Chicago Relocation

Good news – Contracts are up!

March 22, 2011

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Mary Ellen Podmolik, Tribune reporter  suggests that some optimism is starting “peek through the doom and gloom of the Chicago area’s housing market” according to her article in today’s Chicago Tribune.

The article claims that “the number of contracts signed during the month was at its highest level since April, when a homebuyer tax credit was propelling the market.”

The article quoted Baird & Warner agent Coralie Norwell, whose client’s red brick home in Evanston had an offer on the same day it was listed.

“Sometimes you just hit it,” Norwell said. “There are a lot of people out (looking). Unemployment is down, and I imagine that has something to do with it.”

Read the insightful article here.


How do I know when I get good customer service? Well, I certainly know when I don’t

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I have been meaning to write a blog post on customer service, as it is so important to the relocation industry.  I thought I’d compare it to something outside the industry, and when I needed to fix my broken refrigerator, the opportunity arrived.

When I recently bought my condo the ice machine was broken.  As an entertainer, you can imagine my dismay!  I recently contacted Jenn Air to have the issue resolved.  Their service provider in Chicago is A&E Factory Service, and the nice lady on the phone set up an appointment. Their web address is

The issue wasn’t resolved the first time around, so parts were ordered, and I took the morning of Monday, March 21st off to wait for the repairman, scheduled for 8-12.

I think a timeline of A&E Factory Service and their customer relations would be beneficial to understanding customer service:

No one arrived between 8-12

At noon I was told that someone actually was at my home (which unfortunately was not true).

I called and was told the repairman didn’t want to pay for a meter – rescheduled for 1PM

1:45 PM, told that he would arrive shortly

4:00, called to find out they cancelled the call and rescheduled for 4-5:00 without my knowledge

No one ever arrived

Without my knowledge they then rescheduled me for many days in advance.

I spoke with numerous people in their customer service department, and then the escalation department people, identified by such names as “0857542″, “Ssanc46″,  ”eloy 102 05″ (who said he would put me first on the list for the next morning), “Mark  badge number  044684″.  I also talked with another Mark with no badge number, and a lady named Adelle…

I even had a colleague reach out to Steve Schmidt, National Manager for A&E Factory service through Linked In Inmail.  I did not get a response as of yet.

So this morning I was rescheduled for an 8-12.  They arrived at 2:45 (after calling at noon to say they’d be here at 1:50).  I also spoke with badge # 147966, a woman named Alga, who assured me that the district manager would contact me today.  Um, nothing as of 3:30.  I promise to let you know if anyone does contact me.  By the way, no one would give me their direct #, only the 800# of 800.905.9505.

I even complained to Jenn Air who told me that there was nothing THEY could do about it.  They use them as a preferred vendor but can’t be help responsible for their actions.

15 1/2 hours of waiting.  Three service calls.  No response besides “that the way it is.” No ice delivery system.

Lucky for me there is a 7-11 around the corner that has ice.


Chicago’s Perennial Transferees – The Irish

March 17, 2011

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Who has relocated to Chicago more than the Irish?  (OK, maybe the Polish, but I’ll write that article on Casimir Pulaski Day).  And while you may substitute “relocate” for “immigrate,” and it may have been more a result of The Great Hunger than a new white collar career, the Irish have left their mark on my fair city.  In leadership; infamy; slang; hulking steel and concrete…..The Irish have left their mark.  So let’s celebrate -

*A river that dyes its already green river a deeper shade on Paddy’s Day, hosts not one but 3 major Paddy’s Day parades.

*While never a statistic majority in the city, the Irish have fielded 12 mayors, governing my kind  of town for over 80 years.  About 1/2 of that by men named Daley.

*4th largest Irish City in America in the 19th Century

*Sister city of Dublin

*Irish labor contributed largely to the I & M Canal, Stockyards and local steel mills.

*The last wave of Irish (stealth) relocation to Chicago was in the ’80s, with an estimated 40,000 entering Chicago.  SIDE NOTE: If you’re ever on an Aer Lingus overnight flight, drinking with an Irishman – Do NOT offer your place to him to crash for a few weeks.  As I found out with Andy McBrearty in 1994, it was about 4 months on my couch.  You still owe me a couple pints for that one, Andy.

*I’d list all my favorite Irish pubs for you to visit, but believe me, there’s not enough space!!!!

*There are multiple events annually celebrating Irish heritage in Chicago, including Irish Fest,  ongoing events at Gaelic Park, and of course the Irish American Heritage Center.

*Some of the less celebrated characters in our history would include Irishman Bugs Moran (who lost Chicago’s gangland control to a fan of St. Joseph, one Alphonse Capone, on a fateful St. Valentine’s Day); and poor Mrs. O’Leary, who’s cow allegedly knocked down a lantern and set the city ablaze in what became known as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  During that event, the owner of a relatively new (then 16 year old) real estate firm known as Baird & Warner carted all the important documents of his firm across the river in advance of the flames.  The documents were used to help identify lots lines after fire had done its damage (the safe containing many of those documents at city hall had melted).  Mrs. O’Leary was eventually exonerated (but it was obviously a conspiracy, since yet another Irishman, Peg Leg Sullivan, was blamed).

This morning I had a good listen to The Pogues’ tribute in “Thousands are Sailing”

Thousands are sailing
Across the Western Ocean
To a land of opportunity
That some of them will never see
Fortune prevailing
Across the Western Ocean
Their bellies full
And their spirits free
They’ll break the chains of poverty
And they’ll dance….