Monthly Archives: December 2009

I try to do my reviews after about six or seven episodes, but life got the better of me this time around and so here I am, writing it mid-season. I’m breaking the shows into three categories: Shows I’m Watching, Shows I Should Be Watching, and Shows I Am No Longer Watching.

-{Shows I Am Watching}-

The Big Bang Theory – Season three is still going strong. Kudos to the writers for letting Leonard and Penny get things going and not relying on the perpetual will-they-won’t-they storyline that is all too easy to do. With The Office having allowed Jim and Pam to get married, I wonder if this is becoming a trend? I am disliking Howard and Raj less and less and finally view the two of them as a net bonus to the show. The character of Sheldon Cooper remains priceless. Grade: A

Community – This one took a little while to grow on me. I almost dropped it altogether, but have not yet. The show still doesn’t seem to have found its stride, but it does have a sort of endearing quality as we get to know a little more about the characters and they are explored with a little more depth. Ironically, the more I enjoy this show the more I wish it had never been made. Steven McHale, who plays the main dude, was slated to play the main dude on an American version of The IT Crowd. The more I enjoy this show and Steve’s part on it, the more I realize how awesome he would have been as the main character on The IT Crowd. Grade: C+

FlashForward – I was originally going to take a pass on this show, but a couple of very different individuals recommended it to me. I figured that something that appealed to both of them (Clint and Rick, for those of you that remember such people) had to have something going for it. I was less than entirely enthusiastic about the plot, wondering “What can they really do with that on an artistic?” Well, the answer is an intriguing drama that looks at self-determination, accountability, and fighting against fate. It still doesn’t classify as “thoughtful”, but there is at least enough of that in there to keep it interesting. Grade: A-

Fringe – Around halfway into the last season, when John Scott made his disappearance, I decided to stop watching this show. I was convinced to give it another chance by overhearing a conversation about it. It’s a good thing I did, because the show has gotten a lot better. While there are some seriously twisted minds writing for the show and grossing out the viewers for grossness sake, the overarching plot is becoming increasingly interesting and complex. To wit, John Scott started out a hero, but then we discover was a double agent. Then we find out that he was a triple agent trying to ferret out the double agents. Then we find out that the double agents could credibly make a case that they were preparing humanity for an oncoming war, which would make them protectors of humanity. And with so much left unknown, you know there’s a lot more to it than that. Grade: B+

How I Met Your Mother – The New Yorker, I think it was, pointed to this show and compared it to Friends to point out how much better television has gotten. While I think I like The Big Bang Theory a little more, How I Met Your Mother is probably the best comedy on television right now. The characters are so-so at times, but the overall narrative is phenomenal. The only thing that prevents it from being an “A” is the lack of credibility behind Ted The Professor. Grade: A-

The Office – People are finally starting to talk about this show again, which is a credit to the writers that for a lesser series would be in auto-pilot by now. The “lesson” for the show this season is that while being cynical of management is easy, being a manager isn’t. People complain about the prickification of Jim Halpert, but I think that it’s a natural direction for the show to go. And what he did to Ryan was sufficiently classic to give him a pass for a lot of prick-like behavior. Grade: B+

Parks & Recreation – This is another one that has grown on me. It’s part-and-parcel a ripoff of The Office in so many ways, but I have no problem with exploiting a formula that works. It has the advantage of being a bit fresher with a bunch of new characters to get to know, which makes this show’s B+ less impressive than The Office’s. Even so, I look forward to it week in and week out. Grade: B+

Two and a Half Men – The show that just will not die. It’s creatively been out of juice for quite some time, but it stays just funny enough to continue watching. Clint likens the show to junk food. In small quantities it is very appealing, but you get too much of it and it will make you sick and will stop tasting good. I can’t decide if it’s that there are too many episodes or if the newer episodes just aren’t as good as the older ones. Grade: C-

White Collar – This one was a little gem. Another good combination of episode-to-episode plots and longer story arcs. It also has a pleasantness to it that make it feel a little different (I think that’s one of the things that fueled Monk’s popularity). After the plot of that last episode, though, they have be dying to know what’s next. There had better be a “next”. Grade: B

V – I’m enjoying this show well enough, though it wasn’t worth Dr. Juliet Burke’s life. I think that the show may have been a bit more interesting if the aliens were slightly less obviously evil. But having accepted the 70’s premise for what it is, the execution of fantastic. Grade: B

-{Shows I Should Be Watching}-

The Good Wife – Clancy took an immediate liking to this show and so it has become one that we watch together. However, we haven’t been making the time to actually watch it. I’ve seen about four episodes and I’m enjoying it. There’s a good mixture of episode drama that gets resolved by the end of the hour and the ongoing storylines of the case against the main character’s husband. It’s also good to see Josh Charles in something. It’s overdue. Grade: B+/A-

Cougar Town – I’ve only seen one episode and was torn on it. I’m obviously not the target audience, though. Clancy also watched it and she declared this as one that she’s interested in watching. So it’s one of those that I will watch if she and I ever get around to it, but otherwise I won’t make a particular point of seeing. Grade: TBD

Modern Family – I’ve only seen one episode of this show as well, for the same reasons that I’m behind on The Good Wife. This one I really did like, however. The mockumentary style is quickly becoming cliched, but it’s still a good storytelling device that can get you in the heads of the characters (or at least introduce you to their self-preceptions). An interesting cast of characters with actors with varying degrees of familiarity make it seem to succeed where The Middle failed. Grade: TBD

-{Shows I Am No Longer Watching}-

Accidentally on Purpose – This was the hardest one to drop and I may end up giving it another shot down the line. Once again, this is a case where I am really not the target audience. But Jenna Elfman is Jenna Elfman, with Grant Show thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, I don’t care all that much for the baby’s father and that’s really hindering my enjoyment of the program. I also don’t like the girlfriends of Elfman’s character, either. Grade: C

Hank – Ahhh, what I would give to have Back To You back on the air. Kelsey Grammar is wasted on this family comedy with wisecracking kids and the wife who always knows better. I gave it one and a half episodes. Grade: F

The Middle – Ahhh, what I would give to have Back To You back on the air. While not as bad as Hank, it’s a wasted vehicle for former BtY star Patricia Heaton. While it’s not as uncreative as a lot of family comedies, it seems to be picking up where Malcolm in the Middle left off and it has come up short in comparison. Maybe when I actually have a family, I will be more interested in the family comedies again. But this one didn’t do it for me. Grade: D+

Category: Theater

As mentioned before, the Indianapolis Colts choked up a game trying to keep their players healthy for the playoffs. Most commentators are upset about it, though some have defended it. My father-in-law chalks it up to strategy that makes sense given the rules of the game, namely because having accomplished home-field advantage nothing matters until the playoffs. Others say that it was a bad move because the hit their morale takes (not just losing a game, but losing one that they could win) makes it less rather than more likely that they will win the Superbowl.

I think most of these people miss the point. DamnYankee, a commenter on Ta-Nahisi Coates’s blog, gets it:

The issue is not whether this makes it more likely or less likely that they win the Super Bowl, but rather that things other than playoffs should matter!. That some people can even say that taking a loss makes perfect sense because it doesn’t affect their playoff standings is symptomatic of the problems that playoff-obsession cause.

This isn’t an argument before or against playoffs in general. Rather, it’s that there ought to be different avenues of success. This can be accomplished within a playoff structure. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that playoff systems take on a life of their own and other goals, like division titles and victories over rivals, begin to matter less.

Whatever my criticisms of the NFL playoff model, going undefeated remains a victory apart from Super Bowl victories. This should be preserved. The Indianapolis Colts (or more preciisely, their coach) should be shamed for what they did. I hope that the morale hit they took takes all of the wind out of their season and they lose in the first or second round of the playoffs.

(I just hope they don’t lose in favor of an 8-8 Super Bowl Champion)

Category: Coffeehouse

Two of my big gifts this Christmas have been laptops. I gave one to my parents to accompany their main gift of a wireless router. I ended up getting two older used computers, one of which was to go to them. Unfortunately, both had mild problems. Then I won a free laptop, but it too developed problems. Somewhere along the line, Clancy’s computer developed problems.

Now, when I say “problems” I am using the term pretty loosely. They all work. One has a disc drive that works unless you’re trying to install an OS. One has a sticky keyboard. One has a hardware fault that won’t let Windows run on it but does work with Linux. Clancy’s old computer started overheating, though I think I got that under control. I can get all of these computers working, but the margin of error for my parents is much smaller than for me because they don’t immediately know how to work around them and don’t have the redundancy.

In the process of trying to figure out which computer they should get and attacking the various problems developing with my fleet of older computers, I discovered that Clancy needed a better computer than she has because of her tendency to tax computer resources with scores of open Firefox tabs. So I found a great deal on eBay for a replacement for her for a computer that could at least be upgraded into what she needed.

Of course, this meant taking two computers down from Cascadia to Delosa, one for her and one for my parents. And because she was a recipient, I couldn’t tell Clancy what I was doing. So I hid one in my Falstaff duffle bag. I told her that I was concerned about spending too much time on the laptop while visiting family, so I would only take the one going to the folks. Meanwhile, I hid the second in my duffel bag. I also had to hope she didn’t realize that I was giving away her superior laptop and relegating her to an inferior one (were I not getting her a newer one, I mean).

When we passed through security at the airport, I made sure to separate myself from her so that I could lay out the two laptops without her noticing. On the plane, I used her laptop, telling her that it was the folks’. When we arrived in Colosse, I hid the folks’ and used hers. She thought I was using theirs. They thought I was using my own. The day before Christmas, I packed theirs up in an Amazon box that arrived with books.

Meanwhile, I found out that the underlying reason for my parents’ new laptop was moot. Dad went and bought himself a wireless router. He said that he would buy a computer to go with it at some point, but for now he got a really good deal on the router. I suggested that maybe I would want to buy the router off him. Mainly, I didn’t want him to go buy a netbook or something while I was around to help him set it up.

The parents were suitably surprised and Dad still wanted to give me the wireless router, which I have no idea what I’m going to do with. While nobody was looking, I took the box I had wrapped my parents’ computer in and placed Clancy’s new computer in there. She, too, was suitably surprised.

So now I have an excess of mostly-working laptops and one too many wireless routers. The former is the cost of thriftiness. Having mostly-working laptops suits me just fine because I can work around whatever the problem is. Besideswhich, ThinkPads stopped coming out with S-Video Out ports, which I need for my TV hookup. With the exception of the Linux machine (which doesn’t output due to driver limitations), I have good redundancy if one of them kicks the bucket. Also, if the overheating problem occurs with Clancy’s old computer, I have a replacement.

Poor Clancy knew that I was a computer guy when I met her, but never imagined having this many around. I attribute a lot of it to a need to use what I have. It’s how I have kept so many desktops operative and now it’s occuring with laptops. One has a busted monitor but otherwise works. One requires Linux but otherwise works. One has a sticky keyboard but otherwise works. One has a slightly faulty disc drive but otherwise works. She also has an old laptop that is almost entirely dysfunctional, but I’m pretty sure I can get some old version of Linux running on it.

I have no idea what I will do with it… but then again, that’s not really the point.

Category: Server Room

In response to my recent post about dressing and acting respectable:

Sheila Tone: I think a lot of people from nice backgrounds believe dressing down is a way of showing solidarity with the poor. They also enjoy the idea that they can trick others.

Dave: David Brooks famously noted that BoBos (his term; essentially SWPLs with money) will borrow fashions from a foreign peasant — maybe a Guatemalan poncho, for example — but never from poor American whites.

W: That’s obvious, Dave, because a rich SWPL dressing like a poor white could actually be mistaken for a poor white.

I am inclined to believe that it has more to do with “tricking others” than showing any sort of solidarity, though I don’t know that they would necessarily view it that way. I think a lot of it relates to the decision of informality. I think of the whole Casual Monday-Friday phenomenon in the office place and I think that more of it has to do with attitude than actual comfort. At least for guys. Maybe I’m an outlier here, but I simply do not believe that jeans are any more comfortable than slacks. In the south, they’re less comfortable due to the heat. But people prefer them regardless and I believe they do in large part because wearing casual clothing, whether comfortable or not, allows people to feel more relaxed.

I’m not sure I’m entirely on board with the notion that whites don’t dress as poor whites. At least not as it relates to young people. Wearing blue collar shirts (“Gas Station Shirts”, as I used to call them, even though they typically were not actual gas station shirts) was a fad for a while. I was a fan of this fad because I knew a great place in Phillippi where I could get said shirts for $2-3 a piece. This may have had more to do with the solidarity that Sheila refers to. On the other hand, they were typically worn by people that are most diametrically opposed to poor whites in terms of philosophy and politics. Additionally, in Delosa it’s not too uncommon for people to “dress cowboy” if they are remotely in to country music.

What’s interesting about both the blue collar shirts and dressing western is that, though people across the economic spectrum do it, you often see key distinctions between between the way that people that dress that way out of necessity or actual cultural placing and the people that dress that way just because. For instance, I was terrible at the Gas Station Shirt fad because I insisted on tucking my shirt in and that ran contrary to the norms. A good portion of the time not only are the shirts untucked, but they are unbottoned with a shirt underneath (this I could do – so long as there was something between my belt and my body other than my pants). Well-to-do people that wear the cowboy wear are conspicuous because their shirts and even jeans always seem to be well-pressed.

Now, this either defeats the purpose or is part of the package. It’s sort of a way of showing solidarity or at least taking off airs, but in a way that suggests “I am not really one of them. “

Category: Coffeehouse

Sitcoms are, in general, less plotcentric than are dramas. All you need is a weak premise, some way for the characters to know one another and a context with which to interact, and you’re more-or-less set.

Watching last week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother reminded me of a premise that has largely and almost certainly forever will be unused: the office smoker’s circle. The context is perfect. You can throw together characters from different backgrounds relatively easily. Warehouse workers next to officer workers and in some cases higher-ups.

One of my complaints about The Office, and it’s not entirely a complaint because my idea is objectively no better than theirs, but it’s that the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin is a relatively small and close-knit group. I would love to see an office comedy akin to those IBM commercials about a large, corporate setting. The problem with that is that you can get stuck in whichever department you put the employees in. Make it about IT workers and you get an IT-oriented comedy. Even something more general like HR (which is the route Drew Carey took) can leave humorous stones unturned.

However, if you throw together a handful of employees from different groups, you can cover a wider area of office inanity. The best way to do that is either some cafeteria lunch table (though people are most likely to sit with those that they work with) or carpooling (which has been done, but not in an office comedy). Or… well… smokers. When I was at Monmark-Soyokaze, I was a tester hanging out with developers, the shipping manager, the VP of marketing, phone support, and so on. At Mindstorm it was more limited, but still I met and talked to a group of other people I never would have met (despite the fact that by that point I had greatly reduced my cigarette consumption). At Wildcat I got to know the head of Assembly, some welders, the Chief Project Manager, and so on.

It’s a great premise, though it will almost certainly never be used for the most obvious of reasons: it promotes smoking. Or at the very least, it provides an acceptable face for it that everybody from government to health interest groups to the public at large is trying to push to the fringes of society. Maybe that can be overcome by, whenever a cast member leaves, they suddenly die of lung cancer?

Category: Theater

Well, not “live” per se, since I’m watching a recording.

0:00 – An old guy is talking about how great snow is. Having been raised in the south, I have a hick’s apprecition of snow. However, I can’t say that appreciation is uniform. I’m also skeptical of the notion that it eliminates the tensions that exist between opposing groups such as mailmen and pets.

1:00 – It’s snowing outside, yet the kids at the school are using the fogged windows to spear images of… snowflakes? I suppose it’s good to know that creativity was killed well before the Nintendo came along.

1:30 – Humorous antics of an inept magician. Ha, ha.

2:15 – The conflation of crosseyed with being stupid, weird, or crazy is notably politically incorrect.

2:22 – The kids assault the poor magician on their way out of class. Hooligans.

2:37 – A boy is sledding across the snow in a way that defies even creative laws of physics. There is no force behind his momentum.

3:12 – Under ordinary circumstances, it would be inadvisable for kids to develop an attachment to a non-sentient creature that will die a horrible death when it warms up. On the upshot, the fact that snowmen are not sentient saves them a lot of pain in the end, no?

3:22 – Ten seconds before, the kids named the snowman Frosty. Within those short ten seconds, they compose a song dedicated to him. Maybe kids were more creative prior to the Nintendo.

3:43 – Frosty is born from sin. The kids had no right to take that magic hat from the magician they assaulted earlier. The kids claim he “threw it away”, but that does not stand up to even a minimum of scrutiny.

4:55 – The magician is trying to have it both ways. He wants the hat because he’s magic, but he claims that the hat couldn’t have brought Frosty to life because snowmen can’t come to life. He can’t have it both ways. Actually, he can, because it’s his hat.

5:00 – Pre-hat, Frosty had no legs. He grew them when he came to life. When the hat came off and he was no longer sentient, the legs are still there. The kids could really impress people if they convinced everyone that they made a snowman with legs. If they were smart, that is.

5:33 – The narrator (with an animated cell mouth several shades lighter than the rest of him) explains, with absolutely no justification, that the hat did belong to Frosty and the children, thereby justifying the bunny’s theft of the hat. Communists.

6:35 – Frosty speaks English (though not mathematics). That’s fortunate for everybody involved.

7:50 – The temperature on the thermometer is rising with unrealistic rapidity. The winter wonderland in the background of this has snow everywhere, but it was explained at the opening of the piece that it was the “first snow”. Man, talk about weather shifts. This must take place in the interior northwest.

8:47 – Frosty is leading a parade of utter destruction and chaos through town that is adversely affecting everyone that witnesses it, as though he were a curse or the product of black magic. Passerbies run into one another, a guy gets his moustache chopped off, and a cop swallows his whistle.

11:35 – Frosty and the kids are at the train station and the clerk refuses to let them on because they have no money. That’s all well and good, but then the clerk closes the entire stand! What about other customers? They apparently fall victim to the curse of Frosty.

12:20 – The kids decide to hop on a train illegally. The girl says she can as long as she’s back before dinner. The odds of going to the North Pole and making it back by dinner are miniscule. Further, they’re excited to be in a train car with ice cream and frozen cake. Presumably to illegally consume. Frosty is guilty of contributing to the delinquency of minors. Bad, bad Frosty. Then again, before Frosty was built, they had already demonstrated themselves to be hooligans.

13:28 – The magician is reiterating his need to get his hat back and hops on the train. He then says, repeatedly, “Think nasty”. WHAT?!

14:00 – The cakes are mysteriously gone from the train car.

15:00 – They’re stranded out in the cold. The little gurl is freezing to death. I’m not sure a giant, frozen creature holding her is the best idea. Of course, maybe it’s the best of a bunch of bad options. I guess Frosty, less than 24-hours old, can’t be held entirely accountable for having a poor future time-orientation.

18:15 – The magician is back and he spit out the campfire. That was a pretty lame move since, at least theoretically, he needs heat, too. The magician catches up with them yet again and locks Frosty in a greenhouse. Stupidly, he locks himself out. So not only is he going to be really cold, but he can’t even get his hat back!

20:33 – Frosty is melted. They didn’t show it, of course, but to imagine it is traumatic enough. As a kid, I imagined it and bawled my eyes out and did not stop even when Santa brought him back to life. I think I’ve had it in for this cartoon ever since. Hence this post.

22:30 – Santa blackmails the magician into giving up his claim on the hat. This constitutes a happy ending.

23:42 – You’d think Santa would have other things to be doing for Christmas.

24:14 – The Christmas Parade of Doom is declared to become an annual affair. I suppose this isn’t too terrible a thing because, as people get used to it, they won’t injure and main themselves in surprise. So “yay” and all that.

Category: Theater
Category: Theater

AOL Auto has a list of the cars least likely to get a speeding ticket. Unsurprisingly, most of them were family cars or pick-ups. What I found interesting was that of the four that weren’t either of these things, only one was an inexpensive car, the Mazda6. The other two were pricier Buicks (Lucerne and Park Avenue) and the last was a Jaguar. For the Buicks, I guess you have a lot of older drivers (though I’ve never associated Buick with advanced age the same was as, say, Lincolns). But Jags? I thought those things were bought by people that liked to drive fast.

Category: Road

Jamelle Bouie writes that Emperor Palpatine (of Star Wars fame) was not as wrong as we think:

I’m not so certain that the operating philosophy behind the Galactic Empire — that despotism is necessary to maintaining the peaceful cohesion of a galaxy-spanning empire –is entirely wrong. Especially since we have enough examples of republican forms of galactic government to know that the alternative isn’t that much better. The previous galaxy-spanning political unit — the Galactic Republic — collapsed largely because it was too large to be effective. The Republic didn’t even possess the strength or legitimacy to handle a trade dispute on a minor core world, much less an existential threat like the Clone Wars.

Several years ago, Jon Last wrote a seminal piece entitled The Case For the Empire:

Scores of thousands of planets are represented in the Galactic Senate, and as we first encounter it, it is sclerotic and ineffectual. The Republic has grown over many millennia to the point where there are so many factions and disparate interests, that it is simply too big to be governable. Even the Republic’s staunchest supporters recognize this failing: In “The Phantom Menace,” Queen Amidala admits, “It is clear to me now that the Republic no longer functions.” In “Attack of the Clones,” young Anakin Skywalker observes that it simply “doesn’t work.”

The Senate moves so slowly that it is powerless to stop aggression between member states. In “The Phantom Menace” a supra-planetary alliance, the Trade Federation (think of it as OPEC to the Galactic Republic’s United Nations), invades a planet and all the Senate can agree to do is call for an investigation.

Bouie is a liberal and Last is a conservative, which makes this a rare non-partisan issue (except for the fact that Last wrote his piece when Republicans were in power and Bouie his now that the Democrats are… the justification of power rises and wanes depending on who, precisely, is in power).

This sort of puts its finger on something that I find myself thinking about on this issue or that. Some of the greatest evils that have been committed were an illegitimate response to legitimate issues. Whether the villains were greedy oligarchs or the extraordinarily unfavorable terms of a post-war treaty, Hitler and Castro came to power because the previous models of governance were not working for large segments of the population.

Having gotten Godwin out of the way, you can see this in contemporary issues as well. To pick an example of something that has worked in multiple directions, sexual harassment law. Sexual harassment law, whatever its faults, was a response to a real problem. When women did not have sexual harassment workplace protections, there were no systems in place where she could file a complaint if men would demote or punish women that were not receptive to their sexual advances. The original incarnation of sexual harassment law, however, also went too far and the backlash was to be expected. Men had little or no defense against any allegation and could, at least theoretically, be fired for an innocent gesture taken the wrong way. There were absolutely no assurances that men wouldn’t be fired simply because a female coworker wanted them to be fired. There was no way that this was not going to cause a backlash. Even if it were the case that the men most likely to speak up were those that really just had a disregard for women and wanted the right to treat them however they wanted, they gained an audience in part because there were some legitimate fears about what this sweeping legislation would ultimately mean.

Ben Franklin’s famous quote about security and freedom notwithstanding, a society that disregards security for too long will almost certainly lose its freedom in the long run. When policies don’t allow the law enforcement and security personnel to do their jobs, the temporary result will be a population more free from police interference. The longer-term result is increased anger at rising crime that results in a new round of legislation that’s not unlikely to go five steps too far.

There needs to be a term for the opposite of the slippery slope argument. The slippery slope argument says that if you give in 10% on Issue X that you’re setting to stage to give in 20%, 30%, and up to 100%. The opposite of this would be that if you don’t give in the 10%, you’ll create a situation that will have people clamoring for a 50% solution.

Ultimately, institutions have to be able to respond to the problems set before it. Further, to the extent that those in power completely disregard the perspective and concerns of the opposition, they lay the groundwork for a disproportionate backlash that could easily outlast the effects of the legislation that they managed to get through in the first place.

-{Note, I touch on a lot of areas here with varying degrees of volatility. It may be too much to ask you to keep focused entirely on the abstract, but any and all comments that are disrespectful towards people that you disagree with will be cropped or deleted. Ditto for comments expressing great skepticism that the people you disagree with are good-intentioned or honest about their motives.}-

Here at Hit Coffee, we spend a fair amount of time complaining about when we’re done wrong by corporate America. Every now and again it’s worth pointing out when a company does right.

I’ve been thinking about getting a data plan on my phone. It’s helpful to be able to check my email and whatnot when I’m out and about. It’s liberating, in a sense, because it means that I can be out knowing that I don’t have any email waiting for me. This is particularly helpful as we’ve been out and about a lot, driving to Shoshona and Arapaho and flying back to Delosa. But it’s also an expense. I put aside the money for it while I was employed, but was reluctant to pull the trigger.

What I decided to do was go a month on pay-as-you-go. I figured that this would probably cost more than the $30/mo of the plan, but I figured there was also a decent chance it might cost less since I don’t really use it all that often. Well, I was wrong. Even with my relatively light usage, we got a bill for a whopping $160. When I was thinking it might cost more, I was thinking in the ballpark of $50. I was vaguely aware that this was a dumb plan and that I could have

Anyhow, when I talked to AT&T and explained my situation, they were extremely cool about it. They said that if I were to sign up for the data plan, they’d scotch the $160 bill. I don’t mean that they would apply future data plans to the $160, but that they would eliminate it entirely. So theoretically, a month from now I can cancel my data plan and they wouldn’t turn around and charge me the balance.

That’s an extremely cool thing to do. I realize that they have their reasons, customer retention and all that, but that doesn’t often stop these companies from taking advantage of the situation. Particularly in industries, like the cell phone industry, where there is limited competition.

I have been considering switching away (and may still do so) in the future (the subject of another post), but to the extent that this was an effort at customer retention, it was successful. AT&T has a reputation just one step less bad than Sprint’s, and I got burned by an AT&T/Cingular affiliate in Deseret, but they really did right by me here.

Of course, my unlimited data plan may end up being short-lived anyway. If we move to a place where they have poor coverage, I don’t feel quite so indebted as to pay them $30 for something I can’t access. But even so, hats off to AT&T.

Category: Market