Calling all Shopaholics! Join the movement.

If you’re anything like me – or some of my friends – I feel a little lost without buying that special something every few weeks (or usually every few days..). Often when I get bored, I’ll casually jump online and buy that $109 perfume I’ve always wanted, or the other week I submitted a poorly written assignment so I cheered myself up with a $79 pair of pants from Forever New and a top to match from Country Road.  Are these things vital to my survival? Although I’d like to think so – they’re not! And my bank account certainly doesn’t appreciate my need for expensive clothing. So yes – I consider myself somewhat of a shopaholic…

BUT for me and others of my kind out there – here is a solution! I’ve learnt through a friend of a campaign called “Buy Nothing New Month” which is a global movement in consumption. It’s a little idea that started in Melbourne and has reached the USA and the Netherlands. It encourages people to start thinking before buying, it’s not about going without something but instead taking a month off to start asking yourself; Do I really need this? Can I borrow this? Or can I get it second hand?

So, aside from the very first day of October (where I had a little impulsive episode and bought an entire new outfit) I have since made a conscious effort to not buy anything new during October. I’m not going to lie – it’s hard. I don’t know what to do at work if I can’t do some online shopping here and there? And unfortunately I’m educated enough to know a bargain when I see one. But it’s a fantastic movement in which I’d love to support. Because really – do you ever stop to think where your old clothes and things might end up before you throw them out? Likewise, I told myself to consider our resources and landfills before purchasing that $200 dress from Kookai.

My advice for the rest of the month: Move out of the department stores and check out the local op-shops and markets because not only is it good for our wallets but also our planet!  

Make a pledge here! http://www.buynothingnew.com.au/pledge/

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Retail Customer Service – Good or Bad?

So I found out recently that there’s a thing called Choice magazine, who describe themselves as The People’s Watchdog. They pride themselves on ensuring the consumer voice is heard loud and clear.

They have released an article this week that rates the best and worst of Australian Retailers including Big W, Bunnings, David Jones, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Myer and Harvey Norman are among others. A recent American Express global customer service survey found Australian consumers believe service standards have continually declined over the last three years.

SO  – Choice sent four individuals to stores in Sydney over a two week period to judge the in-store experience. Here were the results -(http://tinyurl.com/cxz8m8y)

But really – who are these four people that wondered around Sydney and visited stores? Do they have qualifications? It is said that “they rated staff member on helpfulness and product knowledge, as well as noting any other efforts to close the sale such as offering a price reduction or added extras.” I’m not a research scientist (believe it or not), but shouldn’t studies show the verdict from a focus group of actual consumers, not four random people? And shouldn’t it be mentioned that often these stores are separately owned and operated across the entire country?

The only thing they noted was the subjective element involved in any shopping experience. Well yes, exactly, so shouldn’t a number of customers, or at least the same four shoppers go in to the same store and speak to a variety of salespeople? If they did mention this it wasn’t clear in the article.

And also – as this Choice magazine is Australian, shouldn’t they be supporting Australian retailers? No, instead they’re deferring people from in-store shopping  and encouraging people to shop online. Because let’s face it – people continue to shop in-store as they are getting a one-on-one shopping experience with customer service being the number 1 draw card. Oh, but wait – if customer service is failing in most regards and at most retailers – what’s the point of shopping in-store at all?

Being a casual Harvey Norman employee over the last three years, I have experienced my fair share of unsatisfied customers. My position as a cashier lets me speak to customers at the beginning and end of their visit to the store. When it comes down to it – I can recall more good feedback than bad. I always make an effort to pass the praise on to the salesperson on behalf of the customer and make sure to let the boss know. I believe that you hear too much of the bad stuff and not of the good!

I am not defending Harvey Norman or any of these other stores because as a customer too, I often get frustrated with some of the service I receive. However, I think it is entirely poor of Choice to judge the entire chain of these retailers from one visit to one Sydney store. I think this study is a joke.

What are your experiences with customer service in retail? Do you agree with Choice magazine? Let’s hear it!

Swan Lake

Last night, I saw my first Ballet at the Melbourne Arts Centre. It was breath taking! Completely mesmerizing.

Funny story however. As my friend, Victoria and I arrive (5 minutes late, whoops) we have to wait until we can be ushered in as the prologue had just began. While I was standing there waiting, I watched the monitor to see the show commencing. It was then when I realised – I have NO idea what Swan Lake is about? “I’ve seen the movie Black Swan, which was terrible.. is it anything like that?” I thought. I was completely surprised that I had never known the story, even though the name was so familiar. Embarrassing really?!

After having seen such a wonderful version of Swan Lake, I’d describe the story as beautifully tragic. Prince Siegfriend celebrates his birthday with his friends while four Princesses are presented to the Prince as potential wives, he shows no interest though. Later in the evening after the party, the Prince escapes to the lake where he seeks solitude. He becomes transfixed on a swan that transforms in to the beautiful Princess Odette, who gives her heart to the Prince.

The following night, there is an extravagant ball in process at the Prince’s palace. He is expected to choose a wife, but his mind is elsewhere thinking of Princess Odette. The festivities are interrupted by von Rothbart who introduces his seductive daughter to the Prince, who has an uncanny appearance to that of Princess Odette. Prince Siegfried is mesmerised by the beauty of von Rothbart’s daughter and falls under her spell, breaking the vow of fidelity to Odette.

As the swan maidens protect the Princess, the prince begs for her forgiveness, but she knows that they have to separate. In desperation, he drowns himself. His sacrifice frees the soul of Odette from von Rothbart though she will remain a swan.

The dancing was superb & so sophisticated. The orchestra was truly wonderful and an absolute joy to listen to.

I appreciated the experience and am already dying to see another ballet performance. Horizons have been broadened!  Dose of Melbourne Culture – Check.

Training is underway!

Hey all!

Welcome & thanks for reading my first blog post!

If you haven’t already – please read the about me pages and learning quests to give you an idea about what I’m about!

So 10km hey… I’d be lying if I said I’ve ever ran 2km without gasping for air half way through.. Before thinking twice about it though, I registered for the 10km Melbourne Marathon on the 14th of October. Less than 4 weeks away…eekk! With the run soon approaching, I’ve been under pressure to get fit again! I’m pleased to report that it hasn’t been as tragic as first thought. Thanks to some encouraging friends who have also challenged themselves to do the run, we’re getting better and better each week.

Record to date – 7.5km in 56 minutes.

My aim is to run the whole distance within 1 hour!