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my T-Mobile hurt locker

March 14, 2010
Filed under: cellphones — bcd @ 11:12 am

cellphone companies are historically one of the great evils in corporate customer service. is there any other industry that values ‘shiny, new penny’ customers more than the mobile phone industry?

when the NexusOne was released by Google, i was interested. i had a current T-Mobile account (2.5+ years) and a non-3G Blackberry Curve that was out of contract. seemed like i was all set for a new phone!

er, slow down.

first off, via Google’s sales page for the NexusOne, i was ineligible for any subsidy. after digging around the intertubes, i found out that because my wife and i were on a “family” plan, the NexusOne subsidized was not available to me. foolishly, i thought i would change that.

right around the time the NexusOne came out, T-Mobile revamped their service plans and released two new plans: “Even More” and “Even More Plus”. diametrically opposite from how new phones are offered, the new rate plans are available to all customers, new and old. switching plans would actually be financially beneficial to me: my wife and i paid roughly $220/month for our family plan, with the @Home service added and unlimited text/data on each phone. under the new plans, we would lose the @Home service (which T-Mobile was discontinuing anyway) and pay $140/month with unlimited text/data. $60 a month is decent savings and i would be able to get a subsidized NexusOne: win-win for me!

i knew there are risks associated with changing a rate plan. my departure from Sprint (my previous carrier) for the warm climes of T-Mobile was the result of getting screwed during a plan change; it was the usual scam: you switch plans, at which time your carrier signs you up for a new two year contract (unbeknownst to you) and by the time you figure it out…well good luck getting that fixed.

since the Sprint debacle is in my databank of corporate ass-fsckery, i knew i should get this question cleared up with T-Mobile. thus i made sure that the very first question i asked the T-Mobile customer rep when inquiring about a plan change was, “will i be required to have a new two year contract”? i was assured that i would not.

as you can guess, i was in fact signed up for a new two year contract on an almost three year old, non-3G Blackberry. T-Mobile would later say this was an “error.” really, you think?

fortunately, my wife caught this “new contract” issue the very same day that i changed the plan. it was actually pure luck: my wife went to a T-Mobile store to ask about the NexusOne; she had no idea it was a web-only sell, she only knew i had mentioned wanting one. the T-Mobile store rep informed my wife that i had just “signed up” for a new two year contract. fortunately, she was able to have that changed, because otherwise i would have been “Sprinted” by T-Mobile.

i gave the T-Mobile billing system a few days to sync-up and then i went back to Google to see if i could buy a NexusOne via a subsidy. lo and behold, it was now offered discounted, only for existing customers the NexusOne would be $279 and for new customers $179. both required the same two year contract and data plan.

so by changing out of my family plan, i saved $100. now all i had to do was recoup the ‘shiny, new penny’ customer $100. no problemo!

properly armed with a new plan (and still being contract-free thanks to my wife) i called T-Mobile back and asked for the “loyalty” dept. if you don’t know, all cell companies have loyalty departments. the loyalty dept is to keep customers from jumping ship to other carriers. loyalty reps are armed with all sorts of deals, such as discount phones prices (even on new, subsidized phones), or rebates, or trimming your contract date to allow you do get a new phone/contract ahead of the industry-standard 22 months. so i figured i was good-to-go with getting the NexusOne for $179. long-term customer, user of data services, i even had shown a penchant to purchase extra wireless products, such as the @Home program. instead, i was told, “NO!”

so to recap: T-Mobile would rather lose at least one customer, possibly two, who have used their service and provided roughly $2400+/year in revenue…all to save $100 subsidy. wonder how long it would take T-Mobile to earn back that $100 in a two-year contract? i am guessing less than a year.

while dealing with the loyalty rep, i was nice, i was polite, i became the calm little center of the world. I was the Zen master. i told the loyalty rep i was going to find a new company and phone and i would be leaving. this is usually the kicker: you gotta be eligible to leave (read: outside of contract) to achieve any real help from the loyalty dept. the loyalty rep gave me her apologies, but said her hands were tied by Google. yeap, T-Mobile couldn’t offer the phone to me for the new customer subsidy price because Google had that specifically excluded in the contract! an image appeared in my mind at this time: it was one of Tom Hicks negotiating with Scott Boras to bring ARod to the Texas Rangers. the CEO of T-Mobile must be a Hicksian-level negotiator. it is more likely that T-Mobile adopted this stance because they could blame the inability to deal on Google. whatever.

so for all of Feb i searched for a new carrier/phone. midway through the month my wife informed me that she can’t get to Facebook on her phone. i ask when it started and she says roughly the beginning of the month. i do a little troubleshooting and it appears she is getting no data access at all. voice works, texts work, but no data. i login to the T-Mobile site and our account looks fine. she is signed up for the new plan, unlimited texts, and the unlimited G1 data plan. so i am forced to make the dreaded call to support. after about 90 minutes of script reading and trying all the things i had already done, the second-tier support rep says he’ll have to enter a ticket for the “network engineers”. i get a trouble ticket assigned and the second-tier support rep says he will call us in two days to see if has been fixed and then he will follow-up about pro-rating the monthly bill, since she’s been without data for two weeks. i was semi-impressed with at least his commitment to see the trouble ticket through.

silly me! despite giving the guy our business phone number as a contact number (and i think they have a few mobile numbers for us already), no one ever called. no one. not support, not billing, nothing. oh, her phone magically started serving up web pages, but no one followed up. standard.

then the Feb bill arrives from T-Mobile. it had the expected $135.95 for “Monthly recurring chgs” plus an unexpected $155.80 for “Usage charges”. i instantly knew the problem, which was confirmed by the bill. it showed that all $155.80 was on my wife’s phone for “MESSAGING CHARGES.” the bill also listed her phone as having “Text Messages – Unlimited”. oxymoron.

sure ’nuff, i decided to ruin my morning by having to deal with T-Mobile yet again (i am up to 5+ hours of call time in dealing with these issues), the problem is as-expected: they fixed her account’s technical setup for data access, but had not properly setup the billing. duh – no shit.

at the end of this call, the billing rep said she wanted me to talk to a “loyalty” rep. even though i know it will make no difference in my decision to leave T-Mobile, i agree. maybe this corporate giant might one day figure out why they suck.

that loyalty rep? she offers me $100 instant rebate on the NexusOne. yeah, the same $100 that i asked for almost two months earlier. i politely thank her and tell her no. sometimes, you gotta have principles.

so, why did all this happen? it could be one of a few scenarios:
1) the rep who initially was helping me change plans? maybe she was a malicious bitch, who felt that if she made my plan change the worst experience ever, i wouldn’t change plans ever again!
2) that same rep could have been new, or under-trained, or poorly trained.
3) that same rep could just be a fscking retard.
4) maybe there are various departments in T-Mobile with misaligned goals and metrics.
5) maybe T-Mobile, who start their calls with, “this call could be monitored or recorded for quality assurance,” actually suck as QA.
6) it could be that their internal systems are so complicated that Harvard grads with MBAs from MIT couldn’t do the daily work.

while it would be fun to think it was #1 or #3, i doubt it.

it is more likely that the employees work with a system that is very complex and they are poorly/under-trained. it is also more likely that T-Mobile’s quality assurance work is well below par. and i would not be surprised to find out that call quotas and goals to close tickets lead managers/departments to make decisions that ruin long-term business relationships.

so what did that $100 cost you, T-Mobile?


2009 Best Of…Music

December 31, 2009
Filed under: music — bcd @ 8:28 pm

Best Ressurection:

Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
I knew Layne Staley died in 2002 and yet as i listened to “Black Gives Way To Blue” it was like he never left. It might sound trite that a band with a new singer sounds just like their old shiet, but in the case of Alice In Chains, this is a pure compliment. Alice In Chains ruled the 90s, and like Nirvana, burned out with their loss. Give credit to Jerry Cantrell’s writing and musicianship because their 2009 comeback is as good as anything in their catalog.

Best ‘Snatching the pebble from the hand’:

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.
[Young Caine tries to do so and fails]
Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.

For years Phoenix played second fiddle to Air’s lead as French synch kings. 2009′s “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” changes all that. Air’s 2009 release “Love 2″ was oblique at best; Phoenix one-upped their 2004 “Alphabetical”, which i loved, charting all the way to 37 on Billboard.

Best New B.R.M.C./The Raveonettes Album:

The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
RIYL; What more can i say?

Best Flashback:

Jane’s Addiction – A Cabinet Of Curiosities [Disc 3]
The whole box set is fantastic, but this particular disc takes me back to Lollapalooza 1991 in Dallas. Disc 3 is Live at the Palladium 12/19/90 and it might have been Jane’s at their pinnacle.

Best Welcome Back:

Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter
“last thing i heard i was left for dead / i could give two shits about what they said / i maybe limpin’ / but i’m coming home”
Watch Jason Lytle at SXSW in 2009

Best New Artist:

Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon: The End Of Day
Part hip-hop, part new wave, 100% amazing. Not even Hova could touch this album, so instead he just featured Cudi on “The Blueprint 3″. One generation begets the next.

Best Concept Album:

Mastodon – Crack the Skye
What’s a concept album? Read it here. Track #4 is almost eleven minutes of awesome.

Best Cover Album:

Rosanne Cash – The List
NPR did an interview with Rosanne Cash, where she explains “The List” and its origin; don’t argue with The Man In Black.

Best Super Group:

Them Crooked Vultures – [self-titled]
Led Zepplin? check.
Nirvana / Foo Fighters? check.
Kyuss / Queens of the Stone Age? check.
All systems go!

Best Band of the Decade:

Wilco – Wilco [the album]
Here’s Wilco’s offerings for the first decade of the 21st century:
*Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
*A Ghost Is Born (2004)
*Kicking Television: Live in Chicago (2005)
*Sky Blue Sky (2007)
*Wilco (The Album) (2009)
Any questions as to why i called them “Band of the Decade”? No group produced as many great albums during this decade; they capped it off with “Wilco The Album” which i enjoyed all Summer, then the Fall, and here we are in December and i am still playing it. Do yourself a favor – if you don’t have all of these albums (including the live “Kicking Television”) use some of your Xmas money and get them now.


Barnaby

July 5, 2009
Filed under: pets — bcd @ 6:48 pm

very sad day today – my buddy for 16+ years passed away in my arms earlier this afternoon.

he was an amazing cat: he loved attention as much as any dog i have owned and he fetched just like a dog too! i’ve never seen a cat with such a great disposition.

Barnaby was with me when i graduated college, started my career and got married. when my wife’s dog came into my life, Barnaby adopted Xuxa like they were kin.

Barnaby went from Houston, to Waco, to Houston, to Missouri City. he lived with me in shithole apartments and in our very first house.

in 2006 when we evacuated Houston for Hurricane Rita, Barnaby made the 12 hour car ride.

he adapted to every change in our lives and never complained.

we’re going to miss him greatly.


sometimes i wonder why i even try

June 21, 2009
Filed under: poker — bcd @ 6:02 pm

hand #38 of tournament:

Full Tilt Poker Game #12952534346: 150 Seat Main Event Guarantee (83239154), Table 155 – 20/40 – No Limit Hold’em – 18:30:35 ET – 2009/06/21
Seat 1: Run Luke Run (2,660)
Seat 2: icecreamboy (2,590)
Seat 3: sellthekids (3,515)
Seat 4: ALuckMuppet (2,578)
Seat 5: Jimmy Diamond (3,404)
Seat 6: khartattack (2,550)
Seat 7: Dougger316 (4,373)
Seat 8: ZEPA (2,330)
khartattack posts the small blind of 20
Dougger316 posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to sellthekids [Qd Qs]
ZEPA folds
Run Luke Run folds
icecreamboy folds
sellthekids raises to 140
ALuckMuppet folds
Jimmy Diamond folds
khartattack raises to 460
Dougger316 folds
sellthekids calls 320
*** FLOP *** [8d 9c 2c]
khartattack bets 960
sellthekids raises to 3,055, and is all in
khartattack calls 1,130, and is all in
sellthekids shows [Qd Qs]
khartattack shows [Kc As]
Uncalled bet of 965 returned to sellthekids
*** TURN *** [8d 9c 2c] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [8d 9c 2c 2d] [Ks]
sellthekids shows two pair, Queens and Twos
khartattack shows two pair, Kings and Twos
khartattack wins the pot (5,140) with two pair, Kings and Twos
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 5,140 | Rake 0
Board: [8d 9c 2c 2d Ks]
Seat 1: Run Luke Run didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 2: icecreamboy didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 3: sellthekids showed [Qd Qs] and lost with two pair, Queens and Twos
Seat 4: ALuckMuppet didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 5: Jimmy Diamond (button) didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 6: khartattack (small blind) showed [Kc As] and won (5,140) with two pair, Kings and Twos
Seat 7: Dougger316 (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 8: ZEPA didn’t bet (folded)


My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on – Forrest Gump

May 14, 2009
Filed under: poker — bcd @ 11:28 am

i’ve come to a realization over the last 10-12 years; if you had asked me about decisions i made when i was in my 20s, i would have argued till i was blue in the face about how correct/right i was.  even in the face of being wrong.  ah, youth.

but roughly around my 30s (and especially after my wife and i launched our own business) i realized that i often get everything wrong the first time.  i then “learn” and hopefully don’t make the same mistake twice.  i wish i could say i was smart enough not to make the initial error/problem, but i am not.  i learn a lot by doing and in doing i am really good at screwing shiet up!

last night’s poker game was The Mookie.  after my deep run in the $200K Stimulus Qualifier (120/~8300) i was hoping my new found patience would pay off.  i only needed to suckout once to make the final table – that in and of itself might be a record for me!  i also had very few big pairs – never had aces or king the whole night.  but i managed to make it down heads up.  and then i fscked up.

i offered a deal without really understanding how i needed to make the outcome happen once the deal was stuck.  not smart.

ShipFaced12 and i were heads up and he already has won a seat to the Blogger Championship, so i offered cash to let me take the seat.  he agreed since you can’t really use two seats (yes, yes, i know that by winning more than one he limits the competition).  then, i assumed we would just shove match it and Al could move the seat to my name.

whoops!

actually what we should have done was have ShipFaced12 sit out, let me blind him off and win the tourney (and the seat) and then i could ship him the agreed upon payment.  why this didn’t occur to me, no clue.  i am not arguing that i am a smart man.

anyway, what actually happened was ShipFaced12 won the tourney, which means he won the seat.  and i got 2nd.  doh!

so just like in all things i do, i learned the proper way to negotiate a winner-take-all tourney on Full Tilt.  too bad i had to miss the chance to win the seat to the Blogger Championship.

there is a silver lining; two actually!  one, the Blogger series isn’t done.  so maybe my form (and luck) will hold and i can get another chance.  and number two?  the 2nd place prize money from last night is going to be combined with some ancient $T and buy me into the 150 Seat Main Event Guarantee!

putting the past behind me and moving on – one mistake at a time!


Best Buy – A Cabinet of Scamming

April 26, 2009
Filed under: music — bcd @ 4:43 pm

Jane’s Addiction released a new box set this week, A Cabinet of Curiosities.  filled w/mostly previously unreleased demos and live cuts, plus a DVD, it is both a must have for Gen Xers and those in Gen Y who prolly are wondering, “who the fsck are Jane’s Addiction.”

while preparing to buy the set via Amazon on Sunday, i read a review that said Best Buy not only had the set for pretty much the same price, but also were including a fifth disc.  paying an extra $2 for another disc is a pretty damn good value, so even though i am loathe to leave the house on Sunday’s, i climbed in Monster Truck and headed to my local Best Buy.

after fruitlessly searching for the box set at my local Best Buy, i used their public terminal to search via their website and find that my location was all out, but the next location 10 min away had some.  so i trolled down to Richmond/Rosenberg, where Monster Truck fit right in amongst all the other Tea Bagger’s trucks in the parking lot (go Texas secession!) (that’s sarcasm, settle down, gentle readers.)

they had two (2?!) in stock and i bought one.  win for me.

after blasting CD #3 all the way home, making sure that i played “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” at top volume while cutting through Sweetwater and their  uppity country club, i arrived home to rip the CDs into iTunes.  and only then did i notice that i paid $64.94 for the box set – that is $59.99 plus tax.

at first i thought maybe the website price of $49.99 was web-only, but no, you can actually go pay $49.99 + tax on the website and then pick it up locally.  so what gives?

i call the Best Buy in Richmond/Rosenberg and after having to spell the band name to the 16 yr old who answered my call (and who obviously had no clue who Jane’s is/was/are) i was told that i could print out the webpage and bring it in where they would “price match” it and refund my $10.

uh, WTF?

so lemme get this straight: Best Buy is going to price match Best Buy?  what is the fscking purpose of having a website and local pickup if you are going to have to price match for your non-website using customers?

anyway, just keep this in mind whenever you are buying anything from Best Buy – they are obviously out to scam a buck any way they can.  guess it serves me right for ever thinking/trusting a retailer to not try to scam their clients.

and to Best Buy, who i now have to re-drive to to get my $10: FUCK YOU!


ta da!

April 2, 2009
Filed under: bicycles — bcd @ 9:50 pm

well – it is finished: 2006 Klein Reve w/2009 Dura Ace!

next up, sweat!


2009 WSOP, BBT4 & Full Tilt Poker

March 15, 2009
Filed under: WSOP — bcd @ 5:37 pm

i haven’t been paying much attention…but today i noticed Full Tilt put up their 2009 WSOP page and is running satellites!  this is the one thing i still get excited about with poker.

should be an interesting year; with the economy down and Vegas hemorrhaging money, we might see a much smaller field this year for the Main Event.  doesn’t mean i am not going to at least play in the 150 Seat Guarantee.  i’ve already saved half the $500 buy-in in $T!

in related news, Sir Al has again convinced Full Tilt to run and fund the Battle of the Bloggers Tournament series.  i’ve played in three of these and my game is not very sharp.  guess i need to start trying to make it twice a week in preperation for my WSOP run.


calling all cars, calling all cars….

March 14, 2009
Filed under: Uncategorized — bcd @ 2:30 pm

i have been exceeding lazy in the last several months; the energy it takes to write a blog entry is more than i can muster…and let’s be honest, how much energy does it take to sit on my arse?

anyway, since torpedoing my diet right before Thanksgiving i think i have added back 20lbs of the 30lbs+ i had lost.  in my defense, i have been enjoying a lot of fine craft beer and Ben & Jerry’s, so there is that.

but, i have finally done it: i took my new road bike to the local bike shop today to be assembled.  it only took me roughly 8 months to get all the parts together. here’s the details:

Klein Reve frame + fork
$386 + $49.99 = $435.99

Bontrager Race seatpost
$9.55 + $8.00 = $17.55

Bontrager Race Lite stem & handlebar
$40.00 + $7.50 = $47.50

Roval Echappee E5 wheelset
$250.00 + $40.00 = $290.00

Bontrager Grippy Tape handlebar wrap
$16.99 + $4.00 = $20.99

Bontrager Bzzzkill Harmonic Dampers
$9.99 + $4.00 = $13.99

Continental Grand Prix 4000 tires (two)
$53.76 + $0.00 = $53.76

Selle Italia SLK saddle
$49.99 + $3.99 = $53.98

2009 Shimano Dura Ace 7800 group + Ritchey WCS carbon handlebar
$999.00 + $45.00 = $1044.00

SpeedPlay Light Action Chrome-Moly pedals
$114.99 + $9.49 = $124.48

“Pro” build @ Sugar Cycles
$75.00 + $6.19 = $81.19

TOTAL = 2183.43

for giggles, that is listed in chronological order of when i bought them.  obviously no rhyme or reason to how i roll!

i have another $400 invested in shoes (Sidi Ergo 2) and a new helmet (Giro Ionos).  who made cycling so expensive?  oh yeah – now i remember why i sold my car when i was a bike messenger!

i am also planning on buying a new set of rollers; i wish i had kept my lovely Kreitlers from oh so many years ago.  but i did find a new type, E-Motion rollers, that i am considering.  expensive, but being able to ride on shitty rain days (usually rains a lot in the Spring in TX) will be worth it.

so that is it.  bike is supposed to be ready on Wed, Mar 18th.  my goal will be to start riding and i would like to drop back to my fighting weight of 185lbs in made 6 months.  i am roughly 210lbs right now – YIKES!

ttfn!


where the wild things are

January 31, 2009
Filed under: photography — bcd @ 10:29 pm

we have friends with a nine-month old, their first child.  the wives got together and planned a zoo trip for today.

since i got my wife a new camera for xmas, this would be a chance for us to try it out on subjects other than our pets.  i have to admit: i am below neophyte when it comes to cameras.  i have been trying to read up and learn a little, but kinda like programming, it appears you can toil for a lifetime in the photography field and still only scratch the surface of knowledge.  i did find a great photo blog using the FZ28 – some really excellent stuff from an accomplished photographer.

anyway, here are three shots that look OK to me…i am sure a real photographer would have some constructive criticim:

Komodo Dragon

Tiger

Orangutans: Mom & Daughter

anyway – i’ve got lots to learn, but it was a great day to be at the zoo!


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