Monday, February 24, 2014

Off topic and welcome back

The antique show business is based upon a lot of people traveling.  Here is one sad travel tale and a company to avoid!

The death of customer service and the birth of #travelocitysucks

After 48 hours and a weekend lost occupied by anger, bewilderment and frustration over the death of the concept of customer service, I am now compelled to memorialize what must be considered the worst customer service experience ever.  On Friday afternoon around 4 p.m., I attempted to book a spring break trip to Mexico for the family.  What transpired over the next 8 hours and 10 minutes will live for at least 5 minutes in the horrible customer service hall of fame.

After spending the earlier part of the day scouring travel websites, we had finally made a decision and around 4 p.m. decided to book.  Typing in all the required information, reviewing for accuracy, double-checking dates and times were done and it was time to push the magic button to purchase the trip.  Now those of you who have ever made an online booking travel mistake know the anxiety about the proofreading process- mistakes on booking are almost nearly fatal.  Trying to change tickets or hotel rooms after booking comes with a punitive level of fines, scorn, public shaming and several years of therapy.

Pushing that final purchase button brings up that 2 second-5 minute lag until you receive your glorious confirmation and trip details page which signals success.  But alas, it was not to be as I received a message that the trip could not be booked at this time.   Using deductive reasoning, I quickly figured out the problem.   The cost of the trip exceeded the daily limit on the debit card I was attempting to use.   No problem I thought, simply call the good people at my bank’s call in center and have them raise the limit on my debit card.  That should only involve a wait time of 90-120 minutes and 2 hours of Kenny G while on hold.  No offense to Mr. G and his musical skills but any hold music after 90 seconds makes people long for the sweet relief death will bring.

The wait time and musical selections on the Chase line were not as bad as anticipated and after a few minutes, I was able to raise the limit on my card and was reviewing my online Chase statement when I noticed that there was a pending charge for over $4000 on my statement from Travelocity!   How does a company place a charge for a trip that was not purchased???  I immediately called the “customer service” (quotation marks from this point on denote sarcastic air quotes) line at Travelocity and tried to figure that one out.   I did not want to raise a stink; I simply wanted to purchase the trip.  I wanted to give them money and book the trip I had spent several hours looking for which included finding a nice hotel at an acceptable price and not having to overnight at a Mexico City bus station.  I thought to myself that they already have over 4k of my money, how hard could this be??

The first customer service rep that I spoke with was very friendly and seemed determined to help.  When I brought up the charge on my account, she apologized and said that there was no way she could take another card for the difference between the amount charged and the total amount of the trip.  I asked why I was charged over 4k on a trip that wasn’t booked, I simply got an apology and assurances that the charge would disappear in 2-3 business days.  She then asked for all the details about the trip I was trying to book and said she would help me book it.   After 5 minutes, I was told that the trip was no longer available and that the hotel was sold out.  I told her the trip was still showing available on the website and she asked me to hold.  She came back on the line in about 10 minutes and told me that she was able to book the trip, but that it was $1500 more expensive than the one I had tried to book online.  If I could provide her with a card we could book it right now.

Frustrated by the experience in dealing with this particular “customer service” representative, I asked to speak to a supervisor.    After explaining the story from the beginning I was told that I needed to speak to the new reservations department, not the existing reservations department. 

After waiting on hold for another extended period, I was speaking to a supervisor with whom I had to start from scratch.  10 minutes later after explaining the details that I simply couldn’t give him another card for the full amount because I didn’t have it and that they already had 4k of my money.   The argument then ensues whether or not they have the money, which he vehemently denied.  I offered to send him a copy of my online bank statement, which showed the transaction, and he finally relented and apologized.  I tried to explain that his apology didn’t amount to a hill of beans and his explanation that I would have access to the funds in 2-3 business days was not sufficient.  Why is it ok in this day and age with the technology we possess for a company to tie up over $4,000 of a customer’s funds for 2-3 business days for something that you failed to purchase?  The supervisor then connected me to their credit card department where I spoke to another “customer service” representative.  After telling the entire story again and expressing a desire to simply pay the remaining balance, I was told that the only way to book the trip was to provide a card for the whole amount.  After explaining that the card I gave them previously represented the entire amount of money that I had available to purchase the trip, she then decided that we needed to call my bank and try to work on it from that end via conference call.

The hold time while she contacted Chase was another 15 minutes and after I verified my identity with the bank and relayed the details with the Chase representative, I was informed by Chase that due to the high amount of the transaction, it would take them several days to remove the pending charge.  I asked the Travelocity “Customer Service” rep what else could we do only to discover that she had hung up!!   I immediately went to the medicine cabinet to make sure I had taken my blood pressure medication.  I thanked the Chase rep for her help and once again called the Travelocity “Customer Service” line.

I once again began the process of trying to explain the situation.  I now either wanted my money available immediately or to pay for the remainder of the trip.  Three customer service reps later, I finally was able to get in touch with someone in “corporate”.  He was the first person that I was able to speak with who spoke clear, un-accented English.  After several minutes on the phone repeating that while his apologies were nice and well intentioned, it didn’t solve the problem that they had a large chunk of my money and I had nothing to show for it or the ability to purchase the trip without the funds they had.  He again insisted that my bank was the only possible solution.  I told him that we had already called Chase and they were unable to help, but I agreed to call them again if he promised to stay on the phone during the call because the previous rep had simply called Chase and hung up on me.

He agreed and once again we tried the bank route.  At this point, I was nearly 4 hours into the process.  Once the Chase rep verified my identity I started the story for at least the 8th time.  I asked the Travelocity rep a simple question, only to discover that he to had hung up on the call.  The Chase rep informed me that if I said that the charge was fraudulent, they had the ability to make the funds available quicker, possibly in a few minutes.  She also said that she should be able to raise my limit allowing me to purchase the trip.  After another 10-15 minutes on hold, the rep got back on the line and told me that I was good to go.

I had abandoned my attempt to purchase through Travelocity and was using Expedia-, which ironically is the same company as Travelocity.  It was now nearly 10 p.m.- no dinner out, grumpy wife, weary and worn and I once again was sitting at a computer ready to push the purchase button and declare victory.  But the Expedia site gave me an error message- daily card limit exceeded.  I called Chase back 3 times – disconnected twice due to poor cell service (thanks ATT) and was finally told that while my limit was raised, the previous Travelocity transaction still counted against my daily limit.  I would have to wait until 12:01 a.m. to purchase the trip. 

At 12:01- after nearly 10 hours on the computer and 8 hours since I first tried to book the trip, I finally was successful.   The joy was tempered by anger and exhaustion.  It was at that moment that I came up with the idea of #travelocitysucks.   Customer service may be dead, but corporate sensitivity to social media criticism is at an all time high.  I went to Travelocity’s twitter feed and used #travelocitysucks in a post and was quickly messaged to send them a phone number so their customer service rep could call.  It’s been over 48 hours and still no call.  So I wrote the above story and plan to start sharing via FB, Twitter, Blogger and email to see where it goes.  The treatment I received was not acceptable and should not be rewarded.  Please share this if you’ve ever had a bad customer service experience with any company.  Let companies know that we expect more!!



Sunday, February 26, 2012

At last, a day fit for blogging

I apologize to at least all three of you who loyally read this blog. Over the past several months, other activities have deprived me of the time and motivation to share the insight that I claim this blog does. So- I'm back at it.

Loaded up the family truckster yesterday and made the short jaunt from Indy to the Queen City to visit 20th Century Cincinnati. For those of you who have never been and have an interest in all things Modern and Vintage, I highly recommend the trip.

I always like to judge a show by the behavior of dealers and customers.

1. Is there a crowd- people in booths, aisles and do they seem happy and engaged?
2. Is there a buzz- the audible sound of a crowd of people shopping, talking and moving around a space.
3. What are the dealers doing? Sitting and reading? Looking depressed or Standing and talking with customers and other dealers.
4. Can you see the tell-tale signs of success? Sold tags, empty spaces in booths, smiling dealers or customers carrying things.

The answer on all these questions were overwhelmingly positive, great engaged crowd, active dealers with few sitting and even fewew having time to talk about shows. Great job dealers, Bruce Metzger and Staff and Customers. A show well done!

Also took the time to visit Jungle Jim's- the famous Cincinnati grocery store. Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it and can't wait to go back.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where have I been? What have I done?

Sorry for the failure to share any cohesive thoughts in recent memory. Been in the laboratory creating other things. Check out the results:

Tailgate-Music Valley
The Vintage Marketplacecase
The Design Showcase

These are the new sites for our show in Nashvile coming up February 2-4. So take a look, pass along the links and follow if you like. Happy holidays- I might even try to take some time off- yeah right.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Antique & Vintage for the Holidays

My earliest memories include being around the antique business. I set up at my first show at age 3- selling $19 and buying a Christmas tree (dad was in the booth next to me- these were much simpler times). As I grow older and now have a child of my own, I look back and realize that most of my special Christmas memories don't necessarily involve toys, electronics, clothes or money, but presents from family members that were gifts from the antique world. Whether it was cast iron still banks, T-206 baseball cards, marbles, cool college sports memorabilia or things that still are in our home. , those things stand out as deeply personal gifts, rather than mass produced items that come and go with time. This holiday season, think about giving something from the past, which might have a great chance of creating memories into the future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Working on new concepts.

Been busy this week trying to put the finishing touches on new features at shows. Stay tuned for some exciting things next year in Nashville & Springfield- details to follow in the next week or so.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Behold the eye of the Wanderer!

Although this link might not be timely- here is the journey of the Antique Show Wanderer at the September Harwinton Show- click here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Recycle your money!

One really cool thing about living vintage is a story from our recent show. We decided that turning the pool room into a play room was the right decision for our 4 year old. Out with the pool table- in with toys and storage. I took a few things off the wall that I had purchased at a show about 10 years ago to our show in Nashville. I sold them and used the money to buy a set of vintage gym lockers. Now I didn't make any money on the sales, but I took money that I spent 10 years ago and turned it into something I needed today. The Pottery Barn item that was in the room, went into the trash.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This is it- our new home in Nashville!

A 30 year search ends in success.

For the past 30 years, the Tailgate and Music Valley Shows have been mainstays of Antiques Week in Nashville. Both shows are a superb combination of great dealers, great customers and wonderful merchandise. Their success was and is a combination of those ingredients. Through the years and several facility changes it was always our feeling that despite great success, the shows lacked the “great home” that they deserved. Despite the many obstacles presented over the years by fire marshals, second & third floor rooms, cold & rainy tents, snowy parking lots, cease and desist orders, political manipulations and possible facility closures, the shows succeeded in spite of these challenges.

We are happy to announce that beginning with our February 2-4, 2012 show, the Tailgate/Music Valley Antique Show has a new home- the Hendersonville Expo Center. This brand new facility will give us the great home that the show deserves. The Expo Center Features:

· Room for 250 vendors in one space on one level in a drive-in facility.

· High ceilings

· Brand new concession and restroom facilities

· Located in the affluent suburb of Hendersonville

· Easy hotel, restaurant and interstate access

· 6 year contract with February dates corresponding with Heart of Country

· Shuttle bus service between show and Opryland Hotel/Heart of Country

· Superb Free Customer and Dealer Parking

· Onsite dining/recreation options

We are excited to offer you the chance to participate or attend what we are confident will be the great home that we have been looking for all these years. We offer you our strongest commitment that every conceivable effort will be made to insure that the Hendersonville Expo Center will be a great home for dealers and customers for the continued success of the show.

With Thanks,

The Jenkins Family & Staff

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not too serious

Sometimes the antique business isn't very serious. This sandwich shop sign was a hot item last weekend in Nashville. Can't stop laughing thinking about the times Marv asked patrons "do you prefer your wieners Jumbo or King Sized"?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photos From Nashville

Photos from this mornings opening of our Nashville Shows at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Booths of Karen Buckingham, City Farmhouse, Marie Miller, Mark Morris and Worden Select Objects. Make plans to join us this weekend.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Check out this new blog!

A group of like minded people have started a really cool new blog- I Live Vintage!! It is the story of people who have made the decision to live their fast paced modern lives accompanied by really cool things from the past. It is the story of their lives with vintage. Click here-

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Because sometimes it is just really cool.

There is always a lot of discussion as to why people buy antique/art/vintage. Is the main motivation to collect, live with or be surrounded old things? That may play a part, but I think a powerful motivator maybe the fact that many times, old stuff just looks cool- for lack of a better word. Time graces many objects with a patina that just can't be reproduced exactly (nice try R. Hardware).
Here is the booth of Mark Morris from last week's Rhinebeck show. He will be in Nashville along with a lot of other dealers with really cool stuff- hope to see you there.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New England Fall Weekend and coming to Springfield

Spending what I consider to be one of the prettiest show weekends of the year in Rhinebeck, NY and Deerfield, MA for two great shows. Rhinebeck was aglow in autumnal (spelling) splendor with a strong selection of dealers. If you've never been, put it on your antique bucket list. Deerfield features a selection of top dealers on the grounds of Historic Deerfield. The show runs on Monday this year and I will fill you in later.

Springfield this weekend for our last outdoor show of the season featuring the Mid-
America Holiday and paper show in the Youth Building. Hope you join us for a great fall weekend.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Texas, Rhinebeck & Deerfield

Hope to see some of you at upcoming shows- Round Top has been an absolute scorcher with temps well over 100 degrees but plenty of cool beverages to help keep it reasonably tolerable. Planning on being in New England next weekend to cover Rhinebeck and Deerfield. Will take pics and share.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Redefining good and great.

We are constantly subjected by the words "good" and "great" in the business. They are overused terms that have come to mean things that often cause a basic mis-understanding of the very nature of what we do. There is a pandemic with both of these terms that illustrates the conundrum that we find ourselves trying to escape. That is a great cupboard. He or she is a very good dealer. That is a great auction house. The prices were very good. We tend to associate the words good and great with expensive, rare, museum quality, high end and various other words. I had a discussion with a dealer the other day about what these terms mean in today's world. What we came up with, although just our opinions, more accurately reflect the new world we find ourselves living in: A good/great dealer is someone who keeps customers happy by providing unique objects that customers value at prices they can afford with honesty and integrity- regardless of the price level at which they operate. A good/great customer is someone who chooses to use discretionary income on antiques and in turn helps dealer operate their business. A good/great show is a place where customers/dealers can get together and exchange goods for cash- regardless of price level. A good/great antique is an object that is as represented, has an intrinsic value based upon, form, function, aesthetics, intended or repurposed use or the fact it just looks good- regardless of price.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Extravaganza Photo Contest

Don't forget to bring you camera to this weekend's show in Springfield. The five best photos will receive a pair of season passes for 2012. Either submit them via our Facebook group or email to Capture the fun, excitment and good times of the show!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Attempt at humor-

Top 10 things to do before this weekend’s Springfield Extravaganza from the home office in Terre Haute, Indiana

10. Check supply of comfortable shoes and clean socks.
9. Stop eating now so you will be hungry for something wonderful from our food vendors.
8. Clean out your house and storage areas to be prepared for the new stuff you are sure to find.
7. Stop all discretionary spending until next Friday.
6. Double check hotel reservations.
5. Convince someone new to come along- always more fun with friends.
4. Concoct a series of plausible explanations as to the origin of new purchases for your family:
“Honey, where on earth did this life sized stuffed giraffe come from?”
3. Call ahead to the authorities and warn them that even though your family will likely be reporting you missing, you’ll simply be at the Springfield Extravaganza longer than anticipated.
2. Stop checking the weather forecast- one word “PERFECT”
1. Prepare to be amazed!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Harwinton Photos

A few Harwinton photos-enjoy and remember that a few of these were taken when Graham took the camera.