Thursday, October 29, 2009

My letter to AT&T. Will be mailed tomorrow

Jason T. Viglione

October 29, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I am generally the last to pen a letter of this nature, especially towards a company I so often laud as being the best in its field. However, the nature of my correspondence and the results received need to be addressed.

I understand entirely that you, the reader, are neither familiar with me nor my account so let me fill in the details before I proceed with the issue at hand. I am a long time customer of roughly 10 years. My account will not indicate such a timeframe as I am active duty military and had an interruption in service due to a government move out of your coverage area. I assure you I returned as quickly as my geographical location allowed me. I currently hold 3 lines on a family plan. Two of these lines are iPhones with the corresponding data feature. An unlimited text-messaging plan is also in place. My history with the company is laden with upgrades and new purchases. I had one of the first iPhones available in South Carolina upon launch in 2007 and again in 2008. I upgraded yet again in 2009 although delayed slightly only because I was again out of the country on military orders. I’m a member of your premium customer service because of my government affiliation.

I recently heard about the addition of your A-List feature and tonight had the opportunity to enable it on my account. To my dismay it was unavailable. I called only to be told that with my rate plan of 700 minutes, I’m not entitled to it. It requires 1400 minutes or more. My initial thought was that with 1400 minutes, I wouldn’t need free minutes to 10 out of network numbers. More importantly, I don’t understand the purpose of having minutes be qualifiers. Is it financial? I assure you that my combination of features that result in $177/monthly is more than a single non-smartphone user with 1400 minutes.

I am a native of the New York metropolitan area and I’m currently serving on Air Force active duty. I was stationed in South Carolina and now Mississippi. As any compassionate human can imagine, my phone is my lifeline to friends and family whom I’ve left behind to serve our country. AT&T has always proudly supported the military as evidenced by the normally outstanding care and well-discounted offerings that are sent our way.

It is in this instance that I look at AT&T differently. If a heavy user, long-term loyalist, dedicated American serviceman doesn’t deserve a widely disseminated, overly advertised promotion, then I cannot imagine who does and frankly, leaving the decision to qualifying standards of a rate plan solely is a disservice to your customers and your customer support reputation.

To that end, when initially surprised at this news I asked the support representative, “What is the reasoning for the rate plan qualification?” to which I received, not an answer, not an explanation but a verbatim repeat of the previous answer. My question did not imply I misheard the answer, but rather further depth to that same answer. Repetition is not further information.

I hung up disheartened and amazed and half wondering if it was, in fact, AT&T that I had just spoken with, as none of the previous moments indicated that to be the case given my track record of complete satisfaction. Sadly, I looked at the 2 iPhones in my home and wondered if the love triangle between the phones, your service and my happiness was had passed its prime.

I suppose the remainder of the contract and the satisfaction contained therein will be my qualifying standard, which I believe to be much more comprehensive than a somewhat arbitrary number.

My account number and wireless telephone number are listed at the top of this correspondence should you choose to rectify this situation.


Jason T. Viglione

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined... yet family friendly

Hooters has always been known by that slogan. Moreover, they are famous for their wings... and breasts. Busty women in short shorts and well known tank tops bring beer and wings to ogling men. Not in Biloxi, MS apparently.

A couple of weeks ago during the MLB ALCS I was there - during the now infamous conversation with my least favorite Yankees hater that I posted about before. During that argument I had that manager come over and ask us to quiet down and watch the language because there were children around.

First things first, why are children frequenting Hooters EVER let alone on a weekend night during baseball playoffs when the bar is packed with beer chugging sports nuts? Secondly, why are they a priority over a group of male adults enjoying Hooters for its very specifically tailored features?

That incident notwithstanding, I like the place. The wings are good, the beer is cheap and women are... Hooters qualified women. So, I went back tonight to watch the baseball game. The game turned out to be a disaster but at least I was poised to enjoy a decent evening out and social and laden with lager.

We arrived shortly before the game was to be aired on FOX. Naturally I asked my server's breasts to change the channel to FOX. I'm assuming she had a head and face, but I hadn't looked far enough north to be sure.

Moments later, the on duty manager came by and said she'd be more than happy to change the channel to FOX in a few moments after family guy was over. At first thought, I figured it had to be because, as a sports bar, they weren't going to show sitcoms. Maybe it was because the musicin the place would make watching Family Guy senseless if muted (as if Family Guy is ever NOT senseless in the first place). Of course, I was applying logic and reason to the scenario.

The truth of the matter, as evidenced by the latter half of her sentence, was that they had to wait because they are not allowed to show family guy due to its inappropriate content. Let me get this straight. Your slogan calls you tacky AND unrefined. You stake your claim in the restaurant industry as the premier purveyor of hot women who amplify their tips by hanging their asses out of the bottoms of their shorts and their breasts out of the tops of their shirts. Yet Family Guy is over the line?

Had they said that they are an American institution and they don't support Seth McFarlane or his pro-socialist, commie, pinko views, I'd have motorboated every self-esteem challenged waitress in appreciation. Sadly for me, from a variety of standpoints, this was not the case. They're just too wholesome for the crude humor of family guy.


English Professors at the Hair Salon

I missed my chance to get a haircut on base today so I went to a legitimate hair salon at the mall for a trim. I usually avoid these places because I get a typical military clipper cut and don't need to hang with stylists and pay their prices but I was due and out of time so I went. I was reminded why I usually don't.

Background info: They are running a promotion where if you spend $x.xx, you get a crappy little water bottle. But it's free so the customers want it. While I'm in the chair, a woman pays the required $25 on hair care products to get her water bottle when a dispute amongst the rocket scientists of style ensues. Is it A $25 product or a combination of products that add up to $25? Well the sign reads, "Receive a water bottle with a $25 product purchase." I'm in the chair mid-way through a haircut (the only thing that prevented me from walking out) while they argue and proceed to call the store manager at home to find out the appropriate rules of engagement for giving away a fifty-cent water bottle.

The discrepancy revolved around 2 key factors:
1) it said "product" instead of "products" so that MUST mean the customer had to reach $25 on a single product
2) there aren't any individual products worth $25

Should have been an open and shut case that a total of $25 would work since you cannot spend $25 on one item, right? I should be so lucky. That conspicuously missing "S" was the fly in the proverbial ointment.

It never occurred to any of them that it could have been a typo (which it wasn't). I sat fuming, quietly in my chair, knowing Linda was a few feet behind me waiting to hear me explode at any moment.

Think about it... it's not product vs. products as far as how many items you need to buy. It was a $25 product purchase vs a $25 service purchase. And there's the rub... every single service provider in the place got involved in this, having to stop providing their respective service just to argue and forget this little caveat in the English language.

"There's no S. It means a single product"
"We don't have any products that are that price so it's a total."

I'm just seconds away from saying:
"Has the hair dye fried your already overburdened brains? It's a product purchase not a service purchase. It doesn't matter how many products they buy as long as their money is spent on products. A $25 haircut and/or dye job doesn't count. Did you forget you're here to provide a service as well? Clearly because only half my head has been shaved. Cut my hair and give this poor woman a lousy water bottle so I can get the hell out of here."

It wasn't their thirst for knowledge, debate and good customer service that annoyed me. It was the ebonically-charged adamant positions on which they all stood as if they were all grammatically infallible."

That was the first poor retail-service decision of the evening. The next to follow soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October... a time to argue

I went out tonight to watch the Yankee game with some friends. Well, with a friend and his friend who, as it turns out, is a big, wet, flapping douchebag. As soon as we got there, I asked the waitress what channel the game was on and she hooked me up by changing the channel on the nearest TV. I was psyched to check it out. This prick asks me, "Dude, you're a Yankees fan?" When I said yes, he said, "I fuckin' hate the Yankees." Here we go. I asked why and he proceeded to tell me the same thing I've heard a million times. The Yankees buy championships. Steinbrenner steals the best players. They're overpaid. They need a salary cap. And on down the line he went with the same Anti-Yankees rhetoric we've all heard a million times.

I told him I agreed that maybe there should be a cap but there's not. It's not Steinbrenner's fault. Talk to the MLB about that shit. Is ANY franchise in business to lose? If you had limitless funds, would you buy players that are bad? Would you plan to lose? No! If you won the lottery at $200 million, would you buy a Hyundai? Of course not. The point is that you have to pay to play. You're in it to win it. Gotta spend money to make money. And I repeated every financial based cliché I could think of. He didn't get it.

He's a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I said, "Ok. Why did the Steelers buy Ben Roethlisberger?" Because he's good, because he could win and they pay for that luxury. Let's stay on football and their salary cap for a minute. Last year the Jets wanted Bret Favre. Why? Because he's a winner. So, they let go of Chad Pennington. Salary cap, right? Even so, Favre went where the money was because that's what it's about. Not loyalty to the Packers. Pennington went to the Dolphins. This year he's hurt and Chad Henne is filling in for him and he's having a good time. He's playing like a madman. Is he going to be worth money next year? Will he go where the money is? Yes and yes. It's all about the money.

You want to complain about the Yankees, then talk to the MLB and the MLBPA and get a salary cap put in. In the meantime, however, don't come bitching to me that the league allows limitless spending, the ball club can afford it, the players go for it and we, as fans, shell out our hard earned money for tickets to pay it. Who's to blame here? If a bar charges $20 a beer and you pay it, will they stop? No, of course not. If nobody comes back, you're putting the bar to a decision for all their chips. Do they go all in and keep the prices and risk going out of business or do they lower their prices? We pay stadium prices to fund these salaries. Steinbrenner has the best market in the country (New York) and he uses that to up prices (which get paid) to buy the best players to win. He's not buying championships. He's buying the talent to bring in the championships. Find me an owner of any business in any industry who says, "I buy the most worthless pieces of shit just so I can lose my customers and go out of business" and I'll delete this blog and kiss this douche on the lips. Until then, understand that the business of business is business.

A 4th in the crowd arrived late and asked me if sports are a business or entertainment. I just said, "to who?" because that matters. Frame of reference brother. To me, the spectator, it's entertainment. To the guy with billions of his own money invested in it, it's a business. To the players, maybe, hopefully, it's a little of both. To use a philosophy from the movie Joe Dirt, when UNICEF gets into this business maybe it will be different, but it's not a charity.

Well this wasn't really as much an argument as much as it was him spraying me with stupidity for a couple of minutes and then me firing back with sensible business backed ideas, clear lucid arguments, and simply supply-demand economics.

His final retort was, "I'm not good with numbers and my head hurts. I want to kill you right now because you made my brain hurt. I'm done with this conversation. Are you done? Let me know if you're done or not because I'm not sitting here if we're going to continue to talk about this."

I simply said, "I don't like ultimatums so if I have to sit here quietly during the playoffs of my favorite team just to not upset you and out of fear that you'll take your proverbial ball and go home then I'll make you a deal... I'll just say that I'm going to talk about it nonstop so you can go home and we won't have to walk on eggshells the rest of the night. It's the 5th inning and I've seen a single pitch. Yes I'm gonna talk about it. Cut your losses and go."

And he left.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Customer Dis-service

Now that my blogs here are syncing with Facebook, I may actually increase my readership so I'll try to blog more. To be perfectly honest, I fell in a rut and forgot all about the damn thing until I saw the sync feature the other day. Whatever, it's no excuse, I know. And that's not even why we're here.

Here's the story. Last night I went into Academy Sports (just like a Sports Authority for those of you that don't have one in your part of the country). I was there to get some ammo for one or all of my handguns. I heard they're fairly well stocked with decent prices. In today's economy, under today's administration, you often can't find ammo and when you do... it comes at a premium. So we went to look.

Keep in mind, this is the first time I'm in this store. I walk in with 2 buddies and we have NO idea where the ammo is so we're confusedly scanning the hovering signs, randomly pointing the directions of what we believe to our intended direction. All the while there are about 5 employees just to our left, in their own conversation. No welcome, nothing about helping us find our way. I don't think they saw us. So we wander around the perimeter of the store.

And lo and behold, the ammo section! Here is where the event took place that nearly had me banned for life. If I was the man I was 5 years ago, I'd have been arrested. 3 years ago banned. Now... I just walked away and took the hit internally in blood pressure points.

Here's what happened (or didn't happen). I ask the guys at the counter "Hey, do you have any .45acp ammo?" - no response. My buddy Eric asks the same thing to the other guy behind the counter - no response. I ask the 2nd guy myself by leaning into the counter and very carefully saying, "Dooo YOUUUU have AAAAny FOOOOOrty-FIVE ammo?" and this time I got a response. He looks up and says, "NO!" as if that was the 43rd time I'd asked him that question. I immediately lost my mind and had to get out of there. Walking away the first guy goes, "Just .45 Long Colt." and I stopped in my tracks and then said, as I started walking away again, "Oh, he DID hear me. Just took him 6 minutes to process the question and figure out an answer."

There were other calibers I needed but not from this piece of shit - not from either of them. So I told my buddy Eric that I would be walking around the store because I didn't want to have to choke someone in the ammo department and my other friend Rusty (who may get angrier than me) came with me. I was so tempted to say something to a manager but when I got to the front I saw the same 5 still standing there doing their best mannequin impressions that I realized it just wasn't worth it. We found Eric and left.

Alright boys and girls, it's philosophy time now that you have the story. What in the world is going on? You work in the gun section of a sports shop. This is not McDonald's, you're not plunging toilets in a high school. There's a good fuckin chance, you took that job because you have an interest in it. 3 men come up looking to spend money and you can't even muster up the energy to say yes or no. That is the kind of "I don't want to work for it, I want it handed to me" attitude I expect from the liberals. But we're in the south in a sports/hunting store. It wasn't like they were busy. There was nobody else in the area. One guy was polishing a gun and the other was deep in some kind of profound thought - maybe which flavor of chewing to tobacco to use tonight, I don't know.

I think pay should be merit based, just like a commission. You don't have to make the sale but you have to sell yourself. You have to service the customer with information, friendliness, courtesy, and at the very least, the ability to turn grunts into real words. Everyone gets a little taxi cab type meter. When they succeed, the numbers go up, when they fail, the numbers go down. You control how much you earn (within your set rate, anyway).

You're not motivated inherently by the responsibilities of your job so maybe the ability to keep the lights on at home will do the trick. Lose enough money and you'll forced to be nice. I don't care if you mean it, honestly. I just won't be treated like I'm a jerk by a complete stranger that works at Academy Sports as a career for his entire life. I'm better than that.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Petty Friend Request Behavior

A couple of days ago I received a friend request on Facebook. It was from a female I barely knew about 6 years ago. We were stationed together the last time I was here at Keesler AFB. I deliberated very briefly when I realized... a) we weren't friends 6 years ago, b) we haven't even spoken in 6 years... she's neither friend nor foe. I looked at her photos and found lots of drunken ridiculousness and what even appeared to be her kissing another female (VERY graphically). Now I said to myself... we have very little in common. How old is this person anyway? 24! Hmmm... what is the felt effect of being friends with her? I get to see drunk stories, I get to re-live being 24 all through the eyes of a perfect stranger. Nah, I'm going to pass. Now, while there are 200 people on my friends list that I've never met, they are other "Vigliones" from around the world. We have something in common, if nothing other than our names. I don't share that much of a common bond with this individual. So I clicked ignore.

This morning I received an email from her asking why I denied her. I was a little perturbed at the gall on this individual. I wanted to leave it be and not even reply but I just couldn't. It was 5am, it was dark, it was raining, it was cold, I was in my blues uniform and on the way to work. My mood would not allow this to go unnoticed. So I sent a bit of a wordy reply mentioned all that I mentioned to you above and maybe 1 or 2 other items to the tune of the fact that I'm in a committed relationship and striking up new friendships with complete female strangers, especially those known to be without good moral character, is not the way I operate. Basically, the outcome of a FB friendship with this person is not positive for me. I wouldn't say it's altogether negative. It's a non-entity so why bother. It's like eating white bread. You do it when there's nothing else around but it provides no flavor, no substance. Just filler when you've got nothing else in the house.

Well, Ms. White Bread replied very quickly with a nasty note about all the reasons why she's better than me and why my response wasn't legitimate or sensible. Then she signed off with a self-detrimental point of argument. She said that it didn't matter that I'm not single because she'd never sleep with me and tied up the line with "and I'm not picky." Well then... ok. Clearly sleeping with her was never on my mind since I didn't even want to be FB friends and moreover... she's not picky? How is that a jab at me? Calling yourself a slut and me a guy that doesn't meet your slutty standards doesn't leave me any worse for the wear because you're still the one that's a slut.

In any event, is that what this has all come to? Looking up people for the sake of looking them up? Needing verification and pats on the back that you're still a good person when someone doesn't FB friend you? And finally... going on the attack when someone you said 5 words to 6 years ago doesn't want to continue a zero of a friendship? I think it's all pretty pathetic. And to think I used to get heartburn about deleting friends on social networking sites because I thought it was as bad as hanging up on someone mid-sentence. Needless to say, my privacy restrictions on here have become exponentially more stringent - at least until the world grows up a little.