January 24, 2006: Scammed by the Berry Company

Went to bed later than we should have last night as we were watching Star Trek and that always keeps us up. So we slept in again this morning. It has become pretty common for us to sleep in pretty late when Min has the day off. Oreo loves it. It is kind of tough to consider it all that late, though, because Min’s normal schedule is shifted so late that our lives are just skewed from normal people’s schedules. It just seems late when compared to that.

I had to get up and deal with a scam this morning. Just the way I wanted to start my day. Dad got a bill from The Berry Company who run the yellow page “racket” up here. We have been advertising in the yellow pages for the last several years and have decided that it is a totally ineffectual way to drum up new business. After three or four years of ads we have found that we get more and more calls from people looking to get free service from us and absolutely no serious customers who even understand what it is that we do. Almost everyone that calls is just a kid looking to get free advice or to ask us to fix their computer for free since somehow that is our responsibility even though we have no connection to these people at all, live in a different county and they bought their computer from a competitor of both us and our hardware partners. Anyway, I digress.

My recollection of my last dealings with the Berry Company was that we had talked and they were going to send us some paperwork to look over so that we could make sure everything was correct and then we could confirm that we wanted to go ahead with another year of advertising or not. I remember this pretty clearly because we were in the process of trying to change our company name and never talked to them about it because we were going to do that when we confirmed or didn’t confirm. Well no confirmation ever came. We assumed that they had forgotten about us or we had waiting too long and the spots had filled up. We really weren’t concerned since we had decided not to do the advertising anyway. That was in June of 2005. Then two weeks or so ago we get a bill for our yellow page ad. Great. This is what is called slamming. Remember when telephone companies used to call you and change your telephone service without your permission. Yeah, same thing here. So I called the Berry Company knowing that under no conditions would they be able to produce a signature.

Well, they had no signature and they had no confirmation from us. They had a voice recording of me agreeing to have a confirmation sent out for me to look over but nothing of me agreeing to service. The Berry customer service woman said that contrary to what I was told it wasn’t actually a confirmation letter just a letter than was sent out. The confirmation was the voice recording even though I hadn’t agreed to service in the recording. They had “records” of the mail being sent out and she said that they rely on the postal service and there is no confirmation system. The whole thing is a scam. She knew full well that there was no mail ever sent out. She had her lines rehearsed. Obviously this is how they do business at the Berry Company. They knew that if they reported us to a credit reporting agency that it would cost us more to clear the record than it would be to just pay them. This is clear cut extortion. Rochester’s own version of the mob. Oh wait, we have one of those. Well, maybe they work together.

So we are stuck paying for a full year of yellow page service that does us absolutely zero good. To make matter far worse we changed our company name this year and they didn’t change it in the yellow pages so we are now paying for an ad for a company name that we don’t use. And to really rub our faces in it they raised our rates by 22% (their punishment for being a fool for another year.) Well, lesson learned here. No more yellow page ads for us. No more phone calls, no more meetings, no more chance to even talk to us. We don’t do print advertising anymore, anywhere. Time to leave the dark ages and time to stop advertising to people who are stuck in them.

Sorry but I had to rant. There is little recourse against companies that harm people these days. The Better Business Bureau doesn’t even have a way to report these things anymore (believe me I have tried.) Once I even tried to report the BBB themselves because they were saying that you could report but had a whole system set up to keep you from being able to (by having you fill out twenty forms just to be returned over and over again to the place that you started.) When I tried to report the BBB based on their phone number it turned out that the BBB had listed themselves as a Fish and Tackle Shop in Texas. Sound fishy? You bet.

In another vote of confidence for the American education system: Ethnicity Teacher Humiliates and Discriminates Against Student Because He Doesn’t Root for Local Football Team! I can’t believe that stuff like this is allowed in public schools in Pennsylvania. How can this be okay?

By waiting an extra day the Nikon D50 that I am ordering has come down another $2 in price. How cool is that. Even that much cheaper than Rowe. And the shipping is only $9. Not bad at all. So I placed the order today. It is coming by UPS Ground so it will be several days before the camera actually arrives. I decided to go with the Nikon D50 camera kit that comes bundled with the 18-55mm Nikkor DX lens. I am really looking forward to having a chance to play with the new camera. I am so happy with the little Kodak CX7530 that I have now that I am sure that I definitely want to move to all digital. Film is just too much hassle for me. I am hoping that I will be able to unload my Nikon 5005 35mm SLR on eBay along with two of my lenses for it. I just don’t have the time to deal with both digital and analogue film cameras at this point. If I was a professional photographer I would want to have both for now but I only get to take pictures once in a while and I want to get the best value possible with the least effort. I guess I am getting old.

Okay, now this is gross: An Australian couple strike it rich when they discover a very large chunk of Ambergis. Ambergis is found in whale vomit and is highly valuable as a key ingredient in perfume. Thanks again to Eric for this great link.

I had a bunch of errands that needed to be run this evening but Dominica was nice and ran them for me so that I could keep working in the office. She had to run to the post office (because of the change in the postal rate from $0.37 to $0.39) and to FedEx, to the town and the village offices. It was a busy day here in Llamaland. While she was out Dominica went for a haircut too.

Okay, this one is cool. A Mexican man has built his own island out of soda bottles and now lives there. Yes, that is right, he now lives on an island made of recycled soda bottles.

I got back to work on my attempt to actually obtain my undergraduate degree from SUNY Empire today. It keeps getting put onto the back burner.

Dominica and I went over to dad’s house for dinner after she got back from running errands and getting her hair cut. Dominica and I just had salad. Oh joy. After dinner we visited and worked on plans for teaching down at Castile for the remainder of the year. Plans are that we are currently set to start again on Monday.

After leaving dad’s house Dominica and I went to Walmart and did some grocery shopping. Then it was time to come home and to continue watching TNG.

Andy was watching Homestarrunner today and managed to capture this following screenshot. For those of you familiar with Trogdor, this is an awesome license plate of the Burninator. This is a Virginia plate but look closely- that Subaru was purchased at Van Bortel Subaru in Victor. Yup, that is correct, the very dealership where Josh works! Josh, your dealership is famous now.

Homestarrunner Trogdor Burninator License Plate from Van Bortel Subaru in Victor, NY

Isn’t that awesome. I thought that you would all like that. Andy emailed me that late this evening. BRNIN8TR

Well, it is late and I need to get to bed. And, for once, I am remembering to take out the trash so I don’t have to get up in the morning and do it. What a nice change that is. Of course, with the way that the weather has been the last few weeks, it is likely that all of the trash will blow away by the time they come to get it in the morning. It has been so windy for weeks. I hate that. Wind is the thing that I hate the most. It really drives me crazy. Of all of the weather issues that we have here in New York it is the wind that makes me want to move away the most. The snow is fine. I love the gloom and the rain. The constant change is all right. But the incessant wind never lets up. It makes being outdoors so unpleasant. It makes the cold really cold. It makes it hard to talk. It makes it hard to eat outside. When you watch television people are always doing things outside. If Hollywood was located in Upstate New York no one would ever even think of the idea of eating outside. The whole skit would just be about parts of the meal blowing away.

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