Thursday, July 22, 2010

Four Seasons

I found the driver in baggage claim as instructed. I was super excited to get to the summit and meet all the other mom bloggers! “Yahoo!”, I was thinking, as we left the airport. Watching the bright, summer urban landscape slide by as we headed for the Four Seasons, I could already envision the comfy bed and a night or two of actual sleep. Well, that is if I don’t stay up late gabbing. And drinking wine. And eating chocolate. All appealing choices to be sure. What I most look forward to is meeting the amazing women who write for this group. I count myself fortunate to be part of it. I reflected on the California terrain I had seen changing from summer brown, to fall/winter flat, to spring mountainous and green during the short flight, and I dozed off . . .

The Yahoo! signature ‘purple’ carpet arrival and the sleek black limousine were the first indicators of a classy ‘do’. Since the birth of my triplets two and a half years ago, I have learned to keep an open mind and adjustable expectations. I was just happy to have a break. But this was already exceeding anything I could have imagined. Connecting with other mom bloggers, we all grinned passing through the Yahoo! guard gate. The amount of treats, sweets and snacks we found inside at our disposal, was overwhelming. Not to mention the free espressos and lattes. Holy caffeinated conference!

Panels of Yahoo! directors and the Motherboard creators imparted much wisdom and provided inspiration for attendees on marketing, monetizing, online safety – you name it. So much information, that everyone needed a drink, or three, later at dinner. Pitchers of hurricanes dotted the dinner table, which naturally led to strawberry ginger mojitos, pool side chats, and of course, karaoke. Twitter was ablaze with energy since none of us could keep it to ourselves.

The most revered treats were the cupcakes. Mmmm. Cream cheese frosting, fancy decorations, and plenty of them. The lasting effect influenced some of the gals to watch a cupcake show long after the festivities ended. The Four Seasons has a reputation for luxury, and they did not disappoint. Soft pillows, fluffy bedspreads, deep bathtubs, and TVs in the bathroom. I’d never leave my bathroom if I had that at home. Wait, yes I would. I don’t like bathrooms that much. But I digress. The ‘stitch and bitch’ after party was laden with candy and wine and cute flower crafts to make. If only life were always this  . . .

 . . . BEEP! . . . BEEP!  . . . BEEP! . . . what the hell IS that? I awoke slowly, wondering if that annoying sound was generated by the airplane. Then I panicked about it, and quickly looked around hoping I hadn’t drooled on my seat mate until I realized my surroundings looked nothing like a plane.

I was I in a hospital room, lying on a bench/bed, next to a crib in which my son lay recovering from his 11th brain surgery. I shook my head and took a deep breath. Ohhhh geez. It all came back to me in a rush. The vomiting, the screaming, the CT scan, the ER. His wails as they poked him with a needle to start the IV. Getting moved to the Pediatric floor at 3 a.m., and surgery at 8 a.m. to repair his yet again failed VP shunt. This was the fourth such incident in six months. When does this kid get a break? I looked over at him and he smiled his flirty little smile and said, “Hi Mommy!” in his impossibly high voice. I melted and wanted to cry at the same time from relief.

Though disappointed to miss the YMB Summit, the irony lies in that my son is the reason I was even invited in the first place. I am a mom. There is no way anything is more important than him. Commonplace as these hospital visits have become to us, diminished is not the fact that it is indeed, brain surgery. While I would have loved to frolic, drink and learn (not necessarily in that order), a higher purpose was at stake. And I have high hopes.

I hope that my son does not have to endure this again for a very long time. I hope that I can keep being strong for my son and my family when they need me. I hope that I can be the mom he needs. I hope that I can sleep in my own bed (if not a fluffy hotel bed), and not a hospital couch. It might not have been the Four Seasons, but one is enough for me - Spring. Spring is the season of hope. And hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ikea - A Bad Idea

“Ikea’s customer service department is currently closed. IKEA customer service can be reached every day from 9am to 9pm.”  It was 9:11 a.m.

This shouldn’t surprise me. Yesterday’s adventures in trying to give IKEA money were no better. I called one store to request a piece of furniture that is available in two other stores, each over 5 hours driving from us. With two and half year old triplets at home, I rely on the value and (sometimes) quality of IKEA’s merchandise. But I am gravely disappointed in the service.

When I spoke with the store's service gal, she told me the item I wanted could not be brought in from another location. “That’s just our policy.” She agreed with me and said she didn’t understand it either, but could not help me and I should go to another store. I don’t know if she meant another IKEA or another retailer. I’m pretty close to going to another retailer.

She then told me that only Seattle and Houston ship furniture, so I should try calling them. Guess what? They DO NOT ship out of state.  Of course they don’t.

Next I tried the online ‘Anna’ customer service. The answers from her came up so fast it was hard to believe that the system was actually registering my questions. Instead it appears that it picks up on key words and gives standard answers. It suggested I check stock availability online. I typed in that I already did that, and the response was, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t talk about things like that”. Huh??

Now I am willing to purchase it over the phone and have a friend pick it up for me, and I get the phone message with which I started this letter. But as you might guess by now, IKEA will not take a phone order. And if I call the catalog order phone number, I am guessing I would have to pay shipping that I would not have to pay IF I could actually get the item AT the store. It’s kind of ironic that IKEA will not take my money every possible way I have tried to give it. But with a catalog order they will happily take a little more of it. The customer service gal from San Diego was quick to tell me that she is “Sorry for the inconvenience”.  I couldn’t’ disagree more. She was not sorry. It was a scripted answer that only served to cement my rapidly growing annoyance with IKEA.

I'm not the only one who feels this way. The internet is littered with sites and comments like these. So what is it IKEA? You're a franchise? You're cheap? You don't care? That should not be the customer’s problem. In this kind of economy, and frankly in any economy, who can afford to turn away business? Apparently IKEA.What a bad idea.