Self-doubt, worry and emissions testing

stressing out at the emissions test

For the first time ever, I had my emissions tested well ahead of the deadline. So worried that I would not pass due to car problems I’ve had recently, I wanted to get it over with and find out what problems needed to be fixed.

Figuring that the week between Christmas and New Year’s would be a less busy time to take care of the emissions testing, I went yesterday. Wrong, it was just as busy as ever.

It seems that every time the car idles for a long time, the Check Engine light comes on and it costs a lot of money to fix it.

Nail chewing time

I pulled into the emissions center in total freak-out mode and waited in line with my car idling for over a half hour. They now have a self-testing area. After briefly considering that, I decided out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it and would end up in the line anyway. Probably should have tried it.

Traffic jams always make me feel claustrophobic and sitting in this waiting area with many lanes of traffic completely stopped did not help my anxiety in the least. I picked the first aisle because I would only be trapped on one side and that was a little better.

There was a guy in a car in the lane to the right of me that was turning his car off and then back on when it was time to move up one car length. I considered doing this, but didn’t. When he moved his car forward it was making a terrible noise. I figured I would be seeing this guy later in the “you didn’t pass” customer service area.

There were 5-6 cars ahead of me when I got in line. With each car length forward my stomach churned and sweat appeared on my forehead. I thought to myself that maybe I could turn on the heat full blast and it would keep my engine cooler. Not sure if that makes any sense, but the hot flashes took over and I couldn’t deal with the blasting heat even with the windows down.

Another car length forward and my palms were sweating. I couldn’t sit still. To my left I could see people parking and taking their paperwork inside where you have to go once you fail the test. I knew I would be parking there soon and wondered how long I would be in line inside.

A passenger in the car ahead of me got out and took a little walk. I wondered what she was up to or if she just needed the bathroom. She came back a few minutes later. And we moved up another car length.

At this point I was in a full out panic attack. Why? I would just get a paper that said what I need to get fixed. I was sure it would be pricey, then I would have to come back and go through this horror again.

Oh boy, the car ahead of me entered the testing area. My pulse rate was high, full sweatiness and I think my eyes were crazy.

My head was throbbing now. The person in front of me got her paper and the attendant waved me into the testing area.

I could barely speak. I handed the guy my paper and money. He was telling me to turn off the car and step out while he performed the test. I felt faint. Maybe I’d vomit. I knew I looked on edge, but I couldn’t calm down.

The attendant handed me back the paper and I knew what he would say.

“You passed.” He said with the causal air of someone who says that all day long. I thought I misunderstood him.

“Thank you…” I croaked.

“You’re good for two years.” The attendant said. I’m not a hugger, but I nearly leapt from my car and embraced that guy in a full bear hug.

Disbelief

Out of the emissions testing center, I pulled out in total disbelief. I slowly drove down the road thinking that I will wake up at any minute and realize that I haven’t had the test yet. I got to the traffic light, thrust my fist upward and yelled, “YES!”

Here’s hoping 2017 will be filled with moments that end with a fist pump and a “Yes!”

Comcast: A lesson in customer service

customer service by comcastI will start by saying, this is not the type of customer service we offer Social Squids. If we did, we would have no clients. This is more of a cautionary tale.

I’ve been a Comcast/Xfinity customer for about 30 years now. Not sure why. Many problems over the years, including the fact that none of my phone jacks work any more and all of the phone wires are a mess, have been a thorn in my side. Several lines were mixed up by a Comcast technician a few years ago and no one there seems to care. The only way I can use a landline telephone is to connect it to the back of the router. Most of the outlets have bare wires showing. They never even put the covers back on them.

However, this is another story…

A couple months ago I switched from an old tv to a new, high def tv in my bedroom. I didn’t think it would cost me HOURS of phone calls to Comcast to get an upgraded cable box.

I was watching my tv with the old cable box and it was not good. I knew I needed to call, but it was not a high priority.

Three weeks ago

It all started when Comcast called me. They said there was trouble in the area and my service was probably not working. I said phone, cable and internet were all working fine. The guy (heavy accent, not in the US) asked me to see if all of the connections were tight. I checked, although did not want to crawl under a table on the floor to check where the cable comes into the house. After putting me on hold the guy came back and said I fixed it. Wow. I didn’t do anything. Nothing was loose. In fact, he asked me to tighten the cable in the back of the modem/router, but it was so tight I couldn’t make it budge. So, yea! I fixed something that wasn’t broken.

While I had them on the line, I asked if I could talk to someone about getting a new cable box. I said I didn’t want to drive all the way across town to stand in line for an hour at the Comcast store to get a new box. They could send me a cable box and I could send back the old one. Sounds great.

I had a terrible time hearing the person. It was not a problem understanding him. It sounded like he was not speaking into the phone. I kept asking him to repeat everything because I couldn’t hear him. I should have hung up at that point. My bad!

Two weeks ago

I was walking my dog, George Karl and saw a neighbor. She said she received a package from UPS with my name and address, but it was delivered to her. I thought it felt too light and small to be a cable box. I had to carry it the whole way on our walk. It was a remote. Stupidly, I thought maybe there would be a separate package with the cable box. There was printing that said “1 of 1” on the envelope. So no other package was coming.

I called Comcast and spoke to a woman who told me that anytime I call and get someone with an accent, I should hang up and call back. She felt terrible about my problem – they are always sorry. She also said would overnight me a new box that day and I would receive it on Monday. I didn’t ask for her to send it overnight, she offered that.

Last week

Walking with my dog, the same neighbor said she received another package from UPS with my name and address, but delivered to her house.

Yep, it was another remote. This time it was a voice remote, marked package 1 of 1, so nothing else was on its way.

I called Comcast, out of breath from the walk and really angry, and asked the woman if she knew what the definition of insanity was. She said, “Yes, ma’am!” The definition of insanity I was going for is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

I told my story again and the woman said she would send a new box. She also told me that Comcast never sends anything overnight. The woman lied to me last week for no reason.

I said I would like to talk to someone else about my bill and why it’s so high.

After being on hold for several minutes, I spoke to Comcast person #2 for the day. She told me she could only upgrade my services and could not lower my bill in any way. She offered me a deal where it would be $2 a month less and I would increase my internet speed and get three movie channels. But – I would have to have a contract for two years. I said I wasn’t sure if I would still have Comcast in a month, I’m not signing a two year contract and if I get another remote in the mail, I’m canceling everything. She said maybe I should speak to another department where they could lower my bill.

Back on hold… and on to Comcast person #3. She was very nice. She found a newer plan, not a contract, my bill will be lowered by maybe $30-40/month. It was the exact same deal the other woman offered me for $2 less. I agreed to the deal. While on the line, she said she would check to make sure I would not get another remote in the mail.

I would like to add that I was told I’m getting some money back every time I talked to someone. But I think I’ve also been charged a delivery fee a bunch of times. I’m sure my bill will be messed up for at least another month.

I never heard from UPS when I got the other two remotes, but I received an email this time from UPS saying that an 8 lb. package was being delivered from Cox Cable. That sounded bigger than a remote and I was guessing it was the cable box.

Great, right? I looked at where they were sending this box. NOT MY ADDRESS. My name, my city, my state, my zip code, but not my street address.

Furious now, I called Comcast back. I spoke to Comcast person #4 for the day. He was great! He said, “How about we just send a technician to your house to bring the box?” I told him he was the smartest person at Comcast. (Spoiler alert) Maybe not…

The next day a Comcast technician came over. While standing on the sidewalk outside my house, he asked if I have a dog. I said I do. He absolutely refused to come into my house unless I sequestered my dog. Absurd! He was upstairs sleeping and totally ignores people.

When the guy finally came inside, he giggled like a school girl when I told him my story. He connected the new box in about 10 minutes, activated it and was leaving. I told him to take the two remotes. He told me I should keep them. I said, “You told me neither works with the cable box you gave me. Why would I want them?”

He insisted that I at least keep the batteries. I wasn’t interested in the batteries and gave him both remotes and batteries in the envelopes that came with them.

Happy, I enjoyed watching my new cable box that evening.

Yesterday, I received two emails, each saying that I have a UPS delivery headed my way from Comcast. Wait, what????

Today

I received two large boxes with Xfinity marked on them (see photo). They are both cable boxes with DVRs (didn’t order DVRs ever). I’m so angry and I’m afraid to call them for fear of what will happen next.

Post Script

In retrospect, I feel that the UPS email was a coincidence and probably spam.