Every pet owner should have this grooming tool

If you own a dog that sheds a lot you understand my pain. Mara is part Shepard, part Lab so she has the shedding down part from every angle. I can vacuum the entire house and five minutes later watch a tumbleweed of fur go rolling by. It is a never-ending battle that I lose every time.  I’ve ask a lot of groomers about how to help shed her on my own time with a good tool. I’ve seen a million different brushes, some good some bad, but recently a groomer recommended to me the ZoomGroom.

ZoomGroom Pet BrushI used to use a slicker brush, but it always seemed to scare Mara. I found out that it is easy to hurt dogs with them in you go too deep. The brush is metal can scratch their skin and make brushing really unpleasant for them. For fluffier dogs it make be more ideal, but for most dogs I’ve found that it’s really not. Mara just hated it.

The ZoomGroom is made by Kong, and is all rubber, just like the chew toys. They come in various sizes depending on the size of your pet and also make one specifically for cats – same brush but a different shape. Mara is 55 lbs and the large size is perfect for her. One of the great things about this brush is that it can also be used in the tub for shampooing. It works up a great lather and helps pull out the loose undercoat at the same time. I highly recommend brushing your dog outside if possible because it will pull off a lot of fur, probably more than you’d think. This also works great on all types of coats. I’ve talked to other dogs owners who use it on their big fluffy Chows and people who use it on their Boxers, while Mara falls in between. I also find the brush doubles as a doggie massage for Mara. She’ll near fall asleep on me while getting brushed.

The brushes are very reasonably priced between $5 and $10 and well worth the small investment. After a while the brush will start to wear down and become less effective, but it will be quite a while before that happens. When it does, the brush can become a great chew toy and you can get a new one for grooming. Since the toy is all rubber, same as the Kong toys, your dogs can play with the brush without worry. Occasionally Mara will swipe hers and chew on it for a bit. No harm, no foul.

I  have used many different types of brushes on Mara and my boys back home who all have very different coats and enthusiasm for brushings. I highly recommend this over any other brush no matter the coat. If you groom your dog at home or you just want to be able to vacuum a little less, then definitely make the small investment in this brush.

The Wet Brush and Why I’m Obsessed

This Christmas I got my mom and my aunt this amazing hair brush that, originally, I didn’t expect much from. Every time I buy a product other people rave about it seems to always be a dud for me. I read some great reviews and figured I’d get it – after all it was only $9. Worst case it was another crappy hair brush to add to the collection.

For those who know me know I have super long hair now down to my hips. If you don’t know me, well now you know I have hair down to my hips. Long hair, don’t care! My hair is pin straight and knots if you look at it the wrong way. Typically I shower, let my hair air dry and then hack at it with a brush when I actually have to look decent. Brushing my hair is painful for both me and my split ends. Even growing up I always had long hair that knotted easily. Sitting on the floor while my mom brushed my hair as I cried was pretty much a nightly occurrence.

While I was back home for Christmas I figured I’d give my mom’s new brush a shot. Again, not expecting all that much I gave the brush a shot after the shower. Well color me shocked, brushing my hair was actually a pleasant experience for once. I wasn’t wincing in pain or breaking my hair. It was painless and easy on my already traumatized hair.

The brush has incredibly soft bristles and has a lot of give when brushing your hair. It also happens to come in a several different colors, patterns and sizes to match your personality. Here are my favorites:

The “squirt” brush, as they call it, is great to keep in your gym bag, car or pocketbook. They also sell the full size brush and squirt brushes in multi-packs. I HIGHLY recommend this brush to anyone, no matter your hair type. My mom has thin hair, I have long hair and my aunt has super curly hair and the brush works great for all of us. These make awesome gifts, for yourself or the ladies in your life, as they are inexpensive but awesome! Definitely gets five stars and two thumbs up from me.

Why You Need Amazon Prime and How To Get A Free Trial

I have always been a huge fan of Amazon, especially during my college days where buying textbooks required you to sign away your first-born and a kidney. Anytime I buy something I check the store and then check Amazon. 9 times out of 10 I can get whatever I am looking for much cheaper.

My adopted soldiers often request items that are easier and cheaper to buy online and have mailed directly to them. This week one of my soldier’s buddies was asking for Low-carb Monster Energy Drinks. In the store they sell for around $3 per can individually. For a case of 24 at BJs the cost was about $32, but I would have to pay shipping for this via USPS which would run an extra $27 based on the package dimensions and weight. Sending a case of Monster to my soldier would run almost $60 in total if I were to ship it myself. With Amazon, I paid $35.33 and shipping was free. The other bonus was that fact that I ordered on Monday and it was delivered to Afghanistan last night. I think 4 days is pretty damn good. I know my packages usually take a couple of weeks to get over there. I will definitely use Amazon for more things like this.

I was able to receive the free shipping because I signed up for a free-trial of Amazon Prime. While I was in school I signed up for a free-trial and absolutely loved it! Amazon doesn’t just offer special deals to just college students either. Here are the perks of an Amazon Prime account:

  • FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items
  • Free Release-Date Delivery on video games and more
  • Unlimited photo storage with anywhere access
  • Exclusive 30-minute early access to select Lightning Deals and events on MyHabit.com
  • Instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video
  • Read free books each month through Kindle First and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
  • Access to over a million songs and hundreds of playlists, ad-free

Amazon Mom – especially for those with little one’s in diapers, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial plus 20% off of diapers. Parents out there know how expensive diapers can be so 20% be incredibly helpful. And no, it’s not open to just moms, but rather anyone with kids.

Amazon Student – this is where I got my first taste of Amazon Prime. Amazon student offers a 6 month free trial and then a 50% discount on the usual cost of an Amazon Prime membership if you continue after the free trial. Anyone with a .edu email address can sign up, so I did it with my grad account.

Amazon Prime Trial – this is just a regular Amazon Prime free trial opportunity for anyone to sign up. You get a 30 days free with no special perks beyond that. Honestly, it’s better than nothing. My advice is to sign up now and just do all of your holiday shopping in one shot.

There is also a new part of Amazon called Prime Pantry, which allows you to do your grocery shopping. I have started using that to avoid a trip to the store. I actually find I spend less on Amazon than in the store because I don’t get to wander the store and put the things I don’t need in the cart.

I highly recommend using Amazon to save money, especially on the things you buy anyway. Before buying something st the brick and mortar stores be sure to check Amazon first because you may be surprised how much money you can save.

-AB

First Stop Bob’s Furniture, Next Stop Police Station

I’ve shopped at Bob’s before and the sales people can get really pushy and annoying, but never to the point where I felt like I needed to stop at the police station afterwards to get a restraining order. I guess they say there’s a first time for everything.

Today Eric and I were out running some errands. I had a tons of stuff to return and some things to get. Mom and Dad wanted me to go to Bob’s Furniture with Eric to get him a new bed. With the time change I didn’t realize how early we were there so since we had ten minutes to burn we ran over to Dunkin Donuts for our free drinks. When we came back, we walked in and were immediately met with the presence of about 30 sales people. They were just attacking customers as they walked in the door. They went in for the kill and followed people around the store. Now maybe people are different and like this kind of attention, but certainly not me. I will ask you myself when I have a question. This was probably the worst I’ve ever seen. As we were walking in we were making a tactical plan. We decided we were going to walk right in, heads down and go straight to the back of the store where the mattresses were. Unfortunately one of them latched on. Linda. We immediately switched to plan B and zig-zagged across the store to the back. That didn’t work either. For an older woman she was pretty damn fast. Within about 10 seconds she was right behind us in the “Sleep Zone” burning a whole in the back of our heads.

The building we were in was of course a big impenetrable box with no cellphone reception and we were trying to call Mom and Dad to get the type of mattresses they wanted Eric to look at. This dragged out the process and we were forced to extend this incredibly uncomfortable experience even longer. I was getting service in one spot, but little did we know Mom and Dad were wandering around the back of K-Mart so he didn’t have reception either. We kept losing each other. We had enough service time to get a spending limit and a general suggestion of what Mom saw that she thought would be good for him. The lady saw us starting to look at the different mattress tags and thought it would be a good opportunity to tell us about the mattresses closest to her, which of course was double the price of the ones we were looking at. We kind of brushed her off, especially since she spent the last 20 minutes grilling us and standing guard at the door so we couldn’t leave without passing her on the way out. I knew I didn’t want to work with her even if we decided to buy today. Mom and Dad wanted Eric to try out the mattress here and if he liked it they would have picked it up in New York and brought it up when they bring up my couches next weekend. Eric laid on it, tried it, loved it. We took a picture of the tags and tried to make a run for it. We figured we would call Mom and Dad outside to shake all of the awkward that was going on. Linda insisted on giving Eric her card and told us the mattresses are not in stock so we would need to order them if we wanted one. We yes-ed her and ran.

We talked to Mom and Dad and decided we should go inside and order the mattresses. Damn. Round two. We made it out alive the first time but would we be so lucky the second time? We plotted our plan of attack again and went it. As we walked in we saw Linda. Crap! She was like “Wow that was fast.” I was like “yeah, my Dad wanted us to look at something really quick.” We brisk walked to the back and knew she was probably going to follow us again. We serpentined into the bedroom sets, hid behind the wall for a few minutes, pretended to browse the headboards, and after about 5 minutes we knew the coast was clear. We lost Linda. I definitely didn’t want to work with her so we carefully snuck around the store looking for a sales associate that we liked.

We found this chill guy named Darryl who happened to be walking by and I asked if he was busy and could help us. We told him we wanted to order a mattress, so he had us show him the one we wanted. We carefully walked to the mattresses and showed him the one always being on the lookout for Linda. He took us to the computer in the back corner and started our order. I told him about our experience with Linda and how uncomfortable the whole situation was. He apologized. We thanked him for not stalking us around the store and pushing us into another mattresses or over selling us. While he was writing up the order he asked us if we wanted the mattress protector and what it meant as far as the warranties. We declined the protector. He didn’t try to give us 45 other reasons on why we needed to get it. We said no, he moved on. That’s when the manager came over and lectured us on the mattress protector and why we needed it and how all of our warranties would be void if we don’t get it. He was pushy and things got really uncomfortable. Our sales guy knew that and I swear in his mind he was hoping we wouldn’t just walk out, especially after telling him I wasn’t happy with Linda and now the manager was up our butts. We declined again and he finally walked away.

Darryl wrapped up the sale in about 10 minutes and we were on our way. We went the long way out so Linda didn’t see us and we ran. The mattress will be here on Tuesday and we will be picking it up at the store.

Here are my issues with salesmen:

  • Do not stalk me and follow me around the store. Having someone hover while I am trying to shop is incredibly uncomfortable. I am a big girl and can ask someone for help when I need it. Having someone babysit me is really annoying and makes me not want to buy anything, but rather makes me want to stop at the police station and get a restraining order.
  • Do not push the add-ons. As someone who works in a commission job, I get that add-ons can double your sale. When someone is making a big purchase it can be overwhelming to worry about buying 3 other things that compliment the product, and spending more money. For my brides, I find that they are most likely to buy their add-ons like veils, undergarments, jewelry and shoes later on. The shock of an $800 dress or $1,000 mattress be enough for one transaction.
  • Know when no means no. When I say no thank you, do not continue to push and push and push until I just get annoyed and frustrated. At that point I’ll just walk out instead. What’s even more annoying is when a second person feels they need to swoop in and try too. Just because you walked over and asked doesn’t mean I am going to all of a sudden say “you know what, I like your tie and your hair so for you, yeah, add it on.” No that’s not going to happen. Accept the fact that I said no and lets move on.
  • Chill out with the overly aggressive attitude. Coming in like a hurricane and trying to sell me everything on the floor is  not going to make me want to buy. When I was looking for the sales person I wanted to work with I picked out the chill guy that was more laid back and relaxed. I didn’t want the person that just gave them a sales pep talk in the locker room to get psyched up for selling and went out on the floor with an aggressive attitude.

I am a salesman too, so I get the pressure behind a sale. I sell websites and I sell wedding gowns. I understand the importance of add-ons and making the sale but there is a balance between sales and customer service. My customers are much more likely to come back if I treat them well and I am not pushy. It may not be the way the company wants me to sell but I know how much I hate pushy, aggressive sales people and I don’t want people to dodge me like we dodged Linda.

-AB

The Power of Social Media – Twitter

Part of my job responsibilities at work is to help in our marketing department with in house and client social media. As a technology company that promotes the need for social media our employees like to “practice what we preach” and participate in the various social media outlets ourselves.

I have always been a Facebook fiend, just ask Josh, but that is strictly for my personal life and mingling with my friends and family. I do not accept friend requests from clients, work connections (other than the people I associate with outside of work) or any other people who I do not know personally on a relaxed social level.

Twitter was big for me in college, but then I didn’t find any use in it after some time. It wasn’t until recently that I created a new Twitter account with a professional, public reach that I started getting into the Twitter swing again.

I have had a LinkedIn account since freshman year at Bryant. Having gone to a business school, they really drilled it into our heads that we needed to maintain a LinkedIn profile for professional development and growth. I really only started to see the value after working at my first job for a year. I started receiving random job offers from various companies at least once a month. It was amazing how companies searched these profiles for qualified individuals. Although my activity is limited, I keep my information up to date and constantly make connections with new people.

YouTube has never been my cup of tea beyond binge watching random videos ( you know you have done it too). I am not a video blogger so I don’t have a lot of use for uploading videos, but is a great tool for companies and individuals looking to be heard.

Of course if you are reading this you know I enjoy the art of the written blog these days. I have had many failed attempts at starting a blog but maybe I’ll actually post for more than a month this time. Blogs are a great way to reach an audience. My cousin is a sommelier in NYC and has an amazing blog called Somm in the City, which showcases all of her food and drink experiences. She has seen a lot of success as a writer and critic thanks to blogging as an outreach. We recommend blogging to our clients as a way to provide a value add to their clients.

The one method I want to talk about in particular is Twitter. After a couple poor experiences with some big name companies I decided to tweet at them to express my disappointment. Home Depot, Sears, M&Ms and RI Blood Center. Within a couple minutes or a couple days of tweeting I was messaged and or tweeted back at by the companies who wanted to solve the issues I was having.

If you read my previous post about the chest freezer drama then you know why I tweeted at Home Depot. They tweeted back at me the next day.

Home Depot Tweet

After some phone tag which was partially my fault missing his calls while working, last night I finally got the chance to chat with the customer care representative and explained all of the bad experiences I had this time around. As much as this call was about my complaint, I always like to make sure that any bright spots in the experience are acknowledged too. I let him know of the two men we dealt with that were very kind and bent over backwards to try and help, even though we had went through hell and back. The representative insisted on sending me a $50 e-gift card for my troubles and assured me that my comments would be addressed with the appropriate people. Usually I don’t expect things to ever go anywhere and I assume they just say that to shut me up, but I received a message from the manager at my local Home Depot apologizing for my experience. As usual, I was at work so I could not pick up the call, but it was a nice message. I really do genuinely appreciate knowing that companies are willing to correct issues with their staff and/or operations. I don’t ever intend to complain for free stuff, but to make people aware that their staff may require better training or products need to be better taken care of. If I do something wrong in my job I expect to be corrected to better serve my clients. My bad attitude or lack of customer service skills should never be an excuse as to why my client had a bad experience with either of my companies.

The same day, I also tweeted at Sears after they called me and cancelled my appointment. I also found out at that time that they couldn’t even estimate the job I needed because they didn’t actually do that kind of work. You can read more about that in my heating system rant. But two days later they tweeted back at me wanting to understand more about what happened.

Sears Tweet

I sent them a DM with the details of what happened and received an apology back. My hopes with this complaint is that Sears better trains their employees to know from the start what services they actually offer. Needing to take time out of work or miss doggie training classes can be frustrating enough, but when you find out that they can’t even off you what you need that is the part you hope can be corrected to avoid any more complaints from other customers.

My tweet out to M&Ms was more of a light-hearted tweet. My coworker bought a bag of M&M fun size packages and one of the bags had an empty wrapper, fully sealed missing the candy. So I decided to tweet at M&Ms telling them to be careful messing with a girl and her chocolate.

M&Ms tweet

They responded three days later telling me to call their customer service number. They asked for the package information and told me they wanted to send out some coupons to replace the empty wrapper. I know for companies like this, information on quality control is valued and taken into consideration.

The last of the tweets was to the RI Blood Center. I have donated blood a couple of times now and done so without any issues. Usually I donate on the travelling blood buses with Josh. This time we decided to go into the Blood Center in Warwick. Josh donates double red blood cells so he needs a special machine that not every bus has. Anyone that knows me knows I have a terrible fear of needles, so I usually need Josh with me to keep my pulse and blood pressure from spiking. I usually warn the person taking my vitals that I am terrified of needles and that it can make me spike a bit. Well I wasn’t quite expecting the response I got. The nurse told me my fear of needles was ridiculous and I needed to get over it. Seriously? Once she said that I instantly got angry and as you would have guessed my BP rose. Honestly I wish she would have waited to insult me until after she took my BP, because then I could have donated. Josh was already hooked up to the machine so I couldn’t just leave. So I had to sit there until he was done. I took to Twitter after leaving the center and within minutes I received a response.

Rhode Island Blood Center Tweet

I have not responded to their tweet yet as I was finishing up my errands yesterday and forgot to respond, but I will absolutely give them a call. Considering they are in such need of donations, the last thing their staff should be doing is insulting the donors. Next time I donate I will do so at the local VA hospital instead.

I know what you’re thinking right now. God, does this girl complain a lot! I promise that is not the case. The point I want to make here is the incredible power of social media. I am sure you have sat on the phone many times pressing one for English, 2 for customer service, 2 for the complains line, 6 for the appliance department and so on until you got to a live person. Then, if it’s anything like Verizon, you still don’t have the right person for your problem so you are transferred 3 more times. With one tweet to a company I was able to get a direct response from someone who could solve my issues. In a world where we want it now, social media has helped businesses grow to be better at servicing their customers. I greatly appreciate the responsiveness and willingness to help from these places, especially those that are much bigger and honestly don’t need to care about the one person complaining about an empty packet of candy. The response time may be a little bit longer for the bigger guys compared to the smaller guys (M&Ms – 3 days vs. RIBC – 1/2 hour) but the extension for help is what matters. For those that are customers, social media is a powerful means to getting results. Don’t be afraid to use it. As for businesses, social media gives you the opportunity to make a public complaint work for you rather than against you. We all know every business gets complaints, but being able to see how quickly you respond to a problem, well that’s what matters now more than ever.

Here are a few tips for businesses on how to use social media to your advantage. These are from the perspective of an internet marketing professional, but also from a customer:

  1. Turn the negatives into a positive. Show your customers that complaints are taken seriously and you care.
  2. Respond in a respectable amount of time. Responding 3 weeks later to my complaint is going you look even worse.
  3. Acknowledge the good tweets. People love a response, whether it be favorites, retweets or a tweet back. Make your loyal customers feel more valued.

-AB

I’ve decided BJs is the new Walmart

Everyone is pretty familiar with the Walmart stereotypes out there – gross people, weird people, rude people, etc. Well after my trip to BJs tonight I am convinced that all of those “People of Walmart” are looking to become the “People of BJs” too.

Swedish Fish CandyNow, I am always excited by the idea of being able to shop in bulk. Who does’t love a giant bag of Swedish Fish? Probably the best part of buying in bulk is that it reduces the number of trips I have to take to the grocery store and deal with the types of people I had to deal with tonight. Let me give you a run down of my trip.

Pulling into the parking lot I immediately knew this was going to be a nightmare. I lost my membership card so I knew I was going to have to go to the customer service desk to get a new one. Every time I have to go in and talk to someone at the service desk it takes FOREVER. They must train them on two speeds, slow and reverse. They are usually too busy eating or chatting with one another to help anyone. So as the full parking lot suggested, the place was a mad house. There were three people in front of me. The one to note was the woman immediately in front of me. She was there with what I would assume were her two daughters. One maybe 12 years old and the other I’d guess to be 2. While the mother had her back turned the 12 year old would lick the baby. Repeatedly. Right up the front of her face. I grew up with a brother 6 years younger than me and when my parents turned their backs we would annoy the crap out of each other but we never licked each others faces. Eventually I made it through the line, got my new card and moved on.

Ok. Detergent, check. Next, water. My mom asked me to pick up a couple cases of water while I was there so I started to head in that direction. My next issue was the lady with, from what I was able to count, 8 kids. Not sure if they were all hers, but if they were god bless her hips. I have no problem with parents who choose to have a lot of children. That’s totally cool. But please control them in public. Or at least try. I am not a mom yet but based on how I was raised if me or my brother even thought about stepping out of line, especially in public, we would have gotten hell. First the evil eye, then we would have to hold mom’s hand. No one wanted to hold mom’s hand. These kids opened a bag of cheese doodles and were having a food fight in the aisle. Now i’m stepping and rolling over cheese doodles trying to pass them and getting more and more irritated by the second. Mom didn’t give a single care. No “stop it” or “don’t do that” or even trying to stop them from acting like total animals trashing the store and disrupting other customers. Have you ever rolled over something with your cart and somehow it manages to get stuck and follow you around the store completely stopping your cart randomly or pulling you in another direction? Yea? Well I now had cheese doodles in my wheels that drove me insane for the rest of my shopping trip.

I got my water and got the hell away from those kids. Water, check. I headed over to the refrigerated section to get my cheese. Lucky me, I ran into some more well behaved children. There was a lot of moisture on the inside of the cases so to bored kids its a prime canvas for writing their names and stupid stuff on the insides of the windows. All I wanted was my cheese, but no. I had to wait for all of these little brats to finish writing their names to get what I needed. Mom and dad were too busy somewhere else in the store not supervising their kids to care. The little girl finished writing on the door, closed it and as I went to open it to get my cheese she yelled “wait!” and jumped in front of me because she forgot to dot her “i” with the little heart. Cheese, check.

As I was walking in I saw a guy with a giant bag of Swedish Fish and of course it was then I decided I needed one too. I headed over to the candy aisle to get my fish as my last stop before running out that door. I managed to get behind two women walking side by side down the aisle as slow as humanly possible. There was no way to get around them so I had to wait. And wait. 8 aisles down. I finally got to my aisle and sprinted to my Swedish fish. Finally, I could just get out. Nope. I forgot the butter. The actual reason I went to BJs.

Ugh. Now I had to go all the way back to the refrigerated section and battle the rotten doodle bugs to get my butter. Right next to the cheese. Thank god when I got back there they had moved on to destroy the meat cases. I did a drive by on the butter and was gone. As I was headed to the checkout the two slow poke women who I got stuck behind before cut out in front of me and it was a slow creep to the registers.

At this point I just wanted out of this nightmare. But no, BJs had a couple more digs. I decided to self checkout since the cashier lines were pretty busy. I had 8 items. That was it. Of course at least 2 of my items caused issues. Each time the attendant had to come over and reset the machine with her card to stop the light from flashing and asking for help. I finally paid, packed my cart and headed for the door. Of all nights I had the lady that needed to do her job extra well and count the items in everyone’s cart. A cart like mine with 8 items isn’t the issue. Its the people who have two carts filled to the brim and 100 items. I waited and waited and waited. Finally got the pass and booked it out of the store. As one final salute, BJs welcomed a crazy screaming lady who was getting out of her car at the curb in pedicure sandals, rollers in her hair, screaming at her husband because he forgot to get the bacon. Keep it classy lady. (For those who don’t know what pedicure sandals are they are a piece of thin fun foam pieces that look like a flip flop – they are used when you get a pedicure and can’t put your does back in closed shoes).

I head to my car throw everything in the back seat, put my cart in the cart collector and get the hell out of dodge. Now I am here blogging, binge eating Swedish Fish, drinking tea and watching Impractical Jokers. A quick hot shower should bring down my blood pressure just enough that I can settle down in bed and relax. Josh took the overnight so Mara will be happy to steal his spot and lay all over his pillows while he is gone. Goodnight!

-AB