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October 30, 2003

OT: Graduating YU

It's well known in the YU world that all it takes to get into YU is a bris. What's not so well known is what it takes to get out of YU! The basic steps are simple, but YU makes them oh so complex!

  1. Apply many months prior to your desired graduation date (May, September, or January) with the "Graduation Fee" (YU is running a good scam - $20,000+ for 3-4 years isn't enough, they need an extra $50 to print your diploma).
  2. Schedule a "Senior Check" to ensure that your graduation requirements were met. Because of the double curriculum, this can be a somewhat complex process.
  3. Hope all the magic behind the scenes work
Now, there are all kinds of things that can hinder this process. For example, I will provide my story.

I started YU in Fall 1997, fresh out of public high school in Palo Alto. I was pursuing a major in engineering (the joint program with Columbia), so I took English Comp, Physics and Calculus (among other courses). After my bechina, I was placed in second year level JSS.

The following year, I went to Israel. While I was there, I decided that I was might be more interested in computer science than engineering, so I wanted to take a CS course over the summer. Doing so would give me a taste for programming, and let me get a jump on my requirements. (An intro to CS course is the prerequisite for most CS courses.) I emailed the head of CS at YU to find out about what courses would be good to take (in Cali), and he said to email course descriptions to him. I sent him 2, and he said that one was better. I proceeded to fill out the famed P-10 Form, and sent it in with a copy of the email from Dr. Breban approving it. Shortly thereafter, I received a copy back, stating that the course was approved. I registered for the course, and then shortly thereafter got another copy of the P-10 sent to me, with "Approved" crossed out, and "Rejected" circled. The explanation given was that it was a community college (which it was). I was just annoyed that no one had cared earlier, and at this point in time, I no longer recall whether there was anything on the book about community college courses, but there sure is now (in bold and underline) - "No courses may be taken at any community college for credit or exemption." Despite getting a rejection, I took the course anyways, figuring that I would deal with it later.

About a month into my junior year (second year on campus, first year back from Israel), I went to the registrar's office to check on the status of my summer school credit. They informed me that they hadn't gotten a transcript, so I had one sent. I returned a few weeks later, and they informed me that my P-10 was missing (Great!). I told them I could give them a copy of my copy, which I did. I checked back a few weeks later, and they claimed to have lost it again. I told them I could give them a copy of my copy, which I did. I checked back a few weeks later, and they had mysteriously found the "Rejected" version.

At this point, I figured I'd leave it alone. I was proceeding smoothly through my CS courses, and would worry about it when graduation came along. Meanwhile, during this second year on campus, I enrolled in IBC, "moving up" from JSS. Cramming the requirements of a 4 year major into 2 years is difficult, especially in a small school when only a handful of requirements are offered in any given semester, and of those courses, several usually conflict. I basically arranged my schedule around CS. I took as many CS requirements as possible, then added in other requirements as available.

As if matters weren't already messed up enough, YU decided to modify the major. They took several courses that had been 2 3-credit courses (e.g. Intro I & II), and created single 4-credit courses. For those of us caught in the middle of this, we ended up being exempted from our choice of one of three courses.

Senior year rolled around, and I enrolled in MYP, having "moved up" again in the Judaic Programs world, making for a small YU success story. I continued with my scheduling strategy of taking as many CS courses at once. I also began to strategize about escaping YU without taking a substitute course for that original Intro I that I took over the summer. So I began to gather allies and proof. First, I set up a meeting with Dr. Cwilich, whom I had for Physics back during my freshman year, and the only advisor who had any idea what was going on with the CS major.

During our meeting, he started with Judaic Studies, realized I had been in three programs, and basically told me he wasn't even going to try to understand if all my requirements were met. He sent me to Rabbi Rosensweig, to get confirmation from him. Meanwhile, we proceeded with general studies, which checked out fine. The last issue was the CS major itself, which he said looked OK, but suggested I get a letter from Breban, so that during the summer there wouldn't be a problem (there is apparently some final review that follows "graduation" prior to "graduation").

I arranged to meet with Rabbi Rosensweig (whose Jewish History course I suffered through). We met in his tiny office, and he reviewed my courses. For the Hebrew requirement, one is normally required to take one year, unless you are in JSS, in which case 2 years are required. I had only taken one year of Hebrew in JSS, but it had been second year level, which I had been told was sufficient, but didn't have any hard proof. Thankfully, he confirmed that this was the case, and after reviewing the rest of my coursework, concluded that I had indeed completed all the requirements. He thought he was done, but I wanted written confirmation. He tried to get me to come back to get a letter, but I wanted it then and there. He looked around, found some paper in a printer, pulled it out, scratched out a letter in pencil, asserting that indeed I had fulfilled my Judaic requirements, and I left with a smile.

The only remaining letter was one from Breban. He insisted that I write it, and he'd sign it. Only he didn't like my first draft, or my second. Finally he accepted my third draft, signing it, making it official that (pending successful completion of my current coursework), I had completed the CS major. I also managed to get him to sign a letter stating that I was exempt from Intro I because of the summer school course, and that he felt I should get credit for it. He seemed to be in a bit of a "screw the school that screwed you" type of mood.

I proceeded to take copies of all the letters back to Cwilich, who appeared satisfied to see my success, though a bit depressed that I had turned my back on Physics/Engineering.

Fast-forward past graduation, which went off without a hitch (surprisingly), to mid-August, 2001. I was to be married within a week, and we needed a car. I was in the dealership with my father, and had just about completed bargaining a nice deal on a Camry. The only outstanding issue was the need for proof of graduation, in order to receive a $500 "Recent College Graduate" rebate. I hadn't received my diploma yet (heck, I didn't even know if I had officially graduated, so I called the registrar's office (from the dealership), and asked for a letter confirming my status as a YU graduate. Betty Mirabal (212-960-5274) told me it would take several days. After getting no where fast arguing with her, I hung up.

After reporting the situation to my father, he suggested I call Lamm, to inform him that YU wouldn't be getting an donations from this alumnus if they pulled stuff like this. I tried that, but it turned out that both he and his secretary were away on vacation. Instead, I devised my own plan. I called the registrar's office back, but this time spoke to a regular secretary. I asked her who prepares the letters confirming graduation. She gave me a name, and then I asked to speak to this person. She wasn't available, so I asked her to leave a message, but told her I would call back anyways.

Meanwhile, I returned to the salesman, who began to draw up a contract. I convinced him to include a clause about the rebate, and then returned to call the registrar's office again. This time, the person with whom I needed to speak was there, and though she hadn't gotten the message, she would be able to prepare the letter for me, but immediately. I returned to the salesman, and we proceeded to finish up the paperwork. I signed lots of paper, shook people's hands, and was getting ready to leave when the salesman came running over, holding a fax. As he got closes, I realized it was the confirmation that I had indeed graduated!

Elated, I asked him for a copy of it! He complied, and I considered framing the fax, but my real diploma did come shortly thereafter.

Walking out of the dealership, I turned to my father, and told him that the only despite getting a good deal on the car, the only redeeming part of the day was getting confirmation that I was done with YU. Of course, I'm now back in the fold, but that's another story.

If you're looking for more, check out Bronstein's.

October 29, 2003

Hot or NOT

Some price mistakes are so ridiculous, they're not even worth pursuing, especially when the item is overpriced. Take Amazon's pricing of the Epson Black Ink Cartridge for Stylus Photo R300/R300M/RX500 ( T048120 ) at an even $1,000,000! As if not including free shipping (they want $7.54 Standard or $9.98 for Expedited) wasn't bad enough, tax of $86,250.85 kills it!

UPDATE (10/30): There's now a new low price in town, $2,475.00, with the following comments: "Just a fraction of the price on the Amazon.com! If you live in New England, I'll deliver it to you personally!"

UPDATE (11/13): I'm not sure when, but the price finally went back to "normal" - it's now $14.99.

But what're really funny are the "reviews":

Spotlight Reviews
This item is great!, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: Phoebe Yang from La Jolla, CA USA
This item, although pricey, is worth much more than it costs. They're actually selling the machine that makes the cartridges, complete with materials. You can earn your money back and more by selling the ink cartridges =)

OMG, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from Seattle, WA United States
Wouldn't have bought the printer if I know the ink is going to be so expensive. OTOH, I might just buy more printers, sell the ink and be a multi-millionare. Better than winning the lottery.

Customer Reviews
I could have bought this one, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from Seattle, WA USA
If only this item qualified for SuperSaver shipping I would have bought it. Too bad, :( now I have to shop around for a better deal.

To the people who haven't figured it out why its so appropriately priced. This cartridge has the special ability to print all the secret service document. I think they forgot to mention that you need security clearance to add this item to your shopping cart. Don't worry if they don't catch you there they will catch you at the check out.

good business opportunity, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: Hitesh (see more about me) from Seattle, WA United States
I could probably start my own profitable business, if I start doing refills of these at half the prices....

Where are my angel investors....

Price is Right, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: conanj from Santa Monica, CA USA
I am getting 20 at least with my co-workers and friends.

too pricey, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from Bay Area, CA
I'll give it one more star, if the price drops by couple of hundred thousand dollars.

But then the printers are so cheap (and you are not paying sales tax on this ink) that it may not be a bad deal at all

Great Ink, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from Bay Area, CA United States
This is the same ink that the Treasury department uses. It's great stuff. Worth every penny.

Niiiice, This is why I use Laser Printers!, October 30, 2003
Reviewer: Adria Richards (see more about me) from Minneapolis, MN United States
$1,000,000 is outrageous!

I will use carbon copies instead.

Wonderful Ink - only no shipping, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: delphi00 from NY
At first, I was hesitant as to whether or not to buy it. But looking at all the reviews of other similar $1M dollar inks, I found out that, surprisingly, it had no competitors! No other company would sell ink of this high a quality! This ink was DEFINATELY worth my money...now the words I print look better than ever! I am definately coming back for more once I run out...

Give them the razor and make the money on the blades, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: neverstopdreaming from Denver, CO United States
Well Gilette had it right. The real money is in the ink!

what you forget, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: davesaudio (see more about me) from critterville
you have to remember that this cartridge will print
999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,003 1/2 pages

Best Ink Ever, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: Nikolas Moore from Huntingtown, MD United States
I would have to give this 5 stars because, with this ink I was able to print over 40 pages of text. I know it sounds to good to be trus but yes folks over 40 pages. This wasn't regular text either, in was Font size 12 Script text ad here is the sinker, it was BOLD type not regular text

Great Buy!, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from Pittsburgh, PA
I would give 5 stars, but there was no free shipping for this baby :P

Adequate, I suppose, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from TX United States
At this price, I wish the cartridge would last a little longer. OTOH, the ink is REALLY a dark black. :-)

Long live AnandTech!

Worth the price!, October 29, 2003
Reviewer: An electronics fan from Seattle, WA United States
At $1,000,000.00, this ink is a steal! My photos have never looked so nice, and I've spent up to $50,000,000.00 on ink so that I don't have to get them professionally developed (too expensive to have the pros do it).

Dell Talk

Here's the collection of emails that made up my conversation with Dell regarding the 200 GB HD deal. I still can't believe they let me cancel the replacement of the ATA card in exchange for $50 cash!

The weird thing is I'm hoping they're slow about doing it. I figure it'll be a lot easier to LPG it if there isn't a $50 credit from Dell on the same statement as the charge. On the plus side of things, I found a site advertising the drive at $130, which, if accepted, would earn me an extra , for a final cost of -$127.22, that's right, a profit of nearly $130!!!

October 28, 2003

WD Makes Really Good

After waiting on hold for 10 minutes, I spoke to Amanda from WD, who will be sending me an ATA card within 2 business days via UPS. :)

OT: Telemarketers

Most people who know me, know how little I like telemarketers. I don't care whether they're selling something, calling about something political, or calling to collect money. I don't want to be bothered by phone. Since signing up our current phone line for the NY State Do-Not-Call-Registry (and the National one as well), the number of these calls has been very small.

In a way, I miss some of the calls, as I often have a lot of fun with the caller. Luckily, every once in a while we do get calls. Because I'm in the mood, here's a recent one (presented in simulated dialog):

Caller: Hello.
Me: Hi.
C: I'm calling to urge you to vote "YES" for nonpartisan elections in NYC-
M: Excuse me. While I understand that as a political entity, you are technically exempt from Do Not Call Registry laws, don't you think that by virtue of the fact that I'm signed up for both the NY State and Federal registries, that maybe, just maybe, I don't want to be disturbed by ANY type of unsolicited phone calls?
C: Well, I understand, sir, but yes, we are exempt from those laws.
M: But don't you understand that you're disturbing me?
C: Well, I apologize, but we feel this is a very important political issue-
M: While that may be the case, I like to get my political information from relatively unbiased sources, such as newspapers and the internet-
C: We're not biased - we're nonpartisan!
M: Just because you don't support a particular party doesn't mean you aren't biased. By virtue of the fact that you're calling to ask me to vote a particular way means you are biased.
C: Well, this is my job, sir.
M: That's all well and good, but it doesn't make it alright to disturb me. How would you like it if it were my job to call you at home, asking you to vote for me for president?
C: That would be fine.
M: Really? That's great. What's your home phone number?
C: I'm not going to give that to you.
M: Why not?
C: Because I don't want you to call me at home.
M: Exactly - you don't want to be disturbed. Getting unsolicited calls at home is annoying!
C: Well, this is my job, sir.
M: Just because someone is paying you to do something, doesn't make it alright to do it. Imagine if I paid you to walk around the streets of New York, poking people with a stick. Would you do that?
C: No, that's not a job!
M: How do you know? As far as you've indicated, all that defines a job is the willingness of someone to pay you to do it. Maybe I'm a millionaire, maybe I'm related to Michael Bloomberg!
C: I still wouldn't do it.
M: Why?
C: Because I wouldn't.
M: Because it's annoying! And doing things that are annoying is wrong, even if you are getting paid for it!

Around this time, my wife started insisting that she needed the phone, so I ended the call shortly thereafter.

M: As much as I'd like to continue this conversation, I've got to go. Please remove my phone number from any lists that you have, and do not call me ever again.

I couldn't believe how long she stayed on with me. I was having a really hard time keeping myself from bursting out laughing!

I have more telemarketer stories that I'll post another time. I'm also planning a post on people passing the buck.

MSN Dollars

A while back (e.g. June), MSN Wallet had a promotion providing for a credit in the amount of 20% of any purchases made through their service, during a specified time period (with a max of $100 back). During the period, I earned roughly $88 (mostly from the A70 purchase). The only two stores that participate in MSN Wallet that I shop at are OfficeMax and Circuit City. I haven't needed anything from either one, and my $88 were expiring tonight, so I ordered a CC GC. Clearly I'm not the only one who has done this - their website currently reports that, "We're sorry. We've sold out of Gift Cards."

My next step may be to make use of a nice CA Law (new CA Law) that allows GCs to be cashed in! If not, I have $138 to blow at CC (I have another $50 GC at CC from the A70 purchase, directly from CC). Come to think of it, we could use a DVD player...

October 27, 2003

The CSS Saga Continues: Bobbie Come Through

I faxed my receipt to Bobbie on 10/23, and he faxed the letter back sometime between Friday (10/24) afternoon and Monday (10/27) morning. Not bad, given he was going me a favor.

I of course faxed the letter right on over to the CSS people. Meanwhile, I completed the forms for two more CSS Claims for 3 more books. I will be filing a request for the WD HD shortly.

I have yet to find time to compose my nasty letter to Chase regarding their definition of "one-of-a-kind," largely due to the other nasty letter ahead of it in line - my letter to American Airlines regarding their loss (failed connection) of our baggage on our recent trip.

WD Makes Good

Now that Dell has been refunding $50 to a lot of people who didn't get an ATA card (including me), WD has decided to step in, and send controller cards to those who are "eligible."

From "Dell-Chandler":

For those customers who did not receive a controller card but did order the Retail Kit SKU (A0080840) process is:

Customers will need to call Western Digital Customer Support Department at 800-275-4932. They will need to have the drive serial number handy (located on the drive itself). They'll just need to explain that they ordered the drive as part of the Dell promotion, give their name and the drive serial number (which will be checked against a list) and a Controller card will be shipped to them if they are eligible.

Green for Green

While I seem to have had great success with the Dell WD 200 GB HD Deal, getting a free ATA Controller card wouldn't do that much for me, but it was somewhat deserved. Meanwhile, I read on FW that others were getting $50 refunds from Dell!

Now, I'm not one to get particularly jealous, but $50 is far better than the ATA card, so I fired off an email to Dell, asking that they give me a refund instead of the ATA card.

The response:

Dear Mr. Wallach,
Thank you for contacting Dell Online Customer Care.
I have canceled the replacement and issued a credit for the $50.
The Credit Reference number for this transaction is 039231873.
This credit will be applied to your Mastercard within the next
two billing statements.

October 24, 2003

Officially Bad Karma

I got the dreaded Bad Karma email from Dell. Oh well.

Bad Karma, Bad!

Though Dell hasn't contacted me directly, it's not looking good.

This is to notify you that, regrettably, we need to cancel your recent order for a Rio Karma MP3 player. Due to our error, the player was shown online at an incorrect price, well below the correct price.

We specifically indicate on our web pages, our catalogues, and in our advertising that Dell cannot be responsible for such errors. In addition, our email documentation provided to customers as they place orders states:

Please note, however, that Dell cannot be responsible for typographical or other errors, and reserves the right to cancel any orders resulting from such errors.

If you paid by credit card, your account has not been charged for this item. If you would like to order the Rio Karma player at the correct price, including a 10% discount that was in effect at the time, you may do so by pointing your browser to http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?sku=A0194827&c=us&l=en&cs=19&category_id=4000&page=external and adding the item to your cart.

We truly value our relationship and reputation with our customers, and we realize the negative impact from these types of errors. Please be assured that we are working hard to try and prevent these problems going forward. We are sorry for any inconvenience that our error may have caused.


In Line for a Karma

I have now had requests from 3 friends, in addition to the original, for Karmas, if I get them. Complaints ranged from, "Why didn't you tell me about it," (he wasn't online) to the following, from one of the friends that I did IM, "Why didn't you get me one?" To my answer of "You didn't want one," he replied, "I did not realize it was mispriced by 300 dollars." As if that's my fault.

It Sucks to be Illiterate

Saw this on my way to work this morning:

Dell Continues the Cleanup

I sent another email to Dell complaining that while the warranty issue was resolved, I was still missing the ATA card.

Their overnight response (sent during the midnight hour, CDT):

Dear Mr. Wallach,
Thank you for choosing Dell Online Customer Care.
I apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.
I will request for that part to be sent to you. The delivery estimate is in 3-7 business days depnding on it's availability.



Meanwhile, still no word on the Karma.

October 23, 2003

Bobbie is Cool

Bobbie Kroman, General Manager of the B&N Pop-Up bookstores @ YU rocks. Though it took him a day or two to reply to my email, he responded, "If you fax me a copy of the receipt, I can assist you." Woo-hoo! I sent the fax today. Now we just have to see how long it takes for him to respond this time.

Questionable Karma

I have no idea what direction this Karma thing is going. I still haven't gotten any bad news per se (no cancellation emails and no cancellation posts on FW), but the 20 GB Karma has returned to Dell's site (at a normal price - $360). This may become a phantom order issue (never comes but is never formally cancelled), or it could eventually work out.

Good Karma

I was perusing a camera thread in FW, when I came across a post that mentioned something along the lines of, "Yes, the Karma is a good deal." When I first read the post, I thought someone was misspelling camera, intentionally or otherwise. But after I thought about it, I realized that the person was talking about a different deal. In fact, they were referring to the 20 GB Rio Karma MP3 Player, which Dell had for $77.95 - 10% ($7.79) + Shipping ($5.50) - MIR ($20) = $55.56 - FC (~$2) - CC cashback (~$1) = $52.50. I had the feeling this was going to go fast, so I added it to my cart, then saved my cart.

My next step was to spread the news, sharing the deal with 3 friends. While 2 were somewhat interested, and were forwarding the deal to relatives, 1 was particularly interested. He tried to checkout, but wasn't able to - Dell had already taken down the item.

However, since it was in my cart (saved), I was able to change the quantity to 2, then checkout. Because this pushed the order total over $99, I earned free shipping. It's possible that both rebates will go through (the rebate form doesn't say "limit 1 per..." but if not, the guy I ordered it for is willing to pay "even $70." Thus far I have received an "Order Acknowledgement" but not yet an "Order Confirmation." We'll see if this deal goes through.

Interestingly, there were quite a number of threads on this deal at FW, but they were all rated negatively. Practically, what this does is hide the threads from users who don't have the ratings filter set to "All Messages."

There are posts on FW from people who ordered and already got "Order Confirmations."

October 21, 2003

WD/Dell Start the Cleanup

Several FWers are posting that what yesterday showed as a 1-year warranty for their drives now shows as a 3-year warranty. Amazing how a little DB manipulation can fix things. Providing ATA cards will take a little more effort. I haven't had a chance to re-check my warranty as the drive is at home.

UPDATE: Count me in! I'm one of the many whose warranties were adjusted from 1 to 3 years!

1.5 Twofers, Please

Rite Aid has Tylenol (24 pack) on sale for "2 for $5," but a single package rings up at $2.50. I wonder how many people they con into buying two, just to get the "sale" price?

Making matters sillier, Rite Aid has a rebate of $8 on the purchase of 3 packs of Tylenol. As I was checking out last night, the clerk said, "These are 2 for $5, don't you want a 4th?" Of course I replied, "No, each one rings up at $2.50," but he didn't seem to care.

Now, if you're asking for what I need so much Tylenol, I have two answers:
1) Buying it puts money in my pocket.
2) Have you been reading the posts about the Dell HD???

WD's Murky Water

Now this is interesting:

Do a search on Google Images for WD2000JBRTL, and it returns one pic, of the old SE box (cardboard), with the ATA card pictured on the box. Click it, and it's Outpost's image, but of the plastic box.

Search Outpost for the drive, and the specs listed include:

  • Capacity: 200GB

  • Seek Time: 8.9ms

  • 7200RPM

  • 8MB Buffer

  • Free Ultra ATA Controller Card

  • 1 Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty

Weird: It does include an ATA card, but also only a 1-year warranty.

Dell Passes the Buck

Well, I got a reply to my message:

Dear Mr. Wallach,
Thank you for choosing Dell Online Customer Care.
I apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.
In order to verify if that is the wrong item sent, please contact:
Software and Peripheral Sales: 1-800-449-3355 Extension: 63805
They can properly assist you with this concern.
In any case that you received an incorrect item. We will then process a credit return transaction for you as well as a pick up from Airborne Express.

As if a return won't screw up my rebate!

Meanwhile, back in FW land, there's some hope. It has been reported that "Chandler" and "Cathy" (Dell Forum Mods) are "working as hard as [they] can to get a resolution for the warranty and controller card. Should have something later today."

There's still hope.

CSS Update

I called the CSS people today. It turns out they were able to process 2 out of 5 of the books, but couldn't determine that the lower priced ads (web pages) I submitted were the same items that I bought. I have yet to hear back from the B&N popup guy.

Regarding the contacts, CSS stood by their original claim that contacts are "one-of-a-kind" items. I called Chase, and they stood by CSS, but gave me a dispute resolution address. If I have time, I'll throw together a letter. Despite needing a prescription, I don't see much difference between getting contacts and getting shoes - they're both made en masse for people of all different shapes and sizes.

Dell Denial

Well, here is Dell's (initial) response:

Dear David,
Thank you for contacting Dell Customer Care.
I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
I checked the account and it showed that we shipped out the 200GB Caviar Special Edition Internal Hard Drive. For the warranty, you can confirm it with the manufacturer.

Yeah, that helps.

Click below for my response.

I'll let you know how they respond.

It doesn't matter to me that the computer says you shipped the "right"
drive, for the following reasons:

1) It's showing that the drive I ordered was the drive shipped - this is the
normal course of things, and wouldn't account for accidental (or
intentional) product substitution.

2) Unlike you, I have the convenience of having the product in my hands. No
where on the label does it say anything about being the "Special Edition,"
it has only a 1-year (instead of the 3-year) warranty, and it clearly
doesn't contain the ATA controller card that was advertised as part of the
"Special Edition Kit" from Western Digital at the time the order was placed.

I do not know if this is simply the wrong package, or if Western Digital has
changed the specifications of this part number (WD2000JBTRL). While they
have the right to do so, Dell has a responsibility to deliver an item as
advertised. This drive was ordered back in September, and Dell advertised
it as "Usually Ships: Same Day." While a few weeks delay in most markets
doesn't mean much (a book that costs $20 today will probably cost $20 in a
few weeks), in technology it makes a huge difference. Dell knows this, and
built their company on this model (selling computers before building them).
Imagine if people placed orders for computers, only to have them delivered a
year later - they would be worth 1/4 as much (at best), and the customers
would be irate! Luckily I have not been in a rush for this drive, but the
runaround I have gotten has been unbelievable! However, the fact that as
things currently stand, I am losing out on $65 does matter to me. The ATA
card (not included with the drive shipped to me) is valued at $50, and
Western Digital charges $15 to upgrade from a 1-year warranty to a 3-year
warranty. If Dell cannot replace the incorrect drive they shipped, I expect
to be compensated full!


October 20, 2003

Dell HD Status

6:55 am - Arrived at Airborne Station. Laguardia, NY
8:16 am - Out for Delivery.
9:22 am - Delivered! (It came a day early!)

UPDATE: I finally got around to picking up the box from Receiving this afternoon, and opened it to discover a bit of the ol' bait 'n' switch tactic, on the part of Dell/WD. The HD came without an ATA card, and only a 1-year (instead of 3-year) warranty. I fired off an email to Dell ... we'll see what happens.

CSS Trouble

My last two submissions have encountered snags. They claimed the contacts are "one-of-a-kind items," which is listed as part of exclusion #8, "floor models, demonstrator models and one-of-a-kind items." I don't know about you, but to me, an item that can be bought at any number of retailers throughout the world doesn't cut it as a "one-of-a-kind item."

They also had a problem with the book claim, because they couldn't decipher Barnes & Noble's receipt. They are asking for a signed letter identifying each item, from the store manager, on store stationary. The books were bought at one of B&N's pop-up bookstores. I contacted the store manager by email ... we'll see what happens. Wish me luck...

HD on the Way

I just checked the status of my Dell HD, and it was shipped by Dell at 6:00:54 PM on 10/17/2003. Oddly, Airborne claims to have picked up the drive at 3:04 PM (in Memphis, TN). Regardless, they report an "Est. Delivery Date" of 10/21/03!

October 15, 2003

This thread at Dell Community

This thread at Dell Community Forums best sums up the current HD situation. While there is a slight chance some folks may get an extra rebate or two, it looks like Dell and WD are working to avoid that.

October 14, 2003

Dell HD update: "I have

Dell HD update: "I have reviewed your order and show that it is currently in production and estimated to ship to you on or before October 21, 2003."

October 10, 2003

2 CSS Claims

I sent in 2 CSS claims today. One for $8.10 back on some contacts I bought, and the other for a total of $53.84 on the books my wife bought for her classes.

The way I've been using my Chase card is almost solely for CSS likely purchases. Because of this, I have either filed or will be filling for refunds equal to 14% of the total money charged on my Chase card. Talk about a cash back bonus reward! Discovercard ... not for me!

Dell Rights its Wrong?

Directed to a FW thread by Shaya, I discovered that Dell has reversed its initial decision (to only honor the two rebates on drives that were already shipped), deciding to honor all of the orders (and rebates) for orders placed during the "mistake" (9/25-9/27). I ordered on 9/26. :)

There was a reversal letter that Dell sent out (see "Continue Reading..."), but I didn't get (at least not yet). In many ways, I'm not surprised - when they sent out the "official" "cancellation" email, I got it days after other people.

While my order is still stuck in "Delayed" mode, I sent an email to Dell CS, who responded that it's just the backorder issue, but it will be shipping. :)

It's amazing how much discussion there in on FW (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4)

Dear Valued Customer,

After further consideration, we have determined that the $200 in rebates will be honored on eligible purchases of 200 GB Western Digital hard drives ordered etween September 25, 2003 and September 27, 2003. Due to the verwhelming response to this promotion the Western Digital hard drive will ave twenty one days lead time before the item ships.

If your order has shipped before we could cancel it and you wish to return it at Dell's expense, please contact the Customer Care department at 1-800-624-9897. Should you wish to keep the drive, please be aware we will be honoring $200 in rebates on the drive. A revised rebate form will be posted as soon as it is available and we will be posting revised instructions for submitting rebate requests and will be extending the submission deadline. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. However, your order will proceed and we will make every effort to have it ship as soon as possible.

Dell Notification Team

October 8, 2003

When Being Cheap Doesn't Pay

As I began to set up the new computer last night, I pulled out the backups I made of my HD on my notebook before I formatted it. I started to copy them to the Dell, and CD #1 failed. Then CD #2 failed. I was worried. While I didn't need much of anything on the CD's, I still wanted to retrieve the data. So I switched to restoring from backup set #2 (made using a different brand of CD-Rs). CD #1 worked. Then CD #2 worked. As did CDs #3-9. I never went back to the first set.

Seems that some the cheap FAR CD-Rs really are that - cheap. Unfortunately, it's hard to distinguish good cheap CD-Rs from bad cheap CD-Rs. We'll see what happens.

October 7, 2003

Dell Delivered!

Well, the computer at least:
Oct 7, 2003 2:14 pm - Delivered

HD is still a no show (no surprise).

October 2, 2003

Dell News 2

Computer: "In Transit" - Delivery Estimate: October 7 - October 9!

HD: Still "Delayed" online, but on the Community Forums, "DELL-Cathy" posted a new thread, stating, "Duplicate $100 mail-in rebate coupons were posted online on the product page for 200 GB Western Digital drive, although there is only one rebate available on this drive. Dell does not want any customers to have ordered this drive based on the mistaken assumption that $200 of rebates applied, so we will soon be contacting the customers who ordered the drive to give them the opportunity to cancel their order if there was any confusion resulting from the duplicate rebate coupons.

If customers wish to continue their order with $100 in applicable mail-in rebates, they will be provided the details on who to contact to reinstate their order. If we do not hear back from customers within 3 business days of the notice, we will conclude that they do not wish to continue with their orders, and we will cancel them.

Because this error was discovered after a small number of drives had shipped, we will be granting $200 in rebates on those drives."

Doesn't look good (mine doesn't seem to have shipped), but you never know.

October 1, 2003

Dell News

The good news ... having completed "Kitting," "Build," and "Testing," my computer is now "Boxing" (all substages of "In Production"). The only remaining steps will be "Shipping Prep: Monday, October 13, 2003" and "Estimated Ship Date: Monday, October 13, 2003."

The good/bad news ... while Dell has no problem showing me the status of the computer order (above), their system claims "We're sorry. The online Order Status tool is currently experiencing some difficulties. Please try to check your status again later." when queried about the HD order. Hmm...

Judgment Day

Many of you may think that, in this period of repentance, the title refers to Yom Kippur. However, it refers to a different day (10/2) - Dell Decision Day! DELL-Cathy has posted a thread in Dell's community forum, stating, "I've been advised that I should have an answer by tomorrow morning to post to the forums."

I will, of course, keep you updated.

Well, Well, Dell...

Those people at Dell finally processed my computer order, and upped the tax $.01. The first two stages ("Order Processing" and "Pre-production" are complete, they're now up to "In Production"). Dell has a cute page that explains the full process. Delivery Estimate: 10/16-20. Actual charged amount was $502.70 - $100 MIR - $14.79 FC - $5.03 CC cash back = $382.88.

Meanwhile, the 200 GB HD order is still "delayed". LOTS of chatter on FW.

Staples? Yeah, We've Got That!

On the way home from work last night, I remembered that I had a Staples Business Rewards check that was about to expire. Not wanting to lose out on $11 worth of free stuff, I stopped at Staples on the way home. There wasn't anything of particular interest. I considered getting some FAR stuff and just "laundering" the credit into cash, but I didn't find any. Instead, I opted for a package of 4 2000 NIMH AA batteries for my digicam (or anything else) and a paper stand.