Monday, June 24, 2019

Reality Check: Time Is Finite; Waste Not, Want Not


Dear Sam’s Club,

Here’s an example of how you turn more people away and decrease market share:

My experience this morning in my local Sam’s Club.

“Are You a Plus Member? “

I wasn’t really listening. Thinking about all I had to do today and looking for my credit card after presenting my Sam’s Club “old” membership card which they hadn’t changed when I “demoted” my membership from Plus to “Regular”.

“Not at this time,” I replied.

“Well, I can change that by adding $8.00 today.”

“No thank you”, I replied, “It’s due for renewal in a little over 30 days, I’ll wait until then.”

“You Aren’t Supposed To Be Here Now….”  He said.

Surprised by the negative admonition, he added, “Well, I can give you a one time “Courtesy” pass.” Which he did and which appeared in large print on the screen making me feel really bad about “not knowing better”.

“You’re supposed to be here after 10 AM.”

Really. Must have missed the Memo. But then I don’t shop Sam’s Club “regularly”.

That’s why I don’t get the “upgraded” membership – the extra “kickback”, excuse me, bonus reward, for spending up to a certain amount. No….I have credit cards that reward me without putting constraints on where I shop and with whom I shop.  

I tried the “Plus membership and found it a waste of money. This was before the Home Delivery and other “benefits” now added to the program which I don’t want or need.

I’m a Senior. I’ve seen lots of us in this age group shopping at Sam’s Club, especially earlier in the morning. Of course, for all I know they could be Plus Members. It’s just I notice demographics; it’s been my training to observe, to evaluate and to make positive changes based on various marketing analytics.

When it first opened, “our” Sams’ Club” was “the place” to buy our business supplies, home items, stock our freezer and feed two growing sons who could empty the refrigerator before I could get all the food out of the bags and into storage for, if I was lucky, a few days, before making another trip to what was then a great way to save on everyday items and larger quantities of food and other supplies.

This was pre Amazon and so many others who now lead the way along with other Membership and Non Membership businesses all seeking to retain, build and increase market share.

Sam’s Club Membership is $45 or $100 for Plus

All I want to do is walk through the door of this Warehouse Shopping giant and buy the items I use in bulk and be on my way.

Now, I’m told, my spending is welcome only during certain times that interrupt my morning which for me is an important part of my business day. It used to be 9 AM and now I found out it’s been raised. 

Next thing I know, it could be Noon or later before I’m “welcome” to spend my money in their facility that is mass market, bulk buying with a little bit of regular sized items at somewhat discounted pricing they hope you’ll pick up while you’re there.

For the record, I liked shopping at Sam’s Club; it apparently only likes my shopping there during times they determine and change and then publicly admonish you if you should “violate” their protocol.

I get the benefits concept of the levels of membership; I don’t get the discrimination of shopping times except for the fact having staff come in and opening your doors at 7 AM, for example, means more cost of staffing, etc (I am a business person, after all).

 So…..open for a few, charge for this “benefit” and no longer “card” people at the door to ensure they have the level of “membership” before they load their cart and get in the checkout line?

Poor policy.  Poor procedures. Speaks volumes about the business……

Yes, I work, have my own business and place a value on time and opportunity. We share a car, daughter and I, because we can’t afford two cars and we’ve come a long way in eight years because we’ve lived the lessons of life we’ve known and learned and one of them is to consider how we use what we have and what we are given.

We’ve survived and now we’re returning to being able to thrive and that includes choosing with whom and where we shop and spend time.

I wasn’t interested in the “perks” – not even the add ons for “just” an additional $40 when I was finally able to afford, yes afford, “going back” to Sam’s Club.

Sam’s seems to be equating or trying to become more “niche market” by excluding rather than including the community. That’s a business choice. A model. Poor one. Chosen one. Out of touch.

I always research when I “come up against” challenges like this one. Here’s what I found on the company’s website comparing the two membership levels benefits:

“Early shopping hours  Get in and out faster without the crowds starting at 7AM Monday - Friday (not available at all clubs) https://www.samsclub.com/sams/pagedetails/content.jsp?pageName=aboutSams

NOTE:  Their own website states “Not available at all clubs”. 

And, you’ll notice there is no on line posting about what time we “lesser customers” are allowed to spend “our money”. Wow! Discrimination seems to be changing again and refocusing on new categories.

So….how many of you reading this take the time to read the sign posted outside Sam’s Club door?  Last time I read it Plus Members were admitted earlier at that 7 am time and regular hours were 9 AM for others. Today I saw the 10 AM. Or maybe your Sam’s Club has other hours??

What about that “security” person who stands at the front entry who USED TO CHECK YOUR CARD before you could even enter.  Not now. You don’t need to show it, you just grab a cart and if you have  anything to “return”, they put a sticker on the item but anyone could walk in and look around.

I’d been surprised visiting Costco several months ago when no one asked to see my membership card and then surprised again when Sam’s Club seemed to “pick up” this practice and we no longer needed to “present” the card for membership.

As someone with a degree in Marketing Management – the ship has sailed….and it’s leaving behind many who don’t need to “walk in” to get what they want or need – it can be delivered, it can be waiting for pickup, it can be from many “bulk buyers” and “discounters”.

Walmart/Sam’s Club used to lead the way, were highly innovative and often controversial.

Now, they’re followers instead of leaders.

This lack of customer consideration and service lowers them even further in my opinion.

For the record, Sam’s Club … when we were celebrating a historical WIN in St Louis, you missed the shot.

Not a single St Louis Blues shirt or any other memorabilia was on your tables, racks or in your stacks. While at Costco---they were flying out the door.

I believe I made the right choice when we joined Costco. I was going to renew Sam’s also for the “convenience” – they’re on the way back from where I drive to take my daughter to work on the day’s I use the car. Guess that won’t be my plan any more because it takes away from “my time”.

It’s my choice, as a consumer. I do not see the benefit for our spending even the “small additional amount” which I can use to donate to a local charity or spend on something else we still need and have been putting aside purchasing – even at Sam’s Club.

My time is valuable. Even one hour. I’ll spend part of that time driving a little farther to where, at least from what I’ve seen, I’m still appreciated as a customer, a member.

Interesting how when the major force behind some businesses is no longer involved changes that aren’t focused on understanding what you say, how you say it along with what you do and how you do it, make the difference between revenue generation and revenue reduction.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Two Weeks: Bethesda Meadow Doesn't Respond; Grieving For Carol

Search for policies on the Long Term Care Facility's practices when a resident dies and you'll find varying viewpoints.

All I've read point out how the CNA's and other residents can be greatly affected.

Here's one from the National Institute of Health:



At Bethesda Meadow, they hide the event as much as they can. Usually they want the "deceased" belongings cleared out immediately -- the same day or no longer than the following day.

Memorials and mentions of a "passing" are rare.

Do they really think if they isolate residents, those living and dying, they won't be missed?

Carol was deprived from most human contact.

The facility did not take her out of her room but they paid for the rental of a gerry chair (believe the same one was possibly double paid for by Carol and her Roomate as I saw them use it once for each of them) except for two occassions when I insisted she be dressed and put in the chair to be able to socialize.

The curtain between the two beds in the room was almost always drawn.

The door to the room was almost always completely closed or if not completely, closed so far as to deter or disinterest any other resident or even a visitor from stopping by and visiting.

Isolation and segregation from the general population -- not taken to the dining room before she had "frozen" hands. 

No one assigned to feed Carol when her hands became inoperable. 

Given small glasses of liquids she couldn't begin to hold or reach to obtain.

Food placed in her room and aides walking away -- believing she or whoever was visiting would do the feeding.

I know it wasn't her time to pass. I watched too much. I tried to be heard. Many others understand; they've done the same.

Death is a part of life. Death should have its own schedule and not have someone who gives aid and assistance over weeks of providing unnecessary antipsychotics and other medications.

Anyone who loses as much weight as Carol did in the amount of time she did suffers greatly as the body goes through significant stress and duress.

She wanted to eat. We fed her. They did not.

Grief is a part of living.
Dishonoring the passing is demoralizing the living.

Carol's room was filled with her treasures; many had been removed; some we'd given her, hats from trips we took, pictures of us with Carol, were GONE.

No one has contacted us. It's two weeks today.

When we arrived that Wednesday evening, flowers in hand, to see an empty bed -- actually two--her roommate's and hers-- we went to the floor nursing station and the first person didn't even know she'd died -- another employee told us.

No Memorial Service. 
No posting of her picture.
It's as if she never existed.

Close your doors, Bethesda. We'll open windows.

Examining this Not For Profit who must file its Form 990's and can't understand the large salaries given to ten corporate people....

Trying to see where the money is coming from and going to over a million dollars in salaries and "other income" for just ten people-- and that doesn't include all the salaries for each facility including medical/non medical/office and other.

Know they have many Medicaid Beds. That's income. 

Know they doubleshift many workers -- less cost than adding another employee. And, they hire from outside services, bypassing the need to pay certain taxes and other payroll items.

Did you know you can find a Not For Profit's 990's on line?  All you need to know is the general name of the corporation/company/entity and it helps to know the State.

Anyone who believes Not For Profits in Long Term Care provision are barely subsisting should take a long look at the salaries and other compensation and should request -- it's public knowledge -- to see "the books" if they're Not For Profit.

If they're not .... there are other ways to check online their income, expenditures and salaries. In today's world, they can attempt to hide information but it's there and someone can find it.

You're paying the bills -- Medicaid is Federal Money -- where does that come from....your pocket and mine. And that's both For Profit and Not For Profit LTC's.

I called Bethesda Meadow following our finding Carol's bed empty and learned she'd passed and asked if there were any directives on memorials for Carol.

NO REPONSE.

They'd cremated her; she told me she wanted her body to be donated to science.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?


The receptionist didn't know. Said they would ask. 

NO ONE HAS CALLED. 
       NO ONE CARES ABOUT OUR GRIEF.

I asked for the mailing address of her only relative to send a note of condolence 

NO RESPONSE.

And why isn't someone asking these questions from the DHSS?  Seems to me without a body there could be no autopsy and with cremation -- evidence is gone.

I've watched so many come and go at Bethesda Meadow.

I've watched as the year progresses and "bonuses" are wanted to be met how cutbacks, eliminations and yes, inactivity for the residents becomes so prevelant.
  • Food an animal would turn their nose up at.
  • Cutbacks to one CNA per hallway; 2 per floor and sometimes just the 1; so many bed bound, always sleeping, morning, noon and night.
  • Significant changes every time their yearly "review" by the DHSS comes around.  The DHSS says they don't schedule it and so it's a "surprise".
Really?  An authorization to operate, a license, that must be renewed within a period of time and the facility isn't aware there will be an "annual visit" for this purpose?

Not what we've seen. It's wall to wall staff and everyone in his/her place, volunteers and others playing games with, moving people around and so much more.

That's not reality; it's a created fantasy land.

If changes are to be made, they will have to come from the grass roots. They will have to rise up through the ranks of people who can well afford "Nursing Home" care at all levels and that includes all prices. 

Most importantly, until all ages form a movement to protect our Seniors as strongly as those protecting animals, the unborn and children, the challenges and the problems will grow for the aging Senior population and those will affect more and more families.

Some stats from the State of Pennsylvania:


  • Most people will need some form of long-term services and supports in their lifetime, including assistance with daily activities such as bathing and dressing, because of a physical impairment or a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • An estimated 70% of people currently turning 65 will require long-term care in their lifetime, and they will receive care for an average of 3 years.
  • Eighteen percent of all seniors will require more than one year in a nursing facility.

More stats in the next entry.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Last Rites For Carol

Today is Monday,June 4, 2019. 

Carol passed through this life on Sunday, May 26, 2019,  Aged 72 and just three days before her 73rd birthday.

My last entry I was preparing to leave to visit her. It was Carol's birthday and I felt like I was in "jello" all that day -- a feeling I'd described in earlier writings after my husband passed and my mother.

Time seemed to stand still. I was moving but something was "different". I had no idea what awaited me and even though it was "expected", the cruelty, the thoughtlessness, the didn't seem to give a D... of the facility for Carol as a person, who lived, loved, cared about ... not in their range of humanity.

I'd asked someone to call me from the facility if she passed because I thought they might not let me know but I didn't want to believe they could be so thoughtless, so heartless, of Carol and of my daughter and I.

She didn't.  No one did. No call, no note, nothing.

I went totally unprepared socially and emotionally for the empty bed, the half cleaned out room yet so many "things" of Carol's still in the room, on shelves, on walls. 

I carried a potted yellow chrysanthemum -- another plant that would survive less watering and attention as staff usually ignored and allowed them to die -- like the people.

I can't describe the shock of not seeing her in the bed, usually starring straight ahead, a TV constantly on -- made that way by staff who usually closed the door, drew the curtain between the two beds (hers and her roommate's). She watched whatever they chose. No one to talk to; no one sitting with her. Alone. Isolated.

We had to ask about her. ASK about "the obvious" yet the totally shocking and unexpected discovery of the empty bed, the empty room -- her roommate.....did she pass also?

Walking out. Down the hall. Noticing so many residents sitting in the area where they're now fed. Unusual. There haven't been this many since months before Carol's move into Hospice within her regular room.

Always when visiting over the past nine months or so the residents have been in their rooms, almost all in their beds, asleep or in a dazed state. I've tried to "visit" but they've been beyond just as Carol was.

I believed then and I believe now they were all over drugged to accomodate the choice of the facility to have "low" rates of caregivers and hold down costs.

It will take time for me to adjust to this passing. Yes, it was inevitable because no one stepped in, no person cared enough or thought enough about ensuring the well being and health of someone "that age" -- which is really not old by today's standards.

Carol had become too expensive and she'd found her voice which was even more costly to a facility.

Did I mention when I arrived there was a new "face" at the Reception Desk? I struck up a conversation before going up to Carol's room -- before I knew she'd passed.

A lady I'd not seen before. Turns out she was someone who cleaned the rooms during the day and now was "extending" her shift by another four or more hours, total of at least 12, by sitting at the reception desk.

Where have all the "regulars" gone?  Or have they seen enough or were they "substituted" so as not to be able to see, to talk, to share their concerns?

I have other life responsibilities but I cannot set aside my concerns over the lives of people who enter a place to live only to be reduced to dependency and then dying under strange circumstances.