A couple of years ago, I took some time off work to help my wife start a new retail store. For our point of sale, we wanted an affordable point of sale system for ringing up sales and tracking inventory. We decided to use Intuit's Quickbooks Point of Sale (POS), for lack of a better option.
Fast forward almost four years, and we're being forced to ditch the system because of difficulty dealing with their credit card processor, Intuit Merchant Services.
Continental / United has figured out how to save money on those pesky oversold flight, bumped passenger fees now mandated by law: Bump the biggest group and only compensate one of them. Nice try. Thanks for spreading the word. United did finally do the right thing and reimburse us.
On a recent trip back from the east coast, my family of three got bumped from an oversold flight. In this case, the airline must pay the customers certain fees in accordance with the Passengers Bill of Rights. Continental Airlines has not lived up to these requirements.
How it Happened
We were very surprised when we were the last ones to be considered for a seat. We checked in for our flight about 9 hours in advance, and were at the gate two hours before departure. I kept asking the gate staff why we were not offered a seat in the order which we checked in, and they basically ignored me.
Continental's Trick: Three Bumps for the Price of One
After everybody boarded every last seat, (being told we were not getting on the flight at all as it is oversold, a discussion I have on video), we were told to go to the customer service counter. There the manager told us he would offer us three flight vouchers, or would only pay the required passenger fee *just once*. Their excuse for this obvious rip-off? The lady at the gate was saying I refused to board and so we really should get nothing. True, I was offered one seat at the last moment, as the gate was closing. I said I cannot leave my family stranded at the airport at night and said go ahead and let the other person (another party of two was the second-to-last group to be bumped) travel.
It really appears they decided to bump us because we were a party of three (two adults, one 3 year old), to be able to cheat two of us out of any sort of compensation. They're trying to bump three passengers for the price of one.
If you are travelling with a family on Continental Air, keep in mind you may be more likely to be bumped, and then denied proper compensation. At the end of the boarding there were two parties (our party of three, and another party of two), each group with one seat assigned. They tried to split us up, saying one of each party can go. I said no, not without my family, and that is an excuse for them to claim they owe us nothing as we "refused to board".
I have requested in writing that we receive two (2) fees for the bumped passengers (wife and child) as well as some compensation for me "giving up my seat" to the other bumped passenger. I thought this was a fair compromise from getting three (3) full bump fees. Continental has denied this request, saying if anything was due, I would have received it at the gate.
Actually, the gate staff was argumentative and said we get nothing since I refused to leave my wife and child. In reality, the staff was stressed out and very annoyed with my persistant line of questions around boarding order. Only after talking to the manager at the customer service center, were we offered a hotel and one bumped passenger fee.
So, between an angry gate employee who thought we deserved absolutely nothing (she was fed up with my questions, no doubt about it), and the Continental manager, they "compromised" to cheat us out of most of our required compensation.
Continental's official response:
9:52 AM (1 hour ago)
Dear Mr. Fabbri:
Thank you for contacting us via email on February 15, 2012 concerning
your family's experience at Newark Liberty Airport on February 15, 2012.
I regret that you were not accommodated on Continental Flight 1665 from
Newark to Portland on February 15, 2012. I am unable to grant your
request for denied boarding compensation. If any denied boarding
compensation were due, it would have been issued by the agents at Gate
C72 on February 15, 2012.
United Airlines Customer Care
Update: United did finally do the right thing and reimburse us. It wasn't easy but they saw the light. Thanks!
In my first post I asked why Portland doesn't even have burn advisories like other cities. Turns out our immediate neighbor to the North, only a mile away, has these things. This doesn't mean they have clean air, as you can see in the photo in this story, but it is a step in the right direction.
Washington State, in general, has more laws regulating very dirty fires than Oregon.
Brewing a hyper caffeinated stout beer: Part 1
This is part one of a series of posts on making a very caffeinated, dark beer, Death By Coffee Stout. In part one, I prepare 2.5 gallons of cold water coffee extract.
Tomorrow, I will strain out the extract, and mix it with my stout beer wort (malt, hops, etc.) and then yeast to start fermenting this mad concoction.
Paul Binnings of Carson City, NV recently passed away. He was a life-long jazz musician, (my) grandfather, and all around cool guy.
How do I feel about it? Angry. I'm angry because I have been meaning to spend time with Paul and catch up. Next time I'm in Nevada, I'd tell myself. I wanted to have a long chat with him about the history of Jazz in the US. I'm not sure he knows how much I respected and looked up to him. Bummer.
In a sad attempt to regain some pieces of Paul, I've been looking on the Internet for some history of his career. There isn't much out there, since the Internet is so new. Here are some links, which are a work in progress...
Today, Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP announced that it is filing a class action suit against Isilon Systems. The suit is filed on behalf of an investor who bought Isilon stock at hyped-up IPO prices, and then lost money when Isilon subsequently missed quarter expectations.
As we'll see below, while some of the complaints may have merit, some of the claims are BS (in my humble opinion).
The press-lead rush to widen a freeway into Portland fails to make incentive for more scalable and sustainable transportation and lifestyle choices. In fact, it subsidizes the opposite. More single occupant cars honking into the city, slurping oil (ah, the expensive teat of Iraq).
On two recent mornings, I've woken up to read articles posted on the Oregonian online which tell us of the urgency in widening the Interstate 5 freeway in North Portland.
There is a choke-point here, we are told. Commuters' nerves are at stake! What will happen to the economy if trucks can't get through!? (Maybe they'll travel at night when the commuters have gone to bed in Vancouver?)
Pops Naple sent us a newspaper clipping with this story about front yard food gardens. There is a trend where people grow a vegetable garden in their front yard in the city.
We recently did this, but we removed an extra car-width of concrete (which was poorly built anyhow), and used it to build a retaining wall to hold soil for a garden. The spot we chose was the sunniest part of our yard, and our vegetables have been loving it.
We also have a couple of urban chickens which roam around the backyard.
All of this means that we can generate a good portion of our food without driving to the store and spending money. Seeds are cheap, and they turn into all the carrots, beets, tomatoes, and squash you can eat.
The story talks about how some neighbors, and even some local laws, were against vegetables in front yards. This is hard to believe living in Portland, Oregon, where many people have not only front yard gardens, but some chickens strolling around as well. Here is the original story from AP:
Front-yard gardens make food, friends; annoy some Monday, August 13, 2007 By ELLEN SIMON Associated Press, NEW YORK
A dedicated group of vegetable gardeners is ripping out their front lawns and planting dinner.
Their front-yard kitchen gardens, with everything from vegetables to herbs and salad greens, are a source of food, a topic of conversation with the neighbors and a political statement.
Leigh Anders, who tore up about half her front lawn four years ago and planted vegetables, said her garden sends a message that anyone can grow at least some of their food. That task should shift from agribusiness back to individuals and their communities, said Anders, of Viroqua, Wisc.
"This movement can start with simply one tomato plant growing in one's yard," she said.
While people have been growing food in their backyards forever, front-yard vegetable gardens are a growing outlet for people whose back yards are too shady or too small, as well as those who want to spread their beliefs one tomato at a time.
Many hope their gardens will revive the notion of victory gardens, which by some estimates provided 40 percent of America's vegetables during World War II.
Here's a silly story, hot off the wire, of a woman who assaulted a man during his karoke performance of a Coldplay song. I'd like to know, why would you go to a karoke bar if you couldn't tolerate a bad performance or two?
Woman attacks karaoke singer during Coldplay song
Posted by The Associated Press August 10, 2007 14:37PM
SEATTLE -- Perhaps it was the lyric "I jumped across for you, oh what a thing to do," that inspired a Seattle woman to attack a man belting out Coldplay's song "Yellow" in a bar.
Employees at Changes Bar and Grill in the city's Wallingford neighborhood said the woman leaped at the karaoke singer when she heard the song Thursday night, telling the man that he "sucked" before she pushed and punched him to make him stop singing.
"It took three or four of us to hold her down," bartender Robert Willmette told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
When she was escorted outside, the 21-year-old woman "went crazy" Willmette said, throwing punches at him and others, including an off-duty police officer.
Patrol officers and Gang Unit detectives then arrived at the neighborhood bar and blocked off the street, which inflamed the woman's rage even more, a police report said. Before police could handcuff the woman she headbutted the off-duty officer at least two times.
The off-duty officer was treated for several cuts, scrapes and bruises.
After treatment for injuries, the woman was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of assault. She was also held on a warrant issued for a previous theft charge.
According to bartender notes, she only had a single shot of Jagermeister.
Today I received another huge envelope of barely-recycled (30%) paper from the environmental charity NRDC (National Resources Defense Council).
Apparently, if you ever give to them, they will send you loads of white paper in the mail for the rest of your life. How ironic, especially considering I've requested not to receive any mail from them.
I wish I'd known Fidelity's online brokerage was unreliable before I moved my assets there.
Update: June 27: Site Errors Persist A month since my original story, I am still experiencing site errors on Fidelity when using their option evaluator tool. I really don't believe they're doing anything about this.
Three Weeks of Site Errors
Today is May 30th, 2007. Over the last three weeks, I have experienced intermittent errors when researching option trades on fidelity.com. I've called Fidelity's trading support three times now. I have walked their people through reproducing the error, and they confirmed that it does exist. Each time I call, they tell me that they will pass on the message, and that they are unable to contact me when it is fixed. Basically, I have to trust that they will not drop the ball.