The Internet: If It’s Outside Your Normal Experience Then It Never Happened

, , , , | Friendly | November 13, 2019

I sometimes answer questions on a popular website where users can ask or answer questions. I’ve only answered a few so far. One evening, I answer a question somebody has regarding any support for autistic children. One of my children is autistic, so I share links to as many charities and organisations as I can and offer advice based on my experience.

The next morning, I wake up to a lot of email notifications from the site. I don’t usually get many responses, so I check it out.

It turns out somebody made the following reply in the night:

“Hmm. I’m not sure whether anyone can take any of your advice seriously. In one post, you’re a student. In this one, you have an autistic daughter, but in another, you claim to have a son? There’s also the post where you claim to be an accountant. If you’re going to lie, at least be consistent. People here actually need help. Go lie somewhere else.”

Apparently, the idea of a mature student with two children, who used to be an accountant, is too much for them, I guess.

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The Biggest Horror This Halloween Is The Delivery

, , , , , , | Working | October 31, 2019

My “Mrs. Peacock” Clue/Cluedo Halloween costume wasn’t complete without a small toy revolver, so I searched an online marketplace that specializes in handmade and vintage goods, and found one at a good price from a seller only about 100 miles from me. Per the seller’s policies, he usually shipped items within three business days of order placement, but sometimes needed up to seven days to ship the item. In either case, the package should take only two or three days to arrive even by basic postal service.

On Wednesday the 19th, I received an email from the seller with the package tracking code and the following note: “Your package was shipped a few days back on time. Here is the tracking information. Have a great day!”

“A few days back on time” was ambiguous, but it sounded as though the seller was stating that he had shipped the package out “a few days back,” which was certainly well within his policy and therefore “on time.” However, when I got home that afternoon, the package had not arrived, nor did it arrive the following day. Or the next. Or the next. The whole time, the package tracking showed the same status message: “Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item.”

It seemed the seller had created the package profile with the post office, but hadn’t yet given the package to a postal worker to begin processing. On Sunday the 23rd, one week after I’d ordered the item, I contacted the seller: “Please send out ASAP. I ordered this well enough in advance to accompany a Halloween costume for a party this coming Friday, October 28th.

“Columbus to Cincy isn’t far; it should take no more than two or three days to arrive, but I’ll get it in time only if you ship it by tomorrow, Monday, October 24th.

“If you cannot manage to get it in the mail by close of business tomorrow, please let me know by canceling the order and issuing a full refund so that I can seek an alternative that will deliver in a timely fashion.”

The seller responded: “Hello, your package is indeed in the US mail system and on the way to you. The post office is always a day or more behind scanning updates. Some updates are as late as five days.

“Thank you for your patience. Have a good day!”

Yes, he was placing the blame for the package’s delay on the post office! Magically, the very next day, the tracking status changed to “Accepted at USPS Origin Facility.” Two days later, the 26th, I finally had my costume accessory. It was exactly what I needed, albeit a little smaller than I expected.

However, the seller got his very-well-deserved negative feedback posted to his account about his slow service and blatant lies!

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What Price Loyalty?

, , , , , | Friendly | October 26, 2019

I play a mobile game that has a light PVP element to it: players can join teams that have arranged fights with other teams and also can fight bigger monsters, both of which offer superior rewards. The team I am a member of has a core group of people who stick with it but has experienced a lot of membership churn. This is in part due to differences between people who feel attacked if the leader points out that some people didn’t participate in events and others who get annoyed and leave because some people didn’t participate in events and they feel that this was dragging down their event rewards. As a result, our team lead has had to be in a perpetual recruitment mode for a few months.

After one recruitment session, one person joined, responding politely to our greeting messages and overall gave no signs of unhappiness with our team. An hour later, without another word, he suddenly left the team again and joined a different team.

One of the requirements listed on the home page for the other team? “Loyalty.”

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She Was A Proud 5zNdkU Until She Got Married

, , , , | Working | October 4, 2019

(When creating online accounts, I usually fill the “Recovery Questions” with another random password and store both in my password safe. I do the same for a password for an online shopping service. Cue the following call:)

Caller: “I’m calling on behalf of [Shop] and wanted to clear a problem with your password recovery answer.”

Me: “Yes?”

Caller: “It seems you entered some random characters as the answer to, ‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’. You’re not supposed to put your password there, but answer the question.”

(I go into explanation mode on how password recovery features are insecure.)

Caller: “Still, you need to put a correct answer there; if you lose your password how do you plan to recover it?”

Me: “I have the password stored in my password safe.”

Caller: “You might lose it.”

Me: “It’s stored on a RAID 6 guarded by a three-generation backup off-site.”

Caller: *pause* “It’s still not something you’d remember.”

Me: *getting fed up* “So what? It’s stored on—”

Caller: *interrupting* “But it may get lost; it always happens and then you have no way to recover your account. We take this very seriously and—”

Me: *also interrupting* “Okay, I will remember this!”

Caller: “You want to tell me you would remember… 5zNdkU1Pr9kN—”

Me: *interrupting and reading the rest of the answer I stored* “Of course I will. That’s my mother’s maiden name.”

Caller: “…”

Me: “My mother was an alien from Tau Ceti Five and 5zNdkU… is a perfectly normal and actually even fairly common name there!”

Caller: “…”

Me: “Are you saying my mom was not a decent person just because she doesn’t have a German name like Huber or Maier? Are we at that point already again?”

Caller: “N… no, of course not, but…”

Me: “Because I didn’t expect [Company] to be in any way xenophobic.”

Caller: “Of… of course we are not, but…”

Me: “Great. So, I guess you have no further inquiries about my mother’s maiden name?”

Caller: “Er… have a nice day.”

Me: “Same to you.”

(I don’t know whether she thought I was nuts, and I’m usually not the one to play the xenophobia card, but seriously, what trouble do you put people through for an online shopping account?)

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The Gift Card That Keeps On Giving… You Regrets

, , , , , , | Working | September 25, 2019

(I try to order a gift card from [Terrible Phone Company]’s website. After hitting “Submit” on the order, the website hangs. Logging out of my account and then back in shows the card still in my cart, with no confirmation that the order has gone through, and I receive no email stating that it has gone through, but the rewards points I was using to purchase the card are deducted from my balance. After three days with no confirmation that the order has been received, I use [Terrible Phone Company]’s online chat to ask what is going on with the order. Just for reference, this is the second time I’ve had this exact issue with this company, and I have previously had issues with this same company randomly not sending e-bills to an email address I have been using with them for years.)

Me: “Can you just confirm that you are going to redeem [points] for a [Place] gift card?”

Automated Chat system: “Typically it takes two to three weeks for delivery of the partner gift card. The eGift cards will be sent to you via email within 48 hours.”

Me: “Okay, but can you confirm that the order was placed?”

Automated Chat system: “Ordered [expensive Internet package] recently and want to check the status?”

Me: “That is not what I want. I would like to talk to a human now.”

(Eventually, a — presumably — human agent gets on the chat. After several minutes of the representative confirming my account details and identity, we finally get around to checking the order. It takes several minutes for the chat rep to actually look up the order info.)

Chat Rep: “Upon checking your account details for the recent redemption of [card I ordered]…”

(Radio silence.)

Me: “So… is that a yes? My gift card is on its way? Because I’ve received zero confirmation and your website still shows me as having it in my cart and every time I hit submit it just sits there and hangs.”

Chat Rep: “Yes, you will received [sic] also an email confirmation regarding the status of your gift card.”

Me: “When will I receive that email confirmation?”

Chat Rep: “Anytime. Please check your email every day.”

Me: “I do. That’s the issue. That’s why I’m chatting with you. Because it’s been, let’s see, three days, and I’ve received bupkis.”

Chat Rep: “You’re welcome! I’m glad to assist!”

Me: “That was not a thank-you. Supervisor, now, please. Please escalate this. I have found a bug in your program. I need to report it.”

Chat Rep: “Even if I will connect you to my supervisor, it will be the same. We do have the same access on your account.”

Me: “So… I can’t report a bug? Your website will not give me the info I need and won’t send me an email confirmation. I would think you’d want to know that. ‘You’ in this case meaning [Terrible Phone Company], not [Chat Rep]. Escalate. ESCALATE. YOUR WEBSITE IS BROKEN.”

Chat Rep: “Sure thing! Please allow me a few minutes.”

(The chat rep then sends me to his supervisor.)

Chat Rep Supervisor: “I understand that you want to know when you will receive your [Place] gift card, is that right?”

Me: “Just for a summary: your portal for redeeming [Terrible Phone Company] rewards through your website is not working. I tried to redeem rewards but received zero confirmation from the website that the order had been completed, and the item never left my cart. And I received zero emails about the order. So I had no way of knowing if the order went through at all. So, yes, I wanted to know if the order was placed and when I will get my gift card, but I’d like something in writing to that effect, and [Chat Rep]’s assurances that I will get an email ‘anytime’ are less than assuring, because it’s been three days and your website is still borked.”

Chat Rep Supervisor: “I got you! I actually checked your account and I see the transaction for a [Place] gift card.”

Me: “Terrific. So… when will I get an email to that effect?”

Chat Rep Supervisor: “What I will do is to check my resources on how we can make sure you will get this gift card.”

Me: “That’s not what I asked for. How about this? Instead, pass along a bug report? I’m using [Browser] on [Cell Phone Brand] and also on [Laptop Brand]. Browser is 100% up-to-date on both.”

Chat Rep Supervisor: “Please allow me a few minutes.”

Me: “Just tell your techies there’s a bug.”

Chat Rep Supervisor: “Please allow me a few minutes.”

(I waited. Time marched inexorably on. After several more minutes, I gave up and told the chat rep supervisor I was signing off. Five minutes later, I received an email that my gift card was on its way.)

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