The Book Tour – Part 2

You would think that if you jump in a cab and say, “Take me to…” that’d be it! You could sit back, relax and you’d be on your way. I take a lot of cabs on book tour. Getting from point A to point B in time for the next appearance means I’m counting on the people behind the wheel to know what they’re doing. So imagine my horror when the taxi driver in Calgary couldn’t turn on his meter! This was the taxi I had already waited 20 minutes for! Damn!

Calgary’s taxi system is a disaster. Four out of four experiences had me scratching my head. Besides the guy who couldn’t turn on his meter, there was the guy who took me to the wrong university, the guy who wanted me to get out and walk the rest of the way, and the guy who broke every rule of the road getting me from one place to the next.

I get that when an economy or an industry is in growth mode it’s hard to keep up with demand. Supply shortages mean that anyone can get the job. But surely someone who is in charge of the system must know that it’s only a matter of time before people distrust the service so much they find another way.

It’s like the difference in service you get at Tim Hortons. There are wonderful stores where you get what you order and then there are the stores that give you any old thing. I order my Earl Gray tea bag out, one sugar. I get no sugar so often I’ve taken to carrying sugar in my car so I can still enjoy my tea. One woman put milk in the tea. I guess that’s how she likes her tea. And then there’s the woman who handed me someone else’s order. I’ve learned never to drive away without checking my order.

The banking industry should take note that the same rules apply to them as to every other service provider. Gone are the days when we could think of our bank as the guys looking out for us. Now, they are more like used-car sales lots: they’re selling money and they’ll do and say just about anything to get you into whatever beater they’re trying to move off the lot.

Take mortgage life insurance and creditor life insurance as cases in point: How can you sell a product at a 100% mark-up that may not even pay out and still say you’re doing right by your customers. That’s ridiculous, which is why there are new rules in Money Rules that say you should never buy these products. Never. Ever. And if you got taken, find a replacement and stop bleeding money to insurance you may never be able to collect on.

I’m all for companies making a reasonable profit on the products and services they offer to customers. I’m all for people having jobs so they can feed their families. What I’m not so down with is the idea that you can deliver crap to customers – both in terms of products or the services you provide – and still expect customers to pay up with a smile.

When I checked into The Inn at the Forks in Winnipeg after a horrendous amount of travel (more in another blog) I was not greeted at the desk by a welcoming face. There was, in fact, no one behind the desk. So there I stood at 3:30 a.m. wondering how the hell I was every going to get into a room for a shower before my next “appointment.” When the guy finally returned fifteen minutes after I showed up, and I said, “Dude, this isn’t cool” he looked at me with anger and said, “I was busy upstairs.” Really? I had to stand in your lobby and wait for you to be finished doing whatever was more important than me!

Nice hotel. Crappy service. Won’t be going back.


People are so creative, y’know. Take Jen Phillips of two pears in a pod. Jen has a Etsy store where she makes beautiful baby stuff. Well, she was asked to custom-make a set of “jars” someone could carry around with them and she came up with the Budget Wallet.  The larger wallet contains six smaller wallets — cloth jars so to speak — to make carrying your jars far less cumbersome. Jen hails from Ingersoll, Ontario and I applaud her creativity and her sense of style. She sent me one of these as a gift and I’ve bought others to give away. You can get the one shown here sending an email describing the biggest money lesson you learned in 2012. You must include “twopearsinapod” in the subject line to be entered. I’ll random-draw the winner on Friday.

32 Responses to “The Book Tour – Part 2”

  1. avatar Barb Desautels Says:
    January 28, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Gail, I am from Calgary and its sad to hear about your experience. Calgary, is a great City to live in and we have some great people, please don’t let this keep you away. I would love to know when you will be back to Calgary or Edmonton.

  2. Looks like my budget billfold idea i showed you.

  3. I had the same general experience with cabs in Calgary but unfortunately, it didn’t end there. Checking into the hotel attached to the West Edmonton mall, I was shown open hostility when I showed my Ontario driver’s licence for ID. When I asked why since I’d been nothing but polite, was finally told that at least I wasn’t from Quebec. And this when they are charging $300 for a room?!! Barb, I knew there had to be people like you out there, but we were hard pressed to find any.

  4. In Toronto it’s stated in the back of cabs that if the meter is off, the ride is free. And so it should be without an objective means of determining the fare.

  5. My husband and I had a crappy experience on our wedding night at Inn at the Forks as well. The woman at the counter was very rude, and had the audacity to correct us on how to pronounce our last name. The room that we booked was not what we received as they were all full. It is a beautiful hotel, but I wouldn’t stay there again. The restaurant however, is worth every penny.

  6. Two Pears in A Pod Rocks!

    Combined with what we have learned from you…life is a little less chaotic!

  7. Calgary’s cab system is completely broken (I’m from here)!

  8. I have bought many useful and fun things from Two Pears in A Pod and am amazed at Jennifer’s creativity and willing to make what the customer asks for. I don’t have a budget wallet yet but it’s next on my list of things to purchase from Two Pears in A Pod, Shellie is right when she says,”Two Pears in a Pod ROCKS!”

  9. I always fill out the comment card with either praise or complaint, as the case dictates.

  10. I work in customer service, having to train and evaluate employees and elaborate customer service standards and protocols. I can’t go anywhere without evaluating their customer service. I can’t take a guided tour anywhere without evaluating the guide. There are lost of bad quality out there and I imagine it’s going to get worse: more workers are going to be needed but less workforce is going to be available.

    And as for comments about where you’re from by service personnel or even onlookers, like Nadine mentionned, please don’t get me started…

  11. A taxi driver not knowing where to go is a little scary especially if you are new to the city and you are unsure yourself. I do recall being on a TTC bus and the driver was leaving the station and turned to the bus and asked us which direction does he go. Good thing us regular users of the route knew which turn to make! I guess if the route is unfamiliar even if it is your apart of the job it is just unfamiliar.

  12. Hello Gail,
    I am sorry your travel has had it’s “challenges”, but I’m glad that you are naming the inferior hotels/services. So many times people won’t call a spade a spade when it comes to saying to a business “Hey, this just isn’t right, and you need to address it.”

    I remember when travel used to be a pleasure, even air travel! It is certainly not the case any longer. When we travel we have to really, really, want to visit the destination before we are willing to submit to the torture of modern day travel.

    Enjoy your work as always, have for many years now, keep on, you are helping so many people.

  13. Gail, I’m sorry you had such a crappy time. The last thing you want when you are running around trying to get things done is attitude and disrespect. Unfortunately it seems to be a common thread in many businesses.
    I’ve had too many bad experiences at Timmies and wont go back. Love how they got Mad at me and expected Me to pay for the Second coffee when they put sugar in mine!
    I know that when something goes well at a business we might tell one person, but when something goes wrong we tell everyone.

    What if along with the Bads, we really start pushing those Goods, Like Two Pears In A Pod!

  14. so sorry your trip here sucked gail, years ago this was a fantastic city to live in and to visit, unfortunately with a second boom in the works, we just don’t have the right people on our front lines anymore 🙁 so sad i missed your visit here, and i really hope you come again 🙂

  15. I have been in Alberta for sometime from Ontario. Tell me why unemployed people in Ontario dont move here more? If the service in Calgary was so horrible, and service in Ontario is so much better then encourage people to move to Alberta I suppose. *RANT* We are getting lazy we are being displaced by people in other countries who are willing to move for jobs while we are not willing to move for jobs.

  16. Gail, it sounds like you have had a lot of bad experiences as of late. Maybe it’s time to talk to the person in charge of your tour? Perhaps they need to be reading some reviews etc before booking you into certain hotels? As for your cab experience in Calgary, you are probably right. I live here, and can’t say that cabbing it is most people’s preferred method of transportation. As for the people commenting about getting ill treated for being from Ontarion…please. I’m sure we all have similar stories saying the exact opposite. Cranky and rude people are everywhere and if you choose to generalize an entire geographical area based on one experience then I guess that’s what you will do.

    I’m not really sure that me spending my time reading about your complaints about customer service help me in my financial endeavours? You talked about poor service, but nothing that you’ve done about it? However, it is your blog, so you can use it however you would like!

  17. Wow. That is so weird. I’ve been living in Calgary for more than 2 years now, and had only a few problems with taxi (and I use to take a lot of those). Way better than any taxi I took in Montreal. Montreal is like the worst city in the world for taxi drivers.

    It is really sad that your experience in Calgary wasn’t positive. I love my new city. It is clean, and beautiful. But yes, one of the downside is that customer service is really, really bad. I guess, as you said, that’s the price to pay to have an amazing economy.

    Everytime I go to McDonald’s on Stephen Avenue, I have to complain about something. And I get a free meal out of it. Now that I don’t work as late, I dont have to go there as a last resource at 8:30PM to get a meal because I’m starving.

    Anyway! Happy you were here! 🙂

  18. Amen to this post!! It may be a worldwide phenomenon though. Got into a taxi in Manchester, England and asked him to take us to a specific train station. He came back with, “Postal code, please?” We answered, “We don’t know the postal code, but it’s at…,” and gave him directions. Again he asked, “I need the postal cod, please?” Me, “Look, we don’t know the post code but why don’t you call into the your headquarters and get it? Please start driving because we’re going to miss the train.” This went on for 10 minutes. “Post code?” Me: “I’m not trying to mail a freakin’ letter!!” We did miss the train. We eventually got out of the cab and had to call a new one. 🙁

  19. I love my budget wallet from Two pears in a pod…my kids are now asking for one too. I added a small notebook in their for writing my expenses down…love, love love!

  20. GPS systems in England require the post code first, it’s typical that people would check the post code they were going to. And service here tends to sucks as it is a culture of non-tipping. That drives me nuts as I’ve worked in customer service a lot and have high expectations! Must have been a new driver.

  21. Well I can tell you transit isn’t any better than the Cabs in Calgary. It’s nice to hear about the places you hated and loved especially when they’re in your own city.

  22. pwrrkc6, you certainly don’t have to read anything on here you don’t like. As for a lot of us, we welcome it!

    Gail, please let us know when you’ll be back in AB!

  23. Gail,
    I certainly hope this Tour takes a turn and you soon have some positive comments about what you’ve seen, people you’ve met, the food you’ve eaten, the BEST bang-for-your-buck. It seems you’ve not been able to enjoy much of the Tour! 🙁
    I’m in the States and I can tell you, I’m originally from Nevada, where most everything is based on tourism. Tipping is something we do, because we’re taught how it affects everything and everyone! We certainly are also taught that poor service does not necessarily deserve no tip, but certainly a low one (the wait person isn’t always at fault!). Cab drivers are in my favorite ‘nut case’ group; not that they are psychologically any worse than any other group, just that world wide, there’s always a story! Try one in Mexico City; I honestly throught I was in a Grand Prix race!
    In a way I’m enjoying your posts because I’m finding out that some of my worst travel moments are easily matched by yours. I wish you success and some laughs along the rest of your Tour. If you ever ever make it anywhere near where I live, I’ll be happy to go see you and cheer you heartily!

  24. @Jodie:

    Thanks for the info re the GPS systems in England! My parents are going there (their first trip overseas) and they are nervous about getting around. This little gem will save them some hassles.

  25. Biggest money lesson I learned in 2012 : Mark down every single penny I spent each month. Went thru $ I spent by end of each month, cut down something I want to spent, but I don’t have I need to spent (i.e. take out) and I now saved more than 40% per month. (p.s. I will still reward myself how hard i tried to save $ by getting myself a chocolate bar !)

  26. I’m happy Gail and others are sharing their experiences….People that work in the hospitality industry are expected to be hospitable and when people don’t get what is expected they SHOULD let others know – in my humble opinion. Travel is expensive and I for one like to get what I pay for, and with a smile 🙂

  27. Interesting stories about your travels – too bad they are only partly true and you had to exaggerate to make it more interesting reading

  28. nice reading – too bad you had to exaggerate the truth to get a more interesting story

  29. nice reading – too bad you had to exaggerate the truth to make it a more interesting story

  30. Biggest money lesson of 2012: That it really does slip through your fingers if you don’t keep track of it.

  31. I know that most people have been turned off brands/services due to poor quality. I’d also like to say that the opposite is true. The person I started banking with as a teenage has kept my business at her bank for 5 years. As long as she is there I am staying, I know that even if the issue is outside her department she will give me advice and act as a liaison.

  32. avatar Julie Treitz Says:
    January 29, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Loved you on the AChannel. Hope your experience in Ottawa was good on such a slippery day!

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