Category Archives: Rants

BCBSDE website stupidity

BCBSDE advertisement

In this morning’s News-Journal  paper I see an advertisement for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware’s website where it lists all the wonderful things you can do on it, like order a replacement ID card. 

When reading this, I had to let out a little chortle because last Sunday my wife and I were looking all over for her ID card and couldn’t find it. So we decided to go onto the BCBSDE.com website to get a replacement card ordered. 

After traversing their site, it left me shaking my head in disbelief. Do people who design websites ever try to use them?

Below I’ll show you the steps to go through to get a new ID card so you too can witness the stupidity. Just three steps will leave you too going “Huh?”

Continue reading BCBSDE website stupidity

SMS short codes and the evil that is M-cube

This post is to document frustrations I had removing a monthly charge from M-cube to my wife’s cell phone for $9.99 a month from the SMS short code of 44999. 

Now most sane people would just contact their cell phone provider and complain right away, but I’d figure I’d just do it the way you are supposed to do it, type STOP and be done with it.   OK, big mistake.

So five months later and five charges for 9.99 I think I finally got it resolved, but won’t know for sure until my next bill.

It all began with my bill in November…

Continue reading SMS short codes and the evil that is M-cube

Did Obama break 1981 Reagan record for inauguration?

Straight from the mouths of the old, dying media comes word that — wait for it — Obama did not break 1981 Reagan Nielsen record for inauguration.

Wow, you don’t say. Now run around to some friends and ask them if they watched the inauguration, and if so, how.  Most — and I mean just about everyone I know — watched it online.

The CNN/Facebook partnership alone, just one of a plethora of sites streaming the inauguration, had 1.3 million concurrent live streams running just before the inaugural address.

There were even live streams going on inside Second Life.

Back in 1981 the only opportunity to watch a live news event was on TV.  It’s 2009, and it’s all about the Internet. Times change, and Nielsen hasn’t quite caught on yet.

So Obama haters can cling to that one stat and feel better, but in aggregate I think it’s safe to  say that more people watched this inauguration via whatever means than any other in history by a long shot.

p.s. The Reagan inauguration was on a Sunday as well. Less people at work means more in front of a TV.

Racism is alive

Kosovo IndependenceIt was the day that Kosovo declared independence and we just happened to be in New York City that day. The city was a mess with people celebrating — which meant they all had to get home, wherever that was, at the end of the day.

Unfortunate timing, since my wife and I had to head home as well. We went to Penn Station to catch an Amtrak train south. The place was mobbed. My wife got a bit in front of me, trying to find a seat. We crammed ourselves into the train, no seats to be found. Yet another crappy train ride standing most of the way.In front of me was a black woman, next to her was an open seat with stuff piled on it. My wife was half-way down the car. I was about to ask the seated woman if the seat was vacant (I was pretty sure it was since there was only one seat check on it). Before doing so, the black woman asked. The asian woman who was seated said something to the black lady, got up, went forward in the car a bit, said something to my wife, came back with my wife, said “Sorry” to the black lady, and my wife sat down.

I figured the woman knew my wife, but I started wondering if that was true, so I sent my wife a text message “Do you know that lady?” She sent me a reply back “Never seen her before in my life.

“Wow, I had a hard time believing what I just witnessed. This Asian woman just simply didn’t want a black person sitting next to her, so she went down the aisle of the train and grabbed the first white person she saw.

At the next stop, as people got off the train, I made sure this lady got herself a seat.

Really pretty disturbing. I would have hoped this sort of thing never happens in this day and age. Guess I was being naive.

TSA and expired drivers licenses…

Went to Florida today for a conference. As I was going through security, the TSA agent told me “I hope you are coming back before Friday.” I’m like, “Er, no, Sunday… Why?”

So she proceeds to tell me my drivers license expires on Friday and I won’t be able to use it to come back after that.

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME.

So I say I’ll worry about it Sunday and she says “Fine, don’t say I never warned you.”

While waiting for my flight I do some googling for info and find a few horror stories about TSA and expired drivers licenses.

Gessh… a few other accounts told about how doing this can land you on the TSA watch list too, even after you get your license renewed.

Fortunately, I have a valid passport back home and a understanding wife who is going to send it to me here.

Now I just have to pray the passport doesn’t get lost. 🙁

 

Update July 2008: Since writing this I’ve found out that TSA will let you board a flight without ID or expired ID but you have to fully cooperate with their attempts to verify your identity. They will use some sort of national database with information about you and ask you a series of questions to determine if you are really you. So be prepared to know all sorts of information like your former addresses.  What they ask can change for each incident and person.  Wired has an article with more info about this.

My last meal ever at Quiznos

My last quiznos meal   

My last Quiznos Meal

You are looking at the last meal I will ever buy at Quiznos. They did the unforgiveable, they switched from Coke products to that Pepsi sludge.

It’s no secret that both Pepsi and Coke work to get exclusive rights to provide their stuff in places like this, by providing “incentives” to the owners to switch. And of course, the people that run these places see dollar signs in their head and switch, thinking that most people don’t care  — and probably that is true — but not this person.

I can’t imagine what the Coke and Pepsi reps tell their customers when working a deal like this. Do they say “You won’t lose any customers because they don’t care?” If they say this, then they are admitting that their product is not so special.

Well, some people care. Nothing beats a nice cold Diet Coke. Diet Pepsi is horrible. It’s bad enough that it does influence my decision. There’s a Subway down the street, and by golly, they toast their stuff now, and they serve Coke products, so I’m switching. I even told the franchise owner I was switching after he told me he couldn’t sell Coke products due to the contract.

Now I’m sure Quiznos won’t care less that ole Weave is switching, and I’m sure they may pick up some diehard Pepsi losers, but that’s not the point. What happened to the customer is always right? What happened to giving the customer what they want? Why not provide them a choice?

WE DESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE OUR OWN BRAND OF FIZZY DRINK

I know places lose some revenue from doing exclusives. Is it more than the incentive, I don’t know. Is the loss of goodwill worth it? 7-Eleven certainly has both company’s products in their fountains, for example. And for a while, they were making a big deal about giving people a choice.

My employer “used” to have both brands available in our cafeteria, but they switched to an exclusive Pepsi arrangement a year or so ago. And you know what happened? They lose revenue cause of it. How can I make such a claim? Because from actual experience I know I and other Coke lovers now smuggle in our own supply. So instead of dropping $1.25 on a bottle of Diet Coke there a few times a day, I just bring in a 12 pack of my own. The company cafeteria operation now gets squat.

And if the pain of having to wash down my meatball sub with a Diet Pepsi wasn’t bad enough, to make matters worse, it wasn’t even an iTunes “free song” winner.

Maddox is an idiot

So, I’m figuring since I’m the last person on the planet without a blog (my wife has FIVE, believe it or not), I figured the time has come. And like all typical boring blogs, I’ll have to write about someone else’s blog, specifically Maddox’s rant on Orbitz.

OK, so he got screwed by Orbitz, but claims the $94 they got from him will be the most expensive mistake they ever made. Thing is, he was really out $144 but they gave him a $50 voucher for a future trip to make it up to him.

Ah, hello? That $50 is worth squat unless he turns around and books another trip with them again. If he does, he’s a bigger idiot than I thought.

First mistake, booking a trip from an online travel agent. They all suck. OK, I can forgive someone from making the mistake once, but that’s it. If he cashes in that voucher, he better not go whining to everyone about it later when they screw him over again.

My “screwed over” stories are about Expedia and Travelocity. Yes, that’s twice, but I have an excuse — the wife.

Expedia: The wife and I had a ticket from Philadelphia to Erie, PA, connecting at Pittsburgh on US Airways for September 14, 2001 with a return trip on September 16, 2001. Booked the trip through Expedia. Each round-trip ticket cost $350 and since I paid for both of them, I’d have two charges of $350 each on my American Express Card.

Well, three days before we were to leave, all hell broke loose. The airlines promised that anyone that had a ticket for a flight for the next several weeks could either reschedule or get a full refund. Well, I didn’t want to reschedule because this was for a specific weekend event and while the rest of the world was in a panic, I was ready to jump on a plane Friday. Problem was, they weren’t flying. By the time Friday came around, some flights were operating, but most still weren’t and hence our flight was canceled.

OK, so I waited a few days and then called US Air about getting my refund. They told me to call Expedia. I called Expedia, they said I’d get a refund within 2-3 weeks.

OK, 4 weeks later, no credit appears on my charge card, so I call again. This time I’m told it takes about two billing cycles to issue credits. You gotta be kidding me. If I told my cable company that it’d take me two billing cycles to pay my bills, I’d be cut off after one.

So, 2-3 months go by and still no credit, so I call Expedia again. This time the idiot told me a refund would take 4-6 months. Unbelievable. Of course, they string you along like this to make it harder to make a credit card dispute.

Amazingly, about a week later, I get one of the tickets refunded. One, not two. I call Expedia again, they claim they already processed a refund. I’m like, “FOR ONE TICKET, I BOUGHT TWO. So they claim they’ll look into it, but it’ll probably take 2-3 months to get a refund processed.

So at this point, I’m like. Hell with it. I called American Express, dispute the charge, tell them the entire sordid story. I clearly lay it out, “Hey look, I bought two tickets, I’m disputing only one of them. I got a refund for the other ticket. I have no idea which one on my bill was refunded so please don’t flag the ticket I got a refund on as a disputed item.

Sure enough, a month later Amex sends me a polite message that I already received a refund for the ticket and my dispute was denied. When I called them, they said I should send in both tickets. Of course, it was an e-ticket so I had squat-all to send them. But, American Express tells me that Expedia claimed they issued paper tickets to me so hence I’d need to return them.

So I call Expedia back. Now this is now well over six months later. After over 30 minutes on hold, I gave up and hung up and tried to make myself feel better by saying that all the people who lost a helluva lot on 9/11, if all I lost was $350 I should consider myself lucky. Still, I vowed I’d never ever ever deal with a third party travel agent again.

Listen people, don’t let them screw you over. BUY DIRECT.

Travelocity: But, of course, husbands don’t know any better so a year later my wife booked tickets through Travelocity to the Mariott in Brooklyn for a few days, of which Travelocity was ever so helpful to charge the hotel stay to her credit card in advance.

I’m like, “Why didn’t you just use those slags to price out places, then just call the property directly?” But hey, what do I know anyway?

So we spend a few days there, and on the last morning the hotel slips our list of charges under the door. Of course, the entire stay was billed. Travelocity just screwed us.

So at the front desk I try to explain to the counter clerk that we booked the room through Travelocity, and the room should be prepaid. “Nope.” “Arrrgh, please get me a manager.”

I explain the Travelocity bit and show him the confirmation (which admittedly I could have just done it up anyway I liked on a PC and printed it out). So, kudos to the hotel manager, he was polite, understanding, and said he would try to call Travelocity for me to straighten it out.

Well, turns out hotels get stuck in the same customer-service queue hell as the rest of us poor suckers. He was on hold for over a half-an-hour. Now admittedly he was on speaker phone back there listening to the music-on-hold but he was trying. After half-an-hour I was like, “Look, thanks for trying. It’s not your fault Travelocity are morons. We’ll charge the room and dispute the Travelocity charge later.”

The manager was cool. He tried, he didn’t try to accuse me of scamming him. He should be in charge of Travelocity.

Now, since it was my wife’s credit card, I asked her to make sure she disputed the travelocity charge, not the hotel charge. Now whether she ever did that or not, I have no idea. For me to ask would be for me to show a lack of trust and faith in her, so I just dropped it.

So, after all that, the lesson to learn here is, NEVER EVER EVER BUY FROM AN ONLINE TRAVEL AGENCY If you have a dispute, you have a third party to hassle with. They add no value. Just leach their website to price out flights and rooms and then find what you want and go to that company’s website directly and buy what you need. You’ll also find it’s usually cheaper that way since they don’t have to pay a commission to these “value subtracted resellers.”