Verizon DSL has finally fixed its slowdown issue

We have working Internet. Finally. On Friday, someone from Verizon must have finally fixed the issue at the central office. When we got home from work Friday evening, I did a speed test, and it was in the high 6 Mbps range, an acceptable rate for a DSL connection. I streamed a movie on the living room TV, and there was no buffering. We watched programs on Hulu Plus for a good amount of time yesterday and the episodes loaded fast and once they began, there was no buffering.

Exactly like it should be.

I don’t understand why Verizon kept jerking us around. First they said our modem was bad. I went out and bought a Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600, and swapped it out with my old one. Same thing. They then said the problem was with their central office, where the copper phone line from our house connects to the Internet. They said they would have a tech go out last Monday to fix it.

Monday rolled around and instead of the tech going to the central office, they came to our house when we were not home and said everything checked out OK.

Everything was not OK. We got home Monday, and it was just as bad as it was before.

We contacted Verizon tech support again. The tech support person in India said the reason our Internet was so slow was because we were using a third-party modem, one not from Verizon. I explained I purchased the Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 because they said our original modem was bad. I specifically asked if I could use a third-party modem. The person from Verizon said I could.

I offered to reconnect the original modem if the new modem was the problem. The guy in India told me that the original modem was probably bad, but the current slow down issue was caused by a modem that didn’t come from them.

It was kind of funny that the symptoms were exactly the same.

The Verizon agent said he was sending out a new modem free of charge, and he promised, guaranteed even, that it would fix our problem. Who does that? I do telephone tech support for a living, and I would never promise or guarantee something is going to solve an issue. There are just too many variables in place.

You never know something is going to fix a problem until you do it, and the problem is gone.

Sometimes one problem is masking another problem. You can fix one problem, only to discover two other problems that you could not detect because of the original problem.

The new modem arrived, and surprise, surprise, the problem was still there.

I connected the Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 back up. Since I paid $100 for it, I wanted to actually use it. Instead of contacting Verizon tech support in India again, we made plans for going to Antietam Cable on Saturday to sign up for cable Internet. I didn’t want to, but I felt like we had no choice.

Then, on Friday, our Internet began working. Our trip to Antietam Cable had been averted, at least temporarily.

The reason I don’t want to go with Antietam Cable is because it would mean disconnecting Dish Network from the cable drop in the computer room and using it for the internet. I’d rather not do that. We have a TV mounted on the wall above the treadmill that we can watch while getting our steps in.

Not being able to watch TV while you exercise sounds like a living hell.

If I were starting from scratch, if I didn’t have the Internet and had to choose between Verizon DSL and something else, I would go with something else. The only thing worse than having to talk to someone in India when something you’re paying for isn’t working correctly is when the person in India doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Actually, there are worse things than having to deal with incompetent tech support in the land of spices and gods with many arms, having full-blown AIDS or being forced to go to a Jimmy Buffet concert readily come to mind, but why subject yourself to unpleasant things if you don’t have to?

Life is a series of choices. Choose smartly, don’t choose Verizon DSL.

Verizon DSL: Life in the slow lane

About a week ago, my wife Sheri and I noticed a problem streaming to the living room TV. For some reason, we couldn’t watch Amazon, Hulu, HBO Go, or even YouTube using our Roku device without constant buffering. We have the Roku connected to the Internet via a wireless connection to our router. To help rule out the wi-fi as the problem, I tried watching a movie on my computer on the living room TV with Plex. It didn’t buffer one single time. If it were the wi-fi connection, I would expect to see buffering.

I then connected a CAT-5 cable from the router to the Roku in the living room and tried watching something on Hulu. It continually buffered, just like it did with the wi-fi.

That made me think the problem was with the Internet connection. We have DSL through Verizon. It’s supposed to have download speeds of anywhere from 3.1 to 7 Mbps. At least that’s what we’re paying for. To be honest, I don’t know what it was when everything was working. I never had a reason to go test it. When I went to Ookl Speed Test, it showed I was getting less than 1.5 Mbps. In fact, the later in the day, the slower the connection. In the evening, it was showing less than 1 Mbps.

I needed to contact Verison. I was dreading it. I’ve talked to them before, and I remember spending hours and hours on the phone talking to a guy in India named “Bob” who was obviously working from a script. It was not only frustrating, I never got the issue resolved.

When I went to the Verizon website to get their phone number, I noticed they now have the option of speaking to support through chat. I jumped on that, thinking it would be better than actually talking to someone.

I was right, it was better than talking to someone. At the end of the chat, after answering questions and the person from Verizon running tests, I was told my router was bad. They said it was old and had “lived out its usefulness.” I was still using the freebie Westell 7500 that I was given when I first signed up for Verizon DSL over three years ago, so this sounded more or less legit. The person told me they could sell me a new router for $29.99. I asked if I could get my own and use it with Verizon. They said I could, but they would not be able to provide expert support on 3rd party routers.

I had a good laugh over that.

I checked out Best Buy’s website and saw that they had DSL routers in stock at the Hagerstown store. I focused on a Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 DSL Router for $99.99. I looked at Amazon for the same model, and it was $15 more than Best Buy. I would have paid the higher price for the pleasure of not having to deal with Best Buy, but I didn’t want to wait two days to get it.

Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600I paid for it online and got an email telling me it was ready to be picked up. We went to Best Buy, got it, and took it home. Then, when I began opening it, I noticed it wasn’t the router I needed. It was the same router, but this one was for cable, not DSL. I looked at my paperwork thinking I ordered the wrong one. No, I ordered the right one, they just gave me the wrong model.

We had to go back to Best Buy to exchange it. When we went to the return desk and explained we were given the wrong one, the Best Buy employee began looking on his computer to try to find the one I paid for. Sheri went to the back of the store where the routers are kept and grabbed the right one. The employee was trying to tell me that they didn’t have the actual model I paid for while Sheri was standing there holding the right model in her hand. I guess the Best Buy inventory computer showed they were out of stock because it thought I had already bought their last one.

We exchanged the routers and left Best Buy. It wasn’t until we were in the parking lot that I realized that the employee never apologized for the mix-up. Worse, I even said, “Thank you” at the end of our exchange and he never even reciprocated. I think he mumbled “OK” or something.

Why did I thank him? He didn’t thank me. He didn’t express even the slightest bit of sympathy for having to come back in and get what I paid for. I wish I could resind my thank you.

We got home from our second trip to Best Buy, and I installed the new router. Same thing. Our Internet connection was still slow. I had just spent $100 on a new fancy router and the download speed was hovering at around 1.3 Mbps.

What’s worse than having to go to Best Buy twice in the same day? Contacting Verizon support twice in the same day. This time, Sheri contacted them on chat. The person she got was a lot more knowledgeable then the person I had. The Verizon support rep she got even went into her computer remotely to look at the router settings. The person I chatted with didn’t even offer to do that.

The Verizon support rep decided the problem was at the Verizon central office. They opened a ticket with their tier-two support, and we are supposed to have a resolution by tomorrow night.

I checked our Internet speed this morning, and it shows we are downloading at 5.6 Mbps. That’s around where it was at yesterday at this time, with the old router. If the problem continues in its normal pattern, the download speed will drop as the day goes on.

Marvel Collector Corps charges your credit card when they feel like it

Marvel Collector Corps, the Loot Crate copycat run by Funko, maker of licensed pop culture collectibles, has a lot of problems. I joined their program last April and my first box was shipped to me later that same month. On June 11, I received an email telling me the June box, themed after the upcoming Ant-Man movie, was processing. Then, last week, I began seeing online that people were receiving their June boxes. I still hadn’t received an email saying my box was shipped. I decided to check my credit card statement online to make sure that my card had been charged on June 1st.

According to their website, Marvel Collector Corps charges your credit card on the first business day of the month for that month’s box:

Marvel.Collector.Corps.billing

Marvel.Collector.Corps.billing.recurring

This is pretty clear. They will only charge your card on the first business day of the month.

When I looked at my credit card statement online, I discovered that they hadn’t charged my card on June 1st. They charged it on June 11. Then, for some inexplicable reason, they charged it again on June 12.

I was charged twice for a box they never sent me.

I don’t know what’s going on with Marvel Collector Corps. I canceled my subscription this past weekend. Now I have to file two chargeback disputes with my credit card company for the two bogus purchases they charged my card. If they were going to send me a box in June, they were authorized to charge my card once on June 1, the first business day of the month.

I asked them why they charged my card on June 11 and June 12, but they’ve been too busy to get back to me.

Take my advice and stay away from Marvel Collector Corps, at least until they fire the people running it now and replace them with people more competent, people more like the folks running things over at Loot Crate. These are the last people in the world you want to have access to your credit card. Also, I highly recommend you follow Collector Corps Fail on Twitter.  Lots of good info there. They’ve been officially blocked by Marvel Collector Corps on Twitter, so you know they’re doing something right.

Thinking of joining Marvel Collector Corps? Don’t do it

Marvel Collector Corp, a bi-monthly subscription based collector’s box service started up last April. It’s like Loot Crate, but it features only stuff associated with Marvel Comics and it’s run by Funko, the maker of licenced pop culture collectables. It also costs more than Loot Crate. Marvel Collector Corp ships every other month and costs $25 per box, compared to Loot Crate’s monthly box that costs less than $14 per box.

The price isn’t the only thing different between Loot Crate and Marvel Collector Corps. Loot Crate actually sends their subscribers their box in a timely manner. Marvel Collector Corps? Not so much.

Although loads of other Marvel Collector Corp members have received their June box, I have not. In fact, my box hasn’t even been sent yet. How do I know this? Because I haven’t gotten an email with a tracking number like I did back in April. I did get an email on June 11 saying my order was being processed, but no follow-up email with a tracking number. Also, because I tweeted both Marvel Collector Corps and Funko one week ago, and this was the response I got:

So my order began to be processed on June 11 and on June 21, it was still being processed, whatever that means.

I then noticed online that people began getting their boxes last week. This would seem to me that when the rep from @CollectorCorps tweeted that they hadn’t shipped yet, this was less than truthful. Since they ship boxes using UPS Ground, which has a 5-day ship time, some of the boxes must have been shipped when the tweet from @CollectorCorps was posted.

Yesterday, I decided to check my credit card statement online to see when Marvel Collector Corps actually charged my card. What I discovered surprised me. I was charged for the June box on June 11 and then again on June 12. I was charged twice for the same box. A box they still haven’t shipped.

I wrote them an email telling them I wanted to cancel my subscription. I had already done it online, but I figured it would benefit me to really make sure my subscription was indeed canceled. This is the response I got:

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2015 23:11:56 +0000
From: Collector Corps
To: rick@bentcorner.com
Subject: Ticket Received – Cancel my membership

Dear Rick Rottman,

Thanks for contacting support@collectorcorps.com! We are excited to speak with you. Due to a high volume of customer tickets that we are currently receiving, there may be delays in response times. Rest assured we are working diligently to get to each and everyone [sic] of your questions and concerns.

Your Ticket Number is 20550 – if you have additional questions, please reply to this email instead of opening an additional ticket. This will ensure we can most efficiently help you.

Thank you for your time, patience and subscription.

Regards,

Marvel Collector Corps Support

I tell them I want to cancel because they charged me twice and didn’t send my box, and they respond by saying they’re “excited” to speak to me.

Take my advice and don’t subscribe to Marvel Collector Corps. At least not yet. They obviously don’t know what they’re doing. They need to get the bugs out.

You’d think they would just copy Loot Crate.

If you find yourself really wanting something that’s inside one of their boxes, you’d be better off buying it on eBay or someplace else. Considering how much of what they’re sending out is poorly packed and is arriving damaged, you’d be better off going this route if you like your collectables in collectable condition and not broken or damaged.

Nike.com has terrible customer service

Saturday, March 14, I ordered a pair of Air Max 90 Essential shoes directly from the Nike.com website. They were on sale. They normally sold for $110 and I got them for $64.97, plus $8.00 shipping. I was told in an email to expect them on March 18.

It’s March 18 and instead of receiving my shoes, I received this email from Nike.com:

Nike.com has terrible customer service - Bent Corner

What a bunch of jerks. Why do they wait four days to tell me they don’t have the shoes they sold me on Saturday? I was expecting to get my shoes today. Instead of getting my shoes, I got a generic email composed by a soulless robot.

I have a hard enough time buying shoes in my size (I wear size 15) without being sold shoes that don’t really exist.

nike,com,shoes Even if Nike.com doesn’t have this specific colorway anymore, it’s not like they don’t have other Air Max 90 Essential’s for sale in my size. They screwed up. They could have offered to make it right by offering a different pair of Air Max 90 Essential shoes in a different colorway. Instead, they wait four days to tell me they don’t have what they sold me, and they just cancel it.

I love Nike shoes, but Nike.com is awful.

Comcast changed customer’s name to ‘Asshole’

What’s going on with Comcast? The behemoth cable provider is routinely voted the worst company in America for customer service. Now they’ve been caught changing a customer’s first name from Ricardo to “Asshole”. They left his last name, Brown, as-is. Go figure.

This was discovered when the customer received his statement in the mail. He learned about this name change on a 30 day past due notice.

Comcast changed customer's name to 'Asshole'

What will they change his name to when he goes 60 days past due?

Comcast is blaming a rogue employee for the incident and they claim to have fired that employee. I find it heard to believe that Comcast doesn’t have failsafes in place that stop something like this. By changing the name of the customer, they’ve modified the contract, making it invalid and unenforceable. A name change on an account requires an addendum to the original contract. It’s essentially putting the bill in someone else’s name.

Ricardo Brown no longer owes any money to Comcast, Asshole Brown does.

Comcast is just a terrible company. They owe their customer base not to the excellent products and service they offer, but to the fact that they are the only game in town. They offer cable TV and broadband, high-speed Internet delivered over coax cable. They enjoy a monopoly over control of the coax cable running to people’s homes.

Companies without competition are almost universally terrible. No greater example of this is the local cable TV provider.

We get our TV from Dish Network. One of the reasons Dish Network is so awesome is that they have DirecTv to compete with. DirecTv tries to corner the satellite TV market by bribing the NFL to be the sole provider of out-of-market games. Dish Network competes with DirecTV by offering the best DVR on the market. The point is, the two satellite TV providers have each other to compete with.

Comcast has nobody to compete with. If you live in an area where Comcast is in control of the coax, you either go with them, or you don’t have cable TV.