The Halting Point

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Ever have a problem with squirrels eating all the bird seed out of your bird feeder? Me neither, but I might buy one of these just to laugh my ass off. The product, sold on Birdquest uses a battery to rotate the feeder. Birds don't mind being spun at a certain RPM but squirrels do. I'm not quite sure how it detects the difference (probably by weight) but this thing is freaking hilarious to watch.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

T-Mobile Lies to Customers Part 4

Shane also shared some interesting info on T-Mobiles customer service workings...I've learned the following:
  • There is a difference between Account Specialists and Advanced Care Specialists. The Advanced Care Specialists are the ones who can actually DO something for you.

  • There most certainly IS someone above the rank of supervisor to speak to and under no circumstances should Tom have told me otherwise.

  • In certain circumstances T-Mobile can indeed guarantee a pricepoint will be good and valid at a later date. The company policy is 72 hours but there can be exceptions like in my case.

  • T-Mobile does not use scripts, so when Tom sounded like he was reading a script, it was just him getting tired of the conversation and sounding like a robot.

So all in all I feel much better about T-Mobile than I did a few days ago although I'm still going to shop around and see if anybody has any better rates since my current contract with them is expired. If I don't find anybody, then I will probably end up getting another 2 year contract and a brand new V3T for $29.99. Not a bad deal at all. Shane also assured me that my piss poor experience with Tom would be looked into and dealt with.

So remember, don't stop pushing until you are a satisfied customer. Despite what some companies may try to tell you these days, the customer is always right or else the customer will no longer be your customer. Vote with your wallets, and it doesn't hurt to mention that the incident will likely be seen by the entire internet if it gets posted on

T-Mobile Lies to Customers Part 3

After holding for a bit, a polite sounding man named Shane gets on the phone. I bring him up to speed and he agrees that I definitely have every reason to be pissed off. He then makes me an offer.

Shane: "I can certainly offer you the V3 for $29.99 with no rebate."

Now, that would be fantastic...if the rep who transfered me to him hadn't just told me that their current price on the Razr was $29.99 with no rebate having just come down in price from the $49.99 price Tom has given me. At this point I was not going to accept JUST being given the price I was quoted. That should have been the first thing Tom should have offered me initially.

But now I had been:
  • Been lied to by T-Mobile by one of THEIR representatives, the face of T-Mobile that the customer deals with.

  • Been treated poorly by a customer care supervisor.

  • Been lied to by said supervisor about there not being Executive Customer Service and being refused an escalation of my case.

  • Been lied to by said supervisor again since according to Shane Ryan DID have the authority to lock in that price till after the holidays while Tom kept telling me Ryan did not have that authority.

I wanted more than just my originally quoted price, they needed to make things better, not equal so to speak. I explained the situation nicely to Shane.

Me: "So one of my big issue now is that the main reason I have been with T-Mobile all these years is because of your great customer service, and now I am unsatisfied with the customer service I have received and am likely to cancel my service."

After a bit more discussion Shane offers me 200 free minutes to appease me. Not only is that not a lot of minutes (nor do I use a lot to begin with) but it really has nothing to do with the cause of the wanting a Razr V3. I explain this to Shane and say that a free V3 would do it. I mean, they were going to give it to me for $29.99, but what is $29.99 compared to keeping a customer happy and paying for service for 2 more years?

At this point Shane asks to put me on hold to speak to whoever has the authority to grant special requests. He comes back on and says that they can offer me the V3 Limited Edition which has a fancy (dumb) dragon design on it and is about $20 more and they will extend that offer for 2 weeks. I explain that I don't really care for the Limited Edition one and mention the brand new Razr V3T which has a MUCH better camera than the V3 and they currently list it on their site for $99.99. He explains that that is a different model and at a higher price, etc.

After a little bit of further negotiations, he is nice enough to offer me the more expensive V3T for $29.99 and will extend (and note in my account) the offer for 2 weeks.

Finally...THIS is the type of customer service that can repair a damaged customer relationship. Especially when that relationship was one of the main reasons the customer is a customer in the first place.

I thank him and explain that I still need some time to consider keeping my service with T-Mobile, but 2 weeks should give me some time to do that.

I explain then that I will still be submitting my article to but that I would make sure to note how helpful Shane had been.

So Shane, if you read this, thank you again for an exemplary job of customer service. You recognized the bigger issue of the customer relationship at hand and were willing to negotiate a way for me to get a good deal to smooth things over, while still giving T-Mobile some money and maintaining the company's legal position on price changes.


T-Mobile Lies to Customers Part 2

I decide to bring up the Verizon dollars/cents issue that Consumerist covered not too long.

After asking if Tom was familiar with the incident (he was)...
Me: "So what happened is that a Verizon rep quoted one thing and then the company later told the customer another thing, very much like this"

Tom: "Yes but that was a billing issue and this is a product sales issue."

Me: "I understand that, however that is completely irrelevant since my point was that the company told the customer one thing, and later went back on it and refused to satisfy the customer until a story reached and was picked up by the news."

After going back and forth a bit more it seems Tom is getting annoyed with repeating the company line over and over again and proceeds to start saying what sounded like a "Sorry you're screwed but get off the phone" script (I later find out they don't use scripts and that was just him being rude). I try to interject but he speaks over me. Guess he only likes the interruptions going one way.

Being completely fed up at this point I ask to speak to Executive Customer Service.

Tom: "There is no Executive Customer Service."

I know when I'm being lied to, and now I'm even more pissed. I decide to try a little name-dropping.

Me: "I have to say I'm pretty unhappy with the service I've received and if there's nothing you can do to satisfy me then I will be writing an article on this experience and submitting it to the website since they likely will be able to get me the contact info for Executive Customer Service."

Tom: "You are more than welcome to post that story sir."

After exchanging some final pleasantries I get off the phone angry as hell.

A little later in the week (tonight, 1/4/07) I decide to call again since I just wanted to be sure of the prices I was going to cite in my article I was writing. I spoke to a nice cute-sounding rep who helped me out, and then, for the hell of it I asked to please be transferred to someone to cancel my account. My logic was that maybe I might get somewhere with a retention rep (T-Mobile calls them Advanced Care Specialists) since part of the game with customer service is to try speaking to different people if you don't get your way the first time.


T-Mobile Lies to Customers Part 1

T-Mobile needs to take a lesson from Verizon and take care of customers who they've made and subsequently broken promises to. My ordeal with T-Mobile began right before the holidays on 11/22. I was shopping around for better rates on my plan, and unable to find any better competitive rates I decided to give T-Mobile a call to see what new things they had available. My discussion with the rep, a certain Ryan F., turns to phones since I have an older Motorola V330 and was interested in the possibility of upgrading. We whittle it down to a Motorola Razr V3 for a price of $29.99 after a mail-in rebate with a 2 year agreement.

I then explain to the rep that I don't really want to spend the money on a new phone right now since not only do I have to buy holiday gifts, but I will likely either get a new phone for the holidays or use gift money to buy it. He says that he can put a note in my account for that price and that I can call back right after the holidays and get the phone at the price he quoted me. Fantastic! This customer service is the reason I have been with T-Mobile all these years.

Fast-forward to shortly after Christmas. I call T-Mobile and have another rep (Mary, extension #413736) check that the note is still in my account which of course it is. I then ask to order the phone for that price and the rep proceeds to tell me that the price has changed. It is now $49.99 with no mail-in rebate and a 2 year contract. I say that the no rebate incentive really isn't that important to me since I'm used to dealing with rebates and would rather have the lower, originally quoted price of $29.99.

Mary's Reponse: "We're sorry, but prices are subject to change and the previous price given is no longer valid."

Me: "But that is why he put the note in my account, so I could get that lower price even if prices went up immediately after the holidays."

Mary: "He was not authorized to do that, prices are subject to change."

I can clearly see I will be getting nowhere with this 1st level rep, being no stranger to dealing with customer care, so I kindly thank her for her help but ask for her supervisor. Her supervisor, Tom S. (extension #8661) gets on and proceeds to feed me the same company line as Mary. After calmly arguing the situation a bit, I start getting annoyed and ask the following:

Me: "I'm curious what reason I could possibly have for having Ryan make the note in my account other than to receive the quoted price at the later date. Do you think I wanted a keepsake or something of that conversation?"

He then gives me the same runaround about how Ryan was not authorized to do that, prices are subject to change, but he will contact Ryan's supervisor and have him deal with Ryan.

Me: "Great, and while I would expect that, you still have an unsatisfied and unhappy customer on your hands."

We then start discussing other phones since maybe there is a comparable one at the price I was quoted. After interrupting me several times during the conversation and proceeding to essentially tell me that my needs for a cellphone and the way I currently use multiple devices (camera, iPod, phone, etc) are bad because they are not his needs (having an all-in-one device), we determine that there is no comparable phone for $29.99.

At this point I'm fairly annoyed, and since I didn't expect this to be a big issue (what's $20 on a phone when I'm signing up for a 2 year contract?) I decide that before I go further, I need to get some employee names and numbers. He proceeds to give me his info and Mary's info and Ryan's name however apparently Ryan did not have an extension, since apparently they do not all have rep ID numbers but rather just phone extensions.

Me: "So just curious here...if you don't have Ryan's extension, how will you know which Ryan's supervisor to contact, surely T-Mobile has plenty of Ryan's working for them?"

Tom: "Our system has ways for us to do that."

Fine, I can understand that although I feel like I'm getting the brush off. I then decide to switch tactics.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Spike Video Game Awards. Makes your ears puke.

As I was sitting at home playing World of Warcraft last night someone told me to turn on Spike TV for their Video Game Awards (VGAs). Why pray tell? Oh...they're showing the new WoW: Burning Crusade trailer, cool, I'll watch. BIG mistake. You see, the reason they showed the trailer at the END of the VGAs was because otherwise they would lose 99% of their audience who was only watching it for that since there really was no other reason to watch it.

First, you have Samuel L. Jackson hosting it. It was obvious after only 5 minutes of watching him that he was hired SOLELY to swear a lot. A few of the things he said were actually funny, but I'm convinced that he was making those parts up as he went along since all of the scripted material for both him and the rest of the presenters was painfully boring and dumb. The World of Warcraft chatrooms, filled with what could be argued as a fair representation of "true" game geeks across America (and other countries) were ablaze with people mocking the lines that the talent was forced to read. Even witty people like Seth Green were dumbed down to old internet cliches. At one point Tony Hawk started talking about Zero and made All Your Base references to which his female co-presenter gave the most awkward look in the history of award shows. It was clearly obvious that many of the presenters had not even read their script until they got up on stage. You can see a video clip of that fiasco here. Apologies for the appears to be a cam recording of a TV, but the audio is fine.

But hey, if I was being paid as much as they must have been to get up there and read a few lines and then head to the crazy Hollywood afterparties I wouldn't mind reading something dumb either.

The level of product placement was also extremely intrusive. I didn't think you could get more pointless sponsorships than what they have in professional sports but thank you Spike TV for proving me wrong.

You can check out the SpikeTV VGAs website at and then you must navigate through their crappy Flash navigation to get to the VGAs online coverage. Totally not worth it.

At least the WoW:BC trailer was awesome. Blizzard really knows how to make their CG intros and this is no exception. The attention to detail is amazing and the focus in this trailer (as opposed to the original one) was to show off all the cool new stuff while still adding plenty of tidbits that fans will go nuts over (such as the sheeping).

You can find both a .FLV streaming Flash version of the trailer as well as a higher quality DivX version on the World of Warcraft website's video page.

Sunday, December 03, 2006, discover how the world feels.

I'm a sucker for nice visualizations so I thought I'd share a cool one I discovered recently. It is called WeFeelFine. They employ a search engine spider that crawls various blogs for certain key phrases indicating emotion. They catalogue this data, and display it in a beautiful interactive visualization and if you click on any of the moving symbols, you can read the phrase of the place it came from. Click on the full phrase that just appeared and be taken to the originating website.

The level of interaction is not to be passed over. It is very thorough and provides a lot of interesting things to look at and different ways to break the data up. I will note however that I wish there were more description of what I was doing/looking at. While a lot of it is very self-explanatory and intuitive, I still couldn't shake the feeling of "I don't really know what this will do but i'll bet it'll be cool". So as a statistical tool I wasn't in love with it, but still very cool nonetheless.

Be sure to note subtle differences in things. For example, while there are an overwhelming number of bouncing circles floating around, look for the squares as well. These have photos attached.

All in all, very cool and nice for those small moments when you're curious what is going on elsewhere in the world.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Amazing pixel art poster of Digg and other Web 2.0 companies

Eboy, masters of pixel art goodness have released their latest poster, FooBar. Click the image for a larger version. I've always been a huge fan of pixel art as the artists tend to put an INCREDIBLE amount of detail in each piece. Be sure to hunt down all the little fun things going on in this one, there's a bunch that are a lot less obvious than the giant robot arms punching through to the surface from under the street in the middle.

For those interested in getting started with their own pixel art creations, check out these resources;

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PPP = Internet Paid Off

I recently tweaked the AdSense arrangement on the site in case some of you noticed. The results have been pretty impressive in terms of performance, however the site still makes jack shit in terms of revenue from AdSense. It seems the people who come here do not click ads that often. While I can't actually ASK them to do it...I would be very happy if they would. In fact, if AdSense revenue increased, I could reduce the number of PPP posts I make on here, such as this one.

The reason I still post about word of mouth marketing through PPP on here is because frankly, they pay better than AdSense right now. Much better. This post alone gets me 10 bones. 5 posts like this a month and I've paid for my internet for the month. 5 posts takes me roughly 1 to complete. Well worth it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Steampunk Animated CG Movie

From the people that brought you "Rock Fish" (link goes to full short) and other great shorts, Blur Studio is set to release their new film "Gentleman's Duel" sometime this year. The film tells the story of a Frenchman and an Englishman who are fighting over a noble woman.

The coolest part of all of this, and the reason why you're likely reading this article is for their weapons of choice for the duel. Giant, steam-powered mechs. As a huge Steampunk fan, I can only say "its about freakin time". Personally I'm dying for a live-action Steampunk movie, but this will definitely make due in the meantime. If you aren't familiar with Blur, I HIGHLY recommend you check out their website and familiarize yourself with their work. It is highly entertaining and some of the best quality CG animation out there.

"Gentleman's Duel" is a first for them in many ways not only in terms of the technology they are using for this but also in terms of the art direction. For this film it seems they are trying to go for more of a "hand-painted" feel to things, despite the fact that it was all created with cutting-edge animation software. There is a much longer and in-depth article available at CGSociety that details the technology used and has many more pretty screenshots. Unfortunately, none of the screenshots have pictures of any of the mechs although you can tell in one of them that the man is sitting in the cockpit of one of the mechs even though you can't see very much of it.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is short-listed for the Oscars like their last short and can't wait for them to produce more great animation concepts like this.