Category Archives: Consumer Affairs

Four Star Body Shop

By the way, the body shop that repaired my Toyota RAV4 after the goose strike incident is the Four Star Body Shop run by Loukas Pergantas. They’ve been repairing bits and pieces of my cars for about five years now, and they’ve always done a great job. And when it’s something that I’m paying for out-of-pocket, they’ve been good about controlling the cost.

Four Star Body Shop
5424 W. Montrose Ave.
Chicago,IL 60641
773-286-2051

Ask for Loukas, and tell them you heard about them from the guy who hit the geese.

Sprint. Still Fuckers After All Of These Years.

One of the most productive posts on my blog has been this Sprint-bashing post from 2005. It’s still the top Google result for “sprint fuckers” and the #2 result for “fucking sprint” and “fuck sprint”. (I should probably be using this to establish my social media SEO cred.)

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of my association with Sprint. I also had Sprint long distance service via a special deal I got when I signed up for the phone. It was actually a good deal for a while, but eventually we stopped using it, since our cell phones have free long distance. At some point, sprint announced that they were cancelling the deal, and the transactions for it stopped appearing on our bill.

Then, a couple of months ago, some collection agency called me to say I owed $52.63 to Sprint. After explaining several times that I wasn’t about to give out my credit card or bank information to a random stranger on the phone, I got the guy to tell me how to pay the bill online, and I told him I’d pay it that day if Sprint confirmed that I owed them money.

Sprint confirmed it, so I paid the bill. Since I pay my regular phone bills, and since Sprint had never sent me a bill for this amount, I can only conclude that some fucker at Sprint thought it would be cheaper to turn over all bills for dropped long distance customers to a collection agency than to develop a business process for issuing their own bills. Either that, or they’re just massively incompetent.

Then today, I got another bill from the fuckers at Sprint. Apparently, Sprint is still my assigned long distance company. I wish I’d noticed that. You see, back in February, my wife accidentally used our landline to make a 25 minute call to Florida. Now how much would you think that would cost? Seventy five cents? $1.75 at 7 cents per minute? Or maybe because we’re not a regular long distance customer, they’d charge something obscene like 25 cents per minute for a total of $6.25?

Would you believe they want $40.66?

Motherfucker!

That’s over a buck a minute for domestic long distance! No wonder people are still commenting on that last Sprint post six fucking years later! The folks at Sprint are still the same fuckers they’ve always been! I fucking hate those fuckers!

Fuck!

“What if everyone whose account was canceled sued Google?”

Google offers some fantastic services to users of the internet, but they’re so big that we’re all small potatos to them, which is probably why they seem to avoid giving one-on-one customer service whenever possible.

So when Aaron Greenspan of Think Computer Corporation had trouble getting anyone at Google to explain why they cancelled his AdSense account, still owing him $721, he decided to take the GOOG to court—small claims court in Santa Clara County, California, which is also home to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.

It turns out that not only didn’t Google explain to Greenspan why they cancelled his account, they didn’t bother to explain it to the paralegal they sent to defend against the suit either.

“What was the reason Google gave you for disabling your account?”

“Beyond, ‘posing a signficicant risk to advertisers,’ they didn’t give a reason.” I said. “I don’t know.”

Google’s Ms. Milani didn’t know either…She claimed that Google could terminate accounts for any or no reason, and that I had agreed to such terms by signing up for AdSense in the first place. She even said that I’d admitted to violating the terms of service when I sent in my appeal form, because I had mentioned that my new domain name was only a placeholder site.

In fact, clause 6 of the AdSense for Content Terms and Conditions does not allow Google to terminate accounts for “no” reason–only “any” reason. Much to my amusement, the judge interrupted her to make a point that sounded familiar.

“But you couldn’t terminate my account because of the color of my eyes, could you? I have brown eyes. You couldn’t terminate my account because of that.”

Greenspan won his $721, plus court costs.

“But it’s not fair!” Google’s paralegal protested. “What if everyone whose account was canceled sued Google?”

Maybe they’ll find out.

Read the whole story of how Greenspan took on the Google and won.

(Hat tip: Philipp Lenssen)

The Congress That Stole Christmas

Well, not quite, but this isn’t good. After last year’s problems with lead paint in children’s toys, Congress passed new laws to regulate the industry.

Without changes to strict new safety rules…mom-and-pop toy makers and retailers could be forced to conduct testing and labeling they can’t afford, even if they use materials as benign as unfinished wood, organic cotton and beeswax.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., lead sponsor of the legislation, says toy makers should not worry. Rush points out that the law already exempts products and materials that do not threaten public safety or health.

That’s a great theory, but as usual, Congress punted and left the details to a regulatory agency:

Determining what materials fall under that exemption falls to the [Consumer Product Safety Commission], however, which has yet to issue specific guidelines. With a Feb. 10 deadline for complying with the law, small toy makers say they have no choice but to act as if its rules apply to them or risk facing fines of $100,000 per violation.

This is a great example of why us libertarians don’t like government interference in the market: Even in an area like product safety where we’re willing to tolerate a fair amount of government intrusion, it’s hard for one central planner to get the details right.

It’s worse than mere ignorance, however, there’s also the problem of regulatory capture, where a regulatory agency—or Congress itself—begins to enforce the agenda of the major players in the industry it’s supposed to be regulating.

One European toy maker has already announced it will stop its exports to the U.S. because of the law’s costs and uncertainties. Selecta Spielzeug, a German company, said earlier this month that it will stop shipping its wooden push toys, games and other products to 1,200 U.S. stores after Dec. 31.

Apparently, this new toy safety law is hurting foreign and independant toymakers, both of which will now provide less competition for major domestic toy manufacturers. How did that happen? Did it have anything to do with the $850,000 worth of lobbying by just Mattel and Hasbro during the last election cycle?

 

Sallie Mae is a Nightmare

Woman of the Law has a really good rant about a customer service nightmare with Sallie Mae, her student load provider.

I’m hoping the links in this post will improve her search engine score for the phrase “nightmare with Sallie Mae“. Or maybe I should link to it with the more traditional “Sallie Mae sucks,” or my personal favorite, “Fucking Sallie Mae!

In any case, I wish her luck in her efforts to smear a major corporation on the web. I’m sure they have it coming.

Just to Let You Know

I just threw away the 12-page manual that came with my small desk fan, including 2 pages of IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO PREVENT INJURY.

So if I suddenly stop blogging, you’ll know what went wrong.

Consumer Reports Knows Nothing About Digital SLRs

I was just visiting the Consumer Reports site to look something up, and for the fun of it I decided to see what they had to say about my Nikon D200.

Here’s every digital SLR camera they rated:

  1. Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT
  2. Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
  3. Canon EOS 20D

That’s it. No Nikon DSLR‘s at all. The Canon v.s. Nikon argument can go either way, depending on your needs, but you can’t argue that Nikon has some important cameras out there. The D70 is legendary for starting the whole DSLR revolution. Even more damning, the article is dated July 2006, but they haven’t rated the three hottest DSLR‘s of the past year—the Nikon D200, the Canon 5D, and the Olympus EVOLT E-330.

Suddenly I’m not so comfortable using Consumer Reports to make buying decisions…

Pitiful Radio Shack

I was installing new hardware in a friend’s computer today, and I discovered I needed an internal power supply cable. This is a four-wire cable with white nylon connectors at each end. I figured I could just run out to good old Radio Shack to get one.

When I got there, however, the sales clerk didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I looked around a bit, but they didn’t even carry parts like that.

The PC industry has been using these for at least 20 years now. Here’s a picture of one at MicroCenter. Radio Shack is a shadow of it’s former self.

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