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Archive for the ‘Whining’ Category

Airbnb Horror Story: Scoop or Scam?

July 28, 2011 8 comments

picture of improperly secured door from The Big LebowskiTo quote Jeff Lebowski, “Look, we all know who is at fault here.”

Or do we?

A month-old story, about a woman named EJ whose apartment was allegedly trashed by an Airbnb user, just went viral, but I think most of the commentary is getting the story totally wrong. And it’s not just the citizen journalists; big-time names like WaPo, perhaps not wanting to be left behind or perhaps due to lax editorial oversight in their online offerings, are also being negligent in terms of some really basic reporting.

Read more…

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What a difference a day makes — ditching the landline part 2

June 24, 2011 2 comments

Talking dimeYesterday I wrote about wanting to avoid the nickle-and-dime ($50 and $100) tactics of various phone and internet companies by ditching my Vonage landline, and keeping the number (for free) via Google Voice. As Google Voice doesn’t port landlines, I decided on Net10 as a cheap way to move my number to a wireless carrier first.

But seven days after activating my Net10 phone, I still didn’t have the number fully ported and it was looking like Vonage might be able to nick me for another monthly fee (today would mark the start of my Vonage monthly billing cycle). Read more…

Let’s talk nickles and dimes — ditching the landline

June 23, 2011 2 comments

Talking Nickels and DimesWhen I was a kid, I saved my money for trips to the candy store. Well it was technically a “stationery store” but I rarely made it past the front counters which featured many nickle and dime options for satisfying my desire for sweets.

Years later, some in my college cohort had other cravings that could be satisfied by nickles and dimes, though under these circumstances it meant getting set back by $5 or $10.

Now it seems our collective hunger for data and communication services are getting us nickled and dimed to the tune of $50 to $100 month. Read more…

“Healthy Mix” Should Have Been Warning Enough

May 12, 2010 6 comments

When I’m at work and say “I’m stepping out for a few minutes,” what I usually mean is “I’m hungry and I’m going to the CVS.” Sometimes it involves going out to lunch with a side-trip to CVS for something I didn’t realize I desperately needed (like a Spinz pen) until I got there. But most times it means “I’ve already eaten my lunch but I’m still hungry so I’m going to see what’s on sale at CVS.”

I recently had one of these hungry days — at seven a.m. I’d breakfasted on a bowl of bran flakes and a banana in Vanilla Silk, by nine I’d eaten my orange, and by ten I’d finished off my peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich. By one o’clock I was feeling like Eric Carle’s very hungry caterpillar.

Now, I work on a fairly large college campus so my food options come in all three varieties: fast, very fast, and out of my price range. Yet for some reason I keep gravitating to the CVS, partly because it’s one of very few establishments which hasn’t changed in the more than 30 years since I settled here, partly because I’m cheap and there’s usually something on sale. But I think it’s mainly because it reminds me of my childhood trips around the corner to the candy store (I called it that, but it really was a stationery shop) where I’d deliberate for many minutes among the jujubes, wax soda bottles and those strips of paper with the candy dots on them.

I always start with the candy aisle, checking out the twofers. From there it’s the snack section (CVS has a new line of pita chips which are actually quite good and 50 cents cheaper than Nancy’s) and the wall-o-cookies, where I can often find discounts on CVS’s worthwhile and cost-effective Gold Emblem brand (I highly recommend their chocolate covered biscuits and shortbreads).

On this day there was a half-price sale on one of their snack mixes, located with the nuts. I vaguely remember having gotten this before, but it had been a while — probably because it was over my snack-price threshold of $2.99 when not on sale. It had sesame sticks, dark chocolate covered cranberries, almonds, and I really didn’t have to see what else was in it because those three had already aroused my taste buds and like I said I was still hungry.

Back at the office, I removed the plastic lid and enjoyed the reassuring “whoosh!” as I pulled back the foil seal. The sesame sticks definitely delivered (they were honey roasted, yum) as did the cranberries and the almonds, which were sufficiently plentiful. I ate half the can and saved the rest.

Now, I’ve been a non-meat-eater for thirty years, and am well acquainted with many varieties of soy-based food. I’ve happily consumed tofu, tempeh, the above-mentioned soy milk, textured soy protein, and all manner of veggie burger, bacon and weiner. I’ve had my soy blended, scrambled, grilled and puffed. But no matter how many times and ways I’ve tried them — salted, smoked, wasabi or cajun spice — I’ve never developed a taste for roasted soy “nuts.” There’s something about the flavor that I find fundamentally unappealing, and I suspect I’m not alone — other than in mixes like this one, I’ve never encountered them outside the bounds of the health-food aisle.

Thus it was that the next day I was heartbroken to learn that eight and a half ounces into my ten ounce can of snack mix, I’d hit soy. I was overcome by a feeling of deja vu… a feeling of disappointment similar to first hearing the one Phil Collins song on an old Genesis album, or finding that the only unbroken crayon left was green-blue, a color I’d never encountered outside the 64-crayon box (the one with the built-in sharpener).

That 85% empty can of fail stayed on my desk for two more days — during which my attempts to nibble out the last non-soy crumbs remained consistently futile, as it is very difficult to distinguish between an intact soy nut and a fragment of honey-roasted sesame stick — before I finally admitted defeat and threw away an ounce and a half of perfectly good and completely inedible soy nuts.

I know I sometimes have trouble seeing the common thread in my failures in life. I don’t know how many times I need to learn that buying the wrong thing is never a bargain at any price point. I just hope that next time it doesn’t involve soy nuts.

Categories: Essays, Whining Tags: ,

Lami, you got some complainin’ to do

March 14, 2010 2 comments

My partner calls it “complaint blogging” — that form of online communication where you get your knickers all in a twist and just dare somebody to try to straighten them. But even though I consider myself a world-class whiner IRL, I try not to do too much of it here. Partly because I don’t need another reason to dwell on the negative — if I type my gripe, I’m going to be wearing my angry face for the duration of my thorough, anal-retentive editing of the post.

And then there’s that whole privilege thing I’m trying to work on. As a (deep breath) tall, thin, educated, hetero, middle-class, adult white male (whew), I realize I’m generally the winner in every game of “privilege bingo” I play. So I need to ask myself if this is a legitimate complaint or am I just butthurt because someone else’s needs displaced my own.

But there are times when I decide that it’s perfectly OK for me to get my kvetch on, either because it will expose a problem that doesn’t affect just me — using my voice to help those less likely to be listened to, and it doesn’t take a lot of bus trips to figure out that you’re riding low in the low-privilege lane — or else just because I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. Maybe punks aren’t running wild in the streets, but at least the buses could run once in a while. So here’s what I submitted to Our Fine Bus Service (Centro):

Very Dissatisfied

This morning I waited in vain a half hour at the corner of Some Road and Some Other Street, from 8:00 AM until 8:30 before giving up, walking home and taking the car that fortunately was available only because my wife was out of town.

Not only did the 237 not show, but also the 537 never came either (I walk down Some Road so I would have seen it come by).

Because of this I was over an hour late getting to work today. When I called Centro to ask whether the bus was coming, all the customer service representative told me was that the radio on the 330 was broken and so there was no way to know what had happened. Not even an “I’m sorry” or “Give me your contact info and I’ll have a card good for a free ride sent to you.”

What’s worse is that the CSR initially decided that I “must have just missed it.” No, in fact I was there five minutes early; why should it be assumed that the customer is wrong?

It’s frankly ridiculous that *two* buses don’t show up, that nobody knows why, and that nobody at Centro seems to give a damn that they can’t be depended on to get their customers to work.

These times ought to be presenting opportunities for Centro to be getting more people to take mass transportation, and I’m sad that I’ve had so many negative experiences lately that I’m hesitant to recommend anyone use your services.

This is not the first time I’ve used the handy response form on the Centro website to register my concern. The last time was because I was sassed by a driver, who after buzzing past me (I had to jog down the block to where he finally stopped) laughed that it was my fault for not being more obviously standing at the bus shelter that he wasn’t watching. But that Blue Bayou moment was just a warm up for this case of “Carmine said there would be two buses and here there are none.” So I wasn’t surprised at the reply from Chris Dithers (not the real name), Centro’s Customer Service Supervisor:

Mr. Redlami,

Thank you for your email regarding the buses #237/#537 Some Other Street not showing up. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Be assured that this matter will be thoroughly investigated.

I reviewed the #37 Some Other Street schedule to verify the times the buses were scheduled to depart Some Road and Some Other Street. A #537 Some Road bus was scheduled to depart at 7:59am and the #237 Some Other Street bus was scheduled to depart at 8:05am.

I am under the assumption that you were waiting for the 8:05am bus? This scheduled trip will be looked into specifically and at the conclusion of the investigation, you will be contacted.

Please provide me with your mailing address as I would like to send you a courtesy ride coupon for your inconvenience.

Again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Chris Dithers
Our Fine Bus Service
Customer Service Supervisor

Looks good, right? I get $1.25 (cost of a ride) for my wasted hour, and they’ll be sure to let me know why there were no buses. So why am I still peeved? I mean, aside from being somewhat peevish by nature? Maybe it’s because I don’t like the idea that the “customer service” line didn’t provide any, and rather than respond to that part of my complaint, Chris is trying to mollify me with a free ride (I have to thank my partner’s laser vision for zeroing in on this issue).

So what’s next? Besides responding to Chris (hey, I’ll take the voucher for starters) I’ve figured out that there’s a rep on the Centro board from my town, so that’s where I’m taking my concerns next. Because that’s the way I troll.