Friday, March 21, 2008

Customer Service

I actually received good customer service this week. Kudos to the tech support folks at HP who helped me out.

Back in December I discovered that my HP OfficeJet All-in-One printer wasn't working. Not only wouldn't it print, it appeared to be dead. As in a giant paperweight sitting on my desk, performing no function whatsoever aside from collecting dust. Things at the inn were slow that month, so the printer might have been dead for a day or two (or three) before I even noticed.

I popped over to HP's tech support page and selected live chat, since that is free. I'm pretty sure the guy at the other end of the line is in a country on the other side of the world and has a pretty specific script from which he has difficulty deviating, because the first thing he suggested I do made it clear that he hadn't really been paying attention when I said the printer had no power. Once I repeated that for him, he suggested I check to see if the power supply (external on this printer, thankfully) was warm to the touch. Bingo! It was not, and a properly functioning power supply should be. I thanked him, ended the chat session and popped over to parts & supplies where I ordered a new power supply. It was around $40 plus shipping, but that's a lot cheaper than a new printer. Since the printer was 2 years old, I figured it was a good investment - I'm not ready to replace it. The power supply arrived about three days later, I plugged it in and the problem was resolved. Because things were so slow that month, I really didn't suffer from having no printer for nearly a week and I was pleased that the solution had turned out to be a simple one.

All was well in printer-land until this past Tuesday night. It was late and I was about to head up to bed when I noticed that the power light on my printer was off. "Uh-oh" was my first thought, as I hopefully pressed the "on" button and waited, in vain, for it to light up. Damn. Checked the power supply immediately. Room temperature. Double-damn. Looked in my credit card bills to confirm December order date. It's too late at night for me to be able to do much else, but I know I've got to get a new power supply ASAP because I have guests checking in the next day, the day after and then a full house checking in on Friday. I use the printer to print out my check-in sheets, invoices if necessary, notes for late-arriving guests, etc. This is NOT the same situation as December, when I didn't really need the printer.

Before even having coffee the next morning (Wednesday) I called HP tech support. We went over the problem and the history. The tech looked up my order and sent me over to the parts department. The person in the parts department who took my call quoted me a price on the part. I remained calm and told him that since I was replacing a power supply that was 3 months old, I expected them to send me a new one for free. I also made it clear I expected nothing less than free shipping, next day if possible. It took a little time, but I eventually got approval for a free replacement and shipping, although I was given a Monday delivery date - best he could do, he said. Okay, I figured that was as good as I was going to get and I'd figure something out for the weekend's printing needs. My phone time invested: 48 minutes (by the timer on my handset).

Later that day, after an unsuccessful attempt to hook up a fairly old printer and an equally unsuccessful attempt to access my husband's printer off our home network, I got a shipping notification email from HP. When I looked at it I discovered that the part had, in fact, been shipped FedEx next-day. It arrived and it solved the problem. I was pleased enough to email HP and thank them for the help.

Now let's keep our fingers crossed that this power supply doesn't quit on me after another three months, because that will put me smack in the middle of my busy season.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back and Busy

I had a great vacation, an unprecedented almost two weeks away from the inn. Adam, unfortunately, had to head back after less than a week to finish some projects he had to deliver. He has a custom furniture business in addition to being my partner in the B&B and he's got quite a few projects in his shop at the moment. We also had guests coming in for the weekend, so he was going to be taking care of them as well.

While in New York we were able to see some good friends, eat great food and see a show. Our plans for dinner at Gramercy Tavern didn't work out, it turns out that we couldn't get a reservation for any time between 6:00 and 9:30 on a Tuesday evening! Adam even spoke to them that afternoon and they'd had no cancellations. Hard to believe. Instead we took a chance and wound up at Tabla instead. It was lovely. We spent the day on Tuesday going to museums. We started at the Transit Museum, which I'd always wanted to see, then headed uptown to the Guggenheim to see this exhibit. If you're in New York between now and the end of May, go see it. Afterward we headed across the park to the American Museum of Natural History. Adam has done a lot of work there over the years and he knows most of the exhibit department staff. I know a few of them, in particular a guy I worked with at my first job in NYC who now works as the project manager there. Adam & I went to the Water exhibit and the Butterfly Conservatory, then we met Dean at a bar on Columbus Ave. for drinks and to catch up. Did I mention that Adam built the Butterfly exhibit ten years ago? Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday 2/28 was the final concert in a series of three at Madison Square Garden that I really, really wanted to see: Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. I didn't have tickets but figured what the heck, I'd go down to the Garden and see if anyone had a couple of extras they were willing to sell. I've done this before with Broadway shows and it works just fine. I was a bit surprised at the number and general sleaziness of the scalpers outside MSG, but New York's Finest were doing a decent job of keeping them a good distance from the entrances. Since I don't look anything like a scalper, I positioned myself near one entrance and quietly asked people as they went by if they had extra tickets. After about 15 minutes a gentleman turned at my question and asked "Are they for you?" I assured him they were and he handed me two tickets (a friend was meeting me there). I asked him how much and he said "I just want to give them to someone who will enjoy the concert." I looked at the tickets, they had a $250 face value. Holy sh*t. And they were legit (yes, people sell counterfeit tickets) - my friend and I got in no problem. These seats were on the floor. Right next to the mixing board. Aside from 10th row center, this is the best place to be. The concert was just incredible. I felt like the luckiest person in the world that night.

The last few days of my vacation were spent in Maryland at The Brampton Inn, hanging out with some innkeeper friends. We ate & drank well, traded horror stories of renovations and furnace melt-downs, shopped and had a lot of laughs. Danielle and Michael, our hosts, gave us a tour of their gorgeous property, including the two new luxury rental cottages they're building. It was wonderful and affirming to be with other people living this crazy life.

I got back on 3/6 to a busy weekend and two old friends visiting. There are still winter projects to do and paperwork to organize. I'm back to it in full force but I'll try to post again soon.