Gander Mountain FAILS in Customer Service - Rocks!

Dear Gander Mountain -- Your packaging sucks as does your customer service. I will never order from you again.

Dear FedEx - I recognize your driver probably felt threatened by our dogs, but wouldn't it have been better for your driver to bring the package back to your warehouse so we could pick it up, rather than him tossing it in the driveway? Do you have a policy in place?

Dear - Thank you for standing by the customer and resolving delivery problems behind the scenes with out wasting the customer's time.

On Cyber Monday (12/1) I ordered a shirt from Gander Mountain. It was a Christmas gift for my husband. On 12/5 they notified me that it was shipped.  It was packed in the flimsy plastic envelope pictured above. We found it today in the yard, half eaten by our dogs.

WE HAVE DOGS. They are large, and they bark furiously whenever anyone approaches our home. They are intimidating, but are contained in our yard behind an invisible fence. It's understandable that delivery people who don't know about the invisible fence are apprehensive about approaching the house. We have a front door with a porch that is under cover and the dogs cannot reach it. All of our usual delivery people from FEDEx, UPS and the Post Office know this and come right to the front door. In fact, we have officially notified both UPS and FedEx about the invisible fence so they can note that for all their drivers.  Occasionally there is a new driver, who misses the flag in the system. But someone is almost always home and will run outside when the dogs bark.

It's likely that the FedEx driver who delivered this package didn't see the flag about the fence, and we didn't hear the dogs in time to intercept the delivery.  So the driver tossed the shirt in its flimsy plastic envelope into our driveway and the dogs destroyed it. We found it a day later. The shirt inside is ruined. Values Customers

For those who love to bash for their usurping all of the retail business, think about how they handle customer service.  It could be why their market share in the retail sector never shrinks.

We had a similar situation with an package that got ruined last year. Only it was rain that destroyed the contents, not the dogs.  This UPS drive left it on the steps instead of bringing it up on the covered porch, and the rain destroyed the package and contents.

I reported the issue to as soon as I discovered the damaged package, and within 20 minutes of reporting it, I was a happy customer.


After discovering the damaged package, I searched my email inbox and located the order for the damaged merch. Then I followed a link for customer support on their website and after clicking a few options noting the circumstances of my issue, I chose the option "Call me in 5 minutes." Two seconds later, my phone rang. I explained to the customer service representative what happened.  I was emailed instructed for filing a simple claim that included pictures of the damaged merchandise.  I was assured by the representative that they would replace the item, and I received the replacement item 4 days later. Amazon arranged for UPS to pick up the damaged merchandise the next day and they resolved the delivery issue / charges directly with UPS.

Amazon got a satisfied customer. I spent 20 minutes on resolving the problem. I continue to do more business with Amazon. I tell everyone how wonderful they are.


I called the customer support number for Gander Mountain that was noted on my order confirmation email. I was on hold for ten minutes. While waiting I visited the FedEx website and try to file a claim and spend 7minutes (while I'm on hold with Gander Mountain) trying to fill out a claim.  This included creating an account and going through 4 screens inputting information, only to find out that FedEx will only deals directly with Gander Mountin - not me. Makes sense. After all Gander Mountain is their customer. What is FedEx going to do with me?  Send me a new shirt?

Once Gander Mountain came on the phone, the rep tells me that I have to file a claim with FedEx. I explain what I just discovered on FedEx's website. I get nowhere. I ask to speak to a manager.  I hold for 10 more minutes. When I am connected to a manager, he says that I can neither get a replacement shirt or get a refund. Nothing can be done until I file a claim with FedEx. And the manager - Durell at ext #116 - explains that once the package leaves Gander Mountain's warehouse, they relinquish all responsibility. And he added ..."It is not our fault that your dogs chewed up the package."


So I called FedEx. They reiterate what their website says; that they have to take it up with the sender. The half done claim that I abandoned mid cycle on their website actually went through and posted. They gave me a claim # which is impossible to track via the website (or at least it was difficult and confusing to figure out). FedEx explained that they will process the claim and then - if they deem it reasonable - will reimburse Gander Mountain for the expense.  I asked to speak to a manager.  I waited 10 minutes on hold and finally hung up.

One hour wasted and Yay!  FedEx will reimburse Gander Mountain if they deem my claim reasonable.  There is no mechanism for me to enter this communication process other then to submit a claim. The whole process will take weeks and it's incumbent upon me - the customer - to keep up with the process.

Bottom line:  No Christmas present, and a lot of hassle. Neither FedEx nor Gander Mountain assumes responsibility for customer satisfaction of the recipient who shelled out the bucks for the merch.

I am so glad I only ordered a shirt for $27.99.


So if Gander Mountain does get reimbursed there's no guarantee they'll reimburse me. And even if they do, I won't get it by Christmas, which was my intent for the shirt.

When I asked Durell, the Gander Mountain Customer Service Manager what he thought of that he said that I could always order another shirt now and get reimbursed later.

Yeah...Thanks for that, Durell, but forget it.


Gander Mountain has lost my business for life. I checked site and they have the same Carhart mock tee in Port being offered by Rugged Outfitters for one dollar more than I paid on the Gander Mountain website.

So Amazon gets my business and so does Rugged Outfitters, and I'm happy to pay the dollar more because I have a history with Amazon. They recognize the value of meeting customer's needs.

And one more thing about Every time I wish they could improve certain offerings, they usually know my needs before I can even express them. Between wish lists, the Wishlist applet for browsers, great prices, fast delivery, wide spread of merchandise through 3rd party partners, easy tracking, gift wrapping, value points credit card and shipping to multiple address ... I am a satisfied customer who actually enjoys shopping on this site.

And FedEx. ... If you care at all about the recipients of your packages, won't you consider establishing a policy for drivers who feel unsafe because of domestic animals? I totally sympathize with them and wouldn't expect anyone to put himself in harm's way. But I'd have been more than happy to drive to my FedEx pick up location and get this shirt undamaged if the driver would have simply taken it back there. And what's the point of my notifying you about the invisible fence if the driver doesn't get the notification?

BUYER BEWARE when ordering online from Gander Mountain. If your delivery is damaged in shipment, they will abandon you.

Christmas Glitz Doesn't Tarnish the True Meaning

An Irish friend told me that he missed the days when Christmas was celebrated with only food, friends and the Christmas candle in the window.  The current commercialism clutters his Christmas experience.  I told him I loved the glitz, the lights, the trees, the carols, the decorations, the cards, the parties --- and yes, the presents.  Sure, some people over-commercialize Christmas and make it all about the "things," but those folks don't find the deeper meaning because their hearts are empty.  But for me the lights and decorations create an anticipation of something great to come, they frame a meaningful experience.

There’s something about seeing a wrapped gift with your name on it.  What’s more personal than your name, handwritten on a tag attached to a gift someone chose for you – a gift they wrapped in pretty paper to make it a surprise? Exchanging gifts gives us joy.  Presents are the physical manifestation of love, like a wedding ring or a sliver cup for a new baby or new bike for 7 year old.

The Christmas glitz provides a backdrop for an experience of remembering  - remembering our blessings; remembering who we belong to - who are people are; remembering that there is value in this crazy life as long as we cling to love, keeping in mind that there’s always hope no matter how bad things seem; remembering a little boy who was born away from home to frightened young parents who had to run for their lives shortly after his birth - who didn’t even have a shirt to clothe him in – the same little boy who grew up and told the world to welcome the stranger, include the marginalized, liberate the oppressed, feed the hungry, comfort those who mourn, to stop judging and start loving.

Christmas is the road we follow back home every year. It’s the place we stop to remember the good things when time circles around us. Christmas is about connection and knowing every good thing in life comes through connection…that we don’t accomplish or gain without doing so through being connected to others. No one rises from the ashes of despair without relying on a friend.  It’s what we hunger for – connection to our ancestors, to the land, to those we love, to nature, to our Creator.  And sadly it’s a time of despair for those who can’t grab onto anything because their disconnection is magnified by a world of people seemingly fixated on remembering everything they ever loved.

Here’s to being connected to you, our friends and family.  Though we many not see you often, you matter to us.  Nothing is ever lost to the heart, which is why we can pick up where we left off the next time we’re together and know our affection for each other has not changed even though our hair continues to grey and our faces have a few more lines.  May your new year be blessed with connections that fill your life with joy and love and laughter.

May your road be easy, may you find new friends and may all your Christmas wishes come true.

Excerpt from The Burgoyne Christmas Letter 2013

St. Therese - a Saint for Writers - Happy Feast Day

Today - October 1st is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux - or St. Therese of the Little Flower.  She died at age 24 after being a Carmelite nun for a few short years.  She wasn't a martyr.  She didn't heal or cure people.  She didn't even do public ministry.  She was impetuous, sometimes childish, and served in a convent where her four adoring sisters doted on her. She probably didn't meet more than one hundred people in her short lifetime.  So why is she a saint?  How did she become one of the most beloved intercessors of time?

She wrote a memoir.

And she resisted writing it until her sister (who was also the Prioress at the time) ordered her to write it. When she first she asked Therese to write about her life and faith, Therese procrastinated and avoided the task, and protested that she hated writing. But her sister believed that Therese's pure faith and simple approach to living would benefit other women in religious orders. So she ordered Therese to write the story.  Therese, bound by obedience to the Prioress wrote the story in a series of three journals. Then she died. Her sister, Pauline edited and packaged the journal, which Therese entitled The Story of a Soul.  Pauline sent the book out to religious houses in the region. The book became a spiritual classic that has encouraged millions of readers around the world to reach out to this author / saint and pray for miracles.

St. Therese of Lisieux along with St. Anthony of Padua have been both been dubbed the "saint of miracles" because of all the miracles attributed to their intercession.

Therese Martin was born in France in 1873 as the ninth child of very devout parents. Only five of the nine children survived into adulthood - all girls, and every one of them entered the convent.  Therese's mother died when she was four and her father died when she was in her teens.  Her father protested Therese's joining the convent at such a young age, but she begged and pleaded and eventually her father gave in. Shortly after she joined three of her sisters as a cloistered nun in a convent near their home, her father died and the fifth sister, Celine joined the other four Martin sisters in the cloister. 

The sisters were close and and they would talk in the evenings about their faith, their parents, growing up in a little French village, and how they felt about prayer.  As the baby of the family who was doted on by her sisters and father, St. Therese had a child-like faith and simple approach to spiritual life.

Therese died of tuberculosis on September 30th 1897 at the young age of 24. One year to the day after that - September 30th 1898, Pauline sent The Story of a Soul out to convents for other young women in religious orders to read.  What no one expected was that the book would get into public hands and be devoured by a the spiritually hungry European middle class of the late nineteenth century. The book was reprinted and reprinted throughout Europe, then spread to the American market. It has sold millions of copies and has been printed in fifty-five languages.

According to her sisters who were all by her side when she passed away, St. Therese's last words were "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth."

St. Therese, Pick for me a Rose

Many have heard the story about praying to St. Therese and getting a rose as a sign that she heard your prayer.  That story originated with a Jesuit priest named Fr. Putigan who in 1925 said a novena (nine consecutive days of prayer) to St. Therese and asked her to send him a rose as a sign that she'd heard his prayer.

On the fourth day of the novena a nun presented him with a white rose. She said that she was walking in the church, a rose tumbled right in front of her and landed at her feet. It had fallen from an altar bouquet. The nun picked up the rose and was about to place it back in the bouquet when a thought came to her that she should give the rose to Fr. Putigan.  Above the altar was a picture of St. Therese.

Fr. Putigan got his rose and his intention that he presented in prayer to St. Therese was granted. In gratitude, he started the Rose novena to St. Therese and it has spread throughout Catholic communities the world over. People have been receiving roses from St. Therese and miracles through her intercession for nearly 100 years.

My Novena Rose Prayer
by Fr. Putigan

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens
and send it to me as a message of love.

O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant the favors I now place
with confidence in your hands . .

(Mention specific requests)

St. Therese, help me to always believe
as you did in God's great love for me,
so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.


My Roses from St. Therese

 Rose #1

When I was 25, I was single parent barely scraping by with three kids under five that I supported by selling Tupperware. We lived in a one bedroom, roach-infested apartment. When I considered my circumstances logically, they were pretty hopeless.  I had no education and few skills. What I did have was debt and responsibility. But outside of my logical mind I secretly prayed for the impossible.

I prayed for a house. Even a town house. Some place with a yard and a front door and bedrooms for the kids so that they didn't have to grow up in a rented apartment. One Christmas I was too broke to buy my kids presents and friend brought second-hand toys over to me to wrap up so there would be gifts under the tree. While wrapping and crying I tried to be grateful. I started the rose novena and prayed for a way to get out of that rat-hole. I prayed for a miracle.  A house. And some way that I could pay for it.

On the seventh day of that novena I noticed one red rose on the concrete steps near my apartment door.  No, I wasn't presented with a rose from someone like Fr. Putigan, but a rose in December laying in a stairwell near your front is pretty odd. It was a cut rose from a florist, and was probably dropped by someone carrying a Christmas centerpiece into the apartment. But I was taking it as a gift from my spirit friend Therese. And she's been my friend since that moment.

That summer my business boomed. It was unexpected, but I made more money in that year than I had in the three previous years together. I pulled enough money together to get into a rented townhouse. Yes it had a front door and bedrooms for the kids and a nice little yard.  And we had many happy memories there.  We moved in on October 1st - the feast of St. Therese, just ten months after that novena.

Rose #2

A few years after moving into that townhouse I remarried and moved into a beautiful custom-built home, but sadly lost my husband to death after only five short years of being married. That summer a couple contacted me and asked me to sing at their fall wedding.  We met in September to discuss the music selection. They were to be married on October 1st. I told them how special that day was and shared the story of St. Therese. I even gave them one of the little Pick for Me a Rose novena cards.

I had just listed my house for sale when I met with that couple in September. It had been a year since my husband's death and the memories in that house were killing me. I had an opportunity to get into another house, but I couldn't move until I sold my current house. The real estate market at the time was dead. My realtor told me to expect to wait at least a year before the house sold.

On October 1st - the feast of St. Therese, I headed out to sing at this couple's 5pm wedding.  When I returned home there were one dozen roses on my kitchen counter. The couple, who had taken my St. Therese story to heart had sent them to arrive at my home when I returned from their wedding.  The note read. "Thanks for singing at our wedding. And thanks for introducing us to St. Therese."

That was a powerful moment. And it got even more powerful when I saw the contract offer and note from my realtor just beside the roses. My agent had shown the house to a couple while I was at the wedding and their offer for purchase was on the table. We settled a month later. I woke up in our new home on Thanksgiving day.

Praying to the Saints

People chide me about my devotion to saints - especially my Christian (non-Catholic) friends who consider it a kind of idolatry.   For those who tend to agree, please read .... Why Do We Pray to the Saints?

A saint is a spirit guide - a spiritual being that walks with you, helps you, intercedes for you. A saint is a friend who prays with you, making your prayer stronger. St. Therese has always been my special soul friend in heaven. Her picture sits right beside my computer reminding me that she's always there for me.

And like most every writer, I really hate writing. The process is tedious and grueling.  So what better saint for a writer to have as a friend?  One who wouldn't write until she was forced to and then changed the world with her writing.

A Few More Roses

In 2009 I finished my first real book, Haunted Eastern Shore. It was hell to write, and I kept St. Therese in my thoughts, sharing my insecurities and worries that I wouldn't meet the deadline or that the book would fail. I'll never forget the first time I held that printed book in my hand. It was October 1st. Coincidentally - or not - the book was released on her feast day.  Today - five years later - It's in its sixth printing.

Yesterday, my new book Haunted Ocean City and Berlin arrived by Fed-Ex, not October 1st, but September 30th.

So here's to St. Therese and all writers who resist the call to write, the grind, the repetitive process of revising and editing and revising again... but still write .... and hope that someday, someone might read their writing and be touched or changed or transformed.