Thursday, February 23, 2006


Cheap Bastard strikes again

"What day did that guy pick up his picture?" my business partner asked me this morning.
"Last Saturday, why?"
"We got a letter from the bank saying he's claiming he didn't make a purchase from us."
"Get the hell out!" I replied.
So BP pulled out the stack of invoices from that day and finds the invoice in question. There it is. Our copy of the invoice and WHAT?!?!?!?! the customer copy of the visa slip! Where the hell is the signed copy that we should have?
"He must have grabbed our signed copy and left with it," BP said. "It was busy when he came in, so he must have left with it without me noticing."

Being a stickler for details and protocol, I get kind of freaked out when I see a customer copy attached to an invoice in our stack of daily sales. I've seen it a few times, but I've never really bothered to mention it. We've never had a problem with it, so really, it's no big deal. But I have always dreaded the thought that this might happen. I had a feeling we'd get bit on the ass one of these days. It looks like today is the day.

Even though we have the customer copy of the visa slip, there is no signature on it. Our only saving grace may be the fact that the customer's name is printed on the visa slip as a result of his card being swiped through our terminal when the payment was made. Will this help us out? Time will tell.

BP faxed a letter to the bank explaining what had happened along with a copy of the invoice and the visa slip we have. Hopefully we'll get our money out of the old guy.

I just can't believe it. All of this fuss and work over thirty-some-odd dollars.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Cheap Bastard

I have my fair share of customers who hate to part with a nickle. A couple of weeks ago an elderly fellow walked into the shop with a 10" x 12" photo of the few remaining survivors at a university reunion of the class of...oh I don't know...1830. He went on to tell me that it's a very important picture and he wanted to have it framed so he could display it. I went about picking out matting and a suitable frame, and figuring he probably didn't want to spend too much (you get to know them after a while), I selected a low-priced metal frame. The work order came out to around $60 or so. Well, I swear, I thought I had to get out the paddles and jump-start the old guy.

"Sixty dollars!?!? It's just a photograph!"

I told him it didn't matter if it was a photograph or an original watercolour of the same size, it still works out to that price. What is going into the frame is irrelevant.

Well, it's funny how his tune changed. Suddenly this "very important picture" turned into "just some picture" that he really didn't care about. Even after removing the mat and just going with a frame and glass, it was still more than he wanted to spend. The next option would be the Plak-it solution. Basically, this means that his photo is glued to a masonite board. The cost was around $25. He still griped about it.

"Sir", I told him, "that's the least expensive option I have for you other than sticking the picture on the wall with a thumbtack or tape."

He still grumbled about the exorbitant price, but agreed to have the work done. So the picture was mounted and he picked it up, paid by Visa, and took it home.

This morning, he called the shop in a panic. He checked his Visa bill on-line and saw the payment made out to our incorporated name, which is different from the store name. I assured him that it is, in fact, us that the payment went to. Our banking information is under our incorporated name as we run other branches of business under the same corporation. I told him that the information is right at the top of his invoice (ie, The Frame Place, a division of The Bigger Picture, Inc. - hey, that's pretty good...I should use that). Of course he told me that he never looked at the invoice. He had already called Visa to investigate the charge. He even called his bank. The information is even on our business cards, and I gave him one the day he brought the piece in. He then told me that we should hi-lite the incorporated name on the invoice so people notice it. My question is: he already said he didn't look at the invoice. Does hi-lighting it ensure he'll look at it? NOT BLOODY LIKELY.

Now another thought has set in. We're having a sale in the next couple of weeks. I just know that he will call in and demand a reduction in the amount he paid. You know what? If he wants to make the drive over for five bucks (and I'm sure he will), more power to him. It will be worth the laugh.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Further computer problems

This time it's our work computer. It is our POS system, it is where we create work orders for our clients work. It does it all. We run a proprietary software program that is just amazing (for the most part). When a customer picks up their finished piece, we post the work order to an invoice and select the payment method and complete the transaction. Done. The end.

On Saturday, the system lost its mind. As I was off on Saturday, I received a call on my useless cell phone from my business partner (BP) asking if I had any problems with the computer on Friday. Nope, no major problems for me. Unfortunately, it wasn't so for BP. A customer picked up her finished pieces of art, and when BP went to post her work order to an invoice, it connected every work order that had never been posted before. Estimates, On Holds, Unfinished work. Everything. Nineteen pages later, her invoice was done. BP just looked at it with his eyes wide open. The customer looked at him and asked if everything was ok. He told her that as things stood, she owed us about $88,000. Needless to say, he had to do some manual work to figure out everything for her.

The problem remained that now every piece of work was listed as being posted to an invoice, but posted to some totally different customer and there was no way to repost it to the correct person. On top of that, everytime we see a work order is posted, it indicates to us that the invoice has been paid for. Grief all around.

We contacted the software company, and after a few conversations, a lot of digging in the brains of the software, and a few plans of attack, we were able to get to a list of all work orders and change "posted" to "not posted". There were about 400 work orders to change over. Luckily we had the invoice from Hell to use as a guide as to which work orders to change back. So a couple of hours later and all was well in our world again. WHEW!

Computers....gotta love 'em!


The Day The Music Died

Computers. Damned things. This has NOT been a good week for me and computers.

I am, as I often call myself, a technopeasant. What I don't know about computers could fill a warehouse. When people ask me what kind of system I'm running, I usually answer, "It's beige."

About a week ago, The Squeeze was on our computer at home and he ran into some sort of problem. As I understand it, he received a notification that our virus program had expired. Considering The Squeeze just updated it a couple of days prior, we knew something was not quite right. Then The squeeze checked the date on the computer, and it seemed to think that the year was 2555. Ya, it looks like the virus program expired about 548 years ago back in ought 7. So The Squeeze tried a few things, but to no avail. He tried to manually change the year, but 2006 was not in our list of dates. FREAKY. So we figured we had been hacked as a result of a firewall being disabled...crackle...zap...zcheelellllchcsssssssss*whitenoise*. Ya, whatever he said.

The Squeeze figured we better have the system looked at. Since The Squeeze and I are always at work, we decided to leave the arrangements in the hands of The Squeeze's brother, since he's usually at the house during the day. I tell ya, it is so convenient having him live with us! He cleans the litter box, takes out the compost, empties and fills the dishwasher, cleans up after himself (and us), and pays us for the privelege to do so! Today he's going to be home when our new dryer gets delivered. Too convenient!

So the brother-in-law (BIL, for short) contacted a computer place who would come to the house and service the computer. The guy showed up on Thursday, and determined that it would have to be taken into the shop and be wiped clean and have everything reinstalled. Everything to me means EVERYTHING. BIL called me at work to ask what was on the computer that we wanted to keep, and I'm pretty sure I said "whatever is there now". I mean, it would stand to logic that if there were things on there that I didn't want, wouldn't I have deleted them my damn self? Therefore, whatever was on there is something I want to keep.

Well, the computer was ready on Saturday, so BIL picked it up for us and reconnected everything. When we got in we took a look and I felt my stomach sink. All of my music files (and there were hundreds and hundreds of them) were gone. A few of my Christmas songs which I kept in a different folder were still there, but quite honestly, if there were any songs I could have done without, it would be the ones I only use for about one week a year. All of my great old songs from the 80's were gone. All of my old vinyl that I transferred and cleaned up and saved to MP3 format were gone. Actually, the program I use to record the music was gone too. All of the songs I burned from my CD collection and the hundreds and hundreds I got off the net were history. I'm feeling my blood pressure rise again just thinking about it.

A call to the computer place Monday morning confirmed the fact that the files were gone forever. I was hoping against hope that they had done a mirror copy of the whole computer and that there might be some slim chance that I could still retrieve the files. No dice. The guy there suggested a program I could use to download the songs again. Thanks. If only I had a list of all of the songs I had it might help me a bit more.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Backup everything. Save everything you will ever want to keep to "My Documents" and be sure to tell your computer guy to save that folder.

Oh, and about the virus? Not really sure if there was one because when the computer guy turned the system on when he was at the house, the date was right and everything was fine. He thought it should be cleared out and reinstalled though. He figured it would make things a bit faster too. So $160 bucks later, I've lost a ton of files, and you know what? The computer isn't any faster. I guess what I've learned is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And even if it is broke...maybe it ain't so bad either.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Ducks and the anvils that sink them

Last night The Squeeze and I were watching some old episode of "Friends". Back in the era when Chandler and Joey had a duck and a chicken living with them. What the hell was up with that? That's worse than when the Brady's had Cousin Oliver living with them. Anyway, I said to The Squeeze, "Wouldn't it be cool to have a duck? Not in the house, but out in the back yard in a pond. You know, just so we could have it swimming around, and we could go out back and feed it."
"Ya, you could bake it a nice anvil and have the duck disappear for a few days," he said.
Of course, I had to give him the skunk-eye. Let me give you the history of the anvil...

A few years back, The Squeeze and I rented a cottage with another couple we are good friends with. It was situated in northern Ontario on a nice quiet lake and we had the luxury of a nice long dock on which to relax (ok, drink).

Naturally I had to bring my bread maker up with us so we could have fresh bread and, more importantly, fresh cinnamon buns. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my measuring spoons, and there were none in the cottage so I had to wing it and guesstimate measurements. This normally isn't a problem with cooking, but baking is another story. It's very much chemistry, and if things aren't in the proper proportions, things just don't work out. Well, the first loaf of bread I made might have risen about an inch, and when it was done baking, weighed in around twenty pounds. As such, it garnered the nickname "The Anvil".

Clearly not suitable for human consumption, I thought I would take it down to the dock and feed it to the mother duck and her little ducklings that came around every morning. They were just so adorable, and being a bit of an animal/nature nut, I really felt a bond with the little things. For the first few days that we were there we fed them bits of bread and buns and crackers or whatever we had kicking around that we thought they might like. I just assumed that they wouldn't be so picky as to turn their noses up at my home-baked offering, and I was correct. Mother and babies had their fill, and I decided I'd hang on to the rest of the loaf and feed them again the next morning.

The next morning arrived and I went down to the dock with "The Anvil" to wait for my little winged friends. And I waited. And waited. And waited. They did not arrive for their daily visit. One of our friends suggested that maybe they all sank to the bottom of the lake after eating the bread yesterday. Very funny. I gave up for that day. I figured they would be back the next morning.

The next morning arrived and I went down to the dock with "The Anvil" to wait for my little winged friends. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Again, they did not arrive. (How appropriate that I'm writing this on Groundhog Day)

I began to be a bit concerned. Maybe I did kill them with those breadcrumbs. Actually, they were more like lead ingots than breadcrumbs. This went on for a few days, and I endured endless harassment about my pathetic attempt at baking until one morning when the ducks finally returned to give me another chance. Needless to say The Anvil had been thrown in the trash, and I had offerings of real bread made by someone who had the means to measure their ingredients.

Obviously, the ducks were able to forgive my error and let bygones be bygones. So why can't The Squeeze do that???

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


English Butchers

OK, I've ranted about typos about a week ago, but this morning I suffered an audio assault that I just couldn't let go.

For some reason I was listening to a local radio station instead of the CBC as I drove to work today. You know how the DJs natter on about pretty much any worthless piece of mundane minutae. Today she was going on about that self-absorbed, melon-headed, skeletal cling-on, Nicole Ritchie and how she has lost so much weight. Fair enough. However, when she made the comment, "Hey, Nicole, when you are completely emancipated, you've gone far enough!"

Excuse me. EMANCIPATED? What a dumbass. Of course I couldn't let it go. As soon as I got to work, I called the station and got their listener line voicemail. At first I thought I'd just leave a scathing rebuke, but their recording stated that if I leave my name and phone number I could win a listener gift pack. I'm all for free stuff, so I left my name and home number and said something to the effect of, "I'm calling about the comment that was said about Nicole Ritchie losing all that weight. You said that she was looking emancipated. I'm thinking you might mean emaciated. Although, she is no longer hanging around with Paris Hilton, so maybe you have something there."

Am I the only one who is annoyed by such ignorance? I simply must be emancipated from the stupidity that surrounds me.

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