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Jody H.

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Experience: Travel, Computers & Technology

Member since February 2016

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4 Reviews by Jody

7/21/18
An Open Letter to Satyan Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
Dear Mr. Nadella,
As the CEO of Microsoft, I think you should be aware of how your support staff deal with clients and how frustrating it is to try to recover an account because of a typo. As a writer/editor/on-line English teacher my world has come to a halt when my account was suspended.
Tuesday 17 July 2018 started as a good day. Then I tried to renew my Office subscription -- it had expired while I was in the process of settling in Ecuador and everything turned to confusion.
After five days of unreturned phone calls, unanswered emails, and rejected account recovery forms I figured out the problem. Somehow I managed to get a typo. So the correspondence from Microsoft went to that non-existent address.
Since there is an option to fix the address I am obviously not the first nor likely the last to make that mistake. However, after too many attempts to count, the Microsoft system still wouldnt accept the correction. Could you please have your technical people fix that problem?
When I tried to get a call-back I was told my phone number didnt exist. Live chat was a waste of time.
The problem is that your front- line people can not do anything except babble the same jargon. I received a series of messages to a gmail account in Spanish telling me that my application didnt meet the requirements whatever they may be.
One thing is that the credit union where I deal in Canada changed Mastercard companies in May, 2018. No, I do not have the old account number.
Instead of going around and around in circles, why doesnt Microsoft establish what they will accept as legitimate? How about a copy of my passport? A scan of my social security number? My maternal grandmothers maiden name? These are tangible pieces of evidence rather than the idiotic questions like How much was your last Skype purchase? Really, as though I would remember the exact amount and the precise date as it is an automatic deduction.
I am writing to you with the hope that I can have my Microsoft account restored. Otherwise, Microsoft will litter my gmail-inbox with more messages in Spanish --saying that I cant prove I am the owner of this account.
The case number is *******726, My telephone number is 593-999-69-08-77 and my email address is as above.
I am in Ecuador with family and friends wondering why I havent called. Frustrating and totally unnecessary if Microsoft put a second level of real identification in place that could be dealt with in person, rather than another form letter. Some human interaction would go a long way to solving technical issues.
Thank-you for your help.
Sincerely,
Jody Hanson, PhD
4/25/18
An Open Letter About How to Avoid the Aggravation of Teaching at WOWTalk

Dear Brandon Wang,

My apologies for taking so long to thank-you for suspending my account. Frankly, it was the best thing that happened since I started working at WOWTalk.

The students were wonderful to work with and I had a collection of regulars. Further, my evaluations were exceptionally high, indicating that they appreciated me as a teacher.

Your process of management-by-bullying, I suspect, is going to be detrimental to the company as the teachers will leave.

Thank-you again for suspecting my account. I have been so busy working with my new writing job that pays considerably more and which I am enjoying so much.

Still, it was tardy of me to wait so long to write as I have already used the WOWTalk contact as scrap paper.

Regards,
Dr. Jody Hanson
CC-ed to the following sites
Facebook

Glassdoor Review of WOWTalk
https://www.glassdoor.com//employ/collectReview_input.htm

Pros

The student at WOWTalk are serious, hardworking, and a pleasure to work with. After only a few weeks I had a group of students I regularly worked with and got to know as people.

My classes were always booked well in advance. And my evaluations were very high.

Cons

The best way to avoid the aggravation of teaching at WOWTalk is to find another school. The salary is low -- $14 an hour and there are a lot better places to teach out there.

The academic administrator is the worst bully I have ever encountered in my many years of working. He regularly suspends accounts without notifying the teachers. And if the Internet is down, the teacher is responsible. He has the administrative skills of a wombat.

Emails that come out of the administration at WOWTalk are generally bordering on illiterate.
The provided materials are an embarrassment to use as they are littered with mistakes. They have never been edited by a native-speaker. Consequently, there is a box to screen-shot the mistake and then pass it on to administration.

To correct all the mistakes in the average lesson would require more time than planning the lesson, delivering it, and completing the follow-up. This is all expected to be done as a free service.

Advice to management
Get the materials properly edited. It is embarrassing when advanced students ask if the mistakes were put there on purpose for them to find.

Tone down the Rambo style administration and develop a writers manual. Yelling at people and not listening leads to very bad administrative practice that will seriously damage the reputation of the company.
8/30/17
Greetings. My trip -- June 26 to July 14, 2017 -- from Medellin where I live to visit my 83-year old mother in Canada was one from hell.
First of all, there was a delay from Bogota to Toronto of six hours which turned into nine. I asked for a complimentary pass to the lounge. Since Im a writer, I need space to work and an area where I can concentrate.
The woman I was talking with couldnt make a call, so she asked her supervisor who couldnt do it either. The Air Canada staff in Colombia seem to have the collective decision-making power of an ameba.
Giving me a pass to the lounge would have cost Air Canada a bit of food and drink, but I would have been a happy flyer. Instead I was given a voucher for 25,000 about $12 CAD for lunch. There is no way you are going to get fat on that at airport restaurants.
Vouchers for dinner were not available. Instead they showed up with junk food that I would never normally eat. It tasted about the same going down as it did coming up.
On the return flight, I ended up with a window seat. I always want aisle seats and had done so when I booked the ticket on January 24th, 2017. The ticket was changed three times. More annoyance.
It was a full flight so I ended up stuck with the window. Consequently, I went 33 hours with no sleep. It took me about three days to recover when I got back to Medellin.
I contacted customer service a number of times. Eventually, they sent me a code to claim a discount. The offer of a 15 percent discount on my next flight simply doesnt cover the problems I encountered with Air Canada.
I originally wrote this letter to Michael Stein from customer service, but it was merely a no-reply email address with the discount code.
When I called again and all the agent could advise was that I contact customer services, I decided that it was time to by-pass them and go directly to the top. Since customer service couldnt give me anything more than a no-response option, I decided to turn this into an open letter.
I think a reasonable reimbursement would be a return ticket from Medellin to Saskatoon, a complimentary upgrade to business class or 25 lounge vouchers.
Cut and copied below is an article I wrote for The Travel Itch about my experience with Air Canada in 2012.
Thank-you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to hearing from you.
Regards,
Jody Hanson
Also posted on:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jody.hanson.5070?hc_ref=ARQQyR0_Nk_YDWvbsiKofblAP_wYlWbSywDIJmGNMrWYEW3MR67RSPsn14P7Ilkz7N8&fref=nf
Twitter -- https://www.facebook.com/jody.hanson.5070?hc_ref=ARQQyR0_Nk_YDWvbsiKofblAP_wYlWbSywDIJmGNMrWYEW3MR67RSPsn14P7Ilkz7N8&fref=nf

Stuck with Air Canada:
62 Hours from BOG to YXE
By Jody Hanson
If you are on the Air Canada flight to Toronto, come with me. Tim Bridges, a passenger, took it upon himself to go through the airport and muster the passengers of the cancelled flight 963 from Bogota to Toronto.
The benign chaos reminded me of living in Nigeria. The first indication of a flight being delayed or cancelled was the airline staff quietly going into hiding, as nobody wanted to cop the flack.
But this was Colombia and if it hadn't been for Tim taking charge, people may well have been stuck in the airport overnight, afraid to leave in case the flight was finally called. The frustration was that there were no Air Canada representatives to be found, no announcements, and no attempt to locate the stranded.
To backtrack, when I left the hotel at 10:30 a.m. there was no message from Orbitz an online booking site that sends messages of a delay. When I checked in at the airport half an hour later, however, an agent at Air Canada announced that the 14:00 flight had been postponed until 17:30 and handed me a lunch voucher. I wished she hadn't.
The Presto restaurant is best described as disgusting, and about the only thing on offer is hamburgers. I was hungry, so I ate one. Bad decision. Almost as soon as the somewhat-off grease hit my stomach it made an upward rebound.
And when food tastes the same coming up as it does going down you know it is truly revolting. It wasn't that there was a shortage of restaurants at the airport; the issue was that Air Canada opted for the most el cheapo one available.
When I got to the Star Alliance lounge and checked my email I found six messages from Orbitz, each stating that the flight had been further postponed. The final projection was for 22:13, a mere eight hours and 13 minute delay. Still no contact of any kind from representatives of Air Canada.
I used Skype and talked with Linda at the Air Canada help desk in Toronto. She informed me that the airline was awaiting inbound equipment. Neither of us could figure out what that meant.
I inquired about the flight at the lounge desk and the staff replied there was no word from Air Canada and they weren't answering their phone. Eventually I went to the desk with the "flight cancelled" message on the laptop screen. Shortly after, Oscar finally an Air Canada representative who was helpful appeared and we were taken to the Holiday Inn at about 20:00, six hours after the flight should have departed.
Nothing makes people bond faster than a common unpleasant experience. Rumours about what had happened abounded. The leading contender was that the flight had left for Bogota, but a passenger had gone ballistic so the plane had returned to Toronto. The runner-up was that it was mechanical problems, and trailing in third place was that there had been a storm.
The mute representatives from Air Canada would not offer an explanation. Did they know or does Air Canada management regard reasons for delays as corporate secrets?
Landed with a couple of hundred or so it seemed unexpected guests, the staff at the Holiday Inn were overwhelmed and kicked into a go-slow mode. After procuring a room and having a fast shower to wash away the grime of the airport, there was only one sane and reasonable thing to do: Go to the bar and drink Scotch.
Our flight was rescheduled for the following afternoon at 14:00, 24-hours after we were to have departed. The line-up was ridiculous and the check-in speed next door to dead stop. The bumped passengers and the ones booked on the flight for the day milled around. Boarding cards were replaced and we eventually ended up in the waiting area, hoping the plane would actually leave.
And we all had a story. Danielle Gutstein reported that the night before she had been told to wait here for food vouchers for dinner.
Then the representative from Air Canada disappeared and didn't return for three hours. And when she was spotted given away by her uniform she made a studious attempt to avoid the passengers clamoring for her attention.
Another passenger and her fiancé had come in from Lima to catch a connecting flight and never wanted to stop in Colombia, as they had heard it was too dangerous. They ended up with an extra passport stamp they hadn't counted on.
The scheduled-for 14:00 plane didn't leave Bogota until 15:10. Even though my math skills are questionable, it didn't take rocket science to figure out that with an hour and a half to make my connection to Saskatoon, it wasn't going to happen. Consequently, I had to spend a night in Toronto. And totally reprehensible was that Air Canada selected hotel didn't even have a bar for some soothing Scotch.
The Air Canada representative in Toronto booked me on the 16:10 flight to Saskatoon. The next morning I checked online and discovered I could have been on the 11:00 or the 13:00. However, by the time I got through to a representative it took 27 minutes it was dodgy to make the 11:00.
And I would be wait-listed on the 13:00 with no guarantee I wouldn't get to spend an additional three fun-filled hours at the Lester B. International. Pass and opt for a late check-out.
When I finally emerged from the plane in Saskatoon I'd chalked up 62 hours from the time I'd arrived at the airport in Bogota. It was difficult, but I managed to restrain myself and not kiss the ground like John Paul II.
About the only good thing I have to say about the trip is that at least my bags arrived, although both of them were damaged. As an aside, I've quit counting the number of times Air Canada has lost my luggage.
Given my consistently annoying experiences with the airline, the obvious solution is to avoid Air Canada. Alas, when you live overseas, book your tickets online and have to get to central Canada to visit your ageing parents it isn't much of a travel option as the train takes too long.
So let's just hope that passengers like Tim Bridges continue to do Air Canada's job.
Jody Hanson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel junkie currently living in Buenos Aires. She has visited 98 countries, lived in eight and holds passports for three.
2/5/16
Planning an overseas trip? Going to insure with World Nomads – recommended by Lonely Planet – and underwritten by Cerberus? Make sure you tell everyone in your immediate family not to die while you are away.

Because if they are so inconsiderate as to check out while you are travelling abroad, returning to attend their funeral may turn into a major problem. Coping with the paper-pushers at Cerberus is enough to drive you to distraction. Or at least it did me.

When I rang World Nomads on 10 November 2015, I was told I could claim $2,500NZD for my trip to Canada to attend my brother’s funeral. When the claim was processed, however, the amount was reduced to $2,00NZD because my 48 year old brother – who had dropped dead from a heart attack – was deemed to have a “pre-existing medical condition.”

Really, and how did Cerberus get access to his medical records? One reason we – the family and the over 600 people who attended his funeral – went into shock was that he was about as healthy as could be.

The following is the letter I wrote to Hannah at Cerberus. Her reply was another offer to settle for $2,000.

Does Cerberus teach employees how to pick off the scab of grief on a consistent basis? Their obvious approach is to keep battering away until they wear down your resistance so that you will sign off just to get them out of your life.

Happy travels. And don’t forget to tell everyone is your family to stay healthy as you want to avoid the hassle of dealing with Cerberus.

Open Letter to Cerberus

29 January 2016

Hannah,

Why does Cerberus keep changing the requirements for a bereavement claim? First you wanted a death certificate for my brother who died on 6 November 2015. Sent.

Next it was an autopsy report which I promised to forward when it was available.

When I sent the attending physician’s report that the cause of death was not a suicide, an accident or a homicide you replied by requesting his medical records to prove that it was not from a preexisting condition.

Right, so now you want me to ask my grieving sister-in-law to get a note from the local doctor that my strong, healthy brother who dropped dead from a heart attack didn’t have any earlier coronary problems?

Let me guess. The next demand will be to get his ashes tested to prove he didn’t die from polonium 210 poisoning.

And you come back to me with an offer of $2000NZD if I will sign off on the claim without having to go through the grief of this exercise. And all to save $500?

No. Enough is enough.

Dead is dead and the how, where, why, when doesn’t factor into the grieving process.

Therefore, I expect you to deposit $2,500NZD – as I was told on 10 November 2015 when I called World Nomads – into my account without any further paperwork.

Please let me know when this has been done.

Best regards,
Jody Hanson

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