More Fun and Games with Comcast and MasterCard

November 10, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Internet WolfAlthough our regular scheduled programming was interrupted by some road trips, we thought we’d pick up where we left off in the blog, with some thrifty tips for the persistent.

Pajamadeen recently saved $159.56 in one day by being…persistent, and we thought we’d share the info on how we accomplished this. We have Comcast’s high-speed cable Internet and TV service. Well, sometimes we have it. Most of the time we have it. But when it goes out, work screeches to a halt and there’s not much to do because there’s nothing that qualifies as “TV reception” here without Comcast. So what’s a girl to do? Read a book? No, that requires too much of a time commitment — the cable might come back on. Garden? Well, okay, but not for hours. Then it ceases to be pleasurable and becomes a four-letter word: w-o-r-k. Clean the house? Anyone who knows me well knows that ain’t gonna happen. For that, I might need another four-letter word: m-a-i-d.

Clueless at ComcastOur notes showed that we had Internet outages on August 20 (10 hours), August 29 and September 17. When our $112.16 Comcast bill arrived for cable TV and the high-speed Internet connection, Wrinkled Randy got on the horn and called Comcast billing. The conversation quickly turned surly, with an unfortunate young lady telling Wrinkled that one must call in during the outage so that Comcast will be aware of it and can adjust one’s bill. This sent Randy into a rage; if you have Comcast service, you know that if the outage is a big one, you can’t call Comcast’s technical support number because Comcast throws up a recording advising that they’re aware of the outage in the greater Nashville area or in the Elizabethtown, KY area (the other usual culprit). Frequently the message says that there is no timetable for a fix: It will get fixed when it gets fixed. Frustrating, but fair. However, the customer service rep told Randy that one MUST call during the outage to get a credit for services not rendered. As mentioned, it’s impossible to do that. She then advised Randy “that’s the way it works,” and there was nothing she could do about it.

Wrong move. The color deepened in Randy’s face, to a sort of beet-red. He demanded to speak to a supervisor. Mr. Supervisor, Jonathan, was more amenable. Perhaps Jonathan has heard of the Public Service Commission. At any rate, he did see our point that services not rendered called for a refund. It would appear on our next bill. (Think how much money Comcast made while not providing service, at $9.56 a head for subscribers in the greater metro Nashville and extending another 120 miles or so up Interstate 65 to about the Elizabethtown, KY area. Remember, there’s basically no TV reception without Comcast. That’s a whole lotta money.) I asked to speak to Jonathan’s supervisor. Pajamadeen worked a split-shift one summer in college, at the phone company. There, she quickly learned that “customer service” mostly means dealing with complaints. Thank you is seldom heard. So I decided then that when I encountered excellent service in life, I would thank that employee via their supervisor. Spread the love, so to speak.

MasterCard LogoNext came a call to MasterCard. Some time ago, they offered me an option of a $25 credit on my credit card for every $2,500 in purchases I made, in the form of “points” that accumulated, or a $25 check every so often. I opted for the points, and credits on the credit card. In opening this credit card bill, I noticed tiny print indicating that I”d accumulated an impressive 16,000 mythical “points.” But nothing had ever been deducted from my credit card balance. Now, while I do appreciate the idea of “free money,” I was in for a surprise when I called customer service at MasterCard. It seems that one has to call to redeem the points, which have a shelf life of two years before expiration. I asked the customer service representative if many people called to redeem their points. He got a little fuzzy with that question. (Translate: No, most people probably don’t see the tiny print on the credit card bill and don”t call.) He did allude to the upset customers who call only to find that their points have expired. So pay close attention to your credit card “points,” lest they expire. Pajamadeen got a $150 credit to her next bill by calling in and asking.

While I’m on a roll with thriftiness, and if you’re just plain old busy or you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, consider this. I’ve always been a fan of catalog shopping. I last went to a mall in approximately 2003. If you want some sweats to wear around the house this winter while you’re trying to avoid everyone with the flu, go to Wallet World’s website and order all your goodies online. WalMart delivered four pairs of sweats to my front door at a cost of only $0.97 shipping per item, or $7.76. ($48 for the sweats.) This was a real bargain: saving me the time and gas I would have used for the 35-mile round-trip drive to Wallet World, the dreadful WalMart parking lot, the hordes of people, the too-few cashiers, etc. Tons of merch online that you never see in Walmart stores. While Walmart will give you handy points at future discounts if you sign up for their Mastercard, you can get additional discounts on Walmart goodies. I recently applied $88.00 in points to a Walmart tab. Come to think of it, many stores — Target, Best Buy, Nordstrom’s and so forth (any place that takes MasterCard, which is almost everywhere), will accrue points at checkout. It’s worth a thought. As Dorothy said: “There’s no place like home.”

Photo credits: Lynsye Medalia and Robert Meganck

Copyright © 2009

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