Coffee heat rising

{gronk!} Dawdling away the day…

ohhhh B-A-A-D HUMAN! 

I’ve dorked away the ENTIRE MORNING playing time-waster computer games. Things that needed to get done?

We ain’t got no steenking things to get done! Eh?

No. The dishes are not washed. The blog post is not written. The run on the credit union and then on the d**ned Costco remains to be done.

Yes…the credit-union run, to be followed by the Costco run, two things I do no, not NOT wanna do.

For the second time in human memory, Costco refused to take my debit card.

Costco wants you to use its MasterCard, of course. And I’ve tried.

Tried and found their MasterCard service just as wanting as the service from past MasterCard accounts I’ve (not) enjoyed. All that was proven was that Mastercard’s service sucks.

Whereas American Express’s service proves itself excellent, top-flight, beyond amazing…EVERY TIME one deals with MasterCard, one has an issue.

To force you to use their MasterCard, Costco quit accepting American Express. You can pay in cash, presumably you can pay with a check, or you can pay with MasterCard. You cannot pay with AMEX.

I do not carry a checkbook around with me. I do not carry cash. The reason, as you may have perceived if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, has to do with Wild-West character of the parking lots and strip malls around here. One thing no sane woman would do is walk across a shopping center with a purse hanging from her shoulder. Especially not a purse containing anything resembling a negotiable instrument. I’ve had guys try to steal my purse as I walked into grocery stores (not once, but twice! Slow learner…). A neighbor was shot by a guy who thought she was resisting when he ripped her purse off her shoulder as she tried to shield her daughter. You would be effing CRAZY to carry checks, cash, or anything that contains ID that can be used to steal from you.

This happened some months ago: I presented my AMEX card and Costco’s machine rejected it. No one else’s machine rejects it. Just Costco’s. All the time I spent roving around in there loading up the cart was wasted. All the stuff I’d piled up to buy was rolled off to be stacked back on the shelves.

So the last time I went to Costco — last week — I whipped out my debit card and was  once again was told it wasn’t valid.

This is the second time Costco has pulled that stunt. Last time, I drove straight from the store to the credit union, where staff assured me nothing was wrong with the debit card.

I’ve about lost patience. Today is gonna be my last try. Today I will return to the CU and ask them what’s wrong with the debit card. If they say “nothing,” I will try to persuade them to put that in writing.

Then I’ll move on to the Costco up the road, and when they pull their usual stunt I’ll show them the evidence from the credit union.

Give me any more BS, and that, right then and there, will be THE last time I ever go into Costco. Well. Except maybe for their tire shop. 😉


The Saga of the Fridge…continued

So the AMEX bill arrived, bearing with it the single largest bottom line I’ve ever seen on a credit card statement.  Eeek!

Well, it’s because they’ve combined the current state of the Refrigerator Fiasco with a gigantic and breathtaking clerical error.

Error the first: When it looked like I might be able to get rid of the ridiculous GE refrigerator that I stupidly bought from B&B Appliances, a local (and highly questionable!) vendor, I decided I’d better acquire a new, functional fridge before the present thing goes out the door, lest all the food in the house spoil.

Sooo…I went over to Home Depot and ordered a nice new LG refrigerator. They arranged for delivery, a few days later, and we all went on about our business.

Events evolved…

The GE refrigerator eventually quieted down. Nowadays, it’s making no more noise than any normal refrigerator does — meaning that, hallelujah brothers and sisters, it can’t be heard in the back bedroom on the far end of the house. At least, not so’s it keeps you from falling asleep at night.

Observing this, I went back over to HD — in person, no less — and canceled the order for their refrigerator.

So…okay, if the matter isn’t resolved between American Express and B&B, it’ll be no skin off my proverbial teeth.

Thus thought I, until that AMEX statement came flying into the mailbox.

They charged me TWICE for B&B’s accursed fridge. And no, they never did register a credit for the piece of junk. Meanwhile, Home Depot’s charge also appears on that bill.

So now I’ve got THREE REFRIGERATORS charged up on my AMEX card!!!!!!!!!


Just now, WonderAccountant has the AMEX bill. She’s busy with other clients’ work right this instant, so we’ll have to wait or day or three to figure out exactly what to say to the factotums at American Express.

Just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?


Update: B&B Fridge Fiasco

Just realized, whilst putting away mounds of paper and updating the calendar, that AMEX, even though they suspended the $1500 charge for B&B’s half-baked refrigerator for the nonce, in fact did not cancel it. The charge is in a state of suspended animation, being “disputed,” until May 26. If in fact B&B prevails, then yes, I will have to pay the ba*tards for what so far has been (in effect) a free refrigerator. Albeit a free piece of junk…

That’s right. The operatic GE fridge remains in my kitchen, humming and rattling to itself, while the matter is settled. And indeed I was on the cusp of buying a new LG refrigerator (handsomely reviewed!) at Lowe’s and giving B&B’s piece of junk to Gerardo for his workshop.

Somehow I failed to grasp that detail in AMEX’s workings.

Wow!  Lucky I couldn’t make up my feeble little mind while I was cruising around Lowe’s. By now the noise-maker would be outta here!

Hmmmmmmm….. Godlmighty but that sounds batsh!t, doesn’t it?

Think I’ll call American Express — or wait! maybe inquire in writing — to confirm whether B&B has until May 26 to make good on this damn thing. And then what? If they give up , what do we do with this fine piece of equipment? But if they persist, am I still on the hook for almost $1500? Can B&B be forced to take it back, despite their “no-returns” policy?

In the meantime, we have this half-baked (heh!) GE microwave that B&B peddled to me at the same time. You wanna talk about piece of junk? Lemme tellya!

My old microwave, which I should evidently NOT have dispensed with, would cook 2 thick-sliced pieces of bacon to a state of crispy done-ness in 2 minutes flat. The new thing takes exactly twice as long to do that.

True: the earth does not shatter into a a pile of meteoroids just because it takes four minutes to cook one’s breakfast bacon. I don’t do a lot of cooking in a microwave, because I eat mostly real foods — “whole foods” as they’re dubbed here in the 21st century. So really, it doesn’t much matter that the thing makes a nice noise and goes round and round whilst it does…next to nothing. But if I’d known, I would never have gotten rid of the other machine.

The new GE fridge still runs noisier than I would like — but at least you can’t hear it all the way back in the bedroom at the far end of the palace. So it’s now tolerable…if I have to keep it, I could do so without vast suffering.

Though this refrigerator was clearly damaged goods — a workman found a couple of dents on the side and noted that one its “feet” has been broken and fixed — it runs OK. Don’t think I should have to pay full price for it. But my world won’t end if the thing stays here. Or ends up in Gerardo’s workshop.

Big message here, though, is one that I should have remembered before the whole fiasco started: DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE MAKING ANY MAJOR PURCHASE. And assume nothing. Yes: that’s nothing.

Having grown up with General Electric as a major American manufacturer of high-quality appliances, it never crossed my mind to spend an hour (or less…much less was all that would have been required) in exploring consumer reviews on the Internet. By way of experiment: Google this phrase:

why have GE products gone downhill

Holeeee shee-ut!

No, I wouldn’t have thought of quite that wording. 😀 BUT if I had simply googled “GE appliance reviews” I would have known not to buy what is now a Chinese product with an American brand name slapped on it. Any search for consumer reviews of GE products brings up rant after rant after furious rant.

The fall of GE has been big financial news for the past several years, too. Truth to tell, if I’d been reading Forbes and the Wall Street Journal and their ilk, I wouldn’t even have had to look for consumer reviews. I would have known the company and its products overshot China and went straight to Hell quite awhile ago.

And also truth to tell, I was just plain stupid about B&B Appliances. I’d dealt with them before with no problem. I liked the saleslady who peddled this thing to me. It never dawned on me that they were ripping me off.

Guess the message is…always assume that everyone is trying to rip you off, and proceed accordingly!

Unstuck in Time!

My Lord, but life in the 21st Century is a PITA. One of its least charming aspects — which effectively dominates anything you try to do — is The Endless Runaround.

The endless computer runaround. The endless phone runaround. WhatEVER it is that you need to get done, you can’t reach a person to explain what’s up and get them to fix it. Instead you hassle and you wait and you hassle and you wait and you  hassle and you wait and you repeat REPRESENTATIVE!!!!! over and over and over again, until after about five or ten minutes of steadily increasing infuriation, you finally reach a human. First, though, you get put on hold listening to ads or annoying, redundant messages.

I can remember when a human answered right away after you dialed a number. She would promptly direct you to the party who could help you with your issue. Yes: it was usually a “she” because the jobs were low-paying and women in the Good Ole Day were almost wholly consigned to low-paying jobs.

And no, that was not a good thing.  But it was what it was.

But in the “not a good thing” department, neither is FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH, CLICK 9… FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH, CLICK 8… FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH…..  uh huh. Click 8 and get stuck on hold for some interminable wait, during which you’re entertained with annoying ads or annoying Muzak.

I bought a refrigerator from a local vendor. It was junk: it makes loud noises:


So I arranged for Gerardo take it back to the ba*tards, and I bought another refrigerator from Home Depot.

Aside: Never buy local just to make yourself feel righteous. That’s a recipe for disaster. Always buy from major corporations that have competent customer service and return policies.

I called AMEX and explained the situation telling them that I will need to buy a new fridge and don’t know what to do with the noisemaker in my kitchen. They said have no fear and charged into battle.

AMEX voided the $1376 charge to the crooks, even though said crooks refused to take the machine back.

So I figured to donate this thing to a charity (not so much: nary a charity in sight will accept a refrigerator!!!) and buy a new fridge at Home Depot.

After I had arranged to buy a Home Depot refrigerator, the noise emanating from the clunk slacked off. And…lo! What do I find online but a page remarking that sometimes refrigerators buzz and rattle when they’re new, but that effect goes away. Hm.

Since the local crooks told AMEX they would not take a return or refund my money, I decided I should cancel the HD fridge. (Bad idea, BTW).

So now I get an email from AMEX going on about how I will owe them $1400 for the refrigerator. That’s fine, as long as it’s going to work.

And it does work: noisily.

BUT…in addition to that, they’ve also got the charge pending for the Home Depot refrigerator!


So yesterday I had to drive up there and argue with HD about that. They supposedly canceled the charge.

This morning I get an email from Home Depot billing me $1400 for a new refrigerator.

GAAAWWWDAMMIT!!!  On the phone to American Express.

Calling AMEX involves a brain-banging run-around. You can’t get a person on the phone for love nor money. After what feels like half an hour of punching buttons and uttering words — I’ve found that SCREAMING REPRESENTATIVE!!!!!!! INTO THE PHONE does speed this process along, BTW — I get a person and explain the story. Their rep, who seems sane (how???), agrees that the charge will be voided.

So now here I am, sitting here in the family room listening to this fucking GE refrigerator humming to itself, occasionally still buzzing. If you go over and smack it, the noise stops — well, not the motor humming, but the damned crazy-making buzz.

And as if I didn’t have enough aggravation to fill the day, no doubt I really should go back up to HD and confirm that the refrigerator purchase really was voided.

Probably should have gone ahead with eating the $1400 bill for this thing, throwing it in the alley, and buying a new one. But…well…DAYUM!

Even when it’s not buzzing, it runs quite loud. In fact, I’d say I’ve never had a fridge whose motor noise was this loud. As for the buzzing…well…I’m thinking I’ll call a refrigerator repairman (if such creatures still exist) and pay him a trip charge to come look at this thing and see if it can be made to run quietly and skip the rattling episodes. If not, maybe he can recommend a replacement brand.


ohhhhh and just to make the day perfect: apparently my ad-blocking software has failed. Now I’m getting BLITZED with effing ads on every website. arrrerrghhhhhh!!!!!


B’bye, Costco!

One last view…

ENOUGH, already, with shopping at Costco. I’ve had it, and I’m NOT goin’ back there!

Whaaaa? ask ye who are familiar with Funny’s Costco love affair.

Well, I do hafta say that my patience with Costco wears thin every now and then, and yeah, every now and again I vow never to return. But this time, it’s stickin’…bigawd!

Only two exceptions:

1. To buy gasoline (sometimes: if I happen to be in the vicinity and the lines don’t stretch halfway to Yuma)
2. To keep access to their tire shop

Otherwise, I…yam…DONE. Not going into the store ever again, and never, ever again making a special traipse across the city to buy gas.

Whither this withering insight, you ask?

Well. This morning I took it into my dizzy little head to go in and talk with their CSRs about the screwup I experienced there a couple weeks ago. I’d gone into the store in Paradise Valley, wasted some unholy amount of my priceless time roaming around the store and collecting a basketful of goods, wasted some more time standing interminably in a checkout line, and stood there while the (excellent! all their staffers, by the way, are beyond excellent) cashier racked up a couple hundred bucks worth of purchases, and then handed over my debit card.

The same debit card with which I always pay for Costco purchases.

You need to know that Costco does not accept American Express, which is my credit card of choice. Both the business and the personal charge accounts are with AMEX. When this charming decision came down, I acceded to signing up with their Visa or Mastercard (don’t recall which, after all this time), and that devolved into a headache of Brobdinagian proportions. Canceled that annoying card and resorted to using my debit card, which is issued through my credit union.

This worked fine until a week or so ago, when the check-out clerk said she couldn’t take my credit union’s debit card — it was no good!

Ohhhh yeah?

So now I shoot down to the CU, haul the card in, tell them this sad story, and ask them WTF?

Their answer is, indeed, WTF?

They have no idea why Costco has suddenly decided to quit accepting a debit card on a checking account that has, shall we say, a balance that measures in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Maybe they just don’t believe than anyone who’s not a scam artist would deposit a year’s worth of spending money in their checking account? How might that be any of Costco’s bidness, anyway?

The CU’s agent says there’s nothing wrong with the debit card and hands it back.

Eventually I decide to traipse over to the Costco on the west side, barge up to their customer service desk, and ASK them what is their problem. That’s when I get the suggestion that I should kill some more of my time farting around in their store and repeating the fiasco that I would like to have resolved.


Enough, already!!!

WHEN did Costco forget that customer service is a key part of retailing?

Well, thought I, their gas is still the cheapest in town. I’ll keep my card so I can buy gas here.


Maybe not.

First, to get to a Costco store from the Funny Farm, now that they’ve closed their outlet that was centrally located in Phoenix, you have to drive way to Hell and gone into Scottsdale, or else you have to drive way to Hell and gone up the I-17 freeway, halfway to Flagstaff.

I have NOTHING ELSE TO DO IN EITHER OF THOSE PARTS, now that I’m not working at ASU West and no longer have pals living in Moon Valley. So you wanna know what I ain’t doin’? I ain’t drivin’ halfway to Flag, and I ain’t drivin’ to Snotsdale West, just to save maybe $1.50 on merchandise I don’t much need anyway. Fry’s has a mega-supermarket on the fringe of Snotsdale West, much closer to my house, which peddles just about everything Costco does.

Soooo…why, pray tell, should I keep a Costco membership that requires me to burn vast quantities of overpriced gasoline in order to spend vast quantities of cash?

Which brings us to Second: Practically around the corner, QT has not one but TWO gas stations, each generously equipped with pumps.

Are they the cheapest gas in town?

Probably not. Costco usually claims that honor.

But by the time I’ve burned a gallon or three driving up the freeway to a Costco gas station, how cheap — really — is CC’s gas?

My guess is, the price ultimately is about the same. As for the aggravation factor? Any day I d’ruther spend a few cents more at a QT than drive halfway across the city to stand in line 20 minutes and then be told my membership card doesn’t work (which is what happened the last time I tried to buy gas at Costco).

I’ve spent my last dollar in Costco. Alas!

Theft Damage Control: Battening down the hatches

So yesterday morning I traipsed to the credit union, whereinat to deal with the stolen credit, debit, and ID cards. Bob, the front man there, didn’t seem too worried. He said the steps I’d taken to inform credit card issuers and others involved should head off any attempts to hack into our accounts.

I had delayed telling my son about the credit-card heist, because I feared he’d have a sh!t-fit and there was a limit to how much I could cope with. But Bob felt no one would be able to get into our shared account for the mortgage, nor, he thought, would they be able to get into my new AMEX accounts or much of anything else. So that was reassuring. Sorta.

Meanwhile, now that I have a new AMEX account, I’ll have to tell every creditor who auto-charges on that thing what the new card number is, a prospect that exhausts me. Yea verily, yesterday Apple sent an email demanding that I enter a method to charge up a $3.25/year bill for use of their vast web space. I couldn’t make their guy or their machine or whateverthef^ckitis understand that they need a new credit card number and that is all they need. So next week I’ll have to drive way to Hell and gone out to the far west side, whence the Apple store has decamped, find a human being, explain what is going on, and see if THEY can re-up my subscription.


After fleeing the credit union, I stopped by the big new Sprouts near the university campus. It was quite a nice shopping experience…that store is larger than any of the other Sprouts stores I’ve seen here in Phoenix. Their produce is wonderful, they have drinkable cheap wine, and a wide variety of other loot. I came away feeling pretty pleased.

Which led to a rumination about Costco…  As in why am i PAYING to shop there??? Especially ever since they closed the store nearest to the ’Hood, necessitating a twenty- or thirty-minute drive across the city. I got everything I needed at Sprouts…and then some. True, at Costco you can buy clothing, shoes, sheets, towels, office supplies, and on and on. But hey! You don’t buy that stuff every week. And besides, if it’s something you really want, Instacart delivery is free for Costco members. If you sent an Instacart runner over there once every month or six weeks, it would pay for the membership…which is 60 to 120 bucks.

Sprouts has an excellent selection of drinkable low-rent wines — Costco seems to have gotten rid of all its decent brands in the $9 to $12 range. Sprouts has a much larger selection of fresh produce. And it carries CBD oils and creams, which go a whole long way toward soothing the peripheral neuropathy. A-n-n-d how crazy IS it to drive halfway across the city to stand in line at the pumps for twenty minutes so as to save a couple bucks on a gasoline fill-up? We have two perfectly fine QT’s right up the road, both of which generally undercut the competition.

So I think I’m going to shop a WHOLE lot less at Costco. Matter of fact, I may stop shopping there altogether.