Monday, August 14, 2006

Vonage and VoIP

I finally broke down and got a home phone with Vonage, figuring it would not hurt having a home phone so I would not have to use my cell phone when I call into conference calls for work. I had heard good things about Vonage so I figured what the heck? I tried calling 3 times in order to get service. Each time I got some Indian representative who was trying to sound American but could not understand normal English. The third time was a charm and got an Indian guy who acutely spoke GOOD English and was able to place my order. I received the package with the IP phone router and instructions on how to install it. It was fairly easy to set up and POOF! I was up and running. My big complaint with Vonage is they recycle their phone numbers because on a daily basis, I get phone calls from some girl who skipped town on her creditors and they think I am hiding her in my house. I asked one lady who called for this woman, "Does she owe you money? Because if she does she is LONG gone." My second complain with Vonage is their customer service reps are totally clueless. I had a minor issue with my voice mail and I had to call once again 3 times to finally get someone who had a clue what he or she were doing to get my voice mail situated. Ironically, that last guy was an Indian guy. The other problem with Vonage is they outsource much of their customer service people. It is very frustrating to call in and get some Indian person who does not understand you and you sit there for over 20 minutes trying to explain to the person what you are trying to do, repeating yourself 3 and 4 times. It has gotten to the point where if I ever have to call to speak to a rep and I get an Indian rep, I hang up and dial again until I finally get a US rep. When I had to call to speak about my voicemail problem, the rep would pick up the phone and I would say, "I have a question about my voicemail." They would respond, "You have a question with your voicemail?" Gee is there an echo in here? Please do not repeat my question. Secondly if you are going to answer my question, do not sit there and go, "Ahh... ah....mmm... ahhh." If you do not know, tell me "Sir, let me take a look at that for you." and then put me on hold.

I am amazed at home many companies out there that are moving to outsourcing because it’s more cost effective. I am all about saving the company money but if people hang up and keep dialing in to finally get a person that has a clue what is going on, how much money are you really saving? Secondly, please do not have some Indian representative trying to "sound" American. To me, that is a slap in my face. Perhaps I should start responding sounding like an Indian person when I get these people on the phone. I have seen too many people lose their jobs to outsourcing. What is ironic about it is that these outsourcing people think if a person loses their job in America, they can easily get another one and that is just not the case. I am not trying to single out anyone. It is not just Indian people. Its any company who outsources to another country and you get a rep on the phone that tries to sound like they are from here, yet can not understand words like "right" and "correct".

I will say with my bad experience with Vonage I am considering canceling my service with them. I would almost be willing to pay the extra $10 a month to Time Warner Cable for VoIP phone service because I know I am going to get a rep that is not outsourced and know that if I have a problem, they will respond quickly instead of having no idea what I am talking about when I ask a simple question about voicemail.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Cell Phone Jammers

If you are like me, you get sick and tired of seeing people driving in their cars on the highway, not paying attention. There are some I have almost had accidents with. A study released in April 2006 found that almost 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds of the event. The study, The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), breaks new ground. (Earlier research found that driver inattention was responsible for 25 to 30 percent of crashes.) The new study found that the most common distraction is the use of cell phones, followed by drowsiness. However, cell-phone use is far less likely to be the cause of a crash or near-miss than other distractions, according to the study. For example, while reaching for a moving object such as a falling cup increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 9 times, talking or listening on a hand-held cell phone only increased the risk by 1.3 times. The study tracked the behavior of the 241 drivers of 100 vehicles for more than one year. The drivers were involved in 82 crashes, 761 near crashes and 8,295 critical incidents.

My problem is these drivers cause traffic to clog up during rush hour. I use to joke, "Gee, just buy a $10 headset." I have run into people who tell me they refuse to use it because they can not hear and have admitted to talking on their phone while driving and almost getting into an accident. There is a company that sells a Cell Phone jammer that will cause these people to have "No Service" with a 10 meter radius. It would be great to get behind someone who is on the phone and have their service go out. Meanwhile, what if there is an emergency? You would not be constantly jamming their service. Besides, once you passed them in your car they would have service again. I have heard movie theaters starting to install these. In fact, Every sunday at church there is always someone's cell phone that goes off in the middle of the service. On pastor said to someone whose cell phone was ringing, "Better answer it, might be God calling you." The down side to these jammers is the price. I found a portable one for $249. There is a UK company that sells them too. I am sure the FCC would probably step in if a bunch of people came in and started jamming cell phones. Its a nice thought to be able to go, "Gee Mister, stop being so rude and inconsiderate and HANG UP AND DRIVE!" and have people have to start paying more attention to their driving, rather then being on the cell phone causing accidents.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

iPod repair

I finally broke down and purchased an iPod 2 gig. I have only had it a month when the docking cable go stuck and when I tried to wiggle it out the cable became frayed and came apart. I requested service from Apple who sent me a nice box within 48 hours of my request. I shipped it back to them and was told they would not fix it because the casing was damaged. They stated, "This type of damage is excluded from coverage under the Apple One (1) Year Limited Warranty or extended service contract, such as the AppleCare Protection Plan. The repair is pending your approval of the following quote for repair costs: 205.95 USD plus tax."
Yikes! $209.95? Thats more than I paid for my iPod Nano. I declinded the repair and having them ship it back to me. I found a few places on the web that would sell me the back casing for $20 if I needed it. Apparently its fairly simple to replace. That will volid my warranty with the Nano, but if I need to replace the casing, I am willing to take that chance. The other downside to that is that I will lose my engraving.. C'est La Vie. I will give Apple props for being on the ball and sending me a box to ship it to them and getting to looking at it soo quickly. It is a little disheartening that they will not fix the case because it was damaged before I got it. The upside is that is an easy fix and I can do it myself for 1/10th what Apple wants to fix it for.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Not on my side

I got in an accident on 07/06/06 with some young kid that thought he had a protected left green arrow and plowed into my car as I was entering the intersection. He called his mom who showed up with her neighbor. She was very nice and told me, "I appreciate you being such a gentleman with these kids." Ironically, I had not said a word to either one of them. What is even more ironic is that it is not the first time this moron had pulled the same stunt. On two other occasions, he had done the same thing. The cop that showed up at tha accident tried to be smart and say, "Oh, your car just needs a little buffing to get that out." I replied, "Sir, my car's bumper is on the ground. It needs a little more than buffing." The mom of the kid that hit me tried to offer to pay for my damages directly without getting insurance involved. I told her I would consider it. (Knowing that it would cost more money than they wanted to pay.)

I called the kid's insurance company that morning. (I will not mention names but I will say this, they are NOT on my side.) I immediately spoke to an adjuster who took my information and told me she would call me back once she spoke to the insured. I got a call back in 30 minutes and she told me I could take it to any body shop I wished. I had called my insurance company too when I got home after 1 AM that night. I decided to take my car to a place where my insurance and his insurance considers it a "5 star" body shop. I brought it in that day and got a rental. At first his insurance told me that they were not going to pay for a rental car over the weekend because my car was drivable. I was told by the Server Manager at the body shop that my car was NOT drivable. Since I drove a 2004 Honda Accord, the rental place gives me a Buick La Crosse. Nice car. Gas millage is awful in it. I can assure you, I did not get 30 miles per gallion highway. In fact, every other day I put $20 more in gas. I was going to fill it up by the fear was if I got my car back, then I would have a full tank in the rental. I made a few more calls to the insurance adjuster, who was great in getting back with me that day I dropped my car off, but then she dropped the ball.

I pick up my car about 3 weeks later because there was damage to the airbag sensor. Airbags did not deploy but had to get airbag service on it. The car looks great. You can not even tell anything had happend. The body shop did awesome work. I was thankful to get my car back finally. I was then told by the car rental that the insurance company had not approved the rental for the Buick. They gave me a compact rate. The car rental place had all along said that I am entitled to an equal car for whatever I orginally drove. I made the offer to bring the Buick back and they could have given me a compact but the car rental manager told me not to. I have called the adjuster 4 more times, left messanges and even went as far as calling her manager and left him a message. On top of that, the car rental place sent this company 4 messages through their system.

I am amazed at this insurance company's handling of my claim. They started off great but after the 2nd day, customer service went out the window. This insurance company is NOT on my side and if they are on your side, then I would seriously considering dumping them because they are worthless.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Use your freaking turn signals!

The 57 percent of American drivers who say they don't use their turn signals for changing lanes.
In a survey commissioned by Response Insurance, these were the reasons given:

· 42 percent said they don't have time.
· 23 percent said they are too lazy.
· 17 percent said they don't because they forget to turn it off.
· 12 percent said they change lanes to frequently to bother.
· 11 percent said it's not important.
· 8 percent said they don't because others don't.
· 7 percent said not doing it adds to excitement.

The survey also found 62 percent of men leave the turn signal alone when changing lanes; the number was 53 percent for women. Seventy-one percent of drivers ages 18-24 don't signal, but 51 percent of those 55 to 64 do.

I can assure you on my way to work and my way home I see countless people who drift into lanes, will cut through 3 lanes of traffic without staying in each lane for 3 seconds and do not use their turn signals. I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Turn Signals are NOT a factory option". I just wish people would be courteous enough to let people know you are going to change lanes instead of just jetting over with no warning and having me slam on my breaks because you are being impatient.

Sams Club to buy tires

So I just got my car out of the shop and its like 3 days later. I am driving to work and I got a flat. The front driver side tire shreded at the sidewall. I pulled over, changed the tire and headed back to work. I called around looking for the best possible tire deal. Sam's had the best deal on tires, so I called to make sure they could get my car in and out without it being too busy. They told me it would be after 1pm, so I took it to them after 1pm.

I get there at 1pm and there is a guy behind the counter who has NO clue what he is doing. I wait for almost 20 minutes for him to assist me. When it is my turn, I tell him I need tires for my car and he rings me up. He tells me it will be about 45 minutes and they will page me when I am done. I cruise around Sam's Club, checking out stuff I can buy, sit in the massage chair, go visit the Vision center about new glasses, swing by to get a drink and a pretzel. An hour and a half passes by and I roll over to the tire place to check to see if my car is ready. It is not in the garage, so I go to the counter to ask about it. There is the Loss Prevention Manager and this moron who cant figure out what he is doing refunding money to this guy who apparently they screwed up his tire purchase a few weeks ago. I noticed a Honda key just sitting there next to the computer. About 20 minutes passes and he looks down, "What the heck is this?" I respond, "If its a Honda key it is probably mine." He looks for my paper work and then gives me my key. No "Thank You" no NOTHING. I was like "Can I get a receipt?" Its in the car sir!" Now Mr. Moron has to raise his voice to me like I am the dumbass. I grabbed my key and walked out. The tires were on and my car drives great. The spare tire had been on it. Did they bother to put it in the trunk where it was? NO. It was just laid in the truck. I should have threw it through their window like that old Discount Tire commercial.

I am starting to realize that maybe Sam's Club isnt the best place for tires. I should have gone to Discount Tire or even NTB. They all price match and I sure they would have given me installation as cheap as Sams Club. Personally, I think Walmart makes it a habit of hiring morons so they can get some sort of Goverment deal on taxes because this is not the first time I had a run in with a moron at Walmart or Sam's, nor will it be my last.

Note to Sam's Club: Start giving intelligence tests before you hire stupid people. That would weed out much of the bad employees you have giving "wonderful" customer service.

Ahh thought SO!

No response from the fraudsters. The got nervous. Ironically, I got another email from some Russian guy who wanted me to accept payments for him and said in his email that it was safe from the FBI. Sure sure.. I believe that like I believe I need a hole in my head.