Archive for the ‘Customer service’ Category

Greetings, good readers (if any of you are actually still out there)

I know I’ve really let the blog slide over the last year. Lack of focus, then the personal toll of losing my mom just really made me have no interest in a lot of things. Writing being one of them.

It’s been in my mind to start writing again, since I’ve backslid terribly in the past ten months. I’m not going to start being all rah-rah. That’s not my style. I do, however, want to discuss our latest travel adventure.

I write this from an eighth-floor hotel room in Denver, Colorado.

Yes, Colorado.

A state with no obvious Disney presence.

See? We do go places other than Orlando!

I write in the title that getting here was half the fun. Let me enlighten you.

We had booked this trip many months ago. Supportive Partner Woman (Sports Editor of Great Acumen!) is a member of AWSM, or The Association of Women in Sports Media. She noted that their annual convention was in Denver. I said, “OK. Let’s go. You can convention and I can see a game at Coors Field.” I found a decent airfare on Delta out of Harrisburg, PA, which is only 25 minutes from my house. I jumped on it. It was perfect… left around 10:00 AM, no getting up at the asscrack of dawn, etc.

Delta then changed the flights eight times. EIGHT FREAKIN’ TIMES!

Finally, we were leaving at 6:15 and getting into Denver around 10 AM MDT. I went on StubHub and scored club seats for the Rockies-Giants game at 2:15. Even got a great deal, although I’m pretty sure that since the Rockies don’t have a stellar record, that helped a lot.

We arrived at MDT (Harrisburg’s in-the-know airport code), got checked in, got boarded, they closed the door, the jetway pulled back and nothing. The pilot came on the intercom to inform us that there appeared to be some damage to the cabin door and they needed a mechanic to check it out. They then said it would be at least an hour before they could get a mechanic there to even look at it.I looked at SPW, said, “We only have an hour layover in Detroit… we’ll never make it.”

We deplaned and got in line to see our options. The gate agent was not very helpful. There was a guy in front of us in line trying to get to Spokane, and as he would try to explain what he wanted to do or ask questions, she would rudely cut him off.

After waiting patiently for around 10 minutes, I finally realized that the device in my pocket wasn’t just for looking at videos of cats, it could actually make phone calls. I dialed up Delta’s toll-free number, expecting to get “Too bad, so sad” from the person on the other end.

Instead, I got to talk to Kitty. I am not making that up.

Kitty, in a word, is awesome.

I explained the situation to her and she put me on hold as she looked to see what she could do. Her first option was a later flight on Delta, which I would have grudgingly accepted since it would have meant we would miss the game. I told her that it really wouldn’t work as I had tickets for the 2:15 game. She said, “Let me see what I can do,” put me on hold, and came back a few minutes later with the word that she had gotten us on to an American Airlines flight that would be getting into Denver around noon. She also would be refunding our seat and baggage fees.

Perfect.

We made it to the American gate about 10 minutes before boarding and we had managed to ask Delta to pull our checked bag and take it to the American gate. The agent at American, Don, was super helpful, got our bag on board (and didn’t charge the fee), got us seats together and we also got priority boarding. Plane left without incident and we got to O’Hare almost 30 minutes early.

That is a big damn airport.

We did the O’Hare death march and arrived at the new gate and got seats assigned. Toward the back of the bus, but c’est la vie. Got boarded, closed the door, jetway pulled back and pilot came on the intercom to tell us that there was an indicator light fault on the cabin door and they had to have someone look at it. Luckily that was fast, as O’Hare is a major American hub and mechanics abound. I was starting to feel cursed.

Two different cities, two different airlines, two different airplanes, issue with the same system. I’m suspecting sabotage by Disney because we weren’t going there. More on that later.

The flight gets to Denver International Airport, otherwise known as the headquarters for the New World Order (I am not making this up) without incident. Favorable winds, I guess, but we got there around 20 minutes early. Deplaned, got the luggage, which had miraculously accompanied us, and grabbed the rental car shuttle. It started to rain a little.

By the time we arrived at the Alamo lot, it had begun to rain rather heavily. We grabbed the first car in our row, which was a Nissan Altima, and headed to the exit gate. As we were being checked out, it started to rain in earnest. Along with some hail.

We hit the road for the hotel, and as we travelled the 25 miles to the city, well, the storm reached biblical proportions. Monsoon rain, thunder, lightning, hail, black clouds, water in the streets six inches deep… Ugh. Basically, it was like Noah, except I was in an ark built by the same company that gave us the Pulsar. I was not particularly confident.

Managed to make it to the hotel and get checked in. I might add that I was running on three hours sleep (I don’t sleep well on a plane) and SPW was working on whatever she managed to grab on the flights. I figure the game was a loss, but as we arrived at the room, the weather started to clear. SPW checked the Rockies Twitter feed and sure enough, they removed the tarp from the field. First pitch was scheduled for 4:25. Since the stadium is only 3/4 mile from the hotel, we opted to hoof it. It was windy and overcast, but dry.

Coors Field main entrance

Coors Field main entrance

Got to our seats, grabbed some grub along the way. A slice of Marco’s pizza did wonders, as our only food had been a Subway breakfast sandwich at Harrisburg. We sat down, the skies darkened, and the rain came. Again. This time, we had ponchos, and sat through it. Our patience was rewarded with what turned out to be a beautiful, albeit cold, afternoon. Thank God for fleece.

At any rate, I’ll be sure to update you all on the remainder of the trip.

Thanks for reading!

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything. Been terribly busy with my mom’s estate, working, and a lot of other stuff.

This little encounter inspired me to post something, though.

Mom had Pennsylvania-American Water for her water company. At best, they were unreliable. She lived alone and didn’t use a lot of water, so she would get a monthly bill of $15. After she passed away, there was even less water being used… primarily if we were working on the house or flushing toilets or washing hands. That was it.

They sent out a letter saying that there must be a problem with the meter and they wanted to replace it. I called and told them that mom had passed and they expressed their condolences and said they would change the billing name to reflect the estate status. There was no charges mentioned to do that and again the person expressed her condolences.

I thought we were good.

The latest bill came and those bastards charged $30 to change the account information.

$30 to type “Estate of” in front of a name.

I called them tonight and it was not good from the get-go. First of all, they were all “That’s the policy when we change a bill.”

I asked to speak to a supervisor and he was, of course, out to lunch. I left word for Don to call me back to discuss this and, of course, he hasn’t. These guys make Comcast look like pros in the service department.

Seriously, folks, if you are looking to buy a home and you find that Pennsylvania-American Water is the local water utility, well, look for another house. They really are that bad.

Greetings, my friends.

It’s been a little bit since I’ve written. There’s been a lot happening, but that’s no excuse. Fact is, I’ve been pretty darned tired and haven’t really felt like it.

So, the big news is that Wednesday was my one-year anniversary of my bypass. Hard to believe I was propped up in my bed moaning and begging for death. It was almost like having a hangover, except for the five holes in my abdomen. People have asked me if I had any regrets. I think my biggest regret (other than being in such a bad way that I needed the operation) was that I didn’t do it sooner. I could’ve maybe avoided the diabetes and not have the damage to my feet that will probably stick with me the rest of my days.

I had my one-year appointment with Dr. McPhee. He was concerned that I had gained 26 pounds back, but since starting in the Back on Track program, I had lost 11 of those 26. That’s been going great… I find that Dr. Collins has a way of hitting the root causes of why I eat like I do. She’s been able to get me refocused and nudge me in the right direction, which is a good thing. I was starting to really feel down about myself during the two months I was on the shelf. Between the group and the fact I can be back at the gym, well, it has made a world of difference.

What a coincidence... both Flexes that we got in the same picture. Mine is the black/gray colored band and SPW's is the slate blue band.

What a coincidence… both Flexes that we got in the same picture. Mine is the black/gray colored band and SPW’s is the slate blue band.

One of the other things I did was to get a FitBit Flex. It adds a bit of a game to my daily routine and I love those days when I hit my goal and my Flex will start buzzing at random. I guess I’m intrigued by the gamification of calorie counting and fitness tracking. The sleep tracking is a nice feature as well. I also got one for Supportive Partner Woman… I hope she likes it as much as I do. I must remember not to cheer or taunt too much because that can get to be annoying. It’s like when someone will comment on EVERY Facebook status you post. It’s irritating and the last thing we need is more irritation.

The actual process of getting these bands was kind of comical. I had swung by my local Best Buy with the intention of looking at the band. In a surprise move, no one was around to help when I could’ve actually USED the help (Usually, I get one creepy dude who keeps asking me what he can help me with… when I really don’t need any help), so I left there and swung by the Apple Store, on the off chance they had them. They did, although the associate there tried to talk me into the Nike+ Fuelband. I tried, but it’s too rigid and didn’t fit my wrist comfortably. I took it back the following day and so far, I’m very happy. Supportive Partner Woman wanted a different color than I got, but they only stocked pink and black. I had the black and, well, she’s so not a pink person. Luckily, the Apple website had the blue band available and was able to ship it to the store in a couple of days. Problem solved. The website said shipping it to our home would take a week, but I could pay an extra $10 and get it by Friday. Or, I could ship it to the store for free and I could have it Friday. That’s a basic no-brainer, so, yay me.

Speaking of Dr. McPhee, he recently published another cookbook for bariatric patients. It has many of the same recipes from the first edition, but there are plenty of new ones, along with portion guides and some nutrition information. Not to mention the fact that the stuff is tasty. So, if you are a bariatric patient or know someone who is, click over to lulu.com and check out the book. It’s only $4.99 for a digital download and well worth it.

That’s all I have for today.

Song of the Day: Colin Hay – Overkill
Currently Reading: The Chariot Builders – Steve Matchett

The good service

The good service

xfinity_comcast_logo

The not-so-good service

Now, before you think this is just another Comcast/Xfinity rant, it’s not.

I will just say that they (Comcast) could get some lessons in keeping customers happy if they just talked to the Fruit.

I’m not talking Fruit of the Loom, though.

I’m talking Apple.

Now, many folks think I’m just a mouthpiece/fanboy/unabashed Jobsian. Do I like Apple? Yes. Have I consistently gotten good product from them? Yes. Are they perfect?

No. They are not perfect.

I’ll get this out there that the Macs I own work that much better than the Windows machine. It takes our Windows 7 laptop  some four minutes to boot from cold. The Mac Book running OS-X Mountain Lion can do it in under 30 seconds.

Big difference.

Now, Supportive Partner Woman and I are both on our third generation of iPhone. We typically eschew the “S” models and upgrade every two years. Currently, we are both running iPhone 5s with 32GB. It’s a good, dependable phone, but it is not without its issues. That’s why I don’t get the Android vs. Apple debate. Recognize that both products have plusses and minuses and go with it. Do I like how my iPhone works with the rest of my tech? Yes. Is there some Android features that I wish it had? Yes. I’m not going to hate on one because I happen to own the other. That’s kind of foolish.

SPW had noticed in recent weeks that her battery had gone haywire. One minute it would show 19%, the next minute it was shutting down. She’d plug it in and 90 seconds later, it would be back in the green. Add this to the fact that whenever we’d go to back it up, it wouldn’t always detect the phone. My phone? No problem.

So, we booked an appointment with the “Genius” bar at the local Apple Store. We were a couple minutes late (blame the traffic and a long line to check in), but we were directed to wait for a “Genius”. We kind of got lost in the shuffle, but eventually, we were helped by a nice young man named Ian. He had the hipster vibe that many of the “Genius” team seem to cultivate. He ran a couple of diagnostics and announced that while the battery checked out, there was apparently a glitch in the software and proceeded to give her another phone. No fuss, no muss. Just simple service without pulling teeth.

What a concept!

To get the same result from Comcast/Xfinity, well, it would take a lot of phone calls and histrionics and threats to switch to satellite.

So, to sum up, Friday was a pretty good day.

In other news, got my blood work back (thanks, Barb!) and it was looking pretty good. A1C is still higher than what is considered normal, but it’s that level without insulin (and it’s pretty much the same as what is was before surgery WITH insulin). My cholesterol is improved… all values (save HDLs) right in the middle of normal range. In fact, most of it is disgustingly normal. It’s an improvement.

Everything seems to be healing up with my toes. I look forward to being back at it on Tuesday after the stitches are removed. I have a lot to catch up on.

Hope you all had a great weekend… it’s off to make dinner for myself and Supportive Partner Woman. Making roasted buffalo sirloin (for her) and roasted chicken breast (for me). Should be yummy!

Song of the Day: We Care a Lot – Faith No More

Currently reading: The Tenth Justice – Brad Meltzer

The lowlight of the weekend was getting the inevitable e-mail from AirTran saying that our flights had changed. I booked out of Reagan National in order to save a few bucks and because the times were perfect. Flights were nonstop and avoided the ninth circle of Hell that is Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Nothing against Atlanta, it’s probably a great city. I’d just never want to fly there because I’m sure my luggage would take a nice, scenic detour through the Kamchatka Peninsula on its way to Hotlanta.

So, the email stated that our new departing flight left DCA at 6:01 AM, then we had to change planes AND airlines in Atlanta on the way to MCO, getting in around 11:30 AM. That doubled the length of travel time, which was less than optimal. Same deal on the return flight… obligatory stop in Atlanta, leaving two hours earlier than desired, etc.

I cooled off for a day (otherwise Ensign Furious might’ve sailed up aboard his garbage scow and that’s never pretty) and opted to call them this morning. What a circus.

First of all, the menu. The Voice gives you precious few options, one of which is NOT “Speak to a live actual person”. God help you if you opt to press 0, because the Voice gets a bit testy almost snarling “Invalid Command!” and then restarting the menu as if to say, “Now, where was I before you interrupted me, you ignorant jackass?”

Eventually, if you say or press nothing, you get a real, live person. Maybe The Voice does not like to be ignored. Whatever the reason, I got a guy who was reasonably helpful. After a few minutes of phone wrangling, he was able to get us on a flight out of BWI (much closer to home) that is non-stop and while it leaves a little later than preferred, it beats the trip through Il Purgatorio.

The fun part was when he was surprised when I wanted to change both trips. Why wouldn’t I want to fly out of BWI and into DCA? I could have a car stashed in both places. Seriously? To make a long story short, they changed the flights and didn’t require a change fee. Gotta like that. See, it’s been my experience that when you actually get a live person, they are pretty eager to help.

In the good news department, I didn’t fall off the treadmill today. That’s always a plus. No real damage from Friday’s misadventures other than a sizable bruise. Could’ve been a lot worse.

The Ultimate Collector's Series X-Wing

The Ultimate Collector’s Series X-Wing

Other things accomplished this weekend was replacing the shocks on Mario the Honda. They were pretty well gone and once Jim and I got the new shocks on, well, it rode and handled like a new car. Had to road test it, so we headed off to King of Prussia and the Lego Store. Through a combination of VIP points, a timely 10% coupon and a few other discounts/credits we came home with the new Ultimate Collectors Series X-Wing. It’s shaping up to be a most excellent build. This was followed by a trip to Wegman’s. Saturday night, Supportive Partner Woman and I went to El Serrano for a charity margarita competition in which our favorite bartender, Frank, was a contestant. All told, I had about an ounce or two of real, actual booze for the first time since last year. I’m happy to report that it stayed down. Frank wound up winning and gets to go to Mexico, so kudos to Frank! After that, our friends came over to the Nerd Lair and a good time was had by all.

So, all in all, it’s a positive start to the week. Let’s hope it continues.

Song of the Day: Not the Same – Ben Folds Five

(the following post contains a rant with profanity… please proceed with caution)

When I see some kind of gaffe in someone’s writing, I often think, “Why didn’t the author think how that might be construed?”

Never thought it would happen to me.

I was viewing the blog stats, which I do periodically, and looked at what people are searching for that led them to my blog. Now, many of you have read my stories of Gratuitously Naked Guy and his lack of a towel. What I thought was a humorous anecdote, well, here’s the search listings:

Think I might need to refer less to GNG in the future.

Next topic is car dealer service departments…

No matter what you take your car in for, they always want to chisel a few more dollars out of you. For example, I took Mario the Super Honda into the local dealership for an oil change. They called and said they recommended a tire rotation and balancing. Now, I just had the tires rotated a month ago at the place I bought the tires, so I said, “That’s funny… I just had the tires rotated and balanced a month ago.”

Dead silence.

Then, “Well, they seem to have different tread depths.”

Me: “That’s funny… I bought all four tires at the same time.”

Them: “Oh. Well, your battery is getting weak.”

Me: “Oh, OK. I’ll install a new one.”

Them: “We can do that for you.”

Me: “I know, but I can do it, too.”

Sigh.

I get the wanting to be profitable, but times are tough out there. If I can buy a battery for $100 and put it in myself, why should I pay them $300 to install it? They get $95/hour to work on your car. I don’t make $95/hour. Most people don’t. These are the same people who tell me the car needs a full alignment. Every time. They usually back off when I point out that they did a full alignment in May when I had it inspected.

(Image courtesy of world-crisis.net)

Finally, election phone calls. I understand the need to get out and vote. It’s an essential part of the process. I don’t understand the need for the artillery barrage of robo-calls from celebrity endorsers. I was waiting for Honey Boo-Boo to call and tell me to vote for whoever she’s endorsing. I get the newspaper endorsements… I get party and organized labor endorsements. I don’t get why we care who (insert self-important celebrity here) endorses. I especially get irked when I see it reported as mainstream news… I mean when the CNN talking head trumpets that “Kim Kardashian supports Obama!”, I wonder about that, since Kim probably can’t spell Obama in the first place. Have we become so obsessed with celebrity in this country that it really matters? I actually think that country singer Brad Paisley said it best in his song “Celebrity”:

 

Someday I’m gonna be famous. Do I have talents? Well, no. These days you don’t really need it, thanks to reality shows.

OK… so there you have it. I’ll leave you with my final words. Get out and vote today. If you are of legal age and citizenship status, that is. Unless you’re in Chicago, in which case, vote as many times as you can. I’m sure my guy’s not going to win, but I’ll be damned if I’ll waste my vote on the current occupant or on Mittens. One has promised the world and failed to deliver (and yes, I know he’s only one guy and he can’t control everything, but it would be nice if he’d man up and admit he screwed the pooch) and the other, well, about the best thing you can say is that he’s not the current occupant. Both of them ran billion dollar campaigns. That’s billion. With a “B”. Where’d they get that much scratch? The short answer is from the rich people who both candidates claim to detest. From Wall Street. From the lawyers and lobbyists and influence peddlers. From the celebrities.

Now imagine, if instead of spending beaucoup cash to buy influence, they donated the money to people who could actually use it. Those affected by Sandy or other natural disasters. You know, people actually helping people instead of  funneling the money through the most inefficient bureaucracy in human history with a lot of it being diverted to line the pockets of the fat cats. The priorities in this country are so fucked up it’s astounding. Instead of The Donald promising $5 million to whatever charity, how about he sends one of his people to the local Home Depot, buys a shitload of gift cards, and passes them out to people who need a hand… who have lost everything? I guess if that was done, it couldn’t be claimed as a tax deduction. What a joke.

“Brian,” you say, “you’re living in a fantasy world. You’re wishing for a Utopia.”

Naaah. Maybe a country less divided. Maybe a cultural shift to where we can respect one another’s opinion without taking it as a personal insult if someone else disagrees with you. Although the media wants us to be at each other’s throats and offended by everything so they have something to report, we still have a RIGHT to OUR OWN OPINIONS! I might not (and probably won’t) agree with what Barbra Streisand or Rush Limbaugh have to say, but I will defend the right to say whatever drivel they can dream up.

OK… rant over. Now get out and vote! You still have 30 minutes on the east coast.

The Comcast saga continues.

After I actually got decent customer service, Teh Interwebz worked fine for a couple of days. Sunday through Tuesday. Wednesday morning, it was jacked up again. So I called them. When I finally got a live person, I explained the issue, stressing that they were out on Sunday and I still think the problem lies with the modem. As I was on the phone, the modem rebooted itself and things were working. I was told to call back if it happened again. It did. 10 minutes later. I called, spoke to someone different, who insisted on setting up a service appointment. For Friday. Two days with intermittent (at best) Internet service. I reluctantly agreed, still thinking it’s the modem. When I finally got off the phone, I unhooked the modem and reattached the old one. I tested the circuits and no anomalous voltage readings. I let it power up, the AirPort’s green light winked on and the Internet was back.

It’s still back on.

With my (supposedly) EOL Linksys modem from 2003 or 2004.

I have to wonder if Comcast gets a kickback from Motorola on these “recommended” modems. This thing is a piece of shit and I will be taking it back to Best Buy tomorrow. Lord help them if they give me crap about it being open… Admiral Furious might set sail. I might need bail money, so if you have a couple bucks to spare, I’d appreciate the help.

Chicken skewers… all kinds of yum.

Just kidding. I’m gradually getting back on the healthy eating train. Yesterday, I made some chicken skewers for lunch that turned out yummy. I’ll post my marinade recipe below. I usually alternate the meat with slices of green pepper, sweet onion and tomato. I will use mushrooms, too, if I have some in the fridge. I like to get the grill heated up, spray the grates with cooking spray, then back the beat off as soon as I put the skewers on. This allows the meat to get some grill marks and a bit of a sear without overcooking the meat.

I’m on the hook to work Saturday night. Hoping for an unexpected day off, as SPW’s cousin’s daughter (one of our pseudo nieces) is having a birthday. Gotta love that the child likes Legos.

Back to the regular workout schedule next week… I have sessions on Tuesday and Friday. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve missed the usual setup, with two or three other people. It should help to shake me back out of the funk I’ve been in.

I’m going to wrap it up for tonight… Hope you have a great evening and a better day tomorrow. I leave you with my marinade recipe.

Garlic & Herb Chicken Marinade

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian-style seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the water, vinegar, oil, garlic, thyme, Italian-style seasoning, poultry seasoning, rosemary, salt and ground black pepper. Mix well and put in a heavy zipper bag along with your chicken breast pieces. Don’t let it go more than 5-6 hours for maximum flavor.

Song of the Day: The Secret of my Success – Night Ranger
Currently Reading: For Love of the Game – Michael Shaara

Quote of the Day:

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. Doug Larson