Friday, October 14, 2011

Verizon Can Kiss My...

I opened my Verizon bill and fell on the floor.  How the hell did I owe $265.52?  I checked to see if I paid last month’s bill.  Yep, all 76.01.  How could my bill increase almost 200 dollars in a single month?

First, the 83 dollar call.  That’s right, one call, 19 minutes, 83 bucks.  That’s over 4.35 cents a minute.  Yes, it was an international call.  My wife usually uses those calling cards that you buy in gas stations where you only have to pay ten cents a minute. She ran out of minutes and thought, what the hell, I’ll make one call to my parents in Spain.  We didn’t think 19 minutes would cost more than say 19 dollars.  Wrong.  We’ll never make that mistake again.

We also had our phone line suspended while we were in Spain.  When we came back, we no longer had caller ID or voice mail.  I asked to have them reinstated.  Cost to have them added - $44.99.  Just to add what was on my phone before I left.  I never asked to have caller ID or voice mail removed. 

Add to that a new rate – instead of 76 bucks a month, we now owe 105.  That’s an extra 29 bucks just to have caller ID, voice mail, and the ability to make long distance calls if need be.  Wait, make that 139 dollars – I forgot to add the taxes.  I still can’t figure out why it jumped more than 40 dollars since before I left for Spain when we have the same plan.  That’s right, the same plan – and three months later it’s 40 plus more dollars!

How much of this bill is just foolishness intended to rob naïve costumers like myself?  

And as I simmer, I think about all the other bills that come up that my parents never had to pay.  Cell phones, data plans, cable bills, internet, satellite radio, not to mention daycare.  Ah, what happened to the stay at home moms - when both parents didn't need to work to pay for their phone bills. Most of these bills aren't  necessary, but it seems like everyone considers most of them vital.   

I’m going to look into Vonage – I need to drop Verizon.  Maybe I’ll drop the cable and pick up NetFlicks.  Here I am saving nickels and dimes by cutting coupons for the groceries only to spend dollars on a stupid fricken call.  I wish I could drop all of them and just live off the grid.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with billing nightmare stories.  Add yours here - it'd be nice to know that I'm not alone.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How Should I Respond to Good and Bad Reviews?

It’s great to read good reviews after years of working on a book.  It puts me in a better mood as I start to think of news ways of promoting my book.  I find these reviews scattered about.  I have more than a half dozen on Amazon and six more at GoodReads.com.  I have a couple on smashwords.com and Librarything.com.  At times I’m tempted to thank the review and even beg to post it in more spots, but I don’t want to burden a reviewer who has been so nice to suddenly go around the internet posting reviews.

And just like a good review can cheer me up, a bad review can bring me down.  I’m lucky; I’ve only had one so far (I’m sure that will change).  And the reviewer gave me three out of five stars (I know eventually I’ll see one-star reviews, but lucky for me, most have been five stars).  Three stars isn’t bad, but the review wasn’t.  I saw what the reviewer was getting at and felt like shutting it down.  I no longer wanted to promote it and wondered if I was wasting my time.  Then I saw some other authors tweeting about their bad reviews.  I’m not sure what the point was, but it elicited sympathy.  “Oh, that reviewer is terrible and so wrong…”, “I’ve had bad reviews too, don’t worry about it,” etc.  In one case I saw a author responding to a negative review.

I imagined myself contacting the reviewer and explaining myself.  “You’ve missed the point,” I imagined myself writing.  But then wouldn’t I have missed the point of the review?

When I was a kid, I remember teammates crying when they struck out.  I cried about a lot of things, but I don’t remember crying when I struck out.  I also remember teammates jumping up and down and practically peeing in their pants when they got a homerun and teasing the other team as they rounded the bases.  My dad told me, “KJ, act like you’ve been there before.  No need to cry or taunt the other team.”  So when I struck out or hit a homerun, I tried to remain stoic.

And that’s how I try to deal with reviews.  Even though I’m tempted to do otherwise.