Posts Tagged ‘Life Lessons’


I have been using Ameritech/SBC/AT&T; Yahoo DSL for close to 6 years now. Overall I have been very happy with the service. It rarely goes down, which to me is the single most important aspect of Internet service. I get my emails as fast as Outlook will pull them down (which never taxes the line based on Outlook’s performance). I get to Web sites and the performance is very acceptable for me and the people who share it here at White Light Computing World Headquarters.

I started out with the 784kbps service, which was a big bump from the 144kbps service I had with Voyager before they decided to stop offering DSL. A few years ago I upgraded to Pro (1.5 to 3.0 mbps) and last year to the Elite package which promises between 3 and 6mbps service (readers might recall my post when I upgraded last year: AT&T; DSL Tries to Increase 25%).

When I moved up to the Pro service I tested out the DSL Speed at 1.2 to 1.3 mbps. Every time I tested it, no matter the time of day, no matter what day of the week, I always got 1.2 to 1.3mbps. I called the tech support and they told me the distance from my house to the central office was further than the recommended distance. I figured this was pretty good since the best I was ever able to get on dial-up more than a decade ago was 26kbps (yes I am serious, even with a 56K modem). According to the phone company I live in the oldest phone infrastructure in the state of Michigan despite the fact that my house was built in a new neighborhood just 14 years ago.

Over the last few years I have complained periodically about the performance of the line hoping they would move the central office closer to my house via the infrastructure, or put in some line boosters. I mostly complained around the time I renew my annual contract. Last year they promised me if I moved to the Elite version that I would definitely get better performance. Nope, still at the 1.2 to 1.3mbps speed. I complained at least twice since the upgrade. Apparently not loud enough.

A couple of weeks ago I get a sales call from AT&T; Yahoo asking me if I would like 6.25 mbps. I told them I would love to get the low end of the Elite service I have been paying for. You see, I have finally wizened up {g}. The gentleman told me the old modems were the problem. All I had to do is get the new service and purchase a new modem and I would be set to rock and roll. Hmmmm, new modem is the problem. So I decline and talk to tech support to see if I can get a replacement modem. I ask about the specs and they tell me they cannot find anything about the upper limits. They proceed to tell me it would be easy to get the latest technology for something like US$79.99. I get shipped back to sales again. I Google the DSL modem I have and the manufacturer’s site tells me it can go as high as 8mbps. Back to tech support.

Smelling the rat I get escalated to second level support. Interestingly enough it takes the second level tech about 60 seconds to have an “aha” moment. In my “record” I was still tagged at Express speed which means Ameritech/SBC/AT&T; have throttled my performance to max out at 1.5mbps. He updates my record and tells me to test the DSL speed again. Holy cow, over 5mbps!!! More than triple the speed I was getting minutes before when the first level techs told me the modem was old and I was too far from the central office one more time.

Back to sales to get my monetary adjustment. First level sales said the best they can do is two months credit because I did not complain enough to them over the three years they were throttling my speed. Two months!?!?!? How about $120 per year since this is what the difference is between the Elite plan I have and the Express plan I was throttled to get? Nope, the best I should hope for is two months, and actually I should consider this a “generous offer.” Seriously!?!?! Customer service has never been one of the phone company’s strong points. You would think the alleged competition would make them treat customers like human beings, but no, they treat them more along the line of the necessary evil people who pay to keep them in a job.

Moving to the “supervisor” offered me $100, credited to me over the next few months. This happens to cross over my contract year so if I bail to cable or another provider I will not even see the entire credit. Total crapola.

So the moral of this story is to test out your speed performance and ensure you are getting what you paid for. If you are getting the run around you can ask for level two support and ask them to check your record to ensure it is set correctly. I am still considering my options as far as if I should go after AT&T; Yahoo to get a full refund. I am normally anti-lawsuit, but this one really is something they should be called out on. If they are doing it to me, they are probably doing it to a lot of others. I have also considered giving a call to the local news station and getting one of their consumer reporters on the case just for grins. Fortunately for them I have been buried in work and have not had a moment to think about this since I got the “speed boost” a couple of weeks ago.

Another Life Lesson learned thanks to the folks at the New AT&T;.

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This is slightly off topic, so if you don’t want to read a rant about Michigan and the idiots who run this state: move along to the next blog. If you want to understand how hard it is to run a software development business or get a better understanding of what your employer faces from time-to-time, read on.

Running a high tech business in the state of Michigan is hard enough without being impacted by people in government who most likely never ran a business. Companies are closing up all over Michigan and a lot of the reason is Michigan is suffering through a one state recession. While the leadership in Lansing cannot be blamed for the decisions of companies like GM, Ford, and Chrysler for laying off more than 100,000 people, I do blame them for the decisions made that are further hurting the state economy. Here is a fine example.

White Light Computing has been in business for nearly four years. During this time the company has paid unemployment insurance at various rates based on the length of time the company has been in business. The first two years the rate was 2.7% for the first US$11,200 of salary, and last year it dropped to 1% based on the fact my company has not pushed a single person on the unemployment line. As a reward for this, as White Light enters its fifth year (according to the state 2008 is year five) the company gets a 50% increase on unemployment insurance. This means an extra US$56 per person on the payroll. While the impact is minor to White Light Computing, imagine being a restaurant owner with lots of lower wage employees and getting a 50% increase just for surviving the first four years in the nations worst economy. How about automotive supplier who already has the slimmest of profit margins to work with and a huge staff on the assembly line?

The people who run this state are complete morons. I called the agency in charge of increasing my rate and their only defense was “it is only a half percent increase, not a 50% increase.” And people say they will never use the math they learned in school. Sheesh.

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Halloween was about kids and candy back in the day. Not anymore. I am not sure when the tide turned, but in our neighborhood we now have adults coming to the door asking for candy. Seriously.

I was sitting in my office working on some cool report for a client not 10 feet from the front door. I hear Therese open the door and the “kid” barked out Trick or Treat. It was the deepest “Trick or Treat” I have heard in my life. I ask Therese how old the kid was thinking we got a super mature 12 year-old. She said it was someone who literally looked like he was on his way home from the office. Several other adults also came to our door last night. When did adults hijack Halloween?!?

I know the economy in Michigan is rough, so have some of the unemployed resorted to begging candy to make ends meet?

Ever since my kids were old enough to understand (three years old if I recall correctly) I implemented the Halloween “Dad Tax.” When the kids came home with their loot we would dump it on to the table and make sure we picked out the garbage (by parental definition, not kid definition). Once we waxed the garbage I implemented the “Dad Tax.” This is where Dad gets to take a certain percentage of their candy and hand it over to the greater good as Dad sees fit. I explained to the kids early on how this is implemented by our governments and how I am teaching them early on what taxation is like before they get a paying job. The kids naturally were against this from the start, especially when they saw how all their hard work took a hit from someone not doing any of the work. Lesson learned.

Last night my youngest came home from her travels and immediately started in on her tax evasion plan. She really showed me how well this life lesson has impacted her. She decided to implement a “Dad Donation” to her favorite Dad charity (me of course), in hope of reducing her tax burden. Sweet, giving to others through a charity of your choice before the greedy politicians decide how to spend your hard earned money. This life lesson went even better than I could have hoped for in my wildest dreams.

By the way, I was the hit with my own life lesson last night while I was thinking of this. My two oldest have moved off to college so the revenue sharing of Halloween is getting thin these days. This means I have to hunt down other forms of candy revenue, or increase the Dad Tax. I began to plot the Uncle Tax and started real long term planning with the Grandpa tax. {g}


This is mirroring what we are seeing in Michigan. We are watching people move away to the greener pastures of Texas and Arizona, and the tax base is eroding very fast. So to boost the state revenues the Michigan legislature decided to increase the taxes on those who remain in Michigan. People are losing their homes at alarming rates and personal budgets are squeezed tighter than ever so the politicians decide to make the hurting hurt more. They also decided to tax consultants for the services they provide to the clients. This little law change was implemented by a part-time legislature making full-time salaries and was done without much thought to the impact on small business and the administrative headache they dumped in our laps. Maybe they should have hired a couple of economists to consult on the package before they put it together. Today they extended the deadline of December 1 to December 20th so they have time to rethink this crazy strategy. Ya think there is a better way to balance a budget?


Life lessons, you are never too old to learn them.