Isn’t that what you’re supposed to be fixing?

Metro Use A Rarity For Half Of Board |

[Ward One Councilman Jim] Graham said frequent night meetings make mass transit inconvenient.

Taking transit is not convenient for their jobs, [Metro board members who don’t actually use Metro] said.

So, what they’re saying here is, “We’re so grossly incompetent that we can’t even make Metro work for ourselves. Good luck to all you poor schlubs!” What kind of schedule do these people keep that Metro isn’t convenient? I don’t believe that they have Metro board meetings at 4AM on Sundays. Seriously, this is like the CEO of Bank of America keeping his life savings under his mattress because the branches are too inconvenient. Maybe the reason that Metro has a $29 million deficit is because it’s not serving the residents of the DC Metro area. And maybe the people responsible for fixing it could actually use it and see for themselves what the problems are. Instead, they’ll probably just raise fares again, making it less convenient for everyone. Next year we’ll have a $40 million deficit, and more people who don’t use it will make more bad decisions.

I can always tell when Wikimetro sends out a new batch of spam

Whenever I see the traffic to this page and this page quadruple, I know that Wikimetro has sent out another batch of spam to various bloggers, pitching their scam. If Wikimetro contacts you, ignore them. Or, better yet, file a complaint. I was thinking of complaining here, but never got around to it. I don’t think the FBI appreciates online scams very much.

It annoys the you-know-what out of me, too, Bud

Bud Selig is a dirty, dirty liar.

“I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it,” Selig told Newsday in a Monday phone interview. “That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I’m sensitive to the criticism. “The reason I’m so frustrated is, if you look at our whole body of work, I think we’ve come farther than anyone ever dreamed possible,” he said, adding, “I honestly don’t know how anyone could have done more than we’ve already done.”

“It’s like this morning,” he continued. “I pushed this old lady down some stairs. I suppose you’re going to blame me for that, too? How was I supposed to know about gravity?” It’s too bad that every statistic for every player between about 1990 and whenever they manage to institute a real drug policy will always have a cloud over it.

Please stop bunching the 16th Street bus, WMATA

I just missed the bus this morning. As usual, I was waiting for the interminable light to cross 16th at Harvard NW when the bus went by. Then another, and another. Three buses, bumper to bumper, and all gone by the time the light changed. So I waited. Not too long, six or seven minutes, but then three more came. From Harvard to Euclid there were 12 people on my bus, then 11 until we got to M. After I got off at H, I think there might have been one person left. No one got on while I was riding. There was another bus right in front of us that picked up all the passengers. And I got on the bus at about 7:20AM, not peak rush hour, but plenty of people are on their way to work at that time. It’s frustrating that, had the buses been spaced out just a little bit, I would have gotten one of the first bunch that went through. And WMATA would have saved some cash. Eleven fares probably don’t even cover costs on the bus.

Finally someone on the home team to cheer for

The Nationals signed Adam Dunn! I’m so excited that there will actually be a player on the home team that I want to see. Usually I go to games to see the visiting team, but this year will be different. I mean, I’m still mostly looking forward to finally seeing Albert Pujols and maybe getting tickets when the Orioles come to town. But watching Dunn will be pretty cool.

Let me raise the level of discourse here

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I don’t know about you, but LOLCats are one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t know why I still find them funny, but I do. I can stop any time, really. This one is particularly funny because of my irrational loathing for Wolf Blitzer. If you replaced Wolf with a cat, it might be the first time in recorded history that replacing anything with a cat resulted in a decrease in smug self-centered-ness.

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That’s not the way to win fans, Comcast

I posted the other day about the funny exchange I had with Comcast’s online help. In the middle of last night, someone (or, more likely, some script) posted a comment.

Thanks for sharing this post and I apologize for the experience. I will make sure that this is passed on the appropriate department for evaluation. Most importantly, we would like to have our customers have a good experience. I am also sorry to learn that you are deciding to cancel your cable service. If you are interested, I can reach out to my contacts and see if we can offer a lower-rate package including both services for you. If you are interested, please send me the phone number listed on your account so that I can assist further. Thanks again for sharing this post. Best Regards, Mark Casem Comcast Corp. National Customer Operations

First of all, it’s nice that Comcast is looking at what people say about them online. This makes good business sense. But that’s where the good decisions end. What mistakes did Comcast make? Let me list them for you. First, they clearly didn’t read the post. The comment responds to the general gist of the post, but not the details. That, coupled with the timestamp, suggests that this was not a person but an automated script. Engaging dissatisfied bloggers in conversation about how you can provide better service is great. Spamming blog comments with vague promises to fix things is not. If Mark Casem wants to personally sign the comment, then I want Mark Casem’s email address, not some generic help address. Sure, this means that Mark Casem is going to get a lot of junk mail, but there are always costs associated with doing business. Comcast’s IT department can get a better spam firewall. Second, they could have contacted me directly. Every blog has an “About” page. Mine is right here. It tells you how to contact me. Some people already have. A ten-second personal email would have been so much more effective than this. Third, if a package is available at a lower rate, why don’t you just give that to people? Sure, it costs you some money on people who would have never known about it. But don’t you think it might create some customer loyalty? When Verizon Fios comes to DC, if they’re offering a better deal, do you think people who have been overpaying Comcast are going to stick around? It is somewhat ironic that a complaint about how the customer service people are nearly indistinguishable from a well-designed IM bot gets a response from another customer service person who is indistinguishable from a computer program. Or maybe it’s not ironic but appropriate. In any event, it’s unhelpful. Too bad Comcast didn’t make a real effort to engage me. I would have happily spoken to a real person, and would have blogged about the good experience. I know I complain a lot, so I make an extra effort to also talk about the things that go right. But you missed your chance this time, Comcast. I’m not emailing your help desk. If a real person comes back here and talks to me about my problem, not about the problem that other customers who use the same keywords have, I’ll talk. Edit to add: As you can see in the comments, Mark Casem replied directly with his email address. I’ll be contacting him later today, and I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

Two new (to me) spots for coffee

We’re always looking for new places to stop for coffee during the kid’s morning nap – about two hours after she gets up in the morning, she’ll usually sleep for an hour and a half or two if you stick her in her stroller and walk her around for a while. This weekend, we tried two new places. Saturday morning we went to Locolat Cafe at 18th and Florida NW. I guess this is considered Adams Morgan, but I’m not entirely sure. We had brunch – the wife tried the savory waffles, which were great, and I had a turkey and cheese on croissant, which was also very good. The coffee was good, if expensive. And because they forgot to charge us for an item and had to run the credit card twice, they gave us a little chocolate-covered meringue. As an aside, it is almost always good business to give away something small when you’ve inconvenienced your customer. It was barely an inconvenience at all, but when the cashier (I believe she’s actually the manager and wife of the chef) says, in effect, “I messed up, let me make it up to you”, I will be back. Sunday, we went to Cafe 1612. We were planning to go to Love Cafe, but they don’t open until ten, and the kid needed her nap before that. 1612 was good, but it shares a building (but not any walls, apparently) with a gym. It’s a little strange to eat brunch while watching the girl fold towels at the counter. But the service was good, the food was good, and the coffee was not only good but reasonably priced. The music there was a little funny – it was an oldies station that didn’t really fit the decor of the place. We’ve now got quite a list of places to go and get coffee. Heller’s is probably my favorite because of their egg and cheese bagels, but it’s always nice to have variety.

OMG, Comcast, LOL

I just got my HTPC today, and we’re thinking about canceling our cable. With over-the-air HD, Hulu, and Netflix, I’m not sure we really need cable. I wanted to see how much our internet would cost if we dropped the cable. I figured Comcast would charge us more if we had only internet. So I went to their live support chat. user Jonathan_ has entered room (4:16 PM) Me: What would my high speed internet cost if I cancelled my cable TV? analyst Ferdinand has entered room Ferdinand: Hello Jonathan_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Ferdinand.38369. Please give me one moment to review your information. Ferdinand: Hello! How may I help you today? Me: If I cancel my cable tv, how much would my internet connection cost? Ferdinand: I understand that you want to know the cost of your internet service if you will cancel your cable service. Is that correct? Me: Yes Ferdinand: Please be informed that you have reached the Comcast Internet Technical support. I would be happy to transfer your chat to the appropriate department. Is that okay? Me: Sure Ferdinand: Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst analyst Ellise has entered room (4:18 PM) Ellise: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Let me go ahead and work on this for you. analyst Ferdinand has left room Ellise: By the way, how are you doing today? Me: I’m great, how are you? Ellise: I am glad to know that. Ellise: I am doing quite fine today. Ellise: Thank you for asking. Ellise: It is kind of you, Mr. Renaut. Ellise: Please stay online. Ellise: I will just review the previous chat transcript. Me: ok Ellise: Mr. Renaut, will you please verify what package you currently have? Me: I have digital cable plus high def and high speed internet Ellise: Is this a triple or a double play package? Me: no Ellise: Thank you very much for that information. Ellise: For security purposes may I verify the last 4 digits of your social security number please? Thank you. Me: XXXX, although I’m not sure why you need that just to tell me what my bill would be Ellise: For the security of your account, Mr. Renaut. Ellise: Just a moment, please. Ellise: Mr. Renaut, if you will cancel your cable service, you will save $80.45. Ellise: You have the option to call the local office for confirmation. Ellise: Would you like me to give you the information of our nearest local office to you? Me: I’m not canceling yet, I was just curious Me: nope, just wanted the price Me: thanks very much Ellise: You are most welcome. Ellise: I am glad I was able to assist you today. Ellise: I would appreciate if you will take time answering the online survey right after this chat session. This will help us know how to improve our services. Ellise: Thank you for contacting Comcast! We appreciate your business with us. Ellise: If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through live chat or e-mail (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Comcast also offers excellent FAQ and help forums located at to help you reach a resolution independently. Have a great day! Ellise: Analyst has closed chat and left the room (4:28 PM) Things to note:

  1. The whole thing took 12 minutes.
  2. I told Ferdinand my problem once before I arrived in the chat, once after, and then confirmed his restatement.
  3. I’m not convinced that either of the two CSRs could pass a Turing test.
  4. Who knew that everyday pleasantries would be so appreciated?
  5. There’s no chance Comcast doesn’t raise the price of our internet if we cancel the cable.
  6. The price difference she quoted me is digital cable plus the HDTV converter. According to Ellise, if we cancel our cable, we still pay 25 cents a month to rent our remote control.
  7. It is utterly absurd to charge 25 cents for the remote as a separate line item on my bill. Why not just build it into the price of the cable so I never see it?
  8. It was not me who chose which chat room I entered – I answered their questions to the best of my ability. If I’m in the wrong chat room, it is Comcast’s fault.
  9. The survey after the chat is worded in such a way that I can’t tell them how ridiculous they’re being without lying. I answered their questions honestly, and gave them the highest score on every question. But they never asked the really important questions. If your survey is constructed to get high scores, it’s not really helpful, is it?
  10. I really wish that, when she asked if it was a double or triple play, I had answered, “That’s what she said!”.
    In any event, I’m glad I contacted Comcast customer service. I haven’t laughed that hard since last night when we watched the episode of The Office that aired after the Super Bowl.

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GM is monumentally stupid

An article at Deadspin points out that GM gave Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes a car, but didn’t publicize it like they have in previous years.

Fact: Santonio Holmes made more than $2 million this season. Fact: The federal government just bailed out General Motors to the tune of $9.4 billion. So, why is GM giving Holmes an $85,000 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Platinum, which has been, in effect, purchased by the taxpayers?

A commentor mentions that this is even worse than not giving him the car. I had this thought, too. Seriously, I swear I thought of if before I saw the comment. I went and looked at the comment thread because I figured I wouldn’t be the only one. Surely in the past, GM figured that the relatively low cost of an Escalade compared with the promotional value of being on the field just after the Super Bowl was a worthwhile marketing effort. They were probably right. But now, they’ve still spent the money, but the only way that Escalade gets in the news is if Holmes gets arrested in it.