Elder Price was wrong about Orlando

Orlando is an amazing place. It’s warm, welcoming and hopelessly inefficient to the extent that a corporation run by a giant mouse has been given preferential treatment in an attempt to paper over all that is wrong with the port of entry.

Last year (2016 for those reading this in the future), this Arsehole decided to visit Orlando and visit many local attractions. Of course, much went wrong and this needed to be righted.

After flying in on Delta Airlines via the hub that connects the various cities, afterlives and inconveniences of most people, I was greeted with the worst possible arrival experience that someone could possibly anticipate. The signage upon arrival is limited, undifferentiated and directs all towards unending carpet corridors that afford wear to the wheels of one’s carry on, offense to one’s nostrils and unrelenting contamination and damage to the soles of one’s shoes.

I had afforded myself the luxury of having transportation from this airport to my accommodations organised well in advance of my arrival, however the poor organisation constructs and resultant choke points enabled by the designers of this particular point of entry resulted in the sequence of me getting to baggage collection at the same time as many other passengers on all of the other “traditional” US airline arrivals, seeing my bag take over 35 minutes past my arrival to get to collection and my very patient driver Matt still offering to happily take my bags and give me a bottle of Pepsi Max as requested.

The airport is a terrible, terrible place. By the time my bags had returned to my possession, aging had seen my sperm count drop more than Tony Abbott’s relevance.

Of course, this particular Arsehole cannot afford consideration to the transport providers that demand payment for carriage to this particular gaping maw. Thus, a letter was written:

Dear Delta,

Upon arrival at MCO, I was subjected to an onslaught of inefficiency, disorganisation and confusion of staff. After overcoming the presented obstacles I encountered a baggage collection area that promised delivery of my possessions whilst the previously-organised transportation agent patiently waited for my response to the SMS they had sent, generously expecting that the delay was attributable to the crowding present in the arrival area due to the poor operations of the airport in question.

I understand that Delta has no control over the specific operations of the airport, however the fees paid to the airport for my carriage were paid to Delta and I expect that consideration of the inconvenience I experienced and the additional cost imposed upon me due to the delays caused by the confusion that was enabled by overcrowding and poor scheduling will be appropriate.

Regards,

Arsehole

Delta are a wonderful airline!

Dear Arsehole,

Please take 25,000 SkyMiles by way of apology.

Love Delta

Victory!

Telemarketers 1

Telemarketers are amazing creatures. They somehow come to work, talk to people for hours at a time and manage to engage in either politeness or ignorance in response to rejection.

If some person is calling you and attempting to sell a service or product to you, they owe you plenty of courtesy. Of course, telemarketers are not typically assessed based on their manners and it falls to an Arsehole like me to remind them that they’re talking to the people who justify their employment.

With that all stated, I hereby present a series on an approach to handling telemarketers. If I ever publish this as a stand-alone text, I suspect the title may simply be “Fuck ’em”.

Hold them accountable immediately

Should you receive a call from some company you have no current relationship with, the immediate response to their overly manicured greeting should be simply, “Is this a sales call?

This inevitably results in one of three outcomes:

  • Yes, this is a sales call. Would you like to spend $2,500 on something that no one would ever want to buy so I can be paid a bonus of about Tree Fiddy and fend off the succubus that inhabits my cupboard?
  • No, I just want to give you a competitive quote on your electricity/gas/life insurance/mortgage/car insurance/internet. Note: If anyone ever uses the term “your internet” or “my internet”, they need to be taken outside and forced to watch Tony Abbott wearing speedos until they decide to get smarter.
  • There is no sale here. I am just conducting a free survey!

Taking these in turn:

Telemarketers who are honest in stating that they’re trying to sell you something deserve a polite “not interested” response. Should they continue to insist, they deserve to be taken outside behind the nearest barn and forced to trim a diseased Warthog’s labial growths with their teeth and you should tell them such.

Telemarketers that lie to you deserve to be completely and totally eviscerated mentally. If a specific percentage discount is mentioned, demand that they tell you exactly what you’re paying now and when they inevitably fail to do so call them out on their lies and demand to speak to their manager due to their reprehensible conduct. Should they make statements about rate reductions or excellent deals, demand that the details of said reductions or deals be stated up front and question their integrity and intelligence when they inevitably ask you for details of your current arrangements.

Free survey? From which observation point?

The last point is most interesting – the so called “free” survey. What sort of mental midget looks at a survey advertised as “free” and wants in? Urinating into one’s own mouth and/or nostril is free, however the price does not serve as a promotional point for anyone who has control of their bladder and/or higher brain functions.

Should any knobber offer you a survey over the phone, there is only one response that is appropriate: How will I be compensated for my participation?

The reply to this will inevitably involve statements that show either a complete inability to understand basic conversational English or a total disregard of the question stated. Words such as “but it is free”,  “there is no charge to you” or (my personal favourite) “it will only take a few minutes” are all statements showing a complete disregard for your time.

The person calling you is most likely compensated for their time. The systems enabling their communication with you are definitely being paid for. This means that someone has decided that the information being collected has value – why should you give some rabbit smuggler something of value for free?

In summary if someone calls you in their professional capacity when you have no relationship with them or their employer, the person deciding the terms of the interaction is you. Hold them accountable and disregard their script and fuckery.

 

 

 

 

I know UA personally…..

In this particular Arsehole’s day-to-day job, my beloved colleagues regularly get calls of the following formats:

  • Please put me through to the Arsehole. They are expecting my call! (I’m not)
  • I need to speak to the Arsehole as I am following up on an e-mail I sent them (They haven’t sent me a thing).
  • I am calling the Arsehole back, I did not get their number. (Not remotely true).
  • I know the Arsehole personally. You must put me through! (Then they should call me directly – I’m not hard to find).
  • I need to speak to the Arsehole now! No, I don’t want their e-mail address! Give me their mobile number!

As my most excellent colleagues were part of the inspiration behind this site, I thought their inappropriate abuse deserved appropriate chronicling.

One particular company sent their own staff and multiple call centres staffed by complete dog molesters a task of somehow getting a hold of me. The company in question claims to be an e-mail management specialist provider. How exactly all aggressors thought that e-mail or any other electronic means of communication was below them affords me confusion and amusement, similar to seeing someone attempt to use a bunch of constantly-rejected coins to get a Mars Bar out of a card reader-equiped vending machine whilst holding their MasterCard so they can order flowers for their girlfriend they’ve consistently disappointed and lied to whilst focusing on entirely the completely wrong fucking thing.

After over 40 (an honestly conservative estimate) attempts to make contact and a refusal of the callers to make appointments, provide callback numbers, send e-mails, give full details or give my colleagues the courtesy of even ending calls with something remotely resembling courtesy, I decided that this completely rapacious conduct must be fixed.

I wrote to Mute Performer Concert via their completely inept online contact form, with the following words (slightly paraphrased to protect those with sensibilities):

Dear sods,

Your organisation has made constant, unwelcome phone calls to my employer and has wasted hours of time whilst engaging in rude, unprofessional conduct and providing an impression of your company that would surely see anyone deciding to engage your services needing to be committed to a psychiatric ward.

I expect a written apology to be provided to my colleagues and a written confirmation provided that we will no longer be contacted by your poorly educated staff and agents.

Sincerely,

Ultimate Arsehole

This is a wonderful example of a zero sum game. Should I receive no response, I would have basis for pushing the issue further (and I do have the contact details for the Australian GM). Should I receive any response, I suspected that it would be inadequate and provide basis for further escalation.

One day I would really like to see a case of a company taking ownership for such conduct and just stating facts. In this case, I was completely disgusted. I received a phone call from some bloke named after a scientific term, who engaged in the following attempts at conversation:

  • An attempt at promoting the current work of his organisation, completely ignoring what had been written.
  • Stating that there must have been some sort of e-mail error when the details I sent through were provided to him, and then completely disregarding the concerns I expressed about the inability of the company to do what they were claiming to be able to do given this example.
  • Massive minimisation of the conduct of the staff and agents retained by the company, disregarding their rudeness and extremely poor conduct as “slightly aggressive”
  • Attempts to “rescue” the conversation to get a sale, attempting to redirect concerns toward “synergies”.
  • Hanging up on me

At this point, I followed up via e-mail to this particular trained idiot and, much to my amazement, received the following:

Dear Arsehole,

I sincerely apologise for the conduct of our organisation. Please be assured that we will cease contacting you and apologise deeply for the extremely poor conduct we have displayed in our interaction with your colleagues.

The fact that our staff and agents did not show the Reception and Administrative staff in your organisation is unacceptable and we will be sure to record this as the basis for you excluding us from future interactions with your organisation.

Regards,

Trained Idiot named after part of a Scientific Model

And with that, The Old Man Triumphs! Victory!

UA vs UA!

In May 2016, the Ultimate Arsehole had basis to take on the other UA – United Airlines.

This particular Arsehole flew from Orlando (which is the worst airport I have ever been to) to Newark (which is the second-worst airport I have ever been to). The flight was quite decent, however the arrival experience was as bad as bringing your crush home only to find out they are infested with genital warts.

The landing at Newark was almost as delayed as universal Marriage Equality, the airport was dirtier than an asexual bachelor’s toilet and the baggage claim area was about as organised as a fundamentalist religionist’s speech on why creationism isn’t a complete and total fucking joke.

Having flown Delta within the US, this particular Arsehole grabs their phone and starts a stopwatch as the plane lands to ensure that they get their bag within 20 minutes or get a bunch of Delta SkyMiles for their waiting time.

After 21 minutes, I decided to start tweeting at United Airlines. After 35 minutes, I was surrounded by a bunch of other Business Class customers asking where the fuck their bags were. We decided to band together and call United Airlines customer service and report all of our bags as lost. The person on the other end of the phone decided to escalate our concerns to their manager and told us to, and I quote, fuck off.

Eventually (after over an hour) bags did appear, as did various e-mails to the proles at United Airlines. After many statements regarding the lack of control United has over bags being delivered and the idea that bags being delivered after an hour being reasonable being completely disregarded by this particular Arsehole, a message was received:

Dear Mr Arsehole,

We sincerely apologise for the experience you were subjected to on flight UA69. Please accept this $500 travel voucher and United Gold status by way of apology. We sincerely hope that we and our Star Alliance partners will be considered in future for your travel arrangements.

Victory!

Yes, you will pay for my time

It’s quite simple really. If a company selling me something demands that I call them to make something happen, I expect to be taken care of quite quickly.

When an organisation instead offers multiple means of contact, makes statements via said means indicating that my request will be actioned and then engages in manufacture of alternative facts, I expect that they should know that they’re going to have a bad time.

After Australia’s grossly inept government managed to somehow appoint a bloke named Chad to install a VDSL2-capable DSLAM in the basement of the building I live in, I went looking for an option to get connected to the NBN that is currently being pushed toward all Australians (bogans and higher beings alike).

Because of the multitude of connection options offered by NBN Co to we lowly serfs, a multitude of qualification criteria also exist. As a result, my options were Telstra, Optus and a company called Belong.

Belong is special, in that they’re likely to eat your shoes if you look at them without disdain. They’re also a subsidiary of Telstra that uses none of Telstra’s network capabilities as it was easier to engage Telco In A Box to actually build a provider ready to provide service in less than 2 decades.

After signing up, downloading a bunch of stuff and then confirming that the 25/5 service that I was being provided was well below what my gear and access method was capable of, I requested that Belong give me 100/40 access.

Belong gave me the following responses:

  • NBN Co does not offer better than 25/5 in your area
  • NBN Co does not offer better than 25/5 for your connection method
  • We have decided that we cannot offer better than 25/5 due to backhaul concerns
  • Your service is not eligible for better than 25/5 because of transition rules

After some research, I confirmed that these were all untrue and churned to a provider that can actually tell me the truth and present a mild facade of competence.  An online churn request resulted in my service being moved over inside of 2 days with no downtime and things were good. Download speeds were high and my porn was free of buffering.

After many previous attempts to get an answer on the speed issue from Belong, I decided to confirm my cancellation with them via all of online chat, e-mail, website contact form, Twitter and Facebook. I was repeatedly assured that I would be called by a Belong representative to confirm said severance. Said call did not occur. I had attempted to make multiple phone calls to Belong to confirm cancellation, including on the day of churn. However after being on hold for over an hour on multiple occasions, I decided that I would rather contemplate how my urine stream circles the drain in my shower whilst I was using a toothbrush to clean the spaces between my bathroom tiles.

After hearing nothing for 3 days, my coworkers decided that they’d like some entertainment during lunch and would like to hear how terrible the Belong hold music was. After 30 minutes (!?!) of waiting, I was greeted by someone named Bertha.

After I explained to Bertha that I had moved my connectivity elsewhere, had wasted a significant amount of my time attempting to confirm cancellation and simply wanted actual confirmation, I was told the following:

  • NBN does not give us churn details (this is provably a lie)
  • You have not attempted to contact us (this is also provably a lie)
  • After insisting that I had made multiple attempts and had been promised call backs, I was told that outbound calls were impossible (this is in direct contradiction to what I was told)
  • After detailing the interactions with the social media team, I was told that the social media team had no record of speaking with me. After stating that the inability of the social media team to keep decent records is not my problem, I was instead told that my contact attempts had been recorded but that the requests I made of the social media team were beyond their remit (no statement of this nature was made during my conversations with them)
  • I had made many phone calls and stayed in a queue for significant periods of time and doing so has no appreciation associated with attempting to do the right thing.
  • Cancellations involve no refunds being provided for the days of service that were paid for in advance but not provided

Oh dear….

Of course, I would not put up with this. There is only one way to deal with such idiocy:

“I’ve done the right thing here. I’ve made multiple attempts to get the service I need from your company, given fair warning of churning away, made multiple attempts to confirm cancellation and am now being told that my attempts are not being recognised. Refund the days I did not use please.”

Of course, Bertha had precisely zero regard for logic and refused to consider my request. When I asked to speak to her manager, she responded with a statement indicating that her manager would say exactly the same thing and that it was a waste of everyone’s time.

Although one should not be an arsehole, I had decided that I was dealing with a person with no regard for logic. My next statement was as follows:

“If you refuse to escalate my request, I will raise a chargeback request with my card issuer, raise a dispute with PayPal and lodge a complaint with the TIO . This will cost in excess of 10 times more than the refund I am requesting and, beyond that, I will get the refund anyway. Is that really what you want to do to the company that provides you a wage?”

The only response was silence. And then the call ending.

Being a complete arsehole, this Arsehole followed through on all of the statements made.

3 days later, a bloke named Bill from Belong’s parent company (Telstra) called me and gave me a refund of 2 months access fees.

Victory!

At least his average call time stayed low….

First, allow this Arsehole to provide some context.

In 2015, two things happened in Australia that impacted those amongst us that could be classified as points enthusiasts, each involving a major supermarket chain/corporate conglomerate:

  • Wesfarmers decided to make their Flybuys program relevant and provide a means to transfer points to the Etihad Guest program arbitrarily in reasonably-sized increments. They didn’t extend the program to cover their various other brands (like Officeworks and Bunnings), but they did improve the program.
  • Woolworths decided to tell everyone shopping at their stores that they could fuck right off if they were interested in collecting Qantas Frequent Flyer points. The colocation of BWS stores with many Woolworths outlets, the fact that 1 QFF point was earned per dollar spent over $30 in a single transaction, checkouts being allowed via a BWS register and the excellent earn rates on certain American Express cards resulted in a simple decision of supermarket when it came to shopping for cheese and wine whilst being a wanker. Alas, idiocy disregarded this segment of valuable shopper and instead focused on promising discounts to bogans.

At this point, the maximisation of earning stuff for no reason required that I gaze upon Dawn French’s smile and dig out my Flybuys membership card from my bottom kitchen draw where it had previously been placed with spare lightbulbs and pamphlets from hardcore Jebus promoters offering to wash my car in exchange for sponsoring a tarp for their next orgy.

After spending a few dollars at my local Coles outlet and scanning said card, I received a wonderful phone call from a bloke claiming to be named Josh. It was extremely unlikely his name was actually Josh, but that’s not really relevant.  The call unfolded thusly:

Josh: Hello. As a valued Flybuys customer, we would like to offer you an excellent rate on your car insurance with Coles Insurance!

UA: Thank you for the offer Josh, but I’m not interested in changing my insurance arrangements at this time.

Josh: (Violent disconnection)

Josh hung up with incredible prejudice! How very dare he! Up with this the Arsehole would not put!

Feedback should be targeted and immediate

Google is a wonderful thing. It allows one to very quickly determine who to complain to when their sensibilities are not carried aloft to the clouds in a pillow of honey whilst employing an army of amoeba to cushion their hemorrhoids. Immediately after this call, the following e-mail was composed and sent to Coles Insurance:

To whom it may concern,

One of your representatives called me today as a part of the outbound marketing campaign currently being run by your organisation. Upon politely informing your staff member that I was not able to consider the offer he was promoting, I was treated with complete and total contempt and hung up upon. I have confirmed that the call was terminated explicitly and that no network issues resulted in this schism of conversation.

I am sure that this conduct is not at all representative of the manner in which Wesfarmers seeks to engage with current and/or potential customers. I would like to include Wesfarmers-issued insurance products in future as appropriate, but would require confirmation that the treatment I experienced is an aberration that has been examined such that it not be repeated.

Sincerely,

UA

Sending this e-mail was admittedly an example of what is called a zero-sum game. Either I would receive a response that I was able to then do something with (and gain something for free), or I would not receive a response and have basis to escalate my concerns (and thus gain something for free). Although an automated acknowledgement of my e-mail was issued, I received 3 further phone calls of similar intent and script to that employed by “Josh” in the week prior to a deafening lack of response being received.

As insurance is technically a financial product in nature, the Financial Ombudsman Service is an escalation point available to all customers in Australia. The very name instills fear in the hearts of call centre staff and complaints managers everywhere, so I decided to take the path of least resistance and do just that:

Attention: Coles Financial Services Compliance Department

G’Day,

I recently wrote to CFS with feedback regarding an extremely poor customer service experience I received. Although I would have expected the outcome of this experience to have at least resulted in no further experiences of this same poor nature being inflicted upon my person and accounting for a disproportionately egregious amount of my time, my expectations have not only been left unmet but have been failed terribly.

At this point, I require the following:

  • Formal acknowledgement of the inappropriate conduct of the agents who have made contact without regard for previous interactions.
  • Specific details of how this issue will be addressed such that it does not reoccur.
  • Recognition of my time in having had to repeatedly address this issue .

Should I not receive a written response from CFS by <insert date 5 business days from now>, I will have no option other than to submit the details of this issue to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

In accordance with prophecy,

UA

To my astonishment, CFS was in contact within 12 hours! My details had been expunged from their outbound calling database, the persons involved had been counselled, scripts reviewed and 20,000 Flybuys points deposited into my account as a gesture of apology.

This is an example of a company doing the wrong thing on a few occassions and then actually subscribing to the Acknowledge, Resolve, Right principal. Not once was the term Goodwill mentioned, but actually the term apology.

So impressed was I that I later signed up for 4 different Coles Financial Services products, mainly so I could quadruple my Flybuys points haul so I could fly all the way from Adelaide to Port Adelaide after spending $20,000 each week for 3 eons.

All in all, victory!

 

It’s totally fine that you’re in India (or anywhere else)!

Sometimes my phone rings. People call me for some reason that I cannot hope to understand, and I eagerly answer it thinking that I’ll be asked how it is that I keep my pubes platted so tightly as evidenced by the photo I uploaded to PortalOfEvil.com in 1998.

Recently I answered the phone and was greeted with these words after a perceptible delay after me answering and vocalising a grunt or passable greeting into my phone:

“Hello, my good name is Dave!”

This statement tells me a few things:

  • “Dave” speaks at least two languages and quite possibly more than 2 given the observed application of grammar to English (because English grammar rules are basically horrible).
  • “Dave” hasn’t been beaten into presenting a facade by his managers and/or supervisors completely as yet as he still speaks in a manner that feels natural to him.
  • “Dave” is definitely working outside of the country where I took his call and in a call centre very likely staffed by people native to the locale of said call centre
  • “Dave” may not actually be named “Dave”.

Regardless of the intent or reason for this particular call, there’s a trend that is very worrying. In the last 24 months, I have received over 100 calls from people who are working from call centres in India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and other countries and on the vast majority of occasions the name presented by the caller has been chosen to attempt to make representations of being situated in the “West”. Technically it is quite trivial to determine where a call originates from, however the idea that a person is simply a tool to make a bunch of statements on behalf of an organisation who thinks their potential customers stupid is most worrying.

As big an Arsehole as I am, the only criteria that I grade a customer interaction by is the manner in which my concerns are addressed. If the person handling the phone and/or keyboard takes ownership of the situation and shows that they’ve every intent of making things right then that is an excellent outcome.

I’m not sure which is more worrying when reflecting on this development. The idea that companies have decided that deception serves a purpose at the cost of their employees and agents surrendering their own name or that such thinking is justified by some section of the public, no matter how small, judging a person by their location and/or heritage.

In this case (and this is likely to be extremely rare), I’m not the Arsehole here.

Either the companies insisting on this practice have zero basis in insisting on such actions, and they’re a complete pack of arseholes or there is some subset of the public that engages in racism and stereotyping that is used to justify this idiocy. In which case that subset is complete and total pack of arseholes.

Both of these outcomes are manifestations of personal attacks being entertained by accommodation. Seriously, Don’t Be An Arsehole!

 

 

How many times do you need to cancel a credit card?

Credit cards are wonderful things. They enable bogans to acquire far more cask wine than is advisable, interest rates above 20% to be published and give inarticulate big people work as debt collectors.

They’re also terrible things. They enable bogans to acquire far more cask wine than is advisable, give people named Brad work at call centres demanding payment on one call whilst offering credit limit increases on the next, show how incredibly pathetic the RBA is at understanding payment systems and attempt to meld customer-focused intentions with systems and processes that were carved onto stone tablets by The Flash when he last ran back to the time of Jebus.

For those that know how to exploit them, there are ways to make usage of a credit card an excellent source of value. Insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty and various status perks are all nice, but the biggest benefits are, in ascending order of shiny:

  • Earning points/miles/currency for spend on travel/vouchers/experiences
  • Sign up bonuses of the above quantity

As UA is entirely contributed to by Arseholes, seeing an offer for a credit card that sees the perks and points earn significantly offset the fees charged is like a beacon for our kind. When there is no fee associated, the offer is akin to one’s mobile provider of choice offering to telling all scammers to fuck off on your behalf and broadcast the call recordings.

In January 2016, I decided to take up the Tuatara and Opal Lending Collective on their brilliant offer of ejaculating enough frequent flyer points to fly more than 16 metres at all who apply whilst levying no fees. As soon as the bonus frequent flyer points were exonerated from the clutches of this banking corporation, I ensured that my resolve to not pay any fees would be hard and unshakable, to almost the same extent that a bloke caught driving a ute above the speed limit resolves to educate anyone who will pretend listen about his baseless opinion on the irrelevance of speed in road accidents.

As being a professional Arsehole requires that one must never forgo the opportunity to be an Arsehole, I called the Bank of Mordor and indicated that I was as likely o accept an annual fee as a Mormon would be willing to accept that Trey Parker is the second coming of Joseph Smith.

This particular Arsehole’s former partner attempted to impress upon me that there was no way that Sheering Shed Financiers would ever provide any concession in terms of fee waivers, reductions, loyalty recognition or other retention incentives.  I decided to take this information as a challenge to my skills.

Upon explaining  my thinking to the underpaid staffer who had the misfortune of answering my phone call, they graciously offered to halve the published annual fee! Almost a victory, like convincing people at a new school you have a date at a school social by slow dancing with your sister.

A 50% discount is normally a cause for celebration, however there were alternative offers to be had.  Upon explaining that I could pay a slightly higher amount than the discounted annual fee and receive a new shiny thing that would allow me to fly all the way from Sydney to North Sydney using the bonus provided by said product, the apologies were only drowned out by the apathy and surrender that the intonations of the bureaucratic victim betrayed. In an attempt to prove that I’m capable of empathy, I thanked them for their efforts and promised to call back within 48 hours.

I’d successfully applied for an alternative shiny thing that offered far more in the way of perks and sign up bonuses than what the Russell Crowe Extradition Financier Organisation had initially waved in front of the public and calledback to ensure that I would not be expected to suffer under the indignity of paying a fee for something I had no intention of using. After convincing another future refugee from cognitive dissidence that I was definitely closing the account I asked the following questions:

  • Will the account be closed immediately? (Yes, yes Mr Arsehole)
  • Will the annual fee be charged? (No, definitely not Mr A!)
  • Will I need to do anything beyond paying the final balance to finalise the account? (Of course not sir/ma’am, the account will be finalised at that point)

Three simple questions with three simple, emphatic, definite, unambiguous answers. I had been mostly happy with the conduct of this provider of imaginary dollars up until this point and had every reason to believe that they would do entirely was said.

Being wrong is terrible

A physical mailbox is a very odd thing. Sometimes the results of tree murder appear within, promising amazing deals from a local pizza purveyor, salvation from the newest delusional nutter religionist or statements from someone you didn’t vote for telling you about how they’ve wasted your rates and/or taxes on things you couldn’t care less about.

On this particular afternoon I received an envelope containing a journal of all the irrelevant crap I had spent money on as well as a line reading “Annual Fee”. I was puzzled for a moment, thinking that I was told by a wonderful person named Bertha that I would definitely not be charged an annual fee.

A crisis developed. What had I done to offend Bertha? Had I split the infinitive in conversation? Had I failed to observe correct subject-verb agreement during our verbal discourse?

Then I remembered that I was dealing with a bank, and that Bertha had probably hung up the phone, wrapped up the call and thought that she’d done the right thing in spite of the obstacles to customer satisfaction and front line staff performance placed in front of well-meaning staff who are graded on how well they dodge and frustrate the infrastructure they’re required to work within. She may have also said, “Thank fuck I don’t need to talk to that Arsehole anymore,” but I don’t think I made that much of an impression.

Of course that’s how it works? Are you stupid?!?

Again I was subjected to the impost of exchanging syllables with a brow-beaten person, with the particular person this time being a bloke named Bruce. Bruce and I did not exactly have a happy conversation.

I was told that having a closing balance results in “the system” charging an annual fee. I was also told that I should pay the balance immediately. And I was told that I should call back once I had done so to ensure that the account was closed.

As eager as Bruce clearly was to finish the call so his carer could get him home so he could play horizontal Jenga with a partially-dressed geriatric manikin, I thought it beneficial to his career that I impress upon him the facts of the situation such that he could reassess his response and improve his level of empathy with the people who provide reason for his employment.

This did not go well

“You need to call back!” Bruce said. “You need to finalise the account now so the system can reverse the annual fee!” he said. “What’s a credit score and comprehensive credit reporting?”

As is detailed in the first installment of the manifesto, time is important. Bruce clearly had little regard for his own, and zero regard for mine. Telling Bruce that the Coin Counter Collection Collective of Christchurch either needed to sort this out with no further waste of my time or otherwise pay for my time must gotten his attention and he undertook to ensure that this would be the last I would hear of this particular issue after the final payment was made on the due date (a concept he had massive trouble with).

Hooray! Closure! Success! We can move on with our lives and watch that episode of Gigolos where Brace rolls around with a transexual again!

3000 – 3000 = 594

Either Bruce made a promise in desperation or he was distracted by the pattern on his shoelaces prior to following through. Again my mailbox was polluted by a document stating that I had paid off everything I had spent and that I had failed to pay an annual fee for a product that had been cancelled. And that enables said bank to charge interest on the full amount (funds spent and imaginary annual fee).

At this point there’s no option other than to be an Arsehole. Writing to this particular bank resulted in the following message the next day:

We are experiencing a very high volume of complaints. We will respond to your complaint within 10 business days.

One of these statements was true. The other was not. 13 business days later, there was a wonderful conversation with someone who claimed that the bank had done everything they promised to do (they hadn’t) that no issues had occurred (they had), none of my time had been wasted (it had) and that no compensation for my time would be offered (no spoilers…). Admittedly the annual fee and associated interest had been waived, however it is insulting to hear that an amount has been waived due to an organisation levying said amount via actions that are in direct contradiction to stated intent.

There will be article on this specific type of response at some point, but suffice to say, we were not amused. An escalation path was requested and provided.

The customer advocate says you can fuck right off

This particular bank has a customer advocate department that is charged with being the active and vocal representative of the customer. Surely one would expect that presenting all facts to this department would result in some reasonable assessment and consideration of the case in question?

This was, now unsurprisingly, a terribly false assumption. The response from this customer focused department was summarised thusly (yes, there will be a scan uploaded):

Our systems impose fees automatically. You should have known this and ignored the statements made to you by our staff. We think your time is worthless. We are of the opinion that you have no basis to call our actions and misrepresentations into question. Go to the Ombudsman if you want, but we reckon you’re too lazy to call us out on our lies.

Pick a number between 1 and 1000

Print to PDF is an amazing thing. As are scanners. As is the fact that all bank interactions with customers are subject to retention requirements under law.

Providing the various statements issued by the bank in question throughout this idiocy, the responses to stated grievances and specific time and date references to the verbal interactions with the bank to the supervising authority as well as a randomly chosen number for a compensation amount resulted in a few wonderful outcomes.

The bank did indeed apologise, admit the failures and shortcomings in their processes and systems and paid out the requested compensation. Having a PS4 Pro and new SSD to go with it was a very decent outcome.

Why is this so hard?

The complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service alone would have cost the organisation a significant amount. The internal charges at this particular bank are well in excess of the FOS, staff and compensation amounts achieved.

It’s a terribly hollow victory. That said though…

Victory!

 

My favourite C word

There’s a wonderful word that works wonders when dealing with belligerent merchants who have failed to deliver. It’s a filthy, horrible word that is highly offensive, typically results in serious professional ramifications and will have multiple parties cursing your name in response.

That word is the following:

Chargeback

In every case where some company has refused to acknowledge issues they have caused, the mere utterance of this word results in near-immediate escalation and demonstration of empathy in most cases, or flat out offers of a full refund otherwise.

To understand why this is the case, there are a few facts that most cardholders aren’t aware of that need to be understood:

  • Chargebacks are expensive for card issuers to handle – the process is still quite labour intensive and long-running
  • Chargebacks are expensive for merchant banks to handle – the process is tedious and has high administrative overhead
  • Chargebacks are extremely expensive for most merchants – the fees levied against merchants are very high (greater than $25 / chargeback in many cases) and result in transaction fees being “reviewed”.

For this reason, think long and hard before using something other than a Scheme Card (Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover/JCB/Diners Club) to pay for anything.

The first time I used this word, hilarity ensued….

 

No, I will not pay your parking fine!

One weekend I had to bugger off to another city to hit some servers and network gear with a hammer, so another Arsehole decided that they’d crash at my place and buy a bunch of questionable stuff online (including Savage Garden’s entire discography).

In exchange for this rapacious exploitation of my abode and internet connectivity, it was agreed that this other Arsehole would arrange for some professional cleaners to be admitted to my abode such that they could delouse my apartment in my absence.

Upon my return, I was greeted by a very clean apartment and the news of “Those cleaners are idiots. They parked in a no parking zone and asked who was going to pay for it.” I suspected that the spotlessness of my home was about to be offset by a quagmire of stupidity on the part of the cleaning company. Much to my disgust, my suspicions were correct.

I received an e-mail with an invoice attached. This e-mail explained that the amount charged as $125.00 higher than the amount quoted because of the parking fine that was incurred when the staff parked their vehicle “where I told them to.”

We are not amused!

Suffice to say, I was not going to put up with such impertinence.  I responded to said e-mail thusly:

Dear Dodgy Cleaning Company,

The parking fine was levied by the council that administers the area and was applied due to the rules of the area not being followed by your staff and said staff choosing to park illegally. I do not endorse illegal behaviour and neither suggested nor enabled it in this instance (as I actually was not present). You are not to take a payment from my card for this amount and any attempt to do so will result in all amounts deducted by your company being subject to chargeback requests.

Love,

UA

At this point I would have settled for acknowledgement and agreement on the issue of the parking fine, however I was clearly dealing with someone who was certain they were right, like those nutters that reckon the Earth is younger than the fossil fuel products sloshing through their Falcon’s oversized engine whilst insisting petrol would be cheaper if their racist views on immigration were made law.

Dear UA,

Your representative told our staff where to park, therefore we have decided that you are responsible for the parking fine.

Yours in Cricket and Cheesecake,

Dodgy Cleaning Company (DCC – part of the Fully Half Dodgy Group)

I spoke with my fellow Arsehole, and they recalled their conversation with DCC with wonderful alacrity.  They stated that their words were, “I don’t live here, I don’t drive, I don’t know the parking rules so I can’t really help you out beyond looking at the street signs.” How exactly this translates to telling someone where to park puzzled me, but I was concerned that providing this information to DCC would be as helpful as using 700mL of vodka in place of Viagra. With that in mind, I took the logical path:

Dear DCC,

The fine has been levied to the registered owner of the vehicle as the empowered enforcement officer involved determined that the party in control of the vehicle had committed an offence. Your company and their representatives have no legal (or other) basis for determining that another party is responsible for the illegal conduct of your staff.

For the avoidance of doubt, I will be issuing chargebacks should these words be ignored.

Say hello to your mum for me,

UA

Some brilliant prole at DCC decided that they’d escalate to a bloke named Igor to try and deal with me, still insisting that they were correct.

UA,

This issue has been escalated to me. I am the General Manager of Operations here and have a very nice office under the stairs and one of those newer model C64s to send e-mails with.

It is my job to determine who is responsible for the fine and thus who will pay it. Why should you not pay this fine?

I think there’s a splinter in my buttocks,

Igor

One thing that makes me laugh and cringe simultaneously is the thought of an issue being escalated to someone who claims to be important and said person not knowing a single thing about the situation they’ve been asked to resolve. I decided that I should actually check my account to see whether the “good” people at DCC had been as dodgy as their parent company’s name would indicate. It turns out that a charge was present for both the cleaning service and the parking fine amount.

Advantage: Arsehole! Chargeback FTW!

I wrote back to Igor in a very balanced, considerate fashion.

Igor,

I would have expected that someone with your lofty station properly equip themselves with an understanding of the issue they are attempting to address prior to making contact with a customer. I have explained the way law actually works and I am disgusted by the idea that your organisation conducts business in a fashion that is grossly unprofessional and fraudulent. Your only course of action should you have a concern with the levying of the fine against your staff is to appeal the issuing of said fine with the council.

Additionally I have noticed that my instructions have been completely discarded by your staff and a payment was processed by your company for both the cleaning service and the parking fine as a single amount. At no point did your representatives relay this, instead focusing on paltry attempts to have me accept responsibility for your staff having a blatant disregard for law and/or an inability to read.

As originally stated, I have instructed my card issuer to commence the chargeback process for the transaction initiated by your company. The fees involved and the increased MSF that will be levied against you should serve as timely reminders of the grossly inappropriate conduct that your organisation has decided to engage in.

Regards,

UA

At this point, my mobile rang, my desk phone at work (!!) rang, a rambling SMS landed on my phone and another e-mail from Igor landed in my inbox:

UA,

Please do not be raising the chargeback. We will talk to the driver about the parking fine. You are a valued customer and we do not want to have to deal with chargebacks.

Igor

At this point, poor Igor had failed to grasp that it was too little, too late:

Igor,

I provided a specific, detailed response to the initial statements by your staff with regard to this issue and have been ignored at every turn. Your company’s ingrained malfeasance has been appropriately recognised by the chargeback process being initiated.

Do not contact me again unless the time that I have already spent on this issue is going to be paid for by your company (2 hours at $200 / hour, but I charge a 4 hour minimum) and additional recompense provided to accompany your company’s written apology.

Sincerely,

UA

Igor begged some more whilst completely failing to comprehend the actual issues and was told to kindly bugger off lest I raise chargebacks for the previous services his company had provided to me whilst encouraging my friends (yes, I have friends – don’t laugh!) who I had referred to his employer to do the same.

Igor did attempt to dispute the chargeback that was raised. Igor did not succeed. Igor’s company had to change banks.

And this particular Arsehole got their house cleaned for free. Victory!