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Feb 17 2015

I had a question for Canon and a separate question for the New York Times. For each, I went to their websites, looked a the FAQ section, looked at chat streams all in vain. I could not find an answer to my question online. Well, each site had a way to send an email to customer service. I was very precise in the question I asked of Canon and the question I asked of the New York Times.

The question to Canon was about whether a particular lens was going to be updated and, if so, when. The response was generic boilerplate about Canon lenses and a link to their catalog. The language was such that it was clear the person who responded had not read my email question but had just seen the word “lens.” When I pointed that out in a second email, he/she responded with the answer to the question I asked.

For the NYT, I had a question about joint subscriptions (Kindle and those for online viewing). The response said that they could not find my email address in their database so I should please register or tell them an address I’d used when I subscribed. Well, I was clear in my first email that my subscription was through Amazon on my Kindle and not an online one. This time, I was a bit snarky in my email back to them:

Well, you seem to have ignored what I wrote about. I said I have a KINDLE subscription. That's through Amazon and not through you as you well know.

Let's go back to what I asked rather than the non-answer you gave me. I have a KINDLE subscription to the NYT that I read on my Kindle, obviously. I would love to have a joint subscription that I could also read either on my Kindle app on my desktop or iPhone or just on my laptop through NYT rather than through Amazon. I do not see any option that would allow that. The only options for online subscriptions (NOT ones from Amazon/Kindle) are for a combination of different computer/phone/iPad devices. Seems silly for me to pay you $19.99 a month for my KINDLE subscription and then have to pay an additional fee of about that or more to be able to read NYT on my laptop or iPhone or iPad. So, that is the basis of my question.

This time, and I'm sorry for being so direct about my disappointment in your first answer which did not address my questions at all, I hope you will respond with answers. 

Canon sent me an email survey about my experience with customer service. Had fun filling that out.

Oct 01 2014


We are selling our old house and the closing is scheduled for this week. We have an AT&T Uverse landline phone there and have an alarm system with a monitoring service. First thing I did was to try to login to my AT&T account on line to “manage” it. Seems as if there are different logins for AT&T, AT&T mobile, and AT&T Uverse. Stumbling along, I could not seem to login anywhere. So, started a chat with a rep.

I told him what I wanted to do was to login to my Uverse account to stop my landline at the old house but to make no other changes (our mobile phones are on that particular account as well). After going back and forth and back and forth with who I am, what my address is, what my access code is, etc. (let’s say about 15 minutes), he told me that neither he nor I could do what I wanted to do either with him or if I could login to my account. I’d have to call an 800 “retention” number. Got that … retention.

The rep told me to say “Cancel” after the machine voice answered. I called. I said “cancel.” Oh, that doesn’t work. You have to put in your phone number for the account you want to deal with. After a few more machine questions and answers, I did get a customer service rep. He said he would cancel the landline. A couple of things here: (1) we shall wait and see if something as simple as stopping that particular phone line really happens and nothing else gets screwed up (been there too many times with AT&T), and (2) the rep advised me to wait at least 30 days before combining the old account (now with just mobile phones on it) with our new account at our new house. Combining it earlier would insure a screw up in billing or worse. So, we shall see how this all pans out. I have never found dealing with AT&T simple. A first time, maybe?

Next I called our monitoring company on their 800 customer service number, a company with whom we’ve been doing business for at least 40 years in their present form and their predecessors. Had to wait 20 minutes on hold before getting a rep (loud, repetitive music). I requested that their monitoring service terminate on the date of closing since the buyer wasn’t sure what he/she wanted to do about an alarm. I was informed that (1) I’d have to mail (yes, mail) them a cancellation letter and (2) since I was cancelling and not moving the account to another address, I’d be responsible immediately to pay the monitoring fees through July, 2015. Seems as if I’d signed a contract for three years of service. What I don’t understand is that I own the alarm equipment. So why should I have to pay to cancel service? Oh, when I asked, he did tell me he could email me the cancellation letter which I can fill out, scan, and send back. And he is to send me a copy of my contract as well.

Called back on local service department number. Found out the customer service department was in St. Louis even with its toll-free number that I had called. The Service Department rep said she’d try to connect me with someone in management in Customer Service. After about 10 minutes on hold listening to their ads for their services, an operator asked how she could direct me call. Arghhh. Thought it was directed. Told her a manager in Customer Service. So, now music and another 15-minute hold. Rep answered and tried to get a manager, waited on hold again.

Rep came back on line, said manager was busy in her office, but knew about my earlier request. He told me that “all” alarm companies have long-term contracts with clients that “spell out each party’s duties and responsibilities.” He really could not tell me what I got from such a contract since I own my equipment and have always done so. It was just the way it is and he alleged it is this way with all alarm companies. I know that when we cancelled service with another company at a non-profit I am associated with, it was just cancelled. Period. No future fees to pay based on a long-term contract. So, “all” seems inaccurate given the other company is a major player in this market as well.

I played the “long-term customer” card. Back on hold as he checked with his manager. He came finally back and said given how long we had been associated with the company, his manager had agreed to waive the balance of the contract fees. Took about an hour of my time like pulling teeth, but finally got relief. Time for an evening libation … and waiting to see how this all really turns out.


Jun 12 2014

Last Saturday we got a computer-voice call from AT&T Uverse saying we had a technician appointment to install equipment the following Monday. We hadn't scheduled anything. Didn't ask for an appointment. So I called Uverse to let them know this was a mistake. This has to do with the house we've moved from that should only have telephone service as we try to sell it.  In the course of the conversation with the representative, I found out that we were still getting billed for data and TV service even though it was supposed to be stopped at least two weeks prior. I was then put in touch with a sales rep and went through the whole story again. He assured me that they would stop the unwanted services and give me an appopriate credit on my nexgt bill. And I was told the service call had been cancelled. This series of transactions took about 45 minutes altogether.

Sunday the phone rings and the computer voice again tells me we have a service call the next day. Told to press "7" to change or cancel the appointment, I did only to be told the office was closed on Sundays.

Monday rolled around and I got a call from a service technician who has been to my house and found no one home. He wanted to reschedule. I told him the service call was a mistake on Uverse's part and we had never requested it.

On Tuesday, I tried to open my email that is on an AT&T/Yahoo server only to find out that I could not gain access either through my mail program or on the web. I called Uverse and it took a nice rep an hour to work with me and figure out that when they had stopped my data service over the weekend at the old house, they had erased all my passwords to the email accounts even though they are free and not tied to any data service.

Today a nice rep from AT&T called to find out how satisfied I was with my experiences with them. Ha! Gave her an earfull.  

Jun 21 2014

I wrote this poem before the invastion of Iraq:

May 25 2014


We built a new house. The old house is for sale. Before we physically moved from one to the other, I arranged with the local AT&T Store near us to (1) put Uverse into the new house on, let’s say, Day 1; (2) move our existing land line number to the new house on Day 4; \ (3) put a new land line number at the old house (for our alarm) on Day 5; and (4) stop our data and TV service at the old house on Day 6. The timing for the above was recommended by the local AT&T sales people as the least problematic way to go.

All went swimmingly only on #1 above. Beyond that, I had to visit the local AT&T Store five times where the personnel there tried, in vain, to get the problem(s) solved. I talked to “back office” technicians on phone calls that totaled about 2 hours altogether. Everyone was “concerned” and apologetic, but nothing got solved for days and days. It took until Day 14 for all to fall into place.

The last piece in the puzzle was getting a telephone line at the old house to support the alarm. Technicians would call me each day to tell me the line was active and asked me to go to the old house and report. I did this several days in a row and, each time, the line was dead. I was told it was active day after day but it wasn’t. Finally the local AT&T Store sales people scheduled a Uverse technician to come to the old house to solve the problem. Even he had to spend over an hour on the phone with the back office people who finally, with his prompting, activated the doggone line they kept telling me was already activated.

What should have been a simple procedure turned out to be an ordeal. After all, all I really did was move. So, with AT&T, it ain’t ever easy.