This fall I wanted to share some of the more frugal uses I find for my fall items. So since we just finished Halloween, I thought I would start with pumpkins. Every year my daughter likes to do a jack-o-lantern. She finds a pattern online and goes to town. We scrape out the seeds and insides. We roast the seeds, and the guinea pigs like the stringy pulp that many times gets thrown out. We wait until a day or so before Halloween for Erica to carve it. As soon as she is done with it, I bake it down and use the fruit for a pie or pumpkin bread or the sort. The bigger pumpkins are not as sweet as the pie pumpkins, but that is easily fixed with just a little extra sugar. The rind after baking usually gets thrown out on the garden to compost over the winter and get tilled in when spring comes.
We also always go shopping after Halloween and look for the party favors. I put those away for next years "beggars night" as we call it around here. Again this year, I bought a lot of the decorated pencils at half price. The last time we gave those out, they were a huge hit and I didn't have nearly enough. They were gone before most of the candy was touched that year. This year the weather was icky, Hurricane Sandy was making her appearance on our beggars night. So I have a lot of left overs that will be held to next year. Mini puzzles, animal planet tattoos, small coloring/activity books. I also picked up some stickers this year. I always do pick up a bit of candy when the time comes, and sometimes I pick up some of the McDonalds coupons for free items, but picking up these party favors at half price saves me a ton on those years we have 300 kids! Usually I allow them to pick two items and many children will pick the party favors over candy. I wish I had found pencils last year, because the year before I ran out of them in a hurry. This year, I think they had fifteen 12 packs when I made it to the store. These were .48 cents each. That works out to around .04 cents a pencil. Far cheaper than the candy costs each year. Of course there are kids who pick two candies and that is fine, I don't need all that left over anyway!
I also wanted to talk a little about Customer Service Issues in this post. I am a huge believer in the customer always being right. But, having worked in CS, I can tell you that in this day and age that sometimes customers can be downright rude!
Over the past few days, we have had some issues with Beloved's sattelite radio. Being in the truck so much, he counts on it. Without it, one has to change music channels all the time going from city to city and such. But he has had that problem for the year that he has had this radio in a way even with it. It picks up an FM frequency with your vehicle radio, and if you hit an area that uses that frequency for a station, the station overpowers it and you have to change it. Beloved keeps looking for ways to be safer, so he wanted to get away from changing the settings for each unit. So his truck radio had a cassette player, so we bought a cassette adapter in order for the cassette to run the sat. radio right to the stereo. But it wouldn't work. We assumed the tape deck in the truck was bad. So we picked up another stereo for the truck that had the AUX adapter on it. With the radio plugged in, it wouldn't pick up the satellite correctly. It picked it up, but with the volume all the way up you could just barely hear it. Between us, Beloved and I called them four times. Got hung up on three of the four, and never got the issue fixed. He came home, I took my sat. radio out (he bought it for me for the house my last birthday because living in the boonies we don't get reception here well). Mine worked fine out there. The easy answer would of course be to switch units, but he has the NFL package on his for his football, and his won't work on my unit for in the house without me buying a new unit. So today he bit the bullet and called again. Only this time, he ended up calling the line to cancel his subscription. He basically told them that if he couldn't use it as safely as he felt needed in his semi because it wasn't functioning right, he didn't need the service. The person looked up the account and saw all the calls in the past couple of days and wanted to know if they solve the issue would we keep it? Of course we would he told them, that is after all what we really wanted anyway..... A solution! Well finally the nice man got us one! He looked up our account and saw what he was allowed to offer us. He then offered us a HUGE discount on a new kit. It was less than buying a refurbished one, and the refurb would not come with the cables and such just the unit. On top of that he offered us free shipping, and waved the charge for switching the service from one radio to the other, since they normally have a fee for that.
The moral of the story is that sometimes you get a great CS agent, other times you just can't buy a good one. But keep trying and above all, BE NICE! You may have had issues with the last CS person, but you are now talking to a new one who was not part of that problem. If all else fails, first ask for a supervisor. If you can't get a supervisor, try to get a retention specialist. But remember that you want help from them, so it pays to be nice to each person you talk to. CS people as a rule have a tough job, and if you can be the one person that is easy to work with, they will want to be easy to work with also.