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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Frustrated and Exhausted

This may be some sort of blog rekindeling for me .A long time ago on another blog site i was a devoted blogger and had something to say every day. In some ways when that site went down I didn't want to blog any more, eventually I gave in and found this site but I havent been as devoted to it. A lot of this has to do with the fact that before Stephen and I got married we could write blogs and keep each other up to date on every thing, now we are able to just fill each other in at the end fo the day.

Any how, I am in a grouchy mood today for a few reasons. I finally got a week off of school and it has blown by so fast and I managed to recogmize a mile long list of things that need doing but that was it, I didn't manage to get any of it done. I have been so exhausted from working all day and staying up all night with home work that a lot of times I don't even notice how much laundry has piled up or that the cubards are empty or the lawn is knee high. This week I wanted to get every thing caught up but I was so exhausted I ended up just crashing every afternoon and not getting any thing done really. Its frustrating and honestly how much more of the daily life stuff can I push off on Stephen before he gets so over whelmed that he can't cope. Not much more I am sure.

I am also frustrated because every since 2003 the National Guard has been telling me that they are going to medically discharge me from the military due to injuries that occurred on deployment. However the military is great about taking forever, they have started the process a few times and then staff would change and the issue would be dropped. I haven't pushed the issue about any of it because if I can just bide my time until I get my 20 I will be happy to quietly take my retirement letter and move on with my life. In the last year some one in the unit decided that this needs to be sorted and finalized, so every couple of months I get a letter telling me I am being issued orders to go to the Med Review Board, so I go but I never get paid for it, orders means getting paid, nor does the unit bother to exchange those days for drill days. Instead I am taking these days off from my job with out pay and wasting my time. There is always another form or another appointment. The forms never seem to be done on time. The unit seems to take a month or two to fill out a form and only bothers to do it if I email or call them every week.

It's now drill weekend again and we are going to convoy across the state to go to the range. My daughter happens to be pregnant, very pregnant. She is due October 21,but she is diabetic which typically leads to early delivery. The doctor said a week and a half ago that she didn't think that Sara would go to her due date and would  maybe go two more weeks. I am freaking out that she will go into labor with me 4 hours away.
Sara also has this heart condition that causes her heart to beat to fast. I have  heard so many horror stories about women's hearts stopping when they are in labor so needless to say I am in a panic about it. I want to be right there the whole time, not that I think I am a doctor and can fix her but I want to at least be there to yell for a doctor if something goes wrong. 

So any way I text my NCOIC and explain that I am freaked out about going on a convoy that far away and not being able to get back if I need to. She told me that I could drive my personal vehicle to the range that way if I need to leave I can. Today I was thinking do I drive straight to the range or do I need to show up at the unit for formation. The thing is the unit is not even in the general direction of the range. My NCOIC says she isnt sure so I should call the unit. I can't call from work so I got on my phone and sent an email and ask my question. The guy comes back saying that I haven't received approval to drive myself to the range. I replied back saying that I had contacted my NCOIC about it and she had informed me that it was all sorted. He actually emailed me back being rude about 1SGT not approving it. So I text my NCIOC and ask who she approved it with and told her the unit was saying that I can drive to the range. She never answered me!

The whole thing annoys me because appartenly my NCOIC gave me permission to drive there and never bothered to get it approved from the approving authority, and never bothered to  inform me that it had not really been approved. Then the clerk had to be rude about it, If  I do what I am suppose to and go through the chain of command there is no need to be rude to me because my NCOIC didn't follow through with her part of it. Its not like I was askign to not go at all which is really what I would rather. I mean what mother wants to be 4 hours away from thier pregnant 16 year old unhealthy daughter when she could go into labor at any minute. Not this mother for sure!

I eventually got the number for the approving authority and text and got permission to drive but by the time that I got this approval I was so frustrated. I hope the long drive in the morning gives me time to cool off because going to drills with an attitude probably isnt a good idea. A few years ago I was just not ready to get out of the military or give up that part of my life, recently I am just ready for them to finalize the papers and send me on my way. I never thought I would want to be out of the military, it used to be such an important part of how I definded myself. I really think I feel ready to get out because of stupid stuff like this stuff today. I guess I want the guard to be more like active duty, where your unit is  your family and you always have each other's back. Imagine if I had not text or emailed to ask a question, come tommorow morning I would have been AWOL from drills!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Car Dealerships! oh and a couple pics I took recently

Yesterday I had this appointment at the VA in Bonham. We recently bought this car from an individual and for what we paid it is an ok car, however after driving a mini van for many years I am just not feeling comfy in this car. I need a family vehicle. So as we where going to Bonham any way I decided that we would stop by Bonham Chrysler and see what pre-owned cars they had we actually found one that we loved! It was a

2004 Chrysler Pacifica SUV

   

This is actually the very vehicle we looked at and even test drove for the day. The sales guy said take it to your appointment and when you get back we will have the financing worked out. I said to him specifically that I was not willing to pay any money down, I simply wanted to use the car as a trade in for the down payment and then make payments. Now this is something that I have done in the past and on vehicles that to be honest where not worth trading in but if the car lot wants to take them then great. 

We returned with the above vehicle and was informed that financing was all sorted we just needed to speak to the finance guy. The sales guy says first let me run over the numbers with you. We are asking $13 and change for the vehicle, but have brought that down to $10 and change, we will give you $3  for the car and bring that down to  $9. Now a warning bell went right off for me because I know the car isn't worth $3 and I also know that if you take 10 which is what they brought the price down to and subtract 3 that leaves 7 not 9 however I just listened and waited for the finance guy. 

Ok in the past when I have traded in a crap car and not made a down payment what the finance people have done is gave us say $1500 trade in for a car that is really worth about $500, they tell the finance company that they gave us $500 and then we put up the other $1000. I have done this several times over the years. However this finance guy wanted to say that our car was worth $500 and they would say they where giving us $3000 but we would have to come up with cash for the $2500 difference. This is well to be blunt ass backwards from any other deal I have every heard of, what would be the point of telling the finance company that they gave us $3000 trade in if we actually put up the $2500. The whole point in doing this scheming on the trade in and down payment is so that the finance company thinks you put cash down when really you only traded in your car.  To be honest I was texting with Misty and only half way listening to the guy, but I sat up straight and took notice when he said that we would be putting up the $2500. I ask him to explain again so I could be sure of what I had heard. 

Needless to say we opted not to because I had already said I wasn't giving them the car and cash. So we leave the lot and head home. On the way we drove past a couple other car lots, smaller less BS car lots. There happens to be the same vehicle sitting at one of the lots only it is the prettiest blue. So we stop just to ask. This lot don't really do trade ins, they want a down payment. So we ask about the Pacifica. Theirs happens to be a 2006 model, less miles and they are only asking $9 something for it. Stephen and I just looked at each other with this "good job we just avoided getting screwed" look. Now we are going over the finances and attempting to come up with a down payment and keeping the car to give to Sara and Luke. However the fact that this car is almost $4000 less than the one at BC really got us a little irritated. 

We didn't look on the net before we stopped, it was a last minute "hey lets just see" kind of deal. Today we went and looked at BC website and I will be darned, they have that vehicle that we test drove  listed at $9,999 so why the HELL did they try to tell us $13! I mean isn't that false advertising or something?  

It is really my own fault because a couple years ago we had a few dollars saved and wanted to go to this same car lot's cash only lot and pick up something fairly cheap to get Stephen started out. This was when he first moved here and didn't have a car or a job at the moment. So needless to say car payments where not an option with no job.  They had all these $2000 cars on their site but when we got there they refused to show us anything less than $5000 and when I ask specifically about cars on their site that said $1999 they came up with excuses about how those cars where on lots in other towns. I ask could they call those lots and verify that the cars where there so that we could go see them, they refused to do so. Now I explained to the guy that Stephen had only been here a couple of weeks and that he didn't have a job yet and that until Uncle Sam gave him a work permit he wouldn't have a job so I needed a cash deal, he still wouldn't let me see the cheap cars. I should have known better than to ever go back there. I can assure you that I won't be doing it again. 

I  just can't understand a business being ran that way, I mean haven't they ever heard that you are suppose to listen to the customer and find out what their needs are, what their abilities are and go from there? This place is all about screwing you over and pushing you into something that you can't afford or something that you said you are not willing to do! I really hate pushy lying sales people!

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Now on another note here are a couple pics that I took when I went with Stephen to look for a hawk. 

 

  View All Photos | Stephen and Latrell Olner

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Banks and Customer service,do they even go together any more!?

 

Recently I have been so fed up with Banks in general, today it got to the point I had to get rude with some one.

To start off my dislike for banks First United Bank has been my bank for years now, I had a joint account with my first husband and when we divorced I took the brunt of some pretty messy check issues in order to get my paycheck (which was being held at the bank until one of us took full responsibility for the account). In the end I spent about three years chasing beer checks across Bryan county because I had no idea he had written the checks. Once it was all said and done I was pretty over the idea of a check book. Divorce can be messy in a lot of ways but the bank accounts I think was the worst of it.  By the time I had it all sorted and all the checks paid up I was pretty protective of my bank account. I check it daily and make sure that things are as they should be.

To make me even more anti-banks my  X knew our account number by heart, and he had a friend at the bank. During those first couple of years when he didn't pay any child support at all if I ever ask him to help buy anything for the girls he would quote me my bank balance and assure me I had the money to pay for their stuff.  He even once showed me a print out of my bank statement. Turns out his friend at the bank was telling him what ever he wanted to know about my account.

After Stephen and I were married over a year someone at the local branch offered to password protect my account so that not even a bank employee could access my account with out the password. They offered this because Stephen had refused to be added to my account because of my X constantly knowing what my balance was. Now I receive an email any time that some one tries to access my account with out the password. That first week I had over 20 emails, the emails have drastically reduced in the last couple of   years but I still get one every now and then. It amazes me that five years after the fact he still attempts to check my bank statements.

A few months ago Stephen discovered Photoshelter, a website that will host photography sells and do most of the hard parts for you for a small fee. Well it was working great until First United started blocking the payments to Photoshelter. We couldn't figure out the problem because the money was in the account but the payments where being declined. It turns out that a lot of banks are blocking all credit card transactions from several states, a few countries and specific merchants because of a large amount of fraud coming from those states.

We have been on the phone repeatedly with FU trying to get them to process these payments. I was getting irritated with the whole issue but I do understand why they are doing it. I however feel that if a customer calls and says look I authorize this payment to this company then the bank should allow the payment. FU insist that they can not lift the block for any reason.

It all came to a head the other day when Stephen spoke to his two sons and they ask him to add minutes to the pre-paid phone that he gave them. The transaction was declined, even after Stephen spent an hour on the phone to the UK trying to sort it all out the phone company couldn't get the transaction to process. Turns out transactions from the UK have been blocked as well! This was the last draw with FU for Stephen. 

Stephen has gotten so fed up that he has opened a new account with Vision bank and as soon as the ATM card comes in the mail he will be moving his pay check to there. Vision bank seems sure that if we call and authorize a payment through a blocked agent that they can lift the block for one transaction at a time. This means us calling once a month but that is better than having out account frozen because the bank is to lazy to spend the time to authorize the payments.

Now I am reluctent to end a long time account with FU because it is simply comfortable to stay where I am at. However Stephen's name is on that account and mine is on his new account at Vision bank. On Thursday my X decied to make a partial payment on his very delinquent child support. I haven't complained much about his lateness or partial payments because I realize how difficult it is to go from Active Duty Army pay to a crappy job at Dish Network that pays about a third of what the army pays. Any way I was in Durant and near Vision bank so I figured I would deposit the payment into Vision and keep part of it to take the kids for tacos. I pulled into the drive through. and put the money order, a deposit slip and my ID into the little tube and send it on.  I noticed that there is no other cars in the drive through at all, and about three employees mingling around inside the drive through window. As soon as my tube hits their desk all of the employees disappear. About 15 min later I start getting frustrated and text Stephen  "IDK about this bank, I am the only one in the drive through, three missing employees and 15 minutes they didn't even say hello when they got my tube" . Another 5 minutes and some guy strolls up to the window, drops the tube into the machine to send it back to me and walks away before the tube ever get st to me.  Now at least FU tellers say hello to you when they get your tube and tell you thanks and have a nice day when they send the tube back.  I mean come on a little politeness  isn't a lot to ask for.So even though Vision bank gives you 3.6% interest on your checking account and they seem to think our payments will be put through I am really not happy about the lack of customer service skills that their tellers seem to offer.

So to top off my bank frustrations we received a check in the mail a few days ago from a customer wanting to purchase a disk. This morning we had to got to Denison to pick up some photos that we had in this gallery. So Stephen says oh we need to cash this check too. Now typically we don't deposit customer checks into our account. The reason behind this is if the customer writes us a check and it don't clear the bank, if I have put that check into my account I am then responsible for giving my bank back that money. So I take customer checks to their bank to cash them. This customer wrote a check from American Bank of Texas. We pull up to the drive through window, put the check that was made out to Stephen Olner Photography and Stephen's  military dependent ID into the tube and send it on. The teller leaves and returns to inform us that because the check is made out to a business and we don't have an account with them then they can give us a Cashier's Check but not cash! What the Heck!  I was not happy and said look it is not like the check is written to Wal-Mart, it is written to a buisness that is his name and you have a government issed ID proving he is that person. She refused to cash the check so I ask for a manager. The teller leaves and returns to say that I can come inside and see a manager but the manager refuses to come to the drive through window! What!!!! So I drive around and go inside. I was heated by then because the gallery closes at noon and we where going to not make it in time to pick up our photos.

I explained to the manager a little banking 101, the purpose in having a checking account is so that a person can write a check to a business or individual and then the business or individual can present the check to the bank and get their money. The manager insisted that because we don't have an account there, the check is written to a business and we have no proof that we are the business owners then they can't give us cash. I explained to her in less than nice tone that first of all the check is written to Stephen Olner Photography and the Stephen's ID, which was issued to him by Uncle Sam clearly indicates that he is STEPHEN OLNER! How much more cut and dry can it be, come on now its not like the check was made out to some buisness that didn't include Stephen's name.

This manager says to me that until I work in the banking industry I dont understand what all people will do to commit fraud. Hello she don't know what my background is. I see fraud all the time at my job, I also have delt with people giving me checks for a long time and not always are they valid checks. This would be why I don't cash customer checks through my account! 

The woman starts listing all this proof that we can provide, she wants some form that proves we work under an alias name...what the hell this isnt an alias its the darn name his partents gave  him when he was born!!!
 I informed her that if I wanted her to have my personal information then I would open an account with their bank but as I don't choose to have an account with their bank a government ID is more than enough to prove who Stephen is. This woman actually had the nerve to say "so why don't you just take the check to your bank".  As I told her, my bank is not in Denison but I am and I don't cash customer checks through my bank I cash them through the bank it is written from.

I turned to Stephen and said  we are not taking any more checks written on American Bank of Texas, not that  I can understand why anyone would want an account with a bank that offers no customer service what so ever. The woman's eyes about popped out of her head, she opened her mouth to say something but seemed to be lacking for anything to say and finally came up with "that is a matter of opinion" ...whooo hooooo as if that bothers me at all. I really dont think I will be accepting checks from their bank ever again.

All the while Stephen is standing there arms crossed watching as if he wants to burst out laughing at this woman who is close to seeing me get really mad. Stephen invites her to look up Stephen Olner Photography on the net. She finally accepts this web site that by the way don't even have his photo on it, as proof that Stephen Olner Photography is a real company.

Now when we got home this manager had sent Stephen an email to say how sorry she was that it was such an inconvienance but really isnt that a bit late as I had to waiste all that time and be late getting to where I needed to be.

I really just wonder if banks in general give a crap about customer service at all. I mean really people depend on their banks to take in money, make payments, feed their families and put gas in their cars, all through what ever bank their hard earned money goes into. If we as customers attempt to make a payment to a business or individual we shouldnt have to worry about if the bank will honor a valid request when the money is in the bank. Banks may be essential in this day with direct depsites and all but I am ready to close them down and go back to the days where we all deal in cash!