Breaking News: Spectrum Finally Lands…with a Thud!

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Breaking:  I interrupt this blog to bring the following post.

Spectrum has arrived as the new provider replacing Time Warner Cable (TWC).  

While their ads are touting it as something new and better, it is really crap.  I am hear to cut through the clutter and reveal the current truth of this provider.

On the surface, the only major changes seem to be just the rebranding of the name.  However, for those who previously had Charter as their provider may not be happy with what the TWC moniker brought to them.  Even worse, is what has been taken away from TWC users.

I found my first problem last week after the changeover when I could no longer get one of the channels I had previously been receiving on our DVRs.  So I decided to call and see what they could do for me since rebooting the box didn’t solve the problem.

And now let the nightmare begin.

After speaking to 8 (yes, 8) different people over the course of 1 hour and 40 minutes, I had no solution to my problem.  During the time I was on the telephone, I think I was left in limbo as the phone rang back a couple of times and someone else answered.  Each time I had to explain my problem again and again.

Some of the people were techs, customer service, and even one was just a general operator.  Some also identified themselves as employees of Spectrum while others identified themselves as employees of Time Warner Cable.  Apparently, this company is still severly fractured as the results that I received were embarrassing at best.  To make matters worse was that I asked the same question to every person I spoke with and got at least 3 different responses.  Nobody seemed to know a solution and were just guessing at a possible solution.

I finally ended the call with someone in billing and I really expected some sort of credit to my account for the frustration I recieved, but no such luck.

As far as customer service goes, they failed worse than TWC ever did.

However, the loss of one missing channel was just the beginning.

It seems that Spectrum has 3 levels of service: basic, silver, and gold.  To receive the most channels, you need the gold package.  But if you want the following channels among others:

  • Esquire
  • The Word Network
  • Jewish Life Network
  • Disney Channel West
  • Nick 2
  • New York News 1
  • CNN International

You are screwed as these channels are no longer available in any Spectrun package.  So someone is paying nearly as much as previously but with fewer channels.  In fact some channels that used to be part of TWC basic package requires the Spectrum gold package to receive them.  As far as I am concerned, Spectrum has taken a major step backward in cable service. I like to call this classic “bait and switch”.

They are also promoting their internet service now with starting speeds of 60Mbps.  In the past, I was paying extra for the TWC turbo speed.  With that service, I was averaging about 25Mbps.  After the switchover and rebooting my modem (my choice to reboot), I was getting at best a top download speed of about 38Mbps, nowhere near the 60Mbps that they are promising.  I decided not to make another phone call and waste more time with air incompetent employees.  I have been testing my speed daily and I seem to be averaging about 28Mbps, only a slight increase from the TWC service.  Maybe it might be better at say 2am, when I used to do some of my internet surfing, but I haven’t done that in months.

I cannot speak for how the phone service has gotten better or worse since I don’t have that feature.

By checking out the Spectrum Facebook page, it seems they are bombarded with complaints from around the country especially from former TWC customers.  Apparently, I am not the only dissatified with their service.

Given that the only other choices in my area is satellite and with no competition, Spectrum has to be my service.  I am hoping that the service improves and that the channels removed will be replaced and that the internet speed improves.

Currently, I have reservations of recommeding Spectrum service.  

It may be a new day according their television ad, but the dark storm clouds are prevalent.

My score:  2. (based upon current level of service)

The Most Wonderful Time of Year?

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Note:  This week’s post is being presented in both blogs as I feel it is important to interest all my audiences.

 

This SHOULD be the most wonderful time of year for retailers as many of them bask in the profits of all their hard work leading up to this time of year.

 

However, that idea of SHOULD for many is more like NEVER.

 

Just ask employees at the 13 Tim Horton’s locations that suddenly closed up here in Maine a couple of weeks ago.  No warning just closed down all from Waterville down to Kittery, Maine including two here in the South Portland area.

 

Or you could ask those people who work at the Gap stores in the Bangor Mall or Maine Mall about their future as these stores will be closing in mid-January.  I know that closing the one at the Maine Mall will leave a huge GAP (pardon the pun) in one whole section of the mall.  I doubt that will be filled anytime soon.

 

Speaking of vacancies, the Friday before the Black Friday, our family decided to take our annual trip to 3 New Hampshire malls in one day.  It seems that every year this trip gets shorter and shorter because the stores just keep getting worse and worse as I will explain.

 

The day started heading to the furthest location first of the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua NH.  This mall usually takes a little time to get through as it is a 2 story mall and doing 2 levels take a little time.  This mall has changed very little from last year’s visit and it is the only mall on my trip that still had an open RadioShack store, although there were no customers in the store at the time nor could I find an employee in the store as I walked by it.  The store appeared well stocked given that this is one of about a third of its remaining stores.  Most all of the stores in this mall were of national names with only a couple of local shops within it.  This mall also appeared mostly occupied by stores with only a couple of small vacancies, including a couple of vacancies in the food court.  Overall, I spent about 2 hours in total at this mall.

 

We then headed to the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester.  This mall takes almost as long to get through even though it is a single story mall because it is so large.  No sign of RadioShack could be found where it used to be, but the area is now occupied by a women’s clothing store.  The area near the center court, which last year had a then-vacant Disney Store now has been completely remodeled and now houses a shiny Apple Store.  A section just to the right of that location is vacant, which along with a couple of others are the only vacancies in this mall.  Most of the stores in this mall were of name brand national stores with only a couple local retailers in there.  All together probably spent about an hour and half at this mall, which is about average for a mall of this size and stores that I really wanted to visit.  However, one store missing in this mall that was in the other 2 malls I visited was a FYE store.  Apparently if you were looking for videos then Best Buy is your only choice at this mall.

 

Finally, we headed back to the Portsmouth area to wind up our shopping trip.  Before arriving in the Portsmouth area, we stopped at the Target in Greenland, which is about 5 miles or so from the rest of the Portsmouth shopping area.  Certainly not what I would call close at least not as close as what I am used to around where I live in Maine.

 

When we arrived in Portsmouth (actually Newington area), I noticed that the Kmart in one the plazas, which was vacant last year, still has not seen a new occupant since.  Our first stop was the Fox Run Crossing shopping area.  This area, which years ago was known as the Newington Mall, is lined with stores like Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Staples, and Kohl’s.  I visited the first 3 stores but didn’t walk all the way down to Kohl’s, even the distance is no further from one end to the other as when it used to be a full indoor mall.  Maybe I am just getting way too old to walk that far anymore.

 

I purchased my annual diary and calendar at Staples down there, my only purchase that I ever make with that company anymore only because they are the only store that carries it, otherwise I would never do any business with them.  Overall, I spent about an hour shopping at all 3 stores that I wished to visit in this plaza.

 

It was then off around the block to the Fox Run Mall.  Needless to say that this mall created the most shock of any mall I visited on my trip.  Gone from this mall was one of the few CVS stores located in malls that I ever visit.  This store was always busy and surprised to see it gone.  In its place was a boarded up area with an indication that H&M store would be coming soon in the “Fall 2015”.  If my indication is right, they probably missed that date and possibly not even coming to the mall at all.  Unfortunately, for this mall, there are several boarded up vacancies with no indication of any new tenants coming in.  The only place not boarded up is the spot where RadioShack was, just a curtain covering the opening of the store with a bench sitting in front of it.  A couple of other late stores in this mall still look like their past tenants, but have new tenants.  One which is a sport memorabilia store occupies the old Suncoast Motion Picture Company store that vacated about 5 years ago and it has never been remodeled.  Walking by this store reminds me of just how much money I used to spend in this video store over the years…oh the memories there.  The other non-remodeled store is the now vacant GM Pollack jewelry store now occupied by a local store selling cellphone accessories.   Overall, this mall is about 1/3 local stores, 1/3 national stores, and 1/3 approximately vacant.  This sort of split is reminiscent of how the Newington Mall was before it died and was eventually razed.  If the Fox Run Mall doesn’t get more national retailers, I see it getting the same fate.  Overall, I spent a mind-numbing 20 minutes in this mall as it offered nothing to really shop in except a lot of disappointment.

 

So overall, the trip saw a lot of changes but to the average shopper would also present a lot of disappointment in some of the shopping areas.

 

This leads me to the next idea of what happened on Black Friday.  Word is that nationally retail sales were down about 11% from the previous year (or for those keeping track about 25% over the last 3 years total).  It is understandable why this is happening:  no good places to shop and those that are good just didn’t have in stock what people want.

 

From my own experience over the 3 day shopping weekend, I found no problems parking at the local Target, Walmart, and at the Maine Mall nor did I find any of the 3 places overly busy when I arrived to each in the early afternoon.  Walmart was the least busy even to the point that I was able to park about 10 rows up from the entrance.  Of course, the couple of things that I wanted to buy was readily available for purchase in substantial quantities even though they were advertised specials.  So either, the stores didn’t sell that much or had more inventory than they expected to.

 

This leads to the question of what happened this year.  Of course most people are shopping online and buying in store as a last resort.  This could spell curtains for struggling retailers who need to do well this year or will end up in the history books.

 

However, there are some signs of stores that won’t make it another year.  For example, JCPenney, which for years, have advertised free Disney snow globes to their early customers announced this year would be the last year of that program.  Apparently they may be thinking that this will be their final holiday season.  Other stores at risk include the previously mentioned Gap, which may close even more stores, Sears/Kmart (closing more stores), and Staples, which continues to shed stores to save themselves and prepare for a possible merger with OfficeMax/OfficeDepot.

 

Finally, I would like to mention that I really have not missed leaving retail 6 years ago.  After spending nearly 25 years in retail, I am seeing that retail as we know it is quickly falling apart and as I have written in the past malls are becoming a thing of the past.  It would be sad for people of today to tell their grandchildren of how retail of today becomes obsolete tomorrow just like downtown retail of 40 years ago no longer exists.

 

For everyone, what used to be the most wonderful time of year is no longer as such anymore?

 

But the real question is:  Is it too late to get back to old-fashioned retail again?

 

I believe it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Was Not SO Perfect

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Note:  This week’s post is being posted in both of my blogs.

 

Today is being called “Back to the Future” Day as it celebrates the date notable in the second movie of the trilogy.

 

One of the items in the movie was a product called “Pepsi Perfect”.  To celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary, PepsiCo released a limited number of a special edition “Pepsi Perfect” product collectively boxed.

 

This product was limited to 6500 units and was to sell online for $20.15 for residents of the U.S. PepsiCo’s website did not state what online retailers would be selling this product but it was later discovered that the retailers were Walmart.com and amazon.com.

 

Of course, all was well and good to try to snag one of these bottles at the stroke of midnight on the east coast.  I had my computer on and launched to search on twitter to see who was selling the item.

 

Quickly, I found myself shocked when the #PepsiPerfect hashtag was trending as the product was already sold out at both online retailers well before the official launch time/release date.

 

Apparently, this product started selling online at approximately 10:15pm last night, a full hour and 45 minutes before it was supposed to be sold.  Twitter was exploding with comments showing anger from dozens of people who felt cheated that the two retailers started selling the product before the official release date.

 

So what exactly went wrong?  We may never know the answer to this question, but my thought is that someone decided to let it get released on the websites early unknowingly that it had a somewhat specific release date/time.

 

It would have been better if PepsiCo had announced a specific time of release and list of retailers who were going to be selling the product.  By not doing this, the retailers made up their own minds as to when to sell the item.

 

This brings me to the point of my blog.  Release dates are important and retailers (online and physical stores) should strictly adhere to them.  To be fair to everyone, the guidelines should be met at all times and not waver from them.  Companies produce these rules to keep everything fair for everyone and when someone violates that, the result is nothing but anger which has spread across the internet.

 

Unfortunately, there are no winners in this whole situation except for the few who managed to score one of the few available collector bottles.  I, however, will remain disappointed as I missed out on this as well.

 

In a future post, I will discuss more about release dates and the awkwardness they create and how now they are worse than ever.  As if anything could be worse than missing out on a collectible Pepsi bottle…

 

 

New Year, Old Problems?

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Well, here we are at 2015.

 

Did you notice any REAL differences from the year that past?

 

If you answered no, then you came to the right place.

 

If you answered yes, then you really came to the right place.

 

First off, let me say that this post is being placed into both of my blogs as I am only writing one year-end summary this year instead of two.

 

For those of you who read the annual report that I posted last week while I was off, let me say that I am more than disappointed by the results.

 

On the “Staples” and “Rants” blog, it seemed that more people were interested in my relationship with Tanya going south rather than most everything else.  It was sad that she decided to block me from all social media after her marriage.  Apparently, she never really cared about me whatsoever.  I am not the least bit surprised by that at all.

 

Both blogs also saw a lackluster number of comments to each.  Even though I limited the period for comments to 30 days after a post has been made, it still seems that I should have received more comments than I did.  Maybe it was because some people decided not to post rude comments as they knew they would be deleted anyway.

 

For all the bad things that my report stated, I am proud that the blogs continue to gain followers.  Granted the numbers are not huge yet, but I really would like to see the number close to 100 followers by this time next year.

 

Now onto the breakdown of each blog:

 

First we have the “Staples” blog.

 

The biggest topic of the year without a doubt was hacking.  I predicted the Staples hack about a year ago and by year’s end, Staples finally admitted that it was indeed hacked into.  However, their claim is that only about 115 stores were affected and a little over a million customers were affected.  I believe that Staples will eventually come clean with the real numbers as I believe that this was indeed a full company wide hack job.

 

I expect that hacking will continue to be a major topic in 2015 as companies will continue to do stupid things that will allow hackers to do their dirty duty.  With hacks such as the celebrity hacks and the Sony hack is only the beginning of something much bigger that will happen.  I really hate the idea of having to report this stuff as it just gets to be monotonous and just gets to be downright boring.

 

Besides the ongoing hacking scandals, I plan on discussing other topics as well.  My upcoming calendar includes (subject to change):

  • The continued decline of RadioShack.
  • The Night That Changed Everything.
  • org – Good Idea or Agenda driven.
  • Charity begins at home.

 

Along with these topics, I plan to continue my own story of my decline with the Staples Company.  After all, that was what this blog was originally set up as.  I don’t think I have actually strayed from my original goal, I just have taken many detours along the way and made several stops through this journey.  I am a long way from the end as if to say that there will actually be an end.

 

Now onto the “Rants” blog:

 

The major part of the blog this last year was dedicated to the continued decline of the Time Warner Cable service and how their so-called upgrades have caused more harm than good.

 

Certainly the political scene is scarred nationally and here in Maine by the onslaught of the republicans winning both the governorship again and taking control of the US Senate and the US House.

 

Probably the most popular topic of the year was my discussion of why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.  My belief is that some people can relate to what I am talking about and therefore I am continuing my story with a few more parts this year.

 

Television also was a topic of interest as well.  Some shows were complete failures while others have shined brightly.  Amongst my favorites are “Gotham”, the pre-Batman series and as I have mentioned before my absolute favorite show “Girl Meets World”.  This show blew me away with the Christmas episode reunion.  This is the way to do a reunion show and if you liked the older “Boy Meets World” series, the Christmas episode is a definite must-see.

 

I am less excited for the series “The Flash” as this show seems like it hasn’t completely broken away from the shadow of its birthmother of “Arrow”.  The crossover episodes were fun but the Flash may become a flash in the pan if the show doesn’t get more interesting.  They certainly have the villains from the comic books, but this show reminds me of the campy 1960’s Batman series.

 

Speaking of that series, it finally got its video release in 2014 in somewhat of grand style.  While this nearly $200 Blu-ray box set contains all 120 episodes and other special treats, it still is missing some episode content.  I still recommend this limited edition set despite its flaws.  A cheaper DVD box set also exists without all the extra products, but I still would ante for the better set while it is available.

 

So what is in store for 2015?  Here is a brief rundown of my possible topics:

 

  • The continuing story of why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.
  • TV Hits and Misses of the Season.
  • The biggest obituary of 2014 that was not reported.
  • Tag, Like, Share: A Dumb User’s Guide to Facebook failures.

 

Overall, 2014 saw its share of hatred against me.  From one person who wrote that I was a bad person and then stupidly liking that statement to the people who decided to unfriend me on Facebook and then not even having a logical reason why, this last year was a year of idiots showing their true colors.

 

I expect a better reception this year as things should get clearer in some aspects of my continuing drama and the drama of the rest of the world.

 

Speaking of getting clearer, next post will have my annual predictions as I once again bring out the crystal ball and look back on how I did last year and make new predictions for the year.  After that, the two blogs will hopefully separate into their own stories for most of the year.  I continue to plan on writing each blog on alternating weeks with the next post to be next week to both blogs.

 

Until next time, enjoy 2015.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

DUH!

 

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.

 

HUH?!?

 

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.

 

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.

Could Time Warner Be Reading This?

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Last time I mentioned that Time Warner Cable had discontinued the alphabetical listing in the guide.

 

Well, surprise in the last day or so, it has returned.

 

Also, I failed to mention last week that the star rating system has also been restored as well.  While the system is not perfect, it is still more of a guideline than nothing at all.

 

So is TWC secretly reading this blog as a guideline as to problems that exist and then try to correct them based upon what is written here?

 

That is unknown as the high definition/standard definition problem still exists and I see no easy solution to switching between them.

 

However, it does seem odd that the fixes that do happen appear shortly after my blog post.  Since nobody from the company seems to respond on this blog, I can assume that somebody somewhere may be passing along the information to TWC.

 

Either way, if somebody from the company is reading this, then I would make the following product suggestion:

 

Make Whole House DVR free.

 

The reason I say this is that the satellite companies already offer this service for free already and certainly would not take much effort for TWC to make this available to everyone with multiple DVRs.  It is already listed in the diagnostic screen so it would not be any difficulty to make this a standard free option.

 

Secondly, when I picked up my multiple DVRs at the cable company, the person at the counter said that the company would soon be having whole house DVR service available for free.

 

Whether this was a misstatement or a possible service idea is unknown.  The fact that it was said so positively made me think that they really wanted this service free, but changed their mind at the last minute.

 

With charges for everything now from the boxes to remotes, it would be appreciated if this simple addition would happen at no charge.  After all, the units are already network enabled.

 

Do I expect them to do this anytime in the near future?

 

If they want to make customers happy, then I would say yes.

 

However, given their past record, I don’t expect this to happen anytime in the near future.

 

Yet, if somebody at TWC is reading this, then you will make whole house DVR free as it is with everybody else and stop nickel and diming everyone to death.

 

 

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