It seems that people who have to deal with big companies in order to expect quality service from these same places of business, many of these same folks are not only dissatisfied over what they are receiving, but in order to gain help, they are leaving with more frustration that when they first arrived!

Take those customer service phone numbers, the ones that exist for its clients to use so they may receive so-called “quality” service. As one would expect, especially in this day and age where robotics is a easy (and cheaper) way out, as well as the use of outsouring their call centers outside of the USA (mostly located in Asia), its satisfaction level falls within a lower standard.

And leave it to those marking research outlets that speak these truths. According to a survey report conducted by Mattersight Corporation asking 1,000 consumers on their experience with dealing in call centers, more than two-thirds of consumers who dial in to call centers every year become rather thwarted even before they begin the call! Adding to this mix, three-quarters of the same consumers noted they remained frustrated at the end of the call, even if their situation was resolved.

And thanks to social media, notably Facebook and Twitter, companies are using those portals in order to not only get their word out on whatever they are toting, but to perhaps have those people use those outlets as a replacement in those call centers.

But the frustration remains. Based on yet another study from management consulting firm Northridge Group, one third of consumers (based upon 1000 customer replies) whoever made a contact with a company via social media never received a reply to their situation. And when (or if) they ever do get a response, some 30% of customers say the response didn’t meet their expectancies.

There has been an oft-reported aspect that Comcast Cable recently received the worst satisfaction rate in terms to customer gratification, from such notions as billing inquiries, technicians running late (or not showing up at all) for setting up service, and other factors that made their clients feel rather teed off. It’s not much wonder why people are not subscribing to such outlets such as cable TV as they used to. Not only because of lack of customer support, but they have other options. This is why the sport known as “cord cutting” has made a difference over the previous year.

However, some people do not necessarily have an option to go somewhere else when it comes to quality service. Sometimes they are chosen (forced?) to stay with one company, either because they have a product created by the company in question that they must rely upon, or the fact that they are the only company of that sort available, such as basic utilities. (Water, gas, electric service, etc.)

Not too long ago, yours truly was making a rather feeble attempt to gain help over an electronic device made by a computer based electronic company whose world headquarters is located in northern California. (Silicon Valley in case you could not have guessed!) This company on their web site sported a toll free number to call for assistance. (For the record, it wasn’t even easy to find that number. After scrolling through a number of pages clicking away, one could eventually find the number!) To make matters worse, once I called, I has to play the “press 1” game with a robot. After pressing the right amount of numbers, one did receive a so-called “live” person. However, the transmission connection wasn’t the greatest. It sounded as if this person was located thousands of miles away, because they were! And the person on the other end spoke with a heavy east Indian accent, calling themselves with Americanized names such as “Phil” or “Tony”. After taking down your information, they said they they would transfer you to the proper department. After waiting on hold for another two or so minutes, your were connected to another heavy accented East Indian with another Americanized name. They would take the same information as before–of course, not knowing that somebody collected the same information. After that was over, the person would connect you to another proper department. I would have to wait yet another minute mostly in silence rather that hearing the tired sounding “beautiful music” that some customer service center use. Sure enough, I was connected to a third East Indian with the name of “Joe” or “Sam”, asking the same information as before, then insisting to connect you to the right department, and the cycle continued. By this time, I gave up on the whole ordeal and hung up–perhaps the same way that others would do after speaking to a dozen other call centers located in countries where everyone is paid somewhere around the equivalent of $2.00 an hour. Get the picture?

There are many solutions where big time businesses can react toward its loyal (and formerly loyal) customer base. However, this writer isn’t going to give them any pointers–not for free anyway! Then again, it’s going to take time, but in order to keep satisfied customers, one must keep them…well..satified, rather than making them call and pressing 1 for service–or lack thereof!



     THE PORCINI TEST, Laureen Vonnegut’s comic play about a woman who has to deal with her recent past, her current present, as well as other notions such as hidden truths, a concealed firearm, and a specific test of knowledge, makes its world premier at Santa Monica’s Promenade Playhouse.

Nancy Young is Kat, a heading toward middle age woman that had and has a few bad moments within her life. Her husband Will (Paul Keany) is settling in for a breakup. Her two best friends Alma (Danette Garrelts) and Juliet (Tania Gonzalez) attempt to get her affairs in order. For one thing, Kat is under house arrest for a domestic violence rap. (Will was the supposed victim!) Adding to the mix is Jonathan (Gregory Niebel) a “celebrity” interviewer that are also friends of Kat and her buds. These folks visit Kat at her apartment that serves as her “cell” in an untraditional fashion. Their presence, along with a drop in by the “garden boy” Roberto (Garret Gamlleri), brings a few things under a new light. The plot thickens with an accident involving Will’s motorcycle, a gun that might (or might not) be loaded, and a method upon a test on who might be picked as the ideal lover! (It has something to do with an Italian mushroom!) Kat and her friends makes a detection that all can be well, as long as that ankle bracelet she’s required to ware doesn’t get in the way, and if the aluminum foil makes any difference!

This play by Laureen Vonnegut can be best described as a dark post modern romantic comedy. It takes upon a woman going through a lot of difficulties and tends to make the best of them all, if spite of her consequences! The comedy factor depicted is rather minimal. There are no real witty lines spoken by anyone, although it dose feature a gag that might sport a chuckle or two! The romance portion is only set as illusional, but never really depicted. And the for noted romance instances isn’t only limited to casual sex. However, this is a post modern romcom, so anything depicted as sex with “no strings attached” isn’t too far from the truth! The violence aspects are as illusional as well. After all, Kat was the one in trouble for attempting to bash her hubby Will, although he isn’t as innocent within his deeds either! Laureen Vonnegut directs her own material that plays out as a very long one act piece, only to be broken up in two parts so for the audience can get out of their seats to stretch their legs, grab a snack in the lobby, or to answer a call of nature!

Also appearing in this production is Seth Wayne as Officer Paul, a cop that knows Kat; Not from sex, but through her previous misbehaving antics.

As to the technical side of things, Argent Lloyd’s set, sound and lighting design syncs up rather well. And John Schnackenberg’s incidental music score adds to the up to date satisfaction a play as this one uses…for what it is!

THE PORCINI TEST is as unusual as the title mushroom. It may not be spicy, hot in flavor, or is ideal as part of a sweet and sour sauce. But it does offer some unique notions that hasn’t been seen before in plays as this one. At least one doesn’t have to study for the test–or do they?

THE PORCINI TEST, presented by and performs at The Promenade Playhouse, 1404 3rd Street (at the 3rd Street Promenade Mall), Santa Monica, until August 22nd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For for information and to order tickets, visit the web site at


The Glendale Centre Theatre continues its run with the Dolly Parton/Patricia Resnick musical 9 TO 5, a tale of a trio of working woman who seeks revenge over a boss that sets the office rules based upon his own ways and means.

The setting is a large office that deals in some kind of business practices. Karen Volpe is Violet, a single mom to teenaged aged son Dwayne (Kelly Roberts). Amy Gillette is Doralee, a woman whose sprit is as big as Texas. Andrea Arvanigian is Judy. She’s the “new kid on the block” that learns the trait of office politics. The office itself is run by Franklin Hart Jr. (Paul Preston) who treats these women as his “working girls” who caters to his old boy’s club of getting the job done, complete with giving them smaller paychecks than the male counterparts are receiving. Tracy Ray Reynolds is Roz, the bosse’s secretary that is rather non nonsense, and is a bit oblivious to the way Franklin keeps things in gear. Violet, Amy, and Judy do have their personal fantasies on how to get even with their boss, and discover a legit way to show this man who is really the boss!

This stage musical is taken from the 1980 feature film of the same title. The musical period setting is from that same era (1970’s mostly) when connected offices meant there were plenty of hard wired telephones present, typing was done on a typewriter using real paper, and the job was performed in an eight hour workday! The creative team at the GCT sets the mood and period to its finer points. Angela Manke’s costuming design shows what folks were donning at the office back in the 70’s, giving this musical a glimpse of the good old/bad old days!

As to the performances, the lead players are all at their peak, thanks to the talents of Orlando Alexander’s choreography, Steven’s Applegate’s transcribed musical direction, along with Martin Lang’s stage direction. Backed with a very large ensemble cast (too many names to list in this review), they all add to the charm, wit, and liveliness this musical has to offer!

9 TO 5 is a real treat to experience as a stage musical, especially as viewed in a theatre-in-the-round setting as provided by this theater. In a world where traditional office space is slowing fading away as well as an eight hour workday to get the job done, this show is yet another fine stage piece to see and enjoy at one of the San Fernando Valley’s finer places for live theater. And yes..they do get the job done!!

9 TO 5, presented by and performs at the Glendale Centre Theatre. 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until August 22nd. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, with Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM.

     For reservations or information, call (818) 244-8481, or visit the GCT’s web site at


TRAINWRECK (Universal) stars Amy Schumer as Amy. She’s a single not quite middle aged woman working as a lower level writer for a “laddie” magazine in New York City. Because of her being of the single status, she tends to have a lot of suitors come and go in her life. She takes this type of relationships from her father Gordon (Colin Quinn), who divorced when Amy and her sister Kim (Brie Larson) were kids some twenty five years before. In the present day, Kim is married to Tom (Mike Birbiglia) and has a son from a previous marriage. Although Amy does have a “boyfriend”–a muscle bound hunk named Steven (John Cena), she is rather uncertain with what she wants within her life. One afternoon while attending a meeting for possible article ideas, a colleague suggests doing a story on a local sports physician Aaron Conners (Bill Hader) who is developing a knee surgery technique and just so happens to be the physician for the New York Knicks. Amy’s editor and boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton) gives Amy the assignment to write the article–in spite of the fact that Amy knows nothing about sports! She meets Aaron on conducting a series of interviews with him. Eventually a romance blossoms, but Amy has yet to be determined upon what is best for herself in terms of her family, her job, and of course, for the new love in her life!

This latest entry from comedy writer and director Judd Apatow can be described as a post modern romantic comedy minus the fluff that romcoms tend to possess, especially found in titles created in the last twenty years. Even though this feature has some of the stereotypical elements found in a romcom (single woman looking for real love while working in the media in New York City while living in an apartment suited far beyond her means), the overall aura found within this film holds some intelligence. Amy Schumer, who wrote the screenplay and plays the lead, isn’t necessarily the typical main character found in a fluffy romcom. The Amy seen on screen is in her early 30’s, and a bit on the pudgy side! (She’s not fat per se, but just carrying a few extra pounds!) She’s both witty and charming in her own right while still a bit confused–far from being a train wreck as the title suggests! Bill Hader as Aaron Conners is a very appealing and charming man, yet  leaning toward blandness and holds a slight resemblance to Dr. Oz of Oprah fame. Although this movie tends to lean toward Oprah’s demographic (middle aged white women), there is a lot of raunchy jokes and gags all about. However, much of the sex talk and related reference is more akin to something found in a Sex In The City  episode, catering to the same demographic that falls within Oprah’s fandom.

This movie is ideal to see as a classic “date” feature. The gals will like it because of its strong female lead and its witty humor. The guys will enjoy it from its sexual nature, and the fact that NBA star LeBron James appears as –LeBron James! (A few other sports personalities make cameo appearances as themselves, but that’s beside the point!) Although this title will look just as good on the big theater screen, it will play quite nicely on the smaller screen as well. However, that’s not going to take place until late this year–at least not legally. Then again, comic book connected action/adventure films tend to lose its luster if seen on a phone or electronic pad device. So take advantage of what’s available!

TRAINWRECK is rated “R” for the above noted sexual references, as well as for cussing and contraband drug usage. Now playing in the usual collection of multiplexes nationwide in 2-D!



is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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