Saturday, August 31, 2013

And then there was Réal Giguère

Yesterday's rage against the bank (which woke me briefly from my blogging hibernation) was quite happily tempered by the complete opposite service experience of getting my television repaired by Réal Giguère.  Well actually, it was by his two sons.  The business has been fixing televisions in the Plateau since 1955, but Réal himself passed away twenty years ago and now his sons run it.  They are a perfect example of what makes Montreal such a great city to live in. There still exists small service stores where knowledgeable, friendly, local people provide quality work and quality customer service.  They are not locked into some strict set of national policies.  They can make decisions on their own.  They know their field and can give you a wide range of advice.  And it can actually be a pleasant experience.

The whole thing started with me being an idiot. We moved into a new place with cable outlets everywhere.  I tested one out, found it worked and then went to another one that was in a different location.  It didn't work, so I moved the TV back.  Except I forgot to unplug the cable.  Like Big Moose, my stupidity is offset by incredible physical strength and I ended up ripping the cable port right out of the television.  Though we usually watch stuff via the computer (which is connected via HDMI), the loss of cable was big.  We use over the air HD and you need to connect the antenna through the co-axial cable port.

I got the TV to Réal Giguère on Wednesday.  The place is a flat building with curtained windows butting right up onto Marie-Anne.  It is so full of televisions and television parts, that there only is a narrow trail from the front door to a slightly more open space where the phone and cash register are.  They have decades of televisions and TV parts.  They also rent old TV sets for use in movie shoots, which must be a nice niche business to have.  They also sell new TVs and said they have very competitive prices, but I have no idea where they could possibly keep them, as there is nothing on display, let alone a showroom.

I dropped the TV off.  One of the brothers told me that they would call the next day to let me know how long the repair would take and how much it would cost.  What I found also funny was that before they had done the diagnosis, they said that if the repair would take a while then they could offer me a loaner.  The question was "is this your only television?".  I guess for some people a TV is like a car or stove, essential to their existence.

It turns out they see a lot of cable ports ripped out.  I guess I am not the only one. Usually it's just the metal housing that gets broken and they can sauter that back on.  Unfortunately, in my case, I had actually broken a chunk of the circuit board right off and they would have to replace the entire module.   Fortunately, they had that very module in the store, housed in a TV in the same line as mine, but with a broken screen.  Entire cost to me was $150+tax.  I have no idea if this was a good price, but with my experience in getting other A/V stuff fixed, I suspect it is.  They said that ordering the module new would have cost $500.  Can anybody out there confirm that?

So I went over and paid up.  When one of the brothers was going to get the TV, I told him not to rush because I had to call a cab.  They asked where I live and then said, no problem, my brother can just take you over there.  We had a decent conversation about television repair and Syria on the way to my house.

The entire experience was efficient and pleasant, with excellent customer service by a couple of brothers who know their stuff and do good work.  As someone who is concerned about waste, I was also very satisfied that I could use an existing part from a defunct TV rather than ordering a new one.

Réal Giguère
828 Marie Anne E, Montréal, QC H2J 2A8 ‎
(514) 523-2348 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fuck the banks and fuck Laurentian Bank in particular

The Chihuahua of Justice shits upon you Laurentian Bank!
I remember twenty years ago opening a chequing account at a local credit union in Portland and what great service I got. Not just from the individuals who worked there, who were excellent, but also from the generally reasonable policies of the institution.

Today it is just all about scraping the poor and middle class for everything they can while treating their customers like total shit the entire time.  Record-making profits year in and year out for the Canadian banks, but if you bounce a cheque you have to pay them $47.  FORTY-SEVEN DOLLARS!!! That's like someone's food for a week.  When you ask them about it, they go on and on about all the work they have to go through and how much it costs them to "process" the bounced cheque.  We all know it's horseshit.  The same "processing" time it takes them to put the actual money in your account when you deposit a cheque.  Meanwhile, they are scouring free interest off that deposit, while you don't see any of it.

I had to open a new account recently and it has been nothing but pain and bureaucracy every step of the way.  The stupidest policy after the stupidest policy and sheep-like employees who have no power to make any decisions.  Their excuse now is new federal security laws.  Just one more way that this bullshit war on terrorism screws the people over.  We didn't even want to open a new account, just simply take one person's name off and add mine instead.  But oh no supposedly that is no longer allowed.  It has to do with people hiding money or something.  Um, is the bank not capable of maintaining a record of all the names on an account?

Even more maddening is how Laurentian Bank has clearly recently hired some PR company to do a big rebranding.  So you get these fake friendly sentences in handwriting font scrawled all over their ATM machines.  With the account, I got this huge book with chapers (in the same font) entitled "Take hold", "Seize the day" and the best "operate freely".  Yeah, those are the things I am trying to do except for I have to spend a fucking day and a half of my life just to open an account with you.

All I wanted to do today (after the weeks it took us to even get this account opened), was to get internet access to my account.  For some reason, they are not capable of just giving it to you when you open your account.  You have to phone them (a teeny hell in and of itself since there is no option for internet access in their phone tree).  And guess what?  I got negged on my security question.  I found this out after waiting on hold for 10 minutes.  Somebody wrote my birthday down wrong and now I have to go back to the bank (with two pieces of ID) to fix that, then phone them again.

And guess what, their website is going to suck.  I've already had the pain of dealing with 2 different Canadian banks websites and they are embarassingly bad.  National Bank is clunky, looking like it was made in 1997, but it is more or less straightforward at least.  Desjardins, that acts like it is the pride and joy of Quebec, is just a joke, a total mess where it is impossible to do anything.

All the banks suck, that is for sure.  But so far Banque Laurentide has been the worst.  Don't go there.

So fucking outraged right now.  You fuckers in the boardroom owe the people of Canada some answers.