Metro Express crazy billing errors

A few years ago California decided to have toll roads. They made a transponder to bill people for driving on toll and express roads. You would think that reading a transponder and billing people is pretty straightforward. You would be wrong. My car's transponder is set to HOV3. Last month, I got a bill, which showed my car transponder set to HOV3 at all times, except once, when it was set to SOV (single person), and I got billed $0.95. The odd thing is that 2 minutes before this, and 3 minutes after that the transponder was set to HOV3. Clearly the transponder was misread. Any sanity checking would show it to be a false reading. But I got billed for it, and I had to dispute it. This has happened a few times before.

So this month, I got a charge of $15.45. No idea why. They claimed that the lane was closed, and therefore I got the maximum fine. But the lane was not closed. Why is it that the errors are always charges, and never credits? If someone paid with their transponder, how would they know if there was a mistake? Amother feature is I referred a friend, which is supposed to result in a $10 credit. It has been about 2 months, and there is no credit yet. How long can it take? Certainly not 2 billing cycles.

FedEx - shipping

I bought something. I was shipped the wrong item. Since it was shipped with FedEx, I went to a local FedEx drop off location, and told them I was refusing the item. The person there stamped 'refused, return to sender' all over the box and took it back. This was on Jan-19-2021. The package bounced all around in a crazy fashion. I ended up calling FedEx 6 times. The first 4 times, I spoke to the normal customer service. Each time, they said not to worry about the tracking info, and that everything was fine. The last 2 times, I asked to speak to a supervisor. Each time they said everything was ok. The last time, they said they were 'putting a trace' on the package. On Feb-08-2021, the package was eventually delivered, about 372 miles from the drop off point. It turns out that the package went roughly 372 miles a total of 5 times. Nobody at FedEx could explain why it took so long. Nobody could explain why it took 5 trips. At least it finally arrived, after 3 weeks.

United Parcel Service (UPS) - shipping

UPS's about us page says "Customer first, people led, innovation driven". Sounds good, but it is far from the truth. I recently placed an order, and it was shipped with UPS. Here is what UPS's tracking info showed:

05/26/2020 8:32 A.M. Local UPS location Out For Delivery Today
05/23/2020 10:02 P.M. Local UPS location An emergency situation or severe weather condition has delayed delivery until the next business day.
05/23/2020 2:49 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/22/2020 10:21 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/22/2020 6:16 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/21/2020 10:15 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/21/2020 5:14 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/18/2020 8:13 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/18/2020 3:22 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/16/2020 10:29 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/16/2020 7:07 A.M. Local UPS location Destination Scan
05/15/2020 11:27 P.M. Local UPS location Arrival Scan

The local UPS location is about 10 miles away. Originally it was scheduled to be delivered 05/16 (Sat) by 9pm. It didn't happen.
Then it was scheduled to be delivered 05/18 (Mon) by 9pm. That didn't happen either.
Then it was listed as 'in transit' with no delivery date for 05/19 and 05/20. Finally 05/21 (Thu) it is listed as 'out for delivery'. Of course, it wasn't delivered, and the status is now 'In Transit'. Now the status is 'Prepairing for Delivery Today'.
UPS claims they will deliver 5/22 (Fri), but of course that didn't happen either.
UPS claims it is prepairing for delivery today 5/23 (Sat). Of course it didn't arrive.
UPS claims it is out for delivery today 5/26 (Mon). And it finally arrived!.

I know there are complications due to coronavirus, however, UPS failed to deliver the first three times. I wonder why it seemed to be stuck for a full week at the local UPS location. I tried calling them, and they have no people available to speak to. I emailed them, and I got an automated response. Clearly UPS isn't a professional shipping company.

Yellow Freight - shipping

Yellow Freight I needed to ship a used engine block to someone far away, and I decided to use Yellow Freight because they had the cheapest price. I had wanted to use UPS, but the box weighed over 150lbs, which is their max.

I called Yellow Freight, and told them I had a box that weighed about 190lbs. I told them where I was, and where I wanted it shipped. They told me it was $176.51. I drove down there to deliver the box to their depot. They were very professional. They put the box on a fork-lift, and got it inside their warehouse. I filled out all the paperwork, and told them I had weighed the package at 190lbs using my house scale. The forklift scale said it weighed 145lbs. They crossed out my weight, and filled in 145lbs. I told them I thought it was much heavier, as I can tell the difference of 45lbs, and if it was really 145lbs, then UPS would have shipped it.

A clerk there had to call and get a quote number, which she did. They took my credit card number, and I drove home. Yesterday, I got a call from Yellow Freight. They needed my credit card number, as they couldn't find it. I gave it to them again. I verified the charge was $176.51. They said it was roughly $25 more, because the package weighed 194 lbs. I told them that I was told that they charged in increments of 100 lbs, and when I questioned the weight of 145 lbs, I was told it didn't matter, 145 or 190 lbs. I told them that I had agreed to pay $176.51, not $200+.

Based on my limited law experience, I had a written contract (the bill of landing), and consideration (me giving them my credit card). And once there is a contract and consideration, you cannot just change the contract without mutual agreement.

I told them that they weighed it, and we had an agreed on price, and that I wouldn't pay any more money. They got upset and argued with me a bit, and finally they hung up the phone on me!

It is a good thing I paid by credit card. If they try to bill me more than the agreed amount, I will complain to my credit card folks who can then deal with it. I am shocked my the unprofessionalism of Yellow Freight, and I won't use them again. For stuff less than 150 lbs, I will deal with the professionals at UPS.

American Express (credit card)

American Express I decided I wanted to get an American Express blue credit card. They have no annual fee (because they charge the merchants so much), a very good price protection policy, and lots of nifty Internet-enabled features. Well, the Internet enabled features only work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

I tried to sign up for for the blue rewards (or something like that), which involves getting some kind of points when I use the credit card. So I clicked my browser over there, and their web pages were broken. I have dealt with broken web pages before, and so I enabled javascript, which usually solves the buggy web pages. (Note that good sites like Netscape and Quicken actually tell you that they want javascript to be on, and work in a less feature full manner when javascript is off. I happen to keep javascript off because I consider it to be a security problem, and I don't like pop up ads appearing everywhere.) Well, the American express web pages were still broken. Since I was running a real operation system (Mandrake Linux), I rebooted into a lesser operating system (Windows 2000), and fired up Internet explorer. Surprise! The web pages worked!

So it was a simple case of some morons writing non-portable web pages. I understand when a really clueless company like United Airlines does that, as they are superb at canceling flights, losing luggage and the like, but I expected better from American Express. After all they have a credit card reader that attaches to the computer, and brag about all the on-line services that they offer. So I called them up, and got to a technical support person. They explained that they supported the latest Netscape browser. When I told then that I had 6.2 (which is much more standards compliant than older browsers), they told me they supported only 4.7x, and that 'Netscape had not told them how to program their web pages' or something like that. It was clear that I was dealing with morons, as their web pages should work with *all browsers*, not just Internet Explorer. Browsers like Opera, Lynx, and the silly ones built in to PDAs, and cell phones. It isn't rocket science to write portable web pages, but it seems to be beyond American Express's ability.

I told them I wanted to cancel my card until their web pages were usable with different browsers. Perhaps one day they will learn how to write portable pages...

American Express (credit card)

Well, things have changed from 2002. I recently signed up for an American Express card. There were no problems using Firefox 3.0. I guess they got the message about writing portable HTML code. They don't give out card readers for their cards anymore, but I have no problems logging into their site. Perhaps canceling in 2002 had a small impact in getting them to fix their web pages.

ChargePoint Electric Car Charging Stations

I have a Plug-In-Prius. I got a free ChargePoint card a few years ago. I started using it a bit. It is very easy. You put it in front of a ChargePoint charger, it releases the power cord, you get electricity. What could possibly go wrong. I was told that the chargers where I was parking were free for the first four hours of charging. I used some in the parking garage. Worked great. One day, when they were full, I used some others that were 100 feet away. I swiped my card, plugged in, and got a charge. Then I got a bill for $2.01 for using 0.89 kwh of power in 45.14 minutes. It turns out that that particular charger charges $1.50 per hour, which was not obvious to me. Now a kwh of power costs somewhere between $0.05 and $0.25, depending on where you get electricity and when. I was charged roughly 20 times what the electricity cost. I complained to ChargePoint, and cancelled my card.

That day, which was April-29, I got the following email from them:

This email confirms that your ChargePoint card(s) may now be used to charge your vehicle on free stations only, and you may no longer charge your vehicle on stations that require payment. If you have any questions, please call Customer Support at 888-758-4389..

Drive happier.

Team ChargePoint

Well, that wasn't so bad. So on May-02, I took my car to the free ChargePoint charger, but it did not accept my card. I called them up and they said my account had been cancelled, and that I needed to change my account to a free account, which can only use free chargers. That didn't sound so bad. I tried to set up my account that way, but I was unable to do so. So I called their support number. It turns out that the email was incorrect, because I can't use free chargers. It turns out that the person at ChargePoint support was incorrect because there are no free accounts. There were free accounts at some time in the past, but they no longer exist. I asked if there were free accounts when I called earlier in the day, and I was told there were not. I asked why I was told there were free accounts and I was told the person was not properly trained. I asked why I got the email 3 days ago, and they said it was a mistake.

I don't expect perfection, but charging stations that charge 20 times what electricity costs is usury. It was not clearly marked that it was not a free charging station and what the costs were. The email was quite wrong technically and should never have been sent. The first person I spoke to today was either confused or lying to me. I cannot recommend ChargePoint as they seem clueless at best.

Gehr Industries - power cords

I bought two 100 foot 12 gauge power cords. While using one, and drawing 10 amps, the female power connector at the end got very hot and started to melt. I have never had this happen before in a power cord. Using the numbers on the power cord end and the internet, I identified the likely manufacturer as being Gehr Industries. Looking at their website, their extension cords look quite similar to mine.I am not 100% sure it is them, but whoever makes the power cord has a serious issue, as it could have caught on fire.

So I contacted them by phone on Jul-02-2014, and I spoke to Ana Flores an e-commerce sales assistant. I then sent her a picture of the melted socket by email. Jul-03-2014 I got a reply "Hi Good Morning <>, my engineer was asking me where you found the numbers that associated With our company. On the label or indented on the cord?" I sent in that info.

Jul-09-2014 I sent them a message "Is there any news about my power cord with the melted socket?" and Jul-10-2014 I got a reply "Go ahead and send it to us we will inspect in and let you know if it is a Manufactures defect."

Jul-17-2014 I got a message "Hi <>, I did receive it in. The sticker part was missing from the connector. Can you send us A picture of the silver sticker per our engineers request. As for some reason it looks like it Is not our merchandise.

Jul-17-2014 I sent a message "I will get a picture of the sticker to you this afternoon or evening. I didn't realize you wanted it." and I got a reply "Thany you".

Jul-21-2014 I sent a message "I sent you a picture of the silver sticker on friday. Did you get it?" and Jul-22-2014 I got a reply "Yes, I did still looking into....."

Sep-09-2014 I sent a message "It has been over a month, and I have not heard back from you. If your company made the cord, I would like it replaced. If your company did not make the cord, please let me know that. and on Sep-11-2014 I got a reply "Ok I will have an answer today...." Sep-17-2015 I sent a message "I have not heard back from you."

I fear the customer support person wasn't doing a good job, so in frustration I contacted the president. Sep-17-2014 I sent a message to the president "I have been in contact with your e Commerce Sales people for over 2 months. I mailed back the melted socket. I have not gotten a definitive answer if your company made the power cord, and I have not gotten a replacement cord. I would appreciate any help you can provide." Sep-18-2014 I got a reply "My name is Victor Chan and I am the Engineering Manager at Gehr Industries. I would like to apologize for the late reply as that Customer Service department was being relocated in the building and didn't get back to you promptly. The extension cord you purchased is from Prime Wire and Cable who can be contacted at the link below. I will mail back to you today the connector end you sent us in case you need to provide it to them to show the problem. Please tell me if I can be of any further assistance." Well at least I finally found out who made the extension cable, and they are nice enough to send the melted end back.

I contacted them Jul-02-2014, and finally on Sep-18-2014 I got an answer. At the least, their customer support is really poor.

Prime Wire and Cable Inc - power cords

So Gehr said that the cable was made by Prime. (The UL code is E-56075.) I called Prime today. They said that they probably didn't make the cable and that Gehr probably made the cable. The also said that Gehr owned them a few years ago. In any event, they said they would mail me a new cable. I asked them if they wanted me to mail in the melted plug, and they said no thanks. They didn't even ask for a picture of the melted plug or the UL tag on the cable. Gehr could learn something about customer support from Prime. I am not sure who made the cable, but Gehr gave me a runaround for over 2 months. I had to contact their president to get a response. Prime took one 5 minute phone call to customer support, and they are mailing me a new power cord. Do the math.

Uber

I scheduled an Uber ride Nov 18th, with a pickup time of 6:00am - 6:10am. I got a message saying a Kia Optima was scheduled to pick me up. They never showed up. Later, looking through my rides, it said "Driver Cancelled". I didn't get any notification that my ride was cancelled. Around 6:20, I ordered another ride. I was told it would take 15 minutes to arrive. It did arrive around 6:35, and took me to the airport. However, as it was about 35 minutes later than I wanted, and traffic got much worse during that tile, I missed my flight. The airline was very nice, and put me on another flight. Of course rides can be cancelled for many reasons. Perhaps the driver got a flat. What is unacceptable, is that I wasn't notified and a replacement driver was never scheduled to pick me up.

I tried to contact Uber. You can't speak to them with the app, or call them on a phone number, or email them. Fortunately, using their web page after drilling down a lot, you can contact them. I told them that I missed my flight through no fault of my own. I told them that I arrived at my destination over 2 hours later than I wanted. Here is what they said.

I'm sorry to hear about your difficult pickup experience on this trip.

I reviewed your trip and can confirm that you were not charged a cancellation fee or the price you saw before requesting on this trip. The charge that you’re seeing as pending on your statement is an authorization hold, which is a standard practice to confirm your card has enough funds to cover the fare.

Uber places an authorization hold at the start of every trip, including trips that are later canceled. Since Uber has already released the hold, the authorization amount should soon be released by your bank. This typically happens within 3-5 business days. We appreciate your understanding.

I do appreciate them not charging me for a service I didn't get, which is what I would expect. However, they didn't seem to care that I missed my flight, and arrived over 2 hours late. I wrote

It is nice that I wasn't charged. However, I missed my flight, and spent several hours in Chicago. I would like to be compensated, as I did nothing wrong, but got stuck.

They wrote back

I'm sorry to hear about the inconvenience here.

We understand that you wanted credit, however, that is not in accordance with our standards at this time, and we will be unable to fulfill this request. Please know that we review our standards on a regular basis, and feedback like yours is valuable as we continue to design more helpful support experiences for our riders. Your patience during this matter is appreciated.

I wrote to them

I have no patience in this matter. I have no understanding in this matter of your mistake. I should have been notified of the issue, and a new driver dispatched to pick me up.

I got screwed and only through the kindness of the airline was I able to get to my destination, later than I wanted to. What would happen if they couldn't find a flight for me? What would happen if they wanted to charge me a new airfare?

I expect to be compensated. I have published how I was screwed by Uber, and I am making Uber weasel of the month. Feel free to see it at weasel.com

United Air Lines

I recently flew on United Air Lines. My flight was from a Small city one to another small city two, through a large hub city. The flight from small city one to the large hub city was uneventful. However, there were no open gates at the hub city. There was a broken plane, and other chaos. Despite the hub city airport having well over 100 gates, no open one could be found for over an hour. This is not superbad. However, of the 84 passengers on the plane, 83 had connecting flights. Of course, my connecting flight was long gone by the time the plane unloaded. I asked a United worker at the gate I exited from, and they told me to hurry to the departing gate.

This terminal is roughly a mile long inside, with several motorized walkways. I went as fast as I could to the departing terminal. However, the plane was long gone, as were all United employees. I have watched their procedure, and after a plane leaves, they make a report, and print it out. This process takes roughly 20 minutes, so the plane likely left at least 20 minutes before I got there. I went to a customer care center, but it was closed. I got a ride to another customer care center. This was more promising, except there were about 13 people in line before me, and only 2 United employees were handling the crowd. Eventually, they told me there were no more flights to small city 2. They said they could fly me to a nearby large city, about 4 hours later on. I said ok, and they printed a ticket for me. I asked for a meal voucher so I could get dinner at the airport, as I would be there 4 hours longer than scheduled. They said no. I asked for money for Uber to get me home, as the large city was roughly 30 miles further from home than small city 2. They said no. They did give me a card with contact info for United Customer Care.

I called the number on the card, and I was eventually transferred to customer care. I was told I could buy dinner, and United would reimburse me when I sent in a copy of my receipt online. I was also told I could take an Uber home, and united would reimburse me when I sent in a copy of my receipt online. This wasn't so bad. I walked Ac to customer care, and I asked for a dinner voucher, not fully trusting the online process. After getting a managers approval, I got a $10 voucher. This doesn't buy a lot of food in an airport, but it was a start. Eventually I got on the plane which loaded at 10om, rather than the 6pm loading of the flight I missed. I arrived at the large city at midnight. I took an Uber home, arriving around 1am. The next morning, I went online. I was told I would get a $150 united credit towards another flight, which is pretty useless to me. I went to a feedback website and submitted my Uber receipt and an explanation.

A few days later, I called United, and they had no clue about the status of my Uber refund. A few more days later, I got an email saying sorry about the issue, and they sent me a $150 credit (which I already knew). They implied that this covered the Uber cost of $56. I called United, and they were completely clueless. They didn't know I had gotten the $150 credit. They said I should send in my Uber receipt and an explanation. I pointed out that I did that last week. After 30 minutes of cluelessness, I got disconnected. They did know my phone number, but I was never contacted. Over the next few days, I spent several hours on the phone. They all told me I had to wait until I got an email from United. None knew that I already got it. Some said I had to do all communicating online. Nobody knew anything about the person who said I would be reimbursed for my Uber drive. I fear I will never be reimbursed.

This shows several issues. 1) United doesn't track what they say to customers. They should have known that I was promised food and Uber reimbursement. 2) United doesn't track that they have sent out emails to customers. They really need to do this. 3) United needs to have a process for people who get diverted to a different airport to help get them home or to the original airport. Clearly they don't. 4) United needs better customer support. Both the phone calls and the emails were unhelpful. I spent hours on the phone with no result. Their email system needs to work quickly. Automated things like issuing credits should take minutes, not days. I cannot recommend United. I plan on flying on different carriers.

After a few more emails with United, they finally said they would send me a check for my Uber fare home. Of course they told me that on the phone when I was stuck in the airport. They did say it would be "within 21 business days." And that doesn't include the 10 days between my flight ending, and United saying they would send me a check. One might ask why it takes so long to cut and mail a check. I will believe it when I see it. It took 10 days, about 9 emails, and about 5 hours on the phone to achieve this result.

Of course, United having poor customer support is not isolated to me, nor is my issue the most serious. Recently United Airlines decided deaf people need wheelchairs. and there was the incident of United Airlines forcibly dragging a 69 year old doctor off a plane, giving him a concussion and knocking out several teeth Wilipedia Link The United CEO said that the passenger was "disruptive and belligerent", but later retracted his statement.

If you have comments or suggestions, Email me at turbo-www@weasel.com

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