The WORST Customer Service Experience EVER!

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Editor’s Note:  This post is being presented to both of my blogs as I feel that the topic is relevant to all readers.  The following is a true story that happened a few weeks ago, around the week of Halloween.  However, the story seems much less of a treat than a very bad trick.  Sit back and enjoy the longest and the final posting of this year.


When I was younger, many years ago, if you wanted to make a phone call in a public place, you would use a phone booth for that important call.    Over time, these phone booths were replaced stands with phones on them.  Gone were the days of trying to fit into that tight fitting location and then closing the door just to make that short (or long call).  I think part of the reason the phone booth disappeared was that the general public were getting larger and not in a good way.


Unlike the phone booth, these phone stands popped up everywhere.  They were at malls, gas stations, grocery stores, and on basically every corner.  Even on many highways emergency phone call boxes were set up for the people’s use.  In fact, I carried a small bag of change with me in case I needed to make that emergency call.


Of course, this was all well and fine for a long time.  That was up until the last year or so.  In that time, the phones have disappeared from those malls, gas stations, grocery stores, and the local corner.  Of course, the empty stands remained but the phone was gone taken out like some bad dream.


Naturally I never thought about the need for the use of a phone since I never had any reason to call anyone.  I never owned a cellphone because I never had the need for one at all ever.


That was until that faithful day happens when that emergency happens and there are no phones around and I don’t own a cellphone.  Of course, a little panic set in, but I went into the nearby store where I was and asked if I could borrow their phone.  Naturally, I was nervous and felt a little stupid that I had to ask to borrow a phone.  After all, I was probably one of a very small group of people who don’t own a cellphone.


I ended up playing phone tag trying to reach the person I was trying to call with absolutely no success.  Thankfully, everything wound up pretty much ok at least for that day.


At this point, it was determined that the family needs to get a cellphone.  No longer was it a matter of just some passing interest, but something needed for security purposes.


So I spent a couple of days doing some research.  With my aging eyes, I needed something big enough to see, but not something huge that would be unbearable to carry.  I came down to a couple of choices of what was on sale at the various local stores.


Most importantly to our family was something without a contract.  Those who remember way back when cellphones came out, it was required to sign a contract and be committed for years at a time.  To make matters worse was that you also had to have good or great credit to get approved.


Then over time, Tracfone was introduced.  They were the no-contract, no worry company for cellphone service that everyone who had bad credit would buy.  Most importantly, the phones were cheap and the refill cards to add minutes were relatively inexpensive as well.


Over time, all the major carriers started having similar no contract phones with cards as well.  The only problem was of course, who’s phone and who’s service.


After talking with a salesperson in one store and spending nearly an hour doing so, I finally decided upon the phone that I liked.  The salesperson also told me that I could switch the carrier on the phone to Walmart’s Straight Talk service without any problem at all.


I had read some pretty good reviews of this service from Consumer Reports magazine and thought that this service of “bringing my own phone” to their program would be wonderful.  After all, Straight Talk is owned by Tracfone so I thought the service would be pretty good given that it got high ratings from Consumer Reports.  I checked the website of Straight Talk and found out that given my zip code and special phone id code that I could use their service.


When I opened the box to the phone and turned it on, I received 2 error messages that the phone could not load the software.  This right away seemed like a bad omen to me as if anyone can find a bad item in a store, I certainly would.


So the next day, I exchanged that nonfunctioning phone for another one.  When I got home, I immediately turned it on to see if it would start up and happily it did.  I got the phone set up with the default carrier, tested it, and downloaded a few apps for it   I also registered the phone with the initial carrier’s website.  I did not test the phone part because I didn’t buy a phone card.  My intention was to use the Walmart plan instead.


Over the next couple of days, I went to the local Walmart trying to purchase the “Bring Your Own Phone Kit” for the Straight Talk service.  After spending 2 days waiting about 20 minutes each, I decided to give up on trying getting the required kit.  On the 3rd day, I decided to be determined to get the kit no matter what.  As the associates of the electronics department was scattered around the area ignoring me, I decided to put my hand on the register counter and after waiting about another 15 minutes.  After about nearly a half-hour, an associate finally decided to wander over to me and asked if I needed help.




The associate then scrambled to find a key to unlock the item from the shelf, but was told after nearly running around for another 5 minutes that a key wasn’t needed to get the item off the rack it was on.  All the associate did was push and twist the lock to remove it and get the product off the shelf.  Had I known how easy that was, I would have done that myself days ago.


Overall, I spent about $70 for the kit, including tax and the 911 service tax.  This kit also includes a $45 unlimited talk, text, and web refill card.  The biggest part of this package is presumably the multiple SIM cards in the package, which I didn’t need because the card in mine is non-removable.


The next day, I decided to set up the phone with the new carrier.  However, for some reason, when I started to set up the phone by inputting my required zip code and information from the phone itself, the website said that my phone was not compatible with my zip code.




The reason I bought the kit in the first place was that the website said that the phone WAS compatible now it saying that it isn’t.  Something didn’t seem right somewhere.

Since I hadn’t opened the kit yet, I decided to call Straight Talk’s customer service to see what was up with the problem.


After being on the phone for nearly an hour and half, the customer service rep got all my information from the phone, my personal info, and all other relevant data needed for the transfer of service to them.  The person told me it could take 2 or 3 days for the whole transfer to take place.  During this call, I also was required to open the kit’s package to get the special codes needed to complete the transaction.


So I was excited to get a phone call (on my house phone), that the service was successfully transferred and that all I had to do would be to enter a special code on the cellphone to activate the service with them.  Most of this phone call was muffled and hard to understand but I did get the gist of it.


First thing I did was to check my old provider and also checked my new provider.  It appeared that my account was successfully transferred.  So now was the time to activate the phone.


When I typed in the special code needed to activate the phone, I got the message that the phone could not be activated at this time.  So over the course of an hour, I kept trying every few minutes to activate the phone with no success.


Something seemed to be very wrong so once again I ended up calling Straight Talk’s customer service.  After about working with the first person for about 15 minutes trying to fix the problem, I was hung up on.


At this point, let me say that anyone working customer service and hangs up on a person purposely should be fired and should not even be working at such a job in the first place.  So I called back a second time.


After providing information to my problem a second time, the first person transferred me to a second person after about 15 minutes unable to solve my problem.  After another 15 minutes, I was transferred to yet a third person to try and solve my problem.


Of course, at this point, I was starting to get frustrated.  However, this third person found out that somehow the information from the phone was entered into their system incorrectly even though the person read back to me the code correctly the day before.  How this mistake happened is beyond me.


After making the necessary corrections, the third person spent another few minutes to get the phone working.  Calling the special code results were always the same:  could not activate the phone with their service.


So this third person transferred me to a fourth person to try and solve my issue.  Again after 15 minutes, this person gave up as well.  It seems that the reason why all of these people gave up after 15 minutes, as one person told me, was that if the call lasts for more than 15 minutes then a supervisor would be required to intervene in the phone call.  However, at no point during my entire call was a supervisor ever put on the phone line because I was told that they were either unavailable or busy with someone else.


After the fourth person, I was told the one thing that any reasonable caller should never hear:  I would be transferred to someone in India to assist me.


Now let me say that this is the worst thing that anybody in customer service should NEVER admit to doing.  Nobody should ever feel the need to be transferred to someone outside their home country.


So here I was on person # 5 (the sixth if you count the one that hung up on me) and once again they could not solve the problem.  So once again I was transferred to a sixth person for another 15 minutes work session, which again had the same result.


I was then transferred to a seventh person who finally was able to cut to the chase.  This person told me what I had found out the day before that my phone and my zip code were not compatible with their service.


Obviously, I was furious that it took 7 people (8 actually) to get to this conclusion.  At this point, I asked what my options were given that I had already opened the kit.  I was told that I could not return the kit back to Walmart because it had been opened and that I would have to return the kit back to Straight Talk to get my money back.


This idea gets worse as they told me that I would have to ship the kit back at MY expense and that I would have to wait 30 business days to receive a refund.  This time period figures to be roughly 45 real days, much longer than I believe the law allows.  Why should I have to pay to send back something that their own website said would work and then wait a longer than an undesirable length of time to get my credit back.


At this point, I was extremely furious being that I had spoken to a total of 8 people over the course of 3 ½ hours with no results.  I asked why they were selling a product that doesn’t work in this area.  Of course, they could not answer that question and were very frustrating to deal with at this point.  I told them that I was going to try to return the product back to the local Walmart and see if I could get my credit back from them.  They wished me the best of luck snarkly and hung up on me.


The next day was Halloween and was the day that I decided to make my return to the local Walmart of my open phone kit.  The line for returns seemed longer than normal as it took about 20 minutes to get waited on.


Let me say on a side note that this was Halloween and I know that many companies including Walmart allow their employees to dress for the holiday.  However, I believe that anything that an employee wears on the holiday should be discreet and not be revealing of private areas.  Unfortunately, for the young girl who waited on me, she was wearing a very low cut top with enough of her small cleavage showing that if she bent over the wrong way or turned the wrong way she would be giving everybody a show.  Honestly, I am surprised that the management didn’t send her home to change into something a little more business appropriate.  But then again we are talking about ignorant Walmart.


When I got to the counter and explained my problem with the kit, the inappropriate dressed associate and another older employee who was regularly dressed discussed between them that it was ok for me to return the item because someone else had returned the same item earlier in the week for the same reason I did:  not compatible with the phone and zip code.


So happily I got my credit back and within a couple of days it was back on the credit card, not the 45 days that would have happened if I had mailed it back at my expense.


In the end, I had to reset my phone to set up a new number as the old one was still attached to the nonfunctioning Straight Talk account.  The good news is that the new phone number is very easy to remember.  The bad news is that I spent an afternoon reinstalling all the apps that I had previously installed, a small price to pay to finally get a working phone.  I am now happy and have no intention to ever switch service.  I did tell the salesperson who originally sold me the phone of all my problems and honestly he was surprised by all my problems.  But then again, I had problems from day 1 with the first defective phone.


Now let me summarize this entire process:

  • The initial purchase of the phone kit took several days to get an employee to get me the product. Bad service at the store level at start.
  • Incorrect information that 4 people overlooked before it was corrected.
  • Transferring the phone call to India to try to diagnose the problem not a great idea.
  • Having a total of 8 people over a period of over 3 and half hours and none of them able to solve the problem. Is this a case of ignorance or stupidity?  I will leave that up to the reader of this blog for that.
  • Being told that I would have to send the product back to the company and wait 45 days before getting a refund is not acceptable under any circumstances. How stupid do they think their customers are?  But then again we are talking Walmart here!
  • Even though it was Halloween, customer service in Walmart at time of return had inappropriately dressed employee. Certainly I got the desired result so there was at least some good closure in the whole thing.


With all the advertising lately for the Straight Talk program, I feel that people would get the same result that I did and therefore should avoid this program at all cost.  I also cannot recommend the similar programs offered by Net10, Simple Mobile, and Tracfone itself as these are all portals to the same company.  I also don’t recommend buying the more expensive phones that companies like Straight Talk offered as many of them are underperformers and should be avoided.


Finally, my score is 0!  Certainly the worst customer service experience ever.


Note:  This is my final post for 2014.  I will return in early 2015 with a look back at this year and a look ahead at the New Year.  So enjoy the holidays and stay away from those Straight Talk people, unless you want to make a lot of new people here and abroad.


Why Go Blue? (Or is it Blu?)

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The other day I was in the video section of one local store and I overheard one lady tell someone else she was with that she had a particular movie on VHS.  She said this so loudly that I thought she was actually proud of the fact that she still owned a VHS player and plays movies on it.


When I heard this, I almost hit the floor.  I thought was this lady serious?  If so, then stores like Blockbuster would still be in business today along with hundreds of mom and pop video stores in this country.  Maybe she hadn’t caught on to something called DVD yet or maybe it was just sarcasm at its worse.


Either way, the industry has moved ahead with a little new format called Blu-ray.  Blu-ray is not new as it has been around for several years now but is only just starting to come down significantly in price during this holiday season.


First off let me say that the players themselves have been available for under $50 this holiday season for a basic Blu-ray player, although a more sophisticated one can be had for well under $100.  These machines not only play the Blu-ray discs but also standard DVDs as well, which makes DVDs seem almost non-obsolete.  Many of the machines also can double as sort of “smart TV” as many have special apps that can play games, surf the internet, or connect to your favorite social media site.   Certainly these machines are very unlike the DVD players of years’ past.


The discs themselves have seen a remarkable drop in price especially during Black Friday a couple of weeks ago as some retailers were selling Blu-ray discs for as cheap as under $2.  Now while there are some lousy discs out there, gems could be found on the cheap as well.  Many of these releases were from this year but some were older than that.


As far as the packaging is concerned, this is where some find confusion.  So here is how I figure it with the various packages.  Let’s go through them individually:


  • Blu-ray disc only:  the package contains only a Blu-ray disc possibly with additional features.
  • Blu-ray disc and Digital HD: same as above with a special code or disc that allows for playing on a computer, phone, tablet or other device.  Note that these expire usually within 2 years and something I have never used or tried because of their short lives.
  • Blu-ray disc and DVD and Digital HD (aka combo pack): same as above but with the addition of a DVD copy of the movie.  However, it should be noted that the DVD could be just a movie only version and may or may not contain the same extras that the standalone DVDs would have.  Usually some of these discs contain the digital copy rather than the extras that would be on these discs.  Certainly this is the preferred purchase as you get both types of disc, but buyer-beware on what the DVD actually has.
  • 3D Blu-ray: sometimes sold most times in combination with any of the above these discs only work on 3D TVs.  While I don’t have a 3D TV, I can’t say how well these discs perform.  However, most 3D discs have no extras which make them a trade-off with the standard Blu-ray discs.
  • 4K Blu-ray discs: these are not available yet, but expected to appear on the shelves in 2015.  No details on if these discs will have any space for extras on them yet.  These discs are meant for the ultra-high resolution TVs making their way into the marketplace in the past few months.  Whether these discs will be packaged with other formats is the biggest question mark of all.


The best resource that I recommend is going to the website  Here detailed descriptions of discs can be found along with movie ratings and prices.  The downside to the price part is that the majority of the prices mentioned is from Amazon along with links to purchase discs from them.  However, given that many stores will now match Amazon this is more of a feature than an inconvenience.


Finally, the quality picture and sound is superior to DVDs, but they do vary from title to title.  Again, the above mentioned resource is your best bet to get the real lowdown on new and old titles alike.


Overall, if you have a capable HD TV and wish to upgrade to Blu-ray, then I would highly recommend that this is the season and year to do just that.  So hop into those bargain bins and join the blue (or Blu) revolution, time is wasting!


Next week, in my last post of the year, I will be discussing quite possibly the worst customer service experience ever.  If you thought you heard me talk about bad before, get ready for the lowest point in customer service as so many things went wrong that you really will wonder if it is all real, but trust me it will be.  Get ready for possibly the longest and most enjoyable post of the year.







Aftermath and the Angry Pig

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First let me open by saying that nationally only 60% of the voting population actually took the time to vote during the last election.


This meant that the other 40% was either fed up with the whole process, didn’t care at all, or just didn’t have the time.  Of course the latter excuse doesn’t fly at all because of absentee voting.  The first 2 may be because of social ignorance.


Then there is the other major factor in this entire nightmare this year.  I heard stories of duplicate names, people who could not be found, and overall problems with the voting system in general.  To add to this is the list of people who are either incapable of voting or who are in jail or deployed overseas in the military.  These numbers add to those who can’t or unable to vote.  Overall, the system needs to be fixed to make sure those that are able to vote can and those that no longer can vote won’t have somebody use their identity and vote for them.


To add to this mess is the Maine State Voter Program.  The first email I received a couple of days before the election listed our family and if we “voted” over the last few elections.  It also listed our “neighbors” and if they voted over the last few elections.  The first red flag in all of this is that this email showed up in my Spam inbox in Outlook.  This right here should be an indication that even Microsoft thought something suspicious of this email.


There were several errors in this email.  The first is that it said that I did not vote in 2010. This is WRONG!!  I did vote that year and I am offended that it said that I didn’t in all capital letters.  This is certainly a calling out as if I did something completely wrong when in fact they are wrong.  Secondly and even more inaccurate is the listing of my so-called neighbors.  Every one of the “neighbors” listed has moved away in the last couple of years.  Honestly why should I care whether these people voted or not in the last few elections especially since they no longer even live in my neighborhood.  The biggest offense of all in this is how this group got my email address in the first place.


Later, the next day I received a second email from this same group.  This time the email was similar with the listing of my family and again if they voted (again with the wrong info on me), but this email contained a listing of some of my local Facebook friends and where they live and if they voted in the last few elections.  This email, like the first one, sets off many red flags.  However the flags in this one are significantly worse than the first.


The biggest gripe that I have is like the first email is that the email listed my Facebook friends’ names but also their addresses as well.  The worst thing about this is that listing where somebody lives could create a dangerous situation especially if some of these people were not so-called friends of mine.  I have always felt that somebody’s address should remain private if they want it to be.  It should never be considered public information.  The fact that some of these people were former work associates and a couple were people I knew back in high school makes it that much worse especially given that I left my previous employer in a less than glorious manner.  Add to this that the people from high school I haven’t had a conversation with them in years just adds to the aggravation and paranoia with anybody knowing your private information.


The Saturday before the election I received in the mail a letter that was exactly like the first email I received.  Why this group would waste postage on sending this false information out in a letter is beyond me?  All I can say is that I am thankful that they never sent out the information of the second email through the postal service.


In last week’s local Sunday paper, a reader wrote that they were angry receiving a letter from this group after it falsely reported that a relative of theirs could not vote in the last few elections because they were in a home for Alzheimer’s patients.  What I can’t figure out is why anybody in the family didn’t have this person removed from voting roll call when they knew they no longer were going to be able to vote.  This reader called for an investigation as to why this information was even sent out in the first place.


Honestly, I totally agree that this group should be investigated.  While much of the information is freely available information it is the fact that it was distributed without the consent of others listed is where my biggest criticism is.  Add to that the incorrect info about me and it just adds to the problem.  The second email sort of clued me in that much of this information for both emails were in fact gathered from Facebook and the friends that I have on there that live locally.  I believe that such gathering of information from Facebook is both unethical and illegal and Facebook should be investigated to see if they gave out people personal information along with its user’s friends list for their own gain.  This should be considered a complete violation of Facebook policy especially since I keep my address private on Facebook.  Hopefully, this group is investigated and I would join any class action lawsuit that comes about for violating the privacy of myself and the privacy of others.  I would be glad if this information is never released ever again in any format especially being so wrong.


Now onto the elections results.


As expected it was a nightmare as nationally the Republicans took a majority of the U.S. Senate to now control both houses of Congress.  I see gridlock for the next 2 years at the national level as Obama will take his pen and do executive orders no matter what the Congress thinks.


Now that the ads are gone this year was one of the dirtiest political seasons ever with more money than ever coming in from out-of-state sources.  More mud was slung this year than ever before and more egos were severely damaged.  Some of the damage is probably socially, politically and personally permanent.


First up is the Maine governor race.  Once again, Paul LePage won over his Democratic opponent Mike Michaud.  Was this any surprise that this race was once again given to the person who made this state the biggest joke in the country.  How much further can this state slide and how many more people can end up being uninsured after LePage’s next 4 years?  I bet the number will go up significantly

To make matters worse is that LePage refused to accept the concession call from Michaud after the election saying that he doesn’t want to see Michaud ever again.  What a wonderful way to start a new term.  The only winner in this race are the political cartoonists who have 4 more years of great material coming.


In the second district Congressional race, the criminal Republican won handily over the extremist Democrat.  I still won’t give out their names as I feel none of them were capable of winning and none should have won.  We should feel sorry for those people in northern Maine as they need support, but not from who they chose.


As expected the other races were determined well before election day and not worth mentioning here.


However, the bear-baiting issue ended with the NO side winning against the YES side by a small margin.  We continue to be the only state in the country to allow the feeding of bears to kill them.  While the YES side had graphic images in their ads in the last days of the campaign, it was a little too late to get the victory.


The other referendum questions passed with ease despite most of them were for funds to places unknown and for uses unknown as well.  I feel that people just thought that if it meant jobs no matter where they are, then the issue should be supported.  Again, voter ignorance dominated these questions.  I guess most people don’t believe that it is the taxpayers’ money used to pay for the bond issues.


As far as the South Portland marijuana referendum was concerned, the YES side won by a small margin.  However, the NO side is challenging the vote and the police have already said that they will be stepping up their arrests of people possessing the drug.  If anything, the vote might have been symbolic but may not ever be enforced.


Overall, I felt that voting this year was under minded by the wrong information given by the Maine State Voter Program.  No matter what they say I DID  vote this election and I certainly have every right to complain about the results as most of them turned opposite of what the way the voting should have gone.


Maybe we should blame the 40% that didn’t vore…


Note: This will be the last post before Thanksgiving.  I will return in December with a new post at that time.  So have a happy holiday and a happy Black Friday.





Scary Time of Year

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This is the scariest time of year.


Yes I know we have Halloween, but that is not the scariest part.


Welcome to the Election Day nightmare.


It builds up for months then on the first Tuesday of November it explodes.


We suffer for months with endless ads from candidates and enemies of candidates on why to vote for or not vote for a certain person.  Add to this any referendum question and you have a full day of endless entertainment.


However it is not entertaining at all.  In fact, it is downright annoying.


Of course all these ads create great conversation sometimes not for the better as recently I found out by posting information about a candidate that I read somewhere else weeks earlier.  What happened at that point were a couple of vile and offensive remarks directed at me personally.


The bad thing about all this is that these people are friends of a friend (not my friends).  These people have never met me and have absolutely no reason to make the obscene comments that were made.  I was so angry that I called these people idiots and that is where the conversation ended.


Ironically, a couple of days later I read in a local free paper almost exactly the same things that I had written about a few days earlier.  Sadly I never got an apology from any of the offending people nor did I expect one as these people are completely ignorant in their views.  These are the type of people who go voting blind and cause the rest of us with results we don’t care about.


This is the reason why Maine is now the butt of everybody’s joke with our dumb governor Paul LePage.


So now I am going to try to enlighten those in the Maine area with what I think people should vote for and some unfortunate real results we will see.


Let me start with the governor’s race.  Here we have Republican LePage, running against Democrat Mike Michaud (current House member) and independent Eliot Cutler (running for a second time).  My choice for the second time is Cutler as I voted for him before and I like his brute honesty about himself.  The other 2 are in a dead heat, but both are angry politicians with views that would destroy the state.  Instead of the slogan “Open for Business”, maybe we should have “Closed for Demolition” as our new slogan as we slide into economic oblivion.


So now who is going to win?  Unfortunately, it won’t be Cutler unless somebody eliminates the other 2 in some dark alley.  We are in for 4 more years of hell given no matter who wins.


Now in the second district seat (not where I live, thankfully), we have the extremist Democrat, the criminal Republican and the NRA card-carrying constitution hugging independent.  While I won’t mention any of these candidates by name, let me say that my choice is none of the above.  I don’t think that any of them should represent this state on any ground whatsoever.


The other 2 races for Senate and U.S. House member is so far lopsided, they are not even worth mentioning here.


What is however worth mentioning here is referendum question 1 which would ban bear-baiting in the state.  I recommend a yes vote only because the bears are being treated in a cruel manner for the big kill.  Let us not forget that we built on their land, which is why they are entering many of our neighborhoods.  It is time we arm the bears to even the score.  I would definitely support that idea.


The rest of the referendums are to spend millions of dollars for various health related projects, most for locations to be determined in the future.  This is the problem with this whole idea:  just setting money aside for some random location with no solid plans is a waste of taxpayer money.  We should not pay for somebody’s random placement of some facility which may or may not ever pay off.  So I recommend a no vote on all these questions except for the sewer issue which corrects ongoing problems and comes up every year.


Finally in the city of South Portland where I live, there is a referendum to legalize small amounts of marijuana for those over 21.  I don’t recommend this one either as I have never seen any proof that marijuana is good for anybody, medical or recreational despite some claims made by voodoo doctors.  It should be banned period.  Of course this comes just a few months after the city didn’t want to build smokestacks to support tar sands in the city.  Am i the only one who doesn’t see the irony here?  I expect that this one might pass just because of the ignorance of its citizens despite the city council and police chief stating their desire to defeat this issue.


Overall, I expect that I won’t be happy with the results of this election cycle.  I also expect that these same feelings will be shared by thousands of others whose results were not as desired around the country in their own political battlegrounds.   However if you don’t vote you can’t complain.


So my recommendation is to vote early and vote often.  Only by voting can change happen everywhere that needs to happen.


More Problems with Last TWC Update

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This week’s post is going to be pretty short for this holiday week.


Last time I discussed the many changes (and not good ones at that) with the latest Time Warner Cable Navigator update.  However, 2 other changes happened as well which I noticed over the past week or so.


Both of these changes are noticeable if you go into the guide and select a show.  Scroll down to the “All Showings” item and hit select.  At this point, you should see a listing of multiple showings for that particular title if available.


The problem is that now if you scroll down this list looking for a particular episode by its title (assuming it is a series that you have selected), the titles no longer show up in the little window in the upper left corner as you scroll down the list of airdates.  So this feature now is of absolutely no use anymore whatsoever.


To make matters worse with this feature is that if you scroll to an item that is listed as having a calendar date say “10/6” as opposed to a day such as “Tuesday”, and you hit select to set that item up for a recording, you will find that not only can you not do it but the box will LOCK UP!  Of course, you can just hit the EXIT key and after 2 or 3 presses you will exit the guide completely meaning you have to start all over again.  I have noticed, however, there are times that the “C: key does the same thing as well.


I believe in both cases that these are bugs in the current update and should be addressed immediately.  It is sad that TWC uses many of its markets to test its software before rolling it out nationally.  We subscribers are NOT beta testers.  It is unfortunate that TWC believes that its software doesn’t have any bugs.  Either they are really stupid or just ignorant.  Don’t ever bother calling customer service for any of any issues with the Navigator software as they know nothing and they never offer any real solutions, not even their technical people can help.  Yes, it really is that bad.


Hopefully, I will report soon on a new update before I pull out the rest of my hair from my balding head.  I don’t have much left anymore.

Time Warner Cable — Another Step or Two Backward

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It has been nearly 5 months to the day since the last time I wrote about a Time Warner Cable so-called upgrade.


On early Tuesday morning of this week at 3am, all our DVRs had started the long process of downloading new software to its boxes.  Unlike past upgrades that lasted approximately 1 hour, this update took a mind-numbing 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete.  This is certainly the longest update time that I have seen since the major upgrade last year, but even that wasn’t even that long.


So, now after the upgrade the ODN version is currently at 7.3.0_29.  Your version on your machines may be later or older than this depending where your area is in the upgrade cycle.  I will discuss my experiences with the above mentioned version.


The first thing I noticed when turning on half of my boxes after the upgrade was that all of the channels were blocked because apparently these boxes had the rating block enabled of “Not Rated”, “TV-Y”, and “TV-G”.  I did not have these set but somehow they got enabled after the update.


After fixing this issue, the next thing that one will notice is the fonts have changed.  The new font appears to be the same style and size font used when the menus and guide are set to their high-definition equivalent.  While it may save some space in the operating system by using the same font, the end result is that on the standard definition screens such as the guide, the font looks way too big and too thin to actually be readable.


What is worse about this is that this font makes letters and numbers sometimes run together with the poor spacing that this font has.  Certainly in the guide, titles and descriptions are cut off or require multiple pages to view properly.  Why they changed the font is beyond me when the old font was fairly easy to read except for being white or blue on black.  This newer thinner font is just worse for my old eyes.


Next thing is with the guide.  When you set up a recording of a show, the old “REC” is no longer next to the show’s title and is no longer highlighted in red  instead  a set of red dots show up next to the show’s title.  The title is no longer highlighted so it makes it more difficult to tell if a show is set to be recorded or not.  However, the reminder for a show is still shown in purple across the show’s block like it has previously done.  It seems that this was either an oversight or a change for the next upgrade.  Certainly, they are making it more difficult to know what is being recorded,


When pressing the guide a second time to exit, there are now 2 columns of how arrange guide channels.  The previous 5 options are still there with the new ones of “Movie Channels”, “Sports Channels”, “Kids Channels”, “News & Info Channels”, and “Latino Channels”.  While these lists seem exhaustive, the latter one only lists 2 channels in my area!  For now it seems that while convenient to have these categories, right now some are just useless in their current format.


Nothing has changed when pressing the “A” button on the remote control; however the “B” button has made significant changes.  No longer when pressing the “B” button are you greeted with 3 or 4 options as you were previously.  Gone are the “What’s Hot” and “Genres” options along with the “In-Progress” option if you were watching an On-Demand show on DVR and wanted to continue it on that unit or another in your house.  The only option available now is the search option with the same keyboard layout as previously available.   The biggest change with this option is that as you enter characters it tells you how many things match what you have typed thus far.  Of course, this is inaccurate as just entering one character gives just a small handful of results.  Whether this was used just for internal testing or nor is hard to determine, but like Google search which says it finds millions of matches to your search request, this result number is just an arbitrary number and shouldn’t be taken seriously.


The only plus to the search is that little dollar signs “$” show up when a show is a pay-per-view show that requires a purchase.  This is handy to know what not to pick in my searches.


The most missed option when pressing the “B” key is the “In Progress” option.  Where it was just a simple one key press is no longer that simple, one must go the On-Demand portal channel and get to that option there.  Inconvenient and undesirable is the way I seen that change.


Overall, this new update was one step forward and three steps backward.  The new font looks awful in standard definition.  The search mechanism no longer as good as it was.  The guide has just little dots to indicate what is going to be recorded.  These changes alone make this guy one disappointed customer.  I have not been happy since the new interface was implemented and now it is just getting worse and not better.


I am still waiting for that free whole house DVR setup that was promised 4 years ago and I think we are all waiting for cloud DVR recording to save space locally on the units which are severely limited with space anyway.  It is time to get real updates not these previously discussed downgrades.  Once again shame on TWC for a job poorly done.


My score:  4


Summary:  Too much needs improving at this point.  TWC Navigator has back pedaled a lot of previous features and made things unreadable and just more difficult overall.



Unlucky 13th Millionaire Season?

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This week premiered the 13th season of the show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”


Judging from how this season looks, it should be its last.


First off, Cedric the Entertainer is out as host.  In a way, this is a plus because he really wasn’t that good on the show anyway.


Now enter Terry Crews.  If you have never heard of him, he was a former football player, but he is probably best known as the guy from the Old Spice ads.  He is also a movie and TV actor.


Now he can add game show host to that resume, but this is not something he should be proud of.


After watching the first 6 episodes (it is being double run locally with 2 ½ hours between the shows), I have realized that this guy is noisy, very loud and noisy at that.  Every time the guy says “Let’s Play Millionaire”, the camera zooms in on him as he yells out that phrase.  Honestly, this gets more than annoying especially after every commercial and every new player is introduced.


As far as the game itself goes, gone is the long table from last year that both Cedric and the player stood at.  I expect that it is used as a lunch table again.  Now the contestant and host stand at podiums facing each other.  Even though they look like they would have monitors on them, it appears that either they are not used as such or going to be used later as those.  For now, the questions appear as they always have on a large screen between 2 sections of the audience.  I wish they would go back to the chairs back in the Regis Philbin days but I don’t expect that to happen at all.  As far as the rest of the set goes, it is still the same look that has been there since the show’s inception on network television.


The only major change to the show is in the lifelines of the show.  Gone is one of the “Jump the Question” and in its place is a new “+1” lifeline.  This lifeline allows the contestant to bring down to the stage a person that the contestant brought with them.  This is great as long as the person has someone brought somebody with them as some people have no audience member with them.


Also gone from the show, are the category names for the first round of questions.  They were sort of stupid and added nothing  to game play value.  To me, this was the only positive change to the show.


Now finally, back to Mr. Crews and his wardrobe.  On one recent show, he wore a white shirt that had a red collar and matching red pants.  This looked absolutely horrible unless you are a clown.  I seriously expected him to pull out a big red nose and giant shoes to horrific.


The worst thing overall is that this show is being double run in many parts of the country.  Some places are running the episodes back-to-back while others like locally are running them with a break in-between.    Either way, once a day is more than enough of this annoying host.


If this show expects to make it to a 14th year, here are my recommendations:

  • Scrap the tired set. It really needs a refreshing.  Certainly with all the money saved by not giving away the million dollars could be used to make a new set.
  • Start a completely new game format. Yes, this is what the game is known for, but it can be tweaked to a completely level.
  • Polish the host to not being annoying. There are certainly plenty of game show hosts that are unemployed who could use the work or return from retirement.  It is time to get somebody who can make this show be like those of game show heyday of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  If you remember those days, you will appreciate what I am saying here.


When I wrote this review last year of this show, I complained that the contestants were mostly black players.  This is not the case this year as there has been a fairly good mix of race and sexes of the contestants.  If there was one shining point to this season, this would be it.


Last year, I gave the show a score of 5.  My score this year has dropped because of the above mentioned complaints.  This show has much room for improvement since it has taken a couple of steps backward this year.


My score: 3




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