Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I’ve been getting a lot of calls from 866-301-7344, a couple times a day, every day for a while now. Without knowing whose number that is, you’d probably assume that I’m late paying some bills and that some collection agency is trying to reach me. If, however, you instead googled 866-301-7344, you’d see that no, 866-301-7344 belongs not to a collection agency but rather to Sirius/XM.

Why is Sirius/XM calling me repeatedly? Do I owe them money? No, in fact, I do not owe them money. In August last year I bought a new Volkswagen Eos (love it!) which was equipped with a satellite radio that came with 6 free months of Sirius/XM service. Those 6 months were up last month, and despite (actually, in part because of) repeated calls in February from Sirius/XM warning me that my free subscription was about to expire, I opted to live without satellite radio.

I did enjoy having satellite radio, in particular 80s on 8, but I came to the decision that paying $12.95/month ($155.40/year, plus taxes) for radio that I could hear only in my car wasn’t worth it, especially when I have a 6-slot CD in the car.

Sirius/XM, every additional time you call makes it less likely that I ever want to do business with you.

Now it’s certainly fine for Sirius/XM to snail mail me some marketing materials to try to convince me to reconsider, and it’s also not terrible to try calling me once or twice. That’s once or twice, ever, however, not once or twice a day until I finally submit. Let me tell you, Sirius/XM marketing geniuses, every additional time you call me makes it less likely that I ever want to do business with you.

And I’m not the only former Sirius/XM customer to feel this way. Sirius/XM started calling Rob Sama twice a day every day in February 2009, bothering him enough that he posted about their stupid marketing approach. He’d told Sirius that he no longer owned the car with the Sirius radio and yet they continued to call him. He tried ignoring their calls, letting them go to voicemail, but then he finally answered one of their calls and threatened to file a complaint with the FCC.

One commenter on Sama’s blog points out that if you don’t answer a telemarketing call like this, you get “put high in the queue to try again” by the telemarketing company’s software.

I refuse to be forced to answer Sirius/XM’s damned phone calls just to threaten them with an FCC complaint in order to get them to stop calling me. Instead I’ve gone right ahead and filed an FCC complaint, I’ve set my Droid to send calls from 866-301-7344 directly to voicemail, and I’ve set my YouMail not to accept messages from Sirius/XM.

And this, Sirius/XM, is a lesson in how to take a customer who liked your service but declined to renew and turn him into someone who really hates your company, won’t ever renew, and will try to make people aware of your company’s stupidity.

Update 4/19/2013: It’s been over three years since I wrote this post, and this has been one of the most popular on my blog. I’ve gotten 1,209 hits from people who have searched on Google for 866-301-7344, 565 of those from the last 12 months. If you search for 866-301-7344, in addition to this post, you’ll find plenty of other posts from other people who have been stalked telephonically by Sirius/XM. How can Sirius/XM think this is a good business practice? Who actually succumbs to Sirius/XM’s relentless telemarketing and says, “Okay, okay, I give up! I’ll pay for your stupid service?”

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Frakkin’ obscenities

If you read a recent comment of mine on Esrati.com you can draw a couple conclusions about me.

Who the fuck do you think doesn’t know what “frak” really means?

The first conclusion you might draw is that I’m a fan of Battlestar Galactica (the reimagined version of the last decade, not the original 1970s one) because my comment uses the ultimate reimagining from the updated series, a form of the curse word “frak.”

If you draw this conclusion, you are in fact correct. I did quite enjoy Battlestar Galactica, I like to watch and to read science fiction (not, ugh, “SyFy,” a really stupid reimagining of the Sci Fi Channel’s name), I think Jamie Bamber’s frakkin’ hot (did you know he’s British — I’ve also been enjoying him recently on Law & Order: UK), and I currently enjoy the Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica (although I admit it’s a bit soap-operaish).

However, drawing the conclusion that I’m a frakkin’ Battlestar Galactica fan because of my comment on Esrati.com is frakkin’ fucking wrong. Although I have on occasion used the word “frakkin,” I did not then choose that word. No, my comment on Esrati.com started with the phrase, “Jesus Fucking Christ.”

David Esrati, as is his right—Esrati.com is his website, redacted my choice of obscenity, replacing it with a similar word that means the same fucking thing but which for some reason is found less obscene by many people and, apparently, by the FCC.

In case you are not a fan of Battlestar Galactica, let me take the opportunity to tell you that characters on the show and its spinoff Caprica use forms of their curse word “frak” all the fucking time. “Frak this” and “frak that” and “motherfrakker” and “shut the frak up” and “I don’t give a flying frak.” Who the fuck are they kidding, you might ask. You and I both fucking know what a Caprican (or a Tauron) means when he or she says, “frak,” just as we both know what Jon Stewart has said when he utters some word starting with “f” that gets bleeped out to keep the FCC happy about the Daily Show. What in Jesus Fucking Christ’s name is accomplished by saying “frakking” instead of “fucking?”

So the second conclusion you might draw from all my fucking swearing, in particular from my swearing in conjunction with our Lord and Savior’s name, is that I’m not a Christian. Sure, a Christian might blurt out, “Jesus Fucking Christ,” in the heat of the moment, but a Christian would feel guilty about having done so, would ask for forgiveness and would endeavor not to slip up again.

What would Jesus find most obscene?

Well, if you think I’m not a Christian, nothing I say is likely to convince you otherwise, but I will tell you that I am a covenant member of Cross Creek Community Church, United Church of Christ, on whose Coordinating Council I serve as the Justice and Witness Ministry chair. You may think I’m not a Christian (and by your definition, if it includes believing in Jesus as the only one who can Save us from a eternal life of hellfire and damnation, you’re right), but I do generally strive to be a Christian, which, by my definition, is one who follows Jesus’s example (“Jesuit” might be a better phrase but it’s already taken and reappropriating the term “Christian” is more fun).

So do I think that Jesus would have been (oops, there I go again, being a non-believer— real Christians who believe Jesus is still literally alive and watching every word we say would have said “is” instead of “would have been”) offended by my interjecting the ultimate curse word (such a horrible word that it couldn’t even be allowed to stay on my Esrati.com comment) in his name taken in vain?

No, I fucking do not think that Jesus would have been offended by that.

Why not? Because there’s plenty of much more offensive comments in that Esrati.com thread than mine. Diehard Libertarians predominate in the comments on most Esrati.com posts, and this one is no exception. This post and its comments are about health care reform, and what drew my ire was the Libertarian idea that any redistribution of wealth whatsoever is an obscenity to be avoided at all costs. Forcing any citizen to pay a single cent of taxes when such taxes are not used as fees for services (services that ideally should not be provided by any level of government) that citizen himself has used but rather are used instead to subsidize the provision of services to someone else is a Libertarian High Crime.

Poor Libertarian John Galts across the United States just wish they could opt out of living in our society, wish they could retreat to some u(dys?)topia where they can keep every cent they earn, perhaps voluntarily donating some money to charity, but only if they choose to do so.

I admit that it’s unChristian to judge others (but I’ve already given you ample evidence that I’m a rotten Christian), but I can’t help thinking that Libertarianism is awfully unChristian. Read Matthew 25:40, and then think about whether Jesus was more concerned with every citizen keeping every denari he earned or whether Jesus cared more about the health and wellbeing of all God’s people.

I could be wrong, but I think Jesus wouldn’t give a flying fuck about anyone fucking saying “fuck.” What he would have given a fuck about is something really obscene, the state of Americans’ compassion for the wellbeing of our neighbors.

 
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