Entries Tagged as '! ALERTS !'

What is the RIAA up to?

The RIAA (Recording Industry of Association of America) is apparently backing off of the individual lawsuits they’ve been filing and working with major ISPs (read that as AT&T, Comcast, and Cox) supposedly with the help of New York’s Attorney General (hey, he failed in his war on Usenet child pornography, so we can only hope him as much success here) to implement new policies where by your ISP monitors your habits and slaps you on the wrist (or terminates your service).

The new “3 Strikes Plan” basically is a boom for the ISPs because even though they like to advertise “unlimited” internet service, they’d love to find ways to limit it and charge you for your use.

ISPs are looking at this as a way to test and implement system that cap your downloads, implement metered service, and just outright block you from doing things you might want to (and may in fact be perfectly legal).

My advice is start looking for an ISP that has gone on record as NOT supporting this type of activity and send a single to the “big boys” that you can choose who to spend your money with, and you will not accept limitations placed on your unlimited internet service.

Who’s a good choice — apparently Verizon has gone on record already as not supporting or participating in assisting the RIAA other than as required by law.

NOTE:  Remember, Comcast has basically told the FCC that they don’t have to disclose anything they don’t want to about their traffic shaping and filtering policies to customer, and they’ll file litigation against the FCC if they are fined.  So be warned, you may subscribe to Comcast’s 50MB service but you’ll only get what they want you to have!

Originally posted 2009-01-31 01:00:26.

The Anti-Green – Catalogs [Comment]

Last week I posted The Anti-Green – Catalogs; which was triggered by receiving a catalog from B&H Photo Video, the day that article posted I received the following.


I appreciate the sentiments in your post although I am disappointed to see “Comments are closed.”

B&H regrets your dissatisfaction. At the same time we have many more customers thanking us for sending our useful resource book than otherwise so we have to presume it is not time for us to discontinue print publication. While I understand your sentiment, and agree we need to maintain a sustainable world for our children, I also recognize that other customers of ours have alternate perspectives.

Henry Posner
B&H Photo-Video


While I don’t allow comments on my BLOG posts, I do provide a contact mechanism (which Mr Posner used), and I’m more than happy to provide space for any reasonable rebuttal…

I’m happy that B&H Video Photo has many customers that thank them for their printed catalogs (at least some of those catalogs might actually be received by someone who doesn’t immediately throw them into a recycle bin, or worse) — but I’ll underscore that they send them to EVERYONE that’s ever done business with them rather than allow people to select whether or not they desire the catalogs (or any other mailings).

I’ll stand by what I said in my original post…

My feeling is that companies that do not believe that they actually represent a value to consumers are the companies that are quickest to force a subscription to any type of mailing list.  Companies who believe they offer something consumers want understand that consumers will come back and they don’t need to destroy the environment in order to attempt to promote future purchases.

Apparently I’m not the only one who took a moment to comment on getting a catalog they didn’t want here’s a forum thread on the topic “Unsubscribe from B&H’s forest felling catalog“, which happens to includes the post.


henryp
May 05, 2010 at 07:27 PM

First, I apologize to those who received more than one book and to those who opted out but received books anyway. There are a variety of possible reasons why, but suffice it to say we won’t send you what you don’t want if at all possible.

I want to thank the OP for posting the unsub link. Very thoughtful and much appreciated. The unsub link has been tweeted and retweeted repeatedly (more than once by me). I doubt Twitter needs it again. 🙂

Anyone who got multiple books – please send me the individual alpha-num codes via email (NOT PM) and I’ll forward them to the list maintainer. An example of the code is JC1026#####.

Having read a lot of “why do they bother” stuff here and elsewhere, the answer is because more people want them than don’t and they do get used. People circle stuff with ballpoint pens, highlight stuff with those yellow markers, fold down page corners or tag pages with post-it notes and tear out pages and post them on the refrigerator.

We want to keep our mail list to folks who really do want them and appreciate your help to keep our list clean. Thank you. FWIW, the whole thing’s online here.

Henry Posner
B&H Photo-Video

PS Recycle, don’t discard!


Here is B&H Photo Video’s catalog unsubscribe link — but notice it doesn’t take the catalog number on the label, but rather wants to collect personal information…

Originally posted 2010-05-12 02:00:35.

Zeiss Lenses

Not lenses for your camera… lenses for your glasses!

Carl Zeiss Optical has been making high quality lenses for optical needs in glasses and sunglasses (I’ve always preferred to pay a little extra for Zeiss polarized lenses for my sun glasses) at While Mill Industiral Estate just outside Wexford, Ireland for over 30 years — on 30 September 2011 they announce the facility is closing and that production is being moved to China by years end.

While the quality of the production of Zeiss optics might be every bit as good after the move; I’m thinking I might just not want to waste the money buying a “name” that’s been put on a product that’s likely made in the same factory that something costing half as much does.

You’ll have to decide if you want to support Zeiss; but more and more it seems that brands I trusted for quality are just becoming labels that charge higher prices and offer nothing.

Originally posted 2011-10-03 02:00:25.

Amazon Prime

I subscribed to Amazon Prime for several years when I moved (back) to Northwest Florida from San Francisco… mainly it was convenient living in the middle of nowhere to be able to click the mouse a few times before late afternoon and have something I wanted (generally) show up the day after the next (2-Day shipping).

However, one of the reasons I dropped my Prime membership was that I was finding that Amazon failed somewhere between 30% and 40% of the time to deliver my goods on the date they promised when I placed the order (often the changed the estimated delivery date on their website after the order was processed as well).

I complained about this a number of times to Amazon, and never really got any satisfaction other than I could get a refund of my Prime membership… what the agents failed to tell me is that for EACH occurrence of a late delivery, Amazon policy was to extend the Prime membership for one month — which they didn’t do with me…

So I’m a little pisses now that I’ve read their policy on that (which they made fairly clear because of the recent snafu with UPS delivering xmas packages).

Based on Amazon’s policy I would have probably kept my prime membership (hell — it’d probably be the next millennium before I’d own them money to renew it anyway)… but of course based on how they treated me as a customer and failed to honor their policy I would NEVER consider paying for Amazon Prime again.

The policies in place to keep customers satisfied are only useful if a company follows them — when they don’t it’s a good bet customers will be much harder to convince to come back.

Originally posted 2013-12-27 15:00:32.

The Anti-Green – Postal Mail

Receiving postal mail, such as bills, statements, etc and making payments via paper check (either dropped off or mailed in) wastes an incredible amount of natural resources.

Like junk mail and advertisements you receive in the mail, your bills and statements require the use of paper and energy to produce them, energy to distribute them, and energy to properly dispose of and recycle them — plus your paper check payments require the same.

Electronic bills and statements provide you the same information in a form that is far more environmentally friendly.  The production and distribution of that information requires a fraction of the power sending out traditional paper would, and totally saves the paper.

Additionally, paying electronically further reduces the wasted paper and energy.

Most institutions offer statements and bills via electronic delivery at no cost, some even offer incentives such as statement credits or some type of bonus or reward for signing up for electronic statements; and you needed be afraid of electronic statements, you still have every protection that a paper statement would have offered to you.

As for electronic payments, there’s a number of ways in which you can do that…

You could authorize a company to automatically debit your account for the amount you owe.  There are there often used methods.  First, a company could issue an automatic draft against your checking account — that’s essentially like a paper check, though since Check21 it’s likely it would be transmitted electronically.  Second, a company could issue an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transaction against your checking (or savings) account — that’s presented to the bank generally though a purely electronic medium.  Third, a company could issue a charge against a major credit card account.

Personally, I’d be cautious about authorizing any institution to directly remove money from my checking (or savings) account; while there aren’t any real long term issues with them taking out too much, you might find that the time required to correct a mistake is quite long (and you don’t have use of the funds in question during the resolution period).  With credit cards, however, all the mechanism are in place to insure that if someone makes a mistake — you won’t be out the money (or charged any interest) while the error is being looked into and resolved.

Another (entirely different) way you could pay your bills electronically is by using a bill payment service.  Most financial institutions now offer free bill payment services and puts you totally in control.  You decide who to pay, when to pay them, and how much to pay them.  If the bank makes an error, they’re totally responsible for resolving it — and if they remove funds that you didn’t authorize, or in a way you didn’t authorize then they are responsible for the ramifications.  At worst this type of bill payment generates a paper check that’s sent out on your behalf; generally it’s totally electronic.

Another place to look for reductions in postal mail is to discourage companies to send you out anything by mail that can be delivered electronically (remember, in the United States, electronic signatures are legally recognized — faxes and physical signatures are no more binding that an “electronic” signature).  So the bottom line, companies that feel the need to interact with you in writing are simply showing you that they care little for the environment and do not wish to invest in the future.  My advice, look elsewhere and send them a clear message by terminating your relationships with them.

Finally, many people use postal mail to send pictures, greeting cards, personal letters, etc.  Sure, sometimes you’re going to have to — but have you ever considered that most people just throw those away, or put them in a shoe box at the bottom of the closet?  Consider sending what you can electronically — if they really want a picture printed, they can do that locally (for probably the same it would have cost you — and less than the postage you paid).

As I’ve said a number of times before… it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference.

Originally posted 2010-05-11 02:00:16.

The Anti-Green – Junk Mail

Why does the United States Postal Service encourage companies to send “Junk Mail” by substantially reducing the costs of distributing it?

It just doesn’t make sense.

Sure, I understand that it may actually cost the post office a little less to distribute junk mail than it does to distribute first class letters and such — but take a look at how little junk mail you even look at… and how much ends up in your recycle bin (and I’m not even going to bring up the large number of people who probably don’t recycle since they don’t have curb-side recycling programs).

America needs to take action to reduce it’s carbon footprint — and as I have pointed out for the last few days it would be extremely easy to make a fairly substantial improvement without sacrificing anything most consumers care about — and in fact, it would probably improve the quality of life for most Americans not having a mailbox full of junk mail they have to sort through so as not to miss something that might be important.

Sure, the post office would probably have to raise the cost of postage, and possibly reduce the service level (hey — I have no problem with mail not being delivered on Saturday — of maybe being delivered only on alternate days or only a few days per week).  The overall effect would be a decrease in the waste (of natural resources and energy).

Originally posted 2010-05-10 02:00:50.

Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union

Much of this post is comprised of excerpts of a letter sent to Chris Rutledge, President/CEO, and Jearil Crawford SVP Operations of Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union, Pensacola, Florida.

Here’s how I opened…

Over the many years I’ve had dealings with financial institutions, it’s generally been my finding that credit unions offer a much better value to a consumer as well as much better service. And further I’ve found that smaller institutions are generally better focused on customer satisfaction.

I can assure you that in the case of Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union the level of service is much worse than many large faceless banks, the focus on customer satisfaction is non-existent, and while the rates your institution pays for deposit account might be good, they in no way make for a better value to a consumer given the nightmarish customer (dis)service which seem to be deeply ingrained in your institutions culture.

What happened?

Well, Gulf Winds offers a higher interest rate (up to the first $15K) in your checking account if you accept electronics statements, make at least one ACH/direct deposit, and do twelve transactions using their (VISA) debit card.

So I stopped on first of July to make one of those twelve transaction, and had my card declined because it was expired.  Sure enough, the expiration date was clearly embossed 06/12 on the card.  But I decided to stop at one more retailer to make sure it gave me the same message and that there was no grace period (though I knew that the magnetic strip would have the same expiration date encoded on it that was embossed on the card)… and sure enough, a second time I got a card expired message from a point of sale terminal.

When I got home, I sent an online message requesting a replacement card.  The reply I got told me the card I had was still good.  WRONG.  I had to send a second message for the exact same issue.  Clearly the customer (dis)service person was in too much of a hurry dismissing customer issues to really care to look into what the issue might be.

Then I was told that I’d have to drive to the corporate branch during business hours; a drive which would be one hundred miles round trip for me; so I ask if it would be possible to transfer to a closer branch (which they indicated yes, but I never actually ask them to do the transfer).

I drove to the corporate branch; stepped in, no one was at the receptionist desk, so I had to wait… finally a young woman told me that the high interest checking account cards weren’t in yet; then she checked again (at my request), and told me my card was at the branch I inquired about having it transferred to; then I ask to speak to someone who actually might have a clue what was going on… and I was ask to wait.

I waited until I’d been at the branch nearly half an hour then left.

One the way back I got a call from a woman there who told me that my card had been at the corporate branch all this time.  And I (not so politely) told her to throw it in the trash, that I would never step foot in a Gulf Winds branch again.

After another half hour I got a call from a man at the branch I normally do business with offering to bring the card to me (he had no idea of the distance), and I told him that Gulf Winds didn’t deserve my business.

I’ve put all this (and more) in a letter (as I said) to Gulf Winds, but to me (since this isn’t the first time I’ve had issues like this with Gulf Winds; nor did the pathetic customer service on this instance only involve one individual)  this is a cultural issue where Gulf Winds people do not take ownership of issues, and only care about going through the motions and moving customers through a (broken) system.

Even though you might be able to get better rates at Gulf Winds than other local institutions, I highly recommend putting your assets in an institution more deserving of your support.

After all, I wasted more than two hours of my life that I will never get back, and will never be compensated for… as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing at Gulf Winds for me.

Originally posted 2012-07-08 02:00:30.

The Anti-Green – Phone Books

Wasting natural resources and destroying the environment to produce and distribute phone books is simply unconscionable.

Ask yourself why a company would produce a paper phone book and distribute them to every household they serve.  In fact, there are multiple “yellow pages” produced and distributed.

Why???

Many, though admittedly not all, households in this country have broadband internet connections — and that enables them to locate up-to-the minute information online… none of these people really need a phone book of any kind.

Further, automated directory assistance actually makes it considerably less expensive for a company to do away with phone books entirely and just provide free directory service to their customers — and certainly there are a number of providers that offer free directory service to anyone (you do generally have to listen to an advertisement).

This country could greatly reduce it’s carbon footprint simply be eliminating much of the waste… and phone books are a good place to start.

I certainly don’t want a phone book or any “yellow pages” style book delivered to my house — and while I do recycle them, eliminating them entirely would save the trees, the paper, the energy required to produce and distribute as well as recycle!!!

Obviously American business isn’t going to change without encouragement (if they were going to change and do “the right thing” we’d see a movement in that direction by now)… so why don’t we as a country implement a recycling tax???  Simply put, each and every producer must pay a fee based on materials used in the production of goods and services — that get’s passed along and those who turn the items back in for recycling or re-use get a credit.

Obviously companies that send out “free” items have to bear the cost of the fee, and consumers who receive these un-wanted items get the credit.

My guess is even a modest fee would reshape the landscape almost overnight.


You might want to make sure you read the terms and conditions on the below link and understand that you’re disclosing information to a third party who you will have to decide whether or not to trust… I personally find the web site a little light on providing me with legal information to take serious.

YellowPagesGoesGreen.org

Originally posted 2010-05-08 05:00:25.

Facebook

First, I don’t get Facebook, to me it’s just a site where people who don’t have a life try to pretend the do… but even if you are “into” Facebook, I’m not sure why anyone would have  invested in the Facebook IPO… let’s look at the ethics of Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook).

The predecessor to Facebook, Facemash was populated with pictures that Zuckerberg obtained by hacking into system that had private dormitory ID image… something that should have gotten him expelled from Harvard, or thrown in jail.

Then, he went on to launch Thefacebook, and he did that by misleading a three other students into helping him build it.  Then Zuckerberg refused to give them a share of what they’d worked on, until the three filed a lawsuit (it was settled out of court).

So with a person like that at the helm of Facebook, why would we be the list bit surprised that they may have overstated their value and may have only disclosed their actual valuation to large investors (we’ll have to wait for the SEC investigation to finish to know what actually happened).

And yet millions and millions of people “trust” Facebook with their personal and confidential information — even though Facebook doesn’t really provide any controls over how that information might be used.

My advice, dump Facebook now.  Whether we’re talking about the stock you may have been conned into purchasing or the social network your use makes a very few people very wealthy off of.

Originally posted 2012-05-29 02:00:47.

The Anti-Green – Catalogs

Decades ago company after company mailed out or otherwise distributed large, printed, mail order catalogs.

The age of print advertising is gone, and the environmental cost of print advertising is horrific.

However, there appears to be many companies that don’t realize the impact of print advertising, nor do they understand that most (if not all) really don’t want (or need) a large mail order catalog.

Several months ago I ordered an item online from B&H Photo Video, and item which I researched online and located the “best” price using search engines.  I never requested to be subscribed to any postal mailing or email mailing lists — nor was there any obvious option to make sure that I was never subscribed to junk mail from B&H.

My feeling is that companies that do not believe that they actually represent a value to consumers are the companies that are quickest to force a subscription to any type of mailing list.  Companies who believe they offer something consumers want understand that consumers will come back and they don’t need to destroy the environment in order to attempt to promote future purchases.

For me, I’ll never purchase something from B&H Photo Video again.  I simply cannot support a business that engages in ravaging the environment [cutting down forests to produce paper, wasting energy to produce a catalog, wasting energy and polluting the environment to distribute that catalog, and further wasting energy to dispose of / recycle that catalog].

Do your part, take simple steps to make the world a better place — adopt more sustainable practices — join me in boycotting companies that don’t have a place in a sustainable world.

Originally posted 2010-05-07 02:00:32.