Century Link is Still Qwest and Still Shit

A little over a week before moving into my new house, I called the power company to set up service with them.  They offered to help me “explore my options” with different internet companies.  Because I am not thrilled with Comcast as a company, I decided to explore these options.  The person who helped me claimed I could get a better deal with Century Link.  I was skeptical.

Several years ago, over a series of months, I wasted more hours than I care to count on the phone with Qwest discussing the multiple issues I had with their DSL service.  Ultimately an electrician from their company got me a huge refund for several months’ worth of service I did not receive because the wiring to my house had been so old it wasn’t capable of managing the service I was supposed to have.

When Mr. Power Company Helper Guy urged me to switch, I was more than reluctant.  However, he assured me that more had changed than the name, and that I could get blazing fast internet for about $20 less a month than I was paying Telecommunication Monopoly, I mean Comcast.  I went ahead and signed up. However, Mr. Helper then transferred me to someone at Century Link to set up my account who read a disclaimer about the speeds, and I began to have buyer’s remorse nearly immediately.  The speeds quoted were apparently only the fastest possible, and not likely what I would get.  Oh great.  Here we go again.

After I got off the phone I called Comcast and without explaining why I wondered, asked what speeds my price was supposed to be getting me. They were over double the Century Link speeds.  The guy then set me up with a better plan and even faster speeds. The Century Link deal didn’t even come close.  I then called back the power company and explained I wanted to cancel the order.  They said it was too new and to call in the next day.  The next day I called back and was assured the order was cancelled, but the person said I should call Century Link to confirm, which I did. They said the order wasn’t even there yet, but the guy made a note for my address.  I called again a couple of days later just to make sure.  The person who answered said there was no account and that it must never have been set up.  He assured me that there was no chance I would get the service I did not want.  Still skeptical, but okay, if you say so.

The following weekend we moved into the house.  On Monday I went to work.  When I arrived home in the late afternoon, there was a package on my stoop.  Curious, I ran up to grab it before pulling into the garage.  What do you think it was?  Surprise!  A modem from Century Link.  Damn.  Not only do I already have a modem that is just great thanks, but there wasn’t supposed to be any Century Link anything in my life.

Back to the phone.  Back to holds and voice activated services that couldn’t figure out where I needed to be.  Finally a person who was able to give me a return authorization number and his assurances that the account was closed, there would be no residual expense, and that my time with Qwest, aka Century Link was over.  Satisfied, I believed him.  Fool I be.

A week and a half later, a thin envelope arrived bearing a bill for $34.95.  I didn’t even bother calling the louts at Century Link.  I wrote a short note on the bill stating that I had cancelled my service prior to installation and that there should be no charges.  I mostly believed that the bill issuance had crossed paths with the modem return.

Wrong again.  Today’s mail bore an even thinner, more demanding insistence that I pay Century Link, this time $19.99.  I put on my boxing gloves and called in.  I could not explain to the telephone computer person my reasons for calling in a manner that satisfied.  It finally transferred me to the wrong person, for whom I had to wait ten minutes, and that person had to transfer me to the right person. They may not have programmed in “Your fucking stupid company keeps billing me for shit I don’t want, you lousy corporate, monopolistic bastards.” but that was the line that finally did result in a human, so I suppose it worked.

Once I reached a human who could assist, I explained my situation.  He asked the usual litany of questions designed to prove I am me, then wanted to take a few minutes and “review the account.” Sure, I’ve been on hold for 20 minutes, what’s a few more?  He said the bill was for installation, then let me know he would do what he could to see about getting me a credit.  A credit?  No, sir. A credit will not do.  I cancelled your service before it was ever installed.  I don’t want a credit.  I want the charges gone, understand?  He said I needed to be patient.  I explained that I was thoroughly out of patience.  That I lost patience the day I came home to a modem and hours of holds and transfers.  That his employer had stolen time I could be spending with my children, walking the dog, doing my job, washing the dishes, anything except wasting hours on the phone with a bunch of incompetent hacks who couldn’t seem to get this right.  And that I would never pay them one penny of my money ever, especially considering all of the experiences I had suffered at the hands of their incompetence.  He was silent, then he said I needed to trust him.  I said I would try, but his coworkers had not instilled much trust.  He said the difference was that when he said he did something, he really did it.  I hope so.

I did not mail back the second bill. I’m hoping the phone calls suffice. We will see. In the meantime, I thought I would use this opportunity to warn every and all that Century Link is still Qwest, albeit with a brand new name, and that like Ally nee’ GMAC, and Springleaf nee’ American General Finance (see my observations about this here), they are still they same crappy monopolistic corporation, the same customer no-service, the same mess up even the most simple of requests, the same stay-on-hold-for-800-years, the same transfer to 13 departments before getting someone who may or may not fix your issue piece of shit company they have always been. Changing the name didn’t change anything except a few letters.

Rant over.

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The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy

The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy  The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality.

by Naomi Wolf

This post is a reprint and can be found here.

US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.

But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, andpenned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”

In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.

To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.

I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.

Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.

That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.

The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.

When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.

For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.

Thanksgiving Sonnet

It’s that time of year again, for me to repost a sonnet I wrote in college.  I’ve gone back and tried again and again to get the exact syllabic format for a completely proper sonnet, but could not find words to replace those here that would maintain the imagery and metaphoric content that I wanted, so it stays the same.

Thanksgiving Sonnet

Turgid turkeys, strained into rickety wooden coffins, exit four-by-four from a ten-ton hearse. Into the turkey mill: mutilation, holocaust.

Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower belching death in putrid smoke, blackening holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With elaborate precision he’s taken apart; neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls, ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

Dribble, dribble, drip

Oh, moving is such a chore.  I haven’t done one creative thing in 2 weeks.  I haven’t worked on my book.  I have barely played my cello. I haven’t looked at my French lessons. I haven’t taken one photograph (except a couple with the iPhone). I certainly haven’t written any useless nonsense on this blog. I have spent all my free time packing and moving, then moving, and now unpacking.  Really I would like to find a home to stay in for a really long time. This one would work for me if the owner would sell it, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.  I think next year I need to begin looking in earnest.  I don’t want to move again, but I need to find my own place.  However, I do like this house a lot.  It is much larger than the space we were in and it’s weird to be able to move freely and have places for things.  I loved the style and neighborhood of our little duplex, but the keyword there was little.  It was just too small, and it was never going to be a permanent home, as it was a duplex and a rental and I did not want to buy it. Plus three weeks before we left, the owner cut down the lovely tree in the front yard that was the only thing keeping the place from being a total fishbowl.  I had been feeling kind of sad about leaving the place, but the tree removal took care of that.

In any case, we are here now and the internet works, which is a plus.  I have been looking online on craigslist for some rugs.  I need one for Isabel’s room, the dining room, and perhaps up in what will be our family room.  The house is hardwood floors,so rugs make the house a home.

Craigslist is weird.  There are a whole bunch of ads for dead animal rugs.  First of all, how weird and gross is that, to walk around on some dead animal’s head and body?  I don’t get it.  There were a couple of tigers, a bear, and a cow skin.  Oh, last night i saw at Ikea that they were selling cow skins.  I just don’t find that look attractive at all.

The other thing I don’t get are ads that are selling some nasty old couch or something, with the caveat that it has holes and is covered in cat hair and probably stinks, but it’s a great, old friend, so you should want it too.  Oh, and it needs to be gone by this afternoon at 6.  And it’s $200.  Yeah, right.  Good luck getting someone to haul your ugly-ass piece of junk to the dump.

Work has been overwhelming.  I don’t know who I’m telling this to, but it has been crazy busy.  When I’m at the office I spend every spare minute cramming in work. A lot of the work is above and beyond the usual, so it’s even more workish.  I feel like a slacker for going to the bathroom or eating lunch, but since I’m one of those never-could-be-anorexic, desperate-for-food-every-five-minutes, kind of gals, I have no choice but to stop and eat.  Oh, and did I mention I’ve suddenly gone even blinder?  Last week after completely struggling to work because I could not see (this with + 5.25 prescription contacts in my eyes already) I got in the car and drove to Walgreen’s and bought some damn reading glasses for the office.  I already have several sets at home for playing the cello because I was having such a difficult time reading my music without them, but none were at the office and Walgreen’s was closer and I have no time to leave work and go home for glasses and….okay, enough long sentence.  You get the idea.  You being like the big, unknown they.  I don’t know who YOU is, or who I’m saying this to, I’m just saying it, or typing it, or something.  Oh, maybe Kathleen.  She said she reads these posts sometimes. Hi, Kathleen, if you’re reading this.

Anyway, I have to eat.  My stomach is growling.  I’m hungry.  It’s getting late and I need food.