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I hate T-Mobile with every bone in my adonis-like body.

And I recently tested the technique detailed here (wikihow, among other places) which says, essentially, that if the Cell Provider CAN’T produce a SIGNED contract… then they can only hold you to 1 year, the maximum for a verbal, legal contract.

A quick back story:

In November ’06 I switched to T-Mobile from AT&T (who I liked) because my company had a nice discount with them.

Last year, I started my own business, and for the first time in my entire life, I went over my allotted minutes. Way, way over.

Shocked and freightened at the prospect of paying several hundred dollars in overages, I called them to see if they could help me out at all.

And for all their hip jibber-jabber “Oh… TOTALLY… BUMMER… I would be upset too… WOW… yeah, that SUCKS… ” they apparently have “no process” for protecting their customers from overages. Even if it’s due to a life-change, or other “understandable” event.

And, of course, they charge, like, $2 per minute above your ceiling. Which is pretty nasty.

Now, it’s not like I expected them to excuse the charges. Not at all. After all, I did go over my minutes. But because it was such a sudden, and insane increase, I was frankly expecting them to do a *little* bit, to help a good, loyal customer ease the pain.

But no.

And everything I tried, begging, pleading, talking to supervisors, et all… still no.

So I asked them to set me up on a plan “where this would never happen again”. And, after some hemming and hawing, I did. And it worked for a few months… until last month. And then BAM!

Another $400+ overage.

WTF?!

Of course, I’m an idiot, I guess. Because I can’t rightly keep track of every due date and every level of minutes, and dollars of all my stuff. At a certain point I just need to be able to not worry about this stuff… past a certain level of involvement.

So I called them to see what went wrong. And apparently, my new big client wasn’t on T-Mobile (I pay extra each month for “free T-Mobile 2 T-Mobile” service), and I’d logged an un-Godly amount of minutes with him.

And once again, I asked if there was any way they could lesson the pain for a loyal, on-time-paying customer… and they said, simply, I was SOL.

So I asked them if there was any mechanism for them (or me) to notifiy me (myself) if I was approaching my minutes limit. And, not surprisingly, there is none (although Verizon actually gives you a courtesy call, and offers to switch your plan for that month… must be nice).

So, I said, you know what…? Enough is enough. I want out. And they said “fine, that will be $300+ for terminating your contract”… and I said “Oh snap! …I never SIGNED a contract!” (which is 10000% true, I did everything over the phone).

And here’s the crux of this post (finally): from all the “get out of your cell contract” info on teh internets, there’s always the passage that states “ask them to produce a copy of your signed contract… if they can’t, then you don’t have to pay an early termination fee.”

Sounds pretty simple.. and that’s why, in late January, I put in an ‘order’ for a copy of my signed contract. Just in case. And to this day, they have not found it. Although I did get a call from their legal department, stating they “were still looking for it”.

So I called back, and pointed out this fact to a supervisor, and while he neither confirmed nor denied that “rule” he said quite matter-of-factly “if you cancel your contract before November you owe us $300+ … if you feel you don’t have to pay it, you’ll need to get a lawyer.”

ARRGGHGHHH!!!

So I did the next best thing. I called my State Attorney General here in New York. And they sent me a form to fill out, and send in.
Essentially, I asked them for 2 things: 1) if this “can’t produce contract, can’t enforce contract” information is true or not, and 2) if it is… help me get the Hell out of this thing!

I’ve shared this information with one of my favorite consumer sites consumerist.com, which is one of the original sources of my “information”. So… we’ll see, I guess. There had to be a guinea pig for this little “trick”, and it just so happens to be me.

I mailed it yesterday (05/28/09) and when I get a response, I’ll update this post.

And for everyone out there who’s in the Hell I’m in… drink copious amounts of alcohol to numb the pain.

That’s all I can offer for now.

e

Instead of calling Apple Computer’s Technical support number:

1-800-275-2273

I mistakenly dialed:

1-800-278-2273

…and, apparently, there are “Hot and Horny Singles” just waiting to take my call. At first I thought it was a new Apple marketing campaign. But, fortunately (or, unfortunately?) that was not the case.

LOL.

e

“Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography”

Sparky felt unloved
“I’ll show them,” he said And did.
Big heads in white space

@ amazon.com

Lots going on in the consumer world… we’re preparing action items concerning our 3 favorites here, due out in the next couple of weeks:

“Lacie, redux”

“T-Mobile, OMG!”

And, last but not least, a new ongoing series entitled:

“The MTA owes me some muthafucking money!”

Or, some other title that *might* be more fit for consumption 😉

Stay tuned, and thanks for the hits.

e

A month ago, after way too much research, I finally plunked for the Dell 2408WFP SuperSharp (and super sexy) LCD monitor. But since it’s one of these newfangled “wide gamut” monitors, I realized I couldn’t get by with the ‘ol Apple “sysprefs” calibrations I’ve been doing for years. And since I need to “soft proof” ads and photos for a living… I realized I needed a real calibration tool.

So, after a lot more research I settled on the X-Rite “Eye-One Display 2”. Aka “the best mid-range calibrator with the worst name.” And, well, I bought it.

http://www.xrite.com/product_overview.aspx?ID=788

$299 retail. And here’s the skinny.

When you first open the box, out comes the main unit, which is dangle “tool” that looks like a computer mouse. How it works is you hang that over your screen, and the software sends information to the screen. The donglemouse thing then reads that information, and sends feedback about the monitor back to the software. And viola! A perfect calibration.

Sounds great, right? Well. Not so fast.

Aside from the danglemouse, a weight for the cord (to help secure it) and a plastic “rest/ambient light detector” there is almost ZERO documentation.

No manual. No bullet points. No nothing.

The only bit of information you get is a “Quick Start” Guide, which is just a folded piece of paper that opens to about 10 panels. 4 of which are filled with legal mumbo. And each of the remaining panels supposedly giving you a “step” (in 10 languages at the same time, no less). Overall it’s very, very basic. Weirdly basic, actually. And not very helpful.

So then you go to plug in the dongle mouse, and there’s a warning on it: “INSTALL SOFTWARE BEFORE PLUGGING IN DONGLEMOUSE!”

Wait. It didn’t say anything about that in the comprehensive quickstart guide!

So I put the CD in my computer, and I noticed right away there are some very “OS9”-looking icons in the menu, which is never a good sign. But I soldiered on.

The CD contained a bunch of folders; way, way too many folders for any install disk. And among them I noticed there were some “tutorials”, so I tucked my pride behind my ear and opened the first tutorial. And, well, it was okay. Aside from the announcer pronouncing random words badly, and loudly, the whole calibration process seemed simple enough. The important thing being it gave me more information than the quickstart guide.

After the tutorial was finished I was still left with a jumble of files and folders on the CD. And not knowing which I should click, or what to install, I first tried dragging the icon called “EyeOne” onto the desktop, simply because it was the only “professional-looking” icon of the bunch. But when I double-clicked it, it showed an antiquated-looking menu screen with “Match” “Share” and “Diagnostics” buttons on it. And when I clicked each of them, it didn’t do anything.

So, I opened the folder on the CD called “installers”, and found the same names as on the zombie program, plus one folder entitled “Pantone”. So I painstakingly installed each of these from this folder. Each one seeming to use a different installer program. Seriously, really?

Of course I had NO idea what each of these do. Or did. What the hell is “Match”? Is that where I match my monitor to something else? Is “Share” a utility that allows me to give and receive calibrations, somehow? And what is “Diagnostics”? How is it different from “Match”? Of course, I know what “Pantone” is, but is it really a necessary install? Again, there was ZERO information on what these things are, and I really, really hate installing unnecessary software, especially bloatware onto my computer. But I felt I had no choice here. I wanted this thing to work. I NEEDed it to work, and work well. So I installed everything… and to this day I have no idea what I installed. Or changed. Or, more importantly, if I screwed anything up on my system.

Okay. So everything was installed, I think (?), and I clicked on “Diagnostics” first, because my gut told me that that was the main calibration program.

My gut was wrong.

Apparently “diagnostics” is a program that is supposed to tell me if my monitor “is okay”. Whatever that means (again, zero documentation).

I clicked “start” and immediately it chastised me for not having my mouse dongle plugged in. So I quickly plugged it in, and it asked me to put it on a “neutral surface”. I remembered the ancient-looking tutorial told me something about a “black” surface, so I put it on the little bit of the box that was black. I have no idea if that was the right thing, or not. Oh well. Pressing on.

And… well… it froze.

Somewhere between checking the output of something, and the black level of something else, it completely locked up my system.

So after a generous 10 minutes of le beachball du spinno, I had to force-quit.

I relaunched, and again, right in the middle of measuring the “black” swatch, it froze.

I restarted. Tried again. And it froze. Again.

Oh well. Maybe I didn’t need that part of the program? I mean, on the whole, based on the price tag, that’s a $98 program right there that doesn’t work. So, thanks for that.

Moving on.

At this point I looked into my Applications folder, where everything is usually placed, and, as I guessed, there it was… an “Eye-One” folder. And in there was a program called “Calibration”. Aha! I opened it up, and it looked just like the program they used the old-school tutorial movie.

I let out a sigh of relief, and quickly wiped the breath fog off my new monitor.

I should point out here that I *still* don’t know what that other program was, or what the “Match” “Share” and “Diagnostics” buttons on it did. Well, we know that it didn’t work. But I digress…

Turns out the main calibration program is called “Eye-One Match” (aha! …wha?), and it gives you a simple window that offers “easy” and “advanced” settings, and there are, surprisingly, instructions on the top right of the window that you can access by clicking the little buttons. It tells you what you’re supposed to be doing, and even clarifies some terminology in case you need it. A novel concept.

I did an “easy” calibration first, and it took almost no time at all. However, the end result was a bit too dark, and I realized that, for my monitor at least, there were still some pretty heavy brightness/contrast settings to mutz with, and even some RGB sliders that pack quite a wallup. So I decided to dive right into “advanced” mode.

To my surprise, even that went swimmingly. In a nutshell, all you have to do is let the donglemouse do it’s measurements and give you the results, then you tweak your monitor’s settings, and then let donglemouse do a re-measurement. And repeat.

This worked very well for “manual” RGB, which I ducked to 75% for all of them initially, so I’d have room to move.

And, well, I ended up with a damn gorgeous calibration! It was significantly “deeper” in saturation than my previous, “by eye” calibration. But, unfortunately, the “contrast” portion of the calibration didn’t work at all. It kept telling me that it was 100% spot-on, even though I would wildy swing the contrast values back and forth. Obviously it was broken, which sucks. But I like to set the contrast where I like it to “look” anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal to me. But the fact that it simply didn’t work is pretty crappy. Also, there was no “brightness” adjustment phase, even thought the tutorial, and the program itself, promised there would be one. Again, not the end of the world because I just set the brightness (like contrast) on my monitor to levels I like, which I did this time and then had the Eye-One concentrate on the RGBs.

Well, there you go. A damn convoluted review of a necessary, but poorly executed calibration device. Did I get the calibration I needed? Yes. But the rub here is that X-Rite just didn’t do their powerful little “donglemouse that could” justice. The documentation is spotty at best, completely confusing, and otherwise non-existant. And, perhaps more importantly, the software is woefully out of date and seriously flawed. It’s almost as if the same guys who built the hardware also designed the software and wrote instructions. Which we all know is never a good idea.

Honestly I feel like I’ve gotten about $50 worth of my $200+ spent on the Eye-One Display-2. And that sucks, because I really, really wanted to like thing.

THE RESULTS:

YAY:
It does what it says it does. It gives you a decent calibration quickly (ala “easy” mode), or a great calibration semi-quickly (via “advanced” mode). Not a lot of parts to keep track of. Solid build.

BOO:
Uninspired presentation. Absolutely horrible documentation. Embarassingly out-of-date, confused, and crippled software.

GESTALT:
Not worth the money. But these problems could be easily fixed by manufacturer, and then it would be well-worth it.

Explode. As in a good way.

A few years ago I got a low-rez .mp3 off of pitchforkmedia from a TVT band called Ambulance LTD. Which I immediately confused with Son, Ambulance, on Saddle Creek Records, but no mind.

After a few months of this sneakily catchy song, “Primitive”, creeping onto my iPod playslists, I decided to investigate further, and I immediately bought everything of this addictive young “Spanish Harlem” indie rock band I could get my hands on. Which, unfortunately, was not a lot: a self-titled EP, a full-length, creatively-titled “LP” (album-naming clearly taking a second billing), and a smattering of loose demos, three songs released especially for DKNY, and finally, in 2006, another EP: “New English EP”.

And then nothing. For two full years.

So last fall I went searching again.

And of course they have a website (not-often updated) and a myspace.com page (slightly less not-often updated), but nothing more. Just a lot of comments asking the question I wanted to ask: “where the fuck ARE these guys?”

Then, over the Holidays last year, I heard their song “Anecdote” on a commercial. Of course I had my usual reaction when I hear a band that’s near-and-dear to me show up in a commercial… “Oh hey… wow… FUCK!”.

I know, I know. Pretty conflicted for a marketing guy, but moving on.

What made their commercial debut slightly better for me was the immediate rash of metoo songs in commercials that rather blatantly ripped them off. A very good sign for a band, methinks.

And then, last week, I re-checked their myspace page: …”Oh hey… wow… FUCK!”

They announced a tour…! The first one in YEARS!

And it was last month. Great.

Anyway. Even though I am beyond super-bummed not to be able to see these guys live, even though it was at the fight-or-flight-inducing Mercury Lounge (drink or pee, the choice is yours)… despite many, many lineup changes (never, ever good) …and despite this video of the lead singer/guitarist/creator Marcus Congelton blathering SoCal-style in a grimy wifebeater (which, apparently, unfortunately, he wears a lot)… I am making the call. Right here. Right now.

The call: Very soon Ambulance LTD will be a household name.

If you’ve been watching TV at all in the last two weeks you just might have seen the latest Red Lobster commercial, advertising their “Jumbo Shrimp”.

What’s strange is, although this seems like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Red Lobster commercial with the nautical imagery and the gratuitously suggestive lemon wedge squrtings… they’ve actually broken new ground in marketing. Yes. It’s true.

Normally, they would call it “Jumbo Shrimp Week” or “Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!!”. And the copy would read something like:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during our Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!! and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”… blah blah blah.

But, since Red Lobster is now defiantly re-shaping the English language, the copy goes like this:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during Jumbo Shrimp and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”…

….um, wha?

That’s right. Red Lobster has apparently run out of catchy “event” monikers, and have decided to just go with the proper “sea name” instead. We can look forward to “seabass”, “scallop” “fried clam” and even “cod” sometime in the near future. They were even too cool to simply put the word “week” after the damnd thing. How can we know how long it’s supposed to last?

So it’s “Jumbo Shrimp”. Now acceptable to be used like other terms meaning “extended length of time: eg, “Rhamadan”, “sweeps” or “finals”.

No, not the end of the advertising world. Just. Damn. Weird.