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Lately, the world has been forcing me to do things twice.

First, it was finding a book for Steve’s birthday. Being a clever procrastinator and not having the gift inspiration until it was almost time to just go with the usual gift card (I love gift cards, by the way, so please send any extras you have to me care of this institution), I needed to be able to get the book ASAP, and the book I decided on is not easy to find. There were no nearby stores, big or small, that had the book.

Interestingly, Borders has this great online feature where you can search for a book that is physically in a store. You submit your query, after which you receive e-mails telling you if the book is in stock or not. If it is in stock, the store will hold it for you.

I chose the Hollywood store because I’d be able to get to it before Steve’s party. However, the online form has a bad interface design that forces you to choose a second store. Not knowing which to choose, I just clicked on one that I knew I could never get to in a million years.

Of course, the Hollywood store returned a negative result, while the second store did have the book. That book was placed on hold for me, though I’d never come to get it.

Well, feeling like a dumb-dumb, I realized I could simply skedaddle out of work for a bit and go to the Glendale store. So, instead of calling, I chose to do the fun online query again. The forced second-choice option not having been programmed out of existence in the intervening time, I chose the Hollywood store again, this time as the second choice, knowing they did not have the book and would therefore not have to needlessly hold one for me.

It will come as no surprise to those paying attention to the theme of this post that, on this second attempt, the Hollywood store said they did have a book for me and it would be on hold. (The Glendale store, for those interested in complete details, did not have the book. Or so they said thistime.)

I could not for an instant trust these antipodal results, so I ended up calling the store for a straight answer. Sure enough, the book was already on hold for me. I wondered if maybe the book had been hiding betwixt the pages of Golf Digest and some employee had discovered it in the fifteen minutes it had taken me to submit the second query. Or maybe they had been lazy the first time, saw the second request, and crumpled like a house of cards under the intensity of my desire to find that book. More likely, some other schmo had had the book held as a result of being forced to chose the Hollywood store as a second choice, and my second query came just at the moment that hold was expiring.

Next on the list of things I had to do twice was deal with United. The airline.

Before going to Paris, I had received a mailing telling me of a bonus miles offer for Mileage Plus folks like myself. Magically, the stars were somehow aligned, and this latest in a series of typically impossible-to-qualify-for offers was going to work for me. I signed up online immediately.

During the trip, I began to fear that, somewhere in the tiny print, the corporate-discounted ticket on which I was flying to Pairee would somehow cause me to be ineligible for the 42,000 bonus miles. Yes, that’s right. 42,000 bonus miles. This is why I was fretting over it in the first place. 1,000 bonus miles? Ah, who cares. But 42,000? Yes I was concerned that I’d somehow be left bereft of this bountiful endowment.

Yesterday, I checked my Mileage Plus account. Sure enough, the 42,000 bonus miles were not there. This is weeks after my trip, and so I thought it best to call. The lady on the phone, after looking into the matter, informed me that my ticket had been booked at Z class. I said I flew Business class, C class, which was what the bonus required. No matter that the Mileage Plus site showed me having flown on C class, my ticket was booked, she said, at a “heavily-discounted” Business class.

In what world $3,200 is considered a deep discount for a plane ticket, I will never know. I mean, the Concorde doesn’t fly any more!

I got testy with the lady just before hanging up, which was uncalled for, I know, but I just had to tell her that I can never, ever seem to qualify for these special offers. She cooly but politely thanked me for calling.

Gazing at my mileage summary, I noticed something else: I had not received the 150% of miles one’s supposed to get for flying Business class. Sigh. I called back.

The younger and slightly more enthusiastic woman on the phone this time told me the 150% miles was an oversight and she’d fix it right away. Just for fun, I brought up the 42,000-mile bonus issue. I simply wanted to know if somewhere on their site was the list of “terms and conditions” for the program so I could see for myself that I hadn’t qualified.

Surprisingly to me, but surely, by this time, not to you, dear reader, she said that Z class was a qualifying class for the bonus miles. I could not believe her, of course, because her cohort had just told me likewise, so I had her make sure Z class was not truly the bottom of the barrel, as anything classed with Z typically might be. She assured me I was okay, and if the miles did not show up by next week, to call back then.

I know I will have to call back again on this issue, and I guess those miles could still be denied me by that third call, but I have a good feeling the second woman was more correct than the first. It makes me feel better to think so.

Three times makes for an interesting story theme, and my third “two times charmed” incident involves my arthritis.

Yes, I have arthritis. I found this out in January when I went in to have the pain in my toe looked at by a podiatrist. For the second time, of course.

This second visit revealed that I have arthritis on a joint in my right big toe. My options, I was told, were to have surgery and clear out the arthritic mess, or to get orthotic inserts for my shoes. I chose the less-invasive option first, and the doctor took molds of my feet. He gave me a number to call in a few weeks if I hadn’t heard back on the progress of the inserts’ manufacture.

Of course, I heard nothing. However, the only times I would remember to call were after office hours or when I was otherwise indisposed. When I finally called the first time, I was told the office would look into it. I never heard back.

Now, I don’t want to wear these things. They are going to be awkward and maybe even a tad unpleasant to wear. And transferring them from shoe to shoe? Ugh. So, being the clever procrastinator I am, I ended up not calling again for a while.

On my eventual second call, the podiatrist’s office told me to check with my primary care doctor’s office, which is where I’d had the appointment. I did this once on the phone, and then twice in person while there on other matters. (The pregnancy scare had me going there for a while!) No one ever got back to me after any of these inquiries.

Monday, I gave up and called the podiatrist’s again. This time, they were able to tell me that they could not find the orthotics, and there was no record of them having been made.

What do you suppose I had to do? Yes, that is correct. Yesterday, I went in for a second set of molds.

I know I’m not consistently having to have everything done twice. For instance, I did not have to have the lady at Bake It Again Sam’s make a second sandwich for me today because my first one went missing between the counter and the register. Nor am I having to type this twice because a sudden kernel panic crashed the Mac and I lost the entire story. (I’m going to save it now just in case.)

However, it’s become frustrating the number of times I have to try and try and try to get information from someone, to have something accomplished which should be rather easy (Hello, landlord? It’s me, Steve.), or to have something fixed that was messed up the first go ’round. There are certain things in life that should be a challenge, but customer service should not be one of them.

Now I know I’m in trouble for revealing that I got Steve his gift so last minute! I’m going into hiding…

1 Comment

The Wren Forum » United Sucks Expounded Thusly:

[…] Remember me ranting about having to do things twice? Well guess what… […]

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005 • 5:27pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback


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