DirecTV RESPONDS! And Labels My Email ‘SPAM’

An Email was waiting for me when I got home from work today:

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Subject
—————————————————————
Spam: Spam: Cost Increases…

Discussion Thread
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Response By Email (Marcelo C. – 100139003) (01/08/2014 11:16 AM)
Dear Mr. Fisher,

Thank you for writing.

My name is Marc, Customer Service Representative at the DIRECTV Email Department. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to respond to your email today.

I understand that you have multiple concerns about your service. I would like to help resolve these issues immediately, so I have forwarded your email to a highly trained specialist for special handling.

We respect your time and want to assure you that we are working diligently to get back to you as soon as we can. While this may take some time our specialists generally respond within 24 hours

Mr. Fisher, we appreciate your choice of DIRECTV as your service provider and we hope to continue serving you for more years to come.

Sincerely,

Marc C.
Employee ID 100139003
DIRECTV Customer Service
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So I await the ‘highly trained specialist’ that is giving my complaints ‘special handling’ … Let’s watch.

MDF

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A Letter to DirecTV’s Ellen Filipiak, Senior Vice President of Customer Care

Ellen’s letter to me, in part:
===============================================
Dear MICHAEL,

We’d like to thank you for your loyalty and we truly appreciate your
business. We’re excited about the New Year and our ongoing
commitment to deliver additional value to your DIRECTV(R) service as we
launch more HD channels, introduce new technologies and continue to
bring you award-winning service. DIRECTV works continuously to deliver maximum
choice and value that’s indicative of our reputation as the must-have premium
video service.

We are writing to let you know about an upcoming price increase for
2014. This is a letter we never like to write because, if it were up to us,
our choice would be never to increase your bill.

Each year television networks continue to increase the programming fees
they charge DIRECTV for the right to broadcast their movies, shows and
sporting events to you. As a result, DIRECTV must adjust the price of our
programming packages so we can continue to deliver these channels. In 2014, the
programming fees we pay to the owners of these television channels will increase
about 8%, but DIRECTV is adjusting the average prices you pay by only 3.7% – less than
half of that amount.

Rising programming costs affect all TV providers, not just DIRECTV. But,
because we work hard to keep these costs under control, we have held our
price increases on average below others in the TV industry. New prices take
effect February 6, 2014, and will appear on billing statements issued on or after that
date. For more details, visit directv.com/billinfo2014.

===============================================

Thank you for contacting me, Ellen.

I understand cost increases and that those same cost increases must be passed on to the customer. However, what I DON’T understand is the crappy service that never seems to be fixed:

1) Off shored and barely comprehensible customer service representatives.

2) DVRs that need constant and irritating reboots just to maintain functionality.

3) A COMPLETE and utterly ridiculous move away from TiVo, and when it was brought back, the software and usability was so completely crippled, I, as a TiVo FAN, was so disgusted I ignored the offering.

4) A total lack of concern for customers in the Western United States in that we could NOT get the Pac-12 Network due to your ridiculous spat over the ‘cost of the network’? Really? So ALL your competitors COULD afford the network (Charter? REALLY? Wave, Warner, etc.) and the ‘Best and Richest’ Satellite Provider couldn’t or wouldn’t? Grow up.

5) Simple-minded ‘Surveys’ that asked about the dropping of NFL Sunday Ticket. Even a high school aged person could see through that idiotic ‘survey’ to see the bottom line:

A) Would you leave DirecTV if DirecTV eliminated NFL Sunday Ticket? (YES)
B) The rest of the ‘survey’ was easily dismissed and forgotten.

In short, Ellen, I’m a disgruntled customer that’s truly getting tired of your ‘issues’ and leaning further and further toward quitting DirecTV.

Keep at it, and you might yet succeed in driving your remaining customers away.

In COMPLETE sincerity,

Mike Fisher

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2013 Was The Year Of The Indie Author

Here is a (partial) list of the (mostly) Indie Authors I read this year:

Steve Umstead
Neal Asher
Jonathon Fletcher
Michael K. Rose
Michael G. Thomas
Kevin McLaughlin
Jason Gurley
Erik Wecks
David Weber
Stephen Ames Berry
Michael R. Hicks
Philip Rowe
Ed Benjamin
Ryk Brown
Hugh Howey
Jim Graham
Joshua Dalzelle
Edward W. Robertson
Peter Cawdron
Jason Andrew Bond
Dawson C. Walton
T.R. Harris
Paul Phipps
Nathan Lowell
Doug Rickaway
Zack Umstead
B. V. Larson
Graham Sharp Paul
Mike Shepherd
Ian Douglas
Evan Currie
John Scalzi
Jack Campbell
William Hertling
Andy Weir
Marshall S. Thomas
David Simpson
Steven L. Kent
Keith Edwards

I have become friends, I hope, with a few of them (Steve, Michael, Michael, Jason, Erik to name a few) and have written or Tweeted to a LOT of the others. ALL of them that I’ve read I enjoyed their books. It’s been a crazy, crazy year and next year only looks to get crazier in the Indie book business. More on that in a later post.

In the meantime, GO BUY AND READ THESE PEOPLE – THEY ARE ALL AMAZING.

Regards,

MDF

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The Clock Saga Continues

After we left our clock to be restored by the folks at Covenant Clock Restoration, I bought two books that were hailed in the clock collecting world as ‘The Bibles’ of the clocks we have. You can see them here:

Sessions Clocks: Sessions Clocks

New Haven Clocks: New Haven Clocks

Notice they’re written by the same guy, namely Tran Duy Ly. Just Google that guy. EVERYBODY thinks he’s the cats pajamas.

So, I buy his books and guess what? My two clocks aren’t in the books. Rats. So, being the pushy type I am, I write the guy an Email and ask him why that would be. He responds (quickly!) and asks me to send him some pictures. So I do. And his response, regarding the Sessions clock, is this:

Hello Mike,

After looking at your photos I can tell you that your clock is a late model which explains why it is not shown in the book. They did not always get all of the late models in their catalog. You do however, have a very nice example of your clock. The label is in very good condition which is a big bonus. Make sure you take very good care of the clock and be sure the label does not get damaged. It proves you have an original clock and not a “grandpa” clock (doctored up) which is very important for resale value.

If you don’t mind, take some nice pictures of the complete clock and send them to me so I can include them in the future when I do an updated price guide.

Tran Duy Ly

So, according to the clock guru, I don’t have an older clock, more of a later model. Maybe the ’50’s as opposed to ’20’s. Oh, well, it’s still a beautiful clock and I love it all the same. I can’t wait to see it after the restoration!

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The Antique Clock

When we visited family in January up in Washington, I bought a mantle clock at a junk shop in Quilcene, Wa.

The clock was missing pieces and the finish was pretty trashed.

Turns out I FINALLY hit a good buy.

I was curious as to what it would take to get that bad boy running. Not make it PERFECT – make it run. We took it to a place in Hillsboro called Covenant Clock Restoration. Not a really fancy place, when we finally found it. In fact, it looked like any small, mom and pop watch repair store. It didn’t even SAY ‘Covenant’ anywhere on the building…

We set the clock on the counter and they guy across the counter actually LIT UP! He looks at me and says, “Where did you get this?” I told him I spent $20 bucks on it on a flyer at a junk shop. He said, “You’ve got yourself a VERY NICE CLOCK. Almost RARE.”

Of course I then lit up as I finally got something worth having. HUGE SMILE.

The clock is a Sessions Model 799, circa 1910 (1900-1920). Pre-Art Deco for sure.

This is much like the one we got. The face is a little different, but the shape, color and insides are almost identical.

http://www.greenfieldstore.com/clocks/sessions975.html

The price for a TOTAL RESTORATION is $575, which we jumped on. It will look like the day it was made.

For your money you get:

A COMPLETE disassembly of the clock. Down to the last (tiny) nut and bolt. Cleaning and reassembly. Complete refinish of the wood exterior. Adjust all springs, gongs and a speed check/adjust.

Finally, we get a photo album of the ENTIRE PROCESS, with both before and after pictures of each part and process.

$575 + $22 purchase price = a clock worth $800 to $1000 on the secondary market.

Nice!

When we go pick it up (10-12 weeks), we’ve also been invited to bring in our other clock that doesn’t work (the one that’s been in my family since the ’40s (allegedly) for them to look at. Since it’s already been ‘repaired’ by someone, they think it’ll just need a cleaning and oiling (No charge) while we wait.

DOUBLE NICE!

This guy also told us it probably came out here via somebodies old Model T or train. He said there were still covered wagons making the trip, but I’m kinda leery on that one. He also gave us the history of clocks (the Church, of course) and what all the chimes mean, etc. A VERY INTERESTING MAN.

So, there you go. Interesting, huh?

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An Open Letter To PayPal

Yesterday, PayPal suspended my account because I had “Reached My Spending Limit”. I was confused, as I was spending MY money, not PayPal’s. It seems after you’ve used PayPal to pay for $10,000 worth of stuff, they then require you to “Verify Your Account” by, of two choices, giving them your personal checking account info, including checking account number and the routing info! I shit you not. Well, as most of you would guess, I’m not sitting still for this one. I’m NOT giving them my checking account info. Nor am I going to apply for a PayPal credit card. So here is an Email from PayPal Frank explaining what they’ll do for me after I barked at them on Twitter:

On 11/14/2012 3:02 PM, askpaypal@paypal.com wrote:
>
> Dear Michael Fisher,
>
> Thank you for contacting @AskPayPal via Twitter. If you did not initiate this contact, please let us know immediately by replying to this email.
>
> I appreciate the opportunity to assist you via twitter today. I understand you are concerned about the unverified sending limit on your PayPal account and the requirements to become Verified with PayPal. I’m glad you contacted us for assistance.
>
> First, I want to let you know that a temporary override has been enabled to lift the sending limit on your PayPal account so that you can send any payments that need to be sent at this time. After 24 hours, the override will expire and the account will need to become Verified to continue sending payments.
>
> There are a few different options for becoming Verified with PayPal. One option is to add and confirm a bank account. Another option is to apply and be approved for a PayPal Extras MasterCard. Yet another option is to apply and use Bill Me Later for a transaction on your PayPal account.
>
> Becoming Verified with PayPal is a requirement for some features including lifting the lifetime sending limit on a PayPal account. Typically this limit is set to $10,000 USD. Becoming Verified with PayPal let’s other PayPal community members and sellers know that PayPal has received information to Verify your identity. A bank is one of the options because we piggy back off the fact that almost all banks complete identity verification when you open an account. They may collect information like your date of birth and Social Security Number. With a credit or debit card, there’s no way for PayPal to know what level of identity verification has been completed. It can be very easy to obtain a debit card or gift card without any identity verification required at all. For this reason, verification is permitted with a bank account or by obtaining a credit account with PayPal which automatically initiates our own identity verification process. It is not required to use our credit products. The only requirement is to have an active one linked with the PayPal account.
>
> I know some customers may use a separate bank account just for online purchases if they do not feel comfortable linking their personal bank account to PayPal. PayPal was created to protect customer information so no matter what option you choose, your information is safe.
>
> I hope this email was helpful to clarify the verification process. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. I’m happy to help!
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Frank
>
> PayPal Twitter Support
>
> PayPal, an eBay Company
>
> Copyright © 1999-2012 PayPal. All rights reserved.

And MY RESPONSE:

Frank,

Thanks for the response. It was the WRONG response, but a response, nonetheless.

Frank, let me tell you my point of view on this. It’s simple, really.

I created my PayPal account and LINKED it to my Capitol One credit card. When I applied for the Capitol One credit card, Capitol One verified me up one side and down the other. Capitol One verified my name, address, Social Security Number, Employment and length thereof, previous addresses, home and cell phone numbers AND CREDIT CHECK. Capitol One seemingly liked what they saw as they have allowed me the pleasure of using their credit card for years now. Not only that, but I have a ridiculous credit limit of $30,000. Imagine that – they have never met me, yet they’ll fork over 30 LARGE if I ask it. That tells me that I am a great guy and a very good credit risk. AND they give me travel miles. I’ve flown to places for FREE, I’ve done so much business with them. Nice!

I recently bought a Chevrolet Tahoe. When the credit guy at the dealership ran my SSN, he walked back out and said he’s rarely seen a credit score that high; he said I could go out to the lot and pick TWO cars to buy. He was joking, of course, but he was making a point – I’m a trustworthy guy and a very good credit risk.

I have a PayPal account. Over the years, I’ve spent, what? TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS through PayPal and PayPal have NEVER ONCE had an issue getting the money owed it. NOT ONCE. Now, however, I’m confronted with a specious and arbitrary ‘Spending Limit’. Am I not trustworthy? Have I misled PayPal in ANY regard as to my trustworthiness? Have I ever caused PayPal to not receive the funds due it? NO.

Now PayPal wants my personal checking account info. PayPal says that will ‘verify’ my identity. I guess $10,000 and years of quietly and happily using PayPal weren’t enough. NOW PayPal wants the info to my checking account. My checking account, UNLIKE MY CREDIT CARD, is not fraud-protected. THAT’S WHY I USE A CREDIT CARD AS A DEBIT CARD WILL NOT BE FRAUD PROTECTED. So, in the not unlikely instance that PayPal’s servers are hacked and my checking account info ends up on some IRC hackers channel, that money is GONE. Tough noogies. Unlike my checking/debit account, my credit card IS FRAUD PROTECTED. I won’t lose a DIME. And neither would PayPal. “But our servers are hacker-proof and encrypted!”, says PayPal. Really? Ask all the myriad companys that have has their systems hacked and customer information lost. As I choose to limit my exposure to theft, I have one credit card. And so does PayPal – My Capitol One Credit Card. PAYPAL HAS USED IT FOR YEARS WITHOUT COMPLAINT. Until now.

I don’t want a PayPal credit card. One is enough and I’m very happy with it. And so was PayPal.

I don’t want another checking account. Aint nobody got time for that. The one I do have works just fine.

In fact, PayPal is the ONLY company to insist on linking to my personal checking account. And while PayPal says that I can have a PayPal Credit Card as another method of ‘verification’, that just sounds like out-and-out extortion, don’t you think? GIVE US YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT INFO OR SIGN UP FOR A PAYPAL CREDIT CARD – EITHER/OR. UNTIL SUCH TIME, YOU CANNOT USE PAYPAL AGAIN.

Oh, REALLY? Think again.

Here’s MY ultimatum: Remove the ‘spending limit’ on my PayPal account and we go on as we have for years, quite happily, OR PAYPAL LOSES ME AS A CUSTOMER.

I know one customer isn’t going to impact PayPal, but a guy has to do what a guy has to do. And I’m SURE I’m not the only one out there that feels this way.

Regards,

Mike Fisher

[UPDATE: 11/15/2012] PayPal Frank has PERMANENTLY lifted the ‘Sending Limit’ on my account! We are, as before, able to use PayPal WITHOUT ‘linking’ to my checking account! All’s well that ends well.]

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New Story!

It’s a short story, but it needed telling. (Don’t tell Momma I posted this)

Enjoy!

http://www.mdfisher.com/story/xmas.html

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Stream of Consciousness for 09/17/12

I hereby decree that Canada will henceforth be known as “Canuckistan”. BECAUSE THAT’S FUNNY.

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Stream of Consciousness

I’m thinking of just blasting out, as often as I can think of it, just anything to the Ol Blog here. It’s tough just coming up with what I think people will want to read. I have a bajillion nonsense ideas run through my head every day, but none of it seems to flesh out to anything lengthy and/or what I would judge as interesting to other folks.

So maybe I just start posting this nonsense and let The Great Unwashed Masses judge them in the raw, and when one strikes a chord, maybe THEN expand it and make it readable..

Who knows?

AND THEN THE GODDAM PHONE RINGS AND BREAKS MY TRAIN OF THOUGHT!

[SIGH]

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DAMN!

My main computer died, so the WTF Camera and weather system are OFFLINE. I’ll be working on it this afternoon and hope to have it all back up tonight/tomorrow. I can still get email via my iPad so catch me there or on Twitter (@Comkey).

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