Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Annoying Travelers Attempt to Catch Flights

Detroit Metro Airport is reproaching travelers for showing up for flights too early. The nerve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poor Verizon, So Misunderstood

A Verizon Wireless patsy (er, vice president) had to write a letter last week to the FCC defending its $350 early termination fee and its little “arrow button” cash cow.

She begins by saying those big early termination fees (ETFs) “promote consumer choice” because that way Verizon can offer smart phones at cheaper prices. Customers can pay through the nose for a month-to-month plan, but most (surprise!) choose to sign up for long-term contracts.

And after all, the executive writes, those smart phones are expensive to provide, so they get higher ETFs. It’s a risky business, the mobile industry, and Verizon needs to protect itself. All that technology and all those customers just spooks them out.

The FCC wanted to know how Verizon told people about the $350-and-up ETF. Well, the morons could look on the web site, answers the Verizon exec. It’s right there in teeny-tiny type. In fact, we put the ETF on ads, telemarketing scripts, sales receipts and letters. We do everything but stick it on billboards on Interestate 80! What is wrong with you people?

The FCC then presses Verizon about the rationale for the high ETF, and the Verizon exec gets upset. Do you have any idea, she asks, what a canceled contract does to Verizon? It messes up all our plans! It turns off a guaranteed revenue stream! We have to provide all that mobile broadband service and that costs money! If a customer cancels a contract, it destroys our entire business model. We can’t eat! We can’t sleep! The entire world economy could collapse! Do you want that, FCC?

The FCC also wants to know the cost difference between what Verizon pays for mobile devices and what it charges customers, but Verizon is too cagey to answer that. They just repeat that the difference is twice as much for smart phones. And remember, the executive says, we have to buy ads and pay salespeople. Who’s gonna pay for that? The company? We got shareholders!

At this point, Verizon feels that the whole ETF issue has been pretty much hashed out and turns to the second problem.

Customers are mad because if someone accidentally presses an arrow key on their device (which has been preprogrammed by Verizon for internet access), the customer is charged $2 even if he cancels the connection immediately. And those buttons are kinda small, guys.

The Verizon exec utterly denies that the button takes users anywhere but the Verizon homepage. Those hordes of doofus customers must be recklessly navigating elsewhere on the web, the executive writes. And we’re happy to credit their account if they feel they’ve been unfairly charged.

All in all, I think Verizon is a little bitter about how complicated and expensive providing mobile broadband is. It’s so annoying having to buy the equipment and build a network and hire sales reps and pay for office coffemakers and all. I think Verizon is feeling a little unloved for all their hard work. Verizon is probably wondering why it didn’t go into something easier, like banking.

Poor Verizon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Very Cold Paws

I'm a little link-happy today. Here's a picture of a cute kitty in the snow that was posted, one of my favorite sites. Cat pictures and crabby consumers. These are my people.

San Francisco Photo Story

Here is a remarkable collection of pictures of San Francisco from photographers that love the city. Most of them were familiar to me: the redwood grove in Golden Gate Park, the hills of Twin Peaks, the beaches, the bridges, the buildings.

Beautiful pictures like these remind me why we're here and the how much I take for granted every day. This is especially good on days where the sky is gloomy, the car horns are blaring and the price of monthly bus passes are raised (again!).

See San Francisco

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Don't WANT to be Special!

I just wrote this note to BIC USA:

"I just bought a pack of Comfort 3 Pivot razors. They were pink, they had three blades, good enough for me. I didn't realize they would smell like berries. Is this really necessary? Has Bic lost its mind? What makes your company think that American women LIKE their razors to smell like berries? It's nausea-inducing, really. I couldn't wait to wash the smell off my hands. I'm a working mother and now on top of everything else I have to think about, now I have to make sure my razors don't smell?"

Now these razors will join the no-sodium chicken soup, the celery-and-green-pepper diced tomatos and the garlic crescent rolls as yet another stupid special version I've bought this week. I have to check any product's packaging three times before buying it, lest I end up with diet tomato sauce or lime-flavored tortilla chips. Gross!

Friday, December 04, 2009

That's It, No More Sports

I think Benny's been watching too much sports on TV.

At dinner tonight:

... So It sounds like that poor lady has a real problem ...

Got a problem? Ask your doctor about FLOMAX!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

2009 Review

This seems like an appropriate time to review the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2009. It was a tough year for everybody, but we're still here at the end, reasonably secure and healthy. Compared to the train wrecks of 2007 and 2008, we're doing great.

- The sale of our house last year resulted in an angst-ridden month working with our tax accountant and a $3,000 tax bill.
- Four credit card companies imposed giant APR hikes on our balances, requiring four letters to “opt out” and close the cards.
- Ron's workload went beyond heavy and passed into frightening,
- Ron and I got a 5 percent pay cut. (However, my hours are not reduced, and that's very good.)
- We still can't get a car. This drives me crazy.
- We can't go to Michigan for Christmas.

- BENNY GOT INTO LUCKY ELEMENTARY! YAY! Logistically, financially and yes,
educationally, this is the best thing that could happen to us..
- Benny leaves the Dinosaur preschool, eliminating a $1,500/month expense. (yeah, I know.)
- I celebrated our improved cash flow for buying new, shockingly expensive glasses.
- First family vacation in three years to Mt. Lassen
- Benny and I read all three books of "The Lord of the Rings."
- I finished a big fat book about the Franco-Prussian War.
- I started sending my science fiction novel to literary agents.
- I started a new novel: "The Fred Code."
- Benny no longer has to meet with the endocrinologist after two years of a good growth curve.
- Ron finished a corporate Wellness Plan and received $500, which he spent on new work clothes and an iPhone. He's crazy about his iPhone. After two weeks, it suddenly went dead and he couldn't figure out why. So I did some Googling and found the answer. So Ron can thank me and some weird online guy named Hoof Arted for fixing his iPhone.
- I bullied AT&T into giving me a new computer modem for free after the old one died in November. They wanted to charge me $80!

How was your year?