22 May

Rescued: The Pens For Bishop Maginn Graduates

by Jon Katz

I ordered 37 customized pens with a stylus for the Bishop Maginn Graduation Gift Bag I’m working on.

They were lost in transit for several days, they went to the wrong address, and the young man who got them was kind enough to track me down.

It took awhile – two days – before we figured things out, but it turned out he lived just down the street from Sue Silverstein, who walked down and got the pens.

That one really worked out.

Small world after all. Dealing with the pen company was no fun, they insisted it was my fault and first, so there was the customer service drama – hour-long waits, disconnected calls, and a bureaucracy that didn’t seem to want to take any responsibility for the disappearing pens.

Corporations love to tell us how much they care about us and our concerns, but most of them don’t really mean it.

This got my dander up – I could not imagine how this was my fault –  and I dug in and spent much of the day e-mailing the man who got them and we finally trading addresses before I realized he was Sue’s neighbor.

A happy ending, not thanks to the pen makers. Everything I’ve gotten for the graduates has been a drama, probably because of the virus and all of the restrictions and confusion. But I’ve got it all sorted out. The students will get their stuff.

The disinfectant fogger we purchased for Bishop Maginn arrived in Albany today, that is good news for the school.

Sue has received the keychains, and the baby candy jars, the baseball caps are on the way to me, and she is about to receive 20 classy sashes that say “Graduate, 2020.” This is important, as the graduates won’t have a normal graduation or senior year at all.

I also got each of the graduates some “advice” cards, the students and teachers will have some fun with those.

We hope to give them some classy stuff to honor the day and remember the school. In the refugee culture, this is a very big deal and we want to mark the occasion any way we can.

I’ve learned a lot about online customer service issues over the last few years.

First, you just have to take a deep breath and clear a few hours.

Most companies say they are available to help, but few are. We are usually shunted off to dicey websites that are supposed to offer live chats but rarely do. When you reach a human, which takes a while and involves dreadful music choices, you must remain calm and be courteous and expect to be hung up on once or twice.

I find the foreign customer service reps courteous and helpful, but it requires me to go on speakerphone, and to be especially patient. It isn’t their fault. Many are not that fluent in English, a lot are.

I feel for them, they are in a tough spot and it makes it a lot easier if they are treated calmly and respectfully.


  1. I feel for those people too, Jon, those foreign customer services reps on the phone, because most people have no patience and are exceedingly rude and nasty. As you say, it is not their fault. They are just doing their best to earn a living and most of the companies they work for could care less about them or customer service, for that matter. They just don’t want to have to talk to their pissed off customers themselves. Thanks for speaking for the phone reps!

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