Anything made with baked milk!
- Korovka Baked Milk Biscuits
-Korovka Fairy Tale Roll Cake
-Forest Fairy Honey Peanut Delight
I enjoyed this month's Universal Yums box so much that I almost forgot to make this post! I will be honest, I really didn't know what to expect from this box; apparently my knowledge of Russian food culture is extremely lacking because I was very surprised at how wonderfully sweet their desserts are. I could eat everything everyday from this box (except the rye snacks... those were not to my taste at all), and I will be looking for many of these items at our local specialty shops for sure!
Click through the pictures below for treat-by-treat commentary
For our Russian care-package, we would gladly accept:
Anything made with baked milk!
- Korovka Baked Milk Biscuits
-Korovka Fairy Tale Roll Cake
-Forest Fairy Honey Peanut Delight
Already this is a strange post for those of you who know me well. NaNoWriMo? Sure, you knew it was coming and shouldn't be surprised at all. Well, maybe a little bit surprised about my doing it with a one month old and nearly three year old toddler, but then you'd also realize that the crazier it seems, the more likely I'd be attempting it.
No, the part that has you boggled is the coffee. "But," you might begin to ask, "you don't drink coffee?" And that, my friends, is completely true (except, apparently during intense exam marking trapped in a little room in June for 6 straight hours, then I will down all of the ice caps! "But, that's not exactly coffee either," you might say, and you'd be completely right, it's pretty much a chilled melted down Coffee Crisp, which, oddly enough, I don't like eating either, not that I really enjoy the ice cap, it's more of a survival necessity that at that point...
But I digress... This post is intended to be celebratory, encouraging, and a little bit pathetic. So let's begin with celebratory!
I am 4 days into NaNoWriMo and have fought my way to being 2 full days ahead of the expected word count! Much rejoicing! Secondly, do you remember any of my mentioning on pretty much every media platform that I wanted to put together a parent-writer write-in where there was on-site childcare? Well, it is done. I have a venue, and I have a few willing participants. Every Monday for November I will be taking up my post, ready to greet other writers who struggle to attend regular writing events. This is a huge achievement for me; I threw an idea out into the world and I made the world respond!
You might also be aware that I performed a pretty sudden social media disappearing act this past year. I had a surge of writerly spirit lift me into a variety of writing support groups, and then I noticed that my writing dried up, and then so did my participation. So this is where you come in. Writing is a very isolating activity. And outside of NaNoWriMo, it can feel like a fool's errand - and let's face it, NaNoWriMo is already a pretty big fool's errand. I've got two kids to juggle, a husband facing a career crisis, and I'm am going to have to make some pretty important decisions about the future of my own career going forward. I don't want to drop the writing ball again. I want to bring you more stories. I want to get out with the other writers. I want to meet my readers.
I am going to need help to keep this going. I am going to need your help. I need your help already. I need just a couple of people to take enough interest to ask me how the projects are going. I need just a couple of people to remind me about the parts of my books and stories that you liked; please, gush away and often!
As you've probably guessed, we've already transitioned into the PATHETIC:
Now, before I continue, I need to emphasis that IT IS NOT pathetic to ask for help, but the truth is that it somehow always feels like it is, at least for those of us who would rather trudge though Hell alone than bother anyone with our problems. It's a very vulnerable place, asking people to help you feel that you matter. It's a very vulnerable place asking people to help you get through your day. I hate it. But I hate the silence more.
This is where the Coffee comes in. I have recently signed-up for a page on Ko-Fi, a site that allows creators to be vulnerable and ask for small contributions to help us get through the day or the week, and so it is framed as a cup of coffee. The idea of supporting an artist can seem daunting when you yourself are not as financially secure as you would like to be, but one genius behind this website figured out that when you change the frame, you change minds. I have already given a few coffees anonymously to people I don't know well, but who I've encountered on or offline on a couple of occasions. I personally found it easier to justify, despite my own current lack of income, that I could still afford to buy a good person one cup of coffee. And so I am putting an idea out into the world again and hoping to make the world respond - one cup of coffee at a time.
So I will ask, if you can spare it, for that one cup of coffee, even just one to take with me to my Monday write-in's this month. That's only 4 days. 4 cups of coffee.
And if you need that occasional cup of coffee, send me your Ko-Fi address. Send everyone your Ko-Fi address. We can all spare one cup of coffee.
Tomorrow is a big day for a little person in my life.
This is Rupert. He is 2 years old. He loves music. Loves to dance. Loves to build things. Loves to read and be read to. He is discovering that he likes to sing. He is a new big brother, and despite not liking the idea of having a brother, he has discovered that being the older sibling is pretty neat. He likes to be helpful, especially if it involves earning stickers!
Rupert had a rough start in life. He spent the first 3 months of his life in hospital. Why? Because he was born just a little bit different than other babies.
Rupert has dwarfism, one of the 200+ forms of dwarfism, a genetic mutation skeletal dysplasia that resulted in some of his parts growing in different proportions than other parts of his body. In his case, he ended up with smaller sized chest and rib cage but average sized organs; this made it difficult for Rupert's heart and lungs to expand properly. He also ended up with a smaller sized jaw and an average sized tongue, and so he wasn't able to grow a palate to close the gap between his mouth and his nose.
If you were meet Rupert today, you probably wouldn't be able to guess any of that. Rupert is a happy, healthy toddler, eager to learn and play. He's just small. Most people don't realize that he has dwarfism, until he gets grouped together with children his own age. As he gets older, this difference will get more pronounced. It's hard to predict exactly how tall Rupert will grow or how fast, but it is assumed that his full adult height will be between 3 and 3.6 feet. Looking at his growth chart now, his new-born baby brother is already catching-up to Rupert. By the time the newest edition is 2 year old, I predict that he will surpass his (then) kindergarten-aged brother in height.
Despite no longer having any medical complications, Rupert will still have to face a society that isn't built for him, and, even scarier for me as a parent, a society that doesn't understand that he is just a normal kid.
I don't like to go into too much detail about my children on this blog, but I will make an exception today. You see tomorrow, October 25th, is Dwarfism Awareness Day. I can't change the world for my little boy, but I can try to change the ignorance of one person, and for all I know, that could make all the difference!
If you've read this much, you are already contributing to Dwarfism Awareness Day. There is nothing you have to do. There is nothing to you need to give money to. There is nothing you have to subscribe or run a marathon for. You have participated simply by acknowledging that dwarfism is more common than you might think, and that, really, aside from being a bit smaller, these people are no different than you are. Sometimes there are medical complications, but average height people often use medical support too.
If you want to know more, it is an easy thing to research, and many countries have their own Little People Association groups. Did you know that there is also a global sports competition for Little People? It really is like a mini Olympics, it rotates around to different host countries/cities, and people from all over the world come out to participate and spectate. In fact, a number of dwarf athletes go on to compete in the Paralympics.
World Dwarf Games
If you would like to stand in solidarity with Little People tomorrow, wear green, you could even sport one of this very fashionable green ribbons. I make them for our friends and family, so don't feel like you have to rush an online order; it's just ribbon on a safety pin.
Some Facts About Dwarfism:
Did you know that there is over 200 different types of dwarfism?
You cannot catch dwarfism. It cannot be passed onto someone else like a flu. It is a hereditary and non hereditary condition which can only be passed on through carriers of the mutated gene or developed spontaneously in utero by a genetic mutation of a gene.
Dwarfism refers to a group of conditions characterised by shorter than normal skeletal growth. This shortness can be manifested in the arms and legs or trunk.
Achondroplasia is the most common type of short-limb dwarfism, occurring in around one in 25,000 children in Australia with both sexes at equal risk. This type of skeletal dysplasia (abnormal skeletal growth) is usually diagnosed at birth.
The majority of children born with the disorder have average-sized parents. The child may experience delay developing motor skills, such as controlling the movements of the head, but intellectual development is normal in children with Achondroplasia. The average final height for a person with this condition is 130cm for men and 125cm for women. Short-statured people lead normal, fulfilled lives. Achieving higher levels of education and career and personal ambitions is not limited by stature.
In humans, dwarfism is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches (58 in; 147 cm). Dwarfism can be caused from over 200 distinct medical conditions, such that the symptoms and characteristics of individuals with dwarfism vary greatly. Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by one or more body parts being relatively large or small in comparison to those of an average-sized adult, with growth variations in specific areas being apparent. In cases of proportionate dwarfism, the body appears normally proportioned, but is unusually small.
There is no single treatment for dwarfism. Individual differences, such as bone growth disorders, sometimes can be treated through surgery, some hormone disorders can be treated through medication, and by hormone replacement therapy; this treatment must be done before the child’s growth plates fuse. Individual accommodations, such as specialized furniture, are often used by people with dwarfism.
For people, in addition to the medical aspect of the condition, there are social and sociological aspects as well. For a person with dwarfism, heightism can lead to ridicule in childhood and discrimination in adulthood.
Hypotonia, or low muscle tone, is common in dwarfs, but intelligence and lifespan are usually normal. Defining dwarfism by height alone is problematic because short stature in itself is not a disorder. For example, pygmies have adult male heights of less than 150 cm (4 feet 11 inches) on average.
The word “midget” is considered offensive. It is considered most offensive when misused to describe those with dwarfism. Acceptable words to use are dwarf, little person, person with dwarfism, short stature. But most would like to be called by their name rather than their condition.
In the last newsletter I dedicated October to family. Part of that was giving my husband a shoutout space for his Kickstarter table-top game "Witchful Thinking". While it is his creative brain-child, I have been on this journey with him and have seen this game evolve from a very simple concept to a competitive eye-catching game that stays true to the initial inspiration: to make mental math fun.
While I believed in the game from the first prototype placed on my dining room table, I am astounded by the life that this game has been given thanks greatly to the fantastic art created by Jackson Gee. I am eagerly waiting for the latest prototype to arrive this up-coming week so that I can see these beautifully wicked card designs for myself.
In light of the new prototype on the horizon, I thought that I would revisit the very first version of this card game. So please join me as we look at the original game and compare it to what's in store for Kickstarter backers.
You have to give the original box some credit, for the Paint program, it's pretty darn nifty. At least it's better than anything I could have designed with those little pixels.
Of course, when you look at the teaser picture from Jackson Gee, there is no comparison. Nonetheless, the theme is clear from both. A witchy game for witchy witches.
The Cards - Ingredients
The cards from the original game were very straight-forward. As you can see, there is no artwork just a title and a number value. The Ingredient cards are purple, they are cards that range in value from +5 to -5, as well as Action cards that can change up how a player uses their turn. These Ingredient cards make up the hands of each player, and these are the cards that will be played into the "Cauldron" (a 4 card slot in the middle of your gaming area).
For reasons beyond my knowledge, the Ingredient cards in the Kickstarter have the Green backing... and yes, you will see below that the other deck now has the Purple backing. Why are they switched? I have no idea. Does it matter? Not in the least because your game is epically more awesome to even bother thinking about this MS Paint print-and-play version I have!
The Cards - Potions
The green cards in the early prototype represent the Potion Cards. One of these is played each game, determining the value that players are aiming to achieve. Upon reaching the exact value of the Potion Card, the player who played the final ingredient card to equal the potion value wins the Potion Card. After this, a new Potion Card may be selected for a new game. How many Potion Cards are played is up to the group of players. You can choose to play to a certain number of points (ie. First player to 3 points), or you can play a pre-selected number of Potions (ie. the first 10 Potion Cards), you could choose to play based on a set time (ie. The player with the most won Potion Cards within twenty minutes), or make an epic game of going through the entire Potion deck.
Once again, these cards appear very simplistically in this early draft. Your game will look much more impressive with the awesome illustrations.
And, once again, I don't know why the colours are reversed, but, once again, it doesn't really matter!
Even with the new elements introduced in the Kickstarter version of this game, setting up the game table is pretty straight-forward. Select a Potion for the group of players to play with, and then set room for four cards within reach of all players. The four cards will be the "Cauldron", or in other words, the "Cauldron" will be the four number sequence to create the formula for the Potion value.
Last I played, players put five Ingredient cards into their hand, and then the group determines a play order. First player plays a card from their hand and then may discard and re-draw their hand. Turn order continues until an Action card (or in the new game, an Ability) determines otherwise. Your rulebook will be much more comprehensive than this one:
Extras - Number Line
Even in its earliest conception, "Witchful Thinking" has always been about brining young children to the game table. Even those kids who are just learning about their take-aways need to be able to play independently without being pushed aside as a spectator on a "team". To help those youngsters (and, let's face it, some of us who are a little slow to the draw when it comes to numbers), Matthew included a number line that could be used as reference. Not only does this help to speed up the gameplay for everyone else, but it can help a player strategize on their own privately, especially in the Kickstarter edition where there will be an available number line for each player; even better is that it is cleverly designed as a Spellbook so novice witches don't have to feel self-conscious about practicing their craft!
Extras - Game Changers
I really don't know what to call these. I know that they are listed as "Addition and Subtraction Cards" but that isn't a funky title. These are new to the game concept, and, as far as my knowledge is, they are used to complicate the formula in the Cauldron. You can play one of these cards to adjust how your number sequence goes. Replace a number in the cauldron with one of these cards and suddenly you have a brand new formula. Minus-ing a negative number? Well, now you've got a positive! *Note, I have not played with this feature yet, so I might be corrected on this!*
Extras - Characters
Probably the most impressive part of this game is a feature that did not come about until at least 3 game designs later... Character cards. Because this game was always about learning the fundamentals first, the idea of adding extra challenging strategy lingered in the air for many years. The only way to ensure an inclusive game was to design it to be customizable for each group of players. Therefore the Characters cards, while entirely genius, are completely optional. Got a player who isn't a strong reader or who is still working on understanding the basic gameplay? Don't worry about the cards with added text! You can take out the Action cards. You can take out the negative numbers (but if doing so make sure you only play with Potions of value +4 and up!), and as for Characters, skip 'em, or at least skip the Abilities and just let your little witches choose the picture they like best! This game is meant to evolve with you as you get better at your math skills and need a more competitive edge. Really want to shake things up? Choose a different witch per game at random! Not only will you get a different game experience, but you will have to re-train your brain on how to strategize from game to game (remember that you will probably be playing multiple games during each sitting since each game uses only one Potion card.)
While Matthew is the brain behind the witch characters and their abilities, Jackson Gee gets all of the credit for making them so lively! Honestly, I would read the graphic novel about these wickedly wonderful witches (maybe I should convince my husband to let me write that!).
And if you need some extra incentive to look at becoming a backer on Kickstarter, I may or may not have had a hand in designing a very special, slightly secret exclusive character card... (the only hint I can give you is: it may not be a witch!).
There are 16 unique Characters in each standard game box, each being double-sided with 2 Ability choices to choose from. So if you haven't been won over by the game yet, honestly, these characters are worth it just in art!
How To Play
As I mentioned above, there are many ways to play this game. In my first cringe-worthy video, I will walk you through how to play the very basic early version of this game. The game materials may change, but the game itself is still the same!
The September Universal Yums box arrived much sooner this time, and we were all delighted to begin our Thai adventure! This box was filled with a variety of flavours and textures, and each of us found a great new favourite!
Click through the pictures below for treat-by-treat commentary:
For our Thai care-package, we would gladly accept:
- Tivoli! Seriously, just send a year's supply at a time.
- Sausage Chips!
Damn Facebook and its persistent advertisements! After months of watching taste-testers try snacks from around the world, I finally talked to my family about eating boxes of foreign treats every month. There wasn't much to discuss. It made the decision all the easier since our first order lined up with the UK box. My husband has a few favourite UK treats already so he didn't object to receiving more.
No, we aren't being compensated for releasing a review of these treats or of the Uniserval Yums service, but since I was reviewing tea, why not review these treats too? Plus, it's helpful for me to have a record since I forget things very easily... It might also make for a good source of gift ideas *hint hint*
Click through the pictures below for treat-by-treat commentary:
Dreamy Creamy Toffee: Definitely toffee. Thick, gooey toffee. Hubby loved it; he loves toffee. I liked it; I occasionally enjoy toffee. R got a very small sample but seemed excited about it.
Chocolate Lime Candy: Hubby loves the lime. I do not. I'd take the Haggis chips over these.
Prosecco Fudge: Tastes like sweet fudge. It's ok.
Black Currant & Champaign Toffee: Tastes like a creamy raspberry Starburst.
Treacle Toffee: Tastes like chewy toffee.
Our family UK care package could gladly consist of:
Dreamy Creamy Toffee
Rhubarb Custard Bonbons
and those gross lime candies because my husband is a crazy person...
I have been noticing a trend on Twitter over this long weekend. I don't know if was prompted by a particular comment but it has clearly stirred up some conversation, and for some people, some very strong resentment. Romance.
Literature is gradually becoming more popular in its diversity movements. The industry seems to be more accepting of representation and voices that used to remain unseen and unheard, despite the number of writers who have been striving for generations to find their own diversity included on library shelves. Based on the conversations I've been witnessing, one group is still trying very hard to feel included in the literary world: the asexual.
I know that I come from a place of privilege in that this is not a concern that I was actively aware of. It never occurred to me that even non-bodice ripping representations of amorous relationships might be a point of discomfort for some readers, not in that they have a problem with people coupling, but in that there never seems to be a way out of being surrounded by the image of people coupling. As a young asexual person, being bombarded with an image that everyone but you seems on-board with, might just double that stigma, that feeling of not belonging, of self-doubt, of not living in a world that has room for you.
In solidarity with those who are feeling lost in current media, I tried to be proactive. I went looking for non-romance reading groups and book lists. The funny thing is, when looking for non-romance, the key word is still "romance", and the first 100 or so search results are very bodice-ripping indeed! Not a good start.
Now, I don't know if I have it in me to write an asexual book. I'm not saying that it isn't possible, but I think that I'm pretty ingrained in stories that revolve around relationships one way or another, sex or no sex. That being said, there are books out there, various kinds of fiction, that don't involve "getting the girl/boy" in the plot. Do you think that I could come up with a title for an adult novel that fits this description? Not off the top of my head. And when I look at the book tags on Goodreads, I don't see a non-romance category. At least it hasn't become popular enough to be a searchable category.
In light of this, I made one. It took me seconds to create a new shelf labeled "non-romance", and while I don't have a lot of books to add to it yet, tagging at least one book feels like the start of something. It's hard, I'll admit. Sure I could go through tagging all of the kids' books that I have on my shelves, but I feel like that is less helpful. Somehow it would be saying that sexuality is a sign of maturity and therefore anyone identifying as asexual must not be grown-up enough. There is a clear difference in being pre-pubescent and being asexual. And quite frankly, who is to say that people of any sexual orientation might just want to read something that doesn't feel like a chick-flick?
So here's the pre-requisit I established for myself:
- is it a book that I would recommend to an adult?
- is it a book that includes a sexual encounter, consensual or not?
- is it a book that involves a main character in love, pining, or indulging in any kind of romantic relationship? (Note, this does not mean a book void of relationships. It just means void of love-triangles and winning over the object of affection as motivation for the plot).
As I said earlier, I did not have many titles to add to this category, but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth doing. So I appeal to you booklovers out there, especially if you've got a reader community platform of some sort, please start using a "non-romance" tag so that we can create these reading lists for those who just need a break from the dramatic love plot.
You can see the start of my Non-Romance list here.
There is no need for a romance war. There are enough books for everyone. We just might need help finding the right ones.
I have noticed a trend in my tea consumption the more delicious a tea sounds, the more disappointed I am with it. I don't know if I'm just lowering my expectations overall, if I'm acquiring a taste for watered-down flavours, or maybe I am actually finding something appealing. In any case, this seasonal tea has me almost enjoying myself drinking it.
Verdict: I mean, it still tastes like nothing, but I find it to be a comforting nothing. Limited due to its seasonal nature, but you can bet that I will add this one to my pantry collection as I can.
That makes, what? Three teas that I don't hate? Progress!
I know that I said that I would keep my writing-related expectations low while I try to get back into the game, but after attending When Words Collide this year, I walked out with a calling that I can't seem to shake.
You see, for all of the inspirational panels available this year, about writing, writing communities, beginning the process, getting through the middle, and the "Now What?" stage of completion, I felt that there was still something lacking. Yes, I was inspired to want to write, but even trying to attend these sessions was near impossible as my husband and I play "pass the toddler".
I know that many other people have this child-care thing all figured out (okay, maybe it just feels like everyone else but us has this child-care thing all figured out). We don't have family here that we can just summon over, and my husband has been very dead-set against trying to hire through a service (he is against a lot of hiring of services), and while we do have the little one in daycare, that does not help with any evening/weekend events. So unless one of our childless friends just so happen to not be having a life for one day, it's been between us coordinating who gets to do something while the other is solo parent. I don't even mean going out, I mean trying to get something done for an hour at home. And the more independent our little one gets, the more mischief he gets into. He is really into dumping things right now, just over-turning drawers, boxes, even full cups or food containers, and then moving on to the next thing to dump. And he's fast. I went to put all of his clothing drawers back in his room and then I hear the lego tub being dumped on the floor downstairs... didn't hear the drawers of the art caddy being overturned so that was a surprise...
Toddler chasing, constant pick-up, and being painfully pregnant where the nausea and tailbone pain has been an everyday reality for these past 8 months, has been exhausting. Honestly, I can't even get half of the things out of the fridge without needing to sit down on the floor to see it/grab it because I physically cannot bend most of the time - and then I get to spend 3 minutes trying to get myself back up... So I would consider this to be one of the contributing factors to my lack of writing lately. And because I have the support group of 1, the one I'm married to, it's also very isolating. So I basically have two mentally draining jobs that are totally isolating activities: parenting and writing. Teaching is less isolating but the mental/emotional exhaustion is pretty brutal too.
Part of the reason that I got so active in the Twitter writing chats was to try to feel attached to a writing community again. I'm awkward enough at social events, add an active toddler into the mix and then I'm just parenting in a new environment, which is twice as much work. And even if the in-person writer gatherings are "child-friendly", the truth is that what they really mean is "child-tolerant, provided that we can easily ignore that there are children present." And I don't blame them for that. I can't get work done with my kid to look out for, so why would I expect other people to. And this is being said from my perspective. I actually get a lot of compliments about how well-behaved my kid is when we drag him out in public. It's me who is hyper-sensitive about it. There is no shutting off my parenting brain, and so there is no point to me joining in these activities when I can't really take part in them. And that is defeating and frustrating because it just leads me to perpetuate the isolation. On top of that, to feel both justified and guilty about it. I chose to have a child, it wasn't something sprung on me, and so the consequence is being 100% mom. And yet the world is filled with advice on how to balance these things with easy little changes: wake up 15 minutes earlier, get the kids to bed 10 minutes earlier, pre-plan your weekly meals. Great, that all sounds really great, but it can be a two-hour battle to get my kid down for sleep. My physically being up earlier has never, NEVER, resulted in my brain being up any earlier. Pre-planning meals might sound great, but there's trying to fit in the grocery shopping, having a bunch of leftovers because little one doesn't feel like eating, and I'm pregnant and will just have no desire to eat something that I ate perfectly fine the day before. My parenting life is an organic experience, intended to be based on a routine that is apparently more like the Pirate's Code than actual rules.
Enjoying my parenting rant?
I am. And this has been what has been on my mind lately. I've even burst into tears over it in the car on the way to When Words Collide because it makes me feel like I am neither qualified to be a writer or a parent, and that I'm mentally deranged for even thinking about doing both. And that's not fair. I know that many people who attended the event have children of varying ages. And I'm sure that attendance could have been doubled (if there were double the tickets) if those parents who didn't feel trapped could actually participate with confidence, be present as a writer and not just a guilty parent.
So this is the source of my new-found calling. There has to be a way to have a writing community for parents. Not a write-in where we all rotate watching one-another's children, because, let's face it, that's pretty much just being 100% parent and 0% writer. I want to be able to write without feeling guilty. And then I had an epiphany. What about organizing write-ins for parents where there is already a child-minding service on-site? I don't know why I haven't thought of it before, especially since I know exactly where to find such a space. The community centre across the street from my house has a public library, a swimming pool, ice rink, large gyms, loads of programming, and rentable meetings rooms. It also has a child-minding service available to people who are using the facilities intended for this very purpose, so that mom and dad don't have to choose between going to the gym, or taking that fitness class, or that art social, or whatever else they need to do.
This is my new goal. I want to look into coordinating with the centre, figuring out child-minding hours and scheduling around various events that they host, to carve out some parent writing time. Obviously I could do this easily on my own by just sitting in the library while my child attends the daycare, but I can't be the only person in our vast writing community who needs this opportunity.
I've got about 5 weeks before #2 comes out. I've got 2.5 months before NaNoWriMo begins. I want to do this. I need to do this.
My frustration and sass and since subsided, but this is the post I was asked to write after a few days of social media ranting. I'm over it. It's been resolved (mostly), but apparently others have felt better knowing that it wasn't just them getting screwed over by the same company. So here we go.
Internet. We all seem to need it and yet there are so few sources of it, at least here. It's also not that costly of a resource for a company to grant access to, especially when they hold the monopoly of it as a service provider. And with lack of competition, there isn't much variation on services being promoted. All you know is that as a customer, your rates will inevitably go up, and the other guy tries to entice you over to their plans, which have a great First Time deal, and then will run the same course you just walked away from.
So I took the bait. Our contract was at its end and the ability to have nearly 50% of our bill for the next 6 months was very tempting. So while out running errands, I stopped by a nearby Telus store and asked some questions, trying to determine the catch or hidden costs. Well, my questions were answered and a very helpful lady walked me through the service and contract. I was ready to switch. And without charge my current service would be canceled by Telus on the last day of my contract, ensuring that I got each day that I paid for without rolling into the next month's billing cycle. The installation of the new system, however, was not going to be possible since there is only one installer and he was booked-up until the 9th. "Can you be without internet for a day?" To save $90, yes, we can sacrifice one day of internet. Great. Signed. Entered. Confirmation email received! So why is it that on the 8th, all of my current services were still active?
I submit for your viewership, Exhibit A:
"I have a question about our cancellation with Shaw. It was my understanding that our Shaw service would be canceled by Telus for the 7th (yesterday), however our services still seem to be intact as of [today] with no notice of a cancellation being in effect. Could you please look into this as I do not wish to be charged an extra $90 for using a service one day over our contracted time when our arrangement with Telus assured us otherwise."
Remember that at this point I have no idea where the mix-up occurred. Did the information not get entered? Was my cancelation date forgotten? Or did my current provider just not turn off the switch yet? I'm not angry, but I already know that there are only two possible solutions I am willing to accept: 1) everything has gone according to plan with Telus and thus Shaw Cable needs to remove the issued bill, or, 2) Telus made a mistake and needs to compensate me for what I now owe Shaw.
"Good day! With regards to your concern, it shows that your appointment is August 9 and your disconnection was August 7, which is not possible, as we cannot date the cancellation earlier than the TELUS services installation. Please let me know if you have any other concerns."
Well, Diana, I do have concerns. The first concern being that my original concern of being out an extra $90 wasn't addressed at all by your response. And secondly, you have single-handedly escalated my concerns by stating that A) the information was correctly entered into the system which clearly you have access to seeing, and, B) despite it being in my contract for the past 4 days, it is "not possible." A TERM WITHIN MY CONTRACT IS "NOT POSSIBLE"! Does that not sound concerning to you?!?!
So I submit EXHIBIT C:
"When I went into the Telus store to sign up for the plan, that was the arrangement I was promised. Clearly the Telus policies are not made clear to your workers equally.
I have set out to do two things with this email: 1) To give the impression that I am not happy - which I'm not, and 2) to give customer service a chance to offer to remedy the issue. Note, I haven't threatened yet. I said "if", and "perhaps", meaning that there is still a chance to appease the customer and have this all settled...
"I apologized if you weren't provided proper expectations. With regards to cancellation you can contact 310-2255 and choose cancellation option."
My "personal" Telus representative has washed her hands of me. Sad Face.
Wait a second? Isn't her "personal" number the EXACT same as the generic customer service automated number? Why, yes it is! Which is why I am so glad that I emailed first, because now I have a preserved record of our interactions!
Now I did call the number. There is no extension for Diana, it's just press 1 or 2. Wait time for someone to answer the phone at this point is 1 hour, so I opt to have them call me back. In the meantime, I decide to give the physical store a call. At least someone there answers the phone, but since I worked with a particular worker, they say that I will have to wait until she comes in for her afternoon shift... The race is on to see who will call me first. Giving me, of course, lots of time to update people on various social media accounts...
Generic customer service gets back to me first.
"What can I help you with?"
"I've been told that the arrangement in my contract cannot be fulfilled and now I am going to be billed an additional $90 for using service beyond my contract. So I would like to cancel my contract with you since I have no intention of paying for two internet providers in the same month."
"Can we offer you a $100 credit?"
I know, you're probably wondering why I don't take the credit. Wasn't that something I was willing to take earlier? True, and if it had been offered right away, I might have. But there's something very worrying in that all of this great customer service I was promised could allow me to sign a contract agreeing to terms that were "not possible", that no one intervened with when the contract was being created, submitted, or when the cancelation date popped up. Meaning that if I didn't call, when the hell was my service going to be cancelled?!?! What else is in that contract that "is not possible"? Who is actually going to address my future concerns since it sure as hell isn't going to be my "personal" representative!
Screw the deal! I just want the service I agreed to!
So then I get forwarded to someone in the installation department since I no longer wish to have the installers come. New dude, same conversation. "Can I ask why you'd like to cancel? Can I offer you a $100 credit?"
JUST FORGET THAT I EVER SIGEND THAT STUPID CONTRACT BECAUSE I AIN'T LETTING YOU IN!!!
No, I didn't shout at anyone. I take my customer dissatisfaction persona mostly from Dame Maggie Smith. Direct and unimpressed.
Thankfully that's the last person I need to speak with to get out of this mess. The local store does call me back shortly after, and I inform the lady who made my contract about all that has been taking place. She apologizes but I tell her that I don't blame her at all. Everything we agreed to in-store was in the contact. The dates were entered into the online system just as we had agreed. I apologized to her. It was very clear that the employees wrangling in the customers from the ground are given very little support from their company. Things that are not possible in a contract should not be possible to enter into the database. Things that are not possible in a contract should be part of new employee training. New contracts should be verified by a superior. Details in a signed contract should be honoured on the good faith that their sales people are actually delivering customer service in the true sense of the term.
I guess some companies don't care about reputation.
"At TELUS we’re continually listening to our customers to make your experience better every day. Amazing service, it’s what sets us apart."
...or so they say...
But the story doesn't end here. Oh no!
I get off of the phone and only have time to update my husband on my conversation with the Telus store when his phone rings. Apparently Telus just now informed Shaw that we would like to cancel, so Shaw is checking-in to make sure that's what we want.
"No! No! Don't cancel!"
"Ok. We won't. But please tell me, are you currently satisfied with your monthly bill?"
"Not really, no."
"Can I sign you up for a new 2-year contract that's $30 less, each month, for the whole two years?"
"Why yes you can!"
Happy ending, right?
Remember all of that waiting for a return call? I was posting. I was calling Telus out. So the next day, social media Telus replies:
So I do. A very detailed play-by-play (yes, more detailed than I've laid out here for you, including names, locations, etc.). I would submit more exhibits, but it would actually take about 5 screen shots to complete. Essentially I just said everything that I have already explained to you all.
Telus apologized and wanted to confirm that I went back to my original provider. I said, yes. No attempt was made at explaining to me where my whole Telus experience went wrong, so I pried.
That was August 9th. As of today (August 15th) there has been no response.
I will assume that they have turned their attention to more important things, like hidden cell phone charges.
Ashley Newell, stupendous noveling sensation whom you've probably never heard of...