Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Sears Sucks

I hate Sears, for good reason. They suck.
Unfortunately, there are times in my life when I have to deal with them because they are about the only place left that sells water softeners. When mine dies, I go get a new one and we do installation ourselves, since the delivery and installation charges are highway robbery for removing and replacing the same appliance. And they don't haul away the old one.
I found this out the hard way when I bought a stove and fridge. I bought the appliances, and also the extended warranties. Delivery guys showed up, and told me that if I wanted the old stuff hauled away I should have bought from Lowe's. Noted, you ass clown.
4 days out of warranty I open the fridge and find that everything is defrosting, and the fridge is room temperature. I call what Sears has laughingly named the Service Center and was given an appointment for service two weeks later. It's 110 degrees outside, my food is thawing, and I have to wait two weeks. They were very happy to try to sell me an extension on my warranty, but I had taken my smart pills that day and declined.
The non Sears repairman who came out within the hour wised me up pretty quickly. Kenmore Exclusive is a repairman's bread and butter. See, Kenmore, Sear's brand, doesn't actually manufacture the stuff that carries their label, other major manufacturers do that. A huge selling point when you're buying an appliance. Problem is, the Kenmore brand is a testing ground for the major brands for their new designs. Major flaws mean that Whirlpool or Maytag don't make the product with their own name on the label, just Kenmore. So a Kenmore Exclusive does not mean you're the first on your block to own new technology, you're just taking a gamble on it not being a major lemon.
They don't remove the appliances that have had major recalls off of the sales floor. In fact they still sell them. Under the Kenmore name, or the manufacturers name. When I bought my fridge, they were still selling fridges that had been recalled because they catch fire. When I pointed it out to the sales staff, they said they didn't know about it. They were still also selling the Whirlpool Calypso washers, a major piece of crap (I know because I bought one) that had been recalled, not only by the manufacturer but under the Lemon Law.
They expect you to take delivery of broken appliances. In fact, they insist upon it. You're supposed to accept the broken one, then spend a half day on the phone with their inaptly named Customer Service Center  arranging delivery of one that actually works. So you spend the cost of a house payment buying that shiny new appliance, take an unpaid day off work for delivery for a broken one, then need to spend more time off work to get what you actually bought. I don't think so.
They screw their employees. Sears is one of the last corporate entities that actually has good customer service on their sales floor. Their employees are always friendly and polite, willing to wait on you, and most of them actually know something about what they are selling. In some departments of the store such as appliances and electronics, they get a commission from what they sell. In fact they're expected to "earn their wage" in commission. But, they don't get credit for the sale if their customer doesn't a) purchase delivery and installation (on appliances) and/or an extended warranty and b) fill out an application for a Sears charge card.
WTF is up with that?! One of the kid's friends got a job at Sears during the holidays. In four hours, she sold enough digital cameras at an average of $125 each to equal about $3,000 in sales. None of those customers wanted to shell out extra bucks for an extended warranty or pay credit card interest. Who wants to shell out bucks for an extended warranty that isn't worth the paper it's written on?  Do the corporate execs at Sears realize that we're in a recession and people do have choices?
So the kid  makes Sears $700 an hour that day, and sees nothing in commission. And gets her ass ridden by the supervisor to boot, for not doing a "good enough" job. Those customers could have just as easily bought their cameras from some gum snapping apathetic teen at Best Lie, yet the kid was able to get them to spend their hard earned money at Sears. And gets nothing but grief for her efforts. Sweatshop anyone?

Sears has earned my first annual Cranky Catwrangler Corporate Ass Clown of the Year award. Stay tuned for future posts with the nominees for individual awards.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Christmas Tree

When Hubs and I got our first Christmas tree, our cat promptly started climbing up the trunk. We always found him inside the tree. He was our first pet, found in a dumpster at my work, starving and skeletal. The malnutrition of his early years affected his brain, and he was never the brightest bulb in the box. Like the year he ran up the chimney. Thankfully we found that out before we lit the fire.
Most people who want to keep their Christmas tree nice keep it in a room where there are no pets allowed. But that's not how we roll. Our home is set up for the comfort of kids and cats, and it seems like we're the ones who need to adjust. And, oh, how we've adjusted over the years:
I love the smell of a Christmas tree, so we've always had cut trees. Since the liquid in the tree stand is an automatic pet attractant, my trees don't last, since I can't put preservatives in the water. Mountain Dew keeps it perky for the short time we get to enjoy it.
Tinsel is out, since it is fascinating to chew-and swallow. Resulting in an emergency vet visit.
Same with ribbons, for the same reason. My long suffering family and friends have gotten used to having a wrapped gift with no ribbons. I'm the world's worst gift wrapper, and haven't improved with time. It looks like I've wrapped the gift with my feet. In fact, it may be an improvement if I did.
Gifts don't go under the tree until the last possible minute, due to inquisitive kids and pets.
There are no ornaments below waist level. It's a waste of money to get fragile ornaments because they WILL hit the floor. And shatter.
I need to invest in a washable tree skirt. Like several years ago.
I've learned to place the tree in a spot where it won't break anything when, not if, it gets knocked over.

I look at this years tree, which is leaning drunkenly to the left. There's already way too many pine needles on the floor from the latest hide and seek game. Someone has taken a magic carpet ride on the tree skirt so it's MIA for the moment. It's not a picture perfect tree. As I reflect on the pets who have let us share their lives through the years, I realize it's the perfect tree for us.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Favorite Things

I thought I might give you all a break from my usual snarkfest and put up some of my favorite pet things. These are things I've used myself and I'm happy with. If you read my blog regularly, the day I'm unhappy with something, it'll show up here.
Taste of The Wild Dog and Cat Food
I'm truly impressed with this grain free formulated food. I started getting this for one of my dogs and I've just switched all of the cats over to it.

Dr. Elsey's Ultra Precious Cat Litter
This stuff rocks-literally. Ultra clumping, and dust and scent free. I hate scented cat litters. Cat poop smells bad enough, cheap perfume over cat crap is worse. There is no dust in this stuff, and the urine clumps wonderfully without breakage. Pricier than the stuff you can find everywhere, but worth it for indoor cats.

Soft Claws
A great alternative to declawing or having your stuff shredded. There's a learning curve and a bit of work involved to desensitizing kitty when putting these nail caps on, but over time it's second nature. These are also sold on ebay, the store in this link has great customer service and free shipping.

Mink Sheen Shampoo
This is a wonderful shampoo for pets. It lathers nicely, rinses easily, doesn't strip the oils from the skin and smells awesome without the perfume cover up scent some products have. This is made by the same company that wants to wash one of your hands at trade shows. I buy it at their booth at Equine Affaire, getting the gallon special. A gallon lasts a hair ho like me about 5 years, using it on my horses and dogs, so for someone who doesn't bathe their pets as often as I do, a gallon could be a lifetime supply.
Cashel Ankle Safe
I love this thing. Besides my helmet, I don't ride without it. I keep my cell phone in it since I want it on me should my horse and I go separate ways, not heading back to the barn when I'm on the ground. I don't like having things around my ankle, so mine gets put on just below my knee, and I've seen some riders wear it on their arms.
Mane 'n Tail Detangler
I've mentioned that I'm a major hair 'ho and I'm as bad about horse hair products as I am about human ones. I've tried just about every horse shampoo and tail detangler out there, as the half used bottles in my tack room are testament to. I don't love all of Straight Arrow's product line, but this one is a winner, edging out my other favorite, Canter Silk, because of the great price.

Horse Tech
I love this company. They manufacture their own products, so what you get is always fresh. They also do custom blends if you need them. UPS shipping is always free, with a hand written thank you and a small bag of cookies tucked in your order. Their customer service is the model that all companies should have.

Another company I love. They carry brand names, but have also recently expanded into carrying some of their own line. Supplements are the biggest category of what they carry (after all, they came up with the SmartPak) but they do have other supplies, and a small selection of prescription medicines and dog supplies. Shipping is a reasonable flat rate no matter the weight. Note: there are always free shipping codes. Again, a company with unparalleled customer service.

See any favorites in my list? What are some of yours?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mail Call

Dear Cranky CatWrangler:
I was in your office with my friend's dog a few weeks ago and your vet said she had Parvo. The bill was $200 which was way too expensive. The dog died that day and we didn't use any of the medicine we got. The vet should have told us the dog was going to die. If he can look at the teeth and tell us the age of the dog he should be able to tell us the dog won't live. I want my money back since the dog didn't live. This is a bad vet.
Unhappy ex customer

Dear Ass Clown:
First let me tell you how sorry I am your dog didn't make it. It is always very sad when a pet passes away.
What makes you an Ass Clown is that you think we can make that kind of guarantee. We can only tell you how serious it is and offer treatment options. The best option, hospitalization, was not in your budget. The second option wasn't either, so we did our best with sending home medicine to care for the dog at home. We told you that in the beginning. Since you brought in a half dead dog and suddenly decided that it needed vaccinations (which we won't do on a sick dog) that should have been done months ago, I'm sure you fail to understand the simple basics:
An animal is not a piece of machinery where you fix a part and it's like new again. Many things depend on recovery:
The animal's immune system and constitution.
The care it gets.
Whatever deity you choose to believe in.
We've had sicker animals than yours make a complete recovery, and we've lost ones that aren't as sick. It's a roll of the dice and hard to call. If you want a prediction, call the Psychic Friends Network. If we had that ability, we'd have seen your dumb ass coming and flipped up the Closed sign and locked the doors. The day you wise up is the day we have the ability to make chicken salad from chicken shit.

Not So Fondly,
Cranky Catwrangler

'Tis The Season Part 3

Some people are reluctant to give outright cash donations to animal rescues, and with good reason. There's constant news stories of rescues being raided by authorities and finding animals that are neglected and starved, donations embezzled, and so on. And so the burden shifts once again to the taxpayer when these animals are seized.
Most rescues with a web page have a Wish List. Check their pages to see what they need. You can shop online for the items and have them sent directly to the rescue. A gift card to a pet or vet supply store is always appreciated, that way they can use your gift and get what is most needed.
Food. The animals always need to eat, no matter what time of year it is. This is the majority expense of all rescues, and what most donations go toward. If purchasing bags of food and delivering them yourself isn't possible, you can always buy credit at their feed supplier. Even the smaller local feed stores that the rescues use will usually put money "on the books" for the rescue if you choose to donate this way.
Vet Care.  Just as with food, you can call the vet the rescue uses and put credit toward the rescue's either current or future bill.
Office Supplies. Postage stamps, paper, printer ink, pens, envelopes. This is something most rescues need, but is usually in short supply since the majority of the budget goes to the animals. A gift card to an office supply store is always a help.

Remember, no donation is too small. Every little bit helps.

A special shout out to Rose's Fund for some help they gave to a very deserving client. This is a charity that is definitely worth looking into if you're looking for a way to help.

I'm planning on posting more ways to donate after the holidays. Happy Holidays everyone!