Monday, December 29, 2008

Dreams (Geeky Comic)

Sadly, I really identify with this one. :-/

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

A great Basic Instructions repeat, but the best part about it is the comments. A number of people complained that his wife looked too much like a lesbian (because of her short hair?), so in a subsequent comic, he replaced her with Portia de Rossi*, the gorgeous actress that has appeared in Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, and wife of Ellen DeGeneres.

*In looking for this link, I found nude pictures of Portia. Man I love the Internet!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Fitness Direct Fiasco (Ch 4)

(Continued from Chapter Three)

Andy responded again:
Hi Phoenix,
My point was that we get our descriptions from the manufacturer's website, hence the mix of information on our website. This was a mixup on the listing, not an intentional effort to dupe you into buying something and shipping you another.
This is not the first time that Andy has blamed "the manufacturer".

Here's the problem with that: I did some searching, and FOUND the actual product that the fake description came from, the Multisports CC-755R. But... Multisports and Stamina are DIFFERENT MANUFACTURERS. The only common link they have in this mess is FITNESS DIRECT.

So, which manufacturer was it, Andy? Because there are TWO.
I have actually been out of the office with my family for the last 2 days and came back this morning to an inbox full of messages, one of which was Mark's message that you called.
That's all VERY RELEVANT. You've been out of the office with your family for the last 2 days? Oh, well then, forget the whole fraud thing you pulled on me.
I really had no idea about the error in information on the listing until after I sent you the email.
Even though you were specifically told to check the website first. Got it.
Once I discovered the error, I had my web guy get it corrected so we did'nt have more disappointed customer's like you.
It's GOOD that you took down the fake description, but you failed to inform me that you had discovered the error. (Notice how I resist mentioning the use of apostrophes? You have no idea how much willpower this is taking)
However, like I mentioned in the email, we have no problem bringing back the bike seeing the errors on the listing. I think you would agree that if we were purposely trying to mislead, we would'nt be so forthright in trying to correct the error. We have employees adding new products everyday, so unfortunately these things do happen.
Yes, claiming to have no idea why I was having a problem was very forthright. Blaming the "manufacturer" is very forthright. Blaming your employees is very forthright.

Oh, wait, what's the opposite of forthright again?
I definitely apologize for the error and the inconvenience, but I don't like to be accused of doing something illegal, when that was just not the case.
Deceit and Fraud are very clearly defined in California. Perhaps I should forward you the pages I found regarding this?
You can search the web and you will find nothing but positive comments about our company and that is something of which I take great pride.
Well, maybe this small blog post will get indexed some day, and then some future customer won't have to deal with this whole headache like I did. Speaking of which, iFitnessDirect and eFitnessDirect are the same company. Just so you know, Internet.
I'll issue the Fedex call-tag ASAP and confirm the pick-up with you. Typically, the box can just be left on your porch and they will bring the label and make the pick-up.

I...what? The box? Apparently Andy has missed the part in my previous correspondence where I asked him to make arrangements to pick up the FULLY ASSEMBLED bike, as per my credit card company's instructions.

Anyway, this wasn't my actual response (I think I was more polite in the real e-mail, although I did request that Andy not be the one to contact me anymore), but this whole handling of the situation makes my blood boil.

Just OWN UP TO THE ERROR! Say "Hey, we fucked up! How can we make it right?" Don't feign ignorance. Don't blame the "manufacturer". Don't blame your employees. Don't blame spending time with your family. Don't ignore what I tell you. Andy has taken this small error and compounded it with deceit and incompetence. I'm beginning to believe that he is INCAPABLE of being honest.

To be continued...?

The Fitness Direct Fiasco (Ch 3)

(Continued from Chapter Two)

I then received an e-mail from Andy Grenz (the e-commerce manager), which stated (in full, direct copy-pasta):
Hi Phoenix,
Thanks again for your purchase. What are you finding to be different about the bike than the listing? YThis is a new product and I think the manufacturer has mixed up the details on a few of their models. They have this unit at $299, the 7200 at $399 and the 7300 at $499.

Just let me know if you would like to return the unit, let me know when you have it back in the box and I'll send Fedex out to get it.

Sorry for the mixup.
What did I find to be different about the bike than the listing? Did he even CHECK the listing?

Andy helpfully included the e-mail to him from Mark Goodman (president, and I think the guy I spoke with on the phone):
From: Mark Goodman
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 12:34 PM
To: 'Andy Grenz'
Subject: Pls contact this guy ASAP
Importance: High

Stamina Fusion 7100 bike - problems....
He says it is different to what is described on website !!
Please double-check the website before you contact him.
How could he have checked the listing and not noticed what was wrong? I went back to the product page...


He removed the fake description and put in the real one (still with minor errors, I see). Then he pretended that nothing was wrong.

Can I borrow your phone? I need to call BULLSHIT.

I also needed to call my credit card company, which I did. I let them know everything that happened. Well, in order to do a chargeback, they normally need me to send the product back to the seller. HOWEVER, because the product is so large in this case (and not at all easily disassembled), and because the seller sold it to me under false pretenses, I only have to allow them to make arrangements to pick up the fully-assembled bike. I let Andy know all of this.

But now, it has gone from a simple mistake on a web page (which was still constructive fraud since they profited from their error), to a cover-up. Andy changed the web page and then pretended to be unable to find the error. Now, he *CLAIMS* that he wrote that e-mail to me BEFORE he saw the web page (despite being specifically told to look at the page FIRST), but if so, WHY DIDN'T HE TELL ME WHAT HE FOUND? If he found out later, and still failed to follow up with me, the effect is the same: suppression of the truth (aka, actual fraud).

That's right, Andy tried to fix his constructive fraud with ACTUAL FRAUD.

At this point, I feel obligated to report this to the appropriate authorities.

Continueto Chapter Four: The Excuses...

The Fitness Direct Fiasco (Ch 2)

(Continued from Chapter One)

It arrived a few days ago, and I excitedly set about assembling it. ^_^

You know that saying, about how, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is? Yeah.

The Stamina Magnetic Fusion 7100 is a piece of shit. A piece of poorly constructed shit that I could have gotten from Walmart for $100 less.

The ACTUAL features the bike came with didn't even remotely come close to the promised features on the web page.




* Wireless and contact pulse rate

No Wireless


* Self-powered generator system

4 AA batteries


* Super smooth dual poly V-belt technology



* Extra large seat with high density contoured pads and lumbar support

Small seat, low density padding, not contoured, no lumbar support.


* Aluminum rail for precision and smoothness, 24 positions

9 positions.


* Side and front handlebars



* Self balancing pedals with wide, adjustable straps

Straps that snap on and don't come off.


* Front transport wheels

Single wheel.


* 350 lbs Maximum user weight

300 lbs, according to the manual.


* Workout Programs: Pre-Set Programs



* Accessibility: Walk Through Design



* Maximum User Weight: 350.00 lbs

Still 300 lbs, no matter how many times they say otherwise.


* Power Requirement: Self generated power

Take self to store, self purchase 4 AA batteries.


* Dimensions: 65" x 24" x 48"



* Large LCD Window

Tiny LCD window


* Console Feedback: Time, Speed, Distance, Heart Rate, Calories, Watt, RPM

Yes for time, speed, distance, heart rate, calories. NO for watt, RPM.


* Programming: Manual, 12 Pre-Set Programs, Target Program Setting: Time, Distance, or Calories, Target HR Program, 16 levels of Resistance

SIX (6!) pre-set programs. No target programs for time, distance, or calories. NO TARGET HR PROGRAM. 8 levels of resistance.


* Frame: 10 Years

Frame: 5 Years


* Parts: 1 Year

Parts: 90 days!


It was still during Fitness Direct's posted business hours, so I called them right up, but there was no answer.

I called again the following day, and when I did finally get through, the man I spoke to wouldn't talk about the bike at all, but he did take down my contact information and promised that someone would get hold of me soon.

Continue to Chapter Three: The Response...

The Fitness Direct Fiasco (Ch 1)

The term is over, and now I have free time to post again. ^_^

I've been wanting a recumbent exercise bike since I moved into my new apartment (I don't live within walking distance of the gym anymore). They are quite pricey, however, especially if you want any special features.

The killer feature I wanted was a target-heart-rate setting. That's pretty much the only setting I use on the bikes at the gym anyway. But, the lower-price bikes don't seem to have it, even if they have heart-rate monitors.

So, I couldn't find one locally in my budget range. I had looked into buying one online, but the shipping costs were a deal breaker.

Then I found iFitnessDirect. Free shipping to anywhere in the US? I'm sold! (Also based in a different state so no taxes [at time of purchase], and they had a discount code that knocked another $15 off)

On their site, I found the Stamina Magnetic Fusion 7100. The features list was incredible!
  • Wireless and contact pulse rate
  • Self-powered generator system
  • Super smooth dual poly V-belt technology
  • Extra large seat with high density contoured pads and lumbar support
  • Aluminum rail for precision and smoothness, 24 positions
  • Side and front handlebars
  • Self balancing pedals with wide, adjustable straps
  • Front transport wheels
  • 350 lbs Maximum user weight
  • Workout Programs: Pre-Set Programs
  • Accessibility: Walk Through Design
  • Maximum User Weight: 350.00 lbs
  • Power Requirement: Self generated power
  • Dimensions: 65" x 24" x 48"
  • Large LCD Window
  • Console Feedback: Time, Speed, Distance, Heart Rate, Calories, Watt, RPM
  • Programming: Manual, 12 Pre-Set Programs, Target Program Setting: Time, Distance, or Calories, Target HR Program, 16 levels of Resistance
  • Frame: 10 Years
  • Parts: 1 Year
All for under $300! I placed my order.

Continue to Chapter Two: The Bike Arrives...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I Hate Computers

So I had downloaded a rather large iso file I need for the project that is due today in (looks at clock) less than 8 hours. 8 hours? F#(%.

The reason I needed to reboot (in the previous post) was because I was having some difficulties with Daemon Tools. It took several reboots and several tool downloads (and several hours, since that post was three hours ago), and eventually I just scrapped it in favor of the free MagicDisk from MagicISO. Reboot, reboot, reboot...

Finally, it was up and running, and it was at THIS point that I discovered that the corrupted Daemon Tools installation had WIPED OUT THE ISO. Just wrote over it. It's gone. 3.3GB that I get to download AGAIN.


So angry right now...

Download will take another two hours. Which will leave me with just 6 hours to get it installed and make the things I need for the project. Awesome.

...and THAT is why you don't put things off until the last minute. (Also, don't use Daemon Tools)

Shooting My Canon

I've been wanting an HV30 camcorder for a while now, and even ordered it at one point. Unfortunately for me, I ordered it through a bait-and-switch company, so I didn't get it.

Well, recently a "Cyber Monday" deal brought the price down to $550. Cheap! Even the bait-and-switch price had been higher than that. Plus a Live Search cashback offer would give me back another 2%. And no taxes. And free shipping.

Additionally, I had recently discovered some things about my credit cards. For example, my MasterCards added extended warranties to my purchases automatically (Visa requires you to register your purchases with them, and only if your service agency covers it). So it would double the 1-year warranty on the HV30 at no cost to me. ALSO one of my MasterCards has a 6% interest. 6%! (Not that I often carry a balance, but still) [This is my new primary card.]

It was time to buy.

In addition to the HV30, I added a Canon DM-50 directional microphone and a Modo Steady 585 camera support, all at B&H Photo-Video, all with 2% cashback.

The only thing left to do was log in to my credit card site, make sure all of my information was up to date, and link it to my checking account (I don't like to make purchases unless I know for sure how it's going to be paid for). Ideally, there will also be an auto-pay option that I can set up so I never ever miss a payment.

Let's see, click login, put in my info, hit enter...
System Unavailable

The system is currently unavailable. Please contact customer service.
Huh. That's weird. Try again....
System Unavailable

The system is currently unavailable. Please contact customer service.
Hmm. :-( That's not good. I want to buy this camera (who knows how long this deal will last?) but I won't do it until I link my credit card account with my bank account. I can't.

So, I wait a few hours and try again and
System Unavailable

The system is currently unavailable. Please contact customer service.
Grr. A few hours later, the same thing. Late into the evening/early morning, the same thing.

Frustrated, I go to bed.

When I awoke, I immediately panicked. Was the sale over? Rushing to the computer I found, no, it was still the same price. Hey, maybe this is just the new price? It is December, after all. The new HV model should drop next month, with even BETTER features (but a higher price tag). And they're probably clearing out stock before the end of the fiscal year. I relaxed, logged in to my credit account and
System Unavailable

The system is currently unavailable. Please contact customer service.
DAMMIT! Why is this happening? I can't link my credit card to my checking accout via customer service.

So I forget about it and go back to work. It's final-projects week (I'm waiting for a download to finish so I can reboot, which is why I'm writing this instead of working on that right now). Many hours later, I needed to wait for a download to finish so I could reboot (hey!) and with nothing else to do, I tried (again) to log in to my credit card account and HEY! IT WORKED! Hooray!

Time to checkout!

Oh, it's after midnight and the sale is over. The HV30 went up $40.

And there is no auto-pay.


Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal REVISITED

Hey, remember when I said "If you have a webcomic, please, put Oh No Robot in your template"? Well, you should since it was only a few days ago!

Well, he DID. (Below the comic, the Dec. 2nd news)

It's like I'm some sort of god...

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Warning RE: Emergency Credit Cards

If you're like me, you have an emergency, last-resort, not-for-use credit card reserved in case you really, really need it. Right?

Maybe not.

I just found out that my emergency, last-resort, not-for-use credit card account was closed. For inactivity.

No notification. No warning. Apparently, they're sending me notification as we speak, but I found out when I logged in to my attached bank account.

So, my total credit line is now ~$10,000 shorter than it was before (though, this could explain why my credit score went back up to 800 recently).

Anyway, the point is, if you DO have an emergency, last-resort, not-for-use credit card, you better actually use it every now and again.


I'm going through my credit cards and updating the addresses to my new apartment. I'm discovering even MORE closed accounts.

Credit line is now ~$12,000 shorter.
Credit line is now ~$20,000 shorter.
Credit line is now ~$23,000 shorter.
Credit line is now ~$??? shorter - I found two more closed accounts, but their customer service isn't open 24/7, so I have to wait until morning to find out what their credit limits were. I will also likely close another account (only $500 limit @ 21.19%! For comparison, my daily-use card is @ 6.09%).

On a related note, that previous trick for making free calls has been *VERY* useful. I can't call out from my home phone (not even 800 numbers), but I can receive calls... ^_^ There's no way I could have afforded paying for all these calls with my cell.