Tuesday, November 23, 2010

James Barlow! Real AND Helpful!

This is a follow up to my post the other day about the appalling, appalling customer service at Bell Mobility. Things go worse before they improve, but improve they do.

James Barlow is not only a real person, he's a rare breed at Bell. He calls back; he actually knows what he's talking about; he replies with details - as opposed to the usual call-back asking for the client to repeat their problems; he tells the truth about what's going on.

The specifics are these: Two years ago, MRU established an association account for its alumni. Almost immediately, the person handling the association accounts abandoned their job; there isn't an account manager assigned to MRU either, so between the lack of anyone handling associations anyway and no AC for Mount Royal, the alums fell into the abyss... Bell has LOADS of those.

Barlow has called me by phone and has replied twice within 12 hours to my emails, all with answers to my questions AND value-added information in addition. He is also going to follow up with the appropriate people at MRU.

He has also provided the missing link, being the NODE number by which people can now actually GET a 'deal with Bell. Sadly, that's where things kinda fall apart. No fault of James's at all but what Bell calls a deal is not the same as what I and most consumers would call their offerings.

But, James did come back with a great deal from SOLO, so I'm going to have a look at that. I'm also looking at WIND, because $18 for unlimited talk and text AND call ID and message centre sounds pretty good to me!

Thanks James. 

Dear Bell Mobility. Mr. Barlow knows all about customer service. He should be your president.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Um, dear christians, doesn't your hate mail kinda fall outside the parameters?

As always, I am more than happy to poke fun at people who believe in floaty invisible men - especially the floaty, waring, hateful, baby-killing, child-rape-promoting, slavery-expecting, stupidity-inducing kind of invisible man of the judeo-christian bible and that other guy - the one it is though might have had a serious case of schizophrenia - of the islamic 'holy' book.

THIS guy, is the extremely well-educated, two honours degree-holding professor, Richard Dawkins, who writes all sorts of excellent SCIENCE books that the above noted fantasy-believing types can't understand but about which they seem quite content to rant - and to send forward hate mail, takes it all in stride, as he should, while exposing these 'christians' for what they are: uneducated.

Ahhhh christians. Always doing yourself so proud.

Click here for more hilarious, uneducated and astoundingly stupid

Fundie quotes:

Cell phone companies suck, generally, but some bring suckage to a much higher level...

Mount Royal University has been my educational home for more than 25 years. I'm proud to have been a student for all those years and proud now to be an alum. MRU has, from my experience, always gone out of its way to provide not only a great education but great ancillary services to its students and alum.

One of the partnerships MRU has is with Bell Mobility. I already have a bias, having been with Bell since 2004 and having found that company's customer service shockingly, unbelievably poor. This is not only my experience, I understand; the gentle soul I spoke to at MRU today indicated that their dealing with Bell had been 'interesting' with the full text "utterly hellish" being quietly inserted between the lines. Given my experience and my well-developed bias, today’s events, while frustrating, were no surprise.

There is usually reason to give companies a second chance (or 20th...), as staff and policies change; one can always hope a company will see the light and actually put some teeth in their supposed commitment to customer service. Or that they will hire employees whose vocabularies extend beyond “Whaaah? You’re from Calgary? Where’s that?”

Last week, I clicked MRU's link to Bell’s site. It leads to this PDF: http://www.mtroyal.ca/wcm/groups/public/documents/pdf/bellmobility.pdf

It is pretty simple to follow, if not very detailed. However, the appropriate phone number and website are both there.... This is where I'll warn you that if you're not good at frustration, those communication points are going to give you a heart attack.

To the PDF; the number included - the option 4 - has a full message box; you can't leave a message and there are no reps answering (there may not actually be any reps) but the system generously offers to transfer you. However, in Bell Land, 'transfer' means 'cut you off.'

Ok, try option six, for 'any other accounts.' There, I spoke to a rep who became more and more confused as the call progressed. He did not understand that Bell's PDF was missing the information he was asking from me. "How am I supposed to know that information if it's not on your marketing?" I asked him, to which he replied "I don't know." His answer to "If you were me and you'd found this PDF and done what it said, and you got you, would you be frustrated?" was met with a change of subject....

Ok. Try customer service. Nope. They can't find any record, internally or externally for Mount Royal and, even though the website is clearly marked on this ever-less useful PDF, Mount Royal of any flavour does not appear in any search. Oh, and 'Please hold," for customer service also means "Goodbye" so prepare to call back if you haven't yet bashed your head in on your desk.

The PDF is, I found out, missing a key piece of information - something called a NODE number. This, as I understand it, is the only way to even get answers about what is on offer to Alums. If you don't have that number, they can't even tell you if they HAVE an offer for us. Apparently, even a 'yes' is protected by Bell's crazy internal privacy policies.

Speaking of privacy, the named account manger for the MRU account, one James Barlow, has a 800 number -- which is not available in 'our' area. ... Apparently, even though the man is an account manager, everything about him, including whether he even exists as a Bell employee, is protected under FOIP... I think this is crap, actually; crap that actually means, "I don't really know where to start looking for staff members and I don't know how to transfer a call."

Anyway, I called again and used the voice-activated system by saying “agent.” This last call in got me someone who actually really did want to help. I can take it the poor guy has only been there a month or two and has not yet succumbed to Bell's corporate culture (try to make their heads blow up before you actually help them, and please, see that you do that within our 4 minute call rule, OK?) He found out that there is actually no record of any agreement with MRU. This is not to say there isn't one; just that there's no record of it, despite that BELL has provided said PDF to say there is….

My new friend (I was actually ready to marry him because he was so willing to help and must be a man among men because help is on such short supply at Bell) admitted that corporate complaints does not actually have a phone number - hardly surprising considering the company would have to second as much staff as possible to answer those phones considering the probable volume of complaints they'd otherwise get.

There is a corporate complaints fax line but who knows where the fax is; could be in the middle of some junk yard somewhere in Alabama, a la CIBC.... He also said there's no number for marketing - as in the marketing department has no contact phone numbers... also probable BS but what can you do?

But, he did give me a land line for the mythical James Barlow and that line rang AND had a voicemail box with room in it. I've left a message with the possibly-real James Barlow to let him know how much fun I've been having for a couple hours this morning... If he calls back and has anything other than "I don't know," or "What's your NODE number," to add, I shall continue this saga.

In the meantime, one of the newer entries into the Canadian cell phone marketplace, WYND, has some really, really inexpensive plans on offer - $18 per month for unlimited calling and texting. Whatever Bell has on offer, I'm reasonably sure it won't be anywhere near that good – and don’t let Bell sell you on coverage; WYND uses Bell’s network of cell towers, so if you don’t have coverage with them that is ALSO Bell’s fault.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It really is just that simple; Epicurius' recipe for a happy life

I've been playing with Stumble lately and have been turning up all sorts of wonderfulness through that site. Love it. Go have a look. It could be called a time-waster but then so are a bunch of those first-year classes I paid $650 each for....

This is what turned up first for me today. It is a very simple recipe for living life based on the idea of:


The four-part cure (tetra - four; pharmakos - cure) is the Greek philosopher Epicurus' (341 BC, Samos 270 BC, Athens) remedy for leading the happiest possible life. The "tetrapharmakos" was originally a compound of four drugs (wax, tallow, pitch and resin); the word has been used metaphorically by Epicurus and his disciples to refer to the four remedies for healing the soul[1].

The following is a description of each line as the Epicureans understood it.

Don’t fear god

As a prelude to "Don't worry about death," the concept of "god" in Epicurus' time was incompatible to Epicurus' beliefs. The worrying about whether or not the gods are concerned about the actions of human beings and the amount of observance and worship ascribed to them, was the general relationship of man's belief to the gods' purpose and temperament. But Epicurus and many other Greeks at the time conceived the gods to be a hypothetical state of bliss rather than higher bodies of judgment; they are undestructable entities that are completely invulnerable, enviable to mortals, and, most importantly, unconcerned about anything beyond the bliss and happiness they represent. They are mere role models for human beings "who emulate the happiness of the gods, within the limits imposed by human nature."

The Out Campaign for more.

Don’t worry about death

As D. S. Hutchinson wrote concerning this line, "While you are alive, you don't have to deal with being dead, but when you are dead you don't have to deal with it either, because you aren't there to deal with it." In Epicurus' own words, "Death means nothing to us...when we exist, death is not yet present, and when death is present, then we do not exist," for there is no afterlife after we die. Death, says Epicurus, is the greatest anxiety of all, in length and intensity. This anxiety about death impedes the quality and happiness of one's life by the theory of afterlife: the worrying about whether or not one's deeds and actions in life will translate well into the region of the gods, the wondering whether one will be assigned to an eternity of pain or to an eternity of pleasure.[6]

[edit]What is good is easy to get

Sustenance and shelter, these things can be acquired by anyone—by both animal and human—with minimal effort, regardless of wealth. But if one wants more than one needs (over indulgency (sic), gluttony, etc.), one is limiting the chances of satisfaction and happiness, and therefore creating a “needless anxiety” in one’s life. "What is good is easy to get" implies that the minimum amount of necessity it takes to satisfy an urge is the maximum amount of interest a person should have in satisfying that urge.[7]

[edit]What is terrible is easy to endure

The Epicureans understood that, in nature, illness and pain is not suffered for very long, for pain and suffering is either "brief or chronic...either mild or intense, but discomfort that is both chronic and intense is very unusual; so there is no need to be concerned about the prospect of suffering." Like "What is good is easy to get," recognizing one's physical and mental limit and one's threshold of pain—understanding how much pain the body or mind can endure—and maintaining confidence that pleasure only follows pain (and the avoidance of anxiety about the length of pain), is the remedy against prolonged suffering.[8]

Simple. Pretty much right. Who needs a whole ridiculous bible full of contradictions, death, rape and child sacrifice?