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Posts from the ‘Venting’ Category

I Thought Colorado Was Cyclist Friendly?

This woman kills two cyclists while driving under the influence of morphine and barbituates, after shoplifting at the local Safeway. She gets 3 years in jail. WTF? I am beside myself right now. She had a summons to appear for a hit-and-run incident she was involved in two years before.

 

Thomas struck and killed the men at S. 26th Street, minutes after leaving the West Colorado Avenue Safeway. Police said she had been shoplifting and banged into a man’s car in the parking lot before driving off. The man followed her and saw her hit the bicyclists as she tried to turn left onto Westend Avenue — without yielding to oncoming traffic — in her 1986 Ford F-350. Police found her speech slurred and her eyes bloodshot, according to an arrest affidavit.

 

Read for yourself -> Woman gets 3 years in death of bicyclists

Sales Force Management as a Barrier to Customer Satisfaction

During the first 10 years or so of my programming career, a number of my projects revolved around sales force automation. At Windsor Group, I worked on tools that would make our territory managers more competitive. At GE Capital Consulting, I worked on a couple of client engagements that involved customizing a sales force automation tool called Overquota. Eventually at Solarcom, we built our own tool in house, based on best practices that we had developed over the years of working with these other tools.
One common thread through each of these implementations and customizations was the desire to tag a customer or prospect as belonging to a particular sales rep. For a customer, it was fairly clear that the person who first sold them something would likely own the account. With prospects, a regional approach was generally taken. Here lies the rub – for larger companies, which region do you choose: the region that contacted you, or the region where the company’s headquarters is. The response I usually saw was that it was based on the headquarters.
It straight sales organizations, that isn’t a tremendous barrier. The cost of on-site sales calls is usually transparent to the customer. In fact – they are built into the margin of the deal. If the rep comes from outside of your office’s region, you had better believe you are paying a slight premium to what a local representative would be able to offer.
What if it is not a straight sales engagement? What if professional services are involved? Here is where it gets tricky. I usually have seen it where the partner’s local presence is engaged. For a company site in Atlanta with a headquarters on the west coast, this means you as the customer are partnering with a company that is going to provide service from the far side of the country. Every flight, hotel, meal is going to add additional overhead to your engagement.
There needs to be some intelligence employed by vendors and their value added resellers to provide the best value to the customer. Staffing projects requiring onsite resources with those 3,000 miles away does not seem practical – especially when the VAR has a local presence with a presumably local talent pool.
There needs to be a focus on putting the customer’s needs first at their office location – ahead of the needs of assigning business within territorial bounds.

Dear Stupid Driver on Westside Pkwy @ Cumming Street in Alpharetta

Red lights mean stop. Even if you’re turning right. I’m not sure what theory of traffic law you misunderstood to mean that you only have to slow down to 45 mph to turn right at a red light. Hopefully you got that as I was yelling at you through the window as you almost mowed me down in the cross walk.
Hopefully you will notice the pedestrians out there in the future and yield to them. Try not to kill me 369 days before my next Ironman. Ok?
Today’s run – 1 hour 9 minutes @ a roughly 72% average heart rate. I’m trying something new. I’ll let you know how it works.

Read Your Phone Bill Carefully

Last night was bill paying night at my house. I hate bill paying night. It went smoothly until I opened my AT&T bill for my home phone (I know, I know, how 1990′s of me to have a home phone). Anyway, the amount was different than last month – $15 different thanks to a company called ILD Telecom.
According to the information I’ve found, ILD Telecom is a telecommunications billing clearinghouse. This would be similar to credit card clearinghouses that make it possible for you to swipe your credit card at any merchant, who can use any bank, and the charge end up on your account at any other bank. So, this company enables merchants to bill you through your phone bill and receive services in return. Other than phone sex operators I can’t really think of a valid reason for doing this, but surely there must be.
So I called the 800# that appeard next to their name and after entering my home telephone number I was routed to a customer service representative with a company called MyIproducts. After bringing up my account (using just a telephone number) she asked if I knew a “Leah Christensen” and of course I do not. She indicated that this person signed up for their service, which is a voice mail service, and must have entered the wrong phone number. She then asked me what the date of billing was on that I was looking at and I told her. She said there was another bill the following month, but she was cancelling this person’s service and crediting my account for the two months that had already been billed. I have her name, employee number, and a confirmation code. I now think this is pretty much worthless information, but I’ll hold onto it for giggles. Satisfied, I finished paying bills and went to bed with LSU comfortably leading a repeatedly pitiful Ohio State team.
This morning as I cranked out my yardage in the pool (at 2750 yds maybe I should refer to it as mileage) and thought about the whole scheme and it sounded fishy. First – who is going to use an Internet provider for $15 a month for voice mail?? You can almost get a cell phone w/ voicemail for that. And second – why did she ask me for the first date of billing? Can’t you see it? How many people miss this charge for a few months because they actually use their home phone for long distance or something and don’t get a credit for that?
Intrigued, I went to their website and poked around. It certainly looks legitimate, but then I decided to explore their products and services further. On this page, they list 4 products. Each with a two line description. I guess they didn’t want to overload us with info. Interestingly, there is no pricing information, just a link if you’re ready to become an iMail customer. Sure – sounds great to me… I click the link and get a page not found error. There is no way to sign up for the service. The page name it linked to was on their site at /restaurant/restaurant.aspx. RESTAURANT?? HUH?
Based on my personal experiences and investigation, I think it is safe to say that this company is a crammer. They sign people’s phone bills up for a charge to appear and collect money from the LEC (local exchange carrier) who in turn bills the customer. They continue to collect money until they are told to stop. I am hoping that they stopped in my case but it will be 2 billing cycles before I know for sure. They only refund what you tell them they billed you, not what they actually billed you.
I did some googling and found some other people with the same “Oh, someone must’ve misentered their telephone number excuse”. Wow – this company must have a marketing list of the clumsiest and most naive people on earth. $15 for voicemail and they can’t enter their own number right? Here is some info I found from a purported former employee. I believe him… but I have no way to prove that he ever worked there so I take it with a grain of salt. Although it all adds up.
So You’ve Been Crammed, What Now?
1) Call the 800# that appears next to the 3rd party billing company’s info. Do not get off the phone until you are satisfied that they are removing the charge. Get names and confirmation numbers so you at least feel it is a legitimate claim process. I don’t know that I would tell them the billing date you think the first charge appeared – I’d ask what the first date they see is and then go from there. You have a date in mind, but maybe they’ll offer up an earlier date (e.g. maybe you missed the charge one month).
2) Call your local phone company. Tell them you’ve filed the claim with the 3rd party and am paying your bill minus the disputed charge. They told me that was all I had to do, but I think it is best to be on record as calling in to talk about the bill. They are required by law to bill for these companies that present “proof” of your agreeing to be billed in this manner. Note the air quotes around the word proof.
3) Pay your bill, but subtract out the fraudulent charges (this is why you called the phone company in step 2).
4) From here, it is up to you. If you’re dealing with the company I’ve mentioned, I’d say talk to your State Attorney General’s Office, and maybe file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
5) Check your bill religiously. Not just to make sure these charges are removed, but to also prevent any further fraudulent charges from being placed.
Yes. I am pissed off. Thanks for noticing. But to AT&T’s credit, I don’t think it is their fault. My wait time from the moment I pressed 1 for English to getting to talk to someone was under 1 minute, and the representative I talked to was very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. Kudos to AT&T.

Trump v. Rosie

I don’t get into this celebrity crap, but it is funny to see them scrap with one another. I think at the end of the day, Trump gave this chick a second chance. She’s 21 – it’s easy to screw up at 21.
Come to think of it, didn’t Barbara Walters essentially give Rosie a second chance by bringing her on The View after Rosie failed to be able to hold down a successful talk show on her own??
Read More -> Trump and O’Donnell in war of words over beauty queen – Yahoo! News