Customer Service Hell

I’ve had a few issues with Customer Service recently. I’ve had the cable company hang up on me because I told them I didn’t like a billing policy. Yahoo! hung up on me because I asked the “customer service” rep not to interrupt me while I was explaining my billing complaint. And now my county government is trying to steal my money through late charges because their computer system ignored my online payment.

I phoned them yesterday to clear this up and they said I had to file an appeal. At one point, the supervisor asked if we could hang up now. “No, I’m not done,” was my reply. To her credit, she didn’t hang up. That’s the only thing she did right.

Ultimately, I’ll pay the late fees if they reject my appeal because I’m not stupid. But I won’t make it easy. The $102 will consist of approximately 140 written checks. I’ve done it in the past and I’ll take joy in doing it again. (And yes, every check will be for a different amount. Think $.02, $.73, and $.46)

For my entertainment, here’s the appeal letter I wrote today.

December 30, 2003

County of XXXXXXX
Appeals Board

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have two property tax bills that were incorrectly deemed overdue. I’d like to resolve this matter quickly and appropriately. The property tax numbers are #XX-XXXX-XXXX-X (Car) and #XX-XXXX-XXXX-X (Motorcycle). I’m appealing the assessment of late fee interest and penalties.

I made an online payment for the full sum of my tax bill ($281.28) on September 28th. This payment was never processed by XXXXXXX County. After receiving a late notice, I called on November 5th to resolve this matter. The customer service representative I spoke with could give no explanation for this payment not being processed correctly. The representative instructed me to make the online payment again, which I did on the afternoon of November 5th. The representative also told me that the late fee interest and penalties would be removed, which she failed to do. She also failed to note this in my account history.

I’ve now received another notice for the assessed late fees, minus the $281.28 I paid on November 5th. These are charged in error and should be removed. I’ve included a copy of the online receipt from my November 5th payment, but I do not have the confirmation receipt from September 28th. The only form I have for the 28th is the information confirming my information is correct. I clicked “Submit” at this point, and received the confirmation. I didn’t print this page because it had no confirmation number.

As I hope you are aware, there is no confirmation number on your online payment receipts. There is only an acknowledgement that the information was received. I’ve never had trouble with your system in the past, so I naively trusted it on September 28th. Also, I’m not sure if there is supposed to be an e-mail confirmation for the online payment process. If this is where the confirmation number is supposed to be, I received no confirmation e-mail for either my September 29th attempt or my November 5th payment.

I spoke with a supervisor on December 29th about this matter. She informed me that I needed to have the confirmation number for this transaction. I am surprised that this confusion continues to happen. First, your representative told me the fees would be removed on November 5th and did not remove them. Now, a supervisor is telling me to send in a confirmation number which couldn’t possibly exist. She also informed me that I had to file an appeal since late fees can’t be removed over the phone. I trust that this is the policy, but there is clearly a plethora of improper training/understanding of procedure going on here that perpetuates me receiving bad information.

I’m confused by this. I’m supposed to trust my county government, yet I can’t get a correct answer as to how to deal with this situation. Thus, I’m forced to file this appeal. I’ve made every good faith effort possible to pay my property tax on time and I continue to be met with issues on the part of the county government. I ask that you please rectify this situation by removing the incorrect late fee interest and penalties from my account. This is the only logical solution to this issue.



That letter was pages 2 and 3 of the 15 pages I faxed to the county this morning. I don’t expect to win, but they’re already wasting my tax dollars with this nonsense, so I’m going to make them waste my money on me.

Earthquake update

There was an earthquake outside of Richmond today. Many people around the Washington, D.C. metro area felt it. From this article, I present the common man’s report from the nation’s capital:

“A woman says she felt the ‘earth shake down’ in Fairfax, while a man in Laurel says his ‘whole house was shaking.’ Ken Smith in Rockville says his office shook and ‘stuff moved on shelves.'”

“Colleen in Arlington says she was sitting at her home computer and heard a low rumbling and then her desk lamp started to shift. ‘I also felt a slight vibration through my desk.'”

I will be watching the local news tonight. As much as I like the initial quotes provided by my fellow citizens, I know Fox 5 has it in them to find me an earthquake quote. Will Thomas, earn your paycheck and find me one of life’s winners. I’m going to set a high standard for you. See if you can beat my favorite disaster quote, from an Amtrak derailment several years ago. I’m not making this up.

“Jim Anderson, who lives less than a mile from the site, said he was in bed when the derailment startled him and his dog. ‘I thought my furnace blowed up. I heard a bunch of grinding and then boom,’ he said. ‘That dog of mine jumped out of bed and started growling at the window.'”

Ok, that’s a gold medal quote. Aim for the silver, Will.

Beware of catching Tono

Flu season is wreaking havoc across the U.S. This isn’t surprising since it’s the traditional flu season. What’s causing the most chaos is a shortage of flu shots. What entertains me the most is that health officials openly admit that the flu shot isn’t 100% effective. This quote explains it all:

“Even though health officials urge people to get their shots, it is still not clear how effective they will be against this strain, which is somewhat different from the three that this year’s vaccine is designed to combat.”

There are two obvious problems with the flu vaccine:

1. You’re getting 3 strains of flu. People get sick from this and it lingers. Would this be acceptable if we suddenly had an AIDS vaccine and people more than occassionally developed AIDS from the vaccine?

2. Companies that make the flu shot are guessing at which strains will be a problem. They’ve already admitted that they guessed wrong this year, so people who’ve had the shot are not immune to what is going around right now.

I was in Las Vegas last month and can confirm that Nevada has seen an outbreak. I caught the flu there. My friends caught the flu there. (From me, no doubt, but who’s counting?) It’s bad, but that’s why humans have an immune system. Don’t be afraid to use it.

One day, we’ll wake up to the idea that a healthy diet and exercise are the best protection against illness. Until then, we’ll continue to inject ourselves with random illnesses in the belief that it will protect us from all illness. This flu season should be an indicator. Don’t behave obediently to every word doctors say. We’re advanced, but we have more to learn. Don’t be a lemming. Think for yourself.

In summation, the flu shot doesn’t work. Duh.

Politicians suck

Browsing the newspaper this morning, I found an article that made me angry. It seems that Republicans in Congress wish to replace Franklin Roosevelt with Ronald Reagan on the U.S. dime. Why, I asked myself. That’s the dumbest idea since proposing a constitutional change to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for president. Republicans have lost their minds.

Here are quotes from the article that makes me angry:

“Supporters of the ‘Ronald Reagan Dime Act’ said Roosevelt and his government-expanding New Deal represented decades past, while Reagan’s conservative, anti-communist administration ushered in society as it exists today.”


“‘It’s what precipitated me introducing the bill at that time and why it was a lot easier to get a lot of support,’ said Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind.”


“‘I believe he represents conservative values as we would see them implemented through a president better than anybody else we’ve had in American history,’ Souder said. ‘He, to conservatives, represents kind of the reverse of FDR, who is kind of the liberal icon. Ronald Reagan is the conservative icon.'”

(Special note to voters in Mark Souder’s Indiana district: he must be voted out if he runs for re-election. He’s wasting our tax dollars with this and you have the power to stop it.)

Ronald Reagan is not a saint. He was president during a very prosperous time in United States history. Bill Clinton was president during a very prosperous time in United States history. Ronald Reagan had a scandal while in office. Bill Clinton had a scandal while in office. Where’s the push to idolize Clinton?

It’s time to start a petition to have Clinton’s face put on the $10 bill. Sure, Alexander Hamilton was instrumental in solidifying the financial foundation of the U.S., but that was during the age of agriculture. Clinton was president during the prosperous Dot-com 90’s. We missed our chance to change the money during the industrial age. Let’s not miss it for the information age!

Mark Souder… you, sir, are an idiot.

P.S. Earlier in this post, I meant to write “…quotes from the article that MAKES me angry…”. Get used to it, because that’s what your children’s grammar books will say once Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes president. I’m just practicing. So should you.

“Thank you” for reading my “blog”

I was in New York’s Penn Station on Sunday, waiting to catch a train home. On a sign by the departures board, there was a sign that read as follows:

“Thank you” for traveling on “Amtrak”.

Why are there quotations in that statement? Why? Since the train was late for my third consecutive trip, they might as well say

“Fuck you” for traveling on “an expensive subway”.

Which illiterate dumbass wrote that sign? To that person, I say this: “Fuck of!”

Stupid people are great fodder

I love stupid people because they let me yell wildly. First, I’m addicted to Newlyweds. I can’t NOT watch. Jessica Simpson is so great. I thought she must be acting, but there’s no way. Even if I had been attracted to her before, she’s too stupid to keep a reasonable man’s interest. That doesn’t stop me from watching because that show is crack for superior people like me.

In between pitching changes in tonight’s Red Sox-Yankees game, I watched Wheel of Fortune. The woman who was in control of The Wheel kept guessing on the puzzle, getting each letter correct. She had $5,000 and one covered letter. She didn’t know what that letter was so she spun again and landed on the jackpot. That was $8,950 if she could solve it after guessing the last letter.

Allow me to repeat that she only had to guess the last letter. Everything else was uncovered. With heavy uncertainty, she asked for a “G”. There was no “G”.

The answer as shown was “All work and no play-do_”. Granted, the answer is stupid, but what the hell is “All work and no play-doG”? That’s ignorant.

The free world is screwed

According to this article, Hurricane Isabel is causing some issues for the DC area public transit system. Just like a 4 centimeter snowstorm on a Saturday, it’s time for panic. WMATA will likely shut down the subway and bus service for Thursday in the DC metro area. Of particular interest is this passage:

“Initially the transit agency planned to continue underground service, but Farbstein said officials decided it would be easier to explain a systemwide shutdown, rather than a partial shutdown.”

The men and women who RUN THE FRIGGIN’ FREE WORLD live here. If they can’t figure out why only outside service is shutdown or whether or not their subway station is outside, we’re all fucked. It’s wind and water, not armageddon, so relax and go to work tomorrow. Keep America moving.

And you have enough, so leave the bread, milk, and toilet paper on the store shelves, you dumbasses.

Wasted Opportunities

The 12-year-old girl I wrote about yesterday settled her case. This is a complete travesty. Her family and her lawyers had a chance to stand up to RIAA and make a statement. Instead, they succumbed to the scare tactics and bullying of RIAA. This is made worse because the obvious question is how RIAA managed to get the girls name to use for the subpoena. She’s 12, so I doubt her name is on the account.

The worst part of the settlement is this quote, which I’m sure she was forced to say: “I am sorry for what I have done. I love music and don’t want to hurt the artists I love.” Since the statement was released by RIAA, we don’t need to wonder who wrote it. Especially this: “We understand now that file-sharing the music was illegal.”

Insert your own pithy anti-RIAA message here.

Caveat Emptor

I was browsing eBay this afternoon and found an item titled Clay Aiken Surprise Package!!!!!. (Yes, I was searching for Clay Aiken stuff. Sue me.)

My point is this, as of this writing, the bid is $41. For a SURPRISE! How can there be so many morons willing to bid on a surprise? If you don’t like the surprise, you have no complaint because anything you get is a surprise.

The only surprise you’re going to get is getting your money stolen.

UPDATE: The winning bid was $46. In the profound words of a radio commercial I heard tonight, you could get a “finding out your girlfriend has an adam’s apple” surprise. Think about that for a moment.

I am not Dennis Hopper

Tonight, as I waited for the Orange Line train to arrive, a train arrived with its lights off and its sign reading “No Passengers”. After it pulled up to the platform, the train operator said the following over the speaker: “This train is out of service. Please do not attempt to board the train.”

There are two fundamental assumptions with this statement. The first is that I’m stupid. I see the train has no lights, and I can read the sign that states “No Passengers”. Since I’m willing to concede that the Metro has blind riders and illiterate riders, I let this one slide.

The next assumption is that I will attempt to board the train. Miss Train Conductor, you never opened the doors. How am I supposed to board this train? I am not going to cling furiously to the side or ride on top of the roof. I saw Speed, so I know what happens when somebody rides on top of the subway train.

In my 30+ years of life, I’ve also learned that I can’t teleport. It’s sad, I know, but it’s a fact. My brain, as tired as it may be from work-induced apathy, does not suspect that I can teleport onto the train. It’s smart like that, applying lessons learned over the years.

Thus, I correctly assume that I will not be boarding this train. But thank you for helping the blind passengers.