A great new service to the rescue! Introducing ClubLocal to the Bay Area crowd.

standard June 10, 2013 Leave a response

Before I met my friend Beth I never knew who to call when I needed a plumber, a handyman, or anyone for that matter. Now, when my roof springs a leak, when my garbage disposal backs-up, when I realize that something needs to be fixed on the rather urgent side, I grab my phone and text her.

It’s wonderful having a Beth in your life.

Sadly, not everyone can have a Beth in their back pocket. (Hands off! She’s mine! Unless you’re moving to the Bay Area or already live here, want to move, and need a great realtor. Then I’ll lend her to you for a bit.) Lucky for you (if you live in the Bay Area or in Dallas), a new service, ClubLocal.com, has just launched. I’m pretty sure that you’ll come to love almost as much as I love my Beth.

Let me walk you through it.

The awesome people at ClubLocal have sat down and carefully vetted a large number of service providers. They’ve checked their background, their licences, even their insurance status. Then they set them up to be ClubLocal vendors.

Here’s where you come in.

You realize that you have something around the house that needs doing. A car that needs detailing. Some plumbing that needs tending to. A faulty switch that needs fixing. You hop onto the ClubLocal website, or the iPhone app, and type in your zip code.

And there you have it. In four easy steps (three if you’ve already done it once) you have booked your service.

ClubLocal booking page

Instead of spending precious time looking up vendors, checking with friends to see if they’re any good, and then calling around to set up appointments, ClubLocal does it all for you.

You pick the type of vendor you need and the date and time you want to see them, ClubLocal sends you the most highly rated service provider available at that time.

It really is that easy. I tried it.

I wanted someone to come convert some external lights into motion sensored lights. I hoped on to the ClubLocal website and asked for a handyman to come the next day at noon. (I could have had someone come the same day, but I wasn’t going to be home.)

Within minutes someone from ClubLocal called me to tell me that what I really needed to do the job I had described was an electrician so they’d gone ahead and cancelled the handyman and booked an electrician for the same time slot.

The next day, just before twelve I got an email letting me know that Ramon, my electrician, was on his way. The email included a picture of him, so I’d know that the right guy was at the door. At twelve on the dot, he showed up, sporting a clean uniform and a ClubLocal lanyard and ID card slung around his neck.

Within moments we had come to an agreement about what needed to be done and how much it was going to cost and he was off to collect supplies.

My service window was 12-2pm. Just before 2pm Ramon was done with my lights, had swiped my credit card payment, and was off with a cheery wave and the injuction to call if the lights weren’t working properly.

Done. Diddley. Done.

I always worry that any service provider is going to notice that I’m a mom, home with the kids, and is going to try to fleece me. What do I know about the cost of a basic electrical job?

To set minds at ease, ClubLocal negotiated with all their service providers and got them to agree to fixed prices for every service they provide. So, even before you book a job you can look on the website to see how much it’s going to cost.

Between work, the kids, the house, the cat, the husband, and all the time I seem to spend at the kids’ school I neither have the time nor the desire to hunt down the perfect guy. Even with Beth’s recommendations in hand I still have to sit down and call to make appointments. ClubLocal makes it ridiculously easy to schedule everything.

Which is a good thing because my husband hates the new lights and wants to switch back to the old ones. You just can’t win them all.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or in Dallas, check out ClubLocal. Just for signing up you’ll get a great credit towards your first service.

Please note: I have been working with ClubLocal to help promote their new Bay Area service and I am being compensated for this post. My experience and opinions about the company and the service and mine and mine alone.

6 Good Reasons To Skip the Picture People for Good

standard June 17, 2011 11 responses

On Friday afternoon I brushed C and Little L’s hair, made sure they were wearing cute dresses, and headed to the nearby mall for their annual-it’s-time-for-Father’s-Day photo shoot.

We had an appointment and we were a full week away from Father’s Day so I thought we were in great shape to get in and get out fast.

HA!

I arrived 15 minutes early, moments after a woman who was explaining to the cashier that she was there way early for her appointment.


1st mistake – assuming that they’d honor my appointment time

45 minutes after our appointment time we were finally ushered into a photo studio (20 minutes after the family whose appointment was after ours). By now we’d been there for a full hour and the kids were bouncing off the walls. I was beyond grumpy. At no point did anyone apologize for the wait or thank us for our patience.

2nd mistake – Letting the photographer call the shots. 

She was bossy and had us pose in various ways, barely tolerating my advice and antics to get my kids to stop making fake “cheese” smiles and in 10 minutes we were done. I hate all the shots she took of the three of us.

3rd mistake – Assuming they’d listen to reason

So there I was, tired, cranky, and really done with trying to keep my active kids contained. So…. brilliant mom that I am… I realized that I could take them home and come back the next day without them to review the photos in peace and make smart choices. I could even look at the photos online and decide from the comfort of my couch!

No. According to the Picture People employee, that couldn’t happen.

You see, there’s a new policy at the Picture People.

They delete all photos at the end of the day. If you’re a member they give you a full week. So generous.


4th mistake – Assuming that they’d be smart and modern.

Even better. They no longer give you the option to view your photos online or to buy prints at other stores.

So there I am, two hyper kids who’ve already been in the store for an hour and a half, being told we have to wait to see our photos, and that we have no option.

5th mistake – not admitting defeat.

I couldn’t exactly admit defeat, so we stayed put.

And then more frustration ensued.

They no longer let you view the pictures on your own. The staffer has to sit there with you, manning the mouse, giving you the endless sales pitch. You know, despite the kids begging to go home, scaling your body like a jungle gym, and whining louder and louder.

I wasn’t my most patient and nice.

You’d think the story ends there wouldn’t you?

It doesn’t.

We got our photos (after waiting more for them to be printed). Paid for the damn membership so I’d be able to come back and get prints for my mother-in-law and went home.

6th mistake – GOING BACK for more abuse. 

Yesterday I went back to get her prints.

You’d think that to simply get prints I would have been in and out in 10 minutes.

You’d be wrong.

It took over an hour for a staffer to be able to sit with me and look at the pictures. (You know, because God forbid I should be allowed to man a mouse by myself.) Took 20 minutes to go through the damn sales pitch again. Another 15 for them to print the photos. And yet another 10 for them to reprint the photos I had actually asked for.

When I finally left the store I could barely speak I was so mad.

Four hours to get pictures – from a place that promises photos in under an hour.
Staffers who were so frazzled from dealing with irate customers that they could no longer function correctly.
And photos that are cute… but nothing mind-blowing and that I overspent on because of the overbearing marketing tactics being used on me and the threat of imminent deletion. 
As for my increasingly irate tweets and Facebook messages? They’ve been completely ignored by the Picture People social media team.

SOLUTION TO THIS MADNESS

I’ve always resisted going to a professional photographer because it always seemed easier to just hop over to the mall and be done in under an hour. After 6 years of doing this annual shoot and watching the Picture People customer service and care go slowly from mediocre to bad to worse, I’m officially done and telling everyone I can.

Skip the Picture People. Find a local photographer. Give one of your community members the business and take back the joy that should be a part of a family photo shoot. You’ll thank me in the end.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger – a review

standard September 25, 2009 2 responses

Imagine a world where the supernatural feels natural. Where you suspend disbelief without realizing it. Where nothing is as it seems, but you just can’t tell that things are slightly off.

You’ve just had a taste of Audrey Niffenegger’s new book, Her Fearful Symmetry.

I was floored by The Time Traveler’s Wife, her first book. Completely taken in by the fantastic, touching, beautiful story. Completely enamored of the writing.

So, when I heard that at long last Audrey Niffenegger was putting out a new book, I held my breath. Would she be able to do it again? Now that I’ve written the draft to a novel I have so much more respect for novelists. I know how hard it is to tease out a story, create characters, and grow the magic that makes a book special. And I know how easy it is to fall short of your mark.

I shouldn’t have worried. She did it again.

Her Fearful Symmetry has nothing to do with The Time Traveler’s Wife. It has radically different characters. It’s set in a different country. And yet, it has the same magic.

Only Audrey Niffenegger can write books that are technically fantastic, but feel completely and utterly normal.

Crack open the pages of Her Fearful Symmetry and you’ll discover that cemeteries are not just dark, damp, scary places where people are laid to rest. You’ll be introduced to characters who are so multifaceted that days after finishing the book you’ll still feel like you’re getting to know them. And you’ll learn that you can tell a story one way and have it mean something completely different in the end.

I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife because the story stayed with me long after I cried my way through the last chapter. I’m in love with Her Fearful Symmetry because the characters are staying with me in the same way.

It’s a haunting book, and it’s a fantastic read. This is the book you’ll give to all your friends this holiday season and it’s the book all the bookclubs are going to be talking about for months to come. I wish I could tell you more, but I love you too much to deny you the joy of discovering it for yourself.

*****
I’m excited to tell you that Regal Literary, publisher of Her Fearful Symmetry is offering copies of Her Fearful Symmetry in a lottery to anyone who joins the Facebook fan page and emails them at hfs@regal-literary.com. So have at it! Go forth and win what’s definitely going to be the hit of the year!

Keeping my reviews honest, just how my readers like it

standard March 19, 2009 3 responses

I love writing reviews. I write darn good reviews. You don’t have to agree with me, but at the very least you have to agree that I write very honest reviews. I share both pros and cons and I’m careful to give a complete representation of every product. The most important thing in my opinion is that readers know that if they come to The Lemonade Stand they’re going to get a full, honest review, not just a rave about whatever latest product has been pitched to me or caught my fancy.

Here’s the deal. If I review something and I give it a thumbs up, you’re not going to be disappointed when you get the product. If it has drawbacks, I’m going to list them. If it has great selling points you’re going to know about them too. There are a ton of products out there and we don’t all have time to go out and test drive every little thing before handing over our credit cards. My goal is to make your job as a consumer a little easier. And maybe to introduce you to products you might not already know about.

So far, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Get product, test it out, come tell you what I like or don’t like about it. It’s been pretty easy because until today I hadn’t been asked to review a product I hated. I’m a pretty easy going gal, some might even say I have slight Pollyanna-esque tendencies, so it’s hard for me to imagine reviewing something with absolutely no positive attributes.

Today I had to email a PR rep and tell her I couldn’t write a positive review for the product she’d asked me to test, review, and giveaway. Actually, if we’re being honest, I told her that I couldn’t think of a single positive aspect of the product. I really, honestly tried. I hated potentially upsetting someone with whom I hoped to have a good working relationship, but I just couldn’t see myself hyping a product that I couldn’t back*. Also I really couldn’t see myself pushing a giveaway for that same product.

I hope you trust my opinions and I hope that you come to me for advice because of that trust. Really, that matters to me more than anything. So, how about this, you guys keep reading and I’ll keep being honest. Deal? Sweet.

*In this instance I didn’t feel comfortable writing a negative review. I’m not saying that I’ll never do that in the future, but this time it just didn’t feel right.