Archive for August 19th, 2007


Something I Don’t Need

I have a size medium, genuine, officially licensed, Houston Texans NFL jersey with David Carr’s name and number on it. Just like Carr wound up being of no use to the Texans, the jersey is of no use to me. If it was cotton, I could wash my cars with it…


Back To School

All around the United States, parents are shovelling money at retailers for back to school items for the chilluns. Shirts, pants, shoes, underwear, and backpacks. This weekend is tax free weekend for all clothing items under $100 in Texas. It’s meant as a way to help parents provide their kids with needed stuff and to jump start a moribund retail sector. (Personally, I think it’s a state-wide conspiracy to melt my credit cards.) Anyway, the state has allowed back packs to be included in this tax free frenzy. Too bad that the backpack shown above is not included (it costs $175, so is over the limit). Why is this too bad? Because this backpack is made out of a combination of 600d polyester and 420d dobby nylon ballistic material. Finally, somebody has come up with a bullet deflecting backpack. It actually makes sense. The UPI story says that the manufacturer claims their backpack would have “provided the ballistic protection that could have saved lives” in almost 97% of the 328 school shootings since 1999 with 229 dead and 422 injured.

Why didn’t I think of this?


Dish Crap

For the sake of this rant, let’s get past the fact that Dish Network gives tacit approval to spam marketers that vie for attention with the likes of breast enhancers, penis enlargers, stock scammers, and mortgage shills. Let’s talk about one of only two real choices in the USA. I have been a Dish customer for over a decade. I could have gone with DirectTV, but I surmised that the services were pretty much equal and Dish made me the better deal at the time. Service is so so. When bad weather shows up, the satellite checks out. Can’t complain too much because the cable service around here goes out if somebody leaves their sprinkler on for too long. My big mistake was upgrading.

Yep. About a year ago I opted to get one of them DVR receivers. Dish assured me that I would love the new equipment and that they would make sure that I could still use the other receivers in my children’s bedrooms. I should have been suspicious when I received that unprompted assurance. A tech showed up, installed a new dish on the roof, a new switch in the attic, ran some cables, added some boxes, checked everything out and pronounced me good to go. Barf. Since then, I have had intermittent reception issues with the “old” receivers. I’ve had techs out here a half dozen times going over every inch of the system, replacing receivers, boxes, switches, couplings, etc. It’s all a line of crap. You see, I upgraded to the DVR system which required a new generation of hardware to make sure that it ran with all of its features. What I have since learned is that the older receivers (charmingly called “legacy” by Dish) aren’t exactly compatible with the new equipment needed to make the DVR box work. They add these little converter boxes but, as several tech support reps have let slip, they aren’t exactly reliable. The bottom line is that I have a hodge podge of equipment in my home that cannot pull a Rodney King and just get along.

At what point is it acceptable to turn into mega ass customer from hell?

Update 8/13: 
I was contacted by a young lady in the “Executive Communications” department who apologized for all the trouble I was having and that she would make sure that the manager of the dispatch department instructed the technician to have all brand new, shiny, compatible equipment to install at no charge to me. Sounds promising.

Update 8/14:
I took the day off, was unable to take my daughter to swim team practice, and waited for the service technician to arrive between noon and 5:00pm. He/she did not. No phone call, no nothing. I was pissed, verily. Amazingly, the young lady at the Executive Communications department doesn’t work on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I left a very andry, yet amazingly restrained, voice mail for her.

Update 8/15:
Still no word. I think that I’ll head down to Sam’s Club so that I can buy one of those 55 gallon drums of whoop ass. I can guarantee that it will be opened up when Dish shows their face…

Update 8/16 (am):
I’ve heard nothing from Dish. There’s a lovely tropical storm sending all kinds of much needed rain (and cooler temperatures) our way. But at the same time, it’s nourishing a world class cluster headache. The young lady in Executive Communications is scheduled to show up to work in a few hours and my venom towards Dish, combined with the headache and my exasperation is going to make for a delightful time. I’m taking all of the sharp and pointy things out of my office and also locking up the guns…

Update 8/16 (pm):
The lady from Executive Communications returned my voice mails. She was profusely apologetic. She says that the log shows that the technician tried to call me today. Umm, no. I’ve got a record of all my inbound calls and nobody tried to call me that even vaguely sounded like a service call person. She claims that she will be contacting the manager of dispatch and that the technician will not even bother to troubleshoot the system. They’ll be out tomorrow to install a new dish, new wiring, and new DVR receivers in all my rooms (at no charge). Then, after everything is working perfectly, she will be calling me back to arrange for “all of the appropriate credits” for my lost time and aggravation. I’m in the “I’ll believe it when it happens” camp right now…

Update 8/18 (am):
The technician was supposed to show up yesterday between noon and 5:00. At 4:00, I received a call from a local dispatcher that the technician was running late and should be there at 4:30. At 5:00, I called my friend in Executive Communications and the local dispatcher. The local dispatcher asked me to have patience (I told her that was the one thing I was clearly out of) and that the tech would be at my house at 5:30. I found all of this odd because there was a Dish network van that stopped at my neighbors house around 5:00, but sped away immediately. Around 6:00, a tech showed up. He replaced my dish and ran new wires. He got replaced my old legacy receivers with a “combo” DishPro unit to run both of my daughters’ TV’s. This created an authorization issue because he was supposed to install two single DishPro units, not one dual. Support couldn’t authorize the change in the work order, blah, blah, blah. Got my Executive Commnications gal on the phone and she took care of the authorization. He programs all of the remotes so that they all run the right TV’s and Dish receivers without interfering with each other. Takes a walk through the house and make sure that everything is running. It appears so. Oh, he doesn’t have the stuff on his truck to take down the old dish and plug the holes. So somebody will have to come out today for that. It’s a good thing that somebody is coming out because… Wait for it… Hold on now… My DVR receiver is no longer functioning. The saga that refuses to ever end.

Update 8/18 (pm):
So I get a phone call from the local dispatcher. She wants to know if I have called in my issue with my DVR. “No, there’s already a tech coming to my house today to finish yesterday’s work; it will likely be the same guy.” “He can’t work on your new issue.” “What?” “You have to call Dish support on the phone and go through troubleshooting.” “No, I don’t. There will be a tech in my house shortly who can fix the issue correctly.” “He cannot work on your system without a work order.” “Then how is he going to do the work today?” “That’s different.” I hang up on her. I call my friendly angel in Executive Communications and ask her if absolutely everyone at Dish, except for her, has completely lost their minds… She does some fiddling and makes a few calls and then calls me back. Amazingly, the tech who isn’t really there, who isn’t really trying to resolve the DVR problem is present. She asks me if I would tell the tech that there is an open work order if he actually needs it. He smiles and says “no problem”. The angel then agrees that we will talk later when everything is working.

The tech gets everything functioning correctly, checks the dish alignement again, goes through a function check on each TV, and asks me if I think everything is working correctly. I agree and he gives me his cell number, just in case. I would have preferred to have given him a case of cold beer, but that is supposedly against Dish policy.

I have everyone watch TV for a bit. I then call my angel on the telephone. I ask her if anything needs to be done with the old equipment. “Trash as far as we are concerned.” Roger. She then tells me how she has been reviewing my account and noting all the difficulty I have encountered and is pretty thankful that I didn’t just chuck it all and go with a new provider. Uh huh… The net result is that she has given me several months credit on my account and given me a metric butt load of additional free programming.

Update 8/19:
The system is still working…