Golden Corral = Nightmare

My 13 yr old chose the Golden Corral at 1901 Central Avenue Colonie, NY 12205 (518) 862-1520 as our Saturday night out, and what a train wreck it was. Admittedly, we probably hit the busiest time of the week – Sat @ 6:15. The staff was completely unprepared to handle the crowd. I overheard one employee swear that he would never work another Saturday, leading me to believe this was a normal occurrence. . The wait in line for food was at least 30 minutes. I had some tatted up bimbo & her stoner boyfriend try to cut in line in front of my family. When I told her where the line started, she called me an idiot for starting at the rear and waiting my turn. Rather than address the line cutter, the manager (a dead ringer for Corey of Pawn stars) asked ME to relax. Unbelievable.

I did seek out the District manager & owner after we finished our meals. The DM ran away. The owner gave me a half assed apology. Never again.

It’s FREE – no eBay coupon code required

Did you know that you can get most anything  that you want for FREE on eBay? No kidding it’s true. You can freely steal from  single moms, the unemployed, folks that rely on eBay to eat and anyone else selling on eBay. Caveat venditor!

All it takes, is for you to be a dirt bag, like Theres Assaad, 535 E Orange Grove A, Burbank CA 91501. You see, Mr Assaad knows something that you probably don’t.  He knows how to get stuff for free on eBay using the eBay SNAD Scam.

If you do a Google search for ebay SNAD Scam, it returns over 1.8 MILLION results. Ironically, one of the best explanations of the scam appears in the PayPal forum (an eBay property)

Following is a  NSFW video that showcases the scam:

I chronicled my own experience with the SNAD scam at NNIM.org

In that post I explain what i am doing to combat this abuse by eBay – I’m interested to see if it works.

I’m fortunate to be in a position where losing $200 will have ZERO impact on my life. What concerns me is that eBay, a multi-billion dollar corporation is complicit in this scam that certainly must be impacting folks that CAN NOT easily afford to lose $200.

If you are an attorney itching to initiate an eBay class action suit, here’s the chance of a lifetime. Imagine the money that can be made from suing such a HUGE corporation with DEEP pockets. I’m handing you the opportunity of a lifetime .  Don’t pass this one up.

 

Do you Blog? Use twitter? Is your social media insurance up to date?

Today’s post is dedicated to fellow New Yorker Anthony Weiner. If you don’t know who this guy is, you’re reading a very old blog post:) As of today, he’s ALL OVER the news. When you type his name in Google, the first suggestion is “anthony weiner lewd photo” You do NOT want to be that guy.

Despite the fact that Weiner is a putz, it does beg the question: Can you libel someone in 140 characters or less?  The short answer, (you can tweet this), is yes. There is an ever growing number of lawsuits against bloggers, message-board posters and social network users. Remember, you do not want to be that guy ~ on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Have you considered the possibility of getting social media insurance for your blog?  I’m neither an attorney, nor insurance agent, but from what I’ve read, it looks like a personal general umbrella liability insurance probably covers defamation claims arising out of social media activities. Don’t take my word for it – check it out.  It’s a safe bet  that with more people engaging in social media, there is a heightened risk of defamation claims.

I first started carrying an umbrella policy when I became a landlord. Most people do not have umbrella liability policies even though they are fairly inexpensive and can often be built on top of one’s auto or homeowners policy. If you have any assets, a personal umbrella policy for liability is a good idea for consideration. The best thing for bloggers to do, however,  is avoid posting potentially defaming content.

Do you practice safe blogging?

Do you plan on failing?

I’ve dealt with hundreds if not thousands of both SEO’s & remodelers over the years. Many are sole proprietors. They do an outstanding job day in and day out. They not only meet client expectations on a regular basis, but they exceed them. So how come so many are either broke or stuck at a plateau?

Just because someone is brilliant with their hands or skilled in the art/science of SEO doesn’t mean that same skill set applies to running a business. I vividly remember having a conversation with a great SEO that told me they “felt icky” when discussing pricing with clients. I have had countless conversations with building contractors that couldn’t pay me, because they were afraid to ask for payment from their client. Even in corporate settings, it drove me nuts when a customer didn’t pay & the A/R clerk was afraid to ask for money for fear of offending the client.

I don’t know about you, but when I do a job that I’m contracted for, I expect to be paid. I’m pretty good at what I do and I’m not embarrassed to charge a premium for it. I sell high value NOT low prices. When someone owes me money, we  get on the phone and ask where the payment is – the same day it is due.  If any of this makes you squeamish,  you’re going to have a difficult time ratcheting up to the next level.

The bottom line is this: if your ambition is to grow a company and you don’t have the skill set to do it on your own, find someone who does.  If you can’t afford to hire someone, pay a business coach who will help you draft a plan. Remember – a plan is very different from a set of goals. Increasing sales by 20% isn’t a plan – its a goal. Adding a sales rep to sell “X” number of product “Y” over “Z” period of time in market niche “A”: That’s a plan. If your plan isn’t specific, time phased and measurable, you don’t have one.

The old cliche is true – If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Do you have a plan?

Hey, Chuck Price is no longer at We Build Pages

I’m a HUGE fan of  Tom Peters. If you don’t know who he is and have any interest in learning how to run a business, stop reading this and take his feed now! (Yeah,  I’m talking to you:) I attended a Peters seminar in 1994, where I first learned about a concept that had a profound influence on my life. His advice: “Re-pot” yourself every 7  years. (This concept originated from  former Stanford Business School dean Arjay Miller—a champion of  changing careers every 10 years.)  I think changing careers every 5 years is a more appropriate standard for this millennium.

I’ve worked in the building material industry, owned and operated a window & door manufacturing company, owned and operated a remodeling company, and even sunk so low as to work as an internet marketing guy:)  When I haven’t owned the company, I’ve started at the bottom & worked my way up to the executive ranks ~ not only as a kid, but as a guy in his forties. Most people fear change – I embrace it.

So what’s next? I don’t have the details, but I do know this: I’ll be working in the Capital District with some really smart & cool people.  The project will be incredibly interesting with a huge potential for growth. It may be internet related – or not. The payday will be highly lucrative and performance based. I’ll play a key role in business development or be the primary architect of a turnaround. If its an equity play, I’ll have the controlling interest. The business will be bricks & mortar, online or a hybrid:)  How can I know this without even knowing the deal?  Because the business principles are always the same, regardless of the business itself.

So… once I have the details, I’ll pass them along here. If you have a project that you want me to look at, I want to hear from you –  email or DM me.

I’m going to end this post with another great Tom Peters axiom: Never work with jerks. Including customers. (Life. Too short.)

News Alert – Exceptional Service is alive & well at Valet Park of America

It may sound cliche, but its true. A really bad customer experience offers an opportunity for creating a POSITIVE outcome and GOOD word of mouth for a company. Case in point: Valet Park of America. These guys manage the parking garage at Albany Medical Center. On a recent visit to the hospital, one of the parking attendants got into a fender bender in the garage while parking my wife’s car.  Not good.

Upon returning to the car, the attendant immediately pointed out the damage, apologized for the incident & assured my wife that they would take care of the expense of the repair. This was later followed up by a phone call to the house. A cynic might think that this was nothing more than  VPA playing CYA, but its not like there was a threat of a personal injury suit here. This was just old fashioned customer service.

Our body shop faxed the estimate to Valet Park of America & VPA quickly made a direct payment to the shop. No jerking around. No money out of pocket. Sweet!

This was followed up one more time with a letter from Michael Chagnon, Director of Quality Control, Valet Park of America. In the letter Mr Chagnon apologized again for the “unfortunate experience” and thanked my wife for her patience. He also included a gift card to a local restaurant and his business card with an invitation to contact him in the future. IMPRESSIVE!

Isn’t it ironic that while Toyota is cutting back on QC, a company like VPA takes it seriously?  It takes a lot to impress me, but I am thoroughly impressed by the actions of Michael Chagnon and Valet Park of America. I would strongly encourage every company to follow their lead when it comes to Quality control and customer service.

Alex DiMeo – A small business hero

I still vividly recall the first day that I met Alex. It was in the summer of 1987. Looking for a Barber Shop where I could consistently get a decent hair cut, I figured a good place to look would be near the hospital. (Hey – doctors need to maintain a professional look, right?) Sure enough, right across the street from the hospital, sat Alex’s Barber Shop.

As I walked in, I found a shop full of patrons waiting for a haircut. Not known for my patience, I turned and walked out, intending to return later. Little did I know that Alex was hot on my heels, and caught me outside the shop. (Mind you, he was in the middle of a hair cut at the time:)

“Hey – where you going?” he asked with a booming voice and pronounced Italian dialect? C’mon in – it won’t be 20 minutes before you get a chair”. I’m not sure if it was the shock of his being so direct or a profound respect for a man so passionate about his work, but I did as Alex asked. I came back in and waited my turn. In less than 20 minutes, Alex had a customer for life.

Alex was another one of those guys that really “gets” customer service. His Barber Shop is the real life “Cheers” where everybody knows your name and they’re really glad you came.  It’s hard to believe that 22 years have gone by.

I fondly recall my young daughter accompanying me to the shop. Alex would make her day by pointing out where the lolly pops were and allowing her to take two! As a right of passage, my son got his first haircut from Alex and delighted in sitting on the child’s carousel style kids chair.  As the years went by we would exchange stories about kids, grand-kids, mortgages, employees, small business, politics, horse racing – just about anything that you would discuss with a friend that you saw every few weeks for 20 + years.

On the morning of  my flight to Las Vegas to attend the PubCon Internet Marketing Conference, I needed to make a quick  trip to see my buddy Alex Dimeo. Despite having a lot less hair than I did 20 years ago, the cruel reality is that it needs to be cut more often (yeah .. counter intuitive, isn’t it). I didn’t see Alex, but it wasn’t uncommon for him to make a coffee run for himself and everyone else in the shop, first thing in the morning.

Since time was tight, I decided not to wait for Alex and took a seat in another Barber’s chair. Not long into my cut, I got a gut check from the guy next to me. “I wasn’t sure that they would keep the shop open after Alex passed.

WTF? Alex was only 59 years old. He was in the last year of his Mortgage. He was looking forward to selling the shop and retiring. How did I know all of this? Alex was more than my barber – he became my friend.

So as it turns out, I was indeed a customer for life. In the 20+ years that I knew Alex he never lost the passion for customer service. If he ever had a bad day, I never knew it. He didn’t just have customers, because everyone that entered that shop was his friend.

I’m going to miss Alex and I feel for his family and friends. He was larger than life and he can not be replaced.  He represented the best in small business and humanity. Rest in peace, my friend.

What a Surprise – No response to my Better Business Bureau Complaint

October 29, 2009

Better Business Bureau, Inc.
100 Bryant Woods South
Amherst, NY 14228

re: John Anderson, Pro-Tech Masonry, Pro-Tech Boat, RV and Mobile Home Supply (518) 899-4780 or (518) 466-5439 (complaint ID #ACFD0-C9F09-2C432-7A4E1-7D7F5-4F042-9F)

Dear Charles Price:

The Better Business Bureau has processed your complaint to the above referenced company. Our purpose is to serve both parties in a dispute by acting as a neutral third party. We attempt to help both sides find a voluntary solution to the complaint.

We have enclosed a copy of the response we have received from the business. Your complaint will remain in the company file and will be reported to the public for the next three years as “unresolved”. This means the consumer and the business could not reach an agreement. If a company should develop a pattern of complaints in this category,  it may result in a negative change to the company’s BBB rating. The company in question is not a BBB Accredited Business and therefore we are unable to pursue your complaint further. You might want to seek the advice of an attorney or file in Small Claims Court.

If this message contains a PDF file you will need Adobe Reader software to open it. If you do not currently have Adobe Reader installed on your pc, you can obtain it by visiting www.adobe.com and clicking on the Get Adobe Reader button. If you do not wish to load this software onto your pc, please respond with a request for the correspondence to be sent to you via regular mail. The BBB is not responsible for any problems that you may incur while downloading software onto your pc.

John Kaiser
Trade Practice Specialist
jkaiser@upstatenybbb.org

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Contractor from Hell aka John Anderson dba Pro-Tech

As a reader of this blog, you know that I hate getting ripped off. This post deals with a problem that affects many people – a contractor horror story. As a former remodeling contractor myself, getting ripped off by a fellow tradesman REALLY rubs me the wrong way.

This post was inspired by John Anderson of Mechanicville New York. Mr. Andersen was advertising his company, Pro-Tech Masonry on craigslist, the best website on the whole interweb. The heading: AFFORDABLE STAMPED CONCRETE (Saratoga/Capital District), was exactly what I was looking for, so I gave him a ring.  He listed two numbers for his business business: (518) 899-4780 and (518) 466-5439. He came to my house, presented himself very professionally, quoted a fair price & I signed a contract with his company, Pro Tech. (Note that I failed to mention the part where I checked his references or checked out his reputation online. Unfortunately I failed to mention it because I made the classic rookie mistake of not doing it. My bad – aauugh!)

Pro-tech was hired to re-antique & reseal a patterned concrete patio. The sealer bubbled up immediately and the patio was a mess. The contractor from Mechanicville agreed to power wash & redo the job.  Less than one week later, the job was redone, with the same result: a bubbled up mess. John Andersen then agreed to do the job a third time – using a different sealer. His failure to completely strip the sealer from the previous two jobs left the surface with a crazed, pitted and uneven gloss finish. The bubbles also appeared again. Mr Andersen was slow to respond to the third botched job & would not return my calls. He finally did come to my house (when he knew I would not be not home) & left me a note refusing to acknowledge the problem nor honor his guarantee.

Furthermore, John Anderson of Pro-Tech Masonry informed me that if I were to take action against him in small claims court that he would retaliate with a counter suit which would seek to recover court costs and attorneys fees. I’m not sure if Mr Anderson is naive to the rules of small claims or merely bluffing and hoping that I didn’t know any better. Either way, this did not set particularly well with me.

Should you find yourself in this position, I suggest that you follow the same steps that I have taken:

1) Ignore the threats of a counter claim. Courts take a dim view of contractors that ripoff homeowners and I have yet to see a homeowner lose a suit like this. I am not aware of any provision for the party being sued to reclaim his defense expenses in a small claims action.

2) If you are in New York state, file a complaint with the attorney general.  If enough homeowners file a complaint, these guys get shut down and / or sent to jail. I hope this homeowner filed a complaint after getting ripped off by John Anderson.

3)  File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Although they have little influence over a lousy contractor, the point is to get the word out & to spare others from suffering the same abuse.

4) Alert others online. Websites like the Ripoff Report , Complaints Board, Yelp and Angies List do a great job of alerting unsuspecting homeowners of the practices of predatory and shoddy contractors like pro tech.

5) Take the contractor to court! If your claim is $5,000 or less you can sue him on your own, without the expense of an attorney. If you are in New York,  check out this Guide to Small Claims Court.

6) Tell all of your friends & co-workers  about your experience. The contracting business relies heavily on word of mouth.The more people that learn about a bad contractors reputation, the better off the community will be.

7) Blog about it:)

I will keep you posted as events unfold. I sure hope that John Anderson treats his customers at Pro Tech Marine, 382 Route 67 Mechanicville, NY 12118-3110, (518) 899-4780 better than the homeowners that hire Pro-Tech Masonry.