Entries Tagged as '! ALERTS !'

Vantec Quality

Before I left San Francisco I purchased six Vantec cases.

Two 5.25″ external USB2.0 cases for Blu-Ray ROM devices; and four 2.5″ external USB2.0 cases to put 500GB hard drives in.

I already had the Blu-Ray ROM drives and set out to put those in the cases right when I got them home from Central Computer, but I quickly found out that neither of the cases had the holes tapped for the bolts that held the case closed (and interesting enough, Vantec doesn’t shipped the cases closed up like most vendors).

It was a nightmare trying to deal with Vantec; they sent me two sets of bolts — they just never really could grasp the fact that the cases weren’t tapped — the screws were probably the right ones.  And even worse I’d already exchanged them once (and the second two cases also weren’t tapped).

Anyway, I gave up on trying to get satisfaction and just used some nylon fasteners that I had that seemed to do the job reasonably well — but of course the large white nylon fasteners sticking out the back of a black case was far from attractive.

The 2.5″ cases I packed away and didn’t need those (I actually had some SATA/USB2.0 cases that I was using at that point — but wasn’t willing to pay the ridiculous price to get more of those).

Last week, though, I ordered a couple 500GB Seagate drives on sale.  They arrived yesterday and I went to put them in the cases… The first package had the screw packet and worked great.  The second package didn’t have any screws and had a defect on the finish on the enclosure.  The third and fourth packages had no screws either.  So out of four drives only one had screws — and the screws are a small metric thread (and fairly long with a small diameter head) that I have nothing like.

I contacted Vantec; already knowing what they’d say… so once I dig up my receipt and send it to them I’m sure the fun will start again; the good news is I know that these cases are tapped (since I have two screws I tested all the cases).

It seems to me that Vantec has some rather severe quality issues; and simple things like insuring screws in the package that fit would be resolved by closing the case before packing and shipping it… obviously they want to save a nickle or so — and cost their customers hundreds of dollars in wasted time.

So I’ll not be purchasing any products from Vantec mail order for sure; and if I want to chance it, I’ll open up and inspect the item BEFORE leaving the store.

Originally posted 2010-01-30 01:00:58.

Federal Express is a SPAMmer

Yesterday evening I received an Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE, aka SPAM) from Federal Express in violation of the California Professions and Business Code Section 17538.45.

Apparently Federal Express has taken to harvesting email addresses used in requesting tracking services and subscribing them to their marketing mailings lists without obtaining the permission of the owner of the email address (California law prohibits OPT-OUT policies, and requires that advertisers use OPT-IN methods).

Not only have I send a demand to Federal Expresses marketing campaign company and Federal Express demanding immediate payment of the fifty dollar fine specified by California Law; but I will no longer do business with Federal Express PERIOD.  That means I do not ship via FedEx, and I do not accept packages via FedEx, which means I don’t deal with vendors that use FedEx.

Originally posted 2009-02-19 01:00:25.

Check Cards

If you have a bank issued “check card” — that’s an ATM card that bears a VISA of Master Card logo merchants will always try and get you to authorize a PINned transaction, DON’T DO IT.

Why?

There are several reasons not to perform PINned transactions…

  • When you do a transaction with a PIN, you’re allowing the merchant to immediately remove money from your bank account.  They likely use a transaction network to do this, but there aren’t as many safe guards or controls on that network as their are a credit card authorization network.
  • When you do a transaction with a PIN, you’re not protected by VISA or Master Cards ZERO LIABILITY guarantee, you’re subject to the rules imposed by the merchant, processing network, bank, state, and federal laws.  If you’re defrauded you might find it’s a long and tedious process to get your money back, and you might find that your bank freezes assets in your account until the matter is resolved.
  • When you do a transaction with a PIN the money is immediately removed from your account (and sometimes immediate means instantly — but certainly within 24-hours, often even on non-banking days); however, when you go through the credit card processing system you’ll see at least an extra day, and generally those transactions are only posted on banking days.
  • When you do a transaction with a PIN your PIN could be intercepted (either electronically of through surveillance) and put you at risk of fraud (which may be hard to prove it’s fraud).

If your bank doesn’t offer VISA or Master Card logo’d check cards, change banks.

If you have access to a small local bank, or better yet, credit union open an account there (after making sure they have VISA or Master Card logo’d check cards and offer totally free services).

It’s your money, make the most of it… and protect it.  As the economy get’s worse and worse we’re going to see more and more “clever” schemes to try and take your hard earned money; start fighting back now.

And remember, if you are a victim, immediately contact your financial institution and any merchant you believe may be responsible via telephone and follow it up in a letter sent via the United States Postal Service (referring to the phone call) to preserve your rights.  You may also want to send an email (possibly using a DEA — disposable email address) as well; but you must send a letter via USPS!

Check cards are also called ATM Debit Cards or ATM Cards, the important thing is that you can use them as a credit card by signing the transaction form (they will have a VISA or Master Card logo).

It’s fine to use those cards at your bank’s ATM as long as you take reasonable precautions.

While using a check card through the VISA or Master Card network is preferable to a PINned transaction, if you can get a credit card, and can use it responsibly you’re even better off to use a real VISA or Master Card and simply pay the balance off every month (transfer the money from your checking account weekly if you need to, and track the expenses on your credit card as you would transactions from your checking account, your bank can probably provide you with online access to your credit card to help you — if they don’t find another credit card issuer).

NOTE:

I haven’t gotten confirmation yet, but it appears Lowes is responsible for leak of bank card numbers and PINs that are currently being used to defraud consumers.  If you have performed a PINned transaction at Lowes within the last several weeks call your bank and have your bank card terminated and re-issued with a different number (tell them you lost it).

Originally posted 2008-12-12 12:00:04.

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.

Flu and Pneumonia Vaccinations

Winter is quickly coming, and for any one with any health issues or concern a flu and pneumonia vaccination shouldn’t be put off.

The vaccines are available this year as of tody (1 Oct 2008) and take approximately thirty (30) days before they’re effective.  You can get the vaccine at your doctors office, county health clinic, or a number of pharmacies, groceries, and employers offer clinics at low costs (some insurance will pay for flu vaccinations including Medicare); and if your insurance will not pay the full cost and you have an HCSA the cost is payable by that.  If you have no insurance, or your insurance will not cover the cost check with your local heath department to see if they provide low / no cost vaccinations — and check the grocery stores, pharmacies, senior centers, recreation centers, etc in your are to find they schedule and costs.

The flu vaccine is offered as an injection or an inhalant; the combo flu / pneumonia is just an injection; and the pneumonia is just an injection.

A flu vaccination should be gotten every year; and a pneumonia vaccination every five to ten years as recommended by your physician.

Remember, if you’ve had any major illnesses and are over the age of 35 you shouldn’t consider keeping these vaccinations current optional; same if you’re over 55 or in a high risk group or have a compromised immune system.

NOTE:  The flu vaccination should cost no more than $25; the pneumonia may run as high as $35; the combo vaccine should be available for about the same cost as just the pneumonia, $40 at most.

__________

These links may help you locate a flu clinic in your area; remember you local health department may be able to direct you to a clinic even if they do not offer flu shots.

Pharmacies

Grocers

Originally posted 2008-10-01 12:00:02.

Is Adorama a SPAMmer?

At the bottom of this post are links to the first and second post I made concerning an order I’d placed with Adorama.

Yesterday I recieved an Unsolicted Commercial Email (UCE) from Adorama; apparently they felt it was quite acceptable to subscribe an email address they obtained from Amazon as part of order fulfillment to their mailing list.  While the email did contain an “unsubscribe” link, I never authorized any use of my personal information beyond the fulfilment of my order (and I just terminated the disposable email address on file with Amazon and created a new one).

I have written a complaint to Amazon; we’ll see what action they take (my guess is none, even though UCE is illegal in Washington State as well as California).

I don’t do OPT-OUT, I don’t do business with SPAMmers, and I don’t do business with businesses who support SPAMmers — so at the moment Adorama is back on my shit list, and depending on the action Amazon takes they may be on my shit list as well!

It always amazes me companies that think so little of themselves and the value of their advertisements that they need to force customers to get their junk mail, rather than provide them with the opportunity to specify their interest upfront.  Seems a consistent gauge of a bad company — they do what ever they want, why should they care if it’s legal, ethical, or good for business in the long term.

 

References:

  • California Business and Professions Code Section 17538.45
  • Chapter 19 of the Revised Code of WA, RCW 19.190

 

Previous posts:

__________

POST-NOTE:

Adorama assures me that email addresses obtained from Amazon are not automatically subscribed to their mailing lists.  However, customer’s who place orders directly with Adorama appear to have their email addresses automatically subscribed to their mailing list.  And my address was automatically subscribed because they placed a replacement order for me as part of the fulfillment process of my Amazon order.  From my perspective subscribing any email address to a mailing list without first obtaining a customer’s permission amounts to UCE and it totally unacceptable irrespective of the fact that you include an unsubscribe link in the email — it would have been far more acceptable to include a subscribe link in the order acknowledgement or shipping notice (and allow the customer to decide).

You need to make your own decision as to whether or not Adorama’s actions are ethical (and legal in your state of residence); but for me I don’t deal with companies who feel they may do as they please with my personal and confidential information (and my email addresses are personal and confidential).

Originally posted 2009-01-21 01:00:20.

How To Stop Unwanted Mail

On 04 May 1970 The United States Supreme Court issued a final decision in a case concerning what was then 39 USC Section 4009 and 4009a and is now 39 USC Section 3008… essentially that decision gave each and every American the power to order the United States Post Office to issue an injunction against any mail sender they deemed the material sent to them to be offensive.

The Unites States Supreme Court additional ruled that only the recipient of the material could make the determination of what was and was not offensive; that the United States Post Office and all other agencies must enforce based on an individuals preferences (not an arbitrary standard).

To exercise your rights under the law in the past you would need to request and execute US Post Office Form 2150 “Prohibitory order against sender of pandering advertisement in the mails” in triplicate.  However the US Post Office has replaced Form 2150 with Form 1500 which is available in PDF

You can return the completed form and the opened envelope from the sender to your local post office or to:

     Pricing and Classification Service Center
     PO BOX 1500
     New York NY 10008-1500

Your local post office will likely try to tell you that you cannot use these forms unless it contains “erotically arousing or sexually provocative matter”, however you can refer them to page 13 of Postal Bulletin 219177 (30 July 1998) and point out:

Postmasters may not refuse to accept a Form 1500 because the advertisement in question does not appear to be sexually oriented.  Only the addressee may make that determination.

Further, Form 1500 includes the following paragraph:

Your obtaining the protection offered through these two programs makes sending prohibited mail to you unlawful. However, it does not make such mailings physically impossible. If you receive an apparently violate mail piece, contact your post office or refer to your notification letter for instructions on submitting the piece as evidence for possible enforcement action.

The article you attach to your a prohibitory order must be opened (postal employees are not permitted to open sealed articles).

 


 

ROWAN, DBA AMERICAN BOOK SERVICE, et al. V. UNITED STATES POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT et al.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

No. 399. Argued January 22, 1970. Decided May 4, 1970

US Code Title 39 Part IV Chapter 30 § 3008

§ 3008. Prohibition of pandering advertisements

 


 

United States Postal Service Administrative Decsions

PART 963 – Rules of Practice in Proceedings Relative to Violations of The Pandering Advertisements Statue, 39, U.S.C. 3008

 

Originally posted 2008-11-02 12:00:41.

The new SPAM medium…

It looks like Facebook and Twitter and the like are the new medium of choice for unethical companies to send SPAM via…

This morning I received a message from SurfCanister via both Facebook and Twitter (I don’t have an account on either of those, and both were sent to the same [free] email address).

I don’t do business with companies that send SPAM or any sort — and it appears that neither Facebook or Twitter have created sufficient safeguards to protect the public from companies with low ethics.

Here’s a good policy for both of them:

1) A single complaint of SPAM, suspend the offender’s account for 30-days.

2) Two or more complaints of SPAM, permanently close the offender’s account.

That should put a quick end to using social media for SPAM… though it seem to me that the social media companies are not very ethical themselves, and they seem to want to encourage this type messaging.

Someone might want to point out that California has an anti-SPAM law, and both Facebook and Twitter are headquarted in California.

Originally posted 2012-06-08 09:00:56.

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.

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.