The three esses or three short business stories from last week.

Liz Arden reports that a company that sells on that mega-online-retailer we all use wanted to know how she liked her new Aloe Vera Gel.

“I didn’t order, ever, any Aloe Vera Gel from them nor anyone,” she said, “and the product I did order [through that online company] hasn’t arrived yet.”

She didn’t respond.

Meanwhile, Blue Cross has been calling two-three times a day for a couple of weeks, usually at suppertime.

Since I have Blue Cross, I eventually gave in. It was a 15 minute telephone survey that boiled down to two questions: Would you recommend Blue Cross to your friends and How much of an increase in premium would cause you to jump ship?

Note to self: Stop answering the phone!

Service, I: A Brick a Day
The Windows 10 Upgrade bricked one of my laptops by trashing its Windows activation.

Here’s the back story. See, Windows 7 Pro was activated before I started this latest trip into Windows 10. Unfortunately, it got to about 88% and quit with an error message. One of the fora answers had me check the Windows activation which is when I noticed that these OEM ‘puters don’t have the product key built into Windows; they use a generic “OEM” key. This one has a label that is all but rubbed out so I couldn’t dig out the key.

I called Microsoft.

‘Splained that the upgrade had restored Win7 but trashed the product key. I talked at length with the obstinate first level tech in India. He simply repeated over and over that they couldn’t recover the Product key. I escalated. His supervisor repeated over and over that they couldn’t recover the Product key.

“Call Lenovo,” they both said.

Microsoft didn’t really refuse to help. Microsoft refused to admit there was a problem or that they caused it. How could they cause it if there was no problem?

Lenovo was actually worse. “We don’t know your product ID. It is generated automatically and burned to your motherboard.”

Horse puckey. If they can print it on the label, they know it, and you know they printed it in a file.

“Call Microsoft or buy a new copy of Windows,” they said.

Oh. I have a problem that you and Microsoft caused and your only solution is to wipe out everything on my computer, make me buy a new operating system, and spend six hours of IT time reinstalling everything?

“Yes. The disk is $69 with shipping but you can buy unlimited month-to-month software support for $19/month and that includes the disk. Ten month minimum. The full year package is $199.”

I told the Lenovo rep that he was solely responsible for my moving all my business to Dell. He didn’t care. I couldn’t even be arsed to escalate. I hung up.

I called Microsoft back and got a tech who was nice, articulate, and capable.

“I can’t recover your key,” Bidyut Konwar said, “but I can generate a new one.” So he did. He asked for permission to take control of the computer. I gave it to him. He ran two quick tests, grabbed the machine type and serial number, generated the key, generated a check code, entered all of them, and I’m back up and running.

Note to self: ask for Mr. Konwar the next time I have to call Microsoft.

Note to Microsoft: Give Mr. Konwar a raise. He’s one of the good guys.

Service, II
The price for !@#$%^Comcast went up “only” ~$5/month from $98-and-change but breaking the $100/month barrier is a milestone. $1,200/year.

Comcast has a monopoly on broadband service in both North and South Puffin. Up north, they charge “only” $56.95 per month for the preferred Internet service plus $10 per month to rent a modem. “Basic” cable is $26.50 more and they add $5 to that for “broadcast fees.” I thought tax was only a couple of bucks but it’s a couple bucks twice for the public, educational, and governmental local access channels.

Lordy Lordy™.

I bought a cable modem. That will help a little.

I was offline for a little over 17 minutes while a service rep in the Philippines registered it to my system.

The new modem seemed to work fine the first day until some sites displayed the Comcast Activate Now page. I finally did that when Netflix wouldn’t load; activation made it load again. It didn’t happen on every page, so the aluminum foil hat brigade’s idea that Comcast does it deliberately to punish certain sites has some merit.

One forum suggested that Comcast assigns DNS servers that redirect page requests. Another says Comcast’s activation redirect is crap (they should have set it up not to get cached).

Meanwhile, I had to return the modem to get Comcast to stop charging me rent.

I drove to the St. Albans office. The door was locked. People were inside. I banged on the glass with my key until a fellow opened the door. I handed him my modem.

“I can’t take that,” he said.

I pointed at the big “Comcast” sign on the building. “Your tech rep told me to bring it here.”

“We haven’t been a retail location for three years. I can’t take it.”

I asked, reasonably politely, where I could put the modem.

“You can take it to the South Burlington office,” an hour drive down the Interstate.

That’s not an option.

“You can call Tech Support and they’ll send me out to your house to pick it up.” Apparently he couldn’t take it because he “didn’t have a work order” when I talked to him.

The tech drove by the house a couple of times. On his return trip, he rolled down the window and I threw the modem in. He had the paperwork to pick it up but no way to print a receipt.

Looks like Comcast sends their techs into our homes doesn’t trust them enough to let them write up a receipt.

Note to self: convince Google to run fiber to North Puffin.

Google Fiber isn’t available for this area
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The Google Service Plans and Pricing page is unlike any you’ll find on any cable or phone company site. Google actually tells you what they charge. Period.

Why do we let the other guys get away with this stuff?


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