Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hiatus

Well, this is a fun little blog to rant on but it's time to move on. I have two other blogs to maintain and just signed on to contribute to a food themed blog network. Plus a real job. Plus all of life's other distractions. So something has to stop and it's this blog. This will be the last post for the time being. I am leaving it open, you know, in case I need to get something off my chest. But otherwise there won't be much in the way of updates.

If you found this blog because you googled 'Joanna', 'McRules', and 'fired', you want these posts:
McRules
McRules woman possibly fired

If you came here from a Gawker site because you thought one of my comments was funny/idiotic then go ahead and take a look around/fuck off.

Otherwise remember these things:

  • State Farm is not a good neighbor.
  • Starbucks does not make good coffee. The only thing that should have that much sugar in it is dessert and your fucking cup of coffee is not dessert. Saying Starbucks has the best coffee is like saying McDonald's makes the best hamburgers in the world.
  • Superman is metal
  • Utilities and fauxtilities without competition are bad. Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, yeah, I'm referring to you.
  • This is the last post I can fucking curse in. Damn it all to hell!

My point is this: corporations don't have your best interest at heart. Ever. They are lying if they say otherwise. Quit believing everything you read and hear from them and research it yourself.

Thanks for your time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Midwest Airlines makes good


Yesterday I posted about my experience with Midwest Airlines and the trouble I was having. I sent an email telling them why they lost my sale. I am happy to report that they called me today and apologized. I also have a reservation for air travel at the promo code price! I am very happy this was resolved. I don't like the way I was treated but kudos to Midwest Airlines for making good on my complaint.

I have to admit I am surprised they called today, a Saturday. The website said it could take up to three business days so I wasn't expecting an acknowledgment email if anything until next week. Good on you Midwest Airlines!

Update: Turns out they sent an email too. Here it is:

From: bestcare
Date: Sat, Oct 28, 2006 at 1:28 PM
To: [--redacted--]
Subject
---------------------------------------------------------------
Midwest Airlines - Confirmation Code: [--redacted--]
---------------------------------------------------------------
Response (Midwest Airlines) - 10/28/2006 01:28 PM
Dear Mr. [--redacted--],

I sincerely apologize for the outcome of the transaction you describe below.

When reading your e-mail and reviewing the flight record, it is apparent to me that the first agent made an error when quoting you the fare available for November 24. Although it was not intentional on our part, we needed to see what could be done in order to rectify her mistake. I apologize for the subsequent service that only caused frustration and bad feelings.

I am pleased that you did not purchase a ticket on another airline before I had Marie call you today. When I am in the office on Monday, you can be assured that I will be taking this up with the agents involved. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and confusion. Please know that we do value your business and are happy that you could take advantage of the promotion we sent you.

We are expecting your call later today to finalize your ticket purchase. Our number is 800-452-2022.

Enjoy your visit with your father on this special occasion honoring not only his birthday, but his service to our country.

Sincerely,

Loralee
Online Customer Service Supervisor
Midwest Airlines

Comcast - You can sink no lower

UPDATE: It turns out it was not Comcast. It was some 3rd party call center. When I gave them my tracking number and city, they looked it up on their little chart, and gave me the spiel for Artesian Waters. Artesian Waters is a water purification company that wanted to give me a $50 gas card and a free test to tell me my water is bad and then sell me water purification equipment. I tried to look at their website but it was no longer available and only had a squatter type site linked to the domain name. Reputable, no? Also, I'm guessing Comcast may have used this 3rd party call center for their advertising so that may be how the number was associated with them. Comcast, I emailed what I found to the one person who looked at the site before this update so were all good. But you also never answered my question...

I was getting home from work the other night and I noticed a number of orange door hangers stuffed into the garage door seams (with even more on the ground). I figured it was some new pizza place or something and didn't think anything of it.

Next day I picked up one and read it. Nope, not a pizza chain. Hey, cool! I won a free gift. I can call to schedule that. Brain kicks boots up in 3..2..1..wait a minute, all the townhouses in this area won a free gift? What kind of deal is that? Look at the hanger some more. There's no company name at all. It's meant to look sorta like a missed delivery notice but UPS, FedEx, and USPS delivery notices have all kinds of check boxes and rules and are not door hangers. They are cards and sticky notes. Look at the small print here "Subject to company rules/No purchase necessary/For advertising purposes only". A mocked up missed delivery notice for advertising purposes only. OK, that's fucked up. That's pretty low for a company to do. That's Florian McCann level shit. What kind of fly-by-night outfit is trying to sell me vent cleaning?

So time to research. First, find the number online. Wait, why not just call the number you're asking (just pretend). I'll explain why in a second. Look up the number online. I get one hit on the phone number at a 800 number lookup site. It says its Comcast. Comcast!?! I already get enough direct mail from them, they can't be that desperate to resort to chicanery like this, can they? I call the number, but first I *67'd to block my caller id. The middle aged sounding woman tells me this company does not accept calls from private numbers. See, this is why I didn't want to call right away. They are doing everything they can to get you to call and give them more information about yourself. Check the net first, you may find an answer without having to risk your number.

Ok, back to verifying this could be Comcast. Search again for Comcast and door hangers. First article: Hanging on the Telephone from directmag.com. The article talks about Comcast doing a 280,000 piece campaign in Denver (man, Denver, you must have people putting things on your door everyday). They've done it in other places too. So there you go.

Comcast, answer this, do you want people using your VoIP solution so when the cable cuts out, they can't call you?

UPDATE: It turns out it was not Comcast. It was some 3rd party call center. When I gave them my tracking number and city, they looked it up on their little chart, and gave me the spiel for Artesian Waters. Artesian Waters is a water purification company that wanted to give me a $50 gas card and a free test to tell me my water is bad and then sell me water purification equipment. I tried to look at their website but it was no longer available and only had a squatter type site linked to the domain name. Reputable, no? Also, I'm guessing Comcast may have used this 3rd party call center for their advertising so that may be how the number was associated with them. Comcast, I emailed what I found to the one person who looked at the site before this update so were all good. But you also never answered my question...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Midwest Airlines - A study in how to blow a sale

UPDATE: I heard from them today. They apologized and I have reservations for the time I wanted at the promo code price.


Below is a letter I sent to Midwest Airlines. I needed to fly to Orlando over Thanksgiving on short notice and wanted to fly them. Long story short, website acts screwy, first CSR helpful but screws up, second CSR prevents billing but can't do anything else, and then third CSR acts like a bitch in my opinion. I was willing to forgive the mistakes up until the last CSR. Way to capitalize on brand loyalty. Best care in the air, indeed.


I want to make you aware of how you lost a sale today. A few weeks ago I received the "Ever feel like you just need a cookie?" card in the mail with the offer for the $175 round-trip fare to any Midwest destination. I thought this was a very nice gesture but since I had no plans to fly anywhere before it expired at the end of the year, I set it aside just in case the need arised. Yesterday (10/25/2006) my sister and I determined that I really should come to Orlando for my dad's birthday. I originally planned to do something separate with him instead of going to Orlando because of the time and price involved but also because they were just planning on going to Disney and the Holy Land Experience. My sister in the meantime has arraigned for him to take part in a veteran's flag lowering ceremony at Disney but also researched his unit in Vietnam and found a bunch of information including contact addresses and email addresses, all of which she planned to give as a scrapbook for his birthday. So now his birthday is a big event and I should go which means I need to book a flight. Another complication, his birthday is the day after Thanksgiving, which as the last CSR I dealt with repeatedly emphasized to me is a very busy travel time.

So understanding the task before me, I endeavored to find an affordable flight. That's when I remembered I had the $175 offer. I checked all the terms and conditions looking for that blackout dates small print we all expect but there was none. So it is good for any date. I did note term #3 stating the itineraries must be booked in "R" class and seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. I believe this is a way of not having to explicitly list blackout dates but I thought I would try anyway. I logged onto your website and tried booking the flight using the promo code. I tried various itineraries and several times the web page indicated the promo code would apply but when I clicked through it would then say the promo code did not apply. After many, many attempts at finding an itinerary that triggered the first web page to say the promo code did apply, I decided to call your customer service number.

So I placed my first call at 10:53PM. The CSR worked with me and scheduled me on two flights in the time window I wanted and I was able to use my promo code. She gave me the confirmation code [--redacted--] and gave me instructions on how to send in the card with my promo code. At 11:24PM she called me back to explain that she had applied the code wrong and that she could ticket me right away at the quoted price and I did not have to mail the card back. I gave her the go ahead to bill my credit card.

I waited a little while and again went to website to verify everything. I found the reservation but there was an issue. Instead of a round-trip flight from Milwaukee to Orlando and back to Milwaukee, she had booked me on two flights out of Milwaukee to Orlando, not round-trip, two separate one ways from the same location. Obviously this wouldn't work so at 12:32AM this morning (10/26/2006) I called your customer service again and spoke with another CSR and explained the issue. She told me she would take the credit card off so it wouldn't be billed and leave the reservation in the system but I needed to call back after 6AM to speak with a lead because only they have the authorization to get me on the flight I want. No problem, if they can resolve this I will call back.

Today at 10:26AM I called back and explained to the CSR what happened and that I was told to talk to a lead. She said she needed to read what the others had left as notes. She said to me "You are trying to use a welcome back promo and fly at Thanksgiving!?! Most of the welcome back promos are scheduled months in advance." I asked to speak to a lead. She told me there was nothing a lead could do because I was trying to travel around Thanksgiving. I asked what flights were available that I might be able to use this code with and she told me the earliest she had was Tuesday the 28th because I was trying to travel around Thanksgiving. I asked what was available without the code but what she quoted was significantly more. But at that point it didn't really matter, I had decided that I wasn't going to purchase a ticket from her. I declined the reservation completely and ended the call.

Here's why you lost my sale. I understand I'm trying to fly at a busy time but that's when I need to fly, I have no choice. I need to be there for a specific event. Someone constantly insinuating I'm being stupid for trying to travel at Thanksgiving on a promo code every other sentence isn't going to convince me to book another time with your airline. I had a promo code without stated blackout dates and I tried to use it. I understood that I may not be able to but the value would be worth the effort. In fact, I went to bed thinking I was able to use it after talking to two other CSR's so I don't think I was all that crazy for calling today. Also, while what the last CSR said about the promos being scheduled months in advance could be true, according to the terms and conditions I have roughly a three month window to use this promo code. The first two CSR's made no mention I was trying to fly Thanksgiving, they just tried to assist me as best they could. The third one couldn't stop talking about it. The phone service she provided is why you lost the sale.

A final note. I follow a website call The Consumerist (http://consumerist.com). It's a site that deals with CSR experiences, outstanding companies, service complaints, and other general consumer advocacy issues. In the past I had mentioned your airline as a good airline to deal with. However I feel I need to share this experience with them as well so I will be forwarding a copy of this email to them as well. The editors there may or may not post this and if they do it's probably going to have a headline like "Best care in the air...but not over the phone" or somesuch thing. That's the kind of site they are. Snarky. Not meant as a threat, just letting you know ahead of time so you're not surprised.


I have not heard anything from them.

UPDATE: I heard from them today. They apologized and I have reservations for the time I wanted at the promo code price.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thank You for Smoking

I watched Thank You for Smoking the other day. I thought it was a good movie. It had pretty good humor and I was entertained, which is all I ask from a movie. If I want to learn something, I'll watch a documentary. Like I said, it was a good movie. Aaron Eckhart plays a lobbyist named Nick Naylor perfectly. Smooth, you don't want to like him but you do, great acting. You follow Nick through a bit of his complicated life. He's defending Big Tobacco against, well, everybody while trying to teach his son about what he does for a living, the power of argument, and morality. William H. Macy is another stand-out in this film in a wonderful, albeit short, role as an anti-smoking senator from Vermont, Senator Ortolan K. Finistirre. Finistirre isn't really Naylor's nemesis in this movie but his a big part of everything Naylor has to go against.

Here is the trailer:



I highly recommend this film. But don't just take my word for it.

I did start thinking about the message of this movie though. I think the main theme of this movie is about morality. What would you do or not do to "just pay the mortgage" as they repeat in the movie. How much would you abandon or adhere to your morals. PR people, spin doctors, I've got no love for them but this movie does make you empathize with them. They may not be inherently evil people but then they've made the choices to do what they do so does that make them evil? The second thing I thought during the movie is people just don't think things through. PR people and spin doctors have jobs because spinning works. People fall for it, right or wrong. Think for yourselves. Don't believe something because a supposed expert tells you something. Ask that second question, don't just stop with the first. Spin doctors go away if the magic doesn't work.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Superman is Metal

I've often wished they would use heavier, fast-tempo metal songs in movies during action sequences rather than the Aerosmith power ballad and somebody in YouTube land had the same idea. Check this out!



Plus Redneck from Lamb of God is at the top of my playlist right now.

Friday, September 22, 2006

1,137 Laptops!?!?

This is absolutely amazing. Since 2001 the US Department of Commerce has lost 1,137 of the over 30,000 laptops it has used. The Census Bureau has the largest number of laptops missing or stolen with 672, 246 of those contained some personal data. The next closest organization within the Commerce Department to have missing laptops is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at 325 laptops. I suppose you can excuse a couple getting sucked into a tornado or something. Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, munchkins are surfing for porn using US government equipment. But still, 325? Luckily, only 3 of the NOAA laptops contained personal data. Other bureaus like the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Bureau of Industry and Security were also missing computers but no where near the scale of the Census Bureau or NOAA and none of those laptops contained personal data.

Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez outlined a number of steps that the Department is going to implement to prevent further missing laptops or even worse, potential breaches of personal data. But there are two that stick out. Two that should have been implemented in the first place. First is making the employees more accountable for their laptops. Having one stolen is one thing but the number missing is just plain inexcusable. The second reform that stuck out was having one database of all departmental property. While this is all fine and dandy, even if each bureau and agency was tracking on their own, numbers like 672 and 325 should have stuck out. Hell, even a number like 42 from the International Trade Association should have thrown a red flag.

Maybe we'll get lucky and most of the computers will have batteries made by Sony.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Stories I've Dugg - Colorado pedophile paranoia site and its owner probed by The Consumerist

This is something new I'm doing here. Any story I submit to Digg or really have more to add I'm also going to write about a little in this blog.

Here is the description from Digg:
Defendmystreet.com has been blanketing homes in the Denver area with flyers stating a sex offender has moved nearby and the site will tell them where. What this web page really does is collect email addresses from people and then it just redirects them to the official Colorado list. The owner is known for other shady business techniques as well.
read more digg story

This is a story at The Consumerist that I have been very actively participating in as a commenter (I have commenting privileges for all Gawker Media blogs). While I hate spammers and telemarketers and the guys who leave the flyers hanging on the doors, I especially hate how this guy appears to be gathering email addresses for a lawn care and general cleaning company. Scaring parents into giving up their email addresses is despicable. There are a number of posts already and I expect more in the coming days.