6.18.2014

Oh yeah, that's a known problem.

Let me tell you about some terrible customer service I received recently.

Neither of our Sallie Mae accounts have been updating in Mint for a few days. I figure because it's both of them it's probably an issue with Sallie Mae in general and not my account, but I decide to check anyway because I really like for everything to be up to date.

I check the Mint forums to see if it's a known problem. There's no mention of it there.

Since I'm pretty sure it's not a specific-to-me problem, I don't want to fill out a contact form, but I also don't want to just let it die, because I want my accounts updated! So I go to Twitter. Mint has an entire Twitter account specifically for support. It's called, surprisingly enough, Mint Support. (@mintsupport)

I scroll through Mint Support's recent tweets and don't see anything, so then I go check the main account and don't see anything there.

So I decide to tweet at Mint Support. I ask, "Is there a known problem with Sallie Mae accounts right now? I have two different Sallie Mae accounts, neither has updated in 4 days." (I fixed a couple of things I had to abbreviate in the original tweet, so it's not an exact quote.)

I don't hear anything for 22 hours. Now, that's not thaaaaat long, but it's longer than it should take to answer a very simple yes or no question.

So I follow up. In a linked tweet, I ask, "Anything?" and cc the main Mint account.

Twenty minutes later -- yes, twenty minutes, so they definitely should have been able to answer my first tweet in less than 22 hours -- I get a response. And awesome, it's a completely unhelpful one. They answered, "Pls complete our Contact Mint form so our support team can take a look: [URL] Thx!"

Okay, a couple of things here.

First of all, I asked a yes or no question. Answer yes or no. "Is there a known problem?" is one of the easiest things to answer because it requires basically zero research. It's either a problem you know about or it's not. So why can't you include that in your answer?

Secondly, because they were telling me to fill out a form, I assume it's not a known problem. I think that should have been a safe assumption, because if it had been a known problem, they could have just said yes. I mean, right?

Well, no.

I go on and fill out the form because, as I mentioned, I'm assuming from their answer that it isn't a known problem and is, therefore, a problem with my account.

About a day later, I get an email saying "Yeah, that's a known problem," and get this -- directing me (a little condescendingly) to the forum. YUP. The forum. The first place I checked.

Oh, okay. Thanks for letting me know.

4.30.2014

The Tinashé concert that never was

I was inadvertently taken on an emotional journey this morning, and I want you guys to experience it with me.

I use a website called Songkick to track music artists I want to see live. The site sends you an email when an artist you like has a show in your area.

So I got an email today that Tinashé was playing in West Hollywood next week and I was SO PUMPED. Matt and I have loved Tinashé for years and he's never toured anywhere near us.

This is the email I received.
So I obviously click the "Buy tickets" button right away, to see how much the concert costs.

As it loads (the internet at work is a little slow) I am getting more and more excited. We've wanted to see him for so long, and he's so great and pleasant and still relatively unknown, so there probably won't even be that much of a crowd, and it's just going to be the BEST CONCERT EVER. (Clearly, I was a little too excited.)

So the page finally loads.
This is the page on Songkick telling me Tinashé is going to be in town.
I click the button at the bottom to buy tickets through Ticketweb, getting more excited by the second, and then this is what comes up:
This is the actual event page through the ticketing website.
In case you can't tell, that's not the Tinashé we wanted. That's Tinashe, with no accent mark, the female R&B / urban soul vocalist (apparently) that sort of shares a name with the one we like.

"Sad" is a feeling I felt, but it's not really a strong enough word.

The worst part is that this is absolutely nobody's fault. Songkick is an automated service that picks up event listings from ticketing websites. "Tinashé" and "Tinashe" are obviously close enough to be considered a match most of the time, and Songkick didn't differentiate between them.

I still love Songkick, I still love Tinashé and I am completely ambivalent about Tinashe. But I'm not paying any money to go see her. Not even when the tickets are only $10.

2.18.2014

People who can't commit to a 30-minute game

This blog post is going to be about video games, so buckle up.

I've been playing League of Legends lately, so I'm starting to get a little insight into #gamerprobz. Now, before I say anything, please note that I am neither good at nor very knowledgeable about gaming in general or League of Legends specifically.

If you don't know anything about League of Legends, here is all you need to know for the purposes of this post. Games can last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour, but the average seems to be around 30-45 minutes. That, however, is only the game itself. It can also take five minutes or so to set up your team and load into the game.

Furthermore, the team aspect is very important. There are a few different game styles, but the most popular one is a 10-player game, with two teams of five. Your team is very much counting on you and when a team is down a player, it becomes significantly more difficult for that team to win. 

So basically, unless you have an hour or so to commit, you shouldn't be starting a game of League of Legends, because if you back out before the game is over, you greatly hurt your team's chances of winning.

So, in League, you can chat with the other players inside the game. Every once in a while, someone will chat, "BRB," go back to base and go AWOL for a few minutes. This is pretty rude, because any sort of absence can put your lane or your whole team behind. But even better, sometimes people will share the reason they need to be gone, and goodness gracious, people leave for the dumbest reasons!

Let's look at a few of them.

Last night, in a game Matt was playing, someone said, "BRB, I have to go take my medication." Okay. Obviously, if there's some sort of medical emergency, like my friend whose fiancee had to quit a game because of kidney stones, that's fine, and people will be perfectly reasonable about it. But if it's a normal, routine medicine, either take it before or after the game or, if it needs to be taken right on time, check the clock and don't start a game that you might still be in when it becomes time to take your medicine!

Parents are another frequent reason for people quitting. As with most video games, a lot of people who play this game are pretty young and therefore live with their parents. Sometimes they have to quit because their mom is calling them for dinner. Obviously, the solution to this is to check with her beforehand to see when dinner is going to be, then not start a game within an hour of that time.

A friend of mine played with someone whose dad came into his room during the game and unplugged his computer. I would assume the kid wasn't supposed to be playing, because most reasonable parents don't shut down their children's computers with zero warning. So the solution here is to not play a game when you've been explicitly told not to by the person or people in charge of you.

I also heard from some friends who played with people who left for slightly more legitimate reasons, among them house fires and attacking pets. Of course, they could have been making it up or exaggerating, but I almost feel like this is a situation where that's a little better than the truth.

The moral of the story is this: Don't start a cooperative team game if you can't dedicate the necessary amount of time to it. It's rude, and everyone hates you.

2.07.2014

You have too much time on your hands.

I vote that the phrase, "you have too much time on your hands," should be done away with. Not banned, obviously, but let's collectively decide to ostracize people who say it, just because it is so obviously rude.

"You have too much time on your hands" is a very specific insult veiled as a humorous throwaway. It is something I've heard many times throughout my life, sometimes in response to things I actually did spend a lot of time on and care a lot about -- like this blog -- and sometimes in response to things I spent a relatively small amount of time on, but still enjoyed -- like a tiny puzzle I once made.


My friend Grant got a negative response from an awesome picture he drew on Snapchat yesterday and, upon my request, shared how he felt about it: 

When someone replied to a fun little Snapchat drawing I made with the phrase, "You have too much time on your hands," I felt offended. I am not easily offended.

It's funny because I tend to hear this in response to things that actually took very little time. This leads me to believe that these people might be jealous that I was able to produce something fun, exciting or otherwise interesting in such a short amount of time and that such a feat would have required much more effort and time on their part.

Was, "That looks awesome!" really too nice to say? Did you have to imply that I was only capable of making something cool because I don't have anything better to do or somehow have seemingly endless amounts of time? Furthermore, do you really believe that the apex of my day is drawing a stupid little cartoon in Snapchat? Is it unfathomable that although there are many other time-consuming things I could be doing, I chose to spend a few minutes making this drawing in order to achieve some sort of catharsis?

Amen, Grant. First and foremost, how I choose to spend my time has nothing to do with you. You don't know how long something took me to do, you don't know what I gave up in order to do it, and you definitely don't know how busy my life is in general.

"You have too much time on your hands" is a sneaky little way to take someone down a few pegs. I find it's often said because someone either doesn't like or doesn't understand the thing you're doing, and therefore can't understand your desire to spend time on it. Just because you would rather spend your spare time doing thing A doesn't mean someone is wasting time doing thing B. As long as the person is upholding all of their responsibilities (job, schoolwork, family, etc.), their downtime shouldn't really be of any concern to anyone else.

Here's the thing, and this is a guiding principle in my life: Everyone makes time for what they want to make time for. So if Grant wants to spend less than five minutes drawing a picture to send out to a bunch of his friends to make them smile, that's fine. Maybe he gave up five minutes of reading time, or maybe he drew the picture while waiting for water to boil. It doesn't matter, because as long as he fit it into his schedule, it doesn't affect you.

If I want to spend an hour and a half every night trying to get a little better at League of Legends, and you would rather watch reruns of CSI: Miami, that's fine. We're both doing things we want to do in the spare time we have. If I want to write a blog about people I hate and you think I'm devoting way too much time to it, it doesn't matter. It's my time I'm spending on it, not yours. That doesn't mean I have "too much time" on my hands. It means I've decided to spend my time on something you wouldn't spend your time on.

Now, just because you wouldn't give up five minutes of your time to draw that Snapchat picture or an hour and a half of your evening to play a video game doesn't mean you're any more busy than Grant or me. It just means you have different priorities. And that's totally okay. That's how life works.

But don't insult someone by implying that they have no responsibilities or that they're not as busy as you. You have no idea, and also, it's not a competition. 

12.07.2013

Polyester is like, crazy toxic.

While I was working at Old Navy today, a young woman came up to me and told me she had a question. I asked what I could help her with and she answered, "You guys used to have like, 100 percent cotton everything, but now you use a ton of polyester in stuff."

Okay, so there's not a question anywhere in there. I nodded and waited for her to continue, but she was done. 

"So how can I help you then?"

"Well like, that sucks."

As politely as I could, I responded, "I'm really sorry about that."

"Uh, yeah, it sucks cuz polyester is like, crazy toxic."

Again, not really much I can say here, right? I answered, "Again, I'm sorry about that."

She finally got around to her question when she asked, "So like, do you know if you have anything that's 100 percent cotton?"

Unfortunately, we don't have our clothes organized by their material makeup, so I answered, "I honestly have no idea, I guess you would just have to look at the tags to see."

She sighed heavily and answered, "Well you need to tell them how much this sucks, because I can't shop here anymore if everything has polyester in it."

I responded with the only rational thing I knew to say to that: "You can feel free to write a letter to corporate, but we have no control over that whatsoever."

So what did we learn today, kids? 

1. Polyester is toxic, so we're apparently all going to die soon from all these clothes we've been wearing.
2. Retail employees have a direct pipeline to corporate, so feel free to complain to them about things they have no control over.

... Yeah, that sounds about right.

12.04.2013

Kevin Skaggs guest blogs: Bathroom creep

So, Mary Jane and I went to the movies Thanksgiving night, as is our tradition (usually with Kristin and Matt, but whatever). After the movie, we each went separately to the restroom.

In the bathroom, there were two urinals. The one on the right was being used, so I went to the one on the left. On arriving to my urinal, I noticed the other guy was urinating on the floor. My first thought was that he just missed and would correct soon, but no, he kept peeing on the floor.

I looked up and he was blankly staring at the wall with his eyes wide open. It almost looked like he might be blind (though that's still no reason to pee on the floor).

As I started my business, I noticed his urine was flowing toward my feet. So with one eye on him and one eye on my urinal, I had to back up to keep my feet from getting wet. When the guy finished, he walked over to the sink and washed and dried his hands. During this sequence, it became clear that he wasn't blind.

He left, and when I walked out, I saw him meet up with his wife and leave like everything was fine. Seriously, man? What a creep!
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