At What Point?

At what point do you hire an answering service, and is it good for business?

I know a lot of doctors do it, but seeing a doctor is a necessity in most cases. Seeing a photographer isn’t. And, if they are shopping around, they might go else where.

I guess I could ignore the calls based on caller ID, but sometimes you don’t recognize the number. Then, you answer it, and say to yourself, “This could have gone to voice mail.”

My dad used to say the telephone was the world’s rudest invention. People can use it to interrupt your dinner, your work, etc. He was right. That’s why some many businesses hire a receptionist – someone whose job is getting interrupted.

By the end of the day I was frustrated because I felt I had not got anything accomplished. Well, that’s not entirely true, I just felt like I hadn’t checked enough things off on my to-do list. My wife pointed out I did take a break to help a friend. This caused some reflection about what actually got accomplished.

We get so busy or driven to do what we think is important. In spite of what I set out to do, there would be a disappointed granddaughter, a couple of disappointed daughters, disappointed clients, a disappointed wife and a stranded, frustrated and disappointed friend.

I guess my to-do list isn’t so important after all. I guess at the end of the day I should evaluate my day from another person’s eyes and ask myself if my “to-do” list is any more important than their “to-do” list.

Wet Wednesday

It was snowing this morning, and I have never seen a snow as wet as this. I went to shovel it and made it about 2 feet before I felt like I was trying to push a 200 pound bag with a broom stick. It was heavy! I managed to clear some areas, but most of the snow was too heavy to move. It also had the consistency of a Slurpy from 7-11.

I also saw a real danger in driving in this type of snow. A car in front of me stopped at the light, and when the light turned green, it didn’t move. At first, I thought the car may have stalled. Then, the driver got out with an ice scraper, and began cleaning the front windshield.

“What?” I thought as I realized she had been driving for some distance. As I passed, I noticed the snow that was on the roof of the SUV had slid down the windshield and was so heavy, her wipers could not clear it off. (In fact, she’s lucky it didn’t break them off completely.)

The rest of the afternoon was spent running errands and working.

How to Deal with E-mail Solicitors

Elizabethe and I spent our morning and evening at the temple. The time in-between went rather quickly. Getting ready for print competition is taxing.

I’ve come up with a way to handle those e-mail solicitors who claim they are going to improve your website’s standing with search engines, or they have a product that will help you lose weight, or… whatever they are trying to sell. It’s a dose of their own medicine.

I’ve created my own “spam” e-mail address that sends out a message to the effect…

You’ve reached my spam filter.  Obviously, you would like to do business with me, but you’re not on my preferred vendor list.  We’d love to add you to our list, but there is an application process.  To unblock your e-mail address, please reply to this e-mail with your name, billing address, city, state, zip code, phone number, credit card number, expiration date and 3-digit code off the back of your card.

The application fee is $1000 and is not refundable.

I do the same thing with telemarketers…

“You want to speak to Mr. Walton?  Will this be Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover?”

When they get all confused as to why you’re asking them for a credit card, I simply tell them Mr. Walton charges $1000/hour when people try to waste his time.

I actually had one guy tell me he doesn’t have a company card.  So, I asked for his boss.  He refused stating he’d probably get fired.  I told him I didn’t want that and suggested they remove my name and phone from their database.  He was happy to oblige.

Another guy tried to convince me that it was against the law for me to charge someone if they wanted to talk to me.  He obviously has never talked to an attorney.  I was about to hang up on him when he said he was going to investigate what laws I was breaking and report me.  (Report me to whom?  His mom?  His boss?  Really?)

One lady said, “Oh, I get it.”  I asked what she got, and she said, “You don’t want us to contact you.”

I complimented her on her perception and thanked her for being willing to remove my name and number from their database.  (We both had a good laugh.)

I’ve never had anyone give me a credit card number, but I am prepared to charge them.  Most of the time, they decide they shouldn’t call me any more.

Lumber Choices

The first time I ever purchased lumber, I returned home and my dad was upset that so many pieces were warped. After that, I learned that just because they sell it, it doesn’t mean it is good. Today I went to buy some 1x2s. Out of about 20 pieces, only about 2 were any good. The others were like cork screws or like bows (as is bow and arrow).

I’ve started research for my book on NY SR 31. I ate at a hotdog stand along 31. I’ll save any comments and/or pictures for the book.

My evening was spent at a SmugMug meeting. My friend Ron was the presenter and he talked about lighting. He did a really good job explaining the technical aspects.

Where Did I Park?

After church, I went to visit a friend in the hospital. I managed to find the room in this HUGE hospital (Strong Memorial in Rochester). Her husband and I talked for about 45 minutes or so, and then I left.

I thought I remembered exactly where I parked. And, when I entered the garage and walked to where I thought I parked, my car wasn’t there.

Hmmmm… Where did I park?

I pressed the alarm fob to honk the horn of my car, and I didn’t hear anything. As I walked around, I could hear people doing the same think with their car remotes. “Beep-beep”, “beep-beep”, as going off all around me.

So, I stopped and thought about how I got from the garage to the hospital. I walked right through some doors, down a hall, and in to the lobby. Thus, I must be close to where I entered the hospital.

As I spiralled around the indoor parking garage, I kept going up, and up, and up. Nothing. I couldn’t find my car.

Next, I went all the way down to the basement, and did the same thing. Again, I could not find my car. Praying as I walked, I was thinking about what if I checked every car and didn’t find my car?

The third time, I again went down to the basement and I recognized the valet parking area. I remember driving by it, so I started walking the way I drove. Every 100 feet or so, I would press the horn button, and heard nothing.

I was starting to think that there might be two parking buildings, and some how, I entered the wrong one. Looking out the open windows of the garage, I could see the surrounding buildings were not parking structures.

Was my car stolen?

Did it get towed?

As I rounded the next corner, I noticed the shark-fin antenna for my OnStar. Approaching the car, I looked around and wondered how I could have circled the garage so many times and not noticed my car.

U.S.G. & E. – Buyer Beware

Deregulation, in my mind, is a good thing. But, with all business transactions, you’ve got to beware. With gas and electric, deregulation has lead to all sorts of providers to choose from. Well, here’s a story about one…

I was approached about 18 months ago from a guy who was re-selling gas and electric services. I could tell by the way he was talking, it was a multi-level marketing (MML) thing, and I made it clear I was not interested in participating in MML. But, I told him I would look over their product.

The talking-points to sell their services were: 1) guaranteed lower prices for 12 months, and 2) a rebate of 12% of the highest month’s service at the end of the 12 months.

Sounds great, huh?

I read over the stuff, and it really appeared like this was a great deal. Our highest bill is usually around $600. 12% would be about $72.

The rebate came today. It was $7.59.

When contacted, U.S. Gas and Electric, Inc. (of N. Miami Beach, FL) informs us that they only rebate the portion of the bill that is their part. In other words, they were tagging their charges on to NYSEG’s charges, and only rebate that portion.

What a scam.

That’s not all.

So, during a 12 month period, your paying charges that are saving you a bit. Then, when you get the 13th bill, watch out. The prices really jump. And, when you call to switch back to NYSEG there is a delay. So, for a month, two, or three, you’re paying USG&E’s high rates while you wait for the switch.

The person I feel really bad for is the guy who got suckered into re-selling this service. It is so unfortunate that so many MML plans feed upon the unsuspecting. I’m not the type of person to hold a grudge. The guy who signed me up for this plan, I’m sure had no idea what was going on. After all, he only recently got in to it, and he’s probably as mad at USG&E as I am now. Further more, he’s probably wondering what his friends think of him. I know if it were me, I’d have a hard time looking my friends in the eye after discovering what I talked them into.

Of course, it is not just MML schemes re-selling. We’ve got letters from all sorts of companies promising lower rates and rebates. I bring up the MML because they rely on friends and contacts to grow their businesses with small returns.

Let the buyer beware when it comes to these things.

An Evening with Michael Keene

I met Michael Keene last year at Canaltown Days. He had a table set up by the village park and was selling copies of his books. Keene has written several books, and several of them have to do with unsolved mysteries that have taken place in the Rochester area.

The books he talked about were:
Folklore and Legends of Rochester: The Mystery of Hoodoo Corner and Other Tales
Murder, Mayhem, & Madness: 150 Years of Crime & Punishment in Western New York
Mad-House, The Hidden History of Insane Asylums in 19th Century New York

Books by Keene
Books by Keene

Like any good salesman, Keene didn’t reveal the interesting parts during his presentation. He left that up to you to read the book, or listen to it on CD.

 

Michael Keene signing books
Michael Keene signing books

Earlier today, I attended the Tri-County Networkers meeting.  It was icy on the way there, and as I sat in the meeting, it was hard not to be distracted by the wind-blown snow.

When I returned home, I saw these icicles hanging from the storage building.

Ice!
Ice!

When I see these I can’t help but think of the movie A Chistmas Story.

Cold Winds

Today there was a very slight dusting of ice. Not snow, but ice crystals. We don’t have a word for the stuff, but think of very tiny hail stones. The wind kept blowing which polished the ice making very slipper spots.

I had to drive to Geneva for a professional photography meeting. For me, the roads were okay. One of our members said where she lives, things were very icy.

Before and after my meeting, I was busy working on Print Competition images. My goal is to blitz the competition this year. I would be nice to get 8 merits (4 open, and 4 master artist).

Speed Control

I’ve heard about public service vehicles where they’ve installed a speed control device to keep the drivers from going too fast. I think I need one for my person.

We went the the temple this morning, and soon as we were out of there, I dropped Elizabethe off at the house. I then headed to a meeting in Rochester. As soon as it was done, I rushed home for a net-meeting. When it was done, I had about enough time to grab a bite to eat, and then we were back to the temple. I’m exhausted.

Perhaps I’m getting to the point in life where I should just schedule 4-6 hours, and leave the rest open for… well… rest.