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Want me to switch to paperless billing, give me a discount!

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Stop with the green crap about paperless billing. It’s real simple, not having to print and mail statements and invoices will save them a pile of money. Therefore, offer me a discount to go paperless.

These are starting to get bothersome as I pay many of my bills online. The thing now is to have the default button when you login or complete the transaction to enable paperless billing because they know that many of us will just continue to hit the highlighted button or return key.

There have always been some businesses that operate right on the ragged edge of fraud and frequently needed scrutiny by prosecutors and consumer advocates, but it is rapidly becoming the “norm.” Rigging web sites to push people into things that they would not otherwise accept is just the latest trick. I very much prefer the free-enterprise system to anything else that has been tried or proposed — but there is a dark side to it as well, simply because it is run by humans.

T-Mobile puts the greed in green

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Starting in September, T-Mobile will add a $1.50 per month charge to get paper bills, and be able to mail in payments. Of course this is all being played as “green” when we we all know it is simple greed.  Sure, it costs to print and mail invoices and to process payments that are mailed in.  That is called “cost of doing business.” Since phone companies are already well known for passing along any and every charge and fee imaginable as well as some that are hard to imagine, I guess this should not really come as a surprise. What goes along with this paperless billing is also the requirement to either pay online via credit/debit card or via electronic funds transfer from a bank or credit union account. If you insist on paying with cash, check or money order, you will have to take it to a T-Mobile store as they will not accept payments mailed in.

The galling part of this is that the only way I found out about it was by routinely checking my minutes of usage on their web site. Wonder how long I would have gone otherwise? I already know that I have to carefully dissect every piece of paper included with credit card bills to make sure one of them is not a carefully veiled notice that my interest rate is doubling next month and that I agree to accept it if I use my card even one more time. Can’t wait to see the next T-Mobile bill and see how this new green fee is communicated, if at all.

The terms that you must agree to are fun too (see below and link).  So it is now my responsibility to set a date on my calendar to check for billing, since they can’t be bothered with sending a no-charge SMS to make sure I got it. #12 is a hoot too. Sure good to know that T-Mobile’s system is right on the bleeding edge of Internet browsers. I guess I should not plan to use it with Safari or Chrome or Firefox or  even a very old version of IE6. Wonder why the iPhone went to AT&T? Guess accessing your account and paying from any mobile browser would be completely out of the question.

(Terms) By agreeing to receive my Bill electronically I agree to the following:

Paperless Billing. I may view my paperless T-Mobile Bill for wireless services (Bill) online by accessing my account at www.t-mobile.com/mytmobile. I may also determine how much I owe by dialing #BAL# on my T-Mobile phone or by calling Customer Care.
1. Payment. I will pay my Bill (including any late fees) timely, whether or not I receive a Bill notice or am able to access my paperless Bill.
2. Not receiving a Bill notice. T-Mobile will attempt to send me a Bill notice to my current e-mail address in T-Mobile’s records. It is my sole responsibility to contact T-Mobile directly if I do not receive my Bill notice. I agree to hold T-Mobile harmless for any delay or failure to deliver notice.

—snip—

12. System compatibility and blocking. The ability to receive Bill notices is system and Internet Service Provider dependent. To accurately view your paperless Bill, your system must be running either Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher, Netscape Navigator 6.1 or higher, or AOL 5.0 or higher. Some ISPs may block e-mail from senders who are not on a “contacts” list, so I may not receive my notification unless I specifically add T-Mobile to my contacts or “people I know.”  — (bold emphasis added by aRdent)

T_MobilePaperFee

Even with this, T-Mobile is still cheaper for the voice service that we use, so switching to AT&T is not an option. I would not even consider changing to one of the CDMA carriers (Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular), regardless of rate difference. The CDMA system and their devices are just too limited and delicate. There are many good reasons why the rest of the world uses GSM for cellular.

Goodbye Tulsa World

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

We finally decided that the time has come to stop paying $17 a month to have the dead-tree version of the local rag deposited on the driveway. The World has long ago ceased being a newspaper.  I will not miss the front page evergreen stories, the full-page snake oil ads, the bizarre editorial positions or the constant drum-beating to spend any amount of tax money to construct some sort of downtown that only exists in the editorial board and publisher’s  fantasies.

What really pushed us over the edge was noticing how many times they kept jumping stories to the website.  There is plenty of room in the paper for a page dedicated to a brand of Bourbon from years past,  and clearly no shortage of space to plug the current touring musicals, but they cannot seem to make space for actual news any more. Today’s top local story is that people apparently get hot and drink lots of water when it is 100 degrees outside. Wow, shouldn’t that be tagged “Breaking News?”

One would hope that the local paper would be the place to find out about local events. Apparently only those events sponsored by the World or favored by Wayne Greene  merit a mention. Don’t even get me started on Mike Jones’ constant stream of liberal hate-speech for any knuckle-dragger that does not share his clearly superior positions. The World’s editorials frequently remind me that no group has a monopoly on intolerance and that nothing is apparently as vitally important as puppies.

Newspapers across the country are fighting a losing battle to stay relevant and stay in business. The problem is that for too many of them the business plan seems to be to do less and charge more, then wail about the Internet while giving away the precious little original content they still generate on the Internet. Thankfully there are still a few newspapers that understand that their strength lies in digging out and presenting stories, both news and investigative, not just adding their “coverage” to a story we have already heard.

I never really liked the Tulsa World, but as a former print photojournalist I still wanted my daily “fix.”  The Tribune always had much better layout, better use of visuals and frankly better writers and editors, but afternoon papers were the first to go in this Darwinian process. I can read many of the best papers online; some for free and some for a very reasonable access fee.

I’m more than willing to pay for quality content. I do not give my work away for free and do not expect anyone else to.  However, I ‘m no longer going to pay $17 a month for shipping and handling of a daily shopper.  The paper kept telling us to go to their website—so we will.

Grocio.com wins Tulsa Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Hearty congratulations to Gerald Buckley, creator of Grocio.com and winner of the 2008 Tulsa Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. The award is sponsored by SpiritBank, The Kauffman Foundation, the Tulsa Metro Chamber and the Tulsa Economic Development Commission, among others.

Gerald’s innovative online service provides comparison shopping for groceries. With your zip code and grocery list, Grocio.com will tell you which grocer has the least expensive total checkout for that list, while also providing valuable coupons matching the purchases.  Gerald wins a $30,000 check from SpiritBank and an additional $30,000 match from i2e.

Mayor Kathy Taylor presents 2008 Entrpreneurial Spirit Award to Gerald Buckley, creator of Grocio.com

Mayor Kathy Taylor presents 2008 Entrpreneurial Spirit Award to Gerald Buckley, creator of Grocio.com

The Spirit Award competition started with over 100 entries this year. Competitors had to provide a complete business plan and give presentations on their business idea. As the competition went along, the competitors received coaching, sharpened their business plans and gave additional presentations to a panel of judges from industry, academia, finance as well as other successful entrepreneurs.

I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Gerald for several years now and cannot imagine anyone who more embodies both the spirit and action of innovation, excellence, integrity and entrepreneurship. I look forward to seeing Grocio.com and whatever additional efforts he starts being very successful.

The perfect plan doesn’t exist, but we can drown while waiting for it

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Like most of you I have been seeing and hearing about the Pickens Plan for energy. I’ve read through most of it and it seems to me that it is saying we could do a lot to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by better utilizing wind and natural gas energy that we have here. While the plan I read does not pretend to end dependence on oil, foreign or domestic, it sure looks like it is a good idea.

I can remember seeing a good deal about using compressed natural gas (CNG) as a transport fuel around here nearly 20 years ago. Everything I saw about it then looked very promising. I was doing some photo work for a compressor company that ONG was using so I got to see and hear several presentations on CNG motor fuel. Click to continue »