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Posts tagged ‘technology’

Is Phone Etiquette too much to ask for?

Thankfully most of my friends and family are caring enough to use proper phone etiquette but I often have the unfortunate opportunity to speak with customers who could use a little schooling on what they should and should not be doing when on the phone. You would be surprised at how often these incidence happen. These calls could be uncomfortable in any situation but especially to a customer service agent speaking with a complete stranger! Here are just some of the things we are subjected to listening to:

  1. Using the Bathroom: Seriously, we can hear you! Especially when you flush! Please do your business before or after the call and if it is an emergency either ask us to hold or call us back. Just don’t take us with you!
  2. Television or Radio TOO LOUD! It is very hard to get your information when we cannot hear anything but our TV commercial going in the background. What is worse is those customers who cannot hear us either but don’t think to turn their volume down in order to hear better. I am not going to scream to compensate for your loud TV!
  3. Eating: Munching in my ear is bad enough but when you have a mouth full of food and trying to give me your contact information it is impossible to understand you!
  4. Watching Porn: Just like using the bathroom we can hear this too! Please please please take care of your personal business before calling and do not make us listen to your porn during the call. I have asked people to turn their TV down in this situation but believe me I will hang up if it doesn’t stop or I feel you are doing “anything else” during that time. GROSS!
  5. Baby Crying: When is it ever a good time to order something or call someone when your kid is screaming bloody murder? Please get them back to sleep, give them a bottle or calm them down before calling. Certainly do not hold a screaming child when you are on the phone because being that close to the phone that is all we can hear!
  6. Dogs Barking: This is basically the same as the baby crying. If your dog is trying to warn a squirrel or mail man to stay out of your yard please put them up before calling or go into another room!
  7. Gases: Oh yes. We do have ears and we can hear every fart and burp so cover the phone, put us on mute or excuse yourself for a moment please.
  8. Fighting: It’s probably not a good time to call and order a product when you’re in the middle of a fight with someone at home! We are literally the fly on the wall and know all your business now!
  9. Swearing: This can be both happy and angry customers believe it or not. Some just have incorporated swearing into their everyday vocabulary and will just let words fly when doing a normal order. Others get angry and the words start coming. Please realize you are still speaking to a human being and swearing is not acceptable. We do have the authorization to hang up on anyone swearing if we have asked them to stop and they don’t.
  10. Prank Calls: It is bad enough from the kids but as an adult grow up! Even with a few beers in you it isn’t funny to call an order line for a kitchen appliance and ask what the customer service agent is wearing. You really think we sit around in lingerie waiting to take your call? Oh and by the way, we do have Caller ID so you’re not so anonymous anymore!

I am sure the list can go on but these are the most common of the phone etiquette problems I encounter on a pretty regular basis. Just realize that although someone cannot see you they certainly can still hear what is going on. Remember our children are learning proper etiquette from us. Take care of what you can before getting on the phone or even answering a phone call with anyone to avoid an inconsiderate situation on that call!

What unpleasant things have you had to listen to while on a call?

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Prescription Drugs worth possible Side Effects?

Certainly there are many conditions where the positive attributes of a drug outweigh the possible negative side effects. My thoughts today point towards times when the prescribed drug is for something more minor that certainly makes you question whether risking side effects is worth the benefits of the drug.

We see more and more commercials advertising their drugs for certain medical conditions. All are required by law to list possible side effects. Have you noticed those that seem to take more of the commercial to talk about the side effects then the actual drug and it’s benefits? Comedian Tim Hawkins does a hilarious skit of this very topic. 

Here is another great example: I just heard a commercial on the radio yesterday for Nuvigil. This is being advertised to help those with Excessive Sleepiness(ES) due to Shift Work Disorder (SWD). Yes this is an actual diagnosed disorder. In all fairness I have worked an overnight shift for almost 15 years so I can certainly understand all the symptoms of SWD since shift work often leads to sleep disorders. Our bodies natural instinct is to be sleeping not working during the night and be active and not asleep during the day. Lack of proper sleep can cause someone to lose their focus and even reduce their ability to function. There is an increased risk of accidents due to sleepiness. Many become more irritable or have reduced ability to participate socially. Sleepiness can also effect their overall job performance. Certainly there is an increased risk for worsening a previously diagnosed medical condition. There may be a benefit from this drug in extreme cases but what are the possible side effects? (this list taken directly from Nuvigil.com)

  • What are possible side effects of NUVIGIL?

    • Stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:Common side effects of NUVIGIL are headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL.
      • Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, extreme increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems
      • Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beat, and trouble breathing
    • Tell your doctor if you get any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Talk to your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

    What should I avoid while taking NUVIGIL?

    • Do not drive a car or do other dangerous activities until you and your doctor know how NUVIGIL affects you.
    • Avoid drinking alcohol.

    What should I tell my doctor before starting NUVIGIL?

    • Tell your doctor about all of your health conditions including if you have: history of mental health problems (including psychosis), heart problems or had a heart attack, high blood pressure, liver or kidney problems, a history of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, or are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
    • Tell your doctor about all of the medicines you take. Women who use hormonal birth control may have a higher chance of getting pregnant, while taking and for one month after stopping NUVIGIL. Talk to your doctor about other birth control methods while taking NUVIGIL.
So let’s recap. First thing that stands out to me is the “trouble sleeping”. Does that seem weird to anyone else since the problem to begin with is a sleep disorder leading to excessive sleepiness? Certainly other possible side effects are common with most drugs like headache, nausea, dizziness, etc. The other thing that stood out to me though that is a huge red flag is mental (psychiatric) symptoms including seeing things that are not really there, aggression and thoughts of suicide. What about possible heart problems? Being unable to drive a car driving a car until you know the effects of the drug can be a problem for many as they still have work and family responsibilities. Do any of those seem like something you want to gamble with?
I truly am thankful for all the medical resources available and the continual advancements in research that improve our lives. I will say again that there are many conditions that require proper medication and in those cases the benefits surley outweigh the side effects. For those people just looking for a magic pill for all your ailments maybe a closer look at the side effects is needed. I mean seriously if you have to take another pill to help with the side effects created by the first pill is it worth it? We really do not want our children learning bad habits by taking medication for every little thing either. Do your research and look into all areas of assistance before jumping into a prescription. ALWAYS ask your doctor about the side effects and if there is something else that might be just as effective without all the possible side effects. Remember many doctors have incentives to promote certain drugs for the manufactures so make sure they are doing what is best for you, not the drug manufacturer!
What are your thoughts about the long lists of possible side effects for prescription drugs?

Choose Your Email Name Carefully!

As a customer service phone agent I have heard all kinds of email addresses. There are however many people reluctant to provide their current email because something they thought what cute or sexy is now embarrassing to say to a complete stranger. Most people will use their name or a nick name. Some even have emails that refer to their favorite hobby like crafts, sports, books, movies, etc. Then there are those who think that “sexyman4u”,”urluvbuddy” or even “grannygrannybobanny” is a great idea until they are providing it to someone they don’t know or even worse in a professional setting such as a job application. Most customers I speak with want their confirmation email or shipping notification for their order so they feel obligated to supply an email address. Usually there is the awkward pause and then they spell it for you like you won’t notice what it is really saying but seriously…..I CAN READ! I do like the customers that own up to it and just say it with pride and have nothing to hide.

My advise is to pick an email address you feel comfortable giving to everyone. You can certainly obtain a separate email address for times you don’t want to give out your main email. Many email providers offer a way to link multiple email addresses together to receive and view them from one main email account. There are hundreds of free email services from G-mail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AIM, and so many more if you search the internet.

This brings me to safety for our children. We have been trying to keep up with our children’s interest in technology and one thing we are big on is their privacy and security. When using the internet and other sites requiring email addresses it would be better to have an email name that does not have your child’s name in it. Have them pick an email address that refers to their favorite book, movie, cartoon character, stuffed animal, nick name, etc. Get them involved in personalizing a fun email name for themselves. If you are like us you may also want to have their password!

What do you think about email address names?

Cash vs Debit Card?

Photo Credit: budgeting.thenest.com

I thought the introduction of Visa/MasterCard debit cards was genius! I hated carrying around and writing checks, carrying cash or using my credit card for purchases only to have to write a check to pay off that amount from my checking account later. Having quick access to those funds makes my life simpler for certain, but does it also have its drawbacks?

The other day my kids had asked if I had any money and I realized that I usually carry less than $5 in actual cash at any time. I always rely on my debit card. It also got me thinking about experiences in the past that maybe I should have learned a little more about the pros and cons of cash vs debit cards.

First we have been victims of identity theft. Around Christmas one year we found someone had spent almost $1,500 fraudulently from our account. Thankfully the charges were flagged immediately at our bank because they were coming from Canada and not where we live so they shut down our debit card access. This was both good and bad. Certainly no further funds were taken fraudulently however we had no use of our cards for transactions we normally use like gasoline purchases. We had to rely on checks and cash until our new cards came in. We also had automatic payments assigned to those cards which we then had to contact those companies to set up a new payment option. By using our debit cards as much as we did it put us at greater risk of identity theft. Although we still use them we are more cautious about where they are used.

The second thing we learned about debit cards is they mean nothing when you have no power! During Hurricane Ike everything you wanted required cash. Checks were not even accepted because there was no way to verify funds. So even if I had a million dollars in the bank there was no way to access funds. Thankfully many stores and gas stations had power restored within a few days either by the electric company repairs or a power generator. Those few days without any power around town made many people realize how vital an emergency supply of cash is.

The third thing is I have been somewhere and had a purchase that was only a few dollars and without cash I had to use my debit card. Stores are charged a fee for card purchases so I am not doing them any favors by making them pay a fee for my small purchase. If I had a little more cash it would be a better option in those situations.

I am sure there are plenty of other pros and cons of both debit cards and cash. I certainly still like the convenience of the debit card but know that cash cannot disappear completely without effecting our lives at some point!

Which do you prefer to use? Debit Cards or Cash?

What’s with that Commercial?

  1. You know a commercial is played to often when you know the jingle and find yourself singing it often. That is good advertising on their part because even if you don’t need their services you still recall their product from the jingle.
  2. What is with the commercials that have just a weird spokes person or character that just won’t go away? I won’t name any specific commercials but we all find those that are just annoying or even a little on the weirdo freaky side. Those companies just keep making more with that strange annoying spokes person or character. I guess the same could be said for off the wall weird or inappropriate slogans.
  3. How about the commercials that are just so hilarious or otherwise awesome to the point that you really didn’t even pay attention to what the commercial was selling? Some go to huge lengths to make sure the commercial is so outgoing that they lose sight of making sure their product is featured. We have laughed at dozens of commercials and even talked about them later to only realize we have no idea if they were selling jeans, beer, or car tires.
  4. Why are some commercials aired on specific channels at all? We saw a commercial for life insurance for seniors while watching a UFC fight one night. It just seemed really weird place to advertise that. We also have seen mens products advertised on mostly women’s channels and vice versa. I’m just saying if you want the biggest bang for your buck advertise where you will have the biggest audience for your product.
  5. The commercials targeting children just don’t seem as subtle anymore.  Some just come right out that if your parents love you they should be buying you this. Thanks for making us have to say no to yet another useless product. Let’s be honest they want it because it looks so awesome on the show but it really isn’t as fun when they get it and will only use once or twice.
  6. Do we really need “that much” truth in advertising? There are just some things that we can leave a little more vague instead of going into full detail please.  Hemorrhoids’, E.D., and feminine odor problems may have numerous products available but when watching TV with the kids that may not be the most appropriate time to be hearing about them.
  7. Do we really want to see commercials anyway?  No. We love to record things to watch later so we can fast forward through commercials. The only exception to that is the Super Bowl where we actually sit down to watch the commercials ON PURPOSE!

What are  your feelings about commercials?

 

Headache? Reach for the Peppermint Oil!!!!!

Photo Credit: doterraoil.com

We as parents will certainly have a few headaches come our way. Some are related to sickness itself but others will just come from stress. I have always relied on the usual tactics of medication, hot showers, cold packs or sleep to get rid of a headache that often provide little help or take forever for the headache to finally go away.

Years ago as I was walking through a high-end department store on my way from the parking lot into the mall I was stopped in the cosmetic section by a woman giving free samples of peppermint lotion. She swore this would help with any aches and pains but especially headache  and stress relief. I took the sample because it was free and as you all know I like free. I used it and was pleasantly surprised at the results I got with my first headache. Of course when I went to see about purchasing this same lotion I realized I would have to take out a  small loan to afford it so I decided it was not going to become a part of my headache fighting regimen after all!

Fast forward many years later where I have some friends telling me about their new excitement for essential oils and all the health benefits they offer. I being the natural skeptic that I am smiled politely but really didn’t pay it much attention until I had my next headache and I remembered the peppermint lotion I had used years ago. Having  that good success in the past I contacted my friend who is now a DoTERRA Product Consultant and told her to order me some peppermint oil. Best decision in the world! Not only does it smell good but it has a warming sensation that helps soothe and the natural oil helps alleviate pain.

I promise to post more about other oils we use another time however since I had a horrible headache last night and was reaching for the peppermint oil to find relief I thought I would share this today. I now have my whole family in love with peppermint!

Although there are many companies that offer essential oils I will have to admit I like everything I have heard about this company DoTERRA because their oils are Certified 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade. They offer a variety of oils and oil blends along with other products containing oils for a variety of needs. You can visit the website for the DoTERRA Product Consultant to inquire about their products or discuss ailments you may want help for.  Click HERE for more information.

Do you used essential oils?

Alternate Cooking Methods

Are you prepared to cook food when your power is out? If you do not have a gas stove or an outdoor grill with plenty of propane you could be really in trouble. We were without power during Hurricane Ike for 17 days. Thankfully we did have a gas stove and were able to still cook.  This did however make the  rest of the house which was already hot from no air conditioning even hotter. Having alternate methods for cooking can ensure you are still able to prepare meals when there is no power or usual method of cooking. Listed below are several devices you can make at home with little or no expense. Although there are commercial products that are available these can work just as well and save you the cost of an expensive investment. I would prefer to invest in other emergency supplies and even a generator before buying a solar oven. These are simple enough to make and can make a great activity for a church group or scouting event.

Picture Credit: robnoxious.wordpress.com

1.  Rocket Stove:  This video demonstration shows step by step the cutting and assembly of a cans rocket stove. This is mostly consists of just different sized cans cut to make this stove. You can then use it to cook anything in a pot or pan like you would a regular stove top. The fuel is simple twigs and sticks you could easily find lying around however if it is wet it may be more difficult to get them lit. A suggestion given is to have twigs and small sticks already gathered and store them in a sealed bucket. You could also just purchase a packages of shims at a lumber or home repair store that will work just as well.

Photo Credit: odcooking.pragerfamily.net

2. Box Oven: You basically only need a heavy-duty box that can either has folding side flaps or a lid to close it (you can get a heavy-duty box at any liquor store for free). You will line the inside of the box with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  To secure the foil in all the corners and around the edges you can use a aluminum foil tape found at most hardware stores. This type tape is usually near the insulation section of the stores. Once assembled you can put either rocks or even a piece of tile on the bottom to prevent the coals burning through the bottom. You certainly can put skewers or wire hanger cut into strips to make a rack or another option is what you see with using full size or even half-size soda cans to elevate a metal rack. You can find metal racks like this in the kitchen section of  Wal-Mart, Target or other kitchen supply stores. The main thing is to make sure the rack is raised above the coals. You use regular charcoal briquettes and get them started outside the box. Once they are hot but no longer burning you place them in a pie tin below the rack. Use 1 charcoal briquettes for every 40-50 degrees you need to cook. So for 350 degrees you would need 7-8. Close lid and let it cook. You can even take a cooking thermometer and stick it into an opening to monitor the temperature in the oven.

Photo Credit: thermalcooker.wordpress.com

3.  Wonder Oven or Wonder Box: There are many places to go learn how to make one and they are pretty easy to assemble  Many people will assemble the wonder oven and place it into a rubber tub for ease of storage and transporting. Basically food can be started on the stove-top, oven or even a propane grill or camping stove and then once they reach the temperature they need to cook at you can transfer them to the wonder oven. When sealed off it will then contain the heat and continue to cook it.  It is also good for transporting hot items and keeping them hot.

Photo Credit: williamgbecker.com

4. Home Made Solar Oven: If you cannot afford a manufactured solar oven then this is something to consider if you or your spouse are a little handy. If you do a search on the internet for home-made solar ovens there are a variety you can make from card board boxes all the way to one built with wood.

Photo Credit: energywhiz.com

5.  Pringle’s Can Solar Oven:  Oh Yes. I had to see it for myself and it is really cool. This would be fun to do with the kids but also could come in handy in emergencies. This would mostly be for skewer cooking like hot dogs, or shish-kabob but it would be better than nothing!

What alternate methods for cooking do you have?