My Belated Christmas Present

I got a much needed, much deserved and much fought for Christmas present yesterday that I honestly did not expect to or later!

I FINALLY got AT&T to help me with my phone!!

In mid-October my Blackberry Torch just started draining in a matter of minutes.  I'd have 80% battery and 20 minutes later I'd pull it out of my pocket to use it and it would be flashing a battery warning at me because it would be just about dead.

I started uninstalling apps and double-checking to make sure that I was closing out of all of the apps when I was done with them.  I always keep my bluetooth and wireless off when I'm not using them, so I knew it wasn't that.

And it wasn't every day that it was happening.  It was on days when I barely touched my phone and also on days when I made phone calls or sent texts.  And when it started to drain, it would be dead within an hour.

The first weekend in November we went to Oklahoma with my family (about two weeks after it started) and before the Razorback game that weekend, it did that to me again and Jason said that his phone had been doing that, too.  Both of ours were completely dead before the game was over that night, even though we'd fully charged them that morning.  So on Sunday I called AT&T to try to get the devices swapped out under warranty.  The first rep I talked to said he'd actually had several calls like that and that they had to swap the device out for them, so he sent me over to warranty to get two good devices sent out to us.  When I got to warranty, I had to start all the way back at square one and tell them what was going on and do all the same troubleshooting I'd already done and they would only send us new batteries.  Since I was days within being out of warranty, I asked them what if that didn't work, because it didn't seem like the battery to me (as a computer nerd, I like to think I've developed a 6th sense for these things).  They said they'd notate the account and extend the warranty to give me time to see if that was it.

A week and a day later I finally got the batteries that they said I should have in two days.

And it didn't do a thing to fix the problems so I started calling AT&T again but this time I got "your phone's out of warranty and you're not eligible for an upgrade until July."

So for just short of TWO MONTHS I've talked to I don't know how many people telling them my phone was IN warranty when the problems started and that was supposed to be notated on my account and I couldn't spend (then) eight more months with a phone that may or may not work when it should have been swapped out under warranty to begin with.

And for two months I've gotten NOWHERE with anyone.  And every time we go out of town for something, inevitably, the stupid thing would die with very little warning.

I went into our local AT&T store here last Wendesday, hoping some face time with a rep would get me more help than I'd gotten but that rep...we'll call her 'Sara'...was the LEAST helpful person, ever.  I could tell the second she said my name that she didn't want to be there and she didn't want to have to help me.

So she didn't.  She initially tried to shut me down with "You're out of warranty and ineligible for an upgrade until July" and I attempted to tell her about how this all started back when I was in warranty and told her that if I could just get someone to either help me figure out why it was doing that, or get a working device, I'd be happy.  She didn't so much as look at or touch my phone.  She just looked at the computer, turned around and made a comment to a coworker and proceeded to make me feel as if she thought we were just trying to cheat AT&T into new phones.  She claimed she was submitting notes and sending it on up to a supervisor because she didn't have the authority to do anything.  That was, supposedly, as much as she could do.  But she assured us repeatedly that we'd hear something--one way or another--within 72 hours.

So yesterday, a week and a day later, I chat with online AT&T tech support.  Same song and dance for the dozenth time.  Starting at square one and going all the way through it.  He told me that they have some upgrade options for us that should be more suitable and call this # and they can take care of us.

So I call that # and have to start all the way back at square one and at the end of it she tells me that all she can do is give us a basic Samsung phone for $50 a piece.

Which is unacceptable to me because if they'd done a warranty exchange to begin with, I'd have a like quality phone for no additional cost.  She wants me to pay $100 to have two inferior phones.

So I go in the AT&T store nearby, mad enough with frustration that I was on the verge of tears, and the heavens opened and God had mercy on me and gave me a sales rep that we'll call 'Jeffrey'.

Jeffrey listened to the whole ordeal patiently.  He went through the computer through every documented conversation (out of curiosity's sake I asked him what Sara's notes said from last week and what was done on that but it appears that all that shows up is my payment that I made that same evening.  She did NOTHING.  Well...she lied to me and antagonized me.  But she didn't actually do the job that she's paid to do.)  But back to Jeffrey, finally I get someone who also feels like this isn't fair, that they should honor the warranty since it was still in warranty when I came to them over this.

So he calls up warranty and he waits and he talks and he waits and he talks and he's getting upset, "You mean you sent them replacement batteries when you knew you needed to send replacement devices?  That is unacceptable.  We need two replacement devices sent to them under the warranty they had in effect at the time."  (Here's where I almost started crying because even the reps were running into the same walls that I was)

I'm pretty sure that he actually ended up hanging up on them and went to the back and then came back to the front.

"Here's the problem...we don't have any of those particular devices to swap them out with....are you happy with that phone?"

"No.  I hate it.  And it may just be this whole ordeal that has me hating it so much because I used to like it...but with all this nonsense, I hate it and I won't have another Blackberry again because even they wouldn't help me out."

So he went around to his computer.  "Okay then, what kind of phone do you want?"

"Well, it depends on the price.  Both of our families have iphones and love and recommend those, so that's really where I lean to, but I know there are a lot of droids out there that everyone likes.  But we just need something that we can afford and that will work properly.  We certainly can't afford to pay $350 a phone for two phones."

"We're going to do this as if it's July.  We're doing an upgrade with a 2 year contract renewal so you can get two new devices at the upgrade cost.  So, which one do you want to look at?"

So we went through prices and devices and went for the iPhone 4 (not the new 4S, we just needed good phones, not the latest and greatest.)

So we have working devices and I am DONE with all of that mess.  It took about 3 hours yesterday for the headache to fade and the tension to melt away.  It's almost like my body couldn't accept that I was done fighting that fight.  Who knows...I might have PTSD from all this.  :P

But I'm going to send a letter to the manager of that store when I find out who it is.  Jeffrey did everything a good employee should have done and then he did even more, whereas Sara did nothing.  At all.

But it's over and it's done with and I'm happy and thankful and relieved.  It's just so frustrating having to fight for service that--to be honest--as a customer, you're owed to begin with.

Okay.  And that's enough of that soapbox.  It's my Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Birthday all in one.

Hope the holidays were wonderful for each of you, too!

Merry Christhanukkanadan

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! And a Joyous Whatever-it-is-you-Celebrate!

But don't expect a "Happy Holidays" around here.

I don't do "Happy Holidays".

I default to Merry Christmas because that is what I celebrate and that is what I believe and that is the reason for my Holiday season. But if it's not what you celebrate, that's fine, tell me what you celebrate and I'll wish you a Happy Whatever-Holiday-That-May-Be.

Because it's not about insulting anyone by not being able to guess the correct holiday, it's about wishing them well and celebrating what each of us celebrates in our heart. Which is why if you tell me Happy Hanukkah (even though I celebrate Christmas), it's cool. I'll wish you a Happy Hanukkah as well and just be glad that you were kind enough to wish me well.

So, whatever holiday you're celebrating this year, I hope it's a great one. And if you don't celebrate a holiday...then I hope you have a great non-holiday all the same.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Tyisms: Thank God

Ty:  I sure do got some great parents.

Me:  You do!  You should remember and tell God thank you for your good parents.

Ty:  God and Jesus, thank you for my new parents!

Me:  I'm not sure how I feel about that.....

On Fire! this is a week overdue since I kinda promised it last weekend....

My bad!

But to be honest, I've not been on the computer that much!

Who needs to when you can check everything from across the room on the couch right on your very own lovely little Kindle Fire.

Have I mentioned I am in love?

And I've only explored the free apps and free books and free software for this thing because do you know how much I might spend when I'll eventually wander into the realm of the paid stuff?  I'm going to have to start squirreling away Amazon gift cards to feed my addiction!

Okay, so let's start at the top.

Concerns that I had going into this thing:

  1. For a Techie like me 8GB is kinda a laughing matter....I dream my dream DVR Receiver has a 1TB HD on it.  I stopped using 8GB flash drives 2 years ago and moved to a 250GB external hard drive because 8GB was just too insubstantial.  So this whole 8GB of storage space was a pretty big concern for me.
  2. It's WiFi only.  Which is like putting me on life support only if I stay close enough to the machine.  But who likes to be that limited?
  3. Will I really use it that much?  I mean, $199 is a GREAT price for an e-reader slash tablet computer, but it's just wasted money if you don't use it.
  4. Will it be fast enough for me?  The display at BestBuy was painfully slow and I made excuses for it that it was because their WiFi network had so many devices leeching off of it, but it was a concern because I just can't stand lag time.  I have my cell phone set to reboot itself every night at 2AM just to avoid pauses or delays on it.
  5. And the heart of the matter...I like a paper book.  I love books.  What will reading a whole book be like on a screen instead of paper?
Okay, so let's take them from the top.  

#1--8GB of storage space
Doesn't seem to be a problem and I'm not really anticipating it either.  I keep pictures on my computer and backed up on my external HD.  I put music on my cell phone's removable micro SD card and bluetooth it to my stereo in my car.  So really, I'll be using this for reading, checking Facebook, maybe playing a few games and Ty and Jason have enjoyed watching some Amazon Prime videos on it like some old school Legends of Zelda.  

The books and applications take up minimal space so I'm figuring that if I remove the books when I'm done with them (or move them to my computer for later use) then I don't see it becoming an issue later.  I'm kind of a nerd about organizing and archiving unused files, anyway, so this just fits right into my typical behavior.

Plus I'll have access to store files on Amazon's Cloud storage.  I haven't explored that just yet though so I really can't tell you more about it other than I understand I can store books, music, files, etc. on there and access it from anywhere that I have a WiFi connection.

#2--It's WiFi only far, not an issue.  When I'm away from the house, I'm typically just using it to read my book anyway.  When I'm sitting at home is typically when I have time to browse and do more with it.  Plus, there are quite a few WiFi hot-spots, if I just absolutely had to have WiFi during the workday I could run up the road to SamsClub on my lunch break.  

But since I have a data plan on my Blackberry, I'm not expecting this to be much of an issue because I can check Facebook on it just as easily as I can on the Kindle Fire (though I like the Kindle Fire's Facebook App infinitely better!)

The only drawback I've found yet is that the WiFi range on it is not what I hoped, but I can work around that.  Our wireless router is at the opposite end of the house from our bedroom and bathroom and there are quite a few walls in-between.  In the bedroom, it's still fine but if nature calls and I take her to the loo with me, a wireless connection is weak and sometimes it won't connect.  I've been contemplating moving the router to a more central area anyway because I no longer have a way to hide the router and modem in that room anyway, so it'll be a non-issue in the end.

#3--Will I really use it that much?
Yes, yes, a hundred times yes!  It's just so convenient!  I downloaded the Holman Christian Bible, quite a few books (there are websites where you can get some (not all) books for free, Amazon has quite a few free books, plus my library is a member of where I can "check out" ebooks and audio books, too!  I've blazed through two books in a week where the previous books in this series took me a week and some change just to read one.  

And it's pretty convenient for entertaining my boys, too.  If we get into too long of a wait at a restaurant or somewhere and he's met his sit still limit, I can pull it out and bring up a game for him instead of breaking out the Mama tone instead.  Win/win!

#4--Will it be fast enough for me?
I feel correct in thinking that it's as slow or fast as the network.  Here at home where it's just our computer and maybe a cell phone or two pulling off the WiFi there's no lag-time at all in loading pages and data off the WiFi and apps stored on the device run just as smoothly as they would on the computer.  

I have yet to use the WiFi outside of the home because the need just hasn't presented itself, but I expect it to be the same as any other device in this aspect, if you have a lot of usage on a network, it's not going to run as good as it would on a more private network.

#5--Will I like reading books on a screen?
So far, yes!  My new cover helps that matter even more, though because it feels in my hands like it's a book and since I can adjust the brightness of the screen, it visually reads more like a book than I expected it to.  (And the Italian Leather makes me swoon as if I'm reading some rare first edition!)

Sorry, please ignore the giddy nerd talk.

It's actually more convenient to me to have the Kindle because now I can read in the car or in bed at night without having to bother Jason with a light.  And judging by how quickly I was able to devour my last two books, I feel like it's definitely not slowing me down.

So would I recommend the Kindle Fire to anyone looking for an eBook reader?  Absolutely!  Without hesitation!  But if you're only looking for an eBook reader with no other frills, you can save some money and just go with the regular Kindle or Kindle Touch.  There's no sense in paying for more than you'll ever use.  But if you're wanting a lite version of a tablet that doubles as an eBook reader, this is definitely my top choice.

Is it the best device on the market?  Who knows.  I'm Amazon brand loyal so that made my decision.  They had a device that was in the range of what I wanted and a price that was 75-80% cheaper than the ones I was previously dreaming of and it's backed by Amazon, so for me, yes it's the best device on the market.

Is it worth every penny spent?  And then some.  But be prepared to spend a little more than just the $199 price tag because I would not recommend investing $200 in something and not properly protecting it so I bought a 2 year warranty plan ($45), a good cover ($40), and some military grade screen protectors ($15) to go along with it.

When your money's (temporarily) not yours.

It's that time again!

You guessed it!

I'm on my soap box!

"What's the deal this time?" you ask?

Someone borrowed money from me without asking if they could borrow money from me and they're not giving it back in a timely manner.

Yes, some people would call this theft.  But the credit card companies who back our debit cards call it an "authorization hold".

Which is fine and reasonable in theory and well-executed practice.

But this is one of those instances where I think we fell through the cracks and are left holding the yucky end of the stick.

You see, husband needed gas on Tuesday, and since we had the means to buy gas, Husband went to SamsClub to get gas.  This is part of our normal routine.  There is no problem here.

When Husband puts his card in the gas pump, Visa checks to see if we have $125 in our account and they place a hold on it so that they can verify that we have the funds to pay for the fuel we pump into our car.  Though I feel $125 is a bit excessive, I'm okay with this because I'm a logical person who can understand that businesses have to cover themselves.  (By the way, different cards have different hold amounts, it's not up to the gas stations how much is held, it's up to your card company.)

This also isn't typically a problem because at the end of the say SamsClub submits their charges to our bank, which they did, and then Visa releases the $125 hold on our account...which they didn't.

They didn't do it on Wednesday either.  So four days later, we've not only paid $46.14 for the gas we purchased, but Visa is still holding $125 from our account and not allowing us to spend that either.

Which is making me a bit irritable because it's Black Friday and...well, I had other plans for my money today.  So thank you Visa (and I mean that as sarcastically as possible), the icing on the cake is that if it was your money I was borrowing, you'd charge me 13.5% interest plus any applicable fees.

Pay it Forward Friday | November 3

Yesterday was a less-than-stellar day.

Everyone in my household woke up with a rain-cloud over their head and--I don't know about them--when I left house, it was still there.

And it got darker and began to lightning and thunder as I drove Ty to school and idiot after imbecile after downright stupid drivers got in my way, slowed me down, or pulled out in front of me.

And then I sat at the exit of the school drive for five minutes waiting to turn left.

But apparently all the other drivers saw the storm cloud over my head and decided they didn't want to take any chances in stopping their cars long enough to let me and the very long line of traffic behind me continue on our way.  So after five full minutes of sitting and fuming and inwardly screaming inside my head, I whipped to the right onto the road, zipped a short distance down to a parking lot on the left, cut my tires to the left, and pulled out going the direction I needed to go but certainly not in a better mood for the delay.

I came to work and the cloud persisted, even though it was time to put on my smile and my Good Neighbor attitude.  But my morning set the tone for my day and it took all day to recover from those first few hours of frustration and irritation.

So when this morning, the attitudes of my family started to get too hurried (and worried that we were going to work pants-less because the dryer wasn't drying fast enough), I called a time-out in my own head and suggested a do-over. 

Because life isn't perfect.  But it is what I allow it to be.  And since yesterday I allowed it to be pretty rotten, I wanted to change things up and go a different route today.

And even though I had to lecture the kiddo about not doing what he was asked to do and instead doing what he chose to do...and even though I had to tell him four times to do something and would have seriously swatted his butt for his back-talk if he hadn't been sitting on it (and I driving) at the time I was--the whole time--trying to remind myself to make today a good day.

Because it really is my choice.

And it came easier when I pulled up to the stop sign at the end of the school drive to make my left turn around (instead of through) the campus and less than 30 seconds later, a woman in a van stopped just so I could turn and continue on with my day.

And I said a quick prayer of thanks and asked God to bless that woman and help her through her day today because she had both blessed and helped me with just a few seconds of her time and a very courteous gesture.

And, as I like to do, I looked for an opportunity to pay it forward.  And I was disappointed when I pulled into work and no such opportunity had presented itself.  And I sat through work hoping for a customer that I could give a little extra to and bless just because I'd been blessed.  And tonight I drove home through bumper-to-bumper traffic looking for anyone to help (more than just slowing down and allowing them to change lanes in front of me instead of just speeding up and letting them fall into line behind me).  But no big opportunity presented itself.

But I'll keep looking because it's my turn to pay it forward.

Oh the Possibilities