2010 Miami Triathlon Report

It is once again that time of year – time for another triathlon report from TPMHTDM! I know my faithful readers have been waiting for a full report, and while I will attempt to blame external forces, the delay in the writeup for this race is mostly due to laziness.

As always, you may also be interested in my 2007 MUSF report, 3 pigs triathlon report, my 2008 MUSF report or my 2009 MUSF report

The months leading up to the race were not marked with the greatest in training regimens by me. I did train some, to the point where I was not expecting to die (always a bonus!), but my heart was just not in it. I don’t know if it’s just that the race has lost some of its “novel”-ness, or lack of time, or desire, or what, but my regimen was definitely half-hearted. One possibility would be to move up to a higher distance race, but I’m not sure that will do it for me either.

In any case, you may have heard of the 7 P’s. The way I first heard it was Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance (which I know is only 6 Ps – click the link if you want to). In this race, we will instead prove its corollary, Poor Planning Produces Poor Performance.

But enough of all that mumbo-jumbo – let’s get to race day! I have to say, having all these detailed prior year race reports is very handy for race day planning. For instance, I knew to set my alarm to 4:30, and knew all the things I should bring.

I slept much better than I did last year, but just like last year I did end up waking up on my own about 15 minutes beforehand. So I got up, got dressed and packed my standard race-day breakfast of peanut butter bagels. Again like last year, I had sufficiently “carbed up” with donuts the day before :-)

Due to the empirical data, I could better analyze my route towards Oxford. Last year I took 275, which measured 30 minutes and 23.3 miles. This year I took the Lateral to 75 to Cross County, which got me 25 minutes and 19.7 miles. Sounds like a clear winner! Though it does produce the odd effect of starting out an hour long trip to the northwest by taking 71 SOUTH!!!

After getting over to 75 and starting to head northwards, I passed the “lovely” aromas of the Jim Beam plant. When I was in college, I interviewed for a co-op position with a company called DataBeam. My roommates always refered to it as “Jim Beam” even though I’m sure they’re not related at all. So anyways, I didn’t get a job with them and a year or two passed. One of my out-of-town friends called me up out of the blue. She was studying something along the lines of environmental cleanup or something and was wanting to get a job at Jim Beam and asked if I had any references. I had to let her know that I was NOT going to be able to be very helpful at all!! :-)

Whenever I’m doing a race like this, I keep a notebook with me to write down snippets of things I want to include in the race report. Otherwise I’d clearly forget them. I’m sure this speaks to some strange side of my personality. Unfortunately, since the route to Oxford is pretty much the same every year, I tend to end up with a lot of recycled jokes, which I then have to filter out. Can’t remember the name of the town between Cincinnati and Oxford? Done. Talk about how I used to geocache here? Yup, did it already.

But one geocaching thought that I did have was some good memories of Electric Shavers, who was a guy who lived up in Hamilton who favored the “quantity not quality” method of hiding caches. And when I was really into geocaching, I always liked to keep my “list” of close caches clean. So that was really the last time I did much traveling up here. Had some good memories of that, even though the caches were not always the greatest.

So what does Jim Beam and shaving have to do with this race? Uh, nothing. But that’s what I’m all about! Continuing with my non-race jibber-jabber, I did notice a few things on the drive up to Oxford. It’s interesting since I only ever drive up here once a year (at least for the past 4 years) to see the new things each year. Some things I noticed on this trip – the speed limit was only 45 mph north of Millville – that seemed new. And also, there was a center lane through McGonigle (not to be confused with McGonagall). I know, I know – fascinating stuff….

Okay so onto the real race stuff. I managed to find a place to park on a street that did NOT have a Parking by City of Oxford Permit sign on it, unlike last year, so no parking tickets for me! I made my way with my bike over to the natatorium to pick up my packet, only to find it completely empty. Apparently they moved the packet pickup station to tables out in the lawn. So I went down there to check in. Except there was a brief problem in that it was still dark, so awful hard to see anything in there! Eventually I got checked in, and then got my timing chip (slight delay as I was there so early that they hadn’t set those up yet). One interesting thing I was told was that the swim caps were mandatory this year, which I thought was odd for a pool swim. I mean for an open-water swim sure, makes sense since you want to make sure you don’t “lose” anyone, but in a pool it seems odd.

One of the downfalls of planning enough “buffer time” is that when nothing actually DOES go wrong, you have a lot of time to kill. So after I got everything set up (on the “prime” end of row location, of course), I wandered around a bit. I checked out the parking garage that is right near the transition area to see what the deal was with that (i.e. if it was free). It appeared to be $5-10 to park there, or what we in the “business” refer to as the “sucker’s price” for parking.

Another key piece to my race planning was the post-swim towel placement. In previous years I had placed an extra towel on a set of bleachers that was placed near the swim exit. Basically the idea is that when you get out of the pool, on the way to the building exit (and path to transition area), I would stop, get this bonus towel and begin the drying process a few crucial seconds earlier. Two problems with this though – first, last year the race guy pointed out this bleacher and said you could put towels there, which led to it being a lot more crowded than it used to be. And secondly, the bleachers are not QUITE on the way to the door. So you have to detour a bit to get the towel, perhaps costing you the seconds that you gain.

So this year, I found a new spot – along the railing of the path outside that leads from the swim building into the transition area. Originally I was going to just put it in some bushes, but I found a pretty good spot along the railway that was tucked away somewhat out of sight. The idea there is that I didn’t want a) some race folks seeing it and deciding that it was not allowed and taking it and b) another racer seeing it and deciding “ooh! free towel!”. Later on as I was inspecting the area, I did see several other towels nearby.

Another thing I did pre-race was look for someone. My friend Kent who raced with me last year was not able to do it this year, due to recent birth of twins, but he had passed the info onto Brett, who I also knew somewhat (though not very well). Brett and I had exchanged a few emails about things and said we’d look for each other before the race. So I was trying to keep an eye out for him. Unfortunately, while I thought I would recognize him once I saw him, I was not really sure what to look for other than someone who was tall :) . But I spotted him before too long and we headed into the pavillion area.

We talked for awhile, and then as we were about to kick off the race, I was mentally prepping for what I would need to do, and realized I had left my goggles back in the transition area. So I had to race back there to get them. When I got there, they had already started up the timers on the pads at the entrance / exit of the transition area, so I had to walk around. Back at the race meeting, it went pretty well. One interesting thing was a note saying that the race organizers had tried to work with CSX to route the trains around the race course but they were un-responsive. And in fact, CSX apparently would not even provide them with a train timetable. They said that they had volunteers at the tracks and a plan to compensate times if it came to that, so that was…interesting and I filed that away.

So after awhile of waiting and watching the first crazy-fast swimmers go, Brett went down to take his turn, and around half an hour later, I went down too. I once again subscribed to the belief that because racers were “seeded” on their listed swim time, it’s better to put down a time that is faster than you actually are. My thoughts are that it a) might help you to swim faster as you try to stay with the racers that are around you and b) it’s faster and less taxing to be passed by people than having to pass people.

While I was down in line, waiting for my turn to start swimming, I was chatting with a few folks near me in line. Even though the original talk was that swim caps were required, later I heard that they weren’t, but I just kept mine on just in case. While we were chatting and such, we noticed someone swimming the wrong way in a lane. With a serpentine / pool swim, you swim down Lane 1 for 50m, then back the other way in Lane 2, then back down in Lane 3, etc. until you are swimming back in Lane 8 and then exit the pool and building. So at the end of each lane, you have to duck under the lane ropes. Apparently when this guy got to the end of Lane 1, he didn’t make it under the ropes into Lane 2and started swimming back in Lane 1. So we’re all trying to shout at him, like we’re in Planes, Trains and Automobiles – “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” but he couldn’t / didn’t hear us because, of course, he was swimming (“Ah he’s drunk – how would he know where we’re going”). So after he passed us and it became apparent that he was not going to change directions, we all watched him to wonder what he would do as he got to the end (errr beginning?) of Lane 1. Would he make it under the ropes and start swimming the wrong way in Lane 2, or would he realize his mistake and drop under 2 lanes and start swimming in the correct direction in Lane 3. And the answer is…. c) none of the above. He just turned around and went back in Lane 1. When he got to the end of Lane 1 again, he must have figured it out as he correctly ducked the ropes and got into Lane 2. So I guess for him it was the 500 meter swim! :-)

As it came to be my turn and I got ready to jump in, I readied my watch to start my time. But as I crossed the mat and started my time, my stopwatch wouldn’t start. I tried to fiddle with it and “hit buttons” but I quickly came to the same place I did when my goggles broke back in the 3 Little Pigs triathlon – either keep fiddling or just GO. So I just went. Later I realized that due to the fact that it was Carolyn’s watch and I was not familiar with it and I was just not hitting the right button.

The swim went fine. Nobody passed me till the end of Lane 2, and even then, because of the way the serpentine course is designed (i.e. you pass on the left, but at the end of the even numbered lanes you turn to the right), I passed right back because I had a shorter turn (being on the inside). They passed me right back at the start of Lane 3, and I was periodically passed by folks. Still, it was good, given my relative lack of swim training – I didn’t really feel in trouble and I was able to freestyle swim the whole way.

Made my way out of the swim area and grabbed my (carefully concealed) towel which was right where I left it. Sped through the transition time, putting on my shirt, socks, shoes, shades and helmet and went off on the bike. The bike course was the same as it has been the past 2 years, and I could definitely tell that my timing was not as good. Whereas last year, I was clipping around 16mph heading out, this year I was struggling to make 14. There was a bit of a wind going, but I don’t think that was most of it. I passed a few people and again was passed by some as I anticipated the big bad hill at about mile 3.5. It actually wasn’t that bad – I mean it was big, and hard to go up, but I biked the whole thing and passed about 5 people who were walking it.

The rest of the course was more of the same – rolling hills. The 2nd big hill was more of the same – I biked the whole way up and passed a few people walking. A little bit after that, at about mile 9-10 I heard the train whistle. I got a bit worried but figured that there was plenty of time for the train to go through and I was right – when I got back to the tracks it was clear. But afterwards I talked with Brett and he said that he hit the tail end of it. As he got to the tracks there were about 15-20 people lined up there and he had to wait, though only for about 15 seconds. I’m not clear if they adjusted his time or if so, by how much.

In any case, I made my way back to the transition area and went to put my bike on the rack. Final totals for the bike were 19 passed, and passed by 38 people. Having secured the end of rack spot, I was just scanning for my stuff, but I couldn’t find it! Eventually I figured out that someone had put their bike in my spot and I just put my bike on the rack next to mine and headed out. I have a fast transition time reputation to uphold!!!!

Run wasn’t too bad – it was definitely slower than last year but I felt good and felt like I was going at a pretty good pace. I was kind of expecting to see Brett coming back as I left, but he was apparently much faster than me and had already finished. Run is usually one of my better events, at least after a swim and bike compared to others – last year I passed about 30 people and was only passed by 1 person. This time I ended up passing 10 and being passed by 8. Final kick into the corral and finish!

2010musf

I found Brett and we talked a bit. There was a table with some snacks / goodies but it had some of those pre-packaged cracker snack packs in it, which struck me as quite possibly the worst possible snack option! I mean, come on race organizers, I’m parched from just exercising for the past 1-2 hours and you think CRACKERS are the way to go?!!? There were also some apples and oranges, but what I really wanted was a banana, which I saw a few folks walking around with. Eventually I dug through the bags enough and found one.

Since the after-race party which was so awesome the first year I did this has progressively gotten crappier and crappier, I didn’t hang around and instead just left pretty soon after the race. And then…. the waiting began. Finally, Sunday night, they posted a version of the times up on the website. I was in 376th of 600 participants (555 finishers). Splits were 11:55 for the swim (which includes the time from when you get out of the pool until you enter the “official” transition area, 1:41 for T1, 55:59 for the bike and…. nothing for the run. Apparently they were still “working out some issues” with the run times and that along with the train adjustments would be up on Monday. The foreboding music of doom from last year began to reprise, just a little bit louder….

Naturally Monday came and went, with nothing. Then on I think Tuesday or Wednesday, they posted final race times, with no transition times at all, and a time of 58:24 for my bike, and 26:14 for the run, overall total of 1:36:34. I emailed to complain, and to ask if the transition times were going to be put back in. The response, from James at HFP:

The transition times are actually included in the bike splits. We had some battery issues with one of the timing boxes, causing some of the transition and split times to be incorrect. So, we included everything together to make it all accurate.

Uhhhhhh I’m not sure how you can say under any possible meanings of the word that just lumping that time into the bike time makes it more “accurate”. Since I’m definitely a complainer, I wrote back:

I’m not sure how you can say that lumping those times into the bike make it more “accurate”?!? As you may already be aware, this is now the 2nd year in a row where HFP “issues” have caused mistakes / omissions from the race times at the MUSF race.

I am not an expert or professional racer. I have limited funds to devote to triathlons, and typically do only one race per year. I have done the MUSF triathlon the last 4 years, and I have to say that it has gotten worse every year.

After last year’s debacle, HFP gave me a 50% coupon to apply to this year’s race. But now, after 2 straight years of HFP equipment malfunctions, I think I have to start looking for another race.

Do you have any kind of assurances that you can provide that we’re not going to see more of the same issues again in future races?

It’s unfortunate that there are limited triathlons in the area on Saturdays, and the only other one I know about here in Cincinnati is at Coney Island and ALSO run by HFP. So we’ll see what to do – but in any case, until I hear otherwise, I’m going to just combine the 2 versions of the times and give myself final splits of:

* 11:55 swim
* 1:41 T1
* 55:59 bike
* 0:45 T2
* 26:14 run
* 1:36:34 total

Thanks for reading, and (maybe) we’ll see you here again next year!!!

In which I was mocked for recycling

First off, I know Carolyn has mentioned this already, but Facebook really does seem to be killing my blog. I guess that’s the way things go – always something “newer” and “better”. Take email – to someone my age or even a bit younger, email is the way to go to communicate things. Someone older will probably call on the phone when an email might be better. But many folks younger than me don’t use email at all – it’s all texting and facebook and other such things. But the blog is back at least for now – 2nd post today (here is the other one if you missed it)

But anyways – the other day at work I was mocked for recycling.

Some backstory – my son is selling popcorn for Cub Scouts. A couple of people here at work had ordered some, so I brought in the popcorn to deliver. It came in big cardboard boxes. So after I delivered the poporn, I had these big cardboard boxes. Our office does recycle cans, bottles and paper, but not cardboard. So at the end of the day, I was carrying them out to my car to take home and recycle.

That is when the mocking commenced. I mean it was good-natured mocking, but it was definite mocking.

I guess I didn’t really understand. I mean I don’t really consider myself a “green” guy or some sort of eco-nut. Even my habit of turning off lights that people leave on is more because I’m the one who pays for the lights if they’re left on than any huge desire to save the environment.

Or maybe I am – I don’t know. I have been known to take plastic pop bottles out of the trash at work and take them to the recycling bin.

I guess I just figure that it is well known that recycling is better than throwing things in the trash, right? I mean this is well established fact, is it not? So if it’s just as easy, why not recycle? I was blown away at the zoo last week. We were there for a “Powered by Popcorn” show for the Scouts, and they gave out popcorn and little bottles of Sunny Delight. So at the end, as we were leaving the amphitheater, there were 2 big boxes. One said trash, and had a big picture of the recycle symbol with a line through it, and I think was even in red letters. Then the other one said recycle and had the recycle symbol. I was BLOWN AWAY by the amount of the bottles that were in the trash one. Cmon people we’re talking like 2 feet here!!!!

But anyway back to my story – I was mocked for not throwing them away. I guess my feeling is that it’s not like it’s some sort of noble cause that I’m doing all this extra work to take the cardboard to my house WHERE I AM ALREADY GOING!

Anyway just thought I’d share.

In which I invite the lady behind me in line at Staples to shut right up

So I took the kids out to the mall-ish area this evening to give their mom a break. And to look for coins of course!!! (6 quarters, 3 dimes, 1 nickel and 8 pennies – the coin cycle baby!).

Also I wanted to stop by Staples. I had gotten a $10 off $10 coupon for Office Max in the mail. I was going to just put it on eBay, but I saw that there were tons of them on eBay and they were going for about $3 or $4. Not bad, but then I got to thinking and decided to buy stamps there. I like Staples more than Office Max (and it’s more convenient) and they all take competitor’s coupons.

So we got there and originally I was going to buy envelopes along with 1 book of stamps (to get over the $10 limit) but the cheapest envelopes at Staples were $6.99?!?!? So instead I decided to just buy 2 books of stamps.

So we’re checking out and first there was a delay because they only had 1 book up front so some guy had to come with more books. And then the cashier was having math trouble figuring out how much to charge for each book (he couldn’t just take the $10 off the total – he had to price adjust the books themselves for whatever reason). So we’re causing some delays which I am of course used to, and then the lady behind me pipes up with

“I thought it was illegal to use a coupon on stamps – a federal law”

Umm hello – way to dealblock me lady, to paraphrase a somewhat lewd term. And hence the title of my post. The cashier starts saying yeah I don’t know maybe you’re right. And he double checks the back as I point out – Nope nope nothing on the back that says you can’t use them (lots of times there are exclusions on stamps)

But I was just annoyed by this lady’s piping up. I didn’t say anything to her there because a) I’m a wimp and b) I didn’t want to make any kind of scene because I was hoping to stay under the radar so the transaction could proceed.

In the end, it all worked out and I got my 40 stamps for $6.80

Diane Tafuri, #1 Agent

So there is a billboard that is on my way home from work. It proclaims that Diane Tafuri of Sibcy Cline has been the #1 agent for 13 years. I thought that it said 13 straight years but her website says it was 2008 plus 1995-2006. So I might be mis-remembering the actual billboard.

But what I want to know is #1 at what? I think I am going to have a hard time believing that the same person can be #1 for 13 (out of 14) years at any meaningful thing, in a field that is known for its competitiveness. Something like “Most homes bought in a year” or “Most homes sold in a year” or “Smallest average days on market” or even “Highest customer satisfaction”.

I am sure that she is very good at what she does. But to be #1 for that many years – I just can’t see it. I think it is much more likely that the #1 that is touted is meaningless. Something like “Best agent named Diane” or “#1 top selling agent on my team which is just me and my mom and she gives me all her leads” or maybe just a title – like the top such and such get the title “#1 Agent”. Reminds me of the whole #1 Dad thing from Seinfeld.

Though after Googling around, another theory I had is that it is an actual award and it goes to the total dollar amount of your sales. Because I see that Diane lists tons of Indian Hill property and has 19 active listings over $1,000,000. So I guess if that is true then to be fair to her it is accurate, but to be fair to my earlier point, it is pretty meaningless, at least to the common Joe like myself. It’s not quite as hard to get the top dollar sales amount when one house you sell counts the same as 20 sold by someone else… Though again to be fair to her she probably does have pretty good connections in the kind of folks that are typically interested in those kinds of houses. But I still think the billboard is somewhat misleading, but hey what kind of marketing isn’t and hey if you got it, flaunt it, I guess.

PS I had a hard time deciding whether or not to put her name on here because I couldn’t decide if I was a) interested in what she would have to say if she found this or b) afraid of the million dollar #1 beatdown she might put on me

The price of milk at UDF

Okay – gotta share this. I called up UDF this morning. They have an ongoing promotion where if you fill up with 8 gallons of gas, you get a gallon of milk for pretty cheap. But the price changes every month, so sometimes it’s a good deal and sometimes it’s not that great. So I called up this morning to see what their price for December was.

Guy answered and I asked the question. He responded that it was $2.39 but if you wanted to buy 2, it was cheaper not to use the gas receipt and just buy them regular price, which was 2/$5.

I paused and scratched my head and asked, “But isn’t 2/$5 $2.50 each?” He said yes but then mentioned that 2 gallons with a gas receipt was $5.38. I again paused to scratch my head while he followed up with “Do you get what I’m sayin?”.

At this point I just said yes and hung up. Perhaps gives you some insight as to why he might be working at UDF?

I will post a followup if it turns out that there is a limit of 1 with the gas receipt, though that would be a change in how the program works.

License Plate

So… my license plate is broken. Well, the plate itself is not broken. But one of the screws / bolts that holds it to the car has come out, and so it hangs down.

My car kind of looks like that. Well, minus the fact that my car hasn’t been completely smashed up. Oh, and it’s not that kind of car at all. Hmm and I don’t ride around with a pair of gloves in my hood and the hood up. And my license plate is Ohio instead of Washington DC. But that’s kind of what my license plate looks like.

So, this has been going on for a few months now. I have it on my list of “things to do some day” to fix this, but have not really gotten around to it because it’s not a big deal for me.

But for some reason, people love to stop me while I’m driving to point this out to me. I’m sure they are just trying to be helpful, but what are the odds that this has just happened and I’m unaware of it? At least one guy mentioned something like “I’m sure you probably already know this but…”. The other day, as I was driving to work, a big truck stopped. It looked like he was trying to turn left across traffic so I was inching up to allow him room to turn into the shopping center (I was stopped at a red light). But no, he yelled at me again and wanted to let me know about my rogue license plate.

I find it odd that the impetus for me fixing this is likely to NOT be the actual license plate itself, but just to stop people from pointing it out to me.

And yes, for those of you who live in Cincinnati and see me on a regular basis, please point this out to me whenever you see me and my car. Because you’ll think you’re being funny, but in fact, you’ll be like the 500th person to point it out which will make you, in the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld, quite LAME!

Fun times at Meijer

Here’s a letter that I just whipped out to Meijer
===============
Hello,

I am writing with a complaint from my recent shopping visit to Meijer store 224 (Marburg Ave Cincinnati OH) on Wednesday night around 6:30 p.m.

I came shopping with my entire family. Because I only needed to get a few things, I figured it was safe to bring everyone. Normally if I was doing a week’s worth of shopping I may have left my small children at home.

I quickly got my items and proceeded to the check out area. There were only 3 “regular” checkout lanes open, compared to 8 or so of the self checkout lanes. I understand that you probably are trying to save on paying more cashiers, and in general I applaud that. But this evening I had several coupons with my order, and I find that the self checkout machines always seem to “beep” on coupons (even though I’ve purchased the correct products in the appropriate amounts). These “beep”ings require a cashier override and since there is typically only 1 cashier for all of the self-checkouts, it manages to take approximately forever.

So I got in a regular lane. There were 2 people in front of me and I waited my turn. As the belt space opened up, I put my items on and waited. The gentleman in front of me was apparently having a problem. He bought 2 premade sub sandwiches and was arguing that they were supposed to be ringing up Buy 1 Get 1 Free. The cashier made 3 calls to various departments, eventually figuring out that he was correct, while I waited. But then this price correction apparently required a manager override. I waited. She called to customer service to request an override. I waited. As I waited, the gentleman requested 2 packs of cigarettes. The customer service manager apparently forgot about us, so while I waited, the cashier called again. The manager came over and put her code in and finally it was my turn.

The cashier scanned my items. The Cheerios that I bought did not ring up with the correct price, but eventually the cashier put in the correct (3/$5) price as an override. I gave her my coupons, and to my amazement, only 1 of them beeped! She verified that I had (of course) bought the right items in the correct amounts, and put in the coupon. I paid for my items, but of course my checkout (Catalina) coupon did not print out.

This week at my store, Meijer is offering a Buy 15 participating General Mills / Betty Crocker products, get a checkout coupon for 120 Box Tops for Education. Since it didn’t work, I trekked up to customer service where I waited (again) for my turn. Finally it came to be my turn and I explained my predicament to the gentleman working at the desk. He didn’t really have any idea what to do, so I suggested that in past times when these types of things have not worked (which sadly is all too frequent), the CS representative would just scan one of my items 15 times and the coupon prints out. He tried that with a variety of items that I had bought (all listed as “participating” items), but no coupon printed out. Finally I suggested that we try it at a regular lane. We went over there and finally! it worked and printed out my coupon.

I wished him well and left the store. All in all, from the moment I got in line to check out, to the moment when I was finally able to leave the store, it took 43 minutes.

Needless to say, this is unacceptable, and makes me much more likely to do my future shopping at Kroger or Bigg’s (especially since there are 6 Krogers that are convenient to me compared to the one Meijer store)

Thank you for reading this

Dan Miller
===========

Or actually that’s the letter I wanted to write to Meijer. Unfortunately, Meijer apparently only cares about the first 1400 characters of your experience. So THIS is the letter I actually sent to them.
============

Hello,

I am writing with a complaint from my recent shopping visit to Meijer store 224 (Marburg Ave Cincinnati OH) on Wednesday night around 6:30 p.m.

Under the impression that you would be interested in my poor experience last night in the hopes that it would help you improve your customer experience, I wrote a detailed letter explaining my issues.

However, I am limited to 1400 characters. If you are interested in improving your store’s customer service, I would be happy to send you the whole detail.

The short answer is that due to various Meijer issues (price mistakes, coupon beeping, checkout coupons failing to print, etc) it took me 43 minutes (no exaggeration) from the time I went to check out until the time that I was finally able to leave the store.

Needless to say, this is unacceptable, and makes me much more likely to do my future shopping at Kroger or Bigg’s (especially since there are 6 Krogers that are convenient to me compared to the one Meijer store)

Thank you for reading this

Dan Miller

Take that corn, ya Home Depot

Here’s a nice email I just sent off to Home Depot.


I am writing because I was extremely dissatisfied with the tool rental at my local home depot (Highland Ave in Pleasant Ridge / Cincinnati Ohio). I rented a 2 man power auger to dig some post holes on Wednesday night. I planned on using it for 4 hours and returning it, but the bit got stuck in the ground.

I called up the store and spoke to Zach R. I asked him for assistance in how I might be able to get the bit out. He explained that the machine did not have any type of reverse motor and didn’t really have any ideas for me to try, but he told me not to worry – he would put a note on my account to only charge me for the 4 hours. This was great and really set my mind at ease since we had already been trying to get it out of the ground for an hour or so.

I have a full time job so I was not able to get back over there till the evening of Thursday (the next day). We tried various ways to get it unstuck, including snapping a metal pipe wrench in half trying to reverse the bit, but with no success.

Finally on Friday I took a day of vacation from my job so that I could get this thing out. Zach from the store had told me that he would only be charging me for the 4 hours, but I wanted to be sensitive to your time and return it so it could be rented again if necessary. Finally, by digging a hole all the way around it to the depth of the bit we were able to extricate it. We cleaned it off and returned it to the store by Friday afternoon at 1:45 pm.

But when I got there, the man (Lawrence R) insisted that he could not charge me for only 4 hours. He did eventually give me a credit for 1 day of use, so instead of charging me for $140, I was charged for $70. I found it strange that he would discount $70 but not the additional $21 (to get it to the $49 rate for 4 hours that Zach had promised me over the phone). His explanation was that Zach must have meant that he would only charge me for 4 hours if I returned it by Thursday (rather than Friday). But Zach did not say that on the phone and I don’t know how I possibly could have been expected to know that?

So, after being (in my mind) overcharged for $24.61 (the $21 extra fee, $2.10 extra damage protection and $1.51 extra sales tax), rather than continuing my shopping at the Home Depot store, I went 2 minutes down the street to Lowe’s and bought my sump pump, kitchen faucet, 3 light fixtures and 5 4x4x6 posts (total spent at Lowe’s was $196.26).


Since I’m in the middle of complaining about retail stores, let me paste one in I sent to GNC the other day


I would like to comment about an experience I had today at the GNC store
inside the Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati, OH.

I was on a tight schedule so I left the rest of my family in the parking
lot so I could run into the mall when it opened at 10 to make a
purchase.

I got to GNC at 10 but the store was closed. I waited around for a bit
until the employee finally showed up at 5 after.

Without any type of apology, she greeted me with “It’s going to be a
bit” as she disappeared into the store to start the pre-opening
procedures.

About 5 minutes later she opened and I was able to finally make my
purchases at 10:10.

I was definitely disappointed since I was on a tight schedule. Though I
don’t shop at GNC very often so perhaps this is standard procedure at
GNC or mall stores. I understand that sometimes people are running late
but what got me the most was even the lack of an apology. Even a “Hey -
sorry I was running late” would have gone a long way….


That one snagged me a $15 gift certificate to GNC. Too bad I just stocked up on melatonin and I don’t really need much in the way of protein powder or whatever else they sell….

Lowe’s are idiots

Lowe’s is idiots? Lowe’s is an idiot? Hmmm… I must be grammatically sound before I go OFF on the annoyances of the past few days. On the one hand, the store’s name is Lowe’s. If you go to one singular store, it says Lowe’s, which I guess must be singular. But Lowe’s is an idiot doesn’t sound right. I guess what I’m really trying to say is the people at Lowe’s are idiots, which works. Okay then.

So Wednesday afternoon I go down and buy the last of my deck materials. I covered this in the last post. So the guy there said that they could totally load up their truck for me to rent and come by Thursday to pick it up, and to just call tomorrow (Thursday which is now yesterday). So I called and of course nobody had heard of anything nor done anything. Not surprising. So they set to work on it and then they call back a little later and say it’s a lot of stuff and would be like 2 or 3 trips / loads so would I rather just pay them $60 to deliver it. So I say okay. They say it would be delivered tomorrow (Friday which is now today).

So I call them up today to see when it might be delivered. After being transferred around several times, STILL nobody has heard of anything; the delivery guy does not have my “ticket”. They’re currently looking into that.

But that is not all; oh no, that is not all. Also on Wednesday (ear-lie in the morning before work) I went into a different Lowe’s to get my carpet. The first step in that is to pay them to come out and measure the area so that I know how much carpet to buy. They put me in the system, I pay the $35 for that, and then they turn me over to a flooring installer who will call me within 48 business hours. Flash forward to today and of course nobody has called me. So I call them up, go through a few people and finally get someone who tells me that they have 48 business hours. And I’m thinking “Lady, I have the timestamped receipt right in front of me and it’s been 50 hours”. She says that they have all day today to do it.

Now normally it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, because we’re actually not ready for the carpet until we paint, so it will be probably a week or so before we can get it installed. But Lowe’s has a promotion going on where for every $1000 you spend, you get $100 in gift cards. Well actually they have 2 similar promotions going on, but one of them expires 4/27. So I really need to pay for this carpet by Saturday (tomorrow) or I lose out on about $200 in gift cards.

So I ask for the name and number of this company that is supposed to call me. I call them, and of course Lowe’s has sent them zip. So she takes my number and calls me back in a few minutes. She had called the store and gotten my order. Then she asks “Can we come by on Tuesday?” I mention how I really need this done by tomorrow and she tells me she’ll see what she can do and will call me back.

In the meantime a lady calls me about renting our current house so I’m talking with her. And like 500 people call me while I’m on the phone with her. So I call back the deck Lowe’s – they don’t know anything and they’re going to look at it. I call back Missy from the flooring company – they called back the store and had them switch it to a different installer so that they could get it done today. What? GOOD customer service? I’m floored!!! Goooooo Pro Flooring of Cincinnati!!

But then Lowe’s calls the house and talks to Carolyn (even though I told them to call my cell) and she doesn’t know what’s going on with anything because I haven’t kept her in the loop. The lady is snippy with her and so then she (Carolyn) calls me (one of the 500). Finally I get that straightened out and someone is coming to measure this afternoon (no thanks to Lowe’s)

Good times!

Excuse me? No, excuse YOU!

So here’s something that annoys me and I thought I’d write something about it to see if this is widely shared, or if I’m just easily annoyed.

Let me set the scene – 2 people are in a hallway talking to each other. Each one is on an opposite wall of the hallway, so between them they are taking up the entire hallway, forcing people to walk between them in order to walk down the hall. Now this, in and of itself, I don’t necessarily have a problem with. It’s annoying yes, but there have been times that I have done this. And of course anything that I have ever done could not POSSIBLY be annoying.

No, what I find incredibly annoying is the fact that it appears to be socially acceptable and mandated that the person who is just walking down the hall, minding his or her own business, is “supposed to” say “Excuse me”. Why should THEY have to beg the pah-don of the blowhards that are taking up the entire hallway?

So I was trying to think of a way that we can discourage this behavior. I already walk right through them without excusing myself. Even if there’s a tiny amount of room on one side of one person, I just barge right down the middle – your rude behavior is not making me have to try and squeeze myself through the very edge of the hallway. I thought maybe a dirty look, but that seems like it’s not quite enough. Another thought I had was to “accidentally” throw a shoulder into one of the participants, but that seems to go too far the other way.

So the solution I have come up with (and I think it’s a good one) is that the new socially accepted rule is that as you walk through the rudyheads, you say “Excuse you”. It’s just subtle enough, and because it’s so close to what people will be expecting to hear (“Excuse me”), you could probably even get away with it. They’d be left thinking (if they even hear it) something along the lines of “Did I just hear that right? Nahh”

So what do you think, loyal reader(s)? Shall we do it? Let’s take back the world, one hallway interaction at a time!!!