complaints, humor, rants, social media

Random free floating hostility… so many things that are irritating me today.

This is going to be a really cranky and inappropriate post. If you choose to read it, you may not agree with some of the reasons why I’m cranky. That’s fine, but I don’t really want to hear about it unless you have a funny comment to add, kind support, or commiseration. I have a right to air my grievances on my space, controversial though they may be.

Fair warning. This is my mood today.

Yesterday was an annoying day on several levels. It started off okay enough. I showed off Bill’s Bento Box packing skills to my friends. He cracks me up, because he’s so health conscious and he likes to pack visually appealing, healthy lunches for himself. Meanwhile, I’m planning to eat Cheetos. I ate a strawberry for breakfast, and a seed got caught between my teeth, which was very aggravating. I’m also dealing with Aunt Flow, who made an irritating return after three months. There’s not enough flow to need a lot of protection, but there is enough to make me feel “not so fresh”. Then Bill went off to work, and that’s when things began to get even more annoying.

Before the morning was over, I watched a video on the Meet The Wengers channel. I have been following this lady, Katie Wenger, for a few years now. She’s American, and she married a German guy from Stuttgart. They have three kids and live in Berlin now. I watched her latest video, which was followed by one of her old videos, from when her eldest child was still very young and she was pregnant with her second baby. Her son, then a toddler, had a massive tantrum in a department store, and some rude bitch came up to her and said, “You’re going to have another baby and you can’t even handle the one you have now?” Oh my God… what a rude, insensitive, CUNTY comment that is. Poor Katie was crying. I’m sure I would have fired lasers at that woman if she had said something like that to me. What makes people think they have the right to make comments like that to perfect strangers?

I’m sure she was nicer than I would have been in this situation.

After I watched Katie’s video, it was approaching 1:00pm, which is when one of my banks in the USA opens (7:00 am, Eastern time). I needed to call them, which is never something I enjoy doing. I mentioned last month that I’m wanting to change banks where I do checking. For many reasons, I’m trying to fire USAA.

For over a month, I’ve been trying to set up a checking account with a bank I already use. Yesterday, I called them for the third time about this issue. The first two times, I was told that their system was giving them an “error” when they tried to set up a checking account for me. They said IT would look at it and they would get in touch with me. But, of course, they never bothered to contact me. I was about to give up, but on Tuesday night, Bill managed to open a checking account online with no issues whatsoever. So I called the bank and was told that they needed a “physical address”. I gave them my German address, which the system didn’t want to take. But Bill lives in the same place I do… so why was he able to open an account and I’m not?

Adding insult to injury, this bank’s app sucks. It’s no longer recognizing my fingerprint, and it tells me that my email and phone number are not eligible for two party authentication, even though I was using the app successfully a few days ago. If I go to the actual Web site, it lets me log in and sends me texts and emails with no issues, albeit not without lecturing me about my usual browser, which it doesn’t like. So I called the bank and complained about the checking account issue, reminding the person that this was my third call about this. Then I told her that every other time, people have said someone would contact me, and they never do. I sent an email, too, and got terse response from someone who apparently didn’t understand the issue and simply explained how to use the app, as well as admonishing me to give them a couple of days to contact me. But I don’t hold out much hope for that.

After the bank fiasco, I decided to try to read, which led to my getting drowsy and wanting to take a nap. As I was about to drift off, the doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting a package or company, so I was a little irritable. I opened the door, and there was a maskless guy standing away from the porch, speaking rapid fire German to me. I fixed a stare on him and said, “I don’t speak German.” Ordinarily, I might have made an attempt, but I wasn’t prepared for his visit and was, frankly, not in a good mood.

He stopped and showed me his phone, which indicated that he was there to read the meter. I said, “You need a meter reading?”

He started going off about Strom (energy) and I said, “Yes, I understand. Come in.” In Germany, the meters are inside the house, usually in the basement.

As he entered the house, I was almost knocked over by the gallon of cologne he was wearing. He immediately started fretting about Arran, who is a friendly old dog who just wanted to say hello. He said, “Your dog…”, like I needed to control a vicious animal or something. Noyzi didn’t come down at all. I can only imagine what his reaction would have been to him!

I said, “He won’t hurt you.” I shooed Arran outside and the guy hesitantly moved the dog gate to the basement, with an air of how I should be more accommodating. I was thinking to myself, “If you want me to be dressed and accommodating, let me know when you’re coming next time.” The guy got his reading and was on his way… and by that point, I didn’t want to nap anymore.

So then I started reading the news, and there were the reports about how the CDC is making the public transportation keep mask mandates until May 3. As usual, the annoying virtue signalers were out in droves, with many saying that we should all be masked on planes forevermore. It shouldn’t surprise any of my regular readers that I think the mask mandates on planes need to go… and I feel certain that it’s only a matter of time before they’re history. Why? Because the masks aren’t very effective, and their enforced wear causes people to act like maniacs on planes. I’ve mentioned before that here in Germany, we’ve been wearing the supposedly superior “FFP2 masks” (like N95s) for months. COVID is still rampant, probably because the virus can still invade through the eyes. But good luck getting people to wear safety glasses or eye goggles.

Planes are so uncomfortable anyway, with the tight seats and lack of legroom. Now we all have to wear masks, and everybody sits around hostiley watching everyone else, hall monitor like, counting the minutes to see how long they take to eat and drink. It’s ludicrous, and it makes airplane travel unacceptably unpleasant for me. So, I decided to add a comment voting against the mask rules.

Naturally, I got a laughing reaction and some guy apparently decided to “school me”, asshole style. I didn’t bother to read his comment. Instead, I unsubscribed from the thread, because I knew there would be a slew of people trying to argue with me– people who went to the Google School of Public Health and want to share news articles with provocative headlines that supposedly “prove” their points. Most of them haven’t even bothered to read the articles they share to support their lame assertions that this is the way we should all have to live from now on. I really ain’t got the time or patience for it.

Just because I am not in agreement that masks forever are the way to go, that doesn’t mean I don’t comply with rules. I do follow the rules, but I don’t have to like them. I can comment negatively about them if I want, and that doesn’t obligate me to have a conversation with some stranger who is just going to insult and berate me for not being a “humanitarian” and cheerleading for masks. I also know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, and they aren’t going to change my mind. I just want to have my say, especially since I know a lot of people secretly agree with me, but don’t want to say it out loud, because they don’t want to deal with the mansplainers and virtue signalers, either.

Then Bill came home and we ended up having a rather unpleasant discussion about Ex. He’d like to forget all about her. So would I. But, as we’ve seen from recent events, she still thinks she has a claim on Bill’s family, and she will continue to try to scam his relatives. So someone has to keep an eye on her. Then he told me he thinks I have an attitude of wanting to avenge against her. And, you know what? I do. I am absolutely furious with Ex for everything she’s done over the years, and you bet your ass I want to see her pay for her wrongs. However, she is certainly not worth going to prison over, so I just patiently wait for karma to hit her. Besides, as long as Bill talks to his daughter, he is going to hear about his ex wife. Younger daughter hasn’t recovered from growing up with that narcissistic woman as her mother. So, if he’s going to have a relationship with his daughter, he’s going to be hearing about his ex wife. I told him if he wants me to stop talking to him about her, maybe we should get a divorce. Of course, neither of us wants to get a divorce, but obviously, someone needs to watch Ex so that innocent people can be warned when she decides to engage in fuckery.

I had a nightmare about Ex and former landlady this morning. I dreamt we had to move back to the Stuttgart area and we got a house on post (which don’t really exist, especially for retired people like Bill). It turned out the house was owned by ex landlady. I dreamt that I was preparing to move, and I said to Bill “Well, at least we know what to expect.”

This morning has been marginally better… I read an article on Military Times about how the military lifestyle is preventing some people from starting families. One lady wrote about how she and her husband are dual military and they haven’t reproduced because of the cost of childcare. Some dickhead wrote, “You shouldn’t have children if you can’t afford them.”

That comment pissed me off, because it’s so rude, thoughtless, and dismissive. What if a person could afford a baby when the baby was born, but then couldn’t afford it later, due to a reversal in fortune? So I decided to leave a kind comment for the woman. 20 years ago, when I was in grad school, I worked on a project in South Carolina that addressed how expensive childcare is… and how it’s not always available, like at night, when some people have to work. It sounds like the issue is an even bigger problem now than it was in 2000. Sexist attitudes from numbskulled, perspective challenged military guys who are dismissive and lack empathy, are not helpful. I’ll bet that guy also thinks that women should be forced to birth, but I don’t care enough to look at his profile to find evidence.

And then… the pièce de résistance…. feast your eyes on the status below…

Facepalm…

Folks… if you made it out of high school, you should know full well that female mammals have two openings “down there”. If your dog is “peeing blood”, it has nothing to do with her reproductive system. Mammals don’t give birth from their urethras. Jeez. And humans have periods. Dogs and a lot of other mammals go through “estrus”– they go “into heat”– which is not the same thing as menstruation. I can understand why the guy who posted this felt like he should explain that his dog can’t go into heat. However, I was pretty bowled over that a man who is presumably old enough to work in Germany with the US military doesn’t know that females don’t have periods through their urethras. And dogs don’t have periods at all! I guess I should be glad he’s taking her to a vet. That’s more than I can say for some people. On another note… I’ll bet he needs a flashlight and a compass to “flick the bean”, since he evidently thinks pee and menstrual blood come from the same hole. I mean, I got a D in biology myself, but I know there’s a difference between the urethra and the vagina.

Bill did make me smile before he went to work, though. We were talking about the pretty bits of glass and pottery some clueless lady in Croatia sent Ex. Ex was gushing about it, and calling it “Mermaid Mail”, because she’s obsessed with mermaids. Bill said, “My (older) daughter is going to make something with those pieces and Ex will take credit for it, as usual. But hey– if Ex wants to build a Mermalair (reference to Spongebob Squarepants), who am I to protest? I just wonder if (#3) is Barnacle Boy.”

I had a good laugh at that. Bill can really be hilarious when the mood strikes. He’s helpful, too. In fact, he helpfully took from me the bag of dog shit I had collected from the backyard, and then he went off to work, Bento Box in his (other) hand. He also shared with me this awesome memory from when he defaced a Book of Mormon at a Marriott hotel, years ago.

Bill can be pretty edgy sometimes.

I do know that in spite of everything that irritates me on the daily, I am a blessed woman on many levels. So take that, world. Hopefully, today will be less annoying… but it is Thursday, and that means I have to vacuum (my least favorite chore). So I guess I’ll stop writing and get on with doing that, so I can focus on being less crabby.

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complaints, money, rants

An hour I’ll never get back…

A couple of weeks ago, the security on my USAA debit card was breached. There were a couple of fraudulent charges made, which I immediately reported. Because of the security breach, I had to get a new debit card. And because I live abroad, it took approximately two weeks to get the new card. In the meantime, I was relying on my credit cards to make purchases.

Three days ago, I got an alert from USAA to activate my card, which I couldn’t do, because it hadn’t yet arrived. But when I did get the card yesterday, I immediately went on USAA’s Web site and activated it. It was pretty funny, too, because as soon as I activated the card, I got an urgent alert in my inbox letting me know that the card was activated. Then, there was a follow up alert, letting me know that the card was activated and urging me to contact them immediately if I didn’t initiate this action. I deleted the second message and went on with my day.

Again, since I haven’t had my debit card, I’ve been using my credit card to buy things. I don’t like using my credit cards, because I once had a very high balance and it took me ages to get out of debt. When I do use credit cards, I tend to pay them off immediately. I usually only use credit for large purchases or travel expenses that require the extra protection that comes with using credit cards. I was looking forward to not using credit this morning, when I decided to buy some dog food for Noyzi. I have bought dog food for Noyzi using my old debit card a whole bunch of times. It was a run of the mill charge from a vendor I use all the time. I put in the new debit card’s information, clicked on “pay”, and sure enough, USAA immediately declined the transaction.

Off I went to USAA.com, where I went looking to see if my new card was listed. I’ve learned that when USAA turns off a card, it won’t show up if you go to the block/unblock card page. Sure enough, the new card, which was supposed to be active as of yesterday, did not appear on that page. So rather than call USAA and listen to their highly annoying hold music, I decided to engage chat. I figured it would take less time, since it’s the wee hours of the morning in the United States as I write this.

I used USAA’s chat function for the first time two weeks ago today, and found it somewhat less annoying than calling them. Plus, I am still pretty traumatized from my most recent USAA call, which involved talking to a man who was very rude to me. Granted, I was rude back, but my rudeness was borne out of extreme frustration, concern, and annoyance over trying to use my money. His rudeness seemed to be more because he didn’t like his job, didn’t like talking to a woman who wasn’t “keeping sweet”, and lacked a concept of customer service. Given how upset I was after that last phone call, I figured chat was the better option. When I used the chat two weeks ago, I noticed that the queues weren’t too long, probably because most of America is sleeping right now.

This morning, when I initially requested to chat, I was number 18 in line. It took about 45 minutes or so before I was finally at position 1. Then, Miranda T. came online. She advised that it would take two to four minutes to pull up my account. It took about seven minutes. Then, after another minute or two, she told me that there was a security alert on the card. She asked if my attempted transaction this morning was valid. I answered that it was. Several more minutes passed with no acknowledgement from Miranda, so I reiterated that the transaction was one I attempted to initiate. Another couple of minutes passed, and Miranda finally told me that she turned on the card and it was good to go.

I looked at the clock. I was engaged in this process for about an hour at a time of day when online traffic should have been pretty low. It was still the wee hours of the morning in the US. I decided to tweet, and didn’t even tweet at USAA. But they responded anyway, with apologies and an invite to send them a direct message. I thanked them, told them I was “good”, and quipped that it only took an hour. Seriously… a lot of people, lately, have been saying that they’ve been on hold with USAA for hours, or waiting hours for chat to initiate. To the Twitter responder’s credit, they did at least realize that I was being slightly facetious. And they said that USAA was “working on” shortening the queues. Does that mean hiring more “high quality” employees like the guy who was so rude to me two weeks ago?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten repeated false security alerts from USAA on valid transactions, which have required me to contact them multiple times. It’s honestly a crap shoot as to whether or not my card will be accepted on any given transaction. Every time I talk to their representatives, they apologize, but then it happens again. I complain, and then they call me and apologize, but nothing gets permanently fixed. It’s crazy that every transaction requires entering multiple security codes and assurances that I’m not being defrauded by anyone. But then when there’s actual fraud on the card, I get crickets…

Now… my question is… next time I try to use this new card, am I going to get another security alert as my card is declined? Will I have to spend another hour (or more) waiting for someone to chat with me about the problem? Or worse, will I have to call them and listen to their hold music from Hell for hours while I wait for them to turn on the card? I really hope we can make some changes soon… and get much better customer service. We have already refinanced our car loan with another financial institution, and as I write this, the pay off check is on its way to USAA.

I just think it’s crazy that in spite of all the erroneous fraud and security alerts USAA has enacted over the last couple of years, the one time there is actual fraud, they don’t engage that system and I have to deal with their fraud department. They randomly flag charges from retailers I’ve purchased from repeatedly and am geographically close to, but they ignore charges from US based food vendors whose Web sites I can’t even access without a VPN.

Then, I have to spend two weeks using my credit card because my debit card was compromised, and I have to wait for a new one to get to me. When I finally get the card and activate it, they send me two urgent alerts making sure it was me who activated the card– from my supposedly secure account, no less. And then, when I finally try to use the card for the first time, I immediately get a fraud alert, causing me to have to waste an hour waiting for help.

This isn’t a good look for USAA. They didn’t used to suck. What a shame. What good are new debit cards if they don’t work, even after I have TWICE confirmed that I have the card and need to use it?

Standard
communication, complaints, rants

It’s possible to be outraged about more than one thing at a time…

I’m getting a bit of a late start this morning. Those new Comphy sheets I got on Monday are the BOMB. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to like them more than the first set I bought in 2015, but I definitely do. For one thing, I love the fact that they’re navy blue instead of pukey green. For another, they just feel better on many levels. They fit the bed better– the old ones were too big, supposedly to account for pillow top mattresses– and the texture is soft and smooth, but not too silky. I don’t know… they’re just nicer. And for what I paid for them, they really ought to be! Even Bill, who doesn’t care about comfort as much as I do, has commented that he loves them and they help him sleep better.

Anyway, those new sheets were inviting today, since our previously beautiful weather of last week and Monday has vanished. Today, it’s cold and rainy. After breakfast, instead of going to my computer to write, I went back to bed, watched a couple of videos, and started reading my latest book, which made me feel drowsy. So I put the book down and dozed a bit. And now, it’s 9:30am, and I’m finally writing something fresh.

I put up four reposts yesterday, which wasn’t my plan. I had put up one post from the original blog because I was still ruminating on what to write about yesterday. Then I noticed a couple of posts that were kind of important when I initially posted them in 2013 and 2014, and I realized that they were evergreen enough to go up as reposts. And in one of those posts was an old book review, which I like to preserve when I can. By the time I was done reposting and editing, I had spent a couple of hours, and I didn’t figure anyone would be looking for fresh content. Or maybe I just didn’t feel like writing it.

Later yesterday afternoon, I noticed a Facebook friend had posted a “peevish” status update, which appears below:

No disrespect to the person who posted this, but it’s entirely possible for people to be “in a stew” about more than one thing at a time. And quite frankly, I don’t need to be encouraged.

I am mentioning the above post today because I’ve seen similar sentiments from other people about how some people’s priorities are askew. Some people are passively calling out others because we’re discussing incidents like Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock at the Oscars, instead of other issues they think are more important. It occurred to me that I’m a relatively complex person. I can think about more than one issue at a time. I can discuss more than one issue at a time. Though I have both of these abilities, I should be allowed to discuss what I want to without someone else calling me out over it. There’s nothing to say that you have to participate in a discussion about Will Smith’s slap if you don’t want to do that. And there’s nothing to say that I can’t discuss it with those who are interested.

I mention myself in this post, but I don’t think the people complaining about “messed up priorities” were necessarily calling me out specifically. I guess I just want to address how reading those statuses made me feel. It’s yet another weird aspect of our current online obsessed/social media engaged society that baffles me. How is it that we feel the need to chastise our friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and perfect strangers about their priorities? What makes us feel like we have the right to criticize others about what they feel like discussing? Especially when they’re doing it on their own spaces? We always have the choice to engage or not, right?

It occurs to me that I am not the type of person who needs to be “encouraged” to be in a stew about anything. I am a card carrying member of the “Easily Pissed Club”. Last week, I was pissed off at USAA… and by the way, I’m still waiting for my new debit card, which they reminded me to activate a couple of days ago. It hasn’t arrived yet, cuz APO sucks. I’m still pissed at PenFed, because I tried twice to open a new checking account with them and couldn’t because of an “error” in their system. Twice, they said they would look into it and contact me again. They haven’t, so I’ve given up on that. Navy Federal took five days to tell Bill that his eligibility documents were too blurry, so we’re still waiting for them to approve him as a member, so I can also join. These are just “stew-worthy” events from my personal life involving my finances.

Then there’s the whole ongoing COVID drama, which Germany refuses to let up on. We were supposed to have “Freedom Day” on March 20, but most of the states opted to continue the ridiculous restrictions until April 2. And now, some city officials are saying they’re going to declare cities “hotspots” so they can continue the restrictions– FFP2 masks required everywhere, social distancing, vaccination checks, and tests. Yesterday, I read an editorial in The Local Germany written by a guy who had gone to Sweden and anticipated coming back to Germany after our so-called non-existent “Freedom Day”. In Sweden, all of the COVID shit has been dropped and, guess what… Sweden’s COVID numbers are supposedly not that different than Germany’s are.

The heavier masks and vaccination checks aren’t stopping the spread of the virus, and they’re keeping Germans and the rest of us who live here in a never ending psychological morass of fear and doom. While countries all around us are dispensing with COVID rules, Germany stubbornly clings to them. Meanwhile, those of us who are fed up with the onerous rules are going to those other countries for our vacations and, perhaps, picking up the virus there. Or we’re staying here and getting the virus, in spite of the fucking heavy masks, which most people don’t bother to wear properly, anyway.

A guy we buy wine from has been trying to convince us to go to Italy at the end of April. We probably won’t do it because of COVID and the annoying COVID rules that would make such an excursion less likely to be fun. Italy has relaxed a lot of rules, but thanks to the psychological trauma that has occurred over the past two years, I’m just not ready to plunge in yet. I think COVID is here to stay, and our best bet is to get vaccinated, take reasonable precautions, and live our lives. The endless restrictions are not effective and no longer make sense. And they take a lot of joy out of living, too. See? I can be in a “stew” about that, too. I’m sure a lot of people– the guy who inspired this post included– would give me shit about my complaints about COVID. But I mention them, only because he apparently has a problem with people who are discussing Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock.

And finally, there’s the war in Ukraine, which of course is a terrible situation. I have never been to Ukraine, but I would have liked the opportunity to visit at some point. I have been inspired and enchanted by the stories of courage that have come out since Putin’s invasion. I also know people who are personally touched by the war in Ukraine. I absolutely feel for the people there. But my talking and posting about it isn’t going to change anything. There’s not a lot I can do about Ukraine, except donate money and items like clothing and shoes for those who have been made refugees. I have already donated some clothes and have made a point of buying Ukrainian products when I can. And I can continue to hear the stories about the war and the people who are affected by it. I can do that, and still have an opinion about Will Smith and Chris Rock. Not posting about Ukraine 24/7 doesn’t make me a morally deficient person whose priorities are lacking.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty goddamned sick and tired of people shaming others all the time. I especially think it’s out of place on Facebook, which is supposed to be a place where people connect. Wasn’t it originally supposed to be a fun activity, reconnecting with old friends and keeping in touch with relatives and such? When did people decide Facebook was the place to try to make other people feel like shit for not having the right “priorities”? Maybe the guy who inspired today’s post didn’t intend to make me feel “bad”– and even if it was his intent to do that, he didn’t succeed anyway. But the tone of that post is pretty shaming, in my opinion. Who put him in charge of policing other people’s reactions to current events?

I think it’s okay for people to have different priorities. Wouldn’t the world be a very boring place if we all talked about the same things? Isn’t it better that we have differing opinions? Can’t we learn from each other by discussing things in a civilized way? I know I’ve learned new things from having respectful conversations with other people. But honestly, most of us don’t need another reason to feel bad.

I also don’t think it’s wrong to have a discussion about what happened at the Oscars. There are even a number of angles that can be explored. For instance, one of my friends thinks it’s possible that Will Smith might have been under the influence of something when he reacted to Chris Rock’s lame joke. She also thinks it’s possible Jada Pinkett Smith might have even instigated Smith’s violent reaction. I don’t know anything about the Smiths’ relationship, but I do know that Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock cast a real pall over what should have been a positive and family friendly event. It wasn’t until yesterday that I heard about how Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli had a touching moment. Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could have heard about that as much as we did about Will Smith and Chris Rock? Isn’t it worth discussing that? As long as it’s all civilized, anyway…

Just re-reading my title for this post, I suppose I could just mention that I think it’s possible to suffer from “outrage overload”. I don’t need to be encouraged to be more outraged. I can handle that condition pretty easily on my own, thanks. And I don’t need more stress or worry in my life. I don’t need more shame, either. I think that’s true for a lot of us. I will continue to expect the worst and hope for the best. A little bit of fun, joy, and lively discussion is what keeps life worth living.

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advertising, complaints, humor, music, silliness, videos, YouTube

Lots of people hate USAA’s hold music earworm from Hell!

Today’s post is just going to be lighthearted ribbing, since it’s a Sunday, and I don’t feel like writing a long, sanctimonious post. As I updated in yesterday’s post, USAA finally gave me a “temporary” refund on the fraudulent Insomnia Cookies charge. And because that means I won’t have to call them, I’m now in a pretty decent mood. You know what that also means? I don’t have to listen to the hold music from Hell! Yea!

I am definitely not the only one who hates USAA’s “football cheer” hold music. I bonded with a fellow member the other night on Twitter over this little tune that plays, sometimes for hours on end, as members desperately try to reach a customer service representative. This morning, as I was telling Bill about it, I actually found quite a few Reddit posts about USAA’s jaunty hold music. A few people even uploaded it to YouTube. Check this out…

I can just imagine the person/people who composed this, coming up with the playfully snarky little guitar flourishes and perky USAA cheer…

As a musical person, having to listen to this kind of hold music is especially hellish to me. It’s very catchy, so it easily gets stuck in my head. All day, I keep ruminating over that droning, pulsating, sterile, pseudo-jazz. And because I’m almost always calling them because I have a problem and am irritated, the enthusiastic “USAA” cheer usually further sours my mood pretty quickly. In fact, as I sit here thinking about it, recovering from the repetitious “jazzy” sounds, I am randomly coming up with obscene lyrics I could sing to the “USAA” rah rah cheering. Like “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, BUUUUM…. kind-ly fuck off!” Or maybe “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, BUUUUM…. you guys suck balls!” I could probably entertain myself for an hour coming up with new “lyrics” to that hold music.

One USAA employee confessed that they try not to call USAA themselves, because they hate the hold music. It makes one wonder if their objective is to annoy people so much that they hang up. I think it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that getting people to hang up is one of their goals. Or maybe they want to make the music so annoying that the person is relieved to hear a human voice when the hold music finally ends.

Bill told me that the hold music he gets at work is also pretty bad. Some people on the USAA reddit thread mentioned CISCO, so I looked them up on YouTube. Sure enough, I started playing the below video, and Bill said “That’s it!”

This hold music sounds like it could induce seizures… but I like it better than USAA’s.

But the CISCO music could possibly be nice to listen to. Below is a video made by a YouTube musician who played it on his piano. I’d much rather listen to his improvised version than the crappy, overly synthed one above.

Nicely done!

This guy did a pretty good job, too… Makes me wish I had stuck with piano lessons.

Dayum… he’s got it going on!

But it’s not really possible to make USAA’s chanting hold music from Hell any cooler. It just so irritating. Here’s what one person wrote on a recent messageboard…

1000YearBan Nov ’21

For decades I thought the on-hold music at USAA was the absolute worst, most annoying shit I ever heard – until recently, when they changed it! Now I sob silently, keening for the innocent salad days of yore. The new, far worse music features what sounds like a football team chanting “U-S-A-A!” every 16 bars. Kill me.

The funny thing is I was recently on hold at some local place and got the old USAA music! I was wistfully nostalgic, like a political torture prisoner recalling the relative pleasures of an abused childhood.

And what is especially distressing is that USAA probably paid some composer and musicians a lot of money to create that diabolical audio torture device. Where did they get the money? From members like me… many of whom are driven crazy by the pseudo-funky rhythm and cutesy guitar riffs interrupted by the “football” cheers– USAA!!! Ugh! Here’s a link to a business that makes these little musical gems for credit unions and the like. Wonder what it’s like working there!

I wish I could find PenFed’s hold music. Theirs is not like USAA’s. It’s more like very sad horn music that sounds like it’s consoling you for calling them. It’s like the musical version of, “Hi… we’re so sorry you have a banking problem. We’ll cry with you while we put you on hold…” It’s on an endless loop, which makes it even more obnoxious. I didn’t mind it the first or second time it played, but having to hear it for several minutes is pretty terrible. I still prefer it to USAA’s ear worm, though. Several days later, the PenFed music is no longer burned on my brain. It’s hard to forget USAA’s music. And, thanks to Chordify, I can even play it on my guitar, if I want to. Maybe it’s time I ended this post and tried it…

Have a good Sunday, y’all…

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business, complaints

“Don’t worry, I’ve got another suit like it at home…”

A few years ago, while spending a few days in Lesa, Italy, I wrote a post called “Bullshit frosting”. It was inspired by the LuLaRoe, which was in the news a lot at the time. I happened to run across an epic blog post written in 2017 by a former LuLaRoe “consultant”. She was mad as hell and not about to take it anymore, and she used her blog post to soundly dress down LuLaRoe founders, Deanne Brady and Mark Stidham, for taking advantage of all the “moms”, who were busting their asses to sell LuLaRoe and going into massive debt to make LuLaRoe’s founders richer. Brady and Stidham, as well as higher level LuLaRoe leadership, thanked those women by criticizing and blaming them for all of their failures and disappointments in the business. I began my post with the paragraph below:

Have you ever run across someone who reeks of bullshit?  I mean, all you have to do is look into their eyes and take a close look at their overly enthusiastic smiles and you just know they reek of shit?  These are the kind of people who will appear to be happy all the time, yet they’ll be grinning big as they brutally cut you down in front of your peers.  They are astoundingly and overwhelmingly full of shit, yet people still clamor to get on their boat and kiss their asses.

In my post about LuLaRoe, I included a screenshot I found on the woman’s epic blog post. It was about how the LuLaRoe consultants were expected to dress and conduct themselves at a LuLaRoe event…

Lots of expectations for people who don’t actually work for the company, but are themselves the company’s “customers”, reselling their shoddy crap to their friends and family members.

I thought about reposting that post that I wrote in those days, since it was a pretty good and, I think, an entertaining rant. But instead, I think I’m going to revamp my theories about “bullshit frosting” with a new issue. Not that many people are talking about LuLaRoe now, even though that whole phenomenon remains fascinating to me. However, as I noticed on Twitter last night, a lot of people are talking about USAA, and not in a nice way. And like LuLaRoe, USAA has been resting on its laurels and coasting along on a prior “good reputation”. Historically speaking, lots of people have sung the praises of USAA for years, and people want to “get on their boat”. But if you look beneath the surface, you’ll find that something rotten has been covered with a lot of “bullshit frosting”.

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past couple of days, you might have noticed that I have had some recent trouble with USAA– the huge insurance/banking company so popular and widely used by military servicemembers, retirees, and government employees. Just click on the “USAA” tag, and you’ll see that I’ve had repeated issues with them blocking attempts to make purchases and locking my account arbitrarily. This practice, supposedly done in the name of security, has caused me to have to call USAA to get things unfucked.

It’s a real pain to call USAA, because they’re in Texas, and I am in Germany. Most of their offices aren’t open 24/7– as I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be, if they were a “normal” bank. However, a lot of USAA’s customers live abroad, so it seems like they could come up with ways to make things easier for those people. One would think they would have online systems that would allow me to confirm or deny questionable charges without my having to call them. For one brief time, it seemed like they did have that option. I could just go on the app and mark things “yea or nay”. Now, they will send a text, but as I have to unlock my devices, am sometimes “indisposed” in some way, and don’t always have my phone, watch, or tablet with me, sometimes I’m not able to answer quickly enough.

So… the blocks on my account and having to call to straighten them out were annoying enough. But then, a few days ago, I noticed that I had three actual fraudulent charges on my debit card. It was about 5:00am when I saw these charges, so I had to call the fraud department while half asleep. They blocked my card. I told the representative about the fraudulent charges, one of which never successfully posted. USAA gave me a “temporary” refund on one of the charges. The other one– for Insomnia Cookies– remains. The funny thing is, a USAA representative gave me grief over a vendor in Belgium I’ve made purchases from lots of times, but they allowed a charge from Insomnia Cookies… which has a Web site that, as someone who lives outside of the United States, I can’t even access without a VPN! I suppose I could have ordered cookies for a friend, or something, but why wouldn’t that charge be suspicious over one that originated in Belgium, which is only a couple of hours’ drive from me?

And then, because I had to update my payment info on revolving accounts, another false fraud alert was triggered, this time on my credit card. That issue led me to have to call the rude “gentleman” at USAA who has left me with “shell shock” bad enough that I actually feel traumatized.

Yesterday, I thought about calling USAA again, but my last call to them was so shockingly unprofessional that I just couldn’t stomach it. The charge for the cookies was about $43. Today, I can easily cover that amount, but there was a time not so long ago that losing $43 would have devastated me financially. ETA: as of 3/20, USAA has “temporarily” refunded the $43.

USAA has me feeling like a “castaway, an island lost at sea…” But I’m not the only one by a long shot!

I went to Twitter, where I was surprised to find that just like in the song, “Message In A Bottle”, I was one of many, many people “sending an S.O.S. to the world” about problems with USAA. And some of the messages people were leaving led me to believe that I was actually kind of lucky I’m just out $43. Moreover, a lot of people who really have been screwed, have reported that they’ve been on hold in USAA’s annoying phone maze for hours. For hours, they’ve been forced to listen to USAA’s God awful jingle over and over again, which I found myself commiserating about with a fellow disgruntled member. Below is a screenshot of one of the USAA jingle hater’s recent tweets, which indicates that, like me, she was exposed to the jingle because of some fuckery at the bank.

Exactly! Who’s got time for it?

I directly tweeted USAA myself the other night. It was while Bill was busy tending to personal business. I was sitting alone at the kitchen table, drinking wine and feeling sassy. I almost never use Twitter, except to engage with one of my anti-Facebook friends. But I was doing it on St. Patrick’s Day, because I had my Irish up. I let USAA know that I was shopping for a new bank, which we found yesterday. They invited me to PM them with my name, contact details, etc. I declined, since I have already gotten those phone calls recently, and they haven’t fixed the problem. Aside from that, I don’t want to call them, because I run the risk of getting “serviced” by the mansplaining jerk I encountered the other day, who refused to listen to me and, instead, was talking louder over me, and wasting my time. He flat out didn’t care about my issue. He needs to be fired, but since I don’t know who he is, I can’t complain to anyone who can actually do something. And again, as I noticed on USAA’s lively Twitter account, I am not the only one who has woes… nor am I, by any stretch, one who has been fucked over the worst. Have a look at these tweets.

Of course, yesterday it was reported that USAA was just hit with $140 million in fines because for “bad money laundering controls” that they had a chance to fix and didn’t. According to the New York Times article I linked:

“As its customer base and revenue grew in recent years, USAA F.S.B. willfully failed to ensure that its compliance program kept pace, resulting in millions of dollars in suspicious transactions flowing through the U.S. financial system without appropriate reporting,” FinCEN’s acting director, Himamauli Das, said in a statement. The bank “received ample notice and opportunity” to fix its anti-money-laundering controls, he added, “but repeatedly failed to do so.”

This doesn’t sound good at all, does it? So I told Bill that I wanted to open an account at another credit union, since I’ve also had unrelated issues with PenFed lately, trying to get a checking account with them. Bill was a little hesitant, since he’s done business with USAA for so long, and so many military people have drunk the USAA Kool-Aid. I’ll admit it, I used to drink it myself. But he finally started the process to open a joint account at the other credit union.

Then, after he started that process, I suggested to Bill that he should refinance his USAA car loan, noting that the credit union’s APR is more than a percentage point less than USAA’s is, and USAA won’t even allow us to get a car loan from Germany anymore. They quit allowing Germany based car loans in 2019, which was when we got ours. I guess we just got in under the wire. They’ve also stopped allowing us to open new CDs from here. I read that it has to do with licensing in Germany, which probably involves money and oversight.

I told Bill that it made sense to refinance, since we have already successfully financed two cars together with a credit union, and I financed a car on my own with them before Bill and I met. I have always been very happy with that institution’s service regarding loans. And USAA, quite frankly, doesn’t deserve our business anymore. He can keep paying the higher payments he’s already been paying USAA, and it will ultimately result in a cheaper loan, paid off faster. Again… he was reluctant, but ultimately acquiesced. I don’t think he’ll be sorry.

USAA has always promoted this idea of “family” and solidarity. Likewise, the same “family concept” was promoted in LuLaRoe. As I mentioned in my “Bullshit frosting” post from 2018…

Keep in mind, the people who sell LuLaRoe aren’t company employees.  They buy clothing from LuLaRoe and sell it, and they make their money based on what they sell.  In essence, they are LuLaRoe’s first customers.  And yet, here’s a “coach” lecturing them about what to wear and how to wear it.  Above that post was another one by the coach.  She’s in a van with her sister and their kids, headed to a retreat in Wyoming.  She implies that she and her sister had dropped everything to attend this function because “Aunt Deanne” said so.

Notice that she calls the founder “Aunt Deanne”.  I’m sure the company promotes the idea that they’re all one big family.  On the surface, it sounds good.  If you’re family, you’re “loved” and cared for, in a sense.  Family members are supposed to have your back.  We love our family members and don’t want to disappoint them.  That’s what makes it easier to trust family members, and more devastating when family screws you over.  Lots of people think of a business that treats people like “family” as a good thing.  But there is a downside to being a figurative “brother”, “sister”, “aunt” or “cousin”.  Sometimes when you think of someone as “family”, you let your guard down when you really shouldn’t...

“One big happy family” sounds great… until you realize that some of the most toxic relationships a person can have are with family members.  Family members have that advantage of being in the group… they have access to you that other people generally don’t.  They know you better than most people do.  And when something unpleasant needs to be done, family members feel okay about asking other family members for help.  If you go against the grain, you run the risk of being cast out… lovingly, of course, because you need to see the error of your ways.  While I don’t know for sure, I get the sense that LuLaRoe and some other multi-level marketing businesses are kind of culty like that.  You toe the line so you won’t be towed outside of the group. 

It’s not that I think USAA and LuLaRoe are that much alike in terms of what they do, or even their business practices. I would not, for instance, equate LuLaRoe’s seemingly disastrous business practices with what’s been going on at USAA. Rather, what I’ve noticed is that both organizations are kind of “culty”. I remember, when we lived in Texas, people acted like USAA was just the greatest company to work for and bank with, and people stick with them, even when the writing is on the wall that things aren’t good.

When Bill was looking for a job in 2014, he approached a USAA recruiter, whose eyes very quickly glazed over when Bill confessed that he didn’t know anyone who worked at the company. The guy encouraged Bill to consult USAA.com… This, even though USAA supposedly values its members above all else. And yet, here was Bill, a guy who’s a retired Army officer and has been a member since 1984, and the recruiter treated him like dog shit. Of course, now I am delighted that Bill doesn’t work for USAA. I don’t think he would have enjoyed the experience. Things turned out fine for us, anyway.

Incidentally, I wrote a rant about Bill’s USAA job hunting experience, and USAA had its public relations firm stalking my blog for months. But this time, after having written about them several times this week, I’m not getting any attention from USAA’s PR firm. Not that I mind not being stalked by USAA. I just think it’s kind of telling… it’s like the leadership just doesn’t care about the company’s reputation anymore and has given up on trying to satisfy its members.

I tweeted a couple of responses to people who tweeted last night. USAA was tagged in those posts, and both times, they sent demands that I send a PM with my contact information. When I didn’t do as they asked, they posted this:

No thanks… you’ve done enough already.

My response to USAA’s request for cooperation was, “That’s okay.” I no longer expect them to help. And based on their Twitter feed, it looks like other people need their assistance much more urgently than I do. What a sad state of affairs for what used to be a great company.

So now, about the title of this post… When I wrote my original “Bullshit frosting” post in 2018, I was reminded of a classic episode of the 70s and 80s sitcom, Three’s Company. Have a look below:

Back in 1980, there was an episode of Three’s Company called “Lee Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother“.  Jack Tripper (played by the late John Ritter) was very upset because his very good looking, financially secure, egotistical brother, Lee, had come to visit.  Lee spent the whole time trying to impress people and making Jack feel small.  When Jack accompanies Lee and Jack’s roommate, Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) to a restaurant for dinner, he accidentally spills wine on Lee’s suit.  Jack is feeling horrible, but Chrissy consoles him by correctly predicting what Lee’s going to say after he cleans up in the bathroom– “Don’t worry, I’ve got another suit like it at home.”  Chrissy also says, that guys like Lee are like cakes with too much icing.  Jack, on the other hand, is all cake with a lot of layers!  I think that’s a very apt analogy of a fake person who’s full of shit as opposed to a person with depth, character, and substance.

I think the same could be said for certain businesses who have allowed themselves to become “culty” and too big for their britches. Before long, the quality product that helped them make their good name and form their reputation turns into nothing but “bullshit frosting”…. all icing, and no cake, as Chrissy says. So now, like quite a few others, I’m looking for financial services provided by an institution that is “all cake, with a lot of layers”, instead of just a bunch of pretty frosting.

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