Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Miraculous Instant Pot!

Who knew what a difference a simple kitchen appliance could make in my Summer cooking routines?

I've been hearing about the Instant Pot for quite awhile - a lot of my foodie friends swear by it. I knew it was a pressure cooker (which I have always been afraid of) but had no idea you could use it as a slow cooker as well. Amazon had such a great price on these during Prime Days I decided it was time to see what all of the hype was about.




Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Company Is Only as Good As It's People

I'm not sure if it's because of old age or I just notice it more, but I'll choose to do business with a company that has knowledgeable, respectful team members over a company that has employees that don't appreciate my business. Even if I have to pay more, the lack of aggravation is worth it.

We try and go to our local farmers markets every weekend, and we have been loyal to the main location for years, even after they made changes that we didn't agree with - we wanted to support our local farmers. It has become increasingly obvious that they really don't care what we think and if we every go back again - the manager sees us every weekend and has yet to even say hello. You can tell the farmers aren't excited about being there anymore either - gone are the days when we would get hugs and great conversations.

This weekend we decided to drive a little further and try out a different market, and we are so glad that we did. Even though instead of being in a large permanent building it's in a church parking lot there's a completely different feeling and attitude - we made some great new friends and found some sources that we'll be going back for every week.

I work too hard for the funds I have - and I have the choice to spend them where I want to. I choose to support people I like and that appreciate my business.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's Prime Day!

It's Prime Day!~ We can't remember what life was like before Amazon, and Amazon Prime but it was a lot more work. The sales that we are seeing today rival Black Friday - we can't wait to get shopping and pick up some of these bargains that will be delivered to our doorstep. What are your best buys today?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fathers Day Shopping

It's interesting how quickly our shopping and buying habits can change. This Lifestylist® just got back from the National Hardware Show and I saw so many cool products and ideas I don't know where to start! When I asked almost every vendor where their products could be purchased, the first place they suggested was Amazon. I love how easy it is to shop online now, and with Amazon Prime making free 2 day shopping available on almost everything there's not a good reason to shop anywhere else unless it's for something that I can buy from one of my local shops.
Shop Amazon - Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

Looking for something for the Dad that has everything? Why not give him an Amazon Prime membership that he can use all year long?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Has American Airlines Given Up on Their Loyal Customers?

I hate hearing about experiences like this. It only takes one bad customer service representative to lose a lifetime of loyalty from a customer.

If you were American Airlines how would you earn this loyalty back? We'll see if they ever respond to Ms Johnson and do the right thing.


Dear American Airlines,
On Sunday, April 17, 2016 after a wonderful weekend in Las Vegas for my nephew’s wedding, I arrived at McCarran Airport 2 hours early for my direct flight to DFW. About an hour before the flight was to leave, the announcement was made that weather delays at DFW made it necessary to cancel the flight. Everyone was asked to stand in line to rebook their flights. Of course the line was nearly 200 people long. An agent passed through the ranks and distributed a customer service phone number. I promptly called the number and was informed that the wait time to speak to an agent was one hour and 23 minutes. With only 2 gate agents tasked with rerouting an entire plane full of passengers, it appeared as if the wait would be no shorter in line. I was correct. By the time it was my turn for rerouting, the only thing available was a flight the next day at 10am connecting through Phoenix. The gate agent would not even entertain the possibility of putting me on another airline. So, I accepted the flight 1584 even though it meant spending another night in Las Vegas. Now, I know that Mother Nature sometimes intervenes and weather cancellations can be inevitable. But how about having more than 2 agents available to help those customers that you say you care about? Maybe you could provide faster service by having a few more customer service representatives available on the phone. Or, what about offering another airline?
Of course, because weather cancellations are not the fault of American Airlines, I was refused compensation of any kind – not even cab fare to a hotel. One of the largest conventions of the year started that day, so hotels that did have availability were quite expensive. My cost for this weather cancellation was approximately $300.
On Monday, April 18 I again arrived at McCarran Airport anxious to get on those planes that would take me back home. Since I leave for Alaska before dawn on Wednesday for 5 months, there are many things that I must do and now I have only one day (instead of 2 ½ days) to do them. I breathed a sigh of relief as I boarded the plane and took my seat. The flight was completely full. All passengers were encouraged to check their bags. Mine was already checked, so I was good. As passengers began to board and stow their luggage in the overhead bins, someone knocked into the ceiling mounted emergency exit light, releasing it from the ceiling. There is was, hanging by the electrical cord like a piñata. Maintenance was called, and about the time we were scheduled to depart, he maintenance worker appeared. The light was obviously above his pay grade because another maintenance worker was called. He could not fix the dangling emergency exit light either. At this point it was 30 minutes after our scheduled departure, so the captain made the announcement that he was required by law to inform us of the delay. He said that the door was still open, the jetway was still attached and we were welcome to deplane and see the gate agent to change our flights if we chose to do so. I was the 3rd passenger off the plane. I was not going to be in the back of another line and get stuck one more night in Las Vegas! Nor did I wish to stay on the plane, miss my connecting flight in Phoenix and have to stay the night there.
Now this is where the fun really begins. When it was my turn to see the gate agent (and there was only one assisting all passengers) I was greeted by a very pleasant agent who truly seemed willing to help me. As she was checking for flight alternatives for me, everyone began to deplane. The flight had been cancelled because the emergency exit light could not be fixed as easily as first thought. The helpful gate agent rebooked me on a direct flight to DFW that was leaving within the hour. Hallelujah! She said that she could not guarantee that my checked bag would make it on the flight. I immediately told her that it was not a problem. At this point I was willing to replace everything in that bag just to get home. Next comes the announcement that the light could be fixed and the flight to Phoenix would be delayed another 15-20 minutes. What did I care – I was going directly to DFW on my newly booked flight. When my truly helpful agent inquired as to whether my luggage could be retrieved for my new flight, she was immediately chastised by the customer service manager, Wendy Brown, for rebooking me and told to put me back on the flight to Phoenix. I carefully explained to Ms. Brown about my experience the day before and how desperately I needed to get home. She told me that I had to stay with my luggage and my luggage was not coming off that plane. She told me that she didn’t care what I wanted to do, I was to remain on the Phoenix flight. I asked her what I was supposed to do about my missed connection, and she told me that I could check on another flight once I landed in Phoenix. Really? So you strongly encourage passengers to check their luggage on a full flight. Yet, when luggage is checked flights cannot be changed. Wow! The Captain makes the announcement that we are welcome to deplane, see a gate agent and change flights, yet the customer service manager won’t allow me to change flights. Let me tell you about this customer service manager, Wendy Brown. Not only did she tell me that she didn’t care what I wanted, she also berated the gate agent for trying to help me by changing my flight in the first place. Doesn’t American Airlines train their customer service managers in customer service? If so, she desperately needs to be retrained. On a satisfaction scale of 1-10, I give her a minus 5.
Several minutes later, once I was out of the line, I happened to notice baggage handlers removing bags from the cargo section of the plane! Incredible. About 45 minutes later, everyone reboarded the plane. The light was back in place but the flight attendants couldn’t quite get the count correct. The Captain apologized and said that he was embarrassed that they couldn’t get this little detail right. The flight lifted off exactly 2 hours and 35 minutes after it was scheduled to depart.
While I was waiting for the flight attendants to account for passengers on the plane, I received a call from a dear friend of mine who maintains Executive Platinum status with American Airlines. She facilitated a conference call with her customer service agent. (I guess Executive Platinum customers don’t wait over an hour to speak to someone.) This helpful agent placed me on standby on a flight from Phoenix to Dallas in the afternoon and booked me on the red-eye, arriving DFW at 2am on Tuesday! Upon arriving in Phoenix I had missed my original flight and the standby flight. I ran as fast as I could to the customer service counter to get ahead of the entire plane load of others who had missed their connections because of a broken emergency exit light. That is where I met the most helpful person of my entire trip, Ms. Nancy Guirguis. She was sympathetic to my plight and acted as if she truly cared. She was able to get me on the standby list for a flight to DFW that was about to board, and confirmed me on a flight leaving earlier than the red-eye. I raced to the next set of gates (no easy feat in Phoenix). When I checked in at the gate I was #6 on the standby list of 21. The gate agent informed me that I would be the next one called if a seat opened up. As I stood at the gate and waited, other names were called for standby. The list displayed at the gate and on my mobile app showed that I was #6. But 5 people after me were cleared for standby. When I asked the gate agent why I was being passed over, she informed me that the electronic list was not her list. She told me that platinum and gold status passengers would be given preference over me. How many times can a passenger be insulted by American Airlines in a single day? I understand loyalty better than most. Preferred customers should get perks not given to others. But where does loyalty begin? How you treat someone when they are not frequent flyers will certainly determine whether they will ever be. If the standby list that you publish is not in the order in which you clear passengers, perhaps you should list them alphabetically so that it does not appear that you are profiling. Doesn’t a passenger whose trip has been delayed for over 24 hours have any status at all? After my inquiry I was cleared for the flight and arrived at DFW 31 hours after I was supposed to.
So what has happened to American Airlines? When did they stop caring? Was it when you merged with US Airways and became the largest airline in the world? You now call yourself “One World”. I find that world to be devoid of the simplest of common courtesies and customer appreciation. It is a world that will now be my last choice when I take to the skies. I will fondly remember the American Airlines of old where I mattered. Excellent customer service was not dependent on the frequency of my travels. Flight attendants and gate agents used to make me feel like a welcomed guest. Now they appear as oppressed as they make me feel. Thanks for the memories, American Airlines. New ones will be made elsewhere.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Revisiting Hurricane Katrina

Katrina Cottages 6
It's hard to believe that's it's been 10 years since Katrina set her eye on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. So much of the media was focused on New Orleans, but the entire Gulf Coast especially in Mississippi has yet to fully recover from her wrath.
When it became obvious that here was going to be extensive loss of housing , the Manufactured Housing Institute and the manufactured housing community sprung into action to make sue that people would have a place to live that was safe.
A few years after the storm MHI's magazine: Modern Homes had an article written by Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber with photography by Lisa Stewart Photography that shared what progress had been made, and what an important part of the rebuilding process manufactured housing played.
You can read a copy of the article here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Creating Your Own Online Identity

I'm amazed every day by people who have decided to go into business for themselves, or start a blog and never do the homework to make sure that the brand that they create will be something unique to them.

When I decided to create the Lifestylist® Brands over 20 years ago, the first thing I did was make sure that no one else had trademarked the term or used it in a way that would conflict with how I wanted to use it. Now it seems like everyone wants to be a Lifestylist or use my brand to promote their own vision.

If you are wanting to start your own brand and identity, I recommend doing 3 things before you put a lot of time and effort into your idea:

1. Visit the US Trademark website and make sure that someone else hasn't trademarked the term.

2. Visit your favorite domain registering service and make sure that the .com, .net, and .org registrations are available, and if not if the compnay who has registered them is using them or just is holding on to them to sell.

3. Use Google and the other search engines to see if anyone or any site has a strong tie to your name.

All of the above can be done in less than 30 minutes, but it can save you years of grief protecting your brand in the future. I hope this helps others protect themselves from the headaches I've had protecting my brand.