30 Jun

No wonder there's such a thing as the "DO" campaign

Perhaps you've seen the commercials for Blue Cross Blue Shield's "DO" campaign -- featuring what would be classified as a slightly-overweight male constantly doing The Hustle, churning butter, doing the sprinkler to a background tune which sounds like a combination of Jamaican instrumentalists and 69 Boyz ("Woof Woof").

The point of the commercial is to promote activity -- to keep yourself moving instead of sitting around. For example, the next time Joe Mauer goes 0-5 with every at bat resulting in a ground ball to 2nd, instead of cussing and yelling at the TV from on your couch, be standing up and give a nice boxing punch to your TV.

So no better activity seems to violate this "DO" campaign than... your elevator rider.

I work on the 10th floor of my building. I make sure that at least once a day, I make a trip UP the 10 flights of stairs. It's good for me.

But recently, I was on the elevator, going to lunch (which is on Floor 1). Doors close. Start going down. Elevator stops on 9. Woman gets in, quickly... and I kid you not, pushes the 8 button. Doors open on 8 and she races out of the elevator.

Yes, that sound you heard was my jaw dropping.

Then, that very same day, one of the people that got on the elevator with me on the first floor pushed the "2" button. Earlier in the week, another person got on the elevator on the 6th floor and went to 5.

What the hell people?! I mean, I get that there are people with bad knees and all, but the way these people were booking around with their Smartphones, there's no way this was the case.

Let me give you a little details on the building layout. There's a set of elevators in the middle of the building, with an nice open stairwell adjacent. Also, on both sides of the building, there are secure stairs. As I mentioned above, I take the stairs regularly. It takes about 10-15 seconds to go down one flight.

So my question to you one-flighters -- do you think elevators are quicker? Sure seemed like you were in a hurry. How much time is wasted waiting for an elevator?

And as one of my colleague's mentioned -- you've got gravity going with you!

Must be because you're in your fancy attire... if you're sweating going DOWN one flight of stairs, you've got more problems than just getting your clothes soiled with perspiration.

10-15 seconds.

Come on people... really, come on!

Categories: Gripe Read More

23 Jun

Don't spend it all in one place

So I got a piece of mail this week -- not surprising, as I usually get some mail each week. One in particular was from my bank, Wells Fargo (WF).

Now, I'm used to getting mail from WF on a regular (weekly) basis. Such mail ranges from:

Pre-approved for a WF Plutonium Credit Card

You're qualified for a Home Equity Line of Credit

Open a savings account today, with a competitive rate of 0.0005%

Competitive rate?! They must mean a rate that keeps THEM competitive.

Sorry about the mini-rant there. Anyway, this specific piece of mail I received looked different than anything else I have received from them before. After opening the up, I quickly realize it was a check!

Upon reading the letter accompanying the check, it mentioned that it was an escrow refund check. Odd, as we haven't had an escrow account in 10 years, and it was not with WF. But we did refinance our home a couple of months ago, so a temporary escrow was probably set up.

Excited to see how much the check was worth, I quickly went to the bottom of the letter, which contained the check:

Holy hell, where to spend this amount of money!?

$0.63? 63 freakin' cents?! I understand that WF technically can't keep it, but seriously, did you need to send a check out for this? Why not just deposit it in my checking account? You probably spent more to process the check than it's worth.

And it's a good thing you require an "Authorized Signature" on the bottom. Normally, corporate checks require signatures for amounts greater than $25,000 or $100,000 or something. Surely the person processing this check had to have been laughing.

And how am I supposed to cash this? We have direct deposit for our paychecks, so we really never visit the teller anymore. Do I deposit this check or take it as cash? Which is less embarrassing? Either way, I can imagine the scene:

Schoms: Yes, I'd like to make a deposit (hands deposit slip and check)

Teller: Certainly, (looks at check)... whoa, you're certainly doing well Schoms! Do you want to deposit the whole thing?

Schoms: [already embarrassed, but now disgruntled] No, please deposit $0.50 and I'll take the other $0.13 in cash.

Teller: [equally a prick] Ok, with cash back, I'm going to need to see a photo I.D.

63 cents... pshhh... Anyone got any good ideas what to do with this?

Categories: Amusement , Gripe Read More

17 Jun

Are they real or fake?

I was super-eager to try the new McDonalds Strawberry Lemonade. I love strawberry lemonade drinks after all.

I'd like to include myself in the list of those who are super-disappointed...

The frozen lemonade part was good, but it was the strawberry "additive" that ruined it. And the thing that irritates me is that their commercial says "with strawberries".

Uh, no. No STRAWBERRIES. Not strawberries.

Not chopped up strawberries.

Not pureed strawberries.

Not anything strawberries.

It's a faux-strawberry slime that doesn't taste anything like natural strawberry. As a matter of fact, if my life was dependent on guessing what it actually was, I would bet it's the packets of strawberry jam that they give out with breakfast. They've got to blow through the unused inventory before they finally hit their 8-year shelf life.

I should have been cautious when I saw the abundance of liquid swirl at the bottom.

Stop marketing it as "with strawberries" -- it doesn't help. It raised the bar, when in all actuality, I couldn't have jumped over this bar if it was sitting on the ground.

Super-tangy lemonade with a blah strawberry mix. It just didn't work for me. Major Corvette Bummer. I have a coupon for a free small strawberry lemonade (no purchase necessary) which will just sit and expire.

Categories: Gripe Read More

11 Jun

Don't Know How You Talk-O Mr. Roboto

Calling Customer Service is never a painless task. In most cases, I'd rather take on scrubbing the Metrodome concourse floor with a toothbrush before having to call the 1-800 number.

I remember not too long ago, when you'd call and a Customer Service Representative (CSR) would answer the phone. Then, companies started to "outsource" the CSR position to a collective group of ... robots. You know the drill, "Press 1 for X, Press 2 for Y..."

And then the classic "Please listen carefully, as our options have changed recently." Ha, yeah right. You're not gonna get me! I'm just gonna hit the 0 key, which almost universally will send you to a live representative skilled with [not only dealing with people like me] taking down your information, asking you what your issue is, and then redirecting your call, where the dedirected CSR will ask you what your information and issue is again.

So the concept of "Press 1 for..." wouldn't be that bad if it wasn't abused. I mean, do you really need to go through 9 options (10 including the CSR option)? Yes, that is the truth with one company at least. We want you to sit through 90 seconds of explaining what the options are. Press 1 to hear about the new products and services we are offering to existing customers. Press 2 if you can hear the minutes ticking away on your cellular phone plan... Press 8 if you'd like to swing a driver in the face of our CEO for making you wait until option 9, which is what you wanted. Press 9 if you have a technical support issue.

Why don't they put the most commonly used options first?

It's no wonder we hate this automated telephone service. We're already pissed off becuase X-service doesn't work/some fraudulent charge was made to your account/etc. that the last thing we want to do is wait and wait and wait. We just want the damn fire out!

And then there's the "Your call is important to us" line. Yeah, your call is so important to us that we're going to staff a bare-minimum amount of CSRs and make you wait and wait.

Companies have decided to make some changes to this approach... for the worse. Have you met the new "smarter" robot? Yup, the one that at one time understood touch-tone, now tries to understand human speak.

Nothing irritates me more than being forced to SPEAK to the robot. "Please say your account number." Then, after 3 attempts, because the damn robot kept missing a number, the robot finally got it. How do I know this? Here was the response:

Ok, I believe I understood your account number. Your account number is [suddenly in a deep voice] 6-0-3-4..."

Ok? Ok? You're incapable of expressing emotion, why are you using the word "Ok"? Insulting. Believe? Um, you recognize things as 0's and 1's...either right or wrong, not "believe".

So now I'm on the part where the lady robot voice said Ok, so tell me the problem you are experiencing. Not expecting this question from the robot at least, I panicked a little bit and gave too specific of an answer.

I'm sorry, I didn't understand.

That's funny, because if I was talking to a real person, THEY would have understood. So now I'm past the point where I want to deal with this, so I said

"I'm trying to fly a kite outside, as my daughter really wanted to fly a kite, but there isn't enough wind to keep the kite up in the air, so could you go fly" (interrupted by the computer) I'm sorry, I didn't understand, please hold for a CSR.

THAT'S WHAT I WANTED IN THE FIRST PLACE! Even though you gave no menu option for it, I could have hit 0 immediately!!! ugh.

Damn I hate talking to a robot. I don't want to play guessing games trying to balance describing my issue with hitting those keywords that the robot will understand. I don't want to be embarrassed because every once in a while, I shout keyword "sentences" together into a phone and everyone around me will hear it.

Automated telephone services have got so irritating, that people have created web pages which list the direct CSR number(s) for hundreds of companies.

I will continue to praise business with immediate live CSRs.

Categories: Gripe Read More

02 Jun

Coupon editors must have skipped their morning coffee

So I'm prepared to accept defeat with this Gripe, provided someone can explain the reason why. Until then...

There was a coupon in our local newspaper which provided a discount for purchase of gasoline. I clipped it out for use on Double Coupon Tuesdays at SuperAmerica (they accept any competitor's coupon as well). Here it is:

Confusing, I know

I must have skipped Rational Thinking 101 in college, because to me, it would seem like this coupon essentially penalizes you for paying with cash.

Sure that damn Visa commercial from a number of years ago shows everyone paying with a Visa card and being happy because the total transaction time with the cashier is almost nil. Then, they show some doofus guy (again, a guy -- always a guy) that wants to pay for his purchase with... gah.... cash! (insert blood-curdling scream). The cashier gives him a goofy look. The horror!

Anyway, with gas stations, it's slightly different. They work with such slim margins that paying with cash is encouraged. Transaction fees from credit card companies start to eat away at profits. Couple that with the fact that the use of credit cards for paying-at-the-pump eliminates the need for the consumer to enter the store itself, further diminishing the success of the store. Stations make most of their profit not on the gas, but on purchases inside the store.

So how do they attract you into the store all while getting you to pay with cash? They invent a special discount (coupon or not) for paying with cash. Since you can't pay with cash at the pump, you pay inside. Bills Superette is one example where you don't need a coupon -- they tout it on their sign outside. "Pay with cash, save $0.05/gallon"

So with that said, when you break down the coupon above, it doesn't make any sense:

  1. You can save $0.10/gallon period, as long as you use the coupon and pay inside or
  2. You can save $0.03/gallon, but you must use cash

To me, point #1 says that you can save 10 cents while still using your favorite credit card to pay for it. The only restriction is that you are limited to 15 gallons. I think the vast majority of people will find that 15 gallons will fill up their tank, or nearly all of it.

It would seem the only benefit out of #2 is if you are a trucker, and want to put in 100 gallons or something. Then option #2 looks better. But are you really going to pay the tab with $400 in cash? Probably not, or risk getting mugged on your walk back to the semi.

So with this coupon, there is no real incentive to use cash. And now on top of the 10 cents off you are offering the consumer, the credit card fees are going to further eat into your profits.

And yes, the gas station did take 10 cents off per gallon (20 after doubling) despite paying with a credit card. As a matter of fact, the cashier had to do a double-take, trying to figure out themselves why the coupon was worded in the way that it was.

Dumber... slowly but surely, they are trying to mold us...

Categories: Amusement , Gripe Read More

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