Saturday, April 25, 2009

Victoria's Secret: Still Not 'Very Sexy'

Just about a year ago, Victoria's Secret's CEO proclaimed that the company would start making their clothes sexier and less juvenile.

I just received my spring catalog in the mail and opened it with great anticipation.

Here is what I saw: the amazingly UNsexy "Side-Bow Cheeky Panty." Really? This is new and sexy, huh? My husband would beg to differ. Or how about this: the "sheer halter babydoll" in polka-dots. Totally sexy ... if are a big fan of Dr. Seuss.

I'm of course pointing out the worst ones. Some items in the catalog are moderately attractive. But nothing jumps out and says "Wow! Sexy!" to me. Try again, Victoria.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We got a new Car!

My husband and I decided a few months ago that we probably needed a new car. Our 1991 Chevy Blazer and 1994 Nissan Sentra, while beloved, are certainly getting up there in age. Best to have at least one newer car.

By reading reviews, we narrowed our desired car to one of these 4 choices in the small SUV class:
Toyota RAV4
Ford Escape
Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester

Over the past few months, we have been visiting dealerships. I suppose I should have been blogging about each visit, but I confess I've been strapped for time. So instead I've kept notes on various topics and will soon begin my "Car Shopping" series.

But here is the summary of the results:
After our first round of visits, we narrowed our choice down to Toyota Rav4 vs. Ford Escape.
And finally, this past weekend, we chose the Toyota Rav4. [And I have named it "Red XIII" after our favorite Final Fantasy character.] It almost broke my heart to not buy American in these current economic times. But the Rav4 had one feature that no other small SUV offered: an optional 3rd row. This gave us a lot of flex, if we should decide to have a second baby. Had it not been for this, I would have bought the Escape, because it is a fabulous car.

Here is Ford's consolation prize: I am going to write here for everyone to read and search engines to crawl, that Ted Britt Ford of Fairfax, Virginia is utterly fabulous. I absolutely want our next car purchase to be a Ford, just so I can buy a car from them. Great people. Totally professional. Completely not the typical 'car salesman' model. Loaner for life program. Amazing service bay. And our sales consultant, Dave Glover, was just so cool. This is a guy we'd have as friend: Former military (like my husband), small kids (like us), likes video games (like us). Dave is a straight-talking, common-sense kind of guy, and we have already recommended him to our friend who knows he wants a Ford Escape, but hasn't yet decided between the regular vs. the hybrid.

So, kudos to Toyota for having the idea of putting in that 3rd row and kudos to Ford for creating an excellent small-class SUV made in the USA.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spirit Airlines: Low Cost for Little Customer Service

My friend Joanna Pineda recently had a very bad experience with Spirit airlines. So, this article in the New York Times' Sunday Business section (March 29, 2009) caught my eye: "Don't come crying to this Airline." The article talks about the Spirit business model of ultra low cost service, which translates to little or no customer service. The word 'non-refundable' is ABSOLUTE at Spirit, apparently, and has garnered many complaints. CEO Ben Baldanza calls this a "mismatch of expectations."

I guess what I take away from this is that when you book on Spirit, online, you need to very carefully verify what you are typing. Also, they need a big, RED, FLASHING notice that explains that this money is totally nonrefundable and if the flight is cancelled don't expect any help getting a new one. Perhaps that would solve the 'expectations mismatch' that is causing all of these issues. And there will probably still be lots of people willing to spin the roulette wheel for the chance at a $9 plane ticket.

Monday, April 6, 2009

American Century: A+ for Customer Service

I made a mistake this year. I contributed too much to my Roth IRA. All those numbers. All those IRS forms. It changes every year, and it is all incomprehensible. Luckily, my personal electronic accountant friend, TurboTax, caught the mistake.

So, I picked up the phone and called American Century Investments, who is holding the tiny bit of money that is my Roth IRA.

Wow. What an amazing customer service experience.

  • There are no menus. You call and the auto-attendant says "A customer service rep will be with you soon," and they mean soon. I waited about 30 seconds, and we're only 9 days from TAX DAY.
  • I spoke to 2 reps; they both spoke perfect english and understood exactly what the problem was and what I needed. Recharacterize $ X from 2008 to 2009? Absolutely.
  • And without prompting she gave me all the info I needed at the end of the call: The current date and time, her time zone, her name, the confirmation number for the change, the dollar amount of the change, and when I'd see it in my account.
Really amazing. Kudos to American Century. But stay tuned ... my friends have been sharing stories of not-so-nice customer service, so I'll be ranting on that, soon!