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Posts Tagged ‘Sprint’

I write this today in somewhat of a state of bliss. I am high, having taken a few Percocets (please, spare me the bullshit – my life, my body, my right – DEA be damned) which has had the desired effect and taken the edge of these last few insanely stressful days, but I am also sort of out of it. But my mind is clear and I am relaxed. I am taking some down time right now, unwinding from a stressful last few days. I think by the time you are done reading this post, you’ll understand why. I am sitting here watching Logo and reflecting on a lot of things while I answer the occasional e-mail, Facebook comment and such.

So the first thing up on the list is the hospitalization this evening of Kerri Logsdon, a friend and board member of Norman Queer Pride. She is in OU Medical Center tonight in intense pain. The doctors don’t know exactly whats wrong with her, but they are going to do a lot of tests. I took her to the hospital tonight and am now staying at her place to keep an eye on things. Someone came and kicked the door in to the apartment next door, so this will ensure that her place stays safe while she is away.

Kerri has driven me nuts this week, but its not really her fault. Her family life is a mess and I know I am not the most pleasant person to be around when I am hurting. She is just lonely but unfortunately, having someone around who wants to go on and on about their medical problems really brings me down. None the less, since no one else is there for her and I don’t have anything better to do (actually, I do…) I may as well try to ease someone else’s suffering even if only by a little bit. What goes around comes around, so I figure that if I do this good turn, maybe someone will be there for me when  I need it. So I am happy to do it, but also glad I have a break now. I hope Kerri feels better and gets some relief, she is not a bad person to be around.

In other news, I am expecting a settlement check today for a lawsuit against a company I used to have a warehousing contract with. Their insurance company decided to settle and they finally got around to mailing the check a couple of days ago from Phoenix, so I expect it will arrive at my attorney’s office today. Nevermind that according to the terms of our agreement, the check was to be sent via FedEx and was supposed to be in the mail like two weeks ago, so this insurance company apparently just decided to do what they felt like doing. I feel sorry for the opposing counsel, John Walkup of The Edmonds Cole Law Firm in Oklahoma City. He is stuck in the middle of the whole thing and helpless as much as anyone else. I think he is sincere in his efforts and while I am not a patient person when money is concerned, I remind myself that its indecent to hold someone in Oklahoma City responsible for the actions of some twit for a claims adjuster at an insurance company in Phoenix.

But all is well that ends well, so now I am deciding where to put the money to work for me. I did get a bit more than I expected, so I am reminded of my civic obligations to help others when I am able to do so. To that end, I think I am going to make some charitable donations with some of the funds, and I have decided I am going to start by giving $100 to RAIN of Oklahoma, which provides HIV testing services with no cost or obligation. While I disagree with some of the things the organization has done recently, I am not going to be petty. The mission is worthy of support.

I have already donated $200 to Mike McKee, my attorney who handled the case. He was only going to take $700 for his services, I told him to go ahead and take $900. Mike is from a different time, a time when people became lawyers to serve their communities and help others, not to get filthy rich. Mike and I have many viewpoints that are worlds apart on topics like religion and politics, but I have a great amount of respect for the man. He works tirelessly for his clients and in this case, he is giving me a very fair shake.

A third donation is going to be made in the way of a loan to a guy in Oklahoma City I know. While he is not gay, he is still part of our community and has had a string of bad luck. Without going into details, he has been out of work and his landlord told him he could work around the complex doing make readies and such in exchange for free rent. He did a bunch of work, but didn’t get it in writing, and so when the rent came due, the landlord took $100 off the rent, which was not the deal. Then the jackass posted an eviction notice. So I am gonna loan the guy about $550 to help him get on his feet. He says he’ll pay me back and while I believe he is sincere, I dont know the guy that well so I am considering it a donation until proven otherwise. I do expect it back, but I’m not counting on it.

Other, smaller donations will be going to causes that I have long supported including The National Association of Railroad Passengers, The American Motors Owners Association, Earth Island Institute and The Fully Informed Jury Association. I will probably also find some funding for Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Oklahomans for Equality. Its one thing to sit around and bitch about the direction our country is taking, but if you aren’t willing to put your money where your mouth is, then there is not really any point, is there?

In other news, I have launched three new blogs to cover specific aspects of my life. I created a blog to cover and provide updates on the License Plate Lawsuit. You may want to bookmark that page if you wish to follow the case. I opened a second blog to be dedicated to my love of travel, called Traveling with Keith. Few people know about my hobby of screen writing, but the other night I fired up Final Draft and cranked out a few pages of script that maybe one day will turn into something marketable. The name of that blog is Keith Silver Screen. I haven’t done anything with it yet, but I will sometime soon.

I am looking forward to buying an iPhone and dumping Cricket’s lousy service. While I don’t miss having a $200 a month cell phone bill for unlimited everything, I do miss having unlimited everything. And while I hate AT&T with a passion, I hate Sprint even worse. In fact, look for the announcement soon: I will be filing a small claims lawsuit against Sprint for the manner in which they fucked me over on my account. Plus, I am starting to become a real fan of Apple stuff, and for many years I was about as anti-Mac as they come.

I really like the idea of Apple’s MobileMe service, which allows you to use a computing cloud to have ONE address book, calendar and so on that updates itself without having to plug in dongles and such. For instance, you add an appointment on your iPhone while in the field, then you come home to your MacBook and the thing is already there without having to plug in and sync. Yes, I know you can sync Outlook on Windows, but Windows sucks and Outlook is such a piece of shit (its full of security holes) that I refuse to install. As if that weren’t enough, to have Outlook you have to buy Microsoft Office which is not something I’ll be doing. Not when I can use the freely available OpenOffice which is every bit as good and comes with the low, low price of free. Of course, this does require me to make my next computer a Mac as well, which I think I will be doing. In fact, I really like the new iMacs with their big, beautiful and bright displays. I’ll wait to see what the verdict is on the iPad before I ditch my Toshiba in favor of a MacBook or iPad, as the Toshiba still has a lot of life left in it.

Being as how I have been up for damn near an entire day now, its time to wrap this up. So I will close with a brief talk about my longing for Chicago. More specifically, an adventure that possibly awaits me next time I go there.You see, I have never been able to stay away from Chicago for very long. For me, the windy city will always be my true home. No matter where I go or how long I stay, I am still only visiting. Home is where the heart is and my heart always belongs in Chicago and its memories.

Anyway, the adventure I speak of is as follows: there is a guy who now lives there and works at a gay bar, but he once lived here in Oklahoma. I like him, not necessarily as a boyfriend – but I haven’t ruled that out. I am not going to identify him, but those who know me know that I like them barely legal. This guy is in his mid 30s and has gray hair, which for anyone who knows me and what I like is probably reading this in utter shock. While I do find him attractive, its not his body that I am drawn to. He has an aurora of mystery about him that really intrigues me. He is very shy despite working in a job that puts him in a position to deal extensively with the public. I think he isolates the personal him from the professional him. He is a deep thinker and extremely intelligent, with a vivid imagination capable of painting very thought-provoking pictures in the mind. I have had occasion to read some of his short stories and thats how I know this. He is well read, can hold an intelligent conversation that keeps me on my toes.

His writings do seem to indicate low self esteem as he is always beating up on himself. He seems to feel unwanted. I do admit that I dont know much about him, I only met him a couple of times while he lived here and he does not remember me, but I remembered him. He has been single for quite some time and I think its likely that he has been hurt before, probably very badly. I must say with what I know of him thus far, he is the partner of my dreams. Smart, intelligent, witty and good looking in a way that generates appreciation and respect instead of someone who is just hot in a “piece of meat” sort of way. I don’t think he has any idea just what a wonderful person he is, though, of course I need to get to know him much better before I can say this is the way of it. I am speaking purely based on what I have found out about him thus far.

Someday soon, I will find my way to Chicago for yet another visit. I talk to this guy online occasionally. He has said he’ll let me buy him a cup of coffee if I find myself in town. But where, if anywhere, does it go beyond that? Do I want it to go beyond that? These are the things that I have been thinking about. I have a habit of scaring people away and this is one that – if I decided to pursue him – would be worth keeping. I can tell that if I was his and he mine, he would be a loyal companion who would be in it for keeps.

The only question that remains is how do I explore the possibilities without scaring him away. The plate case ensures that I am going to be living in Oklahoma for quite a while as the case winds its way through the courts here. Perhaps thats a good thing for this situation, it will force me to take it slow and steady, which is whats going to be needed here for sure.

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Customer service in the United States is dead. Has been for a long time, actually. But its just recently that the corpse has started to rot and really foul up the air. You see, companies still talk about customer service and pretend like they still provide it. They even have departments dedicated to it. But they don’t provide it, nor offer it or even really know what it is.

Providing customer service involves first the ability to provide customer service and second giving a damn about your job enough to provide it. Lets face it, some people are simply too stupid to provide customer service. No, I am not being cruel here, this is a proven fact. People that cannot perform basic mathematical computations involving addition and subtraction of whole numbers fall into this category. I have had cashiers try to tell me that I was wrong about how much change I should get back because the register tells them I am supposed to get a certain amount back.

Other people simply are too stupid to learn their job to begin with. This type is most commonly encountered as the moron who cannot perform basic tasks of his job like checking out a customer, making a sandwich with a special grill order (no lettuce, no tomato, extra onion) or processing a return with any degree of efficiency or competency. Often this goes with a remark about how the register (a computer) is ‘being difficult’ or ‘stupid’ (the last one always tests my self control) when we all know that computers are not humans. They don’t make mistakes, they don’t get angry and they don’t have varying degrees of intelligence. They do exactly what they are programed to based on the commands of the operator.

Then there is this category of folks who simply don’t give a damn about their jobs. And this is a really big group of people. Which I sort of understand, in fact. Companies today discard employees like used condoms. When they are no longer needed, they get pulled off and thrown into a rubbish pile. Way back when, employees used to work for the same company for a lifetime and companies rewarded that loyalty by investing in the employee beyond just giving his or her hourly pay. They don’t do that anymore and so I really don’t blame employees for having no loyalty to their employers these days. Whats that old saying my old man used to tell me? “You reap what you sow.” or something like that.

On the other hand, if you take a job you should at least do it correctly with a marginal amount of pride for the product of your work: be it tangible or otherwise. That means, if you work at fast food place, you should try to get orders correctly entered and prepared, fully cooked and served promptly. If your job is to answer phones and help customers understand their bill, you ought to know how to look up the bill, how to read whats on the screen and how to tell a customer what it says. And you should also know tell when a bill was not correctly generated, charges not properly applied and have the sense to know not to blame the customer or try to lie your way out of it while at the same time knowing how to remedy the situation.

Below, I am going to share two three recent experiences with two companies and explain exactly how they are textbook examples of how customer service is completely dead. Not just dead, but now a rotting, stinking, festering corpse with maggots all over it. Someone ought to have the decency to throw away rotten things when they begin to stink.

One day, I bought a printer from Office Max. I paid for it in cash – $499 plus tax. Later in the day, I went to Cost-Co and found another printer that was cheaper and better. I took the unopened printer from Office Max (with receipt) back to the store the very next day to return it.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the counter to do the return and the cashier called the manager over, who came out and politely explained he would not be giving me my money back because his store has a $200 limit on cash refunds. Normally that would be OK, stores have all kinds of policies (and as required by law) they usually have a sign by the register or on the back of the receipt telling of their return policy.

There were no signs on the register, but this was the policy as printed on the back of the receipt:

“If you aren’t satisfied with your purchase, simply return it in the complete and original packaging (together with all accessories and manuals) with your original sales receipt within 30 days of the date of purchase. We will gladly replace or repair the item, or refund your money. Electronic Items, Digital Cameras, Computers, PDAs and Business Machines must be returned within 14 days of purchase.

OfficeMax will not accept returns of opened Computers, PDAs, Digital Cameras or Software packages unless defective. These items that are defective may be exchanged for the identical item only.”

The receipt then goes on to explain the rebate policy. Notice how there is nothing mentioned about this supposed cash limit policy. My options – so I was told – were to take my refund on a gift card (store credit – not redeemable for cash) or a check mailed from their corporate office in 7 to 14 days. I got myself quite worked up about it but the manager pretty much said he didn’t care how much complaining I did, he wasn’t changing his mind. He also told me he had enough money to do the return in the store, but this policy prevented him from doing it and by golly, he was not going to override the policy! I asked him if I could take 7 to 14 days to pay for my future purchases and he did not see the humor in that.

I got the number for the corporate office and took my refund on a gift card. And as soon as I got to the parking lot, I got on the phone and started complaining. After talking to several people (who all said that there was no such policy after I pointed out that it wasn’t posted anywhere) I got to the regional manager who explained that this store had made its own policy and that stores were allowed to do this. I pointed out that the supposed policy was not disclosed anywhere and he finally passed me up to some sort of director of retail operations.

This person seemed to have no authority, as she listened to the entire story and then told me she needed to research it and call me back. I told her that I knew what happened at this point, since I have been here with AT&T several times. The part where the supervisor takes your number and will call you back never happens. Its just a way of getting rid of a problem customer. She swore up and down she would call me back, gave me this song and dance about how her word was her bond and on and on. I told her I have heard all this before.

She promised again and then we disconnected. I knew what the score was, so I took my gift card to another Office Max and blew it on some nice stuff that I really didn’t need, but just looking at the card made me angry. Two days later, she did call back – which surprised me. But when she told me why she was calling – to let me know that she was still looking into it – I knew had it right the first time. I was dealing with someone with little to no authority who was not even good at wearing her seemingly important title well. I told her to call me back when she had an answer.

Nearly a week later, the store manager of the Office Max called and left a message on my cell phone’s voice mail that I could bring my gift card back for cash now, if I wanted. The lady at the corporate office never did call back with a final answer as she promised she would. Not that I was surprised, promising a call back is the tool of an incompetent middle management asshole who wants to get rid of a whiny customer that s/he doesn’t feel like dealing with at the moment.

I didn’t bother to return the manager’s call – what was the point? Office Max lost me as a customer due to their completely incompetent handling of the situation. I now do all my office supply shopping at Staples. At least they spell out their return policy honestly on the back of the receipt.

In this instance, the failure of customer service was just simple stupidity coupled with dishonesty. Someone made a dishonest and incorrect statement (the store manager who professed the cash limit policy that did not exist) and when confronted with the customer’s complaint and researching the issue and then funding that no policy existed – no one was willing to admit that the mistake occurred or correct the situation. They instead wanted to play hot potato and pass the angry customer around until someone was willing to take the responsibility for being wrong and be the fall guy.

I have a multi-year contract with Sprint for wireless service. One day, I went to one of their stores and added a second phone and line to my service. I also bought a Motorola Bluetooth headset for $199. It was the latest one, supposed to be the best out. I was told it had a 30 day return policy on it if I did not like it. Charges for both were billed to my Sprint account. Several days later, I returned the Bluetooth Headset because everyone I called told me they couldn’t hear me – just like all the other headsets I have bought.

The return went fine, but the credit never showed up on my account. So when I got a bill from Sprint for over $600 (there were some other upgrades done to other phones between the bill getting cut and my return) and the credit for the return wasn’t there, I called and complained. I spent nearly two hours on the phone explaining first to a customer service representative and later to that rep’s supervisor why I was not going to pay a $600 bill that should only be $400 because they did not feel like posting a credit to my account. They, of course, charged my account for my purchases immediately.

Around and around we went and I never did get a solution to that issue. I wound up paying the bill but vowed to make up for it later on down the road.

In the instance of Sprint, we simply have a combination of I-don’t-give-a-damn employees working for an I-don’t-give-a-damn company coupled with people who are too stupid to be customer service representatives in the first place. They could not understand for the life of them why I might be unhappy with the situation they had put me in.

Last time I got sweet talked when it came to contract renewal time. In 2010, I will not be so understanding and will very likely take my business elsewhere to someone who appreciates it more. If such an entity even exists, most wireless companies are rumored to have horrible customer service. But in 2002, Sprint won two JD Power & Associates awards for customer service excellence. When we talk about wireless service and awards for good customer service, we may as well say ‘Congradulations, you’re service stinks the least out of all the turds on this pig farm’.

Recently, I went to send a money transfer via Western Union while away from home. I used their website and it’s Agent Location feature to find the closest place to send from quickly – or so I thought. I put in my zip code 60515 (where I was at the time) and it came back and told me that the closest place was right across the street – a check cashing place called The Currency Exchange. The website said the place was open until 9 PM. Great, since it was currently 8:10 PM and it would be one less thing to deal with the next day.

So I grabbed my post it note with my recipient’s information and drove across the street (stopping first for a bite to eat at Burger King) and then parked in front of The Currency Exchange. Only when I got there, The Currency Exchange did not appear to be open. That was because they weren’t open, they closed at 8 PM.

When I got back to my hotel room, I called Western Union and informed them of the oversight. The representative, after I got done telling her about the error on the website said in a completely calm manner “I’m not sure I understand what you want me to do about it.” When I suggested that the transfer me to a supervisor after several more attempts to reach her tiny little brain, the supervisor was no better telling me that she did not have access to the people who maintain the website and instead suggested I send an e-mail using the form on the site.

I did go and send the e-mail. And if you go and pull up the hours for The Currency Exchange, you’ll still be told it closes at 9 PM.

Finally here we have a case of stupidity, lack of pride in a job, failure to learn job and to top it all off a healthy dose of zero initiative to provide customer service. When a customer tells you about incorrect information on your website or elsewhere, thank them for bringing it to your attention and then pass the report on to the proper people who can correct it. If you don’t know who to report it to, find out. But at Western Union, apparently this is all too much to understand.

These three experiences, which have all occured within the last 30 days, have proven to me that customer service is dead. Surely you have had other experiences on your own that lead you to the same conclusion. Its a sick joke that companies continue to banter around. Economists keep whining about the downturn in the economy and bitch about how consumers aren’t spending as much as they used to. Gee, it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that companies treat them like shit, could it?

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