A little over a year ago, in advance of the “Drive Hands Free” Cell Phone Law being enacted in British Columbia, my wife bought me a TomTom Go630 GPS.
It was something I had always thought about, but had never even looked at for myself, and I was excited.
It was difficult to sync up to my Blackberry initially… even the guy at the Future Shop, when we went back, had some difficulty, but he eventually got it working.
The Golden Ears Bridge opened a few months later, and I was disappointed that for many months after that, TomTom had no update for their maps, but otherwise it was great, and we were pleased with it. I did post a comment on their website, and on Twitter, about the lack of updated Maps, but received no reply to either comment.
A few months later, my TomTom GPS lost its ability to connect to my Blackberry, at all. It would “see” it, but it wouldn’t connect, to allow usage.
I wasted several hours, over a number of days, loading and re-loading software, and trying to get it to work… and then my wife reminded me that she had purchased the extended warranty, and that I should take it to Future Shop, to ask them for help or suggestions.
So, the next day I went off to the store, and, as one gets in this type of situation, was a bit… unsure… how this situation would get settled.
Well, I needn’t have been concerned, because no sooner had I walked up to the Customer Service counter, than the fellow there asked me, “Did it stop working with your Bluetooth ?”
I nodded, and he called to the appropriate department over the phone, and said to the person on the other end, “Yeah, got a customer with a TomTom… yeah… yeah… GO 630… can you bring it up front ?”
And, so it was, that I realized that I was just one of a number of customers who had had a similar problem.
Fortunately, I had used a removable SD Memory Card to store all the options, voices and custom maps, so when they handed me a new GPS, I popped out my Memory Card, and I was on my way.
Back at home, I logged into my TomTom account, connected the new machine, registered it as mine, got map updates, connected it to my Blackberry, and I was good to go…
Until a few months later, when, again, it lost its ability to communicate with my phone.
So, I went back to a different Future Shop… and again, had a similar experience, except this time the lady didn’t even ASK what the specific trouble was, she just called the Manager, and asked him to get me a replacement.
I came home, and logged into my Tom Tom account, hooked up the replacement machine, and tried to connect it, and was informed by a Pop Up Window that I wasn’t allowed to change GPS’s, because it hadn’t been six months since the last change. It also went on to say that if there were any issues, I should contact TomTom Customer Service.
I send a message to TomTom, both by e-mail and Twitter, and a few days later, get a reply with instructions on how to connect a replacement phone to my TomTom GPS.
By now, I am getting frustrated, so I let a few days pass, to cool down.
But, I hadn’t read that if I didn’t reply within 72 hours, they would consider the issue resolved.
So, I started again, with a new letter.
Three days later, I get an acknowledgement of my request, and the following statement:
In order to resolve this issue, please provide us with the Proof of Purchase for the device. Attach the Proof of Purchase (invoice copy) in .pdf, .bmp, or .jpeg to this incident by following the steps provided in the link following. An original copy of the receipt or the invoice showing the date of the purchase, the model and the dollar amount.
I’m not sure WHAT difference it makes, that I have a cash register receipt that shows that I exchanged it… but, shaking my head, I sent it off to the good folks at TomTom this morning.
In the meantime, I have a TomTom GPS that is a Bluetooth phone connection, and little else.
I find it stunning that TomTom has no Customer Service Reps who reply to customers on Twitter.
I find it appalling that I am being made to jump through hoops, to prove that I *AM* a TomTom customer.
In a time where technology is becoming less about brand name, and more about options, features and price… as a commodity, when something goes wrong, you HAVE to have good customer care, otherwise your Brand will develop a stigma. And stigma in the marketplace is very hard to remove.
My experience has been bad, and yet I am still forced to use their product, until my warranty is up… so TomTom have me trapped as a customer.
I know that the next time I buy a GPS, it will not be another TomTom, nor would I ever recommend TomTom to anyone.
This type of customer relationship is NOT GOOD for either side.
I hold out faint hope that someone at TomTom may care, and may yet be able to pull something out of their hat… but I fear that TomTom may have locked the castle gates, and are huddled inside, listening to one angry villager pounding on the doors, but unwilling or unable to help or talk.
As I re-read this post, it is a tad ranty, and I apologize for that.
When we get new technology, it is bright and exciting… and we want it to work, and to have a good experience with it.
Sometimes the experience is not what we expect, such as my NetBook purchase… where I realized belatedly that my needs require a larger screen than the NetBook affords me. However, I still use my NetBook, and enjoy it for what it is.
When we purchase technology and there are continuing issues… the experience is not enjoyable or beneficial.
I don’t think I have EVER had a similar situation to the one I’m experiencing with TomTom… where the product has repeated “issues” on multiple devices, and the Customer Service seems to be delayed, and inconsistently attentive.
Subsequent to writing this Post, I received another e-mail, asking for the Device Code of the new device, and saying in part:
Thank you for updating the incident. We appreciate your time and efforts in contacting us.
I apprehend that you are upset with TomTom Customer Service that you have experienced. Please be assured that we always have the best of intentions of providing outstanding customer service to our customers, and we will do our best to address any issues you may have.
Kindly note that I have escalated this issue to the concerned team for further assistance. We will contact you when more information is available.
In the meanwhile, I sincerely request you to please provide us with the device code of your device. You can find the device code with the instructions in the following link: (No longer working, as of a Tom Tom site do-over)
Once we have the device code we will ensure that we will resolve this issue instantly.
I know how exasperating this experience has been for you, but we know the importance of our business with our valued customers. Let me assure you that what happened in your case is not typical of our level of customer service. We continue to be committed to providing you and all of our customers with the highest standards of service in the industry.
Maybe they will pull this one out, and I won’t have any further problems… Time will tell.
Something… somewhere… has obviously clicked, because after 8 days, I have had 2 e-mails within the span of an hour, both most apologetic about the delays in getting me a resolution to my problem, and now my TomTom GPS is a functioning GPS again.
I just hope it doesn’t break again….
And, in a further update, TomTom just contacted me to ask me to give an assessment of the Customer Service Care that I have received. It will be interesting to see if I receive any further response, as I called into question their willingness to stand behind their products which are sold, but have an apparent defect.
And, one final update, as of late 2017, Tom Tom says my GPS is obsolete, and they are “no longer supporting it.”
It hasn’t worked with my phone, for years…. but it still (somewhat) works as a GPS, but Tom Tom will no longer provide any map updates… not that they ever did that properly, or well, to start with… but not at all, now.
My recommendation, is still… “STEER AWAY from Tom Tom GPS Devices.”
When we were recently down at the Bellevue Festival of the Arts, I was, as always, struck by the talent and artistry of the participants.
But, this time, for the first time, I was aware of the number of booths where they had large, glaring “NO PHOTOS !!!” signs.
I can understand if someone has a painting, or a photograph, that they may not want someone to be able to go to the local photo lab, and create a copy of their image… but I saw these signs also in booths with Furniture, Ceramics, Jewellery, Hats and other goods.
On the OTHER hand, I came across Greg Delaney.
His whimsical brooches, sculptures and whatnots were fun, enchanting and frivolously captivating.
He puts his stuff online, writes a Blog, and allowed me to take his picture, while he was working on his product:
(The quality of the photograph, is a result of my Blackberry, and not a reflection of his work !!!)
He appeared to be secure in the knowledge that anyone taking a photo would not “steal his soul”, even though he seems to inject a little bit of himself, into every piece he makes !
You can click to read his Blog, The Daily Delaney, here.
You can also see some of his wares on another website he has… http://sites.google.com/site/gregkevindelaney/
It struck me as a massive insecurity on behalf of the OTHER artisans, that anyone taking a picture, could draw up the resources, bypass the development process and produce a product comparable to theirs.
I looked at the whimsy and fun he injects into his pieces, and while someone may try to imitate him, he alone can create the pieces you find on his site.
Similarly, My Sister-In-Law Shelley, has made up a number of pieces of jewelery, and posted them on the web.
Part of their charm… (IMHO) …is the stories she creates for each item: http://www.ShelleyWoodin.com/
In today’s marketplace, I believe that the true artists have to embrace the opportunities that the Internet and Social Media afford them… to reach a larger market, and not be afraid that someone… somewhere… might be able to make a copy of their idea.
Kudos to Greg and Shelley for having fun, and fearlessly putting their stuff “out there” !!!
Every year, on the same weekend, we journey South on a trip to Bellevue, WA, to go to the Bellevue Artsfair.
So we have just returned from our annual pilgrimage to all things artsy and crafty.
The range of artisans is astounding, and shall, in a few days, be the subject of another post.
But, in the meantime, I have been taunting folks on Twitter and on Facebook with what may (IMHO) be our greatest find ever.
On the same weekend, in the same “neck of the woods,” there is a store at the CrossRoads Shopping Mall in Bellevue.
On the outside of the Mall is the Common Folk Store.
They are a store that defies description and convention…
It is a retail store, that has some of the sensibility of a pawn shop for special “remember this” items. It also has new and re-purposed items.
Think of a Restoration Hardware store, only with WAAAY different items !!!
And EVERY year, on the same weekend, the owners clean out their barn/warehouse/home.
And so it was, on a sunny Saturday morning, we found ourselves looking at this beautiful piece of old world technology.
From the back, it doesn’t look like much…
From the front, at first, it looks rather plain…
And then when you look closer…
You can start to appreciate why this gorgeous piece will soon take a place in our home.
But, first it needs some cleaning, and a case built around its current rather “rough hewn” exterior.
But, once it has a base, sides, a top, and the dead wood bugs have been removed, we are going to have a place for our friends and visitors to stop and talk about.
I’m looking forward to posting the finished images in a month or so, once I get the project done.
In the meantime… ????
One of my nieces, Hayley Woodin, is a BC Ambassador.
Hayley is a former Miss White Rock, who continued on, and became one of three BC Ambassadors for 2010.
Neither one of these programs is a beauty pageant… the criteria for both contests, judges the applicants on knowledge of the region, a personal interview with the panel, public speaking, presentation ability, and a talent portion.
There is also an expectation that while they are holding the Title, they will travel throughout the Province, promoting the mandate of Education, Motivation and Self-Esteem.
They have also, for the past two years, been working towards helping Craig Keelburger’s Group: FREE THE CHILDREN to build a school in Kenya. The Free The Children group has now morphed into WE… who run WE DAY.
With that goal in mind, the BC Ambassador program has held cookie sales, selling bird houses, a few garage sales and other fundraisers, to raise thousands of dollars necessary to make this dream a reality.
There is another Garage Sale, this Saturday, June 19th, and all proceeds from it goes to Free The Children to help build the school.
It is being held at 11845 Springdale Drive, in Pitt Meadows, and will run on Saturday from 8:30 to 2:00. (No early birds, please)
Here is a link to Google Maps, showing the location. (Just in case you aren’t familiar with the Ridge Meadows area)
C’mon out ! It’ll be a hoot, a holler and a half !!!
Last night, my wife and I were invited to a Birthday Party/Fundraiser, at the John B Pub in Coquitlam.
It was an opportunity to get a group of friends together, and make the husband of one of the volunteers REALLY uncomfortable, while supporting a program that his wife helps out with!
It was great seeing our friends again, and catching up… on what was new with the old crowd.
As always at these types of events, the volunteers were busy selling raffle tickets, 50/50 tickets and chances on a sheet full of Lottery Tickets. They’d sold tickets through the Pub, for a burger and beer combo.
I think we’ve all been involved in these types of fund-raisers, and we’ve probably all chipped in to help friends/family or groups we support, raise money.
Just before they had the prize draws, they called for quiet, to make some introductions.
Sitting in a corner, I was at first not paying much attention, as these were all folks I was sure I didn’t know.
As they continued, my ears perked up.
There was a Federal Senator… A Mayor… Several City Councillors… Others, whose names I recognize as being important community builders.
And I had heard NOTHING about this program.
So, plagiarizing massively from their brochure, let me tell you what I NOW know about the Kateslem After School Program.
Kateslem After School Program provides vulnerable youth with a positive, consistent, supportive and safe after school environment.
Kateslem aims to empower youth through experiences and skill development.
The individual’s abilities and needs, in relation to their family, peers, school and community, are valued and respected.
They help the kids with homework. They also help with literacy, life, health, nutrition and hygiene skills. Promote Community Service and leadership. Provide recreational activities. Build friendships, and provide lessons in conflict resolution.
But what does it ALL MEAN ?!?
The word Kateslem is a First Nations word meaning “coming together”.
Kateslem currently operates After School Programs in Coquitlam, at Banting Middle School and Como Lake Middle School. The Programs run concurrent with the school year, from September to June.
Kids between the ages of 11 and 14, from Banting Middle School or Como Lake Middle School in Coquitlam, are eligible.
There is no registration fee for the youths, although they are required to bring one item of non-perishable food per month, to help those in need in the community. The students can be referred by a teacher, parent, or counselor. Or the students can sign themselves up.
From everything I read, and the people I met… this is a great program, and one that other communities should probably get on board with!
The group itself is currently supported by teachers, school administrators, parents, community workers, and civic leaders. They are working together to see Kateslem through the next step of its progress… becoming a Registered Charity… so that sustained growth and progress can continue.
If you would like more information, would like to help, or know of a Youth At Risk who could benefit from the Kateslem Program, please contact Ms. Karyn Bell, Coordinator. Her e-mail address is KarynKateslem@yahoo.ca or you can call her at 604-250-9332… or you can follow them on Twitter !!!
A few days ago, I was driving through Maple Ridge, and on the North-East corner of 227th & 119th, I saw Big Feast Bistro & Catering, which had tweeted about their Grand Opening a week or so earlier. As it was lunchtime, I felt compelled to go and do some “research” !!!
Located right on the corner, it has lots of windows, and a bright, airy venue inside. There are eight or nine tables of varying sizes inside, and a couple of bistro tables outside for nicer days. There was a generous amount of space between all the tables.
I walked to the front counter, and was greeted by the Chef, who happened to be passing by. As all the other Staff were busy with customers, he led me to a table, took me through the Big Feast menu, and said one of the Servers would be with me shortly. Prices for breakfast appeared to start at $6 and the lunch entrees seemed to start at $11.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, a young lady appeared, asking if I was ready to place my order ? There were choices for Breakfast or Lunch, and, after some serious deliberating, I chose the “In House Pepper Crusted Roast Beef Panini with Blue Cheese Crème Fraiche, Carmelized Onions and Arugula” with a side of “Citrus Infused Fresh Fruit Salad.” For a drink, I decided to go with “English Breakfast Tea.” She left, and I took another look around my table. The Bistro was quite busy, with most of the tables being occupied. There were four Servers, plus the Chef, from what I could see, and they were all friendly, and, it seemed to me, the perfect balance between attentive and obtrusive. In one area, tucked in a corner was a small play area, to keep children occupied. There was bright music playing softly enough that it didn’t cause the murmur of customer conversation to raise itself in competition.
Before I had a chance to look any further, my Tea was back, and although I was by myself, it came in a large pot, which was delightful. I had barely finished putting the bag into my pot, and sugar in my cup, when my sandwich arrived.
First bite, and I was in Heaven. I cannot recall a time when I have SO enjoyed a sandwich, as much as I enjoyed that Panini.
I was raised to mind my manners, and when in restaurants, I TRY to behave better than I sometimes do when I am at home… but there was nothing for it… I took my finger, and licked every drop of the Blue Cheese Crème Fraiche off the plate! (And I raised my Fruit Salad cup in toast to Chef Mike.)
So, if you are out and about, in Maple Ridge…
No, strike that !!!
Make plans, to ensure that you ARE out and about in Maple Ridge, and drop by the Big Feast Bistro and Catering Company. They are located at 11920 227th Street in Maple Ridge. They are open every day of the week, from 8 am to 4 pm. According to their website, they also have classes available, in addition to the Bistro and Catering businesses.
Their tag line says “Feasts for the everyday”. Check it out, it will be well worth your while !!!
A lifetime ago, my wife and I made glass lampwork beads, as a hobby. We got proficient enough that it eventually evolved into a diversionary side business. We had a booth at many local craft shows and it was a life, outside our regular lives.
I’m not sure exactly when it started… But a flood of craft stores like Michaels and Crafts Canada, and stores such as HomeSense and Winners that sold inexpensive seasonal decorations… gave Local Craft Shows a tough time, and many shows folded their tents.
The Fraser Valley Bead Show is starting today, March 12th, and runs through Sunday March 14th. It is being held in the Conference Centre at the Executive Inn, at 405 North Road in Coquitlam.
At the show, you’ll find over 30 vendors, some local, some far flung, and all having a beautiful variety and array of wares. Tools, seed beads, lampwork beads, art glass, findings, chains and booklets. Starter kits and lessons. Many, many, MANY beads for Pandora and Troll bracelets.
As a former bead-maker, I was more drawn to the lampwork beads, and there were some stunning examples of those… Which, sadly, the photos never catch the full essence of their beauty… (Especially when I forget my camera, and only have my BlackBerry.)
If you have a hankering for beads of any kind, or just to have a look, I would heartily suggest heading to Coquitlam, ponying up your $7 admission charge, and wallow in the goodness and camaraderie of fellow bead lovers.
Thanks to: Fire Design Beads, Caliente Art Glass, & Bella Vista Glass Art for letting me take pictures that sadly do NO justice to their stunning products and creations. Thanks also to the artist who didn’t have business cards, and whose name I wrote down and subsequently lost the slip of paper, but who had a most beautiful booth.
I am a few days tardy on this post, but have been a busy boy the last few days !
Last Thursday, February 4th, my wife and I were invited to White Rock, for an art opening at the White Rock Arts Council – Public Gallery.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’d never been there before… but we picked up folks along the way, and I was directed to Windsor Square, a medium size Strip mall, on 152nd Street. I thought we must just be using the parking lot, as it was after shopping hours… but the Gallery is right in the Mall, which is Brilliant!
Bringing the opportunity for Shoppers to support and enjoy the Arts, and at the same time having a “Main Street” venue from which to base their events? Brilliant!
I took a brochure, and was amazed to see that beyond the gallery, the White Rock Arts Council also is extending itself into other areas, as well. There are a series of Literary Events — the next being on February 25th. There are also upcoming Music and Film Series, details of which are available on the website at: WhiteRockArtsCouncil.com
The Artist being featured in the Gallery was also in attendance that night, and her works were a study in contrasts and diversity! Ranging from abstracts to nature-inspired images… I have heard it said before… I don’t know much about art… but I know what I like… and I like Jude Remedios’s paintings !
The Gallery Series is on until February 26th.
In addition to the art, the store also has other gifts, posters, bags and t-shirts available for purchase.
The Gallery is located at Windsor Square Mall – 1959 152nd Street, South Surrey.
The Gallery and Shop hours are: Tuesday – Friday from 10 am – 4 pm, and Saturday 11 am – 3pm.
Check it out, there are great things, in store !
There are few things that cause me as much angst as the internet connection being slow, or worse… not working.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and as a result, waking up in the middle of the night.
When I wake up, I try to go back to sleep, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll get up and go to my computer.
When the internet doesn’t work at 3 am, it’s rough, because you can’t call and talk to anyone… Because the call will wake up everyone in the house.
By the next morning, it’s inevitably working… So the first time, I wasn’t going to call and say “Well… SURE it’s working NOW !”
My ISP (Internet Service Provider) is Shaw Cable. They also provide my home phone and cable. I have always thought their service was good, but this intermittent internet issue was ticking me off.
Over the next few days, I started paying attention, and on Twitter, quite a few of my Tweeps are talking about how they are trying to get help from Shaw Cable, but having trouble getting a resolution of their issues.
However, after a few nights in a row of the same thing happening, I’m prepared to deal with calling Shaw.
I called, and was waiting about an hour, and after getting through to a Customer Service Rep, and explaining the issue… was told I had reached the wrong extension. When they transferred me to the correct department, I was connected briefly, and then dial tone.
Waited a few days, and a few more problem-filled nights, and then called again. Got the correct department this time, and spent over an hour with their specialist… Plugging and unplugging… Pinging and I can’t remember what else… but in the end, he apologized and said he really didn’t think there was anything he could do. He said he’d make a note of it, and to please call if it happened again… if possible, when the internet wasn’t working.
I kind of wrote it off, and have been sleeping better, so haven’t gotten up in the middle of the night, for a week or so.
Today, there was a knock on the door.
Turns out it’s Phil from Shaw Cable.
He’s out tromping our neighbourhood in the rain, going door to door, asking folks if they have noticed any issues, and whether there is anything they need.
By the time he got to me, he’s talked to over 50 customers, and he admitted that more than 20 of us have mentioned the slow or dead internet in the evening or night.
So, they’re going to install a new Hub.
We are in an age where, when we have difficulty with something, we call for assistance… wait to speak with someone, and sometimes they can’t help us, but they say they’ll make a note of it… and we say thank you, but realistically in our heart of hearts, we believe that nothing is going to change, because nobody cares.
It was refreshing and reassuring to know that Shaw Cable cared enough to actually make notes about this matter, and have sent someone out to consult, and confirm that there is an issue, and will (we presume and hope) follow through, and act on their findings !
Thanks Shaw Cable for restoring my faith in what I’ve always found to be top notch customer service and care !
I don’t know what I’m doing.
When it comes to wine pairings… I don’t have a clue.
My usual practice, is to ask our guests if they would like wine with dinner, and if they say yes… to tell them what we are having for dinner, and ask their preference.
However, those days are behind me, because there is now a store to help folks like me, out.
Of course, they also have a website… http://www.fireflyfinewinesandales.com/
But, in my mind, what sets these folks apart, is their connection with their customers.
I had been in the Maple Ridge store about three weeks after it first opened, and was there on a bit of a fact finding mission. As regular readers of the BobSongs Blog will know, I like the odd Dram of Scotch, with a predilection for Single Malts.
When I walked in the store, I was struck by the friendly helpful attitude of the staff, and the unique way of organizing the wines.
As I perused the shelves, I was again asked if there was anything they could do to assist me… and as I had almost made my way entirely around the store, I confessed I must have missed the Scotch section, and sure enough, I had… despite being a quite substantial selection.
The lady who guided me suggested that Eliana would be better to assist me, as she knew more about Scotch, and she surely did !
She spent quite a bit of time, asking my likes and dislikes, and discussing with me the different tastes and finishing of some of their selection.
With a lot of information to absorb, I left with my head feeling like I had been drinking, rather than discussing Scotch… but it was a good “buzz” !
A few weeks later, I got this Tweet…
As luck would have it, I was available that evening, and dropped by. The Robert Burns Scotch was relatively “young”, but mature for its age, and Firefly had brought in Michelle, a Representative from Blue Note Wines & Spirits, a Distributor, who was very knowledgeable, and delighted to share her information about many different regions, finishes and the resulting Scotches.
When I left that evening, I brought with me a Welsh Whisky, Penderyn Single Malt, with Madeira finish, which I am enjoying tremendously.
They seem to have events and tastings quite regularly… as I write this, there are three coming up in Maple Ridge, in the next while… January 22nd, 23rd & 24th.
Next time you are wondering what to get, whether it be Wine, Beer or Spirits, I suggest stopping by Firefly Fine Wines and Spirits to see What’s In Store !
For selection, product knowledge, and customer care with that little bit extra… I think they are pretty tough to beat !!!
Firefly Fine Wines and Spirits is located at 21755 Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge.
Check it out, next time you drive by!