Archive for September, 2006

Family Photos from San Antonio

I had a great time visiting family in San Antonio last weekend.  Just finally getting around to posting some photos.  There are additional pictures on my Flickr account, so take a look around if you want to see all the pictures.

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The value of a penny

When did the penny become such a bother?  Everywhere you go these days, stores have that little “penny tray” by the cash register.  Is it too much trouble to carry that penny home with you?  And why do store clerks get so upset if you don’t have that extra penny on hand to pay for your purchase when the total rings up at $7.01 and you hand them $10.00.  Is it really that much effort to make change?  Do we not like to count anymore?

I made a purchase tonight that came to just that – $7.01.  I gave the guy a $10 bill.  He gave me back three ones and said, “It’s only a penny” and shrugged as he walked off to help the next person.  The internal accountant that lies beneath dies just a little bit when I think of the failure to reconcile down to the last cent.  So what do you think?  I’m not really proposing anything here – just curious to see if anyone has a different opinion.

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Orlando Sunset

I took this photo a couple weeks ago when I was in Orlando.  Just thought it was nice enough to share.

 

 

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Steve Irwin – Killed at age 44

Steve Irwin, age 44, the famous “Crocodile Hunter” is dead – killed in a freak accident in Cairns.  He was killed instantly by a sting-ray barb that went through his chest while swimming off the Low Isles at Port Douglas.  Mr. Irwin is survived by his wife, Terri, and two children, Bindi and Bob.

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The “sucking” sound of DirecTV customer support

So if you read my previous post, you are no doubt aware that I had to change from a DirecTV HR10-250 unit to a H20 (non-DVR). I’m finding life without a DVR to be extremely painful. It sure would be nice if the HR20 unit was available outside of the LA area by now, but the good news is that I have been told I will be able to upgrade for only $20 (data verified at both Best Buy and DirecTV Tier 2 support).

What I didn’t share before was the experience I had with their customer support department. First off – Tier 1 was a joke. When I called in to activate the H20, the woman I spoke with told me to move my existing access card to the new unit. That resulted in an “invalid access card” error message which persisted through several power cycles and reboots. She finally moved me to Tier 2. I got a guy who was clearly more intelligent. He explained that older cards often do not work well in newer systems, and that the best option was to activate the card that came with the H20 and migrate my subscription services. So we did. And all seemed well with the world. I was fairly happy when I got off the phone.

Then today I decided it was time to watch some Sunday afternoon baseball. I changed over to my MLB package channels only to be told that I did not subscribe to these channels. Seems the guy at Tier 2 support forgot to put my MLB package back on. So round 2 of customer support begins.

I called in again to Tier 1. No surprise – after wasting about 10 minutes of my time, she tells me she can’t solve my problem. She assures me that Tier 2 will be able to help me. Before she transfers my call, two things happen. First she tells me that there is no email address on file for my account. Interesting – since they email me my account statement every month. Secondly, she tells me she is typing up the notes about my call so that Tier 2 will know “exactly what I am calling about.” I hear her keyboard clicking for about 45 seconds, and then she transfers my call.

Now Tier 2, again, is able to resolve my call. But the woman that answered had no idea who I was or why I was calling. I called her out on it and asked why she didn’t get the information from the Tier 1 rep. Her response was, “we don’t do warm call transfers here between support levels.” When I explained that the call notes were typed up – she ignored it as if I had not said it.

My next support call is no doubt going to be one asking for customer retention. These people were pretty good – right up until the time I had to start speaking with them. So if anyone in senior management for DirecTV reads this, you should dissolve your entire Tier 1 support organization. They are doing absolutely nothing but costing you money.

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Bad Tivo … That’s a bad Tivo Tivo

Machines really do have a life of their own, and they know when their life is coming to an end. It pisses them off. They would rather go the suicide route that be put out to pasture. And my DirecTV HR10-250 martyred itself last night. It won’t boot, and it is out of warranty.

Now the real pisser is that DirecTV is replacing the HR10 unit with a new HR20 unit within the next two weeks, but the HR20 is not for sale yet. So I had to go spend 100 clams to buy a temporary HD receiver (non-DVR) to carry me through the next couple weeks. Could that timing have been any worse?

And a personal word to DirecTV. As a loyal Tivo user, I hate you. Your are sunsetting a fantastic interface (both on screen and the remote) in favor of something that will never be able to compare. Tivo has mastered the DVR market. Everything else is just a knock-off. Can you tell I’m mad? I moved to DirecTV because you had Tivo support, and less than two years later the whole thing is going away. If I have to pay even a dime more to move to the HR20 unit – you will probably lose this customer.

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Unpopular Words

The other evening I watched Spike Lee’s new HBO Documentary entitled, “When The Levees Broke” about hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.  Overall the show was very emotional and a bit racially charged – but that is probably appropriate considering the circumstances.  If nothing else, I have a greater appreciation for just how wrong things can go when the government fails to respond in a timely manner.

I’m going to take an unpopular position.  And before you ask – yes, I have a heart.  This is not about black vs. white, rich vs. poor, or even Democrat vs. Republican.  And despite what Spike Lee wants us to believe, there is no fair comparison to draw between the evacuation and slavery.  What I want to talk about is insurance … or the lack there of.  Homeowners insurance, renters insurance, and flood insurance.  I believe that if people have purchased coverage and paid their premiums, the insurance companies must pay.  But here is where it gets tricky.  People without flood insurance are upset that their insurance companies won’t cover the water damage.  And even stranger than that, others believe the government should bail out all of those who had no insurance of any kind.  We should just pay people for the value of their homes and their property.

Where does this sense of entitlement come from in our society?  Why should anyone get something for nothing?  Insurance is a choice.  If you choose not to elect coverage – it’s like gambling in Las Vegas.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but you are betting on the probability that something might or might not happen.  It might seem crazy that people choose to live in a city that is below sea level.  New Orleans is just one example on the world stage where this occurs.  My point is – if you live below sea level – buy flood insurance.  After shelter, health, and food – flood insurance would be my number one priority.

Lastly, I take issue when people complain about the references to Katrina evacuees as “refugees”.  Now I agree that the traditional definition of a refugee is someone fleeing to another country.  And yes – the citizens of New Orleans are all Americans and they were not fleeing to another country.  But the root of the word here is “refuge” which is defined as “shelter or protection from danger or trouble.”  Isn’t that exactly what happened here?

Nothing can bring back the people who lost their lives.  It was tragic.  And the government did fail to act in a timely manner.  But let’s leave the inflammatory rhetoric behind us and focus on how we, as one nation, can do better and learn from our mistakes.

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