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Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

TurboTax and the Tech Support Fumble of 2009

Posted by mousewrites on March 28, 2009

Oi, long time since I posted. But I had to post this.

I like TurboTax. I’ve used their online tax filing service for years. In fact, when I logged in today to do my taxes, it offered me a discount on their premium service, since I have been such a good customer. Only $39.99 for me!

Awesome! Thanks, TurboTax! I click the accept button, knowing that state taxes would also be $34.99, bringing my total to $79.98.  Again, TurboTax is really easy, and I did my taxes, including pesky 1099-DIV and 1099-R forms easily. I go to e-file, and lo, the payment page comes up.



I check what I’m paying for:

  • Federal Premium service: $79.98
  • State: $34.99

I scratch my head. That’s not what the page said. That was the offer for NEW customers, not returning ones. And they know I’m a returning customer, because they imported my info from last year. I pop open a chat support window, and have the following conversation: (my comments in perens)


Please wait while we find an agent to assist you…

You have been connected to TurboTax Tech Support Guy. (Names changed to protect the innocent)

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Thank you for contacting TurboTax Support, may I have a moment while I read your question, Mrs. Geek?

Me: Sure.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: If I have understood you correctly, you want to know why you have been taken to the Premier program asking to pay $79.95 for the Federal. Am I correct?

Me: I would like to know where my ‘returning customer discount’ went, yes.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Not to worry Mrs. Geek. I will certainly help you in resolving the issue. (Wow, right out of the ‘offer of assistance’ handbook.)

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: May I know the name of the TurboTax product that you are using for your returns? Also is it Online or CD/Download version?

Me: Online, turbotax premier 2008

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Is that you used a link where you can get the premier program for $39.00?

Me: I used a link from the email turbo tax sent me to. It specifically asked me which version I wanted (basic or premium) and asked if I wanted the premium for 39$ because I was a returning customer.

Me: I chose that version, and continued my return.

Me: I’m in the same browser. I haven’t used another link to open it.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Can you help me with the email that you received stating that the Premier program is available for $39.00?

Me: I did not receive an email stating that.

Me: I clicked on a email I received, and it took me to the turbo tax page stating that.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Can you copy paste the email for me? (Ignores my last reply, because it doesn’t fit with what he already assumes my answer is.)

Me: If I log out and log back in, will it allow me to receive my discount?

Me: There is no mention of the 39$ fee in the email, Tech Support Guy.

Me: I can copy and paste it, but it doesn’t mention it.

Me: Do you still need me to copy and paste it?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Sure.

Me: Please click here if you are having trouble viewing this message.

TurboTax(R) – Choose Easy. #1 Rated BEST SELLING*

Lock in your LOW PRICE. Finish NOW and SAVE! Hurry – prices go up after March 27! Finish & File Today!

Your TurboTax User ID: bobsyouruncle (not my real user name. I don’t have an uncle bob)

Dear person,

Don’t wait! You are running out of time to take advantage of your LOW TurboTax(R) Online price. TurboTax provides you with the help and guidance you need to finish your re – snip (email cuts off in the chat window. he doesn’t get the whole thing)

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Just give me a moment so that I go through this email.

Me: Ok, but it doesn’t say anything about the 39$.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Mrs. Geek, in the email that you have pasted above, it is clearly stated that the price will go up after March 27. Now it is March 28, that is the reason why the program is not available for the mentioned price. (ARG)

Me: Tech Support Guy, you are not listening to me.

Me: Please listen to what I am saying: the email DOESN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE DISCOUNT. (Which I already told you, up there.)

Me: The discount was offered to me TODAY.


Me: So the fact that the email says that DOES. NOT. MATTER. (breathe, geek. just breathe for a second. Rephrase the question.)

Me: Question: Is there a returning customer discount?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Mrs. Geek, i have checked and would like to inform that there are some discounts.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: In your case, what I can suggest you is, pay for the charges and contact us after 24 hours with the incident number that I can provide you, so that we can refund you for $20.00 the charges that you pay. Is that okay?

Me: No. (Whut?)

Me: I’m not paying you extra money now because you messed up.

Me: I’ll do my taxes elsewhere if that’s the case. If you can’t fix this simple mix up, how can I trust you to properly do my taxes?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Please note that as the discount is not applied to your order total, it is not possible to give you discount until you pay and get back. I can offer the price that you state that the program is offered at discount, if you pay and get back for refund. (ARRRG, that makes no sense!)

Me: What? That makes no sense. Your system has made a mistake. You’re telling me that I have to pay for the mistake NOW and then you can fix it? I haven’t put in my credit card yet; why can’t you give me a discount code or change the amount the system is billing me?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: As I said earlier, we can process the refund for the discount amount only after you have paid for it. There is no code that gives the discount. (Then why is there a ‘enter discount code here’ link, schmart guy?)

Me: I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.

Me: I will have to use a different service to file my taxes, and recommend to my friends and family that TurboTax is unreliable.

Me: Your system has a glitch. You can’t fix the glitch.

Me: Therefore, your system is unreliable.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Mrs. Geek, although you might not agree with my decision, I explained it so you can at least understand. (oooh, I made him mad!)

Me: No, I don’t understand.

Me: You told me something that makes little sense. I know it’s your script.

Me: I know you don’t have a better answer for me.

Me: But it’s a stupid answer. If I said “Do you want to buy this apple? It’s $1”

Me: and then when you tried to pay me, I said “Actually, it’s $40. Give me $40, and I promise I’ll give you $39 tomorrow”

Me: Does that sound right to you? It’s not. It’s what’s called a ‘bait and switch’.

Me: It’s actually illegal in most states.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: I do understand that such changes can be frustrating for you. (Changes? What changes? You fucking up is not a ‘change’)  But, that is the procedure we follow.

Me: How do I know that the ‘system’ won’t say that tomorrow I can’t have a refund?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: I will give you the refund reference incident number that has this conversation and the if you provide the number to the agent after paying, he/she will surely refund you for the discount amount.

Me: Just like the system will surely not over charge me in the first place?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: No, it will not. (Oh, it won’t? Then why am I talking to you?)

Me: how do I know that?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Firstly, it will not overcharge. Secondly, if overcharged, will will refund for all the over charges if any. (First, I won’t shoot you. Second, if I do shoot you, it will only be a little bit.)

Me: So, you’re saying I have to accept the ‘overcharge’, trust that you won’t actually overcharge me, and if you do, believe that you’ll give me the refund?

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: As an alternative, you can call us live so that we will charge you $39.00 for the Premier program and unlock the $79.00 charge. Is that okay?

Me: can you give me a incident number? I will call them, thank you.

TurboTax Tech Support Guy: Please make a note of the incident number: 123456


So I called them. Same deal: It was the price from yesterday. You can’t have it today. Oh, you were quoted that today? Pay the overcharge, and we’ll refund you.

Now, I’m a QA for tech support.  I understand that both of these techs were not speaking in their native language; even without the tell-tale accent, certain phrases are very, VERY common in overseas support. I’m fine with overseas support… as long as they actually listen to the customer. Both of these techs were dead sure that I was calling about a price I had been quoted in an email before. The gentleman on the phone actually interrupted what i was saying to tell me that.

I eventually persisted enough that I talked to a supervisor, who took my creditcard and charged me the correct amount, and then gave me a code for the website. I happily filed my taxes at that point.

The system wasn’t broken, but the Tech Support people were.

TurboTax, give that sup a high five. He listened to what I was actually saying, and didn’t give me a patently rediculous answer. Thank you.


Posted in GeekLife, Internet, Technology, Work | 5 Comments »

Test: Does this work?

Posted by mousewrites on January 27, 2009


Just a test of the Delicious Play Tagger.

EDIT: Yeah, ok, that totally doesn’t work. I was trying to embed the Javascript for playtagger into the page, and cheerfully strips it out every time. Le sigh.

Posted in GeekLife, Internet, Music, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Where has Mouse gone to?

Posted by mousewrites on August 6, 2008

You like the images of style retro? The Web Steampunk Wallpaper is dedicated to compile screen bottoms whose visual aspect remembers to the steam motors and the old woman gears. An example is this titled image “Old Ideas”, happened in a photo of Paul Garland.

That’s the Babel fish translation of this page, where they mentioned I find the description amusing.

Sorry to be so AFK; is taking a lot of time. I’ve got about 1,500 hits a day, though, which is good for both my ego and my production rate. I may fall flat on my nose, but I’m much less likely to give up if 1,500 people are watching me.

And only one flame so far, which is kinda nifty. I know that these wallpapers I’m doing aren’t Great Works of Art. Half of them I’m ‘meh’ about. A few I outright dislike. But this is a kind of fat camp for my creativity. I haven’t done ANYTHING in so long that my muscles are atrophied. So I push myself. Hopefully I’ll get some more people who want to be featured on the site, and I can ‘share’ responsibility. That’d be awesome.

Here’s something I read today on Lifehacker, from Jeff Atwood :

Quantity always trumps quality. That’s why the one bit of advice I always give aspiring bloggers is to pick a schedule and stick with it. It’s the only advice that matters, because until you’ve mentally committed to doing it over and over, you will not improve. You can’t. When it comes to software, the same rule applies. If you aren’t building, you aren’t learning. Rather than agonizing over whether you’re building the right thing, just build it. And if that one doesn’t work, keep building until you get one that does.

This is what I am doing. I am COMMITTED (yes yes, with the paperwork and the comfy white coat) to doing wallpapers, and keep doing them. I’m learning a lot about myself. Part of that is that I’m so lazy I’m surprised I breathe, let alone do one wallpaper a day for the last 36 days. Yup, 36. Go me.

Guh. Well, I have to get up at 5 in the fucking morning to go to work for the next two weeks, so I better get going on tonight’s wallpaper.

Oh, and Dr. Horrible is free again. :: huge grin::

Posted in Fandom, Graphics, Internet, Steampunk | 3 Comments »

Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog

Posted by mousewrites on July 19, 2008

Until Sunday, July 20th at midnight (pacific, I believe), you can watch all three acts of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Mad Scientists, Supervillans, and frozen yogurt. AND IT”S A MUSICAL! Joss Whedon, you’ve done it again. You make things that make me happy. Thank you.

I adored every second about it. It makes me feel good to be alive, and a geek. This is the kind of movie that makes me light up like a juiced filament. I’ll buy the episodes after they go on sale, I’m sure. Go. Watch. Enjoy.

(Now, of course, I want to make some wallapers. Hmmmm…)

Posted in Fandom, GeekLife, Internet, Movie | 3 Comments »

Where have all the Wallpapers gone?

Posted by mousewrites on July 9, 2008

Due to the mass amounts of hits I was getting on my steampunk wallpaper page, and due to the fact that editing the HTML every day was driving me batshit insane, I moved the wallpapers to their own blog!

Check it out!

Posted in Graphics, Internet | 2 Comments »

Steampunk Fiveday

Posted by mousewrites on July 4, 2008

Well, it’s the 4th of July, I should do a patriotic one… but I’m just not feeling it right now. The rumble and pop of the fireworks sounds too close to what I hear on the news about all the places in the world that it sucks to be right now. So, instead, I’ll do a Steampunk Fiveday.


Five cool sites about Steampunk. (not counting that link.)

  1. The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles. Cool blog, and even cooler forum. Friendly and inventive, the gents and ladies therein will assist you with any issue or question you may have. With sub-forums for everything from textual to textural, fiction to fabric, it’s a great place to get your feet wet.
  2. Æther Emporium. Wiki-style compendium of links. Nice place to go diving for Steampunkery.
  3. The Steampunk Workshop. The home of the rock star of the Steampunk subculture, Jake von Slatt. More about him below, but the workshop is a blog of nifty cool. Many links abound!
  4. Steampunk Magizine and forum. I actually buy this zine analog, at Powell’s, but it’s online for free. Stories, interviews, and, amazingly, full patterns and recipes for delectable things such as spats or leather aviator helmets. One issue even had a ‘how to live in the falling down wreckage of your city’ section. It makes me so happy.
  5. Dr. Grordborts Infallible Aether Oscillators (pictured), are a line of immensely dangerous yet simple to operate wave oscillation weapons. I want one so badly that my palms sweat looking at them. I can almost feel the cool, textured grip, smell the ozone and the iron… gah.  I swear, if I had an extra 800$ lying around, they would be mine!



Bonus! Five steampunk names you should know.


  1. The previously mentioned Jake von Slatt (pictured). Maker of amazing items, such as the Victorian all in one PCSteampunk Strat, and tutorials on etching and electroplating. He’s rather shy, but he’s undoubtedly one of the big names in Steampunkery at the moment. And, if he ever sees this, Yes, Jake, you do clean up nice.
  2. Datamancer. If you haven’t heard of him, I’m rather surprised you even have read this long into the post! He’s the creator of the amazing keyboards, goddamn fucking beautiful laptop mods, and other awesomeness. And he’s hot. Don’t tell him I said that, though.
  3. Abney Park. Steampunk band. Beloved (by more than just me) for their stage persona as well as their music.
  4. Dr. Steel. The mad scientist version of Abney park. Think labcoat spattered with rust instead of blood. Oh, and toys. Lots of toys.
  5. Agatha Heterodyne. The heroine and title character of the Girl Genius universe. Great webcomic, and analog comic too, come to think of it. I own a amusing card game based on them. Note that the Girl Genius creators don’t consider themselves Steampunk, because of it’s darker connotations. They prefer ‘Gaslamp Romance’.

Posted in Fiveday, Internet, Steampunk | 1 Comment »

Steampunk wallpaper a day?

Posted by mousewrites on July 3, 2008

In an effort to make myself create more, I’m going to try to add one thing to my Steampunk Wallpaper page every day. I’ll update the blog maybe once a week with a roundup of the week’s wallpapers…

Here’s yesterdays and today’s, just to get started.

July 2nd brown steampunk gear wallpaper
July 3rd (Pipe picture CC by Autowitch) gear wallpaper 3 pipes steam

Posted in Graphics, Internet, Steampunk | 2 Comments »

Dung Beetle truffles!

Posted by mousewrites on June 29, 2008

FD7B6J4FI2495YS.MEDIUMI made an Instructable! Go me!

Dung Beetle truffles

Yummy, yummy marzipan dung beetle!

Posted in Crafting, Internet | Leave a Comment »

Deke, you crazy monkey.

Posted by mousewrites on June 25, 2008

Deke McClelland is one of those online Adobe Gurus, much like Russell Brown and Scott Kelby, that are not only amazing, but amusing. Of the three, I’m more used to Deke being the slightly wacky but subdued one, mostly because he runs in circles, and they’re all professional, yo. Today,Deke’s ‘wacky but kinda boring’ label just peeled off and fell to the ground, where he pissed on it and set it on fire (yes, he set it on fire after he pissed on it. He’s amazing like that).

deke1 Check out Deke POD.  In this episode, he give you 101 Photoshop tips in 5 minutes. Along the way he cusses, sings (badly, but in a delightful way), pokes fun at himself AND Photoshop and is purely entertaining. Yes, a bunch of his tips are just keyboard shortcuts, but if any of you have been though one of my Photoshop classes you would know that I adore keyboard shortcuts.

Turns out he’s much cooler than I thought. His website is pretty damn cool, and he’s a lot more… what’s the word? Um… geeky? Oh, wait, FUN! on his website than on his videos. Don’t get me wrong, his lynda videos are super useful, but the pacing is a bit slow (understandable, as the ones we used at the old job were ‘beginner’ videos), and he had to make worksafe jokes.

I like this Deke better.

Posted in Graphics, Internet, Work | Leave a Comment »

Firefox 3 – personal best and worst.

Posted by mousewrites on June 24, 2008

I downloaded Firefox 3 on Download Day, but didn’t install it until yesterday for various and sundry reasons. Install on The Dude (desktop, win xp sp2, Athlon dual core, 2 gig ram) went fantastic; like most upgrades I’ve had from Mozilla, the install itself went without a hitch.

In fact, all but two of my add-ons also came over. Here’s what I’m sporting (in the add-on department, you sickos.):

  1. Adblock Plus – Generally, I leave ads alone; if someone has ads to support their site, I attempt to do them the courtesy of leaving them alone. I do, however, immediately block ads that make me want to leave a page I want to read.
  2. Better Gmail 2  0.5 – Just installed this yesterday. Has a bunch of options; mostly they save me time.
  3. Blog This in Windows Live Writer 1.0.1DOES NOT WORK in Firefox 3, much to my chagrin. I’m forced to open Live Writer manually (oh, the horror!), and I can’t just select text and have it pop into a post. I clearly can deal, but I’m hoping that they update this add-on soon.
  4. Blue-GadgetBlue Organizer 3.4.2 – This thing is just cool. Context sensitive right-click menu. You Blue-optionsselect an address, the right click menu (or the icon) has  ‘map in Google maps, map in yahoo maps,’ and others. Select a book, it has amazon stuff. News will go to news, books to books. If you’re on a page with a gadget (like when I was researching my EEE PC see picture on right) and it’ll have a Find on New Egg, Best Buy, and reviews. Makes for quick comparison shopping. And the options  (left)  panel lets you pick and choose WHO it pops up.
  5. Download Statusbar – I like it for the visual across the bottom of my screen. Plus, it keeps the download box from popping up.
  6. Download Helper 3.0.4 – Installed it for one day to pull a video off of Picassa, haven’t had a chance to uninstall it yet.
  7. Download them all 1.0.3 – This add on, combined with this Google search hack (talked about on Lifehacker, #3 on that list), has expanded my musicical taste (and library) a lot.
  8. FireFTP 0.99.1 – I have to admit, I really hate most FTP interfaces. FireFTP makes me hate them less.
  9. Gmail Notifier – I’m addicted to email. This little icon in the corner of my screen is like my pusher. Hey, hey, mouse, you have email. You know you want to stop writing the boring old story and see who emailed you, right? Com’on, click me!
  10. Greasemonkey 0.8.20080609.0 – Just got this, mostly for Better Gmail up there.
  11. Smart Link 1.4 – Takes plain text links and lets you right-click to open them. I find it useful. (Add on seems to be gone from the Mozilla database, here’s the link to Lifehacker’s post about it.)
  12. Tab Mix Plus 0.3.6DOES NOT WORK in Firefox 3. 😛

Other things I really like about Firefox 3: the full screen actually hides all the toolbars, now. They even auto hide and show when you put your mouse up at the top of your screen This is super awesome. It will save my LCD screen from ‘image persistence’ (the LCD version of pixel burn in, which I have gotten from my browser title bar many times.)

ironman04_IronMan-FX-315OR On Jarvis (yes, I named my EEE PC Jarvis. Shut the hell up. I can’t help it, I love the movie.), I tried to install it, but couldn’t. This is mostly because I have no freking clue how to install stuff on Linux other than ‘sudo apt-get install firefox’, which says that Firefox 2 is the latest. I downloaded it OK, but there is not ‘install’ file. This is fine for now.

Jarvis doesn’t have very many add-ons; just Greasemonkey, and Writing Room 4 Google Documents, which hides the entire Google doc header area, including the HUGE ‘offline’ notice I get when using Google gears to write when not online. On a normal size screen, the ‘you are offline’ notice is probably one or two lines. On Jarvis, it takes up about 2 inches, which is a good quarter of my writing space. Another 3 or so is taken by the Google Docs header itself… which leaves me about 2 inches of text when I’m offline. this makes me quite unhappy. But, between the Firefox fullscreen mode, and the Writing room script, I get almost my entire screen back for writing, which is awesome.

All in all, I think that I like this update very much.

Posted in GeekLife, Internet, Technology | 1 Comment »