Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dude, don't get a Dell

I have gone from loving to hating and loving and hating Dell servers for quite some time. A couple years ago Dell announced they were becoming more "open" with things and allowing customizations and Open Source solutions. I just had a conversation on LiveChat with a sales agent that, well.... just check it out for yourself:

17:23:46 Customer Bob Mertz
Initial Question/Comment: I wnat to know if I can replace the PERC controllers in a 2970 with another controller of my choice?
17:23:56 System System
You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
17:23:56 System System
Connected with SMB_Mary
17:24:06 Agent SMB_Mary
Hi, this is Mary Wade from Dell Small Business Sales. I'll be the representative assisting you today, how can I help?
17:24:21 Customer Bob Mertz
I am currently investigating server solutions for a client of mine and I am looking at the PE 2970
17:24:34 Agent SMB_Mary
I believe this server requires a particular PERC card
17:24:39 Customer Bob Mertz
however, I would like to install a 3ware controller card
17:25:17 Customer Bob Mertz
Do you offer any similar servers that could accept a 3ware SATA/SAS RAID controller?
17:25:36 Agent SMB_Mary
well technically you can install it, however Dell does not support 3rd party parts therefore it would void your warranty.
17:25:51 Customer Bob Mertz
For the entire server?
17:26:23 Agent SMB_Mary
17:26:37 Customer Bob Mertz
My client likes Dell servers but I think that's enough for me to advise against Dell on this purchase then
17:26:40 Customer Bob Mertz
thanks for your time
17:26:56 Agent SMB_Mary
okay thank you, did you want the Dell part number?
17:27:07 Customer Bob Mertz
Dell part number for what?
17:27:21 Agent SMB_Mary
PERC card
17:27:25 Agent SMB_Mary
for 2970
17:28:20 Customer Bob Mertz
No. I have had bad experiences with all of Dell's PERC controllers. My client is asking for my recommendation on a project but if I can not replace the PERC controller without voiding the warranty on the entire server then I have to advise him to look at another vendor.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Comcast Cared

Last year a new Twitter account opened called @comcastcares and Frank, the leader of a new department inside Comcast, was working hard to improve the image of a company who has, quite possibly, one of the worst set of morals of mainstream companies. Frank really was making an impact and word quickly spread about this new department and people began to think there was hope. I posted a blog about some frustrations I had and a couple others about how Frank had helped me. Frank was able to get me on a promotion and gave me some options. One option he gave me was only 6 months long but he was excited to get me to try the high end plan so he said that after those 6 months were up he'd get me on another promotion.

Somewhere in all of this I felt like Frank was the rebel that could really save the image of Comcast but that once his impact started to be known the company would step in with the "business types" and again show how the books are more important than customer satisfaction or company image. I hoped I was wrong - but I wasn't.

My promotion ended last month and my bill skyrocketed. I contacted Frank and he told me to email his department which got me the response that someone would contact me the next day. When I was contacted I totally felt the same old Comcast feel. The person who called me didn't care about anything and the end result was I downgraded to the economy plan. I contacted Frank on Twitter and really received empty responses.... and it highly reminded me of a guy who did care but who had hands tied. Despite my emails to Frank, Frank's department, and another Comcast employee about how I was told that I could get another promotion after the 6 month one finished ended up with empty responses or absolutely no response at all.

Here's where things get worse. Apparently with the economy package Comcast says streaming video may not work and, well, I've had some issues. The best part is that if you want to go one step above economy the price more than doubles. Oh but wait, it's cheaper if I subscribe to cable TV as well is what I'm told not only by Comcast but Frank as well. Oh, really? So I can get something I need cheaper by buying something I don't need or want. Where am I saving money here? This is certainly the work of "business types". To another level, you can also tell this is another attempt at Comcast killing innovation. Think about it - if you can now watch TV on the internet and don't need cable TV then Comcast loses revenue so the solution they have is to force you to pay them for TV anyway or to charge you more than double to have a plan that should support streaming video. I mean, really, why would you innovate and allow the customers to have what they want.

Its certainly sad to watch Comcast grab their monopoly and do all that they can do to rape their customers and absolutely destroy any innovation. They are a very important part of why the United States, the founder of the internet, is one of the worst countries to be in for accessing the internet. Right now all we can hope for is the FCC to step in and make sure we have real competition and start holding Comcast responsible for their horrible practices.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Balanced Customer Service Reporting

Tonight I had an extremely bad experience at the KFC/Taco Bell in Ashburn, VA. I waited in the drive through line for approx 10 mins before giving up and going inside. Once inside I waited 8 mins and not a single person said anything to me.... oh they saw me alright.... at least 2 people (including the manager) pointed at me. I grabbed a recipt that someone threw on the floor in order to get some kind of customer service number and was shocked that the recipt had a time stamp of 5pm on it and it was now 10pm.... trash sitting on the floor for 5 hours?

Typically I try to give people the benefit of the doubt -- I used to manage for Pizza Hut, after all. I've been known to call customer service hotlines to tell them what a great job someone did -- and on multiple occasions. I know how important to hear your doing a good job is, not only as a manager but as a human being.

After blowing 20 mins of my life trying to get a taco I went to McDonald's. I wanted to go through the drive through but they were getting a delivery and their truck had it blocked so I decided to go inside and, since I was in there, eat inside. It wasn't until I was sitting down and the manager went and locked the door that I realized the dining room was supposed to be closed at this time of night but apparently they left it open since they knew people couldn't get to the drive through. Aside from this, the manager was so extremely polite. Stepping back and thinking about this from a psychological point of view I think two things can happen after you've had a bad experience. The first is you're in such a bad mood that no one can do right for you and the second is that even poor service can seem awesome in the light of the experience you had.

So here is the problem. Companies have to monitor their customer service lines with a real grain of salt because ALL they hear is the bad. If you have a good experience somewhere you feel there is no need to tell them but if you have a bad one, well, you need to make sure someone is held accountable. What ends up happening is us consumers create a situation where our complaints get taken with less sincerity because, well, what is there to base how bad the situation is since the customer service team isn't getting any good reports. What's worse is the companies that are doing an incredibly awesome job just simply don't realize they are doing something right and it also reduces their motivation to keep doing that great job.

I don't know if there is a solution or not but I want to make a challenge to everyone (yes, this means you). Aside from the need to sometimes realize that everyone has bad days I think there is a real huge need for customer service hotlines to have a balanced report. I think an easy way for us to start turning this around is for us to set our own personal goals that anytime we feel that we need to report a horrible experience we pick another experience in the same week (or even day) that we also call someone's customer service hotline and tell them about an awesome experience you had with their company. So maybe on Monday you have a horrible experience at Taco Bell but on Wednesday you stop in at Target and an employee does something really great to help you out. Give Taco Bell a call and tell them the situation but then also call Target and tell them about that situation as well. If you have 2 bad experiences in a week that you feel like calling a company about then also pick 2 good experiences from the same week and call those companies and tell them what a great job they are doing. If all of this catches on then we might actually see huge corporations having incentive to keep doing good and seeing more action taken for the bad reports they are getting.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maybe T-Mobile does care

After all of the stuff that happened today I decided about an hour ago that I was going to call T-Mobile and cancel my order for the G1 and then when my contract was up I would get the Android phone that should be hitting sprint soon and move my service over to them. I went ahead and called to do just that and customer care transfered me to the customer loyalty department. I pleaded my case and we talked for about 30 mins and, while she explained her point, I still was not happy about the fact that the press conference promoted the $179 price. She looked into a lot of things and said that because the G1 is a pre-order it actually isn't even in their system and they can't do anything with that phone as far as ordering..... so we got creative.

The end result? Let's say I'm pleased as punch (whoever said punch was pleased.... anyway) at the arrangement. Currently I have a $49.99 myFaves plan with 600 mins so we played with that. She switched me over to a $39.99 myFaves plan with 1000 mins and she also deleted my blackberry internet service and readded it with a 30 day free option. So how does this work out. Well, the blackberry internet swapping is getting me about $20 off my current bill and then if you figure the 2 year contract that I am now in and I'm saving $10 a month on that then that comes out to be $240. Over the next 2 years I will have saved $260 because of a phone that I paid $300 for..... So basically I'm paying $40 for the T-Mobile G1.

I think I can honestly say that I heart T-Mobile again!

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

T-Mobile G1 = Good / T-Mobile = eh?

With all the anticipation of the T-Mobile G1, formerly HTC Dream, formerly the "G-Phone" and I couldn't wait for the press conference today. While watching it I was completely floored by how intuitive this phone was. I became more and more pumped about it and finally, it was time.

About 20 mins ago I completed my order for my G1 and I got my confirmation and the invoice that would be charged to my next bill.... $333.... What?! They said in the press conference that the price for existing T-Mobile customers would be $179. Why was I being charged $299?! I called customer service and they told me it was because I was not eligible for a full upgrade until Feb.... Huh? Oh, it was because I signed on to a 2 year contract in April of 2007. But wait... I didn't. When I went into the T-Mobile store I SPECIFICALLY paid the extra money for my phone in order to get only a 1 year contract. Now the burden is on ME to prove that. This isn't all that shocking because the store that I dealt with (In Dulles Town Center, Sterling, VA) were complete idiots. They screwed up every single aspect of my account and apparently they even snuck something else shady by me that is now costing me more than $100. I've always dealt with T-Mobile customer service rather than going to stores since that time but just setting foot in the store as my first experience is STILL haunting me.

But here is the kicker.... A friend of mine is being charged $299 for her phone as well.... and she is only a couple months from her 2 year contract being up. To me I think this is an EXTREME mis-representation. If a company "gives" you free phones when your contract is up in order to renew you with them then what percentage of T-Mobile's customers are actually NOT under a contract. So when you say in your press conference "T-Mobile customers" you are incorrect because really you should say "A small percentage of T-Mobile customers" since that is the better story.

I'm upset on a variety of levels with T-Mobile. Last night I considered not getting the G1 simply because I was concerned about locking myself into a 2 year contract with T-Mobile.... and now I have to be worried that maybe I made the wrong decission? Don't get me wrong, I am excited about the phone and can't wait to get it.... but each month that goes by I get less and less excited about T-Mobile.

UPDATE: I'm now hearing rumors that NEW customers are ordering the phone and getting the $179 price..... But according to the press conference ONLY existing customers are able to order the phone now.... Way to treat your CURRENT LOYAL customers! This is very upsetting and they had BETTER fix it.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 22, 2008

eBay = Braindead

So I closed my account at ebay a while ago because of their hatred of sellers. It's not worth selling any of my old stuff on a site that offers no protection at all to the seller. So anyway, I get this message about letting them know if there was anything that they can do to keep me as a customer...... Here's the email I sent them:

I have to say that I would also like to keep my eBay account
active, however, your recently policy changes have made very clear that
you do not value the casual seller. A few months ago I faced a buyer
who blantantly ignored the terms of an auction I had (and according to
his previous feedback he's done the same thing before). eBay offered no
protection for me, the seller, in this scenario. The only responses
that I received were form letters explaining the policies and that I
could opt to use SquareTrade which costs more than the actual price of
the auction.
As if this wasn't bad enough you recently changed your policy to prevent
sellers from leaving negative feedback for buyers. Now the casual
seller is now not only not protected from buyer abuse but they are also
now no longer able to warn others.
These are very serious issues and I can not continue to use a service
that offers absolutely no protection for me. I would certainly consider
keeping my account open if these policies were reveresed.

So after a week I finally got a response... Are you ready for this?

Dear Robert,

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to halting the closure of your

We're glad you decided to stay with us! We look forward to continuing
our successful and fun relationship. Thank you again, and welcome back
to the community!

Sam B.

eBay Customer Support

Why should you even bother to read an email from your customer? I mean, you've got them by the balls and they have no other choice so why in God's name would you want to actually CARE about what they have to say? Where did I say that I WANTED to stop the closure of my account?

Oh... maybe it was the successful and fun relationship? *rolls eyes*

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A few more Comcast thoughts

I really don't mean to turn my blog into a "How Comcast Screwed Me" blog but there was a post to my CPLUG message and it made me think a little more. After I wrote my response I figured that it was interesting enough to add to my blog here.

From what I was told by comcast is that they are using QAM for everything now and I need a set top box for them. Even if channels 30-70 are being broadcast on the line in ATSC I'm sure they are still filtered out at the pole. The kicker is that it was the day they were "fixing my internet" to get me more speed. They checked my box and found nothing wrong and then the next day I got a call from someone else saying they *did* find something wrong at the pole and were sending a truck out to make adjustments at the pole. Ironically I think the guy that called me to tell me they found a problem at the pole was Bill from the ComcastCares department. My theory is that corporate or the local office tricked Bill into being used to limit my TV rather than fixing my internet because I was specifically told by the local office that they found nothing wrong with my internet and that no adjustments were going to be made.

Anyway you look at it Comcast is still Comcast and are professionals only at screwing their customers. When the local sales guy called me he confirmed this by saying "FCC mandate" multiple times and trying to hide behind a law that doesn't even apply to them. They play this game all the time because 95% of the people they call don't have a clue about it and only see Comcast's commercials saying there is a digital transition happening and that comcast is working hard to have it not affect their customers. I guess to them its worth the risk of ending up telling one of the 5% that understand because they'll make up losing those customers by the ways they are screwing the 95%.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Comcast's FCC Smokescreen

Today I received a call from the regional sales manager (at least I think that was who it was) at the request of Bill and/or Frank so that he could better explain to me what was going on and how they were not misleading their customers. He did accomplish that and he set it straight that they are not removing the stations that I lost from analog at this time but that they are in an analog package that costs around $50 per month. Sounds pointless? Well, it's not if your Comcast.

If you think that the concept of a set top box is solely to give you a better quality and user experience, you're wrong. While those things are very true there is another aspect of this that people don't realize. If you subscribe to a service that is one way then your experience can not be interactive and, of course, interactive experiences are generally better. Another thing is true if a service is one way communication: there is no way to raise an income above the base subscription level. Now think about your set top box. How many Pay Per View movies and events are on there? How many additional services can you sign up for or order at the press of a button. The difference between a customer with a set top box and a customer without a set top box is very different to Comcast. It makes it a little clearer on why for me to continue the service that I had (or at least thought I had) without a set top box Comcast would want to charge me a much higher fee than if I get a set top box. Additionally they also are collecting a monthly fee for each TV connected instead of just a signal that can be sent to any TV in my house without extra equipment.

So what's the answer? Is Comcast falsely advertisting? Well... the answer is no. Because of the fact that I *CAN* still subscribe to the channels I had been getting via an Analog signal then I am "not affected by the digital conversion because I am a Comcast customer" .... The uneasy feeling comes in finding out that the pricing goes up for people in my scenario.... Oh... and I was specifically told that they may still remove the channels above 25 from analog signal later anyway....

Are you ready for this one?

Here is what completely pissed me off to no extent. The words that I had been waiting to hear to confirm that Comcast IS using the digital TV conversion as a way to fool people came not once, not twice, but AT LEAST 3 times in this conversation. What were those words..... "Due to the FCC mandate"..... Oh yes.... Comcast is telling their customers that all of this is because the FCC is mandating them to switch to digital signal. The first time I heard these words I stopped him and said "Sir, I know exactly what the FCC is mandating and the mandates are in the 700mhz over the air frequencies and DO NOT pertain to your signals broadcast on your own network" .... Apparently I caught him by surprise and he said "well, yes, your correct" .... Now he continues on to tell me how Comcast is doing me a favor because they are going to receive the channels digitally and then convert them to an analog signal for their analog customers. Does this sound like they are doing you a favor? Well, to someone that doesn't understand the technology, I'm sure it does. But if this is a true statement than that means that Comcast has been using an analog antenna to receive the signal from the TV stations and then they push the signal through a cable and just charge us extra for the same thing we could get with a antenna on our roof. Bull. Not to mention that there is no market that has 25 over the air stations that someone can receive. Regardless, I am being told to buy a story about how we live in an age of sattelites and growing technology and Comcast still receives the signal to their network using tin can and string technology. While it's true that the picture quality can certainly make you think that its primitive I think the reality is that the entire story was bull. The beauty of this story is that no matter which way you look at it Comcast is horrible. Either they are using technology that is older than dirt and they haven't been upgrading their system like they have continually been telling us OR they are outright lying to their customers in telling them that they are doing us a favor by converting signals for us.

But you think it's not bad enough? Well, try this on for size. After I explained to this guy that I knew what the FCC mandates where and that I knew they did not affect Comcast's signal on their network he continued to tell me the same exact story twice more. Either this guy has an EXTREME short term memory loss or he has been programmed to hide behind a false FCC mandate so deeply that he can't even break out of it when someone calls his bluff.

To be quite honest with you if this guy would have explained that all of the channels I had could be subscribed to via an analog signal for a higher price I probably would have been upset that it was going to cost me more money but I wouldn't have been pissed or really even thought much about the shadyness of the situation. It was the moment that he pulled that FCC mandate out of his hat that really, truly, reminded me of what the true motive of the company that is Comcast is: Fool your customers into staying with you instead of actually being a decent company and making them want to stay.

I want to again stress to everyone that @comcastcares (Frank), Bill, and their entire team is REALLY working wonders for Comcast customers. These people TRULY do care about their name and about their customers and I can only hope that corporate would start to learn from these guys who are trying to be as open and honest as they can be and are going WAY out of their way to help people. I just really hope that someday we might see some evidence that Comcast as a corporation wants to adopt the same policies.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Comcast DTV lie?

Every Comcast customer has seen these commercials but is it really accurate? Sure it's accurate if you have digital cable with a set top box which is the same scenario if you have Dish Network or DirecTV. But about the people who still have the regular analog cable packages? I've been trying to figure out the answer to that question for about 2 weeks now. @comcastcares and Bill (a member of his team) have been looking into this as well.

What happened was about 2 weeks ago my MythTV system started recording some shows as just total static. I had initially thought that one of the tuner cards had gone bad in my server but later found that the recordings of static were only on the shows on channels above channel 30. As a result I found that it wasn't a bad tuner card but, rather, that I was not getting a signal from Comcast on these channels. Interestingly enough this occured about the same day that Comcast did some work on the pole near my house to improve my internet speed. Fortunately, my speed certainly did improve so at least I have one good thing. What is becomming extremely frustrating is that Bill has been trying to get in touch with the local Comcast office and they aren't returning his calls. There is no solid answer on what happened. The initial report that Bill had given me was that those channels were, in fact, converted to digital only. Now there are people I know in Front Royal that still get those channels without a Comcast set top box but if the signals were converted to ATSC it would explain that because she has a newer TV and I have older analog-only tuners in my system. Could I upgrade my tuners? Sure but that isn't the point. They are advertising that NO ONE that is a comcast customer is affected by the DTV transition. False Advertisting?

UPDATE: 3:10pm

I just got a call from Bill and he had an answer to what was going on. Basically Adelphia cable used to have all the channels on their analog package and when Comcast took over their packages were different. Essentially what I was told was happening was that every analog customer was receiving more than what they paid for and they were fixing the "problem". What really upsets me is that there is no way to get these channels on analog because now you only have the option of signing up for digital cable.

I'm extremely upset with this. I don't know if it can be called false advertising or not but one way or another it's shady. I canceled my TV service with them. It's time to go back to REAL TV -- aka sattelite.

Quite honestly if I had another viable option for internet I would be going another route for that too just because I'm tired of the games that this company plays. I could have had another TV service set up by now if I would have just known what was going on -- or imagine the concept of a warning that this was going to happen.

I continue to appreciate the help the Frank and Bill's team has been offering to people but it's obvious that Comcast is still the same old Comcast.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 08, 2008

WTF Comcast?

Ok, Comcast..... how about the left hand works with the right?

A few weeks ago I blogged about how @comcastcares was really helping me out. I ended up with the 16 meg plan and after the upgrade things where sailing right along... I was seriously impressed..... well, at least for the first week.

The past few weeks have caused things to be getting slower and slower and I mentioned it on Twitter and, again, @comcastcares jumnped in to help. The following day I had a call from Bill at Comcast who set up a technician to come out and take a look at the situation. I wasn't able to be home but he said that they wanted to check things on the pole because thats where they believed the problem to be. Great!

Yesterday the tech called me to try to find my house which is totally typical... it took me a week or so before *I* could consistantly find my house. He said he was going to check it all out and then he'd get back to me. About an hour or so later I received a call from some woman at Comcast who asked if the tech had called me back and I said he hadn't. She said that he should have but she said that, regardless, the tech had reported back that they found nothing wrong. Quite honestly, I was not surprised. It really pointed more to the fact of what I thought it was: traffic shaping. I dont think anything is "wrong" with their system but that their system is designed to give me crappy speeds. So, whatever.... its the same old Comcast to me.

..... but wait!

Today I received a call from Bill again but I wasnt able to take the call. In the voicemail message he explained that the technician did find a problem at the pole and that they needed to send a truck out in order to adjust the issues and that they would most likely be doing so tomorrow before 5:00pm.

Well.... what? My gut feeling is that I should believe Bill. But what about the call from the woman from Comcast and why didn't the tech call me if the woman said that he should have? I dont think I totally understand it but my theory is exactly what I wrote in my Comcast vs Comcast post. I think that Frank and Bill are the people that are tasked with getting Comcast a better image - and in many ways they are. The problem, however, is that the core of the company still operates on the "smoke and mirrors" concept and is just as shady as it ever was and will most likely continue to be. I really appreciate all that Frank (aka @comcastcares) is doing and I respect it in huge ways.... but after seeing this episode I feel like its only a matter of time before either everyone realizes that he is the only way to get things done with Comcast and he is no longer able to do it or the company it's self stamps him out because they really don't see a point in keeping customers happy if they can continue doing what they are doing: forcing customers to stay with them.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Comcast vs Comcast?

Anyone that has talked to me since I moved into my house knows that I have an ever growing hatred for Comcast and it's business practices. They have violated so many people on moral issues that its not even funny. My biggest problem with the company is that they put a ton of money into figuring out ways to keep traffic off their network (read: screw their customer) instead of using that money to actually build a network capable of supporting what the customer wants to do with the service that they are paying Comcast for. It doesn't make sense that you would work on finding ways to force someone to stay with you (monopolies, legal issues, etc) instead of actually creating a product that people want to stay with. This is why we are falling behind in internet access.

So isn't this Comcast vs All and not Comcast vs Comcast? Well, it depends. Recently there is a new twitter account, @comcastcares, that has really been showing a different side of Comcast. What's so different? Well, the username that Frank Eliason (the owner of the account) picked is actually a true representation of him. He works for Comcast and he actually does care. My first interaction with him was less than a week ago and we debated for about an hour on Twitter about topics ranging from net neutrality to business practices, etc. Many did see me as outright attacking him but the truth was I really wanted to see how the response was handled... and I have to say I was VERY impressed. Frank responded as best he could to all of my comments and, as he should as an employee, he never once bashed what Comcast was doing but he was very understanding of the concerns that I was bringing up. That night I had a slightly new view of Comcast. A few days later I explained the customer service scenario I had when I called because my rate doubled and the CSR I spoke with literally told me to cancel my account and, when I asked for a manager, was told that no manager can speak with me but she assured me that the manager would say the exact same thing that she did. Frank was infuriated over the situation and said that he was going to pull up my account and look into the matter. Yesterday he got back to me and told me he was going to put me on a promotion of my choice and I selected a 16meg down and 2meg upstream connection for $24.95/mo for 6 months. Surprisingly my bandwidth test this morning is showing that I am getting the full 2meg upstream (which is actually more important to me than the downstream since I use remote access software) and I am getting 25 meg down. I'm impressed.... but I really am not going to comment until I see that speed sustained because I've noticed a lot of packet shaping in my bandwidth and I've seen connections during downloads start out super fast and then slow to almost unbearable before.

But while Twitter is being used for good by Frank to help Comcast, it also is allowing consumers to share their experiences with Comcast and yesterday and today we were painted a picture of who Comcast is and, well, it's still the same old Comcast business practices that are consistently reminding customers of how horrible it is being trapped with a company and having no alternative.

It's really sad when the only way to get any comfort from a company is to find a person that works for the company that is more excited about the product than the people who actually run the service. Business take such a focus on the financial aspects of their company that they are blinded from seeing what it's supposed to do to keep that product desirable. Fortunately, for now, we have Frank and his @comcastcares account on Twitter helping us out. What worries me is that he is single-handedly holding up a huge monster that's only desire is to crush people and I don't know how long he will be able to keep that up without the corporation actually getting behind him. Comcast should certainly take notice of Frank because he is literally the only good news that has come from Comcast in YEARS but, sadly, I'm more worried about the company attacking him eventually instead of embracing him.

Either way, Frank, I appreciate what you have done and I hope that Comcast improves and that the company honors you for what you have been doing. With so many corporations grabbing twitter accounts in the interest of spamming people it is refreshing to see a corporate presence on Twitter that is actually a real live human being who is interested in helping. Kudos to you.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 22, 2008

eBay does not protect sellers

I received a dispute filed from a buyer nearly 2 months after he had received his items. The only contact from the buyer was made only a few days before while I was away. The auction terms (which eBay refers to as a contract) stated any issues must be reported within 5 days. At this point I expected eBay to step in to ensure the protection of me, the seller, but was frustrated when eBay's response directed me to the "free" service of SquareTrade which eventually tells you that you are unable to receive any action unless you pay for a mediator. I have been incorrectly accused (publicly) of violating the terms and eBay is offering no support or any protection for me. Their only response other than SquareTrade was that I should contact the buyer personally, thus putting any blame on me. Additionally, the same seller has previously left negative feedback with replies indicating he has done the same thing at least 2 times prior to this incident, yet he is allowed to continue with such practices and abuse other sellers on eBay.

For a company that says its a safe place to buy and sell, they sure are missing the whole sell part. Not sure what good buyers are if you don't have any sellers but if this keeps going we might have to see how that scenario would work out.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 15, 2008

<3 T-Mobile <3

I know that I have been pretty critical about T-Mobile at times but I just want to let everyone know that that really has been more in the same fashion of a friend doing something that upsets you but a stranger could do it and you won't care. Now, I don't like the ordeal that Robert Dotson's office created but I really have to say that I do absolutely love T-Mobile. Tonight was no different. I talked with an awesome tech support rep who actually interacted with me rather than "boss me around" and just tell me what to do. Actually, I have *never* had a bad experience with T-Mobile's customer service. They are also the company that I think pushes the limits beyond the normal by innovating new ways of doing things.

But anyway, T-Mobile had to transfer me to BlackBerry themselves about 40mins ago..... And I'm still on hold. RIM doesn't make me so happy - but that's another blog post :)

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 16, 2007

NetFlix Hopes Good Customer Service Will Keep Mail Boxes Stuffed With Red Envelopes

This is why I stick with NetFlix.... There is a lot to be said about quality customer service and, sadly, it is rarely found anymore.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I just have to take another moment to give a lot of credit to where credit is due. My banking experience at Commerce Bank has been more positive than I could have ever imagined. I have never seen a bank willing to actually put themselves in their customer's shoes and waive frustrating fees. Any bank I have ever dealt with tries to milk their customers for all they can get them for.... manipulating the ways transactions post for the sole purpose of assesing the most NSF fees, for one example. Commerce is completely the opposite... they actually look for ways to not charge their customers. I have had situations where they would make a deposit available sooner because of a paticular situation I was in. My most recent situation was a transaction not posting to my account on the day that it was supposed to.... this was the fault of the sending party and not Commerce Bank at all. As a result, a check card transaction overdrew my account. I accounted for the $35 NSF fee and today I just found out that when a check card transaction pushes you over the limit, they don't even charge you at all!

I really can't give enough praise to Commerce Bank! If you are in a state that they are (PA, VA, DC, NY, CT, FL) then you really need to set up an account.... you'll be glad you did!

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Monday, April 09, 2007

What a weird day.... Seems like the companies that pissed me off recently were... nice.... or something.

Ok, so a while ago, PNC Bank pissed me off again. I opened an account at Commerce Bank and I have been EXTREMELY happy with them. Their customer service is really great. I've lost quite a bit of money to PNC because of weird policies that aren't clear until they have an opportunity to suck you dry.... and their customer service is horrible....

The other two things that pissed me off both happened on Friday. First, University Heights. Our rent is due on the 5th of the month and that includes dropping your check in the mail slot that night. Thursday night I went to put my check in the slot and it was jammed.... envelopes hanging out all over the place -- so of course I didnt feel comfortable just laying it on the stack. Friday morning I drive by the office on the way to work and their doors are still locked.... mail slot still full. So after work, I run by the office and stand in the office for 10 mins.... everyone was busy because they were crowded which I do understand.... eventually someone walked by and said "if thats just a payment I can take it for you" so I gave it to her..... got in my car.... and all of a sudden they found time to open up the envelope and look up my account to find out that my payment was "late" ... and had the time to chase me down in my car to tell me this.... so I go back in to explain to them the situation and twice I was interupted by the manager saying "It's late!" and told me that they would not accept my check at all. I was pissed.... so I went into my apartment to look up their corporate office to call and my internet isnt working.... actually, it turns out that I have no dial tone or anything.... completely dead. Called Verizon and argued with them that things werent working even tho their computer said it was..... so they finally agreed to send a tech out on the 16th.... ok, so thats not going to work... I cant be without internet that long. Whatever..... went to bed because I had enough.

So today, I call Comcast and they get me set up with cable internet this afternoon... I call Verizon and they do their typical "why do you want to leave" and their speech about how they will bend over backwards, yada yada yada.... Told them that I have no dial tone and everything is dead and that I can't be without internet until the 16th. Finally I convince them that I am serious about canceling my account and then she proceedes to tell me that I am in an anual contract for my DSL and that they will charge me an early termination fee. I told her I didnt think it was fair that they are going to hold me accountable for THEIR problem and she told me that I didnt mention anything about a problem with my DSL service.... so naturally I flipped on her because YOU CANT HAVE DSL WITHOUT A DIAL TONE! Finally she said, ok.... she said I'll get a final bill in 10 days.... and it sure as heck better not have a termination fee on it. So after that I call the corporate office (Bainbridge Management) of University Heights and talk to someone about my issue and he said "Please give me as much information about who this was as you can" and I explained who it was that told me all of this and he said "Give me about 15 mins and then go ahead and take your check back over to them. I'm going to call them right now and take care of this" ... so that made me happy. From there I went out to PNC bank to close my account... the guy I talked to did his typical trying to keep me thing and then he said something that I wasn't expecting.... He is putting $217 back into my account to cover what they cost me. Now, granted, this is the second time this same scenario that happened before so I'm not marking this matter as resolved -- but I'll be happy to keep my account open for another few weeks or so if he's going to be nice enough to do that :)

Now... if only the IRS would call and say "Yaknow, we realize that you weren't expecting all of this stuff so you don't owe us the $11,000" ... ok, one can hope, right? :P

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

(C)2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
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