Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Quiznos: What happened to you???


Quiznos

Quiznos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quiznos

What happened to you? You used to be so cool, “Toast that tastes great!” was the tag line Don Cherry used to blast out in the commercials.

But now?!? Damn.

In December, in the office, we tried to order online for an office function, but after placing the order – so we thought – instead of showing us the shopping cart, the website instead prompted us to “place our order” and removed everything in our cart.  The 15 minutes we spent getting all the details together was wasted.

Also of concern at that time was the fact that the website doesn’t list the prices of the food.  To be sure I was not pointing out incorrect information, I went to http://www.quiznosdelivers.ca/ and low and behold, no prices.  I actually had a hard time finding the menu – I found the button to buy a franchise, however I was thinking of spending a little less than that.

So we tried again, held our breath and ordered.  No dice.

So we called the local Quiznos in Richmond Hill and were dumbfounded at what we were being told over the phone. 

The pizza we wanted to order was not available as there was no cheese and get this, the person taking the orders on the phone had such poor english that after ordering 4 of their specials, we ended up with 4 regular priced sandwiches.

No cheese???

So I went to their website to locate the feedback or contact us section so I could complain about the lack of prices on the website and why the online ordering was not working but there is nowhere on the site to send an email, or an address to tweet to.  Just a phone number?  REALLY?

Are we in 2012 (then late 2011).

And they don’t deliver, and their idea of “bottled drinks”… Cans.

The soggiest toasted sandwich ever.

All-in-all, a very disappointing experience. Someone needs to pull the CEO aside and let them know that the quickest way to being out of business is to not keep up with technologies and providing less than exceptional customer service and getting the orders right.

Is this not common sense?

Anyone else experience this?

I think we need an Undercover Boss, Quiznos episode.  At the very least, with my MBA, I can come in and clean up the process… Forget that dude who lost weight eating your competitors products, bring back Don Cherry and with him and the Urban Daddy, you’ll be back on track in no time!

You want feedback? Let me tell you what I think about you and your blogging…


I for one, like feedback.  I’m a big boy.  I’m tough.  I can take it. 

I can take “feedback” or criticism, whatever you want to call it and not let it bother me… Too much.

In learning how to take feedback I have also learned how and when to give feedback.  It’s an art, I tell you and let me state the obvious when I tell you that there are not too many people who can take feedback, and even fewer who can deliver it without the intent on offending or making the receiver feel inferior.

I actually started this post quite a while ago as a personal reflection post but I didn’t like the feel of the post, so I shelved it in my draft folder and have re-visited it several times to re-write it and alter its focus dramatically.  It’s not a post about me so much as it is a reflection about my management style and they way I like to interact with others – staff and children. 

But let’s be clear here folks, this is in no way a “how to manage your spouse” post because we all know our wives are always right!  Happy wife = happy life.

So how does one learn to give effective and timely feedback?  By asking for and hearing lots of it over one’s life.  good and bad, true and untrue,,, I’ve heard it all.  In that time I learned the hard way that being a wise-ass or inappropriate in pretty much every situation makes it hard to make / keep friends and after a while people start talking about you in that light, they tend to start avoiding you.  That feedback is the untold kind, and you have to pick up on that too, or you’re in big trouble. (ahem, Linus!)

For me, the defining moment when I was in high-school, and I said something really stupid to my friends which resulted in them all looking at me like I just hurt a kitten.  It was at that moment when it became perfectly clear to me that I had to be accountable for what comes out of my mouth at all times and that I had offended or worse, hurt, the ones I care for and to that, my success would be in my ability to filter the crap that comes out of my mouth, and to learn to not take myself too seriously. 

I taught myself to cover up in situations where I was a complete ass by pretending I had said that comment on purpose, as a joke, when in fact I was learning boundaries, and in learning from my missteps, I made sure to never do it again.  Not repeating the same embarrassing situation to the same person was critical to me being taken seriously.  I wanted to be taken seriously and that motivated me to watch my mouth.

So back on to feedback.  I never wanted to hear feedback from anyone growing up because it was always bad.  I was immature, goofy, inappropriate, juvenile… I heard it all.  But as I figured out how to act around people, I wanted to know how I was doing.  Kind of like, “how is my driving”. 

The more I asked, the more I was able to improve and right now, I’m pretty damn strategic and I know what to say, when to say and how to address it.  It was hard but I’ve done it.  I should write a book, eh?  I have some great stories I cannot post online!

So now, I crave feedback.  All kinds of it.  I want the bad stuff more than I want the good stuff.  I want to be told I’m an asshole, or that I’ve pissed someone off because I’ve spent a lot of time being so good that every now and then my inner-bitch comes out and I let it all hang out.  I’m sorry.  I need to know.  If I’ve annoyed you, or pissed you off, it’s either a gigantic misunderstanding or it was done on purpose.  If you want to know, just ask me,  I’ll tell you.

When I started blogging, my wife had been doing it for a year and she is such a fantastic writer.  When I read her posts, I could replay the situation in my head as if it were happening then and there.  I’m not so blessed with that skill and when people found out we were married they were shocked at how well she wrote and how poorly I did.  I knew it.  It was true and quite funny actually.  So I started re-reading my posts, spell-checking it and taking general care for my posts.  All it took was some feedback. 

So when I get comments to my blog (or about my blog or blogging in general), like this one coming up, I tend to smile and want to keep it.  I’m proud of getting stuff like this.  Not only is it creative, but it’s downright funny.  True too…

Comment 1: “This is pointless, why am I even reading it and not enjoying ? I should learn to spend my time better.”

Comment 2:  “I realize you were young and inexperienced at the time, but in hindsight you should have chosen your parents more wisely.”

I also remember a “friend” of mine hoping to tell me what he truly thought about me by posting a comment in a much older post – figuring I would never see it – which went something like this;

“You are the most arrogant piece of shit that I have ever met.”

Yes.  Yes, I was… to you.  If you had only asked me, I would have told you myself.

Or the friend who told me he hates my blog – never reads it and things bloggers – and myself – are narcacisstic.  I thought about it, blogged about it and dismissed it.  Do we all not take pride in what we do?  .

If you want to post a comment about how you really feel, do it.  Please don’t make yourself anonymous, however, it’s better to identify yourself so I know what I’m facing.  You will feel better and I will know who I don’t have to worry about being nice to.  It’s okay.  I’m always civil. 

What is useless to be is the guy who comments on a pro-Rob Ford post with, “You’re a fucking idiot”.

Why thank you, was my thought.  Some left-wing primate made his way through my article and took the time to comment.  I replied back thanking him for the comment, that I was not an idiot – at least I didn’t think I was – and I merely presented the facts as they seemed to me and if he didn’t agree with my view he could have explained why and educated me instead of calling me names.  Good thing he didn’t know I was overweight like the Ford’s (although no where near the same size as them) because he would have said, “You’re a fucking idiot… and you’re fat”.

So if you take anything from this article it should be that when you’re giving feedback use some diplomacy.  give some positive feedback, and some negative.  If you blast the negative, you’re getting negative back right at you.  If you have something to say, just say it but keep in mind how it will be perceived by others, mainly the author of the post, but also take into consideration that it’s possible that many other have thought and felt the way you have about an article but by having the character to post that comment you may attract more readers, and you may be voicing the opinions of other as well. 

Good comments beget good comments.  When people take the time to comment on posts knowing their thoughts and opinions are going to stay in the comment section and not be deleted (except in cases of malicious attacks) then they will take the time to comment more and more.  If you delete them or jam garbage down their throats then you can rest assure they will not be coming back.

So please… comment what you feel.  Not only on my posts but on others   What is the worst things someone can do?  send you an email or post a reply to your comment calling you names?  Been there, done that.  It’s going to take a lot more than being called names to get me to back off my opinions.

Have any of you received really harsh comments or feedback?  Feel free to share here.

Calling President’s Choice… What Happened to the PC Organic Oatmeal??? Say it aint so!


The President's Choice logo

The President's Choice logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I couldn’t take the uncertainty anymore.  Not knowing was killing me, so I reached out to the folks at Presidents Choice through this URL; http://www.presidentschoice.ca/LCLOnline/contactUs.jsp and I left them this message;

Hi there.

I love the PC organic oatmeal.  We buy 2 bags every week and every morning I made it for myself and my 3 kids, however, I cannot find it anywhere the past couple weeks and I’m very concerned.  Is everything okay?  I had to buy the Quaker oatmeal and my kids hate it.  This morning I made the blue menu steel-cut oats but it takes too long to make
(20 minutes).

Please reassure me and tell me it’s a supply problem and not that the product is being discontinued.  I’ve hit about 7 stores – Loblaws, No Frills, but no luck.

Help!

Oatless in Toronto.

Here was what got fired back;

We have received your email and will be responding to you as quickly as possible.
Your patience during periods of high volume is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

President’s Choice Customer Relations

I know when I get home there will be a clear explanation and hopefully a note that there was a supply issue, or packaging or something simple which will see me eating that again real soon.

Sadly, the response I received was even more disappointing than seeing the empty shelves.  Here was what was waiting for me in my inbox;

.”Dear Mr. Urban Daddy,

Thank you for taking the time to email us concerning our PC Organics Instant Oatmeal.

Unfortunately, this product has been discontinued; however we do keep track of all customer requests and review the possibilities of reintroducing these items based on our customer feedback.  We will be sure to pass on your inquiry to our product developers for future consideration.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you will contact us in the future with any other questions or comments.”

GASP.

I’m so sad.  Forget subways… I need my oatmeal back!  I need to get Galen Weston on the phone ASAP!

Thursday Thirteen – 13 News Stories that matter to this urban daddy


This weeks edition of the Thursday Thirteen focuses on 13 new stories which matter to this urban daddy living in North America’s 7th largest city.

You may recognize some and others may be new to you.  Please take the time and see what matters.

Here we go!

13.  Anyone find the irony here?  TaxMasters, a firm that advertises it can help consumers facing problems with taxes, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

TaxMasters, earned revenue by getting their customers to pay advance fees of $2,000 to $8,000 allegedly by misstating the help they could provide people with unpaid IRS tax bills.  It has been reported that in some cases, TaxMasters claimed they would reduce people’s tax bills by up to 90% but when they were not able to, they kept the advanced fees and moved on.

The Better Business Bureau says it has received more than 1,000 complaints about TaxMasters over the course of the last three years.  In their bankruptcy filing, TaxMasters stated their liabilities – money owing to creditors – between $1 million and $10 million and their assets to be less than $50,000.  This is what happens when you have commissioned sales people pitching services which involve the government.  No one can truly appreciate the inner workings of a government agency or departments unless they have working in one, or worked with one over a period of time.

12.  Library workers in Toronto go on strike over job security for the full-time and part-time workforce.

For those of you not in Toronto, you should know that recently, the Toronto government has been looking at libraries – in addition to all other public bodies – as an area to save city taxpayer dollars.  As the 7th largest city in North America, Toronto has a conservative mayor who wants to tighten up spending, reduce waste and not have to keep increasing taxes in order to meet obligations and this is not being accepted by the strong left-wing contingent in the downtown core.

As a result of this mention of libraries, a rallying cry came out about how much libraries are used in this day and age even though people are using iPads, and Kobo readers and downloading reading materials.  Internet has reduced the reliance on libraries much in the same way that Wikipedia spelled the end for encyclopedia’s.

Unionized library staff, clearly concerned, started campaigning to keep libraries open and began to justify some of the very large – over $100K salaries – and reinforced the need for libraries in the City of Toronto.  The mayor clarified that there was no intention to close libraries, but are librarians really worth $100K/year.

The issue had since did down until they went on strike – closing the libraries as of Monday.

If there ever was a way to show the mayor and the local government that the City can do some cost cutting in the library system, it will become perfectly clear when the public show they can live without libraries.

Nice job union!

11.  Some wack-job, now identified as being Mohammed Merah, a  24-year-old member of al-Qaeda who had escaped from prison in Afghanistan is behind the killing of 3 French soldiers one who was Muslim, and a Rabbi and 3 children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.

Police found explosives his brother’s car, and have arrested his brother, mother and an acquaintance of the brother.  He said he wanted to kill the Jewish kids in revenge for Palestinian children being killed in Israel, and the soldiers for France’s participating in the war in Afghanistan.

This morning he jumped out of the apartment building he was in while shooting, only to become a pancake upon his bodies arrival to the ground.  Oh well.  I hope he suffered.

10.  Reports out of Israel indicate that several of the prisoners returned to the West Bank and Gaza strip in the Gilad Shalit swap have been re-arrested during failed attempts to kidnap Israeli citizens…  How does that expression go?  “Stupid is as stupid does”.

9.  Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has signed a $96 million dollar, 5-year contract to play for the Denver Broncos, meaning current QB Tim “G-d Bless Me” Tebow has not been traded to the New York Jets.  It’s not that I’m against athletes getting that kind of money – I am – but that almost billion dollars would help build a lot of stuff in these tough times… Like maybe Toronto’s subways.

Huh?  What?!?  Peyton Manning, not Preston Manning… Oh.  Move on.  Nothing to see here.

8.  The Toronto Maple Leafs are falling.  The Toronto Raptors are falling.  The Toronto Rock… falling.  Go Jays Go, 16-4 in MLB spring training coming into Thursday which puts them second to the 14-3 Detroit Tigers for the best record in the entire league!

7.  Show of hands for who wants to bring back the death penalty for the killers of Tori Stafford.  I have both hands up…

6.  Quebec students are planning a “massive protest” against rising tuition hikes.  Really?  I’m sorry I must not be paying enough taxes so that I can provide you with subsidized tuition.  Poor baby.  When I went to university, I – gasp – got a job to pay for my tuition.  I even worked during the school year.  I think we’re really getting a glimpse into Generation “me”, with the G20 riots against capitalism, then the “Occupy” movement against greed, and the protests against rising tuition… This generation really does just want to get things for free and not have to work for it, or put in any time.  It’s not like the Internet kids, where you just go download stuff for free.  you’ll see once you grow up, when the next generation starts stealing your hard work that it really sucks.  Life’s not fair.  Deal with it!

5.  Some employers have been asking potential applicants for access to their Facebook accounts during the hiring process.  I suspect with all that has gone on in social media, people posting nude pictures, or inappropriate things about their jobs or drug pictures employers want to make sure they’re hiring solid candidates who can grown with the company and represent it well.  I 100% do not agree with this policy, however, as a huge user of social media, the candidate should be able to communicate the messages that I have always done, that my Facebook profile only has pictures of my family.  I do not identify my employer.  I never, ever blog or tweet about my employer and representing your employer your number one priority.

Let them look.  They probably already have, but don’t give them reasons to pass you over.  Keep your profile clean.  You want a friend to see you drinking, or in a bathing suit, send it to them.  Don’t post it online!

4.  Torontonians and suburban 905ers  will be seeing new area code overlays with 437 being added to 416/647 exchange and 365 being added to the area now served by the 905/289 codes.  Did you know that the 416  area code is one of 86 original area codes established in North America in 1947.  The western part of the original 416 code was split into the 519 area code in 1953 and the remaining portion outside of the city was split into 905 in 1993. This geographic split made it easy for people referring to the suburbs rather than the city because it could simply be called the 905.  647 and 289 came on board in 2001.

Area code 387 has also been reserved for future use in what will soon be the 416/647/437 area.

3.  An “abnormal” amount of a protein – called prostaglandin D2, found in the bald spots of the scalp of men who are losing their hair – causes male pattern baldness, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania discovered.

Knowing what causes male pattern baldness could lead to new treatments.

A different prostaglandin, F2alpha, is known to increase hair growth.

2.  Google announced today that through their Street View technology, we can now all explore portions of the Amazon Rain Forest.  The pictures were taken along the Rio Negro in Brazil last year using camera-mounted three-wheeled bicycles have been woven into Google Maps, allowing users to virtually venture on waterways and trails and in even villages.

Some key things to look out for; Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded, enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail, see where Brazil nuts are harvested, and you might even see an animal or 2

1.  Air Canada.  Ahh, to be unionized.  Air Canada has been bailed out by the Canadian government and Canadian taxpayers so many times its ridiculous, but then out of nowhere on Thursday the ground workers staged a wildcat strike meaning they held up over 70 flight.  People were trapped in airplanes on Toronto’s Pearson International Airport runway and baggage was slow to move from plane to terminal.  As a result of this illegal strike, 37 workers were fired.

But wait.

As a payback to Canadians who has contributed hard-earned tax dollars into this carrier to allow they baggage handlers to keep their jobs, the union backed off the strike only if the workers were re-instated and the airline promised not to punish them now or in the future.

What a gig.

And union leaders wonder why the majority of citizens how come to be fed up with unions.  Take this as yet another example.

Toronto viewed south from Bloor

Toronto viewed south from Bloor (Photo credit: Small)

Getting Started with the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program


I receive quite a few emails and comments each week on the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) and the majority of them surround how to participate in the program, from the perspective of a potential foreign worker and from potential employers.

I try to be very up front and honed when I discuss this topic – especially when I say that I do recommend the use of a nanny agency – as the rules and regulations have been getting more and more specific and with that more and more complicated over the years.  The Conservative government has put measures in place to make it less desirable for foreign workers to abuse the system and have absolutely clamped down on abusive employers.  The government has also tightened up requirements on nanny agencies making sure they have immigration consultants on their staff as well as an immigration lawyer.  If anyone is going to be able to get the caregivers over to Canada properly and navigate through the rules, it’s an agency.

With all this tightening, we are left with two very clear facts;

1.  You have to have money to hire a live in caregiver.  The government has been known to reject single parents with income of less than $70,000.00 per year and couples with a combined income of less than $100,000.00 per year, as reported on their personal taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  They ask for a copy of your previous 2 years’ notices of assessment (NOA’s) to ensure you are telling the truth.

The main reason behind the minimum salary requirements is quite simple.  Too many nannies came forward complaining at having not been paid and / or were being paid much less than minimum wage.  The government is trying to change people’s perspectives through the LCP that these people (mainly women) are foreign workers, not nannies, and as such, the employers will be less likely to take advantage of then re: wages, working conditions, tasks, hours, vacation time, etc.  Companies who abuse their foreign workforce get sued.

The downfall of the high salary requirement for employers obviously is that a single mom, for example, who needs to get out into the workforce to provide for her family cannot afford to hire a nanny through the program and instead resorts to daycare or hiring a nanny under the table, which generally means being paid in cash.  Cash is great for not paying taxes and not having to perform the monthly remittance to the government however without an official record trail of being employed in Canada and paying into the system, when that caregiver finds themselves unemployed, they are not eligible to claim EI and are forced to take a low paying job somewhere else in order to keep the income flowing.  If they are in the LCP, they are not getting credit for time served.

2. The  second thing this tightening of screws does, is it pushes any potential employer towards a nanny agency in order to ensure they complete the paperwork and get through all the new requirements.  When we sponsored our first nanny – over 7 years ago – there were only two pages of paperwork required and through our agency, The Wee Care Placement Agency, http://www.weecareplacement.ca/, we jointly completed the paperwork and went through the next steps together.  I spoke to the government, they asked the questions I was now expecting and I gave them the answers they needed to hear to know we needed a nanny and would treat them with respect and in the same way we expect them to treat our kids.

It’s an intimidating process to say the least, at least it was back in 2004 when we started sponsoring nannies, and it’s been getting that much more complicated as we continued sponsoring nannies once our nannies completed the program and went off into the workforce.

Nowadays, the documentation needed is upwards of 18 pages long, and the requirement to advertise on the job bank is also quite specific, let alone figuring out the logistics around the paying for the ticket of this potential nanny to come to Canada – hoping they will stay with you, or that you mesh together…  It’s not so easy anymore to do on your own.  One mistake or omission could set back your nannies anticipated arrival by days, weeks, months or worse, permanently and land you on the banned employer list.

It’s also easier when going through an agency to find out why a nanny coming from the Philippines needs a year and proof of travel being paid for, while a nanny coming from Hong Kong can be here in half that time.  Most agencies also provide a guarantee so if you do sponsor through them and the nanny bails or you find they do not mesh with your family, you have 3 months to sort this out,

An additional bonus to having an agency on your side is as a resource to ask when you are unsure of overtime amounts to be paid or duties which can and cannot be performed, or about how to address performance issues, or vacation request, sick requests or open permits.  I called Wee Care to discuss the newest regulations and it helped me write this post.  It was money well spent back in 2004 and we continue to have a relationship to this day.

So if I was being asked again to provide my thoughts on how to move forward through the LCP, my advice would be to speak to an agency.  It’s worth every penny and you’ll keep going back over and over again.  As a matter of fact, in the 7 years which we have sponsored 4 nannies we have done them all through Wee Care and for us the program suited our needs it got to the point where they knew what kind of caregiver we needed and they brought us a couple to meet and interview along our guidelines and one remains with us.

But you do not hae to take my word for it.  Read up on the guidelines online at the CRA and Immigration Canada websites on what is required, then you too will probably come to the realization that you will need an agency to assist you though this process.

Good luck.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and if I cannot answer them, I will forward them along to the amazing folks at Wee Care for their expert opinions.

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