Capital One, Hurricane Irma, and unethical cancellation fees

We were planning on going to Myrtle Beach for a week starting this Saturday. With Hurricane Irma bearing down towards the Southeast United States, we realized we needed to postpone our vacation.

We booked our week at Myrtle Beach Resort through Capital One. We used the points we earn paying for things on our Capital One Venture card to pay for the reservation. We use the Capital One Venture card to pay for everything. Since we pay our balance off every month, the points we accumulate (two points for every $1 we spend) are very much like free money.

After checking out the latest developments with Hurricane Irma this morning, I came to the sad realization that I needed to postpone our Myrtle Beach vacation. I called Capital One and told the representative because of Hurricane Irma, I needed to modify our reservation.  I needed to change check-in from September 9th to the following Saturday, September 16. I was told by the representative that I would need to cancel the current reservation and then book a whole new trip. I was also told I would need to pay a cancellation fee.

I questioned why I had to pay a cancellation fee when the reason I had to cancel was because of a category five hurricane. The representative transferred me to a supervisor. After being placed on hold twice, I was told by the supervisor that there was nothing he could do. He referenced the official rules and policies of our reservation. It states that changes or cancellations within three days of check-in are subject to cancellation fee.

I pointed out that since check-in wasn’t until 4:00 PM September 6, it wasn’t within three days of check-in. Since three days is 72 hours, our check-in wasn’t for another 76 hours, four hours more than three days. I also pointed out that the reason I needed to cancel the reservation was because of a category five hurricane, not because of some personal whim.

The Capital One supervisor would not budge. According to him, it was within three days of check-in and it didn’t matter why I was cancelling the reservation. I still had to pay the cancellation fee.

What’s in your wallet?

Capital One charges a $132 cancellation fee because of a category five hurricane. I learned a valuable lesson for my $132:

  • Do not use a Capital One credit card.
  • Do not book travel through Capital One.
  • Capital One will take advantage of a natural disaster to make money.

I will be looking for another credit card to use for all my transactions. Seeing how Capital One truly is, I don’t want to do business with them. Capital One’s spirit animal is a syphilis laden, puss dripping crypt rat. Do rats get syphilis?

Show me a company that will use the threat of a hurricane to make a profit, I’ll show you a company I want no part of.

Update

On September 6, the same day I canceled our reservation, the governor of South Carolina declared a state of emergency. Because of that, Capital One refunded the $132 cancellation fee. As it turned out, Hurricane Irma didn’t even hit South Carolina, but took a more westerly route. Better safe than sorry. We book a week at the same resort for September 16-23 and ended up paying $300 less than we were going to pay through Capital One. We took all our existing points and just applied it to our balance. That was something I didn’t even know we could do.

When a flat rate envelope is not a flat rate envelope

I sold a Mitchel & Ness NFL jersey on eBay the other day and decided the cheapest way to get it to the buyer was to ship it in a Priority Mail flat rate envelope. I ordered some of these envelopes on the USPS website a while back. This is what they look like:

When a flat rate envelope is not a flat rate envelope - Bent Corner

They say FLAT RATE ENVELOPE on the front and they’re made of a soft, bubble poly plastic.

When it came time to print a shipping label for the jersey, I selected the following:

When a flat rate envelope is not a flat rate envelope - Bent Corner

When I took the package to my local Post Office, problems ensued. The reason? Because I selected Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope when I printed the shipping label. You know, the very thing is said on the front of the envelope.

Not all flat rate envelopes are the same

Unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to keep scrolling down after seeing Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope from the options of services I was choosing and select Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope instead of Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope.

My bad. Silly me.

If I had kept scrolling down and selected Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope, I would have paid $6.50 instead of the $5.95 I paid through eBay. Because of this error, I had to pay an extra $1.25 at my local Post Office.

The last time I checked, the difference between $5.95 and $6.50 is only 55 cents. Why then did I have to pony up another $1.25? Believe me, I didn’t ask, but I was told it was because I wasn’t getting my eBay discount. The difference between $7.20, the non-eBay cost of sending a Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope, and the $5.95 I already paid through eBay is $1.25.

When printing labels, always display the postage amount

Good thing I selected Display postage value on label when I printed the damn thing or I would’ve probably have been told to go home and try again.

When a flat rate envelope is not a flat rate envelope - Bent CornerThe problem was that I didn’t have any cash on me. I don’t carry cash or change. It’s 2017 and I try to live a cashless lifestyle. I use my Capital One Venture card for everything.

Cash is dirty. I have it on good authority people use cash to wipe their noses and snort cocaine. We get travel points with the Venture card. Not only do I not have to handle paper money laden with stranger’s spent mucus and cocaine residue, we get to go on vacations for free. We’ve already booked a free week in a condo at Myrtle Beach. The condo is right on the beach and our room overlooks the ocean.

Back to the Post Office. I had to pay $1.25 with my credit card. As much as I love using my credit card and racking up those sweet travel points, I don’t like using it for really small amounts. Because I didn’t want to feel like a jerk and pay $1.25 with my credit card, I also bought a pack of Forever stamps.

I walked out of the Post Office a better person. I left knowing there’s two types of Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes when printing an eBay label and I was the proud owner of some patriotic looking stamps that will never expire. Now, if I only had a reason to own stamps that never expire.

The A-10 needs new wings

The U.S. Air Force A-10 needs new wings. The Air Force has already received funding for wing replacement of 173 aircraft, but they need money for the other 110. From CNN:

The US Air Force is telling Congress to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to upgrading the venerable A-10 Warthog fleet.

As the service rolled out its budget this year, Air Force officials vowed there were no plans to retire the entire A-10 fleet — despite previous attempts — but that doesn’t mean all of the planes in the fleet are safe.

The Air Force has warned Congress that more than a third of the 283 A-10 attack aircraft fleet may have to be permanently grounded unless Congress increases the Air Force’s budget to restart the production line that makes new wings for the planes.

The Air Force has paid for new wings needed to extend the life of 173 A-10 aircraft, but does not have the funding for the other 110 in the fleet, and about 40 would have to be grounded by 2021 unless additional funds are allocated, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

I think it’s funny the Air Force is still flying the A-10. It was originally built to provide close air support to U.S. and NATO ground forces in western Europe against an invading Soviet land force. The plane was designed around the massive 30 mm rotary cannon, a gun with a single purpose: to kill Soviet tanks.

The only good Soviet tank is a dead Soviet tank

The A-10’s nose-mounted GAU-8/A Avenger autocannon fires depleted uranium armor-piercing shells. Depleted uranium because of its denseness. It’s what made the weapon so effective against tanks.

The A-10 was used in Operation Desert Storm in combat operations against Iraq. It killed around 900 Iraqi tanks, but it also destroyed over 2,000 Iraqi vehicles and 1,800 Iraqi artillery pieces. It even killed two Iraqi helicopters in air-to-air combat, a role it was never designed to do.

The U.S. military doesn’t engage in combat with tanks, artillery, or helicopters these days. What makes the A-10 such an effective combat weapon on today’s battlefield is its speed, or more accurately, its lack of speed. The A-10 is so slow that it can loiter over a battlefield. When it flies over a target, the pilot has the time to correctly find a target before it engages.

The A-10 flies at speeds that would cause other aircraft to stall out.

Ease of maintenance

Although I never got to work on the A-10, I did get to check them out when I was stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. I was working on F-4E and F-4G’s at the time. The A-10 was equipped with the same Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) equipment as the F-4E, but what impressed me was how easy everything was to get to. It was designed with maintenance in mind. The F-4 was not. The “quickest” Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) to swap out on the F-4 was the processor for the radar warning system. It was under a panel with only 36 screws. This same LRU on the A-10 was mounted in the front landing gear compartment. There were no panel screws to remove. If memory serves, it was held in place with two large thumbscrews.

The A-10 made me mad

I walked away from crawling around the A-10 feeling jealous. I walked away feeling mad. When I was in tech school and received orders to go to Clark Air Base in the Philippines, I was disappointed. I didn’t want to go overseas. I was the only one in my class assigned overseas. A classmate even offered to swap assignments with me, something the Air Force allowed back then. He had orders to Myrtle Beach to work on the A-10. I left the decision to my then fiance. She wanted to go to the Philippines. The reason? Because it was a lot cheaper to live. It was so cheap in the Philippines, she wouldn’t need to get a job. In fact, she wouldn’t even be able to get a job in the Philippines. Spouses of American service members were forbidden to work in the Philippines.

If we went to Myrtle Beach, she would have to get a job.

I wish I had gone to Myrtle Beach to work on the A-10. I wish I hadn’t gone to the Philippines. I hated the Philippines. I wish I hadn’t left such an important decision to someone else. Myrtle Beach is were I now go for vacation.

The A-10 is the girlfriend the Pentagon wants to break up with, but can never quite get it done

For as long as I can remember, the Pentagon has tried to retire the A-10. The idea of a single-mission aircraft grew out of favor with the powers that be a long time ago. For the longest time, the answer to every problem was the F-16, a plane originally designed for export to U.S. friendly counties. Most counties wanted nothing to do with a U.S. built single-engine combat aircraft that the U.S. didn’t use in its own combat fleet. That eventually changed. The Air Force began using the F-16 as a mainline tactical fighter, less costly to procure and maintain then the F-15.  The U.S. Navy even began using the F-16 in its aggressor squadrons, planes that take on the role of enemy aircraft for the purposes of training.

The F-16 is the safest single engine combat airplane

I’ve never been a fan of the F-16. It only has one engine. When it comes to aircraft, especially combat aircraft, the more engines, the better. Unlike every other combat aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, the F-16 only has one engine. Every other aircraft in the U.S. military can lose an engine and make it back to base. The F-16 cannot.

I was in Korea in the late 80’s and an F-16 there has crashed into a mountain. This incident happened shortly after another F-16 crash. Critics began questioning the safety record of the F-16. I remember reading a quote in the newspaper from an Air Force public relations officer who said, “The F-16 is the safest single engine combat aircraft in the Air Force.”

This was a ridiculous comment because the F-16 was the only single engine combat aircraft in the Air Force.