Thinking about trying Clear Wireless? Don’t bother.

I’ve always been a fan of Wimax, back in the day I did some work for Wimax Forum and have always felt that the technology is impressive (as are the people working on it); I’ve been pretty gung-ho to check it out since it become available in Portland. Since I’d been having problems with my Comcast service (endless modems dying) I decided, why not? Well, I’ve learned that lesson.

If only it was just that I couldn’t get much of a signal in my house (despite being in a sea of dark green, supposedly a strong signal area) it would be forgivable, really. However, when I could get a signal, even a strong signal, I was lucky to get speeds of .5 mbps, dramatically different from the 6 mbps they talk about. Okay, no harm, no foul. The technology just isn’t perfect yet. I live in the suburbs not in the city core so it, perhaps, just isn’t an option for me.

Tragic, but hey the sales guys were nice, they thought I was an idiot (I had to break down the cost of paying for a modem vs. leasing it for them as they kept trying to convince me paying $5 a month forever AND signing a 2 year contract was really the better deal than just paying $50 upfront), but nice. I just had to bring the modem back and they’d get me all sorted. At least that’s what they told me. But wait a minute, that’s just what they said when I asked about the return policy, you know, when they wanted to make the sale. The moment I actually tried to return it I was told I had to contact customer care.

Oh, but when I contacted customer care I got a long long run around where they demanded I try and increase the signal, it just must be a problem with where I’m placing the modem (really, I have a laptop, was I supposed to leave it sitting in the bathroom in the hopes of getting .6mbps rather than .5?). I should try tilting it differently in the USB port. Maybe unplug it and replug it. Did I try rebooting? Maybe I have a virus slowing my computer down and that’s why the speed was so slow (um trust me, I don’t). No, I just wanted to cancel! Oh? Well actually I didn’t contact the right department (silly me, following the instructions on their website), I needed to call x, click x at the menu and oh yeah, it’s already past their support hours so I’ll have to call tomorrow. Can I just email them? I mean they don’t even advertise their contact number if you’re logged in as a customer, you have to hunt for it. No, I need to talk to them. Odds on whether or not that’s so another retention specialist can try and talk me into keeping my service?

So are you thinking about trying Clear? Well if you know someone who raves about it, try theirs. Because trying to get rid of yours if it doesn’t work out…well if I ever manage it I’ll let you know.


Another day, another phone call. This time I spent 20 minutes on hold, after following all the prompts (again) to get to the cancellation department. What was I told? Oh, well this was the department for people who wanted to cancel due to signal/speed issues (right, that’s me) and all they’ll do is help you troubleshoot them (whu?!). “But no,” I insisted “I JUST want to cancel.” Well okay, they’ll transfer me to customer care. Another 5 minutes on hold starts off with me being asked all of my customer info (I guess nothing transfers) and then only to find out that customer care can’t cancel my account, I have to speak to a cancellation specialist (okay, seriously?!) but am I SURE they can’t just help me troubleshoot? As I was sure, they once again transferred me. Third person asks me for all my info, again, apparently they can’t forward anything on and also proceeds to ask me if I’ve talked to them previously (uh, account history, anyone?) and then insists that, really, before I can cancel they want to have someone come out in person and help troubleshoot my issues. They can have someone out in the next couple of weeks (14 day return policy anyone?) and they’re sure everything will be perfect after that!

It took 7 attempts, with my voice getting increasingly close to shouting (and as someone who works in tech/customer support I generally go out of my way to be as nice as possible, cause really, rude customers suck), with me saying “I do not want to troubleshoot, I am quite certain I do not want your service, I want to cancel it” before they were willing to do so. Supposedly I’ll get confirmation and a return shipping label within 24-48 hours. Oh and guess what, until the service is actually canceled I’ll continue to pay for it. So it profits them to stall as long as humanly possible. Charming.

Update 2

In the end it took a credit card dispute and multiple contacts with the BBB to actually get them to stop attempting to charge my card and hounding me about not paying my bill as well. I don’t think words can express just how much I dislike Clear. Wimax–cool technology, but Clear? Don’t bother.

Remodel Woes

The course of true love never did run smooth and neither does the course of making a couple small updates to your house.

Over a month ago we started down the path of updating our siding. The old cedar shingles were slowly rotting and the paint was peeling; the idea of replacing more shingles and once again painting the house (something we did just a couple years before) just seemed like a waste. So enter a project to update to fancy HardiePlank Fiber Cement siding. Then, because hey the majority of the labor for replacing the windows would be done with the siding job we decided to get rid of our old, falling apart, drafty, leaky, horrible, aluminum windows and replace them with uber energy efficient ones. And hey while they’re at it I’d wanted a new kitchen floor for ages…. It was already adding up.

First, they found rot under the siding. Then, they found mold under the rot. Then, the windows didn’t fit as perfectly into the interior trim as we’d hoped necessitating replacing that AND one of the windows arrived from the manufacturer broken (still waiting on the glass guy to repair). Meanwhile, while replacing the kitchen floor it was discovered that the previous owners (dating back to the 50s) had never actually removed flooring, they just kept putting layer after layer after layer on top of each other (it was like a time machine even including avocado green at one point) so there was no way to actually get the floor level with the rest of the rooms without a huge job at triple the cost (let’s just say it’s not level now and I’m happy that way, probably how all those past owners ended up with layers of floor not removed). All in all it’s been an…experience.

My, should be done in just a couple weeks, project has already spanned a month and we still have to tear the bathroom down to the studs (the location of the black mold discovered under the rot!) and put in new drywall and a shower surround.

You never learn this stuff as an apartment dweller. Up until we bought our house a few years back apartments were all I knew. It’s been a real eye opener! Next time I’m taking my projected budget and tripling it, would probably be closer to the reality!

Is this what it’s always like? There are still other small updates I’d like to make, not to mention the dream of adding a second bathroom. With the way this project has gone I can’t help but think that buying a new house would be less hassle!

The house, once upon a time:

The house, a month ago (well okay, a couple years ago right after we finished painting last time):

The house, right now:

I still have to decide what color to paint. Decisions, decisions! Any suggestions?

I’ll just take it to your competitors!

The sound of those words is both sad and amusing, depending on the situation. “Amusing?” you say, with surprise (okay I’m assuming here). Yes, amusing.

A good percentage of my job is direct customer service and no, I’m not amused by customers having a really bad experience; absolutely not and in no way shape or form! I will bend over backwards to try and make sure people have the best experience possible and end a conversation with me with all their questions answered or sometimes even wanting to buy me a beer. However, another large part of my job is talking to people about best practices and permission. I talk to them about what spam is and why they can’t send to that list where someone supposedly opted in to hear from 3rd parties, they purchased a list or recipients said “sure you can contact me” a decade ago and you’re just now getting in touch. No, no and definitely not! These are the situations that tend to lead to some very passionate discussions about how I’m unreasonable, horrible and how the sender will just go to our competitors rather than live with such draconian rules (don’t I know it’s legal?).

So why is it amusing? Because not only am I trying to do my part to spread some of the great knowledge out there about best practices, rules, and striving for not only permission but engagement, but I also know that so are our competitors. Those customers just have another passionate and likely friendly (and often more patient than they deserve) conversation headed their way. If we all keep it up, hopefully someday these conversations will stop as everyone out there will finally get it. I’m probably just dreaming, but oh what a pleasant dream it is.