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As you may have noticed if you are here at K-State, I stopped carrying my iPAQ H3635 about two years ago, after I got a SanDisk CompactFlash card with a WiFi (802.11b) antenna in it. On the one hand, it made my Windows for PocketPC software (especially AvantGo) work much better, requiring no ActiveSync; on the other, it made me too lazy to keep reinstalling ActiveSync any more. As you may also know, I am quite the computer jinx, and my ThinkPads die like members of an Amberite royal family. Eventually, as fate would have it: I lost my ActiveSync 3.5 CD, the iPAQ's 7-8 hour continuous battery life degraded (it's now about 2-3 hours, less with the WiFi), and software bloated to the point that the 32Mb RAM/16Mb ROM that I got in 2001 and the 200MHz Intel StrongARM processor are not enough any more.

The other day I was in the Town Center Mall, and I went up to the Sprint Store desk, where the young woman at the counter told me that the latest and greatest PDA phone is their Treo 650. I'd pay $339 as a new customer, which is better than the trade-in price, she said. I really had my heart set on an iPAQ 6115, though.

Anti-recommendation #1: Alamosa

The rep mentioned that she works for the Sprint Store close to Stagg Hill, where I live. "Isn't that owned by a Sprint affiliate called Alamosa?" I asked. Yes, she replied, though they had been bought out by Sprint and would be merging soon. "I had a bad experience with Alamosa a little over two years ago, and I'm not going back." Well, those people were mostly gone, she said. "It isn't the people so much as the fact that the whole company refuses to honor Sprint's promotions," I replied.

You see, when my first two-year cell phone contract was up, I went in to the Sprint Store on Poyntz Avenue for an upgrade, but I had lost my first cell phone, a Samsung. (After masaga's harrowing tale, I should be grateful that it wasn't stolen.) They offered me a nice promotion... but I had to turn in my old cell phone. I asked to see their contract and got a strong vibe of Smells Like Crook Spirit as they ran me around in circles for an hour. "Could I see your terms of service?" Yes, but... no. It took 30 minutes of waiting to discover that they had no TOS document. Why? Because they are a Sprint affiliate, see. My opinion is that such companies are not worth doing business with.

Later I went to Topeka's Best Buy and got a better deal on a new Samsung VGA-1000 picture phone without trading any model in. If you wish to deal with Sprint, go to an actual authorized Sprint vendor, folks. I think you will be glad you did.

Anti-recommendation #2: Figi's

While we're on the subject of strongly unrecommended things, as Piro (author of the Mozilla Tabbrowser Extensions plug-in) calls them, let me take a moment to unrecommend the mail-order vendor Figi's. This company sells gift baskets and boxes of holiday foods, especially cheeses, nuts, sausages, hams, and fruitcakes. I once ordered one of these a week before Christmas, when they still had "before Christmas delivery", and had the other hand delivered to someone. Needless to say, I paid about $15 shipping.

Well, the gift got there about a month late, but what was irritating was that they would not so much as credit me the rush-delivery postage that was never used. What's worse: the supervisor of the first sales rep I spoke to overrode a credit she had issued. My friends, this is a Charellian no-no, and you should never stand for it.

In case you're curious, here's my Charell diary of the incident:

  • 01 Jan 2001, 11:00 - Called a sales rep, Ms. Bright Yellow, who issued a refund credit on the order.

  • 02 Jan 2001, 15:00 - Called again. Was transferred to Ms. Lime Green, Ms. Golden's supervisor, in customer service. It turns out Ms. Green had cancelled Ms. Golden's refund. I could not get a refund at all, she said. I said this would not do and they would have to do better to earn my business, and that it was furthermore disingenuous to offer a credit and then renege. I called back and climed the phone rep-to-supervisor ladder until I found a helpful lady, Ms. Chrome, who offered me $5.95 plus $7.95 plus 20% of the value of the now-obsolete Christmas gift box. I accepted, expecting the gift to arrive any day now, as the one I purchased had arrived.

  • 08 Jan 2001, 20:00 - Called a third time and spoke to yet a third person, Ms. Lemon, who confirmed that the shipment had gone out on 04 Jan 2001.

  • 19 Jan 2001, 19:00 - Called and spoke to a Mr. Ocean, who reported that delivery was scheduled for 09 Jan 2001. When I informed him that this had not happened and that the gift was now thoroughly obsolete, he told me there was nothing he could do until the gift arrived.

  • 19 Jan 2001, 19:30 - Called and spoke to a Ms. Crimson, who cancelled my order and issued a full credit. I said this was not acceptable at this point, since I had paid in full for my own shipment of a product whose twin was supposed to go to someone else as a gift.

  • 19 Jan 2001, 20:00 - Called and got Ms. Crimson again. This time she set the refund at 40% of the gift value ($18.22) plus $7.95. I accepted and got the refund. The gourmet ham itself was not bad, if a little overpriced.

Edit, 02:20 CST Wed 07 Dec 2005: I just got a mail-order catalog from Figi's this afternoon. It's entirely possible that they have cleaned up their act since, but I remain skeptical until I hear anecdotal evidence that this is indeed the case.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2005 06:49 am (UTC)
*giggles at you listening to Hilary Duff*

Oh, and you know you can just dl ActiveSync, right? Ugh. Bad PDA problems. :(
Dec. 7th, 2005 08:29 am (UTC)
Wot's rong with Hilary Duff?
"Coming Clean" and "Fly" are actually not bad.

Yes, I know I can D/L ActiveSync. Right now, the problem is that I'd like to try putting Skype on the thing, and the requirements are Windows for Pocket PC 2003 or higher (i.e., Windows Mobile 5.0) and a 400MHz processor or better. I don't expect it'll work too well, plus I'll have to spend $30 to get WinCE 4 (Windows PocketPC 2003).

Dec. 7th, 2005 12:00 pm (UTC)
my ThinkPads die like members of an Amberite royal family.

Hahahah. Nice! :)

Do they miraculously turn out to not be dead after all like same? ;-)
Dec. 7th, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes
Worse still, some long thought to be dead come back in the guise of new notebooks. ("Aaaugh, I thought I was rid of the TP 600E, but look! Since the T23 died, I've had to cannibalize its HD and but the RAM back into it!") I would write a Nanowrimo about it, but The Hand of ThinkPad 600E just doesn't have the same ring to it. Maybe ThinkPads of Chaos. ;-)

Also, autopsies on my ThinkPads have a funny way of turning up inconclusive. ("No ThinkPad could survive that much motherboard damage, though... or could it?!" DUN-dun-duuuuunnn...)

Finally, getting my notebook computers to work requires a long an arduous process of attunement, after which nobody else can use them.

Dec. 7th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
Just in case you're considering it...
I've had both the Treo 600 and the 650. Neither of them are what I'd call sturdy. If you drop the device even once, and even with a good protective case, expect it to die. And their warranties don't cover that.

Also, with both models and with two different service providers, I've missed many calls that went straight to voicemail without showing up on my call list... and it didn't let me know I had voicemail until up to 36 hours later. Since I'm on call, that's not acceptable.

The 650 has a much-improved keyboard and more accessible hotkey programming than the 600 had, but it's still not a consistently reliable device.
Dec. 7th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC)
Anything that was intended to arrive Dec. 23 or Dec. 24 last year (2004) was hosed by a blizzard. Quite a bit was caught on Dec. 22. (My client's Christmas gift arrived on time by Act of God). UPS does not refund enhanced shipping charges for natural disasters, and I don't think any of the other majors does either.

The month-late arrival is a problem. Not refunding (or crediting) enhanced-delivery charges for reshipments of late orders is standard procedure :(
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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