Our poor, poor ruffled feathers

angrytsmHere is the latest in my ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World. This one is personal, and I hope you understand.

Our Poor, Poor Ruffled Feathers

I’ve been stung by my use of the word “ignorant” in my writing over the years and once again recently. My intentions are not to insult, but that’s the way I come off to some. However, my only desire is to share knowledge, and at least part of that process is the ability to understand, be taught, or “receive.” I apologize for the personal umbrage I’ve caused, but I’m pleading for a little more from my readers. Please hear me out.

The Right Way to do Customer Service

I received this 2 days after contacting Vanguard

I received this 2 days after contacting Vanguard

It’s been many years since the “Dell Hell” episode in the life of Jeff Jarvis, and customer service across the country continues to have its ups and mostly downs. In my limited experience, however, I sense that companies are really trying to use technology to assist with the heavy lifting today, although we still have a very long way to go (will somebody please invent a replacement for telephone answering technology?).

I want to share with you today a remarkable experience I had last Wednesday with Vanguard USA, a manufacturing company that specializes in photo, video, and hunting accessories. In my case, I was looking for a quick release shoe (see photo) for Alicia’s old tripod, made by Vanguard under the Forceguard brand. My search for this was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, and I ended up on Vanguard’s website. They offered 10 or so quick shoes, but the dimensions weren’t offered, so I was stuck. On their contact page, right under their phone number, is an email address. At first, I was taken aback. I mean who knew? I clicked on it, opening my Outlook and presenting me with a simple method of contact.

Below is the entire email chain. Note especially the time stamps. Every company in America (hell, the whole world) could learn from this, and I am happy to present it here for you:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 12:28pm

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m in need of a quick release plate for an older Forceguard (Vanguard) tripod (MG5-OS). The opening for the plate clasp is 1 1/2″ x 1 3/4”. Do any of your QS products (except #40) fit that criteria? You don’t give the dimensions.

Sorry, but I really NEED this.



Terry Heaton
7435 S Catawba Circle NW
Madison, AL 35757



Thank you for your email and your interest in our products.

You need the QS-36. You can purchase it from our website at www.vanguardworld.com

We thank you for choosing VANGUARD and we hope to keep you as a satisfied customer.

Michelle Rainbolt
Repair Technician
Vanguard USA Inc


Your are amazing! Thanks.

Terry Heaton


I ordered the part, Michelle. Too bad I can’t request overnight shipping. Seems like something’s missing in your ordering process. I need that sucker and was willing to pay what’s necessary to get it. Boo-hoo.

Terry Heaton



Call me here at the Service Center 800–875-3322 x120 and I will see what I can do…

Michelle Rainbolt



It will be going out today 2nd day air. Tracking # is as follows: 1zew00150265006143

Michelle Rainbolt


You are SUCH a blessing. Can you give me name/email of your supervisor? I’m so often underwhelmed with anybody’s “customer service,” that I’m really trying to come to grips with the opposite. Love to get you a raise.

Terry Heaton

Thursday, February 5, 2015 12:48pm
Email to Michelle’s supervisor:

Dear Lynn,

I had just a wonderful customer service experience with a staff member of yours yesterday. I’ve got to say that in all my years of contact with various “customer service” units, I’ve really never had one quite so positive as I had yesterday with Michelle Rainbolt. You know, everybody has horror stories, and I always dread contacting companies, because it’s just so often useless. Just the fact that your company provides an email address online that is actually watched is remarkable, and I appreciate it so much. I sent my need (a little Quick Shoe for an old tripod), and Michelle got back to me within the hour to give me the information I needed. Unbelievable! I then went to your website and made the purchase. Unfortunately, speedy delivery was not an option, so I wrote Michelle back to thank her and tell her I wished I had the option of 1 or 2 day delivery. She got back to me immediately and actually gave me her direct line. So I called and spent 5 minutes on the phone with her, where she was able to arrange 2nd day delivery for me. I’ll now have my part tomorrow, and I am one truly HAPPY customer.

Give Michelle a raise, pat yourself on the back, and go tell your CEO that I said he runs a terrific company.

Thank you so much,




Thank you so much for the kind words for Michelle.
I have shared your email with the whole company, because you are correct too often we only hear the bad.

Thanks again.

Best Regards,

Lynn A. Slagle

Passages (again)

grappa4When my lease expires here in Frisco, Texas at the end of July, I will be relocating back to Huntsville, Alabama to be closer to my two daughters, my son-in-law and my granddaughter. I was the news director of WAAY-TV in Huntsville in the mid 1990s, when it was still family-owned and operated. I have good memories of that place and the people, many of whom still live in the area. I got sober in Huntsville a long time ago, so I have friends there outside the news business.

I’m going to continue working with AR&D and its clients in a variety of capacities including webmaster. We’re building a training portal for people in the TV News business, and that’s pretty exciting.

I went back to Huntsville at Christmas and knew that I had to move back. There’s nothing like being a “grappa” to a little girl. My other grandchildren all live in Amman, Jordan, and I miss them every day. I’ve missed watching them grow up, and I don’t want that to happen with this and future grand babies. As my fellow boomers know, there’s absolutely nothing like grandchildren in all of life.

The interesting thing about this to me is that Huntsville, like Amman, is just a node on the network. Geography doesn’t mean what it used to in terms of commerce or work, which means I can participate in what really matters — family — and still remain connected and relevant in the only space that’s essential for work anymore, cyberspace. We’re such infants here.

And so for the second time in my life, I’m leaving Texas. I will miss it. Despite a regrettable personal valley, North Texas has been good to me. I’ll be back to visit, and I don’t leave until this summer.

To my friends in Alabama and Tennessee, look out; here I come.

Passages, my own

I’ve kind of given up on my blog, and that bothers me. One of my categories here is “Passages,” those stories about people moving along from one part of life to another, including death. I’ve been going through my own passage, and it’s kind of disrupted everything about my postmodern message and beyond. I’ve been writing for dear friends at Street Fight and will soon be cross-posting original versions of those pieces (or you can find the edited versions here). My good pal Gordon Borrell said it’s some of my best work, but I don’t know. Like I said, I’ve been dealing with personal issues, and I really haven’t been myself.

This week, I’m beginning a Wednesday feature on NetNewsCheck called “Reinventing Local Media,” the title of my books. This publication is more focused on my old business — broadcasting — and thus more in line with the industry I hope to influence. Broadcasting is in trouble, which is the theme of tomorrow’s first piece.

I’m also reactivating The Pomo Blog, because there are many other thoughts and ideas I wish to express. It’s odd, but the older you get, the less you realize you actually know, and that provides a license to speak with a certain boldness. Culture in the West is confused and burned out, and it’s pretty clear that our leadership isn’t doing much in the way of leading. We need to reinvent “government of the people,” and I have as much to say about that as I do media.

I’ve also discovered, as I’ve gotten older, that the line between one with integrity and one who screams “Get off my lawn” is very, very thin. I hope you’ll enjoy discoveries like these and more as I reopen the door with a sincere “welcome.”

Catching up with everybody

Good grief, it seems like forever since I’ve been in here. That’s because I’ve been writing a weekly column for Street Fight, and beginning today, I’m going to start cross-posting those items here. I don’t want this website to go dormant, because there are still plenty of things I need to say that don’t really fit the niche that Street Fight occupies.

So watch for those posts — and a few others — coming up shortly.

I’m still looking to grow my own business, Reinvent21, Business Reinvention for the 21st Century. Slow going, especially when the message isn’t necessarily one that media companies want to hear.


Off topic: Why I “dislike” cats


Sneakers (at home)

Thanksgiving dinner for six was my task last week. It turned into an adventure with our cat, Sneakers, because, well, nothing is easy with a cat. Sneaks is an old girl who lives in the dining room with her litter box beneath the table. Of course, I couldn’t have that for the special meal, so my first move was to exit her from the room, which disrupted her space and her peace. She immediately retreated to safety under the bed in the master bedroom. ‘Nuff said. Meal was great. A good time was had by all. Everyone left. Dishes were done, and peace was restored to the house.

Then, as so many adventures begin, I had this thought. The longer the cat stayed under the bed, the greater the risk to the well being of the bedroom carpet, so I decided to “shoo” her from the room. Broom in hand, I reached under the big bed, and she “fled the scene,” as they say in cop dramas. Of course, I didn’t see WHERE she went, but I didn’t think anything of it.

Until much later, when I discovered she wasn’t anywhere around the dining room table. Oh-oh. So I tore the house apart, and then I did it again, and again. After a couple of hours of looking in every nook & cranny, I realized the back door had been open. Oh crap, she went outside, I thought. That began the first of many neighborhood searches, and it was after that when I notified my wife in Virginia and wound up in the inevitable doghouse. Sneakers, where the hell are you? I opened the garage door, so she could get in, if she happened to have wandered away. I opened every closet and every room, in case she had escaped my view. I prayed she would come back, and I didn’t sleep a wink.

My Friday morning was indeed black as the cat was still AWOL. I made another couple of passes throughout the house with a flashlight. Nothing. I went door-to-door asking if anyone had seen an old gray cat with white paws. A cold front had come through, and it was really chilly, so I just knew the poor thing had died. By afternoon, I had given up and turned the page on the life of the cat. It was my fault, and I truly felt terrible, but what could I do? My stepson girlfriend came, and we looked one more time together but to no avail. She was consoling, but Sneakers was still gone.

Nightfall came, and I retreated to the bedroom to watch TV.

At 8:00pm, I went to the kitchen to get a snack and noticed what I felt was movement beneath the dining room table. Sneakers? Lo and behold, there was the danged cat, back at home on one of the chairs. The Hallelujah Chorus erupted in the soundtrack of my soul! Sneakers! Thank God you’re back!

This taught me many things, but mostly to never underestimate the ability of a cat to find a hiding place. My catastrophizing had put her in the grave, but she was merely scolding me for messing with her dwelling place.

You know, I never really have liked cats.