Archive for May, 2010

Hostility

As I have mentioned previously, I have been battling with Charter over a $300.00 gift card that I was to receive from the cable company upon signing up for a promotion.  I signed up for the promotion in February.  The gift card has still not arrived.  I spoke to over a dozen Charter employees about the issue and got nowhere.  Well, next to nowhere.  I received a $75.00 gift card.  After being told story after story about how they were “working” on the problem, I hit the wall on Monday.  I couldn’t talk about the problem anymore.  Instead, I decided to mail them the following letter.

 

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a Charter Communications (“Charter”) customer continuously since 2005.  I am also a licensed attorney in the State of Wisconsin employed as an Assistant Attorney General at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.  My bar number is xxxxxxx. 

In February 2010, I noticed that Charter was offering a special that required the customer to commit to Charter for two years of service.  If the customer enrolled in three services – ie, internet, telephone and cable television – Charter would provide the customer with a $300.00 Visa gift card.  On February 19, 2010, I signed up for these three services and was told I would receive the $300.00 gift card in six to eight weeks from the date of installation.  The installation was done on February 20, 2010, making my receipt of the gift card due no later than Monday April 19, 2010.[1]   

On or about April 5, 2010, I telephoned Charter to inquire into the status of my gift card.  A Charter representative informed me that she was unable to assist in any way and that I must call a company called ‘Customer Motivators.’  Customer Motivators, I was told, handles all Charter promotions, a category into which the gift card apparently falls.  I telephoned Customer Motivators, was asked for some personal information and was told that the gift card would be sent to me shortly.  A few days later a letter came in the mail that contained a piece of paper that allowed me to choose one of several gift cards – including a Visa gift card – by checking off a box, returning the form and waiting another six to eight weeks.  The gift card was to be in the amount of $75.00. 

On April 13, 2010, I contacted Charter by “live chat” to ask why I had received this instead of my $300.00 gift card.  After “talking” with several representatives, I was told that no one at Charter could help me and that I must contact Customer Motivators.  I telephoned Customer Motivators on April 13, 2010, but the office was closed.  When I finally reached a person at Customer Motivators I was told that Charter had authorized only a $75.00 gift card for me and that Customer Motivators could do nothing for me without approval from Charter for a greater amount. 

On April 24, 2010, I contacted Charter again and explained the situation.  After being told several times that no one could help me and that I must call Customer Motivators, a representative finally told me that she would draft a “Research Request” to look into my situation.  She told me that within 24-72 hours I would hear from a representative regarding the outcome of the “Research Request.”  I heard nothing.

On April 27, 2010, I contacted Charter again and relayed my entire grievance.  I was told that the “Research Request” was still open and that I would hear from a representative within 24-72 hours.  Again, I heard nothing.

On April 30, 2010, I contacted Charter again and explained that I was owed a $300.00 gift card and had not yet received it.  I was told, again, that someone would contact me regarding the still-open “Research Request.”  I was also told that I would be given a $20.00 credit on my bill.  I did not hear from a representative nor did I receive any credit on my bill.

On or about May 17, 2010, I received an envelope in the mail from Customer Motivators.  Inside was a $75.00 Visa gift card and a request to return any previously sent gift cards. 

On May 19, 2010, I contacted Charter and was told that my gift card had been sent and I should have received it.  I relayed that I had received a $75.00 gift card but that my contract entitled me to a $300.00 gift card.  The representative to whom I spoke drafted a new “Research Request” or other document to be sent to a “team” who works on complaints detailing my frustration and Charter’s poor efforts to remedy the problem.  I was told that I would be contacted within 24 hours about the complaint.  I have not heard from Charter.

Every one of these contacts has taken up considerable time and emotional energy on my behalf. 

My position is that Charter has breached its contract with me and has made no effort to fulfill its obligations.  I believe that Charter has engaged in a deliberate scheme to entice customers into contracts that Charter has no intention to satisfy.

This letter serves as my last effort to resolve my gift card issue before I file a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court.  If I do not receive my $300.00 gift card within two weeks of the date of this letter, or June 7, 2010, I will file a formal complaint.

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    Kate  —–

cc:       Federal Trade Commission

            Consumer Response Center

            600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

            Washington, D.C. 20580

            Wisconsin Department of Trade and Consumer Protection

            PO Box 8911

            Madison, WI 53708-8911


[1] Fifty-six days, or eight weeks, from February 20, 2010, was Saturday, April 17, 2010. 

I sent the letter to an address in Missouri, as well as to some fax number I was given by a guy in their “law enforcement” division who actually laughed at me.  As you probably noted, I also sent the letter to the FTC and DATCP. 

Today I received a telephone call from Charter telling me that my gift card was on its way.  They also sent me an email with a tracking number.  The package is currently in Florida.  We’ll see if it’s the right amount, but I’m hopeful.  And quietly content.

I really loathe that it takes so much effort and tenacity to get major corporations to fulfill their obligations.  I am certain Charter wouldn’t sit by quietly while I failed to pay my bill month after month.  What really bugs me, though, is that there are thousands of other consumers out there who may not know their rights or understand them.  They may be intimidated by the bureaucracy.  Or they may flat out not have the time or energy to spend what is required to make sure they are not taken advantage of.  I wish I could get everyone their $300.00 gift card.

Pictures

I am not a great photographer, but I really do like taking pictures.  I don’t like it when things go wrong with my cameras, though.  Often, of course, this is my fault.  For example, I did not have the camera set very well for the recent family outing at the Brewer game so that I missed some opportunities for some cute pics of Kyle and Erin.  Sometimes, though, it is the camera’s fault, like when the regular 18-55 mm lens broke in Bath so that all I had was the zoom.  This has led to some serious close-ups.  And then there’s also the problem of forgetting one memory chip, so that I could use only one camera at a time — instead of being able to flip between the great point-and-shoot and the cool DSLR.  In any event, please forgive me for not having better pics available.  What I lack in quality, though, I think I make up for in quantity.

We’re back!

We’re in the motherland, safe and sound.  But exhausted.  Well, I am anyway.  I feel so…foggy.  I intend to get to pictures posthaste!  Or at least by the end of the weekend.

Seriously, It’s Windy

Today we took a boat tour.  It was supposed to be a tour of the island of Malta, as well as of the small island of Comino.  We should have been able to see some awesome temples and cliffs and all sorts of things.  Instead, due to high winds on the south side of Malta, we were put on a different boat and told we’d cruise along the north and see Gozo, the second largest in this tiny archipelago.  But even that didn’t happen.  It was WINDY!  We cruised along the north and saw the teeny tiny islands called St. Paul’s where Paul was supposedly shipwrecked in 60 AD.  We anchored in a couple of bays, one of which had some neat grottos, and just hung out on the boat.  People had gotten sick left and right — including Aaron — so we didn’t get past Malta.  It was still really beautiful, though, and after the noon hour the sun came out and was warm and lovely.

It was about a 6 1/2 hour trip, though, so as I write this, I still feel like I’m riding the waves.

The question of the day: will our flight leave for London tomorrow or not?  I hope so.  I’d love to stay in Malta, but I miss Gracie.

The Windy Country

Today we set out for a real adventure.  Or so we thought.  We have been reading for months about how reliable, efficient, easy and inexpensive Malta’s bus system is.  We thought we’d have no trouble since we are generally quite competent when it comes to matters of public transportation, but we were wrong.  All of the buses pretty much originate and end in Valetta, known as the New Capital since it has been the capital since only 1500-something.  Buses don’t seem to travel between other places without having to go to Valetta.  It’s sort of like All Roads Lead to Valetta.  Because we had wanted to hit Valetta (itself a beautiful walled city), a fishing village whose name I can’t pronounce or spell, these ruins in the south that I can’t remember the name of, as well as Mdina, the Old Capital, we thought that we would buy an all-day bus pass for 3.5 Euros.  Our plan was to bus it from St. Julian’s (where our hotel is, basically) to Sliena and catch the ferry to Valetta from there.  And then head out across the country, back to Valetta, back out again…you get the picture.  Instead, though, we caught the bus to Sliena where we discovered that the ferry had been cancelled for the day.  Hmm.  And then we couldn’t find any buses going to Valetta.  Which is weird.  Because, as you may remember, all buses go to Valetta.  So after getting bombarded by offers for harbour (yes, with a ‘u’) cruises and boat tours and bus tours, we caved.  We took a double-decker, open-top tour bus that went all over the south and west of the island.  I had been rooting for this option yesterday but was convinced by Aaron and the guidebooks that we could take it on on our own.  Oops.  Anyway, the tour was of the hop-on, hop-off variety so we were able to walk around Valetta (yay!) and get off for lunch in the fishing village.  The town was really great, but we decided we’d pick probably the worst restaurant in town.  I thought my seafood might join us on the bus once we got back on.  Unfortunately, while the bus stopped at the ruins, it was late in the day and we were too tired to get off.  I hope that we see them from the water tomorrow on our boat cruise.

Anyway, it was a nice day, but it was very VERY windy and chilly, despite being about 75 degrees out and sunny today.  We both have red faces, which I suspect is a bit of sunburn, but could easily be windburn.

It’s already quite clear we don’t have nearly enough time in Malta.

Oh!  I just heard the nice Welsh woman we met yesterday say to her son and daughter-in-law, “Yesterday we met two lawyers from Wisconsin.”  That’s us!


May 2010
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