Cyber Monday Madness

Today is Cyber Monday! So I did pretty good this Black Friday. I only spent about $200 for some external drives that  I needed. Today is Cyber Monday and I’m chomping at the bit to spend, spend, spend… But wait.. I’m in a virtual spending lock down from spending.

I only have one contribution today for your spending pleasure:Deals at Woot

So what’s the best deal that you have found for Cyber Monday? Dad wants to know!

 

Harry Potter – 11/19/2010 – Movie Opens Today

So after much anticipation, the New Harry Potter movie opens today. Of course, my tween and teen with all their BFF’s are going to see it tonight. I have to admit, I look forward to joining my kids if only to see what the new story line is which I can guarantee, that I will have problems following. Don’t get me wrong, I can watch each of the installments of the Harry Potter movies over and over again.. yet I don’t get it.. What is the madness about? Everytime I watch these movies, I have more questions than answers.. Maybe it’s just me, but I typically want some resolution to conflict.

Since this is a “Part 1 movie”, I’m sure the kids are going come out of the movie talking with a fever pitch about the final chapter due in June of 2011! So the hoopla will just work of the final installment will start even before the first movie is out for one Day. The “final chapter” as they refer to it, will be “R” rated! ooh! sounds exciting. Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself!

I’ll be going with my kids to the movie and provide yo uwith my review.  Harry Potter is a tidal wave that comes and sweeps anyone that gets in the way.. This is regardless of which one you see! Even if you don’t understand all the dialogue in the movie, you will just ooh and and aah through all the spectacular CGI and special effects! I guess, the story doesn’t really matter!

Oh you know what I realized that since this was a global Midnight release, If I was in India, I could have seen this movie yesterday and thus today, I would have been one of the select billions that saw the movie first!

Go out and enjoy this movie! Tell me what you think of the movie. I’m going to ask my daughter to make me a Harry Potter T-shirt so I can be really really cool!

Dad..

 

Black Friday 2010 – R U Ready?

As many of my readers know,  I moderate multiple forums on Bharatbeat.com.  Many of my links for deals and steals can be found on the forums site.  I’ve posted multiple notes on Black Friday related information on the forums site.  I gathered this information via emails that I get from readers, and from newsletters I read.

I’m doing this as a public service.. I’m not getting any financial gains from posting this information. I started gathering this information, because I wanted to outdo my buddy AK, who has been a guest blogger here. Now I an certain that he will post his witty response to this, but hey.. what’s wrong with a little competition between friends?

Here’s where you come in. Go to the Forum Site and browse around and post a comment. Doesn’t cost anything, and you actually might find something that you may have an opinion on.

Dad

HP – A customer service Story

Once in a while you get customer service that is worth writing about. This morning, I was going to blast this company, but after this evening, I’m reconsidering. Here’s my tale of PC woe with a TKO in Round 4.

Round 1:

A few months ago, my daughter’s desktop would not boot up.. This is an HP Pavilion that I had purchased only a 2 years ago. I went on line to HP to and of course since my computer had just come off warranty a few months ago, I was offered their standard $200 service offer. Well I figured, might as well try it out. After being convinced by the customer service rep who called me (yes this still happens), I reluctantly parted with my $200 and sent in my machine for repair in the pre-paid box that HP sent to me. This is where the fun begins.

I get my desktop back in about 7 days and after I power it up, I notice I’m getting video errors (machine goes to sleep and monitor loses connectivity with the video card).

Round 2:

So I get back on-line and go through the process and I’m told to return the PC and they would fix it at no charge. I go through the same gyrations of packing my machine and sending it in for repair and getting the machine back in a week. I even get a call from  an HP technician that there is no problem with my machine after their “extensive tests”. They indicated there might be a problem with my flat screen monitor! I said ok.. just send me back my machine and I’ll take see what to do. I get the machine back, I reconnect all the cable and after a day or so.. same problem!

I must be a glutton for punishment, so I go on-line and talk to the nice outsourced representative of HP service in India. The nice representative assures me that they will fix the machine this time and I should send it back for repair. So I send the machin  back for repair.

Round 3:

I get the machine back and still have the same problems so I go back through the same gyration and send the machine back to HP. Do you see a trend here? Now, I’m getting peeved.

I get the machine back and they have pretty much gutted the machine, replacing the motherboard, video card, etc.

Machine works fine for a week and suddenly now on a “cold boot“, the machine no longer recognizes that it has a video card so I’m in the default low resolutoin of 640 x 480. Now I’ve had enough.. I’m mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore!

I get back on line and I demand that HP escalate this issue to a “case manager” so I can really give someone a dress down.. The nice young man on my screen tells me “I will personally make sure your machine is fixed”. Note this is the same canned script I heard during rounds 1 and 2 respectively.

So now, I know I can’t power down my machine, because it will take me at least 6 to 7 attempts before the video card is recognized. I’m smart that way, and don’t power down the machine!

Round 4 (TKO):

Tonight I get a call from a “Case Manager” and guess what? She tells me that they are going to send me a new desktop as they can’t seem to fix my machine! She asks me for an order number for my original order from HP.. Yeah like I have that.. So she says.. “No worries sir, we will find the order from sales and will send you a suitable replacement”. Now this  scares me.. Will I get another lemon or will I get a machine that works?

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how this saga ends. Yet the point is that I never thought that HP would even consider replacing my desktop.. That is a rarity in this day of bad customer service. Customer service that is actually thinking of the customer. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but let’s see what happens…

The case manager promised to call me tomorrow to “resolve the issue”.. let’s see. Anyone that knows me will tell you I’m more than skeptical.. we shall see..

Black Friday – Ready to Shop

I’ve added a whole new category of links on my side bar for Black Friday.. Do you know the secrets to shopping on Black Friday? If you do.. Share please..

OCI – A success story

As many of my readers know, I love writing about my continued failure in getting an OCI Card from the government of India.  My good Friend AM (same initials as me but with much better success), just got his OCI card after 4 months. I’ve been involved in his process (starting with the application and the Middletown Post Office mailing…) from beginning to end.

My OCI Saga – By guest blogger Mr AM (full name not listed, because we value our guest blogger’s privacy and threats they direct at us)

Finally after a long and grueling wait for 4 months, I was able to go to Indian Consulate in New York city and get the OCI stamped in my American passport. Never imagined that it would take so long, but I have to constantly remind myself that I was dealing with Indian Govt  office and nothing there is logical, it is all at the whims and fancies of the officials sitting in India in some office with nothing better to do than annoy everyone that needs their support.

So I decided to apply for OCI in June of 2010,  and sent in the application with all necessary forms and sent it via Priority mail with delivery confirmation and return receipt. It was more than 2 wks since I sent it and never got the return receipt. Went to the post office and asked them, all they were able to confirm was it was delivered the very next day but some folks choose to send the return receipts in bulk and I may get it late. But I never got it.

 

Even IRS which receives millions and millions of tax returns follows the process and sends the return receipts properly but Indian consulate which may be receiving a fraction of what IRS is getting but never bothers to send the return receipt. Oh I forgot I am dealing with a Indian govt office or probably someone must educate them that they don’t need to pay any postage as it already paid by the sender.  Probably that is what is stopping them from sending it back.

 

After a month,  one day I got a big package from the OCI CELL, yes, they call it CELL, like a prison … and my application was returned because I didn’t include the Indian passport surrender certificate. So I had to apply for that,  but luckily the instructions said, I can include the surrender certificate application along with my OCI application, no need to send it separately. Oh what a help that was.. thank you very much Indian Consulate for being so considerate and humane and letting us send both the applications together!.

 

Then started the wait period, it was like the documents I sent via mail went into some black hole, never got any response back. Wouldn’t  it be appropriate for the Indian consulate to send a confirmation that the documents have reached them and under processing? Oh wait, I am dealing with Indian consulate, nothing is done logically there.

 

So I did some search in Google, found the online status enquiry site and filled in my application number, for one month or so, I got “Application not received” message. What does that mean? Where did the application go? Does that mean it is in Newyork CGI office or where, it just simply drives you nuts.

 

Slowly every 20 days or so, the status was updated stating my application was received, documents are being scanned, documents are printed, documents are being put in cover to be mailed, the mail man has started walking towards the mailbox, the mail main has put the key to the mailroom and finally the document is dispatched and received in New York CGI. Well the first two and the last status are the valid ones, I just put the rest for the kick of it. The statuses were so stupid that I just couldn’t resist putting the rest. Probably after reading this article the Consulate office might think of implementing those statuses.

 

The big day arrived, I was all set to go to Newyork city and hand over my passport to get the OCI visa stamped.  I was told that I have to drop the passport between 9:30 and 11:30 and collect it back between 4:30 – 5pm.  What a waste of time and energy, the consulate has all the necessary documents and all it requires is a little bit of coordination and say they process only 25 OCI stampings, give fixed appointments for folks waiting to get their passport stamped, and they can just give it right on the spot without all these waiting drama.. Oh wait, I am dealing with a Indian govt office, nothing is done there logically.

 

Luckily, my pal (owner of this blog), who grew up in NYC  agreed to join me and that was the best thing to happen. If not, I would not have known where to go or how to kill the time. So we both go to the consulate and there was a long queue waiting outside.  We thought ok, we are going to stand here for the whole day!! Luckily that queue is for other consular activities and we were let in immediately to drop the passport.

 

I got to tell you about the entrance to office. I have seen it only in meat processing plants or in industrial plants where they put these PVC strip curtains instead of doors because of big equipments moving in and out and it saves energy. That type of industrial strength strip curtains where placed in the entrance. It gave me a feeling of a goat or cow entering a meat processing plant to get its head chopped off. It is so heavy and I don’t know why they put it there. Cant they have a door and make it easy for people (particularly it will be v.tough on old people), oh wait cant think logically here, because, yep you got that right, you are dealing with a Indian govt office!!!

 

Stood in a small queue of about 10 folks, handed over the passport and got an encrypted response “come back at 4:30” no other details, no receipt for the submitted passport, nothing. Before even you leave the person in the counter calls the next one in the queue.  So anyone can come in the evening before you and just give your name and collect the passport and go. What a system!!!!!

 

The best part of this trip happened after submitting the passport. Yes, my friend and I went around Newyork city, first went to downtown, saw the construction of the new World Trade Center, walked to Battery park, took the free ferry ride to Staten Island and back to city, had lunch in Chipotle, went to Union Square and spent some time there and then Times Square was our final destination before going back to the butcher shop.. sorry to pick up the passport. Thanks to my friend AM for taking me to places in Newyork city that I have never been to (It is all good places ok.. so don’t let your dreams go wild!!!). Oh I forgot to mention that we went to Apple store and man it was like being in heaven!

Finally we reached the consulate around 4:20, but they wouldn’t let us in because it is not 4:30 yet.  So waited outside and I went in to collect my passport. One thing I noticed really concerned me is in the common sitting area, a huge pile of US and Indian passports were left unattended all over the place, yes those are the ones that come in by mail and they are preparing it for mailing. But that is NOT the place to keep them. Anyone can access that pile of US and Indian passports. So if you are planning to mail your passport in, think twice.

So finally after a long wait of more than 4 months,  spending a day to just get the visa stamped (lucky I had my friend come with me.. If not and if you are new to Newyork, you will be just sitting idle killing time) I got the most coveted visa in the world – OCI (Overseas Citizen of India).