Friday, January 28, 2011

House off the market

After I had my house on the market for over a year with a Realtor who lives in my neighborhood and never got any offers, I put my house on the market with this "Move Up" realtor. All of the builder who work with him said he does what he says he is going to do. He told me he could sell my house in 45 days. He had a professional stager come in and took professional pictures. I did get a few showings and one offer. The offer was from some investor who offered me 50% of my asking price. Apparenly, he was doing that to all houses in my neighborhood looking for the one seller who was despirate. The day I took my house off the market a Realtor called and was like, "My client LOVES your house and really wants to see it. I told them I was done and they house was off the market. I explained that after a year and a half and dropping the price of my house to less than I paid for it, I was tired and ready to just keep it and refinance it. I had held of refinancing this house because my realtor told me not to. Can you imagine all the money I would have saved if I refinanced earlier? This realtor called my realtor and I agreed to one last showing. We cleaned for 2 days straight. The people came and left. I got feedback from these people who basically told me they were going with another house. I have a feeling they decided to peek at mine and compare it to some of the other houses that were repos to see which was the better deal.

I am glad we are off the market. My oldest son reminded me that he graduates from High School in 5 years. Amazing how time flies. I guess I can hang loose for a little while. I plan to install a sprinkler system and do some upgrades, like a tile backsplash and replace the sink in the 1/2 bath downstairs. I would love to install solar but do not think my HOA is going to allow me. I will probably have to end up getting my attorney to contact their attorney and hash it out. I told my current realtor that if he sees the market change to let me know that I could go back on the market in a moments notice.

New Years Resolution

I turn 40 this years and I have decided that I finally going to start working out more frequently that I have been as of late. I dumped my Gold's Gym Membership after Gold's told me they were upping their membership fees and they were going to start doing a bi-weekly debt. They also said they spent 17 million on renovations. They apparently spent 17 million on renovations; but, I have yet to see any changes. My membership had been $25 and ended up at almost $40. The closest location that was open 24 hours was William Canon and Mopac. After I get home, why would want to drive back into Austin to work out?

Planet Fitness had a deal where it was no money to join and $20 a month. They are 24 hours a day Monday through Thursday. They do close early on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is a no frills gym that has free tanning and free massage chairs. You can also get half price drinks at their gym, which are a little cheaper than connivence store prices. I joined up and started on the track to a healthier lifestyle. My first gold is to drop 30 pounds. The second goal is to run a 5k. There are your typical cast of characters that you normally find at any gym, The "Lollygagger", the guy who sits on a machine and looks like he is going to use it and waste time looking around. The "I have two more sets guy", the guy who is working at a machine and is doing sets. He might walk away for a few minutes, but do not dare grab his machine away from him. He will run over and remind you he has a few more sets and can not be bothered. You can forget trying to work in with either one of those characters. They will remind you that, "They got their first." There are big yellow signs with the rules at this gym. I have seen a few folks answer their cell phone while working out. Now who is calling that it is so important for you to answer your phone and talk to them the whole time you are working out, especially when you now that cellphones are not allowed on the gym floor. These people are the same people who will answer their phones in the bathroom and have a conversation.

I guess I can not complain too much. The gym membership is inexpensive. I just put my head phones on and do my workout. We will see how this gym thing goes. I can already feel my clothes fitting much better.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The soul sucking part time tech support job has come to an end.

Right before Christmas, I was let go from my part time tech support job. The company was called Telenetwork. They did DSL support for Centurytel and a few other ISP's. This place is run by a bunch of kids who are totally clueless. My Team Lead was a good guy. He was freshly married with one child and in college. I had been doing support longer than some of these kids had been alive. This job was a soul sucking job. Customer's would always whine and complain. You would ask them simple questions and they would act like they were not sure what you were talking about. I got to the point where I was using remote access to fix most of their issues. The biggest complaint was the customer service surveys. They would get one every call. You would get negative comments based on a previous tech's incompetence. One lady called it and whined the whole time I was trying to help her. I finally put her on hold, and submitted a trouble ticket for her. The second issue is the pay is too low for tech support. They start you out at $8 an hour and offer you $1 more if you work nights. If you get a Team Lead that likes you, you can get him to promote you rather quickly. Even when I was let go, I was still barely making $12 an hour. I could easily walk into a tech support department and they would start me at least $15 an hour. I guess its all the turn over they have. It is a non stop hiring and firing feast over there. Third, I loved the fact that they terminated me via email. Where is the sense in that? I guess its less stress on them. I knew my days were numbered. I did not think it would happen when it did. Forth, it took them a year and a half after promising me from day one that I could work from home. They almost told me I was not going to be able to because I was only part time.

On a positive note, the extra cushion of money working part time was nice. I was able to buy a new stove and refrigerator and pay cash for it. I liked the idea of having an emergency fund just in case. I found another company that lets people do remote support and pays them by the job. Not a bad gig at all. The down side is that the training is long and boring. It is al web based. You do a module and have to fax in these forms to show you did complete it. I did a Webinar with one of the trainers and you could tell it was another bunch of young 20 somethings working there. They were totally unprofessional. The trainer kept telling me she was hungry and she wanted to go outside and smoke. It will be interesting to see how long this job goes. Will be nice to work a few extra hours when I want.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More confessions of a Tech Support Rep.

I am sitting here waiting for my shift to end. I get a call from a lady who is in an outage area. What is funny is there is a message on the line they call in that there is an outage. You would think they would hear that message and go, "Ah! Internet is down. I will try later." They still wait for a tech to get on the line, only to be told, "There is an outage, I am not sure when it will be back up."

Tonight, this lady asks me, "I am not sure if you ever heard of the this thing called the XBOX?" I only have 2 boys. My oldest lives for Xbox live. It makes me wonder if this lady thought I lived under a rock or something.

Another guy calls in and asks if the outage is still going on. I politely told him it was. He tells me, "I am able to get on and it has been working." I asked him if there was still a message on the phone stating there was an outage. He tells me the message was still there. I guess perhaps he thought if I said it was working, he would be good to go and be able to get online. If the message says its down still, what makes you think I am going to tell you any differently? This guy then wants to know why he can get online during the outage. I was ready to reply with something sarcastic like, "It is all that porn you are looking at sir!" I tell him, I am not sure because I have no technical information as to why he is able to get online. I explain perhaps they might be getting close to resolving the issue. He then tells me, "You are too expensive and you are going to lose customers!!" I could only hope that happens. It would make my life much easier in dealing with clueless people who are not very technically literate who want to whine and complain about their internet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I was sick this weekend.

I went to East Texas to see some family, which was nice. I came home Sunday and was sick as a dog. I had some sort of 24 hour bug. I was running a fever, had chills, and felt nauseous. I still felt bad Monday, left work early and crashed for about an hour before going to my second job. I got to my second job and realized I was not going to make it the whole shift. I got a chance to go home since I was sick.

I came home, took a hot shower since I still had chills and passed out. I woke up in the middle of the night sweating because I had put a blanket on me because I had been cold earlier. I drank some Gatorade G2 and passed back out. The next day, I am fine.

I have been trying to take some stuff I bought at the Vitamin Shoppe to help me get whatever bad stuff I had in my system out. I love it when on the bottle or container it says, "Great Tasting" or "Tastes Great". You know this is a sign that it probably tastes nasty. I end up buying this stuff called Greens Today ( ). This stuff has 7 serving and is a powder that you mix to water or juice. I get back to work and mix it up in bottle with water. I start drinking it and this stuff tastes like I am drinking water mixed with grass clippings. It is really bad. This stuff says it has "Strawberry" flavoring to it. There is no Strawberry in this. Its gritty and tastes like tea that is really strong. I am tempted to mix it with some juice to see if its any better.

I love the line on the back of the container, "Blend, Shake and Enjoy". You apparently can give this to kids too. My kids will not drink anything green, nor anything that tastes as rancid as this. I should go send the company my review of their "wonder drink".

Shopping a Big Lots the other day

I am at Big Lots with my boys and I over hear this guy on a cell phone. This guy was dressed like he worked construction. He was on a cell phone and I over heard him telling the person he was talking to that he was "Panhandling" at night and working during the day. I am all for people trying to get ahead in life working a second or third job to make ends meet. I was totally amazed that this guy bragged that he was doing this to make extra money.

I am always willing to go out of my way to help someone out. I am just amazed this guy was bragging that he was sitting on a street corner with a sign trying to get people to feel sorry for him so he can make an extra buck. I guess those stories you hear about these folks who put on dirty clothes, get out of their Mercedes-Benz to go beg for some money because its tax free are pretty much true.

On weekend, I saw one homeless person go eat and another took his street corner. There were 4 of them on each corner. It was like a job to them. It much have been shift change. One of the homeless guys was directing the other homeless people to their corner and one went on break.

On the Dudley and Bob show (KLBJ FM 93.7), a homeless man called it and admitted to Dale Dudley that "panhandling" was a pretty good job for him. He was making all of his money tax free, he had a place to stay with a little place to make food and made about $1600 a month doing that. He also was very proud that he had beat the system and making it on his own.

I guess I will have to start looking at homeless standing on street corner's in a different light now. I am still going to do what I can to help the less fortunate; but, in my mind, I will always wonder if I am getting duped or not by someone who is trying to make an extra buck by "appearing" like they are homeless.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More confessions of a Tech Support rep

It has been awhile since i have written anything about my lovely part time gig. I can not complain. It is easy money. It will pay for the tile going in my house and to have my house painted. The issue with the Doctor who basically wanted me to be fired was a blessing in disguise. It raised my profitability. My Team Lead basically told me I was on cruise control. He still wants to go days. There is a young guy named Dustin that I hope gets the position. He is a good guy and has been with the company over 2 years.
I have been opting to leave early pretty much every time I work. This is going to cause me to work at this place longer that I would want because my paychecks from this place are smaller than they normally are.

What drives me nuts about this part time gig?

1) This place is full of kids that work there while going to school. There is drama galore.
2) The lady that monitor's our calls from Centurytel is not a real tech at all. She reads from a script to see if we hit all the points. What is interesting is that when she first started, we were all getting "Good Calls" on pretty much every monitor she did. Now, she takes off for stuff which is totally untrue. I now look at these monitors as comedic relief.
3) They have promised we could work from home every since I started in January. The new phone system is in place but still we are at the "hurry and wait point".
4) The people calling in whine and complain about the silliest things. All they need to do is get on the phone, let me know what the problem is and let me fix the problem. They do not need to keep calling in about the same issue if we have trouble tickets in for no DSL sync or slow speeds.
5) Dial up customers and DSL customers who are signed up for 256K/128K and cry because their connection is too slow. Dial up customers need to go with DSL and those DSL customers need to upgrade their speed package.
6) Customers who call in who want me to go outside my scope of support because they have screwed up their system. I love when folks call up and tell me they have viruses and want me to fix it, or they have installed some program that screwed up their machine and they are like, "Well, you are my internet provider." I will admit I have gone out of scope of support to fix an issue for a few customers, just because they were nice and cordial with me and I figured if I punted the call back to the manufacturer they would get the run around.
7) They need to seriously pay their techs better. My Team Lead told me about this company who hires their techs who work from home from day one and pay them about $5 more than hour than what they start out at.
8) There is a web filter at this place. It is not too hard to get around it. There was talk about allowing higher level reps outside of the filter, provided you were not on probation for points. That has yet to happen.
9) This company is on a "points" system. They need to do away with points. If a person calls in all the time, or is constantly late, it needs to be at the discretion of Team Lead to put that person on probation or terminating the employee.

I ran into one of the recruiters when picking up my kid from daycare. I had to be careful what I said to her about the job. I did not want to bite me in the butt later on. She asked me if I had met the Network Admin before. I had not met him in person but knew who he was. What is funny is my first week at the job, I was able to get behind the firewall. This guy pretty much does things backwards. I am not sure if it because he does not know what he is doing or perhaps maybe that is the way he learned how to do it.

Overall, I know my days at this place are numbered. There is going to be a time where I get fed up and just walk out, never to return. I would hope that I would be done with my projects before that happens.

This is why Google must have taken the short bus.

I am a Database developer/Data Miner at my job. I am constantly on the look out for fraud patterns diligently work at ways to stop it immediately. I am fairly good at my job. One year, I saved my company over 4 million dollars and helped them to recoup that over 4 million just on one product alone.

When I emailed Google about a website they were hosting on Blogger that was basically selling gift cards bought with stolen credit cards, this is the "canned" response I got.

Thank you for your note. Please note that Blogger is a provider of content
creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to
create blogs, but we don't make any claims about the content of these
pages. We realize this may be frustrating and we regret any inconvenience
this may cause you. In cases where contact information for the author is
listed on the page, we recommend you working directly with this person to
have the content in question removed or changed.

In cases where the author is anonymous, please note that in accordance
with US state and federal law, it is Blogger's policy to only provide a
user's contact information pursuant to a valid third party subpoena or
other appropriate legal process.

The Blogger Team

In cases like these, all I have to do is identify myself and contact their support team as well as their legal department. I usually do not have to pull out the big guns and get our former cop who works in Corporate Security to contact them directly. I am amazed that Google would allow fraud to take place on their website. What if it was something threatening to nationality security? Is Google going to allow fraud to take place on their website and try to wipe their hands clean with it? I am all about the First Amendment right to free speech. I can talk about my thoughts on here and rant and rave about whatever. You do have to be careful what you say on Blogs and on the internet because it could come back to haunt you. Companies are becoming more savvy and googling potential applicants to get a glimpse inside their lives.

Thank God I have friends in high places. I am sure whoever wrote me the "canned" response was some person sitting in a cubicle in India. What is even funnier, they did not even sign it with a name.

Google needs to wise up, they are starting to act like Microsoft.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More confessions of a Tech Support rep

The other night I get a phone call from a guy who was telling me he was a Neuro Surgeon and had been in surgery for the last 3 days. He had just gotten home and noticed his DSL was down. "No problem. What lights do you have on the modem?", I politely asked. The light status will usually tell me what is going on with the DSL connection. The doctor then tells me he is in a black out and the only thing on is his generator. He also states that his whole neighborhood is without power. I then asked him, "Do you think perhaps because your neighborhood does not have power, that might be cause of your internet problems?" He agrees with me and tells me he just wants me to notate his account, which I do notate his account. He hangs up with me and I go on to the next call.

I later find out that he has called back two more times to get a ticket put in because he does not have service. A ticket should never be put in if you have an outage area. The ticket would be immediately rejected back. He decides after his 3rd call that I was very rude to him and decides he wants to complain to my team lead that if he does not fire me on the spot, he is going to talk to his attorney. My team lead who is very laid back comes and tells me, "I do not care about this moron. He needs to get a clue." He then proceeds to tell me he is going to document it in my file in case the attorney does call in and tells me he is going to take me off that call group. I am fine with that all because that particular call group is a nightmare to work anyway. He kinda blew off this guy as another caller calling in to whine and complain.

I find out later on that the documentation that he put in made it seemed like I dropped the ball and basically he made me out to be the bad guy. I was in total disbelief. Instead of backing me up, my team lead basically said that I should have put in a ticket and I could have handled the call better. I will agree I probably could have handled the call better and not been so short with this guy. If you are going to call in and the first words out of your mouth is a bunch of complaining, things are going to go downhill real fast. Needless to say, I was still talking calls from the call group a week later.

On Monday night, I rolled in and the first call I got was from that call group. I go to sign in and amazingly enough they had pulled my access to their portal. I was set to take the calls still but had no tool to track the calls. I had to put calls back in the que. When callers have been waiting on hold for more than 10 minutes, they are not very nice about having to go back into the que. Secondly, I would like to know how I am supposed to track these calls now that I do not have a tool to do so. I alerted the Floor Manager who basically told me he did not have "Provisioning" access. What is ironic is, I can take test to take these calls and it will automatically provision those calls to me ; but, they can not take me off that call group. I ended up signing out of my phone, emailing my Team Lead and walking out before my shift was up. The only word I got from the Floor Manager was "I will back you up." What does that mean? If I can not do my job, I am going to bail. It is not like I need this gig. The pay sucks for DSL tech support reps anyway. The only reason I took this job was to make extra money to pay off some debt and to help make some money to install new flooring in my house. They have also been promising to allow us to work from home since January of this year. I have yet to see that happen.

I have decided to start looking for a replacement part time gig that I can work 5 days a week that does not cut into my sleep schedule where I am sleeping in shifts like I do now, where I can make just enough money so I can knock out the floors and other projects that I need to put my house on the market. I have a Masters degree in Computer Science. I am not sure why I am sitting at a tech support job where they hire college kids because its cheaper for them. I have decided I am going to be a part time professor at an Online University. I figure if I can get my foot in the door at University of Phoenix, I can take Doctoral classes as well and get my Ph D.

I work tonight at 11pm. We will see how it goes. If they still have things screwed up. I am walking out again and will not come back unless they fix my provisioning or I might just not come back period.

Friday, August 01, 2008 trying to pass a less than 1 star hotel for a 3 star hotel.

I took my boys to Houston to get out of town for a few days. I decided to book a Hotel via since I had good luck with it previously. The downside of Hotwire is sometimes you get a less than desirable room. In Dallas, I got a room at the Wyndham which is a nice hotel but the rooms are usually near the elevators and all you hear all night is the roar of the elevator. I had figured for a quick trip to Houston. I had planned to got Galveston but could not find anything for under $149 a night and that included these "Mom and Pop" dive hotels that usually cost around $50 a night. I have family in Houston I could have stayed with, but did not want to impose on them. I checked Hotwire and they had a 3 star hotel for $65 a night. I figured this was a pretty good deal and I almost did not book it since the Radisson was offering their hotel deal for a few dollars more but had free hot breakfast. When you are traveling with 2 boys, a hot breakfast at a hotel can save you money. I decided to book the Hotwire hotel for 2 nights and wound up with a Econo Lodge. I would like to know when Econo Lodges started offering 3 star accommodations? I do have a travel agent license and I am quite familiar with Hotel ratings. At best, Econo Lodge is a 1 star. I had a birthday party for my Cousin's daughter in New Braunfels where I was going to get to see all my cousins and my aunt and uncle. I went to the birthday party and left for Houston about 2:30PM. I get to this hotel which is near Nasa and it had changed Hotel names a few times. My GPS had it listed as a Quality Inn and Suites. I go to check in and the two ladies working behind the counter did not seem to know what was going on. They give me my room and they proceed to tell me it is a Smoking room and it is the only room they have available. I explain I have 2 kids and my kids have allergies. The smoking room would not be acceptable. They told me I would need to call Hotwire to dispute the charges since they already charged my account. I immediately hand them back their hotel key. I did make a point to go see just how bad of a "smoking" room it was. It was on the back side of the hotel in the "ghetto" section. There were a few shady looking folks also staying in the same area. I grabbed my MacBook, used their internet and booked the Radisson near the airport. I check in at the Radisson and it much nicer than the Econo Lodge. The room is much bigger, plus the amenities were a lot nicer. I proceeded to call Hotwire and waited on hold for 20 minutes. I finally get a rep who is very rude and inconsiderate. She berates me and explains when I clicked on the accept button on their site, I was agreeing to their terms. I politely explain that I was offered a 3 star hotel for $65 and Econo Lodge is not even a 1 star hotel. She told me they had reps who had visited the hotel physically and it warranted at least a 2 1/2 rating. That is still not the 3 star that they offered me. Secondly, this hotel was not even a 2 1/2 star because 2 1/2 star hotels usually have a restaurant attached to it and this one did not and they usually offer hot breakfast and this hotel only offered a Continental breakfast. I had explained that I was a licensed travel agent and would put my license on the line that this hotel was not even a 2 1/2 star hotel. The rep basically told me I was screwed and hung up on me.

First of all if you are going to shaft customers like that, why even have have a customer service department? She could have given me the benefit of the doubt and offered me some sort of credit. She could have said, "I am sorry to hear that sir. I can offer you a credit on your next stay using Hotwire." She could have even offered me a gift card for a free meal somewhere and I would have probably given them the benefit of the doubt. What is interesting is that I noticed that Hotwire was recently sued because they were doing the same thing, offering 3 star hotels and "bait and switching" with 1 and 2 star hotels. Here is the link:

and here is another unhappy Hotwire customer forum/viewtopic.php?t=591775

I am going to dispute the charges with my bank and will never use Hotwire ever again. I will also make it a point to tell folks not to use Hotwire either because it is only going to save them headaches later. I can only imagine what would have happened if I was traveling overseas or perhaps out of state? I might have not been so lucky finding another place to stay for the night. It is like the old adage says, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."