Saxby Chambliss Email Address

He likes you to use his web form so that he can route the email to the appropriate deletion folder. Don’t do that– use his real email address, which is:

saxby_chambliss@chambliss.senate.gov

I assume that this will work with all senators, such as Johnny Isakson:

johnny_isakson@isakson.senate.gov

If you want to have a lot of fun, make sure your email client is set to forward all email you mark as spam to your senators’ email addresses.

Good times will be had by all…

Radio Shack

Radio Shack is one of those necessary evils. If you need a cable or an adapter, you can either order it online and pay exorbitant shipping rates, or go to Radio Shack.

Let me detail what I hate about Radio Shack:

1. If you do not know your products, do not offer to help a customer. When I ask for 75 ohm cable, please do not direct me to cable in 75-foot lengths. I said ohm. Ohm. OHM! As in resistance, you know? I don’t give a damn about the length if the resistance value is not what I need.

2. Stop asking me for extra information. If I am returning an item I didn’t need, then process my damn return without asking for personal information. I made the purchase with a Visa, and you didn’t ask me for my phone number or address upon making the purchase, you should NOT ask me for my phone number or address when I make a return. If you do, don’t expect that information to be valid.

3. Give me my receipt back. If I return one item from a multiple-item purchase, I get my receipt back. That is how businesses keep records– with receipts. Don’t make me feel like a jerk by threatening to cancel my whole transaction worth $30 just because you won’t give me my original receipt back from a $4 return.

4. Learn the basics. If I ask for RCA, don’t show me Instrument. If I ask for Instrument, don’t show me Coax. This is simple stuff, and if you don’t know the answer, please don’t pretend like you do. If all you are going to do is search around in boxes, then spare me the trouble– I can look through the boxes much faster because I already know what I’m looking for.

5. If I clear you out on an item and ask if you have more, don’t look exactly where I found the item, and don’t look in the back. Put the SKU into the computer and check your stock. If the computer says you don’t have any, that is good enough for me.

Hopefully I got everything I need, and I won’t have to go back to this Radio Shack for a while. They drive me crazy.

Tree-Hugging… Conservative? Go figure.

It is only a few minute drive to get to the heart of downtown from where I live. It is less than two miles. I was headed down town today and I had something happen that I just have to tell you about.

Our downtown is beautiful. It really is. Anyone who has ever been to Savannah would likely have a hard time asserting otherwise. Having been founded as Georgia’s First City in 1733, Savannah today is chock full of old historic buildings as a result. We were apparently the first “planned city” in America.

Our downtown roads are narrow, and they wind as one-ways around twenty-four historical parks, called Squares. As a result, it can make driving and maneuvering through the city a bit of a challenge to those who are unfamiliar.

It also makes it incredibly difficult for work-type trucks, such as FedEx, UPS, food service shippers, etc. Trucks have to proceed with incredible caution when navigating our historic downtown area. Not only do they need to stay within the narrow roads (likely with cars parked on both sides), but they also have to remain on their toes in order to avoid slow-moving trolley tours, and even-slower-moving horse drawn carriages.

Navigation is even more difficult for the drivers of large vehicles because of our trees. We have thousands of beautiful, old trees lining every single street in the downtown area (and most of midtown, and some of the south side for that matter).

So, on my way downtown today, I turned down E. Bryan Street (image), an east-west street that runs from E. Broad Street to W. Broad Street (MLK, Jr. Blvd). I found myself behind a large semi-type truck. You know this kind of truck– it is the type that picks up and drops off large, industrial-sized dumpsters for construction workers to fill, and then picks them up to be emptied.

I could tell that this truck, labeled “Robco Environmental,” was going to have troubles. He made it through the first square just fine– there were little to no trees along the south side of the street.

We hit the second square, and the troubles began. These big arms sticking out of the back of the truck, in combination with the big two-by-fours sticking out of the back of the dumpster that the truck was carrying, clipped a couple of old magnolia trees. A few small branches fell down, the longest about three or four feet long, and nearly hit my car. I backed off and gave this truck plenty of room.

We crossed out of the square, and continued on Bryan Street headed towards the next square. As we passed what are most likely million dollar houses on half-acre lots, this truck starts hitting more branches. But, this time, the driver seems to realize it, and punches the accelerator to barrel on through.

As he continues, he clips several very big branches with his oversized truck. The branches come tumbling down with great force. The ripping process makes the telephone lines bounce, and he was lucky that the branch mess he left in his wake did not take the wires with it.

Now, I am not talking little tiny twigs here. I am talking huge branches. The largest of them, about eight inches in diameter, was ripped directly off the main trunk of the tree, which sat on private property. There were probably four to six very large branches that this truck snagged, and subsequently tore from the trees.

I had had enough. As we approached the yield to enter the next square, I started honking my horn and signaling that this guy should pull over. Apparently, he knew he had done something wrong (intentionally or accidentally, I do not know) because he did pull over. We both got out of our vehicles.

As I told him that his truck was ripping down trees left and right, and causing damage to people’s property, the homeowners/renters started filing out to see what exactly it was that just ripped huge limbs off their trees.

The guy in the truck insisted that he had to make a delivery. This made me angry. Jaime and I personally donate every two months to the city’s tree fund. This pays for maintenance for our trees, and the planting of new trees so that residents and visitors can enjoy our beautiful city for many years to come. (Yeah, I’m a conservative. Yeah, I donate to the tree fund. Is there a problem with this? :P )

I insisted that his delivery takes a back seat to our trees because– well– it does. Our city is fanatical about our trees, and for good reason. If there is a tree on city property that is the most diseased, dead, funky looking tree in the whole city, we will still have public hearings regarding the disposition of the tree.

The guy insisted that his truck was only twelve feet tall, as if that is some sort of justification for tearing down trees like he did without stopping to notify the owners of the damage, or to clean up the mess he created. I told him he needed to get out of the downtown area, and stick to main roads such as Broughton Street or Bay Street– both of which are maintained for truck traffic.

I told him he should call the cops, and he didn’t agree. He insisted that I was “freaking out” over nothing, that is until I then pointed to the fifteen or so witnesses standing at the end of the street. He quickly reconsidered. I wrote down his license plate number (which was on the front of the truck, not the back as required by law), wrote down the phone number to his work, and proceeded to turn around and head the wrong way down the one-way to get on to my destination.

I did what I had to do downtown, and headed back towards home. Once I got home, I phoned the city hall to let them know what had happened, to request that they have the city maintenance crews clear the road of the branches, and to request that they have one of the city’s arborists inspect and repair the trees if damage was found.

About forty-five minutes later, I needed to go back downtown. As I came back upon the place where I had left the truck, I found a city crew cleaning up the branches. The dumpster truck had advanced into the square, and there was a police car not far away.

You know I hate having to be a prick sometimes, but come on– if you pull down branches that are large enough to be trees themselves, and those trees are on private property, you damn well better stop and notify the owners so they can file claims against your insurance company for the damages that you caused, and the cleanup, and repair that was necessary as a result. That is, after all, why we have mandatory insurance. And when someone has to wave you down in order to get them to stop, do not expect them to be friendly, understanding, courteous, compassionate, or pleasant. Expect them to be angry, and expect them to let you know they are angry.

It is a sad day when a cold hearted, earth-hating conservative such as myself had more concern for the environment than a person who works for a company called Robco Environmental.

Hopefully the driver will be ticketed. If I were a city police officer, I would go over his vehicle with a fine-toothed comb, and write a citation for every single violation I found– no matter how minor it may be. Then again, if I were a city police officer, I would probably do what seems to be the acceptable standard down here and sit in the gas station parking lot instead of running my patrols.

Eh… that is all I’ve got.

National Bad Customer Service Week

So did I miss a memo? Is this week National Bad Customer Service Week? I sure as hell seems as it is. Pardon my rant here, but it has to be done in order to preserve my sanity.

Company #1: HP.

Have I ever told you that I hate HP? They make crappy printers. Let’s just throw that out there.

If you don’t believe me, it is because you have not had enough experience with HP printers. As an example, let me briefly mention their flawed products. For quite some time, HP released flawed products to the market, and made little to no effort to rectify their poor products. When a customer buys several laser printers, and those printers turn into paper monsters, and the customer contacts the manufacturer only to find that there is a flaw and a part has been made available to customers free of charge, but only when the customer calls to complain and specifically mentions the repair part, it makes customers angry. It shows that HP has poor service. But this is not why I am angry with HP today.

On Sunday, I ordered two monitors from the HP website. They were listed, clear as day, at a price of $160, with a $50 mail in rebate. I ordered two, and had a $25 off coupon, so my total came to be $312.60. My credit card was charged, and I received my confirmation. Later that day, I receive notice that the order was cancelled because they could not complete the payment. Keep that in mind as I proceed.

The following day, I called HP, and was told that the product was a “promotion that sold out too fast for us to honor all the orders.” Fine, I can handle that. Just give me an immediate refund and I will be on my merry way. I was told that it would take up to 7 days to get my money back. I asked for a supervisor.

The supervisor then told me the item was a price mistake. Well, which is it– a price mistake, or a sold-out promotion? There is no need to lie– just lay it out for me. The supervisor insisted it was a price mistake, and that I would get my money back within 7 days.

That is not acceptable. So, I contacted HP Executive Support. The lady there was friendly, but not very helpful. She asked to return my call, which I have to admit that she did actually return my call. She stated, however, that HP did not take my money out of the account, and only put a “precharge” on the account. According to my bank statement, they took the money. I have $312.60 less in my account that I currently cannot use. They took my money. When will I get it back? Who knows. If it’s not back by tomorrow, I will contest the charges, and make HP look like fools.

Company #2- First Chatham Bank.

I have been with this bank for about two years, maybe more, maybe a bit less, but it has been a substantial amount of time. They pride themselves on “knowing your first name.” Nobody over there knows my first name.

We were referred to this bank by an acquaintance of the vice president of this bank after our last bank were such bumbling idiots that they lost the original to every single piece of documentation on our account, including internet banking passwords, six signature cards, and more. They (the old bank and worst bank in the world– National Bank of Commerce, now Suntrust) said that my records were taken home by a bank employee who had been terminated.

So, when I started these new accounts (one personal, one business), I was excited to have an “in” at the bank, and expected service accordingly. Not today, though.

Last night, I ordered some keyboards from a company called “Chief Value.” They’re next in the list, but I have to go on about the bank first. Chief Value tried to do address verification on my account, but it failed because the shipping address (home) is not where my statements are sent (PO Box). They sent me an email saying they would try again, and let me know.

Today, I got an email saying address verification failed, and that I needed to contact the card issuer (my bank) to have them add the shipping address to the account’s notes field.

I called my bank. I explained my situation to someone who obviously didn’t listen. I explained it again, and she punted me to someone else. I explained my situation to the next representative. She punted too, and sent me to another lady. She also punted, but this time, told me to call the other branch, where I do not do any banking whatsoever.

I called the other branch. The first person with whom I spoke didn’t listen either. I explained my situation to her again, and she punted. She said I had to talk to the person who opened my account, and then transferred me to her voicemail.

Voicemail is not good. NEVER send a customer who has been given the runaround to voicemail. It gets them angry, and makes them that much less likely to use your services in the future. After all, if I can’t get an answer now, on my schedule, why would I bother trying to get an answer at all? Now is the time– I am calling for resolution. Resolve it, or tell me flat out what I can do to resolve it, but don’t send me to some stranger’s voicemail so I can have them fail to call me back.

I didn’t leave a message, but instead called back. I explained that I would not be leaving a voicemail message, and that I chose a small, local bank so I can get near-instant resolution to problems that may arise. I was then informed that all three people who could help me were at lunch. ALL AT LUNCH? It’s freaking 2:15 in the afternoon. They are NOT all at lunch. And if they are, they need to be reprimanded for all taking lunch at the same time. Customers first. Lunch second.

The lady finally offered to transfer me to someone who could help. This person could not help. She said I had to fax in a copy of my driver’s license with my request because they didn’t have one. That was wrong. I had provided three copies– one when I opened each account, and one when I ordered my debit card. She then told me she was new, and didn’t know how to properly handle the situation. Whoa– the first bit of honesty from this bank.

I informed her that I would call the bank where I actually do my banking, and simply insisted that they provide first-rate service. So I called the other branch. I finally got a person over there that OUTRIGHT LIED to me. She said that “because of the patriot act, we can’t make changes to your account without photo ID.” Oh yeah, then why was Jaime able to sign a debit card request a short three months ago without presenting ID?

She finally said she would take my information and call me back. That is code for “I want to get you off my phone and research company policies and your account.”

I wrote a letter and went in to the bank. It details the customer service runaround I was put through, the poor knowledge of bank policies and laws that their employees maintain, and the fact that my point of contact is now in the “loans” department, and not even at the same branch where I bank.

I walked straight into the bank, went into an account executive’s office, and put my stuff down. I handed her the letter, asked for her to rectify my situation immediately, and told her I would wait. She reviewed the letter, photocopied it, and proceeded to do what I had asked.

While sitting there, I noticed that they had a patriot act disclaimer. I read their patriot act disclaimer to her. It basically stated, “We will ask you for ID to make account changes if you opened the account before the patriot act was in effect.” I explained that she seemingly didn’t know bank policy, asked if we were done, grabbed my stuff, and hit the road.

What crappy service! So, now…

Company #3: Chief Value

I called Chief Value, as their email requested, to inform them that they could not rerun my address verification, and that it would go through. I gave my order number, and the girl was clueless. She couldn’t find my order. Well, what more do you need– I’m reading it straight from the email.

She said that the address verification would be rerun automatically. I asked when. She said 24-48 hours. That is not acceptable. I was given no confirmation number that I had requested reverification, and judging by her knowledge of my order, I didn’t believe her for even a split-second.

I asked to be transferred to the department that handles address verification. She said that was impossible. I asked for her to put a rush on my verification. She said it was impossible. I asked her to cancel my order– she did it within 5 seconds. I asked for her supervisor, and was put on hold for 10 minutes before I hung up.

I called back and asked for a supervisor. I explained that their company advertises great service, and I received way-less-than-great-service. I explained how I order about $5,000 per year in computer parts (which I do), and that if they can’t push my order out the door in a reasonable fashion, they will not get my business, and will get a negative write-up on my blog, linked from AD. I explained that NewEgg had the item at a similar price, and that I have NEVER had a problem with them. I also explained that my card had already been charged, and that if they can charge the card, they can ship the item. Period.

He apologized, which was nice. He finally offered to upgrade my shipping, which is also nice, but not expected. The items are to ship via FedEx, and they are 4 days from anywhere in the country. I don’t need the items *that* fast, I just need to know that my order has been successfully completed, and will ship in a reasonable timeframe.

So, that is this week’s bad customer service experience. I am nearly at the point where I will only place orders via telephone, will record the conversation, and will inform the customer service department that even the slightest bit of incorrect information, rudeness, or unwillingness to help will be reported to their supervisor. It is very sad.

If I am paying for something, I DEMAND SATISFACTION. If you cannot offer satisfaction, simply say it. In doing so, that provides SATISFACTION. It’s OK if you cannot do what you say you can as long as you inform me as much. It is NOT OK if you give me a plate full of crap and expect me to eat it as part of the privilege of doing business with you.

That is all. For now.

Good Company: American Musical Supply

In the past month or so, I have done business with a company that I would like to tell you about. The company is American Musical Supply, and they are a perfect example of a customer-focused business. Let me detail my experience.

1. They use technology to connect the customer to the company. They offer a live chat feature that I have used at least three separate times. I have never had to wait more than a minute, and their chat techs are informed, helpful, polite, and well spoken.

2. They listen to their customers. AMS has a new forum. Well, it’s not really new, but it is still fairly low-traffic. Running a busy forum myself, I had a suggestion for them. I was perplexed, though, when I didn’t see a “Comments & Suggestions” forum in their forum. I sent a personal message to the admin of the forum, he ran my idea past his bosses, and they liked it. AMS now has a Suggestions forum, and it has actually gotten a bit of use.

3. They have great prices. They are about as low as they come. No matter how hard a company tries, though, they are bound to be beat in price on occasion. So, AMS has…

4. An amazing pricematch policy. They will match practically anyone’s prices, as long as the standard conditions apply– must be a business, must be a published price on an in-stock item, etc. But, AMS takes it one step further: If you find a lower price on an item that you have already purchased within 45 days of your purchase, they will refund the difference. Point in case, my mixing board. I bought it from AMS for $179.99 about a month ago. Today, I see that Musician’s Friend has it for $149.99. I opened up a chat with AMS, and within 10 minutes, they had entered a credit on my card for $30. I bought this thing 30 days ago! I am not returning it– I like it. It works well, and fits my bill perfectly. But, at a 16.7% added discount, I am that much more likely to purchase again from AMS in the future.

5. Their price matching policy doesn’t apply only to items, but also shipping. I ordered a $99.99 sound card from them. I actually meant to put it on my mixer order, but for some reason I didn’t. Ordering the card separately does not meet the $200 threshold for free shipping, so I was going to have to pay about $7 in shipping, which is certainly reasonable. But, I saw that a competitor, Zzounds, had the card for the same price, but with free shipping. I contacted AMS by chat, and the technician told me to call in with the details and her name, and they would ship the item for free.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, because this outstanding service and support– before and after the sale– has allowed them to earn my business.

I am about to order a compressor, and they will undoubtedly get my business. I will have $30 extra to spend on my compressor, and so they will get the $30 they refunded to me back in the form of a $130+ purchase.

To the folks at AMS, great job! You set the standard that all your competitors strive to meet.

Flat screen monitors

Well, I think it is finally time. I may have to break down and buy a flat screen monitor. Well, two actually.

See, Jaime and I sit at the same (large) desk. I’m on the left; she’s on the right. On the desk sits our identical (loud) keyboards, identical wireless mice, our mixing board, a set of speakers, our 1978 Bell Systems chocolate brown rotary dial telephone, and, the subject of this post, our two massive 17″ CRT monitors.

I have been anti-flatscreen for a long time. I still am.

Really, anyone who says their flatscreen has a nicer picture than a CRT is not telling the truth. It is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of physics. CRTs produce better pictures than LCDs. There is no disputing this.

Sure, some say that LCDs are brighter. Some say they have more contrast. Some say they just “look nicer.” But when it comes right down to it, a CRT can fire electrons at its phosphorous-coated screen at the speed of light, while LCD response time is measured in milliseconds. There is no contest.

But now that summer is upon us, Jaime and I are realizing that our office is a heat machine. Two PCs (6 hard drives!), two CRTs, a 19″ TV, two battery backups, a router, a cable modem, and a laser printer. That is our “minimum” equipment that is on when we are in the office.

So now we’ve decided that the number one heat source in the room is our monitors. Her monitor is warm to the touch. Mine is even warmer. Her monitor is a piece of crap. Mine is very nice. Both are going to be replaced with LCDs.

So, my question for anyone who is reading (is anyone reading?) is: where the hell can I get a good, cheap LCD? Surely I don’t have to purchase two Dell systems that include LCDs and sell the actual PCs on Ebay just so I can get a good deal on a flat screen.

I’m looking for two 17″ LCDs. I’ve got about $400 to spend. I do not buy from Buy.com or TigerDirect.com.

Anyone have any good connections on LCDs?

Thanks!

Package Tracking Addict

I’m not alone, am I?

When I order an item that is going to be shipped to me, I end up treating the delivery like a sport. Or a game. Or a contest. It’s kind of hard to describe.

I’ve got a little webpage on my computer that I use to track packages. It’s a simple page that contains three fieldsets, one for FedEx, one for UPS, and one for the USPS. I list my outstanding packages on the page as clickable links to the tracking system for the appropriate shipper.

I have no idea why I do this. I’ll track a package from point to point, as though my constant monitoring will somehow ensure that the package is not sucked into a shipping black hole. It makes no difference, of course, but I do it none the less.

I’m just not satisfied knowing that my package will be delivered on June 3. I need to know where’s it’s been.

I like trying to guess where it will pop up next. I like speculating (to myself, or Jaime when she’s in a “smile and nod” mood) as to whether the last leg or the next leg of my package’s journey was by truck or by air. I like trying to guess the number of hops my package will take before it gets to me. And I like trying to guess what time the package will actually be delivered.

I guess this all stems from living in our last apartment. It was our first apartment in downtown Savannah, and we foolishly chose to live in a less-than-safe neighborhood. To demonstrate this point, someone was murdered less than 100 yards from our old apartment a short three days after we moved out. Constantly checking the location of my package would allow me to schedule around the delivery so the package would spend as little time as possible sitting on my front porch for the world to steal. And yes, people would certainly steal a package. Since I have moved to Savannah, I have had two tiki-torches stolen from a fenced in back yard, and– believe it or not– I had my American Flag stolen from the rust-seized flagpole mounted on my house.

Now, though, we live in a much safer neighborhood (for Savannah, where murder is the number one cause of death for black males age 18-35). I have a delivery waiver on file with the major carriers, and they just dump the packages on the porch.

Another thing I like doing is comparing FedEx to UPS. Let me tell you, FedEx always beats UPS, no contest.

For example, I received a package today from ZipZoomFly containing two new hard drives for Jaime’s computer. ZZF ships FedEx 2-day for free, and I have never had a late package from them. Of course, FedEx will beat UPS Ground any day of the week, but even FedEx Ground beats the crap out of UPS Ground like a little brother.

Right now, I have a package from UPS that is on time, but has taken forever. I’ve got a couple of Heatsinks and Fans on the way (Thermalright XP-90 and a Zalman knock-off for those equally as geeky as me) from a company called SVC in California.

Here are the details:

May 26, 2005
7:59 P.M. BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED
8:37 P.M. SAN JOSE, CA, US – ORIGIN SCAN
9:30 P.M. SAN JOSE, CA, US – DEPARTURE SCAN

May 27, 2005
1:32 A.M. SAN PABLO, CA, US – ARRIVAL SCAN
2:43 A.M. SAN PABLO, CA, US -DEPARTURE SCAN

Jun 1, 2005
3:56 A.M. MESQUITE, TX, US – ARRIVAL SCAN
5:38 P.M. MESQUITE, TX, US – DEPARTURE SCAN

Jun 2, 2005
2:49 A.M. NEW ORLEANS, LA, US – ARRIVAL SCAN
10:02 A.M.NEW ORLEANS, LA, US – DEPARTURE SCAN
9:48 P.M. JACKSONVILLE, FL, US – ARRIVAL SCAN

Jun 3, 2005
2:46 A.M. JACKSONVILLE, FL, US – DEPARTURE SCAN

Yeah, so, I’m going to get it tomorrown, but come on– 8 days?!?!

I know there has been a holiday and all, but it still seems excessive for it to take 8 days to get the package from California to Georgia.

Anyway, it’s late, and I’ve got package deliveries to dream about… g’night.