Friday, January 18, 2008

Grrrr. . . .

Ever called a help line? Ever notice that they seem to be staffed by Stepford employees? They are almost always unfailingly polite, and constantly use either your name or a formal term of reference (sir, ma'am, etc.) during the conversation. Also, very often, the people on help lines aren't actually very helpful at all.

I just experienced the chat room version of this phone call, while trying to cancel my subscription to McAfee Virus Scan. In order to initiate a live chat, one must give a reason for contacting help personnel: "I want to cancel my subscription and receive a refund" was pretty much how I worded it. The transcript is listed in its entirety, below. Keep in mind as you read this that there is lag time between each entry. The window in which we were chatting had a timer that was marching off the endless seconds as we typed.

> Thank you for contacting McAfee Consumer Support. How can I help you?
McAfee: Please give me a moment while I review the description you have typed in. In the meantime, would you like to provide any additional information that may help me in resolving your issue today?

Customer: No, I think it's complete. Thanks!

McAfee: Ma’am, I'll be happy to help you.
McAfee: One moment please, while I look up your account details. I appreciate your patience.
McAfee: Ma’am, I see that you have valid McAfee products registered under the e-mail address

Customer: Yes, but I haven't installed Virus Scan on my Dell, haven't used it since--not sure--last May or so.

McAfee: Would you mind telling me your reasoning for requesting the cancellation so we can work on improving our offerings for the future?

Customer: I'm not asking about a refund for last year--duh--but just to have the charge for the upcoming year refunded.

McAfee: Yes, you are correct. Would you mind telling me the reason for refund for the recent renewal?

Customer: Sure, I'll sound like a moron, but basically when I got my laptop, it came with Vista and with Norton pre-installed. I've had so much trouble with Vista that I didn't want to do anything more to the computer than I needed to, including uninstalling Norton and installing McAfee

McAfee: Did you face any technical or performance issue with McAfee software?

Customer: Not really. I do recall some issues with navigating the website in the past to be able to update or reactivate the program. Since I haven't used it in a while, perhaps that issue has been resolved anyway.

McAfee: Would you like to transfer the license to someone else who could make use of these products instead of opting for a refund?

Customer: To elaborate, it seemed like it took a very circuitous route to find the correct link to re-install the program. And no, I'd prefer a refund, thanks.

McAfee: Shall I help you the steps to reinstall the software and receive protection?

Customer: No thanks, I merely gave you that information because you asked. I'm fine with the Norton that came on the computer.

McAfee: May I know the country in which you are located, Ma’am?

Customer: USA

McAfee: Thank you for the information.

McAfee: I do understand your concern and would like to take this opportunity to direct you to our refund team. You can contact this team for a refund by calling 866-470-0534. They are open from 8am – 8pm CST.

McAfee: Is there anything else I may assist you with today?

Customer: So. . . you can't authorize the refund?

McAfee: Since we have assigned special department for refund, you have to contact them only.

McAfee: Is there anything else I may assist you with today?

Customer: Hmm. . . wish you would have told me that after reading my original refund request. The clock is ticking now at 12:59. That's 13 minutes of my life I can't get back. Thanks, I don't need any more help.

McAfee: I do understand your concern. Please go ahead and contact them in order to process the refund.
McAfee: You may receive a survey from McAfee in the next couple of days that will give you an opportunity to provide feedback on the support I’ve offered. This information will be used to further improve our support. You may end this chat at your convenience. Thank you for visiting the McAfee Customer Service.

I believe I'll be a Norton girl from now on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I know, I know. . . .

I say that a lot lately.

I find myself having to defend my decision to believe Roger Clemens. It's getting a bit annoying--I mean, if "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't work for somebody, my logic won't either, no doubt.

And certainly, members of the media are joyfully painting him in dark colors (although that's been going on for awhile), slanting public opinion even more than it was.


You know, if Clemens is proven to have used, I won't be surprised. Nor will I be devastated, outraged, angry, etc. It's a game, after all. I'm annoyed that my tax dollars went toward the writing of an incomplete, possibly in part nonfactual "report" that no doubt only scratched the surface of use. I'm even more annoyed that our current Congress feels the need to appear on television over steroids in baseball. (I doubt Ron Paul would approve, by the way.)

But consider this scenario (entirely fictitious). Ivana Trump is arrested for shoplifting a fur coat. She is looking at serious time, because the value of the item makes it a felony. The cops thinks it's remotely possible that she stole the coat to resell it, so they start pressuring her to name her fence. She refuses, and they play hardball, making her cry, at which point she says, "It's the Donald's fault!" The cops are so intrigued and excited by the possibility of catching Donald Trump at something nefarious that they offer Ivana immunity for prosecution of the coat theft, as long as she doesn't lie. She agrees to the terms, then says that the Donald used to beat her. She has battered wife syndrome, and that's why she stole the coat. While she's at it, she states that her second ex-husband also hit her around. The cops are like, "Hmm. Did anyone else see the Donald hit you?" She says no, because he only did it when it was just the two of them. Then the cops ask, "Did you ever call the cops?" No. "Why not?" Because if she had turned him in, the Donald would have left her and she would have lost her livelihood. The cops ask if there is any evidence--photos of bruises, etc. Ivana says no, it didn't occur to her to keep records. So while it is her word against hers, when the story hits the press, the cops state that they believe Ivana because she was under pressure to tell the truth. The public goes bananas--"We knew that asshole was bad--this proves it!" Meanwhile, the second ex-husband confesses: "Yeah, I hit her, but it was just a couple of times. I justified it at the time, but then I felt bad so I never did it again. If my actions offended anyone I'm sorry." He is hailed as a class act, while the press jumps on the confession--"She was telling the truth about him! Why would she lie about one but not the other! It must all be true! Crucify him!"

I know, I know.

But it is at least possible, that while definitely a jerk, Roger Clemens might not be a steroid user.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wow, can't believe I haven't posted since last year! (I know, I'm a dork, but for some reason those jokes just never get old for me.)

It's 35 days till pitchers and catchers report. Yay! The Astros look to have a much stronger line-up than last year, with speed at the top (Michael Bourn and Kazuo Matsui), power in the middle (Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Miguel Tejada), and no gaping holes at the bottom (Ty Wigginton, J. R. Towles, and the pitcher--and Woody Williams and Brandon Backe can actually swing a bat a little). Okay, so maybe the pitcher's spot has a bit of a void, offense-wise. . . .

Speaking of pitchers, the rotation is still anybody's guess. With the better line-up, Roy Oswalt should have a better year, barring injury. Hopefully Wandy Rodriguez will continue to mature and blossom; he surprised a number of people last year with his improved poise and was in fact the team leader in Ks. Woody Williams was first in the line of people disappointed with his own performance; he grew up watching and rooting for the Astros and had hoped to contribute more to the team's success. Perhaps he will do so in 2008. Brandon Backe pitched fairly well in a few limited appearances last September after returning from Tommy John surgery. He is key--the Astros need him to step up, stay healthy, focus, and deliver. The fifth spot is up for grabs--Fernando Nieve, Chris Sampson, and Felipe Paulino all figure into the mix. Nieve and Sampson both were injured for stretches of 2007. Sampson, who won the fifth spot out of ST last year, is a former position player, like Backe, and has had similar elbow problems but has avoided surgical intervention thus far. Nieve spent all of 2007 at AAA, and was not available for September call-ups due to some type of elbow procedure.

Sounding good, huh?

The bullpen is full. They're all new. I know very little about them.

The bench should be okay, with Mark Loretta, Geoff Blum, Darin Erstad, and Brad Ausmus (whoa, did I just say that? But despite his absent bat, I love to watch Ausmus play. Frankly, I love to watch Ausmus do pretty much anything).

I have to say, I'm getting excited about the upcoming season. I'm also getting pretty tired of the whole Clemens/steroids/Mitchell report stuff. People believe whom they choose to believe. Many of them choose to believe the trainer over Roger Clemens, which is understandable, as his testimony could be considered quite damning. However, given the virulence being hurled around message boards, I think a lot of it has to do more with bringing down a celebrity rather than where they think the truth lies. As with Barry Bonds, those who dislike Clemens assume he is guilty and are gleefully anticipating a comeuppance. I've always thought Clemens was probably a jerk, with his one redeeming quality being that he seems to be a good dad. In my opinion, you can't be a total jerk and be a good dad. But even though I think he's probably mostly a big, egotistical, arrogant redneck. . . I choose to believe him. He is either innocent, or he is VERY sure that there is no way to prove that he used.

I would say that it will be interesting to see how it plays out, but frankly, I won't be watching. I'm much more interested in seeing how ST is going to play out, and how the rotation and roster will fill out. Go 'Stros!