Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tips for Ordering Christmas Cards

I love getting Christmas Cards.

I love the time of the year when the contents of my mailbox holds more than bills and junk mail.  I love opening letters addressed to me and my family filled with beautiful cards and pictures of beloved friends and family.  I realize that Christmas cards as a tradition has sort of died out with the advent of Facebook and social media.  We can keep up with friends and loved ones throughout the year and see pictures of them almost any time, so an actual card isn't really necessary.  But I love them just the same.  That's why I make efforts to send them out.

However, it seems like Christmas Cards do not love me.  I always seem to have issues with them.  One year, my order was sent to a different city, and I had to wait an extra week for them to be reshipped to the right place in order to pick them up.  Last year, I hurried and snapped a picture of my kids in front of my house, which was a minor nightmare in itself with my almost-two-year-old who wouldn't sit still.  None of the pictures were great, but I chose the best one and ordered cards.  When I picked them up, I was appalled because the picture was blurry!  How I didn't realize that before ordering them is still a mystery.  But I was too embarrassed by them to send them out to anyone other than my own mother and close friends I could laugh with about them.

This year, however, I have stumbled across a special secret which I am convinced is the key to achieving Christmas Card Glory.  I'm not one to post deals and advice, but I can't keep this one a secret.  It's too good.  Here...

Here is how to have a Christmas Card experience you can be proud of:

First, spend about three hours on the Christmas card website trying over and over again to design and order your card.  After realizing that the site is not working, use the online chat button and chat with one or two or three different agents while you try to troubleshoot the issue.  Click a bunch of buttons, close windows, and hope you saved any projects you were working on in the process.  Then after hours of frustration, figure out that the site is magically working (without any real help from said agents), and finish up ordering the cards in about two minutes.

Second, patiently wait your appropriate 5-7 days to pick up your cards, knowing that they're going to be good this year.

Third, pick up your cards.  Haul the kids out to the car in 3 degree (-20 windchill) weather, then realize that the envelopes that came with your cards have someone else's name and addressed printed as the return address.  Make the kids get back out into the cold to go talk to the people, only getting a phone number to call about the mix-up.

Fourth, call the number.  Spend 45 minutes on hold, listening to eight bars of horrible repeating canned telephone music that will eventually get stuck in your head.  Finally talk to an agent who says that they will email their vendor about the mix-up, and that you will receive an email about it within 24 hours.

Fifth, wait impatiently for 24 hours, hearing nothing.

Sixth, call the number again.  Spend another 45 minutes on hold, getting more and more irritated by the awful music.  Speak with another agent who says that they haven't heard anything from the vendor, and that at this point, you might get your envelopes in another week, which is less than a week before Christmas.

At this point, fly off the handle a little, wondering why in the world they aren't fixing this silly issue!  Printing new envelopes would take them approximately two minutes.  They could and should be at your door within two days.  Not an extra week.  Make it perfectly clear that you expect the issue to be resolved within two days, and if it's not, you will be asking for a refund.  You are informed that another email has been sent, and that you will receive communication within 24 hours.

Seventh, wait impatiently for another 24 hours, hearing nothing.  Wait another couple of days to see if envelopes will appear in the mail.  They do not.

Eight, call the number again.  Spend another 45 minutes on hold.  Grit your teeth and will yourself not to crawl through the phone to rip the canned music out of it.  Finally speak to another agent, thoroughly express your position and your displeasure.  Wait another ten minutes while she investigates the issue.  Then listen incredulously as she tells you that nothing has been done about the issue, they they are doing everything they can, but that you aren't going to receive envelopes for more than a week.

This your moment.  Firmly explain that their inability to fix their mistake is unacceptable.  Calmly state that you expect a full refund for your inconvenience.  For the first time, they will say what you want to hear, "Oh, of course.  We'll get that credited back to you within 3-5 business days."  But that you need to call back if you don't get a confirming email within 24 hours.

And there you have it.  You, too, can score Free Christmas Cards to delight your friends and family!  It will probably cost you your sanity and give you a major headache.  If you're extra lucky, you may even have dreams filled with eight bars of repeating canned music, like me.