I can’t take it anymore, so I’m writing about stereo equipment.
Yesterday, I had plenty to do (clean bathroom, clean kitchen, laundry, vacuum), but I didn’t want to do it, so I threw together a Special Ops Reconnaissance Mission (no credit cards) to Best Buy to check out subwoofers, after which I planned to walk over to Patel Brothers Market to pick up a couple of packages of those Turkish black olives like I like, and then visit my favorite Mexican place.
I’ve owned three subwoofers over the course of my audio fixation (whole life), and each has been unsatisfying in its own special way. The Sequerra Pyramid (remember them?) needed way too much power. The JBL was hard to adjust and wouldn’t turn itself on until things got too loud for polite listening. And the B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) was massive, expensive and slow.
When it’s time to adjust my HRS (hair replacement system), Monday night is barber night at the mall. It’s perfect for me because nobody’s there, so the shop offers a 20 percent discount (although I still tip based on the full price). But when I arrived this evening, I was informed that my regular barber (Claude) had gone on vacation and wouldn’t be back until tomorrow. To paraphrase Salvatore Tessio, this “spoiled all my arrangements.”
Now what? I’d already spent a dollar for two hours of parking (at the mall where I get my hair cut, $1 buys you either one or two hours of parking; I always opt for the “two” because, why not?; and if there’s any time left over on my receipt (which there always is), I wedge the receipt behind the space-number sign in case an eagle-eyed cheapskate such as myself wants to use my remaining time because, Fight The Power!).
Fail No. 1: The “Rent” Thing
My apartment building has a new owner, and I signed up for automatic rent payments through the new “resident portal.” I’ve paid my rent this way for about six years. Yesterday, despite the fact that I live. in. the. building., I received a paper bill via U.S. Mail from some entity in Utah (even though the rental office is in. the. building.) for my rent. I’m happy to pay my rent once, but I have numerous objections to paying my rent twice. So, I called the toll-free number (even though the rental office is in. the. building.), and spoke to somebody who sounded like she was 12 (okay, maybe 13) and somewhat confused by the process of talking into — and then hearing a voice come out of — the telephone. I needed her to access my account in the payment system and initiate the draw. She told me she would have to make a note of the situation and have somebody who actually works there (or something) “investigate” and get back to me. This phone call took place early in the bid’ness day, but I never heard back. Do I have even one second to deal with this tomorrow? Nope. 01/05/17 UPDATE: Upon my third attempt, I was able to speak to the person in the rental office. She was just back from a “management training session” run by the new owners, and it showed. I stated my issue, and after about three paragraphs’ worth of admin speak, I was able to decipher that the new automatic debit system kicks in with February’s rent. At that point, I pulled out my phone and made a one-time rental payment via the building app. Lordy.
Fail No. 2: The “Canceled Coat Order” Thing
After the “Fake Canada Goose” fiasco, I ordered a parka in the Eastern Mountain Sports store here in town, but then canceled the order by phone when I found another parka at Outdoor Sports Center (oh, man, what a great store!) that I preferred, and that was on after-Christmas sale for not much more than the lesser-quality Eastern Mountain Sports parka. I have a “parka problem,” but I’m dealing with it. The first step is acknowledgement.
Anywho, the local EMS store said I had to call national customer service to cancel the order, which I did. But since I haven’t received the credit on my AMEX, I called national customer service again this morning to investigate. They referred me back to the local store to pursue the matter. So, I called the local store (again) and this time got a very nice clerk who didn’t sound high at all. She investigated and called me back with the news that the system has been “slow” in refunding credit card charges, and that she expects to hear back from the relevant “order cancellation review” parties “in the next couple of days.” It has already been more than a week. 01/06/17 UPDATE: I called EMS corporate customer service again today and finally got somebody who acted like she has a job. She checked on my transaction and reported that the refund has been processed and should appear in a couple of days — only 12 days or so after I canceled my original order.
Fail No. 3: More of the “Fake Canada Goose” Thing
Finally this morning, I called my VISA Card issuer to follow up on my Counterfeit Canada Goose disputed charge fraud investigation, for which I have submitted both the .pdf of the screen capture of my “order” and documentation from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (they’re in Canada) that “LucyInTheSky” from Shanghai is a recognized fraudulent website. The guy on the phone noted that nobody had canceled my VISA and re-issued another one to prevent further fraudulent charges, so we did that. The old card is now dead, and there is a 10 business-day wait for the new one in the mail. Also, the guy on the phone is initiating the refund process for the fraudulent charge. So much for handling this through the internet, where I filed the initial report and submitted the documentation two weeks ago. 01/06/17 UPDATE: My VISA card holder has reversed the fraudulent “fake Canada Goose” charge and restored the funds to my account. On my way out tomorrow, I will put the trash bag with the noxious chemical smell coat down the chute. Then I will go to Burlington Coat Factory (which offers a new-purchase discount to customers who donate coats) to see if I can buy some children’s coats to put directly into donation. Because it’s cold out.
I have no idea how it might help, but I’m getting a dog and moving deep into the woods. Until this world becomes a safe space for the easily irritated, we may have no choice but to relocate to a clean and quiet place where we can complain about noisy birds, the skunks under the back porch, and those goddam squirrels.
12/28/16 Update! I received my fake Canada Goose parka today (photos below). The return address on the manifest reads “Shanghai, China.” Phone number (required for shipping): “Shanghai, China.” Shipper: “ShanghaiChinaShanghaiChinaShanghaiChina.” I’m guessing they don’t “do” returns.
The coat had an unusual chemical smell when I opened it (although no rats ran out), so I stuffed it back in its bag. I may throw it out even though I’ve been instructed to keep it until I get my refund. Needless to say, it’s the kind of “original” that one used to be able to pick up on 14th Street in New York back in the days of “squeegee men,” fake Rolexes, 6th Avenue Electronics, and apartments that cost less than $1 million per bedroom. A little bit of nostalgia, I guess.
Ten years ago, I bought a spectacular Canada Goose bomber jacket for about $360. It’s hot as a blast furnace (actually too hot, except on the absolute worst days), and durable as iron. In fact, it’s still in excellent shape. Unfortunately, I have…as we say…grown out of it. So a coupla weeks ago, with the holiday sales coming up, I figured why not git me a new jacket? I deserve it. Plus, the old one’s too small, and it’s cold out.
This time, I figured, I’d get a longer coat — a “parka,” if you will. I priced them from Canada Goose, and they started at $900. So much for Canada Goose.
But wait! Right below the official Canada Goose link in my Google results page was a site called “Officially Canada Goose.” [That link is not the counterfeit site. I wouldn’t do that to you. It’s the real Canada Goose page that details how to verify a retailer and what to do if you get scammed.] It was identical to the CG site — perfect. And in the “about” tab, it esplaned that it was the Canada-based “official Canada Goose” outlet, selling (presumably) last year’s styles and colors. “Well, heck!,” I thought to my own self, “Last year’s gray, navy or black down parka is pretty much like this year’s gray, navy or down parka, plus I keeps ’em for 10 years anyway, so even the latest one would be nine years out of date eventually, and the one I want is $750, but these boys are blowin’ ’em out for $255 with free shipping.”
As part of my Dumping Facebook “Friends” for Real Friends initiative, I organized a lunch for half a dozen college friends at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, which was convenient and tasty, though a bit more expensive than we had planned. All agreed that someplace cheap will serve as the next venue. Baby steps….
After looking at the trains, we walked off our lunch with a stroll to the Seiko Boutique on Madison Avenue. I’m a freak for the incredible engineering and craftsmanship of Seiko watches, and treated myself to a new diver’s watch from the boutique last spring. Saturday’s focus was on the exquisite Grand Seiko dress watch pictured below and reviewed here. I love the vintage/mid-century modern look of the ivory/parchment colored face, and probably would have bought the piece if I hadn’t left my $4,900 in my other pants.
A block north and across the street, I was able to check out the elusive JBL KL2 S9900 loudspeakers at the Harmon Flagship Store. Sadly, as driven by Mark Levinson electronics and connected with AudioQuest AG-4 speaker cables, the big JBLs sounded so harsh that they actually gave me a headache. I blame those amps from the Mark Levinson brand, which has long since severed ties with legendary audio designer Mark Levinson (the man). Levinson (the man) founded his eponymous company in New Haven in 1972, and essentially reinvented high-end audio as we know it today. He’s since gone on to found several other highly regarded audio companies, and currently runs Daniel Hertz audio (which he founded) in Switzerland. I could go on about how I would have amplified and cabled the JBL system, but I won’t. As shown, the speakers were about $44,000/pair. But as I noted, they gave me a headache. Plus, I’d left my backpack with $45,000 in it at home.
The great thing about “shopping” for ridiculous things is that there’s no way to buy impulsively. I still believe that Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is the best place to do this (plus, you might see somebody famous), but mid-town Manhattan clocks in at a close second.
Looking forward to the next group lunch and outing, with cheap eats followed by other types of low-to-zero expenditure activity.