Friday, September 15, 2006

Dead Power Supply

A story of exceptional customer service.

I purchased a case that had a power supply in it from many months ago. When I first installed the motherboard I tried to power it on. The lights flashed for a split second and then shut down. I check connections and such and it finally worked. It ran for a short time and then it started acting up again. I reconnected everything again and it worked for a month or so. Friends were telling me that they thought it was the power supply. I had my doubts since it seemed to work after wiggling wires. After I had enough problem with it I finally broke down and bought a new power supply, since it was the easiest component to try to replace. I bought a new one since I thought it would be a pain to return and there was probably only a 30, 60, or 90 day exchange policy, which I was past.

Earlier this month I was going through some papers and found the receipt and it said that the case/power supply had a 1 year warranty and an email address to make inquiries. I sent to them and told them the problem. I asked if there was anyway I could just return the power supply and not have to rip out my motherboard. I figured all was lost, since I bought them together and the case was really inexpensive. They came back with an answer fairly quickly and said to not worry about it and they had a new power supply in the mail for me. That was more than I ever would've expected.

I had been worried about doing business with, since the name sounded like a couple of guys in their basement were running the place and I had never done business with them before. I looked around on the web and other sites were referencing them and the price was really good, so I gave it a shot.

I don't know if they had a run of bad power supplies on these and so they knew it was probably bad or if they just have a great return policy, but they had the new part to me in a few days and looks like a better power supply than the one that came with the case. Obviously it is better since it works and the other one didn't, but the new one has dual fans. It is the same wattage and all that, but the dual fans certainly got my attention.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Daylight Savings Time and the 4th of July

As the 4th of July is here I can't help, but think of another reason I hate Daylight Savings time.

I have always found dusk rather late when I have gone to see fireworks in July. Now this year with Daylight Savings taking effect here in Indiana the latest of dusk is just ridiculous.

My other reasons for hating it are as follows.

It was hard to put the kids to bed at a reasonable hour in the summer before we went to Daylight Savings. Now it is terribly cruel. I have no choice to let them stay up, since I still have to get up at the same time I did before Daylight Savings kicked in and I have to go to bed at the same time.

Also on the subject of having to get up at the same time, it is now well before dawn. At least before during the summer I would have a period of time where the sun was rising when I was.

I voted for Mitch Daniels and this makes me regret it every day that I am under Daylight Savings Time.

Car Talk

The is a radio program on NPR called Car Talk. You guessed it, people call in and talk about their cars. I love Car Talk, but get off of Real Audio already. It is not portable. It is a pain to install. If I go to someone else's computer, many times they don't have Real Audio installed, so I can't listen. I realize they are probably using Real Audio intentionally to make it less convenient, since they have a deal with to sell the mp3 version. Please find a way to raise money through another avenue, so you can distribute the mp3 or some mopre portable format for free to your loyal listeners.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Osborne MCSD Certification Books

Before I rant about these books let's hit something I have really liked about them. They have a lot of digital content that comes with them. The key piece of that is a digital copy of the book, which let's me use it in many other forms than just reading it. I can have text to speach tools read them to me. As they read I can follow along and have them force me to pay attention and keep a decent reading speed.

Even though I am going to have negative things to say about their practice test software later, I like that they include practice tests.

I had a company I worked for a while back buy me a copy of one of these books. I will never buy another one. I check them out from the library if they have them to just get a different perspective, but won't rely on them primarily for taking an exam.

The text of the book is full of "bugs." What I mean by bugs is inaccurrate code and text that is not so much typos, but just plain wrong. This is one of the problems I have with the practice tests. Mostly with the answer key. This include the digital tests and also with the chapter reviews. I have to say that the bugs in the text of technical books in general is pretty bad, but these books have out done the rest at being buggy.

The other problem with the practice tests and reviews are that they are too rudimentary.

Another problem with the text is that many of their examples stop short of being useful. In many instances they show a limited example. They give no explanation of the parameters or anything else in the example. They just move to the next example of another concept.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sneaky Way of Getting Your Credit Card Information

I ordered some flowers online a month or so ago. At the end of the process there was a link asking if I wanted to try an online reward program. I have been involved in trials before and have seen them take my credit card information. At the end of the trial periods they begin charging my card. So you either have to watch very carefully and call cancel before the end of the trial period. That being the case, I have stopped doing trial periods that take my credit card. If I don't like the product after the trial period I would rather the contract end. Anyway, I did the trial, since as far as I could tell they didn't take my credit card.

This month I was looking over my credit card bill ad noticed a charge from online reward company. I tried logging into their site to try to find out how they got my credit card information. My login wouldn't work. I clicked the forgot password link o have them send it to me. It never showed up in my email. I then decided to call them.

The good news is that I got someone on the phone right away. If you take this service know that the at least answer the phone if you have a problem.

I explained the situation to the lady that answered and asked for my money back and my account with them to be canceled. The lady refused to refund my money at first, told me that it was in the link that I had clicked stating that I would be charged something at the end of the trial period and rushed me through to canceling. When she was done she asked if there was anything else. I slowed her down and asked if there was a form where I had entered my credit card on their site. After trying to pull information out of her for a few seconds I gathered that they had pulled my card from the site I ordered the flowers from and in the trial agreement they had put something about it being okay for them to use my credit card from the other site. I told her that sounded shady to me and at that point she agreed to give me back my money, as a "courtesy". I then told her that I wished she had given me my money back at the beginning of the conversation like I had asked and saved us both some time. She explained that she can't give refunds to everyone that calls and cancels. By the way, I called just a few days after the trial period ended. It wasn't like I was using the service for a full month after the trial or several months and then wanted my money back. On the other hand, I didn't read the fine print and am grateful that I didn't have to pay for my mistake.

This service may be a good service. For what I used it for in the trial period it was better than I would've expected. I got the check for the $15 they promised me as a rebate on another purchase very quickly. Just know that when you click to sign up for the trial that you are giving them your credit card, which was not obvious to me and I believe is slippery way for them to get people to sign up for a trial.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Well, rebates just get better all the time. I purchased a Best Data video card at Fry's a few weeks ago. I also got a stick of RAM. The video card had a $30 rebate on it and the memory a $15. I wanted to make sure that everything worked before turning in the rebates, since once you cut all of the bar codes off you can no longer return anything. One has thirty days to return something, so I let the parts work for a couple of weeks to see that everything worked. I would've liked to have given them thirty days, but I figured the rebates would run out around that time, since all the ones I had done in the past had been that way.
I sat down and began going through all of the fine print only to find that the video card rebate had fifteen days from the date of purchase to get it in and the memory had 14. Fifteen was the day I was looking at it, so the memory rebate had expired. Had the memory not had the rebate I would not have purchased it, since it was not worth fifteen dollars more to me. Because of this unreasonable time frame I have now paid $15 more than I wanted to.
I can not stress enough how much I hate the rebate game. I have seen others argue that it would cost us all more if they couldn't bank on some people not cashing in the rebate. To that I say so what. Charge me the price that you need to sell the item for. If it is not worth that price to me I won't buy it. This is just one more way that businesses treat there customers like an adversary or compeditor. It is not about creating a good product that everyone wants. It is about tricking people into buying your product.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Another one in my series on screwing their users to make more cash.

I signed up on a long time ago. I could search for drivers and download drivers fairly quickly. I logged in today and found that I needed to complete some "special" offers before they could validate my log in. Once I did complete one these offer, which entailed giving my personal information to companies I really don't want to hear from, they continued to give me the message that I had not completed the activation of my account, which I did years ago as I recall. Finally I noticed that I might be able to get rid of that message by logging out and then back in. At this point I started getting messages about their servers being too busy to let me in. After an hour of this I find that what they were pointing me to was a firmware upgrade for my Pioneer DVR-A07. What I wanted was a driver, since I can't get the thing to install on WIN2K without a driver, thus I can't even apply a firmware update without the OS knowing about it. This part of the problem is not DriverGuide's fault, but Pioneer and/or Microsoft. We can save that rant for later.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


To continue my rant about being charged "dormancy" fees by online service companies let's talk about E-Trade.
Many people got on E-Trade to not have to deal with stock brokers and manage things themselves. Many of those people were average people that don't know much about trading stocks. People like me. E-Trade made it easy to not have to know much, but being able to dabble in the market. It was great. I believe the premise I signed up under in the 90's was no fees to get started just get charged for each trade.
Move on to the market going rocky. Many of E-Trades customers are losing money on the stocks they bought so they can't afford to buy more or sell the ones they already have. Thus E-Trade is making less money. Then E-Trade introduces a few for not trading. I think it started for a few months as charging the fee that they would get from you everytime you made a trade every month if you did not trade that month. Shortly after that they changed it to charging the equivalent of two trades every quarter, so they were giving a month free.
The market is tough on everyone. Why treat customers that skyrocketed your business this way when things are down for them? Once I figure out how, this customer is going to leave because of this. On the other hand, if they had left me alone I would have perhaps bought some of the other services they were offering and even started trading again. An example of this is that I just bought a new house and still own the old one (because it is not selling). I had a relationship with E-Trade and they were one I considered getting one or both of the mortgages redone with. As I thought about the way they had treated me and the fact that I should probably just close all accounts with them there was no way I was going to be tied to them any more tightly than I already am.
BTW, before I joined E-Trade I was considering a compeditor of E-Trade who had lower fees per trade, but had other fees akin to dormancy fees. That is why I chose E-Trade, because they made it easy and did not have those other fees. I understand that it is all about making more and more money with businesses and not being satisfied at doing well, but I feel a little bit like something was shown to me as being one thing and then got shifted once I was locked in. is a virtual Master Card. I received one of these from an online rewards program in June of 2005 loaded with $25. I was able to use $17 for an online purchase. I have had a terrible time getting the remaining $8, since no one I can find online will take payments from two different cards.
From there the story gets even better. It seems that there is trend going with online services where they are starting to issue domancy fees, service charges, or whatever the particular service is starting to call them onto their customers' accounts. decided to start this December it looks like to the tune of $3 a month. I guess they have figure out a way for me to get rid of my $8 that I couldn't get out of there. I'm now down to $2. I received no notice in the mail or in my email, even though they have both of those addresses. They seem to have posted a notice on their site. The irony is that a person whose account is "dormant" probably isn't going to be on the web site and see the change in policy before they start incurring the new charges.
This is not the only business that I have dealt with that has had me pinned to them and then starts charging dormancy fees.