The Wages of Satellite TV: Customer Service Circles Uranus As It Goes Down The Drain

September 1, 2009

You’ve had your DirecTV service for years, and now you’re moving/getting married and you can’t have it (for whatever reason) wherever it is you’re moving next.  So, you call to cancel your service, and you request the return boxes for your DirecTV equipment.  Seems like it all went fairly easily and quickly and you go about your life, secure in the knowledge that soon those boxes will arrive, you’ll pack up the receivers, send them off via FedEx, and everything will be good.


Imagine your surprise a couple weeks later, when you discover that, unbeknownst to you, DirecTV has hit your credit card or bank account for the cost of your receivers.  It’s not that you’ve already gotten the return boxes and you just haven’t sent the equipment back.  In fact, you may have already requested the return boxes multiple times and are still waiting on them!


It’s worse in those cases where you asked your best friend or your folks for their credit/debit card information when you signed up, because they told you they needed to collect 19.95 (plus tax) for their “handling fee”.  They’re the ones who will likely end up finding out they’re missing funds, then.  How do you explain that to them?   Their first impression is going to be that you weren’t paying your bills, which is, in fact, the furthest thing from the truth.


Keep in mind, this isn’t only related to receivers.  DirecTV will play this game to get an Early Cancellation Fee, too.  They won’t even tell you they’re about to do it.  You’ll just find out after the fact.




This was your rent/mortgage/car payment/tuition payment, and now it’s poofed away like a genie in a bottle!  In addition, you’re now getting bounced check fees from your bank because the money that had once been there to pay your bills is just plain GONE, and having a credit card declined is just downright embarrassing, especially when you had reason to believe you had the credit available to pay for whatever item you’ve just tried to pay for.


You  most certainly don’t recall giving Directv permission to dive into your finances when you cancelled your account!


You call DirecTV to demand what’s going on.  Who gave them permission to take money from you? 


Their reply?


“You did.  When you signed up for service, you were told and then agreed to our charging your credit or debit card if you didn’t fulfill the Terms of Service to which you agreed when first you signed up.  Once we get those receivers back and process them (which, by the way, they can and will drag out for 6 to 8 weeks), it’ll take another 6 to 8 weeks to have your money refunded.”


Of course, this is what happens in a PERFECT world, and this answer seems less than perfect on its face, already.


In point of fact, customers often have to contact DirecTV several times over the course of several months to get their money back.  Each time, they’re told that the process takes 6 to 8 weeks, even if the money’s been held for over two months already!


Meanwhile, bills are piling up because of returned check fees and over limit fees. 


Landlords/lenders/creditors don’t give a damn that DirecTV took your money without notice, because they (rightly) want to be paid what THEY are owed.  The Billing representative you speak with when you call is very likely someone who barely speaks English and lives somewhere overseas where they can’t even GET DirecTV.  The only time you find a native English speaker on the other end of the phone is when you’re calling to set up service.  It’s the only time Directv actually works to get your business. 


How long is it going to take for people to band together to make a forceful response to such despicable actions?  Corporations only pay attention when enough noise is being generated at them that they want it to stop.  That’s when they start to consider listening.  I don’t believe that other communications providers are any better than Directv, but by pointing the finger at just one provider, we bring light to the actions of all.


Hotel Blames Victim for Rape

August 16, 2009

Hotel Blames Victim for Rape

How brilliant…blaming the victim for the crime committed against her.

Go to hell, Marriott. One will hope that this seriously impacts your bottom line.


The AIG Bailout Debacle

March 16, 2009

It was shocking enough to see the list of overseas companies who benefitted from the Wall Street Bailout over the past six months.  Banks in France, Germany and England got big handfuls of American taxpayer cash when Bush’s Fed lapdog, Paulson, passed out the cash.  Until recently AIG and the Fed balked at the suggestion that AIG come clean on the list of beneficiaries of those funds.  Over this last weekend, however, they finally came clean with that list and gave amounts of what was doled out to each from the bag of American loot.

That was shocking…and has engendered a lot of anger on the part of taxpayers.

Well, it appears that AIG is planning to give out bonuses…no…”retention payments” to top executives in the branch of their business who underwrote insurance policies for bad loans.  This to the tune of over $165M dollars!

One does not give bonuses (or retention payments) to people who f*** things up!  Generally, in business, if you mess something up, you get your key to the executive washroom taken away, if not your key to the building!

AIG’s intent is bad enough, but it is worsened when one realizes that they are using bailout money to give out these so-called retention bonuses!  In addition, those who would be receiving those funds aren’t even American nationals!

I have serious issues with my tax dollars going to add to the already inflated salaries of people who made terrible business decisions.

President Obama has stated that he will be doing everything in his power to keep these bonuses from happening, and I hope by all that’s Holy that he is able to do that.


New York’s Attorney General has sent a demand that AIG produce the names of those people who are expecting to receive these so-called “retention payments”.


Major Food Manufacturers’ Prices Up While the Cost of Ingredients Goes Down…

March 2, 2009

It’s interesting to note that while the price of grains and milk have gone down, the price of the final product has gone up, at least among the food products offered by major food manufacturers such as Kellogg, Nestle, Kraft, Unilever and others.  One “major” manufacturer was cited by an executive for Southern CA based grocery chain Stater Bros as having sent out a letter outlining what price increases will occur over the next six quarters.  The unnamed manufacturer has apparently set a four percent jump in price each quarter.  Do the math — that’s a significant price increase over the year and a half period covered by those quarters.

Paying less for ingredients while passing the imaginary raise in price on to the consumer…

One company, Unilever, has reduced the size of their product, Skippy Peanut Butter,  while also raising the price of that same jar of peanut butter, so that consumers are quite literally paying more for less.  That’s always been a bit of a foul taste in my mouth when manufacturers do that.  Hershey did that with their candy bars years and years ago, in addition to changes to some ingredients, such as changing from real vanilla to vanillin, which is made from pine needles.  Mmmm…nothing yummier than a pine tree!  Just ask Euell Gibbons.

Coca Cola changed their recipe to do away with cane sugar and move to high fructose corn syrup because it was cheaper.  That change affected the flavor of Coke and people could suddenly chug-a-lug a can of Coke.  Pre-HFCS, you couldn’t chug a can of Coke without burning the crap out of your throat. 

There are still those of us who remember and miss that friendly burn.

If you’re of my generation, you’ll remember when you’d go to the store to buy a pound of ground coffee in a can.  My folks drank Yuban.  They’d buy it a pound at a time.  There was nothing like the rich aroma of that fresh pot of coffee first thing in the morning.

Well, those one pound cans of coffee are awfully hard to find now.  Coffee companies began shrinking them years and years ago. 

Bulk coffee is always an option.  At least you can buy it a pound at a time.  It’s available either in whole bean form, or you can use their in-store grinder to grind it to your desired texture.  While you’ll pay about $8.99 for a   pound of bulk coffee beans from your local grocery, it’s nearly impossible to find a one pound can of ground coffee beans, much less buy one and it ends up being much costlier than that $8.99 a pound, too. ( I’ll note here that the store-brand bulk coffee that’s offered at the grocery is usually at least a dollar less a pound and is usually comparable in taste to the name brand being offered.)

What can we do to make them hear us?

Groceries are retaliating the best way they can, which is by offering more store-brand items instead of the big name products.  Stater Bros, for example, has gone from an average of seventeen percent store branded items to twenty-one percent.  It sounds as though they are considering offering more, which would be definitely be in our, the consumers’, best interests.

The best weapon we, as consumers, have always had, is the ability to vote with our checkbooks and our feet.  This is another of those circumstances where action like this is not only advisable, but necessary, in the war on high prices.  In most cases, these store brands are made with the same ingredients, if not by the same factories who produce the big-name stuff, so you’d likely not notice a negative difference in product quality.

I’ll be buying store-brand whenever possible from now on.

Will you?

UPDATED 3-11-2009:  Haagen Dazs has just announced that they are reducing the size of their “pint” of ice cream by two ounces in order to respond to the (mythological) increase in the cost of ingredients and manufacture.  Riiiight, HD…you just keeping telling us that, and I’ll keep buying the store brand.  And by the way…will you then continue to pretend that that’s a pint of ice cream you’re foisting off on the public?


Facebook Steps In It…

February 17, 2009

Facebook has quietly changed their Terms of Service to let people know that by using their service, users are granting Facebook an unlimited and perpetual license to reproduce and keep anything the user has posted to their site, even if that site has been deleted.

Users have every right to be upset about this rather cavalier attitude toward a person’s personal information and material.  I would hope that if enough users come forth screaming and yelling, Facebook will relent on these changes to their service and things can return to normal.

Right now, Facebook is the service that people seem to take more seriously than any other social networking site, and by behaving in this fashion, they will only cause their users to go elsewhere to find a service that doesn’t end up feeling so very proprietary about other people’s work.

UPDATE:  March 2, 2009

Facebook has backtracked quickly and stepped away from their rather draconian changes to their Terms of Service.  They are now asking site members to help them develop something mor acceptable to the majority of site users.  This writer will be following these discussions and will update as soon as there is more news on the subject.


Bambi vs Godzilla

January 15, 2009

All these years later, and this is still one of the funniest cartoon shorts ever put together.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Bambi vs Godzilla“, posted with vodpod



And Now Congress Doesn’t Want To Give Obama The Other Half Of The Bailout Funds…

January 15, 2009

Well, it looks as though, because President Elect Obama has said that there will be no pork attached to the second half of the bailout funds, Congress is attempting to stonewall his attempt to claim the other half of the bailout funds.

They were all hot and bothered about the first half when they ended up with cool pork like a tax cut on wooden arrows. 

Now, who wouldn’t want that kind of pork?  I know that I feel that taxes on wooden arrows are just exhorbitant, and need to be brought down to reasonable lev…

What the hell am I saying???

Jeez, Congress, these bailout funds are supposed to be there to help our economy, not line your pockets!  We’re already not happy that these corporation collecting our tax money are still handing out big bonuses, though other terms are being used when they do it.

Get off your soapboxes, suck it up, hand the funds over without that piggy icing, and while you’re at it, put some language in it that demands stricter oversight and accountability from the companies getting my money!