I’m Stellar. (Or so I’m told.)

No, I didn’t call myself stellar. But someone did.

Who?

A customer service rep for DIRECTV. That’s who.

It all started, for the record, with a call to AT&T customer service. (Stick with me, it’ll make sense.)

So we got a promo mailing with some discount options on phone service. And, it turns out, AT&T and DIRECTV are now partners, which opened the door for some other savings options.

Sue from AT&T answered my call. And she was fabulous. I told her I wanted to lower our monthly bill and see what I could do with this mailing they had just sent me.

Within five minutes, my monthly phone charges were down $8, and my high speed internet was given a special price for the next six months — saving us, during that time, a total of about $23 per month.

Nice. Thanks, Sue!

I then asked her about the DIRECTV special promo. She said I could save $5 off my monthly bill with DIRECTV just for being a customer with AT&T. I like it when my providers are working together — for me!

Sue got Francine from DIRECTV on the line and we went through the necessary information. Turns out my package is no longer offered — so we had to upgrade the package (which gets me 17 extra channels) in order to save. Bottom line, in addition to getting the Sportsmen’s Channel (jealous?), I’m going to save $3 per month on that bill.

The promo offered three months of Showtime and HBO. I asked about that. Francine told me I already had Showtime. I told her I didn’t. She told me I did. That I got it last week to celebrate my anniversary of being a DIRECTV customer. And, because I’m a “stellar customer” (honest, she said it!), they gave me Showtime for a year for being loyal.

Since I’m stellar, I couldn’t resist asking about the three free months of HBO. “No problem at all, sir. I can’t say no to someone as stellar as you.”

Um, yeah. I love this.

So, the bottom line — AT&T and DIRECTV rock. And, after 20 minutes on the phone, I saved almost $30 per month, got more channels and was told something many of you already know.

That I’m stellar.

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Emptying Out a Cluttered Mind

It’s Tuesday. I’m not sure what that means, really. Just stating the obvious. I guess it means that it’s time to share with you a few random thoughts. So, without further adieu:

It’s a great time to be a New England sports fan. The Sox are in the World Series, the Celtics have their buzz back and the Patriots may well be the best assembled football team ever. These are the glory years.

Two related sports things.

First, Renee and I were never going to have kids. We just weren’t. It wasn’t our thing. Well, that obviously changed with the arrival of Aidan in 2004. Know what else happened in 2004? Yeah, the Red Sox won the World Series.

Well, my loyal readers will know that Erin was born this year — 2007. And, look at where the Red Sox are. The World Series. We are both Sox fans. Have been for life. And, heck, I gotta tell you, if they win this year, that means you can thank Renee and me.

It also means we might have to (at least!) entertain the thought of a third! I mean, Red Sox Nation could be counting on us.

The second interesting thing sports wise is related to my friend, KLC, who just happens to be a huge fan of the team that shall not be named here. Here’s a hint, they were lucky enough to win last year’s Super Bowl.

Well, if you follow football,  you know that November 4 is a huge day. It’s the day when the two best teams in the NFL will play. On the field, you’ll have Brady on one side, Manning on the other.

Off the field, it’s me on one side, KLC on the other. And, based on the results of that game, there will be at least one very interesting blog on November 5. You see, when the Patriots win, KLC has to write a minimum of 400 words about how great of a team they are and how good Tom Brady really is. If for some reason the Colts actually win, then I have to do the same on my blog — post about how good the Colts and Peyton Manning really are.

Should be interesting!

New DVR coming tomorrow, along with a new dish. I’m a little nervous about giving up my TiVo, but Directv doesn’t have a contract with them anymore, so what can I do. I’m sure the DVR will be fine — afterall, it holds 100 more hours of programming than my current TiVo.

I love Pushing Daisies. If you’re not watching, you should. Besides being funny, it has, well, only my favorite Kristin Chenoweth (love her).

Ok, so it’s slipped here and on a few blogs that Bon Jovi is my man crush. Heck, why not, right? Well, I’ve got a new female celeb crush. Maybe crush isn’t the right word. I’m going with intrigue. Who is it you ask? Well, don’t hate me in the morning….but I will say I’m oddly fascinated and intrigued with Kim Kardashian. I know, I know.

I turn (gulp!) 38 in just over a week. Are you kidding me? Thirty-freaking-eight? When did this happen actually? Am I more than half way through my life? These are the things you think about when you are about to turn 38.

And, related to that, I’m going to announce my big plan on my birthday. Time to get the house in order, so to speak. It’s not earth shattering. It’s common sense, and I’m going to rely on all of you to help.

I’ve had two huge customer service sagas in my life lately. I won’t bore you here, but let’s just say I won them both. Let’s also just say that if you ever have to call Verizon customer service, talk to Jackie. I’m sure there are 100 Jackies, but the one I had, well, let’s just say she rocked — and all the Verizon people should know it was her and her alone who kept me a customer. If you know me well, you realize now Jackie should be nominated for sainthood.

Speaking of Jackie, that’s my mom’s name. And, speaking of my mom, it’s clear where I get my sentimental stuff. Just the other day, she hands me a folder of stuff that she thought I’d want to add to this incredible scrapbook she made for me and my siblings years ago.

What was inside? Well, among other things, the first two letters I wrote home from college. Can you believe that? Safe to say I was a naive geek. Excerpts from some of those letters to come.

And, given the spirit of the season, you’ll also soon be blessed with a picture of my candy corn collection. It’s not just any collection, however. Stay tuned to learn more.

What else? I got nothin’.


An Angel Update

So, and I know you’re wondering, here’s the latest with my new, um, ‘friend’, Angel.

Nothing.

After getting all these calls (four more yesterday), it’s clear to me that this woman must be good at what she does. Or at the very least, she has a strong marketing campaign.

But, here’s the thing, you can be the best at something — or you can you have a great marketing campaign — but you’ve got to return phone calls! If you don’t call people back, how do you get the business.

Now, keep in mind, by no means am I trying to contact Angel to use her, um, business. No, quite the opposite, I’m simply trying to pass along information to her that was mistakenly (her mistake) given to me.

We talked briefly the other day and she wanted the numbers. Fine, no problem. But I hadn’t written them down, so I told her I would call her back. She agreed.

I called her at 5 p.m. and she said that she only had three minutes left on her phone, so could I call her after 9 p.m. Only three minutes left? Hmmm, maybe business isn’t so strong after all.

But, hey, no problem, I’ll call after 9. So I did. Got her voicemail. Well, maybe business picked up, I don’t know.

So I called yesterday afternoon and got a message that said the account was empty. I didn’t try again after 9 p.m.

But I will try again. I mean, I’m doing this all for you. I hope you realize that. Think of the content potential for when we do have a conversation. That’s what keeps me going.

What else? I got nothin’.


Pay It Forward

Remember that movie? Pay It Forward.

Kevin Spacey. Helen Hunt. Haley Joel Osment. I think.

The premise: do something good. It’s the right thing to do.

Well, I’ve got to do it now.

Why?

Because of the keys.

I lost mine in December. Had them on top of the car. Wife took off for the store. Keys fell off. Search after search after search on the street turned up nothing.

Well, the other night, I’m kicked back in the recliner watching TV. It’s 9:30. Now, we don’t have an official 9 and 9 rule regarding the phone, but whenever it rings late, you always wonder. At least I do.

I couldn’t understand why the Stop & Shop manager was calling me. Until he asked the question:

“Did you lose a set of keys?”

Sure did. Two months ago now.

“Well, they are here.”

Couldn’t believe it. Someone clearly found them and saw my Stop & Shop card on them. They brought them to the store because of that, and the store was able to track me down. The manager thought they were found in the store. But, not in the condition they were, having been run over a few times.

Still, I had two car keys, two house keys, an office key and my speedpass on there.

Nonetheless, someone, whom I’ll never know, found them and did the right thing by bringing them back.

Now it’s my turn.

To Pay It Forward.

What else? I got nothin’.


All You Have to Do is Ask

It’s amazing sometimes, how asking a simple question can benefit you in the long run.

I’m incredibly anal about customer service. I expect it. And I expect it to be great. And if it’s not, I’m the guy who complains about it.

See the sign on a truck in front of you, “How’s my driving?” Well, I’m the guy who tells him.

It’s always fun to see how things work, too. Got my credit card bill the other day. We always pay the balance in full. But, due to paycheck timing and the Thanksgiving holiday, my check apparently arrived on the same day it was due. Citibank tagged me with a $39 late fee and then finance charges to boot.

So, I called them up and explained that I was a longtime customer who always paid on time and given the holiday, could they please wipe the charge. “No problem, sir, we’d be happy to.” Saved myself $45 with a 30 second phone call.
Had something weird on my Directv bill the other day, too. It wasn’t a charge, but I didn’t understand something, so I called to make sure that I eventually understood what they said. Then, during the conversation, the phone rep makes some reference to my past experiences with the company.

At that point, I said I was always happy, even after my first year when they gave me a month of Showtime just for lasting a year with Directv. He said they appreciate that type of feedback. So I said, well, how can I get that again? Do you ever run promos or anything.

He then offered me three-free months of all the Showtime channels.

“What’s the catch?” I asked.

“No catch, sir.”

“None?”

“Nothing at all. We just want to keep you as a customer.”

They sure will. And I’m glad I asked.

So, what else? I got nothin’.


They Screw You at the Drive-Thru

The whole purpose of the drive-thru is convenience.

Be it at a bank, drug store, fast food restaurant or, in some places, even a package store, the point is providing the customer (me!) with a quick experience. No need to get out of the car if you don’t have to.

For this rant, we’re focusing on the fast food drive thru — McDonald’s in particular.

It’s rare that I stop under the golden arches for breakfast. But, this morning was different. Junior woke up late, which threw our typical morning routine off, which meant I didn’t have breakfast. So, after dropping him off, I started contemplating breakfast options.

And then it hit me. I hadn’t had the world’s greatest breakfast sandwich in quite a while.

I’m talking about the Sausage McMuffin with Egg.

Take that back. It’s not the greatest breakfast sandwich. It’s better than that. In fact, I’ll go so far as call it the best fast food sandwich — breakfast or otherwise.

So, I pull into the drive-thru lane. And then I change my mind. I never change my mind. But, today, I did.

I opted for the McGriddle. Have never had it, so figured why not give that a try. Live on the edge. Think out of the box. Push the envelope. You get the idea.

I pull up to the window, give the guy my money and take my bag (I got the hashbrown, too) and my juice (just wait until you read my rant on the unfair treatment of juice drinkers).

I get to the office, settle in, call up the local daily on the web and start to read while finishing off my hashbrown — which, for reasons I don’t really have, I always eat first.

Then, I reach in my bag and pull out a hefty sandwich in a labelled wrap that says “bacon egg and cheese bagel.”

B-A-G-E-L.

You’re kidding me. I didn’t order a bagel. I ordered a McGriddle. I should have ordered a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, but on this day of great adventure, I go for the McGriddle.

But it’s not there.

At this point it’s too late and too complicated to drive back. Ugh. Another drive-thru meltdown at the hands of someone who doesn’t care about customer service.

I wanted it to taste good. But it didn’t. How could it? Not only was it something I didn’t want. It was something I would never order. But, I was hungry. So I ate it.

And as I was eating it, I thought about checking the order at the drive-thru. But who does that? Really. Do you? I don’t. But I probably will now. Doing that, though, defeats the entire purpose of the drive-thru. Fast service. Not getting your stuff and opening the bag to check it while everyone is sitting in their car behind you.

Ugh. I should have stuck with the stand by. See what happens when you try and mix it up?

What else? I got nothin’.