Category Archives: Postaday2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Comfort

Comfort: It is what Ripley provides.


Filed under Cats, DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

This week’s photo challenge is “Path“.  I chose this pic from a walk around Lake Accotink.  This was taken last summer on a little Geocaching afternoon.


Filed under DC, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Entrance

The entrance to the Haunted House at P and Red’s for Halloween last year.

And Congratulations to P and Red….they welcomed little Grayson into the world last night.


Filed under DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Colorful

I love this pic that Deb took while we were on Tangier Island.  Colorful Crab Pots.


Filed under DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hot

It was so hot that even the water couldn’t cool you off on this day at Dewey Beach.

So what is the only really good way to cool off on a day like this?  You, betcha….GIANT margaritas!


Filed under DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Why Microsoft is now at the very top of my hate list

Sit back and let me tell you a story of frustration and woe. It is a story of a gamer, his Xbox, (but truth be told, I use my Xbox more for Netflix than anything else these days) and the nightmare that is Microsoft’s support.

It all began back on the morning of March 19, 2011. It was just a typical Saturday morning…or so I thought. It started the same as most other Saturdays as was sitting there drinking my cup of coffee and checking my emails. I had no idea that this was the day that would start my 4 month-long bout of endless frustration with Microsoft.

As I started going through my emails I saw an email from Microsoft that read:

Dear XXXX,

This mail is a confirmation that you have purchased the following items from Microsoft:

Purchase Date

Friday, March 18, 2011

Subtotal of Items: $94.99

Subtotal of credit or fee from subscription conversion: $0.00

Total before Tax: $94.99

Tax: $0.00


Total for this order: $94.99

When I first looked at the email I really thought very little about it. I had a message earlier in the week pop up on my Xbox saying that my account was about to be up for renewal and I clicked the box that said “Yes, I want to autorenew the account”. I know that I thought $95 was a bit much for renewing but I remembered that I had seen information earlier in the year that the amount for an Xbox gold account was going to be increased this year. I thought a $40 increase was a bit much but I can’t say that I was overly surprised.

But then I saw the very next email that said:


 This mail is confirmation that you successfully purchased Xbox Live 6000 Microsoft Points bundle on Friday, March 18, 2011. Please retain a copy of this for your records.

This raised my eyebrows a little. But I still didn’t really balk at this. I honestly couldn’t remember what I was charged when I last renewed my account. Did I get charged for points as well as the account the last time around? Both of these emails were sent at the exact same time in the morning so I was just assuming that these two charges were related. I had stuff to do that morning so I didn’t think much about it and just made a mental note to come back and look into this later.

The very next morning I woke up and started my same morning routine when I found 2 more emails from Microsoft in my inbox:


This mail is confirmation that you successfully purchased Xbox Live 4000 Microsoft Points bundle on Sunday, March 20, 2011. Please retain a copy of this for your records.

The second email was one letting me know that all of the points that were purchased over the last two days were all transferred off of my account onto another one. I am not the brightest guy in the world but even I could figure out that someone had gotten into my account and was running up charges. I had to nip this in the bud quickly.

So I made the first of many calls to Xbox support.

I explained what had transpired over the last couple days and the guy I talked to was very helpful. I was informed that whoever got into my account changed my account to a family account (that was why the account was $40 more than it should be) and then ran up a big bill buying points and transferring them off to another account. He explained to me the process that they would have to go through to get this resolved. The first step would be disabling my account so that nothing else could happen while they investigated. I was told that the account would be disabled until there was a resolution and that this could take up to 10 days. But I was assured that this would most likely be resolved before then. And once the investigation took place I could reactivate my account (after changing passwords, credit cards, etc.).

Sure enough I received an email 9 days later that said that my issue was “received and researched by our fraud investigations team” and that the investigation was now “complete”. The email was a lengthy one explaining all that I needed to do to take control of my account back . There was also this section of the email:

If fraudulent purchases were made from your Xbox LIVE account while the account was not under your control, with an associated credit or debit card, or from your Microsoft Points balance. Such purchase amounts will be refunded. Refunds will be processed within the next 10 business days, but may take up to 30 days more to appear on your billing statement, depending on your financial institution.

So I waited a few days and checked my balance on my card. The initial charge, the $95 charge, had been refunded the same days as the email saying my investigation was complete.

At this point I was happy with how this whole thing was being handled. But this is the last time I had the warm and fuzzies for Microsoft and their support team.

I checked every week for the 30 day period to see if the rest of my money had been refunded. And nothing ever appeared. I was a bit concerned but (as I have worked in Billing and Tech support) I knew that sometimes things just took longer than expected. But just in case I called up Support again.

The guy I talked to wasn’t sure why I hadn’t gotten my refund for those charges back yet but assured me that I was “scheduled for a call back” from their Escalations Team in 2 days time. So I left that call thinking that I would get a call back and that everything would be cool in just a couple of days.

So 5 days passed and I didn’t get a call back. Frustration was starting to set in.

So I called back again. I was pretty much told the same thing, “You are scheduled for a call back in 2 days but there is nothing more we can do for you.” I asked to speak to a supervisor on this call and I was put on hold for about 20 minutes (with the occasional “I am still waiting but we haven’t forgotten about you” pop-ins) before I was finally transferred. The Supervisor was no more help than the first level support. All he could say was that the account was being investigated. I explained that I already received the email saying the investigation was complete but this didn’t seem to register with the guy on the other end of the call. He said that he was taking a “personal interest” in my situation and that he would be monitoring my account. I was assured that someone from the mythical Escalations Team would be calling me back within 72 hours. I tried telling him that I was told that last time I called but he said there was nothing more that he could do and that he could no longer stay on the phone because there were “other customers to help”. I wasn’t very pleased and asked for his name and employee number so that I could complain about the service which I was told he could not give. Even though he started the conversation by giving me his name he could not even give me his first name again now that I wanted to complain. So I hung up pretty pissed…and this was still early May.

When a week passed by and I heard nothing I called back again. This time I just explained to the poor woman from first level support that I didn’t want to talk to her because I knew that she couldn’t help me and I just requested to be escalated to a supervisor right off the bat. This time I explained that it was about to be 3 months since these fraudulent charges appeared and I was getting a bit impatient with this process. She apologized but once again was no help. She gave me the same runaround about how I was scheduled for a callback and that there was nothing she could do for me. This time the Supervisor said that she would apply some Microsoft points to my account for my frustration. I explained that I never use those points and it would be worthless to me but she said that was the only thing she could really do for me. But once again, I was told that she was going to take a “personal interest” in my account and that she was going to be monitoring my account and it nothing happened within 72 hours she would be calling me back. I told her that this “callback” story was starting to get old and that I didn’t believe I was ever going to be either hearing from someone at Microsoft or ever seeing my money returned to me. She assured me, once again, that within 72 hours I would hear from someone.

So a week later I still haven’t heard from anyone. Now I am just to pissed to even deal with them on the phone. So I decided to just wait and see and give them another week. Surely I would see or hear something in just one more week.


So now it is early June and I am into the 3rd month since the charges were made on my account. I stared at my phone for a few minutes before making yet another call as I tried to make sure I calmed myself and didn’t start the call with obscenities. As I sat through all the automated crap at the beginning of the call I could just feel my anger level rising.

This time I just laid into that poor first level support guy. I kept apologizing to him as I was practically yelling because I knew it wasn’t his fault but he was the one I was venting on. Once again I received as much help as if I had just picked up my phone and pretended to make a call into it. This time, when he transferred me to another in an endless stream of supervisors, I got to talk to a woman named Christine. She seemed actually to have a bit of empathy and actually sounded a bit frustrated that this issue had not been resolved. But yet again she explained that I was scheduled for a callback in a few days and that there wasn’t really much she could do. She did try to dig around a bit more than the supervisors I had previously talked to but really didn’t give me any new information. For some reason my account was still being investigated and there was no clear reason for this issue not being resolved. Once again she assured me that she would make sure this was addressed and that she was now taking a blahblah personal interest blah. I just sighed and told her that there was no way I was going to believe that.

Wouldn’t you know it, she did call. She left a lengthy voicemail message to just basically reiterate everything we talked about earlier. There was no new information. There was nothing helpful in the 4 minute voicemail message. The only reason I think the call was even made was to attempt to pacify me so that I could no longer say no one had ever called me back. Unfortunately, her voicemail ended with “someone from escalations will be calling you on the 29th of June”.

Total B#llsh1t.

It is now July 14th. In four days it will be 4 months since those charges were made to my card.

Once again, I called Microsoft’s support line this morning. Once again I have received the same runaround. Once again, guess who is scheduled to call me back tomorrow?

I am just beyond frustrated at this point.

4 months?


How, after all this time, can you not transfer me to anyone that can actually help me?

I am never going to see that money.

I started with the original Xbox and I am now on my third Xbox360 (freakin’ Red Ring of Death). I was a loyal Xbox guy. I was one of those fanboys that would actually argue about how I thought the 360 was the better console with those PS3 guys out there. But now, I don’t play as many games on it and I am pretty much paying an extra $60 a year to watch Netflix.

I won’t be renewing at the end of my Gold Subscription this year.

So thanks for nothing (literally) Microsoft and you have lost a once paying and loyal customer.

Anyone else have something like this happen to them?

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Filed under DC, Just me, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011, Rant

Weekly Photo Challenge: Old Fashioned

These two are enjoying an Old Fashioned day of Summer Fun on Tangier Island.  Frog Hunting from the back of an old rickety boat is an all day adventure for them.  Oh how I miss those days.


Filed under DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky

I still think this is my favorite picture that I have taken.  This was during the Rally to Restore Fear/Sanity on The Mall.  The Flash just happened to stop to take a break from running really fast and enjoy the beautiful afternoon.  I loved how he just seemed to be checking out the monument and the sky while leaning on that crappy “keep off the grass” fence.


Filed under DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing

Ahhhhh mojito on vacation for the challenge this week.


Filed under DC, Deb and I, Photo Challenges, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011

Father’s Day Bird Eviction

Yesterday, while eating breakfast, I heard a ruckus just outside the kitchen window.  It sounded like a couple of birds were having a knife fight out there.  So I peeked over the shutters and saw that two little sparrows were trying to make a nest in one of the hanging planters on the porch.

My first reaction was, “Awwww…how cute.  They are building a little home together.”  But then I remembered the last time two cute birds built a nest out there.  Once they finished with the nest they became super aggressive and just trying to get out to the car was an adventure.  Nothing quite like running from your front door in a mad dash to make it to the car before you are attacked by an angry couple of birds trying to protect their home.

So this would not do.  At first, we just tried to drive them off by going out and yelling at them.  But they just kept coming back and continuing to build as soon as we went back inside.  Then we tried hanging some tin foil on the planters to there would be movement enough around the planter to scare them away.  But again, as soon as we went inside..they returned and just kept on building.

Then I got an idea.  We needed one of those fake owls that I see people put up in their gardens to keep the undesirables out.  But we didn’t have one of those.  So I had a plan that any other 40-year-old guy would have…I went into my action figure collection for a suitable “owl like” figure.  Yeah, I know…nerdy and not typical.  I found my Hurley and he just seemed perfect for the job.  He took over for Jacob as the protector of the island so surely he could keep away a couple of birds.

So I went out and shooed the birds away, rooted out the nesting construction and setup Hurley to be my little flowerpot scarecrow.   I stood in the window for a few minutes to watch and see what would happen.  I could see the two birds on a tree branch just about 20 feet away and they were pretty much screaming at our porch.  I don’t think they were happy but it seemed to work.

Seemed to.

So I went back to drinking my coffee, eating my bagel and reading the sports page.  Suddenly I heard wings flapping a bird screeching and a crash.  I couldn’t help but think that the Angry Birds had attacked Hurley.  And when I stood up to look over the shutters my suspicions were confirmed.  The hanging pot was Hurleyless.

I went outside to check and found poor old Hurley on the floor of the porch and it appeared like he a couple of the flowers that he was supposed to be protecting with him.  Those birds had not only knocked him out of the planter but had destroyed part of the flowers just to show me that they were the boss.  And, upon closer examination, they freakin’ hobbled the poor fat bastard in the process.

Angry Birds 1 Hurley 0

Poor guy.

But you know what?  I watched those birds for the next couple of minutes after that.  They came back a few times but they weren’t coming back to try building a nest in the planter.  They were just coming back to gather up the pieces of the nest that we had pulled out and thrown into the front yard.  They just wanted their stuff.

So I am pretty sure they just pushed Hurley out of the planter out of spite.  They had to have already decided to move on but they just wanted to show me that it was by their choice and not because of anything I did to chase them off.

Stupid birds.

Time to give Hurley a Crazygluectomy.

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Filed under Family, Funny Pic, Postaday2011, Postaweek2011