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BEST BUY FIASCO
For the past year and a half I've been using a Panasonic Lumix FX01 wide-angle camera. Unfortunately, after it broke for the second time, the Best Buy repair center said they wouldn't fix it for free again because I beat it up too much. With the amount of traveling that I do, and the number of pictures that I take, I use my camera a lot – and I mean A LOT! To get it repaired would have cost me nearly the same amount as purchasing a new one, so that's what I did. I bought the exact same camera, for the second time. While I was in Erie, that camera started acting up, just as the other had done before it broke. Not wanting to take any chances, I took it to a Best Buy store (since that's where I had bought it, but in L.A.). The Best Buy folks in Erie said that since the camera was so new, they'd send it out for repair and get it fixed, free of charge (even though I didn't purchase the $60 insurance for it). As the friendly workers filled out the paperwork, I purchased another camera since I was going to tour Toronto the following day and definitely needed a camera. BTW: My new camera, a Canon Power Shot SD1000, is awesome! I love it! My only complaint is that it doesn't have a wide-angle lens like my Lumix did.
OK so, to make a long story … longer, when I returned to L.A. I received a message from the camera repair center stating that they couldn't do the repair because the camera had no serial number. I thought that was weird. The camera was too new for it to have worn off and I certainly didn't scratch it off. I got the run-around from both the repair center and corporate Best Buy. One told me to call the other and vice-versa. I did. Surprisingly, both the corporate headquarters and the repair centre phones were answered quickly (kudos to them), but twice, I was put on hold for almost 30 minutes. The most frustrating part? I was told that if I had the serial number, the repair would be approved. I frantically searched for the original box but of course, I had thrown it out. Lesson learned: Don't throw out your boxes. I asked to speak to a Best Buy supervisor. This guy turned out to be a real jerk. He was unnecessarily curt with me (considering that I'm the customer!) and would only give me his first name, "John". I swore to him that because of his bad customer service I would never buy from Best Buy again. Ever.
My outraged intentions didn't last long. Sure enough, (though I hate to admit it!) I was in Best Buy the following morning to buy an ink jet cartridge for my printer. Best Buy was the closest store and clearly, I was desperate. While in the store, I spoke to a friendly guy in the camera department. I quickly told him my story and he agreed with me: it just didn't make sense. He informed me that the camera would never have been sent out for repair unless it had a serial number in the first place. He advised me to look for the service order I had received in Erie, because it would have the elusive serial number on it. I rushed home, rummaged through my bag of receipts and ... voila! There it was.
I called the repair centre but this time, they told me that the number wouldn't help because it's not physically on the camera. So I called Best Buy (again!) and spoke to a lovely woman named Evelyn. She sympathized with my plight, but was not in a position to authorize any action on my behalf. So I made another call, this time to the highest level I could reach, and explained my case for what felt like the millionth time. When I finally got someone on the phone, I said, "Listen – when I returned my camera, it had a serial number on it because the employee who filled out the service order included the number on the form. So somewhere between your store in Erie and the repair centre in Connecticut, the camera lost its serial number." The corporate hack from Best Buy was useless, essentially saying, "Sorry, can't help you," and that was that. Is that not the exact opposite of customer service? Can you believe that Best Buy would pull a stunt like that, particularly on a customer who, in the span of one year, has bought three digital cameras from them? I'm so glad that I didn't open the ink cartridge case that I had bought from them. I went back to the store, returned it and drove a few extra miles to Target and bought one from them.
Best Buy should officially change their name to Worst Buy.
Sorry! No video this week. However, we have all the Johnny Jet videos ever made on
You Tube's servers.
Next week: Arts and culture in Toronto. Stay tuned.
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SOME OF LAST WEEK'S READER AIR-eMAIL
I worked on the FIRST SPREAD EAGLE>>BACK IN THE 70's...lots of stories. Question:
What is the name of the group/song that is layered over your Puerto Rico video? Thanks, Alan S -
REPLY: Too funny! Johnny is not sure of the name as someone gave him a CD of unlabeled Puerto Rican music.
“Slept like an overworked donut maker?” Love your writing. Kara R – Miami, FL
I read your blogs on Frommers and I must say that today's caught my eye. You see, I was one of the survivors of the Dupont Plaza hotel fire on 12/31/86. And what a terrible New Years it was. I, like you, was a teenager during the fire; a senior in high school to be exact. I had flown down to PR for Menudo's "Dia de los Reyes" concert in January; at the time of the fire, my friends & I had been on the island for 2 days. We ended up being amongst the people rescued from the roof (after spending about 3 1/2 hours up there) by baskets dangling out of helicopters. The whole thing was handled poorly, but I had so many friends down there at the time who were looking for me (good to know boy bands, huh?), and met so many locals during the experience who also helped us out and tried to keep us away from the goings-on with the government and hotel people. I continued going to PR once a year through 1990, and have since been back twice (2000, 2005). (The interim was spent, as you, traveling the world). I am planning another trip this summer to visit a dear friend who moved back home. Needless to say, though I love the island a lot, I have never ever set foot on the property that once was the Dupont and is now the Marriott. Too many bad memories of that day tucked away...I still don't like being alone on New Years Eve because of it. And don't even talk to me about heights; when I climbed the pyramid at Chichen Itza in 1991, I had such a flashback that I couldn't even imagine how I was going to get down off the thing! I've been all over the world, but PR still holds one of the dearest spots in my heart. And although I'm not friendly with anyone who traveled with me on that fateful trip, and am in contact with just a select few of the many people I knew on the island, the memory of that event will stay with me forever. Anyways, such a shock to read about it this morning in your blog. Just thought I'd write my two cents worth...those of us who survived are still out here and still traveling.
I have owned an apt. in the Condado across the street from what is now the Marriott since 1979,
although my home is NYC (where I'm a corporate lawyer) and I do NOT speak Spanish or come from Spanish heritage.
My father was staying in the apt. on the night of the Dupont Plaza fire and saw and photographed quite a bit of that tragedy from our terrace. What, you may ask, brings me back to San Juan over so many years (even though I usually go to Europe 2 or 3 times a year and various places in the US and Canada)? The wonder and diversity of the island - and its cultural stew. If you only stay in the greater San Juan area, you are missing quite a lot. For your next trip, you should visit Ponce, its central square of Colonial Latin America architecture and its wonderful art museum, in a building designed by Edward Durrell Stone and housing, among other items, the largest and best collection of pre-Raphaelite art in the western hemisphere. The core of the collection belonged to the Ferrer family; one of its members ultimately became Governor of the island. Not far from Ponce is the Phosphorescent Bay, which is a little tired these days. Continue on to Boqueron, the Hamptons for wealthy Puerto Ricans - although many also maintain weekend homes in the Dominican Republic - for a low key weekend of rest, water sports and delicious seafood. Or continue a bit northwest from Ponce inland to San German - a community settled by Germans in the 1700's who brought their art and traditions with them - and which have become wonderfully mixed with Puerto Rican culture. There is also the Guanica Dry Forest. On the west coast, Rincon is a world-class surfing locale from Jan- to about April. Arecibo also has Colonial Latin American architecture - although not as beautiful as in Ponce. From Arecibo, you can go to its Observatory, sited in a huge, natural karst bowl and operated by Cornell Univ. - a legacy of Carl Sagan. It has exhibits explaining the solar system and other space phenomena. It was in one of the James Bond movies and also Contact, with Jodie Foster. Nearby, are the Caves of Camuy - underground caverns, but somehow wide open and a good part of it naturally lit; I plan to visit them again on my next trip there at the end of this month (July, 2007), but I remember an informative, guided boat ride through some of the caverns. Mayaguez also has a Colonial Latin American legacy. On the opposite coast, in Humacao, there is a huge resort developed by the people who also developed Hilton Head. In the town itself, is the core of the santos industry - wood-carved religious figures with an unmistakable African heritage. Fajardo, in my memory, used to be a sleepy fishing village. That began changing in the late 80s, with the El Conquistador - I now go to the area to SCUBA dive. There are still a lot of small cove beaches - some of which charge a modest fee ($2-3) for parking - but are also clean and quiet and wonderful places to swim. But what you missed, and it is virtually across the highway from the Rain Forest,. is Luquillo Beach - a large expanse of natural cove beach that is as placid as a huge, wide-open swimming pool. When most gringos visit the island, from Dec-March, it is relatively quiet because the Puerto Ricans feel the ocean is too cold to swim in during the winter. For the rest of the year, it is a bit too crowded for my taste on the weekends, with many stands selling food - but otherwise glorious. It has now become a Beach w/o Barriers for access to those with disabilities. I understand that the Rockefeller family tried to buy Luquillo for its own purposes during the 70s - but the outcry stopped that. But it is an exquisite beach, with lots of clean sand and gorgeous water. Pinones, just behind the Isla Verde Marin international airport, and heading in the direction of Fajardo, there are wonderful, largely outdoor restaurants on Route 187 serving some of the freshest seafood you will ever eat. It is a strip along a curvy road that runs for about 2 miles - pick one that looks crowded, any one (although I'm beginning to ID some of my favorites), and join the fun & enjoy the food. Many serve fried food - but anything can be broiled or baked if you ask. There is usually at least one person around who speaks English. The interior of the island is very lush farmland, where they produce some of the most glorious-tasting coffee in the world (& could grow enough food to be the breadbasket of the entire Caribbean). For years, that coffee grew wild and fell & rotted on the ground - but then (around 2000) the Puerto Ricans began to emulate Jamaica, with its Blue Mtn coffee, and have turned PR coffee in to the gourmet brand it richly deserves to be. You can buy it & all the hotels serve it - BUT you MUST specifically ask for Puerto Rican coffee, otherwise, as a gringo, you will be served so-called American coffee, which is likely Colombian. PR coffee is not acidic and has a nutty taste - and is absolutely delicious (& you're "talking" to a coffee nut who will only serve Illy (from Trieste, Italy - where I visited the plant) or Puerto Rican coffee in her home). There was a period, in the early '80s, where we could not go anywhere outside of San Juan without a driver who carried a gun in the car. The Puerto Rican Government realized it had better clean up its act - & did so. Now I drive everywhere, often alone, even at night (female, 58). San Juan has a Tourist Police force that cruises - quite frequently - the heavily-touristed areas of San Juan, including Old San Juan, Isla Verde and the Condado. Although many police in Puerto Rico do NOT speak English (they often come from the interior and poor farm towns), there is at least one officer in a Tourist Police car who does. Ocean Park, the community between the Condado and the international airport, is where many wealthy Puerto Ricans live. Next time, take Ashford to the Kasalta Bakery for breakfast (Ashford turns into McLeary)- 1966 Avenida McLeary; hours from 6 am to 10 pm, with good reason!! It's less than 10 minutes from the Marriott. In the Condado, you missed the wonderful Museum of Art and the equally provocative Museum of Modern Art. I walk the 5 or 6 blocks from my apt. to there. What you failed to state is that even in the height of the summer, the island is cooled by ocean breezes, which is why you were more comfortable with your terrace door open and no AC. I can't remember when I last turned on the 2 AC units I have in my apt. I just slide open the terrace door - sometimes, I turn on the ceiling fans. Nothing else is needed. But before you go again, pls check the gopuertorico website - or just Google Puerto Rico tourism. All through the island, all year, there are amazing folk festivals in the various towns and cities. The music and food are a delight - and memorable. & everyone has fun!! I've probably missed places to tell you about - but you can e-mail & ask questions. In many ways, for many reasons, Puerto Rico is an undiscovered gem!! Happy traveling!! Cassondra J - NYC
I came across your site, and read the page about your mom. I was very moved, and it looks like you’ve been a very good son. Warm regards, Bob Thomas -
I am traveling to Delray Beach in about 2 weeks, was surfing the net looking for information about the area. I have not been able to find a more informative sight than yours. Thank you for the information that you have provide. Happy traveling! Denny W - Pittsburgh Pa
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