Thursday, June 02, 2011

Verizon does not take responsibility for the internet

From the ToS for FiOS internet:

"You agree that Verizon assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, integrity, quality completeness, usefulness or value of any Content, advice or opinions contained in any emails, message boards, chat rooms or community services, Verizon Web Sites or in any other public services or social networks, and that Verizon does not endorse any advice or opinion contained therein, whether or not Verizon provides such service(s). Verizon does not monitor or control such services, although we reserve the right to do so. "

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Oh, Citi. You'll wish you never heard of me...

Lets see if this gets their attention. I dropped the H-bomb and I-theft bomb.


To whom it may concern,

Please remove my address (-----St APT ----, Quakertown PA 18951) and person from your marketing database. Due to the behavior explained in the attached CoC (Comptroller of Currency) complaint (Case# 01450312) I do not wish to receive any more offers for any type of financial services from your company or subsidiaries. I have zero faith in your ability to take care of your customers privacy or respond to their complaints.

I expect written confirmation of your receipt of this message. If I do not receive it, I will assume you are consciously ignoring this complaint. I will continue to report additional offers I receive to Citi bank, using your Business Reply Mail envelopes as well as appending my CoC complaint. If my concerns continue to be ignored, I will consider your institutions actions as harassment and will elevate my complaints accordingly.

I should not have to remind you of the serious nature of identity theft. If you consciously ignore this complaint, you might be considered an accessory to the possible attempted identity theft that is described in the included CoC complaint.

Not amused,

Alexander Belton"

You can learn from my mistakes...

Pro tip:

The regulatory landscape is terribly complex. Apparently you contact the FDIC, Federal reserve or Comptroller of Currency depending on how big the bank/financial institution is.

This website searches lets you search and directs you to the appropriate agency to file your complaint.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The FDIC Knows how Citi Lost me as a Customer

And I never even opened an account:

"Please describe the nature of your complaint or inquiry:
For several months I have been receiving the Citi statement of one Sxxxx Axxx Sxxxxx mailed to my address in Quakertown PA. I have lived at this address for 2.5 years and have not been receiving this statement the whole time. I have called Citi bank two times previous to the most recent call, today, reporting the issue and was assured, every time, that they would remove my address from their system, as I have no Citi accounts of any type. They did not seem particularly concerned that their paying customer's statement was being sent to the wrong person/address. On the back of the envelope it warns that "A paper trail is an identity thief's best friend." They do not seem to take this to heart.

I do not know if this is the result of a simple typo or if there is something more sinister afoot involving impersonating this other customer with credit card activity they are not aware of.

I have returned several of the statements back to sender via the USPS, which really should be a red flag for privacy concerns.

I am filing this complaint because I hope someone else might do the same if it appeared my identity was being stolen.

Desired Resolution:
They need to contact Sxxxx Axxx Sxxxxx and resolve her correct address and bring appropriate actions against her if she is deliberately falsifying her mailing address.

I also wish to have my person (Axxxx Bxxxx) excluded from any and all future solicitations of credit card or other financial services from Citi bank. This whole affair has destroyed my faith in their ability to take care of their customers and protect their identity. I will file future complaints if I continue to receive offers for credit cards etc after the resolution of this complaint."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Junk Mail Battle Continues...

"Better Business Bureau:

I have reviewed the response made by the business in reference to complaint ID XXXXXXX, and have determined that this does not resolve my complaint. For your reference, details of the offer I reviewed appear below.

I am still disappointed that my name has been entered into the RedPlum system. I filed this complaint out of refusal to be listed in their database when I did not request their junk mail in the first place. I find it reprehensible that they "require" me to provide my name to get my address removed (when the mailings, if I may charitably refer to the material they require me to carry out to the recycling bin on a weekly basis) from their system. I have just checked, and their website still requires someone to enter their name to remove their address from the RedPlum mailing list, even when the mailings themselves are addressed to "Resident". I might not hesitate to use a false name, which might also help me track down anyone they sell my name/address to other trash peddlers. However, on the website, it says the user needs to enter their name to act as their legal signiture. This seems simply absurd and over-stepping their bounds. To register for the national Do Not Call registry, for example, it simply requires the phone numbers and a (potentially temporary) e-mail address for verification.

I require that RedPlum removes my name and any reference to my address from their system, except for what references to my address are required to keep it on their "do not mail" list. Once they can provide that specific assurance, I can accept their response to my complaint.


Alexander Belton

PS. I would like to take this opportunity to register my opposition to the unsolicited junk-mail business model from an ecological viewpoint. I do not think they consider any of the ramifications on the environment relating to either the energy requirement to process and print the ads themselves (I will be kind and assume the paper is already entirely recycled pulp) as well as the transportation cost of bringing the packet from the printers to the unwilling recipients (including the increased load on the US Postal Service in manpower and fuel costs) and then the cost and inconvenience forced upon the recipients to dispose of the mailings in either the recycling or refuse streams, and then the energy required to transport the waste to either the landfill or to the recycling facility and then sorted and reused. By mailing their junk to everyone regardless of interest, they are forcing these costs upon the planet and society. Both would be better served if Red Plum, and others like them, would adopt an opt-in rather than an obfuscated opt-out system."

Monday, December 20, 2010

In which I do battle with a Junk Mailer

Why'd it take me over two years? Because I think this junk mail has caused me to miss electricity bills (the latest tacking on $16 in late fees) and I'm not really OK with that anymore.

Submitted to the BBB:

Business Information
Business ID: 0141-0071004691
Name: Valassis Sales & Marketing Services, Inc
Address: 20 Summit Park Drive
City: Pittsburgh
State/County: PA
Zip/Postal Code: 15275

1. Primary Classification:
Advertising Issues
2. Secondary Classification:
Customer Services Issues
3. Problem:
I have been living at this address for approximately 2.5 years. Throughout that time I have received, one or more times per week, a significant pile of unwanted mail, coupons for local businesses etc, that I generally consider to be 'junk' as I have no interest in looking through such a pile for the one or two coupons I might be interested in. Recently, this pile of junk mail has been interfering with me receiving proper mail (bills etc) regularly as the mail that is actually addressed to me (rather than "Resident") will get mixed in amongst the junk mail and I throw it all out without noticing the bill or statement buried amongst the ads. I attempted to unsubscribe via the website which redirected it to the Valassis website with a web form to fill out. This form, however, requires me to input my name to get my address removed from their mailing list. I have never given them my name as a means to request these mailings, and the are addressed to "Resident" at my address, XXXXX Quakertown, PA 18951 Clearly they do not already have my name, and if they do they don't have the courtesy to actually address it to me. I do not wish my name to end up in their database, even in the event that it's used to remove my address from their list. I called a number listed on the website to have my address removed. When the customer servce rep picked up, she asked for my name. I stated that I refuse to provide it and she dumped me into a Valassis phone queue that was not being answered except during regular business hours. I, as are the people with the money to spend on the items advertised in the mailings, have a job and are not available to call and be put on hold during regular business hours. The web recording directs me to the same aforementioned web form, that requires me to input my name 'acting as my signature' to remove my address (which will take 5-6 weeks to take effect).

Complaint Background
1. Product/Service Purchased: None
2. Model Number: N/A

Dates you complained to the company/organization
7. First Date: 12/20/2010
10. Payment Made: No

Desired Outcome
1. Desired Settlement:
Other (requires explanation)
2. Desired Outcome:
I wish my address to be removed from their mailing list and no longer receive their mailings.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The "Volt-gate" that Wasn't (or at Least Souldn't Be)

I've been following with some excitement the launch of the Chevy Volt and have been reading eagerly any and all "first drive" type reports.

Unfortunately, the automotive media, much like all the rest, seems intent in finding controversy in everything.

Apparently at some point during the initial Volt media campaign, it was "promised" that there would be no mechanical linkage between the gasoline 'range extender' engine and the wheels. All well and good, it seems. GM wanted to stress the difference between the Volt "series hybrid" model and the "parallel hybrid" model employed by the Toyota and Honda (and licensees thereof) systems. However, it turns out that there is a mechanical link between the IC Engine and the wheels, under certain circumstances, mostly 'highway cruising' and taken this "betrayl" as some kind of sign that GM is "back to its old self" post Federal Government bailout.

Below are my thoughts on the matter, initially posted as a response to a post at Motor Trend:
"I honestly don't understand why there's a "gate" here. Sure, it was silly of GM to so categorically state something, likely before the powertrain architecture was fully determined, but so what? I, as a mechanical engineer, can appreciate two key aspects of this situation:
1. I actually think the solution is pretty clever. It takes the "ICE-electric" hybrid model to the most reasonable compromise of the two prime movers involved. Electric motors are good at low speeds and or when you want a lot of torque, and ICE's like cruising at relatively high revs. That and using a planetary (epicyclic) gearset to effectively throttle power delivery between two prime movers and two sinks (either the mechanical power to the road or through the generator into the battery) is just plain cool."

2. GM "going back on its word" simply shows that they were willing to accept an engineering reality (that providing for a direct mechanical coupling between the ICE and the wheels) as the best way to provide the performance they were advertising (IE >100MPG), rather than simply plowing ahead with whatever solution they had in mind when they started up the publicity campaign.

I, for one, applaud all of GM's efforts and the engineering work they've done on the Volt. As far as I'm concerned, they're what hybrids should have been all along."

The point is, it seems to work pretty well: I've seen a few journalist reports of over 100 mpge (MPG-equivalent or MPG-electric, I'm not positive)), which is pretty remarkable, all things considered.

I'd definitely take one over an all-electric car or even any of the existing hybrids.