Apple, your support is lacking.

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone on a RANT about poor customer service but here goes.

Last Thursday, the Cincinnati Reds were in a Do-Or-Die Playoff game, at 1pm.  We recently moved into a new building, and don’t have any Cable TV installed yet.  (TimeWarner, your RANT will be forthcoming).

Obviously we wanted to get this game which was on National TV on some of the TV’s in the building for folks who love the Reds could watch and keep up with the game.

We have a couple conference rooms equipped with AppleTV’s.  So we thought, “Oh, this will be easy, we just need someone with an AppleTV/MLB subscription to log in.

LJ was already watching the game live on using his MLB account.  We tried his account with AppleTV but it wouldn’t work.   So we did the next best thing.  I purchased an MLB subscription, in an attempt to bring happiness to our beloved fans.

AppleTV/iTunes, did everything right.   Showed me that the game was available then prompted me to buy the subscription.  So I did.   After the subscription was processed it let us know that “Oops, Sorry, this game is blacked out in your area”.  Huh?  It was on broadcast national television.

Thanks for that.

So today my iTunes statement comes in and looks like this:


See that link right there ‘Report a Problem”.

I decided I’d click it, cause, yeah, I have a problem.  I don’t want a recurring MLB.TV subscription that I’ll never ever use again.

So I click it.   What does it do?  Opens itunes:


See that “Report a Problem’ text, that’s a link in iTunes.

So I click that.

What does that do?

Opens a browser, which is what my email invoice should have done in the first place.

Except, I’ll be damned if you can actually dispute an individual charge.  It’s just the generic iTunes Support Page:

This is not helpful.

Apple is so good at so many things, but this is one area that’s been horrible forever.   No wonder they are as profitable as they are.   If we could force our customers through a maze that doesn’t ever let them fix their issue and we got to keep their money…  We’ve all be millionaires.

After all it’s just a $0.99 app or in this case a $3.99 subscription.   I’ve already wasted more than that is worth to me.  No wonder.  I bet most people just give up.

Now I get to make a phone call, which I can assure you will be super special.

Update: After jumping through the 87 hoops on and, I was finally able to talk to Heather, who took care of this for me.  But it just shouldn’t be this hard.

Update #2:  I purchased a retina iPad as an update to the original iPad that I got pretty much on day one.  I do love my iPad, I use it every day.   Since IOS6 left iPad(1) in the dust, I was compelled to upgrade.   Less than 3 weeks later they announce a new 4th generation iPad.  Same retina display only 2x faster and better.

I read on the web where Apple usually allows people to swap if their purchase was made within 30 days.   It appears this isn’t policy but it’s a good customer move.   I mean my iPad looks like new and if someone bought it at ‘refurb’ pricing, they’d be happy.   Anyway a few phone calls to my local Apple Store pretty much discouraged me.  Apple Genius ‘DeAndre’ pretty much blew me off.   Spouting out the 14 day return policy, though he admitted they do often stretch that to 30 days in some cases.  At the end of the day, I was left without a confident feeling they’ll make it happen.  I asked for a Genius appointment for launch day (Nov 2nd) and was denied.   I’ll be damned if I’ll stand in line.


My recent trip to the UK & Germany.

My employer has offices internationally, and as fate would have it, we’re moving them.  We started with the UK office via some uk affordable movers back in January.  I took a rather condensed trip over to the UK to look at office space.  I was in the air, or in airports almost as long as I was in the UK so I didn’t get to see much other than the offices we looked at.

This trip was very similar. 

The first part of the trip was to move the office and get the internet connectivity and telecommunications setup as well as wrap up some loose ends.

We left Cincinnati (CVG) Saturday May 8th, connecting in Chicago, then straight into Heathrow, in the UK.   I was fortunate to be traveling with our VP of sales, who makes this trip once a month.  As such he’s earned his rewards and status with the airlines and the benefits that come with that.  As his traveling partner I was able to better enjoy the road warrior lifestyle for a week.  Being able to visit the international clubs in the airport and getting ‘upgraded’ has it’s advantages.

This time however we did rent a car.  Figuring we’d be driving back and forth between offices and making the occasional run to the store for something we figured this would be easier than cabs.

We picked up our car at the airport and headed to the hotel.  As things usually go, they didn’t have the car we reserved so we settled on a VW Passat, and a free GPS as compensation.


Driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road is interesting.  But  not nearly as difficult as I was led to believe it would be.  We arrived without incident.

While in the UK we tend to stay at the Twickenham Marriott which wraps the Twickenham rugby statdium.  It’s new so it’s still very nice.  Twickenham is on the west side of London, and honestly there isn’t a whole lot around that area in terms of quick and dirty tourist attractions.  You can hop the tube into downtown London if you have time, but we didn’t.

The room (at least the one I stayed in) is pretty straight forward:


The View


We didn’t do much Sunday, other than recuperate from the flight(s).  We did venture out in search of another US/UK power adapter and ended up a Bentalls, a shopping center and mall about 20 minutes away.  We at lunch/dinner there, and I picked up a Tea Pot for my lovely wife.

Monday morning we met Ashley at the office, got our bearings and went to the old office to retrieve our communications gear.  Loaded it up and headed back to our new office in Kew. 



Where by we commenced to assembling furniture and getting our phones system and internet connectivity up and running.  A good part of the afternoon was spent getting our phone service re-tooled from the interfaces we had at our horrible Regus office to lines we now had control over.  To this end we use eVelocity, for Cisco voice configuration we’re not comfortable messing with.   While things never go as planned, things actually went quite well.


With day 1 complete nearly everything was working as planned.

On Tuesday, we did more of the same, mostly clean-up and tweaks.  For lunch we wandered out to the Kew Greenhouse Cafe.   Ashley claimed it was simply a tourist spot and no, UK people rarely eat at places like this.

Lunch was a Tuna Bake and a Becks Beer.


Then back to the office for more office move related stuff.   Our landlord occupies the 1st and 2nd floor of this building (2nd and 3rd floor to US folks).  I took some time with Paul and discussed their business, the building and other stuff.  When they renovated the building, they added the 3rd floor.  It has somewhat of a nautical theme, seeing as how they are in the shipping business it all made sense.  The windows are like port-holes on a ship.  The 3rd floor is an all-purpose conference room and space for entertaining.  Complete with a temporary bed, shower and other luxuries.



The whole office reminded me of Apple in Cupertino.  They are Apple users and the whole place was quite sanitary looking.



We showed off our iPad’s knowing they’d be interested and couldn’t actually get their hands on them for another couple weeks.

Later in the afternoon I took about an hour to run over to the Chiswick Honda dealership.  At this dealership they have everything Honda.  From lawnmowers and generators, to motorcycles and cars.  My goal was to sit on a new Honda VFR 1200 and check out a couple of bikes that aren’t available in the states.   Mission accomplished, but I have to say, the folks at the dealership were less than friendly.

That evening, we stopped at Tesco’s, the UK version of Walmart to get a few snacks and drinks for the room so we didn’t  have to spend 5 GBP (or about $7.50) for a pepsi at the hotel.

Just like Walmart you can get everything at Tesco, including your home loan, and car insurance right at the check out.


Kevin had to get his Walker Potato chips, “Prawn Cocktail” flavor to be exact.  I’m pretty sure these are just lays potato chips.  But they had a number of really interesting flavors. I opted for a combo pack that had ‘Steak and Onion’, ‘Smokey Bacon’ which I though was extremely ironic since these folks don’t have a clue what bacon really is.  A slice of honey baked ham, without the honey or the baking is not bacon, it’s simply a slice of poorly grilled ham, and ‘Roast Chicken’.  Much to my surprise all of these flavors were accurate, and quite delicious.

Wednesday was wrap up day.  I didn’t have a lot to do, but was hoping I’d get to get out and see some stuff.

We took a quick road trip to IKEA of all places, in an effort to find a conference room table.  Kevin was fairly certain the conference room table we had in Austria came from IKEA.   On the way we stopped for lunch at the world famous ACE cafe.   Which was really an American diner/motorcycle hang out.


Cool place, lots of history.  The Ace Cafe – London, was bombed in World War II.  History can be found here.  Ashley’s dad used to frequent the place in his younger years. 

Out trip to IKEA was uneventful.  No real office furniture to speak of, thought they did have the little lantern that Matthew was playing with at home on our front porch before I left.  Which I believe was a gift we received at Christmas.  It tickled me to see them in London.


We returned around 3pm.  It was a little late in the day for me to make a run to Stonehenge, which was on my short list of things to go see.  It’s about 80 miles from the office but knowing that I’d run into traffic and that we had to leave for the airport at 5am I wasn’t much in the mood to risk it.

I took a little walk around the Kew train stop area, around our office and took some photos.


Everything here is old, including the bridge over the train tracks that I walked over and took the above photo from.  Built in 1912.



Given the amount of pure ugly people, most of whom are only ugly because they need some dental care, I was shocked to find a dentist on the other side of the tracks.  (That’s sarcasm and humor in case you didn’t notice.)

That evening we had dinner at the Inn in Kew Gardens, a standard pub/hotel.  Very much like the Golden Lamb here in Lebanon, OH.  The food was good and on a vacation visit I would probably stay there, though I didn’t get to check out any of the rooms.

The night was uneventful, I slept well, but didn’t get my 4:15am wake up call.  Grrrrr…  (yes 4:15am, necessary to get up and out by 5am, to get to the airport, return our car, clear security and all that entails to make a 7am flight to Munich, Germany).

Still we got out of the hotel in time to return the rental car, and make our flight without too much trouble.

The flight into Germany was uneventful.  We flew Lufthansa and of all the flights so far this was the worst.  The dirtiest aircraft, and the loudest.  It had a horrible buzzing/vibration.  But hey, it’s all good if you don’t crash right?

We landed in Munich and took a cab to the Munich Marriott, which is really in Freising.   We pretty much had the day to kill since it was a Holiday.  No real estate agents were working.  I had in mind to visit either the BMW museum in Munich, or Dachau, the 1st concentration camp.   But as fate would have it, we didn’t have a car, and being a holiday we feared things may not be open.   We walked down to the hofbrauhaus with the intention of eating well and having a few beers.


But it too was closed.  To be honest the whole town was very quiet.  We walked back to the hotel and had a good meal and beer at the restaurant then just relaxed in our rooms.  I watched “The Hurt Locker”, and promptly fell a sleep.

In the morning Rob picked us up and we went office shopping.

I won’t bore you with the details of that.


The bottom line though is that you could probably take someone from West Chester, blind fold them, drop them off near the Munich airport and they wouldn’t know the difference.  The drive on the right side of the road, and it’s wide open.  Plenty of farmland.  Very Cincinnati like.

Our trip was successful, at least at this point I think it was.   We viewed 8 different offices, had lunch at a little Italian bistro, then spent a couple hours at the airport office park where our current office is.


We flew back to Heathrow at 7pm, less than 48 hours after we arrived.  We spent the night at the Heathrow Marriott, then headed back to the US at 7:30 in the morning the next day.

The flight home was equally uneventful, until we needed to board our flight from Chicago to Cincy.  The plane needed some maintenance attention but they gut us underway in less than 40 minutes of our original departure time so we were only 30 minutes late.

I can’t wait to go back, but I can certainly wait to do those flights again.

12 + hours in airports and planes just kinds sucks like that.

Saying goodbye to a friend.

Phil was our auto mechanic.  He lived down the street from us on Radabaugh right over the ‘dip’ in the road.  His house was commonly referred to as the Cracker Barrel house because it always had a TON of stuff on, and around it.  It wasn’t junk though, it was ‘decorated’.   I’m somewhat saddened that I didn’t get to know Phil better.   Most of our interactions involved car repairs, though we did have the occasional neighbor chat, about happenings in Trenton.  He took an annual fishing trip to Canada in the fall and I was looking forward to joining him for one of those trips.  Phil was a laid back easy going guy, always cheerful and honest.  The kind of guy that comes and plows your driveway in the winter and doesn’t ask anything in return.  Heck for the last two years we didn’t have any idea who shoveled our driveway but we caught him in the act this year.  He was also restoring an 80’s Kawasaki K1000 and we frequently talked about riding when he got it back together.

Phil, you’ll be sorely missed.

His Obituary from the Journal news follows:


News Death Notice
MORRIS, Phillip S. age 61 of Trenton passed away at Atrium Medical Center on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 12:06 PM. He was born in Hamilton on September 29, 1948 the son of Elmer and Nellie (Chaney) Morris. Phillip was employed as an auto mechanic. He is survived by his mother, Nellie Morris of Hamilton; a brother, Kenneth (Gail) Morris of Pleasant Hill; three nephews, Shawn Morris, Jason Morris, and Marcus Christy; and a niece, Michelle Christy. He was preceded in death by his father, Elmer Morris, and a brother, Dr. Marcus Christy. Funeral service will be held at the Brown-Dawson Funeral Home, 330 Pershing Avenue, on Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 10:00 AM with Pastor Shawn Morris of Salem United Methodist Church, Wapakoneta, Ohio officiating. Burial will follow in Millville Cemetery. Visitation will be held at the funeral home on Friday from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Watch Repair FAIL

Back in 2006 when I attended Cisco Affiliate Network.

I purchased a Cisco branded Skagen watch.  The price was right, and I was in a mood for a watch and had been looking at Skagen for a while since they are so light and ‘thin’.

On the way home I noticed it wasn’t keeping time and that bothered me.   It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that I noticed if you bumped it at all, the minute hand would just ‘move’.    It would keep time just fine sitting on the desk, just don’t subject it to any movement.  🙁

I called Cisco Marketing to see if they’d swap me out.   Turns out they were the last batch and since Cisco was in the process of changing logo’s there wouldn’t be anymore.

They suggested I send it to Skagen since it had a limited lifetime warranty.

Well I never did, that was until about a month ago.  I printed out the RMA form, included Credit card info fully expecting to be dinged $30 bucks or so for the repair.

A couple of weeks passed and I noticed that Skagen had only dinged me $8.95 (plus the cost of shipping it to them).  Which appears is the standard fee for warranty repair.   (yes a fee for warranty work, go figure).

I was giddy, looking forward to getting a nice and relatively new watch back.

It arrived today.

I tore open the envelope, pulled out the slip and read it.  Work performed Reseal Case & Attached Minute Hand!.

Then I pulled out the box congaing the watch.   I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Where was the minute hand?  Floating around the number 1 and 2 on the dial, completely detached from the movement.   Pfffft.

(in the photo it’s floating over the #3)

So I turned it over to my wife to handle.  She’s good with stuff like that.  At first they wanted me to ship it to them again (at my cost) and that wasn’t going to fly.

But in the end they are supposed to take care of me.   They are going to build me a watch.  (sans the Cisco Logo) and ship it to me and pick up the bumb fix.

I’ll update if that doesn’t happen.

Giving up the Nicotine

“It’s Time”

I’m 40-something and started smoking when I was 14 or so. 

When Michael was born, Claudine put her foot down.  No more smoking in the house.   Back then you could still smoke in most public places.  But standing outside in the cold weather wasn’t for me. 

So, I did the next best thing.  Switched up for something with no second-hand side effects.  (Chew or Dip).  It doesn’t affect those around you unless a: you spill it on them, or b: they grab your dip cup or can by mistake and take a swig.   The later was often comical though.

Anyway, that means I’ve been nicotine dependant for over 25 years.

As for dipping, it was a 5-can per week habit, nearly a can a day but not quite.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I have quit before, heck quitting is easy.  But staying that way hasn’t be so easy.  My most successful run was about 6 months, and I used the patch to get that far.  So still getting nicotine, only the clean pharmaceutical variety.

I am nicotine dependant, and addicted, there is no doubt about that. 

But I’m giving it up.  It’s simply “time to do so”.   I started yesterday, I’m not brave enough to go ‘cold-turkey’, and I also love my family too much to put them through that right now.   It wasn’t pleasant last time.

So I cut back significantly yesterday.   Only three small ‘fixes’.   May not seem like much but it was significant to me and actually wasn’t that easy.

I stuck with that routine today, at least as far in today as we are.  This mornings little fix was different.  Certainly not enjoyable.  Not like yesterday.  Nope, my body didn’t really like it.

I expect to drop it completely by Monday, heck if later today is like this morning, maybe sooner.

So there, I’ve said it.  I’ve posted it.  It’s public.  So after Monday, give me crap if you see me with tobacco.  It’s important for you to do so.  Now I just need to figure out how to not gain 30 lbs while doing this.  I really cannot afford to gain any more weight.