Best Buy Bad Credit Practices

Posted at 9:44:04 PM in Vendors (35)

This is going to be a rather simple entry. Part of this problem is Bank of America, but the escalation of the problem is entirely Best Buy.

First, I buy a PC and Laptop online. The price is $1026.35. During the processing of the card, I get a Visa pop up, which I've never seen before, which asks for information I've already put on the order, CCV, Exp date, stuff like that. The card is declined. I get a fraud pop up from Bank of America on my phone asking: "Are these your purchases". I recognize them. One, the most recent, is my declined Best Buy purchase. Of course, there's nothing wrong with my bank balance. Bank of America just likes to jigg you ever once in a while so you feel safe. But this is where the problem starts.

I indicate that those are mine and assume that the card remains declined. I look online at my bank account and I see the purchase and then an immediate refund putting the charges back where they were. I think to myself. Should I try again? I say, Yes. but I'm not going to use my Bank of America card again, they just jigged me. So, I use Paypal which is directly linked to the bank card anyway and I get my purchase. Two days later, Best Buy reauthorizes my card for 1026.35. Where they got the idea to do that, I have no idea. I'm guessing the bank sent a "temporary" decline (like, what is that?) and Best Buy decides, lets just see if we can make this sale anyway. We know the customer really really wants these products... Only, on the second authorization, they tell me the PC isn't available. They cancel the item, but still auth my card for 1026.35. Ok. bad enough. I called Bank of America and they tell me the auth will fall off the next day because it's already 3 days old. I think, fine, but then they are going to auth my card again for that laptop I don't need because I already ordered it again...

So, when the charge didn't fall off like Bank of America said it would, I called Best Buy to cancel the rest of that order. They processed the cancelation for the last item and auth'd my card again. Guess for how much? $1026.35, so now, eight days after my original order, I have the product already paid for and in hand, but I still have that damn auth on my bank card.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, January 26, 2017 | Comments (0)

Changes in Verizon Email settings

Posted at 7:05:04 PM in Vendors (35)

I had a client this morning who suddenly wasn't able to get his Verizon dot net emails. For many years the old settings worked fine, but suddenly yesterday at 8:50 AM or so, he was getting errors and requests to correct this username and password. Of course, the messages was from his Outlook email client that he used to get his mail from the POP email server and Outlook is notorious for giving erroneous error messages. I did a little research and it turns out that Verizon has apparently changed where the original hosts addresses are pointing or disabled those settings altogether. The only clue Outlook provided was that the password was wrong. 

The settings for Verizon changed. The original incoming server was incoming.verizon.net and port 110. (This appears to still be the same address for IMAP accounts, but changed for POP accounts). That changed to pop.verizon.net and we had to turn on SSL with port 995.

The outgoing mail server was outgoing.verizon.net and port 25 (which as always been a problem on Verizon networks, they block port 25, but apparently not for their own mail clients). That changed to smtp.verizon.net also with SSL enabled on port 465.

The username and password worked fine after those adjustments were made. This also included his phone. Modifying the settings to match his email client and the phone was able to send and receive also.

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 | Comments (0)

Ascendtech Order - poor quality bad rma policy

Posted at 3:47:21 AM in Vendors (35)

Ordered 5 PCs from AscendTech. Found them on Pricewatch.com. They had an inexpensive computer and custom build. My custom builds weren't very difficult. I wanted a low cost PC with multi screen capability. They called me about every order with needed changes to my customization because they didn't have the part.. One the power supply wasn't available, I paid to upgrade it. The other, the motherboard wasn't available, I needed dual monitor support on the motherboard. They recommended a change and they paid the upgrade. I wanted a specific case, because they ones they show don't really tell you want is available on the outside of the case. I wanted USB ports on the front. Their base case doesn't have any front facing USB ports. So I picked a case that did. They didn't have the case, so they added a 7.1 memory card expansion unit which takes up a front bay and always has a meaningless red light on, never goes out and doesn't mean it's working, I know this because I have one that isn't working, but the red light still is on. I'm not going to replace it. Returns are not handled very gracefully.

I had to return one of the PCs because the power supply, that they recommended, failed. I think the motherboard had a problem too. If the power supply would fix the problem, I wasn't going to spend $200.00 to send it back and be out of PC for 5 to 10 days, no power supply would fire up the PC. I had to return it at my expense. They are on east coast. Turn around time was not guaranteed. I sent it 2nd day air. They took 2 days to repair and then ground shipped it back. It was seven days before I would get the PC back.

Every PC had issues. I've decided not to buy anymore PCs from Ascendtech. Instead, I buy Dell PCs at BestBuy.

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

IADB Purchased Whitelist for Anti-SPAM Just a way for Spammers to Pay for Delivery

Posted at 3:16:29 PM in Vendors (35)

Here's a SPAM mail whitelisted by IADB. Actually sent by Constant Contact. But this is easily discernable as SPAM:

 "REGISTER NOW - SEATS ARE LIMITED"

BUSINESS MATCHMAKING WORKSHOP
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ABAOC 2014 Supplier Readiness Program
Fortune 500 Corporations and Government Agencies
June 12 and 13, 2014

Are you a woman, minority or veteran owned business?

If you are, then you MUST attend our Business Matchmaking Workshop and learn more
about:


* Supplier Diversity development, and opportunities to increase small business participation
in underutilized categories

* Supplier Readiness: A series of Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Workshops
aimed at preparing suppliers to do business with large corporations.

with

Southern California Gas Company, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air
Force Base, Los Angeles World Airports, Southern California Edison, Verizon, Orange
County Transportation Authority

Meet One of Our Distinguished Speakers:

Valerie Lertyaovarit serves as a Senior Supplier Diversity Advisor for Southern 
California Gas Company (SCG). In this position, Valerie focuses on maximizing opportunities
for women, minority, and service disabled veteran business enterprises in SoCalGas'
procurement process .

She oversees the company's professional services portfolios for Human Resources,
 Natural Gas Acquisition, Environmental Services, Finance, and Legal Services. Valerie
started her career with SCG in 2001 and since has held positions in environmental
services and community relations.

We are honored to have Valerie Lertyaovarit speaking and Southern California Gas
 Company hosting our BMW event at their Energy Resource Facility at 9240 Firestone
Blvd., Downey, CA 90241
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | Comments (0)

Sage Strikes again, Modifies it's obscelence policy in mid stream

Posted at 7:37:16 PM in Vendors (35)

Below is part of an online tech session with Sage (i use "Peachtree" interchangeably with Sage. This is because I've been with Peachtree for years which was purchased by Sage and is now called Sage 50 and the peach is gone. My apologies. My arguments were pretty much the same with Peachtree, but has gotten worse since Sage took over.) after I got the obsolescence message. We have the Business Care support which is outrageously priced and designed to hold the customer hostage. Upgrade prices in the past typically came with about a 30% discount. Now the discount has completely disappeared and a new charge which is about equal (called "support") has been added on.

The number one issue about support is that it isn't support. The typical answer is make a new company and import your data. That's not support. The upgrades have always come with extra overhead as new items are added to the database. Since the database is based on btrieve, and out of date, no longer supported, and almost useless database, it performs very badly as the file sizes grow larger. Since the upgrades always produce larger files, the promise that the upgrade will improved performance is a lie. Every upgrade has meant that we cannot do certain things that we use to be able to. For example: Peachtree (now Sage 50) has a search function when you press F3. It pops up a search box which allows you to find almost anything based on customer, invoice number, po number, check number, etc. About 8 years ago, we were promised that upgrading to Quantum would fix that function because it promised better performance. He had lost the ability to use that about 3 years earlier because of the file sizes. Quantum only made us lose other functions that we were able to use. And the problems continue to increase, not decrease nor improve.

Of course the solution to the problem is to create a new company and import your data. Of course, this isn't easy to do since there is still a lot of manual data entry. For example, we can import our inventory, but we cannot import the price quantity discounts. If we import 5000 items and there are 5 price discounts, every one of them having their own price breaks (I think I wrote about this 15 years ago), the amount of data entry is astronomical. This is just one of the short sighted items that has never been addressed and probably never will be. 

Of course, we could purge at year end, except that every time we do, the balance sheet is wrong, but wait, there's more. The purge doesn't purge. For some reason, an active customer with a zero balance no open invoices or purchase orders or quotes or sales order, etc., just don't seem to get purged. We have data from 13 years ago in our system because the purge doesn't work. That's another item that will never get fixed. The answer? Make a new company and start over.

So, here is Sage's new support policy. I add the items that hold the client captive to Sage if they use any of these services.

 Services  Date Obsolesced
 Fixed Asset Tax Update Service  July 31, 2014
 Online Banking  July 31, 2014
 Peachtree Bill Pay  July 31, 2014
 Peachtree Credit Card Services  July 31, 2014
 Peachtree Direct Deposit  July 31, 2014
 Peachtree Online Backup  July 31, 2014
 Peachtree Payroll Solutions  July 31, 2014
 Peachtree Payroll Tax Update Service  July 31, 2014
 UPS Shipping  July 31, 2014

 

Problem : Why am I getting a pop up that says the product support is going to end. I'm using the most current version (Peachtree 2014)?

PTree > The obsolescence message serves as a reminder to those using the 2012 and 2014 version that the product will be obsolete by July 31st. There's a significant change in the obsolescence policy as Sage introduce Sage 50 2015 US Edition. Sage will only support the current year version once 2014 and below become obsolete.

PTree > To explain clearer. Prior to releasing Sage 50 2014 last year, Sage 50 2013 and below versions are still covered of the Original obsolescence policy. Then when Sage 50 2014 was released, obsolescence policy dates have changed which it will be obsolete once newer version or the Sage 50 2015 was released.

PTree > If you have active Business Care Support plan, you are entitled to have a software upgrade of Sage 50 2015. I can check that from your account. May I have your account ID, company name and phone number so I can locate your account?

One issue that I see is that people who just bought 2014 (we had just upgraded our 2012 to 2014 in November of 2013 with the expectation that we would have to install 2015 in November of 2014. That would have been a year.) should have had an expectation to have at least a year support, but will get cut short about half of that time. The obsolescence policy before was expired December 31 of the year, but this is also not correct. The tax tables would expire in November, meaning you could not close your year in payroll unless you renewed. It was our custom to wait until November to do the updates so we could continue the support. Now we are forced into an immediate update completely changing our plans.

In order to avoid dealing with upgrade issues, most people let someone else install the upgrades and then wait for them to work out the bugs before they put the upgrades into their own system. Some prime examples are Microsoft's almost equally useless upgrades. When Vista came out, we discovered that hardware designed for Windows XP was not sufficient for Vista, but a lot of customers had to deal with the bogged down software until the industry caught up. Now you can't buy a PC that has less that 4Gig of RAM and CPU speeds are much faster. Windows 8 came out with no start button. Almost everyone hated it. I read complaints all the time about how to get out of the Metro screens. Along comes Windows 8.1 with a compromise. No one really wants to be the first to use an upgrades software. You find out so many things are broken.

What we did was pay the upgrade price every year with the business care support plan (lower case is intentional), but not do the upgrade. I would review what was made available in the new upgrade and if there was nothing significant, then we'd postpone the upgrade for as long as we could, but still paid the 1500 that they wanted just to keep the tax tables up-to-date.

Now we cannot do this. We are being forced to upgrade every year and become part of the test subjects. I threatened that we will look for a new accounting package to replace these guys because it really creates a lot of extra headache. However, every client that I have done business with who uses Peachtree will not look for an alternative. And so... the masses have spoken, and the giant has won.

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, May 1, 2014 | Comments (8)

Malwarebytes has a new version out V2.0

Posted at 4:12:45 PM in Vendors (35)

I highly recommend Malwarebytes as a tool to remove spyware. They have a new version out. Verion 2.0.0.1000 as of today. You can check out the new download at  bleeping computer here: 

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/malwarebytes-anti-malware/

Written by Leonard Rogers on Friday, March 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

Manta.com unique way of registering Businesses

Posted at 11:53:29 PM in Vendors (35)

All of the free sites I signed into a free account tried to find a way to get me in touch with a sales person. Manta went about it a different way. I signed up everything on their page and on completion to verify my free account, they gave me a code that I needed to call and enter. The code was alpha numeric so I was pretty sure that I was going to be giving it to a person. That person was the sales person who immediately went about posting information on my manta page as we talked about my business. I added some of my own things while we were talking and they saw those changes. Isn't the internet wonderful?

The 5 minute registration process ended up being a 15 minute chew-my-arm-off to get away conversation trying to sell me $19.95 per month of goodies from their site. Eh. not yet.

So far, it's been mostly phone calls from sales people and no presence on the internet, so we'll see how this pans out. 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Yellow pages (YP) does follow ups after posting for a free account

Posted at 11:43:58 PM in Vendors (35)

As I mentioned before, if you post your information for free services, be prepared to get inundated with call after call from sales people trying to get you to buy their free service. YP.com is one of those services. I'm not impressed with yellow pages advertising. It took me 4 years to get them to stop billing me for a business card size ad I had put in their phone book yellow pages which took several letters and follow up phone calls to get them to stop. It's now over 10 years after I got them to stop billing me and I still get calls for services. I am hoping the Internet YP should be different.

They are a free registration. They verified my phone number by calling the number I wanted registered, however; I wasn't at that phone. The phone registration isn't very well thought out. It would be next to impossible to register if I had a phone extension. In my case, I'm registering for a company that is not mine. I'm in my office and they are on the road. There was a button on the registration page that I had to press, they'd call the number, I'd enter the code. But they didn't give very long for me to enter the code. I had to get it from the owner who tried to text it back to me, but by the time I got it, the code already expired.

Once the business was registered and verified, I was able to find my business on yp.com. But less than 24 hours later, a sales person was calling. The receptionist handles all sales calls the same. "Thank you for calling. Sales? Not interested. hang up. 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Craisgslist doesn't allow you to post links to your web site

Posted at 11:30:09 PM in Vendors (35)

A lot of people abuse craigslist.com. The web site is a almost completely free place to advertise services and goods. One of the methods they use to keep down the abuse is to only allow posting advertisements every two weeks. But people overcome that problem by registering six or seven free email accounts with craigslist and posting the same ad six or seven times. Now a recent changes they've made prevents posting links to your web site on their pages. Not a problem, but it would be nice i they said that it wasn't allowed instead of just scraping out that info and then posting a url'less ad posting.

I've had customers that got several click throughs to their web site from craigslist, but now if you put the hyperlink, they just scrape it out. It is probably associated with abuse but a poster who violated the terms by posting the link to a web site that was not in accordance with the policy. Rather than make the few suffer, the policy appears to take the easy way and make everyone suffer. In the meantime, Craiglist goes on to be regularly abused.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Does anyone know the number for Yelp?

Posted at 11:18:48 PM in Vendors (35)

 Among the many startup sites I would consider for creating a presence for a web site on the internet, one of the top is Yelp. Unfortunately, when a business is added, they seem to be really slow about responding. I believe they also have a customer service rep that attempts to make a sales call and when it doesn't work, he cancels the account. Doesn't seem to be a very good way to do business.

Here's the story. My business started up last month. Yelp was among the first sites I went to to setup ad pages. Yelp is good for customer response and allows customers to leave reviews about the companies that have used. I added our company per their page instructions. It included all the address info and phone number, again, the main line which could be answered by anyone and not necessarily the person setting up the site who would be expecting a call.

I responded to the email and set up my account. Added pictures, and description, hours of operation and then waited and waited and waited. I would go back to Yelp several times in the past month to see if my business would show up. Not there. Thank goodness I kept a link to my business posting, which 2 other times, I made changes to the hours and added even more pictures (all of which are still up there) and finally a month later posted a review. The review is there, but I still can't find my business. I wondered why they haven't emailed me or called. So, I decided today, I will try to call them. Did you know you can't find a number to call them at? You can't even call them for sales. You have to fill out a form and try to find your business yet again and then submit the request and they will call you back. And here I sit and wait and wait and wait.

Apparently, if you want to do anything on Yelp, you have to grab that first call or wait an eternity for them to call you. I have a business listing under fws.net. They call me all the time. I get regular reports, but I don't ever remember doing anything other than claiming my business. 

So, Yelp is yet another dead end. I gave them my office number this time on an advertisement request hoping they'd call and I could find out where my business went. I am interested in advertising, but I expect nothing but trouble getting the Yelp pages up and running.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Customer Lobby deactivates Trial sites to get attention

Posted at 11:05:20 PM in Vendors (35)

Setting up web sites is a lot of fun. Trying to find a customer portal where customers can leave comments is even more fun, especially when your testing them out to see how they will perform. Customer Lobby is one of those types of sites. They are great about setting up a free account and giving you the widgets to plug into your site so customers can leave comments. But, during the 30 day trial, the account rep is so eager to help up sell the product that he disables your account forcing you to call him.

Of course, the phone number on the account is for business purposes, I don't expect and wouldn't want sales calls. In fact, if I wanted to call about a product, I would make that call, but when you register for web widgets be prepared to get tons of calls. There are a couple of other  services I'll be reviewing and so will not discuss them here, but be warned. It's almost the same as registering for spam.

I had registered my site on customer lobby, added the widgets and prepared get a few past customers to post comments, but before I could get there, they called my business number and the person who answered the phone didn't know what it was about and said stop calling. That'd be expected since most sales calls are handled that way. I certainly am not going to pow wow my entire staff on what sales people we should take calls from. I have a department entirely dedicated to setting up my internet presence.

Customer Lobby's response. Deactivate the account. I called. The person answering the call was surprised that my free trial had been suspended. She said she'll have my rep call me back within a few minutes. Expect a call from the 510 area code. I gave her the number to my web guys and they waited. We got the call. My rep said, I'm the one who turned off your account. I wanted to make sure you had the best we could offer you. Of course he would say that, he's a sales person. The best they can offer certainly isn't going to be free. I could easily see the pricing on the web site and I had already picked the package I wanted and I didn't really need a sales guy to sell me their best.

The entire approach soured my research and we removed the widgets and I concurred with my staff and told them to get lost. 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Clear Wireless is Dead

Posted at 2:49:57 PM in Vendors (35)

I wrote another article about Clear and a merger with a Japanese company called Softbank. Clear was established as a separate corporation but ran under the umbrella of Sprint. Now you can't buy anything from Clear, but those who had Clear Modems could still use the service. It seems Sprint or the company that bought Sprint is trying to kill Clear by "souring the tit."

At the beginning of this year, the monthly charge for the service went up from 49.99 to 54.99 without notice. But last night's service was dismal. I'm use to a second stream causing issues on the network. I had noted before latency of *3000 to 4000 msec ping times with only two streams going (of course there is always more going on, i.e. updates to software, software maintaining heartbeats for services and such, but these streams are the main process, watching movies or playing a game). It is to the point that the person playing a game will insist that everyone stop watching movies so he can play. 

Last night while working remotely, a Netflix movie and Manga on another computer, I was observing *7000 to 8000 msec latency from my Clear router to the first hop. It is my opinion that Sprint is killing the service. What could have been a competitor for Verizon's ridiculously priced 4G network has now gotten inline and will not be offering an unlimited 4G service. Of course, no one would buy unlimited service if it didn't work, right?

*Note: All speeds were on a modem that indicated 4 to 5 bars of signal strength.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Time Warner Cable residential

Posted at 3:23:20 AM in Vendors (35)

I have been associated with various Time Warner products for over 8 years. I have had their business package and their residential packages and have represented several customers during the installation phase. Consequently, I also get emails and phone calls that aren't intended for me directly but for one of the customers I represented. The most frustrating experience with them has to be that only "some" customers get deals and others get screwed.

I received an email offering me the highest speed they offered business, but at the Tier 2 speed level prices. That was a phenomenal break considering they sell the high broadband Tier at 400 a month and the Tier 2 speed was at around 108 per month. The highest speed at that time was 15 over 2 Mbps. When I switched to FiOS, they asked if there was anything they could do to keep my business. I said, "Sure. give me 50 over 25 Mbps for 108 per month." Of course they couldn't. That was what I was getting from FiOS and for that price.

Time Warner is currently involved in a merger with Comcast. But this advertising model has gone on for ages. Just recently I got an ad in my bill that offered up to 100 Mbps for 10 extra a month. I called them and that isn't available in my area. How many times have I heard that. In today's technology, shouldn't Time Warner be able to target customers who CAN get that service? So, they offered me a bundle package. I couldn't get any upgrade on my speed unless I bought a bundle. That didn't make sense. I don't want cable TV and I don't want their phone service. I know that's what they do, but they offer internet so why can't I buy that and just that? 

I decided to disconnect from that conversation and went to my account online. I wanted to see what was offered online. There was a speed upgrade without a bundle. They offered Turbo for $44.95 per month which would have given me a substantial savings. This was offered on my account as an upgrade. Again, Time Warner meets the stone age technology wall. Time Warner tends to not offer upgrade deals at better prices to a customer they already have hooked. I knew this before I submitted the order, but hey, the offer was made, why not take advantage of it. Typically, if you want the better price, you have to cancel your account. And wait for them to send you offers to come back. Then you can get the better price. Just doesn't make sense, unless you have the customer over a barrel and they can't get internet from any other source. That's just business, right?

The system accepted my order. I got an email that asked me to call to confirm my order. When I contacted a live rep, they couldn't give me what I ordered. They couldn't find the promo to add to my account. When they went to check on it (and I told them this was going to happen) they told me that it's not available on my account. Amazing what technology can do for us today! They could, however; upgrade me to 20 over 2 Mbps, but at 10 extra a month. That's the same price they are offering me for "up-to 100 Mbps." That's such a rip off since I already know they can't give me the better speed for that price. They just don't have the equipment. So that means when it does come, I have to pay the 10 again to get the "up-to 100 Mbps." Just bad business.

I dropped the order. Time Warner just can't provide the business they advertise. This kind of fiasco rides right on the tail of the 2014 Super bowl freeze where they frustrated hundreds of thousands of customers, but where else are they going to get their service. Hopefully Comcast will bring a better business sense to the table. Certainly, with Time Warner being the one taken over, there is obvious problems in the organization.

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Designer Tech Software (designertechsoftware.com)

Posted at 9:11:24 PM in Vendors (35)

I bought a Windows 7 home premium installation key from them with the image. I was downgrading from Windows 8 because the client was really annoyed with the missing start button (the start button in Windows 8.1 is bogus. It just opens the metro panel. There's no menu under it.). By all accounts the downgrade should not be an issue, but I couldn't find anywhere on how to do that downgrade. Windows 8 doesn't come with product keys because they use an machine id to track the installations (At least the OEM versions don't.).

They take several hours before they send the key. I don't know if this is because the process the orders manually or not. They say it is to verify the credit card info. 

I bought the SP1 package so I went to digitalriver and downloaded the package they have on the site. When I got the key, it didn't work and the email had a different digitalriver ISO to download. I assumed, like other Microsoft products that different releases of the same version of software required different keys. So I started over. After installing the image they sent me, I got the same error. Immediately, I thought - bogus.

I called the number on the receipt they sent me (888) 859-9178 which was disconnected. Another flag. The receipt offers support by calling them or chatting with their tech support, but gives no links to do either. Another flag. I finally used the number which is on their site, but difficult to find: (888) 323-5991. No one answers. I had to leave a message which ended up only being a disgruntled message with no phone number or order number.

My next call was to the bank to cancel the payment. It was still processing so the bank couldn't do anything about it. I went looking for a Microsoft number to call to find out if it was legit. Then remembered a chat tab at the bottom of the contact us page of their web site, so I decided to refresh the page and managed to get a person... finally.

While I was chatting with them, they called me back. I thought that was odd since I didn't leave a number, then I remembered they probably have caller id. I told the lady on the phone that I was in a chat session with them. She got my order number (so she could identify me with that disgruntled message) say she talked to me. Then the chat person said that some times you have to use the phone activation. That's not a good thing either. Another flag.

Anyway, the phone activation worked, but they asked one additional question: how many installations this key was used on. Since I don't know any but the one I'm installing, I said one. Microsoft probably also recorded my caller ID.

I leave you to make your own decision as to whether Designer Tech Software is legit or not. It seems obvious they are selling used software which I don't know if it's an issue, but it sure is troublesome. 

Here is another site that has reviews, but I think this site is pumped with reviews done by the seller.

Here is a forum with a question about what others found, but ended up disentegrating into babble about upgrade issues with student versions...

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, January 16, 2014 | Comments (4)

Dell - Problems Fulfilling Internet Orders

Posted at 9:32:27 PM in Vendors (35)

Frustrated with ordering Inspirons through Dell's online store. The online store says the item is in stock and gives an estimated delivery date. Even the “fast shipment” products failed which should have been delivered in only a few days. But, the day they were supposed to arrive, we get a notice that the order had been canceled. Called in to find out they are out of stock. They offered to place an order an item that they knew was in stock. Then we get a notice that that order has been canceled. Why? Because the item is out of stock. After the third time, I got online to chat and discuss the issue. The chat follows:

2:12:55 PM     Customer   Leonard 
3 times in the last week or so, I've order the Inspiron 660 and all three times it gets canceled saying the item is not longer available
 2:13:07 PM     Customer   Leonard 
then I go on the web site and it's still there. Please explain
 2:13:42 PM     Agent   Dell G 
Sorry to hear that. Let me help you out.
 2:13:52 PM     Agent   Dell G 
Can I have the order numbers so I can check?
 2:14:02 PM     Customer   Leonard 
I don't have it
 2:14:22 PM     Customer   Leonard 
3 times I've given it and 3 times I get another insprion 660 and still they get canceled
 2:14:31 PM     Customer   Leonard 
so, I don't think giving you that info is going to help at all
 2:14:48 PM     Customer   Leonard 
do you, or do you not sell inspiron 660s?
 2:15:07 PM     Agent   Dell G 
yes we still do.
 2:15:19 PM     Customer   Leonard 
then why can't i get 3 of them?
 2:16:32 PM     Agent   Dell G 
I really don't know why they are being canceled. Can I have your business name and phone number so I can pull up your customer profile?
 2:17:25 PM     Customer   Leonard 
xxx, ###-###-####
 2:17:55 PM     Customer   Leonard 
we needed these yesterday
 2:18:10 PM     Customer   Leonard 
and each time we have to wait 3 or 4 days to find out they've been canceled
 2:18:52 PM     Agent   Dell G 
really sorry to hear that. Let me check that for you. Kindly give me some time.
 2:23:52 PM     Agent   Dell G 
That' weird. Looks like you were trying to order something that is out of stock already. Right now here are our current packages for the Inspiron 660s.
 2:24:02 PM     Agent   Dell G 
 2:24:51 PM     Customer   Leonard 
yea right
 2:25:00 PM     Customer   Leonard 
that's exactly the same model I ordered before
 2:25:04 PM     Customer   Leonard 
no difference at all
 2:25:17 PM     Customer   Leonard 
i5 inspiron 660 for the same exact price
 2:25:34 PM     Agent   Dell G 
If you want I can assist you in ordering so I can check if they are still on stock prior to ordering.
 2:25:37 PM     Customer   Leonard 
I'm struggling to order this item yet again
 2:25:49 PM     Customer   Leonard 
you guys did that with the last order
 2:25:57 PM     Customer   Leonard 
i got this assistance
 2:26:08 PM     Customer   Leonard 
confidence level here is zero
 2:27:03 PM     Agent   Dell G 
Upon checking both orders were made online.
 2:27:10 PM     Customer   Leonard 
really
 2:27:17 PM     Customer   Leonard 
the last order was made through a rep
 2:27:49 PM     Customer   Leonard 
forget it. I'm going to recommend we buy the PCs at a store. Ur service his horrible. I mean really horrible
 2:28:33 PM     Agent   Dell G 
really sorry about that. I wish you could give us another shot.
 2:28:43 PM     Customer   Leonard 
well u know what they say
 2:28:48 PM     Customer   Leonard 
3 strikes and your out
 2:28:54 PM     Customer   Leonard 
I've been using you guys for over 10 years
 2:29:10 PM     Customer   Leonard 
since you dropped the Vostro line, I have had nothing but trouble
 2:29:43 PM     Agent   Dell G 
I couldn't blame for feeling that way. I am a consumer myself and understand how frustrating it is.
 2:29:53 PM     Customer   Leonard 
thank you.
 2:29:58 PM     Customer   Leonard 
i might buy a dell from Fry's
 2:30:18 PM     Customer   Leonard 
At least I will know it's in stock, which I can't tell through you guys at all
 2:31:03 PM     Agent   Dell G 
Totally understand Leonard. Please accept our deepest apologies and hope we can earn your business again the future.

This would have been the end of it for me, but my customer decided to try to order a fourth time from Dell because Staples only had 2 in stock and they needed 3. The fourth order went through and we got the computers.

Dell's online service seems to have faltered. I use to order their computers online because I could customize the package. It appears that retail outlets now take precedence over Internet sales as we repeatedly got bumped from our order. I was also sadly made aware that the retail outlets can give you better quality Dell products at a better price than you can get through Dell's own internet outlet. OnIine, I could only buy the poorer quality flat screen monitors. But, in stores like Staples, I could buy a Dell monitor with a shiny, smooth frame (online, they were the matte plastic dull frames) with a glossy screen and bright colors, high resolution and HDMI (The online monitor is only offered with the matte finish and low resolution). In stores for the higher quality monitor it costs $139.00. The online monitor, 2 inches smaller, would cost me $219.00 with the computer. Granted, the store monitor was on sale.

I no longer buy monitors from Dell at all. I now price the computers in store before I shop online. I still like to get the windows professional OS installed, so I'll buy from Dell online for the computer, but one fail and I'm in the store. Oh, and I avoid the phone sales guys at all costs. Their objective is not to sell you a good deal. I stopped calling them when I discovered the Vostro line which, in my opinion, outlasted every Optiplex I ever installed (Optiplex is the business class PC that the phone guys would always say was a higher standard PC - it sure was more expensive).

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Monday, October 14, 2013 | Comments (0)

Clear has joined Sprint

Posted at 9:52:54 PM in Vendors (35)

I have never been a fan of Sprint. I tried Clearwire a couple of years ago and found the 4G access to be dismal, even with 5 bars of 4G signal. I discovered back then that the 4G service Clearwire used was provided by Sprint. I returned the router because the service was too spastic. However; recently, due to a requirement for mobility and the pricing structure for Verizon 4G services, I bit the bullet and bought a Clear 4G router. The service still sucks but at least I don't have to pay the ridiculous per GB charge other services require. Clear charges $49.00 for the router and $49.00 per month for the service flat fee, no contract, unlimited download. It doesn't seem like the latter part would be too big of a plus with bad service. I'll discuss the service later, but the first day I got my Verizon 4G data plan (shared family data plan), my son practically consumed all of the 2GB per month I bought in the first day downloading games. If he started on music and movies, I'd have been broke in no time.

Anyway, I was looking into coverage for a Clear router product and discovered that Clearwire has joined Sprint, which, I think is completely bogus. That's the same as saying Toyota has joined Lexus or Verizon Wireless has joined Verizon. Basically the Clear web site (either www.clear.com or www.clearwire.com or even www.sprint.com/clear) has a forwarding statement and re-directs you to Sprint. Then shopping around on Sprint's web site, there are no Clear products. I opened an online chat (which I never think is actually with a sales rep) and find out that you have to call in to order the Clear products. So, what's really happening???

Sprint has been suffering from coverage problems and really can't compete with Verizon for 4G deployment. I am using a Clear router now and find that a second connection to the internet causes extreme latency. For example, my son watches Manga online and I'm working on a remote site. I checked the latency and found with just him watching streaming video, the latency is between 60 and 120. As soon as both activities start up, the latency jumps to 3000 to 5000 msec and frequent dropped packets. I believe this is intentional 'stumping' to prevent over usage of bandwidth as Clear has no bandwidth limit or per GB rates.

I've also done tests of the 4G connection between Clear and Verizon at the same location. Clear's speed test consistently shows 3000 to 4000 Mbps download speeds. Verizon at the same location is twice that speed.

The only way to solve that problem is a large infusion of capital which appears to be the real reason for the merge. It also makes sense NOT to pretend you're not associated with your parent company. The merger is actually an acquisition (that may not be technically correct, but that's the way I visualize it) by a Japanese firm called Softbank. See this article

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Friday, October 4, 2013 | Comments (0)

Returnpath Certified email not worth accepting

Posted at 6:26:15 PM in Vendors (35)

Because I continue to get spam mail that has been certified by ReturnPath and SenderScore (same company), I have decided to completely remove the scoring attributes provided by Spamassassin. In fact, the amount of spam I get that has been certified, I might even mark these as spam. If you have to pay to have your email delivered, then there must be a reason they are not getting delivered. I also hear that Yahoo will start accepting these certified emails, but that's not a plus.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Comments (0)

AnalogX packetmon unable to open raw socket Windows 7

Posted at 9:37:23 PM in Vendors (35)

Packetmon by AnalogX claims the ability to monitor packets through RAW winsock connects (though Windows does place some restrictions on the data that can be monitored). It's a free program and still available as of this writing, though the author of the site does not appear to have made any updates since 2009.

When I installed packetmon, I immediately got an error message: Unable to open raw socket, packet monitoring canceled. After some search, I found that even as far back as Windows XP, RAW sockets needed to be enabled, but I could find no where that explained how to enable RAW sockets in Windows 7. Then I stumbled across a similar problem in Vista. The question was Can a regular user be allowed access to RAW sockets. The answer was no. In Windows 7, even if the user has an administrator account, programs not signed will not open in administrator mode. You have to right click the icon and select Run as Administrator, which gives the program access to admin level functions such as RAW sockets. So I tried it with Packetmon and it ran without a problem using RAW sockets.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Comments (0)

Network Solutions using the Philippines customer support

Posted at 8:50:03 PM in Vendors (35)

It's really annoying that calls are forwarded outside the United States for support. Many have experienced a language barrier in the worst case and best case an accent problem. Though the call center personnel are usually polite, they simply cannot help in many situations. The first time I discovered this with Network Solutions, the person who answered the phone had no accent at all, but then forwarded me to an "extension" and then I was talking to a person in the Philippines. My question... I needed to renew a domain. The account holder had passed away and I needed to get that domain activated again. She told me only the domain holder can reactivate the domain. This is actually a new concept for Network Solutions. It use to be that anyone could pay to have the domain registered. Now that apparently isn't so. I told her that I'm on the account as a technical contact and still she insisted that I could not renew the domain. She temporarily activated the domain which helped some. By activating the domain, I should have been able to get the password to the domain sent to the registered users account, but the the email to reset his password still had not come through. Very frustrating.

I ended up logging in with my own account and guess what... she was wrong. I was able to renew the domain as a technical contact.

This time, I called about an account where I received an email that I have been removed from an account as technical contact. The only problem is, I don't know which account. The email only give the account number, but not the domain. I called customer service and the friendly Philippine person who answered the phone could only tell me their systems were going through maintenance and to call back in 1 or 2 hours.

Network Solutions domains are the most expensive of any registrar. It doesn't seem that we are getting our money's worth.

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Monday, July 15, 2013 | Comments (0)

HP Printers network diagnostics

Posted at 9:45:48 PM in Vendors (35)

First, I'm just going to say that HP's MFC (Multifunction) printers have way too much overhead. Taking almost an hour to install is just ridiculous.

I would like to complain about the network diagnostics, but the problem after much research as actually that the printer went sleep or turned itself off and I was installing the driver remotely. This is an MFC-8500 909a Officejet printer. Once the printer was back on, the installation almost finished... Almost. It got all the way to the end and decided that something was wrong and started uninstalling.... I wasn't going to let that happen, so I went into the task manager, found the running program and ended the task. Now there are many things that don't work correctly, but it can print and scan. I can't use the control center.

I believe the entire problem is that the printer keeps going off line and I'm researching that now.

As it turns out, that printer was just burned out. I believe the problem revolved mostly around the power supply, but I can't be sure. My recommendation was to get rid of it. The customer bought a new one before asking me (I wanted to suggest a different brand, i.e. Brother). But he got a newer model of the same printer. This one was a HP 8600. The old printer had been in service for about 6 years, so I guess we can't complain too much... 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 | Comments (0)

IADB - another paid DNS Whitelist with no way to report abuse

Posted at 10:02:34 AM in Vendors (35)

I just received more spam through a paid DNS whitelist. Though the whitelist claims it is valid, it is still spam. This email did not OPT-IN and the message was completely unsolicited. The manager of this whitelist can be found at ISIPP which claims management options which they have no way of verifying. i.e. "You must have true opt-in - the knowing permission and consent - for every email address on your mailing lists;" There is simply no way to verify this without ISIPP managing the list and they do not.

Here is a recent email I received:  

InternetSeer.com
Web site monitoring

Your Weekly Web Site Performance Report For June 17, 2013 - June 23, 2013

Dear Subscriber,

Buy Enterurl + Atwatch today for $199 for one year and save BIG $$$

For a limited time Atwatch Advanced Website Monitoring and EnterURL Search Engine Submission have teamed up to offer
you both of theses great services for one full year for just $199
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DON'T MISS THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY

Enterurl Blast Submission Service
---------------------------------
With Enterurl your website will be submitted for listing on over 400,000 Search Engines, Directories and Speciality sites
and the more places your website is listed the higher your search engine ranking can be - this is because Search Engines 
rank you based on popularity and the more links search engines find back to your site the more popular you are! 

Increase your chances of being found by people browsing the web today!

Atwatch Advanced Premium 30 Minute Website Monitoring
-----------------------------------------------------
Atwatch will check your website every 30 minutes from multiple monitoring centers all over the globe to insure your
website is up and running and most importantly RUNNING PROPERLY!

That's why it's called Advanced. Take advantage of this very special offer for one full year of advanced website
monitoring by the best website monitoring service available and save over 60% off our standard prices. You even
get daily reports of your website's performance! We even have great offers on 15 and 5 minute monitoring too!

GET STARTED TODAY BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:
ONLY $199/YEAR!

http://www.enterurl.com/promotion/enterurl_atwatch.html
###

If you'd prefer to just have your website submitted to over 400,000 Search Engines, Direcotires and Specialty Sites
then click here: https://www.enterurl.com/promotion/?page=signup&service_for_email=1&cid=46

However, our $199 offer for Awatch + Enterurl is the best offer we've ever made! 


=============================================================================

Turn Your Website Visitors into Loyal Customers with Constant Contact. 

SpeakUp! Email Marketing by Constant Contact is the easy, effective and highly affordable way to get your message out. 
With ListenUp!sm you'll make better decisions, because you'll have feedback from more of your customers -- instead of just the vocal ones! 

Start your FREE 60-Day Trial today! 

Click here: http://redir.inetseer.net/tr.jsp?asdfaasss77tbgEWadfa7372OPTGPD7b78EPT=e3 

============================================================================= 

InternetSeer has arranged for you to receive a Free Trial of Atwatch Advanced Website Monitoring 

Get superior, advanced and more frequent monitoring with the Atwatch Advanced Website Monitoring Service.  

* Content Checking Hacker Defense 
* Missing Image Detection 
* Link Verifier 
* 5, 20, 60 minute monitoring 
* Global testing locations 
* Response Time Analysis 
* Database Connection tester 
* Customer Login Verifier 
* ...plus many more features... 

Start your Atwatch 14 Day Trial Today
http://redir.inetseer.net/tr.jsp?44sewas7i77tcgEWR7078YzTNPxTyX7372OPTGPD7b78EPU=e3

This is obviously advertisement. The sender is on a fishing expedition, trolling for unwary internet site managers. The fact that there is no actual link to any of the actual web sites this recipient manages that would have visit information is one clue, but also that they use coded links to identify which email address actually clicked on their link. Once you've clicked on their link, they could technically say that you opted-in, even though that's not what you were intending to do. This particular recipient does manage web sites, but that email address can easily be gleaned from the whois database.

This was not an opt-in email. ISIPP has no idea who or where the email lists come from that use their whitelist service. One more step removed from this is the source of lists that are used with agencies like constantcontact.com whose users bring their own lists. And no one knows where those lists come from; not constantcontact and surely not ISIPP.

I posted in another link a different DNS whitelist that had two entries with high scores on spamassassin. Take a look at the scoring lines from this email: 

X-Spam-Report: 
	*  4.8 BAYES_99 BODY: Bayes spam probability is 99 to 100%
	*      [score: 1.0000]
	* -0.7 RCVD_IN_DNSWL_LOW RBL: Sender listed at http://www.dnswl.org/, low
	*      trust
	*      [65.36.241.242 listed in list.dnswl.org]
	* -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_LISTED RBL: Participates in the IADB system
	*      [65.36.241.242 listed in iadb.isipp.com]
	* -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_VOUCHED RBL: ISIPP IADB lists as vouched-for sender
	* -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_SPF RBL: IADB: Sender publishes SPF record
	* -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_DK RBL: IADB: Sender publishes Domain Keys record
	* -0.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_RDNS RBL: IADB: Sender has reverse DNS record
	* -4.0 RCVD_IN_IADB_DOPTIN RBL: IADB: All mailing list mail is confirmed
	*      opt-in
	* -0.0 SPF_HELO_PASS SPF: HELO matches SPF record
	* -0.0 SPF_PASS SPF: sender matches SPF record
	*  0.0 HTML_MESSAGE BODY: HTML included in message
	*  1.0 NIXSPAM_IXHASH BODY: iXhash found @ ix.dnsbl.manitu.net
	*  2.5 DCC_CHECK Detected as bulk mail by DCC (dcc-servers.net)
	*  0.1 DKIM_SIGNED Message has a DKIM or DK signature, not necessarily
	*      valid
	*  0.7 LOTS_OF_MONEY Huge... sums of money
	*  0.1 RDNS_NONE Delivered to internal network by a host with no rDNS
	*  0.0 T_DKIM_INVALID DKIM-Signature header exists but is not valid

 

Six lines. Only one is marked with a high negative because I thought I could trust their OPT-IN, but obviously I cannot. Luckily there were enough other factors to block this spam. Even though it's on a whitelist, it is not legit email and ISIPP is touting something they are not providing.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, June 27, 2013 | Comments (0)

Dell has stopped producing the Vostro line of Desktop and Laptop computers

Posted at 12:48:41 PM in Vendors (35)

Sad to see this line of products go. I have come to rely on this model of PC. Though Dell stats that their Optiplex PC is a business class PC and has their full backing and support, I got tired of constantly calling them for support on that model. The Dimension line of products are really a low end home product and are available in retail stores. I don't shop for Dell products in stores because, I prefer them to build the specs I want and not have to rely on the Geek Squad to convert and upgrade to the product I need.

Out of the hundreds of Vostros I've installed, I can count the number of failed products on one hand. Now I'll have to search for a class of PCs that both meet the price and performance requirements that I'm looking for. Here's the chat with Dell today concering this new change.

1:21:12 PM System
You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
1:21:12 PM System
Connected with Dell Rep
1:21:22 PM Dell Rep
Welcome to Dell US Small Office Chat. My name is Dell and I will be your Dell.com Sales Chat Expert. I can be reached at xxx. You can now chat with us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week !
1:21:22 PM Dell Rep
Hello Leonard! :)
1:21:27 PM Dell Rep
How may I help you?
1:21:37 PM Leonard
Where have all the Vostro's gone?
1:21:52 PM Dell Rep
I would be happy to assist you with that. First, allow me to thank you for Chatting with us!
1:21:57 PM Dell Rep
Vostro is no longer offered as of June1
1:22:07 PM Dell Rep
Some Vostro systems are offered on clearance
1:22:12 PM Dell Rep
in limited quantity
1:22:20 PM Dell Rep
What Vostro system are you looking for>?
1:22:24 PM Leonard
Why is that?
1:22:56 PM Dell Rep
We change models from time to time
1:22:57 PM Leonard
It's the only model I ever ordered from you. Your other models are not worth buying
1:23:22 PM Dell Rep
Currently we are integrating features of Vostro with Inspiron systems
1:23:40 PM Leonard
well. I have to look around then
1:23:45 PM Leonard
This is really disappointing
1:24:09 PM Leonard
thanks for your time
1:24:27 PM Dell Rep
I am sorry that the system that you want is no longer offered, do you want to check on comparable systems?

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Friday, June 7, 2013 | Comments (0)

Spamassassin adds paid safe lists which allows spam through

Posted at 7:55:17 AM in Vendors (35)

I've recently seen a lot of SPAM leak through my spamassassin even though they are marked with a high score on the bayes scoring. Here is a typical score from an email from groupon.com for a Steakhouse Dinner to emails that don't exist. Unsolicited advertisement. I think this would easily be classified as SPAM.

X-Spam-Report:
*  4.8 BAYES_99 BODY: Bayes spam probability is 99 to 100%
*      [score: 1.0000]
* -0.3 RCVD_IN_RP_CERTIFIED RBL: Sender in ReturnPath Certified - Contact
*      cert-sa@returnpath.net
*      [Return Path SenderScore Certified {formerly]
[Bonded Sender} - <http://www.senderscorecertified.com>]
* -0.7 RCVD_IN_DNSWL_LOW RBL: Sender listed at http://www.dnswl.org/, low
*      trust
*      [50.115.210.248 listed in list.dnswl.org]
* -0.2 RCVD_IN_RP_SAFE RBL: Sender in ReturnPath Safe - Contact
*      safe-sa@returnpath.net
*      [Return Path SenderScore Safe List (formerly]
[Habeas Safelist) - <http://www.senderscorecertified.com>]
* -0.0 SPF_HELO_PASS SPF: HELO matches SPF record
* -0.0 SPF_PASS SPF: sender matches SPF record
*  0.0 HTML_MESSAGE BODY: HTML included in message
*  0.7 MIME_HTML_ONLY BODY: Message only has text/html MIME parts
*  0.1 DKIM_SIGNED Message has a DKIM or DK signature, not necessarily
*      valid
*  0.1 RDNS_NONE Delivered to internal network by a host with no rDNS
*  0.0 T_DKIM_INVALID DKIM-Signature header exists but is not valid
X-Spam-Flag: YES

Senderscore is a paid safe list with no way to report abusers of their service giving the impression that they don't really care. Fine. What bothers me is that spamassassin has bought into this whole heartedly. On the plus side though, spamassassin is customizable, so modifications to the score provided by spamassassin can be adjusted. Spamassassin also doubles up scores from this service, but I have modified the original scoring. If you don't have some kind of score, it will not show in the hit list, so rather than make them zero where'd they'd disappear altogether, I dropped one from -3.0 to -0.3 and the other from -2.0 to -0.2. It's easy to see that such high negative numbers could easily overcome a marginal spam threshold. A -5 would overcome my bayes scoring by itself, then add in the dnswl (which I also modified) and we open the door to allow spam through again.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Friday, May 24, 2013 | Comments (1)

AVG license auto renew

Posted at 12:36:24 PM in Vendors (35)

AVG is one of the better Anti-virus' out there, but recently, some fishy things have been happening. 

First we start seeing AVG search pages taking over our browser's search pages. I don't think that's AVG, but it's very fishy.

A new item just came to me in email today and after tracing the headers, it was a valid email from AVG.

Here's the email:

  AVG Technologies

AVG keeps you protected!

Your AVG Anti-Virus license will be automatically renewed for 24 months.

Dear Bob,

Your AVG Anti-Virus license expires on May 28th, 2013, but you don't need to do anything!

Because you activated AVG's Continuing Protection Service when purchasing your software, we'll automatically renew your license 15 days before expiration. We'll simply charge this renewal to the payment method you used for your original purchase and then email you a confirmation of this transaction. It doesn't get any easier than that!

Please note: If your payment card has changed or expired, or if you'd like to tweak your license settings (e.g., to protect more computers), please manually renew your license here.

Thank you for choosing AVG!

Best regards,
Your AVG Team

For more information about AVG's Continuing Protection Service, please see our Terms and Conditions or contact our Customer Support.

To cancel AVG's Continuing Protection Service, please

 

Some odd things about this email (at first I suspected it was spam). 1. It says I activated "AVG's Continuing Protection Service" which when I tried to log in, I could not verify this. In fact, I had no account at all that I could verify. I love how simple this next statement is: "We'll simply charge this renewal to the payment method you used for your original purchase..." Really, thanks soooo much for your helping me out. Btw, how much are you going to charge me??? (and how much am I saving?) Not really helpful is it?

The problem with auto renewal like this is that I can't tell if I'm being taken to the bank. Literally!!!

Then to top everything off, I noticed the last sentence... it just ends after "please" Well there is a little itty bitty underline or double dot or whatever it is, but it is a hyperlink. It just doesn't say what to do with it, but looking at the url, I could see it was to cancel the protection service. I was directed to a page where I could opt-out. I did so. The page said I would get an email indicating my selection, but the redirection page shows only this:

 

The AVG website is undergoing planned maintenance.

Our site is currently experiencing technical difficulties.

We are currently making improvements to our site. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and promise to be back up shortly. Rest assured that this website maintenance will not affect your AVG protection.

For those of you who've come to the site to download our software, you can still do so at ...


Thank you for your patience,

The AVG Team

 

 Here is a transcript of my conversation with Tech support at AVG. Most of my research took place after t his conversation. You'll notice I didn't discuss most of information I posted on this blog. I only contacted AVG to stop the automatic renewal.

  [Petra] Hello, my name is Petra, how may I help you?
[Bob] I got an email that you were going to auto renew my subscription, but I never set that up
[Petra] I understand your issue and i will certainly help you
[Petra] I am checking your details in our database please wait
[Bob] I can't get to my account to see if that is true, but everything in the headers says it's from you, so I
assume I should be able to get in and see
[Bob] the email came to axx@xxx.com, but that's not the username apparently
[Petra] Do you want to turn off the auto renewal ?
[Bob] I would like to be able to do that myself
[Bob] and find out how it got setup that way
[Bob] but, yes
[Bob] I do want to turn it off
[Petra] I have turned off the auto renewal option
[Bob] really? did u turn it on?
[Petra] No I turned OFF
[Bob] alright, but how do I get into my account to check the settings and ... update the credit card info?
[Bob] what username is on that account info
[Petra] Please wait
[Petra] Bob For the AVG Account information we don't know what you have given when you created first time
[Petra] Not to worry
[Bob] well, if that's the case, I didn't opt-in for auto renewal as you're email indicated.
[Bob] that's a problem
[Bob] and I'm worried.
[Petra] https://myaccount.avg.com/in-en/my-account-login Please use this link to create a new AVG Account
with this email address axx@xxx.com
[Bob] alright. I will. thanks
[Petra] Is there anything else you would like to know?
[Bob] I just set up an account, but it didn't ask for the license key
[Bob] will this email actually be associated with my license?
[Petra] Yes
[Bob] ok
[Petra] When you create a new account on AVG . It does not ask the license number
[Bob] yea. that doesn't help.
[Bob] ok. I think that's it
[Petra] Once you have created a new account on AVG . The account verification email will be send to your email address .
Please verify the email to complete the account creation
[Petra] Thanks for contacting AVG. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can be of further assistance.
[Bob] I already did that
[Bob] no confidence in that process
[Petra]
Thank you for contacting AVG Technical Support. You have a great day!
 

Alright, so I created the account and my license was there. I also could see where I could opt-in and opt-out for auto-renewal. The option is on the order history page. However, I didn't see anywhere where they kept my credit card info (meaning that I couldn't update my credit card info or see what credit card they were going to charge on the auto-renewal).

Moral of the story... read your emails, follow up, investigate and fix the problems. This was suspicious email. It smacked of spam, but I looked at the email headers and could see that the email actually came from AVG. I also looked at the source to ensure that the hyperlinks actually went to avg.com and NOT some alteration like buyavg.com. But I didn't follow (click) the links, I went to the AVG web site and found at the very bottom, in very little print, a link to login to "myaccount". Then when my email didn't work as the username, I tried the forgot password screen and that's when I found out that I didn't have an account at all. Then I looked for a support portal and prayed that the person in chat could really help and wasn't one of those farmed out chat persons that read a script and then pass along an email and are no help at all. Petra did help. When I logged in, I could see that the account was opted-out of auto-renew, but the process was scary and the fact that auto-renew was ever enabled was even more scary. 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | Comments (0)

Google Voice: Transcript not available

Posted at 3:46:37 PM in Vendors (35)

I discovered by accident that the message I get in my Google Voice mailbox that says Transcript not available, does not mean there is no message. It may seem like a no brainer that you should still try to play the message, but I get a lot of "test" calls where they just hang up so I never checked it. It turns out that a really long message will not get transcribed and a message where the person mumbles a lot will also not get transcribed, so CHECK the message anyway.  

Written by Leonard Rogers on Friday, October 26, 2012 | Comments (0)

Time Warner New Trial Offering for Business Class Internet

Posted at 3:32:37 PM in Vendors (35)

I just got a call from Time Warner Cable internet  for business. They called and offered a "new trial deployment" which would give me the highest speed internet they offer business (15mbps x2mbps ) for a fraction of the cost: $131.00 a month for a 3 year term. What a deal. I'm paying $199 for 8x1 which is 2 tiers below that the max speed. That confused the customer rep who finally broke down and asked me if I was ever at a different address from where my office is... (I can't use the actual addresses so even that statement is confusing).

The address she gave me was for a company that I set up internet services for. I was the point of contact. Time Warner has called several times trying to upsell special services to this company and I am still the point of contact. But what kind of trial offering is a drastic reduction in price? Why would it be offered to only a few companies? How do you trial a price reduction? Perhaps they looked at the actual bandwidth they use (which is none, since it's a back up line) and decided; Hey, lets charge them more for using nothing.

What bothers me is after Time Warner Cable found out that I also use their service and that I'm getting ripped off at $199.00 for 8x1 instead of 15x2 offered at $131.00, they wouldn't extend that offer to me. Oops, I'm sorry.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | Comments (0)

MIPSpace Email Market Service IP Block listing

Posted at 3:22:48 PM in Vendors (35)

Well, I finally had my first run in with MIPSpace. Needless to say it was very annoying. You can find their web site at http://www.mipspace.com. Their motto is that users have the right to block everything (Actually, it's "Why can't users just say NO?") The problem with a user being able to add IP addresses to a public database that will block access to email from that IP for everyone else who uses the service is simply wrong. Of course, they will argue, based on their motto, that I am wrong and so we have a difference of opinion.

The problem becomes even more pronounced when the avenue for correcting issues can only be done by the owner's of the IP. The suggest that you have your IP addresses SWIP'd to you, which can't be done by Tier 2 or Tier 3 providers and even most Tier 1 providers won't do it because of the transient use of the IP addresses. Say if I'm getting my service through FiOS. Verizon will not SWIP the IP address groups to the end user, so I'd have to go get Verizon to tell MIPSpace that I'm not a bulk email marketing provider??? So, apparently, you can easily get on the list, but getting off is retardedly impossible.

The service that adds this list is at http://www.linuxmagic.com which provides a IP address reputation service. MIPspace is just one of the sources they use to come up with a reputation. I'm sure they provide a "score" of sorts, so if only one of the sources they use marks you as a bad reputation you might still consider getting email from that source. That leaves it up to the email administrator. My experience is, never just accept the resource's decision on what is bad and what is good. 

So, while I think MIPspace is off it's rocker, it is ultimately up to the email administrator to determine what gets into the mail system. And even then, it would be wise to allow the users to set their own white lists.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Comments (1)

Telepacific Customer Service

Posted at 6:17:03 PM in Vendors (35)

Telepacific installed a T1 service which I did not order. I never plugged the router in and requested that they correct the issue back in 2005. (You can read some background in one of my previous posts here.) The whole issue caused us to drop Telepacific as a vendor and move on to other providers. However, today, we are still being plagued by this credit. When we planned our move to a new location, we contacted Telepacific for information on a move, but before I let them process anything, I requested information on the status of that credit. It turns out they had switched customer services reps on us and the new rep had no idea what I was asking about. He investigated and discovered the research on the request went to a certain point and just died. He picked it up and started it again, but failed to contact us with the resolution. We determined that we were never going to see any of that credit and chose a new provider. Once we sent notice to discontinue service, we also decided that all future billing should go to the credit. Then just as we were trying to cut over our services, Telepacific held our primary numbers hostage in an effort to get us to pay the past due amount of about 2700.00. We finally contacted a Vice President in the company that cleared us out of collections and allowed the numbers to transfer.  When we called collections to find out the status, we were informed that we were not in collections. That only lasted one billing period. Now we are back in collections.

I now have the notes they took during the process of researching the extra T1. It doesn't show any of the notes taken before our new customer service rep, though I know they had them because the new rep read them to me. My original complaint was issued long before May 2011 when he started his notes. He miss documented my explanation, however; they did go back an recalculate what the credit would be. Their calculations show the credit to be 29,000 dollars, but it was denied because the dispute was not placed within the 45 days per contract. 

They specify, "If you have a bona fide dispute with any of the amounts on the invoice, you shall pay all amounts not in dispute by the Pay By Date and provide us with a written request for a billing adjustment, together with all supporting documentation, with 45 days after the Pay By Date or your right to any billing adjustment shall be waived..." This allows them to be sloppy in their order processing and allow for unused services to be billed ad infinitum and make it the responsibility of the customer to harass the provider for correction. Besides, the complaint isn't about one bill, it's about the entire process of billing and not following through. What date shall we apply? What Pay By Date should we count from? Telepacific admits no responsibility for wrong doing here. If we go by my original request to have the circuit removed back in 2005, then isn't that within the 45 days of the first Pay By Date? Of course I don't have any evidence of submitting such a request. And they on the other hand have no evidence that we ever used that circuit. It sat there for 5 years staring them in the face with an alarm on it indicating there was no connection. In such a situation, it seems only  fair that both parties should accept some responsibility for the oversight. Both parties are at fault. But instead, Telepacific insists on waging a war to collect $4000. Our only recourse it to go to the PUC, which if we had been notified, we would have already done, but though our customer service rep was notified of both the denial and the recommendation to take this to the PUC, it was never forwarded to us.

It was because of this mind set and the fact that customer service has failed at every step of the way to follow through that we dropped Telepacific. I have other customers that also use Telepacific services which will probably get replaced because of their poor performance. The only reason some people don't move is because of the pain of changing telephone companies. i.e. lines don't get forwarded, the fax lines don't work. Roll over doesn't work. The 800 number isn't being forwarded. And the worst of all, the company releasing numbers to the new vendor stalls at every step, which is exactly what Telepacific did as we tried to move away from them.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Comments (2)

Integrated Access Solutions

Posted at 2:02:14 PM in Vendors (35)

Just got a call from Integrated Access Solutions today.  The sales person claimed that they acquired Nortel and that they had better more sophisticated solutions rolling out and that eventually Nortel would disappear from the market.  The sales man's actual words were "squash the product."  Interesting, I can't find anything on this claim.

After determining that we didn't have over 100 phones and/or multiple locations, he ended the call because they weren't on the page yet.  Looking at what I believe to be their web site at www.integratedaccess.net, these guys are looking more to do an overall systems replacement.  Phone systems is just an inlet for an proposal for infrastructure take over.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 | Comments (0)

IPhone on Verizon's network

Posted at 12:21:05 PM in Vendors (35)

Reading todays business section of the LA Times prompted me to offer my opinion on the iPhone saga as well.  The article "IPhone may put strain on Verizon's network" stated that a large number of iPhone users would be clamoring to get on Verizon's network and that may bog it down.  Since the number of iPhones sold in 2010 was around 12 million, they expect that Verizon will take about half of that market share in 2011 if they add the phone to their list. (The article didn't actually say Verizon was going to offer the iPhone this year, however; if it does offer it, it will show up on the array of phones on Tuesday. I don't know if that's today or next week Tuesday.)  Speculating that half the existing iPhone users (estimated at about 73 million) may switch their service, Verizon could stand to take a big hit on it's network performance almost overnight.

Such an exodus is quite possible.  The article indicated a general dissatisfaction with AT&T by iPhone users stating they complained about "dropped calls and slow performance."  I was an AT&T customer.  I dropped them because of those same reasons.  I was so dissatisfied with their service that I wouldn't switch back even for the iPhone.  When I was a customer, I could watch the signal snap from one tower to another and still drop calls in the switch.  Most often, the dropped calls were random.  After I dropped AT&T and switched to a local company, AT&T acquired that company and within 2 months the service was back to the same problem.  I speculated that AT&T bought my cell company so they could dump their current customer bloat onto additional towers giving their current customers a little better service.  In reality, my cell phone company may have been using AT&T's cellular towers all along.  If the later is the case, then problem isn't with the equipment or the tower placement, but the problem would be in the management of that equipment.

AT&T claimed that it's network was 60% faster than Verizon's network.  I'm not sure what difference that makes if you can't stay on the network.  They could also make that claim because nothing in the claim says has access to that bandwidth. I'm sure anyone currently on AT&T might be wondering why they don't have access to it.  However, the claim probably is implying that if the service is slow now, those that switch will experience more than 50% poorer performance on Verizon's network.  My argument is if you keep dropping calls, you can't very well stay online.  That would certainly result in poor performance.

Unfortunately, I had a chance to use the Android phones with the Google apps and I'm quite happy with my phone, so I won't be one who will switch.  But if you can't stay connected to the provider's network, then perhaps it's time to look for a new network, now that you can.  Good luck AT&T users.

Other links of interest:

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Comments (0)

Cargowise EDI

Posted at 5:02:41 PM in Vendors (35)

Cargowise EDI is vertical market software designed to help freight forwarders to track their shipments, manage customs documentation and notify their customers of the status of those shipments. The software can be purchased as a standalone application (though it requires a constant connection to Cargowise servers which constantly check the user license and modules used) or as SaaS (Software as a Service)  The standalone version allows you to host the database on your own servers with the requirement that you always maintain your server, SQL database engine, web server and all the workstation with up to the minute Microsoft releases. SaaS provides all of these upgraded functions for you and all you have to maintain is the workstations. Standalone versions have a monthly maintenance fee and an annual contract payment which can be paid monthly. The connection requirement to Cargowise servers allows them to stop the software from working if these fees are not maintained. The data is locked behind a password that Cargowise will not give you and they go out of their way to prevent you from accessing the data directly. Of course, in an SaaS environment, you don't have access to the data anyway. It makes since that if you don't have an IT department, the best way to go is with the SaaS solution. 

Note: The customer that I work with that uses Cargowise EDI has complained that every upgrade has lost data, stop routine reporting or completely removed functions that forced them to find new ways to accomplish the same task. The frustration they constantly complain about is the lack of support from Cargowise. They break something in the upgrade then tell you it's not their fault.
 
Here are a  few annoying things about Cargowise EDI. These are all complaints from the customer who actually uses Cargowise. Every new software installation, especially in the vertical market is going to be awkward in the beginning. The only people the software is intuitive too is the programmers, who you never get to talk to. These programmers are from Australia and the language is a huge barrier. Terminology and translation is the first step to bridging this gap and Cargowise seems to make little effort to addressing this. The next step is translating the customers way of doing business into the way Cargowise does the same thing. 

1. Training is expensive and unproductive.  The trainer cannot or will not answer questions outside the curriculum.  First and foremost, training should address how to get into the software, how to process an order and how to get out of the software.  Everything else should be an appendage to that and should point to it.  For example, in order to get into the software, you have to set up a user. In order to set up a user, you have to specify what role the users will have. Each role grants access to certain portions of the software which means we have to define each area of the software. Cargowise's instructors and instructor guide completely miss this point. The customer feels he is learning something that he will never use.  For example, my customer didn't want to do accounting in Cargowise, yet we had to learn accounting without an explanation as to why.  After 2 weeks of training, we still couldn't process an order.  That was a problem.  We ended up paying someone who had experience using Cargowise to come in and teach us how to use Cargowise and customize it to our needs.

2.  SQL administrator lock down security.  Once Cargowise is installed, they lock down administrator functions and change the sa password.  This creates a problem when trying to administer the database.  You have to contact them for support even for the most mundane admin tasks.  

3.  The web interface is .net and extremely slow.  Every visitor must wait at least 30 to 60 seconds for the page to load the applet(s) on the first visit.  (Note: SaaS doesn't seem to have this problem, which means server specs probably has a lot to do it). If you can get by that, the response is fairly quick.  But data extraction in both the workstation application and the web site is also extremely slow.  There are a lot of tabs and each tab has a lot of information and drop down menus.  As the application is practically all data driven, every time you load a page, the SQL server queries all of the look up tables, drop down lists and record information for all of the tabs being displayed.  That's a lot of information to pull across the internet.  If we had hosted all on the same network, everything would respond quicker.

4.  This isn't really a problem, but it is annoying... They like to keep up with Microsoft's new updates.  We bought the software with Windows 2000 workstations and were told that the OS would work fine.  But the very next upgrade, we were told that we couldn't unless we had Windows XP installed, so we had to upgrade all our workstations.  We installed on SQL 2005.  Now, we're behind held off our 2nd upgrade because we don't have SQL 2008 installed.  This kind of requirement is just too much for the average office manager or freight forwarder to have to deal with.  Although there are many savvy users out there today, shouldn't freight forwarders be able to concentrate on freight forwarding?

Cargowise is an excellent application for freight forwarding.  We researched several packages and found that this one met our needs best.  The installation and support seem to work best if everything is housed on the same network and a web port opened to the server.  Hardware and software upgrading at the whim of Microsoft's upgrades can sometimes be a real pain.  The tech support is quick to respond to questions.  I am not addressing the functionality of Cargowise.  It works.  My intent was to discuss the technical aspects of Cargowise as I saw them during installation.  I will be writing other articles as issues arise during the use of Cargowise.  At the time of this writing, we've been using Cargowise for a little over 2 years.  

My next article will be about some of the issues of installing Cargowise in our weird configuration and how we have to deal with upgrades.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Monday, January 10, 2011 | Comments (0)

Clearwire Part 3

Posted at 6:25:28 PM in Vendors (35)

Before I returned the equipment I did one more test with the home-spot modem.  I brought it to the area that I got a good 4G signal on my laptop and used it for the DSL service through a router.  The modem got 5 full bars of service on a 4G connection, but the performance was dismal.  The person on terminal services kept getting disconnected.  My ping test showed 30% packet loss and radical latency.  I had to swap out the modem with the DSL which is at the 5 mile mark and barely able to provide service, but better than the Clearwire service.

Frequently in the literature and wiki's I've read, they call this a last-mile service and indeed it is.  They only reason anyone should have to suffer with this kind of performance is where there is no other options... no DSL or Cable service.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Comments (0)

Clearwire part 2

Posted at 12:34:23 AM in Vendors (35)

I have decided to return the equipment and cancel my account for Clearwire's internet service.  Primarily because they don't know their coverage and are selling it where you can't use it.

The second day I had the service, I discovered that they captured my internet activity and directed me toward their pages to agree to a contract (the term of which was most likely 2 years, but I was never told and the contract they wanted me to agree too didn't say either.  It covered all terms, from 24 hours to 2 years.)  One good thing I saw on the contract was a clause that said I had 14 days from activation to cancel the contract without early term penalties.  However, the last clause which really bothered me was a statement that I was authorizing them and any of their affiliates access to my phone number for any reason including sales calls even though I had listed my number with the national "do not call" list.

I could not tell if it was required in order to use their service.  I'm sure that listing my number with a do not call list does not prevent any commercial agency from calling to collect on valid debts or even to make other offerings available to me.  It bothers me that they would also list their affiliates which can be so broadly interpreted as to mean anyone except their competitors.

I had opportunity to see the real power of 4G with the laptop's USB from my office in another location.  I was able to obtain 12Mbps which is extremely good for a cellular network.  With that I knew I wasn't getting the 4G network at my home with the non-mobile modem.  When I brought the laptop home, it wouldn't even get a signal even though the non-mobile modem was getting a signal.  I certainly didn't get the 12Mbps that I got in the office, not anywhere close to it.  I watch Netflix on my WII almost every night.  The quality of the service was horrible.  The screen pixilated frequently and I would lose the signal and sometimes have to wait almost 5 minutes watching the streaming to get enough buffer to continue.

In my opinion, Clearwire has a long way to go to develop a mature product.  I understand Verizon is also deploying 4G.  Perhaps I'll test that and see how it works.  I guess the next test is to see how easily it will be to return Clearwire's product.

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | Comments (0)

Clearwire

Posted at 8:38:00 AM in Vendors (35)

I have been attending the computer fair for several months and walked past the booth for Clearwire (also known as Clear) and ignored them because I thought it was just a gimick to sell cellular internet access, which I didn't need.  Little did I know that they were also selling a fantastic alternative to DSL and Cable internet services for the home.  Also over the cellular network.  4G has arrived!

I finally discovered their offereings while installing a brand new laptop for a client and during the install, I kept getting a pop up message about WiMAX, which I googled.  WiMAX is a built-in cellular device that allows you to connect to the 4G network and get phenominal download speeds.  The fact that it's built into the laptop means you don't have any USB device to lose or get broken off at the neck.  It means, whereever you have your laptop, you have internet access... in theory.  The wikipedia page for WiMAX explains a lot about the service deployment and possibilities.  They specifically talk about Clearwire which I then went to look up.

Sure enough, Clearwire is the same company that I have seen at the computer fair under the name Clear.  You can check out their web site at www.clear.com.  They advertise download speeds of 6Mbps down and 1Mbps up which would be pretty good for home service and would be awesome for mobile service.  I didn't understand the home service at first.  I believed the service was associated with a mobile unit such as a USB or the new WiMAX devices installed in laptops, so why the home service?  They also advertise phone service, but the modem I received had a note that phone service would require an additional connector to allow the phone to be attached.  I get the impression from this that the phone service isn't quite ready yet.

I bought the bundled service with a home spot access service modem and a mobile USB device.  The equipment was free, but I was told it would normally have been available for purchase at 80 for the modem and 85 for the USB connector or I could get them on a lease option.  But free is better, I was told that no lease option would suddenly activate after a certain period of time that the equipment was mine to keep.  The service included one month free which was a $60 value and they broke that up over the first 2 months.  Total to activate the service and to get priority shipment was $32.00.  I got the hardware in 2 days delivered to my house.

The setup couldn't possiblity be easier.  The home-spot modem is a little larger than a standard router.  It has two ports, one for electricity and one for your ethernet connection.  On the front edge are 5 lights that when plugged in all light up with the center light flashing.  This continues for about 1 or 2 minutes then they all flash in sequence.  The service is ready when the lights become solid on with no flashing.  The 5 lights actually indicate the signal strength, 5 lights indicating full signal and fewer lights indicating less signal, just like your cell phone attenna signal strength indicator shows. 

The instructions suggest that you put the modem as close to a window or external wall as possible in order to improve signal strength.  I found it does make a difference.  Sitting next to the wall, I got 2 bars.  I got 3 bars when I moved it next to the window and the 4th bar would light quite frequently when I opened the window.  I don't know how true that actually is.

My first problem that I called tech support about was the password they supplied with the modem setup instructions wasn't working.  They provided CLEARWIRE123.  That didn't work and neither did the any other passwords that I would normally see with setting up a new modem.  I tried password, 12345, admin, blank and none of them worked.  I tried clear123, clearwire123, Clear123, Clearwire123 and several others before I got support on the phone.  The first thing they suggested was that I try password.  I thought that was funny, why would they help me guess at the password.  After they put me on hold they came back with the password motorola, which worked.  So much for documentation or even creating the interface like their instructions suggest that they did.

I was curious though about my call to tech support as there was a message that indicated there was a problem in my area and to hang up and call again later.  So, I asked what the problem in my area was.  The technician couldn't tell me.  However, since the password issue didn't keep me off the internet, I ran some speed tests and found the performance absolutely dismal.  I felt for sure the "problem with the service in my area" had something to do with it so, I explained why I was asking about that problem. 

I really doubted that any problem they would be working on would cause the problems I was seeing, but I wanted to hear what this issue was.  I used www.speedtest.net to test out my service and found my IP reported that I was in Florida.  Naturally, chosing any test location in Florida would make my test that much worse.  Sure enough, my latency was 311ms to 456ms.  When I picked a location closer in Califonia the latency dropped to 145ms which isn't good, but far better than the original test.  The download was 1.3Mbps and the upload was 70kbps.  That didn't change when I selected a site more local.  Web pages loaded very sluggishly, worse than any cellular data service I've ever used.

Which brings up the connection to tech support.  Our conversation was very scratchy also and often faded where she couldn't hear me.  That's an indication of VoIP and I wanted to ask the tech if they were using their own service to pass the voice communications over, if so, then that was probably a good idication of why I wasn't getting good service.

When I reported the horrid indications I was getting, the tech suggested I try speedtest.net, which I was already doing.  They finally told me that the problem was "on-going maintenance" and it should be repaired in 24 to 48 hours.  That of course tells me nothing, but I did note that the service was very poor and would I be able to return my equipment and cancel my plan.  The tech just laughed and told me that everything would be alright and not to worry.

Good tech support.  I'm willing to wait a few days to see if it will improve.  In my research and discussions with the sales and tech support people, it appears that the service runs over Sprint's network.  This is the only service I've ever used that showed that they covered the area I was in, but I didn't get coverage there.  There wasn't even a hint of service.  When I called they would tell me that they are planning deployment in that area but they couldn't give me a date.  After 6 months of that run around, I cancelled my account.  That was 15 years ago and it certainly seems that the same run around tactic is still being employeed today.

There is no way to tell if I'm even getting 4G service from within the modem's interface.  I asked the technician if there was a way to tell and they seemed totally confused as to what I was asking.  They looked up the address and told me I had 2 cell towers very close and that I am for sure using the 4G network. 

"Right, but these aren't 4G speeds, and not anywhere close to the advertized speeds.  What's the problem?" 

"Move  your modem closer to a window or open the window sir." 

"I've done that, I have 3 to 4 bars of signal strength." 

"Then you should be getting good service." 

"That's my point. I'm not. How can I tell what service I'm using?"

" I'm sure you're using the 4G network."

"Then why aren't I getting 4G speeds?" 

Long pause. 

"How long till this 'on-going maintenance' is completed?" 

"Within 24 to 48 hours sir."  "

And if it doesn't improve after that time, can I return my equipment and cancel my account?" 

<laughs> "Your service will be fine sir."

It's a good concept.  It just needs a little more help getting off the launch pad, like getting 4G service actually out where it can be used. 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Comments (0)

Telepacific

Posted at 11:11:14 PM in Vendors (35)

This is the first time I've ever seen a Telecommunications vendor ever come pick up their equipment.  I've been with Verizon, UUNET, Qwest to name just a few and have worked with many others and I've never seen any of them come pick up their equipment.  I have stacks of routers to prove it and most of my customers have units in the telephone closet that they don't know where it came from or what it's being used for indicating there's a huge graveyard of dead network appliances all over the country. 

However, today, Telepacific came to pick up a router from the client that I'm currently working for.  This particular router was installed 5 years ago and was never used in that 5 years.  I submitted a request for credit from them when I discovered the additional billing for a T1 we never used.  This is a story that needs a little background...

This client has been using Telepacific for about 10 years for internet T1 service.  We used a different vendor for our telephone services until about 5 years ago when we got a better deal from Telepacific.  There was an onsite computer tech who managed most of the installation and at the time I noticed there was 2 T1s for internet service which we didn't need.  I told the computer tech to get them to remove it and even called Telepacific myself and was told it would be taken care of.  We never plugged in that router and I assumed it was taken care of.  Three months ago, I was asked to look at the Telepacific bill and I discovered that we were paying for too many T1s and found they they never took the circuit off.  

Telepacific now owes us 35K credit, but I don't know if we're going to get it.  I realize they had to pay for the service (though it I don't know how much) and they have a contract that we signed.  I'm just hoping they will meet us half way.  The killer for me was that I never communicated my request in writing.

I cannot help but wonder why the sudden interest in picking up equipment?  Are they trying to recover costs?  Is the economy that bad?  Or was it an excuse for an employee to stop by and say hi to and old college buddy.

 

Written by Leonard Rogers on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | Comments (0)