Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

Category Archives: Rant

In Retailiation

AK: “When are you ever going to blog again?”

Me: “I just posted yesterday!”

Much later…

Also Me: “When am I ever going to sleep again?”

Still Also Me: “You have to post something today.  Post now, sleep later.”

Today I got to visit a couple houses of insanity, each made further insane by the current season.  The inimitable Pier 1 Imports and its evil cousin Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  In the former, I was searching for holiday placemats specifically.  In the latter, I was searching for a secret Santa gift.

Let’s start with Pier 1.  This store has a very unique atmosphere.  I’ve tried to figure out what uplifting, empowering message they are trying to convey and the best I’ve come up with is: “There are many things you can buy in this world, some are cheap, some are not.  Here’s as many of them as we could fit inside this building.”  I’ve never been to a true “bazaar”, but because bazaar is so phonetically similar to bizarre, I envision that Pier 1 is similar to a bazaar.  Shopping there makes me feel like I have ADD.  It’s impossible to get through the store quickly, because there is always something somewhere attracting your attention.  And at the same time, because you can’t focus on any one thing, you want to get out of there because it’s so overwhelming.

So, thank god I found some decent placements within the first two minutes of walking in.  But as I was standing in line, the ADD hit me and I had a thought of a product I knew they sold that would be a nice stocking stuffer.  I broke out of the line and walked the store, looking for this item.  I never found it.  After checking out, I found I had spent almost 20 minutes in the store.  How the hell did that happen?

Later in the evening, the GF and I went to BB&B.  As we were walking the parking lot to the store, the power turned off in the entire plaza.  That’s not a good omen.  We stood outside the store for a minute or two and determined this wasn’t just a small power blip.  So we moved on to another shopping plaza and came back later.  Power’s back on; we’re good to go.

The atmosphere in BB&B is slightly different than Pier 1.  They are both packed to the gills with shit, but the difference between the two would be, Pier 1 is “chaotic” and BB&B is “claustrophobic”.  BB&B is nicely organized into departments, BUT, there’s a whole bunch of shit that doesn’t fit into any standard department.  That stuff goes in the aisles.  It’s everywhere!  The specific thing I am looking for is one of those aisle things, I assume, because it would be classified as a “beyond” product.  I have to walk all the aisles, which is a misnomer, because there’s only one aisle that loops the store.  So, I make a loop around the store and constantly dodge other people’s shopping carts.  Like Pier 1, the aisles are organized utilizing using the excellent sorting algorithm, “shuffle”.  There’s no rhyme or reason to anything, which means you have to look at everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I love treasure hunting.  Ross, TJMaxx, Bealls Outlet, even flea markets.  That’s all fun.  But when I want something, I want to be able to find it quickly.  And neither of these stores are made for such precision.

And as it turned out, the product I wanted at BB&B was not stocked in store.  It was online-only.  Which makes you wonder why retail stores are having such a hard time against online shopping.  I really wonder why.

Advertisements

“Enhance Hospitality”

Recently a co-worker of mine asked if I’d been to Pollo Tropical lately.  I hadn’t.  The last time I mentioned them in a post was when I found out they eliminated the large drink size and only had medium cups.  I think I’d been back since then, but not very recently.

My co-worker rattled off a list of things that had changed, for the worse.  The list included:

  • No real plates.  Now they use styrofoam plates.
  • No real silverware.  Only plastic forks and knives.
  • No table service.  You have to get your food from the counter.
  • No bussing service.  You have to clear your own table.
  • No onions or lime on your chicken.  They only have the flavor from the marinade.
  • Chicken breasts are smaller.

That’s a pretty significant change and I didn’t believe it.  Even after my visit today to confirm this, I still don’t believe it.  I want to visit a second location and ensure this isn’t chain-wide.  If it is, well…

So today, I did go to Pollo Tropical for lunch.  I stood in line sporting a defensive posture with my arms across my chest as I could immediately verify at least some items from that list.  When I got to the counter, I grilled the cashier on the changes.

“You’ve updated your menu?”

“No, everything still there.  We’ve added blah blah blah and there’s blah blah blah.”

“Never mind.  I see what I normally get.  I’ll have that and a drink.”

As she’s punching it into the register, I begin the interrogation.

“So, no plates anymore?  just styrofoam?”

“Yeah.”

“And only plasticware?”

“Yeah.”

I look at the sign on the counter near the wall that says you have to listen for your number and pick up your order. “You have to pick your food up now?”

“Yeah.”

“So, do you have to clear your table now?”

“Well, we only have the one trash can in the back… so…”

”So. It’s not as nice.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not as nice.”

“Oh, yeah.”  You’re not listening to me at all, are you?

As I filled my drink and got my plastic knife and fork, I noticed one other change.  Each table used to have its own napkin dispenser.  No more.  Also, I had noticed while I was standing in line, that they removed the community bulletin board from their wall.  How curious.

As I stood and waited for my food impatiently, the customer in front of me came back up and complained that his side dish, maybe fries, maybe plantains, was “super stale”.  The person behind the counter took them and threw them out, probably saying he’d get him some fresh food.  That’s not promising.

My food came out and I was able to confirm no toppings on the chicken and smaller portions.  I took the tray with my white styrofoam 3-portion plate to a table and ate my meal in subdued silence.  The change in atmosphere was significant.  Pollo used to be at an atmospheric level of Panera Bread.  Now it was like a no-name food court place.  I mean, to use generic styrofoam plates and not even branded plates is a major faux pas in brand image.

In my quest for answers, I searched online and ended up getting info straight from the horse’s mouth: The 3rd quarter corporate earnings call.  In this conference call you hear from all the top people at the company and what they are proud of and what they are planning to make the company profitable in the future.  I read a lot of things in that transcript that worried me for the future of Pollo, despite how they touted them as huge improvements. (Fried chicken?  What the fuck.)

But here’s the quotes that made me bristle:

We have implemented new labor models at both brands. These models will ensure speed of service and accuracy, enhance hospitality, ensure that we are delivering consistently high-quality food. We have also optimized staffing, so that managers can be intensely focused on the guest experience.

New labor models: They are reducing the amount of work that their employees have to do.  This means they don’t do table service anymore.  They also don’t have to wash dishes anymore.  This means they can…

Optimize staffing: Cut their workforce and/or reduce the number of labor hours.  The only benefit of this is reduced cost, and is completely incompatible with customer service.  So, when I read “speed of service” and “enhance[d] hospitality”, I’m going to call bullshit on that one.  And I will say they succeeded in optimizing staffing while I was there.  One cook, one counter person.  No one working the lobby.  Manager must have been in the office intensely focused on the guest experience.  Especially when a customer complained about stale food.  Super stale food.

One other relevant quote buried in pages of financial bukkake:

We’ve been working on evolving our brand culture so that our teams will truly embrace our high standards for food quality, hospitality and restaurant environment.

Again, with the hospitality, and restaurant environment.  I already mentioned my impression of the new and improved environment, but let me say it again.  There are two things that are going to come from this major shift.  One, the customers that came before (me and my co-worker, and many others) are going to say, “What the fuck happened here?”  You can’t maintain a level of service and suddenly lower it thinking no one’s going to notice.  The other thing is that new customers are not going to be as impressed with your environment as your older customers were when they first came.

Now if that’s the ballpark you want to play in, that’s fine.  But understand you don’t capture Panera Bread-grade customers when your presentation is shit and your service is non-existent.

WP_20171120_12_03_40_Pro

No tipping allowed.  For what?  For fucking what?

Class Action Math

A while ago, I had heard tell of a class action lawsuit where you could get up to $900 if you were a “victim” of the abuse.  What’s the alleged abuse?  Phone calls.  Telemarketing phone calls.  Well, let’s learn a little more about this.  After all, $900 isn’t exactly chump change.

Apparently, some marketing company called a bunch of people representing something about cruise lines and blah blah blah.  They didn’t do something right and now they are getting sued.  So, for each call the company made to you, you could get up to $300, maxed out at $900 for three calls.  Well, this abuse happened years ago, so how would I even know?

Conveniently, the lawyers set up a website where you could search for your phone number and it would tell you if you had been called.  It’s great the marketing company kept call logs because I sure don’t keep track of all the spam calls I get.  Upon visiting the site and utilizing the search, I found out two of my numbers were in the list.  Jackpot!

But, I hate class action lawsuits.  I hate them so much, I’ve actually written a “piss off” letter to one in response.  Let me explain why class action lawsuits suck so much.  I submitted two claims on this one just to gather the information to bitch about this.

I submitted two claims, back to back.  In each case, I got a claim number for my submission.  Safely assuming the claim numbers increased sequentially, I calculated that the number of claims being submitted was 20/minute.  That’s 1200 claims every hour.  My claims were made in August and the cutoff for claims ends in November.  How many claims would get filed?  Too many.  Even taking into consideration that it’s not going to increase 1200 claims every hour (like at 3 in the morning), the point is still valid.

Just like any sweepstakes or lottery, you have to read the rules to determine your chances of winning.  So, let’s look at the pertinent numbers involved in this case.  How much is the payout?  Between $7M and $12.5M.  That will cover 23k to 41k $300 claims.  But wait, there’s fine print.  The lawyers get paid first.  THE LAWYERS GET PAID FIRST.  How much? $4.1M plus expenses plus an extra $500k.  How much are expenses?  No one knows, but it will be five years of expenses by a law firm – you make a guess.  Anyway, now we’re at a maximum of about $2.8M to $8.4M with the numbers we do know.  That will cover 10k to 28k $300 claims.

The number of claims at the time I submitted was growing by 1200/hour.  The money to pay those claims will be exhausted in under 24 hours.  Do you get it?  Four months available to file a claim and the funds will run out in a day.  So what happens then?  Well, everybody gets less money, except the lawyers. EXCEPT THE LAWYERS.

An update was recently posted on the claim site and all claimants were sent an email with the update.  As of October, with a month left to file a claim, over 2M claims have been submitted.  Do I have to do the math?  With a payout fund of $2.8M to $8.4M, that equates to $1.40 to $4.20 per call.  Not $300; less than $5.  And there’s still a month left for more claims.

So, the law firm is getting $4,100,000, plus expenses for five years of effort in this lawsuit and each person wronged gets a few bucks.  I think I’ve made my case.

Burger King Bullshit

It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten at a BK.  It seems every once in a while, I have to go eat somewhere just to remember why I don’t go there anymore.  Such it was in this case.

This is actually an old story, dug out from some blog drafts I had, but the story deserves to be told.  The time frame is sometime in 2014.  So then, I’m out of town doing some photography and I take a break for lunch.  I have a strange desire to try Burger King.  So I stop in and have the dumbest experience ever.

They’re a little busy, so I wait in line for a while, during which time, I consider how I’m going to order.  It is always a trial to order my standard meal at BK.  I want a plain double cheeseburger in a medium-size meal.  There’s no number for that combo, so the order always ends up all screwed up because the counter person can never tell the difference between a sandwich order and a combo meal order.  I’m going to throw another wrench into this because they have some new special fries called “SatisFries” that I’m willing to try

So I end up placing my order: plain double cheeseburger, medium-size, with Satisfries.  The total is $11.  As I hand over my credit card, I’m thinking, holy shit, that’s expensive.  When I get my receipt, I find out why.  I’m getting a double whopper, medium meal, and an extra order of Satisfies.  What the fuck.  I won’t care if the whopper is plain and with cheese.  Trying to discuss this problem with the brain-dead order-taker has no effect.  He says it is whatever I want.  What does that even mean?  I know it won’t be what I want.  It will be what the receipt says.  That’s the definition of an order.  I’m holding up the line with this stupid discussion, and I don’t want to get into a huge battle with cancelling this order and placing a new one.  So I place a new order for only a plain double cheeseburger.  He starts to create an order for a double whopper – I see it on the register display.  I start getting angry.  I say, isn’t there a double cheeseburger?  He says no, everything’s a whopper.

Really, now.  The moron at the register puts forth a little effort, digs through the menu, and finds what I want.  I pay, and the register rejects my card.  Apparently, you can’t place two orders in a row using the same credit card without manager approval.  WHAT?!  So the manager comes over and this issue is taken care of.  My receipt shows an order for a double hamburger.  “Is this going to have cheese?”  “Yes.”  “It doesn’t say it will.”  This is a disaster.

I get my first order with a whopper I don’t want and two fries.  Then I get my second order.  I ask, does this have cheese?  The manager says yes, then stops and says, you wanted cheese?  I said double cheeseburger.  This doesn’t say cheeseburger.  I know!  While I wait for the cheese to be put on, I give my whopper to the person after me. I don’t fucking want it.

Eventually, I get to eat my food and it sucked.  Very unsatisfried.

Resume Retardation 2

A continuation of an older post, Resume Retardation, this is the resume that inspired my “English, Motherfucker…” post.  Again, this is an application for a software development position.  The applicant is an MBA and a Microsoft Certified Professional.  The latter should mean that he knows how to use correct technical terminology, and the former should mean he knows how to use English.  Like the previous example, the resume and the work history shows the level of quality you can expect.  Get it done; move on; disregard consequences. 

Most all of the offenses are missing words, which would suggest editing work done without proper proofing afterwards.

“Managed project management with regards the business logic and conditions, also managed a team of .net developers.” – This needs to be “with regard to business logic…”, missing a word and using an improper phrase style.

“…designing a new system for importing jobs from concept to deployment, 2-month development effort.” – The trailing fragment phrase could be fixed by leading in with “which was a …” or even “a …”.

“Managed website traffic to generate up to 4x more then when I started.” – Then/than is a pretty simple rule to understand.  This is Facebook-level dumb.  Somewhat better than YouTube-level dumb, but still.  Also, not grammatically, the question lingers, “4 times more what?”

“At the time that I started they had only a couple of schools involved, over the course of three years the project grew from a simply website to a .Net Solution with over 200+ schools we were collecting leads for.“ – What an awkward sentence.  Much more help needed than simply fixing the “simply” to “simple”.

Along with developing different methods of posting formats to the online entities.” – Not a full sentence.  At all.  I mean, this is not a full sentence at all.  It doesn’t even have the literary effect my snarky response does.

There’s more to this resume, but I grow bored.  When you hit this many errors, there’s not much you can try to salvage.  How are people content with this presentation of their professional self?  Is it simply a “get ‘er done” mentality or do people really believe that they don’t have time to invest in quality?

In my geographic location, it seems the software market is always hot.  But I’m starting to get a better impression of the dynamics of this market.  I’m seeing candidates who have had the same past employers.  I think it’s the same losers cycling through all the employers in the area and those employers are constantly dismissing and replacing them, giving the impression of a hot job market, when really it’s just the churning of lameness.

Slow Bleed

Do you have a credit card?  I’ll bet you do.  Do you use that credit card at restaurants?  You probably do.  Do you check your receipts against your credit card statement?  Well…  Do you even take your receipt when you leave?

Why go through all that hassle?  When I explain that I log every receipt into MS Money, then download my transactions from my CC company and match them all up, you might be thinking it’s a colossal waste of time.  Maybe you’d relent a little if I explained that I can track spending habits and trends.  I can see that I’ve been spending more on gas.  Are gas prices going up or am I driving more or is my car in need of a major tune up?  I’m spending more on food.  Is it because I’m eating more expensive meals, or is it something a little more sinister?

It could be something more sinister, and you could be subject to it too.  You may never even know it’s happening.  And the culprits are banking on it.  It’s illegal.  It’s fraud.  It’s theft.  Do you want to be on the receiving end of that?  And yet, at the same time, when it happens to you, you might just react with a shrug.  Meh.

This is something that has happened to me about a half-dozen times, and I used to shrug it off, but not anymore.  What I am talking about is credit card charge modifications, post-sale.  When you go to a restaurant, you are presented with a bill.  You give your credit card and then are presented with a charge slip to fill in a tip, total, and sign.  Then, the tip is added to the original sale amount and the transaction is finalized.  Does this finalization happen in your sight?  No, it does not.  Can you be assured that the tip entered is what you wrote on the paper charge slip?  No, you can not.  Can you verify that the tip entered matches what you wrote?  Only if you keep your receipt.

Shitty employees are getting wise to the fact that many people don’t keep their receipt and even fewer verify the charge later.  So, these assholes simply add a dollar to the tip.  It’s such a small amount that few people would notice it and those that would notice might not be inclined to make a fuss about it.  These dollars add up for them. 

The first couple of times it happened to me, I was annoyed, but didn’t think complaining was worth the hassle.  Then it happened at a place I trusted and the feeling of betrayal compelled me to act.  And now, I’m not ever letting it happen again.  You want to steal a dollar from me, I hope you get fucking fired for theft.  Because I know I’m not your only mark.  Beware the victim mentality.  You might think (and I had moments, too) that your tip was modified because it was an unfair tip amount.  You should have tipped more, and you should feel bad for that.  You should consider the extra amount an education in proper tipping etiquette.  No.  Fuck that.  It is your choice entirely on how much to tip.  No one else has a right to make that choice for you or to demand that you give a different amount.

I just caught another instance today.  A local pizza place that I go to weekly put a dollar on my tip for a dine-in order.  Tipping for dine-in and carry-out orders (and the proliferation of tip begging in general) is for another post, but suffice to say, I don’t tip for counter service.  So, having my transaction differ at all at this establishment is highly suspicious.  And tonight, I will handle it.  Again, it is a major breach of trust for a place I’ve been visiting for over 10 years to do that to me.  It’s infuriating.

You should not let it happen to you.  It’s a major change in habit if you haven’t done it before, but you need to do it.  At a minimum, you can take a picture of your receipt and check it later.  But ideally, you should begin tracking your transactions.  MS Money Sunset Edition can be used without registration and is freely available from Microsoft.  Don’t feel like you have to pay for Quicken every year for the same basic functionality.  Get started now and stop the bleeding.

Just Your Everyday Millionaire

There’s rich, filthy rich, and everyday rich.  Today I faced the worst of the bunch, everyday rich.  The key indicator?  The boat.  Yeah, around here you see a lot of boats.  There are a bunch.  But there’s boats and there’s big boats.  And in the realm of big boats, there’s certain strata of features and functionality, of which people prefer or defer.

Anyway, it’s after lunch and I need to refuel my car.  WaWa is packed.  I try to drive around the pumps and I can’t because a massive truck towing a massive boat is blocking the driveway.  So I turn around and take the pump behind him.  One of the owner’s 3 teen kids/assistants comes over and say they need the room to back out when they’re done fueling.  Fucking fine. 

I drive around the gas banks and take the pump on the other side of the big-ass boat.  I get out and one of the teens says “we’ll be done in a minute.”  What?  I look up (at least 6 feet over me) and without thinking, just exclaim, “holy shit!”  They’re filling this stupid boat with TWO pumps at the same time!  One of the pumps was supposed to be mine.  True to their word, it only took about a minute to finish up with my pump and as I fueled up, they blocked off traffic, backed the whole disaster up and got the shitshow out on the road.

The whole experience to me was stupid.  A truck and boat that large should have been filled at the dock, instead of a public gas station.  But, they would argue, it’s so expensive at the dock!  Hold on, there, poor boy.  You have three teenage sons.  The truck towing your boat is at least $60k.  The boat is easily $500k.  Even the trailer it’s on is probably $20k.  You just filled it from two pumps with non-ethanol fuel.  I don’t know anything about your living situation, but I can assume you have at least a four bedroom house with room for a truck and boat and trailer.  I’m doing pretty well for myself, but I couldn’t afford any of those things.

So, when you take your massive boat to WaWa and inconvenience all the normal people for a while to save a proportionally small amount of money and waste a bunch of everyone’s time, including your own, well, that deserves a middle finger or two.  Because you’re only playing rich. 

Maybe you’re leveraged out the ass and hoping the next recession doesn’t come along for a while.  Maybe it’s 2008 all over again and you HELOC’d your house to death since home prices have recovered.  But you still haven’t found out what it’s like to be rich.  You don’t understand time is money.  If you did, you would realize the time you’ve spent fueling your own mega-boat is a net loss for you.  Leave the WaWa alone for the poor people who have to put non-ethanol fuel in gas cans for their pathetic little boats.

May The Odds Be Forever In Your Favor

I ran across a letter recently that was addressed to the participants of a company’s retirement plan.  From what I gathered, it seemed like a pension plan.  You know, those old-fashioned things where you work X number of years and they will pay you Y dollars for the rest of your life?  Well, if you haven’t paid attention to that, (and if you haven’t, that’s excusable, because pensions are pretty rare anymore) you would find that companies are doing anything they can to avoid having to pay out those Y dollars.

I read a book a while ago that explained the multiple schemes that were being performed to avoid any sort of pension plan funding.  That book is Retirement Heist.  It’s a good book and you should read it.  This letter to pensioners was just an illustration of those exact cons, and the letter was selling it like it was the greatest thing ever.

Here’s the gist of the letter.  Because of two laws, and I need to write these laws out because they are totally insane, the Moving Ahead For Progress In The 21st Century Act and the Highway And Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (blahhhh), pension plans are allowed to calculate their numbers differently.  Differently in that they can make the badness go away.

So, in this example, before the laws, in 2016, the pension plan was short $8.3M dollars to cover the costs of the members’ retirement.  After the laws?  $0.  Percent funded before the law?  86%  After the law? 104%  The law completely fixed the problem of not having enough money!  Amazing!!!

How was this done?  The projection of how much money would be needed was based on interest rates for the last two years.  Why are they looking at interest rates?  Because that’s how the fund stays solvent while money is being withdrawn, through investments with interest.  If the plan doesn’t make enough money in interest, the corporation has to pitch in extra money to keep it going.  Hmmmmmm.

If you have a savings account in the last couple of years, you know that you’re not making any money off of it.  And a pension fund wouldn’t be making any money either.  So because the fund is not sustaining itself from its investments, that means the corporation would have to supplement it with additional money.  Corporations everywhere collectively said, “Fuck that” and instead spent the money on lobbyists to change the laws. 

They succeeded.  Now, instead of considering that interest rates in the future will be the average of two years, now it’s going to be the average of 25 years.  25 fucking years.  Fortunately that range includes the late 90’s and early 00’s, where interest rates were around 5%, instead of 0.1%

So, do you get it?  They refuse to accommodate current market conditions and instead want to pretend the future is going to be as great as the past.  But here’s the thing, if these corporations would just fucking suck it up and pay into their pension funds now, like they are supposed to, when things get awesome in the future like they CHANGED THE LAW to reflect, they wouldn’t have to pay anything then, because the funds would be fully funded or even overfunded.

Now the infuriating part.  This letter says all of this.  It doesn’t hide anything.  They can tell the truth because a) lots of people won’t understand what just happened, and b) it’s the law; it’s all perfectly legal now.

Much Fun With Finance Institutions

A Libertarian view of the world is that government interferes with life too much.  Also, that government regulation costs businesses so much money to remain legal that the business can’t make any money. On one hand, I agree.  On the other hand, I say, you made this bed, now look at the fucking mess it is.

Here’s the thing.  New laws and new regulations don’t just appear out of thin air.  They are created in response to a case of abuse to prevent the abuse from happening in the future.  That’s it.  You look at every law and regulation and tell yourself, “That law exists to prevent someone from doing it.”

So now I’m in the process of refinancing my mortgage.  The last time I dealt with a mortgage was when I bought my home, 11 years ago.  You have heard the stories from that era, where you only needed a pulse to qualify for a mortgage.  That’s not the case any more.  So here’s what I have experienced with the new, modern, regulated mortgage industry. 

I initially spoke to a “mortgage consultant” who took my information, ran my credit and locked me in on a mortgage term and interest rate.  Then, I was handed off to a “mortgage processor”.  This person was unable to do the tasks of the consultant, and isn’t actually involved with the mortgage approval process.  They collect the documentation for the “mortgage underwriter”.  One of the documents is the house appraisal.  But the processor can’t call an appraiser directly.  They place an order with a company who will dispatch an appraiser.  After the documents are collected, they are submitted to someone in “pre-underwriting review” before they are submitted to the underwriter.  The pre-underwriting team can request additional documents for the processor to collect.

So, after you get through the mortgage consultant stage, you are charged a pretty significant application fee, which also includes the appraisal fee.  Then you have to fight your way through three boss levels to succeed in your goal of a mortgage.  And each one is going to be pickier than the rest.  I thought I was being proactive in providing a scan of the cleared check proving that I bought out my ex’s share of the property.  Nope.  That just raised red flags.  “Where did you get that money from?”  Are you fucking serious?  That’s pretty much none of your business.

But you know what?  It is their business.  And you know why?  Scammers.  God damn scammers.  Why would they ask that?  Well, what if I cashed out equity in another property to cut that check?  What if I cashed out my 401k for that money?  To you and me, that doesn’t matter.  It’s my money and I’ll use it however I want.  It doesn’t matter if that money came from equity (it’s my money), a 401k (it’s my money), or from saving from my paycheck (it’s my goddamn money).  But to them, the source of the money can be a liability.  And actually, the money is nothing more than a reduction in my net worth, which is something that is very important to them.  No bank wants an over-extended client struggling to pay his mortgage.

How did this come about?  Because scammers.  Because people scammed the system and got away with it.  And now everyone has to suffer and prove that they are not a scammer, too.  Because their actions resulted in a lot of regulation forcing a separation of concerns.  There is absolutely no way for collusion in this structure.  No one talks to the underwriter.  No one talks to the appraiser.  It’s like offering sacrifices to some pagan god and hoping for acceptance.

SpamBastard–1aauto.com

I had an application idea at one time and actually finished writing it, but ended up never doing anything with it once it was live.  It was spambastard.com and its purpose was to catch companies that would sell, lose, or otherwise mishandle your email address info.  The concept was simple.  You sign up for their site using their domain name @spambastard.com and if any email comes in with a mismatch between the FROM domain name and the TO domain name (as the username, before the @), the email address would be considered compromised.

That domain and application is long dead, but I’ve been able to replicate the same concept with my personal email domain.  That eliminates the hassle of creating a second account for every site I sign up for (one with my real email and one with a spambastard email).  To date, I’ve only had a few cases where I’ve had to take action.  Those cases are:

  • albumartexchange.com – There are many people including myself who posted on their forum and complained that they received PayPal phishing emails to their unique email address.  The website did not respond.
  • lakelandlelectric.com – That debacle was chronicled already.  The utility company did follow up with an explanation of how it happened and how the process was unfortunately legal.  They said they would push for tougher laws on keeping customer information private.  This prompted a follow-up email from the spammer who was incredulous that government would try to reduce transparency.  See, transparency is only good when it works in your favor.
  • paypal.com – This got compromised after only nine people knew of its existence.  Whether it was sold or stolen, I don’t know for sure, but I am pretty confident that some eBay seller has a compromised account and a spammer is looting their customer list.

Now we can add to the list – 1aauto.com.  I placed an order with their site in January (remember when the punks broke the mirror off my car?).  Today, I get a political email from John Kasich’s New Day For America to that email.  So I immediately send a message to 1aauto.com saying they’ve either sold or given away my info or their customer database has been hacked.  So which is it?  I got a pretty quick response.

Hello and thank you for your email.

I do apologize that you received a spam email to your account. I can assure you that your information is secure and we have not experienced any kind of hacking. We do keep our customer information confidential and secure and have several measures put in place to prevent against fraud and stolen identity.

Thank you for notifying us. We will keep tabs on this and look into what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

So, I guess the answer is the owner sold out his customers to promote his choice of political candidate.  The fact that this happened at all negates the statement “We do keep our customer information confidential“.  As far as what they can do to prevent it from happening in the future, that’s simple.  Don’t do what you did again.

Thanks to spam law requirements, the spam email footer confirms the email address that it was sent to.  It tells me that I was added to the list on 2/24/16 via opt-in (gee, I don’t remember that), and gives me ways to unsubscribe.

There’s no sense in unsubscribing.  The email address is out in the wild and is now worthless.  Do I want to spend my life unsubscribing from every email campaign that gets that email or do I want to kill off the email?  The choice is pretty simple.

This scenario makes me pity people who only have a single email address, like @gmail.com or @outlook.com or @yahoo.com.  They don’t have the option of closing their account or changing their address.  Consider how easy it is for me, every email (except my personal email) is known to exactly one company.  Email gets compromised, only one place to change it.