Monday, January 26, 2009

Call Centers

So last week, I get a text message saying "Good News, T-Mobile has added a new tower near your home for better call quailty! T-Mobile, stick together!"

This is great, because every day, on my drive home, I always drop the call when I drive through one particular intersection. Two days before I got that text, I noticed that the calls weren't being dropped. This was a nice surprise.

So Friday afternoon, I'm sitting at home and the phone dings, I look down to see that I have a voice mail. Funny, I don't remember the phone ringing. I look again, no bars, and the "X" above the bars and "No Service" on the screen. HUH? I rebooted the phone and had signal, 5 seconds later, the X again. Weird.

I called Tmobile Tech Support, where I was on hold for less than one minute, and immediately had an ENGLISH SPEAKING representative on the line, that spoke with no accents (well maybe a little southern drawl). He was concise, clear, and understood my issues, and his directions to try to help solve the problems were easy to follow. This was GREAT. Anyway, its temporarily band-aided, his guess is there's something not plugged in or configured right at the new tower. Regardless, I have signal (2G Network). I thanked him and told him that I appreciated T-mobile keeping some of their call centers in the USA with good english speaking folks working there. He laughed and thanked me.

So T-Mobile, Thank You for having good, understandable, competent and friendly folks staffing your call centers in the USA.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it 1986 All over again?

For those of you that were around in 1985, Ford launched the Taurus, the car that saved Ford.

Are you humming the cheesy song? Thank goodness the car was good enough to overcome the terrible commercial.

What happened? 2007, the last Taurus rolled off the line. Long since becoming a favorite of company cars and rental fleets. Ford let a good product die on the vine. Seems to be something they're good at doing. I don't think Taurus was competitive in the retail Market for at least 4 or 5 years before it died.

Ford does this with a lot of their vehicles, Ranger, Econoline, Crown Victoria, fleet favorites that probably would remain competitive with a little refreshening. These are all vehicles that are reliable, durable and well built, and unfortunately, outdated.

Fast forward, Ford rebadges the 2005 Five Hundred to the 2008 Ford Taurus, which a bunch of little changes (for the better) and a Decent 3.5L 24 Valve Duratec, good for 263 hp. While its not 'all new', I appreciate Ford bringing back the name. But its not good enough to go head to head with Camry and Accord, missing may nicities and key features and the general panache and buyers expect...yet.

Lets face it, there are too many damn nice cars that are available in the 20-25K range, both new and used. What makes the 08-09 Taurus Stand out? Not much...

On Sunday, Jan 11, 2009, the 2010 Ford Taurus was released. This is an all new design that will bring Ford back. This car is equipped with the Proven 3.5L Duratec, 6 Speed Automatic, (SEL and Limited will get paddle shifters).

Three trim lines, SE, SEL and Limited, base price of $25,995 for the SE, but that gives you a Standard V6 with a 6 speed automatic. Accord and Camry make you pay extra for the V6.

I think its better looking than what Japan has to offer, and the fit and finish look rich and switchgear look of quality. While I'm generally not a fan of Front Wheel Driven vehicles, this car does appeal. Job #2 (late 2010 Production) will bring a 340 hp Twin Turbo "EcoBoost V6 to the mix. I also hear rumors of the SHO returning....

I'm pretty excited that Ford has decided to get back into the car game. Don't get me wrong, I love how they're really doing well with trucks, but a few years ago, they made the mistake of putting all their eggs in the Truck/SUV Game, letting their cars become favorites of rental fleets. This is good for Ford. Check back when I review the 2010 Fusion Next!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Comcast: Its our mistake, but you Pay.

So back after Thanksgiving, I get home, and turn the tube on while I make supper.

Nothing, just a blank screen. There's a channel guide, but no picture. So I use Comcast chat and they tell me someone will be out there on Friday afternoon. Friday rolls around, Comcast shows up, come to find out, when they installed my cable, they didnt 'tag' my line as a paid customer, 2 years ago. So earlier that week, Comcasts auditors were in the area checking the lines, and seeing my line wasn't tagged, they disconnected it. No problem. The tech reconnects it and leaves, not checking anything inside.

So, 30 minutes after he goes, I sit down to have a bite to eat in front of the TV. Guess what? The Channels work fine except for the HD channels. Everyone on HD has tourettes and stuttering. I check the bedroom TV, all channels fine. Guest room TV, all channels have snow and ghosting. Great. So Christmas comes and goes, and I get back on Comcast Chat to talk to a person, telling them that this was not like this before they ever messed with the cable. She told me there is a problem, so they'd come out Saturday.

The tech comes out Saturday, checks the drop and the signal, and says that a Booster needs to be put in, and usually "we need to do it because so many new houses are being put in around here". No problem. Guy puts it in, checks a few channels and says I'm ready to go. He leaves, and its 95% better, but still does it a little, but I can live with it.

Low and behold, the next cable bill comes, and its got a charge of $24.95 on it for a service call!!! I was never told anything about charges that I would have to pay for something that was working FINE until they turned it off because they didn't tag it correctly. Un-BELIEVABLE. The chat line rep said nothing, the Tech said nothing. The bill says $24.95.

Maybe its time to switch to U-Verse.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Citrus Marinated Grilled Shrimp and Spicy Rice

My mom, the Gardening Queen, has given me a few lemons, and with some of the Oranges on my tree, I made a marinade tonight and grilled some shrimp, and made some spicy taco meat rice.

I just took the shrimp, de-vined and marinated in lemon juice, orange juice, and fajita seasoning, covered with saran wrap and refrigerated for about an hour. Afterwards, I skewered the shrimp and grilled them, using a brush and some olive oil to keep the shrimp nice and oiled.

Next, I just took a pound of ground turkey, and taco seasoning, browned it and seasoned per instructions, and I made spanish rice (using the chinese rice cooker) with Tomato Sauce, Cumin, a can of Rotel Stewed Tomatoes, and chicken stock, then I mixed it all together.

The end result?