A morning with Cheche

Waking up at 6:00 AM was very worth it! On my second day of work, we were informed that we will be having a meeting/consultation with Ms. Cheche Lazaro on Tuesday the following week. Honestly, it was a task to conceal my excitement upon hearing the news because I am a BIG fan of Ms. Lazaro. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of our NGO, and she is also the Public Relations Officer and Chairman of the Communications Committee — which was not a surprise at all.

Growing up in the Philippines, television plays a big part of our lives; but it was also quite difficult to find programs that bring quality content. And this is where Ms. Cheche came in, along with other esteemed journalists — to pioneer investigative journalism in the country through Probe and expose several issues in the society, which are often misrepresented or even overlooked by mainstream media. I was also an avid fan of the Probe-produced kids show 5 and Up. My Saturday afternoon was not complete, unless I watch those English-speaking kids on ABC 5 (now TV 5). I was just amazed of their eloquence because, it took me years as a kid to build confidence in my spoken English.

Anyway, my colleagues and I met up at exactly 8:00 AM in our headquarters in Pasay, then left past 8:30 AM to visit Ms. Lazaro’s house in Forbes Park. First, her house was amazing and I still could not believe I would be meeting her in person. We got in and somebody from one of the rooms came out barefooted in her house clothes. It was her. She gave a cheery welcome and ushered us straight away into the dining hall (room is an understatement). Before jumping the gun on the agenda of that meeting, Robyn and I were introduced to her, as we were obviously the newbies in the NGO. Again, I had to shake myself out of this surreal experience — I was seated right across Cheche Lazaro! LOL I seldom fawn over famous people, and I don’t even consider her a ‘celebrity’ celebrity. She is a mover and a shaker and hopefully shaking her hands might have rubbed off some of those magical dusts that she have, and hopefully landed on me. =D

She's one of my childhood heroesTEAM STRIPES! My colleagues with Ms. Cheche Lazaro

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First day

We had two alarm clocks on but I still failed to wake up at 6:45 AM. I had a little trouble sleeping last night as I kept on waking up every hour. It was that same, familiar I used to have before a day of a field trip when I was young or before a cheerleading competition — exactly the mixture of nervousness and excitement I was talking about yesterday.

Ready for my first day

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Anson’s and Abenson’s fail: appliances nightmare

Who would have thought that acquiring appliances, whether free or paid, can end up being a total headache. And our unfortunate experiences were not even limited to a single appliance store. Following an email sent to us by the organizers, Mon and I went with a couple of officemates to Abenson’s Avant to claim our prizes. We took our dinner break as the perfect time to claim them, as we thought that it won’t take that long just to retrieve already-reserved items. We were absolutely mistaken.

I was itching to call the customer service at 09209328523 - Abenson's Avant in Greenbelt

We got there just fine, but we were made to wait for almost two hours. My rice cooker was nowhere in sight, as well as Mon’s oven toaster. The staff who attended us gave Mon his digital camera. It was not the exact model indicated by the organizers, and the lady took the liberty of choosing a supposedly better than the intended model, with the same price. (We just found out when we got back in the office that she gave a lower model and it was actually cheaper as well. Tsk tsk.) There were also missing sandwich makers and blenders. LOL We knew that we did not even pay for them, but it was just unimaginable that an appliance store located in one of the prime locations in Metro Manila, would be so lacking in quality service. Those of us who got their prizes on the spot, still had to wait for thirty minutes, and had to sign receipts after another (e.g. Jenny signed five receipts, even if she were only claiming two items). For the unfortunate ones, we were promised that they will deliver our items in the office, just to compensate with the bad service.

It did not stop there, though. When Mama visited us last Tuesday in Makati, she went with us to Anson’s – Makati (the one across from Landmark) to buy our personal refrigerator. We just needed a small one because of our limited space, and we had our eyes on a Sanyo model because I have measured its designated space, and it would fit inside, with only about an inch on both sides.

Our new but problematic refrigerator

We did not test the refrigerator in the store, but we immediately did so once we got back in the apartment. We followed the directions in the manual for the first usage instructions and it worked properly, with the freezer having a thin layer of frost within the twenty minutes. But as we had to go home in our respective houses the same night after work, there was no use keeping the refrigerator on as it does not have anything inside.

Fast forward to going home after Wednesday’s shift, I was excited to plug the refrigerator again, hoping to drink a cold glass of water for a change, because we have been drinking not-so-cold ones for a couple of days already. I even put water in the ice cube maker, hoping to try its freezing power. So imagine my shock when Mon woke me up the following morning and informed me that the freezer did not freeze at all. In fact, there was not even the slightest trace of coldness inside. I still haven’t taken my first cup of coffee but the alarming news was a jolt better than that.

I left the manual in the office, so I just called Anson’s customer service from what I searched online. Nothing happened with that call, so I just went back to their store and personally complain about a defective unit. What puzzled me was that I was informed that their procedure for cases like this would be to wait for their home service team to personally inspect and ‘repair’ the item in our apartment, and after looking at it, replace it with a new unit. I did not bother contesting this development, but I was not too happy with the schedule being on Monday as I will be starting my new job that day.

I got in the office, talked to Faye and she gave sense in me that Anson’s reason was, well, irrational. Had I bought a microwave oven and found out two days after that it was a defective unit, I can carry the unit back to the store and ask for an outright replacement. Why can’t the same thing be true for a refrigerator? Sure it was bulkier than a microwave, but our defective unit clearly deserved an outright replacement as well. So after placing a call back to the store, I was informed that I can actually bring the unit back and they will replace it. Why haven’t they told me of the same thing when I was physically there two hours ago. >_<

So after all that happened, the refrigerator got replaced and the freezer was already frosting in the first three minutes. I am admittedly not too happy with these unfortunate experiences with both Anson’s and Abenson’s, and I am not looking forward to buying anything from them in the near future. If only there was a Western store in the area, I could have bought our refrigerator from them, especially they are known to give out freebies. LOL

Not to be dissuaded by a problematic buyer

One of the first things I have brought inside the apartment was a full-length mirror — something I did not have in our house in Marikina. As we still do not have a closet, all of our clothes are still to be taken out of  our luggages and bags. We also do not have a flat iron, so we just resorted to the old ‘pagpag-and-hagod’ method to sort out wrinkles.

Our nice mirror - PLAY by Comme des Garçons shirt,  brick pants, Red Wing 2913 boots and green Prada tessuto robot tote

Last Friday, I was shocked to see that an item sent via Registered Mail, which I thought to have been lost in transit to a buyer in Netherlands, suddenly showed up as “Item Delivered” in PhilPost’s online tracking. It has been almost a month since I sent the item and as the online tracking was under maintenance for weeks already, I was left with no choice but to refund the buyer. My mistake because I was too quick to refund her without waiting for Ebay to do so. Maybe I just wanted the whole thing to be over, and I was counting on the buyer’s honesty that she would return my funds back to my PayPal account once she gets the bag. Of course, I was wrong and naïve.

PhilPost tracking showing delivery to NetherlandsMy initial reaction was to dispute the case, but as it was already past the 45-day period to open an appeal, I was left with no other choice but to contact the buyer directly. In my email, I have informed her about the online tracking showing delivery, and if it was okay, she could send my money back OR return my item because I cannot NOT have both the funds and the bag. I gave her 24 hours to reply because we live in different time zones, and maybe she was busy with something. Then when I received her reply, she mentioned that she was preoccupied (for three weeks, huh?), that was why she was unable to give a feedback about the bag. The catch was, she did not like the bag because it was too small, has several scratches and the leather was stiff. Hmmm… I have disclosed all information in the auction description so I did not get why she was just telling me that when I already contacted her. As a buyer myself, my initial reaction would be to immediately contact the seller and inform her my dissatisfaction. So why wait for 20 days to react? I guess somebody wanted a free bag.

The worst thing about her reply was she was short of asking money from me so that she can send my item back. The auction description clearly mentioned that in cases of return, the buyer has to pay for return shipping. It was fair enough, considering that as Ebay and PayPal have a 21-day hold on my received funds, I have taken the shipping fee to Netherlands out of my own pocket. Therefor, it was unjust tht I shell out money just to get my bag back.

She did not bother replying until I gave her an implied warning about her school hearing from me, and discussing in full details about her fraudulent online activities. I managed to contact another seller from Slovenia, who received a negative feedback from her on May 5, 2013. I found it too hard to believe that she was busy to inform me of her dissatisfaction, yet she managed to give that poor seller a negative feedback three days after receiving my bag. I think her school administrator would not be too pleased to hear that they are employing a teacher with questionable morals in their school.

I think she got scared after that stern warning, as I flat out told her that all that hassle was not worth it — all of that for a bag. So in the end, she ended up shouldering the return shipping and eventually sent the item back to me. However, she did not mark the item as a “Returned Merchandise” and I have a feeling I will end up paying custom fees for a returned item. In my return policy, I have specified to send the item with the original packaging, but apparently, this seller was intent in keeping a bag and thought she got away after not hearing from me since May 2. What a devious buyer.

A 500g parcel to be sent to US via Philpost's IEMSMoral of the story? Do not use Registered Mail because it takes forever. I am now using International Express Mail Service (IEMS) from PhilPost, and even if it was slightly more expensive, the 3-5 working days delivery time would surely be more favorable against impatient overseas buyer. For instance, a 500g parcel sent to US via Registered Mail cost Php 885 (and Php 1,770 once it passes the 500g mark), while a similar weight via IEMS cost me Php 1,409 (and Php 1,853 if more than 500g). PhilPost’s website is also updated with the fee, and they have the rates printed and inside a clear book so they are definitely accurate. (See link: http://philpost.gov.ph/web/international-mail-rates/) Well, the new batch of items I have sent via IEMS should be received by early next week, but my first experience of IEMS years ago was pleasant. I do hope that my funds get released earlier than the expected 21-day holding period because shipping via IEMS was no dime a dozen!

P.S.

Mama, Kuya and Ate Ja visited our apartment today, and I was so happy they thought our unit was fair enough! ^_^