Monthly Archives: August 2014

Stuff I Like – Great Customer Service

This week my computer got very sick indeed. I had what some have called the black screen of death and I could not access my windows or really do anything. As a freelance writer, this is not a mere frustration – this is the loss of a critical tool in my business.

Now you should know that I don’t have the most expensive computer in the world – it’s actually a pretty cheap one because it’s what I felt that I could afford at the time. I purchased it at the big blue and yellow place.  You should also know that my computer is less than one year old and the hardware is still under warranty. But alas, my problem was a software issue.

So despite having other plans, I put those off and jumped in the car with my poor, sick computer off to that big blue and yellow place – right to their computer service counter.

With barely a second glace blue and yellow guy says that it will cost me $190 to have my computer fixed. Ouch!

Feeling for me, my husband came to my rescue. He was calm but quite adamant that a retail giant like the big blue and yellow place should do better for their customers – especially when a computer is only one year old.

Now here is the part where I witnessed some serious customer service – BAD customer service. We talked to the manager and the manager’s manager and they both talked down to us and acted very arrogant – refusing even to empathize with us.

Now let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that because this is a big chain they have to take orders from head office and their hands are tied on their price – I suspect that this is the case .

It still does not excuse downright rude behaviour – and that is how I feel we were treated at the big blue and yellow place. As a customer, I would like to at least feel understood.

In the end, we left the big blue and yellow place with my sick computer.


My husband called Ken at Med IT who said we could bring over my poor, sick computer right away (I’m sure, well past his normal working hours). A day and half later, my computer is up and running and feeling much better! Not to mention the fact that Ken didn’t charge nearly as much as the blue and yellow place.

Now that is what I call great customer service! And do you want to guess who’s business I will be recommending in the future?

Not the blue and yellow place!


On the Side – If Only We had a Wheelbarrow

If you want to start your own side business (or even full time business, for that matter), you have got to find your wheelbarrow.

Whenever I have started out on a new venture, there is a scene from The Princess Bride that comes to mind. It is the scene in which Westley Fezzek and Inigo are hiding behind a wall trying to figure out how to storm the castle and save Princess Buttercup.

Westley has spent the better part of the day being “mostly dead” and he is therefore unable to move most of his body – and when he asks what the small team’s assets are he is told that their assets are his brain, Fezzek’s strength and Inigo’s steel. Clearly unimpressed at their odds, Westley mutters “If we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something.”

As it turns out, the trio did have a wheelbarrow, to which Westley replies, “then why didn’t you list that among your assets?”

So I like to think of starting a side gig as finding your wheelbarrow. What are your assets? What skill or knowledge do you have that other either don’t have or would rather not spend time doing?

It’s taken just over a year, but I’ve finally built my occasional odd job writing into a reasonably successful freelance writing gig. It’s still definitely a side job which supplements my regular full time employment, but I think if I had to manage with only the freelancing… well, I think that I could. My ability to write well has been a very good wheelbarrow for me.

Over the years, I’ve concocted a number of ways to make some extra cash each with their own wheelbarrows that I have been able to identify. In fact, even as a child I remember having quite the entrepreneurial bent doing everything from trying to sell my so-called “art” to creating amateur haunted houses and charging the neighbourhood kids to let me chase them around while wearing a Halloween mask.

Over the past ten years I’ve had a number of these reasonably profitable side gigs including making and selling vermicompost bins (my wheelbarrow was that I worked for a year at an environmental organization that made and sold them, so I had built up that knowledge); I’ve been a professional “contest winner”, selling prizes that I won on sites like Kijiji (that wheelbarrow was a very large network of friends that I made over social media who all contest together) ; and I’ve also played a role in helping my husband develop his own side gig of teaching wedding dances to couples (using his wheelbarrow of being an amazing dancer).

But my most successful side gig has most definitely been freelance writing. And the writing that I really like to do is writing content for business (a wheelbarrow that likely developed working for a local business organization).

Along the way, I’ve also discovered there are some wheelbarrows which I do not have. I do not have a “sales wheelbarrow”. Sure I can sell my own business, but don’t ask me to make appointments and go out and talk to people. That’s just not me.

There are wheelbarrows that I have and wheelbarrows that I don’t have – and I think I’ve become pretty proficient and discovering new wheelbarrows as well.

My advice to someone thinking of starting a side gig? Find your wheelbarrow. And if that particular analogy is not working for you, find one that does?


I’d love to hear from you in the comment section: Do you have a side gig or are you considering one? What is your wheelbarrow?