20 September 2006
Remind me to set up an autoresponder

Some people wind up in their dream jobs. I am not one of them. However, no matter how much I might be annoyed by what I have to do to earn my keep, and sometimes I wish they'd import a sackful of Iranian mullahs to work in there for a week — put the fear of God into them, it would — I am eternally grateful that I don't have to deal with jerks customer inquiries.

And maybe I can strike that <strike> tag:

it seems to me that the ability to be anonymous on the net has caused people to become much ruder. i work in customer service. most of my interaction is based via e-mail correspondence. people leave comments on our site when they like something, donít like something, or canít find something.

but instead of being specific about what they were doing or what they were trying to find, they say things like "you guys are idiots".

From there, it descends to "you suck," and farther.

what makes people think that this is okay? seriously? do they not think real people read these things? do they not care? how do they think this is going to help them get the answers they seek?

Mere answers won't give them the satisfaction they desire.

I didn't invent this technique, but I recommend it highly. Write back to the offender with the following piece of boilerplate:

Dear Sir or Madam:

I regret to inform you that you may have been a victim of identity theft. The following correspondence was received with your name attached:

[paste copy of offending email]

Identity theft is something we take very seriously today, and I wish you good luck in finding the dishonest, conniving asshole who sent that.

Sincerely, ...

Even if it doesn't work, you'll feel better.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:19 AM)
22 September 2006
Bumper mulch

A Roseburg, Oregon woman was injured when she crashed her 1971 riding mower into a parked van this week.

In addition to suffering a broken leg, Kirstina Burkhart was written up by police for careless driving and driving without insurance.

Two questions:

  1. You need insurance for a riding mower (okay, it was in the street at the time) in Oregon?
  2. How the heck do you get one of these contraptions to last thirty-five years?

(Via Fark.com.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:21 AM)
6 October 2006
This guy handles a mean pan

Seen on the street by Gail:

A well-known local vagrant, who looks very much like a marinated walnut, sitting on the pavement in front of Subway, where he traditionally hits people up for money, taking time out from begging to have a conversation on his cell phone about getting his hot water heater fixed.

Sounds like the troll who hangs around under the Belle Isle Bridge.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:55 PM)
21 November 2006
Jacking point

Notice: This is not the approved method for towing.

Well, maybe for a Volvo.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:01 PM)
7 December 2006
When you change lanes, the baby Jesus cries

I link to this purely for its amusement value, and there's plenty of it, what with the bald assertion that there have been "460,000 Additional Motor Vehicle Fatalities Since US Supreme Court Banned School Prayer in 1963." (There's even a graph, just in case you had any doubt.)

Then again, that's a side issue: what this fellow really wants is to get people who shouldn't be driving off the roads entirely. On the face of it, this isn't a bad idea, until you look at the people he thinks shouldn't be driving:

  • Anyone who's black;
  • Anyone who's female.

Jalopnik linked to this drivel because, they said:

We ... hope 100,000 sets of Jalopnik eyeballs blow the hell out of the bandwidth on his puny, $3.99 server.

And, well, the least I can do is to help.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:26 PM)
14 December 2006
Current trends in domestic violence

When you're eight years old, you can build a fort and put a "No Gurls Aloud" sign over the entrance.

This isn't quite so impressive when you're forty-four:

A 44-year-old Elkins [AR] man was arrested Monday in connection with domestic battery and installing a booby trap in his home which shocked a woman, according to a police report.

[O]fficers found electrical fencing, used to keep livestock pinned in, installed on a bedroom doorknob which shocked the woman as she attempted to enter the room. The fencing was about 110 volts which was hooked to the doorknob by a wire hanger. The woman wasn't seriously injured from the shock but she also had a lump on her forehead.

I'm assuming this isn't the guy who wrote this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:22 PM)
28 February 2007
Note to another department

Let me know when you can redo something that I messed up, okay?

Oh, you can't?

Why am I not surprised?

Addendum: And while we're at it, a note to a (let us hope) soon-to-be-ex-customer: How the hell do we know whether you used the "right" credit card or not? Do I look like the Amazing Fargin' Kreskin?

And to think people get exercised over Al Gore's electric bill.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:39 PM)
2 March 2007
Home of the Reek Squad

And some weasels, apparently:

Have you ever found a deal at Best Buy's website only to travel to the store and find that the "sale" is over? Did the Best Buy employee show you "proof" on their "website"? It now seems that there are really TWO websites, and they're identical except for the prices. Here's the deal:
  • You walk into a Best Buy to purchase a sale item you saw on their site.

  • The employee tells you that the item is no longer on sale, and shows you what looks to be Best Buy's website, but it's really a secret intranet that Best Buy's corporate office denies exists. The price on the website shows that the sale is over.

  • You cry and leave, then at home you see that the sale isn't over at all. What happened?

This happened:

In the wake of an investigation launched by the Connecticut Attorney General's office, Best Buy has finally admitted that the now-infamous "secret intranet" (used to mislead in-store customers about BestBuy's online prices) exists. The website looks identical to BestBuy.com ... except for the prices.

The secret website was first revealed by George Gombossy of the Hartford Courant (Way to go, George!). While investigating a tip from a reader, George was shown the internal website. It was identical to BestBuy.com, but showed a higher price for the item he was interested in. George was misled by Best Buy employees to believe it was the "real" BestBuy.com. Eventually he found some Best Buy employees who admitted to the site's existence and even showed him how it worked.

I asked a Circuit City staffer about this sort of thing, and was told that they don't have a setup like that, and what's more, sometimes their Web site has lower prices than the stores and "it really pisses off the managers."

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:37 PM)
18 March 2007
I know! We'll scare some domain owners!

Not one but two faxes came in this weekend from something styling itself "Domain Registry Support," demanding a reply within 24 hours. (Cleverly, they sent the faxes 24 hours and 9 minutes apart.) Rather than type in all that crap, I'll point you to Flyte's encounter with these guys from a couple years back. They weren't impressed either:

What this company is doing certainly isn't illegal ... just misleading. They see a company's new domain registration the way street hustlers see fresh-faced teens getting off the bus in Los Angeles ... fresh meat.

Once you've registered your domain (i.e., yourdomain.com,) you'll get an official looking fax from them titled: FINAL NOTICE OF DOMAIN EXTENSION. (Ah, if only it was the final notice.) They tell you that yourdomain.us "has now become available for registration. Consequently the possibility of conflicting domain name registrations may occur." (My emphases, not theirs.)

With phrases scattered throughout like: REGARDING: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY NOTIFICATION PROCESS and IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE UNITED STATES LEGAL CODE and "You are required to advice the notification processor of your intent to license this domain name ..." it's no wonder why it scares the bejeezuz out of many people.

This is not a business plan! This is a business scam!

There is no service being provided here. There's no value-added item. This is just flood insurance for the north pole. If you do want to tie up other versions of your domain, worry about .org, .net and .biz long before you worry about .us. I mean, who uses .us?

Well, I have a few .us sites on Ye Olde Blogroll, but I daresay I'm not particularly worried about squatters, and the .com domain here is registered through the spring of 2011. (And yes, my Whois information is public; all else being equal, I prefer to hide in plain sight.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:57 AM)
24 March 2007
So where's Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.?

Just received: Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, arguably the niftiest melding of Sarah Vaughan and Martha Reeves available on CD. If you actually buy the CD, though, be advised that an absurd amount of jewel-case (and disc-surface) real estate is taken up by a fatuous "FBI Warning," an attempt by the RIAA to appear badass. (As always with organizations of this size, they are at best half right.)

I suppose, though, it's a good thing it's the FBI and not the CIA; you let the Agency in on this sort of thing and one day, out of the blue, your iPod playlist shows up in The New York Times.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 AM)
6 April 2007
Because the times demand stinky fridges

Quote of the Week contender from Pete Guthier: "You let these idiot legislators start making one thing illegal because it's connected to something else, and the next thing you know, everything is illegal."

Like, for instance, sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda:

First, the state said you must make a special trip to the pharmacy counter to buy certain cold medicines. That was to curb production of methamphetamine.

Now, a St. Louis legislator wants you to do the same thing to buy an even more common household item — baking soda — because it's used to make crack cocaine.

Sales of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, are strictly regulated in Missouri. Customers must show a photo ID when they buy the medicine. Pharmacists must log the names and addresses of buyers, including how much they buy. People under 18 may not buy the medicines.

The sponsor of the baking soda bill, Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, D-St. Louis, said the same approach was needed for baking soda because crack cocaine is often produced by dissolving powdered cocaine in a mixture of water and baking soda.

Logically, a dihydrogen-monoxide ban should be next. There's already plenty of support for it.

(Via Bitter Bitch.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:38 AM)
11 April 2007

Someone texts Rita, and then some:

I just got this interesting text message "Think of me tonight" on my phone, with a photo attached ... of a young man wearing nothing but a strategically placed towel & a smile. Which made me crack up laughing because I have no idea who this young man is, except he's someone who obviously had the wrong number.

Another reason, I suppose, to hold on to my photo-unready phone for another few years.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
12 April 2007
At least they didn't charge extra

Best Buy is being sued by a San Gabriel Valley woman and her mother. It seems that the woman had ordered an in-home repair from Best Buy's Geek Squad unit; when the tech arrived, he was directed to the hardware, while the customer went off to take a shower. When she emerged from her ablutions, she found an unfamiliar cell phone in the bathroom, set to record video.

The woman's younger sister came up with the idea of swiping the chip from the phone. They took it to a retailer and had it installed in another phone, where they discovered the recording of the shower scene. According to the suit, the tech tried to get the chip back from her, offering discounted services as an incentive.

A couple of things bother me about this:

  1. Since when does anyone ever get any kind of service discount from Best Buy?

  2. I've been a small-g geek long enough to know that when you're working on something important, you don't get distracted by — wow, who's that?

(Via the Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
13 April 2007
Because Hooters was too, um, classy

The ever-annoying Joe Francis has announced plans to open a chain of "Girls Gone Wild" theme restaurants.

A word of advice if you're calling for reservations: don't order the crabs.

(Seen at Modestly Yours.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
And don't come back, now, y'heah?

Not that I have any particular reason to want to go to Renton, Washington, but if I had, it's gone now:

Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said those who criticized the [Sonics' new arena] plan because it does not provide assurances that the team will not pull up stakes ten years from now are underestimating the strength of the region.

"Why would anybody leave here and go to Oklahoma City? Have you ever been to Oklahoma City? I have," Prentice said.

No more lamb fries for you, darlin'.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:01 PM)
22 April 2007
Like hell you will

Any notion I might have had of upgrading my cell phone vanished the moment I read this:

The D. E. Shaw group, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Warner Music Group and prominent media and telephony angel investors have invested $7.7 million in Emotive Communications, Inc., a media technology and services provider that has developed a real-time interactive ringtone format for 3G, 4G and VoIP services.

Emotive's flagship product, the patent-pending "Push Ringer", reverses the common ringtone model. It enables a caller to push an outgoing ringtone to the receiving phone allowing the caller, not the called person, to set the tone. The chosen Ringer is transmitted to the recipient's handset and temporarily overrides the phone's pre-set ringer. The ringers can comprise audio, video, animations, avatars or flash files. Closing the loop, if the called person likes the ringtone, the service also enables him or her to instantly buy a copy of the ringtone for his or her own phone. Emotive's Push Ringer moves beyond traditional mobile personalization by both adding value to the ringtones users purchase for their own phones and providing content recommendation and impulse-purchase opportunities to the users' friends, family and coworkers.

And what's to stop some cheesy marketroid from sending out thousands of the damn things at once? The only thing worse than spam is spam you have to pay for, and air time ain't free, Bunkie.

I sincerely hope these people lose every last bit of their investment, and a few million besides, and that the next time they get ideas this stupid, they put their heads in the oven. It's a far cleaner place than where they are now.

(Via Engadget.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:37 AM)
6 June 2007
Hardware wants to be free, or something

If you're planning to swipe stuff from the Home Depot, you might consider visiting the Midwest City store, which recently fired four staffers for catching thieves:

A former Home Depot employee said the company fired he [sic] and three other workers because they helped police catch several suspected shoplifters in May. Midwest City police said the men helped officers catch suspected shoplifters as they tried to run from a store with lawn equipment.

An internal memo from Home Depot outlines that associates cannot accuse, detain, chase or call the police on any customer for shoplifting. However, one of the fired employees said the company is selective in enforcing that policy.

One has to assume that this is due to fear of litigation: the company presumably doesn't want to be sued by someone falsely accused. (Or, for that matter, by someone who i