Wait. You mean… I… I won?

Lacking any other choices than evil Comcast and slightly-less-evil AT&T for Internet service at our apartment we signed up with AT&T. Having cell phones with more minutes than we can possibly use we had no interest in getting land-line phone service. When you look at prices online the DSL prices AT&T offers are cheaper if you bundle it with phone service, but the overall price is always higher. So, when we moved in we signed up for just Internet service.

Our most recent bill has some fine print labeled “Important Information” that informs us that beginning this month our bill would be increasing by $3 a month. I was annoyed with this and called to complain, see if they would leave it at our existing rate, and if necessary downgrade our service to a lower price point (we’re already paying ridiculous amounts for the service we get when compared with the fiber service I had in Utah which was both cheaper and incredibly faster). So it was the principle of the thing.

After fighting my way through their obnoxious voice-only prompts (I would much rather push buttons than try to “explain in a few words why [I’m] calling today”), and waiting on hold for 10 minutes, I got a live person who had no idea what I was talking about. They had never heard of this price increase and apparently couldn’t see anything about my account that says it was happening. So he conferred with someone else who had no idea what I was talking about. Then they discovered that I had originally ordered my service through the AT&T website, which is apparently an entirely different department. So he tried to transfer me to someone else, and I was greeted with, “We’re sorry, this number is not in service…” Awesome AT&T, way to transfer me to a non-existent phone number.

So I called back (voice prompts, + 10 minutes on hold) and got someone else. Who also had no idea what I was talking about at first, but pulled up by bill and read the text. Then she suddenly knew what I was talking about, but said she didn’t think it applied to my account. So she put me on hold. After a few minutes she came back and said she could offer me the same DSL service plus local phone service for $5 cheaper than our current monthly amount! The magic of AT&T’s system. I asked, if this was the case, why did they bother selling DSL without phone service? Her answer was to claim that some people just really didn’t want phone service. This is despite the fact that I can’t find any such deal like this on the website, but I’m not going to mention that to her.

So, she gives me the exact price quote. To be absolutely clear on the matter, I ask directly, “Is this an introductory offer?” – “No.” “Is there an activation fee?” – “No.” “Will I have the same DSL speeds I have now, 6.0 Mbps down, 768 Kbps up? – “Yes.”

Ok, well, why wouldn’t I do this? We might not even bother hooking up a phone. But somehow we can get the same DSL service plus local phone service for cheaper than the DSL service alone. And there’s still no contract.

As odd as the notion seems to me, I’m pretty sure I actually won that phone call. We’ll see if it actually pans out the way it was sold to me. But if there’s any trouble I made sure to get the CSR’s name, so I’ll know who to blame.

[Update]

No, of course I didn’t win.  The answers I was given were outright lies.  There was an activation fee that I had to call and get reversed.  And it was an introductory offer and after 6 months my bill went through the roof.  Filthy lying useless company.

Award for misleading campaign slogans…

Pacific Gas & Electric is running a massive media campaign about Proposition 16. They’ve created a as-legally-masked-as-possible website entitled “Taxpayers Right to Vote”.

The premise of the propaganda website is

Help protect your right to vote. Right now local governments in California can spend public money or incur public debt to take over private electric businesses without letting local voters have the final say in the decision. In tough economic times like these, voters deserve the right to have the final say about how our money is spent

Sounds pretty dire, but then you realize that the proposition is entirely PG&E’s idea and you immediately have to find out what their motive is. PG&E have publicly stated that they plan to spend $25-$35 million on the campaign. So you know it’s gotta be good for them and bad for us lowly consumers and citizens. From my research it appears that, currently, municipal/county governments can play some political games to combine their buying power on energy contracts and explore energy options as a “Community Choice Aggregation Program.”

The CCA program, established in 2002, allows local governments to purchase blocks of power to sell to residents, and to construct municipal electricity generation facilities, which means that cities and counties can become competitors to private utilities. (Ballotpedia.org)

PG&E apparently doesn’t like this arrangement as it means that the local governments might be able to find ways of competing with PG&E’s monopoly on energy production and distribution. So they’re dressing it up in this “Taxpayers Right to Vote” nonsense and trying to scare people into voting for their proposition which would force 2/3 majority votes for local governments to enter in to CCA agreements.

I don’t even need to understand the situation to know that if PG&E is willing to spend $35 million to get this proposition to pass that it probably isn’t going to be good for me and my electric bill.

Paid in Full

With part of our tax return we decided it would be a good idea to pay-off the remaining balance on my car. So we did, and the title / lien-release arrived this week. Now I just have to deal with the DMV to find out how to get a title issued in my name and what mess needs to happen to have mom’s name removed. Then we can finally get all of our insurance needs on a single policy! (Currently there’s one policy with my name and Jess’ name; and there’s a separate policy with my name and my mom’s name.)

We’re excited that there is one less bill to pay and, when the insurance policies get consolidated those two bills will turn in to one. With that bill done we can focus on getting student loans paid down and putting a little more into savings every month.

First Photo Competition

This week’s camera club competition category was “pictorial” which they use to mean “anything you want”. Generally it’s a good time to submit photos that don’t really fall into the other categories (journalism, nature, travel, and creative). I submitted two of my pictures. Club members are placed into categories based on experience and skill (beginner, intermediate, advanced, and master). Out of 11 entries in the pictorial, projected images, basic my picture of the figurine placed 4th. Not too bad for a first-time entry.
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