Air Force Tanker Contract

Man oh man am I sick of reading articles and hearing stories about how people are angry at the government for choosing EADS/Northrop Grumman over Boeing for the Air Force tanker contract. (link)

The part that most people have left out, unfortunately, is that Boeing had already practically won this contract back in 2004, but their corruption caused them to lose it. This CBS article from 2005 calls it “the biggest Pentagon scandal in 20 years.”

Am I the only one who has absolutely NO problem with Boeing being punished for their corrupt actions in attempting to gain the contract by ultimately being denied the contract? I don’t care if we theoretically ended up buying them from China and they’re built using child labor (we didn’t, and they’re not). Boeing should be punished heavily for their actions, and rewarding them the contract is far from punishment.

Yes, I’m fully aware that Boeing’s CEO had to resign over the scandal, and that both Boeing employees and Air Force employees ended up behind bars as a result, at least according to articles I’ve read. And no, I don’t consider that punishment enough.

A clear message should be sent– if you try to scam the US taxpayers, you must be willing to do so at the expense of future business with the US taxpayers.

It only makes sense.

AT&T Sucks

Since my “sucks” posts tend to be popular, and since in my opinion AT&T does in fact suck, I figured I would take this opportunity to explain the latest reason why AT&T sucks.

Not too long ago, the federal government rolled over to AT&T and allowed them to take over Bell South, our local phone service provider in the area. With Bell South, we had 7 years of flawless telephone service. Not a single outage. Now, with AT&T, we have had two outages in the last month or two.

Granted, some outages are unavoidable. Bad weather happens. Today, for example. We had major storms pass through, and our phone service went out. In fact, it is still out. And according to AT&T, it will be repaired sometime between now and 7:00PM tomorrow– more than a full 24 hours from now and a full 28 and a half hours from when we first realized our phone service was out. AT&T claims that the outage was related to two tornadoes in the area, one which was over 15 miles away in Pooler, and one that was out on the islands. Neither touched down, mind you, nor were they even confirmed as having been tornadoes. They were just clouds up in the sky with circular motion. Clearly we all understand how that impacts local phone service.

Anyway, the phones are out and we’re missing calls. My dad is in town and wanted to make dinner arrangements. I missed that call, and so there is no shot that we’ll get in to the restaurant where we wanted to eat. I also missed a call from Jaime, who was at work and needed a ride home. What other calls did I miss? I don’t know, and likely never will, unless the caller decides to call back tomorrow after 7PM.

So I look at my AT&T account online to see how I can activate my call forwarding to forward all home calls to my Skype number. I have something called “Complete Choice,” which basically means I pay an exorbitant rate for my phone service in exchange for every feature they offer with the exception of voicemail. Looking over the features offered, I see that “remote access to call forwarding” is not activated on my account, even though it would cost me nothing to have it activated.

So, I call AT&T.

The first agent I spoke with, someone named Emma Smith (yeah right), was in Argentina. In order to access my records, I needed to give her the last four digits of my social security number. Yes, I had to give private details to an operator in a foreign country, for my privacy. If that isn’t an oxymoronic policy, I don’t know what is. Emma Smith said she enabled the “remote access to call forwarding” on my account, and I would receive the required PIN and access telephone number in the mail within two business days. OK, so obviously that doesn’t help me. The phone will be fixed within that time.

I ask for a supervisor to see if this can be pushed through. She says her supervisor, Mark Nizzo, was in a meeting. That is customer service speak for “I don’t want to transfer you.” I dialed a toll free number, and as a result, I had no problem waiting on hold until the meeting was over. She said he was not available. I asked her if she wished to continue the lie that I believed she had told me, or if she would get a supervisor. She “transferred” me to someone else, and I was disconnected. Good. If all the idiots who work for AT&T in Argentina are as poor of listeners as Emma Smith, and if all the idiot AT&T employees in Argentina continually talked over their customers like Emma Smith, I didn’t want to talk to her supervisor anyway.

I called back. I want to be sure that “remote access to call forwarding” has been enabled on my account. Now I’m talking to some guy who clearly was a native Engish speaker. Now we’re making progress. Or so I thought.

It turns out that the guy I spoke to insisted that “remote access to call forwarding” was a subset of the voicemail package, which it clearly– according to the AT&T website– was not. He kept telling me that all I needed to do was pickup my phone, dial 72#, and follow the instructions. Yeah, I’m sure that is how regular call forwarding works. But, Earth to AT&T, dialing 72# does nothing when you have no freaking dialtone.

So he says he has never heard of the feature I am requesting. I read the product documentation from his own website. He still can’t find it. He puts me on hold, and says he found it. Apparently, he didn’t have access to that feature because I had regular call forwarding enabled on my account. Fine, I don’t care. Just enable it.

He says he is enabling it, and that, again, it would take two business days to get the information I need to use the service that I have been paying for for the better part of a decade. I ask for the number for top tier support, presidential support, executive level support– whatever they call it at AT&T. Every company, particularly a company with over 300,000 employees, has this level of support. It exists for customers like me, who have an unusual circumstance that requires a bending of the asinine corporate policy that is preventing them from offering quality, sane service. He’s never heard of it.

He claims he is enabling the feature because– surprise, surprise, surprise– Emma Smith didn’t enable it. So just a moment ago, I check my account online. It turns out that he did not enable the feature. He instead enabled “selective call forwarding,” which allows me to forward specific callers to a different number. Grr.

So now, I don’t have the feature I requested, I can’t enable it online, and I still don’t have home phone service.

Does AT&T deserve this post? Have they provided “outstanding customer service” as their customer service script offers? I think it’s pretty clear.

As soon as possible, I’ll be canceling my AT&T service. AT&T sucks.

MSNBC Primary Coverage

So tonight, MSNBC covered the primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island, just as all the major news networks did. I do have to say, it was likely the least professional effort I’ve seen out of MSNBC yet, mainly because of the behavior of Chris Matthews.

Over time I have come to ignore Chris Matthews because his “banter” has become less and less insightful. But the main reason I list him in this critical post of MSNBC’s professionalism has nothing to do with the actual words he spoke. It has everything to do with his demonstrated inadequacies as a broadcast professional.

At least a dozen times tonight, Chris Matthews coughed loudly while his microphone was live. I’m not talking in the middle of a sentence, which would be excusable. I’m talking about his disgusting, slovenly hacking while his co-presenter, Keith Olbermann, was talking.

What, is MSNBC such a low budget operation that they cannot afford a cough button? Is their budget so small that some lowly engineer couldn’t rig up a momentary switch, a resistor, a capacitor, and a couple of XLR jacks in a cheap enclosure to allow Chris Matthews to mute his own mic while coughing?

Or is Chris Matthews so unprofessional or so stubborn that he refuses to observe common courtesy by not coughing while on air?

I mean, come on. My online radio show has a budget of under $200 a year. Yes– a year. Do we subject our audience to non-stop coughing and hacking? No. Of course not. That would be rude, inconsiderate, and disgusting. We have come up with ways to keep bodily noises off the air. Anything less is simply unprofessional.

But for MSNBC– constantly at the bottom of the ratings as far as I am aware– it is OK for Chris Matthews to act like a Neanderthal?

What’s next? Will Chris Matthews let out a big Barney-from-The-Simpsons style belch on air?

Will someone from MSNBC please– for the sanity of their audience– teach Chris Matthews some manners and tell him to stop coughing into his microphone?!

Or at the very least, get him a glass of water.