UPS seems to have lost my wine and doesn’t want to tell me

So last week (Sept 11th) a quarterly care package of wine was due to be delivered from Russian River Vineyards. It’s liquor, which means UPS will not leave it under any circumstances unless an adult signs for it in person. It has to be an adult at my address, no neighbors, no pre-sign online, none of that. Normally I had these shipped to my office mail room, but I changed jobs and have been working from home. I now have an office it can be sent to again as of last week, but it was too late to update in time for this package.

It was due to arrive last Wednesday the 13th, which would have been a problem for me but before I could log on and change the delivery date to a better time where I could actually be home, I got another notice it had been conveniently rescheduled to Friday the 15th due to unforeseen circumstances. I work from home on Fridays, so that’s perfect. Except, midway through Friday I was notified again that it was not going to make it on Friday after all, again due to unforseen circumstances, and come in later, either Monday or Tuesday.

That wouldn’t work for me, so begrudgingly I paid their silly $8 fee to re-schedule my package for the following Friday the 21st… today (as of this writing). It was the only time I could know for sure I would be home to sign for it. I also paid a few dollars extra to narrow down the delivery window to a 4 hour window instead of anytime that day. I got an email an hour later confirming my request was accepted and to expect it around 4 pm today, give or take 2 hours.

Fast forward to today (Friday the 21st)… it’s 7 pm, and no package. I just realized this, so I hopped online to look at the tracking info.. guess what? That info hasn’t updated at all since last Friday the 15th. Not a bit. Doesn’t even show it failing to deliver, being delayed, or out for delivery again, just that I requested a change and to come back later for more info. In a different view however, and also on my calendar view, it does show it due today on the 21st though, as does my email confirmation from the change.

So I called the 1-800 number for UPS. Agent #1 says they can’t see any info more than I do on tracking, and that this is indeed weird and that I should sit tight while they transfer me to someone with better info access. I get transferred, and Agent #2 is equally stumped. They have no idea what’s happened to the package since last week even though they are digging deeper in the system, and eventually offer to transfer me to an entirely different department that has way more info.

Person #3 first is equally confused, but then after a bit says “well, if you just sit tight, I can promise you it will be delivered today. If it hasn’t shown up in about an hour and a half, then you can call us back and I’ll see what I can do.” I ask if I can just have it re-routed to my office because clearly it is not arriving today, and if it gets routed there someone can sign for it. He, however, insists he cannot make this change himself, and that I can only make the change by logging in and paying the fee to do it myself.. yeah right, that’s not happening.

“Look”, I say.. “it’s 7:30 PM on a Friday. I have plans.. never in my life did I expect I would have to be here this late to sign for a package. I need to leave the house around 8 pm tonight, and I don’t want to be late. There’s no reason I should have to stay around for a package that was due a week ago. This is ridiculous and unfair to me. It’s 7:35 pm… I don’t see a realistic scenario where everything suddenly gets better in 20 minutes, when right now at this moment you can’t actually tell me you know what’s going on or can guarantee me it’s on it’s way here, you just said you don’t know where it is.”

He then proceeds to swear he knows for a fact it’s on the truck, out for delivery, and will be here by 8 pm (wow that hour and a half sure changed quick) and that if it’s not, to feel free to call back at 8 at that time… but he can promise me I won’t have to, and it will be definitely be here if I just wait… Now.. as I post this at 7:58 PM… why is it I don’t believe him?

UPDATE 1: So 8:05 pm arrives and I called in, and this time I get transferred once more to a different department with “more info” right off the bat once they look up my package. The nice woman right away says “I can tell from your package history and what I can additionally see that this is 100% not on a truck for delivery today. I have no idea where it is, and do not know what it’s status is, but I can promise you that if it was out for delivery I would know that much. You’ll need to call back once another 24 hours have passed, at which point we can open an investigation.” Great… I’m so glad I stayed to work from home two different Fridays, and paid change fees to acomodate their mistake for them to lose this thing…

UPDATE 2: UPS saw my tweet about this article and reached out to me early Saturday AM. They asked for my tracking number and contact info and said someone would contact me within the hour… 3 hours later I asked them again about an update and heart nothing. The following day on Sunday I asked once more, and was given an apology and told they are closed on Sundays and will be in touch with me Monday. Fair enough.. on the Sunday part.. but I’m miffed about the blow off on Saturday.

Monday the 24th rolls around and I wake up to an email saying my package is out for delivery today. Great and all that they seemingly have found it, except this doesn’t help anything. I am not home today, the package is still flagged as adult signature required, and I was never given the option to address this issue with anyone in person as promised and do what I intended: arrange for either another Friday delivery on the 28th or a re-direct to my office. I replied to the twitter DM thread with these frustrations, and they apologized once more for the lack of the promised followup(s). They said someone would be in touch with me by 11:15 am… it is now 11:30 am and I have heard nothing.

For those keeping score, that is 2 failed deliveries, 4 promised phone calls that never happened,  and 2 blatant lies by customer service agents on the phone trying to get me off the call. At this point the USPS is starting to look like less of a shit show than UPS and that’s saying something. You know, as a Louisville native, we used to take great pride in the UPS brand and all it has done for that city… 🙁

UPDATE 3: Got a nice guy on the phone calling me back at noon on Monday. He said sorry for the mix-up and the package will be held and NOT delivered today, and will be sent back out Friday as planned.

UPDATE 4: Oh this just gets better. At 3:45PM i get a text saying they tried to deliver my package and failed, and that it will be re-delivered Monday. Now…I live in a secured building. You have to punch in a pin pad that rings my phone to get in.. and then if you need a signature from me you need to knock on my unit door that I am sitting 20 feet from with a clear view and earshot of. Neither of those things happened. Additionally, there was no slip left behind saying sorry we missed you.

I called UPS, they said a local office manager will call me back within the hour. An hour and a half later a nice lady calls me, I relay my story to her.. she said its unlikely the driver will be willing to do a redelivery on a Friday night but that she will call and ask just in case, and that one way or another, she will call me back in 10 minutes and go over options with me.

UPDATE 5: An hour and a half later she has not called my back, and when I try to call the number on my caller ID it says the number does not accept inbound calls. On a whim, I refresh my tracking info, and what do you know? It shows that a second delivery attempt was made 20 minutes ago, and that I was not home and note was left.

I look outside… no note. My phone? Never rang. My door-box? Never rang. Oh.. did I mention that I left my unit door cracked open about a foot, wide open to the hallway, so that if anyone walked past my unit at ALL I know would know?

I call customer service, and re-explain my saga to a supervisor, she types away and says “well, according to the notes here, the manager spoke to the driver and he informed her he would not be able to make a second delivery attempt” Really!?!! Then why on earth does the tracking say one was made and now show two deliveries?

She tells me shes updating the notes and requesting that a “senior manager contact me within the hour.” I politely reminded her I’ve been told I would be contacted “within the hour” 5 times before, and I am 5 for 5 on it never actually happening. She promises one will, however, and that the package is now confirmed for a delivery tomorrow on Saturday, but she cannot give me any kind of guarantee on the time frame.. so I guess I’m spending my Saturday at home now.

UPDATE 6: Naturally no Sr Manager ever called me last night.I woke up to a 9am phone call however from the same nice lady in the local office as before that that my package is out for delivery today. (Yay). I asked if they could give me a more narrow window than “by end of day at 5pm” but she said she could not, however she would be happy to make a call asking if she was able to get a better window, and call me back within the hour. Naturally of course, 4 hours later, I haven’t heard from her.. but I am not surprised at this point. Additionally, I tried to ask about the clearly fake failed delivery attempts, the package being lost, all the stuff that led up to this, but she dodged around all of it and wouldn’t get into it with me and I didn’t want to push, she was the only nice person I’ve dealt with so far. So here I am.. waiting.

I did get curious though and look up my tracking around noon to see if it was indeed out for delivery, and it was! I also noticed something else.. here’s a side by side comparison to the tracking info from last night.. see if you can notice the difference.

it would seem, they have deleted the first delivery attempt last night from my tracking history. Now the second one, I know 100% without a doubt never happened. The first I *know* they didn’t as well, but the second one is even easier, if you read above, to prove never happened than the fist. Yet.. *poof*… gone is the first one. Shady as heck if you ask me.

At this point, I don’t even care about the package anymore… I’ve lost well over the $200 of it’s value in time, patience, work, and stress. At this point, it’s about the fact they are treating me with such utter disrespect, dismissiveness, and lack of empathy that I am just absolutely at the end of my rope with how they have treated me… and the worst part is.. .they know and don’t care one bit because they know there is nothing I can do about it. I’m just a line item on a spreadsheet to someone with a revenue value.

UPDATE 7: I’m in the bathroom. I think I might hear a single, loud, solo knock at the door across the house. I get my pants decent as fast as I humanly can and run like hell to the front door…

And there is a sorry we missed you slip on it. It must have taken me less than 20 seconds to get there… I run down 3 flights of stairs as fast as I humanly can, and I see the truck driving off down the block…

I give up.

UPDATE 8: I just got off the phone with UPS. I refused to end the call until I had the package re-routed somewhere else, and for ONCE they didn’t say no.. on top of that he even went to a few different supervisors to try and get the fees waived so I wouldn’t have to pay them… and now it’s due to be delivered at my office on the 2nd. I won’t be there as I’ll be out of town starting that morning, but that’s fine, they can at least sign for it for me and hold it till I come back on the 4th.

*sigh*

I really hope this saga is over. Never in my life will I willingly give UPS another penny by choice. I just became a FedEx fan for life.

UPDATE 9: Hang on to your hats boys and girls… it’s not over yet!

That’s right.. here we are Monday the 1st at 3pm and I just got a failed to delivery notification at my HOME address… including a nice reminder this is the last attempt and the package will now be sent back to the shipper.

So as I’m updating this I call and I just got a hold of a supervisor, and they are telling me there is no record of the address change from last night, or the managers over ride of the charges. In fact, there are extensive notes from most of my calls, but no record at all of my call last night. I am at a loss for words. I’m being told the system will not allow the package to be shipped elsewhere, or be picked up in person, because it is locked out in the system by the shipper. My only option now is to just let it go back to Russian River Vineyards. *sigh*

I am going to go out of my way at all costs to not voluntarily give UPS another penny as long as I live.

UPDATE 10: Final update. The package is on its way back to the vineyard and that is that. That said, I shared this page on twitter.. and I even tagged UPS in it. Not only that, but  I have a 20 tweet long DM convo back and fourth with their support team over the last week. They responded via DM once more after linking this comedy of horrors. Their response to me?

Sir, I truly apologize for the inconvenience, but unfortunately, we are unable to reroute your shipment to a different address due to contents inside the package. I suggest contact the shipper for alternative options.

That’s it. It’s not even about the package… it hasn’t been about the pages in days. It’s about their total lack of effort to deliver any kind of reasonable customer service. Zero follow throughs on countless “someone will call you within the hour” promises, or falsified delivery notices, or the multiple outright lies to me by people on the phone. Nope they don’t address of even acknowledge any of that one bit. Of course not.. why would they? That requires empathy.

FINAL UPDATE: It’s here! The wonderfully nice lady at Russian River Vineyards contacted UPS for me and had them redirect the box to my office, and it finally arrived. And… I think I now know why everything went south.

This is NOT the box the wine was sent in. This is not the official packaging Russian River uses. It also has a label that was CLEARLY removed from another box and added to this one. The interior bottles were packaged in a weird, aftermarket styrofoam contraption that left them boxed up cork down (good) fully exposed with no protection against the bottom of the box (BAAAAAAD)! (WTF?!) after being individually sealed in bags. The original paperwork is heavily liquid damaged, and the box was haphazardly constructed by shelling two ends of two boxes together with this waterlogged ad-hoc MacGyver contraption inside.

It’s pretty evident that during the very first “unforeseen circumstances” or the subsequent “week of missing in action” something went horribly wrong with my box and UPS tried to hide it.

Razer Blade woes round 2, the Amazoning

So if you aren’t familiar with my pain trying to buy a Razer Blade from the Razer Store, I suggest reading it… it’s a hilarious good time of a comedy of errors.

(Note, only reason any of the below really matters is I want this thing sorted and ready before I fly to Tokyo early AM Thursday.)

After giving up on the Razer store, I move on to Amazon.com once I learn in the 11th hour, Friday morning, that they carry them. I quickly placed an order at 1pm PST with next-day shipping for 9.99 (god bless Prime!)

At 2:30 PM on Sunday I get notification it has shipped, this gets me really excited, since I bought next-day shipping! However I look on Amazon.coma and it still shows an estimated delivery date of Tuesday. What?

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I check the UPS tracking number on UPS’s site instead of amazons to see what it shows for comparison.. it shows it as a 2-day package with delivery due Wesdnesday.

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WHAT?!

I figure I may as well call Amazon and see what happens, so at 8pm Sunday I give them a ring. A very nice lady tried to help me and offers to call UPS and see what she can do. She puts me on hold, while checking with UPS, but I end up being able to overhear the conversation plain as day. Their UPS agent informs her that only a label had been made, but there had been no movement on the package itself and they had not yet taken possession of it. They are anticipating actually having the package Monday morning.

THEN WHY DID THEY TELL ME IT SHIPPED?!

She also said that “the shipping had been ordered for 2 day, so a wed delivery is the correct estimate.” Her only suggestion for expediting it was to contact the Amazon shipping department at the warehouse in question and have them manually change it to next day (for a tuesday delivery) by creating a new label before UPS takes possession of it. If that wasn’t done in time, she said, there was nothing UPS could do about it as 2-day shipping was already locked on that label and can’t be changed once possession is taken.

She comes back to me and relays some of this (minus the part about Amazon buying a 2 day label) and was nice enough to offer to try to contact shipping herself and fix this for me, but they are closed till tomorrow and she is not in until 2pm EST. I asked if she could hand this off to someone who will be in sooner, and she said she would offer to try but that realistically the only way she is certain this will be reliably followed up on is if she does so herself once she is in. (Which logic would tell the astute reader is going to be too late to change things.)

Reluctantly, I tell her I guess we’ll just let things lie where they are right now, and I’ll wait to hear from her sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Considering I paid amazon for next day shipping on an in-stock item on 1pm on a Friday afternoon.. I’m a little peeved!

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(Amazon’s shipping reliability is getting consistently more and more unreliable… -_- I’ve had over 11 credits to my account for delayed shipments in the last 12 months.)

 

UPDATE- Monday 1:30pm PST: So, no call yet from Amazon following up on the issue, but I got an urge while relaying this story to a friend to check the UPS tracking number just to see if anything changed before I published this post. Lo and behold, it looks like Amazon managed to fix it before UPS took possession! The Expected delivery has changed from “By end of day Wednesday” to “Early Tuesday”!

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I’m going to withhold my elation and celebration until it is actually in my hands, but things are starting to look promising!

The comedy of errors that is the Razer Store.

So, for many months now I’ve been extolling the virtues of the killer combo that is a Razer Blade paired with a Razer Core. I know of 3 colleagues I talked into the pair, plus many more whom I’ve planted the seed in and may or may not have pulled the trigger without me knowing. It’s a great setup, especially if you want to move away from having “too many computers” and, like me, have a core gaming desktop as well as a day to day laptop.

In August, my MacBook Pro’s video card started to give out. It’s 4 years old, so it’s understandable and no hard feelings. After much research I decided to take my own advice and buy the recently released New Blade from Razer and pair it with a Core with a 1080 inside. About the start of September, I went to pull the trigger and that’s where the fun began. What follows is a timeline of the absolute comedy of errors that began that is so ridiculous I can’t even be mad… and only just laugh at this story. It’s a long read, but that’s because it’s a meticulously detailed timeline of events for maximum impact and reliability. I promise you it’s worth the read.

Sept. 5th – I finally decided to pull the trigger and to order a Core and Blade combo to replace my desktop and aging (and literally melting) MacBook Pro laptop all in one go. First tried to go online to the special Partner store, since as a employee of a game studio partnered with Razer, I am able to get a few minimal but none the less nice discounts. Unfortunately, the promotion they are running for $100 off a Core when purchasing a New Blade is not offered on the Partner store. Also, no New Blade’s are listed on the store either, only the legacy ones. (As I learned later there is a 3 month lag for new products on the partner store. Lame, but I can rationalize the reasoning on that to some degree and no major complaints). 

I then went to the regular store url/login with my personal account. The promotional bundle was offered, but the New Blades were currently listed on back-order with no date for future availability. The only option is to sign up to be notified when on sale… so I signed up and eagerly wait!

Sept. 21st (ish) – I receive an email stating the New Blades will once again be shipping in October, and are preorder-able on Oct 2nd at 9 am PST. I set an alarm to remind myself to hop on immediately at that time and preorder one, just in case.

Oct. 2 – I hop out of bed bright and early in my hotel room at Twitchcon and ordered my New Blade and Core together at 9:02 AM just as it unlocked. The Core is listed to ship on Oct 14th, and Blade Pro is listed on back-order until Oct 28th. Remember this. 😉

While ordering, I found code online for a free $49 messenger bag if ordering a Blade. I put the code in, because I love free stuff! The order form accepted the code and confirmed the free bag. 6 hours later, the order confirmation was emailed to me (seems kind of long? Was a bit worried something went wrong up until then due to demand or something.)

I also discover at this time that the $100 off discount was not applied. Apparently you don’t get it automatically? The discount appears to be emailed as a promo code as part of the order confirmation email, once your order has been processed and subsequently confirmed. Instructions state it must be applied separately to a different Core order to be claimed?!

Oct. 4th – After chatting options with a friend at Razer for advice, I reached out to Support to find out how to get the $100 credit applied to my order. unfortunately, the support form is limited to 550 characters only. No email, no phone. Very hard to explain most problems in so few words but I managed it. The Support form gave me an auto email to expect a reply in up to 1-2 business days, as to be expected. Later in the same day, I received an unrelated email stating the following: 

“Thank you for ordering from the RazerStore. As indicated during checkout, one or more of the products you ordered is currently unavailable and cannot be shipped. You will receive an email notification when your order has been shipped.

Estimated shipping period

Razer Basic Messenger Bag: null”

Looking farther down email, there is an additional section: 

“note:The item(s) in your order will only ship once all item(s) are ready for shipment.”

Wait, does this mean that even if the core and blade are ready to ship, the whole order will be held for this mystery bag with a “null” ship date? In paranoia, I open second support ticket, asking about this issue in detail.

Oct. 5th – Support has replied to my first ticket. They explained that they are unable to apply the promotional credit, and that if I want to get the $100 off of my Core, I must cancel my order and start over by ordering the blade first, wait for the confirmation email with code, then use that code to order a core separately.

“Hi, J.

Thank you for contacting RazerStore.com

We are sorry that we are unable to add promotional code in any order that has already been placed.

https://store.razerzone.com/DRHM/store?Action=DisplayHelpPage&SiteID=razerusa&Locale=en_US

At this time, we can cancel your order and allow you to submit a new order. Please let us know if you want us to attempt a cancellation.

If we attempt the cancellation, you will be notified by email that the cancellation was successful. If unsuccessful, your order will ship as originally placed.

Hoping to hear from you for your decision.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

Sincerely,

Team RazerStore.com

Later that day, the other ticket is replied to saying that they cannot confirm for sure if the order status of the messenger bag would hold up the rest of the order or not. I’m told that it should not have actually been made available and is indefinitely out of stock and no longer officially offered as a promotion. Additionally, they are unable to make any changes or adjustments to my orders promotional codes and that if I wanted to cancel the order and start over they were happy to do so.

I responded to the first email confirming that yes, I would like to cancel the order and start over, in that case. (Especially in light of all the above nonsense). They respond they have “requested” a cancellation, and stressed this is not actually confirmation it has been canceled. Was told I need to wait for a cancellation confirmation email before it’s *actually* canceled. The confirmation eventually came about two days later. Why on earth does that need to happen or take so long? Who knows. I then tried to make two new orders. First I ordered the New Blade, in HD (not the QHD+) with a 1TB HD.

However, the order form rejected my billing address confirmation, telling me I needed to enter a “valid value” for State and country, highlighting them in red. Note: These are pre-filled drop downs, not text. I simply picked the options that applied (CA, US). It kept rejecting them over and over again, until I hard-refreshed the page, wiping out the form entirely and starting over.

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Oct. 6th – Still no order confirmation the following morning. Without it, I can’t order the Core, and I’m also becoming worried that I may slip back into a further batch of Blades. On a whim, I decided to check my order history, out of idle curiosity. It actually showed duplicate entries for every order! There were 12 line items for 3 simply orders, each repeated 4 times. This is really weird and confusing, and obviously a bug of some kind. Also still showed my recent order as “In Process” a whole day later.

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Later that day, roughly 26 hours after the initial order, I finally get my order confirmation with a discount code for the core. (Irony… the discount code looks to be the SAME as the one from the first ever order.. It’s apparently not a unique code? Either that or it’s keyed to my email or something and the same for just me. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have waited!) I order a Core it using this code, getting my nice $100 discount. Again however, I experience the EXACT SAME bug with the state/country drop down! I hard refresh once more, and this fixes it. I think it’s possibly related to chrome’s automatic filling of known address info at this point. At this time, it’s important to note for reasons below that the Razer Core still has a shipping date of October 14th and the New Blade is Oct 28th. Sounds good to me!

Oct. 15th – Still no shipping confirmation for my Core, which was due out the day before. I begin checking the order status page daily because I am an impatient nerd who wants his shiny toys! The store site still says it’s shipping Oct. 14th when I checked on the 15th, and 16th, and I believe I looked again on the 17th (my notes are fuzzy there). My order confirmation also says the 14th still, I checked to make sure I wasn’t crazy.

Oct. 18th – I check the order status, still no updates! However, the Core listing in the Store *now* says “back ordered, ships from 10/28”.  I was given zero emails or heads up about this new delay however. A silent stealth update to the site? Not great customer service experience. Totally understanding things happen, but an email/update would really have been nice.

Oct. 19 – A New Blade Pro has just been announced. Shit. Do I still want a New Blade, or do I want the Pro? Is a pro better for my needs? Does the Pro even need a Core with it’s sexy new gpu? It the Pro too big in size for my needs though? I almost have buyers remorse before I even have the product. I don’t know what to do. The New blade doesn’t ship for another week. Also I now know details about the rumored MacBook Pro refresh coming next week. It might be a better solution and at this rate will arrive sooner .Maybe it’s better to cancel and wait and see how reviews pan out? I reach out to cancel my Blade order (even though it risks missing out on another back-order window) to wait and see the right options for me, since this is no small investment. Definitely lots of sudden decision making to be made.

I am told by support that because I used the discount code for the Core, I have to cancel the Core order also. Fair enough, that makes total sense to me, so I cancel both orders. I am again told the order cancellation has been requested, but not confirmed, until I receive such an email.

Oct. 20th – The email confirmation that my Blade order was successfully canceled arrives. (but I failed to notice there was not one about my core).

Oct. 24th – 4 emails came in at the exact same time together (3:39AM) in one batch with identical time stamps.

  1. Shipping confirmation of Core stating it has just gone out.
  2. Email stating they were unable to successfully cancel my core order (duh?).
  3. Email stating they have put in a request to issue a return order for my core as a courtesy due to my existing cancellation request. (Wow thanks!)
  4. Email confirming the cancellation request and accepting my return order, with return instructions and a mailing address. (With the implied instructions that I need to pay the cost of shipping myself to return it to the listed address in Hong Kong, to get the refund.)

Then, at 9:30 am that same morning my core arrives at my office suddenly!

Yeah. That happened.

I run the numbers on FedEx and UPS to estimate shipping costs to return the core for my refund. Retail costs for a one-off shipment of this size and weight come back at $300 and $250 respectively. Totally impractical to do in order to get a refund on a $400 order! Both return-related emails come from “do not email this address” accounts so following up on this hurdle is now difficult for me.

Well, I guess I’ll just sit on this Core for now… I may still end up with a blade, and in THEORY it’s supposed to work with any USB C laptop, including that plan B mac.

Oct. 27th – After reading initial reviews on the Pro, it seems it really isn’t the laptop for me. Additionally I am not satisfied with the details on the new MacBook Pro so I went ahead and placed a fresh order for the New Blade, in the HD 1TB model. Since I’m stuck with this Core that I can’t really return easily, I figured why not. I placed the order, and as expected, I was told it is still on back-order, due to ship on October 28th (the next day) as before.

Oct. 29th – Checking to see if my Blade has shipped yet, I now see that the QHD+ model is currently shipping as of the day before, as is expected, but that the HD model that I had ordered now reads “Available for Pre-order. Ships from 11th November, 2016.” It would appear it has slipped 2 weeks… sadly for me this is the day after I leave for Japan for a week so it leaves me without the laptop for my travels. 🙁

Nov. 2nd – On a whim, I’m not sure why, I felt the urge to check the pre-order status of the laptop again. It now reads the following: “Available for Pre-order. Ships from 28th November, 2016.” Well, guess we had ourselves yet another stealth slip it would seem… *sigh*

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Nov. 4th – I woke up to the following email:

Hi.

Thank you for your order of Razer Blade with FHD – 1TB.

Order number: ****************

We regret to inform you that due to unexpected shipment delays, we can ship the product only from November 28, 2016

Our bad. We are sorry.

We do have ready stock of the upgraded Razer Blade QHD 512GB or Razer Blade QHD 1TB, and would like to give you priority to purchase it. In addition, we will offer you a Free Gift of a Razer Blade Armor Caseif you wish to take up the offer.

To take up the offer to upgrade,

  1.       Please make the purchase within the next 5 business days

http://www.razerzone.com/store/razer-blade

  • Provide us the new order number so we may cancel the old order.
  • Once your new Razer Blade QHD 512GB or Razer Blade QHD 1TBhas shipped, you will receive an email with your tracking information.
  1.       Instructions to redeem Free Gift of a Razer Blade Armor Casewill follow 7 days after your order ships.

Should you choose to continue to wait for your Razer Blade with FHD – 1TB, we will go ahead to keep you in our waiting list.

Once again, our sincere apologies. We value your business and appreciate your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Team RazerStore

Well, at least you guys emailed me this time I guess… Though 2 days late. I then went to the store to look up the listing for shits and giggles. The order page for the 1TB HD Blade no longer has a “preorder/shipping 28th” status. The purchase button has now been replaced with a “notify me” button, and the release date has been replaced with “Register your interest”.

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Oooookaaaaay. Let’s just say at this point I have zero fucking confidence that this thing is actually shipping Nov 28th.

After sharing this story around with some friends, I learn from one of them they had a very similar experience and ended up buying theirs on Amazon.com. Wait what?! I look and lo and behold Amazon has them currently in stock!! I just ordered it there, right now, with overnight shipping for an additional $9, and requested to cancel the previous order via the Razer store once and for all.

screenshot-2016-11-04-13-02-33

JEEZE!!!

Any one of these things, or even two, is likely a minor annoyance, but the combined force of this ridiculousness is beyond ludicrous. C’mon Razer 🙁 Just ditch Digital River as your store vendor already and do this in house. I know you could do so better at this if you  just put a vested ownership into the experience!

EDIT- 11/6/16:  Just got the shipping confirmation from Amazon.com! The laptop HAS shipped. a Razer Blade DOES physically exist with my name on it and is en-route! It was set for next day delivery, and due to ship out Monday, so there is even a chance it may arrive tomorrow!

EDIT 2 – 11/7/16: So everything wasn’t *quite* as sunshine and rainbows as the last update seemed. For the next stage in the saga, check out part two of this adventure!

The DMV should not be this hard to deal with in 2016

You might think that by the year 2016 some of the more backwards and bureaucratic aspects of dealing with the CA DMV would have evolved. You would be wrong.
So the first week of April I got a notice in the mail (at my current address.. I updated it when I moved) from the CA DMV that my drivers license expires in June and the instructions on how to renew it online. I then thought to myself “my car registration is due in May as well, might as well do both at once!” This is a rare instance of being a proactive adult in my life and I’m rather proud of it.
 
I hop online, renew my ID and my registration both in one transaction, and pay all the various associated fees. A few weeks later the shiny new ID card shows up, in the mail, but no sign of my registration paperwork or new sticker. After a more than a month goes by and now its the renewal date for my registration, I call in to find out just what exactly is up. I’m told there is a 2 hour hold time, and naturally opt for the “Call me back later” option.
 
I get the call back, and after giving my info the agent on the phone, she informs me that the renewal was sent to the wrong address, not the one I just gave her “Weird” I say “I updated it at the same time I updated my ID back when I moved in February, all at once”. I’m told it apparently didn’t “take” for the registration part, and am advised to do it again online, and that once it’s in the system to call back and they will resend me my sticker and paperwork. I ask if I can just change it with her over the phone and she says the system does not allow for that.
 

I hop off the phone and go online and do so..  but it took a few days and another phone call to the DMV get it done. When you update the car’s registered address, you have to include not only the license plate number and VIN, but also the “Effective of” date of your current registration. Since I had paid my renewal in April and we were now past my renewal date of May 20th, it was now in the system as a given day sometime in May 2016, not the 2015 on my old paperwork that I was mistakenly referencing. I didn’t think about that at first and it wasn’t until i began to randomly try various dates in a week long window around the date stamp on my email receipt for my renewal that I finally got it to accept the update submission.

I then decided to wait a week or two, because lord knows government systems are probably slow to share info among themselves…  and call back in today. After putting my number in the queue and getting a call back, I explain my situation to someone and ask to have the sticker resent to me. He asks for my my address again, which I give. I’m then asked for a possible previous address I may have had… oh boy.. here we go.  I give my previous address, but I’m told that’s not on file either. I then offer up my address before THAT, my first one in LA and where I lived when I bought the car in 2014. He says THAT is the one on file.

Flabbergasted, I ask how this can be. I updated my contact info when I moved in Nov 2014, and again in Feb 2016. Clearly it worked because my ID contact info was mailed to the right place! He informs me that online updates do not work for leased vehicles. What?!? I ask why is it the system behaves as though it works then, and why it does not give me any error telling me this.. (also for the record, you online profile for the CA DMV does not reference your address to verify what’s on file. This is by design, I’ve been told.)

He then tells me I can *only* update the address by coming into a local DMV branch in person, (if you live in CA you know what THAT entails, if not, just look at the pic below!) and that I have to fill out a change of address form by hand to do so. After which, I’ll have to fill out another form for a duplicate registration copy, which requires a $50 fee.
customers_waiting_outside_dmv_LA_CA

Seriously… I did everything they told me to do in the way in which they told me to do it (proactively I might add!) and now I have to pay a fee for a second copy because *they* gave me bad instructions.

In 2016, I can’t believe dealing with the DMV is still this convoluted and archaic. The only relief is the fact that my registration IS up to date, I just don’t have the piece of paper to go in my car and a shiny new sticker to go with it.

UPDATE! @ 4:50pm 6/9/16

Whomever said complaining about something on twitter doesn’t fix it clearly underestimates the CA DMV!

So I emailed the address in question with my email and phone number. Just now, about 15 minutes ago, and *exceptionally* nice lady called me and asked to hear my story. I ran her through the whole shebang, and she was super apologetic and asked if I would be willing to fill out the PDF of the change of address form and email it to her. Once I did, she would process it within the next business day and have the new registration in my mailbox within the next 7 business days.

Wow! The CA DMV is NOT whom I expected this kind of personal touch from! The systems and processes may still be a little convoluted and janky, but at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

Fail Mail

I have had countless issues with the USPS. When I order something online, and they send me a tracking#.. if it is a USPS number I more or less immediately assume I have a 50/50 chance of ever actually getting the item at all. It’s so bad, that I try to make sure I always have it shipped to the office instead. We have a full scale mail room and loading dock, and the postage to here is delivered via direct truck from the local facility. At least then you can remove most of the “human factor” that screws me over on the delivery aspect.

The most common problem I’ve had was at my old Apartment I recently moved from. We had a gate on the side of the house, about 4 feet tall. Outside the gate was the bank of mailboxes (the usual small kind). Past the gate was a foot path with the doors to our units. Now, that gate was only chest high and had no lock on it. It was clearly not “secure”. Yet without fail, if a package came to our address, 90% of the time the status would update “unable to deliver” and after two attempts we’d have to go to the post office to get it.. where invariably they would take forever to even find the package, sometimes requiring 2 trips to get it. We’d always be told the same reason “the carrier couldn’t access our unit to securely deliver it.”

B.S.

Move forward to a few weeks ago: I ordered something on Amazon, and due to a series of unrelated events, the default delivery address of my office got “un-defaulted”. I didn’t realize this (my fault) and the package was addressed to my apartment. I realized after the fact and immediately understood this was going to be an adventure.. I did not, however, learn just how adventurous.

The package was out for delivery on the 25th. Mid day, I got a notification that it “could not be delivered as addressed.” So I reached out to Amazon chat support, to look into it for me. The agent spoke to the USPS and was informed “the address was illegible.” Now, I don’t know if you have ever ordered something on Amazon.com, but those labels are pretty crisp. Laser printed, big font, and the address is usually in more than one place.

He said he had given them the correct address, (and I tried to change it, but USPS wouldn’t allow it) and that it was rescheduled for delivery the following day, Friday the 26th. Naturally… it didn’t arrive Friday. Or Saturday. Or Monday. As a matter of fact the status remained time stamped on the 25th with “rescheduled for delivery on the following day” for a week. At that point, last wednesday the 2nd, I contacted Amazon again. They offered to re-ship the order to my office and just wash their hands and mine of the whole ordeal, and I happily agreed. I even got a $10 credit for not getting my guaranteed 2 day prime delivery. (I love you Amazon Customer Service!)

Fast forward to today, and SUDDENLY the tracking is updated. This is where it gets interesting:

Screenshot 2016-03-07 11.15.12

Somehow, the package went off the radar entirely (from the USPS facility in my zip code), then magically appeared again 11 days later at a facility 15 miles away east of downtown. Um, okay?

Now, it’s back at a DIFFERENT facility in another zip code (albeit the zip code adjacent to the previous, where my apt sits on the street dividing them.) In theory it’s back out for delivery as well… but oh, did I mention that during all this radio silence I moved about 4 blocks down the street?

Yeah it’s a good thing Amazon replaced this package cause I’m never gonna see it.

Google’s Project Fi

So a while back I was invited to Googles “Project Fi”. For those who don’t know what it is, the short answer is “Google Fiber for cell phones”. Which, as an elevator pitch, is pretty compelling! 😉

It works like this, you obtain, either on your own or from Google one of their “Fi capable” phones. These are newer model Nexus phones (the 5X and 6P specifically) that have newer radios in it that support the magical Fi network. What makes this network special is two parts: One, they are adaptive. It leverages both the Sprint and T-mobile’s 4G networks, and combined with them and any available WiFi network will always work to put you on the most optimal signal. Two, it’s cheap. There is a $20 basic service fee for your phone that includes unlimited text and calling. Then you pay an additional $10 per month for each Gigabyte of mobile data you want. Go over? You pay $10 rounded up to the nearest Gig for the extra used. Go under? They credit back the unused amount to your account for the data you didn’t use… PER MEGABYTE!

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Whaaaaaat?

Yeah, you read that right. Currently I’m paying $79 a month for my iPhone with Verizon for 2Gb of data. Naturally, this was a compelling experiment to try since the comparable service would be about $30-$40 a month based on usage. I decided to accept the invite and purchased the 5X, mostly because I had no desire in having a second cellphone on me that was more than 2 times the size of my iPhone, but also because all in all it’s a pretty damn good phone (and being a Nexus means I get bloatware free, bleeding-edge OS support straight from Google.)

There’s a few other perks too, such as being able to use it as a hotspot, getting the same cost rate around pretty much the entire world (roughly 120 countries at current count), no contract, and some pretty stellar customer support. (They dropped the price on the Nexus 5X about 4 days after I ordered mine. I hit up their support via chat (took about 30 seconds) and they immediately credited my account the $50 difference without hesitation.)

Screenshot 2016-01-27 16.37.20

I’ve now had it for about a week, and I am *already* having to constantly restrain myself from immediately porting my iPhone number (that I have had since ’99) over to the phone.  I likely am going to, regardless, but I want to put more thought into it and not making it a knee jerk reaction. That said, the service is amazing, the phone is killer, and the pricing is stupidly good. If you get an invite, and especially if you are already an Android user.. I highly recommended you consider the swap!

Oh yeah, here’s how you request an invite!
https://fi.google.com/signup?u=0

Adventures In Number Porting, or how Verizon’s customer service out-crapped AT&Ts

Let me share the absolute customer service NIGHTMARE I have experience trying to buy an iPhone 5 and switch from AT&T to Verizon.

So I started off with buying an iPhone 5 on apple.com on tuesday night. Their new system allows you to try to buy a phone between 10pm and 3am, and set it for in-store pickup the very next day IF the store you pick has any allotted that have not yet been claimed. I do so, and set my pickup for the only store in the bay that showed available, the Palo Alto one.

I drive down and pickup my phone. The Apple guru had me click a few things on his gizmo to accept the transaction, and tells me the number should be ported over and activated on my new phone within the next hour, or up to 4 hours in an extreme case.

4 hours later it’s still not activated, so I decide screw it, and walk a block to the nearby VZW store. I ask for help, explain it’s not yet activated, and tell my story. They poke around in their computer and finally tell me that there is nothing on file with them for my number, and that all of my support needs to be done with Apple because apple has not passed it on to them yet and they seem far to eager to usher me out the store. I head to the nearby S.F. Apple store, where they tell me that once they push the big green button on their tablets, everything is turned over to Verizon and only they can help me…and usher me out of their store.

At this point I rant on twitter, and VZW’s twitter account jumps in and gives me the number to their Number Porting call center for help saying this has nothing to do with Apple and is all on them, so I go home and call. After finally getting through to someone and explaining my situation, I get multiple excuses before they finally suddenly know whats wrong, and pass me on to a supervisor to fix things for me. The supervisor pokes around and finally tells me it’s not activated because I “got the phone much sooner than they expected, they were planning for me to have it on 10/18 and so were not going to activate my number port until that time”. WTF?! She finally sorts things out and tells me they need to hand me off to someone who can manually kick through the account setup, and so I am asked to wait on hold while she calls another department to work with the two of us on this. After 20 minutes on hold, a checkin from her, and then 5 more minutes on hold, she tells me she can’t wait with me any further and tells me what to tell the next person, and dumps me alone in the queue. 10 minutes later when someone answers and I start to fill him in, I can sense he’s trying to do everything he can to dodge helping me because I should not be talking to him, another agent should and he’s not happy with the breach of protocol. Perseverance prevails and eventually he pokes around in the system and after 20 minutes finds my account request. He proceeds to read back to me all the information, and make a SECOND account request for me, and takes down all of my info. He runs it through and it fails, so he deletes my pending request from before that was “completed but tied to a blank account for some unknown reason” and does a lot of other stuff I won’t go into detail on, and eventually takes all of my info AGAIN, making a 3rd account request and says it should work in the next 5-10 minutes. I thank him, get off the phone, and make a test call with the new phone which goes through just fine for me. Satisfied I then have someone call me as a test and the old AT&T phone rings. I’m told sometimes you get dual service during the cross over of the port so think “ok fine, so what.”

2 hours later I am still getting calls on the AT&T phone so I make another call, and come to find out my caller ID is showing up with an area code of 505 and not 502… that’s right, they assigned me the wrong number… they ported a New Mexico number from someone else to my phone.. not my own Kentucky one.

I call back, and after 20 minutes of hold time I get through to someone, get about 20 seconds into explaining my situation to a “Brice” and suddenly the call is ended. Not dropped, ended. (The phones react different to the two scenarios so I can tell)

So I call back AGAIN, re-explain my situation to a “Jeremy”. Now I’m told a NEW port has been requested which will take 24-48 hours, at that point they will call me when it’s done and we can try to activate the new phone. I had to take the initiative to bring up the fact this phone’s SIM had already been used for the “bad” number before he said anything however, and replies “oh yeah, you are right you will need a new SIM”. The problem is I learned from my local VZW store today however that NO Verizon stores in the city have spare micro sims at this time…. I ask what we will do about it, and after a long time on hold he comes back to tell me that he can’t help with that and I will have to just keep in touch with the local store and wait for SIMS to come in for someone to activate my phone as they do not have any cards readily available to ship to me either.

After more grumbling he finally put me on hold again and transferred to a “reggie” who told me we COULD reuse the SIM, and proceeded to call me on another phone while he reprogrammed my iPhone, but then part way through put me on hold to talk to his own internal support team for an unknown reason. He comes back and has me power cycle the phone, but it still has the old number. He then asks me to power it off, remove the SIM, replace it, then turn it on…still no dice. At this point he admits we’ve reached the end of his scripted notes and puts me back on hold to once again try to get ahold of his internal support team. He comes back, STILL on hold with them, and says some things updated on his side and would I please check my phone again. Sure enough NOW it has the right number in the “my number” but still no ability to make/receive calls. One more power cycle with a sim remove/insert and BAM it works.

Jesus… this took WAY too much work…
Seriously Verizon? Seriously? Right now you are worse than AT&T, Bank of America, and Comcast combined with the CS experience I have had today over the last 8 hours.

UPDATE 10/09/12 –

Today I decided to convert my iPad 3 (which was already a Verizon model) off of the 30$ a month pre-paid plan and add it to my Verizon account, which would allow me to share the phone’s data pool for $10 a month more. I called Verizon and was told I needed to get a new sim from the store to do this, so I walked around the corner to the nearby store. The were happy to help, and started to swap out my SIM card. I had to watch though as they scratched up the iPad a bit though, as they tried to use a bent paperclip to open the SIM. I asked why they didn’t just use a SIM removal tool like the ones that come with every iPad, but I was told they aren’t given those and they just have to order special paperclips that are of just the right size to fit. After digging around with a few wrong sizes (and scratching my iPad) they finally found one the right size and popped it out. They put in a new one and sent me on my way… after charging me a 35$ setup fee. That’s right, taking my iPad that was already setup with them, and adding it to an existing account cost me an extra $35. *sigh*. As the iPad came back online however, it stuck in 3G mode and would not go into LTE. The nice girl helping me said she was not ok with me leaving the store till it was working in LTE mode, so we tried a few trouble shooting options to no avail. A manager came over, and tried to tell us that this was normal, and that rolling into LTE mode could take 2-6 hours because the system was slammed from all the iPhone activations going on. I knew better and called him on the BS, both on the fact that there is NOT an insurmountable level of iPhones being activated at that exact moment, but also on the fact their activation system is all or nothing. Either it would not activate at ALL, or it would activate entirely, no in betweens. He tried to talk down to me about how 3G and LTE are different things, and I responded that I knew all too well how they work and referenced the spectrum frequencies and details on how Verizon’s radios worked, as well as how their activation systems work, having intimate knowledge of it from my phone calls 2 weeks prior regarding the iPhone. I more or less politely but stubbornly called him on his BS and made it clear I was not satisfied with his “get me out of the store quickly” brush off answer, to which he responded “Well, since you know so much about how it works then you should know how to fix it yourself, so there you go.” He then shoved my iPad in my hands and walked into the back room slamming the door. The agent helping me looked at me shocked and just offered me her card, saying come back in 2 hours if it wasn’t working and that she was terribly sorry for the problem.

3 hours later it was still in 3G mode, so I called Verizon support and they told me what I already knew, it should have worked in LTE mode within minutes and the fact it was not was a clear sign the SIM card was provisioned incorrectly and they needed to fix it in the store. I returned, explained my ordeal, and the new agent spent about 10 minutes poking and prodding in the computer before saying she gives up on that sim, opened a new one, ran it through the computer, put it into my iPad, and it worked like a charm on the first try.

I’m seriously beginning to regret switching to Verizon. I’ve already sent a complaint via email requesting my $70 setup fee (35$ for each device) be removed from my bill, but I won’t hold my breath. At this point I feel like I have done more work than they have to get things up and running and they should, if anything, owe ME money!