Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Goodbye Verizon….it’s you, not me….

01/31/2011 Leave a comment

Dear Verizon,

As I sit here looking at my LG Voyager and remember how much fun I have had texting with it, I realize that I will not miss you or your demands for money every month.

As you are aware in your systems, our relationship is over on February 4th. I wish I could say the last 2 years went quickly with you but they did not. In fact, I would like to even say it was me, and not you…but that wouldn’t be true either….

I will be upfront with you, I am leaving you for a Virgin. This Virgin is offering unlimited activity each month for only $25. The only limitation is voice at 300 minutes, but as you have learned over the years, I’m not one that is much for talking. I prefer to let my hands speak for me. In fact with this Virgin’s pricing I could have two of them and double the fun for less than I was giving to you with far less action.

So as I wait for my Optimus V Android phone to arrive at my buddy’s Radio Shack, I will be counting down the hours when I can make that phone call and let you know we are breaking up….maybe if you weren’t so arrogant and wanting to rule the air, you would have paid more attention to me….it’s almost appropriate that my phone with you is called a Voyager….cuz in a few days it’s Bon Voyage!

PS….forgot to mention…there is no extra charge to use the Andorid with Virgin…. 🙂 ….how could I resist?


Remember When the Economy Started to Tank? Part 3

07/30/2010 Leave a comment

So if we were to apply the same Cost of Doing Business BS Formula that Cable and Cellular are doing to us to with something more familiar, you will see what I mean about the proper way to bundle things in pricing.

You’re at your favorite fast food drive through and want to order a quick snack for the drive home from work. You’ve been coming to this chain for years, you know what to expect, but you notice that there have been changes made to the menu pricing. You order a cheeseburger and a large drink as usual.

Cheeseburger – Menu Price: $.11

Large Drink – Menu Price: $.09

Wow! Your total even with sales tax will be less than $.25. You pull around and the clerk tells you it’s $2.75. Confused, you pay it and then look at your receipt:

Cheeseburger 2 oz patty and 1 slice of cheese .11
  • Bun
2 slices .15
  • Packaging
Paper costs .06
  • Condiments
Ketchup/Mustard/Pickle .30
Large Drink 32 oz of fountain beverage .09
  • Ice
Water, ice maker usage, electricity .08
  • Packaging
Lg Cup, Lid, Bigger straw .10
Administrative Fees Labor, Waste, & Technology Charges .75
Drive Through Maintenance Surcharge Maintain smoothness of the pavement, cleaning, landscaping .45
Franchise Fee Fees that we have to pay to have this physical location .65
Sales tax .31
Total 2.75

Sure, cellular can argue that it costs a lot of money to build those towers. I researched this and it can be done for $75K-$250K each depending on proximity to an urban area.  Well, it is anticipated that there will be an increase from 175K to 260K cellular towers in the US by the end of 2010 ( A comparison to fast food franchise locations, a total number can’t be found, but McDonald’s alone has around 30K locations. It runs anywhere from $175K to $1.2M just in franchise fees alone across the industry. You have to have that much just to be considered for approval to open one location.

Cellular will also argue that the contract is there to offset the discount of the phone device when you got it. You can buy a new device at full retail (add about $200 or so onto the price you paid with your contract), but the thing is, they don’t discount the plan for you at all for paying for the phone outright. In fact, when I sold phones, there was a $10 extra charge per month for paying full price and not having a contract. This is clearly a ploy to push consumers into signing away two years of their checking accounts.

So in the fast food scenario, it wasn’t disclosed how much the extra fees would be until after you paid. If it were disclosed before you handed over your cash or debit card, you could refuse to pay and leave. You don’t even get this option without financial impact with cellular.

Now, I’m fortunate because I’m a single line on my cell service plan. I think of those of you out there with families, especially ones with teenage children and their phone devices. I know most married couples lately are using Blackberry devices which “require” a data plan just to have the phone end up paying around $120 to $160 a month for the two lines, unlimited voice/text and web access with all the other crap that comes with it.

So when you add together the cost of what I hear is the typical cable/internet/phone bundle which is around $160 and the mid range of what I hear is the average cellular service for families $140, we are talking about $300 a month in my area. This is a car payment on a nice car. This is half of a house payment for some of you. Its 70% of my rent payment. Its also 95% of my vehicle insurance costs for one year.   This would buy my groceries for 3-4 months easily. Over the course of a year, or lets say 2 years when the typical contract is up, you are looking at cellular costs of $3,360.

Who has time to sit and review all of the fees and surcharges that are tacked onto your bills? Cable and Wireless certainly hope that you don’t. We need to start doing this folks.

When the economy started to tank just around the same time that gas prices were climbing, the country stood at a stand still for a moment not knowing what to do. That is when the corporate citizens stepped in to make our lives and the impact on our wallets just a little easier to deal with.

Retail stores began dropping their prices just a little bit. Rebates were beginning to show up more for purchasing items. Several retailers began following President Obama’s stimulus plan in the form of marketing their own stimulus packages. Retailers genuinely appreciated every dollar that you spent with them and began showing more loyalty rewards and programs. They knew the decisions you had to make everytime you drove your car and used gas to shop with them.

Fast food establishments began offering more on their value menus and dropping their combo prices just a bit, or adding more food to them.

Car dealers & manufacturers, knowing where their world was heading, began offering bigger rebates and incentives.  After all, they were stuck with more unsold gas guzzling SUVs than they knew what to do with.

I could go on, but my point is that there were three industries that did not do anything for its consumers. Oil, Cable and Wireless.

As we all remember, oil execs reported record quarterly profits and the executives went home with massive bonus checks. Record profits…how could that be so if the price hikes were blamed on shortages and price per barrel increases in the Mid-East? If their cost of doing business increased because their supply costs increased, then how could they have record profits? How much markup was there on each barrel by the time we put it in our cars? Shouldn’t the markup have stayed the same? This shows me blatant disregard to US economy and to you and me.

For wireless its sort of ironic since its whole concept is based around mobility.  What good is there using a mobile phone if you stay home more often where you have a landline and the internet? I’m sure they made a killing on their Roadside Services add on since fewer people were driving. If anything, their prices stayed the same, they eliminated some lower priced plans, spent a crap load of money arguing over the same 3G coverage map, just changing the name of the carrier at the end of the commercial. We got distracted by the increases and changes by the rumor spreading of the iPhone and what it could do, then saw what it could do when it released, which was followed by various versions under different names with other carriers. Now it became mandatory to have an extra $30 added on to your bill for the data and the other misc reasons they could think of.

This led to an Early Termination Fee increase with one carrier to $350. This happened in Canada as well, and when the increase didn’t impact wireless unit sales, the other carriers followed suit. Now we have our trailblazer here in the US doing the same thing, and guess what folks? The days of $175 or $200 ETF’s are over, because if we don’t show our disgust by keeping our phones a little longer than usual and making an impact on unit sales, the other carriers will follow suit. Your monthly plans keep going up to supposedly support the “new” technology put in the phones. Its one thing that you have to keep a contract when buying these Smart phones, but you also have to keep the add-on data packages for a certain amount of time as well.

The Cable industry with its bundle packaging of cable television, internet and landline phone services also pulled fast ones on us during all of this chaos. They raised prices on digital television, restructured the channel numbering of the channels you were already paying for, causing several of us to have to pay more for their tiered channel lineups just to get back the same channels you were paying a lower price for. You didn’t see a reduction in your monthly plan price as the channels started dropping every month. Now you had to spend more to get them back. This all happened while we were distracted about the coming of mandatory digital broadcasting by the FCC. They even began investigating Cable for the pre switch price hikes they saw.

Bundle pricing sounds like a great deal because each of their services in your bundle is discounted. Bundle discounts mean nothing to me when the discounts and the pre-discount price are controlled by the same entity. Want to impress me? Charge me a fee for a bundle of services from multiple companies…that shows me you have leverage, not when you discount your own price and call it savings. Have you ever actually tried to break out what you are saving on each of the products in that bundle? The average I hear is $160 for a monthly bill for all 3 of the main services. I bet I can do better… Watch:

Keep the cable company for internet and drop down to their lowest speed which is still better than DSL Figure, $40 a month and thats modest. I actually pay $24 for mine at their slowest speed…but I know some of you can’t live without your blazing downloads for your iTunes or Zune. Here’s how my plan breaks out:

Service Provider Estimated Cost
Internet Cable Company $40 month
Cable Channels 200 DISH Network $40 month
Land Line Phone Option 1 Vonage (no extra charges for the additional services like voicemail, caller id, long distance, etc) $25 month
Land Line Option 2 Magic Jack (Caller ID and VoiceMail, long Distance included) $40 to buy the adapter which includes first year 1st year included with equipment

$20 a year after that…yes per year, not per month.

Cellular Service Boost Mobile Blackberry plan, Prepaid (no contract) $60 month
Total for a household of 1 Add another $60 for a married couple with 2 Blackberry phones $165 month with landline option 1

$142 month with Land Line Option 2

I estimated earlier that it was costing around $300 a month to carry cellular, cable, internet and home phone for a married couple, and that would be on a good month. An off month because of cellular overages, maybe a spouse decided to order adult movies (answer for that too, Adam & Eve…they give away their DVDs all the time for spending $17 on their site 🙂 ) maybe around $350. My estimates above may not work for every person reading this or that you know, but we’re talking about $140 a month here. If $140 doesn’t mean anything to you, let me give you my PayPal email address and we can set up a monthly subscription to just send it to me…I know I can use it.

All three of these industries need to wake up and realize just how much of an impact they have had monthly on the family budget for the last 3 years. Its time to pay it back by giving some plan breaks, being more transparent in their operations.

And no Cable, you can’t claim that all the people that are getting services by stealing it cause everyone’s prices to suffer. You give your services to your employees for free. If it hurt that much, you’d charge them too…

Remember When the Economy Started to Tank? Part 2

07/29/2010 1 comment

Earlier I discussed the cable companies and some impact they have had on the economy. In this section I want to bring to light another factor…. postpay cellular service providers.

I used to sell cell phone services working for an electronics chain…who knows exactly how many contracts I signed people up for in the 5 years I was with them, but it was easily over a thousand or so. I feel bad now for that, especially if any of them ran into financial problems later down the road while still under contract.

I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I HATE my cellular company…I would rather have an intestinal virus than sign another agreement with them. I won’t name them, but Rule The Air seems to be their attitude lately. I was with Sprint for 8 years and I loved them. The only reason I had to give them up was because I had moved from the city to the country and they didn’t have coverage out there yet. Now, I’m back in the city, and wish I still had Sprint.

I have been trying to downgrade my plan because I text much more than I talk on the cell phone. Here are the pricing options available to me by my service provider for a single line.

Voice & Text Minutes Only
450 $59.99 $39.99
900 $79.99 $59.99
Unlimited $89.99 $69.99

Back in the Day, which in the cellular world can mean as far back as 6 weeks ago, they used to have this 200 minute plan for less than $25. This was the plan that we would put Senior Citizens on because they just wanted something for traveling and emergencies. They don’t have that anymore. It turns out, that I am on the lowest voice plan available. This is useless to me. I am being forced to pay too much for services I don’t fully use. They have a system in place if I use too many minutes – overage charges, but I pay the same amount if I use 50 minutes or 400 minutes if I don’t use all of them.

Total Local, State and Federal Effective Telecommunications Taxes Compared with General Business Taxes by State, 2004
State Effective General Business Taxes Effective Telecommunications Taxes
VA 4.50% 33.77%
MD 5.00% 31.31%
TX 8.25% 29.29%
NE 6.50% 29.22%
MO 6.92% 27.79%
WV 6.00% 27.46%
KS 6.75% 26.33%
IL 8.00% 24.95%
MI 6.00% 24.15%
OK 8.45% 23.97%
Tax rates provided by Tax Foundation Blog site at

Extra fees on top of the taxes…I also discovered that the extra fees put in the bill on top of Fed and State taxes are not required. My Agreement says that I:

“agree to pay all access, usage and other charges that you or the user of your wireless device incurred. Our charges include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and we may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they aren’t taxes, they aren’t required by law“.

I’m sorry, but in the old days when this nation was building itself, this was called a Cost of Doing Business that you had to absorb. The way around that is to incorporate these expenses into your price that consumers pay, but don’t necessarily tell them about it. The reason cellular companies don’t do this is because its the monthly plan prices that that are advertised and that have to stay competitive. They wouldn’t look competitive if these fees were added into your service, so in a sense, you are entering an agreement without a full disclosure of fees charged that the Service Provider will tack on. There is no way of knowing these fees until you are already involved into an agreement. After all, your first bill is normally pro-rated, so you won’t see a full bill until after 30 days. By then, you’re locked in…or are you?

Here are my charges for the $39.99 Minutes plan from above. Keep in   mind I also receive a 19% discount off my plan because of my employer:

Monthly Access Charges
These are your fixed monthly charges that are based on your Plan and Optional Services. If you change your plans or services during the month, an adjusted charge that includes partial month charges or credits, may appear on your bill.
Nationwide Talk 450 07/23 – 08/22
19% Access Discount 07/23 – 08/22
500 MSG Allowance + UNL IN MSG 07/23 – 08/22
Visual Voice Mail 07/23 – 08/22

Usage Charges
These are your variable charges that depend on whether you have used any services that are billed on a per-use basis, or have exceeded any monthly allowance included in your Plan or Optional Services.

Voice Usage

The “Voice” section of your bill Includes charges for voice calls, including calls that exceed your Plan’s minute allowances, 411 Search, Long Distance and other calls.
Allowance Used Billable Charge
Calling Plan minutes 450 15
Mobile to Mobile minutes unlimited 93
Total Voice Charges $.00
Data Usage

The “Data” section of your bill includes charges for:

  1. Messages (text, picture and video) sent and received
  2. Downloads (charges related to downloading applications, e.g. games or ringtones)
  3. MB usage (megabytes used for other data services, e.g. web browsing, alerts, emails)
Allowance Used Billable Charge
Unlimited M2M TXT messages unlimited 277
Unlimited M2M PIX-FLIX messages unlimited 2
TXT/PIX-FLIX messages 500 226
Downloads downloads 1 1
Megabyte Usage megabytes 1 1 1.99
Total Data Charges $1.99

X Company Surcharges and Fees, Other Charges and Credits
X Company Surcharges – Includes charges to recover or help defray costs of taxes and of governmental charges and fees imposed on us by the government. Other Charges and Credits – includes charges for products and services, and credits owing.
Fed Universal Service Charge
Regulatory Charge
Administrative Charge
Omaha City Occupation Surchg
Taxes, Surcharges, and other Governmental Fees
Includes sales, excise and other taxes and governmental surcharges and fees that we are required by law to bill customers.
Enhance Wireless 911 Surcharge
NE Dual-Party Relay Surcharge
NE Universal Service
NE State Sales Tax
Omaha City Sales Tax
Total Charges for (402-XXX-XXXX) $58.47

As you can see by my usage, I am overpaying for voice usage, and have to pay extra for text and M2M unlimited, where my main activity occurs. They do not have any other plan profile to fit what I do. I think that this is unfair, but I’m under contract. when I originally signed up, a plan like this would work, but my usage has decreased considerably from where it was even 2 years ago.

I am going to be contacting my provider soon as I have been trying to calculate the NE state sales tax and Omaha City sales taxes being charged and it appears that they may be overcharging. I will let you know how that goes after I do so. I have a feeling it will be a long phone call when I ask them to tell me what part of my balance is subject to the sales taxes and what rate are they charging.

I have also sent an email to one of our state senators who has been working on a study of cellular taxes and hope to hear back from her soon.

Yesterday, I decided to review the Service Agreement (Contract) I have with them. I realized I never really did read it through when I first signed up. I discovered some interesting things in that agreement.

“If you’re a Prepaid customer, you may replenish your balance at any time before the expiration date by providing us with another payment. Your balance may not exceed $1,000 and you may be prevented from replenishing if your balance reaches $1,000. We will suspend service when your account reaches the expiration date and any unused balance will be forfeited.”

this doesn’t apply to me, I just found it interesting. If you prepay your services and you reach a $1000 credit balance because of what you paid them, they will stop taking your prepayments, shut down your service, and keep the balance?

“If you’re a Postpay customer and a change to your Plan or this agreement has a material adverse effect on you, you can cancel the line of Service that has been affected within 60 days of receiving the notice with no early termination fee.”

This relates to changes made, that my company says will provide a written notice for, but in the almost 4 years, I haven’t seen a written notice. I opt for paperless billing, so I pay my bill over the phone or through email invoice links, so I don’t even see anything that may be written on the website. If I’m late making a payment, I get a text message that tells me to contact them to avoid service interruption, but have never received an email notice or a text message telling me that my Service Agreement has changed. Current online version indicates it was updated May 10, 2010.  I wonder how many updates have been made to this online version since I originally started using their services in 2007? They should be required to send the free text message to users that use online/paperless billing to alert of new changes to Service Agreements. They do it to collect money for late payers, why not for changes to the contract? If they haven’t notified me in writing, does that make me ineligible to cancel anything?

My early termination fee is $175 since I have a standard fancy phone. If i had one of those fancy phones that makes toast and programs nuclear devices in other countries, my ETF would be $350. Something I didn’t know, was that for every month of my agreement that I successfully complete, they deduct $5 off of the ETF…this means I could pay my current bill and give them $85 instead of $175 and be done with them…I never knew this before.

I contacted my cellular company via instant chat online a few weeks ago and verified the end date of my agreement, Feb 2, 2011. I asked if there was anyway they could note the account so that service would shut off without incurring an additional few days or weeks of prorated charges. She said no, that I would have to call and cancel when I was ready. As long as I did that before Feb 2nd, it would be ok. I set an event reminder in my cell phone’s calendar tool to give me an alert alarm reminding me that that was approaching. I’m not going to miss out on this.

In Part 3 I will wrap up the bringing of the two industries together and the impact they have on the family budget during this recession, what changes could be made for better customer experiences and to bring them into a light of being better corporate citizens. I also am going to go back and do this same bill analysis with my cable bill in Part 1 by the end of this week, so keep checking back on it as well to see what happens.

Remember When the Economy Started to Tank? Think Communications… Part 1

07/28/2010 Leave a comment

I’m going to break this into a multi-part post because after I began writing it, I noticed that I had a lot to say about each topic. I didn’t want the “You lost me at hello” brain melt happening to you, the Reader.

Gas prices in my area broke $4 a gallon for the first time ever. It seemed we would never again see the price go back below $3….then something happend. Either the President released reserves, or the oil companies felt sorry for us, realizing that if they didn’t do something, they would soon lose several customers…but the price dropped down to about $1.79 and lasted for about 2 months…

I blame two industries, three depending on how you look at it….

Oil Industry, Cellular Service Providers (Post Paid), Cable Companies (Communications, not including cellular or radio broadcasting)

I will discuss these in a moment.

During that time, while we were all scraping together to make sure we could put food on the table with this new budget impacting spike, oil companies were reporting record profits, month after month….and the executives were going home with bonus checks they never imagined.

As I said something happened, and anyone can feel free to pipe in here and educate me and the readers as to what it was, but the price of gas did go down…and in the midst of the chaos and the dust, there were two industries that did not change. Cellular and Cable Services.

Cable Companies – I won’t name the service provider in my area – their lawyers and budget is much bigger than mine, but I know I don’t care for them. We actually have two in a sense. One is a true cable company providing digital phone services and internet, as most do. The other is largely a telephony services that has contracted with a satellite company to provide services. Part 1 we will talk about the cable company.

So the cable companies provide internet, and they also provide phone and television services. Think about your own bill. How much are you paying? Cable companies raise their prices on average of 8% every year since the first cave drawing was broadcast in analog back in the day…

I know before the Digital Television age really became rampant, homes in your neighborhood were still using the old televisions. As the FCC declared that all broadcast stations had to go to digital, what did the cable companies do? They began raising the prices as soon as they could figure out how to manipulate the market. The FCC caught on to that. As the switch to digital began, the channels started dropping from the analog lineup. We were paying the same prices for a decreasing channel lineup. If you wanted your old channels back, you had to pay more to get into the “Tiered” programming structure many cable providers currently use. Here’s where they screwed you the first time.

You could switch to satellite services. I did for 3 years with Dish Network and I loved them. The only reason I don’t use them now is because i live in an apartment that doesn’t allow me to hook up satellite without extra money in damage protection. The cable company locally loves to bash satellite providers…the signal drops in the rain (not as often as they say, i lost maybe 30 minutes in 3 years), there are no local service people that can come out 24/7 (duh, because they don’t have wires running all over the city that can can get damaged or stolen), the “ugly” equipment outside your house (that’s the cable company’s way of making you think that satellite dishes on your neighbors houses are an impairment, in fact they are ugly – but more to the cable exec’s that have to drive around and look at them) who actually notices this in a neighborhood?

I love that they bash the signal issue….where do you think the cable company gets their signals from?? Satellites!

In our age, we all need the internet it seems. Its to the point that we communicate with family, friends, employers, coworkers, clients, government and so on. We have become so dependent on this luxury, that several can’t imagine not having it in their homes. What would we do without Social Networking sites? We wouldn’t know how many therapy sessions it took  Cousin Lucy Lou to stop picking her nose…or that your buddy Jim was officially announcing that he was sitting in the drive thru at Starbucks rockin’ out to Queen after noticing all of the ugly satellite dishes in the neighborhood nearby…or that Mindy has seen the latest Blockbuster film for the 9th time and has changed her review of it for the 6th time.

Fees for broadband are getting stupid as well. Each year they keep dropping some lower speed plan and make you pay more for the next one up, if you switch. They remind you that because you were grandfathered into the plan you had, you can never go back to it once you change something. I recently downgraded maybe 25% of my original plan speed for a savings of about $7. The odd thing is that most of the time, my download speed is not much better than when i used to have DSL. How can that small of a decrease present that big of a change of quality? I asked the phone rep if she could connect me to the tech dept after we were done. I wanted them to ping my computer and tell me whether I was getting a true (or close to) download speed as they were advertising that I was getting. The tech department told me that they couldn’t do that….hmm. I find that hard to believe because they probably know all the details of my computer, browsing habits, browser, speed, memory and what I have on my desktop.

Telephone services. Why are we still paying for long distance? I use Vonage currently, and have for almost 4 years. I can take my number wherever I go. Hell, even if I travel, I can still take my adapter and plug it into a broadband internet computer and still get calls anywhere…I can also call anywhere in the US and some other countries for no long distance. Call quality sounds as good as the old method. No extra charges for voice mail caller id etc. And they don’t publish your number in a directory – standard, no charge for that. Send me an email and i will get you hooked up with them as well. Referrals get special deals I think, so check with me before you do it on your own.

For your convenience, the cable company offers bundle prices on their services. I don’t know what you pay for yours, but the average I hear from friends locally is around $160 per month…freakin insane….

So watch for my Part 2 where i will discuss wireless companies including the one I use. I will also tie this all in together to show you why I feel that these industries contributed to the current economic conditions of the last two years, and discuss a bit about how they could be better corporate citizens. Feel free to leave comments. I will review and publish each one as long as its relevant to the discussion. Thanks for stopping by!

The Best 3G Network? Really? How?

02/10/2010 Leave a comment

Am I the only one that is lost in this commercial war with AT&T vs Verizon? Is it just me or do the commercials say exactly the same thing? Your network sucks and mine is better? Doesn’t matter which commercial your watching for which company. AT&T says theirs is best and faster…Verizon says that theirs is the best and faster…the maps are the same damn maps in both of the rival’s commercials…fine print always says that the 3G Network not avail everywhere and that there may be times its not that fast…


I think there should be some sort of federal intervention with this. There are roughly 25  or so of these commercials, and they accomplish nothing for me except confusing me more. I think its a matter of them both using the same network and the same technology, its just a matter of who’s commercial you last saw and stuck in your head on the way out the door…

If you have one of those television consumer advocate investigation programs in your area, start sending this in as an idea…if they take your idea, post the links here so we can see what they all come up with. Maybe we can get some attention if 25 or so television stations investigate this topic.

Obama and

01/16/2009 Leave a comment

I didn’t vote for Obama. I didn’t vote for anyone this election. I recently moved counties and could not get registered in time to vote.

I have heard a lot of people say good things and others say bad things about having him as our 44th President. I wasn’t completely familiar with every facet of his campaign, but there is a part of me inside that is happy to see him in Office. Hopefully, I can say that 4 years from now.

One facet of his Administration that I really like is his call for the Citizens of the United States to participate in making the necessary changes in government, and in our country, as well as its future.

It is a sign of the times, that a President utilize technology and the Internet to allow the Citizens to be heard, offer ideas and opinions on the issues that are important to us all. The venue for this is the website

On this website you can learn about everything that Obama is facing, as well as his documented plans on how to tackle big issues. You can even look at a PDF file that is the Transition Guide that he and his administration are following to prepare for taking command in Washington DC. More importantly, there are areas where Citizens can sign up and volunteer to help accomplish goals to better the tomorrow of this country.

Do you think you can solve part of the country’s problems better? Great! There is a JOBS section that allows you to actually fill out an initial on-line application to be considered for appointed positions.

You can also fill out invites to the President and VP and their spouses for special events that you would like to see them consider making an appearance for.

I recently filled out a segment on the site under the Citizen’s Registry. This is where you can voice your ideas and other Citizens vote on whether your idea is important. The more votes, the further up your idea gets. If it makes it far enough, the top ideas will be presented to President Obama for review as Citizen Concerns and possibly leading to changes in legislation, programs, government, etc.

I wrote mine on Veterans Education Benefits that Expire after 10 years. Please take moment and review my post there and if you agree with what I have to say, please vote in support of it. If you don’t agree then vote that way as well. If you read it, but don’t care what I said, please do not vote either way. This is a site that is allowing citizens to be heard for the first time, and really does not have room for those that want to go in and just screw with people to watch rankings change. You can find my post here:

What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas…(if you can get there)

12/19/2008 Leave a comment

I was asked by my friend Julie to drive her and her husband Jeff to the airport this morning to make a 5 am flight with NorthWest Airlines. This was a huge event for them as it was a combination Christmas present for him and a birthday present for her. There were several weeks put into planning this trip.

If I remember correctly, the itinerary involved flying out of Omaha to Minneapolis via Northwest Airlines. Then from Minneapolis to Las Vegas. From LasVegas, they had a rental car waiting for them to drive to San Diego, CA to meet up with her dad for the first holiday spent together since she was 8 yrs old.  After some time in San Diego, they would drive back to Vegas for a few days. She managed to land 5th row tickets to see The Mindfreak Chris Angel on her birthday. They would then fly back on Christmas Eve.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

Let me back up a little for the evening.

We spent Wednesday night at Mic’s Karaoke Bar singing and celebrating a makeshift birthday party for Julie. There was food, drinks, some dancing, and singing. I also forgot to mention that our first decent winter storm warning was in effect and the sleet had already begun to fall and accumulate into a respectable amount of frozen slush on the streets.  In fact, we probably shouldn’t have even went out to the bar, but nonetheless we did. It was that type of weather that told all of the new first time SUV drivers that they were invincible and needed to drive across town 3 or 4 times before going to bed for the night.

Logic also says that if you have to take someone to the airport to make a 5 am flight, that you shouldn’t be out drinking late either. But nonetheless…I did. I made it back home around 1 am without any major problems. Roads were ice and snow covered. This is when I absolutely treasure my little Land Rover. Never been stuck in the snow, went off road accidentally. It handles the snow much better than 90% of the vehicles out there.

I get a call from Julie around 1:15am. She asks me to check flight information on the Internet to make sure their flight was still leaving on time. I did….and it was. We then realized that I would have to be leaving my apartment in about an hour to go get them.

I stop and get gas, and arrive at their house a couple miles away. Load up the luggage and off we go. Now at this point, driving conditions are less than favorable. I am driving confidently though knowing how my car does in the snow. Julie is sitting in the passenger seat and is hiding her face talking about how she wants to go to sleep because she is not in control of the vehicle in the weather. I remind her of the 36K miles I put on my Humvee during Desert Storm and have driven in almost every weather and terrain condition presented to a human and 99.8% of the time did not have a problem ( I did get my Humvee stuck bottomed out on top of a dirt berm in Kuwait, but that was the Captain’s fault for telling me to go that route).

We arrive safely at the airport around 3:30am. I drop them at the curb and I go back around to park in the garage. I go into the 75 cent Quick Park area. I figured I wouldn’t be there for longer than 90 minutes or so. Julie had given me a $5 to cover the garage parking. I haed inside and meet them at NorthWest’s ticket counter where there is a small line formed. We chat about things in general. They get to the counter and I head back towards to other side of the room to wait. Julie comes walking back with a smirk on her face.

“The flight has been cancelled because they don’t have a flight crew for it. They booked us with American Airlines so now we have to go stand in their line.”

We look over at American’s counter, where there was no line…nor any employees. They weren’t there to conduct business for the day yet. Julie explains that they now have to fly from Omaha at 11 am to Dallas and then to LA which will then connect them to Vegas (where they would then turn around and drive back to California as part of their original plan). They would arrive in Vegas around 5pm instead of 7am like originally planned. This plan will cost them one entire day of their short trip.

The American rep finally shows up around 4:15. She already is apologizing to everyone for the delay, and then advises that she will be the only agent for awhile because the other agent is stuck in snow on her way to work. Luckily Julie was one of the first in line for American. She comes storming back to me, even more frustrated.

“Northwest overbooked the American flight, so they’re sending me back to the Northwest line.” Which by now the line had tripled in length.

Jeff  moved their bags into line while Julie got  on her cell phone to call Northwest’s phone lines to try to get a resolution. I pulled my cell phone out and did that too. I was standing with Jeff in line. Two others in line had caught wind of this and they also called on their cell phones. We had 5 people in line all trying to get a rep on the phone, which we were advised that the average hold time wait would be 8 minutes. Bullshit. We all found some humor that we were all synced perfectly with the hold music and messages and started turning on the speakerphones to compare. We watched as 5 am came and went.

Now the annoying part started. Northwest started calling for travelers that were scheduled to be on the 7 am flight to Minneapolis. Their flight was okay. They would be leaving on time to their actual destination. I”m sorry, but I believe in first come first served. They should have put the travelers that just lost their flight plans and put them on the next flight and juggled the travelers after that to better work with less booked American flights. Julie got back up to the counter and came back again with tears on her cheeks.

“Let’s get out of here, we’re not flying today.” I asked her what happened. “We’re supposed to be doing this again the same time tomorrow morning. It seems that they don’t even have an airplane. It never showed up.”

“Well, that would explain why they don’t have a flight crew…”

I go out and get my car to pick them up at the curb. I have to go through the parking fee gate to get out and come back around. I hand the $5 bill and the ticket to the attendant. He looks back at me and tells me it’s gonna cost $6.50. I almost looked at him and said “are you kidding?” Instead I just grab a ten and hand it to him. I drive back around and load Jeff and Julie up in the car. We hit McDonald’s on the way back home (which we were charged a 99 cent tax for eating inside the place).

I understand how airlines have to take into consideration the safety factor of landing aircraft and making them take off in inclement weather, but this situation could have been handled in better ways several times over. Part of this way due to weather, the rest was due to lack of customer service on NorthWests part. I will remember this event and probably want to drive if I ever need to go to Vegas.

I just hope they both get through their trip safely.

Categories: Rants Tags: , , , ,