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Tag: Consumerism (Page 1 of 8)

Star Wars Comes to Blu-Ray — SOLD

I will be sure to purchase Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-Ray when it comes out in September.   If you have yet to see the trailer shown during its announcement, it’s available here.

I cannot resist the lure of lining George Lucas’ pockets with more of my hard-earned dollars in an effort to recapture that which so captivated me in my youth.  Sarcasm aside, even with this being the Lucas-tampered versions of the original trilogy, I am certain to enjoy it in all its high-def glory.

A (Brief) Tale of Slamming by Cheap2Dial

I am posting this in the event anyone else encounters this.  I was in the midst of paying bills online this evening, and I noticed that my Verizon bill–for both my home and wireless phone service–was higher than usual.  My bill is currently running higher than normal on account of actually having to get local and long-distance service with my current houseguest.

As I was reviewing my bill, I came across the following charges.

USBI1

I had to scratch my chin here, as I had no idea why my bill had a charge for $16.28.  I clicked on the link in my online bill, and I was shown this:

USBI-Cheap2DialI now find it quite interesting that I am being billed for Cheap2Dial Telephone, a service for which I know I have not signed up.  Thanks to Google, I find their website and start poking around.  I see that this service offers Domestic Long Distance plans.  I clearly have no need for this plan, as I have the Verizon Freedom plan which covers all my needs.  While reading further on the Cheap2Dial website, I see the following statement:

How am I billed for using Cheap2Dial?
Although Cheap2Dial is not affiliated with your local telephone company, the monthly recurring charges for the plan you choose will appear on your local telephone bill on the USBI portion of your bill on behalf of Cheap2Dial Telephone, LLC. You will continue to receive the monthly recurring charges on your local telephone bill until you cancel the plan.

It is now pretty clear to me that I have fallen prey to “slamming.”  I immediately call Cheap2Dial to have this service turned off.  I also inquired as to when this change was made, and it was made on 7 May 2009.  I find that interesting as I was in the office all day long, and the only person who could possibly have made the change was my houseguest.  I inquired as to if she changed it, and she did not.

My next call will be tomorrow morning to Verizon to have this charge reversed.  I will also be making sure that this does not happen again on my phone bill.  My landline is not going anywhere anytime soon, but I expect to change my calling plan to the cheapest one once my houseguest is no longer here.

Cheap2Dial and USBI have gained a reputation for slamming customers. I can only advise you to ensure you look at your phone bill and are not a victim of slamming.

Deciding on a Replacement Mobile Phone

As a result of being a victim of crime last week, I am now thrust in the unenviable position of having to purchase a new cell phone.  While I could gladly get an inexpensive phone to replace the one I had, the unfortunate gadget lust I have is a bit too much to resist.

My current contract with Verizon Wireless expires in June 2009.  If I wait until that time, I am eligible for the “New Every 2” promotional offer.  I spoke with Verizon while reconnecting my old phone to make sure that this had no impact on my current contract status given that I am effectively forced to reactivate.  I was assured that my reactivation should have no impact on my contract status.  So, if I stay with Verizon and wait until my contract expires, I can get a substantial discount towards the purchase of a new phone.

I am also pondering a change of carriers.  While keeping my old number is not an issue, I am looking for a way to avoid paying a potentially substantial early termination fee.  I am also a off-put by the vast difference in network quality between Verizon and the alternatives.  For all of Verizon’s faults, their cellular network is pretty good.  Additionally, it is a pretty good 3G network as well.  I rarely have issues with calls and messages.

I have also come to the decision that I really want a smartphone.  My time with my work CrackBerry has been illuminating.  I like having my calendar and my contacts on my device, and it is unparalleled when it comes to email.  Thus, my first pass on potential replacements have come down to the following three choices:

  • Apple iPhone
  • BlackBerry Storm
  • HTC G1 (The Android/Google Phone)

Phone

Pros

Cons

iPhone 3G  image

– Integrated WiFi connectivity

– Useful Applications

– Full-featured browser

– Actually recommended by a friend

– All the cool kids are doing it

– JailBreak makes this attractive

– Touchscreen

– GPS

– Apple makes it

– Requires iTunes

– Browser is Safari

– Pricing for the phone and plan still suck

– AT&T 3G Network sucks

– No cut and paste

– No MMS messages

– on-screen keyboard does not work in landscape mode

– Navigation between apps is a kludge

– Touchscreen has no tactile feedback

HTC G1
image
– Integrated WiFi connectivity
– Google integration
– Touchscreen and hidden QWERTY keyboard
– Least expensive of the three phones
– Open-source OS
– Extremely hackable
– GPS

– Cut and paste

– MMS Messaging

– T-Mobile network makes AT&T network look awesome
– Odd form-factor
– Largest phone of the three
– Swing-out keyboard/display is kind of dated
BlackBerry Storm
image
– Familiar BlackBerry OS
– Touchscreen with tactile feedback
– Verizon Network
– GPS
– Pretty decent browser by BlackBerry standards
– Decent application availability
– Touchscreen keyboard in both landscape and portrait modes

– Cut and paste

– MMS Messaging

– No WiFi
– Reported slow responsiveness
– Yet another BlackBerry to carry
– Slightly less-expensive than the iPhone (after a mail-in rebate)

I am leaning in the direction of the Storm.  I have gotten some feedback from friends who are new BlackBerry users, and they like it.  I have also used the Storm, and I like the way it feels.  I do feel its lack of WiFi is a severe weakness when compared to the G1 and the iPhone.  I have played with the G1, thanks to a coworker.  It’s form factor is a bit odd, as it kind of bends at the end where the mouthpiece is.  I like the G1 because, well, it’s open-source.  The problem: T-Mobile.  Finally, the only reason the iPhone makes the list is so that I can hack it via JailBreak.

I will probably make a decision in the next week.  The Storm, though, is a strong contender.

Not So Subtle Reminders

This evening, while grabbing a quick bite to eat from the local Safeway, I was reminded of why I never shop there.  As I stood waiting in the Express lane, I was the second person behind a woman who decided that she would break her purchase out among a couple of different credit cards.  This process went on for what seemed like forever, as the woman had the cashier remove items from her bill to get one of the cards to process.  At the end, the woman had to scrounge for change from her wallet.  If memory serves, the final amount needed was .69 cents. If I had loose change, I would have thrown it down on the belt.

On top of this, I was able to watch one of the people who lurk outside the store trying to sell what I can only guess were stolen DVDs.  Wonderful.

I love my neighborhood, but it’s times like these when I am so glad I choose to shop elsewhere.  No more visits to the Safeway in my neighborhood, that’s for sure.

Working from the Dining Room

As I write this, I am between dialing into a conference bridge at work for what is the last in a long weekend of maintenance.  I should note I am writing this from one of my two new dining room chairs that I picked up today.  Behold them in all their glory in the photo I took from my BlackBerry today:

In the above photos, there are chairs indeed in my dining room!  They work quite nicely with my table, so I will be ordering another couple of chairs to complete the set.  So, my little Indonesian worker will soon be at work on another two chairs.

As I said when I bought my house, the growth in my furniture is a slow burn.  Once I get the other two chairs, the dining room will be complete.

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