To the lady who said “eh” and proceeded to run a red light after I caught up to you on my bike to ask you not to do so because it makes drivers dislike bicyclists, I will not feel bad for you the day you get hit running a red light on your bike. Also, I will be pissed if I get hit while riding legally by a driver who has it in for bicyclists because of idiots like you.
I got a letter from Joe Solmonese today. He wanted me to tell him why.
Why what? Why I wasn’t a member of HRC anymore, which made me want to scream, “I didn’t ask to be a member in the first place!” After months of being bombarded by HRC e-mail, snail mail, and phone calls of every imaginable flavor, I decided to write back to Joe and give him a piece of my mind. In case something happens to my letter in transit, here it is.
Okay, I’ll tell you why. I gave money to HRC explicitly to help fight Prop 8. I didn’t do it because I wanted to become a member. I didn’t do it because I wanted more mail in my inbox. I didn’t do it because I wanted magazine after magazine that went straight into recycling after I removed the plastic bag it came in. I didn’t do it because I wanted continued solicitations for money in the mail. I didn’t do it because I wanted offers for an HRC credit card. I didn’t do it because I wanted HRC to call me at home repeatedly.
I didn’t do it for any that, I didn’t ask for any of that, and I don’t want any of that. I just wanted to donate money to your efforts and be left alone. So please, leave me alone. Take me off all your lists. Each of the now countless times you’ve pestered me since my donations has made me less likely to donate in the future. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.
It’s quite all right if you don’t write me back.
In 2008, I finally cared enough about a cause to want to do something about it. I’m sad that the very organizations I sided with have since annoyed me to the point of not wanting to contribute to a cause ever again.
- – -
Update: 2009-09-18 @ 1:22 PM
After weeks of seeing HRC on my caller ID at all hours of the day, I finally picked up the phone today to tell them to stop calling. I asked them to take me off their lists, never call me again, and never send me anything again. The lady on the other end said she’d be happy to do so. I hope this works better than my letter did.
- – -
Update: 2009-09-30 @ 8:23 PM
Oh look, it’s yet another issue of Equality magazine in my mailbox. The cover says, “Your membership benefit enclosed”. That’s funny, I could swear I let my membership expire. At least that’s what I gathered from the series of “Renew your membership now”, “Your membership is expiring soon”, “Don’t let your membership expire”, and “Tell me why you let your membership expire” letters.
Membership status aside, I guess they didn’t read the letter I sent them, and only pretended to listen when I told them on the phone never to contact me again.
Off comes the standard plastic sleeve. I wonder if it’s recyclable. At least I can recycle the magazine. Sigh.
I got a letter from American Express earlier this month. It reads, briefly:
Important Account Price Increase Notification
- [...] This change will result in an increase to your APR.
- We are raising the APR on [...].
- We are raising the APR on [...].
- We are increasing the late fee. [...]
Thank you for being a Cardmember.
They sure have a funny way of showing their gratitude.
I pay $15.95 a month for the privilege of using a Comcast DVR that has, from day one, been buggy, slow, prone to freezing, and in need of periodic reboots. WTF #1.
These last few weeks, it’s started to have issues with recordings. It would jump to the beginning or end of a show when we tried to fast forward or rewind, sometimes just freeze the video while playing audio, or get stuck on certain sections of recorded shows. It seemed as if the hard drive was starting to fail. I asked Aaron if he could part with his shows still on the DVR so I could get a new one. He couldn’t, so we limped along, rarring at the thing with ever-increasing frequency.
And then, on Sunday, it failed so spectacularly that we couldn’t even rarr. It froze, we rebooted it, and when it came back, all our shows and settings were gone.
Gone. WTF #2.
Today, I finally had time to deal with it. I called Comcast, described what had happened, and asked for a replacement. The CSR directed me to reboot the DVR to fix the problem. Excuse me? Did he really think that a reboot was going to fix a flaky machine that had degraded to the point of losing all my data? Did he actually expect me to trust that this thing wouldn’t fail on me again? WTF #3.
I stated as much, and repeated my request for a replacement DVR. “I can send a technician to your house to replace it for $19.95,” he replied.
Let me get this straight, I pay $15.95 a month for equipment that works poorly and has just lost all my recordings, and they want me to pay to take care of THEIR equipment failure?! WTF #4.
The other option, which probably cost me more in time than $19.95, was for me to go do the exchange myself at a Comcast office. I told him that there was one near me, in Sunnyvale on El Camino, and asked if he could check to see if they had new, unused DVRs available. I explained that my current, nonfunctional DVR was a used unit from that office, and that they did not have any new units available when I first got this pile of crap. (Okay, I didn’t call it a pile of crap on the phone, but I really wanted to.)
After being on hold for five minutes, the CSR came back to say, “Please go to the Comcast center at 717 East El Camino Real in Sunnyvale.”
Oh really. Did I not just tell him that exact information?
“Did you check to see if they have new DVRs available?”
“No, I can’t check that.”
What the hell did he just spend five minutes doing, then? Did he not listen to a single thing I’d said? WTF #5.
“Can you give me their phone number, then, so I can check?”
“I don’t have their phone number. You’ll have to call 411.”
Comcast CSRs do not have contact information for their own offices? WTF #6.
The CSR continued with, “Can I help you with anything else?”
“No. Nothing.” Absolutely nothing. You are the most useless CSR on the face of the planet. You have just undone all the pleasant feelings I’ve accumulated from my last few calls to Comcast. Good job.
I tried to find a number for the Sunnyvale office online, but the Comcast website does not list phone numbers for the individual offices. They all point back to the general service number, with the CSRs who can’t tell me anything about what’s at the field offices. WTF #7.
Off I went to the Comcast Sunnyvale office for a replacement. I explained what had happened, the fact that I had originally received an old unit that’s given me nothing but trouble, and asked for a new, unused unit. They handed me a newer model DVR. I asked if it was new. They said yes.
I went home, plugged it in, and was treated to a DVR chock full of the previous user’s shows spanning from April 2008 to May 2009.
New, huh? Fucking liars. WTF #8.
I’m obviously angry, but also disappointed. Comcast has actually done a lot to make my experience with them better these last couple years, to the point where I’ve actually defended them on certain issues. And now this. What a letdown. Way to screw up what was turning into a pretty good customer relationship, Comcast. Now when someone says “Comcast sucks,” I’ll go back to agreeing with them.
Seriously Comcast, WTF.
I’ve given you a lot of feedback in the past. I’ve used your website, I’ve used your comment cards, and I’ve spoken with your employees. None of this seems to have had any effect, so instead of direct communication, I’ll just broadcast what I have to say on the internet. It still may not have any effect, but it’ll at least make me feel better.
What prompted all this? My latest visit to your Fremont store on Mission Blvd. It’s probably the most convenient store for me to visit on weeknights, but I try not to come here when I can help it; there always seems to be ridiculously long checkout lines, and this last visit was no exception.
Still, it wasn’t the long lines that pushed me over the edge. The thing that prompted me to sit down and start writing was what I found when I got home: The bagger had decided that out of all my purchases, the best way to send my dozen eggs home was in a plastic bag with two jars of pasta sauce. (She also placed that bag into the cart with a thud.) That slimy stuff on the inside of the bag when I got home? The eggs.
I considered going back to the store to complain in person, but it was too far away. I considered calling the store, but I didn’t want to waste my time waiting to get a manager on the line. I considered sending in a complaint through the website, but I’ve already done that before, and NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
My last bagging complaint through the website had to do with a cashier at the Sunnyvale store on El Camino who thought it was okay to throw my groceries into the bag. Ripe tomatoes, ripe avocados, followed by canned soup. I asked him nicely not to do that, and he apologized. I then sent a note through the website asking Safeway to better train their cashiers and baggers. I guess that note was ignored. That same cashier was throwing groceries into other people’s bags the next time I saw him.
I know it’s not impossible to train your employees to bag properly, because Trader Joe’s does it extremely well. My groceries are always impeccably packed, and those guys visibly take pride in their ability to do so.
Back to what I said about not wanting to call and wait go speak with a manager. I’m actually not so sure that I want to speak to a Safeway manager after witnessing the behavior of one of your managers at the Sunnyvale store on Hollenbeck Ave. He was condescending, dismissive, and rude to the customer in line ahead of me, and during their lengthy exchange that clearly did not need to take place at the register, he thought nothing of the inconvenience he was causing to the growing line of customers. After that experience, we swore never to return, as we did not want to give that manager’s store our business. We’ve kept that promise; it’s easy to do so when my stomach turns every time I pass by.
Your poor customer service extends beyond your stores. Earlier this year, you launched FoodFlex, a website that allows Safeway Club Card users to analyze their purchases in the context of health and nutrition. I thought this was a great idea, and signed up for it as soon as it was available.
Upon signup, I got an e-mail that said, “Your Club Card purchase information will be loaded within six hours. You’ll receive an email when your information has been loaded into your FoodFlex account.”
Seven days later, I still hadn’t heard back. I sent an e-mail asking about it, and received a form letter telling me to wait another 72 hours.
Two weeks later, I still hadn’t heard back. I sent another e-mail asking about it, noting that I had signed up three weeks ago and asked about it once already two weeks ago. I received the EXACT SAME form letter from the EXACT SAME customer service representative telling me to wait another 72 hours.
I sent back an unhappy reply stating that I had already waited 505 hours for my account to be activated, that I didn’t think another 72 hours was going to make anything better, and that I was not enjoying being blown off by customer service.
After sending some requested information, I got a reply from a different CSR that said, “I have contacted my IT Dept. about the issue with your Food Flex account and I am waiting for their response. Once they let me know that they have located what the issue may be I will contact you to let you know how we will resolve this issue for you.”
That was in March. I have not heard back since.
I do, however, receive automated monthly e-mails telling me my nutrition snapshot is available. When I log into my account, it tells me, “Thank you for registering for FoodFlex® Your Club Card information is being uploaded. It normally takes up to 6 hours.”
So. Much. FAIL.
And while I’m ranting about things that bug me about Safeway, remember my post about how your checkers ask for “cancer donations”? Recently, you added a request for donations screen to the device that customers use to swipe their credit card. It reads something like, “Do you want to donate to PROSTATE CANCER?”
Who in their right mind would want to donate to prostate cancer? *facepalm*
All that said, I don’t think you mean to be terrible. To me, it looks as if you mean well at the corporate level, but fail at execution. I liked your store makeovers, I can see that you tell your employees to say hello and ask your customers if they need help, I approve of your efforts to collect donations for good causes, and I think FoodFlex is a great idea. Unfortunately, when it comes to getting the details right, you fall flat on your face. And when your customers contact you to tell you what needs fixing, you ignore them. Not once have I heard back from you after submitting feedback. That tells me you don’t actually care about providing your customers a good shopping experience.
Perhaps you could learn a thing or two about good customer service from Peet’s.
As my unhappiness has grown, I’ve found that I can get most of what I need from Trader Joe’s, the farmers market, local produce shops, Asian supermarkets, and even Target. Better still, it’s cheaper for me to shop at these places than at Safeway.
I just realized that what I’m really writing to say is goodbye. We used to be so close, but instead of visiting you twice a week, I now find myself wanting to see you only once or twice a month. I’ve found grocery shopping happiness elsewhere.
You may never read this, but I don’t think you read anything I sent you through your website anyway. That’s okay; I think it’s more important that your other customers read it. Perhaps this will jog their memories about all the frowns you’ve put on their faces in the past. Maybe if we vote with our wallets you’ll actually start listening to what we have to say.
Why? Because they are liars.
April 11 – I want a new cordless phone. I go on Amazon, find the model I want, look at the list of additional merchants selling New, Used, and Refurbished items, scroll to the New section, and find a good price through Buzmart. I double check the details before making my purchase:
Seller note: BRAND NEW. FULL WARRANTY. BULK-PACKED, NOT RETAIL PACKED.
April 21 – The item arrives at work.
April 23 – I arrive at work to find this on my desk:
How many things are wrong with this box?
1. It’s not “BRAND NEW.” In fact, it says “REFURBISHED” on the box.
2. The contents inside were completely loose and banging into each other.
3. Some of the components were not even “Refurbished”. They were used, and DIRTY.
I immediately send them the following e-mail through Amazon:
I purchased a NEW Uniden DECT2080-2, and what arrived was a very poorly packed boxed labeled “Refurbished” with what appears to be used and still dirty product thrown inside. This is absolutely not acceptable, and I want a refund of my purchase and shipping costs. Also, please provide a return shipping label so I can send this back to you.
They reply with:
You will receive an e-mail at [my e-mail address] with a pre-paid return label for a full refund
April 24 – Still no return label.
April 25 – Still no return label.
April 26 – Still no return label.
April 27 – Still no return label. I send them this e-mail through Amazon:
I wanted to follow up on our last exchange from 4/23. I still have not received a shipping label for my return. Can you please send, or resend?
I receive a voicemail shortly after saying they kept trying to send me the label, but it wasn’t getting through.
April 28 – I give them a call and resolve the e-mail shipping label issue. Since I have them on the line, I ask why they sent me a refurbished/used item when the item description clearly stated that what they were selling is new. The response?
It says “New”, but that means it’s “Refurbished to New”.
That makes so little sense I decide to end the conversation.
Seriously, what the hell does “Refurbished to New” mean? Here’s a brief primer on the relationship between “New” and “Refurbished”.
New –> Used <--> Refurbished
You CANNOT go back to “New”. Ever.
So either they’re stupid, or they’re liars. Let’s assume for a moment that they aren’t liars, and really are stupid enough to think that you can “Refurbish” something to “New”. Some of the items in that box were not “Refurbished”, but flat out “Used”. How do I know? Because they were STILL DIRTY. That means they’re either *really* stupid, or they’re liars.
I receive a shipping label through e-mail later that day.
May 1 – I finally find time to drop the box off at the post office. I’m not happy about having to take time out to help fix their mistake.
May 4 – The item arrives back at BUZMART / DAKMART.
May 5 – I hear nothing.
May 6 – I hear nothing.
May 7 – I send them the following e-mail through Amazon:
USPS tracking shows that you received the returned product on 5/4. When will I receive my full (product plus original shipping) refund?
30 minutes later, they reply:
The refund has already been issued
30 minutes after that, I receive a refund notification from Amazon.
Now, it may well be that they issued a refund before I sent my inquiry and it was just floating around in Amazon’s system, but given that Amazon’s system has pretty much always been instant and speedy for all my transactions, I’m inclined to believe that “The refund has already been issued” is a lie.
Or, should I say, yet another lie.
May 8 – Refund reaches my account.
May 10 – I confirm that the refund has reached my account and write this post.
That was a massive waste of time. BUZMART / DAKMART will never see my business again. I’ll leave you to decide whether you want to give them yours, should the opportunity ever present itself.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for 5 days now. I finally have a moment to do so. (This is at the expense of last week’s NCWHL stats, but you all don’t want me doing stats while I’m distracted by my stuffy head anyhow. Trust me.)
Got into LAS for the annual tournament and headed for the airport’s snazzy new(ish) giant car rental center. We had a reservation with Budget, and I walked right up to the counter upon arrival. No line. That’s good, right?
The disinterested CSR at the counter looked up my reservation, then radioed the people in the parking lot for a car. While we waited, she joked loudly with a coworker about how she wouldn’t be working there if she wanted a job that paid decently. Several forevers later, they radioed back with a number. She tried to find it in the system. No luck.
CSR: What are you here for?
Me: A hockey tournament.
CSR: Would you like to upgrade to a convertible Mustang?
Me: Where would I put the hockey gear?
CSR: How about an Escalade? It’s on special. Only $30 extra per day. That’s a $100 savings.
Me: (How is $30 extra per day a savings?) No thanks.
CSR: (Harumphy face.)
The CSR went off to do something on a different computer.
While I was waiting some more, I overheard another CSR radioing for a 12 person van. The reply: We have no van. The CSR radioed back: But they have a reservation. The reply: But we have no van. CSR: But they have a reservation. The reply: But we have no van. Glad I didn’t try to reserve a van. Reservations apparently mean nothing at Budget!
Also while I was waiting some more, I overheard a third CSR talking to the customer at the station next to mine. “Would you like to upgrade for free for $5 a day?” My mind, it boggled at Budget’s definition of “free” and “savings”.
My CSR came back. She radioed that she had changed the status on our SUV so that it was now rentable. (To me, this meant it was not in rentable condition until she tricked the computer into thinking it was.)
CSR: Would you like full or basic coverage?
Me: I want the least expensive option.
CSR: Okay, then. Basic.
She printed up my contract, and the price came out to about $100 more than my reservation cost.
Me: My reservation says $150.
CSR: Oh, that’s without coverage.
Me: I don’t want coverage.
CSR: (Some schpiel that was supposed to scare me into wanting coverage.)
Me: Please remove coverage.
This displeased me greatly. Why? Because even though there are three options for coverage (none, basic, and full), she offered me only two, and didn’t give me the “least expensive option” even after I told her that’s what I wanted. IMO, she was trying to trick me into accepting basic coverage. Does this kind of deception (don’t forget “free” and “savings”) sound familiar? Budget’s sales practices, no better than Discover Card’s.
CSR: They said it’d take 10 minutes to wash, and it’s been five minutes, so you can head down in another five minutes.
20 minutes later, we were standing next to a still-empty parking space, waiting for the car.
Eventually, it came. We drove off. When we parked, I tried to lock it. The remote didn’t work. Janky!!! (Just like its dirty seats.)
I spent the weekend getting into the car by unlocking the driver side door with the key, opening the door, and pressing unlock to let everyone in. Each time we parked, I had to run to the back to unload my gear, then run back to the front to lock up, all the while hoping I wouldn’t accidentally lock the keys in the car.
I had the following conversation upon returning the car:
CSR: Where did you rent this vehicle?
CSR: And you had it for three days?
CSR: Oh. The system says you drove it 30,000 miles.
Me: *blink blink*
She was really nice and fixed it without any problem, but sheesh, Budget, you don’t even know how many miles you have on your cars?
I bet the tricksy disinterested CSR from Thursday screwed it up when she changed the car’s status.
I think I’ll go with a different car rental company the next time I go to Vegas. How about National? I like green.
I’ve been, for the last 13 years, a pretty happy holder of a Discover Card. After today, not so much.
I got a new card in the mail yesterday with the following:
Why you’re getting a new card – A merchant has advised us that your current Discover Card account information may have been compromised. For the security of your account, we upgraded the security features of your card without changing your account number.
If you’re wondering what those “upgraded security features” are, it looks like all they did was issue a new card with different CVVs.
The letter said my old card would be deactivated in a week, so I called to activate the new one.
Activation was simple, but then the representative on the phone launched into a schpiel about “protecting” my account, boring me with details about all the wonderful things that service does (perhaps to hide the bit about how much it would cost), finishing with, “I’ll get that set up for you, okay?”
No, that’s not okay. That’s Discover Card trying to trick me into adding a paid service to my account. I was not pleased.
He then launched into another long schpiel about some other service I really had to have for some other kind of “protection”. He finished this second schpiel in a similar fashion. No, let’s NOT enable my account with this lovely other feature that you want to charge me for.
I asked to find out why exactly they had to issue me a new card. He replied that he did activations only and transferred me to a CSR.
I asked the CSR what was going on, and she gave me a generic blurb about how their security department does periodic screens and how they sent cards out to everyone. Everyone?
“You’re telling me you sent a new card out to every single Discover Card holder this month?”
“No…” A couple minutes passed, and she returned to tell me that they sent 3,118 cards out for this particular merchant issue.
I asked for the merchant name. She said she didn’t have that information. I asked her to find out.
A few more minutes passed. I was told that she couldn’t tell me the merchant name because the case was “under investigation”. I asked how long an investigation would take. She didn’t know. I told her I still wanted to know the merchant name. She said she’d transfer me to the security department.
Click. I got a recording that told me to press 1 if I wanted to rate my service experience, otherwise, hang up.
Transfer, my ass! I pressed 1.
Click. I got another recording. This one said that my call could not be completed, and disconnected me.
So let’s see here. One of the merchants in the Discover network can’t keep my information secure, Discover won’t tell me which merchant it is, and when I press for that information, they hang up on me. This is in addition to trying to bullshit an initial answer to my question, pretending to care about service experience feedback, and trying to trick me into adding pay services to my card, twice.
Guess which card I won’t be using much from now on.
Update: I sent them an e-mail about it. Let’s see what they say.
Another update: I went to cut the old card and accidentally cut the new one. How appropriate.
Two days later update: They replied to the e-mail with “I am unable to provide any further information” and the usual schpiel about how I should feel safe using my card. Not that I don’t; I just want to know which merchant isn’t properly protecting my card info so I can decide how to deal (or not deal) with them in the future. I guess I won’t be replacing that cut up new card they sent me for a while. Still unhappy.
Sometime in the last few months, Smith Barney upgraded their Benefit Access website. At first, I thought this was a good thing. I’d had a goodly amount of trouble with their previous website, which locked me out with no informative message while still letting me log in with a really silly browser back and forth hack, and then one day got a minor upgrade that locked me out for good, which resulted in much frustration and several phone calls before the whole thing was resolved.
With this major upgrade, I figured they’d go all slick and AJAX-ey like the rest of the internet. Boy, was I wrong. They redid the entire site in Flash!
What’s wrong with you people??
Fast forward to today. My company’s stock has finally crept up to an acceptable price for me to sell some ESPP shares. I logged in and clicked the “Sell Shares” button. It crashed Firefox.
Okay, maybe that was a fluke. I logged in and clicked the “Sell Shares” button again. It crashed Firefox.
I fired up Internet Explorer. I logged in and their site told me I needed Adobe Flash Player 9. Why would I want to install 9 if I have 10 on my system already? I closed IE.
I fired up Chrome. I logged in and clicked the “Sell Shares” button. It crashed Shockwave.
It was now clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to place my order online. I called their customer service number to try to sell my shares via the automated phone system.
The automated phone system thought I still worked at my last company, and couldn’t find my ESPP account for my current company.
Eventually, I got a human on the line. Placing an order through a human is a major pain. I don’t know how many times I had to confirm, verify, and repeat information. I understand that they do this to make sure they get all the details of the order correct, but it’s tedious, annoying, and a giant waste of time, especially when I should have been able to place the order in less than a minute online.
I did finally get to place my order, right after the stock fell below my limit price. It’s still falling. Argh.
Their website offers no obvious way to contact them with issues. The customer service representative didn’t bother to escalate or try to resolve any of my issues with their website or automated phone system. She even told me to go use the website, at which point I reminded her that the reason I was talking to her was because their website kept crashing on me.
You would think that a brokerage firm, especially one as established as Smith Barney, would make it easy for their customers to do something as simple and common as selling shares. You would think.
I really hope my next company doesn’t use them for stock option / RSA / ESPP management.
To: Park SFO Management
I’m writing to tell you how displeased I am as a customer to show up at Park SFO after receiving a “Holiday Special” coupon with a TURKEY on it, only to find that you have decided not to honor that coupon for Thanksgiving week. That is very poor business practice, not much different from a bait and switch. Many of us parked there anyway because we had flights to catch, but I, for one, will not be giving you my business after this. I will also be telling all my friends about it so they don’t mistakenly show up for your “specials” in the future.
That’s what I just sent them through their website contact form. It’s easy to tell all your friends (and, conveniently, the rest of the internet) when you have a blog. :)
- – -
Update: December 1, 2008 @ 4:42 PM
When I returned to the lot on Sunday, I saw signs that more specifically said no to bigger, better coupons that I did not receive in the mail. Without having taken a picture of the sign I saw last Wednesday, I cannot say for sure whether they truly were excluding my 10% off plus one day free offer then. It could be that I simply misread. It could also be that they relented after getting numerous complaints. I got the discount I came for. I left appeased.
I can’t say the same for those with the bigger, better coupons. They were pissed, but their repeated complaints fell on deaf ears, as the lady in the payment office decided to simply ignore them. Customer relations FAIL!