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    21st August 2010

    A mess…

    Is what the office must be like at Jensen Medical in Denver. Yesterday they told me that they still hadn’t received the camber tube they ordered to fix my wheelchair. Not only had they not received it, but now they said they wouldn’t get it until Monday or Tuesday of next week! They’ve been stringing me along with a different day everytime I call. Earlier this week they told Southwest the part had made it to their headquarters in Pueblo and they just had to get it to Denver, which they would by Friday. Then I talked to Jensen yesterday (Friday) and they told me that it would be Monday or Tuesday because it had taken the part supplier awhile to find the part and that they don’t ever do overnight shipping.

    But when I called SouthwestMedical, (ironically) the company that deals with distributing replacement parts for Quickie wheelchairs, I was told that it should take 2 days, maybe 3 at the most to find a part, and that they would certainly ship a part overnight at that point.

    So which was it? The part had made it to Pueblo and needed to get to Denver? Or the part hadn’t been shipped because the original warehouse either couldn’t find it or had to make it?

    Either way it’s totally bogus that it wouldn necessarily take this long – which is how Jensen is trying to make it sound. My guess is that they ordered the wrong part or made some other mistake in the ordering. And the way I see it, the longer this goes on, the more I expect Southwest to do as far as compensating me for lost productivity, emotional hardship, etc. If they don’t come through with something, I’m going to have to put together a song about the incident similar to “United Breaks Guitars”…

    1 comment

    16th August 2010

    The latest on my Southwest wheelchair debacle…

    I’m calling it a debacle now because that really is what it is. It’s a mess. Southwest customer relations is a mess, too. There has been one gentleman who has been helpful, but when he is not working, nobody thinks to follow up on anything related to my wheelchair.

    There have been a number of things that have been ridiculous about the whole scenario to me. First, that it has taken so long for their vendor/repair shop (the place where they sent my chair to get fixed) to get the necessary part. The first day their repair person had gone home early. Then once they actually ordered the part, they must have shipped it five-day instead of overnight. They told me it was guaranteed for today but this afternoon they hadn’t yet received it! For something as important as a vital piece of a wheelchair I would think that guaranteed one-day delivery would be a no brainer. Apparently not.

    Second, the difficulty there has been in acquiring a quality, comparable rental chair. Now I admit that I spent a little time trying to find a better rental chair for myself and had trouble finding one on a short timeline. Since Southwest had promised me a better one by Thursday of last week I turned down an offer to put one together from the guys at Mobility and More in Loveland who said on Wednesday they would need a few days to get one together.

    Of course, the chair they sent me on Thursday really wasn’t that much better – I certainly could have had a higher quality chair put together by someone by Friday or Saturday if I hadn’t thought I was already getting one.

    Then on Friday, I was told by a customer service representative (the helpful one) that he was now in contact with a shop in Seattle that would be able to put together a Quickie 2 and send it out over the weekend. That would have been a decent chair for me to use for a few days – the only concern was that they would of course ship it on one of their own planes… and we know now what happens to wheelchairs on Southwest. But that chair never materialized because the shop needed a part, and while the guy in Seattle wanted to ask Quickie to send out a demo chair, no one from Southwest followed up over the weekend to confirm that this was something he should do.

    And that leads to today, where the repair place in Denver still doesn’t have the part they need – and I’m still using a subpar wheelchair that is a pain to get in and out of my car. Especially now that it’s raining and I’m going to have to try to get it into my trunk quickly without getting stormed on.

    Alright readers, sorry for being so negative… maybe I should give you something positive to dwell on. Like the excess quantity of t-shirts I ordered this summer for people at my old workplace, Measured Progress. Measured Progress was where I graded standardized tests and then supervised people grading tests for the previous four summers. We usually referred to it as “scoring” tests, and so for a few summers I had been wanting to make this particular t-shirt. Finally I did, and now I have way too many. If you’re interested in acquiring one, send me an email at darylholmlund [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll take any offers as long as it covers shipping…

    And yes, I had some long hair and sweet headbands earlier this summer...

    And yes, I had some long hair and sweet headbands earlier this summer...

    12th August 2010

    Wheelchair troubles continue…

    Southwest sent me a new rental chair today. It was supposed to be much better. It is marginally better. It is a little bit lighter and the fit is a little better – but it still isn’t a rigid frame, and because it is a folding x-frame style chair I still have to put it into my trunk to get anywhere. It’s about a foot longer than my wheelchair so I’m still going to be hitting the walls trying to get around my apartment. And just to make it as functional as it is now I had to modify it, taking off the brakes and sideguards – but I didn’t get around to that before smashing my left thumb in the brakes. That thumb is now purple and sore under the nail.

    And to add insult to injury, Southwest is apparently trying to make up for the five days that I’ve already lost waiting for a better replacement chair (and the future 1-4 days that I will still be semi-incapacitated, depending on how long it takes for the repair company to get the part) by sending me a $200 credit to use next time I fly with them…

    I’m not sure what five days of your life are worth, but I would rather have those five days back than a $200 flight voucher.

    Well, it’s time to eat dinner and then maybe make a phone call to let them know how happy I am with replacement wheelchair number 2. Number 2 might be a fitting name for it, actually… but I’ll try to keep it clean. This is a family-oriented blog, afterall.

    I’ll keep the internet updated since I don’t know what else to do right now. Enjoy a few pictures of my smashed thumb, number 2, and for comparison a shot of my chair.

    my poor thumb!

    my poor thumb!

    nice upgrade... or not.

    nice upgrade... or not.

    my chair, for comparison

    my chair, for comparison

    10th August 2010

    BAGS FLY FREE… wheelchairs, too, but no promises about whether it’ll get there in one piece…

    Last weekend I went to Seattle. My girlfriend’s parents live there and a few of her friends were getting married.

    (Some of you reading this – if there are any people reading it – might not believe that I really have a girlfriend, but I do.

    i have a girlfriend!

    i have a girlfriend!

    further proof that I didn't just steal a picture of some random girl and pretend she was my girlfriend

    further proof that I didn't just steal a picture of some random girl and pretend she was my girlfriend

    Her name is Mikaela and she’s awesome.)

    We flew out Thursday evening and then we had fun at her parents’ house hanging with her family, saw some of her friends, went lake kayaking and Wii bowling, and I Friday night I shared a bed with one of the grooms to be as he was also staying at Mikaela’s parents’ place that night. Saturday we went to two weddings back to back. The weddings were beautiful and even when we got lost en route to wedding number two we were able to make it there before it started thanks to a rain delay (surprise, surprise – that is the risk you take when planning an outdoor wedding in Seattle).

    playing with my camera in low light at a lovely wedding

    playing with my camera in low light at a lovely wedding

    We got back to the house at midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning, slept for a few hours, and then got up and headed to t he airport to fly back to Denver.

    Now let me back up just a little bit: When we arrived in Seattle one of the wheels on my wheelchair was a bit bent and wobbly but I wasn’t really sure what was wrong. I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle and I would file a complaint with the airline on my way back to Denver to see if they would help me.

    Throughout the trip the loose wheel became increasingly annoying as it was rubbing against the sideguards on my chair so that I didn’t get much glide from each push. But I still figured I would make it back to Denver and either talk to the airline or just find someone who could repair it.

    So we had a wonderful weekend and then headed home. When we got to Denver I waited on the plane while they brought my wheelchair up from the baggage compartment. Once they brought it up I put my seat cushion on and headed up the jetway. Now it was obvious that there was a lot more wobble and bend to my wheel. As soon as we got into the terminal I started heading towards the airline desk to make a complaint about my damaged wheelchair.

    However, as I moved that way, the end of the camber tube, where the wheel axles are secured, broke off on the one side. That troublesome wheel was no longer attached to my wheelchair and I was spilled onto the ground in a busy airport terminal. Several men jumped over and attempted to assist me, but I asked them to allow me to sort my situation out first.

    Sitting there on the floor I saw a security officer. I politely got her attention and asked if she could bring me one of the airport wheelchairs so I could get over to the desk to make a complaint. No, she said, I only screen passengers. Only the airlines can give a passenger a wheelchair.

    Ok, said I. So I’m just going to crawl over to that desk there and see if I can find some help.

    I said this slowly and deliberately so she would be sure to understand it.

    She stared at me.

    I crawled to the desk, pulled myself up to standing so I could talk to the airline representative. He thought I was joking.

    I most certainly was not. My wheel fell off causing me to spill myself out into a crowded terminal full of people who were then staring at me. You think I’m joking?!

    Maybe they still do think I’m joking. I eventually made it to baggage claims to make a report, but because my chair was broken I had to be pushed on one of those people moving non-wheelchairs that big guys push grandma and grandpa through the airport in. They promised to send my chair to a repair shop in the morning and then sent me home with one of the big old clunkers from the airport – heavy, awkward to maneuver, unsightly. This is what grandma and grandpa are pushed around in at the retirement home. Or as one of my friends said on seeing it: It looks like it was stolen from a geriatric ward… in the 1970s.

    I tried to let them know that this was an unacceptable loan chair for me to use and that I needed a new one immediately. Apparently they thought I was joking again because, even though they promised to have a better rental chair the next day, it has already been 2 days+ and they said they might not have anything better until Thursday and that the parts they needed to order for my broken axle/camber tube would take a week or more to get to CO.

    The result of course is this: I’m writing a blog entry because A) this is an interesting and funny story that I think you readers out there will enjoy; and B) with this wheelchair that I can hardly get into my car and cannot easily get around in most places, I’m not going to go anywhere right now… why not write a quick little blog entry?

    I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of this debacle. The airline does not seem realize what an inconvencience for a person like me to not have a light, custom-fitted wheelchair. It’s like if they broke someone’s legs on a flight and then to make up for it said, Here, have some crutches so you can get around while your bones heal up. Sure you can still get around, but you’re not going anywhere fast – and you won’t be able to do many of the active things you would otherwise be able to do!

    I’ll be calling them again tomorrow to try to advise them on how much of a pain this really is for me.

    When I have more news I’ll update here. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of the sweet new ride the airline gave me…

    the sweet wheelchair that the airline gave me

    the sweet wheelchair that the airline gave me

    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.