Happy Monday! Here Are a Few of the Things I’ve Been Up To.

Nothing to do with the post, but I just had to use this badass photo by my man, Jean-Marc! – Image courtesy of Jean-Marc Buytaert

Happy Monday, Everyone! Here are some assorted thoughts and experiences I’ve had lately. I hope you find them amusing or enlightening in some way.

Clean your fucking house if you’re single!

Seriously, I was just eating dinner the other night, just like any of the other thousands of times I’ve done it, when suddenly, I found myself choking. Total freak thing. Somehow, something went down the wrong tube. Thankfully, I was able to cough it all back out. But if I hadn’t been able to, it could very easily have been lights out. And I’m a very healthy man in his thirties. Aside from having an extremely stressful job, I’m nowhere near being part of an “at risk” population. But fate doesn’t care about probability. And if I hadn’t coughed that stuff up, someone would have been walking into a mess since I’ve been on the road so much lately that I haven’t had time to keep up with things like I should. Food for thought.

Everyone knows JD Power awards are bullshit…right?

With football season upon us again, I’m watching some tv again. And with watching tv comes seeing those heinous Chevy ads with that guy I find incredibly irritating. Don’t get me wrong; he looks like a very nice, mild mannered, incredibly beta guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly because he doesn’t have the balls. But there is something about that man that makes me sincerely wish he would die painfully. And soon. A grossly excessive response? Probably. But at least for now, I’m still free to think what I want. Anyway, the ads always feature said annoying man preaching to “real people” about how Chevy wins basically every JD Power award on the planet.

First of all, if you haven’t found it already, head over to Youtube and search for Zebra Corner for a little therapy. The channel has tons of videos where a guy hero named “Mahk” sits in on these commercials and singlehandedly takes them from painful to hilarious. The only thing funnier than his absurd accent is his relentless criticism of Chevy and the situation he’s found himself in. There should probably be a law requiring that Mahk’s work be played on tv in place of the original commercials because it would make the world a better place. Just saying.

Second, JD Power awards are 100% bullshit. They’re based on survey results and those surveys are about “initial quality.” That’s the first 90 days of car ownership. Call me when you’re talking to people about their cars five or ten years down the road and we can talk. But 90 days? I’d be shocked if even a Chrysler product had any issues that quickly. So basically, JD Power verifies that people still like the cars they chose to buy…90 days ago. If you know much about psychology, you know how pointless that exercise is. Also, there is absolutely a financial incentive involved. Chevy, and any other car company that wants to use the “awards” in their marketing, pays to do so. Plus, the proof is in the pudding. Chevy builds mostly crappy cars and would have gone bankrupt a decade ago if it hadn’t been bailed out. If the company is winning awards, those awards obviously have no credibility on those grounds alone.

If you want to find out which cars are good, talk to a mechanic you trust. Or do your research online from a variety of reputable sources (keeping in mind that reviewers may not be paid directly by manufacturers, but if they give out a bad review, they’re not going to be reviewing that particular manufacturer’s cars for very long) and then draw your own conclusions. Ignore all advertising. I cannot stress that enough. Marketing people are clever little bastards who know how to manipulate your mind, even if you’re on the intelligent end of the spectrum. Ignore everything they say. Not a word of it is credible.

SoFi still rocks.

A while back, I recommended the SoFi checking account. While I did provide my referral link, I would only do something like that for a product I myself use and feel comfortable recommending, regardless of financial incentive. Recently, I was using the bill pay feature and I thought of a couple suggestions that I felt would improve it. Ever since I first got the account, I’ve been meaning to try out the “Email the CEO” link at the top of the page. I figured this was as good a time as any, so I emailed him my suggestions. The very next day, which was a Saturday by the way, I got a phone call from someone in his office. She told me that Anthony occasionally answers the emails himself, but that whether by him or a member of his executive team, every single email is answered. As a man with thousands upon thousands of unread emails in my various inboxes without being the CEO of a large corporation, this impresses me. She discussed my suggestions with me a little, thanked me for both them and my being a member, and told me to watch my account because they may be implemented. I’m excited to see if anything has changed the next time I pay my monthly bills.

But whatever happens, it means a lot to me that I can get a response that quickly. And I think it says a lot about the way the company is run. I am reiterating my recommendation of the SoFi checking account and if anyone is interested, here is my referral link. https://www.sofi.com/share/money/2015744

Speaking of customer service, Marriott is on notice with me.

Lest you think I’m some shill who only gives glowing reviews, I had a very disappointing experience at a Marriott recently. At roughly 9:30AM, someone put a key in my hotel room door and proceeded to open it. If the safety lock hadn’t been there, he would have been in my room looking me dead in the eyes as I toweled off in the bathroom, having just stepped out of the shower. As it was, he had the door open a few inches. There had been no warning of any kind – no knock, nothing verbal, etc. I quickly stepped out of the bathroom, slammed the door back shut, and advised the gentleman in no uncertain terms that the room was occupied and a second attempt to enter it would not be met with as kind a response as the first had been. His response, which was not apologetic in the slightest by the way, was to tell me that management had told him all the rooms on my floor were empty. Admittedly, I was angrier than I otherwise would have been since I was literally standing there naked. However, this guy was in the wrong, and by a wide margin. If it had been a naked woman in the room, there is a good chance he would have been leaving in handcuffs. He may well have been anyway if I had chosen to call the police. So I was a little surprised he couldn’t muster even a half hearted “I’m sorry.”

When I told the hotel manager what had happened, her response was even worse. She told me that a notice had been given to me that they would be cleaning the carpets in the rooms that morning (it was not – I even went back and checked my email to see if maybe it had been sent out that way – and if I had received such a notice, I would certainly have made a reservation at a different hotel) and that I needed to let them in. The fact that there had been two and a half hours until check out when this unauthorized entrance attempt occurred was deemed irrelevant. And there wasn’t even a hint of an apology in anything she said. Needless to say, I told her to cancel the second night of my reservation, which to her credit, she did. However, upon further review, it appears that the rate on my bill was increased by $20.

For a little context, I stay in a lot of hotels – probably about a hundred nights a year on average over the last few years. So I know how things work. The “do not disturb” sign goes on the door before I even set my luggage down upon checking in. But occasionally, a member of the housekeeping staff, no doubt in a hurry to get the job done, does try to walk in before check out time anyway. I’ve even had the safety lock disengaged once and had someone succeed in walking in before realizing her mistake. However, she was immediately apologetic in that case, as was the hotel manager when I informed her what had happened. She refused to charge me a penny for the night and assured me that they would be retraining immediately. I wasn’t necessarily expecting that caliber of response, because it was exceptional, but in this case, the manager’s response to the situation was utterly unacceptable.

I called Marriott’s customer service number immediately after that. The woman who answered was very professional and kind and took down all the pertinent information. She was very sympathetic and ultimately told me I would be receiving a response in 3-5 business days. That’s a little disappointing given that my complaint was in regards to a safety issue, and an egregious one at that. Had this man made it into my hotel room, the outcome would have been one or both of us leaving in an ambulance and a lawsuit being leveled at anyone in any way involved by the most vicious attorney available. It seems to me a much more immediate response by customer service should have been in order. But I will give them until the middle of next week to respond and report back when they do. If the response is less than satisfactory, I will not be staying at a Marriott property again, which would be a sad outcome given that by and large, my experiences with them have been good. I will also be researching which government agency (or agencies) is responsible for overseeing hotels and making a complaint to them. Stay tuned, folks.

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