Monday, January 23, 2012

Direct TV & Other Minutia

I got the hankering yesterday and got it done.
I hate calling Direct TV.  They have some of the rudest, crass and calloused incoming call center employees of any company, though they certainly aren't alone in that feat of mastery in how to diss your own customers.
But, the current set of free movie channels is going to expire soon and I wanted another new set up and running - for free of course - before those run out.

Of course, it really isn't free, is it?  I spend $90 per month for the Direct TV package I have and that doesn't include if we get any pay-per-views.  For that much money, yes, I want a continual string of free movie channels and if I have to call in and get confrontational with them - which sometimes I have to be and other times they just give them to me without any argument - then that's what I am going to do. 

Yesterday was unusual on 2 fronts.  First, I got it done in one phone call, albeit I had to talk to 3 separate people on that phone call and second because a person claiming to be an operations manager got on the phone. 

It's helpful when calling them to have your facts ready to give at no-hesitation's notice.  I have that company down, oh yes, I do.  The first person I talked to I knew probably wouldn't give them to me, but I tried anyway and was very nice about it.. Sorry, Mr. Benb, we can't do that for you.  Perhaps you can't do it, but someone higher up will, may I please speak to your supervisor? 

The supervisor gets on the phone and as usual, I am adamently told that I will never get free channels.  Not going to go into detail with that particular conversation as it got nowhere and I ended it abruptly: I would like to speak to your manager, please and thank you.  In case you get the wrong idea here, I always use courtesy language and as polite and respectful to them as they are to me.  Which on many occasions, hasn't been all that much.

So, Mr. Whoever gets on the line apparently attempting to take a tone of authority with me, stating his position in the company as an operations manager and after a grandiose introduction, how can he help me?  Just give me the free Starz channels and we're good, I replied.  The conversation went quickly down hill after that after this individual got short with me as I wasn't budging.

You see, customer service reps mistake a person that won't take no for an answer as a person that is being rude.  As the old saying goes, we can agree to disagree, agreeably.  But that is never the case with Direct TV.  The man also states that I will "never" get any more free channels but his tones were abrasive and his verbage completely condescening, a thing I don't tolerate from a company I have paid untold thousands of dollars to over the years for their service. 

"You do realize, Mr. So and So, that I know your company's policies and one of them is that every single phone call is recorded and that I can call corporate and ask to have this phone call reviewed?  Corporate won't have to take my word for, they can listen to the call themselves.  Further, when I call corporate tomorrow, they will give me the channels, anyway, I was just attempting to go through the normal channels first and see if I would get anywhere with it.  You are being rude, condescending and you sound NOTHING like any operations manager I have EVER spoken with at any corporation.  You are being completely unprofessional in your stance with me.  Let me say to you that I have spent untold thousands of dollars with your company over the years and I don't appreciate your tones with me".

"Please hold while I review your account".  When they review my account, they never look back at the decade of service I had with them before my house burned down, they only look at the current account and mistakenly believe that I have only been with them for - well going on 4 years now with this current account so it's getting up there, too.  They seem to not find that other account until, of course, I bring it up to them.

After quite  a bit of time passes - like over 5 minutes - he gets back on the line. "Mr. Benb, I have very carefully reviewed your account and I will give you a one-time courtesy of 3 months of Starz for free, but it's this time only and it won't happen again".  "If you are asking me to agree to never ask for free movie channels again, Mr. So and So, then I absolutely don't agree to it. Further, you undoubtedly only looked at the history on THIS account, you didn't bother to check how long I was with your company before my house burned down of which I had an account with your company for somewhere around a decade". 

A long silence after that statement.  Yes, indeed.  "Even further,  I spend $90 a month on your company's service and that isn't exactly what I would call at the lower end of the payment spectrum.  I'm guessing that is a lot more than the average household spends.  Even further than that, your company gives free channels to new subscribers but for people that have been with your company for over a decade - we get nothing unless we call in and ask for it or have to demand it". 

That is some of my standard, modus-operandi statements to them - but it's not just spoken in passing, I really believe I should get the free channels just because of my longevity with their company, the amount I spend every month for TV and the total amount I have spent with them since starting somewhere in the mid 90's, I think it was.  I always get them, though sometimes that's taken several days worth of calls to accomplish that feat.

In 3 months?  I'll be calling them again. 

Today?  I came home from work early.  I was not and am not feeling all that great and am writing this from my bed.  I just plain don't feel well and I already took a 2 hour nap.  I have to say that buying this laptop is one of the better expenditures of money I have made.  In reality, I don't even watch that much TV, I could do without Direct TV altogether but my tenants wouldn't exactly go for that.  The great lure of my house for attracting tenants is having Direct TV in every bedroom; free Wifi and having very large bedrooms compared to most houses in these parts.  13X15 is not exactly a small bedroom.  The other 2 are 11X15.  Many bedrooms I see listed on Craigslist for rent are more like 10x10 or even smaller. 

Anyway, this laptop is getting a lot of use and frankly, it's nice that I can lay in bed if I feel like it and still get on the net and not have to sit at a desk.  Though, honestly, my desktop computer is WAY faster than this thing.  I spent the money on that computer to make it fast and fast it is. 

Here I thought maybe I would use it if I were waiting at a stop in the semi or up North only.  I am, however, curtailing the spending of money and have been since Christmas.  I will spend whatever I need to to finish that trailer, yes, but even with that I am waiting until my funds are back up a bit. I already bought most of the stuff for the roof, so it's just a matter of finishing those projects, not a matter of buying the materials.  I still have to buy a queen sized mattress, a microwave and  probably replace the carpeting.   Buy them one at a time.  I got my W-2 offline at work, I have my mortgage statement for 2011  and the only other thing waiting for is giving at church.  Oh, and for whatever reason you can also use car registration as a deduction, lol.

My focus after finishing this trailer is going to be saving even more money than I currently am.  It's going to cost $300 to move that thing up north.  I've probably got another $700 or more to spend on that thing - including moving it - before it is done.  I am not doing it half-@$$ed,  I want it right before it leaves the property, cause' honey, there ain't no way I'm gonna want to work on that thing up there.  Not at the git-go, anyway. 

I guess I didn't bother to say that I am quite sick right now, went to the doctor several hours ago, go an injection, took 4 pills, was given eye drops and some sort of cream and yes, I am  not going to work tomorrow and got off early today.

I think it's bedtime.


Monday 1/23/2012

I thought about being a Walmart greeter - you know, when you are attempting to retire and not having enough money, you find yourself in the position of having to go out and find something to do to keep money coming in.  It isn't that I think lowly of Walmart greeters, it's that I don't think I am going to WANT to be standing there doing that or anything similar at the age of - what - 65? 70?

I'm simply motivating myself to take another step in the savings process and either add at least 1 percentage point to withdrawals for 401k or add another $10 to $20 weekly on the bank savings withdrawal.

If I don't keep beating myself up over this - the idea of going into my 60's broke, poor and facing a the end years of my life in a state of want and possibly even hunger or homelessness - I will not stay vigilant about this savings plan and I will, in the end, fail.

It's easier to save in a 401k than in a bank savings account, though.  You can't easily access 401k savings.  You can take out loans, but you have to pay them back and in the company I am working for, you can only have 2 out at a time.  The 401k loans are, of course, a bad idea.  I know this but I have taken them out anyway.   The great disadvantage to taking out those loans is the compounding interest.  The more money you have in that account, the more you will make on interest.  To that front, I am attempting to save up enough money in a bank savings account that I won't have to touch 401k savings ever again, or, at least, not until I retire.  I figure having at least 5k in an emergency savings fund is about right.

I know financial guru's tell me differently.  They tell you you should have 6 months worth of pay saved up.  That's no small chunk of change and though it isn't impossible, it would take years to save up that much money.  However, to realize my "dream" of having rental properties, that's exactly what's going to have to happen. I am going to have to save up a lot of money to get a second loan.  Any lender would have to see a substantial chunk of change - meaning I would suffer a sizable loss if I foreclosed on something - down on the table.

The other idea that has always lurked in the back of my head is an RV park.  I have considered that idea for at least 10 years now.  Too bad I didn't start saving towards such end that long ago, lol.  An RV park won't make a person rich, but certainly will make a decent income if it's set up properly and appeals to enough people to want to stay there overnight and others living there.  Some of the parks around here are pure and total dumps.  They  are nothing but dirt lots and dirt driveways.  Pretty ugly stuff, really.  Some of them are exceptionally beautiful and well maintained.

But I wouldn't even consider starting one inside city limits.  Too much beauracracy, red tape and all of the nonsense that goes into having to deal with city officials to get the approval of such, if you can even get approval of such.  They don't exactly like such places, to be honest.  At least, not the ones that look like earthly hell.

Onto other things.  Well, time is almost up and not a lot of other things to speak about in a short time period. Work day almost here.  I have a mind full of things that are floating around, not endlessly but I do tend to analyze things well into their potential endings.

Whatever the case, time to be off to work.



Well it's almost 3 pm and I haven't heard from the manager about a run for tomorrow, so I'm going to assume that it isn't go...