Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grand & Toy's New Fee

G&T's big announcement: Now more ordering fees!You heard it here first! On top of their $1.00 fuel charge, Grand and Toy is adding a minimum order fee! Any orders under $50.00 will be charged a $5.00 handling fee. This charge adds them to the ranks of Staples and Office Depot, who have always had a minimum order fee.
G&T has done a good job of spinning the fee under the cloak of some environmental initiate.
Order more, less often… hmm, where have I heard that before?
G&T is right though, less orders delivered equals less trucks on the road. Something I have been preaching for years, and why our customers value our single source service (with NO MINIMUM order, I might add).
Read why Costless Express is the better. greener choiceOnly Costless Express can supply Office Supplies, Coffee, Janitorial, Food, Snacks, Milk, Fruit and Furniture all in one delivery. Try that, G&T!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Project Runway's Post-It Challenge

Yes, those dresses are made from Post-It Notes!Ladies, need a new dress for a special occasion? Low on cash?
Follow the lead of the Project Runway Show designers, and fashion your next frock out of Post-It notes! We sell every size and color you can think of. May I suggest the Super Sticky as a safe bet!
Actually, all kidding aside, 6 talented designers created fashion masterpieces out of Post-it Notes and the dresses are being auctioned off to support Breast Cancer.
Here is the lowdown off their website -
Welcome to the Project Runway Canada Charity Auction.
Six Designers from Project Runway Canada were challenged to create an artistic evening gown using many variations of a single innovative product - Post-it® Notes. The designers were paired with women affected by breast cancer, who modeled the creations that are now up for auction to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More From SOCAL

Here are a few more memorable customer service and business (non) brilliance from our SOCAL trip so far.
Universal Studios tram tourUniversal Studios: For those of you who have taken the famous tram tour, do you remember the Subway Earthquake inside the sound stage? The effect that has all the water pour down the stairs and the tanker truck falls thru the roof? Well, as we left the sound stage after the effect, back out into the sunshine, someone pulled the emergency rope and the tram screeched to a halt. The driver proceeded all the way back to the end of the 10 car tram and a few rows from us a lady had lost her sunglasses inside the sound stage. The driver said he couldn't go back inside, due to safety reasons, but he would "call someone". Yeah, lady, that was the end of your sunglasses, I thought. But wait! Not more than 2 minutes later, as we drove up the hot set of Desperate Housewives (Hot Set = filming was actually in progress), a pick-up truck pulled next to our tram and a gentleman raced out, holding a pair of sunglasses! Other riders Ohhhed and Awwwed at the incredible customer service. It was actually quite amazing how the driver could radio about the lost glasses, have someone go into the sound stage and locate the glasses, and then catch up to us in such a short time - all with a smile. Very memorable.
Parked strollersSan Diego Zoo: We had our stroller parked at the entrance to a wild animal show at an outdoor auditorium that held about 300 people. The designated "Stroller Parking" area was jammed, and I was as much to blame, since everyone just parks any which way and heads in. The show was great, but when we came out to get our stroller, every single one was organized in parallel fashion and turned to face towards the exit. Spectacular! Oh, and to my buddy Scott who owns Baby's World: You are in the right business, my friend.
Captain Kidd's sinking fast!Captain Kidd's Buffet: It is amazing what viral information can do to a business. We stayed in a hotel directly outside the gates of Disneyland and there is an IHOP right next door. Also, there is a restaurant called Captain Kidd's Buffet. Before we ever left Vancouver, we had 3 people tell us "Don't eat there!" for all sorts of reasons I won't go into. My point is, a business's reputation is so far-reaching in this world of Twitter, FaceBook and other social sites that, along with old fashioned "word of mouth," it can make or break your success. Sure enough, when we saw both restaurants, Captain Kidd's was sparsely filled, and IHOP had a line up. We ate at IHOP, but also tried The Captain for a breakfast one morning, just to be fair. Mmmmmm… I love IHOP! Check out the comments I found online - some are hilarious!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Eco Tip

Hotel toiletriesHere is my ECO TIP for the day:

Don't take the toiletries from your hotel. Those are mainly plastics that will go to the landfill. Instead, fill small bottles with your own shampoo from home. For some reason, we packed our full size bottles from the shower at home and put them in Ziploc bags. (Ahhh, that's why our one bag weighed 85lb and we were given heck at the airport!) Anyway, I'm proud to say we didn't touch the hotel toiletries.

Perhaps we can all encourage hotels when we stay to source eco-friendly toiletries that use recyclable or biodegradable packaging instead.

I also noticed widespread use of Styrofoam in restaurants down here. Our hotel had a continental breakfast included each morning, but everything is disposable Styrofoam! Plates, bowls, cups — all Styro. The staff was emptying the trash bins every 20 minutes. Why not use that labour to wash proper dishes??

It was sad to see the massive amounts of landfill each day out of just that one restaurant. Actually, I felt quite guilty about our own trash consumption while on the trip. Each time we made a day trip in the car and I cleaned out everything once we returned to the hotel, it was shocking. There was so much trash from drive thru fast food, it was mind boggling. Bags, wrappings and cups for everything. What do you do? "Ya just pass me my BigMac and hold the box?" Maybe I can save my styro plate from breakfast and reuse at lunch?? ;-)


Sunday, March 8, 2009

California's EV Charging Stations

Rusting EV station signOK, now that I told you yesterday's story, I can share today's picture.

Here is a one of the famous Electric Vehicle Charging Station signs that were posted all over California as part of the pending Electric Car boom.

It is eerie and strangely odd why the California Government keeps the signs posted. The last electric car was crushed in 1996.

Optimism? Nostalgia? Naaaah, probably just that no politician wants to have anything to do with Electric Vehicles or lowering emissions. Who would be stupid enough to open that Pandora's box? Just let the signs rust off the posts!

Of note, there is a new resurgence of Electric Vehicles on the horizon. Let's see if we can keep them out of the crusher this time.


Paris' EV Charging Stations

Not to drag on Electric Vehicles, but you just have to see what the French are up to!!!

From a Google Search -

Paving the Way for more Electric Vehicles

One of the main concerns that people have when you talk to them about electric cars and trucks is "where to charge your batteries when you're not at home?". The city of Paris, France, has started to address that by installing many charging stations (some just for electric bicycles, some for cars, and some for bigger trucks and vans) in the city proper and in the near suburbs. But even if the stations are there, they're not very useful if nobody can find them...

paris ev electric car charging stations map image
Image: Google Maps

That's why the city of Paris has decided to create a website with a map of the EV charging stations. Since it's online, it's easily accessible, and it can be updated in real-time.

You can even download PDF versions of maps with the EV charging stations in Paris (pdf), and those in the near suburbs (pdf).


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Who Killed The Electric Car?

I need to tell you this story so I can tell you the next one.

Funny enough, I brought a movie with me so I could watch it (5th time) on the computer after the kids go to bed on our holidays here in SOCAL. Read my handy cut and paste job about the movie below. It is an incredible documentary actually. Read away...................

What would you say if I told you that General Motors (GM) created an electric car for the Californian market that was easy to use, looked great and was so efficient that it made the Toyota Prius look like a petrol guzzler … and then repossessed all the cars from owners who loved them … and had them crushed to prevent anyone else finding out about them.

This is a true story told in the 2006 documentary film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” narrated by Martin Sheen, which explores the birth, limited commercialization, and subsequent death of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.

It was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did General Motors crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert?

The year is 1990. California is in a pollution crisis. Smog threatens public health. Desperate for a solution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) targets the source of its problem: auto exhaust. Inspired by a recent announcement from General Motors about an electric vehicle prototype, the Zero Emissions Mandate (ZEV) is born. It required 2% of new vehicles sold in California to be emission-free by 1998, 10% by 2003. It is the most radical smog-fighting mandate

With a jump on the competition thanks to its speed-record-breaking electric concept car, GM launches its EV1 electric vehicle in 1996. It was a revolutionary modern car, requiring no gas, no oil changes, no mufflers, and rare brake maintenance (a billion-dollar industry unto itself). A typical maintenance checkup for the EV1 consisted of replenishing the windshield washer fluid and a tire rotation. But the fanfare surrounding the EV1’s launch disappeared and the cars followed. Was it lack of consumer demand as car makers claimed, or were other persuasive forces at work?

Fast forward to 6 years later… The fleet is gone. EV charging stations dot the California landscape like tombstones, collecting dust and spider webs. How could this happen? Did anyone bother to examine the evidence? Yes, in fact, someone did. And it was murder.

Make sure you rent or buy a copy of Who Killed the Electric Car to watch for yourself. Here is more on the car from another site - http://peswiki.com/index.php/Review:Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F

You just can't make this stuff up. Amazing!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Break

Budget car rentalThe family and I are off to Southern California for Spring Break over the next two weeks. Our boys go to a school that is all year round, so the break is a bit earlier than public school. I hope we beat most of the Spring Break rush at the major attractions. We'll see.
Although I am excited to spend some quality family time, I'm also excited about getting some quality customer service and stories for my blog. I wonder it the travel industry is taking their game to new levels with the economy in the toilet. Especially repeat destinations like SOCAL. I expect Disney to be incredible as usual (I'll keep my eye out to see if there is any garbage on the ground :-) )
Right off the bat, when we landed at LAX, we picked up our rental car from Budget. I had pre-booked a midsize vehicle online and was given a "FastPass" membership. At the time I had no idea what the FastPass was. Well, I need to give high marks to Budget - when they mean fast... they mean it!
We were directed over to a group of about 50 cars and SUV's, and told to just pick any one in area "6" and drive away, the keys are inside. We had such a choice of vehicles that we were the only ones not being too fast. We actually picked a vehicle and then when all our luggage didn't fit (double stroller too) we unloaded and picked a larger SUV. After loading up, we drove to the end of the parking lot - to a gate where a Budget staff member took a card off our rear view mirror, proceeded to scan it with a bar code reader and said "Have a safe trip, do you need directions?". That was it, we were driving off, without filling out any paperwork or any line ups.
I quickly jotted down my experience and observations about Budget in my handy notebook. (Sandy rolled her eyes with a smirk)
Next we hit Burger King a block away... back to reality... ahhhh, fast food service.