Customer Service

Link Roundup: Boss Regrets Niceness; LinkedIn Rankings; Good Giving

+ Uh-oh. I hope Mike doesn’t read this one. “Why I Regret Being a Nice Boss,” by a lady who was not a monster to her employees, and whose employees took advantage of her until she adapted accordingly.

Not all businesses require that level of micromanagement. But establishing which rules are non-negotiable, and making sure that everyone understands them with crystalline clarity, is a matter of fairness. It’s the thing I wish I could go back and do over—not because it would have saved my business, but because everyone, myself included, would have been so much happier. I allowed my coffee shop to become characterized by permissiveness. Some took advantage of this permissiveness by making up excuses for being late, or by trying to do as little work as possible. Those who didn’t take advantage became resentful of the other employees, and of me. It brought out the worst in everyone.

+ Let’s all go back in time and choose our colleges based on LinkedIn’s ideas of which ones will get us desirable jobs!

+ It’s “Pink”-tober, which means it’s time to feel guilty about forgetting to donate to breast cancer charities. If you want to give, though, give wisely. Here are some alternatives to Komen where your money might actually do some good.

+ Two more favorite rich people, because I can’t believe I forgot: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lord Peter Wimsey. Posh dudes who fall for brainy, less well-off women are the best.

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My Summer As a Housekeeper

The summer I was 18, I worked at an amusement park hotel as a housekeeper. The system worked something like this: every morning, we picked up our clipboards from the front desk with our list of rooms for the day, color-coded by what kind of service they needed. Pink was for occupied rooms that just needed a little spiffing, or “makes,” and green for just-vacated rooms that had to be cleaned for guests the following day, or “turnovers”.

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Coffee vs Diet Coke vs a Pure, Uncaffeinated Life

How much do you spend on coffee a day? Is it worth it? Slate (via Inc) says hell no:

that euphoric short-term state that you enter after drinking coffee is what nonhabitual caffeine consumers are experiencing all of the time. The difference is that for coffee drinkers, the feeling doesn’t last. “Coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights,” Bradberry explained. “In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.”

It’s bad for your sleep cycles, your productivity, and your wallet. Sorry, lovers of Joe.

I can be smug about this since I’ve never drunk coffee. It’s strong and bitter and I do not get it at all, unless you muffle it in so many layers of milk and sugar that it doesn’t taste anything like coffee, at which point it’s 5,000 calories and $500 and turns your irises into pinwheels.

On the other hand, I get my daily caffeine fix from Diet Coke, which doesn’t even have the defense of being a naturally occurring, organic upper. It’s water and chemicals and fizz and God help me, I love it, even though it is probably wreaking havoc on my gut flora. Who am I to judge? Let he who is without beverage sin cast the first stone.

illo by Charrow, possibly the most serious coffee person I know. 

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The Weirdest Ways to Make a Fortune

Here’s a creative and unexpected way to make some money:

Domainers, also known as domain name speculators, buy domain names that they think might be desirable to someone else in the future, often generic words or phrases that they can then flip to business for a profit. Brown asked the guy what happened when people emailed those dormant addresses he owned. The guy said, people don’t do that. Brown borrowed a few, 12 in all from two different guys, and it turned out that people, as well as bots, did email those addresses, to the tune of some 200,000 emails a day, 8% from real humans. All of a sudden, he had a business.

“I started sending bounces back, and I put a little tracker inside of it,” Brown told me. “It turns out that 60% of the time, people opened the bounce I sent. That makes it the most read email in the world–that’s more frequent than my mom reads the email I send to her. I said to myself, ‘I think I’ll put a little back-to-school gift-card ad in the body of this bounce.’ And I let it run. A month-and-a-half later, I’m checking the mail and I get a check from the advertiser for $20,000.”

Best line in the article: “A trained Shakespearean actor, Brown credits his experience in the theater with having provided him a mindset for framing startups.”

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Quitting in a Blaze of Glory, NYC Waitress Edition

A waitress’s open letter to the oh-so-seductive customer who manhandled her has gone viral. I should excerpt it but the whole thing is so fantastic, I’m reprinting it here in full:

Dear Brian, You came into the restaurant where I work and ordered a Stoli on the rocks. When I asked you and your companion if you’d be eating, or needing anything else from me, you put your hand – ever so gently – ON MY ASS and asked if you could take me “to go”. When I immediately stepped away and said “Sorry, what?” you probably gathered that I was and am not receptive of such advances from customers. We were in a family-friendly restaurant, around 6:30pm, and I was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup…so I’m not sure where the confusion arose as to what kind of service you were being provided. You left soon after, leaving a signed credit card slip and a two dollar tip (see picture included!). Your name is Brian Lederman. I found you, instantly, via a quick Google search online. I looked at your face on Linked In, the World’s Largest Professional Network. You work at Swiss Performance Management and Truehand AG, in Investment Management. Of course you do. 

I work as a bartender, and have for more than five years now. I graduated NYU with honors, and have at some point held down every conceivable part time type job including but not limited to food service, administration, and even temp work at firms such as yours. So far, bartending allows me the most flexibility to pursue my artistic career, while comfortably covering my basic living expenses, including my outrageously high student loan payments. I have a good job that I’m grateful for. The environment is low key, I have incredibly supportive coworkers and managers, and – in general – the clientele is nice. But I still hate being a bartender. 

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Cleaning House With Jenny

As you may recall, I signed up to use a cleaning service thanks to a direct mailing and then blogged about it. I planned to cancel it when I read this comment but of course forgot to and then the woman who would be cleaning our apartment, Jenny, texted me a few days ago to introduce herself and confirm our appointment.

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Canadian Health Care Awesomeness: Is It As Awesome As It Seems?

We’re all jealous of the Canadian health care system, unless we’re Canadian ourselves, in which case we spend our time eating poutine and watching hockey and politely marveling at the idiocy of Americans. But is the universal, public, accessible, single-payer health care that folks north of the border enjoy REALLY as great as it seems? Jacobin investigates:

The two largest holes in Canada’s health care system are the lack of universal coverage for dental care and the inadequate defraying of optical and prescription drug costs. As of 2012, an estimated one in five Canadians — disproportionately women, the unemployed, and freelancers — did not have the supplementary private health insurance that foots the bill for these services.

Uh. 20% of Canadians might have to pay for some dental and vision out of pocket, and these are your biggest problems? Here is the world’s tiniest violin, and here is me smashing it with a hammer made out of solidified resentment.

Universal health care is not just being eroded via underfunding. The federal government has been unwilling to enforce the Canada Health Act, which makes funding contingent on meeting certain standards. The lax regulatory environment has led to a proliferation of private clinics across Canada and inequitable access to some medical services.

OK now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe. It’s still hard for me to get worked up over the kinks in what seems like, overall, still a vastly preferable system to the one we’re stuck with down here, but pain is relative. And it does suck that abortions are hard to come by on Prince Edward Island.

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Saying Yes to the Dress! (For Other People)

Shopping for and with other people is the absolute best. If I had my way, I’d be sitting on one of those funny little poufs in the dressing room saying encouraging things to a friend, while she looks appraisingly at herself in a three-way mirror, once a week.

A mother-of-the-groom asked if I would take her out earlier this summer, and in one short afternoon we perpetrated an entire outfit: a striking, classy, yet “appropriate” dress ($250), a beautiful bolero to go over it in case New Hampshire is cold on Labor Day (~$100), and a pair of sturdy but cute shoes to wear while walking down the aisle and then jumping with joy on the dance floor ($40). That made me happy. What made me happier still was when two different brides invited me to accompany them on the Holy Grail of retail excursions: Wedding Dress Shopping.

Twice I have been able to be all, “Yes, she said, yes, I will, yes” to the Dress.

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How the Other Half Lives

While I was in the middle of writing a long meditation on the moral obligations of the rich, I received the following email…

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Think Of The Money I Could Make By Simply Ruining My Life With Airbnb

My sister is in town, staying at an Airbnb in the neighborhood. Or the neighborhood-ish. The intolerable and overpriced part of the neighborhood, that is. PEAK WILLIAMSBURG.

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The Art of The “Next Time”

I come to you today happy to report that I just got next time’d! Which is when you forget your wallet or don’t have enough money and a store or cafe employee tells you to pay them “next time.” I consider this a truly great honor and/or a sign that they do a shoddy job of keeping track of inventory. Do I have a very honest face — I was trying to buy a bottle of HONEST Tea, after all — or do they just not care about losing $2.00? The world may never know.

There are gradations of triumph in the “next time” and this one was particularly triumphant. Factors include how loyally you patronize the establishment in question, whether it’s the total amount or just a partial I.O.U., the degree of rapport you have with the cashier, their seniority at said establishment, how badly you want the item in question and how far away from your apartment / an ATM / your next paycheck you happen to be.

Today’s Next Time Eval:

How Loyal of a Customer Am I: Not very! I go in there maybe once every week to two weeks. So in this case, “next time” could be quite awhile from now. Bold move, bodega clerk.

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