Thursday, April 19, 2012

How T-Mobile lost a customer over less than a dollar

I've been a customer of T-Mobile for about seven or eight years, but today I'm going shopping for a new cell phone service because the "office of Jay Vanderlay" felt it was more important to collect less than a dollar each month from me rather than put any effort into keeping me as a customer. Here's the details.

I'm not one of those people who texts all the time. I prefer to talk in person or send emails. My phone is for phone calls. I'm old-fashioned that way, or maybe there's just too many mechanical things demanding my attention that I limit their access to my already overloaded brain. So I didn't sign up for nor did I want to pay for unlimited text messaging for ten dollars a month. I already pay almost a hundred dollars a month for two lines and that's already too much for what I get.

This worked fine for many years. I paid twenty cents for text message sent and received and it rarely cost me more than a couple extra dollars a month. Then a couple months ago I started receiving spam texts, several of them a week. All of a sudden I went from paying for a couple text messages here and there to over ten dollars worth a month.

First of all, there really isn't an easy way to contact anyone at T-Mobile to ask a simple question online. They appear to not want to deal with their customer complaints this way so you have to sign up for a service that is basically a forum filled with other people complaining about T-Mobile's crappy customer service.

So I dialed the 611 number and was connected with someone who didn't even know the basics of what I was complaining about. I told him I wanted to not pay for spam sent to my cell phone, which is also and has been for years, on the Do Not Call List. He told me the only way to deal with it was to sign up for the ten dollars a month unlimited text messaging service. He found it impossible to understand or accept there are people in the world who do not text everything. He ended up basically pissing me off by implying I was some kind of idiot for not wanting unlimited text.

So I filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office. This is where "the office of Jay Vanderlay" comes into the picture to totally destroy the reputation of T-Mobile. I keep my phone off when I'm sleeping or working on a customer order as do most sane people who don't want to be bothered. I received a phone call asking me to call a number and an extension. I did and kept getting through to nothing but his voice mail account. The next day I found another message on my phone saying he had tried to get hold of me and failed and if I didn't contact him soon he would tell the Attorney General's office I didn't call him back.

I logged into my account, took a screen shot of all the calls to his office that went straight to voice mail and then I called several more times, the last one telling him I'd taken screen shots of my attempts to call him. I finally got him on the phone.

Not only was he the rudest person I've ever had the displeasure of talking to, he basically said that T-Mobile is unable to distinguish between a spammer sending thousands of text spams through their service (which they get 20 cents per call both from the spammer and from me) but that  it was in their terms of service that they could do this to their customers.

First of all, a company that can't get control of its out of control text spam problem doesn't really speak well of its professional status. But the truth is T-Mobile makes lots of money from spammers. It makes lots of money customers who are forced to receive that spam. And since they racked up some huge expenses and lost tons of customers over the whole mess with At&T, then they have to recoup those costs somewhere.

So I'm going cell phone service shopping today. T-Mobile has lost a customer who pays her bill every month. They've thrown away nearly one hundred dollars a month to keep collecting those spam pennies. It would have been an easy to find a way to keep me as a customer. Give me free text messaging for a couple months to make up for the spam costs. Send me a coupon for a free cup of coffee. Apologize and admit that as a cell phone provider you just don't have the ability to keep up with the big guys. But instead they chose to be rude. They chose to be greedy. And they chose to let themselves be represented by rude, incompetent and prissy little boys. Nice job, guys. And goodbye.

Stomp Out Racism zazzle_shirt
Stomp Out Racism by orsobear
Make your t-shirts custom on zazzle.

Mother's Day Gifts


Monday, April 16, 2012

Propaganda of Titanic Proportions.

Sunday, April 14th,  was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking and if anything typifies the disconnect between the one percent and everyone else, it was the coverage of this tragedy's anniversary. Most of the news stories focused on the rich first class passengers and their last meal, which was recreated all over the country like  this one  served in Texas that cost 12,000 dollars. When there are people going hungry in this country because of the greed of the wealthy, this was just plain disgusting and wasteful and really points out that for the rich, most of America still lives in steerage class.

The poor, then as now, were invisible, unimportant, nameless and not even worth fishing out of the sea, a forgotten class that ate and traveled away from the disapproving eyes of the rich and privileged. Many of the steerage passengers were listed as servants, general laborers, working class whose bodies were mostly never recovered, unlike the rich who not only had access to the life boats first, but it seems, if you check out the recovery of bodies here, were more important even after death. I find it hard to believe only the rich floated to the top. Someone had to make a choice of whose body to salvage and whose body would remain in the cold depths of the sea.

And the whole myth of women and children first only applied if you were poor. Check out how many first class male passengers were listed as survivors in the lifeboats in comparison to steerage class. The whole myth of chivalry and honor was just that, a myth to perpetuate an image of the wealthy that was a complete and total lie. There was no honor in their behavior nor in how they got their wealth. They didn't get rich by working. They got rich by being dishonorable, immoral thieves or they inherited their unearned wealth from parents who got rich by stealing everything they could get their greedy hands on. Most never worked an honest day in their entire worthless lives.

Today not much has changed in the way the wealthy banksters, Wall Street scum, and other parasitic gamblers view everyone else. What has changed is how the wealthy are perceived by those they disdain and look down upon with the kind of scorn the first class passengers had for steerage class. Back then people knew the real enemy were the banks and Wall Street and the politicians who sold themselves to the highest bidders.

Today, through the concerted effort of propaganda pieces in the media that perpetuate the myth that everyone can become wealthy if they only work hard enough, the modern day steerage class blames itself for being poor. It's the working class who has been brainwashed into supporting tax breaks for the super rich while their own taxes go higher as their wages go lower. It's the working class who has been fooled into thinking the rich will create jobs that pay more than minimum wage with no benefits. It's the poor, uneducated knuckledragging mouthbreathers who vote for Republicans because they believe that somehow through the miracle of trickle down, their dumb asses will be allowed a seat at the same table as the rich and they will get a chance to dine on all that opulent food.

This kind of propaganda is what has allowed the wealthy to continue to steal from the stupid and the delusional. They don't have to change anything except  how ignorant people perceive them and then they can continue to use and abuse the poor for their own purposes. It's the same kind of lies fed to the conservative base that claims Ann Romney works just as hard as a single mother trying to feed her kids while holding down two shitty jobs. I'm willing to bet these moms didn't feed their kids anything from that first class menu because even one course was more than they could afford. And yet, because they are so ignorant, they are willing to let themselves be further brainwashed into thinking Ann Romney is just like them, that she also struggles with how to put food on the table, pay the rent on her five mansions, or decide which of her many cars to drive that day while everyone else hopes gas prices don't go up any more so they can afford to drive to work.

What people don't get in the all the fluff messaging from the media is that less than a decade after the Titanic sank, the Mitt Romneys of that time were engaged in basically the same kind of thievery that is going on today. The average person could buy 100 dollars worth of stock for ten dollars and pretend that invisible, non-existent money made them rich. It was only when they had to make up the difference from their own pockets that they started throwing themselves out of their office windows. And the Mitt Romneys of that time took their money out of the banks and caused the collapse of the economy, much as the rich of today took their money out of the economy and caused the Bush/Cheney era depression that President Obama inherited.

Both times, when it was over, the rich were even richer and the poor were even poorer. That never changes. It's the pattern that occurs when the wealth is in the hands of a small percentage and it never ever trickles down, no matter how many Reagans come along to perpetuate the lie. And it's the Mitt Romneys, the Koch Brothers, the Karl Roves, the slimy congress members who take their wealth out of the country and move it to places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands to protect it from economic collapse. It's not taxes they're dodging because they pay hardly any taxes. It's the shitty economy they're running away from, the  banks they collapsed by stealing, by pushing fake money around that doesn't exist, by buying and selling assets that exist only in virtual reality. The country is their bank and they made a concerted run on it and got their money out while it was still money and not virtual fluff like everyone else got stuck with. This is how they stay rich and how the poor stay poor.

And it's the myth surrounding tragedies like the Titanic that keep the pea under the shell and away from the watchful eyes of the poor. As long as people can see the lavish meals served to the wealthy to commemorate the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic and imagine themselves at that table, as long as they can watch television shows that take them inside mansions and make them believe they can one day set foot inside these palaces, as long as shows that glorify the rich instead of portraying them as they parasites they are fill the programming schedule, the poor will be their own worst enemies, and when the ship goes down, they won't even be afforded the dignity of being fished out of the water. They'll be just another name on the manifest listed as laborer, working class, and servant. The insignificant poors.

But eventually, the rich get so fat and arrogant on their own wealth, they steal too much and create an underclass that becomes homeless, jobless,  lives under bridges and eats from food banks. Once critical mass is reached and there are hundreds of people fighting for space under those bridges and there's not enough food to go around, then revolutions happen. They're the only action that has ever affected any kind of change and it used to be that the wealthy knew just how far they could go, just how much they could steal before that mass was reached.

They don't seem to be that smart anymore. Only time will tell if they figure it out in time or if the mobs get hungry and large enough to start dragging them from their houses and cars and start stringing them up in the public squares as they strip anything of value from their lifeless corpses. I suspect if Romney wins the election, those days will come sooner than later because the army of poors are already in place and there's not much left to steal from them anymore. All they have is their anger, their hatred, and a burning desire for vengeance in their bellies that takes their minds off the hunger. It won't take much to set them off at all.

Download Death To My Hometown


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Tree of Life, the movie

For the last several days I've been trying to find a way to put into words the feeling of continuity that weaves its way through the chaos of our individual existence. It was brought on by watching the devastation created by one of the owners of what was previously a lovely piece of land where heron nested in the trees and generations of squirrels trained new residents how to feed them their favorite treats. His reasoning for cutting down every single tree, some bigger around than many of us could embrace in one hug, was that he was building a solar house and needed to remove the trees so enough light would get through. He doesn't plan on living in it. He's building it with the intent of charging more than average to someone who is "one of them environmentalist types."

He really doesn't understand the contradiction, just as he doesn't understand how far apart he is from what nature truly is and means. He doesn't understand that those so-called environmentalist types have no interest in buying from someone who has so little respect for nature, so little understanding of what it even means to care about the environment, that he would cut down every single tree just to make his ugly devastation marketable.

In so many ways he is the poster boy for what happens when humans become disconnected from nature. And this is what I wanted to explain, the chaos that ensues when, in spite our continuity, in spite of our continual presence on this planet, we become disconnected from the part of us that is also part of the natural world. It's like trying to live without an essential organ like the heart or the brain.

Then last night I watched the movie "Tree of Life"  and something fell into place for me. I previously tried to explain the lack of compassion and shallowness of many of those on Wall Street, Congress, and heading up corporations as a lack of introspection. They are, for the most part,  mean, self-centered, materialistic excuses for human beings. They are what happens when your drugs of choice are alcohol and cocaine, drugs that numb feeling, drugs that allow you to be cruel and uncaring because you can always wipe them away with another dose. They are no different than the soldiers dosed on meth and Wagner so they could kill without conscience. One of the earliest uses of methamphetamine occurred during World War II. The German military dispensed Pervitin which was methamphetamine. It was freely administered to both tank crews and aircraft personnel.

Every generation has its drugs of choice and for mine it was LSD and marijuana, both which tend to make the imbiber more introspective. The inner landscape becomes inseparable from the outer landscape, and that is something we've lost, something that builder of the solar house has lost. It is also a theme I felt was covered in  "Tree of Life" in an especially beautiful and haunting way.

But in a clear example of how disconnected many have become from nature, I read that when the movie first aired, lots of people booed and jeered during the screening. It appears the plot didn't move fast enough for them and they were forced to endure multiple and astonishing scenes of beauty that weren't computer generated, but instead were created by so-called old fashioned  special effects techniques, like running liquid through objects and filming it.

For those of us who grew up in the 1950's and 1960's, not only did the film remind us that no matter how awful our childhoods were for the most part, there were also moments when as children we lived in a sacred world untouched by the harshness of life. We played, laughed, felt, reacted to the world around us because we didn't have the filters of television, the internet, instant access to information. We had to dream and create and imagine.

In many ways the evolution of our consciousness had to create LSD and marijuana, just as the current generation and the one before it had to create drugs like Ecstasy as part of their mental development, and also as a backlash against the numbness and cruelty of those who escaped with hard and unforgiving drugs like cocaine and alcohol.

But that numbing and disconnect is also found in the prevalence of young heroin addicts and those who can't face the day without anti-depressants. We live in a disconnected world and everyone copes according to whether they want to retreat inward or blunt what lives within the recesses of those dark places.

In "The Tree of Life" the choice is between faith or nature, and while faith seems to drive most of the characters, it does so against the powerful continuity of nature. It is a movie that demands you sit patiently and wait for events to unfold, a task that in this world of instant gratification proved too much for those who jeered in the audience. Nature always takes its time. Faith demands instant answers, instant relief to specific situations. In nature we are part of the play. In faith, we are the directors of not only our own play, but also those of everyone else. Nature connects us, faith disconnects us.

Those of my generation were raised by men who saw the worst humanity can inflict upon itself. They saw things no human can see and still keep their humanity intact. Like the father in the movie, played by Brad Pitt, they wanted to toughen us up so we could survive the horror that life would throw at us. They wanted to protect us from it and at the same time, hide it from us. It's why we grew up wanting to know more, wanting to see the source of the contradictions. If anything, we children of war survivors knew there was more to the story and so we went looking through introspection and the kind of drugs that are conducive to looking inwards. We became a generation of seekers who knew there were answers and that they would explain the chaos inside, the angst we felt at knowing we were part of something and yet not knowing how to completely be part of it.

One thing we do learn as we get older is that even introspection reaches a point where it becomes selfish and indulgent. We can't all be monks on the mountain top perpetually seeking answers. At some point we have to stop, look around us and take our place in the world. As sometimes this came too late in life to accomplish much more than survival and perpetuating our own gene pool, the chaotic pendulum shifted to children coming from us that didn't want to look so deep inside, that didn't want to feel so much, that didn't really have the chance to live in the sacred world of childhood we may have been the last generation to enjoy.

 So the pendulum got stuck on the selfish swing, the arc failed to move beyond the gimme stage of existence and we ended up with the culture of greed that now permeates the planet. We ended up letting faith kill nature because it was just easier to swallow someone else's truth rather than discover the path to our own.

The backdrop of the movie is music as Brad Pitt's character gave up a career in music to become an engineer, the ultimate betrayal of the artistic self. His failing was in not understanding he didn't have to give up one for the other, that nature can weave through both truths and music is the pulsating universe both within and without us. Compassion and altruism can be as strong as steel and concrete if you grow them from within.

At the end of the movie I just wanted to sit for awhile and absorb what I had seen because while it was familiar, it was also like entering an astonishing exhibit of beautiful art whose technical mastery seemed to mock the easy solution of computer generated imagery we've come to expect when we say "special effects." In many ways, that to me is the true message of the movie, that we've moved so far beyond the simplicity of nature we've lost the meaning of it. Just like the man destroying nature to appeal to environmentalists.

The Tree of Life (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)