemies in exactly the way the Dems need and we should all support that with our dollars; the money raised is going to help all those in-the-balance moderate states; and the online smarties need to make their presence felt in the only national party we could possibly hope to influence. So put a link to the DNC on your home page and show your colors every Monday morning. So far, my tally for next Monday is $8. And honestly, it's not like I search out this stuff--I just tune into the headlines that show up on CNN. Rob L. Squirrels! once said elections were like "his superbowl", so I like the idea of playing Monday morning quarterback with politics.