Monday, January 09, 2012

Daddy needs a new pair of shoes

Not too long ago, I picked up a pair of Patagonia Loulu shoes at REI. I liked them so much, I bought another pair from REI and then a third pair from Zappos.

And then, after only a few months, I noticed that the heels were wearing out. Rather than fork over another $130 or so for a new pair, I went over to the Patagonia site to see whether I could get new soles for them. Yes, it turns out, I can, but..

I found a question/answer on the product page which said that the ONLY option I had was to send my shoes in to Mountain Soles in Oregon to be resoled. And for $80. Plus shipping ($10 or so each way). So that comes out to $100 or so to resole the shoes. And let's not forget the environmental impact - going this route means packing up my shoes and shipping them off to Oregon. And having them shipped back.

I thought I had missed something - Patagonia cares about the environment - the say so all over their web site. So I did what I do best - I contacted their customer service people.

First I tried via e-chat. The person on the other end of the chat said that Patagonia didn't sell soles directly (it was company policy), but that I could contact Mountain Soles to see if they did. Amusingly enough, the Mountain Soles site says:

Q: Is it possible to purchase just the soles so that I can resole my own shoes or have a local shoe repair shop resole them for me?

A: Unfortunately, our agreement with Patagonia Footwear does not allow us to sell soles to consumers.

Great - Patagonia says ask Mountain Soles, Mountain Soles said Patagonia said they can't do it. Awesome..

The e-chat didn't go much further, but the agent did promise to check on why they had this policy (the policy about not selling the soles, and not allowing Mountain Soles to sell the Soles, that is). And surprisingly enough, someone contacted me later that day. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything useful to add - it went something like this:

Blah blah blah we think mountain soles do great work and want to support their business.. blah blah blah We don't offer outsoles for sale, because repairs done by individual will inevitably have a large variance in quality and we cannot be liable for poor jobs at replacement blah blah blah

So I get it. You think I'm an idiot and would somehow blame you and demand my money back if you sold me soles and I took my shoes to the local cobbler (because I want to support his business) and he did a crappy job. And instead, you think it's somehow environmentally friendly to send my shoes off in a truck to Oregon and back.

Your loss really. I'm certainly not paying $100 to get my shoes repaired only to have them wear out in three months. And I'm pretty sure I'm not going to just got and spend another $130 or $140 on another pair, only to have them wear out in a few months.

So how about this. You go to your room and think about your policy and why it's wrong, and when you figure it out, send me an email and I'll think about buying another pair of your shoes. Deal? And in the mean time, I'll go see what Toms Shoes has going on. Blake Mycoskie has a better grasp on things.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mr. Moris Ezebo

From: "Mr. Moris Ezebo"
Date: 07/14/2011 07:01 AM
Subject: Business Relationship / investment

Minting & Printing
Our ref: Cbn/Ohg/Oxd1/11
Your ref: ..................
Telex: Cenbank.
Payment file: Cbn/Ben/11.

Attn: Beneficiary

I, Mr. Moris Ezebo The Minting & Printing manager in conjunction with Central Bank of Nigeria, I have decided to bring to your attention, that I personal have over-invoice of US$10Million from the total payment fund of US$100Million printed for the contractors owing by the Federal Government of Nigeria the over invoice amount
sum of US$10Million which I want you to claim it in your possession as a foreigner for our both personal investment due to a Nigerian beneficiary can not be allowed to have this over-invoiced because the contract was been executed by a foreigner . This beneficiaries in the recent schedule for payment of outstanding debts incurred by
the Federal Government Of Nigeria in the past and present year.

According to the payment files, the payment is categorized as contract type: inheritance/unpaid contract funds Payment file: Cbn/id1033/11. Payment amount: $10MILLION, I want you to stand for the assistance and collection of this over-invoice fund for investment purpose in overseas and we will share the funds 50% for you and the remaining 50% for me, and I will solicit an assistance for overseas
business where I will invest my own share as soon as I come over to meet with you when you have received it in your possession.

Therefore, i am writing this email to find out from you, if you will be partnership with me on this claim of these funds, Due to the importance of such payment, mistakes should be avoided. Also i need to urgently hear from you with the following information:

Your full name:
Your contact address:
Your direct telephone number(s):
Your Identification such as your driver's license, or International Passport

Yours Sincerely

Mr. Moris Ezebo
For The Management
Minting and Printing Department,
Central bank of Nigeria

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Mr. Amin Amal

Dear Beloved One.

I know that this message may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we have not yet met each other.I have to say that i have no intentions of causing you any pains so I decided to contact you through this medium,as the spirit of God told me to open this matter up to you for you to carry on this project as I will direct you. Please as you are reading this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is Mr. Amin Amal, a 57 years old merchant in Malaysia. suffering from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis I have only about a few months to live according to medical experts.

I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for any one not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe that if I have a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that I know my time is near, I have willed my wealth to various charity in the Malaysia and abroad. I decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the Malaysia, England and Ireland . Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself any more.

I am writing this from my laptop computer in my hospital bed where I am receiving palliative care waiting for my time to come. If you are interested to help me I will give you more information about this like the amount that I deposited in the bank and Contact of the bank so you can contact them.

Note that you will take 20% out of the funds and give 80% to the charity organizations. I pray so that you will support and assist me with good heart.

Remain blessed if you can help please respond back to me as soon as possible since i dont want to lose the money under the Bank.

Mr. Amin Amal

Monday, June 27, 2011

Business Proposal from Hiroshi Kobayashi

From Hiroshi Kobayashi
Name Japan Red Cross Medical Center (Sekijuji Iryo Center)
4-1-22 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku 150-0012.

Re: Business Proposal from Hiroshi Kobayashi


Thank you for your time to read my mail. My name is Mr. Hiroshi Kobayashi a businessman in the real estate industry from Japan. I bring to you, an interesting and a lucrative risk-free business offer that will be un-regrettably rewarding, hoping that you will take your time to appreciate the content of this message without prejudice having received it online.

As you may know, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster accompanied by 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 was rated the highest form of natural disaster in human history. This catastrophic environmental disaster has grossly affected the socio-economic lives of the residents in the area and of Japan in general, lowering investor confidence and grossly impairing economic activities in the region.

My businesses and estates were devastated during the crisis and the government of Japan in collaboration with the owners of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has finally agreed to redeem their promises of compensating all victims of the disaster.

My family of (7), My wife, my 5 children and me are one of the beneficiaries of the 124 Billion dollars nuclear disaster compensation funds and we will be entitled to the sum of 22-Million -$-(USD).

We are all currently hospitalized due to serious infections from radioactive materials in the disaster area. Our family has been approved for a payment of a total sum of 22-Million -$-(USD) in compensation for loses and collateral damages including health predicaments as a result of the nuclear crisis. Due to the situation in the country and the uncertainty that looms ahead, I have agreed with my family to secure the funds in an offshore account belonging to me (Details to be provided upon your response).

We need an individual who can receive the funds in home country; independently identify a profitable investment portfolio and subsequently invest and manage same funds in same portfolio in home country.

Please let me know if you have the capability of receiving and managing the sum of 22-Million -$-(USD) in your country. If you do, then request comprehensive details of the business proposal, official agreement, identity documents, photos and proof of funds. Decisions was reached for compensation and payment of compensation-funds is on the 22nd of June 2011 and we have received our payment on the 22nd of June as scheduled.

In response to this mail, please kindly provide me a brief profile of yourself including your CV and contact details. (Phone numbers and mobile) to enable me access your credibility to handle this transaction. We offer you 25% remuneration of the total funds for your assistance in receiving and facilitating investment and management of the funds in our family name.

Please kindly send your detailed response and profile to my financial consultant strictly at the email address: Attn: Mrs. Mary Stanford, Stanford Associates. Tel: +27-73-9668149 (You can also call the consultancy firm)

Upon your response, he shall provide you with a comprehensive information about this offer including all relevant details, identities, agreements, and photos, among others.

Please do not send response to me and do not reply this message to me but rather forward your response direct to him at:

In your response , please do kindly include your comprehensive contact details. Mobile phone number most importantly.

Thank you,

Hiroshi Kobayashia

For information regarding the situation please visit:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sears - the new overachievers?

Wow, was I wrong. The guy from Sears showed up at 10am, right in the middle of the scheduled window (tip: always get the first appointment in the morning, so there are "the technician is running behind because of problems at the appointment(s) before you" issues). He spent about 10 minutes diagnosing the problem (equal to the amount of time Google and I spent on it) and determined it was the compressor.

He then headed out to his truck, with me in tow to get the replacement part and the tools needed to replace it. Getting a peek inside the truck shed some light on things - like why it always took them 30 minutes to come back in and say "sorry, don't have it, need to order it" - the truck is a mess! Parts are all over the place. Two hours later, he was done, the refrigerator was fixed, and he was off to make someone else's weekend!

Awesome, thanks Sears. I can't say my faith has been completely renewed, but we're making progress.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

It's all about expectations

Tomorrow's the big day. Our refrigerator/freezer died last week and Sears is "coming to fix it." I can't blame the refrigerator, it was already nearly 7 years old. For real - it's not even 7 years old. From the start we had issues. First it was the ice maker, then the door, then who knows what.

The other day it started making a strange noise - in hindsight, it sounded like an electric motor that was trying to start but binding somehow. That sound was followed by a clicking sound and then silence. I called Sears and the CSR said "maybe it's the ice maker, can you check that".. Sure bud, when I get home tonight I'll check the ice maker.

It wasn't the ice maker - that was turned off. Another call to Sears, some more "maybe it's this, maybe it's that." Please, just send someone out. I have a super duper Master Protection Plan (when you read that outloud, you're supposed to use a big, booming voice - like Obewan would have said - "trust the Master Protection Plan Luke") and all.

Which brings us to today. I'm not the world's biggest Sears fan. I'm sure I can blame this on my parents - when we were growing up, Sears was the place to be. They had everything you could ever want (still do), and it lasted forever. These days, their appliances suck, with the exception of the Kenmore vacuum I bought there, which didn't suck even though it was supposed to and has since been replaced by a Miele which sucks spectacularly. And their customer service totally sucks, which is somehow ironic, given the lack of quality in their merchandise.

Right.. Tomorrow morning the guy from Sears is supposed to come to look at the refrigerator. I've been having nightmares about how this is going to go, playing out roughly the same scenario over and over (I've possibly mistakenly assumed the guy will show up):
8:00AM Sears man shows up
8:05AM Sears man looks at the refrigerator and says "I don't see anything wrong,"
I'm prepared for this - I recorded it (with my new[for me] iPhone 3GS) making it's stupid noise and not starting the compressor. I learned when the asshole washer repairman left without doing anything useful. Jerk.
8:08AM Sears man says "oh, looks like the compressor's shot. Let me check my truck to see if I have one.
I've been this route too. He goes out to his truck, smokes a cigarette or two, updates his facebook status, etc. Comes back in 30 minutes later.
8:38AM Sears man comes back in and says "nope, don't have the part, I'll order it, it'll get here in a couple of weeks. When it does, call and we can make another appointment to come and install it."
At this point, I'm kind of screwed.. I can call Sears and complain, tell them I have a Master Protection Agreement, etc. But as far as I can remember, they don't give a crap what I have.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

AT&Tease me..

After a recent trip to Austria where I couldn't use the smart part of my iPhone - not without paying a crapload of money to AT&T - $20/MB for roaming data, vs $30 for 1GB with a prepaid SIM, I decided it was time to get my phone unlocked. I thought that since I'd had it for 18 months and paid AT&T roughly $1500 ($250 for the phone and another $70/month for the minimum plan), so they would be willing to unlock it for me. This was the case with other phones I had had. But I thought wrong. Very wrong.

My first call to AT&T went exactly as I expected. I called and got Monique (her real name). I explained that I wanted to get the phone unlocked so I could use a prepaid SIM. She understood the problem, and when she realized I had an iPhone, directed me to Apple. I was certain she was wrong, but agreed to call Apple anyway. Monique thoughtfully gave me their number.

The Apple support person thankfully didn't laugh at me. Together we laughed at Monique, and the Apple lady explained to me that Apple has a contract with AT&T (hey, me too!) and they cannot legally unlock my phone. Worse, if I get it unlocked, they will not support me (as if telling me "nope, we can't do that" is some sort of 'support'). Blah blah blah...

Back I went to AT&T. Thankfully, the next person I got at AT&T was more competent - Apple cannot unlock my iPhone. But she went on to say that Apple makes the iPhone ONLY for AT&T and they can't be unlocked, ever.

I pointed out that numerous other cell providers around the world sell iPhones that aren't locked to AT&T, but she assured me that AT&T is the only one who can sell iPhones. I pointed out that there are numerous web sites detailing how to unlock an iPhone illegally, but she maintained that the phone could not be unlocked, ever. Deaf ears. At this point, I have to wonder if tech support training includes some sort of "defy logic" lessons.

Eventually I gave up, and just emailed AT&T support to express my dissatisfaction with their policy. I received a near-immediate response - thank you for your service, we value you as a customer, but we're not going to unlock your phone for you, blah blah blah. But wait, it got better. The support rep actually suggested that if I have a different phone, they would work with me to unlock that. Did I miss something? How does unlocking a different phone help me get data when roaming on my iPhone.. Right, it doesn't.

And that, my friends, is why my next smart phone will probably not be an iPhone from AT&T. I don't travel outside the country all that often, but when I do, I would really like to use my phone. If I want to "need" a second phone for travleing, why would I bother with a GSM phone to begin with...

Amusingly enough, I just read on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (it's so cute that they still go by "weblog") that an unlocked iPhone is available from Apple for $699 (sort of).

Labels: , , , ,