They are persistent

I checked an email account for the first time since late last week. In it I found the following two emails:

Geek-Squ Renewal (actual address: adammuche1959@)
May 29,2021

Dear Customer,
Thank you for subscribing Defender Firewall Protection From us .
Today the Service Will Renewed Automatically with $349.89 on the same account provided to us.
Order ID: DFP1476608 Date: 29-05-2021

Description Amount

Geek Protection $349.89

(Inclusive Tax)

Total $ 349.89

Note :- Charges will appear on your statement after 8 hours once debited.
If you want to cancel the charges for $349.89 Auto Renew This time.
Get in touch with us :- +1 (800) (674)

Thanks Regards,
Account Dept.
Defender Firewall Protection
+1 (800) (674) Geek Squad (actual address: felixdolphin060@)
May 31. 2021

We Are Renewing It For You

Dear Customer,
Thank you for choosing Geek Squad Pc Support with us.
Today Subscription Will Be Auto Renewed automatically
with $ 399.99 on the same account provided to us.

Customer Support- +1(800) 274
Order #16589GS-59856
Details are giving below –
Account Type:- Personal Home Subscription
Product :- Geek Squad PC Protection
Quantity :- 1
Tenure :- 3 Years
Payment Mode:- Auto Debit
Renewal Amount – $ 399.99

This Email Confirms That You’ve Renewed Your 1 Year Subscription To Geek Squad For $ 399.99 On May 31 2021

To Cancel The Subscription You Can reach Us at +1(800) 274
Regards
Geek Squad Team
Contact +1(800) 274

To keep myself out of trouble with WordPress (again) I’ve left off part of both the actual email addresses and the phone numbers.
I believe Geek Squad is the tech support team at Best Buy, which presents the scammers with their first problem. The last thing I bought from Best Buy was about 3 years ago, and that was a copy of TurboTax. I paid $20 cash for it, so there is no reason I’d have signed up for tech support. If I can’t put a disk in the drive and follow instructions, I shouldn’t be allowed near a computer. And since I paid cash, there is no record of either a debit or credit card number.

These emails came from different addresses, both gmail and both phone numbers are different. Note also the amounts differ. The first is for $349.89 tax included and the second for 399.99 with no mention of taxes. If the scammers are working together, and I find it hard to believe two separate people came up with the idea of a Geek Squad scam at the same time, you’d think they’d at least stick with the same price. Also notice the awkward sentence structure.

One other possibility just came to mind. Somewhere in western Canada is a woman who seems unable to remember her email address and frequently gives out mine in error. I say “in error” because I’ve received family newsletters and vacation plans from her friends. I’ve also received emails regarding orders from legitimate businesses in western Canada. I know because I’ve phoned a couple of these firms upon receipt of their messages.

If you have bought goods from Best Buy and signed up for support, if you get one of these emails, check with Best Buy then delete the message.

Summer is almost here. Stay safe, wear a mask when and where required and remember to give an artist a socially distant hug – we need love too.

Cat.

Family curse

Have you ever noticed that in some families it seems that one career or industry keeps appearing in the working lives of relatives or ancestors? It almost seems like predetermination, or a family curse.

In my case, that curse seems to revolve around transportation in all its various forms. My maternal grandfather’s brush with transportation came when he was a hard hat diver who worked on the building of the current Welland Canal. This is the most tenuous of the connections. He wasn’t directly involved in transportation, but in creating part of the infrastructure.

His son, my uncle, worked for a trucking company specializing in boat haulage.

From there, the family moved into the office aspects of transportation. My favourite uncle worked for a couple of motor transport companies in what is called the Traffic Department This job involved pricing shipments among other duties that varied with the company. In one, I succeeded him in his job (remark from the interview “so you’re Bobby’s kin. Let’s see if you’re as good.”) I was. In his second company, he tried to hire me. I declined on the basis that it would have meant working for family. His son and daughter, my cousins, also followed him into transportation.

Both my grandmother and my worked for a travel agent – again, arranging transportation for people this time.

As for me, my first part-time job was as delivery boy for a drug store. My first full-time job was as an accounts payable clerk for a motor transportation company. From there I moved into their traffic department for a couple of years, then I succeeded my uncle. Several other jobs followed, always in motor transportation and always with carriers serving different parts of the country. From there I moved to a company that forwarded goods by both boxcar and airfreight. Sticking with transportation, I moved to Toyota Canada’s National Parts Department, importing parts and sending those parts to dealers. At one point I became the “VOR” clerk, “VOR” stands for “vehicle off road”, the most urgent category of complaint. I described this job this way: When a customer is standing in the dealer’s showroom yelling and screaming because his car needs a part, my job was to find that part anywhere in the world. My finest moment in that post was the time a dealer from Montreal called me on a Wednesday because his customer’s car needed something but couldn’t wait for a normal order because he needed his car for his wedding on Saturday. I found it in a California parts depot, got it to the dealer and the customer had his car back on Friday afternoon in time for the wedding. His new wife sent a nice “thank you” note to me afterward.

I further moved into international transportation after Toyota, working for a major importer where I was in charge of all imports into Canada. Fleet manager for someone else followed. When the economic downturn of the ‘80’s hit, I found work as a courier – again, transportation – and still later drove a cab for 7 years.

Even my hobbies involved transportation in some way. I was involved with the group that did timing for all races at Mosport Park and I enjoyed rallying.

Each and every job I’ve held involved some contact with or participation in, transportation. As I said at the beginning, it seems transportation is either my family’s destiny or curse, I can’t decide which. And just to carry it on to the next generation, one of my sons is a bus driver. Who knows what my grandchildren will do, but I’ll wager it will involve some form of transportation.

Maybe your family tree will reveal a similar pattern of employment.

Enjoy your weekend, stay safe on the roads and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and the occasional ride) too.

Cat.

How to be you in five easy steps

NOTE: I live in Ontario, so am speaking of my own experiences. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you may have to do more travelling.

Okay, now you have your new documents showing your new name. You sit there staring at them because the government has finally acknowledged you are who you say you are. Don’t get too comfortable, for there is still a lot of work to do before you’re done.

For me here in Ontario, some of it is relatively painless. Ontario operates locations under the name “Service Ontario”, which are essentially one-stop shopping locations for dealing with provincially issued documents. There are two types – government run locations and franchises. Most transactions can be handled at franchise locations, but for modifications to health cards, you need to visit a government location as the franchises are restricted in the health information they can access. Once there, you can modify not only your health card, but driver’s licence, vehicle ownership or the Ontario identification card (if you don’t have a driver’s licence). There, one stop and all your provincial documentation has been changed to your new name.

The federal government also operates a similar service, called logically enough, “Service Canada”. Again, one stop and you can change the information on all your federally issued documents except your passport. The Social Insurance Number controls all government access, so changing that will change your tax records and, in my case, my federal pension records.

But you’re still not done. You have bank accounts and credit cards to change. In my case, that involved a simple visit to the bank where everything was done within five minutes. And something you may not have considered: if you rent, you’ll need to sign a new lease in your new name. You hope the landlord still wants you as a tenant as you prepare for this step.

What else? Well, what about your cable and cell phone? Those can be settled with a quick visit to the nearest location of your service providers, armed with your documentation. Ontario covers the cost of most drugs for seniors such as myself, so you’ll have to give your pharmacy the new information as well, as well as advise your doctor of the changes so he’ll get paid for treating you.

In the Greater Toronto/Hamilton Area, transit companies operate under an umbrella company called Metrolinx. Through Metrolinx, I have a pass (electronic ticket actually) that allows me to travel on any transit system under their control provided I have sufficient funds on the card. Naturally this has my name on it, so that must be changed as well.

These are the things I have to change, or have already changed. You may have others, such as gym memberships or gas company credit cards that will need to be attended to before you’re done.

Welcome to you new name.

Cat.

Not their Crowning moment

Picture this: You’ve gone to the bank to take care of some business with a friend. The day is bright and sunny, but the temperature is hovering around 10 Fahrenheit. While your friend is finishing her banking, you decide to call a cab to get back home so you call the company you’ve been using for the past five years.

After waiting over four minutes for them to answer the phone, you ask for a cab at the bank branch at (and you name the intersection). Instead of the expected “that’ll be about ten minutes”, you get “what’s the street address?” You’re not from around here, so you don’t know and say so, then give them the location again. Again “I need an exact address”. Finally, in frustration you say “forget it, I’ll call someone else.” Your friend has finished her dealings and joins you then calls you an idiot because you can’t even call a cab.

She tries. Only three minutes waiting this time. She gets the same kind of runaround you did. Meanwhile you’re outside trying to flag down a cab. You finally succeed and she hangs up. The cab you’ve flagged is from another company and you immediately ask for a card, which the driver gladly supplies. In a weird ‘six degrees of separation” moment, the driver recognizes you because you both drove for the same cab company in the town where you live.

Not fiction or a bad dream. This actually happened to my friend and myself this past Friday afternoon.

Now, the explanation as I see it. First, keep in mind that I was a driver and dispatcher for a small cab fleet in Pickering Ontario for about 7 years, so have some knowledge of which I speak. About a year ago, Co-op Cabs, a large Toronto company, bought Crown Taxi, also of Toronto and about the same size as Co-op. They continued to run as two separate companies until about a week ago when they came up with the bright idea of a single, centralized dispatch. And like many cab companies these days, they decided to also switch over to satellite dispatch. Unfortunately for their clients, the new company, Co-op Crown (hereafter referred to as “CC”) hired new order takers who – from my telephone interaction – have no experience or knowledge of the city. An experienced or knowledgeable order taker would have known that an intersection is sufficient location for a dispatcher and a driver to find the place. It seems obvious by the insistence upon a street address when provided with the name of a business and a location that the order takers don’t trust the dispatchers’ knowledge either. Bad move. Rule number one for anybody working for a fleet is “Never piss off the dispatcher”. Many taxi dispatchers are former drivers, whose knowledge of the streets equals or exceeds that of the drivers. In speaking with drivers, I found they are not happy with the new system either.

When we returned home, both my friend and I called and filed complaints with the dispatch manager at CC.

By the way, being a dispatcher has to be the best job in the world because where else could you get paid for telling people where to go?

Cat.

Customer service – an urban myth?

Recently I took a friend to a Virgin Mobile dealer so she could hook up her iphone.  One reason she wanted Virgin is that Virgin is the company I’m with and I can get phone reception using my iphone in her basement while her husband, who has his Blackberry with someone else, can’t.

The salesman was very helpful, going through the various plans and explaining what things meant.  The plan she eventually chose was better than the plan I was on, so I asked if I could switch.  I asked about any charges for the upgrade and was told any charge would appear on my bill.  When the bill came in, it was four times the usual amount.

Examining the bill, I noticed a charge of $150 with some cryptic description, which I eventually deciphered as the charge for the upgrade.  Feeling this charge was out of line, after all I’d upgraded to a more expensive plan  therefore they’d be getting more money from me, I called customer service.  When I finally got a real person on the line, I explained what I wanted and questioned the amount.  This lady asked if I could hold while she checked my account.  After a few minutes of some weird music, she came back and the first words out of her mouth were “well, your balance is quite huge…”.  I told her I knew and wanted an explanation for the hundred and a half they charged me.  I was told I’d have to take that up with the store.  My friend and I had gone to a store near her home, which is not in the same city I live in.  So to dispute it, I’d have to pay $60 round trip cab and train fare at a minimum.  Somehow, when someone calls in to question something on their bill, telling that customer their balance is “quite huge” doesn’t exactly seem like customer service.

If any of my readers live in an area where Rogers is the cable/internet/landline provider, here’s something to keep in mind.  I have all of the above from Rogers, for which services I was able to get some discounts through various promotions when I signed up, which was good as my sole income is a (small) government pension.  My cable was for a one year term and near the end of that year, I called Rogers customer service, asking if there were any discounts or promotions I could take advantage of for the cable portion of the bill.  I was told there wasn’t but I’d still get my three dollar discount for something or other.  Not being satisfied with this, I thanked her for her time, and hung up.  A few minutes later, I called Rogers back and this time asked to speak with someone in sales.  I explained why  was calling, mentioned the pension and said if there was nothing I could take advantage of, I’d have to consider cutting services.  That was all it took.  By the time the gentleman was finished, I had new discounts on all three services, and the total was less than I’d been paying previously.  By calling sales, rather than being content with the three dollar discount mentioned by customer service, I’ve saved about $60 a month on my Rogers bill.

Years ago I was a cab driver and dispatcher for a small fleet in Pickering.  Based on the ethics of the owner, a couple of others and myself referred to him as “the eighth dwarf – Sleazy”.  He had no qualms about lying to customers on the phone, as was shown one night when I was dispatching and he happened to still be there.

If you call for a taxi, it is common to be told approximately how long it will be before a cab arrives.  This particular night it was especially busy and we were running late in servicing calls.  He heard me tell one customer it would be about twenty minutes.  His response was to tell me – loudly, he never used a normal voice with me – I should have told them ten minutes.  He couldn’t seem to understand my logic as I explained we were busy and by saying twenty minutes I was being truthful with the customer.  He was also lost when I said that had I told them twenty minutes and we have a car there in ten, they’ll think we’re great, but if I told them ten and it took twenty, that customer would call our competitor next time.  To this man, “customer service” meant “what can the customer do for me?”

It is unfortunate that so many places seem to hire people for customer service who haven’t the faintest idea of the concept of “customer service”.  These people are no doubt also those who would complain loudest if customer service at some place with which they deal couldn’t solve their problem.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Customer Service – what’s that?

About five days ago I received a telephone call from Virgin Mobile, my cellphone service provider.  I don’t usually answer calls from unknown numbers, but this was the third call from that number in two days. I’ll admit answering the phone “this is the third time you’ve called me in two days.  What do you want?” was perhaps a little rude, but so be it.

The person on the other end of the phone had such a poor command of English – and didn’t speak clearly – that I had to ask three times why they were calling me before I could decipher the words “your account”. Now, all my account payments are up to date, so I asked the obvious question: “what account?”, thinking this might be some form of telephone scam (about which I would have written, naturally).  In response, I was told he was from Virgin Mobile Customer Service asking whether I was happy with the service I was receiving from Virgin. (Up until I got this call, I was.)

I told him my contract was due to expire in a couple of months and that I was considering switching my cellphone over to Rogers, from whom I get my internet, cable and home phone.  Upon learning that Virgin might lose a customer of three years, this man responded “sorry to hear that”.  On that note, the conversation ended.

Now surely, if you’re in customer service, and a three year customer tells you they are thinking seriously of changing their provider you’re going to have a more positive response than “sorry to hear that”.  Perhaps you might offer a better plan than they currently enjoy, or try to sweeten the pot in some other way.  Nope, just “sorry to hear that”. Wouldn’t you at least try to sound as if you cared?

But wait – there’s more!  (Sounds like a late night infomercial, doesn’t it?)  Today I telephoned Virgin Customer Service to see whether there would be any advantage to changing my plan now rather than wait until the expiry date.  Seemed like a logical question to me.  The man didn’t seem to understand my question, instead telling me  my choice of phones should I choose to upgrade.  That wasn’t what I asked.  I asked “Is there any advantage to me waiting until my current contract expires?”  I already know what phone I want – and no, it isn’t the BlackBerry Z10.  I once again mentioned that Rogers was interested in getting my cell business along with the house line, cable and internet.  This time I was greeted by silence.  I told him I’d talk with Rogers and other providers before I decided and that was the end of the call.

Am I wrong to think that Customer Service might be the department concerned with keeping a loyal customer happy and a customer?  After all, they called me to see if I was happy with the service.  Or should I instead have talked with someone in Sales?  In any event, in the next couple of days I’ll visit the Pickering Town Centre and talk with representatives from the various cellular service providers.  Virgin may yet lose a customer purely through their own indifference.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and straight answers) too.

Cat.

**Addenda: 1 – I checked and I’ve actually been with Virgin since 2007.

2 – I have sent a copy of this (minus most of the snark) to Virgin **