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Category — technology

I think it’s time to stage an intervention

Hi, my name is Lorenia, and my husband is an addict.

I don’t use the term “addict” lightly — just to make sure you are fully aware of his addiction and will support me when I find the help he needs, let me tell you what happened yesterday…

Our phones occasionally do not register phone calls. I don’t know what it is on George’s phone, but on mine, it happens sometimes when I switch from 3G to WiFi. It’s like my phone just becomes a tiny computer and loses its ability to text or make/receive calls. Yesterday, George was on his way home from work and tried calling me a few times. My phone had been on WiFi, so obviously, no call went through. To him, it appeared that he was calling and it just rang and rang and went straight to voicemail. He knew something must be wrong, because even when I’m mad at him (which I never am, because I am the most patient, even-tempered, kind and sensible woman ever, RIGHT?) I always, always answer (and never with a “Harumph” or a “Yeah, WHAT?” or anything like that, I am sweetness personified, shut uppppp). He began to picture coming home, finding me laying on the floor unconscious, with no pulse, and was brainstorming what to do. Should he carry me to the car and race to the hospital? Should he call the ambulance and wait for them to show up while he embraced me and attempted to resuscitate me? Should he sell the house and get rid of all our shared memories because the pain of remaining here would be too much to bear? (Yes, he actually had these thoughts run through his head. Yes, he actually said as much to me. Think about THAT next time you assume I am the drama queen here.)

Instead of calling a neighbor to have them come over and check I was OK/find my lifeless body being nibbled on by kittens, what did my loving husband do?

I’ll tell you what he did, Internet. He composed, in his head, the tweet he might post for all of you to read in the case of my untimely demise… in 140 characters or less.

“Dear Friends, my beloved wife Lorenia has passed on to the next world. Please, for the love of God, pray for the progress of her soul.”

This is how I know I’m married to a Twitter addict. Let’s find him some help.

Editor’s note: While this post makes him seem kind of silly, that’s obviously because it’s SUPPOSED TO DO SO. I swear George is quite literally a Rocket Scientist.

July 1, 2011   11 Comments

The Saga Continues…

Yesterday I got a call from Verizon. The customer service rep informs me we have (after settling the $560 dispute over the phone we did, in fact, return) $410 in roaming charges for while I was in Cancun.

First of all, I’m really confused about a couple of things. We’ve been told the roaming charges are in the amount of $204, $410, and other random amounts (depending on the rep we speak to!). Secondly, after going through the entire story again, she decides to talk to Tech Support and ask if the charges can be removed…

Customer service rep comes back on the phone and tells me that since I was making phone calls on my line, they can’t remove the charges. I’m sorry, what? 1) I use a local, Mexican Nextel with a call package for calls to the US so I can call George from Mexico; 2) I did not make a single call from my phone for two weeks. If you look at my call history, it displays “November 29th, 12:30pm, George Hatcher” when I called before take-off, and “December 13th, 5:10pm, George Hatcher” when I LANDED, with no calls in between! I told her it was preposterous and to check the call history. She did, and confirmed there were NO CALLS. She agreed to talk to her supervisor and see what can be done.

This morning, George and I are both in bed with the plague, aka, the flu, and his phone rings. It’s Verizon, saying we owe them $559, and would we like to make that payment now?

I kind of lost it there. George laughs and tells them, “I think you have your wires crossed.” When they finally have to admit they are wrong, they launch into the next round of charges. Oh, yeah, those roaming charges you need to pay for! They tell him that since I was making calls the whole time I was there, after I knew that I was roaming, that they have to charge me. I ended up taking the phone from him, clarifying the facts while trying not to scream at them for their incompetence. They insist that I was aware of the charges, trying to make it sound like we spoke to them on the 29th. Nice try.

I finally spoke to a customer service rep that slightly helpful, although he did ask if I was under the impression that these were global phones. That almost killed me. I know that George is the rocket scientist, not me, but I AM the nerd that always reads the manual for everything we purchase, I never sign any agreements or contracts without reading through them entirely, I know exactly how much data roaming costs, I know enough to have data roaming off, airplane mode on, and only wifi activated to use my phone as a wifi device instead of a 3G device, much the same way one would use a laptop or an iPad without a 3G contract.

What it has come down to, so far, is this: his supervisor has agreed to “reduce” our data roaming charges to 50% of $203.94, so $101.97. I know this is being done to try and appease us. And while some people might say, hey, that’s not bad, I disagree. This is why:

  • Verizon already admitted it was their error. Multiple times. We checked that I was on airplane mode and had data connectivity off in Mexico, and it showed up as roaming to them. They admitted this to George on the phone. They said something was wrong on their end. Come on.

  • They have contradicted themselves in a million different ways, grasping at straws to find excuses as to why we NEED to pay the roaming fees. “You made calls during this time… oh wait, no you didn’t!” and “You were aware of the roaming, you called, and kept using it… oh wait, you stopped using it as soon as we informed you.” And many, many more.

  • Loyal customers. We spend plenty of money on their devices, we had automated bill paying, three lines, and we always used to promote Verizon like crazy to people. We have never, ever, ever had a problem with roaming before (we dutifully make sure roaming is off and airplane mode is on the second we hop on an international flight). Not when we’ve traveled to multiple destinations in the Bahamas, multiple destinations in Mexico, and not when we went to Israel.

  • You are offering to reduce our charges to $100, right? Should I send you the bill for our late mortgage payment fee? How about the money spent on long distance calls from ME from Mexico on a Mexican line to clarify both of our problems to you? Where should I send those bills which are far in excess of the amount YOU would like to charge US?

  • The $559 interest free loan — I’m sorry, ACCIDENTAL CHARGE — you promised would be back in our account “within 3-5 days”… was promised TWO WEEKS AGO. Your rep today told me it would be “3-5 days from today”. What the heck is going ON? If a renter tells a landlord “the rent will be in in three to five days” over a period of nearly three weeks… the bum is getting evicted. Seriously, Verizon. Come ON.

  • Verizon, are YOU, a mega-corporation, really fighting us this badly for $100 freaking dollars (after your “50% buy-off option!)? Really? Is losing the respect (and probably future business) of loyal customers worth that little to you? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to just relax your sphincter and say, “Hey, they spend so much money with us a year that it’s worth it to let them have this one because why would they lie over these charges when they pay us so much in other aspects?” You will not plea bargain your way out of this one, sorry to say.

This will really be the make it or break it for me, Verizon. I’m already making oogly-googly eyes at Sprint.

December 16, 2010   5 Comments

Thanks for the lies, Verizon.

The next chapter in our Verizon saga occurs thus:

I speak to Verizon rep. Rep promises to call George on Monday morning (as in, today) to get our bank account info to reimburse us for the $559 charge. Rep never calls. George checks his email. Verizon credited our account with the money. Womp womp.

Why is this a problem? Well, I don’t know about y’all, but we are very precise about the amount of money we have/spend/allocate. So when suddenly the account we PAY OUR BILLS WITH has $600 less, it really affects us.

What is really wrong with this, though? The fact is, that it was Verizon’s mistake, not ours. We did everything we were asked to. We returned the non-functioning phone promptly, they received it and forgot to say, “Oh, yeah, here it is!” As it is not our mistake, they should not get a $600 interest free loan from us. If we were a bank giving them $600, they would have to PAY US for borrowing that money. Not cool.

I deal with this ALL the time. Companies that outsource translations generally get paid for the translations you do upon delivery, and then they take “30-90 days, depending on the date you send the invoice, and whether it’s close to the 1st or 15th of the month”, for example, to pay you, thus obtaining interest-free loans from the poor, independent translators that work for them. It’s not as monumentally terrible when a small company or an individual does this to you as it is when a HUGE CONGLOMERATE does it to its clients. Makes you wonder how much money Verizon is making this way… and it seriously bothers me.

So, for the last time, I am begging you, Verizon, please fix this before we decide to report you to the Better Business Bureau…

December 6, 2010   3 Comments

Thanks, Verizon! tl;dr

At the beginning of the year, George and I totally lucked out: we were able to upgrade our phones to Droid with Verizon for an amazing price (after the mail in rebate, of course). I quickly became a smart-phone lover. I had been craving an iPod touch or an iPhone for a while, but my loyalty to Verizon (great coverage, great prices, great customer service) made me open to experimenting and eventually embracing the Droid.

Y’all, I named my phone. I am disclosing this pathetic and silly bit of information so that you understand how intense my love of technology is, how fascinated I am by it, and how appreciative I am about the continuous advances we make in telecommunications and information technology. Hurrah for humanity!

My love for the Droid was quickly put to the test: the sound during calls was absolutely terrible, not to mention the fact that instead of rivaling the iPhone in the good aspects, the Droid was rivaling the iPhone with the percentage of calls it dropped! When I wasn’t hanging up on my husband, I was screaming to him at the top of my lungs, much like a crazy person, in the middle of the grocery store, “I SAID, DO YOU WANT BEEF OR CHICKEN FOR DINNER? NO, NOT TEETH!!! BEEF!” Frustrating, to say the least, especially since it seemed to be something specific to our particular batch of Droids, not an issue suffered by all Droid users.

We finally had enough in August. It came down to the health of our marriage, or Verizon doing something about our terrible phones. They, with their wonderful customer service (no sarcasm, I swear), agreed to replace our phones with refurbished Droids that would be sent to our door via FedEx with a box for us to send our defective devices back, all at no cost to us. Expedient service, right? Without us even having to leave the comfort of our home (except for those eight or so Verizon store visits we made when they told us our phones had no problems prior to this solution… hm…).

We immediately had problems with the second phones, our refurbs. Mine was glitchy, would reboot randomly, had all kinds of problems. George’s… was a poltergeist phone. It would type on its own, it would randomly navigate somewhere in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. It was slightly amusing and greatly creepy, sort of like an electronic Ouija board. I stuck it out with mine, but George needed to have his replaced…

The third phone he had was not much better. There was some sort of defect with it where he could charge it all night, and the second he took it off the charger, the juice would drain out of the battery and the hold-life was somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds before it died. Fabulous and useful, amirite?

We went in once again. Are you keeping tabs on how much of our time we had, at this point, wasted on visiting Verizon, wasted on hold with customer service, how much gas we used visiting the stores, etc.? Yeah. They gave up and agreed to give George a (refurbished, of course) Droid 2, and since my contract was up, they simply upgraded mine to a Droid X (not for free, of course, but for a decent price). We promptly returned the final Droid, and were quite happy with our little Droid 2 and Droid X.

For a while. Mine randomly fails, reboots itself, and does crazy things. I have been opting to stay quiet because the sound is good and the fails aren’t too terrible. I had no real further complaints about Verizon, despite everything that had happened, and we’d even share our mishaps while assuring our friends that Verizon has fabulous coverage, that they may not have the iPhone, but the Droid is great and we are loyal customers, that we’d never switch providers for a glossy Apple device, even though we’re huge fans, etc. Free publicity for Verizon. I’d also like to mention that we were never difficult with any of the people that had to help us out with all of these things. We’d laugh, joke, and we were as understanding as we could be.

Now I am going to allow myself to jump around in time and tell the last bit an a slightly un-linear fashion: Let’s fast forward to Monday, November 29th. I flew out to Cancun for the COP 16. The second the captain on my JetBlue flight asked us to turn off electronic devices, I set it first to airplane mode, then I switched it off. Now, my reason for doing this is because we realized that when we do so and turn off Data Roaming, our phones become high resolution digital cameras that are WiFi capable, with no additional cost to us for checking our email or chatting when we find hotspots. This has worked for us in Haifa and Cancun in the past. No biggie.

Remember that last Droid I said George shipped back to Verizon in exchange for his Droid 2? Verizon recently charged us nearly SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS for it. When George called them, they told him my contract was not up for renewal when we got the Droid X (lies) that the phone we didn’t return was MY replacement Droid (lies, not necessary) and that they were charging us the “real” price of the Droid (lies, again, it’s not that expensive of a phone, fools). George was going to throw his hands up in the air and resign to what they said, but Miss Latina-tude refused. I called Verizon (from Mexico, on a Mexican phone line, mind you, so ouch) was on the phone with the most pleasant customer service rep in the world for nearly an hour, and we finally sorted out what had really happened: basically, yes, the reps that spoke with George played the deny, deny, deny game and lied out their butts. His old phone had, in fact, arrived at the warehouse on September 2nd, and the warehouse had never credited us with this return. Essentially, it was all their fault. He said Verizon’s policy was to just apply those $600 to our account as credit. Um, no. That’s basically like a $600 interest-free loan to Verizon that I do not feel like making, not to mention that the account it was taken from is the account we pay our bills from. Additionally, as this was clearly not our fault, gimme back my money, b****. :)

The rep was efficient, took care of it, and we will be credited on Monday. Through this whole Verizon debacle, I should definitely state that the reps (with the exception of those that lied to George) have been helpful, friendly, and kind.

Remember when I said we put our phones on airplane mode when we travel abroad? Imagine my surprise when George notified me today that I had, thus far (in a matter of five days) incurred a bill of $200 in Data Roaming fees. Mexi, please! This boggled my mind, as I’ve been using wireless networks exclusively. Ex. Clue. Sive. Ly.

A quick review of our account online told George that those $200 dollars were for a total of 3MB of data. I am not even kidding. Can we just agree that that is ludicrous? Show of hands, please!

And so my sweet husband spared Verizon reps the wrath of a woman scorned and called himself. The rep asked if, at that very second, my phone was on airplane mode. After we confirmed this, she said it did not show up that way in the system to them, but that once the charge goes through to our bill, they will take care of it. (Why they can’t take care of it NOW is beyond me.) She also notified me that since I am abroad and they cannot reset my phone from the US, I need to turn it off for the next ten days, completely off, because now I “know” and if I still choose to use my phone once I’ve been “notified” then I will be charged all roaming fees.

*hop hop hop*

That is me, hopping MAD.

You mean to tell me that the phone I selected for its 8MP camera is of no use to me for my entire trip (the only camera I brought with me, by the way) because of Verizon’s ineptitude? You mean to tell me that when I want to use the WiFi network on my Droid to access dictionaries of an acronym finder for my um, slightly-totally-SERIOUS JOB, I can’t because of something that is not my fault? That’s like me buying a Dell laptop, and being told I can’t use it as a word processor. Like buying an apple and being told I can eat it, but I can’t have the vitamins. What kind of crack are you smoking, Verizon?

I am disappointed and annoyed. Annoyed, annoyed, annoyed. This is ridiculous. Verizon, clean up your act. I am no longer defending you or promoting you. Bite me.

December 3, 2010   9 Comments

Ode to Apple

It’s a fact: I am, indeed, an electronic menace.

While in Cancun, Ebony, my dear, sweet, little MacBook just ceased to function. Out of nowhere, upon turning her on, I would get a “forbidden” sign. While I waited to take her to the Apple Service center, I tried to diagnose her myself… and hoped against hope that I was wrong. But I called it — RIP, hard drive. Kernel damage to the drive, as well as damage, somehow to the actual physical HD. Data not recoverable. :(

As my luck would have it, the Apple warranty ran out in July 2009. And the distributor’s warranty? In November. Plus, Apple Mexico? Not as friendly as Apple USA. Yeah… I couldn’t break her just three months earlier. I do believe it was my fault, tempting fate. I had just told George, not a week earlier, “We’ll see what breaks NOW!” Ask and ye shall receive!

Instead of replacing the hard drive for another overpriced one and keeping a computer for another couple of years which would be obsolete pretty soon (poor thing was already chugging along with its limited RAM), we opted to bite the bullet and purchase a new computer.

I know a lot of people think Apple is overpriced and just a company that people like for its caché… but after using Linux for a few years and then making the switch to Apple, I never want a Windows OS again. EVER. Apple is simple, sleek, and to the point. No bells and whistles, just a straight-forward interface without a million layers and complications. It’s the Chanel of computer nerdery. And for the specs I selected, it would have cost the same (or more!) to purchase a PC.

MacBook Pro 15″, how I love thee.

I love re-installing all my programs (or “Applications”) on Snow Leopard. Download, drag and drop, you’re done. No waiting 5 hours. No clicking through 500 options. You don’t want that program? Delete from Apps! No millions of secret hidden files.

I’m definitely a Mac. 😀

January 29, 2010   2 Comments