Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!

Beware the Scammer

It was a couple a weeks ago now, as I was nonchalantly looking at the rental market up in Northern British Columbia, that I came across an ad that seemed to good to be true. I was delighted when I got a response almost within hours of my query to the ad. I was inspired, and felt hopeful glee, when I was told that this particular home was available, and that I was the only one who has responded. However, in the end, once it was evident that this was a scammer hard at work, trying to dupe me, I whisked away the happy thoughts and moved on.

So, yes, scammers are everywhere, and sadly, not even our law enforcement in British Columbia, the RCMP, can do much about it. It is buyer beware, and due diligence that must be practice when combing the ads of both printed and on-line media. Scammers are everywhere, and they have no moral values; they are human parasites in today’s world.

What was obvious at first for me was how awesome the ad was. It was too good to be true. The price for the dwelling was, unreal, to say the least. So moving forward, looking at the price, and how it was a deal, was the first sign of the scam. In a market that is flush with little competition, where prices were outrageous, seeing a deal that was unbelievably fifty precent below market value, was a dead giveaway. But I kept going with the email exchanges anyway, hoping that this could be the real deal, but doubting it more and more as time went on. Added to this, all utilities were included, even cable and Internet. Yes, he was going to pay for my Internet! My B.S. meter/detector was pointing off the scale now.

The second warning sign came in the form of how fast the acceptance was, and the rush to move to the actual rental agreement form. I should also point out that the replies I received were typed in very poor English, almost to the point that this person was using a spell-checker, while doing “cut and paste” chunks of phrases from other emails. The poor grammar, and ward choice, coupled with flawless paragraphs in the same email proved that this scammer was luring several victims at once. Yes, I had one section where he was speaking to me as a female. Not to mention how basic the rental agreement was, and how little information I had to give, I laughed when he added that to the text of  the email–no attachment or signature in return. It was obvious that all I needed was a pulse, to prove that I was alive, and money, to give to the scammer.

Third, was when I asked to see the place first before I would give out any money for the damage deposit. Now this is where things got murky. In British Columbia, the laws are different from other jurisdictions about what a land lord can, or cannot, ask for as far as money, information and types of contracts rental agreements. To pay for “site unseen” is, well, not the proper way of doing business here in Canada. So when I asked to have the address of the dwelling before I would consider paying with any money, the answer was no: “pay first, then you get the keys” was the reply. The exchange was to priceless. First was the Trans Union Money address in the Untied States, and then the promise of the keys and receipts delivered to me by Fedex. Then was a possible visit, once I was moved in, to see how I would enjoy my new home.

I stopped my conversation with David, the scammer. He never bothered to continue as well. It all stopped as it began. However, I could imagine him waiting for his next prey, another unsuspecting person searching for a place to live here in British Columbia with his deceptive ad.  All I could do was hope that his ad be taken down after my complaint and rid the net of this parasite for about thirty seconds.

Please use your head when shopping on-line, or from printed media, especially about renting. If it seems to good to be true, than it will be a scammer hard at work ready to take your money. Do your research, and please report these ads to the appropriate authorities once you have determined them to be scammers.

The Growing Homeless Problem

Each day, as I drive to work, I see them, the homeless. In the field, along 64th Avenue, as I drive over the overpass above the railway tracks off from Glover Road in Langley, Township, huddled among the low bushes are tarps and sheets of plastic used as tents. Strewn along the bushes and tents are shopping buggies and bicycles, some with baby trailers attached, and most are adorned with boxes and makeshift saddle bags designed for hauling heavy items and personal belongings. Sometimes I see them, but mostly I just see the small tent community in groups on the vacant field.

During the work week I see the RCMP, their cars parked along the road, officers with gloves on, walking or huddled in the middle of this field. Near their cars, sits a pile of plastic and a circle of shopping carts, just thrown into a large heap waiting for pick-up to the landfill. But more often that not, the tent community returns. Each morning, its members pack up and start their day, leaving only a small group of tents behind. Those are the tents that get taken down, and their occupants taken away.

It is hard to count their numbers. If I go by the rule that there is one occupant to one tent, then I would say there are at least twenty people living there. Then the question I ask, is twenty too many? Are there more? Are they the same people returning each day.

The vacant land is up for sale. It is prime real estate for commercial use. Like all land development around here in Langley, the market is hot, and options for cheap housing are almost non-existent. Affordably and housing are heard most often now by special interest groups, and some say we have reached a crises point. Government is hard to pin down as to how much help they are willing to offer the homeless. Perhaps if there are homeless people sleeping on this vacant land, then Government has failed?

Regardless, the homeless are there, and they are not going to go away. If the RCMP do keep them out, then it seems to me that the homeless will simply find another vacant field to stay the night in.

Anyway, that is what I see every day I drive to my work.

Caught One, Rats! (Warning-Gross Image)

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps along with shock value, this image (below) speaks volumes to my plight. If you have been following my weblog, I have been battling with these vermin for the last four or five months now. They have cost me, in the pocketbook, a sum of around $1800.00 now, by replacing the damage they have caused. Chewed wires, holes in plastic containers and isolation, these rats have been nothing but trouble to both my home and vehicle. So I took action, and I am getting results!

Let us look at the above photo for a moment. This is the first rat caught while on the motor. I check my engine almost every day now. You can see the socks places under the wires. Those socks are filled with Mothballs, and since I have been placing them in the engine compartment, I have not had one wire chewed since.

Besides the Mothballs, I have been laying poison near my vehicle too. I bought some Rat-A-Way pellets, which did wonders on the first couple of days I set the traps. The first twenty-four hours three rat bodies were found underneath my Pathfinder, and the following day, four mice and one rat. Since then, the bait had been nibbled at, but no more bodies near my vehicle. Though, near my front door steps, I caught three more rats along with six mice in the last month.

But my main concern has been my vehicle. I now have proof that the Mothball method works!

To all those deniers and self-proclaimed rat experts (you know who you are) look-at-the-image. And “no,” I did not place the rat there and staged the whole photo–that is just gross!

Why Having No Neighbours is So Nice

Listening to my ex-neighbour who moved to another neighbourhood, telling me about his new problems, makes me appreciate the peace and quiet of my little corner of the universe. I could not live in a trailer park, or condo, or any other place that has people crammed so close together. When I thought about his tails of the weird and wacky people that have moved close to him, I realized that half of his trouble were his alone: he wants his privacy, yet craves the social interactions at the same time.

Sure, having people around is human. We humans like to live in colonies, families, and sometimes in metropolitan centres and cities. I even heard this called “human nature” while taking my undergrad classes university. Ultimately, we take on a mate, and raise children, and build our own families. In turn, we live close to populated areas for jobs, schools and stores, which give us securities.  We in our homes, towns and cities, governments to give us Rule of Law and build roads, schools and keep us safe. Some how, in this human utopia, chaos can ensue.

For my friend, in his trailer park, the mix was spoilt over time. Drug users, which are common among low income sites, were part of his problem as they moved in, but also tenants who wanted the joy and happiness that they claimed of their properties, also interfered with his peace and enjoyment. Then there were the whores and prostitutes that occupied the park as well; many are also drug users, and bring their own troubles. The neighbourhood is now labelled as a haven for lawlessness. Law enforcement even fears venturing into the area, and unless they have to, it is with body armour.

As I look across the farm fields and forests from my front door, I am happy. I live where many would not choose to. My neighbours are far enough from me that I like them. I can leave my windows open, and car unlocked and barbecue out on my patio without a chain. Good ridden to the trailer park trash; my friend, I feel for you–honest.

Fort Langley’s Little Bumpy Problem

What can I say, Fort Langley has a parking problem. This post is more of a rant, than a piece on constructive criticism. I offer no solution and point my finger at no one, only offering a few bits of observations from the twenty plus years I have lived here.

Have you driven down Glover Road, going through Fort Langley lately? It is not a pretty sight. The road, for about four blocks, is like driving on one great big—never ending—endless series of speed bumps. In fact, I think my exhaust system on my vehicle is ready to fall off because of it.

This is stupid. It has been over half a year now since the construction of underground power lines were installed (which by the way, I think was a complete waist of time and money, and I am glad I don’t live there any more to pay those taxes). Next to parking, this is my biggest gripe about the village.

I still have to drive through twice a day, as I go to and from work. It is by far the shortest route for me. Anyway, that is my rant for today. Hurry up and fix the damn road! Grrrrrrr

What, No Census Form in the Mail!

I have been so busy over the last week that I have had no time to check my mail box until today. I was sad to see it full of other junk other than my Census Canada envelope from Statistic Canada. After hearing all the hype about it been online, and how super fast it was to fill out, I was eager to jump the bandwagon and do mine. Right now I am bumbed out, and on the phone; yes, on hold–waiting for the next available agent at Statistics Canada, hoping to help me get it, making me a happy camper.

OK, while I am still holding on the phone, here is where I got the information to contact them, regarding not getting a Census Form in the mail. You can get the link here: Contact Us. Get your coffee and snacks, and find some place comfy to sit becuase it will take a while to talk to someone there as I am sure there are an avalanche of callers around this time-all asking the same questions as me, and needing other help with Census Forms issues.

16 minutes pass…

Yay – Success – I got through! Good news, and bad. It appears that may area, even though it is in the Metro Vancouver area, is considered rural. So, according to the nice lady on the phone at Statistics Canada, I may have someone knocking on my door sometime between now and May 10, 2016, giving me my Census information.

Why not just mail it? If they can send it to households in town, why not do the same for farms and rural homes as well. I think my address has been here longer than Fort Langley was a town.

Oh well, now I wait for the Census people to arrive knocking at my door.

Oh Mike – The Senate, The Cons, The Court of public Opinion

I cannot hold my tongue no longer. After hearing the results of the Mike Duffy trial, that threw out all thirty-one charges put against him by the Crown, the RCMP and the Steven Harper PC Government of the day, I laughed out loud. “We are all fools” I told myself, after the day long event, covered in segments on CBC News as they peppered us with details of the deliberations (one by one) by the Judge somewhere in Ontario. With the full exoneration of Mike Duffy, the fools from all of this are the people of Canada. Sure, the Happer-Cons were the cause of all of this, as I see it clearly now from the Media. The questions I ask myself: do I still like the Senate afterwards from all of this? Ahhh, all of this has cemented even harder my lack of heart felt “value” of why do we still have this unelected level of government.

(Okay, I had a very long rant going on here. I stopped, and thought about it, then decided to delete it. I felt I was going way over the top with most of my comments. Some of my critiques were, well, abrasive and heart-felt, and borderline on self incriminating myself in public–I stopped typing.)

I guess I see all of this as a media event, like a three ring circus show. I am not a fan of the Senate. When I first learned of how our government worked, I was always asking question as to why this level of Federal Government was appointed, and always stacked in favour of the ruling Party, making it a puppet show of the House of Commons. No one ever told me that this was a one hundred percent good thing. Why not have elections for our Senators, I would ask? Why not make public their expense accounts, and hold them to budgets? Why not have rules and laws that would throw out the bad apples when those rules and laws are broken? And hey, lets have Green Party and NDP Senators too?

Sure, keep the Senate; I do agree with the concept of “A Second Sober Thought,” with our law makers. But lets prevent this three ring circus from going on any further–let us make true and lasting change.

LINKS

Mike Duffy ruling could put brakes on expense cases against other senators” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Judge clears Mike Duffy of all charges and slams Prime Minister’s Office under Harper” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Read Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s ruling” April 21-22, 2016 c/o CBCNews.

Cutting The Cord – A How to Guide

As you may have read here on my weblog in the past, I hate the price gouging by my cable provider. The main reason is that they (my ISP) created this idea called “bundling,” which is code for “there no free lunch – you either eat the whole smorgasbord, or do not eat at all.” You have to have the cable-TV content, along with the Internet Service, and/or phone if you asked for it. You cannot have the Internet by itself. The end result, is much higher prices for content and services that are either poor, or not wanted. And worse,  those TV channels that you do want, are bundled with garbage channels that you do not want. It all adds up to one big cable bill. There is a solution here in Canada, but it takes a leap of understanding. You can watch all the TV you want, either for free, or for much less: you are doing it from off of the Internet! But you still need the cord. How?

3D Box with Key Hole April 2016 - Weblog Image

Step One – Where I live, I can call upon other ISPs that rents the infrastructure that is owned by my current cable provider. You really do not cut the cord, but you can change companies that you would deal with. In my case, I have ComWave, who rents the wires that connects my house to the web, and they offer Internet (and phone) only packages that are much cheaper than the cable companies’ bundles. The savings – two thirds cheaper. I can go from $160.00 per month (TV Cable, Phone and Internet) to $60.00 per month with the same internet connection I have now (just Internet and Phone).

Step Two – You may still want the TV you like. There are a couple of options. You can sign up for speciality channels from right off of the Internet from streaming websites created by those providers. You would watch them from your web browser through your computer, connected to your TV. Yes, high-def TV over the net! Another option is to buy a “Black Box” that connects to the Internet and acts like a cable TV box that hooks up to your TV. A good example is FreeTVBox that is offered here in Canada, and works by streaming TV content from off the net to your TV. The Black Box is a one time buy, and you get free TV content for life according to its creators.

This seems to be the biggest change in the media market to date as consumers flock away from the big cable gougers, to just having Internet as their only means of entertainment and social connection to the world. I would say it is partly convenience, and mostly costs that is driving this change. This is easily fuelled by the youth who can live with just their smart phones, who have cut the cord, and the middle class who seek better and more modern means of getting their TV content. The result, Cable is a sunset industry.

My Take on the Panama Papers

I almost fell off of my chair when I read the news article called the Panama Papers from CBCnews on their website. First, when they said that there are legitimate reasons for having an off shore account like and second, just how prolific these off accounts are among the rich and famous. But that is not all. When I read that part in the news article that our very own Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will not invest time and efforts to look into the Canadians on the list (who could be possible tax cheats) on the Panama Papers, this made me angry.

So, I am a big multi billion dollar corporation, and I ask my lawyers, “hey, how do we cut the amount of taxes we are paying in this county,” they would say, open an off shore account and there you can hid your money from the tax man. How could this be legal? I certainly see the benefit from the corporation’s point of view, and I just cannot wrap my head around how our government can legitimize this whole secrecy part about hiding money like this. Sure, there must be some legal reasons for doing this, (although I cannot see them at the moment) but in this day and age, when the number of people who have billions in their bank account is growing, and the number of countries and people who are corrupt grow, I can only see dodging and secrecy as the heaven against high tax jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies. So it would make sense to me that anyone who has lots of money (or property) would want to “hide” it, especially from government’s tax and legal departments.

I am just dumbfounded that in my own country (Canada) having an offshore account is perfectly acceptable; however, I did read my my tax return, and it asks if you have property and money outside of Canada, so I guess if you are honest, you would tell them. But, the CRA seems to not have any troubles if you decide to open an offshore account, and you kept that to yourself, they appear to have no interest in looking for it. So, if you are lucky enough to not have your offshore company’s records leaked to the world, then your money, assets and property (including valuable art) are perfectly safe in (from) Canada.

I say, Canada at least, should treat this like the “War on Drugs.” Liken it to drugs, say Cocaine for example. Cocaine is a highly additive drug, and it so happens that it is illegal to have possession of it, and to us it, other than for medial reasons by a real doctor. So, lets treat offshore banking the same way. Since greed for money seems to be associated with illegal activities, and common links can be drawn between the drug user and offshore accounts, why not set up laws and policing agencies to combat this scourge. If it is discovered that a person, or legal fiction, has an offshore account, then an automatic investigation should start. Heck, why not make it so that all money transactions have to go through policing body for some sort–say the CRA. in other words, if a Bank, like the RBC tells one of its customers that they should open an offshore account, then the first thing that must take place is a request by the CRA to grant the RBC to open this offshore account, while in that process, a copy of money and items must be registered.

Yes, I think this would fly like a lead balloon. Even in Canada, this would go too far. Yes, I would admit, if I could hid my money, I probably would. The best I could do is bury my cash, (LOL) if I had any to spare.