Being Silent….

I read an interesting blog today, about how being a silent reader constrains the ability to gain traction in the blogosphere. It got me thinking, why am I so silent on here? I post frequent enough, I read enough and always give likes to posts that I enjoy, but very very very rarely do I ever stop and take the time to leave a comment, and thus have put myself into the category of silent reader, but as the writer of this other post asserts, did I unintentionally constrain myself by not becoming talkative on other blogs?

The answer to this is simply, yes, I did. Just maybe not for the same reasons that are pointed out by this other blogger. Working as a social media specialist for several companies (yay freelance work!) I write anywhere from 7-10 blogs a day for companies while at the same time responding to messages and comments and likes on those blogs. At the end of the day, I get to my own blog and find myself not only slightly unmotivated to write, but also completely overwhelmed by the amount of engagement I dealt with throughout the day and instead of engaging my readers as well as my fellow readers of blogs I follow, I casually scroll through reading posts that, though I find interesting, I am out of energy and commitment to blogging to write comments.

This of course does very unintentionally put huge constrains on myself as a blogger (at least, for my personal blog, my clients are set for life on engagement). The blogger of this post also pointed out that he (along with countless others) were very late to the blogging party and have thus found themselves in a sort of limbo, or in his terms, the cool kid tables and the not so cool kid tables have already been established. Where do you and I fit into this then? The people who enjoy reading blogs but decide writing comments is just not for them or do not have the time, or maybe you just don’t have anything to say really on the subject even though you did enjoy the post.

Limbo, that is where it puts us until we unequivocally make a change in our mindset to not allow ourselves to be labeled. I do not see myself as in limbo as to what table I will sit at, I see myself sitting down and starting my own table, of those who just recreationally enjoy writing blogs, reading blogs but not having to pressure ourselves into engaging other bloggers if we do not feel the need to. Of course, this does put us at a huge disadvantage when it comes to gaining followers and likes, because what better what to get noticed then to post comments to attract that blogger to you, and anyone else who reads and enjoys the comments may come along as well.

Do I need to break the mold to be a great blogger? No, not really. Does what I write need to be the most originaly in the world? Not at all. Do I need to comment on every single blog I read to start more of a follow? Possibly. Maybe not every blog I read, but I think it is time that I get up the energy to not only engage readers on my clients blogs, but on my blog as well. To do this, I’ve decided to not put off my own blogging until the end of the day anymore, from now on, my blog will be the first thing I do every morning. Whether this means writing a new post and engaging in comments on the blogs I follow or just the later of the two, I do plan to engage a little more for my own personal blog.

This does not mean that I will be commenting on every blog I read. That is WAY too many comments even for someone who blogs for companies professionally and responds to every comment (even if it is just a generic Thank you for commenting). It does mean that a few comments on blogs that I find really interesting is needed though. No one should feel forced to comment, no one should ever feel forced to do anything really, but if you like the post, leave a quick comment not just a generic like. If you enjoy the post give that person a follow also, I know I always follow back when I gain a new follower and I usually find that their blog extremely enjoyable for me.

Well, time to switch into professional blogger mode, hope you all read this and take the steps needed to stop being the silent reader and make your own voice heard and seen a bit more.

 

~SKG

Follow this link to check out the original post by The opinionated man

Why customer service and your bank account are in the red.

It has been an interesting few weeks for me customer service wise. I had a tiff with Apple over how their update of ios8 caused my fiance’s phone to crash midway through the update, forcing us to restore the phone. Of course, once we go to upload the back up of it, because magically (even though I had never touched the encrypted back up button) it has become encrypted. Luckily, my fiance and I were able to try almost every password we have ever used an found one that worked for it and we got his phone running ios8, and restored all his old information (though we did have to reinstall a few apps that for some reason did not store in the back up). The result of all this was a round-about conversation on Apple support chat (mind you, apple wants to charge people $19 just to talk to a support team online or over the phone. No joke, $19 for customer service), about how Apple created a password encrypted function but provides no way to recover the password if forgotten. Though they were able to point me in several directions to help find the password (none of which worked, and all of which I had explored before starting the chat), it still left me going “I am seriously glad this shit happened when updating so I did not have to pay $19 for some idiot to tell me he couldn’t help.”

In all seriousness though, when did it become a thing for companies to charge you more money to help with a product that they sold you originally? $19 for help with any apple product or service unless I want to clamor down to the nearest Apple store, (which for some people may not be a close though for me there are probably 4 within 20 minutes of me) with my device only to be told they cannot help me. $19 for some under trained kid to not only provide me with no answers to my problems, but to then just transfer me to another person when I have clearly surpassed his knowledge after the first five minutes of the chat. Customer service is the backbone of any company. Every company has customers of some sort, and every company provides services of some sort, but to really succeed you have to provide good customer service so that your customers keep coming back. Why on earth would I want to keep purchasing products or services from a company that charges me just to help me with those products and services. As a young professional who is looking to upgrade their computer and tablet soon, never in my mind did I think to stray from my beloved Apple products. They are easy, efficient and work for what I need. But why would I stay with Apple when if I have a simple question of how to find someone on my computer, or how to use a product on the my computer, I have to pay $19 on top of the crazy prices I pay for the products themselves. I have spent thousands of dollars at Apple. My Macbook pro was a $1200 purchase alone and now as I look to upgrade it (it is 5 years old at this point and gratefully still works wonderfully but it is time for an upgrade) I am contemplating if it is worth the prices I pay to stay with Apple only to know that if I need help in the future I will be paying even more money.

I think the worst case of customer service I encountered was earlier tonight. My fiance went and looked at his bank account only to discover that it was negative almost $300. Flabbergasted at the amount the account had fallen into the red, I struck out to investigate what pulled the balance down. I have had a bank of america count since I was in high school. I have dealt with their online chat a few times, mostly when I mess up, lose track of my finances and I am crawling to them, begging them to not charge me an over draft fee. They are usually very polite and nice and offer a refund as I have been a very good customer over the years and typically don’t overdraft. Lately though, there seems to be a rise in the number of times I find my account and my fiance’s account ovedrafted. Tonight was the last straw though, after seeing how in the red his account had fallen I began to look through the transactions and discovered a shocking trend. On my account, no matter what I do, if my account does not have enough money in it, no transaction will go through whether it is online, an automatic payment or in store. It will not approve the transactions. Tonight we made the shocking discovery that on my fiance’s account, automatic payments and online transactions will go through even if his account has a negative balance. Apparently, there are settings you must change on your account manually if you do not want these transactions to be permitted.

This was a shocking discovery as I had never heard of this, nor had I thought he or I would need to go and change settings in our accounts so that we would not be hit with more and more over draft fees for things we did not cancel because our accounts were low on funds. In the past, my account has always just declined the transactions from things like Hulu or Netflix if my account did not have the funds to cover the amount, just like it would in store if my account did not have the necessary funds to pay for the items I wanted to purchase. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a national bank would have such an unethical business practice.

What was even worse than this discovery? The actions of the customer service chat representative we dealt with. We dealt with two people, the first one was quick to explain that we had to change settings and then transferred us on, and that is where the fun began. Not only was it a rude, disrespectful and overall repetitive chat, I was accused of using “inappropriate language” and told that would not be tolerated. Now, while I may swear a lot in my day-to-day life, I never once uttered an inappropriate word, used any racial slurs of any kind, demeaned or defamed the person I was speaking with. I merely pointed out a few times that several banks have been hit with other law suits due to similar practices and that bank of america itself has been ordered to pay upward of $114 million dollars because of these types of practices, and that they are still in trouble with the federal government and are facing penalties of over $10 billion dollars because of the way they have conducted business in regards to mortgages and the federal bailout they received.

We requested numerous times the name and employee ID of the person we were speaking with along with his managers name and contact information. First we were told his full name, but that he has no identification number

“you: sir , please provide me your an employee id and the contact information of your immediate supervisor
Dominic: You can use this chat conversation for your reference. My Full name Dominic Pattinson.”
Having also requested the information of his manager, we were met with declarations that he was the last point of contact and that there was no one else. When we went on to press him for information on if he was in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america, we got this:
“Dominic: I am the last point of contact. I would not have a supervisor.
you: i find that a blatant lie
Dominic: You can use this transcript for your reference.
you: no sir
you: i have the right to know the name and contact of your higher up.
you: so you are telling me you are in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america.
Dominic: No, I am not.
Dominic: However, you can contact our Manager Mr. Sri Kumar Bagri.”
So we request this managers contact information, and we are met with:
“you: but you have a manager, which means there are people above you, you are not the last person.
Dominic: I am afraid, my manager would not interact with customers directly, so I am the last point of contact via chat channel.”
But, didn’t you just tell me that I could contact your manager? I then ask how I contact him, he told me to call the call center and ask for a manager, but that I would be connected to an immediately manager and NOT the one he has told us we could contact.

After hours of round about, deplorable customer service where the representative did nothing but copy and paste the same thing he had said before, over and over and over and over again, having been refused direct information for his manager, I was then told that he had made a final decision and that even if I called and talked to someone else I would be declined the refund of these unethical overdraft fees. I was taken aback by this assertion that no matter who I talked to, no one would help me, even worse, before I could even craft a censored response (by this point I just want to yell profanities at him) he then attempted to rush me off the chat by saying he had made the decision and that unless I wanted help with another matter he had done all he could do. I kept him on by saying I was not done discussing this issue, and while I was stalling by asking what had prompted him to make such a large declaration, an easy internet search pulled up the LinkedIn profile of his manager.

I simply said to “Dominic” that I had found the contact information and suddenly, there is someone else there whom I can speak with. Shocking? I think not. Having found the manager easily, I simply pulled the law card and inquired as if I was speaking to someone who was in the United States or in India (By law, if requested, you must be transferred to someone inside of the United States), also not shocking, none of the three people we had been directed to were in the United States, Samantha, Dominic and Ian (doubtful those are real names at this point) were all in India. Though there is chat support in the United States they were unavailable at the time of my chat. Maybe if Samantha, Dominic and Ian had not kept me occupied for over 3 hours going around in circles I would have been able to chat with someone who was in the same country as I am.

Best part of being transferred to “Ian,” This little bit of lovely information:

“you: and why can I not just speak with him?
Ian: The chat cannot be transferred to our managers, as we are the last point of contact over the chat.
you: Does he not have a phone number?
Ian: I can assist you with the contact number, however our manager is currently not available”
WHOA! I just spent THREE HOURS, yes, you saw that correctly, THREE HOURS(!), trying to get this contact number for the manager, was told I could not have it, was told it was not available, was told I could not contact the manager directly (while being told I could contact him) and it takes asking the third person to be given the information I want. I think my brain just exploded to be honest.

In the end, I am settling for a call back from someone in the United States within the next 24-48 hours as I highly doubt “Dominic’s” decision is the final decision as he tried to declare. Should be a very fun wait.

My fiance and I are considering filing suit against bank of america though due to the unethical practices of bank of america. I am sure this would not just benefit us, but probably others who have experienced the same problems with bank of america. If you have experienced this, then don’t sit there and allow yet another corporation to get away with gauging American citizens of their hard-earned money. Though we are told our economy is recovering, even those of us with full-time, well-paying jobs are struggling with the rising cost of food, housing and gas. The more people who come forward with these problems, the more likely it is that those affected will not only make monetary gains, but could warn not only bank of america, but other financial institutions as well that these unethical overdraft fee practices will not be tolerated by the banking customers any longer. I know that I will no longer sit back and be forced out of money I work extremely hard for.

 

~SKG

Why am I doing this to myself????

No really, why am I doing this to myself? I have thick, curly hair that is (for curly hair) extremely manageable. It is shiny and healthy and I take great care of it. So why, everyday, do I torture myself, take time out of my day to curl it? It is a long process sometimes, it is highly unentertaining to curl hair and I can only imagine what I could spend that twenty to forty minutes a day (not including washing and blow drying) doing! I might even be able to eat something more than a banana and a protein shake for breakfast if I just said screw this and went about my morning with the natural texture of my hair or blow dried straight.

I was curious as to who decided in the history of the world that holding a burning hot piece of metal near their very delicate flesh was a good idea. Come to find out that the art of hair curling is so old that it does not have an exact era it started in. It is filed under “Ancient World.” I can remember reading a book about the Trojan war when I was in middle school and it talked about how the women of Troy would curl their hair before pinning it back from their faces. Troy. Ancient Troy, which means Ancient Greece which means for probably 2,500 years women have been taking their straight hair and transforming it into bouncing, full curls and for what? I feel this all stems from that age old epigram that girls with straight hair want curly hair and girls with curly hair want straight hair (or, if you are cool like me, you have curly hair that you blow dry straight ONLY to recurl it….What is wrong with me?).

I have been contemplating this question for a few weeks now. What drives me (and other women) to spend so much time a day (probably around 10,000 minutes a year) curling my hair?

Is it for the wonderful wind in the hair look?

wind in hair

Who doesn’t want the fabulous hair of Loki????

Is it for the way the curls bounce with every move we make?

bouncy curls

Look at all the lovely bouncing of that red mane!

Is it for luxurious volume curls provide?

volume

If only curling your hair instantly transformed you into Beyonce!

Is it for the insane ability to twirl your curls?

twirling curls

Which not only gives off a sassy attitude, but helps keep your curls looking fresh!

I am assuming each girl has their own reason for why they spend such a crazy amount of time and money (curling irons are NOT cheap, nor is good hair spray!). Whether it is wind in the hair, an adorable bounce, the voluptuous volume or the sassiness of a curl twirl, curling your hair is a dangerous art! Seriously, no matter how many times I have curled my hair (every day for the past four or five years probably?) I always seem to nick myself with that iron someway or another every now and then. If you have never used a curling iron, or have one that does not show you the temperature, they are HOT. Mine goes up to 410 degrees, in comparison, most dishes that are baked are only baked at about 350 degrees.

Shouldn’t women who curl their often be used to the high heat and danger of burns though? Why would heat matter? Easy answer to this, we get bored while curling our hair!!!!

The number of times I have been like….

bored

hmmm…. What else could I be doing? Did I turn the coffee maker on? Are my bananas still good? Do I still have protein powder? What dress am I going to wear today? Where are my dogs? I hope they are not doing anything stupid? What was that sound? And the list could go on and on and on forever. I think my brain cycles through more questions and thoughts while I am literally tethered to an outlet in my bathroom than it does at any other time during the day! Ever have the feeling you left the oven on? Try dealing with that while holding an iron less than half an inch away from your head and NOT twitching.

That’s not the only thing that causes burns either! Curling my hair last week, I twisted to see what my fiance was doing, the cord for the iron knocked a flower clip for my hair onto the iron itself, without thinking, I reached for the flower and planted my right thumb directly onto the fully heated iron. Pretty sure I am NOT going to have a thumb print for a little while on that finger. Whoever coined the term “beauty is pain” was not joking around.

The other problem with how hot curling irons get? Some women believe they just crank the temperature on the iron up all the way and go at their hair without a thought about the damage to their hair. Heat is bad for your hair (hence the myriad of hair products that every woman should have), it is damaging, it breaks the hair and if you are not using heat protectors you can and will kill your hair. The other problem is how long you should hold the curling iron to your hair. Not knowing the right heat setting or timing can be bad…

….like, this bad

too long and too hot

Yeah, that is her hair still wrapped around the iron as she pulls away. If you have thin or fragile hair, use lower heat settings, if your hair is thicker and coarse than use a higher setting. It really is that simple, don’t just turn it on, crank it up and go at your hair like it doesn’t have feelings (yes, I know hair is dead protein, but it has feelings too!)

The other big thing is to know what your curling iron can do! SIZE DOES MATTER! (get your mind out of the gutter!) There are sizes and styles that do many different things. My favorite is a simple iron that does not have a clamp, this gives me a much more beachy look. I can control the size of the curls or make it a very loose wave and I adore the trend of leaving a bit of a straight tail at the end of the curls, gives it such a relaxed bohemian quality. As much as I love that, I also own a 1inch and 1.5inch traditional irons as well. The 1inch gives me the standard curls or I can go really tight and get ringlets while the 1.5inch will give me some large waves with incredible volume. Pick your iron carefully and don’t settle for just 1 iron, there are no laws against owning every size, shape and style of curling iron in the world. Check out Allure’s article on the 7 curling irons for every type of wave you want for more on what irons do what!

So, here I am, my hair in perfect curls, because the idea of leaving my hair straight literally gives me anxiety (Yeah, my hair is my safety blanket). But, it is also because there is something about curling my hair that just sends my confidence soaring. Having a bad day? It will go away instantly if my hair is perfect. I don’t care about my make up or my clothing, if my hair is in place than my day is on point and I am starting off good.

I just answered this burning question for myself. I do this because I love the confidence and attitude it gives me, which gives me the ability to be all like….

well duh

….Yeahhhhhh I look good and I know it!

 

~SKG