miércoles, marzo 22, 2006

More from the Inbox

This joke was emailed to me recently; thought it worth sharing ...

A man is driving down a deserted stretch of highway when he notices a sign out of the corner of his eye. It reads:


He thinks this is a figment of his imagination and drives on without second thought. Soon he sees another sign which reads:


Suddenly he begins to realize that these signs are for real and drives past a third sign saying:


His curiosity gets the best of him and he pulls into the drive. On the far side of the parking lot is a stone building with a small sign next to the door reading:


He climbs the steps and rings the bell. The door is answered by a nun in a long black habit who asks, "What may we do for you my son?"

He answers, "I saw your signs along the highway and was interested in possibly doing business."

"Very well my son. Please follow me." He is led through many winding passages and is soon quite disoriented. The nun stops at a closed door and tells the man, "Please knock on this door." He does so and another nun in a long habit, holding a tin cup answers the door.

This nun instructs, "Please place $100 in the cup then go through the large wooden door at the end of the hallway." He puts $100 in the cup, eagerly trots down the hall and slips through the door pulling it shut behind him.

The door locks, and he finds himself back in the parking lot facing another sign:


lunes, marzo 13, 2006

Thank you, Mr. Meteorologist

While perusing through the World Baseball Classic information on ESPN.com, I found the following web gem I don't think they meant to make it onto the final page. The write-ups are mostly professional.


Referring to professional baseball in Taiwan (sorry ... Chinese Taipei), they wrote "Most games are played in the evenings because it's hot as holy hell during daylight."

Down with the sickness


The good news is I got an extra day off, making it a four day weekend for me. The bad news is the four day weekend was spent tending to my sick daughter and tending to my sick self.

Ugh. I haven’t been sick like that in a while. I could tell it was going to be bad on Friday morning when I went to store to buy more Children’s Motrin. First, I couldn’t eat. You don’t get a body like mine by not eating; this was a solid indicator that I was coming down with something. When I got to the Acme (for those of you not in the mid-Atlantic region, this is an actual grocery store, not a place for mail-order flying bat suits, strap on rockets, or other gadgets Coyote procured for help tracking down Road Runner), I had to walk past a cupcake display. The mere sight of frosting made my stomach cower inside me. Normally, it would leap out of me and onto the display, snarfing up as much as it could before I finally wrestled it back in place. Not today.

Of course, the geniuses at Acme put the medicine in the same aisle as the pet products. Standing in the medicine aisle long enough to read the labels is enough of a chore when you’re sick; doing it while engulfed by a malodorous cacophony of beef-like, chicken-like, and fish-like flavoring smells is a Herculean task. Why they need to pack in extra flavor for an animal that sniffs anuses and will eat roadkill is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. It’s just their eating habits can be a bit concerning sometimes. If I had contents in my stomach that morning they would have wound up on the Alpo. Not that any dogs would mind – for them it would be a special dessert.

My fever topped 102 Friday night. I was unable to stay in any one position too long, yet also unable to move into any other positions. At one point I fell asleep on my knees with my face buried in my pillow on the couch. My sick pants don't fit well. Luckily my blinds close.

By Saturday morning I felt fine. Food still wasn’t appealing, but otherwise I felt no ill effects. It was as if I had been in perfect health all along. Generally when I get sick, the final night is the worst as the fever reaches its breaking point. I assumed that I was in the clear. The storm hadn’t blown by, though; I was simply in its eye. Saturday afternoon it hit again and by nightfall I was yearning for a coma once again.

I’m told the meteorological term for a bright sunny warm day that follows two days of nasty winds and torrential downpours is “Monday”. That’s pretty much how it was for me. By Sunday evening my personal storm had blown to sea. I could do normal things again, like walk and watch the Sopranos premiere. Today I was well enough to go back to work. I even ate at lunch. Yet I’m just so worn out right now.

Funny how it works, isn’t it? I just spent the past four days at home doing nothing, and now I feel like I need a weekend to recuperate.

martes, marzo 07, 2006

Talk about your alternative energies ...

Check out this little "nugget" from the Anchorage Daily News ...

Customer Disservice Unappreciation Letter Number Two

Bad customer service abounds. Here is a letter I just sent off to Sears ...

March 7, 2006

Sears National Customer Relations
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a Sears credit card older for many years, but recently opted to cancel the card which I held jointly with my ex-wife since its inception. The actions of your company in general recently have left me befuddled to say the least, but in December you treated me to one of the most inept examples of customer service I have ever encountered. Though miniscule in and of itself, it was definitely the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

In November of 2005, I contacted your customer service center regarding my anticipated balance for December. I had been paying down this account and this was to be the final payment. Since I was making payments three weeks ahead of the due date, my checks were written before your invoices were printed or interest calculated. I explained the situation to your representative and specifically told her that my intent was to remit an amount that would satisfy the account. I was told that if I were to send in $43.00 by December 15, the account would be satisfied.

I did; it wasn’t. The final balance, after interest, was $43.09.

I called your customer service line to see about getting the leftover nine cents removed from the account. This was an immaterial amount, especially considering the hefty finance fees you have levied in the past. Besides, I sent you the amount I was told to send. If the first representative had told me to send $50, I would have. I just wanted this to be done. Alas, your representative informed me that he was unable to credit my account. The nine pennies would have to be remitted, he said.

This was in the midst of the Christmas holiday shopping season. I ventured down to the Sears store at the Moorestown Mall, gave a cashier there thirty-six cents (to account for any additional interest you may have opted to apply to my still open account), and then promptly went other stores in the mall to buy gift items that I could have purchased in your store.

I have been a Sears customer for many years. While your prices haven’t always matched your competition in this area, you have been a convenient place to shop – especially since I had your card. Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars on Sears merchandise including car seats, clothing, toys, photos, tools, and appliances. Additionally, I have spent at least a thousand more on interest and finance fees. Now I get irritated just walking past your store. I can buy equal or better products elsewhere for equal or better prices; it was either loyalty, nostalgia, or perhaps inertia that brought me back into your store. You sacrificed that for nine pieces of copper. I am content with the notion of never buying from Sears again.

Perhaps you can use this example in future customer service training sessions. A better focus on customers may prevent future boneheaded decisions like these. Perhaps you could empower your customer service representatives to make decisions involving a dime or, dare I say, a quarter. I shouldn’t have to remind you how much cascading damage a single act of poor customer service can have. Not only have you sent my dollars into the waiting registers of your competitors, this tale has also made for wonderful water cooler conversation and I have a sneaking suspicion it’ll make its way out into the blogoshpere. It seems to me that the dime you saved cost you much more than that.

According to my final statement you owe me twenty-seven cents. Given the circumstances, I just can’t credit your account. I would like that amount refunded to me.


Kevin E

Former customer and cardholder

lunes, marzo 06, 2006

Customer Disservice Unappreciation Letter Number One

There are times when a company's customer service practices are so ... we'll just say "notable" that they cannot go unaddressed. Here is a copy of my letter to Washington Mutual Bank regarding their recent actions on my Providian credit card.

March 6, 2006

Mr. John Green
Vice President
Washington Mutual
P.O. Box 9177
Pleasanton, CA 94566-9177

Mr. Green:

I am in receipt of your letter dated February 22, 2006, in which you announced your decision to lower my credit line by $440. In the letter, you cite as a primary reason for this adverse action my “serious delinquency in the last year,” and bolster this with “serious delinquency and public record of collection filed” and “proportion of revolving balances to revolving credit limits too high” as additional reasons.

Yes, I do know you didn’t write the letter or even sign it – the printer’s dots are clearly evident in the signature field. But you stuck your name to it, so I am writing back to you.

And yes, I do have negative items on my credit file. I did not come out of my marriage unscarred. I fully understand and agree that the valid items therein are of my doing and make no claim that I made decisions unwittingly. Dimwittedly, perhaps. Yet they were my decisions. I take full responsibility.

The only serious delinquency on my TransUnion credit file that is not old, contested, resolved, or of miniscule amount is yours. The public record of collection was a judgment that specifically includes a note showing that payment was made days after the judgment was issued. My proportion of revolving balances to revolving credit limits is higher than in the past because I’ve been paying off credit cards and closing them. This is, by most of the rational world, considered to be a positive. Obviously you differ.

Ironically, as soon as I significantly paid down my balance on your account as part of my effort to materially lower that ratio, you slashed my limit by 16%, thereby jacking it right back up.

If you would review all of your own records, you would notice that the serious delinquency occurred when your company stopped billing me online. There was an apparent failure in delivery of one bill. Being that I make many monthly payments, I did not notice the absence of your invoice. Your company intentionally stopped billing me online the following month providing no notice through our agreed-upon line of communication. Once I discovered the error, as your records should show, I promptly corrected the issue. Despite the fact that you relentlessly piled on the fees, I paid down the balance as quickly as I could to bring the account back in line.

As penalty against me for the payments I missed after you suddenly stopped billing me in the manner in which you agreed, you not only saddled me with ludicrous late payment and over-limit fees but also slapped me with a ridiculously high interest rate of 30.5%.

Your representative assured me that you would return to billing me online as soon as I brought the balance back in line. I have; you haven’t. She also assured me that with positive payment history, a subsequent periodic account review would likely drop my interest rate from extort down to fleece. I have paid more than the requested minimum payment every month since and made a one-time payment of over eleven hundred dollars this past month. In response, you penalized me again for the same infraction. Your account review process did even not live up to my lowest expectations.

As evidenced by the exorbitant interest and fees I’ve paid during my time as your account-holder, I am obviously a highly profitable investment for you.

In making money available, you are providing a valuable service, for which I have no problem paying fair compensation. Obviously, credit rates link to credit risk and you are entitled to return off your investment. Yet with high risk comes high rewards. Unfortunately, the present market provides you an opportunity to profiteer and you’ve chosen to take every advantage of this situation.

It’s no secret that I fit into the category of account-holders that you can screw over as often as you wish because we do not have the free resources available to simply take our business elsewhere. Your industry has successfully lobbied the pro-corporate Congress to help offset losses you might encounter from an unsympathetic (to you, at least) judge in a bankruptcy hearing. One of your own representatives informed me that you intentionally jack up rates on customers with poor credit scores to a) squeeze as much money out of them before they go into bankruptcy and b) ensure that you have a higher stake in their eventual settlement.

That is quite sad.

I am sorry to have to inform you of this, but despite your and my ex-wife’s best efforts, I am not going into bankruptcy. Quite the contrary, I have started the process of repairing the damage done to my credit during my marriage. And despite your treatment of me as a customer thus far, I can still be persuaded not to jump ship the moment I have an opportunity to pay this card off completely. I have no doubts that you will reap more profits from me by maintaining me as a long-term account holder than you will by trying to squeeze what you can from me now.

I ask you to revisit this decision, as well as the interest rate you are currently applying to my account. I will personally address any items in my credit file you have issue with. My only request is that you not do a hard pull of my credit file. The standard review process provides you all the information you need, a hard pull would make it appear to other companies that I am seeking to expand my debt. I am not asking for an increase, just a reinstatement. I can’t exactly lower my proportion of revolving balances to revolving credit limits if you continue to reduce my limit every time I make a payment.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Kevin E


miércoles, marzo 01, 2006

The Prince of Procrastination Strikes Again!

Tom mentioned his goal of posting once a day. I've had similar thoughts, but always wind up putting it off for one reason or another. I've got two jobs, two kids, and too much stuff to do at home. Besides, there are no blog deadlines. I can write when I want, and not write when I want. If I made it on here at least once a week, I figured, would be OK.

I just noticed that I haven't even lived up to once a month this year ... I missed February altogether.

Well, for those who see this, thanks for checking in. I'm sure I'll have at least something to write about in March.