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    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    And Mom Said Talking On The Phone Was a Waste of Time

    Oh, Turbo Tax, how you have proved my dear mother wrong. And that's OK. I'm grateful. Let me recap for my readers, so we all understand where we've been. I'll sum up most of it in a timeline of sorts.

    January 16, 2009 - Taxes prepared and filed online at Turbo Tax.
    January 18, 2009 - Email received from TT stating that our Federal return had been accepted, money's on the way. Dandy.
    January 23, 2009 - Email received from TT stating that our State return had been DENIED, and to log on for more information. We logged on, found out the "error" was their software error, and we were told to refile. We did so.
    January 27, 2009 - (And here's where I got my first headache, folks.) Email received from TT stating that our State return had been accepted, but that a signature form was required, that we needed to print, sign and send in. What huh? Unfortunately, at no point in the email were we informed of exactly what form that was, and no place on our paperwork or on our account online gave a definitive answer either. All research indicated this may, in fact, be a miscommunication and the form may not be needed at all. Sent an email to TT Customer Support outlining my need for clarification and assistance.
    January 27, 2009 - Later that evening. I receive a "response" (and I use that term loosely) from TT CS (we'll call her M_09). M_09 give me the most standard, canned, unhelpful response in the history of customer service responses, simply giving me a link to their support site where forms are downloaded from. Well, where they WOULD be downloaded from if the links were clickable, which they were not. Now I'm getting worked up.
    January 28, 2009 - Tweeting ensues, and over the course of the problem, THREE very helpful folks from Turbo Tax offer their support and assistance on Twitter. (I'm going to assume one or all of them played a role in the resolution that came about today. Thanks to prgully, TurboTaxPRJulie, and TTChristine for looking out for me and for listening.)
    January 28, 2009 - Sent a second email to TT customer support, again outlining my questions, and expressing my displeasure at their first response, requesting significant assistance from someone other than M_09.
    January 29, 2009 - Second standard canned response comes from TT (this time from T_09), this one at least telling me that I do not need to file the signature form, but still not addressing my specific issues with my experience.

    This brings us to now. I stewed about my next step this morning, hoping for more information from someplace, but not sure where to turn next, short of calling and sitting on hold for their estimated 70 minutes waiting to find someone from whom I could get some help.

    But instead, help came to me. Scott in Tuscon works for Turbo Tax. If you get a call from Scott in Tuscon, good things will happen, be assured of that. I speak from experience, because he called me this fine afternoon.

    He explained clearly and concisely what happened with the signature form, why the mix-up occurred, and assured me that our return is fine, it is accepted (this was vague based on two different status pages online), and confirmed for me that I do not need to sign and send a form to NE DOR. He was friendly, he was sincerely apologetic and apathetic, and listened while I expressed my exasperation over the entire ordeal. When I lamented that the ease of e-filing had been taken from me because of this experience, he graciously refunded the fee I paid for filing our state return.

    Why did he do that? In my opinion, it's because he understands good business, and he understands how to truly satisfy a customer when something's gone wrong. Nobody's perfect, and no company's perfect, but despite the lousy email response from M_09 and the mediocre-yet-incomplete response from T_09, Scott at Turbo Tax re-earned my business for his company today by taking the time to talk to me like a person, rather than as Complaint #23959486946 (not the real complaint number, by the way) who just needs a stock response. One 6-minute phone call made it possible for me to blog THIS, instead of what I planned to blog about Turbo Tax, which frankly could not have been read aloud in mixed company.

    Scott in Tuscon needs a raise, you folks over there at Turbo Tax. You need more guys like him. Thanks again, Scott!

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Turbo Tax...

    ...if you could see me now.

    Sitting here, at my desk, late at night, frowning. Grimacing, even. If you could see the look on my face, the irritation level I am at right now, you would know.

    Know what, you ask? What could we know just from seeing you sitting there stewing at your desk at midnight on a Wednesday morning?

    You would know that you have whizzed right on by Norton, and zoomed quickly into 1st Place in "The Race to be the Company Most Likely to Piss Me Off in 2009". Congrats, folks. Banner day over there for you. Issue a coin, go ahead. Bring in cake. Laugh it up a while.

    Except guess what? It's not funny. I am SO not laughing.

    But why, you ask? You seem to be making light of whatever your particular issue is. Why are you not laughing? We certainly are, at your witty use of descriptive words and your snappy way with a phrase.

    Let me help you out. Here's why it's not funny. Your support staff - well, specifically the one who returned my email - SUCKS. She needs to go clean floors or something, instead of answering emails from grown-ups about real tax stuff. Frankly, your site in general gives me a headache and is about as clear as mud, with your forms pages that have no links to any forms, and your status pages that don't reflect current statuses, even after you send an email giving a particular status. You are supposed to make this easier, and up until now, it seems to have always been for us. But this year - this year you have reached for new heights of giving me heartburn and a throbbing temple.

    SO here's a tip or two. When I send you a detailed request for assistance, do NOT send me a generic "here is the link to our support site" response and give no other answer. It's a bad idea. It's bad business. Frankly, it's about like pissing on my email and sending it back to me still wet.
    And if all you're going to send me is a link, make damned sure that the link can solve my problems!

    You get one more chance. I sent you another email, you folks over there at Turbo "Pain in my Ass" Tax, asking that my issue be escalated to a supervisor. I really, really hope that it will be escalated, quickly. And I hope whoever contacts me has some simple, concrete, apologetic, bullshit-free answers.

    And I want a refund for what you charged me to e-file my state. This is ridiculous. In the time I've spent messing with you people, I could have filled the return out with a pen, stopped at Kinko's to make copies, and WALKED the fracking forms to Lincoln myself.

    Get with it.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Not-So-Turbo Taxes

    When I e-filed on Turbo Tax on the 16th, it all seemed to go like clockwork. I was ecstatic.

    I am NOT - repeat, NOT - ecstatic now. The state return has been a pain in the butt. I will be telling the whole story as soon as it's played out. For now I am emailing their customer support and will see if I get any help from them over there at ole' Turbo Tax. I hope it's better than the help I got the first time I contacted Norton.

    So stay tuned, readers - it's either going to get handled quickly, or it's going to get ugly quickly. Don't miss it.

    Monday, January 26, 2009


    What is with me lately, right? I'm like the amazing non-blogger these days! Sorry about that...I'm hoping to feel inspired soon.

    Not much new to report here. Typical winter in Nebraska - snow and sick germs. That's about it. Samantha's home today after running a fever most of yesterday. Jackson seems fine so far, but just as I type that he hacks out a nasty cough. Nice.

    I had a case of white flour flu yesterday but that was my own fault. Need to go weigh in and see what that did for me.

    Y'all are lucky I don't blog about family, because if I did, you'd be getting an earful - or six. Just shake your head with me and call it good. Trust me.

    I am going to keep some notes on things I want to blog about (since the ideas bounce in and out of my head with record speed), and you'll hopefully be seeing something hot and fresh and entertaining right here at FMFO, very soon. Stay tuned. Thanks!

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    I Know One Thing

    Wanna hear it? M'kay.

    Here's what I know. Some folks up in Punxsutawney better get their asses out to a certain groundhog's hole, and they better be getting some major flood lights set up from ALL directions around said hole, flooding the hole with nothing but light. LIGHT. Got it?

    And I'll tell you why.

    Because if ole' Punxsutawney Phil sees one, teeny, tiny, wispy little shadow and runs his furry little ass back into that hole, thereby declaring 6 more weeks of winter, I swear to god I'm going out there and beating him to death with an icicle off of my garage.

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    One-a These Days, Norton...

    POW! To the MOON!

    You're a riot, Norton. I hope they like those jokes on the moon, cuz that's where ya' goin'....

    I am, of course, talking about Symantec's Norton, not Ralph Kramden's (and he said that to Alice, not Norton, but whatever). It's a play on words, people, a catchy intro...don't get hung up on the details. The story itself will give you a headache as it is.

    I have Norton. It's what came on the PC my dad gave me for Christmas in 2007. So when the free trial expired in January 2008, I renewed it for a year. Fine, whatever, VPS is VPS, right? When the new year rolled around, I knew the time was coming to renew at the end of the month but hadn't thought much about it yet. Frankly I was thinking of switching to one of their competitors, for a number of reasons, but hadn't 100% made up my mind yet.

    They went ahead and made my mind up FOR me today. But not in the way they'd hoped for.

    This afternoon I pulled up my online bank statement. What do I see? A pre-authorization for nearly $54 for "Norton Annual Renewal" along with their 800 number. Except I have not authorized any renewal of my subscription for Norton. I still have two weeks left, and if I renew now, it resets my subscription date to when I renew - I'm not gypping myself out of 2 weeks. And, more importantly, I don't auto-pay ANYTHING. It's just not how things are set up in our personal finances. I NEVER would agree to ANY auto payment of that amount. And I didn't. But there it was.

    So first, I went to my online Norton account. I found their special section called "Automatic Renewal", and I un-checked where I needed to un-check (as in "no-I-do-not-want-your-stupid-system-taking-money-out-of-my-checking-account-whenever-the-mood-strikes-you").

    Then, I called their 800 number. I explained my dissatisfaction with their new handy-dandy "auto-renewal" program, (which I NEVER knowingly signed up for, no matter WHAT their website says), and said that while I had already disabled the auto-renew feature, I was concerned that the order was already processed because the pre-auth was already on my bank account. After much clicking and typing, he assured me that he had disabled the auto-renewal. I said that yes, I had done that online before I called, but I wanted to be SURE the charge would not go through. Was he CERTAIN that the pre-authorization would come OFF of my account and NO charge would occur?

    Yes, yes, he assured me, three times, we went over it. 'I have cancelled the order,' he told me each time. 'No charge will occur, and the pre-authorization will come off in a day or two.'

    You're sure? Yep, he's sure. Sure, sure, sure. Everybody is sure.

    Sure. He gave me a case ID number, assured me I wouldn't need to use it, and we said our good-byes.


    At 9:17 tonight I received this email from good ole' Norton, titled

    "Your Norton Internet Security subscription has been renewed Thanks"

    ...which went on to tell me that they had charged my debit card and thankyouverymuch and wasn't I thrilled to be protected automatically.

    WHAT!?!?!? The order that I was assured had been cancelled, clearly was NOT cancelled.

    Look. I've worked in customer service, for many years. It's not that hard. Well, that's not true. Some days it's damn hard. But you know what - that doesn't make it OK to do your job half-assed and lie to customers. And that's what happened.

    So I called again. This time I talked to someone named Sam. I gave my fabulous case ID # to Sam. I explained my now SIGNIFICANT DISSATISFACTION, and explained the day I'd had in dealing with Norton as a whole (or an a-hole, in this case) as if it wasn't in front of him in the nine paragraphs that Mr Liar had typed this afternoon.

    Sam apologized (for what I'm not exactly sure, "my inconvenience" I suppose). He said he showed that the auto-renewal was already cancelled. I said yes, I know that, and explained my dilemma again. He then seemed to grasp my issue, and asked if I could hold while he involved his supervisor to resolve the issue. I held.

    When he came back on the line, he assured me the charge had been refunded and that if it came through as a charge there should also be a credit along with it. I then asked him to advise which one of two things had happened when I spoke to Mr. Liar on the phone: was there some malfunction in their system, or did he LIE to me on the phone. He assured me that no, Mr Liar would NOT have lied to me (certainly, no), but that what must have happened was that the auto-renewal was cancelled just as the order went through, so it was just a crossed-wires type deal.

    Uh, I don't think so, I replied. That is not the problem. I told him again, that Mr Liar had said to me, more than once, "I cancelled the order." ORDER. O-R-D-E-R. Three times he assured me that NO CHARGE would take place. Sam had NO explanation for that. I honestly wasn't expecting one.

    So now I'm going to wait around to see if the pre-auth comes off my account, and if the charge actually never goes through, and if (read: when) it does, if the credit follows it.

    And if it doesn't, I will be calling ole' Norton again. And they will KNOW my name in Customer Service. And then, when the year I paid for is up, I will be CANCELLING them. Period.

    And all of you, my faithful readers, be "assured" - if you have Norton, they may be blessing you with their fabulous "auto-renewal" when the time comes (or two weeks early, you know - whichever), whether you like it or not. And even if they TELL you they aren't doing it, they may do it anyway.

    Cuz' based on my day, that's how Norton rolls.


    The charge that was 'cancelled', did in fact post to my bank account. Fortunately for the scrotum of the man who assured me it was taken care of, it was also subsequently refunded. Then they sent me a survey, asking for my opinions on my Norton Support experience. They got blessed with some pretty specific suggestions of what they can do with their auto-renewal plan AND their "support team".

    So yes, they fixed it. It still grinds my gears that I had to go through the pain of spending that much time on the phone with people who, frankly, I couldn't understand very well, and who first lied to me, and then offered NO explanation of WHY I was lied to, AFTER they attempted to filch the money out of my bank account without my authorization. Dirty buggars.

    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    Dane Cook Answers His Own Myspace Mail

    Speaking of "You don't even know" (which I used in my previous post, that's what reminded me of this), did I ever tell you I wrote to Dane Cook on myspace? Well, I did. He manages his own page, does a podcast reguarly there (the Danecast, I think it's called), etc. Generally if a celebrity's page is managed by someone else, it states it on there, or at least doesn't purport that it IS self-managed, and he's always been pretty forthright about handling his own page.

    Why, you ask, did I write to him? Well, Aimee was a HUGE Dane Cook fan. As in, not only did she want to bear his children, she wanted to have to practice for about five years with him before the kids came along. You get the drift. She had the big L-U-V for Dane. And he's a damn funny guy, and we both got a lot of laughs quoting him through the years, going back to the first time she ever called me and said "OH MY GOD -have you heard that new comic Dane Cook? He is so funny I almost peed myself!" We used his lines in our everyday conversations, and they became part of our friendship. So after she died, it felt weird to NOT tell him. So I did.


    Hi. Gosh, it seems really weird to write to tell you this; it's not like we know each other, and maybe you don't even handle this page on your own any more.

    My best friend is a HUGE fan of yours. Or was, rather. She died last week. Sorry, that was blunt. I'm not even sure how to explain it. She was fine, celebrated her and her husband's one year wedding anniversary on Labor Day. They had just found out they were expecting their first child, and we were so excited. She went into convulsions and died in their bed on Tuesday morning. No word yet on why or how, autopsy results are pending. We buried her last Saturday.

    It's the most awful thing I've ever been through. She was my best friend for more than ten years, and I guess I'm writing to tell you because you were a part of that friendship. I became a fan because of her, and we laughed about all of your great stuff. "You don't even know" was our own private joke, and we stole it from you and used it often. I will miss her so very much, and will miss laughing about Christ Chex, your description of going to the movies, and all the other things that you gave us to laugh about.

    She would have wanted you to know this happened, funny as that sounds. She really, really loved you.

    I then included links to her obit and her myspace page, so he would know I am not some nut making crap up.

    So if you ever have a day where you wonder if what you do matters, Dane. It's all funny and fun and a riot, but it matters. You were a part of something that meant more to me and to Aimee than I can ever explain. Thanks for reading. I hope you're blessed with a long, beautiful life.


    I sent it, not expecting a reply, and being OK with that. I had sent it, and knew that Aim would be pleased. Within a few minutes, actually, I got a notification that I had a new message...from Dane Cook.

    His reply:

    My prayers are with all of you. Thank you for sharing this with me. I am so glad I brought laughter to you and your friend's life.


    Dane Cook

    Very cool of him to reply*. I suspect that Aimee, at watching from the other side as Dane Cook looked at her mypace page, and obit pages and talked to me of her on email, may have, in fact, peed herself. I almost did when I saw it. But she would have dug it so much. And I will always be grateful to Dane for taking the time to care enough to reply and offer up prayers for us. He's good people, that Dane Cook. In that dirty, raunchy "who's-your-warden", sexy, funny way.

    *Uh, yeah. If you're one of those cynics who doesn't think ANY celebrity manages their own myspace page, and you think some intern named "chad" answered my email, good for you. Just keep it to yourself. I gave him an out to tell the truth if it was someone else, in my letter, and he didn't so we're going with it really having been Dane. So zip it if you disagree. Or I'll email Dane again. I'll do it. You don't even know.

    Thoughts For a Thursday (OR Why You Can't Ever Find a Topic By Title at FMFO)

    Because I ramble, that's why. Unlike my fellow blogger and good friend, Deb, who even in her first week home with two kids can whip up timely, witty, cute individual topics to blog about, complete with pictures and video of her ADORABLE son, The Ambassador, I seem to be unable to commit to one topic per title, for whatever reason. I come up with only word salads and toss them in here together for you to decipher and sort out at your leisure. I will say, however, that it's consistent with the rest of my life right now, which is in physical and mental chaos. My house looks like a tornado hit it (seriously this time), my laundry has taken over, my fridge is overflowing with healthy food and yet I can't find anything I want to eat, my cupboards are a disaster, my closets an eyesore, and I'm constantly trying to keep my head above water to get ANYTHING done. Sorting out and doing one thing at a time seems impossible anywhere, and that apparently includes here at FMFO. I hope to do better soon.


    Birthday Dinner
    We took Samantha to Famous Dave's last night, one of hers and Daddy's favorite spots, and they had good eats and I muddled through. Uh, pretty much NOTHING beachy on the menu. So I ordered a grilled chicken salad and a cup of chili. The chili tasted like it used to be chili before somone dumped an entire bottle of chili powder in it (cheap chili powder to be exact) and then let it simmer for about, oh, 23 days. That took care of the chili. The salad was fine, but I mostly ate the chicken and noshed on the lettuce a bit. I did steal about four bites of a cornbread muffin (my only true love at Famous Dave's), but other than that...however, Samantha ate so much she gave herself a stomach ache, and that SELDOM happens with our string bean, so good for her, it was her birthday and she enjoyed it! I will NOT be asking for Famous Dave's for my birthday, by the way...


    Well, I think we all could have called this one, yes? We've rolled it over, it's like a big ball of Cingular minutes now, we just keep ROLLING IT OVER and not doing it. Nice. The boxes are like a fixture in the office now, I'm not even acknowledging them anymore. I really suck at this organization thing, despite what anyone thinks. I really, truly do. If you saw my office you would never see me in the same way again, I'm not kidding. Don't make me show you. I do hope to begin soon. I really do. Except now I'm up to at least another box of CRAP that has collected since I started organizing the boxes I already have, which now have to be integrated into the boxes already waiting to be filed. You don't even know.

    Random Thoughts Not Long Enough for Their Own Sub-Heading

    Why does me walking past my back door make my dogs need to pee?

    The smell of dill pickles can linger on a toddler's face despite numerous washings.

    Healthy food poop smells worse than junk food poop. I have no idea why, so don't ask.

    There is not one, single, tiny part of me that EVER wants to be pregnant again.

    I need to pay bills today, but seem to be ignoring it. I also need to write a preschool tuition check. Will be glad to have that nearly $200 a month back in June.

    My husband and I need a long, long weekend, away from anyone else on the planet we know. I have NOT, however, figured out how to take my brain along and not leave it here, thinking about my kids the entire time.

    Two-year olds WHINE. They learn it from their big sisters. They take it to a higher level than even she did.

    Five-year olds can climb up on the toilet and get down things from atop the cabinet that were previously out of reach. So said the five-year old this morning, with demonstration included.

    I found a neighbor's mail laying in the street yesterday. Makes me wonder how much of mine is blowing down towards the river.

    Whoever said that veggies are filling and keep you full longer was a liar and a dirty bitch and they should be hung up and shot. McDonald's for breakfast = I'm full for hours. Veggies and dairy for breakfast = I'm starving in two. Every time.

    I am down more than four pounds this week. I will now stop bitching about veggies.

    I have successfully frittered away most all of my "me time" while he sleeps and she's at school. I think I feel another sabbatical coming up. For real. Like, mail the mouse to myself, by way of Ireland or something.

    Better get at it, then, folks. After I check FB. B wants to know if I'm up for another garage sale this spring. That'll be a big fat YES, by the way, B. I'm messaging you now.

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Monday Memorandum V 3.0

    This will be short, as I have kitchen stuff to do and laundry awaiting before I can hit the sack.

    We have them. 3 out of 4 members of the FMFO household are sick as dogs, and #4 is probably feeling crappier than he will let on. Sucks to be us. I need more Lysol.

    The Beach
    I am back on it. As of today. Even worked out - love my Wii Fit! Expecting good things, and soon. My ass was expanding by the day. Side note: Treadmill for sale. It just can't compare to the Wii, dude. Seriously.

    Samantha's is Wednesday - the big number FIVE. Seems impossible, as each one does, and yet I struggle to remember my life without her. She is wanting a "Pinkalicious" party, based on her favorite book of the same name. And so, in whatever capacity we are able, she will have it.

    Really having a hoot seeing old faces on there and catching up with school days chums. And I'm also loving seeing current faces from my life showing up there. B, glad to see you on there finally. L, I can't believe I didn't know you were on there for so long. E, why aren't you on there yet? Even my mom has a FB page, for pete's sake!

    Still love it. Still funniest show ever. No other point, really, just that. Good stuff.

    That is all. Check back soon for a post of actual substance. I promise, there'll be one coming.