Monday, April 29, 2013

Move over Verizon

Construction is currently underway for expansion of the FTI Hall of Shame. I held a private induction ceremony yesterday for the newest member and, based on recent experience, feel they certainly are deserving honorees. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great ineptness (as they have demonstrated to me), I give you the folks over at Comcast Cable. Dealing with them is certainly not "Comcastic". For reference, I note they have dropped this slogan. Rightly so.

My monthly routine of paying bills was a bit different this month as I noticed my internet/cable bill had gone up $15 from the normal $129.99. I know we hadn't made any service changes or ordered any premium movies or events, so, I called Comcast Thursday to inquire about the difference. It turns out I  was charged a "prorated" $15 for the month for HBO service. Now, I maybe watch a total of 20 hours of TV a month. That's it. We have 150+ channels here at the compound and I think I view the same 4 regularly. I have so many because of the bundling of features along with my internet service I originally picked a package over 6 years ago that was most economical and, yet, delivered the stuff I wanted. One of the services was high definition broadcasting for both of the TV's located inside the Executive Living Quarters. HBO was thrown in 6 months ago as an incentive when I had an earlier issue, but, I really don't watch it that much and was prepared to let it go away. In speaking with the customer representative on the phone, it was obvious they don't want to lose any customers. I have read that customers are increasingly turning to Netflix and internet streaming programs to their computer versus traditional broadcast methods, so the cable companies are losing out. She made me an offer to allow me to keep the all of the same services I had, waive the $15 HBO charge, and move me to a $99.99 per month package for 1 year guaranteed. "Let me get this right: Same Services, waive the fee, keep the HBO, all for one year for a hundred bucks a month. Is that right?", I asked. "Yep, pretty cool, huh?", she replied. "OK, sign me up", I told her. I hung up the phone and thought I had scored a major deal.

Coincidentally, about the same time, Mrs. Kfred, our Institute Director of Safety and Chief Judge Judy viewer (we both LOVE Judge Judy), called to mention we had lost service on one of our TV's.  She called Comcast herself as well  and was advised that the control box was old and to return it for a replacement. I thought that as an odd coincidence, but, hey, whatever.  She did so on Fri and waited for me to return to the compound later in the day expecting me to set it up. It really is a pretty easy switch-out and I did so with relative ease.  Firing everything up, I noted that our high definition channels were blocked with the message that I needed to call Comcast in order to "order this service".   I go to the other TV, switch on the high-def channels, and everything is functioning perfectly.  Hmmm.............something is haywire here.  I call Comcast again, run through their automated phone tree maze hoping that somewhere, somehow, a real live someone will pick up the phone and I can resolve the matter.  Finally "Julio" answers the line and I explain to him my predicament.  He investigates my account and finally asserts that my new $99 monthly package DOES NOT include high-def programming.  I told him of my previous agreement and he said they could add the high def service but that it would be another $10 a month and a service work order to do so would be filled within in 48 hours.  WHAT!?   Now at this point, I am a bit peeved as I had the original phone rep. repeat the terms of the offer twice so there would be no misunderstanding.  I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told there was none available at the moment and that I could call back.  I let them know that they could set their clock by my follow-up call.

Calling back within 20 minutes, I immediately asked to speak with a second level Supervisor. "Caesar" comes on the line and confirms to me that the package I moved to was not a high-def. package and that for another $10 a month, I could, indeed, be enjoying all of the great programming that Comcast offered.  I politely and firmly informed me that was not the terms of my earlier agreement and  quite honestly, did not care for how Comcast ran their business.   He profusely apologizes for my inconvenience but that he can not offer me high def. programming without the added $10 monthly charge, but, would throw in Showtime, STARZ, and Cinemax for no charge for the next 6 months at the monthly level of $109.  Figuring that was the best I could do, I agree to the deal and now all is as described.

I still haven't paid the bill to this point, so, figure I will call Comcast Saturday to confirm the amount I owe  I get a 3rd phone rep who now gives me another, lower amount due!    Though I figure if I keep calling enough times, they will eventually pay me some money, it is frustrating that there is no consistent number from any of these people.    She also tells me that my "agreement" outlines all of these terms.  I ask her,  "what agreement?"  "You didn't get an agreement?", she asks.  "I will send you one. What's your email address?"  For Christ's sake, YOU ARE MY EMAIL PROVIDER!!  YOU GUYS DON'T KNOW?  

I still haven't received an agreement, I don't know what I owe; I do, though, have high definition channels to watch.   I am going to call again today and run the gamut with them again.  I think they have a Wheel of Fortune type wheel there at Comcast Central which they spin to determine your monthly bill.   In the meantime, I am collecting memorabilia to house here at the Shrine for ineptness.  I think it will be a large display.       

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The way I see it:

I have been away with what seems an inordinate amount of issues to address. I have attended to most of them and can now get back to the mindless drivel displayed here on a semi-frequent basis. With that being said (my favorite set-up line) lets just get into a couple of random observations:
  • If we truly want to dispense justice in the Boston Marathon bombing case and I were in charge of things, I think I could accomplish the goals of both liberals and conservatives. I could spare the bomber's life and still meet the conservative's goal of vengeance without the outrageous costs associated with death penalty cases. How? I would humanely and surgically amputate the guy's legs, nurse him back to otherwise healthy status, and then turn him loose for the rest of his life with the caveat there is no further societal financial help for therapy, new prosthesis, or any other type of further assistance. Let him experience the life he has committed others to while not taking his. That seems appropriate to me.

  • I am always worried when I hear the word advocate. There are advocates for the homeless, children, elderly, environment, animals. You name it. And their ideas and positions all have one thing in common: it's gonna cost me some dough. I am not saying their cause is not just or wrong, but, they are always asking for money. There are just flat out some things for which there is no available money.

  • I don't know if In-n-Out Burgers are truly the best, but, they set a pretty high standard. I was in Oakland last week and stopped in for a cheeseburger. Maybe it's like the Coors beer phenomena of the 70's where distribution was so tightly controlled and it just seemed to taste better because you weren't exposed to it on a daily basis. There are no locations in my local marketplace, so, I can't enjoy them whenever I want; I don't know, that cheeseburger just seemed to be the best.

  • And finally, a little fun:*

    A woman was shopping at the local supermarket where she selected:

    A half-gallon of 2% milk
    A carton of eggs
    A quart of orange juice
    A head of lettuce
    A 2 lb. can of coffee
    A 1 lb. package of bacon

    As she was unloading the items on the conveyor belt to check out, a drunk standing behind her watched as she placed the items in front of the cashier. While the cashier was ringing up the purchases, the drunk calmly stated, "You must be single." She was a bit startled by this proclamation, yet, intrigued by the derelict's intuition, as indeed, she had never found Mr. Right. She looked at the six items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about her selections that could have tipped off the drunk to her marital status.. Curiosity getting the better of her, she said, "Yes, you are correct. But how on earth did you know that?"

    The drunk replied, 'Cause you're ugly.

    * this incident was both Neighbor Marv submitted and approved.

  • Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    It's a fun, teaching moment

    I spoke with Dickey the Peap over the Easter Holiday weekend. I was surprised at both the depths of frugality exhibited by the short armed one and, yet, amazed at the training he employs in developing a successive line of little Frugal Ones ensuring the future will always be tight. Rather than me, however, being the arbiter of such an issue, I will leave it to our 2 faithful readers to judge for themselves. Making a couple of slight variations in the information input port of the Factorcrap Truthometer Deluxe, I developed a simple visual test to confirm my suspicions, explored the possibilities, made my own determination, then ran it through the mechanical marvel for validation. As expected, total vindication was indicated.

    A bit of background:  Apparently the 2 little Grand-Peaps were coming over later in the afternoon for an Easter Egg hunt.  Mrs. Dickey the Peap correctly surmised that perhaps the heat from the  brilliant sunshine would penetrate the inside of the plastic eggs being planted around the yard and melt the chocolate candy inside.  Dickey agreed and realized that wouldn't be too much fun for a couple of little kids to find melted goo around the yard and chose to cancel this event for "the kid's sake."  I suggested that instead of placing candy in the plastic eggs, he actually place a few coins or bills  inside.  They would still have the thrill of hunting the eggs and actually get something that would be of use to them in the future rather than a temporary sugar high.  Being part of no such type of thinking, the Frugal One immediately improvised an alternative plan that included both an instant reward which also could be used as a teaching aid for later in life.  I applaud the creativity, but do wonder at the "fun" factor.  ("Thanks, Grandpa.  That was a lot of fun".  Imagine the disappointment on the sweet, little, angelic faces.)     

    I chronicle this experience only to share and have peer review done by our readership. The test is actually quite simple. What is pictured in this image that was included inside each of the eggs to be found:?


    A)  That is a pair of small pinus sylvetris seedlings starting their life that will one day grow to be part of a strong and healthy forest eco-system.  

    B)  Say, that isn't marijuana plants is it?  I hear they grow those things in the forest out there.  


    C)  Those appear to be perfect  gifts for a couple of kids that will grow along side them in time.   Think of them as future, potential  stumps they could bury money under.


    And the education continues.