Sunday, 22 July 2012

Snapshot Sunday: Cottage Holiday

We just got back from spending a week up north at a rental cottage. Lots of fun was had by all. Here are some pictures of the kids...
All 3 kids in one picture and it's not too bad! Amazing!

A little sun, sand, some water and wheels and Carter is a happy boy. 
I'm not as old as I fact, I'm the middle child.
See, I just lost my tooth. Hope we're not having corn on the cob for dinner.

Cutie pie.

Whatcha lookin' at?

Oh...your sister. Good job, Taylor!

Looking good, Carter!

Big B had fun too! He loved swimming and going for boat rides.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Call Me Maybe

Carter with his repaired talker and the loaner.
I've been thinking about the fact that I never wrote a blog post with an update about the repair of Carter's talker.

(It got dropped on the floor in April and needed to be repaired. If you missed my post about it you can read it here).

I think I left off with a short update which told of how the Ontario technician could not fix the talker so it was to be shipped to the U.S. for repair. Three weeks later, the talker had not arrived at the U.S. company. I was less than impressed (read more about that here).

Things could have been very different if someone had shown some common courtesy and called with an update on the status of the repair. Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

I ended up writing a letter to the president of the company here in Canada to let him know that I was not pleased with the service we received.

Here's the letter:

May 29, 2012.

I am writing to express my concern about the customer service we have received to date from XXXXX with regards to the repair of my son’s Vantage Lite.

Early in April I reported to your service manager that we were experiencing problems with my son’s device. Our Vantage Lite was then shipped to Kenora, Ontario for repair on April 4th.

After being without the device for ten days, I followed up with your service manager to find out when the device would be returned to us. I was informed that it needed to be shipped to the U.S. for repair. At that point your company sent us a loaner device which we very much appreciate and continue to use at this time.

On May 7th I followed up with (U.S. Company) about the status of our device. I was informed that a call number had been set up on May 2nd and that they had not yet received our device. The following are some questions and concerns I have about the situation:

The loaner device was shipped to us on April 19th. It was determined prior to the 19th that our device needed to be shipped to the U.S. for repair. Why did it take until May 2nd, two weeks later, for a call number to be set up? Where was our device from April 19th to May 2nd?

It has now been three weeks since I contacted (U.S. Company) and I have not heard anything from anyone about what is happening with my son’s device.

What prevents your customer service manager from informing us about the status of the repair?

Today I placed another call to (U.S. Company) and was told that they have the device but it will be a further 3 to 4 weeks before my son’s Vantage Lite is looked at for repair. After expressing my concern to the (U.S. Company) representative about already having been without the device for the month of April while XXXXX tried to sort out the repair, he promptly said that the device would be looked at today or tomorrow. Why did I have to inform him that we’ve now been without our device for over 8 weeks?

 Customer service is usually top priority in business. When dealing with products that affect people’s lives so greatly I would think that keeping customers informed and satisfied would be your main concern. I’m disappointed to say that I do not feel that has been the case in our situation.

It is my hope that in writing this letter, others may be prevented from having to experience these same issues.

I thank you for your attention.

I found out later that Carter's talker was shipped from Ontario to B.C., and then to Ohio. I'm struggling to understand why they would ship it out west instead of sending it directly to the U.S. Probably some company policy (one that makes no sense and should be changed) but it explains where Carter's talker was for over two weeks -- in transit. 
Amazing that once I told the U.S. company how long we'd been without the device, they were able to fix it and get it back to us in two days.

I mailed the letter at the end of May. It's almost mid-July and I haven't received a response. It doesn't look like I'm going to get one at this point. Frustrating!

But, enough about my anger and disappointment. I've decided to take a different approach.

Carly Rae Jeppson has a popular song out right now called, Call Me Maybe -- if you haven't heard it, click the link and have a listen. I revised the lyrics to her song. My lyrics tell the story of what happened with the repair of Carter's talker.
 Call Me Maybe

I sent C's talker that fell.
Floors and talkers do not gel.
Up north repaired not so well
It will be shipped away.
Must be sent to the U.S.
I called to find that out, yes,
He told me it would be sent
I got no more info.

Your guy was sending
C's talker for mending
You sent one for lending
What's taking so long now, buddy?

How 'bout an update, 'cause this is crazy
Where's my son's talker? Um, call me maybe?
I know that you know, my name is Stacey
You have my number. So call me maybe?
How 'bout an update, I'm going crazy
Where's my son's talker? Um, call me, maybe?
The US company, looked for it - holy! 
Has not arrived yet, where could the thing be?

You sent it 'cross the country
No one bothered to tell me
Three weeks for delivery
And still no one told me
I call and find out myself
They put forth effort and help
The talker's here in two days
With no thanks to you.

Your service needs some
Improvement and then some
Mad mom, who you'll hear from
Who you think you deal with buddy?

How 'bout a response, to my long letter?
You have my address. You should know better.
It's hard to know now, why you'd ignore me.
Customer service, please why don't you see?
I can't believe this, this is crazy.
Your service seems a little hazy.
The US company, tried to make up
For your big blunders, two months is too much.

Carter relies on his talker.
We missed it so bad
We missed it so bad
We missed it so so bad.
I was the crazy mom stalker.
We missed it so bad
And you should know that
We missed it so so bad.

I called and called you, then wrote a letter
Maybe you don't care to make things better.
Your products change lives, for those that use them,
Respect your clients, with communication
It's hard to know now, why you'd ignore me.
Customer service? Just reach out - maybe?

Carter relies on his talker.
We missed it so bad
We missed it so bad
We missed it so so bad.
I was the crazy mom stalker.
We missed it so bad
And you should know that

Some  contact, maybe???

So, what do you think? Should I contact Carly Rae Jeppson and see if she'll sing her song (with my lyrics) to the company president as a follow-up to my letter? Better yet, maybe I'll sing it to him :-)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Hello Summer

Summer is here and that means trying to keep the kids busy.

We will have a holiday at a rental cottage up north in a couple of weeks. Otherwise I'm relying on an old standby to keep the kids occupied and out of each others' (and my) hair, for a few weeks out of this long summer. The old standby? Day camps!

Today was the first day Jack and Taylor attended day camp. I wanted to make sure that everything ran smoothly this morning so that I could get everyone where they needed to be. As we went about our morning routine I recognized that somehow I felt different from previous summers. Then I realized why.

My stress level was virtually normal. Yes, I was concerned about getting everyone out the door and dropped off on time but that was it, that was the only stressor I had.

And that's because...

Carter is not attending day camps this summer! I am free of that dreaded feeling I have experienced in the past when dropping him off to be in the care of someone else.

That feeling is much like the one I had with each of my children on their first day of kindergarten.....but multiplied by a thousand.

To entrust someone else with your child is no small thing. When your child is non-verbal? It's a whole different ball game.

Before Carter had his talker, I was one of only a handful of people who understood his form of communication (an adapted form of sign language and various different gestures).

So, I would supply Carter's camp support worker with an 'All About Me' sheet and a duo tang full of pictures of Carter signing different things (drink, eat, help, etc.). His support worker would then 'study' the information in preparation for her time at camp with Carter. But how can a support worker learn 'All About Carter' from a few sheets of paper and some commentary from his mother? Not possible. Which meant that Carter's day camp experiences weren't always positive.

Carter would never run to see me at the end of camp with stories about activities he'd done or who his new friends were. I was at the mercy of hearing how his day was from his support worker or a camp counsellor or sometimes no one at all if at the end of the day everyone was too busy to talk to me. Hearing that my son's day was 'fine' and that 'he had a lot of fun' was never very satisfying for me. But sometimes, as with my other children, that's all the information I got. The biggest difference being that if asked, my other children would share more details about their day. Carter could not.

Carter's communication has always been the number one challenge when entrusting someone else with his care. So, this year I'm thankful to be without all that worry. No need to research camps and figure out which ones will best suit Carter's interests. No need to find a suitable support worker to attend camp with him. And no nervous stomach on mornings when I'm dropping the kids off.

Instead, I'm feeling at ease because I'm dropping Carter off at a place he is totally familiar with. And everyone there is totally familiar with him. I'm dropping him off at his school three days a week. He'll continue with a familiar routine. He'll continue to learn, and to master new skills in an environment where I don't have to explain and re-explain his quirks and idiosyncrasies, and where I don't have to worry about whether his communication will be understood (in fact, they'll be working to improve Carter's communication skills with his talker - yes!).

Don't fret. Carter will still be having lots of fun this summer. And he will actually be attending camp -- AAC camp! He went last year and had a blast.

Stay tuned for a blog update in August. I'll be sure and share about his AAC camp experience.