Wednesday, December 19, 2007

video killed the radio star

Not really...corporate mediocrity and convergence killed the radio star. Also, television killed the radio star. Video is awesome. I love love love watching movies and also certain tv shows on dvd. for real.

The following is a representation of what went down yesterday after I received an irate phone call from a local video store at approximately 9:30am. The excerpts taken are from a Yelp review (or open letter) that I wrote to comment on what had happened and from the owner's response to my comment, and finally my comment back on his comment.

Last year in January I moved away from Bernal Heights and away from the proximity of Four Star Video. So, I haven't been there for almost a year. In June of this year, I received an angry, almost threatening call from an employee at Four Star urging me to pay the $15 in fines that I still owe them. I don't have a movie checked out from them. It's just the late fines he's trying to collect from me. Well, I was recovering from surgery at the time and my mind was on other things. This morning I got another threatening phone call from a Four Star Video employee which detailed the fact that I have not rented from them in a year but that if I do not pay them the $15 that I owe them, they will report me to a credit bureau. Please guys, who do you think you are? The video store mafia?? I understand the importance of supporting small businesses, but you are ridiculous to call me and speak on my voicemail in this fashion!! Save your threats and bullying for someone who gives a damn. Oh, and by the way, the video store is great - criterion collection, films organized by director, all the perks. I just object to this collection tactic.

[not an hour later, I received this response from "Ken Shelf"]

Hi Lauren,

I see you were very angry about our voice mails. Sorry about that. Our only hope by calling you is that you would pay your bill.

I also see that you signed up for Yelp specifically to give us a negative review. Why didn't you just call us and talk to us about your bill? That probably would have saved you time and saved us from wondering if you were planning on paying.

I am truly sorry that you had a surgery. I hope you are better now. And I see that you think we should just forget about the money you owe us. However, please understand that if we have 1000 customers who all think that we should forget about our fees, then our business suffers.

We are a small business, in a challenging industry. To that end, we have some of the lowest prices in town. In order to stay afloat, we need to be paid for the service we provide.

I really wish you would remove the negative post and call me to discuss your account. I am sure you would find me easy to talk to.


Ken Shelf
Owner, Four Star Video

[to this bit, I responded...]


I might have considered paying the fees if your employee had not used such a threatening tone on his voice mails to me.

The one he left this morning threatened me with a report to a credit bureau. I'm sorry but I really do think that's a little high and mighty and overblown for a small neighborhood video store. I, as well as I'm sure all of your customers, do not respond well to threats.

I chose to write an open letter on Yelp rather than contact you directly because I feel that this is the best way of exposing your employee's ridiculous behavior. Obviously, I was correct or you would not be requesting that I remove the post.

How should I respond to such negative voice mails? With a positive review? You'll notice that at the end of what I wrote, I had to admit that your store itself is great.

Actually, it's your job to monitor the behavior of your employees, not mine.

I support local businesses and appreciate the necessity of people paying fees to keep you afloat, but this is too ridiculous. You want my $15? Ask me in a civil manner next time,



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

time balm

Today at the store I got into a situation with the guy at the register that I don't even really understand. It was at a health food grocery store on Divisadero St. I'd taken my time and selected some shampoo and stuff and then I noticed the larger selection of lip balms placed, for some strange reason, behind the counter. I wasn't wearing my glasses, and even if I had been wearing them I doubt whether I would've been able to read the labels. So while I was trying to select a balm, the register guy told the guy behind me to come on ahead. He got that impatient with me. I guess the guy waiting was one of the register guy's regulars. But it pissed me off. When I was finally paying for my goods, I told the guy how I felt. And then I just calmly continued the process of paying. And I was so silent while doing this that about a minute later the guy apologized to me and then asked me if I lived around there. He assumed that since I actually said something about all of this, that I must be an out-of-towner. Then I left and continued my walk to the pain management center to get a trigger point injection. happy channukah!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

junkyard, dog

Today, while sitting in her wheelchair, my grandma Rose told me once again a story about her mother, whom she admires more than anyone in life even after the woman, my great grandmother Annie, has been dead for around thirty years. The story goes like this:

My grandmother's family were unaffected by the Great Depression because my great grandfather, Carl Davis, and his brothers, Joe and Phil, were in the scrap metal business, basically they operated a junkyard. And junk is always a hot commodity. Apparently. Or at least in Duluth, Minnesota in the 1930s it was. There is another story about how Carl Davis somehow distilled his own bootleg whiskey and made money off that and that's the real true reason why his four children - Rose, Ben, Florence and Shirley - never wanted for anything while growing up. But grandma didn't mention that today. Today she said that Joe Davis, the boss, wasn't paying his brother Carl enough to support the four children, so Annie took the four of them down to Joe's office dressed in their best. She collected his pay for him, so she could get the things they needed before Carl could spend any of it. At one point she told Joe that Carl wasn't receiving enough to care for the four children she'd paraded in front of his desk and so the next week Carl received a raise. Then she went on to say that her mother marched the children to a local department store and charged new shoes for all of them to Joe's account. By her account, Joe paid the bill no questions asked.

These are some sketchy details of the powerful nature of a woman who I was too young to ever really know before she died of a gall bladder attack after eating some lox jarred in oil (instead of fresh lox which is always preferable) and about whose death my grandma today lamented, "how could such a smart woman be so dumb?"

I'm not sure what a scrap metal or junkyard business was all about in Duluth in the 1930s, but I'm tempted to do some research and find out. The fragmented story is so dramatic and colorful and filled with saddle shoes and gusto that I'm bound to be curious.