How to best handle the nasty Verizon

blog verizon

Verizon: causing agony to their customers.

I have written in a previous blog about a problem I had with Verizon. Now I just had another. It drove me to shout an obscenity at their phone representative, which is something I almost never do. That is how angry she made me.

First I will say I have had a Verizon cell phone for over a decade, and now an iPhone. I must say I have never had a problem with either, and have had no reason to call their customer service number regarding my cellphone. Not so for my land lines.

Three months ago I ordered six land lines for my home business. I got a price I was very pleased with. They then asked if they could record my approval of the order, and I agreed. $296 was the estimated monthly charge with no installation fee. They sent me a nice easy-to-understand email confirming the price.  So far, so good.

I get the first month’s bill: $550. I call to protest and was told a supervisor would get back to me. No one calls. Meanwhile the second month’s bill arrives: same $550. I know from experience with the Public Utilities Commission that in the event of a dispute, send in what you feel you owe, with an explanation and evidence. I did. I sent the $594 which I knew I owed, and sent it by certified mail (I always recommend certified mail in instances like these). Verizon cashed the check, but no reply. Boom: ten days later the phones are shut off for non-payment.

Here’s where it gets nasty. The first person I get on the phone seemed immediately aggressive and, frankly, stupid. When I said I followed the directive of the PUC, she stopped me and told me I had to pay the balance until the PUC report was issued. I advised the poor soul there was no report to be issued, and that I only followed general recommended policy and filed no complaint that would generate a report. She then announced to me that she was not doing anything for me, despite my offer to send her by fax or email the price quote confirmation I had received two months earlier. She got nastier, I lost my cool, cursed her, and she hung up.

I call back. This time I get a guy who seemed like he was on the ball. He listened patiently, apologized, and said he would turn phones on within a half hour, which he did. He asked me to fax him my quote, which I did. Three hours later I received a full credit for the overcharge by email. This fellow cared, gave me the benefit of the doubt, and worked immediately to resolve the situation.

I said to him I thought he did a great job, and I explained how rotten the first person was. I told him I hoped he was a supervisor, and not just an employee, and that I hoped he was not getting paid the same as the first dumb-head person was. He said he was, laughed, and said something which actually made me feel bad for him. I won’t repeat it.

I have always felt that Verizon has a hiring quota of less than competent people for some reason, and that it seems half their employees fall into the category of the incompetents, and the other half, whom I call the “old-liners,' are competent and do care. I wonder how the two groups exist working in the same office?

My advice: next time, if you do not get someone who sounds bright and friendly, hang up, and call again hoping for better luck. You may wind up wasting your time and annoying yourself needlessly if you do not.

How does technology effect businesses?

blog ChangingTech

Changing Technology in Business

I read with interest the taxi strikes in European cities over the new company Uber. Uber recruits regular “Joes” who join and log onto their system, and when someone needs a ride, connects them with that person for a lot less than a cab would charge using a smartphone. It has been and is really catching on in the US, and now Europe. Indeed, when the drivers struck, Uber membership spiked 800% as a result of the publicity. Would you not use Uber and pay $10 for a ride that might normally cost $20 with a cab.

Sure, the drivers are upset. They have a comfortable trade regulated by their cities, limiting competition and fixing pricing in most cases. No one likes to have their careers upset, especially after they have worked their way to a comfort level. But this is a result of the natural progression of our economy, and the changes technology has brought. It is inevitable that new ways will be found to bring products and services to the consumer (all of us), and the apple cart will be upset for some people.

What about the bakery, butcher, florist and wine shop, all of whom have a new monster competitor in supermarkets? Or the stationer who closed because of one of the office supply giants, or the pharmacist who lost out to one of the chain pharmacies? Food stores and supermarkets see their sales plummet when a Walmart opens nearby. The big guys simply have enormous buying power, and the net result is millions of consumers see their dollars stretch farther, while thousands of merchants and small business people are tossed aside and then must reinvent themselves.

I have no answer for those negatively affected. One of the hardest things in life is to figure out what to do when your business has been made obsolete. But in the end, the progression of our economy towards more convenience and lower prices for the consumer can and should not be stopped, for the greater good for the masses is paramount in any society.

Great tips for getting organized

blog getorganized

Get organized!

It always amazes me how the lack of a simple system of organizing one’s bills creates big headaches later on. I have seen so many countless times friends tossing aside a traffic ticket, a collection letter, an IRS notice, leaving them for another day, and oftentimes never addressing them. I see their bills in a pile on their desks; who knows what could slip through the cracks? In today’s era of computers, nobody forgets anything, and when something is ignored, it always comes back to cause trouble. Discipline is required. All unfinished matters should be filed, and reviewed and handled.  Procrastination is a terrible habit, and it must be conquered, much like bad health habits and smoking, if you want a stress-free life.

Here is what I do. I keep a “bills” folder. Every bill I get from the first of the month on, goes in it. Rent or mortgage of course is first.  A traffic ticket is a bill, so is a tax debt, so are charitable contributions you intend to make. Credit card statements. Any legal notice or other correspondence you may receive. Anything that must be answered; obligations and legitimate inquiries.

Around the 27th of each month I take that folder out and make the checks out. I mail them when my fourth monthly income check comes in. They go first, before I spend on anything else. If you get into this habit you will never have harassing phone calls or nasty demand letters. Do it today.

Additionally, inside the folder I write down the birthdays of family or friends to whom I want to send a birthday card. I buy a dozen of them in January and have them on hand, along with a supply of stamps. When making my bills out, I scan that list, and send out the appropriate cards. Yes, some arrive a bit early, but at least it is out of the way without having to “remember” and then go shop for a single card.

And on the subject of remembering, it never ceases to amaze me how many people do not write down appointments or commitments, leaving them to their wonderful memories. I had a friend once who told me he would consider himself stupid if he had to reply on a recorded system. I think he was the stupid one, and his current state of financial despair proves me right. I buy a “month-at-a-glance” pocket folder every December (I know many of us use their hand held devices to do this, but I prefer the written form). Every time I make a date, vacation plans, meeting, or commitment to furnish or pay something by a certain date, in the book it goes. At a glance I can see my whole month ahead of me. I am often complimented because I never forget or miss anything.

Get organized, and you will see a reduction in your stress level, and will be a good citizen--one who does what he commits to and does not ignore anything for which he is responsible.

Court Decision regarding General Mills

blog GeneralMills

Court decision regarding General Mills--I agree!

A recent court decision was handed down. The case involved the General Mills company, best known for their cereals. Essentially, it said that if you enter their website, that you de facto agree that, in the event you have a claim against General Mills, you will bring it to arbitration, and your claim cannot be a part of a larger class action suit.

What it translates to is this: General Mills, and other large companies, are simply fed up with bastard greedy trial, lawyers trying to suck money out of the system on the backs of deep-pocketed companies and the general population. They gather a handful of opportunistic consumers with the promise of great riches, file nonsensical and frivolous lawsuits, choose venues where there are underclass jurors (the Bronx, NY is famous for this), and seek to so harass a big company that they settle to get rid of the bums and avoid any bad publicity. Then the bloodsuckers take 40% (for billable work that would bring in one tenth that amount), and divvy up the remainder amongst their cohorts. Mostly for baseless and stupid claims; they play the lottery. As you can see I am no fan of these bums.

Individual arbitration is the way to go. First, the trial lawyers cannot and do not get involved, because it is not profitable to go to an arbitration hearing, to maybe get 40% of $1,000. Arbitrations are usually chaired by lawyers, but the fair and good kind, who are not trial lawyers, who expect a fair compensation for their work, and harbor no prejudices. Fear a courtroom, but do not fear arbitration. It is you and the representative of the company your claim is against; no blustery lawyer or judge and court officers to face down. You state your claim in plain English--no court papers in fancy language. You get a decision in the mail and live with it; no appeal is possible in most cases.

So get used to arbitration. As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, all my credit card companies notified me that any disputes in the future must go to arbitration, not court. They want to reduce their legal fees and avoid the lawyers who seek to blow up cases into much more than they are, simply to rape the case of more and more money. Arbitration is the way to go. By expanding arbitration, lawyers, especially the bastard ones (I believe most lawyers are fair and decent, and suffer as a result of the abuses of the greedy trial lawyers) will see their work diminish and they opportunity to suck blood from the system vanish. That will be a great day for our country.

One unanswered question is venue. It would be similarly unfair if you have to bring your claim against a company in their home state. Case histories have found that a company must be prepared to answer a complaint in all fifty states if they advertise and sell their products in all fifty states. I believe that any arbitration case filed against a national company will never be thrown out of your local court. The venue issue is one addressed by the Justizz Legislative Agenda.

Tips for having a good credit score

blog goodcredit

The Importance of Good Credit

I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a good credit rating. A poor credit rating will result in high costs and embarrassing situations. Here are a few:

1-You go to open a bank account. They check your credit as most do. If your credit is poor, they may and probably will deny opening an account. They reason that you are more likely to overdraw and stick the bank. Do you want some junior officer sniveling when he gives you the bad news that you can’t go there?

2-You apply for a job. Most employers check credit these days. There is a movement in many states to ban this practice. I say they will not succeed. Bad credit? They reason you are irresponsible and will neither perform well on the job nor stay there a while.

3-Higher costs. You apply for a mortgage with a low credit score. If you get approved it will be at a higher rate, or even high because you will be shuffled to a secondary lender. Your lender will want a higher interest rate. What will it cost you? Say you have to pay 6% instead of 4% on a $200,000 mortgage. You will pay $333 a month more.

4-You can’t get a credit card. So you have to open a debit card account. You will be charged fees even though it is your money the bank is disbursing. Let’s face it: everyone takes advantage of a poor credit risk.

 Be smart. Guard your credit as you would your health and safety. Organize yourself to pay your debts on time every month. Read and immediately act on any calls or letters demanding payment from you. Reply by certified mail if the debt is not yours. Check your credit report regularly to make sure no incorrect data has snuck onto your report. Remember the two important rules: act quickly when advised of a potential problem, and do not be afraid to confront it by writing or calling the aggressor against you. Don’t let the system cost you more money than necessary.

The Justizz site has a facility for checking your credit report and correcting any errors that may drag your score down.

Getting your Insurance Claim Paid--Persistence!

blog insuranceclaim

Getting Your Insurance Claim Paid

Before I start hitting the insurance companies between the eyes, let me say that there are many bloodsuckers out there that look to file false and overreaching claims, hoping to strike it rich at the expense of the wealthy insurance companies. I do not like those who do not play by the rules. I can understand the stance of the insurance companies when it comes to paying out claims because of these people. However, in the end, they are mostly greedy bastards who would play games and screw you around hoping you will just go away when you have a legitimate claim.

Here’s my story. A few years ago I bought a classic car and contracted with an insured trucker to bring it back east. The insurer was the notorious Lloyds of London, which has this romantic ring to its name, but indeed one of the most notorious in avoiding the payment of legitimate claims. The car rolled off the truck and smashed terribly, having banged back and forth during the trip and then broke loose from its ties. It was actually beyond repair and became a parts car--scrap!

I filed a claim and no adjuster ever came. He just took some information on the phone. A letter arrived a few days later denying responsibility, because of a clause in Lloyd’s policy with the trucker denying responsibility for “improper packing."  First, any exceptions should have been noted in the certificate of insurance I was given before I hired the trucker, so I could have found someone else. But that language, while it did exist in the “fine print," refers to packing an item in a box improperly. Cars do not get packed; they get loaded and tied. In fact, in larger print earlier in the policy, it said that the trucker was insured for any events related to the loading and securing of cars in his truck. How blatant was their attempted deception.

I sued them in court. They bounce it around for 3 years. They first get the (dumb) judge to order me to first get a judgment against the trucker, who had then gone out of business, and when I contacted him, he helped me enormously. Then another (dumb) judge moved the case to Florida from New York, based on the location of the trucker, even though the policy clearly stated the venue for any court action was New York City, where I filed. The stupidity of many lower court judges is astounding, and they seem to make their decisions by flipping a coin. The higher courts have much better jurists. But always be ready for an idiot in court.

But I stuck with it, never faltering. I did all the legal work myself, and I know most people would be afraid to do that. But these bastards know the average Joe will be overwhelmed with legal fees, give up, and settle a legitimate claim for pennies on the dollar. It is best for most people to search for a contingency fee attorney, who will not try to rob a good part of the proceeds. But, please, stick with it and keep up the battle.

In the end, the move to Florida was beneficial. That state has much stronger laws protecting the consumer from unscrupulous insurers. I found a contingency attorney there, who assured me he would collect legal fees and settle the matter quickly (thanks to strong Florida laws in such cases). He did. It was settled a few weeks later, the attorney’s fees awarded almost equaled the contingency fee, and I got my damages plus interest from the date I filed 3 years earlier.

It is sad such abuses are not addresses by all states as Florida has done (no wonder so many people move to that state--it has so much going for it). So my advice is, don’t let the bastards get you down. If you have a legitimate claim, you will almost certainly prevail in the end if you can ignore the inconvenience that rotten insurance companies, like Lloyds of London, specialize in.

The Justizz site intends to provide a list of attorneys who will take contingency cases for a reasonable fee, which should be 20% of the proceeds.