Get it together, Lowe’s!

Come on, Lowe’s. Get your act together.

Nov 14: Ordered ceiling fan online for home delivery.
Nov 17: Received email, fan delayed, no action necessary if I still want it. No problem.
Nov 23: Receive shipping notice, no tracking number.
Nov 23: Called for estimated delivery. Told order was canceled, fan discontinued. Told I must not have received cancellation email on the 17th.
Nov 23: Told that since order was canceled, no refund necessary. Call took 22 minutes.
Nov 23: Billed twice for $188.28. Triggers fraud alert on my credit card. Have to deal with that while preparing for Thanksgiving.
Nov 30: One charge falls off my account. $188.28 still missing from my account for order never shipped.
Nov 30: Order was supposedly canceled by 12:44PM on the 23rd, but Lowe’s billed me at 3:58PM on the 23rd, 3+ hours after cancellation.
Nov 30: Called again. Order still says DELIVERED on Lowe’s website. Told that they can’t change that.
Nov 30: Told 3-7 days for refund for money snatched from my account AFTER the order was canceled.
Nov 30: Call took 34 minutes.

So far, Lowe’s told me an order shipped when it didn’t ship, told me I wouldn’t be charged, charged me $188.28 that they had no right to take, and told me that canceled orders appear as DELIVERED on their website.

The ONLY reason any of this was discovered was ME being proactive. Lowe’s, a company that made nearly $5 Billion in profit last year, will have had my money for between 10 and 14 days, when Lowes, a company that made nearly $5 Billion in profit last year, had NO right to take the money at all. Once the order was canceled (by Lowe’s), our transaction was complete. They had no right to take $188.28 from my account, and a good argument could be made that what Lowe’s did was theft. There is no justification to make me wait 3-7 days to get my money back that was improperly taken from me.

The problem is unresolved. It has taken 56 minutes total to get to this point, and I will not be receiving a ceiling fan.

Ugh DirecTV… just… ugh…

Well, I put in for cancellation of my DirecTV service. I’ve had them since February of 2012.

The reason I am canceling is that DirecTV just doesn’t value my time. It seems that every time I have an issue– almost always billing issues– it is never corrected the first time. I have to call over and over, or spend an hour or more on the phone, to get things straightened out. It has gotten to the point that I pretty much ask for the retention department at the first hint of an issue, since those are the only people who seem to get anything done while speaking with understandable diction.

Today, I wanted to confirm that the NHL package will be automatically renewed on my account. The season starts tomorrow, and I can’t wait to watch some regular season hockey. I check online, and can’t find anything that mentions the NHL package. I check my statement for the bill I just paid yesterday: nothing. I check the month before, and it says I will be billed for the package. Clearly, something happened that dropped the NHL package off my account.

A month ago, before the NFL season started, I called to cancel the NFL Sunday Ticket. I don’t like the idea of contributing to the NFL as an organization, so I am engaged in my own little personal boycott. I had the package removed, even though they already billed me before the season started. I also made sure I got my referral credit for referring a relative to their service months earlier. They had weaseled out of paying it after their technician canceled and rescheduled the installation, somehow removing my referral. At that time, I confirmed that I would be getting the NHL package. The call took around an hour, if I recall correctly.

So, I called DirecTV again. I get a lady who says that the NHL package will not be auto-renewed on my account. This would be the fourth year that I had the package, and the third year of auto-renew. She said she could add it. Retentions, please, since experience tells me not to trust regular DirecTV representatives to correct a situation the first time. DirecTV screwed up, and wasted my time. When the 23rd largest company in the world wastes my time, they need to fix the issue, apologize, and give me a credit for my inconvenience.

Once I got to retentions, I got another lady who gladly added the NHL package to my account. She tried to tell me that I was setup for the NHL package but, again, there was nothing on the website that indicated that. She also told me that they can’t bill for the NHL package before the season starts, even though they did exactly that in the previous seasons. So now I’ve been told I didn’t have the package, and then that I did have the package. Obviously, the next request is for written, non-verbal confirmation of my account change, either somewhere in my account that lists the details of the package, or an email stating I had ordered the package. She told me it would take 24 hours for my account to update.

That is just not acceptable. I placed this order 3 years ago. I confirmed it a month ago. DirecTV should be able to provide me some sort of confirmation besides the word of an employee who was contradicting another employee, and contradicting my account history. The package should be listed in my account, or an email should be sent. Something– anything– to show that I’m not going to have to make a frantic phone call to watch NHL games tomorrow. I asked for a supervisor.

While waiting for the supervisor, at around the one hour mark of my phone call, the NHL package appeared in my account. Well, how about that. A few minutes later and I was speaking to the supervisor.

At that point, I had wasted over an hour, just to confirm an order that I already confirmed during my hour-long phone call just a month ago, but was removed from my account for unknown reasons. An hour here, an hour there, and it adds up to DirecTV costing me a lot more money than the bill indicates. When I got the supervisor, I explained the situation, and explained that every small issue with DirecTV takes an hour or more, and for that reason I was cancelling. I put in for a cancellation for a month from now, so I can find an alternative.

It is unbelievable that DirecTV didn’t want to take my money. If I add up what I have paid them, it is over $5,000. Auto-billing the whole time, zero service calls. Almost every issue I have had has been a direct result of DirecTV screwing up, and almost every issue I have had takes an hour or more of my time to resolve. The supervisor from retentions said they would like to keep my business, but offered nothing to keep me after their screw-up took my hour. That is fine.

I contacted their “Office of the President” to explain why I am canceling. The email response was that “although NHL Center Ice was set to auto-renew for the 2015 season, due to a glitch in the system it never truly did and had to be re-added.” He stated I would not get any sort of credit for the hour spent on the phone, wasted because DirecTV screwed up. The reason? I am already getting credits– $10 for the referral that they screwed up, and $25 as an apology for the time it took to fix the referral screw-up.

So now, it’s either Hulu/Netflix/Prime, or Comcast. I bet that none of those companies need to be reminded that I want to give them money.

That is all.

Ugh, UPS. You are also a big dumb dog.

A continuous link
That is always in sync
That’s logistics

When technology knows
Right where everything goes
That’s logistics

There will be no more stress
Cause you called UPS
That’s logistics

Come on UPS. It’s barely December and you are already screwing up.

I had a package shipped to me, UPS Ground from California. It’s coffee, 12lbs. I got a tracking number yesterday that indicated the order would be here next Wednesday, which is perfectly appropriate.

I check the tracking today to find this: “We’ve left the package in our facility. This may cause at least one business day delay. / Delivery will be rescheduled.”

I chat with someone at UPS. They tell me they don’t know why they left my package. They don’t know when it will be delivered. They don’t have any way to expedite it (“Nope” was their professional answer when I asked if they could expedite due to their error). Their only solution is for me to wait until the 10th, five more days. If it is not delivered by then, they will then investigate.

Ugh. Guess who is not getting my holiday shipping business? I have had 6 packages shipped to me via UPS since November. Of those 6, only 5 made it to me, and one is currently lost. I have sent a few of my own, too. And this marks the 2nd year in a row that UPS has screwed up the delivery of my packages in December. Attention UPS, My Choice is to do business with a different shipper when possible.

With the holidays coming, I expect to read about UPS’ failings in the coming days. People shipping Christmas gifts may be well advised to avoid businesses that sing about their greatness, yet offer NO solutions when they screw up. Nobody expects perfection, but reasonable people expect reasonable companies to have a reasonable system in place to fix their occasional mistakes. That is how you earn future business, and we all know that it is cheaper and easier to maintain current customers than it is to cultivate new ones.

That is all.

Oh Amazon, you are such a big dumb dog

Ugh… doesn’t really capture my thoughts on Amazon lately, but there aren’t any sounds of exasperation that are better suited.

This situation is very simple. My wife and I were getting supplies ready for camping, so we placed an order from Amazon:

1 tent
1 power inverter
1 set rechargeable AA batteries
1 memory card

Amazon sent it out Prime for delivery on Thursday. It went in two shipments– one was the tent, the other was the rest of the stuff. All was good.

Thursday came, and I got an email from Amazon: Your item was returned. The tent never made it out of Pennsylvania (I am in Georgia), so it was obviously damaged in shipment and returned. The other stuff, however, was out for delivery. It was, in fact, delivered on Thursday– on time.

I contacted Amazon to have a different tent sent overnight. I first chatted with Suriyaprakash M. Suriyaprakash apparently didn’t understand what I was telling him (her?), even though I was extremely clear. Suriyaprakash put in a replacement order for everything, even though I was extremely clear that it was only the tent that should be reshipped. Ultimately, Suriyaprakash was unable to understand the situation, so I ended the chat.

I immediately contacted Amazon by phone, and spoke with Jake P. Jake indicated that he fully understood the situation– tent damaged in shipment and returned to Amazon, other items out for delivery, Suriyaprakash screwed up and resent the whole order overnight. He confirmed that only the tent should be reshipped, and not the other stuff. He assured me that he would cancel the replacement order for the other stuff, and I would receive the tent (and only the tent) the next day.

All is good, right? Of course not. On Friday, I received a tent, another pack of batteries, another memory card, and another power inverter. UGH!

We went on our trip, and it was great. I just checked my Amazon account. Sure enough, they are expecting me to return a tent that I never received, and the other stuff that I was assured– after having spent over a half hour of my valuable time– would not be shipped to me. UGH!

I just contacted them via chat, and they wanted me to send the stuff back, taking more time and effort on my part. They, a company with $74,4500,000,000 in revenue in 2013, want me to spend even more of my valuable time to print a label, tape a box, and meet a UPS guy. This is all so they can get the $50 worth of items that I was guaranteed would not be shipped to me.

I declined to ship the items back, and insisted they just credit the order. I tried to do the right thing. Actually, I did the right thing. I notified them of their error via chat at the moment they committed the error. When it was clear that their low-dollar foreign customer service agent did not understand the situation, I went above and beyond to allow them to correct their error by immediately contacted them on the phone. I was assured that they would not send the items. They sent the items. If they want them back, they can come get them. I am unwilling to put even a minute’s worth of effort or a penny’s worth of supplies into helping them fix the problem they created. If they want their stuff back, I’ll set the opened box on my porch. They can send someone to tape up the box, put on a label, and take it with them. I have spent more of my time on this than what the order is worth.

They agreed to just write off the order they shouldn’t have shipped– a smart move considering I spend well into the $X,XXX range with them every year. In fact, I noticed they expected their stuff back today, after I placed a $200+ order. I’m a good customer.

Of course, they tried to give me a refund, even though I was only charged once. I tried to explain that all they had to do was cancel the expected returns. Maybe they understood, maybe they didn’t. Either way, I have a chat transcript that shows that I declined a refund, and that they are no longer expecting their extra shipment back.

It seems settled to me, but maybe someone from Amazon will see this and want to double-check that everything is settled on their end. I’m the only one with an Amazon account from my domain, so I’m easy for them to find and contact. Maybe they’ll even want to send it up the chain so employees can be better trained on how to fix a simple situation such as this without costing their company a bunch of money. $74.5B ain’t what it used to be.

That is all.

Just an average week

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. What the hell is wrong with people? What the hell is wrong with businesses? What the hell is wrong with government?

Here’s how today went:

1. Call Lowe’s corporate to confirm that they will price match Amazon. It’s not in their policy, but the internet says there are countless people who have successfully had Lowe’s price match Amazon. First guy was extremely uninterested in helping me, and said no, they don’t price match. I called back, and think I got the same guy– I heard office sounds, and then was disconnected. I called back again, and got a nice lady. She enthusiastically said, “Of course we’ll match Amazon on the same item.” I asked what documentation I needed (a printout), got her name, and headed to Lowe’s. Grabbed what I wanted (a vacuum), headed to customer service, and was shot down on the price match. I was polite, but firm, and asked them to contact the person in Corporate Customer Care who told me that Lowe’s would match Amazon. Eventually, they called the manager, and my price match was approved over the phone. Hey Lowe’s– solidify your policy. I don’t care which it is, but if different employees in the same location are not on the same page in terms of company policy, then your trainers have failed.

2. Go to Harbor Freight. I just needed a couple of things. No problems at all. In fact, Harbor Freight has been a great place to shop for quite some time.

3. Head to Sam’s Club for cat litter. I get to where they have been storing the cat litter for several years, and see dog food in its place. I look behind the rack for the tag– a neat little trick I picked up from one of their employees– and see it sitting there. I go to customer service, and ask if they have any more or know when they will be in stock. Apparently, with billions of dollars, Sam’s Club only has one computer capable of checking stock. And that computer seems to be in use by all of their employees, all the time. Turns out that it is discontinued (not cool, Sam’s), but they had 76 (or was it 78) in the store. After a half hour of them searching, and a half hour of me waiting, they admitted defeat. They lost 3,200lbs of cat litter somewhere in their store.

I grab the only other option– over 25% more expensive– and head to the checkout. Four open lanes, 5 people in each lane. I pay for this? I ask the floor manager if they will open more lanes, and they say no, they are short staffed. So I head to customer service to pay– I only had 2 items– but the line was also extremely long. I placed my cart next to the manager, and let them know that I wouldn’t be buying anything today. The manager then offers to check me out right away. And then I get to wait in line to leave, like a kindergartener waiting for the bus to take them home on the first day of school. At least the receipt checkers were fast.

I only buy about 5 regularly items at Sam’s: dry cat food, cat litter, coffee, deodorant, and soap. I buy a bunch of other stuff, of course, but those are the 5 items that pay for my membership. I used to buy half and half there, but it is less expensive to buy it at the public Walmart than the paid-membership Sam’s Club. When I take the cat litter out of the equation, and add up how much I save on those items, it is less than I pay for my Sam’s Club membership. If they don’t provide a pleasant shopping experience, and they don’t stock products I need, and they can’t find products that are supposedly in the store, then what exactly am I getting for my money? My membership expires at the end of this month, and I don’t plan on renewing it.

4. Five o’clock rolls around, and I head downtown to pickup my (much) better half. She and I do our normal drive through the squares, but today we were treated to a first class, grade A ass riding by a City of Savannah employee. He was mere feet from our bumper through the squares, then followed onto Broad, and then onto President Street. I don’t think there was more than 6 feet between our bumpers the whole time. Once we get onto President, our lane ends, so I put on my signal and started moving over. This guy, no signal, yanks it over and fills in the gap so I can’t get over. Obviously, this guy got off at 5, and wasn’t happy that he was still on the clock at 5:05.

Come on, though. You’re in a white truck with a City of Savannah logo and a big 4-digit number on the side. You are tailgating hard (probably why your breaks were squeaking), and changing lanes recklessly. Do you think I won’t call your boss? Well, if he initially didn’t think I would call his boss, he sure got the hint when my wife lifted her tablet and aimed it at him. He backed off and inserted himself (legally) between two cars so she couldn’t film him, and then turned off into the water treatment facility. When I got home, I called and complained. There is no need to be driving like a maniac in rush hour (hah!) traffic, treating vehicles that our tax dollars bought and maintain like rental cars.

I don’t want the guy to get punished unless this is a common thing, but city workers need to keep in mind that they are the ambassadors of our city. The several tourists who were in our little pack of traffic know that it is the City of Savannah who employs the crazy driver who rode their ass or cut them off. Also, cars aren’t cheap, gas isn’t cheap, and insurance isn’t cheap. Take care of the taxpayers’ vehicles, drive them reasonably, and do everything possible to avoid contributing to higher insurance premiums. Heck, one false move today and there could have been an accident with the $200,000 Bentley that was 3 cars back.

By the way, I chose to remain anonymous. This is for two reasons. 1. Anonymous complaints are taken less seriously. Maybe this guy was just having a bad day, and needed a reminder to behave like an adult. 2. Our city is corrupt from top to bottom. Our police force is a bastion of corruption, and a 10-second Google search will reveal enough recent news articles to show that is the case. If I complain today, I could be a target tomorrow.

And here are the honorable mentions from within the last week:

1. City of Savannah, specifically Alderman John Hall and Alderwoman Carolyn Bell. The city, on behalf of these two elected officials, called me last week. The caller ID said EMERGENCY COMMU. I thought maybe there was an Amber alert, or maybe it was a public welfare notice about the extreme heat that day. Nope, no such luck. It was a pre-recorded message telling me that these two elected officials were having a town hall meeting. Seriously? That is an EMERGENCY COMMU? I contacted Mr. Bell, and got a voicemail. I reminded him that the city should not cry wolf, and that voters don’t vote for people who bother them at home to advertise a political event under the guise of an emergency. I called Ms. Bell, and spoke with her. She agreed that they shouldn’t be using the emergency system for a town hall meeting, but she was out of town and said she would address it when she returned. Seriously? No way. I explained that when the city calls with EMERGENCY COMMU, and it isn’t an emergency, it is misappropriation of the EMERGENCY COMMU system, and is of questionable legality. I explained that many people are rushing to their phone to learn about the emergency, only to find an advertisement for a political event. She said she would take care of it. I also notified the police department that the city had commandeered the emergency system for political use, and that they should be aware that future messages may be disregarded by citizens who now identify calls from EMERGENCY COMMU as political advertisements.

2. Musician’s Friend. While typing this, UPS delivered my Squier Jaguar. This is the third one MF has sent me. The first one was clearly opened and used. It was accompanied by an opened and used Superego pedal (with velcro residue on the back!). I bought new gear, so I expect new gear. I expect the box to be factory-sealed, and if it is not, it is used. The FTC agrees with me. So I sent it all back, and had them send me a new guitar and pedal. The replacement pedal is likely new, but the guitar was again used. New guitars don’t come with buckle rash on the back, or with key factory packing components missing. Again, I sent the used guitar back. I now have a third guitar sitting downstairs, waiting to be opened. If it isn’t new, I will not be pleased. There are at least a dozen instances online where MF has sent used gear as new. They say it isn’t their policy, but it seems to happen too frequently to not be their policy. The simple solution is a rubber stamp with black ink that is used by an accountable member of their warehouse to stamp “RETURNED” on every single product that is returned.

That is all for now. Sorry so long. Thanks for making it to the end!

Mass local retailer failure

I would like to continue my post about what is wrong with business in this country (started in my post about Andersen Storm Doors).

I simply don’t understand the thought process behind many businesses.

For example, furniture stores. Jaime and I went to four different furniture stores this weekend because we want new couches. We’ve had hand-me-downs for years, and it is time to buy real couches. We went to several local stores, and left feeling dirty after each.

Here are a couple of tips for local furniture stores that I am sure apply nationwide:

1. Clean your store. If your demo furniture doesn’t invite me to sit on it, there is a zero percent chance I will buy it. If the only people in the store are employees, and those employees are literally sitting on the furniture listening to music, your store better be clean from top to bottom. If it is not, maybe that is why the employees are sitting on the furniture in the middle of a weekend day instead of selling furniture.

2. Fix your leaky roof. What kind of idiot would purchase furniture from a store that has, as a separator between showrooms, a series of garbage cans strategically placed to catch water as it drips through the hole in he roof– the day after it rained? Oh yes, I’ll take that green couch– unless, of course, that green is caused by leak-induced mold or mildew.

3. If you post an ad on Craigslist with photos of furniture, post that ad in your store, even if you don’t have the furniture in your showroom. That way, your employees are clued in to what management has decided to advertise, and customers don’t have to wander around furniture that is out of their price range and does not interest them in the slightest.

We ordered online from a California company, for delivery by semi in about three weeks. Same furniture we saw locally about two years ago, but didn’t buy due to inflexible sales practices. That’s $1,000 that should have gone into the local economy that instead goes to a different state.

Now onto home improvement stores, particularly Home Depot. I am so sick of Home Depot. I am now avoiding it as much as possible, only stopping there when there are no other options for what I need. That means that I now drive 10+ miles to get to Lowe’s for most of my materials, instead of 2 miles to get to Home Depot.

I have one pet peeve and one major problem with Home Depot. The pet peeve is simple. If I cut a piece of trim using your equipment, I can only be as accurate as the equipment you provide. Today I attempted to purchase an 8-foot piece of trim. I tried to cut it. The first saw was too dull for even a 1/4″ x 1.5″ piece of lattice trim. The second one was sharp enough, but was extremely aggressive. If there was a miter box, I could have gotten a nice cut on an 8-foot piece of trim. Because there is no miter box, and the saw was so aggressive, I aimed for a quarter inch over what I needed. I ended up an eighth inch over.

The annoyance? The 5-foot-something girl held the trim up, and was able to gauge the height of my cut, almost 3 feet over her head. They charged me for 8.08 feet. This is after I was told quite emphatically just last week that they give a small amount of tolerance for making the cut. Apparently 1/8-inch on a 96-inch piece is beyond their tolerance. That’s right– my cut was long by 0.13%. Pretty damn good considering the rip saw and no miter box. But why should I be charged for it? I am fully competent at making an exact cut, but I can’t do it without a miter box or an appropriate saw. Other customers must have agreed, since it appears they opened up some miter boxes off the shelf. You can’t count on Home Depot to cut it for you, either. Their employees are reckless with the saw, careless with the work piece, and too busy to be bothered making an accurate cut.

The problem? Dogs. They have no place in Home Depot unless they are certified and trained to be helper dogs. Here are the reasons:

1. Home Depot is a working warehouse. There are fork lifts moving heavy stuff around. There are stacks and stacks of product that could tumble over. In fact, I witnessed a fork truck load of plywood fall from over ten feet in the air just a few years back. Heck, sometimes there are even birds in there, and anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that dogs love to chase other animals. Caring and responsible dog owners know that Home Depot is no place for dogs, and as a result, the only people who take their dogs to Home Depot must be careless and/or irresponsible dog owners.

2. Dogs are intimidating predators. If a customer brings in a dog, and that dog makes other customers uncomfortable while attempting to shop, Home Depot needs to refuse service to the dog owner until the dog is off the premises. In the most recent example, my 5-foot 100-pound wife refused to go into the garden center to shop– the main reason we were there– because an inconsiderate lady had her pug and her 3-plus foot tall, 65+ pound dog on six or seven foot leashes. That means there is a 12 to 14 foot diameter occupied by an irresponsible pet owner (see number one) where we couldn’t shop. Why should my wife have to focus on her own safety from a predator that is two-thirds her size when she should be looking for Lorapetalum for the yard? The answer is that she shouldn’t. We were in a publicly accessible store, and the public has a reasonable expectation to be free from domesticated predators while shopping.

3. Home Depot is not a place to socialize your dog. I have not volunteered for your social experiment. If you want to socialize your dog, go to a friend’s house. Or, better yet, go to one of the many parks specifically created with MY tax dollars for YOUR dog. They’re called dog parks. That is where responsible dog owners socialize their dogs, not in home improvement warehouses.

4. Home Depot employees are not properly trained on how to manage dogs within their stores. According to the Home Depot employee with whom I spoke, he was given no training on how to escort animals from the premises. He was given no training on how to notify management of dogs in the store. He was given no training on how to break up a fight between dogs. He was given no training on how to stop an animal engaged in an attack on a customer. He was given no training on how to protect himself from dogs. He was given no training on how to properly dispose of merchandise that may have been urinated on or walked on by a dog.

One employee found it funny that my wife was scared of a dog that was two-thirds her size. The store manager flat-out lied and told me that corporate policy is that tethered animals are allowed, which is not what I have been told (or what the stickers on the door indicate). I have been told that safety is a primary concern, and that dogs that are reported to management are to be removed from the store. This one particular manager was either willing to sacrifice our purchases for a random person with two dogs in the store, or willing to allow my wife to shop in an environment that was potentially unsafe.

5. Dogs are of unknown medical condition. If Home Depot lets a dog in the store, am I to assume that they are guaranteeing that that dog is properly vaccinated? Is Home Depot guaranteeing that the animal has an appropriate temperament to be exposed to the general public? Is Home Depot guaranteeing that the animal is not tracking around feces that can make someone sick, or end up on a product that is meant for food use? Actually, Home Depot sells food, so the next time you grab that candy bar at the register, consider that the candy bar you are holding in your bare hand and bringing to your mouth might have had a dog mark it as its territory, or may have been given a nice fecal residue tail dusting. Or is Home Depot guaranteeing that the animal is not marking the merchandise in the store as its territory, leaving me to purchase unusable products that stink like dog urine? Home Depot is in no position to guarantee any of these, and the reason is simple: they are a home improvement store, not a veterinarian’s office!

I readily admit I am not a dog person. I make exceptions for people I like, and there are even some dogs that I like. Still, I don’t like dogs. I have been chased and attacked, and I have family members who have been bitten. My wife is five feet tall, 100lbs. She has a justifiable fear of dogs. Almost every nature show about predators demonstrates that wild animals attack the weakest, and at her size, she is not a towering giant. Yes, I get it. Your dog is nice. It is not a wild animal. You are a good owner. Unfortunately for dog owners, there is no readily observable, sure-fire sign that your dog is nice, and you are a good owner. The fact that you have your dog in Home Depot tends to indicate the opposite. Self-preservation dictates that I view your dog as a threat until it is demonstrated otherwise, and there is no way you can prove that your dog is not a threat while simultaneously shopping at Home Depot.

Just to be clear, I am all for helper animals. They provide a valuable service, and are well-trained. They are easy to spot– their owners have them harnessed at their side, and they usually wear vests that warn people not to interrupt the dog while it works. They are vaccinated and clean, and my hunch is that they are insured as well.

OK, last gripe and then I’m done. I went to the gas station the other day, and they needed to confirm my age for my purchase. Fine. The lady at the gas station takes my license and scans it. What?!?! I had a major problem with that, and asked her why she scanned my license. Her response, I kid you not, was, “Because we can.” I asked when that started, and she said a year ago, which was a lie. I have shopped at this store twice a week for the past 8+ years. Never once has my license been scanned. I asked for the privacy policy that allows me to opt out of marketing or sharing of my data. “We don’t have one.”

Well, guess what. Since you grabbed my address, my drivers license number, a limited amount of medical information, and my age/height/weight, you will be getting a certified letter that demands that you provide a copy of the privacy policy that dictates the use of that data. If you can’t provide a privacy policy, or if that privacy policy has no provision to opt out of your data retention and/or marketing programs, we have a problem.

My license now has a piece of electrical tape over the PDF417 barcode. I will no longer give my license to anyone except law enforcement (and the odd occasion that I rent a car, since it makes sense). If someone needs my age, they can read it while I hold the license. If anyone tries to peel it off, they lose my business.

That is all… for now.

Andersen Storm Doors

UPDATE: Andersen came through. See comment below.

I do not understand what is wrong with business in this country.

Situation: I bought a custom color Andersen 4000 Storm Door. It was not cheap. It took two weeks to get to me (as agreed). When I went to install it, I found a rattling piece in the lock set. This causes the handle– which holds in the glass– to not function. My custom door is not functional.

1. Why was the lock set not tested before shipping? This is not an Emco 100 series. This is an Andersen 4000 series– the most expensive door they make. I waited two weeks for the door. I expect them to spend 30 seconds testing a part.

2. Why was the part that broke– which is expected to hold in the glass– made with cheap pot metal? Use a piece of steel to hold the glass in place, not a piece of potted zinc.

3. Why don’t they stock replacement parts? I was told that there is a 4 day lead time, followed by 2-day shipping, to get a functioning version of a non-custom part for a custom order that I placed on March 3. That is 6 business days, so add in a weekend and make it 8 days. Why don’t they have replacement parts ready to ship for people who were nice enough to buy their most expensive door, but were shipped a substandard product?

4. Why should I have to argue with them over the phone to get them to understand that 6 days to receive a replacement part– 8 days if you count the weekend– is not acceptable, and that they have the ability to expedite the replacement part for arrival in less than 8 days? I was able to get them to say they are shipping the part overnight, and they magically cut their lead time from 4 days to “maybe today, if not tomorrow.” It surely shouldn’t be corporate policy that lead times can be cut if customers argue, but maybe that is the policy.

Now, in the middle of spring, I have no screen or glass door. My month-long restoration of my 1920 door is now on hold, and my week is shot. I have to finish this project before I can move on to restoring my actual door (the sidelights/transom/woodwork is finished).

We only get a few weeks each spring where we can have our screen doors and windows open. Thanks to a poorly made product, I get to miss a good portion of that. I can’t get fresh air into my house. My cats can’t sit in the door and enjoy the sun or breeze. Thanks, Andersen.

I regret purchasing this door, and wish I could return it for a refund. Every time someone comments on the door– assuming I get a functioning door at some point in the future– my response will be that they should avoid Andersen products if they value their time, or if they expect value in their purchases.

I can say one thing for sure. I am getting ready to replace 22 windows in my house. 22! Guess which company will not get the business? That’s right– Andersen. If they use the same cheap pot metal on their window locks or balancing mechanisms as they do in their most expensive door, chances are that one out of 22 will be defective. I’m not going to sit for 8 days waiting for parts with plywood over my brand new window, simply because some bottom-line businessman convinced the manufacturer that it is a good idea to sell low-quality parts while holding no replacement stock.

That is all.

WHY Joe Buck Sucks, and why people hate Joe Buck

Do a web search on Joe Buck. A lot of people dislike him. A lot of people hate him. A lot of people think he sucks.

Reading some of the comments about Joe Buck usually reveals that people hate him for one of three reasons. 1. People think he is a pompous prick. It is hard to argue with this one, since he does leave the impression that he is in fact a pompous prick. 2. People think he is disinterested in the sports that he covers. Maybe he is bored because he has been to so many games. Maybe his interest is lacking because he doesn’t have to invest a substantial portion of his disposable income to purchase a ticket, parking, and maybe a couple of beers. 3. People think he is a beneficiary of nepotism. It is hard to argue that Joe Buck would have been given an opportunity as a sports announcer had his father not come before him.

All of these are superficial. None of these are the true reason why people hate Joe Buck, and why people think Joe Buck sucks. I am about to tell you the real reason.

The reason why people hate Joe Buck and think Joe Buck sucks is because he is bad at his job.

Maybe I am spoiled. I grew up in the Chicagoland area. My dad was a huge Bears fan (still is), and I remember watching many, many Bears games as an adolescent. My dad used to do something during the Bears games that, as a kid, I never gave much thought. Before the game started, he would turn on the TV, and turn the volume down all the way. Then he would turn the radio on, and tune to WGN-AM 720, where Wayne Larrivee handled play-by-play duties.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my dad was among what was likely tens of thousands of other Chicagoans who did the exact same thing. Maybe it is because radio featured more prominently in their lives than television as they were coming of age. Maybe it is because the Chicago Blackhawks had the strictest of blackout rules, forcing Chicago hockey fans to listen to games on the radio if they wanted to follow the Hawks, and that carried over to football. Both seem plausible.

But maybe, just maybe, the reason they preferred the radio play-by-play is because they recognized that the TV equivalent was a far inferior product. This seems extremely likely and– coming back to topic– Joe Buck is the quintessential example as to why this is the case.

Try this. Turn on a game that Joe Buck is announcing. Turn the volume up, and go sit in a different room so you can hear the audio, but not see the television. As the play-by-play announcer, it is Joe Buck’s job to be your eyes. In theory, Joe Buck should paint a picture as he describes all of the important events as they occur, hence play-by-play. In practice, you will be almost completely lost.

You will find that Joe Buck does an extremely poor job at informing the audience and describing critical facets of the game. In particular, here are some areas where I find Joe Buck to be lacking:

  • Pre-snap down, distance, and position on the field. It is essential that this critical information is relayed to the audience every single play. Joe Buck often neglects this responsibility. You will often get down, sometimes get distance, and rarely get position. This leaves the viewer to shift their focus from the actual game to a tiny down and distance graphic, then to the field to determine field position. It becomes fatiguing.
  • Pre-snap offensive formation and motion. As it is the offense that primarily drives the game, it is important to provide insight that may not otherwise be readily observed by a casual viewer. Joe Buck almost always fails to describe game elements such as as whether the quarterback is in the shotgun formation, or how many backs / which backs are in what formation. I don’t know if I have ever heard Joe Buck describe pre-snap motion. If I have, it has been extremely rare.
  • Actual details of the play as it unfolds. Joe Buck is so lacking in this aspect– the main duty of a play-by-play announcer– that it would be hard to detail without writing another thousand words. If you have, as I suggested, tried to follow a game with audio only, it should be extremely apparent that Joe Buck does an incredibly poor job of filling in the details. Sometimes he says nothing. Sometimes he just says a player’s name, like he just did in the SF @ CAR divisional playoff game that I am watching (“Newton,” is all he said). Sometimes he is so busy talking about something completely unrelated to the ongoing play that he fails to offer any description of the play as it unfolds. Rarely does Joe Buck provide a thorough and informative account of what is occurring during a particular play.

I think Joe Buck would be well served to follow my suggestion himself. My suspicion is that he is so far removed from what it is like to be an actual sports fan that he simply does not know that he is not very good at what he does. It seems that he is almost comparable to a twelve term congressman who long ago lost perspective on what it is like to be an average Joe. He may mean well, but his ignorance is apparent to any observer who can look past the superficial in a critical fashion.

I also think Joe Buck would be well served to listen to the broadcasts of other announcers, even in other sports. Listen to Jeff Joniak do the play-by-play for a Bears game. That guy keeps you informed and entertained. He is enthusiastic. He is memorable (his call of “Devin Hester, you are ridiculous” has been featured on many television highlight reels). He is everything that Joe Buck is not. Tune into a Blackhawks television broadcast with Pat Foley. Listen as he establishes the cadence necessary to cover ten minutes of non-stop play. Listen as he weaves play-by-play with almost continuous player substitutions. Listen as he effortlessly shifts from offensive to defensive coverage, sometimes every few seconds. Listen to how he paints a picture that informs the viewer, and reinforces what the viewer sees.

I think Joe Buck could be a good announcer. Unfortunately, I have seen no improvement in his play-by-play technique over the years. I expect no improvement in the future.

Fedex Insurance / Signature Scam

It sure seems like a scam to me. I feel like I was scammed. Here is why:

I shipped 3 packages yesterday. I drove to the Fedex airport location, where the people are actual employees of Fedex. Here is the quote I received online:

From: Savannah, 31404, United States | To: New lenox, 60451, United States on December 18, 2013.
Package Details: 1 package, 16.0 lbs, Your Packaging, 19 in x 22 in x 12 in, 100.00 USD.
Package Details: 1 package, 17.3 lbs, Your Packaging, 22 in x 15 in x 10 in, 100.00 USD.
Package Details: 1 package, 14.1 lbs, Your Packaging, 18 in x 13 in x 13 in, 100.00 USD.
End of day(3 Business Days) FedEx Home Delivery ® 54.68


I went to Fedex. I asked the guy, “If I am shipping 3 packages to the same destination, do I need to fill out three forms?” “No,” was the answer. I filled out the form with my service level– FedEx Ground– and checked “No Signature Required.” I handed him the form, and placed the packages on the scale one at a time for weighing and measuring.

He asks if I want insurance. I ask how much. He stated, “85 cents per hundred dollars over the first hundred.” I said fine, let’s do $200 per box, since these are Christmas gifts. Some of them are my sister’s-in-law, and I don’t really know their value.

He gives me the price, and it is considerably higher than the $54.68. The price was $72.83– $18.15 for insurance! Whoa. I ask why, and he says, “It’s because it is Home Delivery.” I ask to look for cheaper rates, since it was significantly higher than the online quote. He said Ground was more expensive, and that this was my cheapest option. I agreed because I had little choice– these gifts need to arrive.

I get home and look up my tracking numbers online. This is what it read: DIRECT SIGNATURE REQUIRED. I look at my receipt: Direct Signature. I look at my form: No Signature Required.

WHAT? I specifically checked “No Signature Required” because this is a gift, going to a busy mom who, in all likelihood, is not going to be home when Fedex arrives. I know for a fact that it is a safe neighborhood– safe enough to leave the packages– and therefore I chose No Signature Required.

I did another quote with Fedex online, this time with the insurance:

From: Savannah, 31404, United States | To: New lenox, 60451, United States on December 18, 2013.
Package Details: 1 package, 15.6 lbs, Your Packaging, 19 in x 22 in x 12 in, 200.00 USD.
Package Details: 1 package, 16.8 lbs, Your Packaging, 22 in x 15 in x 10 in, 200.00 USD.
Package Details: 1 package, 13.6 lbs, Your Packaging, 18 in x 13 in x 13 in, 200.00 USD.
End of day(3 Business Days) FedEx Home Delivery ® 62.33

Ok, $62.33 is not what I was charged. I was charged $72.83– $10.50 more. I start digging.

Here is what I have learned.

1. The first quote is accurate. The second quote is not, because…

2. By shipping the three packages using one form, Fedex considered them one shipment, because…

3. When you insure multiple packages with Fedex under one shipment, the insurance is looked at in two ways…

4. When you insure a package, the $0.85 per $100 over $100 carries a minimum $2.55 fee– PER PACKAGE, not per shipment. So…

5. I was charged $2.55 times 3 for my insurance– $7.15, even though I was told it would be $2.55 total, or $4.25 (depending on if you consider it 3 packages with $100 extra insurance on each, or 1 package with $500 extra insurance on the group).

6. Because I was mislead into choosing insurance over $500, Fedex REQUIRES a signature, even though my contract with them says No Signature Required.

7. Fedex charged me $10.50 for Signature Service and failed to inform me of the charges. In fact, they didn’t even list the $10.50 charge as a separate line item on my receipt– they hid the cost and applied ONE THIRD of $10.50 to each package’s individual cost.

8. The employee represented the $10.50 Signature fee and the excessive insurance costs as the price difference between Ground and Home Delivery, even though my quote was for Home Delivery.

9. I was not made aware that Fedex intended to alter their contractual obligation until after the transaction was complete. It was first noted on my receipt, after our transaction was completed, and after I have a right to regain possession of the package.

Clearly, as you can see, Fedex screwed up on this. They failed to inform me of fees beyond what was specifically listed on the contract. They failed to allow an opportunity for me to decline those fees. They failed to inform me that a minimum insurance fee applied. They failed to inform me that they intended to alter the contract that I submitted to initiate the transaction until after the transaction was complete.

This is just unbelievable.

I immediately contacted Fedex after I realized they overcharged me and altered our contract. The person at corporate told me that they would contact the local Fedex location, and have the service level corrected. I was instructed to take more of my time for a refund on the services I did not request, or were purchased due to misinformation from Fedex. I was given a case number, and have to call back in 7-10 days. Lucky me!

Today, I received a call from the Illinois Fedex location. They told me that I didn’t have to worry about the signature requirement because “the shipper takes care of that.” Well, I am the shipper. The Illinois Fedex person told me that they can only alter the package at the direction of the origination Fedex location, and to call corporate to see if I could get anything done.

I called corporate. High call volume. Disconnected. I call back, and get someone. I explain the whole situation, and this person transfers me to another department. I again explain the whole situation, and am told that there is nothing that can be done. In fact, the Fedex operator told me that he needed to transfer me to someone who could spend more time on the issue. I am transferred, apparently, to their highest level of customer support.

I explain the whole situation again, for the 5th time. She puts me on hold and calls the local Fedex location. I am put in contact with a man over there who basically explains that if I checked the box that says Signature Required, I can’t change it. I explain that my contract specifically has the No Signature Required box checked off, and that there are no initials indicating any approved changes. He must have looked at the paperwork, for after he denied it was even a contract, he started being more helpful. He said he would look into it, and call me back.

He did call me back promptly. He is apparently escalating the issue to his regional manager, to Fedex corporate, and to the manager of the Illinois location where the packages will arrive. He has stated he will call me back.

Fedex has a problem here. They alter service level, charge more for it, and don’t provide an explanation of the extra charges until after the transaction is complete. They roll those extra charges into a generic line item, further failing to disclose the actual fees. The amount of money is insignificant if you look at it on an individual basis. However, if you consider that this fee has likely been applied to millions of people over the years, it appears as though Fedex has been the recipient of a significant amount of revenue from customers who were either mislead or not informed of contractual alterations until after the transaction has been completed and the contract is in effect.

This is the exact situation for which the class action lawsuit concept was created– when individuals have been harmed in a rather benign way, but those individuals as a group have been harmed in a great way.

Fedex, you need to fix this, and fast. Very fast.

And I am due a refund of $18.15– PLUS whatever you think my time and aggravation are worth. I’m thinking a full refund of $72.83 is in order, along with a genuine apology.

Musician’s Friend – Spammers and Scammers?

I have been a Musician’s Friend customer for a loooooong time. I have bought many guitars and other music equipment from them and their sister companies. They are, however, on the verge of losing my business to their competent competitors like Sweetwater or American Musical.

The reasons are simple:

1. On October 28, Musician’s Friend started spamming me. I did NOT sign up for their email list. When I received the email, I immediately used their form to remove myself from their email list, even though their form showed that I was subscribed to NONE of their email lists.

They told me it would be 10 days for removal. It has been 21 days.

Hey, jerks! Stop spamming me. I don’t give a crap that you want to promote your Cyber Monday sales. I DID NOT ASK FOR THE EMAIL.

2. 14 months ago– in September 2012– I notified Musician’s Friend that an item they were selling was SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT than the photos of the item, the description of the item, and the exact item I had ordered in the past. They credited me for the item, but…


Not only does it appear that Musician’s Friend is intentionally misrepresenting this product (a.k.a. scamming their customers), but they had the nerve to raise the price!

Anyway, Musician’s Friend is on the verge of losing my business. I plan on buying a guitar by the end of the year, and Sweetwater will likely get my business. I plan on buying some pedals that Sweetwater doesn’t sell, so it looks like American Musical will get those orders. Oh yeah, and I need strings. I have 15 guitars, so I buy in bulk. Luckily everyone sells strings.


Fix this. Now.

That is all.

Shep Smith’s new set, and other observations

I don’t watch much news these days– maybe an hour a day, compared to just a year ago when I watched news all of the waking hours of the day.

I used to watch MSNBC for the comedy factor. Now, though, I can’t stand MSNBC for even five minutes, since they no longer seem to try to hide the fact that they are one big campaign donation to the Democrats.

So now I watch… ugh… Fox. I can’t stand it, either. There are a number of reasons. Here are the first two that come to mind. They seem to cater to foot and leg fetishists. Just do a Google image search for any female Fox host. The volume of leg and foot photos should be enough to justify the massive expense of installing a desk. Any news agency that chooses not to prioritize news delivery, but instead participates and encourages the objectification of their employees, earns their reputation.

The other reason I can’t stand Fox is that they find it perfectly acceptable to allow their male “on air” talent to omit a tie and leave their top button open. This instills the credibility of Leisure Suit Larry. Nothing says trustworthy news delivery like a guy whose work clothes looks more like that of a date rapist than a broadcasting professional.

Anyway, onto the main subject of this post: Shep Smith’s new set.

This is quite possibly the stupidest set I have ever seen. Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it:

Shep Smith Set

When I first saw it, I thought it was a joke. It looks like a Mac Lab for giants. Don’t believe me? Here:

Mac Lab

See? Mac Lab for giants.

The other thing that bugs me is that I can see wires on the set, running from the big round glass table. If you are going to invest in a nearly all-white studio, in an attempt to have a clean set with nice lines, why can I see wires on their set? Why can they not just lift the floor 2 inches, allowing wires to run out of view? It reduces the trip hazard, and looks a lot cleaner. It gives the set an amateur look.

Also, does anyone know if Shep Smith is a smoker? I don’t care if he is or if he isn’t, but he seems to lose his breath while walking around his studio, delivering “news.”

And I am very hesitant to mention the last item on my list because it is fashion advice. I am not one to give fashion advice. I own one pair of shoes, and maybe a tie. I am yet to wear a suit in this millennium. But what I do know is that there is a rule to fashion for men when it comes to suits and patterns. Shirt, Tie, Jacket: Only one may have a pattern; the other two must be solid colors. If you ever wondered why the person reading the news to you seems like a clown (I’m looking at you, Trace Gallagher), this is why. At a subconscious level, it is hard to consider someone as being credible if they can’t even dress themselves properly.

That is all.

They’re not glitches, bitc…err… people.

Is anyone else tired of hearing about the Obamacare tax registration fiasco being called ‘glitches’?

Call them bugs. Call them problems. Call them errors. Call them whatever you want, but if you call them “glitches,” it only demonstrates that you do not understand what a “glitch” is at a conceptual level.

A glitch is an unexpected error. When a glitch occurs, the issue either self-corrects, or the system carries on with no major impact. The cause of a glitch is difficult to find, even though the solution may be infinitesimally small.

Examples of a glitch:

Did you see the TV screen just flash black really fast? Must be a glitch.

Did you hear that strange bit of digital noise in the middle of that song? Must be a glitch.

The mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with my engine. It must have been a glitch.

Examples of not a glitch:

My TV is smoking. It must be a glitch.

My car’s engine seized up. Turns out that a new employee at the oil change place forgot to put oil in cars for a week straight. Apparently there was there was a training glitch.

He died after his heart stopped beating. Must have been a glitch.

See the difference? With a glitch, things continue as normal, or mostly as normal. With something that is not a glitch, the subject, without extreme intervention, comes to a screeching, irreversible halt.

So again, I repeat…

They’re not glitches, bitc…err… people.

iHeartRadio / ClearChannel Sucks

Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted much lately in my “sucks” series. Believe me, that is not because companies no longer suck– they do– but mainly because it takes quite a bit of time to post accurately and truthfully in order to prevent potential litigation. For example, today’s subject is iHeartRadio / ClearChannel. They bring in about $6.25B annually, which is just slightly above our income. Does it mean they don’t suck? No, but I have to make sure that my assertion regarding their suckage is an accurate one. It does help that my “sucks” posts are not meant to drag a company down, but to give them an opportunity, and the necessary information, to not suck as much.

So to iHeartRadio and ClearChannel, I have a comment: You suck. I also have a question: Why do you suck so much? Let me explain.

I bought myself a shiny new Asus Google Nexus 7 FHD tablet. According to my cursory research, this is one of the hottest selling Android tablets. I have read estimates claiming that since last year when the initial Nexus 7 was released, nearly 50 million Android tablets have been sold. Of those 50 million, 10%– or 5,000,000– were Nexus 7 tablets.

That is why it comes as a shock to me that iHeartRadio and ClearChannel suck so bad as to list iHeartRadio in the GOOGLE Play store, but not support the GOOGLE Nexus 7. As I was told by “Rick,” part of iHeartRadio’s no-support team:

Currently the iHeartRadio is available for the following devices: Unfortunately, at this time iHeartRadio is not available for Google Nexus 7. You can still access iHeartRadio through a web browser on your computer at

The only tablets that we support are:

-Kindle Fire
-HP TouchPad.

First, let me explain that it took 40 days of back and forth with iHeartRadio for them to admit failure by denying that they offer an Android version of their software. iHeartRadio’s support sucks so bad that there is virtually no way to get support. Email the address on their website? No response. Email the address listed under their App page in the Google Play store? (“Have a suggestion, question or concern? Please email us at and we’ll be happy to assist you.”) No response. Start a question on their quasi-discussion support board? No response. It seems I only received a response after I posted a 1-star review of their software at the Amazon App Store.

Now, when I am at the GOOGLE Play Store using my GOOGLE Nexus 7, and I browse to the iHeartRadio app, it says very clearly, “This app is compatible with all of your devices.” That’s a good thing, since there are 5,000,000 people with a GOOGLE Nexus 7 who might want to install iHeartRadio from the GOOGLE Play store. Obviously, though, the above quote from Rick the guru says it’s not compatible.

Why would a company with $6.25B in revenue release an app into the GOOGLE Play store without ensuring that the app is compatible with GOOGLE’s flagship product, the GOOGLE Nexus 7? In my opinion, it is because, like many massive corporations, iHeartRadio and ClearChannel suck.

Why would iHeartRadio and ClearChannel executives not be incredibly concerned that they are intentionally ignoring 5,000,000 potential listeners?

They must not realize that tablets and portable devices are extremely popular with their key target demographic segment. They also must not realize that people under the age of 30 are likely to have not turned a radio on in years, if ever. If iHeartRadio / ClearChannel wants these listeners, they need to ensure their apps are compatible with the devices these listeners use– and they aren’t t AM/FM radios.

To add insult to injury, they perpetually advertise iHeartRadio on the radio. They must chew up millions in advertising time annually that could be sold to someone else instead of being used to promote iHeartRadio.

The only reasonable explanation I can surmise is that the iHeartRadio / ClearChannel executives must be extremely out of touch with their development team, and their target audience. Maybe that is why it seems talk radio is stuffed to the brim with scam gold commercials these days.

By the way, re-read the supported devices. Apple, Amazon, and… WebOS? Seriously? iHeartRadio and ClearChannel, in all their suckage, can support an operating system that has not had a release since January 1, 2012, but they suck so bad that they can’t support the 5,000,000 GOOGLE Nexus 7s? They support an unavailable device that was sold off in a fire sale a mere 49 days after it was released (in August 2011), but they don’t support a device that is being actively marketed and sold?

iHeartRadio / ClearChannel, you guys sure seem to suck pretty bad. You don’t seem to understand the technologically changing world, and even if you do, you seem to be far behind the curve. That’s ok, though– I hear that the new iHeartRadio app for the Amiga 1000 will be out soon. If that doesn’t happen, I can just listen on my Palm Pilot (hah!).

The funny thing is that I want to listen to ONE radio station, and only ONE radio station: 1290 AM, WTKS. Their signal bleeds terribly with 1230 WSOK, and their FM mirror (97.7) provides quite possibly the worst FM reception I have ever experienced.

I am just about at the point where I will be abandoning radio altogether. It’s a shame. I have been a huge talk radio fan for about 20 years, since I was about 15. A bigger shame, however, is that iHeartRadio / ClearChannel sucks so bad that the current crop of 15 year old kids will likely not be exposed to the wonderful medium that is talk radio.

Radio will go the way of newspapers, and iHeartRadio / ClearChannel will likely be a big part of that. They will have nobody but themselves to blame.

To anyone from ClearChannel / iHeartRadio that may end up reading this, feel free to comment and start a dialogue if you wish to have my (free) cooperation and assistance in ensuring the app you listed in the GOOGLE Play Store is compatible with the flagship GOOGLE Nexus 7.


I’m done with you. That is all.

Home Depot: Take my money, please!

I don’t get it. We constantly hear that brick-and-mortar stores suffer due to Internet shopping, yet every time I go to a retail store I have a bad experience.

Take today, for example. I have a list of stuff I wanted to buy, and it should have totaled somewhere in the $250 range:

- Citrus tree. I want an orange tree. I will spend up to $75 for one.
- Lorapetalum. It is a shrub. I want 4-6 of them, and will pay up to $20 each.
- Flowering vines. I want two, and would pay up to $20 each.
- AC coil cleaner. I DIY my AC maintenance.
- HVAC Filter, 18×24.
- Ant Killer
- Wood Lattice.
- Wood Chips

Add it all up and it is a significant sum of money. How much did I spend today? About $15.

The majority of the problems are at Home Depot. They would have gotten the bulk of my money. BUT, they had ZERO orange trees. In fact, they had less than a half dozen citrus trees, most kumquats (nobody buys the fruit, and nobody wants to grow the fruit). They were all in the “50% off” section that they created by closing down the primest of the prime parking spots. They were all full prices. And they were not oranges!

I had stopped by a couple other local nurseries for an orange tree. Terrible selection on a bunch of diseased trees, or varieties that nobody wants to buy. No thanks.

For the Lorapetalum, Home Depot again failed to earn my business. The reasons are simple. The “1 gallon” Lorapetalum are actually 2.5 Quarts. Not a single 1 gallon Lorapetalum in the place. The 2.5 gallon Lorapetalum are clearly bad stock. It is not enough that the plants failed to break through their fiber pots, restricting them to considerably less than 2.5 gallons. Home Depot’s failure to maintain a clean, disease-free garden center has resulted in a collection of Lorapetalum that has spotting on their leaves. Note to Home Depot: If you place all of your plants so the foliage is touching and overlapping adjacent pots, and you water from above with a sprayer as if you received ZERO training, you are transferring disease to all of your plants. I will not buy diseased plants. In fact, I have a diseased bottlebrush from Home Depot in my backyard right now.

Since I didn’t buy any plants, I had no need for wood chips. Since they had no climbing vines (beyond some extremely diseased passion vines), I didn’t need the lattice.

Home Depot did not have my 16×24 AC filter. I have been buying them there for 10 years for around $4. Now, though, they only have upgraded filters for $11. Not only are these filters more than 250% of the price I have been paying for 10 years, but because they are better filters, they are far too restrictive. With the more expensive filter, I get a lot less cold air coming out of my vents, and my (expensive) HVAC system works much harder. I didn’t buy a filter. Amazon, here I come! Home Depot will never earn that business back.

So let’s do the math. What I should have spent:

$45 – Citrus tree
$75 – Lorapetalum
$40 – Flowering vines
$25 – Wood chips (10 bags)
$30 – Wood lattice
$10 – AC Coil Cleaner
$4 – HVAC filter
$5 – Ant Killer

And what I spent:
$10 – AC Coil Cleaner
$4 – Ant Killer

GREAT JOB Home Depot. I planned on spending $234, but your policies prevented $210 in sales from me today! That means that you received about 6% of the money I planned on spending at your store today, all because you cannot maintain stock or care for your plants.

Oh well. At least I didn’t have to deal with any Home Depot patrons bringing their filthy, unpredictable pet dogs into the store. And to think, it only took 4 complaints for them to realize that non-service dogs have no business being in their business!

That is all.

Dissatisfied with Sherwin-Williams

As everyone knows, Sherwin-Williams makes paint. In fact, they claim that they are experts. They have a great reputation online, and they had a 40% off sale, so I decided to give them a try.

BIG mistake. Here are the details.

I needed two types of paint. One to paint the underside of my house’s foundation (house is on brick stilts, and the spaces between the stilts were filled in with concrete block last millennium), and the other to paint the shed that I built. Simple, right? Wrong.

I went in to the store yesterday, seeking some of their supposed “expert” advice. I explained that I had a shed that I wanted to paint yellow, and I bought the paint the recommended for the shed. I grabbed one of each of their yellow samples that fit within what my wife requested. For the foundation, I chose a slightly less expensive paint than recommended. I saw no reason to spend 50% more on waterproof paint for a surface that has been painted at least a dozen times.

The lady who helped me was friendly, and seemed to know her stuff, but it turns out that wasn’t the case.

I had bought the paint untinted so that my wife could pick the color yesterday evening. The plan was to get the paint tinted today, and paint all day tomorrow. Like I said, I gathered all their yellow paint samples, and my wife chose the color she liked. I went back to the store this afternoon.

The same lady that helped me was there, so I tossed my gallons on the counter with the chosen colors on top, and asked for them to be tinted. She went to the computer, called over some other lady, went back into an office, and then back to the computer. The other lady came up to me and told me that they can’t tint the paint yellow. What?

She explained that some of their yellow colors fade fast when used with exterior paint, and they would not tint it that color unless I really wanted it, and understood it would fade. I asked her why I was not told there is an issue with yellows when I was there yesterday asking for expert advice. I thought that talking about yellow paint, stating that my wife wanted the paint to be yellow, and paying with a stack of yellow paint chips on the counter, was enough to make it clear that I planned on choosing yellow. Apparently it was not.

After being told that yellow was not an option, I had no use for the paint. We chose the color we wanted, they were not able to do it, and so I wanted either a refund, or to wait for the manager. The lady got the store manager, who was busy helping another customer.

I was fine waiting, but since she interrupted the manager and I had his attention, I told him about my experience. I explained that when the paint is twice the price as other stores, and they sell based on expert advice, and you receive less than expert advice, you get justifiably upset with whoever it was that mislead you. I explained that when your time is wasted because a company advertises one service (expert advice) and you receive a different service (incorrect and incomplete advice), you expect to be compensated for that time wasted.

Apparently, my insistence rubbed another customer the wrong way. She took it upon herself to start telling me off. She was there first– but I was there yesterday, and was given wrong advice. I didn’t ask for the manager until the second girl was rude to me, and unable to explain why I was not told prior to my purchase that yellow was not an option. I told her to be quiet and mind her own business. She persisted, going on and on about how I am wasting her time. Boo-hoo. Sherwin-Williams is correcting an error they made, and the manager chose to help me instead of you. That’s how it works. Any idiot employee could have helped gather paint, and in fact there were two trying to help me that I am sure would have been pleased to dump me off on someone else.

In any event, I asked the manager why I would be sold paint that I could not use in the color palette I was requesting. He told me it was because the employee who helped me was new. I stated that it was not my fault, nor my problem, and that I came for expert advice. If they are poorly trained, too bad. He stated that he wasn’t there yesterday to help me, to which I said responded, “Exactly. If your employees are not trained they need to be supervised.” Clearly the manager, who seemed like a nice guy, understood that his employee was not able to offer the “expert advice” that is advertised.

In fact, the manager told me that I didn’t even need special masonry paint for my foundation– and definitely not the 50% premium for the waterproof variety. I could use pretty much any exterior paint, since the surface was painted numerous times before. Again, why was I not given that “expert advice” yesterday? I could have bought paint with 300-350 square feet of coverage and been sure I had enough instead of paint with 200 square feet of coverage, which will be cutting it close.

And all the while, this lady keeps going on and on. At that point, the manager tried to quiet us both up. The proper thing to do, though, would have been to ask her to mind her own business, as she had nothing to do with the poor advice I received yesterday, or the steps they need to take to make up for it today.

So to sum this all up, after being insistent that I expected compensation for the time wasted due to their failure to provide the expert advice they offered, I did a full return on all the paint. The manager gave me the masonry paint.

That makes up for this single experience, but the fact is that I am still dissatisfied. Sherwin-Williams cannot be trusted to provide the expert advice they advertise. Their employees are admittedly under-trained and undereducated about their products, and unable to provide 100% accurate recommendations.

These failures by Sherwin-Williams are indicative of a larger lack of trustworthiness. If their managers know their employees are not properly trained enough to offer the advertised expert advice, but still allow them to make product recommendations, then management has failed.

The end result is that I will NEVER buy a single item from Sherwin-Williams again, and I will recommend against them to all people who ask. If your expert advice cannot be trusted, you should not advertise it.

That is all.

DirecTV/Viacom Collateral Damage

I appreciate that DirecTV and Viacom had a little spat, but I do NOT appreciate that the spat has impacted me even though I do not watch any Viacom channels.

I watch NewsMix. It’s 8 news-like channels in one. It is an excellent tool for staying updated on the news. NONE of the NewsMix channels are Viacom channels.

When DirecTV and Viacom had their little blackout, they took out all of the Viacom channels and replaced them with other channels. In order to facilitate easy location of these channels, they removed NewsMix, and replaced it with a similar channel– “Kids’ Mix”.

So let me get this right. DirecTV thinks that it is appropriate to sacrifice their customers’ desire to keep informed of real issues, just so that little kids and morons can more easily find their entertainment? Unreal.

Does DirecTV also think that it is appropriate to remove other unrelated channels without providing ANY notice whatsoever? NONE of DirecTV’s literature that I have seen regarding this blackout even mentioned NewsMix, let alone explaining why the channel was removed, and when/if it will return. Instead, they were eager to push their junk Encore package.

I don’t want Encore. I don’t want Viacom channels. I don’t want $5 off my bill. I WANT NEWSMIX!

Also, DirecTV’s email support sucks. It’s worthless. EVERY email I was sent was a form response. NONE of the email had a greeting, like “Dear Valued Customer” or “Dear Mr. So-and-so.” NONE of the email addressed my question, and instead only talked about Viacom channels. Terrible.

That is all.

Asus Support / Warranty Service – Bad Communication

Hey Asus– I emailed you on Wednesday to request an RMA for my randomly rebooting router.

Here it is Friday and, beyond the confirmation of my request, I have heard nothing.

Three days and no response? Poor.

Now I am on the phone– a toll call– to get an RMA for a router that is broken. The replacement should have been sent 2 days ago.

Asus Support and Asus Warranty Service seem to be pretty crappy so far.

That is all.

Kroger Sucks Part… uhh… maybe 5…?

Here is today’s Kroger experience.

I went in at 2PM to get all of my food for the weekend. As I walked in, I noticed a man in dirty clothes, walking through the parking lot. He was looking inside every car he passed. He stopped by a lady with her baby, and talked to her for a second. This guy was clearly begging or stealing.

I informed the two security guards who were outside smoking, and pointed specifically to the guy. I did my shopping, and 45 minutes later, the guy was still walking around the lot, looking into cars, harassing Kroger’s customers.

Why did the security guard not tell him to leave their property or face arrest for trespassing?

Fast forward 3 hours, 5:00PM. I am showing Jaime the food for the weekend and realize that the person who bagged my groceries failed to put my pint of blueberries, 2 lemons, and 3 limes in my cart. Grrr.

My general rule is this. If you make a mistake on my purchase, and I have to travel back to your location, I get it for free. Almost every retail establishment agrees. So I called Kroger to make sure I would be able to get both my food and my money back as a result of having to fight 5:00PM Friday traffic. The lady said maybe, so I held for the manager, who said it was no problem. Good.

I go to the store, and grab my citrus while Jaime grabs the blueberries. The ones she picked had a rotten one right below the surface, so I stopped to swap it for a different one. As we walked to the cooler, we watched a guy open up a package of blueberries, reach in with his bare hand, grab a few of them, pop them in his mouth, and close the package.

He looks at us as if he was caught, probably because he was caught. I grab my berries and casually say, “That’s disgusting.” He asks what. I state that opening a package of sealed fruit, reaching in with his bare hand, and closing it back up is what is disgusting. He asserts that it is not disgusting, and questions how he’s supposed to buy fruit. I explain that fruit is a gamble. He says it is not– he can sample as he pleases.

What?!?! So if you want a watermelon, well, core out a sample. Are those mushrooms fresh all the way to the bottom? Let’s open ‘em up and figure it out. How about that banana? I suspect there may be a brown spot on this one, so let me just peel it a little bit. Idiot.

I reiterated my point that what he did was in fact disgusting and we started to walk away. He asked what was disgusting about it, and my response was short and simple: “Did you wash your hands…?” We continue walking. He then tells me that the blueberries are no good (fat chance, considering blueberries are a June and November crop and– hold the presses– it’s JUNE). I noted his description for when I got my money back from the manager.

When I talked to the manager, I took an opportunity to inform him of the suspicious man earlier, and of the man who wants to audition closed, measured packages of fruit.

After a bit of an ordeal, I get my money back for the fruit I had bought, but wasn’t placed in my cart when I paid.

Oh yeah, and why does Kroger suck? They didn’t apologize for failing to put my groceries in my cart after our transaction was legally complete, thereby requiring me to drive back to their store and wait in line, and completely negating my planning to do all of my weekend shopping at a low-shopper, low-traffic time.

That is all.

The masses are asses, but some folks lead the way

Has anyone else observed that lately the general public is getting less smart?

Two examples, both which occurred within a minute of each other.

1. I was in one of our squares. The squares are simple– anyone in the square has the right of way, and anyone entering the square must yield. You can see the yield sign on this Google Map.

So today as I rounded the square, a girl on the phone blows the yield and, were I not paying attention, would have rammed my car. I tap my horn, she gives a look of alarm, and guns it. I continue on behind her, since I was in the square and anyone entering the square must yield to me. The guy behind her comes dangerously close to hitting my car, and then proceeds to honk their horn about 40 times. I HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY, IDIOT.

2. Pedestrians are reckless, and that is dangerous in a tourist town. In our city, you must stop for a pedestrian who is in the crosswalk. As I came around the square, the car that was two ahead of me slowed to wait for a pedestrian in the cross walk. The car ahead of me started to slow, and a pedestrian darted out between two cars and attempted to walk in front of the car ahead of me. The car ahead of me, while slowing, was going too fast to stop for this jaywalker. As soon as he clears the car, he darts out in front of my moving car. I slam on the brakes, and this guy– head down– walks right across the road, 20 feet from a crosswalk.

I casually mention that the crosswalk is 20 feet away. He walks up to my car and asks what my problem is. I simply state that the crosswalk is 20 feet away, and that he jaywalked in front of a moving car. He informed me this was a tourist town. I explain that I understand, and that is precisely the reason why pedestrians are required to use the cross walk– for their own safety– and that is why we have a minimum of 8 crosswalks per square. He then walks to his car, which was the first one off the cross walk. He had to walk to the crosswalk anyway.

If he had crossed 60 seconds earlier, the lady from my first post would have hit him, and likely killed him. Why not cross safely, and with the protection of the law requiring other vehicles to stop?

Eh, that would be too reasonable. This guy owned the road… so long as his idiot self didn’t want to use it when the other idiot was blowing her yield.

The masses may be asses, but some individuals are really screwing up the curve.

That is all.

Are all Hearse Ghost Tours Savannah – drivers this reckless?

If you are planning on visiting Savannah, and are considering a ghost tour, you may be well advised to properly evaluate and scrutinize the tour operator. If your safety is important to you, you may wish to ask for a copy of their driving records, drug and alcohol policy, proof of insurance, and any applicable operator license or safety inspection certificate.

It appears this may be particularly true for the specific topic of this post.

I just sent this letter to the owner of the company that provides Hearse Ghost Tours in Savannah ( after my phone call to (912)695-1578 did not satisfactorily address an experience I had with one of their drivers:


I am writing to you with concerns about one of your drivers. I have already relayed my concerns to the lady in your office, as well as to the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

At 5:02PM on May 24, I was behind one of your vehicles (#BSI 3091) on Congress Street, heading East. With NO warning, your vehicle came to a complete stop, and, without hesitation, began backing up in an attempt to parallel park on the side of the Lucas Theater. As a result of waiting for pedestrians to cross, my vehicle was approximately one standard car length behind your vehicle.

Clearly, if your vehicle continued to advance, it would have impacted my vehicle on the front passenger side. There were other vehicles behind me, and I had no where to go. I began honking my horn.

Your driver continued, so I honked again. Your driver continued, so I started honking in rapid fashion. Your driver continued. In the mean time, the drivers behind me began reversing, creating room for your obviously dangerous driver.

Your driver, however, continued reversing. My passenger began yelling for him to stop, as he was within a mere half foot from hitting our vehicle. I pulled my car back as far as I could– not out of harm’s way– and got out. If my vehicle is to be hit by a reckless driver, I prefer to not have the airbag deploy in my face.

I approached your driver and asked what he was doing. He said he was parking. I explained that he had used no signal, and no hazard lights. He had made no indication of his intent to park prior to advancing in reverse. He was dangerously close to hitting my car.

Your driver did not apologize. He stated, “I saw you, I wasn’t going to hit you.”

The situation resolved with me being forced to illegally reverse on a roadway, in order to make way for your driver’s illegal reversing on the road way, failure to signal, and failure to yield.

I contacted your office, and was told by a lady, who was instantly defensive, that the driver did NOT see my vehicle, even though the driver stated he had. She stated that the vehicles have a large blind spot and are difficult to park. She stated he may not have seen my vehicle, but instead the vehicle behind me.

Regardless, if the driver did not see my vehicle, the honking of the horn should have stopped him. This is especially true if the driver is aware that the vehicle has blind spots. Instead, the driver continued reversing, would not make eye contact, would not get out of the vehicle to see how dangerously close he was to an avoidable collision, and would not apologize.

Judging by his lack of spacial abilities, his failure to signal, and his failure to stop when other vehicles are honking at him, I suspect your driver was intoxicated. That is exactly what I reported to the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

I will be reporting this issue to the City of Savannah so they may review your drivers’ records and the safety of your vehicles.

The larger problem is one of referral business. I have lived in Savannah for 11 years. Each year, I have between 6 and 12 out-of-town visitors. In fact, my in-laws will be here in about two weeks. They are extremely excited to go on a ghost tour. Guess which tour they– and all of my future guests– won’t be taking?

Thank you,

A concerned citizen

I wouldn’t patronize them.

That is all.