Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Upcoming Events

I figured I’d put up my forthcoming schedule so folks would know where they can catch me.

Not a lot coming up in the actual number of events but they are high quality events!

September 11 will see Greenman Archery at the Caid Open Archery and Thrown Weapons Tournament at the Woodley Park archery range in Van Nuys.
This is a great single day event and I’m really looking forward to it.
Unfortunately I will NOT be able to attend Angels Anniversary on the 10th.
The Barony of Angels has always welcomed me with open arms, even when I’m just hanging out beneath a tree. They’re great people and I’d love to be at their anniversary event but I have a prior commitment to do volunteer work at a rest stop in La Jolla for the Amtrak Century, a 100 mile bicycle ride from Irvine to San Diego. Although you’d never know it to look at me now, I’m a cyclist in addition to being an archer and helping about 1,200 cyclists complete the century is just a whole lot of fun (and hard work, I’m going to be a wreck at Caid Open).

The next event is Great Western War XIV.

In the past few months I have fielded a few questions about whether or not I’d be at this event. For a long time I had to reply in the negative. The disappointed looks that reply received have caused me to rethink my decision.

Consequently, Greenman Archery WILL be at Great Western War this year… hurrah!

I should be arriving Monday, October 3 for merchant set-up and will be leaving at the end of the event, probably Monday the 10th.

I will have a pretty good selection of already made arrows and a great selection of hand-dyed canvas bow socks. Be sure to check out the new colors. The purple is rich, the red is vibrant, and the moss green is just plain beautiful. I will also have some un-dyed bow socks for those who want a natural color or who wish to dye their own.
I’ve been asked why I don’t make fleece bow socks and my answer is to throw a canvas ‘sock on the ground. When it’s picked up it may be a little dusty but otherwise unharmed. Do that with a fleece bow sock and you’ll be an hour picking out the various sticks and stickers embedded in the material. However, some archers want the padding that fleece provides. For these folks I do have fleece-lined canvas bow socks. The canvas gives the tough protection, the fleece gives the soft padding… just don’t look too closely at the fleece inside the sock; I use what I find on sale and it may have ponies or teddy bears on it. Don’t use it inside out and no one will be the wiser.
Another bow sock of interest is the design I make specifically for Asiatic recurve bows, what we frequently think of as the Hun or Mongolian style. These ‘socks are canvas lined and have an exterior of beautiful jacquard material. The colors are brilliant, the feel is soft and silky… these special bow socks have an elegance that bow socks have never experienced before. They’re perfect for a Chinese lord, a Mongol chieftain, or just an archer with a treasured bow. The jacquard fabric isn’t as tough as canvas but if you’re willing to take a little care these bow socks will give your kit the perfect note of elegance.

I’m working on something new for bow socks and I’d like to get feedback from you. I’m looking at coating some un-dyed bow socks with a traditional waterproofing solution, either linseed oil or a mixture of linseed oil and beeswax. These ‘socks would be suitable for the archer desiring a more period item for his or her kit. The waterproofing solutions do have a certain odor to them but once it’s cured it’s not very strong and it’s certainly not an offensive odor at all. What do you folks think?

To keep myself entertained at the War I’ll be taking my bow bench so I can work on a bow or two. I’m also going to have some selected red oak boards available at a good price for those people who would like to have a try at making their own wood bow. The boards will have instructions included. If purchasers of these kits would like to work on them during the event I will have my tools and the bow bench available for use in the Greenman Archery booth. It is entirely feasible that a bow may be made and shot during the event.

Are you looking forward to these events as much as I am?

Happy archery!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

And Sometimes You Win One

Here’s a story about customer service. I’ve been involved with customer service in one way or another for the balance of my working life. Customer service is something I pay close attention to. Of course, I’ve also been a customer for pretty close to the same amount of time, so I know this sword from both ends. It’s certainly made for some interesting experiences.

Sometime last year I found myself in need of a new computer printer. I didn’t use my old one enough and it basically dried up. No amount of head cleaning or Q-Tips with alcohol would get it printing again so I began looking for a new one.

I’m not really picky on my printers. I need them to work and print legible pages but I don’t need photo quality work or special features. Affordable ink is a big plus, as are separate color and black ink cartridges.

I found a printer on sale at Target, a Lexmark X4650, that seemed as if it would fulfill my needs. In addition to printing it had a scanner that seemed like it would be useful, and it was on sale; that's always a big incentive for me.

For a while the printer worked well. Then it began having paper feed issues. The paper wouldn’t go all the way into the printer and only the latter half of the document would be printed on the top half of the paper. Very frustrating. After some troubleshooting I discovered that it fed better if I kept a pretty thick sheaf of paper in the tray. Then that stopped working. I ended up having to reach over to push the first sheet of paper into the printer when it was getting set to print. Very frustrating. Finally, the print quality went south. The first half of a document printed fine but the second half faded to the point of illegibility at the bottom of the page. I tried everything, head cleaning, alignment, wiping the ink cartridges on a clean lint-free cloth in the prescribed direction, nothing worked. More than frustrating.

Cruising the Lexmark website looking for solutions I happened across customer reviews for this printer. The balance of these reviews were pretty positive so I could only think that I had one of the few exceptions to the rule. I also found an email address for Lexmark Listens, a customer feedback opportunity. I took the opportunity to send them an email begging for help in getting my printer working so I could quit hacking up hairballs every time I needed to print something.

Here’s where things got interesting.

After a few days had passed with no reply I figured Lexmark was like many companies and really only wanted to hear about their customer’s good experiences and they really weren’t going to help me.

Then I got their email.

I was shocked.

The Lexmark customer service representative apologized for the issues I was experiencing and noted that most of their customers had great results with their printers, they really weren’t sure why I was having these issues and didn’t know what to tell me to assist in getting it working properly.

Would I like a new printer? The one I have is discontinued so they’ll have to upgrade me to the latest model.

Wait… what? Would I like a new printer? A better one? In this day and age of questionable customer service and companies edging their customers into taking the blame for their issues, Lexmark was apologizing and offering me a new printer. I accepted!

The new printer was sent out that week via FedEx, overnight, no less. I haven’t installed it yet but I am sure it will install and work without a hitch.
At this point I can’t say enough good things about Lexmark.

Their email to me was the proper level of compassion and apology and their treatment of my issues was exemplary. I could not have asked for better customer service. Lexmark is a company that I feel good about recommending.

Note: I was at a friend’s house the other day doing some sewing and noticed that they have the same printer model that was giving me hairballs. They said it’s worked great for them and given good service. It sounds like I really did get an exception to the rule in mine.

Happy archery... and printing!