My Balsam Hill Tree Experience: Update

Today, I was finally able to speak with someone here in the United States about my order which consisted of two defective Balsam Hill Norway Spruce Christmas Trees. I spoke with a young lady by the name of Desire’. She took an enormous amount of time explaining the procedure of returning defective trees. Once the shipping label has been sent and the trees returned via FedEx Ground, the money will be refunded once the box has arrived in the Balsam Hill warehouse. In other words, once the company has received the returned items, that is when the money is returned to the customer, within 3 to 5 business days.

I asked Desire’ why there were discrepancies between the United States Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) and the call center in the Philippines? She said, “The Philippines Call Center is fairly new and they have not been trained as well. The representatives in the Philippines are telling customers bad information.” I asked Desire’ why it took up to 30 days to receive the refund? She stated that it does not take 30 days, but once the warehouse scans the return into their system, then that is when the refund is granted.

I asked Desire’ how many trees were defective this year? She states less than 1% are defective. Desire’ stated that all Christmas Trees are tested before leaving the factory, so she does not understand why these trees are defective? She stated that this has been their best year so far in company history.

After speaking with this very knowledgeable and caring representative, I feel much better about the company. I am still not thrilled that I have had a negative Balsam Hill Tree Company experience, but may consider them in the future. I now understand that the misinformation was provided by the Philippine Call Center and not from the United States Call Center in Idaho. This may be an issue that Balsam Hill may want to address with their overseas call centers.

Fortunately, I have received the answers satisfactorily. After reviewing Balsam Hill’s Facebook page, I have seen many consumers complaining about the same issues that I was faced with.  CSR’s should be trained to say the same thing when it comes to refunds. Hopefully, once Desire’ has brought this to management’s attention, then the company can address the misinformation being distributed from the various call centers. Maybe next year, I will give them another opportunity by purchasing a pre-lit tree.

Copyright © December 4, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.


My Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Experience – Part 2: Where’s My Refund?

As many of you recall, I ordered an expensive Balsam Hill Christmas Tree on Black Friday. The tree they sent me was defective. The lights did not work. They sent me a replacement tree and those lights did not work either. My brother, who lives in a different part of Virginia ordered this same tree the same day I ordered it. His tree came defective as well. He sent his tree back and requested a refund. Now that I have caught you up, this article is about the progress and the conflicting information that is still being given by their customer service department.

On Saturday, December the 2nd, 2017; I returned both the original tree and the replacement tree for a full refund. I had both boxes scanned in at FedEx. I also emailed Balsam Tree LLC the shipping tracking numbers and evidence of FedEx excepting the boxes and that they are now in FedEx possession. I followed the instructions exactly the way Rean Salgarano at Balsam Hill told me. She stated that my entire purchase will be refunded within five business days, after FedEx received and scanned in the boxes. Today, I received the following email.

Hi Joseph,

Thank you for reaching out to us.

We appreciate your time providing us update about the return shipment.

We have confirmed that the return has been initiated, though there is no update as to when the shipment will arrive in our warehouse. Please be advised that the refund will be processed within 48 hours from the time we receive the product back. The refund may take up to 30 days to reflect in your financial statement, depending on your bank’s posting policy.

If there is anything further we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us by going online and using our chat feature, emailing us, or calling our Customer Care Center during regular business hours.

Thank you,
Balsam Hill Customer Service

Now, this is entirely different from what Rean Salgarano told me over the telephone when I called back about the second tree. These are my questions. Why is there a discrepancy between Customer Service reps? Why are they holding money for up to 30 days?

More to follow as I track down my refund money from Balsam Hill.

Copyright © December 3, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

My Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Experience

I most recently ordered a Balsam Hill Christmas Tree on Black Friday. We were so excited! We saved up the money to buy this $899 Signature Christmas Tree. I had been saving all year. We purchased the 7.5′ Norway Spruce Narrow Artificial Christmas Tree with Color and Clear Lights. I was so excited went I came home and found the box on the front porch. I read the instructions and assembled this beautiful tree. I got everything assembled, followed all the directions, and then plugged in the tree. To my great disappointment, the tree did not light up. After checking all the fuses, connections, and bulbs; I called the Balsam Hill help desk for assistance. I spoke with a young man and he walked me through set-up again, tried several different ways to see if the tree would light. It did not. It was determined that the tree the company sent to me was defective. Now I paid $514 for the tree because of the Black Friday Sale and the $35 discount coupon from their website.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot from Joseph Lee’s Order

Here is the rub. They will overnight a new order to their customer, but if a customer is sent at the point of sale, a defective tree, it could take up to ten business days to receive a replacement. In my opinion, that is just very unfair and is not a good business practice. I understand that companies have warranty procedures, but when someone purchases a brand-new tree, then it should work when the customer takes the tree out of the box. By the time I would have received my replacement tree, it will be a week before Christmas and that was not right in my opinion!  By making a new customer wait Ten Days to receive a product that works is not showing that customer that they are a valued customer. I was persistent, and got them to agree to ship the replacement tree to me, Two Day Air.

This brings me to today. On December 1st, 2017; I received the replacement tree. This time, I was not as excited about opening the box because that thrill was met with a huge disappointment on Tuesday of this week. So, I get the tree into my house, unbox it, and assembled the replacement tree. Well to my great dismay, these lights were defective as well. So, I did some trouble shooting of the tree and finally called customer service to have them to send me a return label to ship this second defective tree back.

During this entire process, working with some customer service representatives was very good and then there were others that showed that they did not care about the company. One such incidence was when I was told to donate the first tree and then another rep told me to send it back. They send different messages which confused me as to what to do.

In another instance, I reached out to Balsam Hill on Facebook. They actually told me not to post any more negative comments, but to personally message them. This shows in my opinion that the staff are not trained to handle adversity when confronted with real product issues. Please see the following screen shot:

Photo Credit: Facebook

I reached out to the company twice and requested a supervisor to call me. Balsam Hill responded to my Facebook posts and asked me to refrain from posting publicly. They stated that they had requested a supervisor to call me. As of the writing of this article, no one from the company has contacted me.

Photo Credit: Facebook

At this point, I have requested a full refund. The writing of this article in no way is meant to attack the company. It is for information purposes to show that I reached out to the company to get help from the supervisor. I wanted to buy a tree, they sold one to me, but unfortunately it was a defective tree. Then they replaced it with a defective tree. This is unacceptable.

Here are some other examples of what is occurring to other customers. My brother, Ted, ordered this same style tree on Black Friday. He lives the Hampton Roads area, 120 miles from me. His tree came defective. The lights would not work. He had to send his back for a full refund.

I spoke with a young lady by the name of Anna on Facebook. Her tree does not light up. She is still waiting for a shipping label which she requested six days ago.

Karen L. reports that she has had problems with the electrical on her tree. She states that she has had a horrible experience.

Timothy T. reports that only 35% of his lights work.

Lori D. states that her refund will be credited in 30 days. This seems odd as the customer service person I spoke to on the telephone this afternoon stated that it will take up to five business days to refund.

Mona writes that she has been waiting over five days for a return shipping label.

Rean Salgarano at Balsam Hill advised me that it will take five business days to be credited back my $514.00. I asked her if there had been a lot of returns since the lights were not working. She responded, “Yes, we have processed many returns for this reason.” If that is the case, I wonder if the company’s manufacturer has shipped entire lots of defective trees. I will further investigate this and follow this story up with the results of that investigation.

My experience has not been as much unpleasant as VERY DISAPPOINTED! I am very disappointed that Balsam Hill has sold me defective trees. These trees are featured on the Hallmark Channel. I hope that the company can recoup from this, because defective trees can destroy their reputation.

I did give them a negative review on their website. As of today, it has not been approved to be published. On their website, all 1 Star Reviews were last published at least Two Years ago. Two Star Reviews were last published Two Years ago. Three Star Reviews were last published One Year ago. Four Stars were last published Four Months ago. And Five Star Reviews were last published within the last week to two weeks.

Here is a copy of my review. I did verify myself and it still has not been published. So here is my question, are current negative reviews being suppressed off their website? Why wasn’t my One Star Review ever published? Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think?

By JosephL777 from Richmond, VA on 11/29/2017
Your Rating: 1 stars
Headline: Defective Tree Shipped

Pros : Durable, Attractive Design
I Am A : Family Older Kids

I ordered a Balsam Hill Christmas Tree on Black Friday. We were so excited. We saved up the money to buy this $899 7.5′ Norway Spruce Narrow Artificial Christmas Tree – Color+Clear. I was so excited went I came home and found the box on the front porch. I read the instructions and assembled this beautiful tree. I got everything assembled, followed all the directions, and then plugged in the tree. To my dismay, they tree did not light up. After checking all the fuses, I called your help desk for assistance. I spoke with a young man and he walked me through set-up again, tried several different ways to see if the tree would light. It did not. It was determined that the tree you sent to me was defective. Now I paid $514 for the tree because of the Black Friday Sale and the $35 discount coupon from your website. But the bottom line, you sent me a defective tree. Now here is the rub. You will overnight a new order to your customer, but you send a defective tree and I now have to wait up to 10 business days to receive a replacement? That is just very unfair and is not a good business practice. By the time I will get my replacement tree, it will be a week from Christmas. I must say, this 10 business day replacement policy stinks. This does not prove that you care about the customers that you sold a defective tree to. You should be taking good care of your customers instead of making them wait 10 business days! I was prepared to write a Five Star Review, but have to give you one star for poor customer service. By the way, I spoke to Katie this morning and she was unable to expedite my problem. Train your people to be able to expedite issues and just maybe, you will keep good customers for future sales! At this rate, I will be requesting an entire refund!

Photo Credit: Joseph Lee

Copyright © December 1, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.





You Never Know Who Is Watching

I most recently attended my daughter’s graduation from college for her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. The Spring Commencement was held at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. The guest speaker was Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges. Dr. Wheelan delivered an excellent address and was right on target in how graduates should conduct themselves in society.

The following are the recommendations for a successful life:

1.Take care of your body. Eat healthily and exercise. Make prayer a part of your daily life.

2. Continue to ask questions. Learning is a lifelong process.

3. Learn to laugh!

4. Learn to pay yourself first. Put some of your income away for retirement and long-term savings.

5. Get something back. Time is much more valuable to invest in people’s lives as opposed to concentrating on making money all the time. Give to other organizations to help support worthy causes.

6. Be as kind to the janitor as you are to the President of a company.

7. Remember to remain civil and polite.

8. Be an active member of your community. Register to vote and exercise that right. Run for a position on the school board, county supervisor, city council, or representative of your state.

9. Don’t believe in your own PR. Give credit to those who helped you get to where you are. Understand that you never know who is watching. People are always looking at what you are doing! You never know who is watching you because they may be key to opening the next door for you to go through. Don’t be so egocentric that you miss out on opportunities.

10. Always believe that you can succeed and be successful! Use your energy to keep forging ahead.

(Credit: Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, May 13, 2017, Campbell University Commencement Exercises)

Here are a few additional suggestions. As a Christian Dad, I would suggest making some changes to Items One and Ten. As for Item One, put God first in your life. Pray every day about everything. Pray for your neighbors and pray for your enemies. Pray for your boss and the leaders whom you work for. As for Item Ten, give God the credit. It is only through God that you have been gifted with your talent. One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As a Believer in Jesus Christ, I give Him the praise for all that I have received. As many of you know, not only am I in ministry as a Marketplace Chaplain, but I am a successful entrepreneur. My successes come from the Lord and I give Him all the praise. I consider my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as my CEO of my company. Always give God the credit as He will bless you!

I loved Item Nine. You never know who is watching you. Make sure in all your decisions, you live your life as a living sacrifice to Christ. Live a life of honor so that it will be pleasing to God. If you do, you will never go wrong. People are watching and many will not invite you to be a part of their organization if you are the type of person who will step on people and treat them harshly. Consider espousing love to everyone. Be kind!

This leads me to Item Six. Be kind to everyone, even the janitor. Once, I heard a story where a person was working as a janitor for a large corporation. People treated him very badly and did not give him the time of day. This man went to college in the evenings and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Accounting. This janitor left his organization and started working for another large company. It was a few years later where his company bought out the company he used to work for as a janitor. Now those executives that treated him badly were working for him because he was the CEO of the company that bought them out. How the tables were now turned and these arrogant executives were now working for the man they stepped on and did not give the time of day. The moral of this story is that you should treat everyone with kindness and love. Don’t think you are better than they are because they are the janitors. If you have the love of Christ in your heart, then you will have agape love for everyone.

Congratulations to all the new graduates. I will be praying for you and look forward to hearing of many successes to come. May God bless each of you! Remember, you never know who is watching!

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © November 30, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times, LLC.


Breaking: Matt Lauer Fired from NBC for Inappropriate Sexual Behavior in the Workplace

November 29, 2017: Today, we are learning of a great media icon who has been fired over allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. On the Today Show this morning, Savanna Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced that their co-worker, Matt Lauer was fired for “Inappropriate Sexual Behavior” in the workplace.


This statement was written by the Chairman, Andy Lack, of NBC.

Savanna Guthrie, The Today Show, November 29, 2017, National Broadcasting Company.

The Lantern & Shield Times LLC Copyright © November 29, 2017.

UPDATE: Oxford Circus Shooting

London, England: November 24, 2017; According to the Metropolitan Police (MPS), the mass stampede which was caused by rumors of a shooting, was triggered when two men were fighting on the platform. Because of the reports of gunfire, the MPS responded with the British Transport Police (BTP) to the scene, only to find no suspects or victims. The stampede was in the Oxford Circus shopping district. This was the busiest shopping time of the year. The above picture is of the suspects taken off a CCTV Camera in the platform area. The Oxford Circus is now reopened.

© November 24, 2017 The Lantern & Shield Times, LLC.

Breaking: Terror in London- Shots fired in Oxford Circus

London, England: Police are responding to a terrorist-related incident involving shots being fired. At this time, no known casualties have been reported. Oxford Circus shoppers flee as shots were being fired. Although no suspects or victims have been found, London was on lockdown as this investigation unfolds. There was an injury of a lady who got hurt during the mass panic.

According to London Police, “To date police have not located any trace of any suspects, evidence of shots fired or causalities. Officers continue to work with colleagues from British Transport Police in the area of Oxford Circus.”

 A spokesman for the MET stated, “Police were called at 16:38 to a number of reports of shots fired on #OxfordStreet & underground at Oxford Circus tube station.”

Photo Credit: Twitter, British Transportation Police
Photo Credit: Metropolitan Police UK, Twitter

The incident is now over and no suspects were found.

© November 24, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.




Happy Thanksgiving: What are you thankful for?

Today, I wished many people Happy Thanksgiving! I did this because I love these people and hold them in high regard. I am thankful for my wife and daughter, my family, friends, and clients. I praise God for my relationships. Most of all, I am thankful for God’s love, where He allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to shed His blood for the redemption of our sins. I am thankful for my salvation through Jesus Christ.

Today, I asked many friends from Facebook what they are thankful for. Here are a few of their responses:

Carol H wrote, “Jesus and a caring and patient and helpful husband and son.”

Cindee wrote, “Life.”

Carol B wrote, “Thankfulness…….I’m Thankful first of all for the Grace and Mercy of another day and a Heavenly Father who loves me. We are never promised tomorrow so be Thankful for his Graciousness. I’m Thankful for family, friends, miss my Dad, but I know he is with JESUS and that’s what matters. Make this a Thankful Day and forget all the craziness this world tries to make us think that the “Materialistic” makes us happy….it doesn’t….happiness can only be found in a relationship with “JESUS” and then he makes everything else in our lives something to really say Thanks For!”

Karen wrote, “I am thankful for my beautiful family and all my friends old and new. God Bless.”

Beckie wrote, “I am so thankful for being raised in a Christian family and knowing that my parents and grandparents daily prayed for all of our family – kids, grandkids etc. what a blessing!”

Kathy wrote, “Many blessings! Friends and family and friends who are like family.”

Michele wrote, “I’m so thankful for a wonderful, loving family and friends. I’m so thankful for God’s healing power.”

With all that is going on in our world, please take a moment to tell your loved ones that you love them. Give your family a hug and tell your children you love them. No one knows how long they have on this earth.

The staff of The Lantern & Shield Times wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! May God Bless each of you! We value your followership!

Joseph T. Lee, © November 23, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.



Breaking: 1970’s Teen Idol and Heart Throb David Cassidy Dies at 67 Years Old

David Cassidy, star of The Partridge Family, dies at 67 years of age. Cassidy was a teen idol and heart throb for the hit TV series in the 1970’s. He died in a Fort Lauderdale hospital due to kidney failure and multiple organ failure.

Cassidy played Keith Partridge on ABC’s sitcom about a family band. Two of their songs, “I Think I Love You” and “I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” became major hits. After Partridge Family, Cassidy recorded solo albums. Later in his career, he was plagued by personal problems. He racked up at least three DUI arrests within five years, filed bankruptcy, went through three divorces, was charged with hit and run in 2015, and had problems with alcohol. In February of this year, he admitted to having dementia and was going to stop touring.

According to reports, Cassidy is survived by his son, Beau; a daughter, actress Katie Cassidy; and three half-brothers, Shaun, Patrick and Ryan.

Joseph T. Lee, © November 21, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

Breaking: Charles Manson Dead at 83 Years of Age

Charles Manson, known for the brutal and horrific murder of Actress Sharon Tate and six other people; died Sunday in a California hospital. Manson was imprisoned over forty-five years after he led his mostly female followers to kill Tate and six other people at Roman Polaski’s home. He ordered the killing of two other people as well. He received nine life sentences for his crimes.

While in prison, Manson was denied parole twenty-two times. According to the Los Angeles Times, “he had hundreds of violations including possessing a cell phone and an assortment of weapons. He was unrepentant for his crimes and was not a model prisoner. He was hospitalized for an unknown condition on Tuesday. He died of natural causes at Kern County Hospital at 8:13 p.m Sunday, according to Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was 83 years of age.”

The Los Angeles Times,

Joseph T. Lee © November 20, 2017 The Lantern & Shield Times LLC