Virus Vote: Verizon: Yay. Cox: Nay.

We’re all gettin’ ’em.

Emails from businesses, service providers, eateries, every email list you’re on regarding changes in policies, procedures, operating hours, during this pandemic.

I wanna give a shout-out to Verizon. Yeah, that telecommunications behemoth with its indelible “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Yes I can!

My text alert buzzed a few days ago. I very rarely receive texts — and most are telling me some bill is due — so I didn’t open it with anticipation.

‘Twas a surprise awright:

“We have added 15GB of data to your plan at NO CHARGE.”

Whaaaa?!?!

“For use from March 25-April 30.” A deadline, awrighty, I’ll take that!

“You can even use your phone as a mobile hotspot.” No need but nice to know.

See, I’m on Verizon’s cheapest bare-bones plan — 2GB a month. Piddly — even laughable — amount. Millennials and snowflakes would roll their eyes.

Yes, I’d tell ’em, I do live on data crumbs! ‘Cause my phone is a separate entity NOT welded to my body!

Anywho. This data gift comes at a great time! With the gym closed — and Phoenix weather still pleasant (though not for very much longer ) — I’m out walking every day, often listening to the radio on the phone. Bumps up my data use big-time.

Now I needn’t add overage fees to my stacked plate of worries!

Ultimately it’s not about the data bonus — still very nice! It’s about the goodwill: the heart of customer service.

And this gesture I shall remember should I re-evaluate my carrier down the road.

I Can Hear You — And Don’t Like What You’re Saying

 

Cox Communications on the other hand … too that telecommunications giant and leading Internet provider in my region.

My monthly bill just abruptly shot up from $60 to $90 — a 50% increase. No forewarning, no announcement, no knowledge and certainly no consent from me.

This REALLY TICKED ME OFF.

I’ll spare you the grisly telephone scenes … the sum hour on hold … shoddy “customer service” … Cox dropping the ball. We don’t need the stress.

In these troubled times, EVERY local service provider is recognizing tough times and stepping up with pretty remarkable and generous offers to ease the burdens on customers.

Everybody except Cox, to my experience.

Not only did they jack up my Internet costs 50% with no warning or *any* change in service whatsoever!, they played hard hard hardball in negotiating a new rate.

To be noted: I’ve been a model customer this past year. Not that they care, reward that or incentivize my continued business in any way. They don’t.

After grueling conversations, my increase is now “only” 15% instead of 50%.

Insert me on my knees in classic: “We’re not worthy. We’re worthy” from “Wayne’s World.”

Is it about the money?

It is, yes, in part.

Everyone’s finances are getting hit. Most of us are cutting back, cutting out and operating in survival mode.

Innumerable businesses and service provides are extending discounts, forgivenesses of late fees, etc. etc. etc. to ease burdens.

Cox is doing the opposite.

It’s raising my rate, regardless. Giving no incentive to continue giving them my business or loyalty.

It is partly about the money, the increased stress imposed during incredibly stressful times.

And it’s about the goodwill — or lack thereof.

Just as I shall remember Verizon for its generous gesture in a crisis, too shall Cox be remembered for being, really, cold-hearted dickheads.

(Were my Stressors Plate not already overloaded, I’d have dumped ’em. Just don’t have wherewithal for demanding research into Cox competitors, technology and equipment changes.)

So yes, Verizon, I can hear you now! MERCI.

Cox, I can year you too. Cold-hearted Careless Meanie.

Advertisement

BeyondWords.Life: Flash and Foolishness

Beyondwords.life. If nuthin’ else, they live up to their name.

The Beginning:

Beyondwords.life recently ran an ad for freelance writers.

Hopped over to the site, liked what I saw. However, there was no indication of pay rates in the ad or on the site.

So I zipped off a quick query:

“Hello,

“Love your site! One question however. Found no mention about pay rates. Are published submissions paid or unpaid? Thanks, (name)”

Time passed. Then a response:

“Dear (name):

“Thank you for contacting Beyond Words. We are currently reviewing all submissions and will be in touch with you shortly. Regards, Editorial Team”

Huh??

I responded:

“Hello, I submitted nothing. Except a quick query. Answered with an irrelevant canned response. Tsk.”

I’m ever amazed (not in a positive sense) when companies in the communications business fail to do just that. Connect. Communicate.

Beyond Words replied:

“Hello, (name), Thanks for the reply. I will remove you from the email list.”

Double huh?! {incredulously} What’s that achieve? How’s that relate to the question about rates?

It doesn’t. It’s foolish. Irrelevant. It’s stupid.

I replied:

“Huh? Why? That’s silly. Better is replying to the quick query.”

Won’t be hearing from them is my prediction.

The irrelevancy of the responses from Beyond Words, their misdirection, failure to respond to a simple and fair question, and the topper, deleting my name from an email list {what in their minds is that achieving?!}  … it’s beyond words that they operate an online business. Pretty f-ed up.

Beyond Words: Being true to their name. Beyond Words: Writing them off. Into the Companies That Suck Category they go.

The End.

A Bar to Remember

Not that sort. Sorry, folks. This kind:

refrigerator door bar

refrigerator door bar

It’s a bar that goes on the inside of a refrigerator door. It sits in front of a built-in narrow shelf to restrain items like condiments, small bottles or containers.

When I moved in, that bar was already misshapen by stress. Bulging in the middle from restraining items too big for its capacity. So it was only a matter of time until it … yes … snapped! Who among us couldn’t say the same for ourselves?! 😉 It broke smack in the middle.

So, to repair, I rejoined the broken ends with strapping tape. It worked.

A conundrum arose when I was learned I must move. The bar. And not the fun type with whiskey and beers, laughter and tears!

In short — eight words to be exact: My property management company’s not to be trusted.

Its reputation for fining tenants for even the slightest repair, like a nail hole, and withholding deposits by the chunks if not entirety precedes them. I’d tell you its name so you can read one bad Yelp review after another after another but I wanna take no chances! Especially since I’m very soon to move and NEED that deposit!

Soooooo, I removed the strapping tape and tried to repair it. First with epoxy. Didn’t hold. Tried Superglue. Ditto.

That left one option. Buy a new bar.

Not as simple as it sounds. Fortunately the label on the fridge back is intact, enabling me to get the model number. With that, I was then able to identify the part number from a schematics map — thank you Internet! Schmematics with so many parts listed and labeled that it looked to be for a rocketship instead of a refrigerator!

After calling around locally for a used part and getting zilch, I succumbed to the only remaining option: Buy the replacement part: new. Not as easy as it sounds!

Evidently this part is no longer widely available. The only place that had it for a “decent” price was ApplianceZone.com.

So it appeared.

After ordering and waiting and waiting for a part that never arrived, I contacted them. Via a live chat. They don’t have a telephone option. Everything’s email or chat. That shoulda been my first clue.

When I asked when I’d be receiving the order, ApplianceZone.com couldn’t answer. Save with: “It’s on back order.”

“What?! I wasn’t told that when I ordered.” Sidenote: I need that bar. Because I’m moving.

Her response in short: “You didn’t ask.”

“WHATT?!? It’s up to the CUSTOMER to ask about whether a product is backordered?!?”

“Yes. To check whether we have it in stock.”

Were that I could reach my hand through the computer screen and bop her head on her desk hard a dozen times!

And I’m being civil!

“The manufacturer gives an estimated delivery date of July 27.” Or some such. Estimated. Translation: no idea when it’ll arrive.

After not one but two glorious {cough cough} live chats with two different ApplianceZone.com women, I decided: This is ridiculous! Enough! Immediately cancelled my order. Requested a refund. Washed my hands of ApplianceZone for infinity and pledged to spread the word by blog or by mouth!

So after all the less-than-impressive-something-smells-shoddy dealings with ApplianceZone, how’d I come to get a bar?

Sears. Good ol’ Sears.

They carry the Magic Chef fridge. And parts. The same part through Sears is about double the price at ApplianceZone. OUCH!

BUUUT! They could get the part. Ship it at no cost, as a courtesy said the very nice and helpful Sears lady. ON THE PHONE! No live chat!

And deliver the part within a week. So she said.

And so it is. The bar arrived this morning. Well-protected in its big box and the right size.

The punchline? The price. The bar’s about 19 inches wide, 2 inches wide and made of cheap clear plastic (no doubt made in China). Whaddya think this cost?

Magic Chef fridge door bar

Magic Chef fridge door bar

{pause}

Answer: About $40. Or 53 Canadian dollars. Yessirree, Bob!

But! Though it cost a small fortune for what it actually is — a slice of easy-to-break cheap plastic — I consider it a steal. My landlord would’ve charged two or three times that to replace the taped-up broken bar! Assuming, that is, that they would’ve.

Many things, you just can’t attach a price tag. This fridge bar’s one. What I lost — my patience with and regard for ApplianceZone.com for starters … also pushing forward through the aggravations and major hassle of simply identifying and locating the part! … I gained in peace of mind, thanks to strength of foresight. My landlord can’t screw me over on this one!

And THAT deserves a toast. At a real bar!

Bolt Internet’s streaming all right — and it ain’t what you think

So I’m at the Wild Iris cafe. And the numbers that interest me aren’t at the cash register.

They’re these. Download speeds:

49.33 Mbps
39.21
46.50
38.82
42.62
32.69

Now compare those to these:

0.61 Mbps
0.98
0.93
1.00
0.63
0.89

Those, my friends, are the speeds, tested randomly through a day, of the ISP at my apartment building.

Bolt Internet.

Bolt. Not as in lightning quick — though by the name they’d like you to think that.

Bolt as in heavy inert metal. Goes nowhere. Dead.

I nearly fall outta my chair Wild Iris! At a download speed averaging 41.5 Mbps, I’m crusin’! Sailin’! Bookin’ it along the highway of cyberspace! I’m on the autobahn tootin’ the horn in joy, air blowin’ through my hair, the wind whistlin’ in my ears! I’m lovin’ it!

And the processor of the MacBook Pro makes it all possible. She’s built for speed, baby! Pages are loadin’ {snap! snap! snap!}. Images, bang! Boom! They’re there, whole, in all their wondrous retina beauty!

This is how the Internet is SUPPOSED to be! How a MacBook Pro is SUPPOSED to function!

Then …

THUUUUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…..dddddd……..dddddd…..ddddd…dd ….

A cannon ball dropped into the Grand Canyon.

Bolt Internet at home.

Where the (download) speed averages 0.90 Mbps.

Note the decimal point’s placement. Doesn’t even hit 1.00 Mbps

Let’s see those averages again:

cafe: 41.5
Bolt: 0.90

Gee, wonder whether they’d cut me a part-time rental deal for solely laptop use.

Here’s what really and I mean REALLLLLY gets me fucking ticked off at Bolt. They promise speeds up to 5 Mbps. Big fucking whoop for starters. Like that’s a SELLING point?!

The average speed in Arizona is 34.43! Arizona, with all her open space and deserts and mountains and sparse populations STILL averages better than Bolt in populated Prescott in Yavapai County.

Yeah, my region’s got issues with a dearth of ISP options (which is undoubtedly the only reason Bolt remains in business). While I’ve got issues with Cable One and its big fat fucking zero customer service (prior post), Cable One remains the best, fastest and most reliable service available in this area.

5 Mpbs. C’mon, Bolt Internet, least get outta the 1990s! Average speed then: 1.00 Mbps. On goddamn DIAL-UP!!

That’s the best as you can do after, what, 15 years of technological advances?! 1 year in tech years = 300 in human.

Point is that Bolt promises speeds up to 5 Mbps … big fucking whoop … and that’s their top o’ the line premium tier! “The Lightning Plan” it’s called. Fastest plan they got. Up TO 5 Mbps! For $90 a month. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is what the apartment owner pays.

Well, Bolt, I got the numbers. Two pages going on three of speed tests at all hours of a day.

And you’re nowhere NEAR 5. You’d be so lucky to reach 2 Mbps! Highest you’ve ever achieved is 1.01 Mbps. Twice. Blips in a week.

I just wanna push my hands through the computer screen and wrap ’em around the neck of the loser who runs that and their techs’ too — if you’re “lucky” enough to reach one and then only during office hours M-F because as we all know, Internet service neeeeever goes out in off hours or weekends, oh no …

Those cursed Bolt “techies” who repeatedly feed my building manager and no doubt other customers a stream of BS about “tests performed” and “positive results” and “signal strength” and assorted techie lingo to obfuscate the truth about their gawd-awful service and “everything’s fine now and up and running” and yada yada yada yaaaaaaaadaaaaa yadddddadaaaaa…… {fade to black).

That’s the one streaming you CAN count on from Bolt: BS.

Bad Bolt Internet! Blasted Bad Bolt!

Some companies you just wanna strangle.

Bolt Internet.

In Prescott, Arizona. What a sorry lot of losers and BS artists.

I’ve the good fortune of living in an apartment building I love. No complaints about the landlord, fellow residents, location, apartment. I feel quite blessed and watched over from above to be here.

Unfortunately — let me emphasize — unfortunately, the building is wired with Bolt Internet.

I could launch into a tirade about the CRAP service — “service” that Bolt provides. About:

* Dropped signals: routine.
* Technical service: Laughable. Inept. Available only during business hours M-F.

What happens if it goes out on a Sunday? You’ll be staring at dried paint on your walls. You’ll get no one. I stand corrected. You WILL get a voice on the other end. An answering machine. Big fucking whoop.

* Their “tech” visits to address problems? Um, did you randomly pick Joe Public off the streets, slip him a $50, dress him in a Bolt Internet uniform, hand him an officially-looking laptop and instruct him on the lingo toward convincing a customer that all tests indicate the signal’s swell and … wait for it … “you should be sailing on the Internet now.”

BULLSHIT!! Bullshit, Bolt!! I’ve ample evidence to prove otherwise.

* Speed tests. Bolt Internet doesn’t want you to know — and they certainly won’t tell you! — that you can test download and upload speeds online.

Ookla’s speediest.net is among the biggest and brightest of the bunch. It’s a handy user-friendly measuring tool to check whether your ISP is delivering the speed it claims … the speed … wait for it … that YOU are paying for.

My landlord pays some obscene amount of money — around $1,000 a year. So he’s in Bolt’s top third or fourth tier: Bolt’s Streaming Plus ($75/mo.) or Lightning plan ($90) at 3 Mbps or 5 Mbps, respectively.

I know, I know. Utterly ridiculous, those prices for basically dial-up speeds in the 1990’s! Can you pronounce greed and spell out s-c-a-m?

My landlord’s not techie and unfortunately he swallows Bolt’s BS bait every time.

So I’ve been running multiple speed tests at random times mornings, afternoons and nights and recording the results.

What’s alarming, though not a bit surprising, is that Bolt’s top download speed is … wait for it …

A WHOPPING 1 Mbps!!

WOW! A speed like that could send the hat off your head sailing into the horizon, never to be worn again!!

Across all tests, Bolt has never exceeded 1 Mbps. And it rarely achieves that. It’s posted as low as 0.44 — I kid you not.

Bolt’s average download speed: 0.81 Mbps.

WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS. WRONG. WITH. THIS. PICTURE! ! ? !

I keep telling my landlord: Bolt is crap. They’re taking you for a ride. He’s paying BIG bucks for 0.81 Mbps?!?! Speeds like that, you may as well walk your email over to your recipients.

0.81. Know the average download speed in Arizona? (There are sites that provide state-by-state averages too.) 34.43 Mbps.

And then there’s big Bolt with its piddly 0.81. Pathetic. Dirty rotten scoundrels for charging for it.

Bolt Internet, you should be ASHAMED. Ashamed to market yourselves as a “service” and to make false claims about speed. Ashamed to receive money for service that is unreliable, unsteady, subpar and ridiculously overpriced for the speed and services provided.

You’ve been found out by me and others. It’s my goal to spread the word out and warn people that what is promised is far, far from what is delivered.

“Bad” is hardly an apt descriptor. Abysmal. Dismal. Insufficient. Junky. Low-grade. Meager. Rotten. Shoddy. Take your pick, each applies.

Were it my call, I’d dump Bolt in half a heartbeat and switch to Cable One, which provides the best, fastest and most reliable Internet service available in the Prescott (AZ) region.

Unfortunately, my landlord’s techie ignorance work against him and all residents and in favor of Bolt. Bad Bolt. Blasted Bad Bolt.

Taking the Bullhorn to Businesses

Bad press is better than no press, they say.

While I can see the truth in some situations, i.e., Hollywood, the movers and shakers, in general I wouldn’t agree with the adage.

Take fabfitfun.com. I’m not singling them out on. They’re the first to spring to mind after yesterday’s post, giving them their deserved dings.

We are a society of information overload. The amount of CRAP on the Internet, in social media, and available at our fingertips at a moment’s notice — 10 moments if you’re working on a dinosaur laptop that creaks and creeps along like I am — is monumental, no doubt.

On the flip plus side, information that’s credible, valuable, helpful and worth reading is easily and widely disseminated.

And this is my approach with my writings/blog. “I’m not Ralph Nader’s daughter but I coulda been,” I often quip. My passion for consumer advocacy and holding companies to standards is palpable.

I could make a semi-career out of spreading the word on companies that measure up and those that don’t. My instincts are strong and my head smart and my words powerful, loud and on point. I don’t skirt around company failures OR successes.

Neither am I bound by political correctness in ANY way, shape or form! In fact, political correctness is such mountainous manure long shoveled by the libs and swallowed up by the public that I could write voluminous posts on that alone.

I won’t. Not today. Today’s about companies that suck and companies that succeed. And as a passionate consumer advocate type, I love spreading the word on them to those who are interested, who care and who actually hold companies to a standard and measure of quality anymore.

Most people don’t. It frustrates the hell outta me. By holding no company accountable, sloppy players are left off the hook. They’re allowed to slide by with substandard service or product and rotten customer care. Which, btw, is precisely my experience and foundation of public  complaint with fabfitfun.com.

On another day, I’ll write about the importance of consumers getting involved and stepping up to the plate when there is an issue — be it a positive or negative — with a company. Because it’s a two-way street, a relationship between consumer and company. Each has a role. Each has a responsibility. Companies that drop the ball are as guilty of business malpractices as consumers who drop the ball in not holding companies accountable or to any standard.

That’s my “spiel” today. In short, blogging is my bullhorn to let the world know who rocks and who sucks among businesses, whatever be their service or product.  Those who deserve kudos will receive them; those that have earned a thumb’s down will get those. I’m a fair person, objective and entirely unattached to outcome. I report the news and I move on.

In closing, were I fabfitfun.com, I’d be embarrassed and ashamed to be so damn unresponsive to ANYONE who’s attempted to communicate, repeatedly, to no effect; moreover, I’d be ponying up effusive (and overdue) apologies to all those who took the time to complete a lengthy editing test who received not even a token acknowledgment.

That’s rude, discourteous, unprofessional. It’s just bad business.

For any who read this far, thanks and see y’all around the corner …

Signed, she who coulda been Ralph Nader’s daughter but isn’t

FabFitFun.com. — Edit to Flabby-UnFit-NoFun.com

Nothing ignites my ire like unresponsiveness.

Be it posters of job ads or housing (do NOT get me started on the hell that has become craigslist!), I think responding is essential as a courtesy and a respecting acknowledgment of the applicant.

America’s page overflow with lack of response. People think that simple manners aren’t necessary in their cars and behind their computer screens. They think the world begins and ends with them. They think that because they can’t see the faces of those sending emails, they don’t have to care. They get to be cold, inhuman, discourteous and get away with it.

It’s rude when anyone does it and in particular workplaces. I’m a rare breed, granted, because I still hold companies to standards. The bar’s set higher than with, say, posters of ads for housing. That is, responding to a job applicant is not only a human courtesy but a necessary display of professionalism. Take away both and that speaks volumes about that company. And for me, because I do hold companies to a basic standard of professionalism and responsiveness, my interest in working for them falls away.

That company today is FabFitFun.com

Under a theme of Life Lived Well, FabFitFun presents itself as a fun, loose, hip magazine focused on fitness, fashion, health and style. With articles like “4 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power,” “Best Outfits for your 2014 Workout” and “4 Delish Way to Dress Up Your Kale” — that’s “ways” by the way — FabFitFun is Cosmo meets Self magazines.

It’s  ironic I spotted the mistake in that hed on kale. Ironic because a month or two ago, I came across their online ad for copy editors. I’m a damn good editor. As a writer, I have not only such passion for the written word but a solid knowledge of and meticulous eye for the details, the nuts and bolts  of language. I’m a grammar nazi. From writing to editing, I hold myself to a very high standard in the craft of writing.

In that spirit, I took the FabFitFun editing test, which essentially was “find the 10 errors in this block of text.” There were more than 10, which I indicated in the test. Moreover, I went as far as to spot and correct the errors in their company introduction that accompanied the test! I’m just that committed to good writing.

Submitted the test AND the requested well-written cover letter. Waited. Waited. Waited and waited for an acknowledgment. Just a simple: “Thank you. We are in receipt of your test. We will get back to you in a week.”

Never arrived.

So I followed up.  Very important, to my standards, and woefully unappreciated by today’s employers. “Did you receive the editing test and cover letter? I’d appreciate a response” sorta message.

Again: Zip. Zero. Nada.

So after some time, I wrote AGAIN. By now, I wasn’t only frustrated, I was ticked off. I recounted the history of communications (or lack thereof). By this time, I was probing less for a response to the editing test and more for a HUMAN response.

What came back was an auto-reply “We’ve received your request (#XXXX) and will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reaching out!”

That was two weeks ago.

So I wrote them one last time, informing them in carefully-crafted words what I thought of their responsiveness (not much) and their professionalism (even less).

I’m done with FabFitFun.com. They’ve revealed themselves to be unacceptably unprofessional and uncommunicative — oh, the twisted irony for a medium in the communications industry!

Moreover, I’d advise anyone looking to work for them to look elsewhere, unless your low standards allow you to work for a publication that evidently doesn’t give a shit about responding to emails. More precisely: responding.

Moral of the story: Run fast, run far from FabFitFun.com! Hey, it harkens to the very fitness they promote!