Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Year In Review

The Baddest Of The Bad : The Golden Baddy Award

In a first ever, I bid a heart-felt adieu to 2010 with the single worst catastrophe of the year.

While the list of contenders was fairly short, they all heinously deserve a roundhouse kick to the face (and a threepeat) for the torture and terror they bestowed me.

For painful reasons I've shared near and dear, I could only afford to create 1 award, so magically 1 contender garnered top props for 3 key reasons:

1) It devoured my soul.
2) It financially drained me (and my HELOC).
3) It lives, and I cannot stop it.

So hats off, sleeves rolled-up and some raging flaring nostrils go to "Stairway To Hell" for winning the first ever Consumer Victim Golden Baddy Award! Stairway To Hell, please take a well-deserved bow! [ insert virtual bow here ].

Yes, my very own
stairway has won this attractive award (pictured at right). This highly coveted, treasured award has been metaphorically and delightfully cast of solid plastic, integrating the sensational and stunning shape of a huge screw then enveloped in golden tinted spray-paint. The Golden Baddy serves as a simple and symbolic delight that proves that sometimes screwing others scores you fame, recognition and a huge gold screw. Well, theoretically.

So we're off to a new year together ~ 2011! In unmistakable Consumer Victim fashion, 2011 will undoubtedly be filled with my personal delights of shockudrama, disappointment and above all else... rage. And unlike all books that have an ending, the new year will unveil unending updates to my beloved Stairway to Hell project, which is still fueling issues and sucking away money as I type my life away. It's simply amazing!

Adieu to you, 2010, and cheers to you, 2011 ~ and the chuckholes you'll ring-in!

~ p k

The World's Original Consumer Victim

Psssst! Feeling a little lonely? No worries. While I'm pausing my blog-writing for the rest of the winter break, you can keep up-to-speed with all things depressing at my new Facebook Page. I've amassed 12 followers (including me), so you'll really stand out from the crowd!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hertz Hurtz

Diving Bell Hell

It was a
special day complete with by best childhood friend, plenty of summer sun and my swim trunks. The locusts were buzzing up a storm that day. I was 10 years young and we were going swimming. But not in a regular ol' pool — an outdoor man-made canal turned fishing hole turned swimming pool for us. This was going to be special fun!

The water was naturally murky, so I had to shake myself into being brave enough to enter it as I have a huge fear of snakes — especially water moccasins — that are as frequent in these here parts of Texas as margaritas and big hair. Even posting this snake pic from the safety of my chair creeps me out... clicking on it gives me the shivvers.

After swimming a few minutes, we encountered a small bridge that sat above the water a few inches and decided it would be fun to swim under it to the other side. Barron suggested I go first, so I did, with my eyes closed (that's how I "roll" in murky waters).

After taking a big breath of life, I went under and started pawing ahead and kicking with all my might to reach my final destination on the other side. But a series of underwater pipes stopped me full force.

I panicked.

What were water pipes doing under water? And why were they blocking me from leading the way? I was disoriented, having lost my magnetic north and my remaining breath. Pretty much out of options, I was trapped. I desperately needed air yet was still afraid to open my eyes under the murky water.

This could have been the end of days as I knew them if not for Barron, who was about 15 seconds behind me. He grabbed my arm and safely pulled me back to our origins.

Gasping for air, I knew this was a unique moment in life when I was really, really lucky. It remains as one of my most scariest moments in life*.

Greetings, Gravitas

The scariest moments in life are when I have no control. Control can take many forms whether it be control over finances, health, unrequited love or even things we take for granted, like oxygen.

Often times, in service situations, I've been powerless for the service dealt by others. They know it, and we do, too. Someone has the upper hand in life, and it's not always the customer. So whether I'm on the giving or receiving side of "it" in life, I'm careful of my expectations... because looming around the corner is control. Or the lack thereof.

A Scream Within A Dream

Just before being skyjacked in Italy, (that post here), we were searching the town of Pisa, Italy in hopes of finding the famed tower power that bears its name. What seemed like something that would be easy to find was indeed not. The tower was nowhere to be found.

So with the experience of 2 semesters of Italian and 4 trips to Italy, I was convinced the Tower of Pisa was either in another Pisa, or it had fallen. We couldn't see it visually or find mention of it via street signs, so after 30 minutes so aimless driving I resorted to my international data plan and Google Maps to help us find it.

We had about 45 minutes to lean this way and that way like the other annoying tourists and we then headed to the airport. Outside of the counter debacle, it was another perfect dismount back to the states... until...

One *Fine* Day

It's always nice when I get to relive my experiences to Italy. I travel blog about it and find it a great way to share the greatest with others. So when I received a letter from Italy I was excited... until I realized it was from my rental car company, Hertz, whom I paid a very large sum of money for the privilege of renting a car for 2 weeks.

The letter was written in
100% Italian and aside from my name and address I had to put on my choppy Italian translation skills to try and figure out what the heck the letter was for. One word I didn't need to click to for was "URGENTE," which, set in all caps, serves as the universal written equivalent of a double open-handed face slap (click for a close-up at right).

I could make out obvious things like dates and times and the bell started to ring clear. This was an invoice for some kind of car violations. But interestingly, the dates and times shown were for dates before and after we were even in Italy and there were about 30 items listed so I freaked, worried that this mistake was about to snowball out of control.

Taking "Not It" To A New Low

I called Hertz customer service and explained the situation. The Hertz rep told me that yes, the Commune of Modena had placed in inquiry on my rental car so Hertz auto-charged my credit card 30 Euro to match-back the dates and times to find ones when I was in possession of the car.

I told "Lady Hurtz" that there was some mistake because dates and times where when we weren't even in the country and she was quick to say that I needed to "call Italy" to deal with it. They had their $30 administration fee and were done with me. Finuto.

I was dumb-

This is the kind of service that you get from a well-known supposedly trustworthy brand? I was amazed at how she performed the perfect 10.0 "Not It" for taking my money while in a simultaneous snap reverting the issue back to me and the country of Italy. That seems fair! Next caller?

Sleeping Giant

As I currently don't have a European based litigator, I was powerless in this situation. I found myself without control, much like the water incident from my childhood years. I wound up calling the villa rental company who I booked the rental through and they amazingly took action on behalf of deadbeat Hertz. They had me fax over my Hertz invoice and asked me to give them about a week to look into things.

I heard back it indeed looks like I'm in the process of receiving some kind of ticket for something. Time will tell as in Italy, like the Land of Molasses, things do not move as fast as they do at Hertz HQ, where they invoice fast and shuffle you along faster.

So 6 months later while I wonder what we did or didn't do, Hertz has their administrative fee safely tucked away under their 2010 earnings belt, while I have a distinct and utter distaste for how I was treated.

I will never rent from you, Hertz, unless it's renting some empathy and some above shitty service skills on behalf of your customer service experts. And thanks for proving why customer service is on such slippery slopes these days by the great helping of customer service crap you craft.

That's really Hurtz.

Victim's Notables:

I find myself wondering why I didn't do things differently after receiving a big dose of Hertz Hoo Haw. I should have reversed-taped the conversation for my digital memoires and Hertz's quality control training hall of shame. And had I been quick enough to capture "Lady's" real name, I would gladly nominate her apathy and efficiency skills to her management chain.

But extreme props to the folks at Parker Villas who picked-up the Hertz-Poop and took responsibility to help a customer out... even if it wasn't their job to do so. Your conviction and follow-though to do the right thing makes me want to get out of bed most mornings.

* My Top Scariest Life Moments? In Order:

1. Snake bite by, yup, a water moccasin.
2. My 5th grade teacher who shook my arm so hard I wet my pants.
3. Jaws, the movie.
4. My recurring childhood dream involving a station wagon, Coke, and a mummy, who tried to "get me."
5. The dead rat, hooker and razor-infested weekend on my first — and almost last — weekend to NYC. Swear it.
6. Um, this post!