Dear @Amazon, please make returning mis-shipped packages easier to return


By Silus Grok
Recently a package was delivered to my house from your company. Unfortunately, we did not order anything from you. My wife proceeded to do the right thing. She contacted customer service and informed them of the error. Customer service said UPS would stop by and pickup the package. Two days passed and UPS did not come to pickup the package.

by Tomas Fano
I decided to bring the package to work. Our regular UPS driver is very responsive and reliable.

I contacted customer service to get a return label for the package and setup a pickup. It took 15 minutes to explain the simple concept that I did not order the items in the box and that the package needed to be returned. Your rep would ask me for the order number or the name of the account that ordered the package. How could I discern this information unless I opened the package? A couple of times the rep would repeat that the item was a gift for me. The package was not addressed to me, how could this be the case? Finally, I was able to convince the rep that package needed to be returned. The rep generated a return label and emailed it to me. Half the issue was taken care of.

The other half, the rep expected me to walk the package to a UPS shipping counter. I do not think so, this is someone else error. After several more minutes, I was able to convince the rep to schedule a pickup at my office. Finally, task complete.

It took 25 minutes to do the right thing. This should have been solved in two days prior and in as little of 5 minutes of effort.

Amazon, please improve the process for returning mis-shipped packages. This should be quick and easy.

Thank you for taking a look at this post.

Stop and think it through – Broadstripe tech fails to do so

Broadstripe tech calls customer to see if he’s home but the customer’s VoIP line is down. This is entertaining to me, looking in from the outside. A Broadstripe customer’s internet connection has been down for a couple days. A Broadstripe tech was to stop by and replace the cable modem. Turns out the tech called the house and didn’t get an answer. The tech assumed no one was home and continued to his next call. Well, the customer has VoIP with Broadstripe. VoIP cannot function without an internet connection… That is the very reason why the Broadstripe tech was sent out.

Another unhappy Broadstripe customer

In Reed’s blog post he explains some common complaints with Broadstripe in the Seattle area. In summary, poor speeds, network issues and questionable business practices.

What’s really cool about Reed’s experience is that is was very similar to mine. Though a difference is the cancellation procedure. When I initially canceled my service, they honored my request over the phone compared to Reed needing to fax in his request.

I compared Clear with Broadstripe for about a month. My experience was different with my comparison. I saw poor performance with high bandwidth applications on Clear. In contrast, Broadstripe could handle my needs a little better.

Reed, if you get a chance to see this post, please take at my others about Broadstripe and Clear. I think you will identify with my issues of choosing the lesser of two evils. Also, please check UPTUN. UPTUN is working to improve the situation in the Broadstripe served areas. Lastly, send a link to your post to the Broadstripe Twitter account, @earningstripes. You’ll maybe surprised at how receptive they are to your experience.

Some more general resources for Seattle folks:

Muni Networks
Seattle Gov’s Cable Office

Clearwire throttling consumer customers?

According to a thread over at the ClearWire forums, yes.

Engadget broke the ClearWire story today (Sept. 29th).

From my personal experience, yes Clear performs traffic shaping. I should have gathered data while I experimented with the throttling issue. The bandwidth issues I saw with Clear were throttling Bit Torrent traffic directly. This was easily mitigated by enabling forced encryption on the Torrents.

Clear users are seeing the throttling put into place when they exceed 7-10GB transferred in a month. However, I did not see throttling when I exceeded 10GBs. Total bandwidth usage cap seems to be a new issue.

Bandwidth throttling maybe a serious issue for Clear users. For example Comcast has a soft cap of 250GBs a month. This is more than enough for any user, even heavy bandwidth users. The Clear cap is too small for the modern household.

@Clear your marketing opt out page sucks, so I added you to the spam filter

Partner name? What is that supposed to mean? How about embedding the recipient email address in the opt-out links within your marketing emails? I get the impression you want to make opt-out difficult. It’s similar to your TOS. There’s no opt-out when you sign up for service. This is one of the reasons why a discontinued service.

Your opt-out page is why you are now on my “spammers” list.

Broadstripe Spies on its Customers?

According to another blogger, Broadstripe spies on its customers. The evidence is interesting but not conclusive.

A key point the blogger makes is traffic being routed through the Washington DC area. The blogger concludes the government must be watching you. Washington DC is the center of our government but not the center for our international or domestic intelligence.

If the Government is spying on you, likely they would do it in non-detectable ways. Most likely mirroring traffic as close to your home as possible. Also possibly, where your cable connection terminates to fiber.

From what I can tell in my own testing is Broadstripe’s network is poorly managed. They have markets all over the nation and probably try to consolidate their access to backbones in order to save money.

Comcast did this for many years in my market. For example, when I was with Comcast for the first couple years my traffic exited the Comcast network in San Francisco. This adds latency to the connection and thus slows it down. It’s reasonable to think that this is what is happening with Broadstripe today.

Odds are, they are not spying on their customers any more than any other provider.

We know they use deep packet inspection to throttle P2P traffic. Something Comcast, qwest and all the others do. We know they gather viewing data via set top boxes (gold mine for advertisers).

So what should we do? Consider the information you want to keep out of their hands. You don’t want them to know your browsing habbits? Use TOR Project. Don’t want them to know what you are using Bittorrent for? Disable DHT and enforce encryption.

Our service providers are spying on us. It’s a fact of our modern digital lives. We can control what information they get. For more information on how to protect your privacy, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s: Surveillance Self Defense project.

Further reading about Broadstripe’s alleged spying

Broadstripe – Missing the Mark

BizJournal has a press release for some new offerings from Broadstripe. They are offering “lite” packages for people who only need a little bit of calling or the internet… To me this looks like over charging for degraded service.

BizJournal Article

Broadstripe, you need to tier your service like Comcast. Provide an internet only option at a competitive price. I know you don’t have to do this, since you don’t directly compete with anyone… Nice having a monopoly eh?

Offer 12Mbps download and 2Mbps upload for ~$45 a month. Make sure your network can support those speeds. I understand cable internet is a shared medium and during high usage speed degrades… Just don’t over saturate your network and improve your backbone connections.

You guys are the only provider that “offers” high speed internet access in my neighborhood. However, with my 30 day experience, I never ever saw the advertised speeds.

Basically, come on… Step up to the plate. Don’t dink around with small market budget users.