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Tharp case still makes me cry

I initially blogged about this case as it unfolded, then re-titled the blog and condensed my comments. As far as I know, nothing has ever ...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Beaten at its own game, AT&T discounts the bill I DON'T owe 'em

Life jus' doesn't get much better. I chose to allow AT&T to discontinue my "service" on 5/13/2015, and I've had FUN GALORE ever since. Not to mention the heavenly peace n quiet that comes with not being bombarded by robocalls. Bicycling to use a computer at the library, shopping n running errands along the way, and using a pay phone has worked out FAR better than I ever DREAMED.

But wunna the ABSOLUTE BEST experiences came a few weeks ago when I got a letter from Afni, Inc., wunna AT&T's collection gangs, discounting my "bill" from $118.09 to $64.95. Not that I trust AT&T or its "enforcers," and actually, over the past year and seven months, I haven't gotten many collection letters from any of AT&T's thugs. Once the goons realize I don't have a phone they can incessantly ring, they back off quick.

Ah, the SHEER DELIGHT of sockin' it to a crooked bunch like AT&T, ANOTHER CORPORATE SLOB that thinks it can kick ALL consumers around with impunity. A gang that uses robocalls and charges exorbitant, deceitful fees to force folks to give up their landlines and buy cell phones. Just for the record, AT&T, if there's anything I HATE, LOATH, AND DESPISE, it's a cell phone. And from asking around, it appears that I've got WAY more company than your presstitute mainstream media friends would have the gullible American public believe.

It'll be such a pleasure to send AT&T and their lapdog, the SC Department of Consumer Affairs, links to this post. I'm not givin' AT&T ONE RED CENT, and along the way, I've discerned a few things that I'll take this opportunity to point out.

If anyone owes anyone anything, AT&T owes ME for at least a year's worth of home phone (landline) and Internet for the $34.95 per month CONTRACT they entered into - IN WRITING - with no mention of any additional fees, taxes, etc. At this point, I'm willing to overlook their illegalities and the inconvenience they've caused me, in exchange for the few months they billed me correctly for, only to fire up their nonsense again, which ultimately led to their cutting off my "service" entirely after attempting to intimidate me with extended periods of "partial service." 

Then there's that threatening collection letter they first mailed me, pointing out that unless I forked over the amount they came up with (I still can't figure out how they arrived at it), I would be responsible for attorney fees, court costs, etc. when their fleet of scumballs - er I mean lawyers - took legal action. Of course, once they realized that I was SERIOUS about not having a home phone, and could actually pull it off, their tone got a lot less threatening.

And factor in over a decade's worth of robocalls (the precipitating feature of this whole matter), which had gotten so bad I usually didn't even bother to answer the phone. AT&T owes me an allowance for all the harassment, essentially cutting my "service" in half. 

I have a suggestion, AT&T.

Let's do what you initially threatened to do. Tell your gang of lawyers to file charges, haul me into court, and let's see what a jury of my peers has to say about the bill you cooked up. I'd LOVE to present that e-mail you sent me with the itemized charges guaranteed for a year, neatly summed up, without further ado as a GRAND TOTAL.I'll even act as my own attorney.

So PUT 'EM UP, AT&T. Yer not scared of a 71-year-old and his antique, steel-framed, easy-ridin' 10 speed bicycle... 

ARE YA?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

An "unconscious" woman? Gimme a break.

Let's ditch the Orwellian "newspeak" regarding the Sanford rape case. A woman - obviously never before exposed to the ways of the world - got passed-out-drunk at a fraternity party, wound up without her underwear on (we are not told at what point in the "party" it got removed or by whom), and was raped by another drunken punk out by a garbage dumpster.

Neither of them get any sympathy from me, likewise for the Brainless Rants And Tantrums (BRATS) because a judge sentenced one of the drunken punks to six months in jail, with a proviso for serving only three. We live in a "culture" wherein promiscuity rules supreme, confirmed by a never-ending epidemic of STDs, along with a barrage of failed marriages, single parents, unwanted pregnancies, and aborted fetuses. Toss in a nauseating acceptance of sexual perversion along with the popularity of alcohol and drugs, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to discern an out-of-control society coming apart at the seams.

There's nothing unusual about the Sanford case. Similar scenarios are commonplace on today's college campuses. The "evolved" society views sex as a recreational activity, and this entire case is consistent with that sorry state of affairs. The rapist thug's father exemplified this "evolved" society's cynical attitude toward sex when he quipped about a "six month sentence for 20 minutes of action."

America, ya asked for it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beware of Toro lawn equipment

Toro sure has a clever name. Their advertising is Bull, and their customers get gored. Most of the time, I wound up pushing their "self-propelled" mower myself, which is where the "Personal Pace" kicks in. Mowing speed depends on the terrain and the customer's strength. #ToroSpeak

The self-propel mechanism on my lawnmower became inoperable and neither of the only two Toro authorized repair shops in my area - A-Z Lawnmower Parts in Lexington, South Carolina and Catoe's Equipment in Columbia, South Carolina - could repair it.

A-Z failed twice, and charged me for work I didn't authorize. After their second effort failed, one of A-Z's employees advised me to hold the mower handle with one hand and force the self-propel mechanism down with the other. This is dangerous advice and provides no solution.

The Toro Company offers no help - AVOID THESE BUSINESSES like the plague.

> Update 6/11/2016 - Been sending links to this post, along with a few choice comments, to @ToroCompany on Twitter. Wonder why Toro isn't investigating the matter, intent on finding out why TWO of their "authorized mechanics" didn't repair the mower. TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE. The mower should have been repaired when the first shop, A-Z, had it.

> Update 6/14/2016 - No response from Toro, other than to suggest that I try yet another of their "authorized repair shops." It would be quite a distance from my home, and I know this will be a shocker to Toro, but I have better things to do than arrange to have my lawnmower hauled all over the metro area HOPING one of their "authorized mechanics" will repair a COMMON maintenance issue. I don't have the means to haul it myself, so I gotta pay for pickup and delivery or else ask my neighbor to haul it in his pickup. Toro apparently doesn't care what its customers encounter at its "authorized repair shops." 

> Update 6/15/2016 - How incompetent does A-Z have to be to charge for things a customer DIDN'T authorize, and NEGLECT (twice) to repair the problem that prompted the customer to contact 'em. There appears to be more to this story, and Toro needs to find out what's going on at their "authorized repair shops." Can't blame anyone for concluding that Toro is trying to force its customers to buy new equipment.

> Update 6/22/2016 - An independent mechanic has confirmed that ANYONE could have determined that the problem was worn out gears. All anyone had to do was take off the gear housing to see what the problem was. Time for Toro to explain what's going on. 

> Update 6/24/2016 - The independent mechanic's report (6/22 update) tends to explain why Catoe's immediately refunded the $48 they charged me for 10 minutes worth of work (after my neighbor got me and the mower to Catoe's in his pickup), and weren't interested in dropping by my house to confirm the inoperable condition of the mower, which was locking up and making a loud, rattling sound. A-Z charged me $115 and ignored my request for a refund. Once again, here's the point: Toro needs to explain why neither of their authorized repair shops corrected the problem or offered appropriate advice.

> Update 6/27/2016 - Update 6/27/2016 - The gears (6/22 update) were BEYOND worn out. ALMOST DISINTEGRATED - one part was literally "floating" - would be more like it. Now I'm wondering why Catoe's (the shop I've been using regularly since I bought the mower) didn't replace the damaged gears long ago, because it took quite some time for the self-propel mechanism to get in such bad condition. I had noticed over the years that Catoe's "repair" of the mechanism didn't last very long, and there were shorter periods of acceptable operation each time they "repaired" it. Apparently, there's a "quick fix" via adjusting a cable, but that doesn't correct worn out gears. When I used Catoe's in the past, I had a means of hauling the mower, and when I no longer had a means of hauling the mower, I tried A-Z because they were slightly nearer to my home and charges for pickup and delivery were slightly less. The failure of two of Toro's authorized repair shops to correct the underlying problem - or at least advise me of it - suggests a Toro-involved racket intended to increase sales of new mowers. 

> Update 6/30/2016 - I received an e-mail from someone regarding Toro lawnmowers of yesteryear - here are a few excerpts (emphasis mine):


'The “soft gears” are the “weak link” in the drive system, but you do want them to protect the (far more expensive) transmission from unexpected excessive loads -- as well as the drive gears which interact with these more easily replaced “sacrificial gears.”

Thankfully (and luckily) I never had to go beyond the worn-out wheel gears – after being “ripped-off” the first time at “an authorized repair” shop.

You’re correct.  They just want to “sell you” a new one ...'

Apparently (see 6/22 update), Toro eliminated the "soft gears" and designed a built-in obsolescence as the main gears gradually wear down. Meanwhile, customers shell out regularly - time, money, and inconvenience - for temporary repairs. No wonder Toro refuses to investigate their repair shops.

> Update 7/1/2016 - Talk about sleazy repair shops. A-Z charged $50 for pickup n delivery, and went ahead with other items I didn't authorize (new blade, new starter-rope, spark plug, oil n filter change) and laid on an additional $65. I had told them I thought everything was okay except the self-propel mechanism, but they could give me a quote for anything else before they did the work. Right. Run up a bill for a mower they either knew or should have known was inoperable. A-Z even stated on their invoice that the self-propel mechanism "checked out okay" when in fact it wasn't pulling at all. And BTW, the handle came off the new starter-rope. SPEAK, Toro. Explain what's going on at your authorized repair shops.

> Update 8/22/2016 - Beware of ordering Toro parts. After buying my mower, I thought it wuz kinda strange when every non-authorized-Toro shop I visited - lookin' for a repair shop close to my home - said they couldn't repair the self-propel mechanism on my Toro because they couldn't get the parts. And things got even stranger when the two Toro shops mentioned in this post failed to correct the problem.

Now I know what's been going on.


The independent mechanic I worked with ordered 'bout a $100 worth of parts from Toro in an effort to fix my mower. But alas. TORO'S PARTS WON'T WORK. They only allow the self-propel mechanism to partially function, and only if the mower is running. If the engine is off, the back wheels lock up, so the mower is essentially useless. No wonder Toro's "authorized dealers" didn't attempt to repair the problem. 


Toro is just another crooked American corporation propped up by cowardly consumers who tolerate anything corporate thugs dish out. Meanwhile, Toro contributes heavily to environmental pollution by making sure that lawnmowers that should be operable for many years to come wind up in dump yards. 

I've been e-mailing links to this post and the updates to Toro on Twitter. If they have an explanation, I'll publish it.    

Disgusting facts abt ancient Rome: http://listverse.com/2016/08/23/10-truly-disgusting-facts-about-roman-life/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Listen up AGAIN, AT&T: One year without home phone or Internet, and I LOVE it

Wow. Tomorrow, 5/13/16, a whole year will have gone by since discontinuing my "service" with AT&T. And what a year it's been.

The absence of robocalls has been absolutely WONDERFUL. I didn't realize just how stressful the daily, decades-long annoyances had been until they ended. For the first couple of weeks, all I wanted to do was sleep, and being retired, I could afford the luxury. In fact, before the "unwinding" ended, I got downright worried.

Ironically enough, when I had a home phone, wunna the worst robocall offenders was United Health Care. They showed their appreciation for my Medicare Advantage business by targeting me with robocalls demanding that I sign up for regular home health-care visits. Much to the medical fraternity's chagrin, I've been blessed with exceptionally good health, take no medications, and have no interest in United Health Care's supposedly optional program. I'd told 'em so more than once, but the robocalls continued, sometimes ringing my phone for up to 50 times. Much more of that - their strategy, perhaps? - and I woulda needed home health care visits.

What a pleasure it was - after I no longer had a home phone - to get a letter from United Health Care - suitable for framing - angrily informing me in big bold print at the top, "We've been trying to reach you." followed by a demand that I contact them. Really.

Okay. This venture has also been about the money, but only in the sense that I don't appreciate being kicked around by a crooked corporation that assumes everyone who can afford it somehow has to have home phone and Internet.

Ah yes, the Internet

I've cut my computer use by 75%, visiting the library has been a ton of fun, and a cute girl who works there even sang to me on my birthday. Top that, AT&T.

To sum it all up, this first year without home phone or Internet has been a delightful experience. The bicycling turned out to be so much fun that I've used my bicycle instead of my car 95% of the time. I've learned new riding techniques, saved at least $1,500, and look forward to continuing this modern day adventure in self-reliance.

Update 5/18/2016 - My pleasure to send AT&T and the SC Dept of Consumer Affairs a link to this post.

Update 11/19/2016 - Now it's been over a year and a half without home phone or Internet, and I enjoy my new routine as much - or more - than ever. I'll take this opportunity to once again applaud Tim Marvin and Consumers Union for their campaign to end robocalls

Friday, April 22, 2016

Roundabouts and school buses don't mix

Update 4/25/2016 - This morning, I witnessed an ambulance negotiating one of the roundabouts. The driver was attempting to go on down the road, but to avoid running over the roundabout or going off the pavement, he drove into the oncoming lane, stopped, and backed up in order to direct the ambulance forward. 

Few days ago, I witnessed a school bus negotiate the roundabout at the entrance to my neighborhood, Quail Hollow, in Lexington county, W. Columbia, South Carolina. I've blogged about the roundabout issue before.

The school bus had to run over the roundabout in order to make a left turn, and the bus leaned to the right. Isn't it a joy when tax dollars are put to such good use?

And then there's those pesky emergency vehicles, and people who attach trailers to the back of their vehicles. I saw a person pulling a trailer give up on going around Quail Hollow's other roundabout, deciding instead to make his left turn by entering the oncoming traffic lane. Nuthin' like tax-funded efforts to protect the public...

Wonder why the SC Policy Council isn't screaming about roundabouts as part of the group's outrage (#SCRoadsDebate on Facebook and Twitter) over South Carolina legislators refusing to repair the roads. Roundabouts ain't cheap, the boondoggles are poppin' up all over the place, and I'd like to know who's making money off the scam.

Let's quit wasting tax dollars on roundabouts. Let's repair the roads.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Probate in South Carolina is a racket

Some topics warrant a separate blog, and I published a new one today: Here's a link to my first post, "10 year limit on probating Wills is one of many horrors facing heirs"