Archive for April, 2007

Coming soon: East Bay traffic nightmare


(Click for larger)

You may have heard about the freeway collapse early this morning near the Bay Bridge. The good news is that nobody got hurt. The bad news is that the thing is going to be closed for at least weeks, making traffic even more of a nightmare around here. I use the 80-580 connector several times a week and things are NOT going to be fun. I’m going to try to take BART, but parking is almost always unavailable, so I may end up driving half the time.
I did do a little rubbernecking today, as you can see in the photo above. For better pictures, check this link.
Oh, and remember how I wrote about how Union Pacific rebuilt a 1/4 mile train bridge in less than three weeks? Anyone want to place a bet on how long it’ll take Caltrans to fix this mess?

One more consumer advocacy rant

Following up on yesterday’s story, today I went to Lowes and bought my water heater in person. The employees were friendly and helpful, and spent over 30 minutes with me.
While I was there, I bought a low voltage light kit for the backyard. I get home, cut the tape on the box, open it up, and the first thing I see is a manual for a pressure washer. I go through the box some more and realize the someone had purchased it, taken what parts they needed, and returned it back to the store. The store obviously didn’t check what was in the box, and put it right back on the shelf for people to buy. So now I have to take it back and hope the next one I get is actually new.
What’s the solution to this? Less consumer friendly return policies? Restocking fees? Or maybe just having the employees actually look in the box to see if it’s all there? The only place I know of that does this is Fry’s, and returns that are put back on the shelf are marked as such — and at a discount no less.

Why don’t they want my business?

Since I’ve been sort of a consumer advocate lately, I wanted to rant about the lack of interest that The Home Depot and Lowes have in taking my money. Let me explain.
My water heater has been causing me problems for some time, and this week I decided that I’d just replace the whole thing. So, yesterday I went to Home Depot and looked at water heaters. I loitered around the area for a while hoping the nearby employee would come help me, but he never did, so I went over and asked “how can I buy one of these”. He told me to “call the number on the boxes” and they’ll take care of it. I figured he could set it all up for me, but apparently not. I then wandered over to the “special services” desk, which handles home installation, and the girl behind the counter had absolutely no clue about what I wanted. I ended up just leaving. Note to Home Depot: if you’re going to hire people from the local community, can you at least find those people with just a little intelligence?
So I gave up on Home Depot, and went home and called Lowe’s 800 number for water heater delivery and installation. She asked me some questions, mistakening calling me Mr. Street Name several times, and then said that someone from the local store would be calling me that night. 24 hours later, I still haven’t heard a thing.
I don’t get it. I’m offering them upwards of $650 for the whole thing, and they don’t want my money?

Time passes quickly

I was totally caught off guard today when I realized that I’ve now been working from home for SIX years. It seems like just yesterday I was working for “the man”… and I’m very grateful that business has been good enough to allow me to continue this! Here’s to another six years, I guess!

I’m famous!

Back in March I posted a rant on this blog about my lousy in-store pickup experiences at Circuit City and Best Buy. Wall Street Journal Online reporter Andrew LaVallee found my entry, and I ended up being the “star” of his article on in-store pickup. Here’s an excerpt:
When Jeff Keller ordered a Windows Vista upgrade and a wireless-Internet adapter on CircuitCity.com, he expected to save some time, as well as shipping fees, by picking them up at a store near his Oakland, Calif., home.
First came the call that the adapter was out of stock. Then, when he drove to the Circuit City store, he was told that the Vista order had been mistakenly canceled. He waited 20 minutes while a warehouse clerk found another copy of the Microsoft operating system.
Mr. Keller, 30 years old, turned to Best Buy’s Web site to order the missing wireless adapter, again choosing the “buy online, pick up in store” option. He encountered another setback when he arrived at the Best Buy store: His item was in stock but hadn’t been set aside. He waited while a staffer located the product in an aisle and walked it back to the cash register. The whole transaction took about 15 minutes, he said.

You can read the whole article with this link, but it will only work for about a week!
Web Shoppers Find In-Store Pickup Isn’t Always Instant Gratification
Incidentally, I did receive a $24 gift card in the mail today from Circuit City for my troubles.