Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Packet8 Voip Gets Into My Hall of Shame!

If you have been following my plight with Verizon and their Fios install mess and a subsequent mess dealing with their porting my number to them before they did the install, then you have only read half of the problems I have been having over the past 3 months.

The second part of my problems were with my Voip provider Packet8, owned by a company 8X8.


Packet8 Internet phone service was introduced in 2002 by publicly traded 8x8, Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT), a 20 year old telecommunications company with more than 68 multimedia and VoIP technology patents. Since then, 8x8 has applied this expertise to the development and provision of reliable, high quality voice and video Internet phone services for both residential and business users. When you subscribe to Packet8, you can feel confident you have chosen one of the VoIP industry’s most respected and admired service providers.


I originally went to Packet8 believing that I would save tons of money on my long distance calls and the lower monthly service charges. I have been with Packet8 since 2006 and for the past two years have suffered with poor quality, poor tech support and a very poor experience with them porting my number over to them from Verizon. See the below history of problems I reported to them. Each one took months to resolve if they were resolved.

Recently I was going to switch to Verizon Fios on their triple play deal but after Verizon failed to show up for two days of appointments and a number of screw ups there, I decided to cancel my order with them and stay with Packet 8.

Unfortunately my business (second phone in my home office) number was now at Verizon and we had to now port it back to Packet8. To make a long story short, I spent over 10 solid hours and 2 months attempting to get the number back. Their customer service kept giving me the old standard answer it could take 6 weeks. I knew this was not true since Verizon seemed to get me to them in 6 days.

After 9 weeks of calling, faxing authorization forms, explaining the Verizon mess with so many of their customer reps, I decided to call it quits and had Verizon install a hard line back so I could keep my valued number. Having a good phone number and having it for 15 years and on every piece of stationary, web sites, listings etc. is a major deal, especially if you lose the number due to some dopes mistakes.

I finally found out that you can't port a number if is is not currently on a working phone. Well, after I cancelled my work order with Fios, this number went into Verizons number pool, ready to be picked up by the next customer. When I discovered this, I called Verizon in a panic, asked to speak to a supervisor and asked if I could put in a new order for a new phone line to lock up that number. We would put in an installation date a month later, to give Packet8 a chance to port the number back.

After many more calls almost daily to Packet8 on when they thought I would be whole again and my number would be back with them, each rep gave me another answer.

• It can take 6 weeks be patient

• Did you complete the request form? I will email you one, complete and and fax it back to us.

• We can't seem to locate your form. Can you fax us a copy of your phone bill? I explained I didn't have one since Verizon hadn't installed the phone line yet and was holding the number for me.

• Finally 2 months later one rep figured it out..."You can't port over a number on an installation, it has to be a working number and that is why it is not coming over"...Duh...didn't anyone know this at Packet8? After all I spend so many hours telling my grim story to each and every one of them and each time asking for a supervisor and being told "I can help you with this", but they couldn't.

Last week I spoke to a nice rep, who assured me they would issue credit for the past few months that I didn't have full phone service or wasn't able to receive any calls to my proper phone number. She would also check to see what was going on and get back to me. She never did and I had to explain this entire story over again 3 more times.

On Monday of this week, I decided I had enough jerking around. I called Verizon and asked if I could push up the install date on my work order and get the line installed sooner. To my shock, I was told for some reason that order was cancelled and not in their system...Here we go again. A new order was entered and thank god, the number had not be snatched up by someone else.

Now the new install was only two days later. I opted for the tech to come out between 10 AM and 1 PM. Why was I not surprised at 1:15 PM when no one called or showed up. Once again on the phone with Verizon and guess what, the order I placed on Monday was also screwed up and they didn't have me down for the install on Wednesday.

At last I found a guy who was kind enough to call the install center in Maryland (they handle New Jersey installations, no wonder there is a lack of communication) and promised me that someone would show before the end of the day. Better yet, the installation tech arrived and told me the number they gave him to install was not my number but another one. Just when you think you have control of a situation you find out you are out of control again. I was lucky today because I had a great installation guy who took the bull by the horns, got on the phone and got my number for me.

Finally, we got the line back in. They also allowed me a $10 per month credit for one year to help with the mess and now I would be paying just about what I paid for the Packet8 line. Of course there is no comparison with the quality of the sound and calls I make on my hard line compared to the internet phone, it is so much better.

When I called Packet8 to see what they would do for me in terms of refunding my payments for the past couple of months, their answer was I used their service, so I had to pay for it. I would think they would say, "Mr. Rapoport, we are so sorry for your problems, we are sorry to hear that that any one calling you was told your phone was disconnected. Let us do something to compensate you for the trouble" This was not the case, I spend an hour again on the phone with Eva another customer service rep who made me go through the entire story again with her, went to a supervisor and came back with a one month refund (December) and she would cancel my account with them. I tried to reason with her that it is only the 8th day in the month and I was really only getting an 8 day allowance on this account not a month.

No matter what I said, no matter how I promised to write the sales manager of the company Huw Rees, or write the story in my blog or my web site, no matter how I explained that they should compensate me for at least the few months my phone was not working, it didn't matter. I finally gave up and decided to do what I must now do to prevent others from going down this dark, dank road to Packet8.

Packet8 is either right behind Verizon or ahead of them in their inability to get things right and offer the service they promise. Both companies need to really examine their customer service issues and understand that we are in a bad economy and if you don't have loyal customers and take care of them, you will lose them forever. Didn't they ever hear about negative publicity, especially in the internet age when everyone now has a blog and a loud voice, a voice that can reach millions of people with a simple google search.

Of course I will be calling AMEX to put the past few months charges in dispute. If you are not aware, when a seller gets a dispute from a credit card company they are charged a fee, much like a bounced check fee at a bank. They then have to prove that they deserve the payment or they will be charged back the amount and the buyer will receive that as a credit. So they would rather play this game, get a charge back fee, have to assign someone to answer the complaint and hope they win...instead of giving me a $90 allowance instead of a $30 allowance. Can you imagine their thinking?

I suppose many customers threaten to do something and never follow through, but I can assure you I will seek satisfaction no matter what it takes. I am like a pit bull, once I am wronged, no matter what the financial importance, I will hang on to their pant leg like a pit bull, until I win the fight.

I wouldn't advise anyone thinking of going to Packet8 to stop, take a deep breath and read this story again. Hell, two years ago hard lines were expensive compared to the Voip providers, but now you can get Verizon for only $39.95 per month with unlimited local and long distance calling and if you need overseas, you can always use Skype at 2¢ per minute, so what is the great advantage now of a VoIP?

Frankly Verizon gave me a better deal at only $29.95 includes the extras like caller Id, etc. Now Packet8 is only $5 per month cheaper and for the first time in over 2 years I can hear people talk to me on that line. The volume and clarity is unreal compared to what I had become used to on Packet8.

Check the deals in your area with the phone company and the cable companies and stay clear of these Voip companies. They are not regulated as are the other companies and you don't want to have to depend on them if your phone is important to you.



Review the below Notes Correspondence of Case ID 578868

Note Created Date: 12/12/2008 10:48AM

Note Summary: Customer Support/Packet8

Note Detail: Dear Packet8 Customer,

Thank you for contacting Packet8 Customer Support.

Your refund for $33.04 has been processed. Please allow 5-7 days for the refund to reflect on your credit card.

Thank you,

Packet8 Customer Support

Note: They also allowed me another $7.37 for what I think is my toll free number. I had two accounts with them one was a regular phone line and the other an 800 number.


Considering that anyone trying to reach my business line was told the phone was disconnected for over 2 months because they never gave me the correct information about porting this line back to them and the problems dialing out on this line, I would think they might have wanted to be a bit more generous.

Packet8, Shame On You!


December 19, 2008 - Update

Today I received a call from Packet8's LPN Department to let me know they can't port over my phone number without a bill from the other company. Duh...I had to tell him the whole story and let him know I had already cancelled my service with them a couple of weeks ago and had the phone installed again with Verizon.

I also received an email stating that they first received the forms I completed on November 18, 2008 to port the number back over to them. A month after the form was faxed...and now they say that it can take 4-6 weeks to port that number. Unreal...

Do you wonder why companies in the United States are in trouble. Wonder why they are going offshore for their customer service. Verizon and Packet8 both have the worst customer service I have seen in years. There is no dedication to getting the problems fixed and no follow through to make sure the job was done and the customer is satisfied. God Bless America, if this continues we are all doomed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Facebook A Great Place To Network With Others...

Len Rapoport's Facebook profile

As president of International Press Association a web based organization with international members of the independent media, photographers, photojournalists, journalists and others, I do quite a bit of networking. This means going to trade and consumer shows, media events, travel destinations and many other places, but I have found the internet one of the best places to network with others.

Check out this video: Harolds NY Deli - Humongous Portions

I first started to network on LinkedIn and you can even see a link to my profile on this blog. I also joined YouTube which gives me an opportunity to post my little video productions, grab the code and then simply paste it into my profile page on my web site. I also went over to MySpace and opened an account there, but frankly, I think MySpace is more for the kids and haven't done anything there other then upload some videos because I have found their compression scheme on uploaded videos much better then the one YouTube uses. I tend to use MySpace as a free storage unit that can serve my videos, slide shows and images on my web site without my server getting bogged down and using my bandwidth to serve the content myself. I have included some samples of a MySpace video and slide show to show you what I mean.

Now back to Facebook. Facebook is a wonderful social networking site that encourages you to invite your friends and family to your "Friends" network so you can share many aspects of your personal life with them. This means your photos, videos, profile, your current mood, your interests, what you are doing now, links and so much more. They offer companies like mine two ways to set up a presense on Facebook, the first is meant for the musician, artist, photographer, small business to have a "Page" on Facebook. Unlike a group the page lets you invite people to become a "Fan" of your page. You can usually find these pages set up by individual fans of a singing star or actor/actress. Many models amateur and professional will also set up a Fan page and IPA now has one as well. You can view our page by clicking here.

On our page we can include fans photos, videos, topics to discuss, wall postings and much more. It also allows us the ability to send out a message to all our fans. We can invite them to a party, meeting or if you are a singer, the next performance of your act in their town.

Now the Group page is a bit different and can only be set up by the entity that owns that group or company. So you will see our International Press Association Group on Facebook that looks a bit like the page, but again has its own special features.

On our group we have similar features to upload photos, videos, wall postings, links, etc., but we can't send a message out to part of or all of the group members. The difference is that one is a company page and the other Fan Page is just that a fan page and tends to be a bit different.

We ask all of our members and friends to join both and if they want a personal relationship with me to simply invite me to join their Facebook network. All they need to do is a simple member search using my name: Len Rapoport.

Len Rapoport's Facebook profile

Now remember, you can use these sites to take advantage of many free services that other site will charge you for including, Friend Finders, and others and they probably have more members on a Facebook or MySpace site then many of those paid sites. Give it a try, it is not hard to learn how to use and you will find a great way to keep in touch with old and current friends and relatives too.

Gotta Love Scotts Lawn Products - Best Guarantee

Well, as you know I just love companies that believe in their products and are "willing to put their money where their mouth is." The Scotts Miracle-Grow company, the folks who produce the garden and lawn products is a company that optimizes this statement.

I have purchased their products almost exclusively for my garden and lawn with the exception from time to time on a sale product from another company. The reason I give them most of my business is not only because I like their products and have the best lawn and garden in my neighborhood, but because this is a fine American company that makes a quality product and gives you a no questions asked satisfaction guarantee on all their products.

Now understand a normal guarantee usually covers a manufacturers defect in the product and then they may replace a part that you would install or you might have to return the item to their factory service center. In some cases they want you to send them the balance of the unused product. Well all of those guarantees for me is just about worthless because in dealing with this type of product the cost to return a $40 spreader would be more then it would be worth.

Secondly, how would you ship a used bag of fertilizer back to them? What would the cost and effort be? So Scotts lets you know up front on every hang tag and label that they offer a Satisfaction Guarantee and that like the Costco Guarantee means if you are not happy with the product for any reason, let them know and they will refund your full purchase price.

I had occassion in the past to call them about one of the lawn chemical products that didn't seem to do what I had expected and they gladly sent me a refund after I sent them a part of the lable (usually a UPC proof of purchase tag). Now a number of years later I had one of their rotary spreaders and the gear box on the underside split open and I couldn't repair it myself.

I was getting ready to throw it out, after all it was only around $40 and I had it for 2 seasons. Of course I only used it maybe a dozen times in that period, but I had the original store receipt an their guarantee label in my files and pulled them out. I decided to call their toll free customer service number and had a very sweet lady offer to either send me replacement parts, which I declined for fear it could take me too much time and effort to fix it myself (if I could) and asked if they could simply refund my money.

She agreed to do so with no hesitation and asked me to remove the wire that goes from the handle to the hoper and send it to them with a form she emailed me. I took my wire cutter out, snipped the cord and rolled it up and mailed it to them with a copy of the original store receipt.

Within a couple of weeks I received this letter of apology and a check to cover the full amount of my original purchase. Who does this today? Companies that believe in their products and appreciate their customers, Scotts Miracle-Grow is just such a company and I can assure you and them, that I am a customer for life.

Hell, if you figure the costs in advertising and getting customers to purchase your product, I suppose offering this type of service and support to build loyal customers comes out to be a fraction of what it would cost to get another customer to buy their products.

Scotts, once again you have given us all faith in the American manufacturers that understand what it takes to do business in this troubled economy.

Verizon Fios...Fawgetaboutit!!! - Verizon a Big Failure

Verizon Fios keeps sending me their offers in the mail and I have even had a guy knock on my door to try to sign me up. So with the horrible economy and all my cable bills going up, I decided to make the switch. Hell at $94.99 a month for a year, no installation costs and their boxes included with high speed internet, Extreme HD TV, and their Freedom Essentials telephone, how could I resist. After all I am paying Comcast $150 per month and my Voip phone costs me another $30. I would save over $1200 my first year and even if they raised rates on my second year, I was sure it would still be lower overall.

So I signed up over the phone, nice rep took my order and we set up an install date of 10/14/2008. They tell you that they will show up between 8 AM - 12 Noon, so I got up nice and early, moved some of my furniture as they suggested so they would have access and was ready to go.

The rep showed up around 10 AM and walked around my home shaking his head about my wiring. My electrical inbound wires were near the front of the house, the telephone lines on the left side of the house and the cable connections from Comcast on the right side. I have 7 outlets for TV and one for my computer. He told me that I might not be able to get great service in all of my TV's because of the wiring. I said I couldn't take a chance of not having equal or better service because I work from my home office and own an internet based business.

Finally after an hour and a half, he admitted that this job would take 8 hours and would be a two man job and that he really couldn't do it himself. I asked if he could get a supervisor out to look at my situation to assure me that it could be done properly. Apparently that is not possible from what I later found out. So after he left and told me he would have them note that it was a two man job, I received an email with a new install date of 10/30/08, 2 weeks later. Now there were issues with paying Comcast for another month which starts on the 25th of each month and my phone bill. The reason for the 14th as an install date was to avoid that extra months bill.

Well, I called their retention line, you know when you want to cancel a service they send you there to try to save the customer...well the guy there promised once I was set up they would reimburse me for the cable and phone bill for that month. OK, I thought that was fair, so I waited until the next install date. I got a dozen recorded calls on the phone to remind me of the install date and a few emails as well.

On Oct. 30th, once again I was up at the crack of dawn, cleaned up the house, my office and was ready for the installation. As the hours passed, I was concerned and finally at 11:30 AM called their retention office because I didn't know who else to call. You see you can get lost or have your call dropped if you go through their main toll free line. For a company supposed to offer superior service and be in the communications industry, their phone system is the worst circle jerk I have ever seen. After a number of options that never really fit, you can't seem to get to any human. When you do and find out it is the wrong department ("oh, you need our Fios team") and they attempt to transfer your call, you get dropped and once again enter the world of automated phone answering systems as you call back in and again have to explain why you are calling.

To shorten the story, I won't go through all the calls to Verizon on the day of my promised install, but needless to say they never showed, they never set it up for a two man install and at 3 PM that day I decided I was just wasting my time with Verizon and asked them to cancel my order. I decided to wait for their retention people to speak to their supervisors and let me know if there was anything else they could do for me, especially since they screwed me up now two days. The best they offered was a $180 discount, $30 per month for the first 6 months of service. I felt it wasn't enough now and the next morning when they called me to set up a third date for another 2 weeks later, I decided to simply cut my losses and cancel the order.

I got another call about an hour later to inform me that my telephone number was already ported over to them and no longer would work for me since it wasn't hooked up to any companies service. So now I lost my number, would have to have Packet 8 my Voip service get it back and deal with people trying to reach me and finding the number had been disconnected.

So now, Packet 8 told me they would give me a temporary number so I could make outgoing calls, but I would still have the incoming call issue until the number ported back over to them from Verizon. Two weeks passed and the number was still not working, so I called Packet 8 who told me it could take 6 weeks which I argued it should not. Verizon told me they do these very quickly and would only take a few days.

Packet 8 wasn't much help either and I couldn't get to a supervisor there either. So once again, with them, I spoke to a half dozen people until I found one that told me that the number must have gone back into the pool of available numbers once Verizon canceled my order.

He was right, so once again back to Verizon now in panic that my 15 year old business number would be given away to some one else. The number was so good, 888-2777 that I didn't want to lose it. All my stationary, business cards, web site, web site registrations and listings, etc. would have to be changed and you know how hard that could be when you own a media company and have tons of web pages on the net.

So I got on the phone with Verizon because Packet8 told me that number wasn't available in their pool of numbers. Sure enough it was in the Verizon pool and was still available. I explained what needed to be done. I told them that I had to place a new phone line order and grab that number until Packet8 could port it back over. I pleaded with them and told them I didn't want to lose thousands of dollars reprinting stationary, etc. and wanted to avoid a law suit against Verizon. I certainly have grounds if I could show financial loss.

She told me they would have to run a financial check, I told her this was a second line in my home and that should not be necessary. I suggested we set up the new order with a long installation date. This then would lock the number, give me time to port it over to Packet8 and then we could cancel the new line install.

She was very nice and really wanted to help me and did in fact take my phone number, told me she would go to a supervisor and set it up and call me back. Well, she did it just right and the install date was set for late in December, so that should be sufficient time to regain my number.

Now I have to stay on top of Packet8 to make sure they will do it. I faxed them a request to port the number over so they have my written permission and have to deal with people calling my business number only to hear a message that the phone has been disconnected with no forwarding number.

I have asked them why their service was so poor and so messed up and the answer was they are very busy. I can guarantee that they are overwhelmed with new installs and probably aren't adding any new staff to handle the action. Frankly, now that I know they have to put a huge box in my home where the lines go in and out, I an not sure I would even want this service. They said they could put it in my garage, but frankly with all my shelving and wall space taken, there isn't much room to put this box in. If I wanted a big ugly box on the outside front of my home they could do that, but it would be seen by anyone entering my home, not a good option.

I am thankful that I decided to cancel before the installation because I know if I had a problem, their service would not be very good and I might be out of business while waiting for a tech to either call me back or show up.

Stay away from Verizon Fios for now, they are not ready for Prime Time and although their marketing team would have you believe they are, their install and support team will tell you "they are just too busy."


December 19, 2008 - Update on this story

If you read this story, you should also read my posting on Packet8 as the story continues there.

The short story is that I couldn't get my number back from Verizon and over to Packet8 and Verizon almost lost my number that I have had for 15 years. I decided to finally give in and had Verizon install the line and left Packet8. It is more then two weeks now and because of faulty installation and issues on the "Pole" I have not had phone service on that line.

I will keep you updated on this very long and frustrating journey.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Levolor, Limited Lifetime Warranty, Another Great Company would think that a blog named dont get me mad, would be a blog with tons of postings on companies or people that piss me off. What a surprise for some when I invite them to view my blog and they see that most of the posts really deal with the opposite, companies that prove they deserve my business and my loyalty.

I found another such company, Levolor, yes the folks that have been around for more years then I am old and a company that offers a fine product backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

OK, here is my story about some cellular blinds I purchased about 13 years ago from a local blind store here in New Jersey. I hung one of the blinds on a bedroom window and two matching blinds on a set of glass doors leading out of the bedroom onto my patio.

The room was at one time our master bedroom, but when we added a floor to our home, we moved upstairs and used this room for my son and later as a guest room. I noticed a couple of week ago that the one window blind had an open gap in the middle of the blind.

I didn't even think of a warranty so I attempted to fix it myself by taking the blind off and spraying the open seam with spray adhesive and clamping it closed to allow it to dry. I then hung it back up and noticed it started to split in other areas as well, so I realized it was obviously a defect in the glue they used when they made these blinds.

After all it hung on the window with very little use for many years in this guest room and the other ones on the doors were just fine. I decided to take them into Home Depot to see if I could find a close match to replace the one blind. I happened to ask the rep in the blinds department if Levolor had any sort of Limited Lifetime Warranty on this item, frankly not expecting a positive answer. To my surprise she told me they did and that they were a great company to deal with.

Bingo...hope springs eternal....and my hope for the best was confirmed..She then gave me Levolor's toll free number, told me to call them and if I needed them to do anything to receive the new blinds or order them for me to come back. As I said, love Costco, love Home Depot.

So off I went to try to find the original receipt for these blinds, contact Levolor and work on getting a new blind to replace the old one. Since it was so long ago, I was able to get all the information about the purchase from the tag on the blind itself. On the top of the blind on the back, there was a tag. As you can see in the photo, it shows when I got these, the size and more.

So I called Levolor and spoke to a nice rep who told me she would send me a Warranty Claim form to complete. I asked if she could email it to me and she did. I realized I didn't have the proof of purchase they asked for on the form, so I called the original store that I think I bought them from. I explained the entire story to them and they weren't very nice about it at all and seemed insulted I went to Home Depot with the problem instead of them.

They also told me that my warranty was void if I attempted any repairs of my own on the blind and that they would send the blind back to Levolor for me at a cost of almost $70. When I questioned the absurd fee, they explained that covers their shipping and handling fees. I told the woman for me to UPS this to the company would be around $7 and why would I even spend any money sending it to them if she told me they wouldn't honor the warranty because I attempted to fix it. She got angry at me and told me that I should go back to Home Depot or Lowes and deal with them...nice huh! Now you understand why small stores go out of business...they just take things too personal and can't look at the bigger picture.

So back to my story...I took a number of photos that you see here and asked Tawanda Hall the Levolor rep if that would do the job. Unfortunately she had issues seeing the photos and even after trying a few times to upload them to my web site she still couldn't work on this claim. I called in cold again and got a wonderful Levolor rep Kim Samples who was really on the ball. I could see she was a pro and must have had years of experience at her job.

Kim was able to get my photos, the claim form and walk me through their process without any problems. I asked her if they could match the pattern, kind of knowing the answer when I asked the question and she told me no. I then told her about the two other blinds I had on the doors and showed her the photo

I asked her what I could do to make them all match and she told me they wouldn't let me have a mismatched room and although they would prefer to replace the one defective blind, in this case they would replace all three...can you believe that...a company telling you that they didn't want you to have a mismatched room and would make it right!

So now the next step was to give Kim all the dimensional information from the blinds in the room. She told me to go into Home Depot and select "Any one of the Levolor cellular blinds I wanted" Any I repeated, because I wasn't sure what this meant and she confirmed any one. "Does that mean no matter what cost or what collection" I asked. She said "Yes...take a look at all of them and let me know which ones you like"

So off I went back to Home Depot. They pulled out the Levolor books and I selected a beautiful Linen Woven Snow White replacement blind from their Designer collection. On the window blind I selected the cordless version (which usually costs more) and on the two for the doors the same continuous cord version.

One of the blinds for the window arrived about 10 days later and the two door blinds followed by a few more days. I now have them up on the windows and they look beautiful. I of course had to repaint the room and moldings now because I was putting in these new Snow White blinds, but that was fine. I even shampooed my carpet, so now the room sparkles again and is ready to welcome family and guests that want to stay over.

I can truly say that Kim and the folks at Home Depot and Levolor have once again confirmed to me that it pays to only buy from companies that offer a quality product, a no nonsense warranty on that product and a company like Levolor that has staff trained that understand how to treat their customers as VIP's and make their lives a bit less stressful during these difficult times.

Kudo's to Kim Samples at Levolor and her wonderful company, you have made me a big fan of your company and your products for life. Hopefully my blog and my web site (I will publish this there as well) will make others aware of your company, products and policies and that helps sell even more Levolor product.

My new window blind above with no cord, simple to use, beautiful to see...

My new door blinds. The new Snow White color makes the room brighter and allows more diffused light into this room. I am so pleased with the way this all turned out.

Costco The Best Retailer By Far...

Many that have been reading my blog have discovered that there are some companies I really love and some, well, I don't.

We all know that Costco is one of my favorite retailers because of their wonderful warranty and return policies on all the products they sell. Often, I think they are too liberal and I have seen a number of situations that have really irked me. Once I saw a woman return a dead bunch of cut flowers and receive a refund. Recently I saw a customer return a dead tomato plant in September that she had in a flower pot and enjoyed during the summer growing season.

I actually witnessed this abuse of their return policy and just couldn't stop myself from opening my big mouth. I know many of the people that work at Costco in Hazlet, New Jersey where I live because they have been there for so many years, this tells you something too, doesn't it. Costco and Home Depot are my two favorite stores, hey I am a guy where else would I shop?

For this reason, I just couldn't stand there and let this person abuse one of my favorite stores. After watching this return take place I decided to step in and say something. Hey, Costco employees can't say a thing even though it must kill them when they have to abide by the rules and take the return without question. They have to be nice to all of their customers, but I don't.

When my buddy John, the sales associate, came over, I decided enough is enough. In a some what loud voice, standing right behind the woman making the return, I asked John if I too, could return my dead plants. I continued that I didn't realize that the Costco policy would allow a return on a dead tomato plant at the end of the growing season. John gave me a wry smile, he knew me well and knew what I was doing.

The woman who was making the return and knew she was trying to pull a fast one on them, turned around and told me to mind my own business. Of course she was talking to the wrong guy...I never back down from people like this, I said, well, if you can purchase a seasonal plant and return it at the end of the season and get your money back, then I suppose I should be doing the same thing too.

I assume I got my message across and even if Costco didn't give her a hard time, she will think a bit more before pulling another one of her scams against my favorite least I would hope so.

Frankly, it thought it WAS my business to say something...for two reasons. I have been a Costco shopper for many years and over those years have been a Costco stock holder, so I feel an attachment to this company and its employees. I don't want them to have to change their policies as many companies do because of too much abuse. I must assume they have the cost of these returns factored into their prices and they must have a relationship with their vendors to expect a certain percentage of returns too. I also know that this really does bother some of their employees, but because they have been trained to deal with customers a certain way, they can't say anything negative for fear of antagonizing a customer.

I also realize that on some items they may not have the lowest prices in town. Maybe that higher price helps them maintain a profitable business, even with what has to be the high costs of running their exceptional return policy and offering world class customer service.

I have purchased cameras and many electronic items at Costco and paid a bit more for some then I might if I bought on the internet or from the cheapest dealer I could find, but frankly, it is worth the extra money to buy it here. You can't purchase a camera anywhere, try it out for a month or two and then find it is not what you expected and return it. Many stores and internet dealers will charge you a restocking fee, refuse the return entirely or in the case of an online retailer, will make you pay for the shipping both ways...Costco online lets you make your return to any one of their stores and even refunds the shipping costs you paid when you ordered the item...Who Does This? No one I know....

Let me give you a real example of this benefit, so you can understand why I prefer to buy as much as I can at Costco...Go and purchase a $1,000 camera or computer at a Best Buy or an online retailer and attempt to return it. Not only would they give you a hard time if it wasn't in pristine condition with everything in place as if it were never opened, but they might hit you for a $150 restocking fee (15% seems to be the norm) if they will take it back at all. If it was bought online, you can figure another $30 or more, for the back and forth shipping costs too. So if I paid a $100 more for that camera at Costco then the cheapest retailer I could find, I might ask myself, is it really worth the small savings buying elsewhere?

To me the answer is NO. I would rather pay a bit more (on some items) and buy it at Costco. I feel that the small extra cost is the cost of my insurance that will enable me to evaluate the product to make sure I will be happy with my purchase. How many stores ask you to take their optional insurance on a product and charge you another 10% or more for Costco it is free and in most cases goes way beyond the normal manufacturers warranty period.

Here is another example of their wonderful return policies.

I had a power washer that I bought last summer 2007, used it possibly 4-5 times for maybe 5 hours of total use. This year, when I attempted to use it again, it just wouldn't work. I brought it back to Costco, and they refunded my full purchase price, no hassle, no problems. Any other store might have told me to contact the manufacturer and deal with them. In many cases that might involve shipping this heavy unit back to them at my cost or dealing with their parts department and trying to do the repair myself.

On a side note...Home Depot is pretty good as well on returns and customer satisfaction. I especially like the fact that I don't have to find my receipt to make a return. They can do a look up taking my credit card (that I used to charge the item on) to determine when I bought it and the purchase price.

Imagine what our world would be like if every company followed Costco's lead? If they did...Would they all go out of business? Would the world come to an end? Or would manufacturers simply have to make a better product to live up to their claims?

If we bought a product and it delivered what the manufacturer promised we wouldn't have to return them, thus saving the company money on repairs or replacements. We would be happier to buy that brand again, because we would get what we expected. The manufacturer of course would be rewarded by increased sales from a strong and loyal customer base.

Not everything you buy should be dictated by price alone. There are a number of companies I have found that believe in the same philosophy as Costco. Please go to my two posts in this blog, one on Grohe and the other on Levolor to see two such manufacturers. I can think of some others too, Lexus, Apple (computer) and USAA (United Services Automobile Association),
These are three other companies that I rate 5 stars out of 5 in producing products and services that are second to none.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention some of the people that have given me the exceptional service and now friendship at Costco, Hazlet, NJ. I truly feel we have become friends over the years. Frankly, I see these people more then I do my own family.

A Big Thank You Goes Out To These Hazlet, NJ Costco Employees

My friend Geri, John, Becky, Karen, Pam, Ann in marketing, Amanda, Tracy in Tires, Debbie the manager and so many others that I can't come up with their names right now. I promise to expand this list the next time I am there and will write their names down. After all at 65, I find it hard to remember where I put just about anything, so names are always a challenge :-)

It is all of you and the Costco policies, great products, value and guarantee, that have prompted me to not only acknowledge your hard work and your exceptional devotion to customer care, in this blog, but because you are all the products of the vision of your co-founder and CEO, Jim Sinegal.

Please take a moment to read more about this remarkable man (center, shirt open) and how he differs from many of the greedy corporate executives we have learned to loathe at this link. I am a true believer that people like Jim and their strong commitment to their employees and customers have made Costco the largest and best retailer in the country.

Thank you Jim, for passing your passion and great work ethics to all of the good people that work for you. Keep up the good work and try to teach some of the other CEO's and politicians how they too can become winners for both their companies and for their country.

By the way, doing a search for the Costco Logo art you see here, I found a site that shows that Costco rated number one in customer service...doesn't surprise me, I knew this already.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Your Bank Can Ruin Your Vacation As Commerce Bank Did Ours

My Commerce Bank account is a small checking account I had set up a couple of years ago to handle my father’s bills. When my father passed away last year, I maintained this account and from time to time over the past year I would cash some checks and did little else. I would access it online to see my interest on the account and would receive their paper statements each month.

I was getting ready to visit Budapest, Vienna and Prague on an extensive business/vacation trip and decided my best rates on foreign currencies would be had using my ATM card in each country I visited. My wife insisted this was the best way to handle this and not to take much US currency because we wouldn’t need it. I of course always feel a bit uncomfortable not taking cash with me, but conceded to her wishes.

I decided to make an additional deposit to my Commerce Bank (America's Most Convenient Bank) account prior to leaving and added another $575 to the account at the drive through window. When I made the deposit the teller told me that the account was flagged inactive. I asked her why and she said because of the lack of activity on the account this past year. She said it wasn’t a problem and she would make sure it was activated. She also gave me the banks phone number to call later in the day to make sure it was done. I called and was told that the deposit I made would reactivate the account and I shouldn't be concerned.

I explained, over the phone, that I was going to Europe and didn’t want to have any problems since this was my main “Cash” card and was assured the account was in good standing now that I made the deposit. My ATM card had an expiration date of 2009, so I thought that was OK too. Never did I realize that the bank also canceled my ATM card without any notification in writing or by phone, leaving me to think this card was still active.

Now lets go back to our arrival after a less then wonderful two separate flights totaling 11 hours. We were tired after this long trip and it was about 4 AM our time when we arrived in Budapest. At the Budapest baggage claim we saw a convenient OTP Bank ATM and attempted to use it. Of course the menu was in Hungarian, but we did see a button for English and we began the process. I put my Commerce ATM card in to the machine, put in my pin number and then attempted to withdraw some “Forint’s” Hungarian dollars from the machine. An error message came up, but it was in Hungarian, not English and I had no idea what was happening.

I attempted to cancel the transaction, but my card was not returned.

 I was fortunate to find a very nice Hungarian man, Arpad Halasz, who spoke English and came to my aid. He promptly called the ATM’s help number and although I wasn’t sure what he was saying to the rep on the other side, I could see he was getting agitated. He told me that their might have been a malfunction of the machine and I should phone my bank, have them cancel the card. He again tried to explain that I was from the United States, needed the card to obtain funds while in their country and had no way to call my bank back in the states. After a while, the "friendly" bank operator simply hung up on him after refusing to send a service technician to retrieve my card.

Now what do we do. We are in a foreign non-English speaking country, very little cash and no one to help us retrieve my Commerce card. The gentleman who helped us decided to visit the branch of this bank which was at the other end of the Airport and demand that they help me out of this mess, so off we went.

The clerk at the branch didn't seem to want to help me either, until I handed him one of my business cards and showed him my Press ID, and explained I was invited to his country by the Czech Airlines to write a review of my trip and if he refused to help me I would surely include the story of his bank in that review. He started to make calls and I thanked the man that had helped me get to the bank. I gave the teller a copy of my Commerce ATM card which I had made along with all my other credit cards, and documents in my wallet. Being a traveler and a journalist, I like to do this in the event I lose my wallet or it is taken from me by one of the many pick pockets in some of the countries we have visited.

After about 40 minutes he put me on the phone with one of his bank reps who spoke English and she advised me that the reason my card was taken was because my bank, the Commerce Bank had ordered them to do so. Not only was I shocked by this, but I was furious with my bank. I knew this had to be the real story because of the entire "Inactive Account" incident at the bank before I left the U.S.

So without much money in my wallet and over 2 hours wasted and frustrated I rejoined my wife who was sitting in the baggage claim area all this time not knowing what had happened to me. We exchanged $100 cash that I had for the Hungarian currency and was able to charge our cab fare, so we had enough to get to our hotel.

Our options now were to either charge everything we could, take some cash advances from our credit card or limit our cash spending to the $300 we took on our trip. Of course doing this on a 10 day European work assignment was going to be very hard indeed. We were fortunate that most of the major costs were already paid for or would be paid using our credit cards. Many of the other items like museum entry fees, public transportation, sight seeing buses, boats, purchases of souvenirs we wanted to bring home, might be a problem for us, but we were intent on making this work.

Because this trip was for my company and I was writing an extensive review of these three countries I was able to meet with various companies, museum public relations or marketing personnel and obtain media or complimentary press access to their services or attractions. This helped us keep our cash needs down and enabled us to complete our trip, which could have been a major disaster because of my bank. The few hundred in cash, the press access we had, the favors afforded us by the generous people at the many museums and attractions we visited helped us make our meager cash budget stretch a great deal more then if we weren't a member of the media.

We did have to waste a lot of our time finding the proper people at each and every company we needed to visit or use their services and this cut into our trip and also wasted many hours of our time. The effort involved in finding the public relations managers in a foreign country and then making a presentation and showing our work to them for free access was almost embarrassing at times, but we had to do it because of my banks screw up.

In one case it took almost two hours to locate the public relations director of the Jewish Museum in Prague and then we had to pass all their security to visit her in her offices. Each and every day became a challenge for us because of Commerce Bank and I began to write this article in Budapest knowing that I would visit their branch, find out why they did what they did and ask why in all this time, they never had the decency to contact me or let me know they were going to cancel my account and ATM card.

Not only was their actions improper, unprofessional and certainly not friendly, but it has cost me and my wife more then just a simple inconvenience on what was going to be a wonderful trip to Europe that we looked forward to for some time.

Each night as I lay in bed, I kept thinking of what my friendly bank did to us. They ruined our trip, wasted many hours of our time and caused us untold stress in having to deal with our lack of cash in three foreign countries where English is not the language of choice.

As my anger took the better of me, I kept asking myself, "What should I do? On my return to the US" Should I close my account and call it a day? Should I contact some of my friends in the media and become a story on how a bank can mess ones life up, as Commerce did to us? Or should I write about the bank on my blog and my web site and then if necessary take additional legal action? After all only a few weeks ago we saw a case that made us laugh a bit. Apparently a man had to sit in the lavatory on a Jet Blue flight for 2 hours, for reasons that were not very clear. He hired an attorney, got on the news with his story and I understand is now suing the airline for millions of dollars.

I decided to visit my branch and see what they had to say and then make my decision. I can assure you all that with my 18 years as owner and president of International Press Association and the many articles I have written about companies and governments not getting it right plus my heavily read blog "" the Commerce Bank might want to review how they do business and make changes in their procedures so others won't find themselves in a foreign country with no money and no one to speak to.

Shame on You Commerce Bank, you let us down, but I can assure my readers that I will make sure that Commerce understands the importance of notifying their customers of any change in their accounts. It is hard to believe in this day and age of identity theft and high bank account security that they wouldn't do this as normal policy.

I will report back to my readers as soon as I can and let you know how this bank handles this horrid situation...or simply watch your local news for this story, I am sure it will be better then the guy being put in an airlines lavatory for 2 hours, his story pales by comparison to mine.

Initial Contact With Commerce Bank - May 28, 2008

Commerce Bank's Branch Manager Robert Jordan of the Hazlet, NJ branch, called me today to apologize for what had happened. His explanation was that the teller should have told me that my ATM might have been deactivated as well. She should have also told me to see one of their supervisors, regarding my account. Although she did give me the phone number of the bank to call and check on the status, this may not have been enough. I think the rep I spoke to when I did call, should have been the one to alert me that my card might now also be inactive. Since she was the one I called to make sure everything was in good order, it was her job to ask if I had an ATM card and to make sure it was active.

When I pressed Mr. Jordan about the banks policies regarding the cancellation of an ATM card and deactivation of an account without notifying the customer of these actions he told me he couldn't comment on bank policies. I explained that my credit card companies have all called me in the past when the see any suspicious activities on my account. This is the reason I called all of them prior to my trip to have them put a notation on my file that I would be in Europe for the 10 days and not to be concerned if any charges came in during that period of time.

The only card I didn't call was the Commerce Bank, thinking that my deposit and conversations with them was enough to make sure the account was now activated and working properly.

Mr. Jordan asked me to write a letter to the bank to explain my situation because I would not simply accept an apology or a coupon for a free dinner at a local restaurant. I believe the bank has to offer proper compensation and by doing so, it may motivate them to make the changes necessary in their policies regarding proper notification on any changes in ones account. This will help to ensure that their other customers won't find themselves in a similar situation as ours.

It is unfortunate, that individuals must take radical and even legal steps to make some companies realize that they have to try harder. My acceptance of a free mail or a verbal apology might be enough for some, but I believe that some companies have to be hit in the pocket before they take a situation seriously. By doing so, the problem is then elevated to the people at a company that can make a policy change. Commerce Bank, a bank that claims they are "America's Most Convenient Bank" proved that they must make these changes in their policy and notify their customers of any change in an accounts status in order to maintain this reputation.

At this point, I have already contacted one local newspaper and one television station about this situation and both have an expressed an interest in telling my story to their viewers and readers. This is an option I may decide to exercise if the bank doesn't come through with what I consider a legitimate offer of compensation.

One final note, Mr. Jordan had stated that the bank would have reactivated my card if I had called them from Hungary or would have issued a new one and sent it to me overnight. When we arrived in Budapest it was 10:00 AM there time and 4:00 AM EST. I am not sure if we attempted to call the toll free Commerce Bank number on the back of our card, we would have been able to get any help. There was also no way for us to get the OTP bank to return my card and open the ATM machine. This card I was told, would be destroyed during a normal service call. Frankly, we were in a state of panic and didn't even know how to make a call to the United States from Hungary.

Even if we had reached Commerce and they offered to send a new card overnight we might not have been able to receive it. We were only going to be in each of the three countries we visited for two days or 3 nights. This in itself could have created a problem if a new card was sent to us. Even if we had them send it to our next hotel and asked them to indicate they should "hold for arrival", on the package, in our minds, there would be a security risk in doing so.

We decided to try to make it work without the ATM card and hope for the best. Our last option of course would be to take a cash advance on our credit cards, but this was not necessary since we were able to charge as much as we did, gain complimentary admissions and services because of my press affiliation and use the small amount of cash we did take with us.

We have now learned another valuable lesson, don't depend on your bank cards and take enough cash with you on any trip. Something could go wrong and you need to have a back up plan if it does.

Follow-Up Dated June 9, 2008

The branch manager requested I send him a letter so he could forward it to the proper personnel in his company to handle this situation. I wrote the letter, copied the blog and delivered it in person to the branch. I later found out instead of sending it to their customer relations department he forwarded it to their corporate staff counsel Mr. Christoper Tucci. Since I had not received any replies from them in over a week, I sent an email to Mr. Jordan to find out what our progress was and was answered by Mr. Tucci who sent me an email copy of his letter.

I want to share this with all my readers, because it simply confirms what I and the many others have been saying in so many blogs and articles on the net, Commerce Bank has lost its heart and forgot their primary mission.

Please read this letter and you be the judge if this is how you would handle an upset depositors complaint. This letter has not been changed in any way and is the same in the email form as it was the written letter I received in the mail today.

Subject: Commerce Bank, N.A. relationship
Date: June 9, 2008 2:46:29 PM EDT

Mr. Rapoport -

Below, please find a letter attached that was mailed to your attention last
week. For the purposes of the account closing, we can use today's date as
notice to you of the ten (10) day provision. Thank you for your
anticipated cooperation.

(See attached file: Rapoport response.doc)

Christopher J. Tucci, Counsel
TD BANK, N.A. Legal Dept.
1701 Route 70 East
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
AIM # 01-010-05-00
856.470.2241 direct
856.874.2423 facsimile

May 30, 2008

Leonard L. Rapoport
15 Carlow Way
Hazlet, NJ 07730

Re: Commerce Bank, N.A. account no.: 7861322464

Dear Mr. Rapoport:

Commerce Bank, N.A. (“Commerce”) is in receipt of your May 28, 2008 correspondence to Mr. Robert Jordan of our Hazlet store. After a review of your allegations, we must respectfully decline to reimburse you for any costs or fees associated with your recent trip to Europe. It is the long-standing policy of financial institutions to place accounts with no activity on “inactive” status to protect their customers. In addition, any access device connected with that account would also be placed on “inactive” status in that situation to protect the customer.

As Mr. Jordan explained, a simple phone call to Commerce would have rectified the situation after your card was captured in a foreign ATM machine. You have refused nominal reimbursement from Mr. Jordan and instead, started a series of harassing activities towards Commerce employees. We must ask that you immediately cease and desist this behavior and insist that you close your Commerce checking account referenced above. If the account is not closed within ten (10) business days from the date of this correspondence, Commerce will close the account and mail you the remaining funds.

Commerce views your demands of financial compensation within five (5) days, with the result of noncompliance being your publishing this situation to the “media” a very serious matter. Please be advised that Commerce must comply with all Federal and State regulations, as well as, regulatory requirements regarding these types of demands.

Commerce reserves all legal and equitable rights available to it under your deposit contract with us and any applicable Federal and State laws. Please be advised that any libelous statements made concerning Commerce or its employees will be considered actionable by Commerce and this matter will be forwarded immediately to outside counsel for Commerce to file an immediate lawsuit against any party associated with those comments. Please be guided accordingly.

Very truly yours,

Christopher J. Tucci

I have responded to this email and frankly at this point, it appears that I must turn this over to my attorney for further action. I have two of the IPA researchers working on a story to understand a consumers rights regarding the banking industry and will be writing a full article on our other web site. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you may want to see some other postings regarding Commerce Bank that may or may not confirm my findings.

I am sure if you simply googled any banks name you would find negative postings about each one of them, but if you read between the lines, you will see the same thing coming up over and over again. This bank has lost their way and has lost their heart.

Update - June 25, 2008

As you can see, they decided to close my account and mail me the above check.  I had already made the decision to do so and had pulled most of the funds out of this bank.  I wanted to see if in fact they would follow through on their threat, which they did.

I have decided not to pursue any legal course of action at this time. I have been too busy to deal with this now, but I do have options open should I decide to take any action at a later date.

This bank deserves the poor reviews they have been getting.  Any company that can't deal with a situation like mine in a proper manner does not deserve the loyalty of their customers.  From a bank with a heart, this bank has now become a bank without any clear direction and it is a shame.

I would advise all of my readers of this blog to simply question the rules and regulations of their banks to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

Please visit my web site to read my review and view my photos of my trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Did You Ever Get Someting Strange In A Food Package?

Over the years I have had a few strange experiences with packaged food items I have purchased. We have all heard of the story about the guy that opened a can of soda and found a finger in the can. I suppose most of us have found a pit in the bag of dried fruit or maybe a hair in some other food item. Some years ago I had purchased some Andies Candies, you know the one they leave on your pillow at the hotels. This box was filled with peanut butter instead of the mint filling.

I had a party in my home, served the candies as part of the dessert table and after many were eaten found that some had worms in the candy itself. I know you probably would have been as disgusted and embarrassed as we were. So what do you do? Do you throw them out and wash your mouth out with mouth wash? Do you take the remains back to the store and get a fresh box? Or do you do what I did, you contact the company and let them know about the problem.

This happened to me a number of years ago, probably mid 1980s. We didn't have the internet and knowing how to right letters on my Tiffany stationary, I thought I would have a better shot of getting someone's attention, I was right.

I was contacted by the company and I explained my horror at finding the bugs in the candy, especially the embarrassment at our party. They of course asked if I could send the box of candy to them so they could examine it. I never do this and would tell you not to do this as well.

I suggested they send someone to my home so they could examine the candy. I felt once they do this and see the complaint was legitimate I would stand a better shot of receiving deserved compensation. Although in those years, we didn't have lawyers advertising in the media to sue everyone, nor did we have the internet to share horror stories, so bringing this issue to their attention and getting compensation, was something many people just didn't bother to do.

Not to make this a very long story, this is the outcome of my complaint. They hired a local insurance adjuster who contacted me and came over to my home. I showed him the candy and there was no question about liability. He was very nice and told us he would recommend that they offer me a settlement.

I was offered $3,000 at that time, which I suppose is like $10,000 today and I gladly accepted their offer. They explained that the peanut butter filling was a new item for them and they found if they were left on the shelf too long that this could happen. Apparently the eggs of these bugs must have gotten into the candy mix and survived the candy making process.

I probably would have been happy with a years supply of their products, but this incident just confirmed my belief that you need to speak up and let companies know when they or their products fail to meet up to the simple standards we expect from them.

I also assume that they knew of the problem and wanted to keep it quiet. Imagine the recall that the FDA would have forced them to do if they knew this was an ongoing issue. Today we know better and call our local TV station, get reporters out to our homes and then hire an attorney who ends up getting us the thousands of dollars I ended up getting by myself.

Now if you want to read another story about finding another nugget of gold in a food product, read my next post about biting into a nice size piece of wood chip in a box of candy hearts.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Forget Turbo Tax This Year, They Really Messed Up!

If you are like me, you may be ready to do your 2007 tax returns, but better consider the software you select this year. Turbo Tax a long favorite has dropped the ball both last year and this year. You can go to their web site and read all the complaints in their Inner Circle or from their customer postings. Here is one I just posted this evening. Will see if I can get a refund from Intuit on this horrible program.

I have used Turbo Tax for so many years, I can't even remember when I started using it. It just seems to get worse each year not better. There used to be a wealth of information you could call on easily to explain difficult situations, now the few videos are almost worthless.

The interview process is so lame and confusing that it took me more time to go through this process then to simply look at the forms and enter the values there. Pages and pages to go through for each question instead of one page where you can simply answer all the values for that question and then submit them.

The handling of stock transactions is so poor that for the first time in 20 years I received a notification from the IRS that I was missing my Schedule B, which never printed (because I was under the $1500 requirement) but IRS still asked for it. Then all the imported stock transactions from Ameritrade came in without the date of purchase or price and I had to complete at least 100 or more manually, only to find out that they never printed properly on the final return and I received a 13 page notice from IRS to supply the basis on my transactions as they didn't receive them.

This year, I noticed that Schedule B didn't print again so I manually printed it and added it to the return. Better to be safe then sorry.

Finally, because many of us now "Trade Stocks" because of Jim Cramer and the way the market fluctuates each day that I ended up with about 500 trades for the year in 3 accounts. I decided Turbo Tax was useless and Ameritrade uses Gainskeeper which is free on my account. It will print out a report of the years transactions with the buys and sells, wash sales, etc. and give you the totals you need.

Then I had to go to Forms to check a couple of boxes that said I would attach my list and I was able to enter the values there. No where in the Interview process did it allow me this option. You have two options, the spread sheet or one by one. With so many transactions it would have been a nightmare, now it took me a couple of minutes to print it from Ameritrade, add the numbers from the 3 accounts, enter it on the form and attach these schedules to my return.

It would appear that each year Turbo Tax takes things that aren't broken and break them instead of adding better functions and ease of use.

This year it didn't import all the data from last years return properly. When I got up to doing Schedule A, it said
it would appear I didn't use Schedule A last year
, which was not true so I had to enter the values manually.

For $80, this years Home and Business was definitely not worth the money. I am only sorry I didn't purchase it from Costco where I could have simply taken it back and gotten a refund. Oh yea, when I tried to find a decent customer support line to discuss why IRS returned it all to me and what I should do, I spent over an hour on the site trying to figure out where to find the support.

One last thing about eFiling...forget this option. If you don't physically check your return manually you may not catch some simple errors like entering data incorrectly or something not printing properly as was the case on my 2006 return. If you make an error on an Efile return you are screwed, there is no way to correct it short of re filing a 1040X amended return and paying again to file it. Would you really trust sending a complex return on efile without checking it first? Maybe on a simple return you can do this, but frankly for $17 bucks, why would you. Enough is enough...

You guys better wake up or you too will find that the publics loyalty to this brand will soon diminish and you too will be another company that owned its market and are no longer in business like so many others that took their business for granted.


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