Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It was well worth the letters and phone calls I had to make.
Friday, December 11, 2009
THE retail giant Westfield is considering introducing controversial face recognition technology at its Penrith shopping centre in Sydney's west.
Unlike closed circuit television (CCTV), the identification system matches images captured by surveillance cameras to an existing database of faces.
The Herald understands Westfield is considering upgrading its already advanced CCTV to include the biometric technology in its security measures.
Police said they could not comment on the centre's intentions, but would welcome any move to improve security and technology in the area. They said many businesses already used face recognition systems without public knowledge.
''You'd be surprised at how many have it,'' Detective Inspector Grant Healey of Penrith said. ''Any tool that helps us identify offenders is a great tool for us, too.
''Some [face recognition systems] can go live, so if they walk into the place, it will tell you that they're in there.''
Westfield would not comment on any plans to introduce the technology at its Penrith shopping centre, but a company spokeswoman said it was not used at present. ''I wouldn't comment on what we might be considering,'' she said.
''There are different security needs at different centres.''
The use of face recognition surveillance has alarmed privacy advocates.
''I think it's an extremely dangerous thing,'' the chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Dr Roger Clarke, said. ''There's no control to ensure it will only be used for crooks.''
The technology has already been used at Sydney Airport for passengers to check themselves through passport control and it is used by police and by the Roads and Traffic Authority to combat identity fraud.
Professor Maciej Henneberg, of the University of Adelaide, said the recognition technology would be particularly useful in shopping centres. ''I would advocate this to be used more and more,'' he said.
''It will prevent many individuals who have criminal records of being a danger to normal shoppers in malls.
''Most of the CCTV systems now in shopping malls, service stations and in banks produce images of poor quality,''Professor Henneberg said.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Complaint Classification:Ahh, if only I could rebut their final response with:
Complaint Description - Posted 9/30/2009 4:45:12 PM
DirecTV attempted to change the terms of my customer agreement in April 2009. I took that opportunity to contact their customer service to decline the contract change under the conditions that I would not be charged more than $15 when they disconnected me. At no time did I ask to be disconnected, and was very careful to confirm multiple times that there would be no early disconnect fee (and to not request disconnection) - They disconnected me when I refused their contract change after being told that I would not be charged in this circumstance. I subsequently received a confirmation that no money was owed. Then I started receiving bills monthly, which were waived in subsequent calls to support each month. Eventually all traces of the real disconnect event seems to have disappeared from their records and to have been replaced with my requesting a disconnect, so they now stand by their $210 disconnect fee.
Customer Service rep said my service would be disconnected for no charge, or $15, when I denied to accept their contract change. Later billed $210
Stop billing me for $210. Waive any fees and repair my credit if it has been affected by their collections department.
Date Problem First Occurred:
Product or Service: satellite television service
Model Name or Number:
Date Purchased: 4/1/2008
Amount In Dispute: $210.00
Company's Initial Response - Posted 10/15/2009
We are sorry for any misunderstanding concerning the difference between the disconnection or deactivation fee and the Early Cancellation Fee as outlined in the terms and conditions of service. We have reviewed your account and we are unable to waive your Early Cancellation Fee. Prior to the change in terms of the DIRECTV Customer Agreement in April 2009, you were using the service in accordance with the existing terms and conditions as well as the terms described in the DIRECTV Equipment Lease Addendum. The terms of your service were available in the DIRECTV Customer Agreement dated April 2007, which was provided with your first billing statement. In section 5 of that agreement it stated in part “…In addition to any deactivation or change of service fees provided in Section 2, if you cancel Service or change your Service package, you may be subject to an early cancellation fee if you entered into a separate programming commitment with DIRECTV in connection with obtaining Receiving Equipment, and have failed to maintain the required programming package for the required period of time.” On 5/11/09, you requested that your service be terminated (disconnected) because you did not like the customer service, guide or pricing. You declined all offers to retain your service and scheduled disconnection of the account. The equipment was returned to DIRECTV thus ending your DIRECTV service. Because you ended your service prior to completing the required service agreement, you were charged a valid Early Cancellation Fee. Respectfully, DIRECTV Office of the President
Initial Response Summary
Because you ended your service prior to completing the required service agreement, you were charged a valid Early Cancellation Fee.
Consumer's Rebuttal - Posted 10/16/2009
Section 5 is not applicable, since, as stated in my complaint, I never requested to be disconnected or deactivated. On 5/11/09, I did NOT request my service be terminated. That is false. A fabrication. An untruth. As stated in my complaint, I never requested to be disconnected. Returning equipment is not a significant event to equate to a request to disconnect. I don't see the relevance to my complaint. I am unable to prove that I never requested to be disconnected, since it didn't happen. You are unable to prove that I requested to be disconnected, since it didn't happen. I know that my disconnect fee was waived at least twice. I have a bill for $0.00 that I received after one of my complaint calls about the bill. I also know that my bill went into DirecTVs collections department and that they did not collect on my bill after telling me that they saw in their records where the disconnect fee had been waived. I don't know why normal billing then resumed after collections efforts stopped. This fee is an unfair billing practice that should be refunded to me.
Company's Final Response
Company's Final Response - Posted 10/22/2009
If the disconnection of your service was done in error, we would expect that you would have contacted us to reinstate your service. The return of your leased equipment confirms your request to no longer continue with the DIRECTV service, as you are unable to continue with service without the equipment. You received a statement with a $0.00 balance as this statement only reflected programming charges. Your Early Cancellation Fee applied after you account was disconnected, and a statement was mailed reflecting the new balance due. The existing terms of your service agreement were not affected by the revised DIRECTV Customer Agreement that took effect in April 2009. Your service agreement was in exchange for discounted leased equipment and installation. As previously advised, there is no record your service agreement would be waived. You have not provided us with any additional information to change our position. Your Early Cancellation Fee is valid. Respectfully, DIRECTV Office of the President
- I never said it was an error, I just said I didn't request it. DirecTV canceled it on purpose.
- The return of the equipment does not confirm any request, as no request was made. I returned the equipment only because you told me my service had been canceled for no (or nominal) charge so I didn't need the equipment any more.
- I'm sorry I assumed that a $0.00 bill meant I owed $0.00. Having already assumed that being told I wouldn't have to pay an early disconnect fee and been lied to about that, you would think I would know better.
- I'm not sure about the relevance of "Your service agreement was in exchange for discounted leased equipment and installation". If you mean the changes to the contract were in regard to discounted leased equipment and installation, then it's irrelevant. You can change the contract to offer me free service, and it's still a contract change that I don't have to accept. What has changed doesn't matter.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- I paid the $210 bill to protect my credit
- I filed a complaint with the BBB, and got a response back from DirecTV where they called me a liar. I rebutted with "No, you're a liar, and a poopy-head" and we got into a slap fight. I'm still waiting to see their response to my rebuttal.
- I filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs.
- I called the Office of the President after they emailed me and lied, saying that they attempted to call me and couldn't reach me. (Nothing on my caller id on any of my telephones, no messages, so I think it's safe to assume they lied) They basically called me a liar and said I owed the $210 because their records showed I canceled.
- I sent notification to DirecTV that I was pursuing arbitration as soon as contractually allowable.
- I relish in the thought that even if I lose at arbitration, I've called them more than 13 times and sent multiple letters. Assuming that each all costs them about $7.50, that's about $100. Arbitration will cost me about $50 and them about $750.00. If only I could have them shut down. I resent the fact that they continue to cost me money and time for their own mistakes and incompetence.
I gave up all my rights to not be tracked by the government so I can do my job for the government. You don't have to, and more importantly, you shouldn't.
It's an easy read, aimed at teens, but it's also a really good book.
If you don't mind reading online, or have an ebook reader, you can download it for free at
or by using the Stanza app for the iPhone.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Here's the logs from my tech support chat at rhapsody. A couple funny parts in there.
Hello. Welcome to Real's Live Chat. How can I help you? [07:03:16 PM]James was killing me. Of course it didn't work, still, so then I get this gem:
Derek Karnes: Hey James. I just purchased two albums and can't download them [07:03:34 PM]
Derek Karnes: I went for the zip option, which gave me a tomcat error, then gave me "unable to reach web server" error [07:03:59 PM]
Derek Karnes: so now I'm trying to use the rhapsody download manager and i keep getting [07:04:11 PM]
Derek Karnes: "Your track cannot be downloaded..blah blah [07:04:34 PM]
Derek Karnes: any chance you can just give me a link to the zip file? [07:04:52 PM]
James: Hi Derek, This is James in Technical Support. [07:05:07 PM]
James: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. [07:05:10 PM]
Derek Karnes: I'm on satellite internet so my latency is always high.. probably messing up the download manager [07:05:09 PM]
James: Sure, I will do my best to assist you with this. [07:05:11 PM]
James: Please give me a couple of minutes while I check your account. [07:05:12 PM]
James: I do see that you are the credit card holder of the account and you have an 'Rhapsody Free ' membership under this e-mail address 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. [07:07:02 PM]
Derek Karnes: yes... [07:07:17 PM]
James: Am I correct in understanding that you are having problem to download your Rhapsody purchased tracks? [07:08:31 PM]
Derek Karnes: yes... [07:08:44 PM]
James: Thank you for the confirmation. [07:09:59 PM]
James: s1 [07:10:00 PM]
James: Sure, I can help you with this. [07:10:01 PM]
James: May I know the version of operating system with service pack using in your computer? [07:10:22 PM]
James: Choose My Computer on the desktop of your screen --> Right Click --> Select Properties --> Check for version.
James: Is it Windows Vista or Windows XP or Windows 2000 Professional or Windows 98 etc?
Derek Karnes: that's really none of your business, i just want my music that I purcahsed [07:11:18 PM]
Derek Karnes: XP [07:11:28 PM]
Derek Karnes: SP 3 [07:11:35 PM]
Derek Karnes: professional version 2002 [07:11:44 PM]
James: Let me know the security software or Firewall Installed on your computer. [07:11:59 PM]
Derek Karnes: no firewall [07:12:11 PM]
Derek Karnes: avg free viraus scan software [07:12:23 PM]
James: May I know the type of Internet connection you using in your computer? [07:12:34 PM]
James: Is it broadband connection or dial up or wireless or any other? [07:12:36 PM]
Derek Karnes: i already said i was using satellite internet [07:12:48 PM]
Derek Karnes: with extremely high latency [07:12:58 PM]
Derek Karnes: so if rhapsody uses some sort of peer-to-peer connection, it's not going to work [07:13:23 PM]
Derek Karnes: that's why i asked for a link to a zip file or some way to actually download the music [07:13:44 PM]
James: Please let me know the web browser name and version which you are using to download Rhapsody purchases. (Internet Explore or Mozilla Firefox) [07:14:10 PM]
Derek Karnes: mozilla firefox [07:14:24 PM]
James: Please try to download your purchases using IE browser. [07:14:52 PM]
Derek Karnes: seriously? [07:15:01 PM]
James: Open the below link with Internet Explorer and try to download them:
James: Yes, Please. [07:15:12 PM]
James: I hope that will fix the issue. [07:15:17 PM]
Derek Karnes: how could that possibly fix the issue? [07:15:33 PM]
James: I am sorry to say that we do not tested information to access Firefox latest version to download Rhaposody tracks. [07:16:20 PM]
James: You can use Internet Explorer or Google Chrome browser to download tracks to your computer. [07:16:36 PM]
Derek Karnes: umm ok.. I'm signing in via IE now [07:16:45 PM]
James: Sure, I'll wait for your reply. [07:17:04 PM]
Derek Karnes: but I'm pretty sire that it's just going to kick off the rhapsody download manager , that doesn't work [07:17:06 PM]
Derek Karnes: sign is is "contacting server..." [07:17:39 PM]
Derek Karnes: still. [07:18:10 PM]
Derek Karnes: I clicked the sign in button again, and it is still sitting on "Contacting Server..." [07:19:34 PM]
James: Do you receive any error message? [07:19:44 PM]
Derek Karnes: no, it's just sitting there [07:20:33 PM]
Derek Karnes: going to try and log in from main screen instead of from your link [07:20:48 PM]
Derek Karnes: ok, im signed in, now trying your link [07:21:41 PM]
James: Sure, I'll wait for your reply. [07:21:54 PM]
Derek Karnes: clicked All, then Download Selected Tracks [07:22:02 PM]
Derek Karnes: it launched the mp3 download manager, just like firefox did... [07:22:28 PM]
Derek Karnes: all my tracks are Waiting... [07:22:38 PM]
Derek Karnes: and now they're each going to the same error message [07:22:56 PM]
Derek Karnes: Your track can not be downloaded. Go to My Downloads to try again. [07:23:08 PM]
Derek Karnes: imagine that :) [07:23:16 PM]
James: Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. [07:23:47 PM]
James: Do you have Google Chrome browser in your computer? [07:24:01 PM]
Derek Karnes: no [07:25:09 PM]
James: Not a problem. [07:25:26 PM]
James: I hope resetting IE browser settings will fix this issue. [07:25:28 PM]
James: Performing the steps in the below article may disconnect our chat session and I regret for that. If the issue persists, please feel free to contact us again and we will be glad to assist you further. [07:25:33 PM]
cgi-bin/reclisten.cfg/php/[07:25:34 PM] enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid= 4373
James: Are you able to access above link? [07:25:42 PM]
Derek Karnes: James, you and I both know that resetting the IE browser settings isn't going o fix anything [07:25:50 PM]
James: Are you already done with the resetting IE browser settings? [07:26:47 PM]
Derek Karnes: the browser isn't even being used for the download, the rhapsody manager is [07:26:41 PM]
Derek Karnes: let's say I am.. what would be the next step? [07:27:04 PM]
James: Once if the Rhapsody Download Manager start download then it will continue. [07:27:12 PM]
Derek Karnes: the download manager always gives me an error. that's what I've been telling you. [07:27:36 PM]
Derek Karnes: its starts. [07:27:41 PM]
Derek Karnes: i see my songs [07:27:44 PM]
Derek Karnes: they get an error downloadig. [07:27:47 PM]
James: Then,We need to uninstall Rhapsody Download Manager and reinstall it after performing disc clean up. [07:28:11 PM]
James: Click on "Start " at left bottom of your computer and select "Control Panel" . Open "Add or Remove Programs" and remove "Rhapsody Download Manager" from the list. [07:28:19 PM]
James: Please click on Start > All Programs > Accessories >System tools > Disk Clean up. [07:28:23 PM]
Derek Karnes: Can you please just give me a zip likn to my songs? [07:28:26 PM]
Derek Karnes: *link [07:28:33 PM]
James: Then try to download Rhapsody Download Manager or you can download as zip format. [07:28:48 PM]
Derek Karnes: I really don't want to spend the next half hour defragging my freaking hard drive to download a zip file [07:28:50 PM]
Derek Karnes: how to get to the zip format? [07:28:59 PM]
James: You can uninstall Rhapsody Download Manager in your computer and then you can try downloading your purchased songs in Zip format. [07:29:29 PM]
Derek Karnes: do i uninstall it from the control panel? [07:29:55 PM]
Derek Karnes: yes, uninstalling now. [07:31:15 PM]
Derek Karnes: it's going to kill our chat. [07:31:24 PM]
James: Yes, From 'Add or Remove Programs'. [07:31:26 PM]
James: If still the issue persists feel free to contact back. [07:31:30 PM]
Communication with the end-user has been lost. Please wait while attempts are made to restore the connection. [07:33:31 PM]
James: Are we still connected? [07:34:19 PM]
Communication with the end-user has been lost and they have been disconnected. [07:35:33 PM]
'Derek Karnes' disconnected ('Participant Left'). [07:35:33 PM]
Hello. Welcome to Real's Live Chat. How can I help you? [07:38:43 PM]In their defense, the tier 2 support did contact me within 24 hours and did promise to credit my account, saying that their service doesn't work with satellite users.
Derek Karnes: hi natalie [07:38:55 PM]
Derek Karnes: I just tried to get my music downloaded for more than 30 minutes with another support person [07:39:23 PM]
Derek Karnes: i get this error trying to download the zip file: [07:39:46 PM]
Derek Karnes: HTTP Status 403 - Exceeding Download Limit. ------------------------------
------------------------------ -------------------- type Status report message Exceeding Download Limit. description Access to the specified resource (Exceeding Download Limit.) has been forbidden. ------------------------------ ------------------------------ -------------------- [07:39:47 PM]
Derek Karnes: and the rhapsody manager doesn't work at all [07:39:57 PM]
Natalie: I'm sorry to hear that you are unable to download music. [07:40:13 PM]
Derek Karnes: is there any way you can refund my money/cancel my order [07:40:14 PM]
Natalie: Sure. I can help you with the information. [07:40:22 PM]
Natalie: Please give me couple of minutes while I access your membership details. [07:40:24 PM]
Derek Karnes: I've wasted my entire night here and I'm not at all happy about it [07:40:30 PM]
Derek Karnes: I'm the primary account holder and I have a temporary membership [07:40:48 PM]
Derek Karnes: I'm using windows XP SP 3 professional 2002 edition [07:41:04 PM]
Derek Karnes: i have no firewall [07:41:09 PM]
Natalie: I do see that you are the credit card holder of the account and you have purchased tracks under this e-mail address: email@example.com [07:41:13 PM]
Derek Karnes: I'm using AVG free anti-virus [07:41:16 PM]
Natalie: I see your track status as purchased, you can very well redownload them. [07:41:34 PM]
Natalie: Sure, I can help you with that. [07:41:38 PM]
Natalie: May I know the version of Windows (98, ME, XP, 2000, Vista) that you are using? [07:41:42 PM]
Derek Karnes: well, except that the download link doesn't work [07:41:50 PM]
Derek Karnes: i already told you that information [07:41:59 PM]
Derek Karnes: Derek Karnes: I'm using windows XP SP 3 professional 2002 edition [07:42:05 PM]
Natalie: I apologize for the inconvenience caused. [07:42:22 PM]
Natalie: May I know the version of your Internet Explorer installed in your computer? [07:42:25 PM]
Derek Karnes: can i just get a refund? [07:42:24 PM]
Natalie: No, there are no refunds given in the Rhapsody MP3 Store. [07:42:37 PM]
Derek Karnes: version 8.0.6001.18702 [07:42:52 PM]
Derek Karnes: well, there sure will be a credit card dispute filed against the rhapsody MP3 store :) [07:43:14 PM]
Derek Karnes: if I don't get my purchase in short order [07:43:23 PM]
Natalie: Do you have any alternate web browser like firefox? [07:44:23 PM]
Derek Karnes: yeah, i started out with that I'm getting an error from YOUR WEB SERVER [07:44:48 PM]
Derek Karnes: when i click the download link [07:44:54 PM]
Natalie: Please let me know the internet connection type which you are using. (Dial UP , DSL , Cable or Wi - Fi) [07:45:07 PM]
Derek Karnes: satellite [07:45:18 PM]
Natalie: Thanks for providing the information. [07:45:24 PM]
Natalie: In order to resolve this issue, I suggest you to perform the steps given in the article I will be giving you now. [07:45:43 PM]
cgi-bin/reclisten.cfg/php/[07:45:50 PM] enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid= 4373
Natalie: Performing the steps in the above article may disconnect our chat session and I regret for that. If the issue persists, please feel free to contact us again and we will be glad to assist you further. [07:45:58 PM]
Derek Karnes: i already did that [07:46:21 PM]
Derek Karnes: when i was in chat with the other guy for a half hour [07:46:30 PM]
Derek Karnes: there's NOTHING wrong with my computer, my internet connection or anything on my end [07:46:58 PM]
Derek Karnes: its YOUR SERVER [07:47:04 PM]
Derek Karnes: this link does NOT work. From anywhere in the world http://direct.rhapsody.com/
download/data/[07:47:24 PM] getMultifileDownloadItems.zip? downloadGroupId=9519820& downloadId=xxx
Derek Karnes: on any machine [07:47:26 PM]
Natalie: I apologize that I am not able to answer this. I would like to transfer this conversation to someone better able to assist you. I move this chat session into an email. You can expect a response from one of our Tier 2 Agents within 24 hours. [07:48:13 PM]
Derek Karnes: thanks. I look forward to never doing business with you again. I'm sorry you have to work there. [07:49:05 PM]
Natalie: You can expect a response from one of our Tier 2 Agents within 24 hours. [07:50:11 PM]
Natalie: Is there anything else that I can help you with today?
Derek Karnes: good night [07:50:29 PM]
'Derek Karnes' disconnected ('Concluded by End-user'). [07:50:30 PM]
Amazon.com's download was really nice.. their download manager give you an option to try it on a free song, and everything worked great.
BTW,if you have the chance to get satellite internet... don't. I'd seriously rather have dial-up, or spend all the money that it costs (it's expensive) on a blackberry and download the app that lets you use it as a modem over their wireless internet.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
PO BOX 6550
Greenwood Village, CO 80155-6550
I am writing you for assistance waiving the fee for closing my DirecTV account.
In late April of this year, I contacted DirecTV customer service for clarification on published on the change of contract. I was told that if I did not accept the new terms of the agreement, DirecTV would cancel my contract, and that I was be subject to DirecTV’s early cancellation fee of $15.00. Several times I asked and confirmed that this was DirecTV canceling my policy, and that I was subject to only the $15 fee, not that I was requesting cancellation and subject to the early cancellation fee. I informed DirecTV at that time that I did not accept the terms and that I would accept the $15 fee. I returned the receiver/leased equipment promptly.
In May I received a bill for $210. I contacted customer service who informed me that the bill was an error on DirecTV's part. The service agent informed me that they had taken steps to correct the error and that I could ignore the bill.
In June I received I received another bill for $210. I contacted customer service who informed me that the bill was an error on DirecTV's part. The service agent informed me that they had taken steps to correct the error and that I could ignore the bill.
In July I was contacted by the collections department for $210. They said they could see nothing in the system that the bill had ever been corrected, and that the money was still owed. They referred me to another department within DirecTV, where I spoke with another gentleman who said he was capable of taking care of the problem. He eventually told me to ignore the bill and that the problem had been taken care of.
In August I received a bill for $210. I contacted customer service who said they could see no record of me ever contacting customer service, nor of it going to collections, but that they would escalate the problem and I should hear something within 3 days. The next day my credit card was billed for $210. I contacted my credit card to dispute the billing. No one from DirecTV ever contacted me about the escalation as the service representative said they would.
On Friday I received a bill for $210. I contacted customer service, who said they were unable to help me, and that my only recourse was to write the Office the President of DirecTV. Unable to believe this, they said my other option was to re-sign with DirecTV. However, I already have a satellite TV service and am not in need of another.
I'm writing you to ask for your assistance in closing this issue. I understand that you are a very large company with many layers of bureaucracy and I am unable to fight through them. Should you decline to assist in this matter, please let me know as soon as possible so that I may contact the arbitration service.
No really, you're dicks.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they're on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more.
There are two types of schedule, which I'll call the manager's schedule and the maker's schedule. The manager's schedule is for bosses. It's embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you're doing every hour.
When you use time that way, it's merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you're done.
Most powerful people are on the manager's schedule. It's the schedule of command. But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.
When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That's no problem for someone on the manager's schedule. There's always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker's schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.
For someone on the maker's schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn't merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.
Read the entire thing at :
No, Really. It's not.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
And of course, paid the interns to (optionally) attend it.