Friday, November 1, 2019

Budget Rent A Car, Denver International Airport = customer service hell

Denver skyline - The Denver Post image
(Image: Denver skyline - The Denver Post)

Planning a trip to Denver, Colorado.  The hotel website offered options to book a rental car, this one being through Budget Rent A Car.  Of course, the hotel probably gets some kickback by advertising the car rental company - a referral bonus.  Many companies do this and it is usually convenient for customers.  Without checking into this well-known rental company, I decided to book an economy car through Budget Rent A Car. 

It was a nice Fall day upon arriving into Denver.  The high was 74-degrees (F).  The airport shuttle to Budget was good.  The check-in process was typical, trying the usual up-selling of unnecessary "features".  "Are you going to be traveling in the mountains?"  "No"  "Ok because this car doesn't have much power for that."  Does it have a pull string to start the motor at least?

That night, the weather turned bad.  The low was in the twenties and for the next few days, the forecast was for a sort of "blizzard"...and not the Dairy Queen kind.  The news had a special report about rental cars and the requirement for "snow tires" or "4-wheel drive".  If you are in a car and you slide off the road, cause an accident or impede traffic because you have no traction, you could be at-fault or, at least, suffer unusual fines.  It was time to call Budget Rent A Car and find out if the car had "snow tires".  That's when the hell began.

Once you leave the Budget Rent A Car office with your rental, you no longer matter or exist to them.  Calling their "local" number for information you get:  1) a menu of options which never help, 2) a "live agent" who knows nothing about Denver or the location you rented the car from and 3) an agent who barely speaks or understands English. 

So you call the "303" number for the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car office and you never get someone who is at the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car office.  Huh?  If you call the toll-free U.S. number which, I believe, is routed to Bangladesh or Mumbai, for information about your car that was rented from the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car location, they tell you to call the local "303" number.  And, when you call the local "303" number and finally get to a LIVE agent, they tell you they are not located at the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car office but will transfer you to the Denver desk.  However, when they transfer you, the roulette wheel stops on either 1) another LIVE agent not located at the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car office, or 2) it just hangs up on you.  I mean, why would they want to talk to you?  You're just a customer to them.

The company name is "Budget" so I don't have high expectations from the company but I would like to talk to someone who can tell me if the car has snow tires and, if not, what are my options.  No one knows.  The phone calls continued for more than 2-hours, promptly answered by someone in Mumbai, transferred, hung up or re-routed again into the system until it did hang up.  Someone would answer, "well you need to go to the Denver rental office and talk to them."   Why have a "local" number or "for questions about your rental, call this number" if I have to actually visit the Denver office to talk to someone?????  How do you say "stupid" in India?

It is now snowing heavily. Another hour in Budget Rent A Car's phone hell.  Another "you need to go to the office to talk to them personally" in a car that may, or may not, have snow tires.  The "customer service" reps could not even tell me if they had all-wheel-drive vehicles at the Denver location.  Nobody knows anything.

After not getting anywhere with the phone version of Budget Rent A Car, at 4:30 AM (that's 4:30 in the morning), we decided to pay a visit to the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car office.  This is where hell became tolerable - the agent (only one in the office) was very helpful and understanding.  None of the cars have snow tires, they are all "all season" tires.

Note to Budget Rent A Car corporate:  If you have a rental facility in a location that gets snow like, I don't know, DENVER, why not spend a little extra for snow tires?  Or, is it better to create aggravation and bad customer service for your customers?  Snow tires also add safety in these conditions...if "safety" is even important to you.

Back to the Denver rental office.  The early-morning agent was very helpful and eventually got us into an all-wheel drive vehicle.  The first vehicle was a monstrous Jeep Wrangler 4x4.  It was difficult to get into and out of unless you had mountain climbing gear and a safety harness.  I also could not figure out the 4-wheel-drive stick.  The agent then referred us to a Subaru Legacy with all-wheel drive.  This was a comfortable car and handled well for the short time we could drive it - the next 3-days were like a blizzard with below-freezing temperatures and several inches of snow accumulating.  It wasn't worth venturing out and taking a chance.  Denver had reported over 100 accidents each day during the snow storm which was already unseasonable for October.

On the final full-day of vacation, the weather and roads cleared up.  It was still below freezing, but time to go somewhere.  On the way, a rock was picked up by another vehicle and launched at our windshield causing a 6-8" crack.  This was reported to insurance and to Budget.  Upon returning to the Denver International Airport Budget Rent A Car office, an agent found an incident form and helped in filling it out - although a lot of the form was left blank - no "written statement" was needed, just name, address, insurance name and claim number...that was it.  I'm not sure the agent was well-versed on completing this claim form.  Now we wait a week for the incident to be processed.

Budget Rent A Car did have low (the lowest?) car rental prices and the cars were clean, although the first car did have some scrapes on the exterior - I'm sure the previous customer was charged for them but the money was never used to fix the repair.  If you are looking for no-frills, no customer service and no way to contact someone by phone with any knowledge of their own car rental company...Budget Rent A Car is a good option. 

If you check out Budget Rent A Car on social media, which I didn't before renting with them, you will read comments from other "satisfied" customers - the lack of customer service being a chief complaint.  Also suspect are the many comments related to charges for body damage a month, or longer, after the rental is returned.  What?  Yes, apparently, you can return a car to Budget and a month or more later they discover it has damages and bill you for it.  And, on their own social media page, what is Budget's response?  Nothing.  On a few other comments from customers who have had issues, Budget does ask for a private message, to include the reservation number, and a representative will get back to you.  Let's hope the representative understands the language and doesn't ignore you on social media.

In vote on Budget Rent A Car?

Thursday, September 26, 2019

If you drive at night with LED bars or other 3rd-party lights beside headlights...

(The photos in the post do not necessarily reflect that product or particular vehicle.  The pic(s) are just generic for show)

I get it.  It's dark on the interstate or on a back road and US, state and county roadways.  Yes, it is dark.  Most people's eyes adjust in darkness.  You make your dash lights dimmer so your eyes are more sensitive to what is happening outside the windshield (windscreen in the UK LOL).  Unless you're blind, your stock headlights should be sufficient to illuminate the roadway - assuming they are working and properly aligned, duh.  Having one or two headlights pointing into the trees will not help.  Having one headlight out so you look like a motorcycle at night also will not do much.  But, for whatever reason, some motorists - usually pickup truck drivers - have to purchase and use 3rd-party add-on lights...the LED light bars or high-intensity LED lights. And for the rest of us, these products do not come with, or they neglect to install, ON/OFF switches.

Oh yea, there he (or she) is.  Mr. "Badass" with his (or her) light bar.  Because, well who knows what goes through their underdeveloped minds.  What I do know is that your cure for your impaired vision is causing our visual impairment.  These almost-criminal light bars are perfectly appear in all our rearview mirrors and, as a result, the back of our retinas.  It is as if the sun, in all its glory, appeared in my car.  To you it means you're a beast - a real man (or woman) - someone to fear, almost God-like.  You own the road and all that is on it and around it.  To the rest of us, the ones you're tailgating and blinding, it says you are the most ignorant of ignorants, a moron, stupid and, of course, blind.  It tells us you have a defective mind and really should not be driving at night if you need a light bar to augment your headlights and general badass-ness.  I know the truck commercials tell you that you own the road and that you're "Ford tough" or "Chevy" (whatever their slogan is).  But really, if you *act* like a moron, chances are that you really *are* a moron. 

The funny thing is having a light bar or, god-forbid, more than one set of LED lights because you take your own self-worth and blindness to another level, doesn't get you any further down the road faster.  You're just making more people aware that you're a next-gen, higher-level kind of jerk.  You need help.  You need your license taken away until you can see properly.  Go get your eyes checked.  Maybe step down off the pedestal you - and only you - put yourself on.  For once, understand that the world and its inhabitants don't revolve around you.  Really, it's true.  Your only existence to the rest of world disappears as soon as you turn off the roadway or onto the interstate at a high-rate of speed and pass everyone.  Once you do that, you no longer matter and our eyesight eventually returns to normal.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Oh, here it blog!  My last post was in December, 2017.  I guess it is time for another update or two, or maybe update this thing regularly.

What's the latest?  My last story was about HostGator and SiteLock.  I decided a few months ago to drop HostGator - and essentially, SiteLock - and have a new hosting service.  I use the new service mainly to test web development scripts. 

Yes, I write in PHP, mostly, and HTML and use MySQL databases.  I'm also learning LUA.

I also had issues with CVS (the pharmacy), a local news radio station and even Amazon (Prime) delivery.

So as I get back into this, I'll post here.

Thanks for following!

~ Mike

Thursday, December 28, 2017

SiteLock Scam?

I have been a HostGator customer for many years - since 2005!  Before you start with "they are the worst...", I never had a major issue with them.  I've had multiple sites hosted with them on one very affordable account.  The minor issues I had were fixed quickly and for a couple years now I have not needed any "support required" requests.  For me, at least, they have been reliable and a decent hosting solution.

Until they partnered with SiteLock.  Apparently, I purchased this "service" from HostGator in 2013.  I'm going to look into this purchase later or maybe it was included with my HostGator account.  Just recently, I was contacted by SiteLock about malware on two of my domains.  Imagine the horror!  You don't know anything about websites, servers or even the internet and you receive a notice:

We are reaching out to you because one or more of the domains you own has malware on it and this issue needs to be resolved.  
As your website security provider you Do Not have the appropriate level of security to remedy/ remove and prevent these issues.

I've attempted to leave a message or left a message on the number in our records as well. Contact me immediately and directly. We are able to assist you

Now they are calling my cell phone.

The problem for them is, I have access to the files on my HostGator server and I know websites and the internet.  After some research, I found that SiteLock uses scare tactics to get unsuspecting subscribers to pay them (upwards of $100+) to fix their website for them.

Many of their Facebook followers post messages like "thank you so much for fixing my website", "You guys are the best!  They got my website reactivated after they cleaned it!"

Pay up, suckers!  Or, did they do it for free out of the goodness of their hearts?

I checked one of my domains that had this infestation of malware that was poised to end the world and destroy even HostGator.  Hostgator, a massive complex of buildings filled with enormous arrays of hardware and software and professionals working around the clock.

If I don't contact SiteLock and have them fix this immediately, the world and internet, as we know it, will cease to exist.  Or worse, SiteLock will tell HostGator to deactivate my account and shut me down because my account will harm HostGator's servers and the internet.

On this particular domain was ONE (1) html file that told visitors that the domain was for sale, contact me.  Simple html code, no hidden agenda or anything.

I'll save the $100.

Through more research, I found sites that offer FREE website checks.  With nothing to lose and before the end of the world, I entered my website domain on Sucuri.  According to Sucuri, my main domain was clean.  However, it did show the other domain, which contained only the html file, was blocked by Norton Safe Web.  The other 9 blocking sites considered the domain clean.  There was no malware detected.

In SiteLock's defense, it is not too uncommon for "internet security" providers to prey on unassuming victims.  They hope enough people will believe the hype and authority by using phrases like "you Do Not have the appropriate level of security" (but THEY do, of course), and "your account WILL be deactivated!".

This tactic reminds me of the crap I keep receiving in the mail (regular USPS mail).  On the outside "OPEN AT ONCE!  LEGAL NOTICE ENCLOSED!".  In a frantic frenzy, I open the envelope as carefully as possible so as not to damage the legal notice inside.  My eyes gaze at the large bold-type heading: "Car Sale In Your Area Soon!"  Another one boldly states on the outside "IMPORTANT! Your Car Warranty Has Expired! Open At ONCE!".  I open this one immediately and, in a cold sweat with a horrified look on my face, read "Purchase our extended warranty plan for $(amount) now!".  Sometimes I wish the USPS would accept s**t (defecation, "number 2") in an envelope since I would love to mail these companies what I "think" of their notices.

I feel sorry for these blood suckers who do this for low pay and hope the gullible, naive, recipient  falls for it so they can get a commission off of this scam.  I blame the companies.  I blame their "partner" companies, like HostGator.  SiteLock gains its followers through partner companies, and I'm sure other means.  We depend on the partners, like HostGator, to protect us, their customer, from harmful 3rd parties.  At the beginning, perhaps on paper, it would look like SiteLock can benefit their partners and their partner's clients/customers by providing a valuable service - site protection against hackers/malware.  But, when a 3rd party begins using tactics as described here and the partnership continues, it doesn't help the reputation or "pitch" of HostGator or other partners who involve SiteLock as a feature they offer.  Scamming your customer should not be considered a selling point.

After checking further in my Control Panel on HostGator, none of my websites have SiteLock enabled.  So this appears to be a good time to gain subscribers using the garbage I posted above.  For all I know, this company could have reported my one-file website, making it on the naughty banned list.  Banking on the shock and horror of the impending doom, I, the customer, would immediately hand over my credit card information, next of kin, life insurance policy and take out a loan in ANY amount...just to keep from being banned from the internet for life.

Instead, I think it would be easier to give up HostGator, which I have used since 2005.  Their relationship with SiteLock says a lot about them, unfortunately.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hurricane Debris - Removed!

The neighborhood is finally looking like normal again thanks to the contractors who drove house-by-house to remove debris today.  A large truck with attached trailer, resembling a modified garbage truck and industrial size trailer attached, removed tree limbs and other debris.

The claws extended from the top of the truck like a small crane.  I'm not sure if the noise was from the crane itself or if they were compacting and/or mulching the brush to some degree.  But that doesn't matter.  It only lasted a few minutes.

We can now see the street again and a large patch of grass that has been growing, or dying underneath the brush pile.

The sad part is, the dead brush with its brown leaves, was our only visual reference that "fall" was here.  😀

DCF's "Food For Florida" is B.S.

Hurricane Irma is long gone but the effects still remain for many who were in her path.  Debris still line the streets and outline many front yards.  In some areas, giant logs from downed trees are still waiting for their final destination - mulch, firewood, the next tabletop... The roofs of some homes are still covered with blue tarps and screened-in porches are still damaged waiting for insurance claims.

The Department of Children and Families of the State of Florida (DCF) setup a "Food For Florida" program which was designed to help Florida residents who were affected by Hurricane Irma replace disaster-related  It is a special "disaster food stamp program" and to qualify, applicants may not already be receiving government assistance (food stamps).

The process is simple.  Go online to the DCF Food For Florida website and complete the application. Wait for approval. Go to a food site on the scheduled day and receive your share of  funds that the state set aside for emergencies and those affected by Hurricane Irma.

Seems simple enough, right?  The program has helped quite a few Floridians.  However, for the rest of "us", it is bullshit.  Apparently, if you make a certain amount of income or have money set aside in a bank, this hurricane did not affect you (us).  It magically flew over your location/dwelling/household, and struck ONLY low-income residents because those are the Floridians receiving this benefit.  The higher-income residents did not experience power outages and, hence, did not have to throw food away or stay in a motel 15-20 miles, or more, from home.  The higher-income residents did not have downed trees or damage to their property and they certainly did not miss any work.  This program only exists for those in the lower-income bracket because they were the only ones who saw hardship during this disaster.

I know this because I tried applying for this program.  I work full-time and have a bank account, which are probably the reasons I was disqualified.  But, I live in Polk County, which was named as part of the "disaster area"!  I also had to replace ALL of the food in the refrigerator due to being without electricity.  I missed work.  I found a very rare (they just re-opened) motel room to "live" in for a day before I was notified the electricity was restored in my neighborhood.  So, I had expenses.  I had "loss" and unexpected expenses due to this storm and I lived in the right county.  But DCF doesn't cater to people like me and this funding was not created for people with a sustainable income and/or money in the bank.  The affect on me and my household, financially, due to Hurricane Irma, is not applicable to DCF standards because I am employed...and it's bullshit!  Even more, the online application requests bank balances (checking & savings) and cash on hand.  Then it asks for expenses as a result of the disaster.  It doesn't account for rent, mortgage, electricity/utilities, car payments or other expenses that continued regardless of the storm.  The residents who work, put money back into the economy and pay taxes, are excluded.  I'm not rich.  The money in the bank is not exorbitant.  I do not live a lavish lifestyle.  I do not have funds set aside for disasters.

When a disaster strikes that affects all of us, we are denied the help that the state set aside for ALL residents in the affected area.  Don't be fooled by the "we're here to help Floridians during this..." crap.  It sounds good in the media and public relations bulletins, but it is a lie and the working Floridians are paying for it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Facebook "Texas Sheriff's Deputies" hypocrites

A major hurricane is heading to Florida this weekend after devastating the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and islands further east.  This comes after another major hurricane, Harvey, flooded and destroyed the coastal Texas cities - Rockport, Houston, Beaumont and others.

Following the tragedy in Texas, a visiting University of Tampa professor posted on social media that Texans deserved Hurricane Harvey because of their support for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.  Texas struck back on social media - Don't Mess With Texas!  The professor was fired.

Ken Storey does not speak on behalf of the state of Florida.  He does not represent us in any way shape or form.  Storey was also asked if his political statement also was true for Floridians who voted for Trump.  “Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

Now, residents in Florida are facing that fate as well and it is starting in south Florida and heading north - Hurricane Irma.  At last report, Irma was wider than the state of Florida and was a strong Category 4 hurricane.  She was a very strong Category 5 while in the Atlantic, destroying those small islands.  The thing about hurricanes is, they don't know who voted for whom.  They destroy and cause havoc regardless of race, religion, political get the idea.

A few Texans now think this hurricane, with Florida as its target, is now "ok" because of Storey's statements.  And they are voicing their approval on social media, namely Facebook.  The shocker, to me at least, is the page is administered by law enforcement officers in Texas - the Texas Sheriff's Deputies!

The admins posted a MEME on their Facebook page

While the image itself is rather harmless, the admins responded with "Hahaha hahaha ha" and hashtags #karma #lifesabeach #besafe

So Texas was upset that Storey approved of their destruction, for voting for Trump, and touting "karma".  So upset that they approve the same "karma" for Florida with hurricane Irma.  Hypocrite much over there?  The comments that followed in response to this MEME were mixed.  Most were favorable supporting the "Texas Sheriff's Deputies" - and how could they not support their crass and vile position on this?  The MEME itself wasn't heartless and disgusting as much as the words by the admin(s) of the "Texas Sheriff's Deputies" themselves and their response to those of us, mostly me, who disapproved in their actions.

After a few posts, the admin's response was another MEME with "LIGHTEN UP FRANCIS" as well as "Leave the group if you don't like it".  This, of course, spawned more hatred towards myself and others who were equally put-off by the original post.  The admins obviously have very strong, high egos and they were not seeing the situation any other way - they could do no wrong - and their followers and worshipers agreed with them.

The admins continued with more childish memes provoking more hatred.

If (former) Professor Storey's posting was wrong and Texas was hurt by it, the admin's post invoked the same feelings towards others and the "Texas Sheriff's Deputies" didn't care.  Whenever you disagree with someone on social media, the only thing they can do to retaliate and attempt to prove superiority over you is call you a "snowflake" and "liberal".  These morons prefer to separate society by classes, color, religion, etc., until a disaster (natural, terrorism, etc) occurs - then it's "let's work together during this crisis so we can provoke hatred towards you afterwards".

...and finally, to show their absolute power over all, and that they were unable to see any wrong-doing of their own:

After they posted the pic above, I noticed I was banned from the page.  I'm surprised the admin hatemongers are actually in law enforcement.  My only guess for the ban is that they did realize they were off a bit, used callous judgement in their posts and were wrong, but were too egocentric to admit it to their worshipers.  Instead, they ban people from their page.  Of course, they are the administrators and can do as they please, but they were still wrong, insensitive and had no problem watching the hatred and provoking it themselves to protect their "we're better than you" image.

It's really a shame, too.  I enjoyed the page and (most of) the posts.  I'm from Texas originally.  I respect law enforcement.  But this group changed my opinion about the "Texas Sheriff's Deputies".  I see what they stand for now and what their mindset really is.  Are we going to laugh next time they are in danger?  Do we laugh when they get shot?  When they get arrested for being above the law?  No.  We are bigger than that.  Maybe the admins need to realize they are not the immortal Gods they think they are.  Step off of your high horse.  Try being human, if you can.