Adapted a pro-union joke to fit reality…

A dozen cookies are put down in front of a CEO, a Tea Partier, a union president and a hard-working citizen.

The CEO grabs 10 then says to the Tea Partier, “That union guy wants your cookies”.

The Tea Partier grabs up a cookie and tells the union president, “I need this cookie to keep out foreigners and promote christianity! Watch out, that worker wants the last cookie!”

The Union President grabs the last cookie and says, “Hey, hard-working citizen, it is a shame the poor took your cookie for welfare.”

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Never, EVER, Rent from Budget!

If you want to make your move, car rental, or your life in general as hard as possible I would recommend Budget Car/Truck Rental. If you want a smooth experience, decent customer service and fair rates you should NEVER USE Budget.

Let me tell you why! Last Monday I was looking for rental vehicles to facilitate a move for my family, we only needed a small truck as we were moving only .9 miles by vehicle, and half a mile as the crow flies. The company I work for has a negotiated discount with Budget, so I decided to use their service as it was comparable to others.

I booked my 10 foot truck, gave them my info, printed my confirmation/reservation and forgot about it until Wednesday when I got a call telling me they would not have a ten foot truck available at the location I had selected. This poises our first question, “Why does their reservation system show some vehicles as being available and others as not being when there is zero accuracy in that data?”

The agent that called me was apologetic and offered to upgrade us to the next larger vehicle with the caveat we would have to pick it up from a different location. I mentioned that it would require 20 miles of additional driving and since that class of vehicle is a flat rate plus mileage it would impact my cost and he adjusted it to include those extra miles for free, and gave me an extra 5 miles free to cover the gas difference. At this point, other than a bit of bother the customer service appeared excellent and I gave them glowing reviews.

I called on Friday afternoon to re-verify my rental as their site had recommended doing so, and I was informed that Jarred their inventory manager in the area would have the vehicle where I needed it, and at the time I needed it.

Jarred is a liar.

I then called the Budget location at 10am on Sunday as my appointment was at 1030 to pick up the truck, and I was in the middle of a move. The young man working that location told me that it was available and would be there. I drove to the location and listened to the two people in line in front of me be told that none of their vehicles were available and there was nothing Budget could do because their terms and conditions never actually promise to do ANYTHING. Question number two, “Why have a reservation system when you have no intent of honoring it, unless you get lucky and manage to honor it?” I will admit to smirking a little as the people in front of me grew angry because I had had MY truck verified four different times, first by the website, then the northeast rep for Budget, by their inventory manager locally (via the store rep), and by the store rep that morning.

I get to the front of the line, present my reservation number and thought, “I should let my wife go now, and I will follow!” I am most certainly glad I did not, as the SAME EXACT BUDGET EMPLOYEE behind the counter who had verified it for me 30 minutes prior was now telling me that no truck was available.

Okay, so why make reservations with Budget, and even more, why ever use Budget?

I called their customer service number and spoke with a rep; he put me on hold and called the same guy in front of me who had already lied to me. The rep came back on the line and told me that my only option was to pick up a vehicle NINETY FOUR MILES AWAY, not round trip 94 miles, but a 188 mile round trip on a day I was moving. He told me that the local inventory manager had previously said that a vehicle would be ready, which indicates the local inventory manager really needs a new career, perhaps sweeping floors.

Third question: “Does Budget strive to hire idiots, or are their policies really that inept?”

I pointed out that taking three hours to get the vehicle to even start moving was silly, and that I would have to pay for 94 miles of travel in a 15 foot truck, and 188 miles of travel in my own car, and in return he said, “I will give you a 25% discount!”

I was appalled; did he really think 10 bucks was going to cover over 45 bucks in fuel costs and three hours of time from my wife and I?

I stayed calm, but at this point he started to tell me that since their terms and conditions do not actually promise ANYTHING, he could not do anything else. I asked if he could, with a week notice, ensure I would have a vehicle the following weekend, and he repeated the corporate line that their terms and conditions do not actually promise ANYTHING.

Still calm, I informed him I would never use Budget as a service again, and I would inform other consumers of the issue so that they are not left in the same position. All of their employees told me the same thing, this happens more often than it does not, and their customer rep actually tried to tell me that they have millions of cars but only 80k of trucks so it was difficult. “Why do they make reservations they KNOW they cannot support in advance?”

I got on my phone, did a U-Haul reservation, drove to a convenient location and picked it up. I am out 90 minutes (times two with my wife), an additional 30 bucks in costs, and my move started two hours late. I was moving until 11pm as a result and literally ran out of help and energy thanks to the long day. So, now I face getting another vehicle to finish the last few items, and that puts me another 50-75 bucks out of pocket. Renting a vehicle from Budget ensures that you will pay over 100 extra dollars, never get a vehicle from them and waste your time hassling with them.

Please, please, please NEVER USE BUDGET RENTAL FOR ANY OF YOUR NEEDS. Keep in mind my questions about Budget.

“Why does their reservation system show some vehicles as being available and others as not being when there is zero accuracy in that data?”

“Why have reservation systems when you have no intent of honoring it, unless you get lucky?”

“Does Budget strive to hire idiots, or are their policies really that inept?”

“Why do they make reservations they KNOW they cannot support in advance?”

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A complete guide to the Motorola Atrix, a phone + laptop

A complete guide to the Motorola Atrix, a phone + laptop.

If Santa existed, I would write and ask for two of these, one for myself and one for my lovely wife Stacy. It may be a bit of a kludge, but a luvverly one! (Yes that was an intended Beatleian use of luvverly!)

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Peak Oil May Not Have Arrived Yet, But Expensive Oil Is Here to Stay – DailyFinance

Peak Oil May Not Have Arrived Yet, But Expensive Oil Is Here to Stay – DailyFinance.

Once again I encounter an article where the person decides that something scientifically valid is questionable merely because there is debate from fools. This person pretends that we have not reached peak oil (or near enough to not matter)  and seems to think we will magically be able to produce more. The only part they have right is the cost of oil remaining high, but supply and demand only account for half of the current cost of a barrel of oil. The other half of the cost is to pay speculators who are making money at the expense of the US and world economy.

It is bad enough that the cost of foodstuffs like corn and wheat are artificially altered by such games, and even worse when the costs of fertilizers and pesticides (both produced from crude oil) also go up.

We need to end petroleum speculation and price it at a level determined by supply and demand. I can see no reason to justify increasing costs to make some schmucks in suits happier. We really should find a way to multilaterally create a new tax on petroleum speculation, we could charge it to anyone buying and selling petroleum who does not actually use the product.  There have been attempts in this direction in the past, but they were typically going after those using oil to produce energy or other substances. That does not work because they are merely paying the price set by speculation.  Financial investors should not be allowed to continue to play games with our economy and the future of humanity.

Since our current President has given lip service to intelligence and forward thinking, perhaps he should address important issues of this nature and not playing tit-for-tat games with the other party.

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Senior Editor at Fortune Magazine lacks clue…

When I read Fortune magazine I expect the writing to be on a respectable level, and that the columnists will generally make sense. I am not saying that it is something I actually find all of the time, but it is a safe bet.

Then I see this headline, “The death of the station wagon.”

I think to myself, “Hmm, I wonder if this is about SUV‘s and crossovers* and the impact of higher fuel costs on cutting the numbers sold, woo, I love a well written article!”

Then I start reading…

It says, “Volvo, the company most associated with station wagons for the last 20 years, will stop selling wagons in the U.S. The market is drying up.” Okay, so they are speaking technically, and ignoring the fact that the SUV market IS the current station wagon. Phew, okay, so perhaps this will be worth the read, as long as I suspend my disbelief. The article goes on to say, “Other makers have been quietly dropping wagons for years as their customers flee to more utilitarian vehicles.” Wait, um,  they recognize that it is a market shift, so the writer IS aware of the reality.

The writer then waxes less-than-poetically about the glory days of station wagons (which have not gone away) and admits to the fact that the Minivan initially displaced the “station wagon” title, and that SUV’s/Crossovers have now. I am left feeling confused, the “station wagon” has not died, it has merely became taller and heavier with worse gas mileage and was re-branded by an ad campaign.

Sigh, when Fortune writers are rambling the world is really out of luck. I hope you all enjoy hopping in your re-branded station wagons tonight, and know that no matter what name you give them that they should have died with disco.

* Both of these words are advertising weasel words designed to hide the fact that your vehicle is a station wagon.



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Guantanamo Bay

Over two years ago President Obama promised to close Gitmo. While he was running for office he promised to close it. Since he has been in office three attempts to move the prisoners to stateside facilities have been blocked by democrats and republicans. So, the terrorists (and let’s not kid ourselves with dreams of a flat earth, these ARE terrorists) rot away, nothing is accomplished and the US is giving aid and comfort to our enemies by letting them use the prisoners at Guantanamo as martyrs.

Both parties are at fault, both parties are part of the problem. The solution is not to vote for one or the other but to vote for neither.

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President Barack Obama replies!

I wish I could say that his response helped , or even provided useful data. I have run down all the links, made some calls, filled out surveys, etc. The end result is that if you buy a house, and it loses 90% of its value, you had better hope you are an idiot. I do appreciate the form response, and it is more accurate to the issue than any answer ever given by an outsourced help desk, but still no solution.

If you bought more house than was intelligent, they will help you.

If you are a junkie/drunk who wasted away your life they will help you.

If you rage quit your job and are unemployed they will help you.

If you did everything right, have great credit, have drawn 2 weeks of unemployment in your life only because major back surgery slowed you down, and your house drops due to political incompetence the only answer is to keep on suffering and hope. For anyone that doubts if the President is a xian, I think you now have the answer.

As a centrist I recognize that the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper is too right and left for reality, but it really sucks to be an Ant in a world that favors Grasshoppers.

Letter from the President of the United States

Related Posts: My letter to the President.

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