The “People’s Car”, My Foot

An Update To “The Dealership That We Shall Not Name”

I spoke very briefly with the general manager of T.D.T.W.S.N.N. on Friday and explained the situation, also mentioning that I had faxed copies of the documentation in my possession and that hard copies were on their way as well. His response was, and I quote: “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”
Great attitude there. Way to mollify a customer that you’ve wronged. Looks like it may be VW Corporate all the way.
On a slightly tangential note: service manager Bob at Cherry Hill Imports (or, “The Dealership That We DEFINITELY Shall Give Free Press”) expressed a good deal of empathy with my situation and cut the bill for services rendered this time out in half. He’s always been a stand-up guy in his dealings with me; I guess AndyOne’s right — it’s the scumbag salesmen that are the problem.

im in ur gas pump, stealing ur identitiez

Gas Pumps
I had a bit of an odd experience this morning.
I pulled into an Exxon station in Philly to tide me over until I could get to cheaper gas in Jersey and got out to fill my tank. After swiping my credit card, the machine prompted me to choose between “credit” and “debit”. I punched the “credit” button and was met with a dialog requesting that I input my billing zip code(!) before proceeding. I apprehensively input the requested information and filled the tank, but now I’m more than a bit nervous. I guess I’ll keep a close eye on my credit card statements for the next few months to see if anything fishy shows up.
Anyone else seen this sort of odd behavior? Is it an ostensible “consumer protection” implemented to keep people from using cloned cards or is it representative of a whole new intrusive anti-consumer regimen that I have been blissfully unaware of to date?
Author’s note: click the image above if you’re not sure what the “im in ur” meme is all about.

Awww Crap. Looks Like I’m In The Market For A New ISP.

Holy Out-Of-Left-Field News, Batman. I’ve stated previously that I will never give Best Buy another dime of my hard-earned money due to their consistent mistreatment of me in the retail space. Looks like they’re going to be mistreating me in the ISP space until I can find a replacement:

Best Buy Acquires Speakeasy: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance
MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY – News) has agreed to acquire Speakeasy, Inc., one of the largest independent broadband voice, data and IT service providers in the United States. This move strengthens Best Buy’s technology portfolio in the small business space, delivered through the company’s Best Buy For Business unit.

This, to put it mildly, sucks. I’ve always respected Speakeasy’s stances on customer protections and have enjoyed their customer support as well as the services they offer (including, but not limited to unlimited bandwidth and a static IP address) and now, well, every dime I send Speakeasy’s way will be going directly into Best Buy’s filthy, hideously bloated, uncaring pockets.
I guess I’ll be giving Earthlink a call, as there’s no way I’m going back to the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Comcast.
Bah.

Trader Joe’s: Penny Wise, Pound (Extremely) Foolish

Those of you fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s grocery store nearby know the wonders of shopping there: vast and various (and ever-changing) selections of foods for prices that lead one to suspect that “Trader Joe” is actually “Trader Joey ‘The Shiv’ Giambino”, ever-willing to sell foodstuffs that just “happened” to “fall off the back of a truck”. My experiences at our local TJs have been largely positive – the food is good (the produce – meh.) and I always end up spending far less than I think I will and yet come out with more food than I was expecting. Plus, they have balloons which the cashiers hand out to Will each and every time we go, resulting in hours of helium-fueled fun back home.
However, TJs recently made a horrendous, nigh-unforgivable decision: they changed their paper bags. In what can only be some mid-level manager’s idea of a cost cutting tactic, Trader Joe’s switched to a far inferior bag. Their bags used to be on par with Whole Foods’ bags: sturdy, hefty and rarely prone to handle-rippage. Their new ones are mere waifs compared to their old ones;handles rip exceedingly easily and always at the most inopportune times, bag bottoms drop out suddenly and double-bagging is required for anything heavier than a carton of orange juice. These ghostly, wispy bags have cost me several loads of groceries thus far – fruit bruised, jars of salsa smashed, cookies and crackers crumbled. This evening, one of their bags even disintegrated in the parking lot before I could make it to my car. Fortunately, their store management is ever-willing to address issues and replaced all the contents of the broken bag, without question.
I can see where the idea may have initially made sense to some pointy-haired buffoon. Still, if you have to double-bag everything and you end up replacing loads of groceries for disgruntled customers, I fail to see where the cost savings will possibly accrue. You’ll lose more in good will, additional bags and replaced food than you ever save on bags in the first place.
So Trader Joe’s, listen up: bring the old bags back. You’ll certainly turn this customer back into a happy one.

How To Take Credit For A Screw-Up

I know that some people have had their issues with Dreamhost (my hosting provider), but I have to say that my experience with them has been largely positive. However, they’ve had a spate of issues that have plagued them recently, causing the intermittent slow access times/site outages that you may have seen here.
Well, DH has an official blog and has offered up a lengthy post explaining the root causes behind the recent issues and just how they’re looking to prevent such things in the future. That’s right up-front and neighborly of them, if I do say so myself and a complete rarity in my experience. Crick don’t rise, I’ll be sticking with Dreamhost for the forseeable future based on this alone.

Providential Timing

A few weeks ago, an anonymous generous soul decided to liberate our Passat wagon of its driver’s-side rearview mirror. Apparently, its existence was superfluous, so much so that said generous soul neglected to even stop and offer an explanation, so generous was their course of action.
I took the wagon in to the VW dealership last friday in order to get an oil change and an estimate on replacing the mirror. Bob, the service manager at Cherry Hill Imports, graciously offered to give me an estimate ($220! For a mirror!) and then proceeded to tell me that the work couldn’t be completed in a single day (the paint takes two days to dry, apparently), so he would have the paint guys do the mirror up proper and then I would drop by on Monday to have it installed.
We’re not exactly rolling in the dough around these parts at this point, so $220 was a bit of a hard pill to swallow. My wife and I had a word when I got home and simply threw up our hands and a brief prayer to God. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much – it’s not that I don’t trust God to provide for us, it’s just that I guess I consider car repairs to be in the noise of daily life and something that, well, I should be responsible for. I bought the car (so my flawed thinking goes), thus I should be good and happy to take repsonsibility for anything that goes wrong with it. “Cattle of a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10) only penetrates my psyche so far, I guess.
Monday rolled around and I put off dropping by the dealership in the morning, opting instead to go around lunch time. I pulled up to the service entrance just as Bob was getting up to leave for lunch, apparently. “All of my installation guys are out for lunch!” he said. “Tell you what, I’ll just install it myself and only charge you for the parts.”
The bill came to a little over $75, tax included – quite a bit off the $220 I was expecting. I sat down in the driver’s seat and offered up a prayer of thanks as soon as Bob ambled back off to grab his lunch, most likely unaware of the odd blessing he had bestowed upon me.

Take That, Best Buy Hosers!

I’ve documented my run-ins with Best Buy before, so it was with no little glee that I read of an improvisational “performance” involving a team of about 50 volunteers dressed in the standard BB uniform (blue collared top, khakis, belt and black shoes) invading a Manhattan Best Buy. The pictures and written accounts of the performance are priceless, including the revelation that “Thomas Crown! Thomas Crown Affair!” is a bona fide Best Buy security codeword.
Heh.

This Just Gets Better And Better

Ahhhh, Sony BMG, how we love to hate thee! Not only have you been caught installing unauthorized rootkits on your customers’ PCs, but it’s been found that you’re illegally using LGPL’d software to do so.
Tsk tsk. What’s the Japanese word for schadenfreude, anyways?
Anti-Competitive Update #1: Via Fark, we find out that Sony BMG is also leading a price-fixing cartel intent on driving online music prices up. For shame.
Anti-Competitive Update #2: Update #1 corrected to note that this in regards to all online sales, at least in the consumer electronics realm, thus it is Sony in its entirety and not simply its BMG music division that is involved in this scheme. In the U.K.. As far as I can tell.

…And I’ve Made The Jump

As many of you may have noticed, I was having loads of problems with my previous hosting company. My site’s been down a few times over the past few days which finally pushed me over the edge. I’ve moved the site over to Dreamhost which, while more expensive on a monthly basis, provides me with loads more disk space, bandwidth and capabilities. I’m going to see if I can get a refund for the balance of my hosting fees from The Host That Shall Never Be Named Again Lest They Get Free Publicity, but in the meantime, be on the lookout for some major additions to Literal Barrage.
Oh, and dig my newly-registered domain, zamoose.org. Not much there, at the moment, but I’ve got some plans for it as well.

Purveyors Of A Pleasant Experience

After learning that I had been the victim of credit card “skimming” fraud, I found out that the dispute process is nowhere near as easy as card vendors (particularly American Express) make it seem in their advertisements. A portion of the procedure involves, apparently, getting an official dispute statement notarized in a timely fashion. Not being a notary public myself, I had to seek out the services of such a professional. Fortunately, my coworkers alerted me to the fact that each and every Commerce Bank location has a notary public on staff.
I made a quick trek to a Commerce location near my office. I stepped up to the counter and asked whether they could notarize my form. The gentleman led me over to a waiting area and then informed me that their notary was on her lunch break but he would attempt to find out how long she would be. He headed into the back of the bank to seek the information in question. I waited for around a minute before he reemerged from the back and let me know that the notary was going to cut her lunch short in order to service my request. A minute later, she emerged, led me to her desk and asked me for information on my situation. I explained my dilemma and she expressed her condolences, then filled out and notarized my form. I asked her how much I owed her, to which she replied “How about just a ‘Thank You’?”.
Needless to say, I was extremely pleased with my interactions with Commerce. I was given incredible service even though I’m not even a customer of theirs. If I ever have need of the services of a local banking institution, I do believe they will be first on my list.
Can it be that all that was required to bust my bad customer service mojo was a trip to Commerce?