I’m following the Pope on Twitter.
Yeah…I’m Catholic-ish—more of a denominational mutt—but that’s not the reason for following: he’s tweeting in Latin now. Love it. If there were ever a language that needed a comeback, it’d be that one.
When I was a kid…God, when did I turn into my grandfather?…anyway, when I was a kid, Latin was already considered a defunct language and no longer taught in schools, pretty much dead with the generation before me.
It was still around, mind you, in places like my dad’s job, where Semper Fidelis (always faithful) could be found everywhere: on bumper stickers, sides of buildings…tattooed boobies. I know—boobies. Go ahead and laugh. Back then that’s what I called them, but grew up, as we all do, and now refer to them by the more proper and mature, “ta-ta’s.”
Where was I? Oh yeah. “Semper Fi” is the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps, in case you didn’t know, and was the first Latin phrase I learned. Hoo-RAH!
In Hoc Signo Vinces
Then, my second exposure to Latin was in hoc signo vinces (in this sign, you will conquer). According to legend, back at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312, the Greek equivalent of the phrase appeared in the sky above the emperor, Constantine, accompanied by a cross.
Constantine didn’t know what to make of the apparition until the next night, when Jesus came to him in a dream and told him to go forth and conquer under the sign of the cross. Constantine translated it to the Latin, in hoc signo vinces, adopted it as his battle cry, and Christianity spread across Europe.
Of course I was but a wee lad when I learned it and said, “in hock sig-no vinces,” pronouncing the “gn” like that in “magnum” instead of “lasagna.” But my knowledge didn’t come from a church lesson or a vision in the sky. Nope.
It came from a pack of smokes: Pall Mall red and Pall Mall gold, the motto of the brands my folks bought. I always thought it meant, “Outstanding…and they are mild.”
A pity. Gone are the days of honest advertising and wholesome smoking with the Cleavers. Watch the lady’s reaction at 45 seconds…are they still making the Pall Malls with red opium?
So it’s ironic that my dealings with another tobacco company (and I use that term loosely) is what prompted my mind to wander to … and wonder about … Caveat Emptor.
Let The Buyer Beware
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my switch from smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes to the healthier (or so I’ve been led to believe) alternative of “vaping” electronic cigarettes, which, in essence, is huffing back on a personal nicotine atomizer.
It seemed to make perfect sense; there was none of the smoke or 4000 toxic chemicals to attack your lungs, but instead, pure nicotine and steam to do it. The internet was chock full of information and great deals—one in particular:
The Victory Mega E-cigarette Starter Kit
$99.99 Now only $31.90 with membership in the monthly refill club.
$99.99? What the heck have you been vaping? I’d never pay that price!
No, no…but I would pay the sale price—$31.90—and would gladly participate in their program.
That’s what they’re hoping for…
After all, I’m a smoker…soon to be vaper…and the refill program is equal to $10/carton. I smoke three cartons a month—perfect. There haven’t been prices like that since the opium days of Pall Mall!
So I bit…and ordered three of the Mega E Kits for all the “vapers” in the house. It would have been a victory for the company, too—about $120/month with shipping.
But there was a problem … wait! … make that two problems.
The first problem, an easy fix, was with the order itself, which promised two batteries per kit, but only came with one. Of course, being a conscientious shopper (and gettin’ my money’s worth!), I went to the website to contact them and rectify the discrepancy immediately.
That’s when the second problem came into play. They were unreachable. The Untouchables. Sure, they had a “contact” page, but that got me absolutely nowhere. It did have a phone number, though, so I called and it rang. And it rang.
And it rang. Then finally…a pick-up:
Thank you for calling Victory E-cigarettes…” began the spiel, …blah, blah, blahblahblah…caller number 39 with a 76 minute wait.”
Caller 39…76 minute wait?! You’ve got to be kidding me. Lots of calls, lots of problems—not a good sign. After waiting for about ten minutes (still at #39), another message piped in:
If you don’t have time to wait, choose our return call-back option. Press 2.
I pressed 2.
An answering machine asked for my name and phone number, which I gave, along with the order numbers, date ordered, and details of the problem—everything a vendor would need and then some. I was a freakin’ Stepford customer, for Pete’s sake.
No call back the rest of the day (I called about 2:00, after the mail came). Nor the next. So the following day, it was back to the site for the phone number and another call. No more phone number; it had been removed and only the email address remained.
The fine hairs on my body stood on end.
Jotting off an email with all the particulars, I immediately got an automated response: “We’ll respond to your problem within 24-48 hours.” They responded to tell me they would respond later. Oh, goodie.
Needless to say, none of this was resting easy with me. With the phone number removed and the email response automated, I began investigating further into Victory, trying to actually get a real person to deal with.
I tweeted. And tweeted. No response, which, for an online company with a Twitter account, was ludicrous. So I tweeted again:
Not a peep.
I went to their Google+ page. That’s where I first saw the flood of problems, with people adding their complaints to the few posts of positive testimonials. Those testimonials, by the way, were posted by Victory, and as far as I’m concerned, tainted. Needless to say, I added my two cents—make that a whole nickel.
Then, back to their site to follow their “Follow us on Facebook” link. It took me to my own page. Victory doesn’t even have a Facebook page. What? Follow us on our non-existent page!
That was too much. I went to the bank and cancelled my card; it was either a scam or a poorly-run company, and I wasn’t going to risk another $120 withdrawn from my account.
Perhaps the company rose too quickly in a fast-growing market and couldn’t handle the demand. I can understand that.
But keep your customers informed of the situation. Make real contact. Don’t dodge them with excuses. Otherwise, it looks like you’re being dishonest and running a scam.
It’s been almost a month since all that took place, and I’ve never heard a word concerning the missing batteries from my orders. Like I said, perhaps it was too much, too soon, and they just couldn’t keep up. I’ll give them the benefit of that doubt, but only because they did seem to want to do business…just not good business.
I’ve been back to their site and there have been some changes:
- There are no more sale prices or “great deals..” $60 and $100 kits. Ha!
The phone number has been added back to the contact page as “Priority Support.” I called…#7, with a ten-minute wait. Twenty minutes later, still at #7, I hung up.
- The refill club is now “pay as you go,” with no monthly memberships. Had I not cancelled, would they ever have alerted me? Doubtful. Would they still have charged me? Probably.
- Still no Facebook page.
And to top it all off, during the course of writing this, the Pope has resigned, effective the end of February. Crap. There go my free Latin lessons.