Comcast

Comcast consistently ranks in the top ten (almost always the top five) of companies with pathetic customer service in virtually every poll I’ve seen (they probably even do poorly in polls they sponsor LOL).

I received a unsolicited commercial email from a Comcast business customer; and I did exactly what I should do — report it to the abuse contact published in the ARIN database, and send them a plain text copy of the entire email message — including full headers (adding the word SPAM to the subject).

I got back an automated message that said I needed to provide them the headers of the email message and a link to a page that really didn’t have any useful information.

I resent the message; including all the tags that were mentioned on the page (including the one for harassment, since that was the closest thing that fit)… and I got back a message from “Fred CSAtech55” referencing case ID NA0000014230535; who tells me if I want to follow up as “Harrassment” (that’s his spelling, not mine) that I should “call Comcast Security Assurance (CSA) at 888-565-4329”; but if I want to follow it up as spam I should “then choose the opt out option that the email provides”.

I guess, poor Fred not only can’t spell, but doesn’t understand that the LAST thing you do from an unsolicited email from a company that you’ve never dealt with (and have no reason to trust) is click on one of their links.

Maybe if Comcast hired people who could spell they might get out of the top ten worst companies for customer service.  Even better, if they hired people with a clue, they might actually be able to provide reasonable customer support and be no where near the top ten worst.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that they only provide poor service when you’re not a customer — WRONG, I can tell you story after story about how pathetic their service was in San Francisco; and how much better AT&T’s service was (that should truly be scary, when a company with service as poor as AT&T can have far superior service).

Originally posted 2010-03-31 02:30:37.

Un-Freshpair

I’m probably not the most typical shopper in the world… when I decide to buy something it’s generally because there’s a sale and when I shop — I buy enough to last awhile.

Today I was going to take advantage of the FRIENDS13 25% off your entire purchase on Freshpair.com (I was actually thinking about setting up an affiliate account — in the past I’ve made several $200-ish orders and I figure the small kickback and coupons they offer might actually save me money in the future)…

But after adding 21 items to my cart ($216 after the 25% promotion) I read a few reviews and I decided that one of the items I was considering purchasing I just wasn’t going to be happy with, so I went to remove it… simple enough, you either change the quantity to zero or you hit the delete link, right???

Well, no — not on Freshpair.com … it doesn’t seem to work.

So I called customer dis-service… and while they answered the phone quickly and I spoke to a real person without having to go through an automated attendant (normally I’d have praise that as incredible customer service).

I was connected to a man who was to put it politely was snippy — which of course didn’t sit well with me.  While I started the conversation polite, business-like, and courteous (as I would always do when I was calling the first time for customer service), the call quickly went down hill… apparently the “solution” is empty out your cart, clear your cookies, and start over… oh, and if you’re wondering — it’s a known problem (and it’s been a known problem for sometime).

Well, I ask to speak with his supervisor… he told me he was the supervisor, that everyone else had gone home (at 3:50 pm EDT on a Thursday… hmm — my guess is he’s the only customer service person there or he outright lied).

Even more pissed I asked to speak to Matthew the president of the company (I’d seen the very nice thank-you notes included in each of my previous shipments… and I decide to see how far I got).

Well, Matthew was apologetic  but was very quick to tell me that the technical issues of fixing removing items from a cart where people what more than a handful of items just wasn’t a priority for them, that it would require too much effort.

Like I remarked to him… it must be nice to have so many customers you don’t need to worry about customers who want to spend a lot of money with you…

So, I decide I wanted to help them…

I tried to place a separate order for each and every item (free shipping why not punish them by maximizing their shipping cost, after all, they can’t handle large order, so give them the smallest orders possible).  Eleven orders (I cut back on the items) most right at or under $10 each… on a different credit card, and each appears to have been authorized fine (I actually called Chase to check on the three placed on Chase issued cards), but the orders were canceled — no email was sent indicating the order was canceled, and once again when I called their (pathetic) customer service I was told, they couldn’t determine why the orders where canceled, just re-order (lol — like I haven’t heard that before).

Well I guess the only solution is to take my business elsewhere… enough of my time has been wasted on Freshpair.com.

And I encourage everyone else to consider taking their business to a company that actually wants to provide not only competitive prices but good customer service… and that would not be Freshpair.com…

Originally posted 2013-05-02 15:00:52.

STOP • THINK • CLICK

I’ve mentioned the Internet Crime Complain Centerbefore, but the US Government also sponsors OnGuard Online with the slogan

STOP • THINK • CLICK

While most savvy internet users should be aware of most everything on the site, there’s no harm in taking a minute out and visiting it to see if there’s any suggestions that might make your online experience safer.  You may also want to recommend that your bank, credit union, and credit card company link to them.

Originally posted 2009-01-07 12:00:50.

Romance

Romance
by Edgar Allan Poe

Romance, who loves to nod and sing
With drowsy head and folded wing
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—most familiar bird—
Taught me my alphabet to say,
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky;
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings,
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things—
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.

Originally posted 2017-03-30 12:00:30.

Netbook

I purchased a MSI Wind U100 a couple weeks ago for an “on-the-go” computer.

At $299 plus $99 for a 2.5″ SATA2 500GB Seagate hard drive and $15 for an additional 1GB of DDR2 it’s a fairly economical solution to use to browse the web on the go, send/receive email, mapping, GPS, music and videos, contacts, date book, etc.

I looked at all the options, but I choose this one because I wanted 2GB of memory (most of them come with only 512MB built in so you can only have 1.5GB total and a couple only allow 1GB total).

The Atom N270 processor is by no means a top performer, but it does a fairly good job and mine is running Vista Home Premium with no issues at all (it ships with Windows XP Home).

The only thing I dislike about it is the fact that the keyboard is so small; but if you want a small notebook you’re going to have to live with a small keyboard!

No one computer is right for everyone, so you’ll have to decide what’s right for your particular needs, what your intended use is, and your budget.  There are actually models of netbooks you can purchase with an AT&T wireless modem installed for $99 (of course you have a two year contract your saddled with).

Bigger than a PDA, but far more flexible!

Originally posted 2008-12-27 12:00:21.

Landscaping

Last year was spent mainly cleaning up the yard, this year I’m focused on trying to make some forward progress with landscaping.  It’s been a busy Spring planting season.

I started with a flower bed in the front of the house; 100 tulip bulbs (only about 70 came up).  I’d hoped to plant canna lilies to come up after the tulips, but finding bulbs here has proven to a challenge (the only Summer bulb that any of the nurseries around here carry are caladiums, and never considered I’d have to order something so common).

Then two Azaleas when in on the side of the house by the pourch.

Two areas (one in back and one in front) of the breezeway were done in concrete pavers.

Two cedar trees were moved out from under an oak tree in the back yard to the side of the back yard where they could grow.

A red Camila was put in the front by the mail box; a Japanese (Tulip) Magnolia was put in the front; a Gardenia was put in the side yard near the front of the garage.  Four Privet Ligustrums were put in the side yard to break it up, hide the A/C unit, but not interfere with sunlight through the bedroom windows.

Nine blue berry bushes were put along the rear fence.

Four compost bins were put in the back corner of the yard.

Four fig bushes (Brown Turkey) were put along the side fence in the back (between two oak trees).

Two plum (Blue Dawson & Golden), two peach(Florida King & Elberta), and two pear (Pineapple & Bartlett) trees were put in the back between the oak and the cedar trees.  A persimmon (Fuyu),  an Asian pear apple, a lime (Persian), two lemon (Meyer’s & Pink Variegated), a pomegranate (Russian 26), and an orange (Calamondin) tree were put in front of those.

Eighteen tomato plants (Heritage & Better Boy), eighteen pepper plants (Sweet Banana & Cayenne), and nine cucumber plants were put in the back in front of the figs.  I’ll probably expand my garden next year, but these plants will help condition the soil and provide me with much tastier alternatives than the grocery store (I almost always get my produce from the farmer’s market anyway — this should be less expensive and a nice diversion).

Three Medjool date palms and two Sago palms were put in the front corner; and one banana tree was put in the end of the flower bed.

That’s probably it for this year… certainly the yard has been greatly transformed by the addition of all this vegetation, and the care that’s gone into the few healthy tree that were here.

I still have much more to do, but I can’t be sure we’ll have adequate rain this year — so I can only plant as much as I can comfortably water.

Originally posted 2010-04-11 02:00:13.

Junk Mail

For a very long time now I’ve been trying to get my name removed from mailing lists at companies.

I’ve tried the DMA do-not-market lists, and the FCC do-not-call lists — as well as the US Postal Service PS-1500 (Application for Prohibitory Order); and while I recommend you try those approaches first, you’re going to find a collection of companies that just believe they can do what they want, and continue to send you mail after you have expressed your desire to have it stopped.

Three such companies I’ve found are:  Dish Network, DirecTV, and Medicom (a local cable provider).

Nothing seems to register with these companies — you can call and be polite, you can call and be abusive — and you will still get mail.

Now, though, I have a new tact — and this seems to work.

When you receive an advertisement from vendors who just won’t remove you from their mailing list, it likely says something like “Call Now” and provides a number… well, call it.

That’s right — call the number; and when they ask why you are calling it, simply politely say because I received an advertisement in my mail box from your company that ask me to — and since I’ve requested a number of times previously to no have anything from your company mailed to me, I can appreciate that it must be very important that I call.

Just continue to be polite, tell then you are not interested in their services; don’t answer any personal questions, and continue to remind them that you have repeatedly ask to be removed from their mailing lists, and state that you are convinced that it must be very important that you call, because they continue to send requests for you to call.

This will likely go on for awhile, just do it when you have something else to keep you busy (like answer email, write a blog post, etc)… be even toned and polite — don’t say anything, just repeat yourself.

If they say they can’t help you and offer another number — remind them that you haven’t ask for anything.  You are simply calling in as requested by the mail that they sent you against your wishes.

Eventually they will transfer you to a supervisor… and they may in fact transfer you again — but the bottom line is that this is the most effective way I have found to actually get your address and phone numbers removed from their databases.

Also, make sure you indicate to them that they do not have your permission to call or mail you… and that you will be happy to call them each and every time you receive a piece of mail from them asking you to do so.

You may find that the sales people on the phone will whine to you about they’re just employees trying to make a living… but they are, in fact, part of the problem, and they have the ability to offer you a solution — they just generally will not until you make it clear to them that you will call (as their companies advertisements request).

Also, you’re not breaking any laws…

The company could send you an order to stop calling them — but that order has effect only as long as they do not send you another request to call them (an advertisement)… so, bottom line, you will achieve your goal, on your terms.

Additionally, I encourage everyone in America to adopt this strategy… if someone keeps sending you mail that you do not want, just call them (like it says to do in the mail) and explain to them that you are calling because they have ask you to — and that you will continue to do that each and every time they mail you; that you have no interest in their services; and have asked on numerous occasions to be removed from their marketing rolls.

One last thing — you do not have to provide them with any more information than is on the mailing… so if it doesn’t have you name or your full name — you only need to provide what is on the mailer.  If it doesn’t have your phone number, you don’t have to provide it (though remember, when you call a toll free number they always get your caller id — you cannot block it).

Originally posted 2011-03-04 02:00:42.

On the quest…

Shortly after I received my Windows 7 licenses I realized that I was growing tired of paying for software upgrades and simple fixes; further I was growing tired of needing to re-learn how to do simple tasks when the software vendor decided to improve my experience.

I started thinking about ways to reduce and perhaps totally eliminate my dependency on particular software vendors (and that wouldn’t be just Microsoft — Apple plays the exact same game — and don’t get me started on Google).

Certainly there must be quality software out there that was built on the paradigm that computers are tools and that they should improve an individuals quality of life, not create a life centric on a computer and a religion based on software.

I’ve already published many articles about my quest to find an operating system that would is focused on usability; but my quest (with the help of many of my friends and associates) will cover every piece of software you might need or want on your computer to achieve make your day to day life simpler…

This is a big undertaking; and it will take me quite a bit of time to fully explore and write up my findings.  There will be many articles dealing with the same topics as I travel the path.

My feeling is that there are good solutions out there, and that with a little work and guidenace an average computer user can have a computer system that does what he wants without breaking the bank.

Now don’t get me wrong; my feeling is that most open source software is crap (but then again, most commercial software is crap)… but since it always seems to be a compromise, you might as well save a little cash since you’ll never really get what you want.

Originally posted 2010-01-12 01:00:12.

A new way to buy…

I’ve been using Amazon.com to buy most goods for years now; and I’ve used Drugstore.com for awhile, their use of coupons and rewards points encourages you to continue to use them every quarter… their prices are good (not always great), but when you consider their rewards and discounts sometimes the prices are very good.

Yesterday I went ahead and used my last quarter rewards to buy something I’ve never purchased online before, something I thought I would likely never purchase online: toilet paper.

Normally I buy toilet paper when I find it at a very good price, and that’s exactly what I found yesterday.

While it’s not earth shattering to buy toilet paper online, for me it shows a definite shift in shopping — anything is a candidate to order online and have delivered to your doorstep rather than drive to a store to pickup.

I think part of what is compelling about buying online is that the simple process of looking for a good deal is really the end of getting a good deal — you don’t have to jump in the car (hopefully schedule it as part of more errands), go to the store, find what ridiculous place they’ve put the sale items in (if they have them in stock at all), stand in line at the checkout, carry it to your car, drive home, and bring it in the house…

Even in the case that you pay the same it just seems that online shopping makes more sense.

The one thing I’m not thrilled about with online shopping is the carbon footprint of the delivery… that’s something Amazon is partially addressing in larger cities (with their dropboxes).

Originally posted 2013-04-16 12:00:31.

Disk Drive Temperature / Airflow

I upgraded both of my workstations (one Windows one Linux) to have a mirror pair as the secondary drive…  which added a third drive to each of the cases (the cases are setup so that you can have five 3.5″ internal drives and four 5.25″ external units)… the 400GB SATA-2 drive in the Windows machine keep producing SMART warnings that it was getting close to the recommended maximum temperature, and I decided it likely had to do with the fact that the power management of the motherboard slowed down the main case fan which reduced the airflow.

The case actually had two cutouts for fans in front of the disk drive array, so I wired up a couple fans for each one off a single power connector, put the fans in and now the drives are running cooler (the 3TB SATA-3 drives in the mirror in the Windows machine are much newer drives and run much cooler).

Keep in mind, that the cooler your drives run, the longer they’ll probably last and the fewer problems you’re going to have — plus when you run drives close to their maximum recommended temperature you’re going to see thermal re-calibrations which are going to make your computer look like it’s hanging or at least stuttering.

While I don’t think you should get crazy with fans, you should insure that any location in the case that has a heat producing component should have airflow — and many fans come with speed adjustments so you can run them at their lowest setting and provide enough airflow while minimizing the fan noise (which can be deafening if you have lots of fans).

One last thing — make sure when you buy fans you buy good quality ball-bearing fans — if you don’t, you’re just wasting money and asking for a fan failure (plus way too much noise).

Originally posted 2013-07-10 08:00:16.