Friday, July 31, 2009

A Wedding, a lost UPS package, and a happy ending.

Recently, the words Customer Service took on new meaning at Tender Treasures. The following e-mail exchange will illustrate why.

7/1/2009 at 8:05 a.m Mary: Help!! I had to reorder this dress in a larger size and I am in a panic. I am wearing it for my wedding next Tuesday, July 7 and I completely spaced out on the holiday, and now I am afraid I won’t get it in time. Could you please expedite the shipping? I’ll happily pay.

To which we replied that sure…we will send it 2nd day air so that you will have it in plenty of time.

This was all good to go until we got another e-mail that the dress had not arrived at the appointed time. Some research on our part indicated that we had somehow screwed up the 2nd day air, and sent it ground instead.

To complicate matters, Mary told us she was leaving in a few hours to go to Lansing, Iowa for her wedding. Even if we could get the package delivered, she wouldn’t be there. So now, we had to not only intercept the package, but we had to re-route it to Iowa instead of Minnesota.

Calls to UPS were frustrating at first. We were told nothing could be done. I asked to speak to a supervisor and reached this dream of a man, Russell Gridley, who went to the mat for us, and for Mary.

Evening of July 6, 2009: Gerry : The supervisor at UPS has been working on this all day long. He has intercepted your package, and it will be re-routed to Lansing Iowa. The one thing he has told me is that Lansing is near the end of the route, and usually packages are delivered in the afternoon. He is trying to find a way to get it to you in the morning.

Mary: I can’t believe how hard everyone has worked to make my wedding a wonderful day! When we arrived at the B&B last night, the proprietor told me that my dress would arrive!!! I can’t wait! It is raining here in IA but I understand that to be good luck. Today is our 13th Anniversary, so I know we are doing something right.

July 7, 2009: Mary: I got a call from Ken, the local UPS guy this morning and he met me in the grocery store parking lot a town away from us. What a great guy!!!

Later that Day: Its official…we are married. The dress was perfect and the wedding went off without a problem. I felt great in it and I think it looked pretty good too. Thanks again for all that you did for me. I appreciate your support and kind words.

I asked Mary if we could share her story of this adventure, and her wedding. Here is what she wrote to me:

Mary: We are a lesbian couple who never thought we would see the day that we could be married. Today is our 13th anniversary. We had a commitment ceremony on July 7, 2001. It was not a legal event of course, but we wanted to make the public statement. It was a wonderful party to those in attendance but deeply meaningful to us. We are here in Iowa today because their Supreme Court gave us the ability to marry. We are here with our oldest friends who witnessed our original commitment. They are getting married tomorrow on their 12th anniversary. …

Since our original commitment, I have lost 80 pounds and had a double mastectomy for breast cancer. I did not have any reconstructive surgery and have a body that is unusually shaped. I have so much trouble finding pretty, feminine clothing that is comfortable and attractive. When I found the dress on your website, it was perfect! I was so disappointed yesterday morning when I hit the mall to look for a substitute. I found something that will do but is not THE dress I wanted. I am so excited to have it arrive, and to be able to go forward with my vision. We are picking up our calla lilly wedding flowers on our way to the courthouse!!

Again, my sincerest thanks. With so many people working to make our wedding day a lovely success, I kow we will have a lifetime of happiness!!

The Wedding in Photos

There is nothing like a photo to tell the story. Click on this photo to enlarge and enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Helpful Info on Health Care Reform in your district

Click on the link above for helpful information about health care implications for your own district.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tender Treasures and the Health Care Discussion

I am a small business owner. I have employed between 7-12 employees over the past 26 years in Montrose, California and in my warehouse in Altadena, California. Now, I employ 5 employees due to the economy. One thing that has been important to me for many, many years is a commitment to providing health care for my employees despite the nay-sayers who complain that small businesses can't provide health care.

Initially, I started offering health care after the 1993 legislation in the State of California provided for a small business pool of insurers. It was called the Health Insurance Plan in California, and as a small business owner I was given over 30 different insurance plans from which my employees could choose. By law, I was only required to pay half of the lowest cost plan and withhold half from my employee’s salaries. In the early years I provided health insurance for anyone who worked 20 hours a week or more. The participation formula required that at least 50% of eligible employees must buy into the plan. If they wanted, employees could choose more expensive plans and pay the difference. It was always my choice to offer one of the medium plans as a baseline for which I paid my half.

In 1999, administration for HIPIC was turned over to a non-profit private agency to administrate. Insurance agents entered the picture although I never did utilize an agent for my business. It wasn’t necessary because the plan was equal for everyone, and all one had to do was provide qualification data for your employees. The new private entity was called Pac Advantage. We still had enough choices to provide a flexible health care choice of plans for employees, even though it was not as varied as the original plan run by the state. Each employee would be sent a simple to understand letter listing all of the plans and the price, along with an easily understood listing of what my business would pay toward each of the plans.

Two years ago, Pac Advantage went out of business suddenly, leaving 50,000 small businesses without insurance. I am not clear on what caused its demise. I scuffled and found a Blue Cross plan through a broker that works well for us, but now the participation quotient is 75% of eligible employees. As an employer I am being forced to cut back my insurance offerings to only full time employees now since I have a small staff, and if even one person does not want the insurance but is eligible it disqualifies the company because we will have less than 75% participation.

I want to provide health insurance. It is increasingly more difficult and expensive to do so. I am not afraid to have a requirement for health insurance because I already know I can do it. If the cost could be brought under control, I would love to provide full coverage and not require my employees to pay half. Right now, it costs me $1000 a month for 3 employees. They all have chosen my medium Blue Cross HMO plan and seem happy. I have seen that it can work when the government utilizes its massive amount of participants to negotiate the contracts with the insurance companies. It worked for me, and 50,000 other businesses in California. As the insurance companies pushed back, and took control of the plan, it failed.

I want to support President Obama on his attempts to provide healthcare for every American through a robust public option. The time has come to stand up for what is right for our citizens. Starting over, I believe, is not an option. Private insurers provided wonderful coverage for my employees under a state negotiated and mandated plan. It can be done.

I have seen first hand what a difference it makes for my employees to have health care, to be confident that they will not become destitute because they are sick and to take care of themselves in a responsible manner.


Gerry Puhara