The good, the bad & the real fooking oogly

Cartoon image of The good, the bad & the ugly movie poster Christmas, for a significant number of the unwashed masses, has little to do with babies born of immaculate conception or fat old bastards flitting about in magical sleighs pulled by flying reindeer. There is a significant amount of evidence, in fact, to suggest that the origin of Christmas is based in the celebration of the winter solstice. Christmas, in this instance, represents the rebirth of the Sun and not, as some might argue, the birth of the Son.

Nowadays few but academics and historians would refer to Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture), Ra (the Egyptian sun god) or Baldr (the Norse god of light) with much more than just a passing fancy. Throughout history, many cultures and civilizations have often shared in one common theme: the worship of the sun and/or a celebration of the winter solstice. And while agnostics, born again atheists and theisceptics alike see little point entering into a philosophical debate over something as insignificant as the existence of a deity of any sort, most of us will jump on the festive bandwagon faster than Charlie Sheen could snort coke off a hooker's ass just for the turkey amd fixings.

I celebrate Christmas like an addict. So in the vernacular of the common stoner, "Don't harsh my mellow Dude!" There's nothing quite like a good meleagris gallapova triptophan buzz on Christmas Day. That's right... you heard me right. "I like a good triptophan high on Christmas Day!". Only the casual observer, or those unable to follow the bouncing ball, might not realize that I'm referring to the consumption of turkey and the sedating effect it has when digested with copious amounts of carbohydrates. Nothing like a buzzard buzz to evoke a pleasant Yuletide slumber. Of course like most struggling addicts, I'm in recovery now that the leftovers are gone.... [wait for it]... I gave up cold turkey! I fear a relapse is inevitable though. "Lessee," he muses as he thumbs through the calendar, "when's Easter?"

At the risk of being dubbed Ebenezer, I would be remiss in my effort to postulate a post-yuletide rant if I failed to point out at least one vexing Christmas activity. That is, of course, the return of merchandise. There were only four returns this year requiring merchandise returns to Zellers, WIND Mobile, Dynamite and Sears. Given our varied experience returning merchandise this year, this rant has been appropriately titled "the good, the bad & the real fooking oogly" to cover the gamut of experiences.

The Good: Heading up the good merchandise return experience category were our visits to Zellers and WIND Mobile. Zellers, in my view, has an excellent return policy wherein they will accept returns of merchandise at any store no matter which of their stores the merchandise was purchased at. It is a policy other retailers should emulate. They will also honour incorrectly priced merchandise, as we found out, selling us a pair of trousers for $7 which seemed to scan as a blouse. Also deserving of mention is WIND Mobile who provided us with excellent customer service at their Place d'Orleans location. A defective Samsung flip phone, purchased at their St. Laurent kiosk, was returned and a full refund given. As no replacement units were in stock at St. Laurent, we were directed to the Place d'Orleans location where we were assured a replacement could be purchased. An astute technician at the Place d'Orleans location identified the problem as an incompatibility issue with the SIM between our existing Huwawei phone and the new Samsung flip phone. The SIM was replaced at no charge, they threw in a free Bluetooth headset (valued at $30) for having purchased a new phone, they gave us a data cable so we could easily transfer data and photos from the new phone to the computer and they transferred the old phone's contacts to the new phone. We were so impressed with the customer service we sent WIND Mobile's Head Office an email note commending them (and their sales representative Adrian) for such good service.

The Bad: Heading up our bad merchandise return experience was Dynamate, a preppy ladies clothing store. We had made a significant purchase at the Place d'Orleans store three weeks before Christmas. One week later, the Dynamite web site boasted a "Ladies Night" sale which guaranteed a full 20% off all merchandise. My love critter, quick to recognize savings, took the entire purchase back to the Orleans store. To our surprise, the Orleans store was not participating in the advertised Ladies Night promotion and would not honour the reduced prices. Consequently, all items were returned for a full refund and we proceeded to the St. Laurent outlet where we were able to purchase the same items at the advertised sale price. Dynamite Orleans doesn't receive our bad rating because they didn't participate in the Ladies Night promo... they receive it because the sales clerk was clearly dismayed that someone would return merchandise to the store. She had, in the words of my late brother, "a scowl on her face like a dog licking piss off of burdocks". How dare we inconvenience her? Bad customer service at one store generally isn't a good enough reason to boycott the chain... but it certainly will give you an aversion to a particular store location.

The Real Fooking Oogly: By far, however, the absolute worst customer service experience we encountered this year was at Sears. A suit, which had been purchased the week before Christmas, had to be returned as the pants did not fit. When we finally were able to speak to a customer service representative in men's wear, who wasn't otherwise engaged in a social exchange with a co-worker, we were informed of a "no refund policy" but that they'd be pleased to offer an exchange or store credit. I suggested they measure up my portly frame and retrieve the very same suit (in my size) from their stock. They indicated, without even checking, that they didn't have any other sizes of that particular suit. I suggested they order one in my size and that I'd come to pick it up when it came in. They indicated that was not an option. My options were to find something on the rack which both fit me and that I liked or to receive a store credit. I did perouse the racks, thinking I might find something suitable (pun intended), but they had few suits in my size and the ones we were able to find were hideous polyester garments. After wasting nearly forty-five minutes, I finally insisted they summon a store manager. It took some time for the manager to arrive and address my concerns as the sales representative embarked on a long explanation of how it was "standard industry practice" for suit pants to be six inches smaller than the jacket size. It wasn't until I pointed out to them that, in this instance, the pants were SEVEN inches smaller than the jacket that they started to listen. They checked many combinations on the racks and, interestingly, the jacket/pants relationship were all over the map. So much for their insistence on an "industry standard". It would seem, however, that the seven inch differential that I was misfortunate enough to have received as a gift was the anomaly. Finally, after an hour and a half of frustrating negotiations, they conceded a full refund was appropriate. I promptly walked up the mall, entered Tip Top Tailors, and bought a nice new suit.

This year I broke a New Year's resolution that I made back in 1989. Nearly a quarter of a century ago I resolved to NEVER make another New Year's resolution again and I have, until this year, been steadfast in that resolve. On January 1st I broke my 1989 New Year's resolution by making a New Year's resolution. What is it you ask? I will NEVER, under any circumstances, shop at Sears as long as life's blood flows through my veins. And if the funeral director has the audacity to dress my lifeless corpse in a garment purchased at Sears, I vow to rise from the grave and haunt the bastard, and all his heirs, for eternity. If there's any justice in the world it can be found in some recent headlines which indicate that Sears is closing a substantial number of retail outlets in the United States. I call that a good start.

One final note.... I happened to walk past Sears St. Laurent earlier this week and noticed the large plate glass had been smashed on their north-west facing door. Though I didn't stop to investigate, I couldn't help but wonder if someone, wishing to return a small appliance, had undergone a similar experience as I had with the suit and opted to return it in a less conventional manner.

Note to self... small appliances are likely more aerodynamic than garments.

Submitted by "Big Banana" Bob Loblaw, 06 January 2012