Local car dealership sold

For the last 11 years I’ve been taking my 91 Jeep and all 240,000 kilometers of it to Mountview Jeep for service. They’ve kept the old heap running like a top. They’re a family run business and it shows.

When I called yesterday to make a service appointment they told me they’ve been sold. Not sure what it’s going to mean, but they’ve been bought out by a big dealer, so my guess is the changes won’t be for the better.

Oddly, their web site doesn’t say anything about the changes. One staffer there told me that because no-one knows (yet) if they’re going to have a job or not with the new owners, people have been leaving in droves for other, sure-things. They’ve been told some of them may be kept on, but who and how many won’t be known for a week or so yet.

Time to find a new spot.

New Media BC Podcast launched

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we’re working with New Media BC on their podcast, and today we released Episode 1 of what we hope will be a regular series of podcasts for NMBC.

If you’ve got an interest in how technology, culture and art interact, you’ll want to hear this.

Episode One features interviews with:

Kelly Zmak – the new Chief Operating Officer and Senior VP at Radical Entertainment. He’s a video game vet, and has some intrigueing things to say about where the video game industry is going, and how the ‘culture’ of gaming is changing.

Lynda Brown – the president of New Media BC. She’ll talk about her vision for BC as a world new media hub.

Mark Pesce – engineer, inventor, author, professor. When you’re preparing for an interview, a guy with this kind of background is totally intimidating. But, he’s a blast to talk to, and we cover some interesting ground including thoughts on Web 2.0

You can grab the podcast at iTunes (go to podcasts and search NMBC) or at feeds.feedburner.com/nmbc

(Oh, and as an homage to my former days in rock radio, we did a little teaser as well)

CT Weasels

Last week, after our fabulous experience geocaching, we decided to buy a map enabled hand held GPS unit.

Here’s the short story.

Whatever you do, do not buy one at Canadian Tire.

Here’s why:

can tire price

I admit it, I was in a hurry.

We’d done our homework and knew we wanted the Garmin 60C.

We quickly checked the web for availability and that our local Canadian Tire Store (North Vancouver) had one in stock.

We trotted down only to discover the sporting good counter to be a total mess of boxes, papers, and assorted detritus – and no staff person to be found. We pushed the electronic call button. After 20 minutes, someone finally showed up.

We told him what we wanted and he pulled out the box and away we went.

Customer wait time = 21 minutes. Time spent with customer = 1 minute.

The next day was Sunday, and while looking for some information on software for the unit (the clerk at CT didn’t have a clue about any) I came across my new favourite store, Deakin Equipment.

deakin is great

Not only did they have software, they had the same unit for 50 dollars LESS, plus a 25 dollar one-time coupon. These stores are a 10 minute drive apart.

What I should have done was return the GPS at CT and buy the one at Deakin. It was a Sunday, and Deakin was closed.

My son Matthew had noticed a ‘price gaurantee’ sign at CT, so I called, they said said YES, just bring down proof of a lower price.

So off we went again.

15 minutes in line at Customer Service, and we’re told that the guarantee is only if you show them the lower price BEFORE you buy something.

Huh ? I look up at the guarantee sign directly in front of me. It’s posted on the wall. It doesn’t say that.

I point out this anomaly to the clerk. Besides, I had called first and was told they would honour the price guarantee.

She checks. Yes, ok, we’ll make an exception.
And exception ? At this point, I’m finding customer service to be a tad customer annoying.

Here’s the exact text of the sign (I made them give me a copy)

Price Match Guarantee
Canadian Tire will match any competitor’s price on an identical item AND give customers an extra 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire “money”.
The competitor’s lower price must be verifiable (advertised price, flyer, phone call, etc.)
Whether an item is ‘identical’ will be determined by looking at:
– product features

Any questions over whether an item is ‘identical’ will be resolved on a case-by-case basis by the Dealer, Store Manger, General Manager or other appointed Manager.
The Price Match Guarantee program applices to compitor’s regular and sale prices.

Exceptions to the Price Match Guarantee program are:
labour, competitors’s clearance, bankruptcies, volume discounts, mail-in rebates, wholesale prices not available to the general public, live goods, web-based competitors, propane tank refills.

Thank you for bringing this item to our attention. Your assistanace will help Canadian Tire price our products more competitively.

So, the clerk takes my credit card and refunds me my 50$.

“But wait” says I, “What about the 10% extra in Canadian Tire money.”

For those of you from away, CT money is worth par at CT stores. This is going to be almost 45 dollars I can spent right here, right now.

Another pause from the clerk. She looks at me like I’m a complete idiot.

She tells me I do not get the CT money because I used a credit card to pay for my purchase.


I look at the Price Match Guarantee sign again.

Now I’m annoyed, but I’m calm. After all, I am in the right.

I ask her to show me where the policy explains this new wrinkle. “Nowhere” she says, “it’s always been that way.”

At this point, the clerk actually removes the sign from the wall. She’s literally peeling it off the wall. The Guess Who’s “Undone” is running through my mind.

Ok. Time to get serious.

I ask to see a manager.

There are now about 10 people in line behind me.

I’ve now been at the so-called customer service desk for 34 minutes.

Manager “Blair” (not his real name) shows up. “Sorry, can’t do it”. We go through ‘what about the sign’ questions again. I calmly ask him to explain to me why they do not adhere to their publicly posted policy (which is now no longer actually posted…)

Blair explains there is nothing he can do. I’m flabergasted, but I’m calm. There are now 15 people in line behind me. I ask Blair for his name, and a copy of the sign. He actually makes a photocopy of the sign for me right then and there.

Then Blair has a brainstorm. If I pay with cash or debit I can get my CT money. He starts to walk away.

I pull out my secret weapon. The debit card. Hey, I’m no flakey customer. I’ve got money IN THE BANK!

I’m now handed back with the clerk who issues a huge sigh, and says: “This is going to take awhile”. Gee, I’m so surprised.

It’s now 40 minutes and counting.

Much heavy sighing and muttering. Ms. Helpful counts out my CT money in (and I am not kidding) denomination of 1’s (18 of them) and the rest in .25 cent and .50 cent denominations. She’s got a wad of CT money 3 inches high on the counter.

Total time invested: 52 minutes. Total refund: 50 real dollars, 49.20 in Canadian tire.

Since I’ve got this useless CT money, I actually go back to the sports counter, wait another 15 minutes for someone to show up, so that I can buy what I later find out is discontinued map software for the Garmin.

At the checkout, the clerk freaks out at the tiny denominations of CT money, and I explain that I just got them from her co-worker over at customer service.

Incredibly, she won’t take it or count it and insists on getting someone from customer service to confirm the amount, even though it is ACTUALLY PRINTED ON MY RECEIPT. Finally, some haggard looking fellow clerk tells her to take it. I know, it’s like an episode of The Canadian Tire Twilight Zone.

Total time spent, and the last time ever you’ll find me at CT : 1 hour 12 minutes.

But here, fellow bloggers, the story gets much cheerier.

The next day I make the trip to Deakin Equipment, only to discover they have the world’s most amazing customer service, informed courteous staff, a wonderful attitude, and great prices.

It’s like the CT store in North Van is this black hole of negativity, and this place, across Burrard Inlet, is the exact opposite, the ying/yang of retail. No, that’s not it.

I know.

It’s the BIZZARO of Retail.

Deakin was super helpful, found me the accessories I was looking for, and actually spent time talking to me about what I need. As i was paying, I casually meantion that I bought my unit at CT. The counter person asked me “how was your experience at CT, did they know anything about GPS?”

To which I laughed, and said “you’ll have to read the blog…”

garmin, buy it at deakin if you're smart
Want one of these ? Buy it at Deakin Equipment in Vancouver or online.

Oh. One other thing.

I noticed that CT still hasn’t changed its price on the unit. So much for their pledge that ‘your asssitance will help Canadian Tire price our products more comptetively”

Yah, right.

Geocaching RRU Hatley Park

Chinatown in Victoria

A couple of weeks ago we had a fabulous time out at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC, geocaching at Hatley Park National Historical Site.

They’ve got a really great program tailored for families and even for birthday parties. Matthew and Garnet totally got into it, though Matthew had done geocaching before with Scouts. He helped get the rest of us up to speed, but the geocaching activities here come complete with a guide ! You get the thrill and fun of geocaching along with historical information about this amazing location (at 10U 465022 5364730 if you’ve got MapSource of other GPS enabled software).

Check out the program here.

checking out the cache
Checking out a cache at Hatley Park National Historic Site

We had a blast – so much so that a week later we bought our own map-enabled Garmin GPS unit. And that experience itself is worthy of another blog coming soon.

New Media British Columbia, Podcast

The New Media BC podcast is about to be unleashed. It’s the latest podcast project for us and it is WAY too much fun. Here’s the gig – interview really interesting people who are involved in new media across a broad sector; from video games to web to animation to e-learning.

We’ve got a teaser here.

Stand by for the full hour long podcast, 39 meg of glorious stereo, featuring :
– Kelly Zmak, the new COO of Radical Entertainment in Vancouver
– Mark Pesce, software engineer, VRML pioneer, self-proclaimed mad-scientist, in Sydney Australia
– Lynda Brown (she is soooo downtown) of New Media BC

It should be out within the week. You can subscribe to NMBC’s podcasts at feeds.feedburner.com/nmbc

Raincoast Books Podcast, Edition 1

We launched the new podcast series for Raincoast Books today, featuring author Jim Lynch and his book The Highest Tide.

Raincoast is a great company to work with, and getting a chance to meet and speak with Jim Lynch was a real treat.

We’re using Feedburner for the Raincoast Books podcast feeds.

Have a listen and subcribe here. You can also find them in the podcast section of iTunes, just do a search on Raincoast. Please tell your friends !

Snowing on Cypress

Had a great morning snowboarding on Cypress yesterday. Planning on heading up again tomorrow morning for a few quick runs. It’s been snowing there all day and well below freezing so things should be great.

Spent the afternoon at the Vancouver Art Gallery where they’re showing some Picasso etchings and a few paintings.