In Which I Buy A Phone

While I like Metro PCS phone service, they suck at selling phones.

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I ordered a phone from you on December 22 and paid for overnight shipping. I did this because one of your employees in one of your stores said it would save me a $15 fee they’re required to collect if you buy the phone in a store.

Since Monday the 24th was not a holiday, the phone should have shipped on the 24th and would have then been delivered on the 26th.

It did not ship on the 24th.

Santa did not bring it on the 25th. (Made the bad list again this year)

The phone did not ship on the 26th.

So I called Customer Service. More precisely, I tried to call.

My first call, I was on hold for 45 minutes before I gave up.

I checked the order online. The web site reported that the order was submitted. I already knew this because I received an email confirming my order was submitted. I wanted shipping details but none are there.

I called Customer Service again. This time, I wait another 45 minutes and about to hang up when someone comes on the line. I am not elated, it’s more of a grudging acceptance that the next level of frustration has now been reached. I give the young man the order number and he puts me on hold.

I wait in the virtual lobby with the Montovanni music and some woman repeating over and over how much she appreciates my patience. She must be on acid. Carlos comes back and tells me that the order has been submitted.

I tell Carlos, I don’t actually know #6596’s name but given his masculine voice and Mexican accent I decide he is Carlos, perhaps because it’s has the same letters as Carols, it may a holiday Freudian thing, but whatever. I tell Carlos that I know it has been submitted because I have read this on the web site and I have a confirmation email that tells me the same thing. Carlos asks me how he can help me. I say that I want to know where the phone is and when it will be shipped and arrive at my home with tick-tock precision like that parcel shipped to Russia by Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Carlos puts me on hold. I can imagine the panic in the room on the other side of the line, “He wants to know …!”

I am losing faith in Metro PCS as I wait and listen to the elevator music.

Carlos is back. He tells me that he does not know when the phone will be delivered. He says the order is at the warehouse and only the warehouse knows. So I ask Carlos if I can contact the warehouse. No. Can you contact the warehouse? Only by email, we can’t call them because we don’t have a phone number for them, in fact – Carlos tells me – they do not even know where the warehouse is located. I am thinking even Fort Knox’s location isn’t a secret.

I express my frustration at this state of affairs and Carlos gives me a well scripted apology. I can tell this gives him assurance that he is doing a good job of providing customer service and I can hear him grinning with pleasure at his competence.

He asks if there is anything else he can do for me?  I ask him what he thinks he HAS done for me.

Carlos repeats his apology.  I say if you can’t tell me when I am getting my phone then no there is nothing else you can do for me.

Carlos hangs up.

I drive to the local Metro PCS Corporate store (after I visit an affiliate store and am told they can’t help me) where I am told by a nice young lady with a Russian accent that she cannot tell me when the phone will ship or when it will arrive because they cannot see orders in the store which are made online. But she can email the warehouse for me and inquire. She promises that she or her manager will call by 3PM that afternoon. No, they do not know where the warehouse is located and cannot call there as they do not have a phone number.

I leave feeling like a Russian orphan lost in an archaic system.

On the morning of December 27th I check the computer to find that the phone has not shipped. I know this by looking at the web site again to see the status and it says, “submitted.”

I call again to customer support. I almost immediately get through this time, only five minutes on hold, and this time I get Jesus (#3026) this time with a thicker accent but sounding more self-assured than Carlos, I have hope.

Where is my phone, I ask him. He says, let me check. He does and he tells me the order was submitted. He reads the stock apology and tells me that he does not know when it will ship. He asks me if I want to cancel the order.  I say yes, I want to cancel the order and then I will go buy one from the Russian lady at the Metro PCS store who never called me back and pay the $15 charge. He says I can’t cancel the order. I say well why did you ask me if I want to cancel the order. He says well my computer won’t let me cancel it and he walks me through the steps of cancelling the order as if he is training me for his job and says, “See, it says unable to cancel.” I tell him that no I can’t see but while I know he is trying his best to help me I want a supervisor to speak to. I am going to get some action by gawd.

I am put on hold for fifteen minutes and then Jesus comes back on the line to apologize for the wait and to express his appreciation for my hold and to tell me that the supervisor is with another customer and will be with me shortly. I say thank you.

Another 15 minutes on hold. Jesus is back to say that his supervisor is too busy to talk to me and will have to call me if I would leave a number. I give Jesus the number and he says she’s going to call in 20-30 minutes.  I ask who will be calling and he says that he can’t give me her name or phone number or tell me if she was born female or is transgendered as they cannot give any identifying information about another agent and all they can give me about themselves is their booth number.

Jesus hangs up.

Several hours later she calls while I am talking to the Metro PCS store so I miss the call. She does not even leave a voice mail with a stock apology.

The Metro PCS store called me to inform me they got a snarky email from the warehouse. It read something like this, “This order was placed on a holiday weekend. It should have shipped on the 26th but did not due to a blizzard, it will ship today.” Technically, the phone was ordered on December 22nd which was loosely a holiday weekend, but not really because neither Friday the 21st nor Monday the 24th were holidays. Plus, the weekend before Christmas is not a holiday weekend at all for retail businesses like Metro PCS phone retailers, especially when Metro PCS sends out a special phone deal by text message on December 21.

At about 9PM on December 27th I received an email announcing the shipment of the telephone and giving me a FedEx tracking number. I learned from looking at the Fed Ex web site that the warehouse is in Indianapolis, IN, and the phone has been sent to Memphis, TN. The FedEx web site also tells me that the phone will be delivered by 3PM on the 28th.

I sleep blissfully in the knowledge that the phone will come the next day.

On December 28th, I make coffee and tell my son that his phone is being delivered today. We go to the Fed Ex web site to track its progress across the country from Memphis and we see that the timeline has not progressed but that the delivery estimate is still the same, today by 3:00. Because I live in a locked community and delivery is therefore blocked causing them to leave “We Tried” stickers on the gate. This usually causes one to have to call them and have the package held at some remote facility and then you’ll have to schlep into a seedy industrial area of town and risk having your windows knocked out to steal your cell phone that you forgot on the front seat because you were trying to get out of the car and across the parking lot quickly without being mugged.

Shipping to my building is a nightmare.

So I call Fed Ex and get a lady who has a Memphis accent. She tells me that she does not think the phone will arrive today because it missed the plane to Sacramento. I ask her how a phone misses a plane. Was it held up in security, was it carrying a box cutter, did its box have the word “bomb” written on it by the person at the warehouse who writes snarky emails? She says she doesn’t know why it missed the plane but that there is usually only one plane each day and none on the weekend (holiday or not) and so it will arrive on Monday, maybe.

I tell her to hold it for me at a Fed Ex location rather than try to negotiate the locked gate. She says IF the phone makes the plane on Monday, it will be in Sacramento on Monday for pickup. But she isn’t sure it’s going to make it yet.

Of course my son flies out on Tuesday so if the phone doesn’t arrive in time, it will have to be re-shipped to him in which case I will have the role of the warehouse and I will finally be in control of the situation. I may have to drive the phone to Phoenix myself.

The World Didn’t End So We Have To Work It Out

clothing pinsI woke up this morning, December 22, 2012.

The day after the day the world was rumored to end.

I spent this day scrubbing the bath tub and tile with a brush and an old toothbrush. I used a bucket to soak the bottom of the shower curtain in bleach because it tends to start growing that gross pink mildew that I am certain would be labeled as a miracle of creation by some biologist. The miracle of creation has been melted away.

I did laundry. I learned that the Laundromat I liked to go to is now deemed an unsafe building by the city of Sacramento and is closed. I could have told them it was unsafe, on a number of levels including the parade of characters who passed through, took baths in the washroom, and dried their rain-soaked clothing in the dryers. Homeless people don’t have a lot of options to dry out and this place was one of them. It’s gone now and I imagine that a bunch of homeless people are going to be battling mildew now in their suitcase that they live out of.

I went to the grocery store and picked up a few items and I took a long walk.

My world went on just as it did every other Saturday in my adult life. After Connecticut, I was really thinking it would be better if it did end yesterday.

But the world didn’t end…so here we are and the question is what do we do next?

NRA’s Problem is Gun Owners, Not Guns

brown eye“Just as NRA chief Wayne LaPierre was giving a press conference in which he said “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” three people were killed and three more State Troopers injured in a Pennsylvania shooting. ”  Daily Beast

It is tragically ironic that as LaPierre speaks on behalf of gun owners that more people die at the hand of a lunatic holding a gun.

LaPierre is right about one thing, the guns aren’t the problem; it’s the people who are allowed to own a gun that are the problem.

The Argument for Doing Nothing About Gun Control

guyscreamingcrop2The argument for not implementing gun control is a safe one from a political standpoint; gun advocates are gingerly saying that we need to slow down and not act in haste in response to the Connecticut tragedy. It is the safe position, one that pretends they’re going to listen to both sides now. But it is nothing more than a tactic to let time pass to lower the emotion of the moment. It is a common political tack when one side in an issue is backed into a corner. The cornered side argues that rushing to action is a mistake, that bad laws are written out of haste, that we must deliberate long, debate long, and long-weigh-out the options. We must convene commissions to study the issue, commission research, engage in a vigorous public debate – and thereby, give lobbyists and their marketing firms time to fine tune their opposition to action.

We must not act they argue, because it is important to avoid doing the wrong thing in haste.

But to my mind, we have had this gun control debate for years and years and the evidence for one side of the argument is crushing and overwhelming. We must act because continued provision of the instruments (guns) for killing little children should not be up for debate.

Real changes must be made. Something must be done. Continuing the argument for decades has not resolved the problem. People are dying from lack of action.

It is not debatable that guns are central to the problem. These are military grade guns with killing bullets in large clips that enable crazy people to shoot many times in a short span of time to kill large numbers of people without regard for age or innocence.

Guns are only one part of the violence, but in a multi-part problem, each part may be addressed separately or in an omnibus solution. Gun advocates are coming out of hiding now to say that we should WAIT!!! because guns are only part of the problem.

Yet we’re told by the paranoid that we have to arm ourselves against our government. They tell us that we should be able to keep guns, big guns, small guns, lots of guns, and thousands of bullets. They believe it’s the only way our democracy can be secured.

Really?

I don’t believe that a bunch of people with assault rifles are what secures our democracy. I believe it is citizens who are committed to working together to keep it going, who are committed to protecting its values and principles. I don’t think guns secure us against tyranny.

I’ve seen air shows showcasing military capabilities. I’ve seen the wars on television. I’ve seen the movies about the Green Berets and the Navy Seals. All of this tells me that you can’t have enough guns to protect yourself from our military. We’re vulnerable to our government no matter how many AK 47’s are sold. If our military turns on us, the death toll in the Civil War will be miniscule by comparison.

So if you must be paranoid, you will be – with or without a gun – and with good reason. Our military is lethal, just as we intend it to be.

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But guns do not solve the threat of someone taking control of our government and turning these weapons of mass destruction inwardly. That could happen, as could Russia or China drop a nuke on us. Things could take an ugly turn on many fronts.

But paranoid fantasies of extreme conservative beliefs should not limit our children’s ability to go to school without fear of some lunatic walking in with a military rifle to kill them.

For me it is that simple. If our government turns on us, all of these stupid assault rifles may stop it but our pop guns are not going to stop all our tanks, drones, cruise missiles, Navy Seals, etc.

All we’re really protecting – by protecting the right to bear insane levels of guns and ammo – is the right of companies to make money selling them. Simple weapons do not make anyone safer against a military that its citizens have armed to be the best in the world.

I believe it is the active involvement and conscience of the citizens inside and outside the military that keeps this democracy going, not the guns.
It is clear to me that crazy lunatics with guns pose a much more direct threat to our safety than our government. We need to control how much access is given to these weapons.

NRA Can’t Justify This

And today another school shooting in Connecticut and I can already anticipate the NRA-bought politicians and Fox News saying, “You can’t justify getting rid of handguns because of 20 dead children.”SONY DSC

Yes, I can…20 times today, plus 7 adults, 27 dead innocent people…I can justify it every day because the truth is that without a heavily armed populace,

  • Nobody needs a hand gun to be safe or to hunt except law enforcement.
  • Nobody needs an assault rifle except the military
  • Nobody needs a 50 caliber semi-automatic rifle except the military
  • Nobody needs body armor except the military
  • Nobody needs thousands of rounds of ammunition except the military

And what about the insane people doing this?

  • We need to be able to lock up crazy people until they’re safe, they should not be on the streets.

And what about media?

  • Nobody needs violent video games
  • Nobody needs to see movies that depict savage killing

Nobody can justify this to me under the smoke and mirrors that someone’s freedom to make money selling guns, selling violent media, or just the freedom to be crazy as hell. Nobody can justify the slaughtering of innocent children by some twisted right to be free. It has to stop. I am writing to my elected officials to demand immediate action.

The NRA and the RIGHT be damned 20 times today, enough is enough. Sign one of the petitions about gun control –

http://wh.gov/RRkn send an email to your Senators and Congress people. Keep the pressure on until WE are louder than the lobbyists.

Oregon Beavers Paid to Monitor Hawaiian Ducks

beaverswbinocsI found another cool grant. There is a $25,000 grant from the Fish and Wildlife Service to the Oregon State University (Beavers) to monitor endangered Hawaiian Ducks, in Hawaii…

So not only do the Oregon Ducks get passed over, Beavers are sent to Hawaii to monitor ducks…are there no Universities in Hawaii? Well of course there are, but perhaps their fraternities are the reason that the birds are endangered…

There has to be better reason than Beavers wanting to go to Hawaii…right? Let’s face it, the University of Oregon Ducks would bring a built-in bias to the study and the Rainbow Warriors of the University of Hawaii probably would scare off the duckies…so maybe Beavers are the best choice. These choices are beyond me.

Read more about this excellent grant here.

 

Federal Grant for Speakers in Kandahar

As we speed toward the budget cliff and need to cut back the social security and medicare and military spending to balance the budget, I am not at all comforted to know that some Non Governmental Organization (NGO) in Afghanistan will receive a grant for $300,000 that:

man with schnozzz“will arrange for speakers from throughout the Muslim world to speak at multiple locations throughout ‘Loya Kandahar’ (including Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan)… on issues revolving around civil society, religious tolerance, the role of religion in today’s world and religious leaders’ involvement in societal betterment.”

What are the requirements for receiving the grant of $300,000?

“The program would have a minimum of two speakers per month who would address audiences at pre-determined public venues.”

So two speakers per month, multiplied by six months equals twelve speakers (12), divided by $300,000 = $25,000 per speaker.

It sounds more like splitting a lottery prize in Afghanistan where, according to World Vision, the average annual income is $250.00 (http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/learn/world-vision-afghanistan, accessed on 12/11/12).

NGO’s may apply by going to http://grants.gov (should be .giv) and searching for this grant number – SCAKAB-13-CA-003-SCA-12102012.

But we have a revenue problem, and not a spending problem? Anyone have some speech topic suggestions?

Is Lack of STABILITY the Death of Capitalism?

It seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Capitalism could end BECAUSE of greed? I mean, don’t we all assume at some basic level that capitalism is driven by greed and therefore, greed is inherently good and representative of success in our economic system? That becoming rich, earning one’s fortune, is the basic purpose of education and work?

I think that Capitalism is going to end because there is a higher need than to be wealthy; and therefore, a more important underpinning to the human psyche that the desire for more and greater riches.

HUMANS WANT STABILITY (and Capitalists don’t get it)

What threatens to undermine Capitalism according to the Right?

WHY GOVERNMENT, of course – large, out of control government  – which threatens Capitalism with its endless demands for redistribution of wealth, for the well-being – YEA THE STABILITY- in the lives of all people, not just for the wealthy.

I’ve been wondering what the hell is changing in our country, or which has already changed, and I think it is this;

CAPITALISM stopped offering stability for the USA in favor of stability within the GLOBAL economy (which is failing), in reality that means STABILITY of corporate earnings within the global economy as opposed to stability within the USA. So to hell with the US worker, the average “Joe” who was willing to trade his entire life to the company for the stability he needed to raise a family, own a little box of a house, to put shoes on his kids’ feet and food into their mouths. Capitalists are revealed, they don’t give a damn about America, only about their Swiss bank accounts.

THAT is the truth that everyone understands, and THAT is why Mitt Romney lost, and THAT is why capitalism is DOOMED. We used to revere the rich, and now we suspect them with good reason, now they use our country to make a fortune and then flee when the times get tough. They flee when the wages are cheaper elsewhere. They flee to tax havens like the Caymen Islands. They give up their green cards or citizenship and go back to their native country when the US tax benefits are no longer kissing their corporate asses.

I recently thought about my uncle who worked for over 40 years with the same company, Matthews Conveyor, which became Rexnord, which was bought out or God knows who…

What happened? My uncle, after 40+ years for a single company in two different countries, day-after-day – and hating it -until he lost his job when the company was sold.

Try to find a company today, especially a manufacturing company in the USA, where you could work for 40 years! Try to find company which has a foothold in an industry so firmly planted in the USA that you could raise your family on your income working there – even if you HATED the job – for 40 plus years, see your grandchildren born, and still commute to work every day of your life and be assured that you had retirement and a salary that was sufficient, NOT GRAND by any stretch, but enough if you were frugal. Not likely today is it?

WHERE IS STABILITY TODAY?

I’ll tell you where it is and why it is popular, GOVERNMENT JOBS GIVE STABILITY. In the stability of a government job, or in the stability of a disability check, or in the stability of a retirement check, or in the stability of a government union contract. I walk past the windows showing me the empty desks of the California Department of Public Health every morning in the dark on my way to a private industry job, this is when the only person at the Health Dept. is the security guard. And I walk past those empty desks in the opposite direction each evening when it is dark, not a soul working beyond their contracted day, not once in four years, and WHY are they all empty? Why am I working before them and after them every day? I don’t have a government job. My job is based on earning money. Their job is based on processing paper, their budget is assured, and a task can always be done tomorrow.

STABILITY!!! They are not accountable for anything that could cost them their jobs, every deadline is soft, and no deadline will ever determine whether they get a paycheck.

STABILITY is what government workers want and that why they endure the rules and the regulations and the brain-killing bureaucracy. It is STABLE employment that can’t be shipped overseas. Who can blame them? I see the fat middle-aged guy puffing his pipe ( it smells like my uncle’s pipe tobacco) every day outside the coffee shop which is part of the health department building. He sits ignoring signs posted by the coffee shop that smoking is not allowed like a bearded Bhudda in the semi light, puffing away contentedly because he is in no hurry, the work will be there later, even more assuredly his paycheck will be there every month without fail.

LIMITED ACCOUNTABILITY FOR MAXIMUM STABILITY. California is becoming a communist state and we do not even see it happening. Forget socialism, when the most powerful unions in the state are government unions, then government is no longer of and by the people, it is OF AND BY THE GOVERNMENT. The tail is wagging the golden dog.

And who do I blame? CAPITALISTS whose global corporate greed led to flagrant disregard for the most basic human need.

STABILITY Yes, Mitt the Twitt is to blame, he and his Wall Street cronies are the culprits. Who among the average Joes ever voted on some Board to liquidate a company and establish a plant in Saigon? Not one single average Joe ever voted to do that. It was the rich, the Capitalists who buy million dollar condos at Northstar, whose children spit off the balcony on the average Joes who spent half a weeks’ wages for a lift ticket and a Starbucks latte.

YES, there is a separation in the USA, there is a separation from reality. The Right Wing nut job radio fools are selling out to corporate wealthy in exchange for the scraps from their table. They deliver performance art and people still clinging to the hysterically quaint notion that the wealthy want them to join them at their dinner table as soon as they’ve “made it” lap up the anger and vitriol against the ridiculous idea of STABILITY.

Yet this election proved that STABILITY is what people really yearn for, not capitalistic entrepreneurial-ism  not risk and reward for the 1%. Not even riches unless it comes easily some effortless lottery dream with not risk. It is statistically impossible to have more than 1% in the 1%, and the 1% know this and sell smoke and mirrors to the 99% through talk radio. And so many are so ignorant to the most basic facts of mathematics that they buy in to the bullshit.

Are people today any different from 100 years ago? Did anyone 100 years ago really think they would be the next Crocker, Getty, or Carnegie? Hell not they didn’t, that was their lottery, they thought that stability of a good job in a good company was all right and the American way. Government work was mostly for schmucks who couldn’t make the grade and were willing to accept less.

But today children are being fed by the government at school while their parents trade their food stamps for junk food or sell them for cash outside the grocery stores. Breakfast, lunch, and yes DINNER are NOW being served by Title I schools around the country. Soon there will be dormitories so their parents are absolved of everything except nine months of carrying the child. The government will wean and suckle every child, and indoctrinate them to the wonders of government work. STABILITY! It was not so long ago that breakfast wasn’t even part of the daily school menu, only lunch. Children are being taught that STABILITY and SUSTENANCE comes from government, not from parents, not from home and family; rather it comes from a sterile public building and from a nameless staff wearing hair nets, and plastic gloves.

But make no mistake, STABILITY is what people want, riches may be what they dream about and don’t believe in. But if the CAPITALISTS can’t offer better than 5 years of employment before they’re moving to China or Vietnam, then you better damned well believe that the good ol’ USA is destined to socialism or communism by democratic vote.

People want STABILITY and right now Capitalists are greed soaked in global riches and do not need the USA. But it doesn’t matter what their motivation is, they’ll kill the root of their wealth if they kill the STABILITY that keeps American workers motivated to slave away for their families believing that they can count on their employer for the long term. They will kill the stable platform their businesses were built upon and therefore kill their own success. They will be forced to deal with one banana republic after another. But perhaps so long as some country offers no taxes or accountability for their money and investments, they’ll just flee to that shelters.

Maybe the Capitalist fantasy was shattered long ago and that’s why we deteriorating. That’s why people go belly up on their creditors, because they perceive that the same damned people they owe have already gone belly up on them.

Perhaps the deteriorating ethics in credit is based on distrust of CAPITALISTS. Why should people offer the wealthy any more STABILITY in repaying debt than they’re being offered in their income? STABILITY works both ways, it cuts both ways, as CAPITALISTS are now learning: offer none, expect none.

Make no mistake, PEOPLE are motivated by STABILITY and government jobs are offering STABILITY at a time when CAPITALISTS are not, and I question if they ever will again. And if they do not wake up, Capitalism may well be finished in America.

Why is Government STABLE? You can’t ship IRS jobs to China, can you?