unbound @ seema.org

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Head's up

If you have AT&T DSL, watch your bill carefully; they just upped my rate from $25 to $35 without any notice. This is doubly outrageous when you realize that their top rate for ALL packages (sans one) is $25 and the other one is $19.99. Just insane -- I've been with them since 2004 when my DSL was $14.99 and now they just willy-nilly keep raising it $5 by $5 as if I wouldn't notice. So watch out for this one and call if you see your bill go up.

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0 comments | 8:46 PM |

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


So my Prius has been recalled in this Great Toyota Brouhaha of 2009/2010. The car, however, hasn't been recalled for the stuck accelerator, but rather the floormat problem. So that's definitely a relief. I think having the stuck accelerator would be more worrisome of a problem, but I trust Toyota and Consumer Reports when they say it's a rare problem. I still think more people have died due to people talking or texting on cell phones than this accelerator problem.

I'm not discounting scariness of the issue, but for whatever reason, my loyalty to Toyota is strong. We're a three-Toyota car family and we've never had a problem outside of normal maintenance with any of the cars, including the '99 Corolla and '04 Matrix.

It also seems that Toyota is taking it on the chin, but it seems the problem is widespread across multiple brands. All you have to do is type "sudden car acceleration" into google and you'll see it spans a multitude of brands. According to Consumer Reports, 40 percent of complaints are related to Toyota and 28 percent to Ford (second place). I don't know how much of that difference is related to comparative number of vehicles on the road. Still, I think other people -- especially Ford owners -- should be aware of the issue since it does seem to be prevalent, but at the moment is completely focused on Toyota.

The good thing is Toyota is addressing the problem and they have a fix forthcoming that should put people's minds at ease. This recall doesn't change my feelings about Toyota and I would certainly consider another one in 10 years or so.

LotD: Sudden Acceleration: It's Bad and It's Not Just Toyota.

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0 comments | 7:39 PM |

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now that's service

Recently received an order from Crate & Barrel and they honestly do an amazing job of packing. Lots and lots of bubble wrap and tissue paper, usually double or triple the volume of the original object. It's actually rather comical just how well Crate & Barrel packs and just how much care they take in making sure the object gets to you in one piece.

Anyway, I was unpacking the box yesterday and it was a very nice dinner tray. Except that one corner had been cracked during shipping and then the piece fell off in my hand. Utter sadness. The packing slip that came with the shipment gave a phone number to call in case of an issues so I assumed it would be the run of the mill "Ship us the broken part back and we'll send you another one and oh yeah, you have to pay to ship it back to us." I also wondered since Sweat Sock City has a Crate & Barrel here, would I need to go to the store to exchange it for another one?

Anyway, Crate & Barrel apologized profusely for the broken tray and also for another item -- a soup bowl -- that had gotten scuffed. They said there was no reason for me to take the items to the store or to even ship it back to them. They said something along the lines of "Just throw those things away and we'll send you replacements free of charge within 3 to 7 business days." I was flabbergasted. Especially since the soup bowl is usable, it's just scratched up a bit. Crate & Barrel said it was just easier to send us a new one rather than do all the paperwork involved in reshipping/returning.

It was an amazing response and just so very helpful and very nice. Plus, I was SO glad that they didn't make me go into the store because as we all know, this might be the happiest time of the year, but certainly not in the department stores!

ps. If you are moving, I HIGHLY recommend Crate & Barrel packing materials. I'm currently in the process of moving (sniff!) and those gazillion yards of material for one itty bitty soup bowl is coming in handy as I move my frou-frou items.

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0 comments | 10:21 PM |

Sunday, November 01, 2009

LotD the second

One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do. I have to say, I have been on the receiving end of many, many of these before. Especially the wobbly table thing. I hate the wobbly tables so many restaurants seem to fix with a wadded up piece of napkin. Or getting your plate taken away before your companion is finished. Or having a lunch with a good friend constantly interrupted by a bored waitstaff who wants to join in (we didn't come to catch with you, oh random waitperson who we just met for the very first time). First fifty in the linked to article, the next 50 are promised to be forthcoming.

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0 comments | 8:57 AM |

Friday, July 17, 2009

Free from fees

Okay, so the title is a little bit of a misnomer, because if there's a way, there's a fee. But I ran into a little trouble with my bank last month as I was traveling and you know how it is when you cross time zones and borders; it's like all intelligence seeps out of your brain, slowly eroding memory. So one thing led to another and the next think I knew, I was looking at an Overdraft charge of $20. The kicker is, the bank pulled money from my savings account to cover my checking account; so it's not like the bank was out any money but *I* was out $20.

Anyway, that happened last month. On a whim today, I called my bank and asked them to waive the ODP charges. And -- they did. They're crediting me back the $20, which is essentially 10 breakfast tacos at my favorite taco joint, or 5 Starbucks coffees for those of you who drink those. It was fairly easy. I didn't even have to explain what happened, even though I had a ready story. I just said that I was charged $20 before the privilege of using my own money and that it didn't make sense. The representative went on and on about how the ODP was cheaper than Insufficient Funds, and my point back is, "You had my money. You used my money to pay the bill. You just had to take it from one account and move it to another." I was nice about it, and I was rewarded for my efforts. It was a total of 10 minutes work and the return was awesome.

I guess the lesson learned here is to ask. In the past, I've gotten late fees from credit cards waived, I've gotten cell phone charges for texting knocked off, negotiated down my internet bill, etc. People don't like to do these things because a) it seems confrontational, b) it takes time, and c) it's this whole idea of David vs Goliath. I mean really, who *is* Seema in the face of the Borg entity that is my bank? But nearly every time I've asked nicely, as Jack Nicholson would say, I've gotten the charges waived. And most of the times, you don't have to argue -- the customer representative usually has a bit of discretion to do what you ask and if you're a good customer and generally pay on time, they'll do what they can to make you happy.

A few months ago, I was tardy on renewing my cell phone contract on a new offer they sent me for two free months for renewal plus $15 off one month's service. So I just called up and asked them yes, I know the offer expired a couple of days ago, but can I get it anyway? And they said yes, and then I asked for the $15 off as well. They said yes to that. Total savings for about 10 minutes worth of work again was about $87. Again, awesome return -- better than you'd get in the stock market for sure.

Anyways, I'm pumped; I think I'm going to have a breakfast taco for dinner to celebrate.

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0 comments | 5:01 PM |

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Home away from home

So as I promised threatened a couple of posts ago, a critique of hotels. I've stayed in a lot of hotels over the last couple of years, ranging in price from about $140/night to a high of $289/night. I've had single rooms, two-bedroom suites, one bedroom suites, breakfast included and breakfast not included. The following I have found are crucial for the business traveler:

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0 comments | 6:31 PM |

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All's well that ends well

iTunes responded to me yesterday. Cheers to Jody for actually taking the time to understand the issue. I still haven't addressed the double-charge for the soundtrack yet, but one thing at a time.

Hello Seema,

It is my understanding that you are missing two songs from your Mamma Mia soundtrack and you would like to get them back. I can certainly understand your concern over this matter. My name is Jody and it will be my pleasure to look into this for you today.

I've checked your account and due to your order being older than 60 days, I'm unable to place your two missing songs back into your download queue. As a way of apologizing for this situation, and the inconvenience that this has caused, I'd like to offer you 2 free song credits to be used on the iTunes Store.

When you next sign in with this account, the song credits will appear by your account name (in the upper-right section of the iTunes Store). The next individual song you buy from the iTunes Store will use one of your song credits instead of your primary form of payment (until all credits have been used or have expired). Please note that song credits cannot be used for purchasing songs that are listed as "Album Only."

If you don't see your credits, refresh your account information by signing out and back in to the iTunes Store. You can find both "Sign Out" and "Sign In" within the pull-down "Store" menu.

Thank you for being part of the iTunes Store Community, Seema. It is important to me that your issues are resolved to your satisfaction. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reply to this email. We strive to make everyone's experience here as pleasant as possible.


iTunes Store Customer Support

PLEASE NOTE: I'm working Mon, Tues, & Sat from 10:30 am - 9:00 pm this week.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated

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0 comments | 3:17 PM |

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bad iTunes, no biscuit!

How is this for customer support?

I sent this form to the iTunes store this morning for two songs -- "I Have a Dream" and "Thank You For the Music" -- reporting that while I had purchased the entire "Mamma Mia!" soundtrack, these two songs did not download and were not available anywhere on my computer, nor could I download them without having to pay again. My question to them was, could I get the two missing songs? I didn't ask for a refund -- only what I paid for (and I think iTunes may have charged me twice for the soundtrack, but that's another issue entirely).

Here's the form I sent in (from the iTunes site itself); I sent the exact same form for "I Have a Dream" as well (incriminating information removed to protect yours truly):

Customer First Name : Seema
Customer Last Name : XXXXXXX
Web Order # : XXXXXXXX
Support Subject : I didn't receive this song
Sub Issue : Incomplete download
Comments : iTunes Account Name: XXXXXXXX
Platform : XXXXXXXXX
Song Name : Thank You for the Music
I purchased the entire Mamma Mia soundtrack and this is one of two songs I did not receive. The other songs all downloaded just fine.

Here's the entirely unhelpful response from Apple (in duplicate):

Dear Seema,

Your request for a refund for "Thank You for the Music" was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are ineligible for refund. This policy matches Apple's refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.

You can review the iTunes Store Terms of Sale for more information:



iTunes Store Customer Support

Well, Kate, I hope you get a big fat piece of coal in your stocking because gee whiz, how carefully did you consider my request when your response and my issue have nothing in common? And at this point, I'm out $2.11 ($11.98 total) and still no songs.

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0 comments | 10:05 PM |

Friday, July 18, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm

Anyone else notice AT&T's DSL connection slowing down right around the time they raised the prices another $5? I'm a little aggravated because when I started out, the connection was much faster at $14.99 and then they raised it to $19.99 and now it's $24.99 -- just six months after the $5 raise to $19.99. I'm paying $10 more for slower service! I am *so* an undelighted customer.

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0 comments | 5:11 PM |

Monday, March 24, 2008

DT redux

I'm fast (and scarily) becoming a Discount Tire groupie. I ended up having to go there after work because my car was vibrating and shaking so violently on the interstate that I was genuninely concerned about safety. It had been vibrating at over 60-65 mph on my way home yesterday and then this morning, the threshold dropped to the 55 to 60 mph. I called Discount Tire to see if they could get me in at lunch time but their wait time was about 90 minutes. I figured I'd put it off until tomorrow or the weekend.

Well, on the way home, the shimmy and vibration grew fierce enough that I became concerned. I was confused too because Discount Tire had told me that they had rebalanced my tires on Saturday but the last time this had happened, it was a balancing issue. I was really hoping it wasn't anything more severe. There was a Discount Tire on my way home, so I got there around 5:15 pm and they were able to get my car in and out in just over an hour. Apparently, the tires were out of balance. Weird. Anyway, once I got back on the highway, I floored it to 70 mph, a speed I rarely hit in my decade-old Corolla, and there was just the very slightest vibration. So problem (mostly) fixed, and again, at no charge.

But yeah, I've been to Discount Tire three times in four weeks. They're probably going to start flagging me as a problem customer. Shessh.

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0 comments | 9:13 PM |

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Customer service

I don't think I can adequately express in this blog just how much, just HOW MUCH, I heart Discount Tire. Seriously, the service is awesome, quality is great, and you can trust these guys to make a problem right -- even when it's not THEIR problem. I've had two recent experiences with Discount Tire that pretty much sealed the deal for me. The first was when I needed to get my tires balanced. Three of my Frankestein tires are from Discount and the other is from Firestone. So I fully expected that Discount would give me the three tires I'd bought from them for free and I'd have to pay the rebalancing on the fourth. They gave me all four tires for free. Awesome and unexpected.

The second story came today. My car -- 10 years old! -- failed the state safety inspection (but hey, it passed the emissions tests no problem, so... yeah?) and so I needed to get a brake job in order to pass. So I took the car in, got the brake job done, and then the techs there told me there was something wrong with the lug nuts and then the studs and the threads and all those scary things techs tell you and you think, "OH MY GOD, I AM GOING TO DIE WHEN I GET ON THE HIGHWAY." So I went back to Discount Tire because they were the last ones to deal with my tires. I told them nicely (I've learned my lesson re yelling at mechanics; more on that in another bloggity) that I trusted their opinion, the brake job people scared me, could they check out my lug nuts, studs and threads? Anyway, when I called them back later, they told me not only were they replacing my lug nuts, they were ordering them from another store (hooray?). I got my car well before the 2 pm time they told me and not only that, they didn't charge me for the new lug nuts, even though I have no idea where the problem (if any) originated. Also, they rebalanced my tires and put air in them. For free.

The best part was when I offered to pay for the lug nuts and they said no. I said, are you sure? And the response? "Yes, just come back and see us again."

I heart Discount Tire.

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0 comments | 10:33 PM |

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