Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
This is how Merriam-Webster defines "Entitlement."
1 a: the state or condition of being entitled : right b: a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract 2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program 3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.
I'm not talking about the working poor who squeezed their dreams into a trailer, manufactured home, or apartments given a paint job and renamed condos. I'm talking about the privileged little princes and princesses who were raised with the latest fashions, consumer goods, and tuition paid adventures in the land of College.
I've lived with such people and I never understood the selfishness of someone who would stick their roommates with their share of the bills just so they could get a haircut or an outfit or a car or a vacation to make THEM feel better. Now I know they weren't selfish but entitled. How silly of me to not know.
I found value in good friends, in the power of love, in the warmth in the heart that came from doing good for others. I lived simply. I didn't need much to be happy. If you had a childhood like mine, a roof over your head that no one is going to evict you from any day is an astonishing luxury.
I read books I bought in boxes at garages sales, or rescued from dumpsters where they were discarded by college students who were "done" with them, and avoided anything on the best seller lists because I couldn't afford either the cost or the brainwashing.
And because I knew what it meant to work and study and take care of the basics I needed to survive, I was able to get a far better education than those who wasted their money on trophy degrees or whatever was currently popular and must have. I read books I never would have read because they weren't cool or popular or special. But they were damn good stories. They were real. They shaped me into a more whole and complete human being.
They hated that in the real world no one gave a damn if they were special or not. They were shocked to discover if they couldn't do the job, they were fired and replaced by someone who could. If they didn't pay their mortgage, the bank took the house back. If they didn't pay their bills, there were repercussions. If they fucked over their friends, the friends went away.
And of course it is their whiny little sense of entitlement that destroyed her candidacy, not Obama, not me, not people like me. They did it with their arrogance and bullshit the same way Bush and his minions did it with arrogance and bullshit. And they turned me and many others like me away from Hillary.
And the interesting thing about all this? It is the children of these entitlement creeps that are behind Obama's rise. They were raised with a Bush or a Clinton president and parents who went through life like a self-indulgent bulldozer. Somewhere in that strange and misguided world they found a clearer path to follow, a more honest way of living, an altruism that put their parent's so-called compassion to shame. And for them Obama speaks a language that reflects who they are and want to become together.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Second and most important, those of you have been following this will see that Dell communicated with me through my blog. It was worthless to call customer service, but it was way worth it to put the problem on my blog. This shows me that Dell cares enough about its reputation to at least have a Google alert for dell complaints, or whatever technical means they used to find my complaint.
This is a good step forward in rebuilding the trust we once had for a company that started out making it possible for the average person to connect to the Internet with plug and play computers that didn't require a whole lot of technical knowledge. I have to give them credit for that, and over the years I have sent them lots of business for this very reason. As I mentioned several times, I never had a problem with the product itself, just the lack of service that came with it in most every department where they had to rely on outsourced labor.
There are still some issues to be worked out, such as "the records" showing I ordered the memory card and camera on separate days. This is simply not true and smells of someone, probably our inflexible "friend" in India trying to cover his own ass. I'm still working on getting that "mistake" corrected. Again, for no other reason than fairness. I am an honorable person and I expect others to be honorable too, especially when they are taking my hard-earned money from me.
Finally, this whole experience is a lesson for Dell and other companies who rely on outsourcing to save some bucks. I know for certain it cost them my friend's camera purchase. That's over 3,000 dollar they lost trying to save 4.99. I know for certain that the bad taste left by incompetent customer service people has left a lot of people angry at Dell and other companies to the point where they simply don't buy from them anymore. And at a time when these same companies are begging for some kind of stimulus package so they can stay in business, will they finally realize outsourcing is costing them more money than it is saving them? Will they bring those jobs back home and finally be able to provide the kind of customer service that Larry was able to provide because he is located in Texas?
I would hope so because as a consumer I want to be respected for buying from a merchant. And because I use a camera in my work, I need to be able to buy a good one that does what it says it will do, comes with all the extras I need to make it work better, and especially I need a decent and reliable customer support system that understands the way to keep me happy is to listen to and address any problems that arise during the purchase, delivery and use of their product. Only then will the word "repeat customer" show up more frequently in their order reports.
Barack Obama gave one of the most important speeches in years. He took on the issue of racism in America and basically addressed the elephant in the room everyone has been stepping around. In other words, he showed the kind of incentive, leadership, and courage that America so desperately needs right now. Predictably the right-wing spin machine and the mainstream media like CNN missed the whole point (deliberately) and instead continued to attack him for refusing to throw his pastor under the bus. How sad it is for them to not know the world has moved on and passed them by. Please don't pass by with them. Read Obama's words for yourself. Watch all 30 plus minutes of the video. Don't let the special interests tell you what to think. See and listen for yourself.
You can watch or read the whole speech here:
If you're busy, here's a highlight from the speech:
"We have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle—as we did in the OJ trial—or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina—or as fodder for the nightly news.
"We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words.
"We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
"We can do that.
"But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
"That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
"This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
"This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
"This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
"I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation—the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
"There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today—a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
"There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
"And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
"She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
"She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
"Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
"Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, 'I am here because of Ashley.'
"'I'm here because of Ashley.' By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
"But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins."
Monday, March 17, 2008
Begin quoted text:
Dell Customer Advocate has left a new comment on your post "Dells crappy company part #2":
My name is Larry and I am a Customer Advocate here at Dell headquarters in Texas. I just found your blog and wanted to let you know that I would like to look into the situation and see if there is anything I can do to help.
Normally, based on your description of what happened, I would expect the customer care rep to have helped you get the order placed with the correct items included or, at the least, get you in touch with a sales rep that could do so. We are not able to combine orders, but getting a new order created that, in effect, combined the two is not normally a problem. I am not sure why this did not happen in this case, but I will be passing on your feedback about what happened so we can try and keep it from happening again to someone else. Feedback from Dell customers is the best way for us to know where we need to focus our efforts in order to improve. I know from personal experience that Dell really does care about providing customers with the best service we can. We aren't perfect, but we are always trying to improve things.
In order for me to check the details I will need either the order numbers for the camera and memory card. If you would like me to see what I can do, feel free to email that information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with "ATTN: Larry - memory card" in the subject (to ensure it gets to me). If there are any other details or feedback you want to include please do so. If you have any questions for me I will be happy to answer them.
Dell Customer Advocate
End quoted text.
So of course I clicked on his name and what do I find? Three blogger blogs set up as customer advocate. But hey, they have nothing on them. That immediately got my suspicions up. So I played along and sent copies of all the correspondence to "Larry." I immediately got back the following response from Shivani Chauhan, who just happens to be the SAME person who responded to the emails and who was the reason for my spending so much time trashing Dell on this blog.
Thank you for the reply.
I understand from your email that you want to the shipping charges to be taken off. I shall be glad to assist you with the issue.
The order have been placed separately and shipping will be charged for the orders placed separately. I would request you to receive the orders and then return they for credit, and then place the order once again all items in same order.
I do not have any option to refund the shipping charges to you. I surely hope that you do understand the issue.
Your case number for this interaction is xxxxxx. Please keep this number for your records; it will help us keep track of this issue so we can better assist you if you have any further questions or concerns about your issue.
If you require further assistance, please feel free to visit our Online Customer Care Center at:
Thank you again for contacting Dell Online Customer Care.
Rep ID 131225
12:00 PM to 09:00 PM CST
Dell Online Customer Care
So, not only is there no Larry who cares about the customer and wants to fix things, it looks like our friend Mr. Chauhan is also named Larry at the very least, or at the very worst, if there really is a Larry, then he is just another inept, clueless customer service rep who is costing Dell business daily.
In light of all this, and I'm sure there will be more, can anyone give me one reason I or anyone should buy anything from Dell again????
Think about it and see who we've become. Let's go through a few examples, kiddies.
Got internet? Are you happy with it? I'm not. I have Comcast, probably the worst service in the entire world. They have the rudest most inept tech support I've ever had the misfortune to call in my entire life. Back in my more naive days, I called when there was a problem. In return I got people telling me there was no problem. Hello? I have no internet. Okay, I see, you want me to check your web page. But I have no internet!
Countless jokes have been made around that very familiar example. But what does it say about us that when we get done laughing we still put up with it? Why the hell do we? Probably because the few times I've called I've had to wade through functional illiterates who read through a list of instructions on their screens that had nothing to do with the problem. Yes, I've powered up/down/rebooted my modem. Nothing, no admission of a problem on their end, except a little while later everything works fine again. Nothing changes with my computer. They just fix whatever they claimed wasn't broken.
And we put up with it because what are the other options? Where I live there's not much. Comcast has a monopoly. It's them or chasing down a dish after each windstorm. Or getting Clearwire that has even more complaints against it than Comcast.
So I've started to keep records of outages and after each one I call up the billing department and demand a refund for the time my service was down. About half the time I get a credit toward my bill. Other times I get the screenreaders who bleat out that they can't possibly do that, they don't have the authority. I sometimes call back half hour later and get someone who says yes.
For many years I had a cell phone that was At&t and then became Cingular. I paid my bill every month on time. I was their dream customer who never complained, who never was a problem, who was loyal and dedicated. My contract was up. My phone needed an upgrade. Did Cingular reward me? Hell no. They raised my rates, told me I'd have to start paying international rates for phone calls to Guam, and no I wouldn't be getting any discounts on new phones even though the new upgraded service everyone had to have no longer functioned with the "old" phones.
I upgraded by moving to T-Mobile and got two nice new razor phones. So far the service has been quietly efficient, except for a small matter of their billing department not knowing what the person in the next desk was doing. My credit card expired and so I called and went to my website to upgrade the info. A few days later I get a text message that my credit card was declined and to please arrange for payment. I called. The young man was very nice and promised to take care of it for me. I gave him my new expiration date. A few days later I get a postcard for everyone to see that says my automatic payment was declined! I call back. Another pleasant Android tells me almost exactly word for word that he will take care of me. By then I had received a bill in the mail with two months of payments due. I sent a check, one of those ancient paper things. They cashed it. Rinse repeat to the point where I get the text message. I finally cancelled the credit card altogether and changed my payment to where it comes directly out of my checking account. I got notices for a couple more months and then they stopped. The right hand finally met the left hand.
I have more stories about Circuit City not honoring a 10.00 rebate to the point where I turned them in to the Attorney General's office. Yep. 10.00. I believe the tech support on that one was in India and will live forever in memory as the call where they claimed they had lost the receipt and rebate card, gave me a number to call and a new claim number, cut me off halfway through the call, and when I called the same number back, told me that I'd have to refile as my claim number had expired between the time I was cut off and the time I called back. I cut up my Circuit City charge card and mailed it to them. Idiots did this just before Christmas and lost all my holiday shopping biz.
I could go on and on because this is how business is these days. They donate to campaigns to get favors to screw the consumer at every turn. We mean nothing to them. We're pawns, numbers in their corporate charts, a means to fund their candidates so they can then bust out unions, work people long uncompensated hours for little money, and choke down hot dogs on the weekend as they proclaim themselves to live in the greatest country in the world.
Sorry folks, but I think more of myself than that. As a small business owner I make a point of finding ways to appreciate my customers. Let's be honest, people. The economy is in serious trouble and if someone wants to spend money on your goods, at least have the decency to treat them with some respect. And if they don't, then take your business elsewhere. There's lots of hungry small businesses out there who'd really appreciate your business and won't treat you like crap for spending your money with them. I'm one of them. I promise if you shop with me and there's a problem, I'll make it good. That's how small businesses are. That's what built this country, not those corporate whores who could care less about the customer. It's time they got the message.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Quite a price to pay for forgetting to put my memory card on the order, eh guys? Let's see, the memory card was 24 dollars. It would have cost you how much to cancel shipping charges on that tiny little thing as most sensible companies would have done to keep me happy over your mistake? Instead it has cost you my friend's camera order, my camera order, ink (I went online and ordered a new printer from someone else so I would never have to buy ink from Dell again. It was cheaper than the ink from Dell.)
And I'm not done yet. I have lots of friends who were going to spend their tax refunds on computers, cameras, etc. I've always recommended Dell in the past. Now I'm telling them to shop ANYWHERE but Dell.
My goal is to see how expensive I can make it for you to have forgotten to put the memory card on my order and then refusing to fix the problem. My guess it will reach 10,000 by the time I'm done...for this month alone because the stimulus rebate check shopping comes next and I'm going to make sure you don't get any of it from people I know.
Guess what? It can't be done. I was told I had to re-order. Ordinarily I'd say sure, go ahead and re-order it. But doing so would have invalidated the 70 dollar discount I got on the camera last night. That makes for a very expensive memory card, don't you think?
So I cancelled the memory card order and will buy it at K-mart or some other place where it will certainly be cheaper and won't have a huge shipping cost associated with it.
And Dell has permanently lost me as a customer over a memory card that was under 25 dollars. No wonder they're going broke.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I was never going to vote for Hillary JUST because she was a woman. I was going to vote for her because I thought she would bring dignity back to a profession that Bush/Cheney sullied. I was going to vote for her because I thought she would unite our country and help heal it from the division and hatred that the Republicans inflicted on everyone with their win at any cost mentality. I was going to vote for her because I thought she was strong enough to fight the right wing hate machine and not let it steal her soul.
But in the last few days Hillary has deeply disappointed me. She has run a filthy and divisive campaign, just the kind of shit that turned me off so completely to politics I almost didn't vote in the last election. (Almost...I couldn't pass up the chance to vote against Bush again.) I'm disgusted at the leaked images of Obama in Somali dress in order to stir up the hatemongers of all things remotely Osama looking. I'm disgusted at the racist innuendos that remind me of the behind the hand attacks whites always made on other races in so-called more intolerant times.
And I'm really tired of Hillary saying it wasn't me, it was my advisers, campaign staff, etc, etc. Excuse me, Senator, but if you're not smart enough to figure out that a large part of the Bushco nightmare is his blaming others and appointing incompetent, racist, sexist wackos to positions of power and then speaking from behind his hand that it's them not him, well...then you're not smart enough to get my vote this time. I don't want to see who you pat on the back and say "heck of a job, Brownie" when a city is lost if you can't even take responsibility for what your advisers are doing and saying.
I watched very carefully when Obama's staffer quit because it showed me he would be a President who demanded accountability and didn't sidestep responsibility. That's the kind of change I'm voting for because unfortunately Hillary showed me that with her as President it would be more of the same.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Anyone who has read anything of mine knows that idealism is something I embrace with all the passion of a true-believer. And you also know I have a streak of realism that runs alongside of it. That realism streak says that you have to claw your way to the top. The idealism says that one of the many reasons I'm torn between two of the best candidates the Democrats have put up in a long time is that I hoped they would clean things up, that they would bring civility back to our Democratic process.
Instead I see the same old divisive politics, with the same piggy brains like Rush Limbaugh snorking through his drug-induced haze comments that only a few inbred cretins like himself would consider funny. I see sides being chosen that remind me of divorces in process where everyone picks a side and works out their own issues and fuck the people who are actually getting the divorce. I see cheating, lying, exaggerating, and just plain old mean spiritedness that the Republicans perfected to a barnyard art.
All I can say right now is come on guys! Don't become that which you oppose. It's the ultimate pitfall and one that is usually reserved for tyrants. Get a room, work it out, and come out fighting together. This election is too important for petty politics.