Kemper Haunted House

We went to the Kemper Haunted House tonight. We haven’t done much of anything this year for the Halloween season because Sandy and I have both been so busy with our jobs, helping my dad, and my leg problems, and I just felt like doing something fun with Kevin. So Sandy and I took him to a haunted house. It was pretty neat, except Kevin never made it further than the front door.

We assured him over and over before we even left the house and when we got there that none of it was real, there’s no real monsters and it’s all for fun, and he seemed to accept it very well. From just after we got out of the car though, things changed. If you haven’t been there before, The Kemper Center seems to be the perfect place for a haunted house. It’s a very very old structure, several floors, lots of trees around it, and it’s just perfect for a scary setting at night. So when we got out of the car, we immediately noticed darkly dressed people wandering slowly through the parking lot, lawn, and all around the area. They would even walk up to you (or SNEAK up to you, if they could) and just stand perfectly silent and stare. They were usually dressed all in black, and most of them were covered in blood and injuries. One that stood out quite well still had a huge chunk of glass sticking out of his face. I figured he was an auto accident victim. Nice effect.  The top floor of the building had flashing strobes in most of the rooms, and when they flashed you could make out figures in the rooms and windows.

From this point on, Kevin was very nervous, requiring us to hold his hand the entire time. We bought our tickets and got in line. The line formed between two buildings, lined appropriately with tombstones, lots of fog, and the walking dead. They’d stand with you in line and stare just to be intimidating. Kevin was thoroughly spooked. There was even a young girl, she seemed about Kevin’s age, who appeared to be walking dead, holding a teddy bear and just standing in the fog where it came out of the ground, near a couple of tiki torches lining the entrance. By the time we got through the line and up to the entrance Kevin was freaked. We were greeted by our tour guide and invited into the house�she was dressed in white, holding a large knife, and covered in blood. Kevin said I don’t wanna do this! I don’t wanna do this! We nudged him, but he refused. A nice lady at the entrance (not in costume) offered to keep him with her until we got back, so he became her helper and Sandy and I reluctantly went in without him. It was kind of a disappointment, since we mainly went for him, but we had already paid and they had a no refund policy.

It was a bit short, but fun nonetheless. Our guide took us into various rooms that with scary surprises, including the girl from The Ring, Lizzy Borden killing her mother, etc.. Various high-pitched screams, some very close most of the time, were really effective. A pitch-black maze topped things off, and contain weird-feeling things hanging around, on the walls, and a strangely textured floor in some places. Afterward we ended where we had started, and Kevin was helping the lady at the entrance and was glad to see that we had survived the experience unscathed.

All in all it was pretty fun and I enjoyed myself. I only wish Kevin would have taken the plunge. I think he would have come out feeling pretty good at having made it and he’d have something to tell his friends afterward. Oh well, maybe next year.

Oh, I did bring the camera, but everything was so dark I didn’t think much would turn out. I took one photo near the entrance that I really like. It’s pretty spooky, take a look.  That’s the little girl I mentioned at the entrance, just standing there.  You can also see a portion of a headstone to the right.

Lillian Vernon Fiasco

Back in early September (September 10th to be exact) Kevin found a really neat costume set for Halloween from a catalog we received in the mail.  It was a Lillian Vernon catalog.  I checked them out online and they sounded legit, so we decided to order the costume for Kevin.  It was a Harry Potter costume, complete with magic wand, tattoos for the forehead scar and others, and of course, the robe along with a few other things.

We ordered the costume that day, 9/10/05, and we were assured shortly after that it would be delivered no later than 9/28/05 — in plenty of time for Halloween.  Well, you can guess the rest, but I’ll give you all the painful details.  A couple weeks after we ordered the costume we got a postcard informing us that it was now on backorder and there would be a delay in shipment.  We were called on the phone by someone at Lillian Vernon and asked if we still wanted the item, which they assured us would still be shipped in plenty of time for Halloween.  Since we were assured to get it in time, naturally we said we’d still take it, so they kept the order going.

Now here’s where it gets bizarre.  Last week we received a postcard in the mail telling us that our order has shipped, and to please allow 5-7 days for delivery.  Excellent, we thought!  So we waited, checking the mail every day, waiting for the package, until it got well over 7 days and into this week.  Today we got another postcard in the mail that says “SORRY, BUT WE CANNOT FILL YOUR ORDER AS REQUESTED.  We are unable to deliver the items listed as they are sold out.  YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED FOR THESE ITEMS.

BUT IT SHIPPED!?!?!?! How can a company simply LIE like that?!?! And what would be the point?? To keep us from cancelling while they try to find a costume for us?? This is rediculous!  So Sandy called their Customer Service number on today’s postcard to complain.  She explained to the customer service rep and asked what the heck was going on, and they checked on what had happened.  The lady apologizes and then says that the system shows that they now have the costume available for immediate delivery, and that we could have it here by Friday is we would like to order it.

We were thoroughly confused at that point, and very frustrated at having been spun around so many times we were now dizzy.  Sandy gave me the phone and had her explain it to me.  Once she did, I was very angry and no longer willing to trust them at all.  But I had one more question for her first.  She had a heavy accent, and I wanted to confirm what I already thought: That this was just some outsourced “Customer Service” Service located overseas, like every other company is doing these days, and she really knows nothing about the actual company at all, but is just following a written (or computer-based) procedure.  She admitted that yes, she is located in the Phillipines.  I then told her that I would NOT like to order it any longer, and told her we no longer trusted this company, and would not be ordering from them in the future, and I hung up frustrated.  Needless to say, I also removed their link from our Bookmark section on this site.  We’re no longer willing to support or recommend them.

Sandy went out searching for a costume solution for Kevin after this call today, and I think she did a nice job.  It’s totally different than what Kevin originally wanted, but she must know what he likes, because after we explained the situation to him and showed him his new costume he really liked it.  We told him that if he still wanted to be Harry Potter instead, we would return this one and look for Harry Potter, which we had even seen recently at Toys R Us.  He said no, he’d keep this one, and was very excited about it.

I’ll save the “Shock and Awe” of what his new costume is for when we post the Halloween photos, but this sentence is enough of a clue in itself, so there ya go.  😉