Friday, August 17, 2012

Dealing with Idiots

My life has been reduced to dealing with people who are in obvious need of adult supervision.

Case 1:

A few months ago, we were informed that our check for our gas royalty payments would no longer be coming from the company that had been handling them for the last decade or so. Chevron had taken over everything. Awe crap. We all know what that means.

We filled out the new forms with all our info for taxes and setting up our payments to go directly into our money market account. The last money we were supposed to receive from the old company dropped into a different bank account as it always had. The next payment would be from the new company and would drop into our money market account. A month later, money is deposited into the old account. I call Chevron and ask what's up. "We no pay you money," says the annoying Chinglish voice at the other end. "You check bank; money someting else." I check bank. Money from Chevron. I call Chinglish back. This time her story was, "We Chevron USA; money from Chevron Michigan. We no Chevron Michigan. We Chevron USA." Fine. But if the money is coming from Chevron Michigan, then why in the hell am I talking to you? "Chevron USA pay you from now on." Ah.

Next month, no one pay us money. I call Chevron Michigan. "Sorry. We don't handle disbursements. You need to call Houston. Here's a toll-free number. No one ever answers. Just leave a message. Good luck." Thanks. I call the toll-free number. It rings a dozen times, then a robot comes on the line. "The party you are trying to reach is not answering. Sorry it didn't work out. This call will be disconnected." Click. Dial tone. Sweet Mother of God.

We were leaving for Michigan the next day anyway, so I just threw everything on the pile of crap to deal with later and tried to forget about it. When we got back, one of the pieces of mail waiting for us was an EFT Statement from Chevron USA stating that they had deposited our money into our account. Only there was no money in our account. Now I'm pissed. They screwed up our direct deposit and either our money ended up in someone else's account, or it bounced back and the ass-clowns didn't bother to contact us. I try the toll-free number again and this time get the answering machine. "Leave a message; we'll call you back." I leave a message. No one calls back. Next day, rinse and repeat. All last week, every day, I leave a message and no one calls back. Monday, I start being a smart-ass on the messages, talking like Richard Simmons; "Hi!!! It's your good ol' buddy Richard calling you AGAIN!!!! Here's my account number!!! Here's my phone number!!!! I'd really like to hear from you guys!!! I really do miss you!!! .... Asshats."

Yesterday I finally made contact with Mario, who barely speaks English. It wasn't so much an accent as much as it sounded like he had his mouth full of peanut butter sandwich the entire time he was on the phone. Like it was just too much work to move his lips. He strung out the longest and most incoherent line of corporate bullshit that I have ever heard. "Computer problems blah somthin' working on it blah crap blah accounting blah blah your account shows we owe you money somthin' somethin' blah Friday." So I'll get my money Friday? "Processing on Friday crap blah somethin' not payment blah blah 28th." So I'll get all my money for two months on the 28th? "I'll confirm somthin' blah I'll call you crap blah you can call me anytime." Sure Mario. No problem. Now go drive you're damn cart off the Rainbow Road.

And I don't believe for one minute we'll see anything in our account come the 28th.

Case 2:

Our car insurance is due, so one of the things I did while out-and-about Monday was to stop by AAA and change our address and renew our policy. I checked in at the front desk then took a seat to wait for an agent to be available. I get Mario. No, seriously. You can't make this shit up. Mario is another English-as-a-second-language person, but at least he's been here long enough that I can mostly understand him. I tell him we've moved and we need to renew, so he goes through the entire quoting process which involves 20 minutes of detailed questions that have little or nothing to do with driving or owning a car. Finally it's over and the answer is: our insurance went up nearly $200 from last year to this year mainly because we moved from a high-crime area to a low-crime one. Um... wai... what? One problem is that we don't get the renter's credit because we own the trailer, but we don't get the homeowner's credit because we rent the lot under it. The other is that the insurance company considers old people to be a bigger risk than gangbangers.

OK, Mario. Whatever. Lets do this. I hand over my credit card, Mario does some type-type-type and tells me I'm all set and that my receipt will be e-mailed to me the next day. He could print it out right away, but that would take about 15 minutes. I don't bother to explain that 40 year ago, he could have written out a credit card slip by hand and run it through an impress machine in about 30 seconds. I just accept that millions of dollars of automation has resulted in a situation where I cannot get a credit card receipt in anything less than a quarter hour. Mario stands up. "We're all done here! Thanks for coming in!" Um, where's my policy? Where's my proof of insurance that Florida law says I need in my car? "They'll e-mail it to you! You should have everything tomorrow!"

So I walk out with nothing other than Mario's business card. I just spent $1,200 and have nothing; I couldn't even prove that I was ever in that or any other AAA office on August 13, 2012. You've probably already guessed what comes next. Wednesday morning and no receipt, no contract, no proof of insurance, no nothing other than a $1,200 crater on our credit card. I e-mail Mario telling him I have yet to receive my receipt, and asking if my contract and proof of insurance will be coming via e-mail or USPS, and when I can expect them. E-mail response #1: "I sent it. Check your junk mail." Follow shortly by e-mail response #2: "Travelers will e-mail you a copy of your policy."

Free tip. When I tell you I didn't get your e-mail, assume that something went wrong on your end rather than implying I'm too stupid to have checked my junk mail when I don't get an expected e-mail. It's called customer service, Mario. Of course, no sign of anything in my junk mail either, so I send a response to e-mail #1: Nothing in my junk mail; could you resend it? And a reply to e-mail #2: When? And will it include my proof of insurance? Our current coverage expires in three days. No response to either of those messages. Later Wednesday, Debbie logs into her e-mail account and lo and behold, there is our receipt, contract and proof of insurance in her inbox. I have no idea what sort of automated hell sent everything to her when the only e-mail address I gave them was mine. I'm sure at some point in the last decade we gave them her e-mail address, but why dig that up when all the current forms have mine? I sent another message to Mario saying we found everything in the wrong e-mail account. Mario, the King of Customer Service, never responded to any of my e-mails. Thanks for the giant middle finger, Mario; we'll be sure to keep that in mind next time our insurance is due.

There's oh so much more, but this is already getting long and you get the point. This is what I've been doing all day every day instead of unpacking and figuring out where we're going to put everything.

The one fun bit I've been playing with the last couple days is our new scanner. Debbie needed to be able to scan documents for work. The reason would probably qualify as Idiots Case 3: There are various forms she has to fill out, some of which are PDF's. Some of them can be filled out on the computer, but the dipshits have disabled the save function meaning they can't be attached to an e-mail and sent to the main office. So they have to be printed, then scanned back into a PDF file which can then get sent off to the accounting people. As stupid as that is, the upside is that we now have a scanner. The strange part is that straight-up document scanners start at around $300, while hi-res photo scanners that can also do documents, can be had for less than a hundred bucks. After poking around a bit for reviews and such, we settled on the Epson V330. About the same time the scanner was delivered, I had unearthed all our old photos shot on 35mm film. So I've been using the slick little negative holder thingamabob to scan up to five photos at a shot. Works pretty well and the results look good enough on a computer screen. While I'm sure a professional place could do a much better job (at enormous cost), this works good enough for family reunions, weddings, etc. I may flag the occasional negative for a good scan at some point in the future, but for now, this will do.

And I really need to wrap this up. Later.

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