FreedomPop – Just be really careful

*** Update Feb 11, 2018 ***

OK, to their credit, FreedomPop did *not* back bill me for the previous month’s use. So I take back that claim (crossed out below).

What happened was that I missed a service that I enrolled in when I first signed up that I didn’t know to go look for. It was not obvious to me it was a thing that I needed to address. So Mea Culpa even though I think the site is laid out to promote such confusion. I knew this and did not exercise due diligence.

Using their mobile app today I tracked down the service and will disable it next month and see what comes of it.

*** End Feb 11, 2018 Update ***

I wanted a hotspot for my car so my Dashcam could be available to me whenever I wanted.

So I chose FreedomPop as an inexpensive alternative. For $20 (supposedly for Activation) I get an OK hotspot and a promo for 3GB free for the first month.

I knew I was intending to downgrade from the promo after a month so I put a credit on the account for $5 knowing they would not permit a zero balance when the time came.

So, here I am 2 days before the initial month expiry and find my credit has “expired” and I have a zero credit balance.

Apparently any credits “expire” around 30 days and you can activate them again by clicking a tiny link at the bottom if you know about it.

Then, moving on to downgrading, it took a bit of searching to find the tiny little “Downgrade” link located within the dialog that appears when you click your current plan.

I went through a series of confirmation dialogs, one of which asked if I wanted to add a $15 credit to my account, to which I answered “no”.

Finishing the downgrade process should leave me with a very reasonable free plan that gives me 500 MB included and costs 2 cents per additional MB. This is what I was looking forward to and expect I’d pay $5-$10 / month.

When I checked I found:

  1. My credits are going to expire each month so I will need to “reactivate” them each month
  2. When I downgraded my plan, it appears FreedomPop went and back-billed me for the amount I used during the trial that’s over and above the data included in the free plan. Dirty pool there.
  3. They billed me for a $15 credit even though I explicitly instructed them not to.

Ironically, this is *less* shady than my dealings with the major mobile provider I used to use for my personal mobile needs.

I’m expecting my monthly usage to be in the 700 MB range which means that my out of pocket should only be about $4-$5 which is what mobile service really *should* cost.

I’m going to try FreedomPop for a few months and see if they do anything else similarly shady. I am certainly feeling a bit uneasy. They seem to be hoping people don’t read and don’t challenge them. If they just charge me what they say they’ll charge me and stop all this *gotcha* nonsense then I’ll stick with them. The surprise costs so far are low enough that I’ll just suck it up for this start month and be happy that I ended up with a $30 hotspot (adding in the back-billed charges) which is still not a bad deal.

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm

USPS Still looking for my (not so much) missing registered letter…

*** Updated February 25, 2018 ***

I’m thrilled to see that USPS is still hot on the trail of my missing registered letter.

If they put half as much effort into their tracking system as they did into their “assure the customer we’re doing *something*” system, the case would probably be closed by now.

*** End February 25, 2018 Update ***

I originally posted the below on facebook at the end of September 2017. When they lost my final mortgage check I asked them to find it and NOT deliver it.

Of course they subsequently delivered it a week or so after that. I found it funny that about a month ago I received an update letting me know they are still diligently looking for it.

I thought I’d post this today to track exactly how long they keep “looking” for it. Today I received ANOTHER notification that they are still on the hunt.

It’s kind of too bad their “Search” doesn’t include checking their own system to see that the letter was delivered.

 

 

Original Facebook post:

Yay? US Postal Service finally delivered my check! Only 12 days late and against my express instructions! I guess it could have been worse, it could have been food…

Now to see if the mortgage folks try to apply the Stopped-Payment check and try to give me grief over that…

Well, what’s a little challenge in your life, right? It could be a *whole* lot worse.

 

Posted under Fail, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on January 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm

LG LMXC23796S Fridge Review

Our last fridge was a Whirlpool side-by-side that we bought back in 1996. It still works well but the door started rusting in spots and we were tired of the cramped freezer side. Also, I’m told on all fronts that newer fridges should be less power hungry. We’ll see.
Besides the freezer/fridge difference, the LG LMXC23796S Fridge is also counter depth and fits much more nicely in my kitchen. This size difference necessarily came with some compromises.

Pros:
– Love the wide fridge area and generous shelving
– The doors are pretty easy to open, especially the door-in-door
– The door-in-door feature is surprisingly handy, especially with the ability to see what’s there before you open it.
– The latched drawers are IMHO *much* easier to open than magnetically sealed ones. We tried many in the showrooms and the latches hands-down are the way to go.
– The stainless steel looks very nice
– The LED lighting fills the fridge with no dark areas except the bottom-most freezer drawer
– See the “Con” on water filters below. The “Pro” here is that they are not required if you so choose, so Kudos to LG for that.

Cons:
– Less Ice available than I’m used to. I use a *lot* of ice in the summer when I go bicycling so I’m not sure yet how this will affect me. This was a known trade-off so I’m not harping too much on it
– Also the ice maker tends to spray a bit of moisture when dispensing (even in cube mode) which makes things a bit messier than they need to be.
– The touch switch to change between cubed and crushed ice is finicky and requires you to put your whole thumb over it rather than just touching it like all the other buttons on that panel. It does work fine once you figure that out.
– Water from the dispenser is MUCH less cool than I’m used too. This is probably my biggest annoyance so maybe I’m just nit-picking. I’m working on adjusting the overall fridge temperature settings to correct this but I’ll probably just get in the habit of filling up my water bottles and keeping them in the fridge.
– The fridge can be web connected but it’s a bit of a nuisance to set up as the website is NOT synched with whatever backend system the iOS app talks to. Helpful hint: just create an account on both using the same email and password and save yourself headaches. Beyond that the IOT connectivity isn’t being used for anything that I find useful at all. And I have my home “SmartHomed” out the whazoo.
– OMG I can’t believe how expensive replacement water filters are. $50 retail! I knew this going in though. So we’ll see if they become more reasonable or if they become the “Inkjet cartridges” of the Fridge world.

Neutrals / Notes:
– The compressor makes a different noise than I’m used to. Not bad but will take a bit of time to get used to it as the fridge is quite near my office. I would say the compressor noise is on par with that of my old fridge.
– I haven’t really figured out what to do with the “Customchill” drawer – I started with setting it to a “cold drink” temperature but it’s not really great at holding free cans (they just topple over and/or roll around). So more experimentation is needed. I’m sure I’ll find it invaluable once I figure it out. Some suggestions from LG would be useful on this front.

I tend to buy good quality and expect it to last. Everything about my old fridge still works perfectly so it’s being used as my overflow now. I’m expecting this new LG Fridge to live up to that expectation.

Posted under Opinions, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on January 13, 2018 at 8:57 pm

Kudos to AT&T Support for my Internet Gateway issue

On Monday (Dec 4, 2017) I recycled my AT&T Fiber gateway and my routers as I tend to do every couple of weeks. Only problem was.. the Gateway refused to come back. It just showed the power light as green and nothing else for about 3-5 minutes and then EVERY light on the device went to RED. It did this a couple of times regardless of power cycling, reset or full factory reset.

I decided to pull up AT&T’s internet web app to see if there was anything else that could be done (Reset something on their end perhaps?), but after some perfunctory troubleshooting steps the app concluded that a technician visit was needed. Not the best news but I knew my path now and was sure it wasn’t going to be a quick fix…

The app then offered to schedule the appointment for me. The first available date available was… today (Monday). Well.. color me surprised. The first available time slot was… 10 AM – Noon. Keep in mind I was doing this at about 9:00 in the morning. I figured this was a mistake but scheduled myself for that time slot see what happens.

About 9:30 I get a call from AT&T’s automated service confirming the appointment. 20 minutes later the tech calls me and tells me he’s about 30 minutes out.

Long story short by about 10:45 AM the same day I was back up and running just fine.

So credit where credit is due. Thank you AT&T for the swift response and getting me sorted out so quickly after that hardware failure.

 

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on December 10, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Open Letter to Honda

It’s pretty amazing. I have the money and the desire to buy a car but I can’t get it.

Here’s an email I’ve sent to one of the Honda Car dealerships when they asked me why I haven’t taken delivery of a new car from them yet.

I will say that I am plainly frustrated that Honda is unable to deliver on its offerings.

I began the car buying process in earnest a couple of weeks ago. I want to upgrade my wife from her 1995 Civic to a 2016 Fit.

According to Honda’s web site they offer colors and models of the car that cannot be ordered. Rather, they just produce cars and send them out apparently randomly so there is no way to just order a car and get what you want.

Attached please find my “built” car spec sheet.

No, I don’t want another color

No, I don’t want another model and add the missing pieces.

No, I don’t want to have the car driven across the country to me by some teenager and have the engine broken in by someone who doesn’t share my desire for the car to last and perform well. CarMax exists for those cars.

I just want a current model car in my desired advertised color.

Why can’t Honda deliver?

Honda-Automobiles-Personalized-Fact-Sheet 2016 Honda Fit

 

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on April 8, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Trying on the Metric System for Size

I’ve recently begun to use the Metric system in my personal life. Most notably for temperature. Only recently did I realize just how alone, and asinine, we are being as a country by holding out while the rest of the world has standardized on a consistent system of measurement.

Never mind that scientists and airlines need to use the metric system and constantly translate between it and our obsolete Imperial system, but we come up against this every day. How many people go out for a 3.1 or 6.2 mile run? If you want to compete in the Olympics I’m sure you’d be in for a surprise if your practiced every day in a 25 Yard pool. Or ran 100 Yard sprints. Anything we want to do where *we* don’t control the environment we have to translate. It’s inefficient and, frankly, it’s pathetic.

If the spineless politicians of the 1970’s hadn’t backed down we would have two generations of Americans comfortable with this system and it would be another non-issue-that-was-an-amazing-vote-grabbing-issue-of-the-day.

The USA insisting on using its own measurement system (well.. we’re in the company of Liberia and Burma… can you even find those places on the map) is reminiscent of the bully tactics for which people criticize entities such as Walmart. Making everybody with whom we do business conform to our way of doing things. We might as well also dig in our heels and insist on different timezones than the rest of the world. Because we can.

My only two criticisms of the Metric system are:

  1. I can’t really identify with the temperature scale. This is because I have very little history with it. I can viscerally understand that 72 degrees Fahrenheit equates to a pleasant summer day and that 90 degrees is hot and 40 degrees is not. But this is something that I am now working to overcome by adopting metric, at least personally, for the next few months. And would be a no-brainer to the kids today if they just grew up with degrees centigrade.
  2. Harder to fix: I’m not sure why some genius decided that we should move from “Miles per Gallon” to “Liters per Hundred Kilometers”. There is no level on which that works for me. Why we just can’t use the directly relatable “Kilometers per Liter” is a mystery to me. It’s a small issue but it’s a very foreign way of thinking. I am curious if Europeans or anybody else in the world are comfortable with that approach to performance.

Just my rant for the day. I hope we take this up and that we can get past the old guard that can’t let things change because they are too terrified or mentally challenged to work with a system that, while probably not *better* in every way is most certainly *consistent* with the way the rest of our planet does things.

Posted under General, Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on January 27, 2016 at 9:03 am

Has Comcast found an effective way to keep us from bugging them?

** Update September 23, 2014 ***

The conspiratorial side of my brain wants me to point out:

1) The Outage notifications on Comcast’s site ceased immediately after this blog post

2) My service has been.. spotty ever since, including a complete outage that lasted around an hour the following night….

Where my Download / Upload speeds were consistently 50/10, now I’m thrilled if my download is in the 20’s.

Just ran another check and can see that I’m sitting at 23.2/10.4.

Just saying’ . Not that the only available option of our local duopoly would *ever* stoop to vindictiveness… would they?

** End Update **

 

I had a recent dealing with Comcast that had me logging on to their site pretty much every day for almost two weeks at the end of August/beginning of September.

Something that started to bubble up in my consciousness was how many outages they were reporting in my area, none of which seemed to be affecting me.

I decided it would be an interesting exercise to, for one week, log into my account periodically throughout the day whenever I was working on my computer (which I do quite a bit) and check my status.

Of greatest interest to me was the fact that not once in all the times I logged in was there ever NOT an outage in my area.

I will concede that there was at least one day where I was impacted by some issue so these notifications are not 100% bogus. But the continuous nature of the notifications has me thinking what a great way this would be to keep folks from calling in if they *did* have a complaint. After all how often do you log into your Comcast account anyway? I know I certainly wouldn’t (haven’t) noticed the notifications during my monthly visit to capture my billing statement.

Below are the details of when I logged in and what the current outage situation was. You tell me – am I just having a spate of issues or is Comcast saving money by reducing customer service call volume?

Date and Time Outage Notification
9/10/14 9:41 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 AM tomorrow.
9/11/14 10:00 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 PM today.
9/11/14 1:02 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 4 PM today.
9/11/14 4:36 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 8 PM today.
9/11/14 7:25 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 AM tomorrow.
9/12/14 7:52 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 AM today.
9/12/14 1:56 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 3PM today.
9/12/14 6:50 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 PM today.
9/13/14 10:46 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 PM today.
9/13/14 6:28 PM An outage has been reported. We’re working to fully restore service as soon as possible.
9/14/14 12:15 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 AM today.
9/14/14 11:51 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 PM today.
9/14/14 1:12 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 5 PM today.
9/14/14 4:33 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 9 PM today.
9/14/14 11:27 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 AM tomorrow.
9/15/14 7:56 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 PM today.
9/15/14 7:07 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 8 PM today.
9/15/14 8:13 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 AM tomorrow.
9/16/14 7:41 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 AM today.
9/17/14 7:55 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 10 AM today.
9/17/14 12:02 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 PM today.
9/17/14 6:13 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 10 PM today.

 

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on September 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm