Posts Tagged Rants

Yellowbook Do-Not-Deliver Delivery Option

Last summer I followed the procedure that should turn off (one of) the ersatz “Yellow Pages” directories littering our driveway.

This just arrived:

YellowBook Do-Not-Deliver Delivery

YellowBook Do-Not-Deliver Delivery

Seeing as how they have the wrong town in my address, there’s still another excuse available.

My guess: they’re paid by tonnage of books delivered and have a powerful incentive to continue delivering all of them, no matter what gets in the way.

You absolutely cannot make this stuff up.



Amazon Packaging

The ample padding around this bag of fragile pecans leaves nothing to be desired:

Amazon - well-packed pecans

Amazon – well-packed pecans

They’re firmly held in place on all sides, well protected from injury, and survived their shipping ordeal unscathed: not a bruise or break to be found. Well done!

That’s not always the case. A padded envelope recently arrived with an obvious wound:

Amazon - envelope perforations

Amazon – envelope perforations

Which came from its completely unprotected contents:

Amazon - unprotected PCB pins

Amazon – unprotected PCB pins

Fortunately, the fragile glass front plate of that OLED managed to put itself flat against a small box inside the otherwise empty bag. it wasn’t broken, but due only to good fortune.

“Static sensitive parts enclosed”, indeed …


Verizon FiOS at 1 Gb/s for $70? Really‽

Jessica: Hi! I am a Verizon specialist, can I help you today?

You (that would be me = Ed): Verizon has announced gigabit Internet service for $70/month. That isn’t listed as one of the my “upgrade” options. Is it available in this area? If not, why do the 25 and 50 Mb/s services cost 90 and $100/month?

Jessica: By chatting with us, you grant us permission to review your services during the chat to offer the best value. Refusing to chat will not affect your current services. It is your right and our duty to protect your account information. For quality, we may monitor and/or review this chat.

Jessica: Hey there! My name is Jessica. Happy to help!

Jessica: Thank you for being a valued Verizon customer, I will be glad to check the information for you.

Jessica: For security and protection of your account records, please provide your first and last name as it appears on your account, plus one of the following pieces of information. Either your:


You: [redacted]

Jessica: Thank you for the information, Edward Nisley!

Jessica: Please give me few minutes to check the information.

Jessica: I appreciate your patience.

Jessica: Thank you for safeguarding the account.

Jessica: Thank you for your years of loyalty to Verizon!

Jessica: It looks like you currently have just Verizon Fios Internet up to 25/25 Mbps plan.
Just to confirm, are you looking to make upgrade for just Fios Gigabit Connection?

You: That’s correct: I do /not/ want phone or TV service.

Jessica: I have checked the information and it looks like Verizon Fios Gigabit Connection is not available for your location.

However, you can make the upgrade for Verizon Fios Internet up to 100/100 Mbps and above speed plan.

You: Which gives me the opportunity to pay twice as much for 10% of the bandwidth: definitely an unattractive offer.

Jessica: We are offering different speed plan with different prices and great discounts.

Jessica: It looks like you are currently paying just $45.99/mo. for your Verizon Fios Internet upto 25/25 Mbps plan.

Jessica: Just to confirm, are you looking to make any upgrade?

You: I was interested in 1 Gb/s for $70. I’m uninterested in bait-and-switch tactics for lower bandwith at higher prices. Based on the gigabit price, I should be getting 25 Mb/s for $1.75/month … what sort of discount can you offer to make up for that sort of overcharge?

Jessica: I understand how you feel.

Jessica: The availability of speed and price vary from location to location.

You can get our Verizon Fios Internet up to 50/50 Mbps plan at just $59.99/mo. before taxes with new 2 year agreement.

Jessica: The base price of this plan is $99.99/mo. before taxes. However, you will be getting $40 OFF for 24 months with new 2 year agreement plan.

Jessica: So, its just $59.99/mo. before taxes.

The estimated price would be just $62.48/mo. including taxes and fees.

Jessica: Just to confirm, would you like to go ahead and make the upgrade for this speed plan?

Jessica: I haven’t heard from you for a few moments. Would you like to continue chatting?

You: That’s the bait-and-switch tactic I’m /not/ interested in; DO NOT change my service. Verizon tacks on a few bucks a month for a “Municipal Construction Charge” without actually building anything. Let me know when you can offer me a gigabit for $70, then we can talk. Before then, DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. Thanks …

We are sorry, but the agent was disconnected, please wait for the agent to reconnect..

We apologize for the unexpected delay, an agent should be with you very soon.

Agent Carl enters chat

Carl: Hi there! You have reached Carl. How may I help you today?

You: Do you have access to the previous half hour of chat before Agent Jessica was mysteriously disconnected?

Carl: It seems that the previous agent lost connection.

Carl: I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. She might have faced some technical issues.

Carl: Pleasure assured no changes will be made on your account without your consent.

Carl: I read that you wish to check the availability of Gigabit speeds for your home. Correct?

You: That’s what I asked, half an hour ago, and was told it’s not available, but I /can/ pay more than that (minus a teaser discount) for 10% of the bandwidth. If that’s still the best you can do, it’s not what I want.

Carl: The availability of services and plans is address specific. I see that the previous agent informed the Gigabit speed is not available.

Carl: The prices and promotions are time specific.

Carl: You get discounts and promotions available at the time of signing up for new services.

Carl: When you signed up for services 2 year back, you get the promotions available at that time.

You: OK, we’re going in circles. Let me know when you can deliver what Verizon offers to other FiOS customers. Thanks …

Carl: Right now, the customer who sign up for new service on a new account for 1st time, they get the offers available right now.

Carl: You’re welcome.

Carl: Is there anything else I can help you online today?

You: Nope, we’re off to a concert. Have a good rest of the evening!

Carl: You too have a great evening.

Carl: If you need assistance in the future, visit us anytime on the My Fios App or at Thank you for chatting with Verizon.


Dropbox Tour: To Keep Learning, Click Cancel

After copying a Digital Machinist column to my Dropbox folder, I went to the site to get the link, discovered they improved the UI, declined a Flash-based tour of the new features, and got this baffling confirmation dialog:

Dropbox - tour exit dialog

Dropbox – tour exit dialog

So. Many. Wrongs.


Gas Pump UI: FAIL

During our most recent trip, I stopped at a new-to-me gas station, managed to figure out the pump’s UI enough to swipe my card and fill the tank, then utterly failed at the Print Receipt? prompt:

Gas Pump Keypad Abrasion

Gas Pump Keypad Abrasion

A quick hike to the adjacent pump suggested pressing the illegible key above Enter, but the UI timed out before I got back and the promised “moment” never ended. The attendant generated a receipt showing I’d paid for the gas and told me to jiggle the pump nozzle, which didn’t improve the situation. We eventually agreed he’d handle it later and I drove away, never to return, hoping that the next customer didn’t get a free fill on my dime dollar C-note.

Surely I’d know what to do, were I a regular customer …


Patient Sign-In FAIL

We must announce our arrival at the dentist by signing in through a web-based iPad app:

Dentist iPad sign-in - network fail

Dentist iPad sign-in – network fail

You’ll note the signal strength indicator in the upper left shows as much RF as one might reasonably expect from a router within line-of-sight across the room.

FWIW, I’m getting really tired of the hipster dark-gray on light-gray design ethos.


eBay Purchase Gone Bad: Chronology

So those LED filaments weren’t packed nearly well as necessary to get them halfway around the planet:

Broken LED Filament 3

Broken LED Filament 3

The complaint I eventually filed with PayPal went like this (with commentary in parentheses):

3/15/2017 10:00 EDT – Buyer: eBay issue tracking: xxx Paypal Case ID: yyy

This eBay seller shipped delicate parts without padding, did not ship replacements as promised, has repeatedly offered a refund without actually doing so, and has attempted eBay feedback extortion.


11 Jan – broken parts received in unpadded envelope. Contacted through eBay, sent photos

13 Jan – “we can resend you and it will take 35-45 days,so is it ok for you ?”

(I asked for a refund, which was ignored)

16 Jan – replacements allegedly send by untracked mail, not received by 15 March = 60 days

(and still missing: draw your own conclusions)

18 Jan – “if you still haven’t received within the promised , please feel free to contact me ,i can solve the problem for you”

28 Feb – “If you agree with me, I will send your money to your paypal account, […] And meanwhile I will also send you one ebay feedback revision request, […], revise your negative feedback into positive feedback with all 5 star point.”

(I pointed out that feedback extortion is contrary to eBay policy and asked for a refund)

7 Mar – “I am really sorry for this issue. And please trust me. I’m a responsible eBay seller. I will be in charge of this problem. I will do my best to solve the problem and meet your satisfaction.”

7 Mar – “So could you please do me a little favor to send me a photo?”

(Photos first sent 11 Jan, re-sent 8 Mar)

9 Mar – “I’m so sorry about that issue . we can refund partial money for you. So is it ok for u”

(I disagreed and, again, asked for a complete refund)

10 Mar – “i will refund you soon, may i refund to your paypal?”

(I insisted on a refund through eBay for tracking)

10 Mar – “Please give me some time, I will check it for you.”

14 Mar – The seller will send you a $ 5.13 USD refund after they receive the returned item.

(At which point I escalated this to a claim with this summary)

I put pictures of the broken parts on my blog:

The attempted feedback extortion on 28 Feb calls for a complete refund and punitive action.

Returning $5.13 worth of parts to China is obviously absurd and the seller knows that, having avoided mentioning that “requirement” while previously offering refunds.

After two and a half months, it’s long past time for a complete refund.

Thank you.

Those brief snippets don’t convey the flavor of the seller’s correspondence, again with (commentary in parentheses):

12 January 2017
can you use?

(No, I cannot)

13 January 2017
Dear buyer ,
thanks for your patience and understanding .
we can resend you and it will take 35-45 days,so is it ok for you ?looking forward to your reply .
Best wishes.

(No, I want a refund)

16 January 2017
Hello, my dear friend,
Thanks for your kind communication.
I place order for you now and it will be resent in 24 hours. I will call post office to deliver quickly. Hope you can get it soon. If you still haven’t received within the promised , please feel free to contact me ,I can solve the problem for you. Thank you.
Best wishes.

(I asked for the tracking number)

17 January 2017
dear buyer,
we have tracking number but it shows only the information in China, there is no information abroad, as it is an economical shipping, we have to reduce our loss, so is it ok? looking forward to your reply.
Best wishes.

(This was when I realized they were in scammer mode)

18 January 2017
if you still haven’t received within the promised , please feel free to contact me ,i can solve the problem for you. Thank you.
Best wishes.

(The “promised” was far beyond eBay’s claim limit. I said I would file a claim in late February)

28 February 2017
Hello Buyer:
I just got your negative feedback.
From your feedback, I know that you are not satisfied with the item. I am so sorry for that. And I am also so depressed with your negative feedback. It really hurt me a lot.
So I think I can give you fully money back, and you can just keep that item for compensation.
But I really hope you can revise your negative feedback into positive feedback with all 5 star seller performance. That is very important.
If you agree with me, I will send your money to your paypal account, And you can log in your paypal and accept that money. And meanwhile I will also send you one ebay feedback revision request, you can view it in your ebay message box, revise your negative feedback into positive feedback with all 5 star point.
That is the most important for me.
Is everything OK for you?
I really hope your kindly understanding.
Looking forward your answer.
God Bless you and all your family.
Best Wishes

(I filed a claim and posted negative feedback, as I wasn’t thrilled with the purchase)

8 March 2017
Dear buyer,
Thank you for your message. I’m so sorry about that issue . we can refund partial money for you. So is it ok for u?Looking forward to your reply .
Best wishes.

(I dsagreed and asked for their long-promised full refund)

9 March 2017
Dear buyer,
Please give me some time, I will check it for you. Thank you for you email.
Best wishes

(Time was not on my side)

As it turned out, the eBay claim period ended a few days earlier than I expected and eBay’s customer support recommended filing a dispute on Paypal. I asked how to handle issues like this in the future and was told, very firmly, to open an issue immediately when a problem occurs on an order from a foreign seller. A formal eBay issue, rather than just “send a message to the seller”, starts the resolution clock and provide a powerful incentive to Make Things Happen.

So noted.