Mar 112016
 

Make sure the ‘charity’ isn’t a scam.  Having ‘non-profit’ status means nothing except they filed forms.  In order to be considered a public charity an organization must receive a substantial part of its support from a ‘government unit’ or from general public support.  There’s the first part of the scam, many charities are just a front to launder grant money which for some idiotic reason is considered ‘public support’ even though nobody in the public has any control over this money.  Feeding at the public trough does not make for a good charity.

So how do you do a ‘background check’ on a charity?  Easy, non-profit organizations tax returns are public information.  They are fairly easy to find, I used to use guidestar however they’ve gone to a subscription only format so currently the easiest free site is Foundation Center. Decoding 990’s isn’t very fun, however it’s the only way to get facts.  I’ll try to walk you through an example.  For the purposes of this article I’m using the 2014 990-EZ for Project Great Outdoors, if you want to follow along here it is: 943368163_201412_990EZ

Continue reading »

Dec 072015
 

Reno Gazette Journal is gushing about AT&T GigaPower and of course not reporting on anything that would reflect badly on AT&T.  For starters the only pricing they talk about is bundled with other services, according to ArsTechnica

AT&T generally charges $110 a month for Internet-only gigabit service, with a lower price of $70 in cities where it has to compete against Google Fiber. Both of those prices require customers to opt into “Internet Preferences,” which gives AT&T permission to examine each customer’s Web traffic in order to serve personalized ads

So you have to agree to let them spy on you?  What happens if you want to use TOR?  Do they ban you? AT&T is also notorious for data caps and the upload speed is terribly by many accounts.

If you’re going to report you should report ALL of the facts, not just read a press release…  Pretty much what I expect these days anyway.

Oct 222015
 

We have an old mattress, figured I’d see if we can dump it at the transfer station as part of our mandated 4 ‘standard puckup truck’ loads per year.  Easy question, first off does the transfer station accept them, so I asked:

Does the transfer station on Commercial row (Refuse, Inc. – Sage Street Transfer Station) accept mattresses and boxsprings? Thanks.

WM Response

Yes they do accept those items. They are chargeable please contact then as to how much they will cost.

I replied:

As a City of Reno customer I can dispose of one standard pickup truck load 4 times per year.  By “Chargeable” do you mean this isn’t included in the “standard pickup truck load”?

WM Response

Thank you for contacting Waste Management. I would really like to help you but those questions can only be answered by the transfer station. I would give them a call to have your questions answered the best way possible.

Oh really?  I responded:

That doesn’t make any sense.  According to the City of Reno their agreement with WM allows:

“City of Reno customers can dispose of one standard pickup truck load of waste four times a year. Customers must show recent trash bill or have identification that matches the service address on their bill and be current in their payments to use this service.”

Either a mattress is ‘waste’ for the purposes of the above or not.

Perhaps you should refer me to your legal department, I’m certainly not going to rely on calling someone at the transfer station as an authoritative answer.

WM Response, finally I get a straight answer:

I do apologize for the inconvenience and frustration. After further research I discovered that you can in fact dump a mattress there for no cost of your own.

There is no sane reality where the above exchange happens.  Only a “business” that operates by using government force to keep customers does shitty ‘service’ like the above not result in bankruptcy.

 

EDIT: I got a survey request the next day, oh yeah I’ll take your survey.  The most ridiculous questions came as the end, ‘would you recommend WM to friends’…. and the final question ‘how likely are you to continue doing business with WM’..  er.. MONOPOLY… DOH..  I added a lot of comments though…  they’ll fall on deaf ears but at least I tried.

Sep 112014
 

Say you were to accidentally send 2 payments, the logical thing to do (unless you like letting utilities have the use of your cash) is to stop payment on one of the checks.  If you do that TMWA will try to charge you $35 even when your balance is $0!  So you owe them nothing, yet they try to cash a check and it comes back stop payment.. and they want to ‘fine’ you for that?

After talking with customer service they removed the charge “as a courtesy” and then explained that if I had called in and told them a check was coming in that would not clear I never would have been ‘assessed’ this ‘fee’.  Susan explained that they would have tried to cash the check, it would have come back ‘stop payment’ and the note in my account would have kept it from being sent to the collection department..

In other words the fee is completely unnecessary and simply an attempt at a money grab.  IF this fee were directly tied to collection activity, it would make sense.. however they just tack it on and try to get you to pay it.  This is reprehensible behavior from a government forced monopoly.

Jun 062014
 

NDOW has a new tax for your boats..  and it requires displaying a sticker affixed to the vessel.  Check this bit of bullshit:

The AIS decal requirement was established to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic species threatening Nevada’s waterways.

Decals don’t really do anything of the sort, although I guess if you stuck a bunch together it might provide some sort of physical barrier.  They go on to claim the money is to ‘support enforcement and inspections’.

Now, how is one going to affix that sticker to an inflatable kayak that has a fabric cover (all good ones do)?  Their own PDF showing where to place the decal shows an Advanced Element kayak (probably stole the image from AE) which has a canvas like fabric cover that’s also coated for water resistance, UV protection, etc.  There’s no way a sticker will stick on that.   They specifically state that rubber craft “May place on a plate”, however they make no such statement for any other type of craft.

In short if you have an inflatable kayak don’t come to Nevada and expect to put in..  We’ll be doing our kayaking in California where we can do so safely without worrying about it… and we’ll spend our money there as well…

Mar 132014
 

The idiocy with Waste Management never ends.  For the past few weeks we’ve had rental trucks in the area, dropping off and taking containers.  Presumably they screwed up a lot.  Last night one shows up, takes our 35 gallon waste bin and replaced it with a 64 gallon bin.  We now have a 64 gallon waste bin and a 64 gallon recycling bin.  According to the franchise agreement with the city this ‘configuration’ is no an option:

  • One 35 gallon Solid Waste Cart and one 64 gallon Recycling Cart
  • One 35 gallon Solid Waste Cart and one 96 gallon Recycling Cart
  • One 64 gallon Solid Waste Cart and one 96 gallon Recycling Cart
  • One 96 gallon Solid Waste Cart and one 96 gallon Recycling Cart

Are they dropping the 35 gallon option?  Are the going to try and charge me more?  Nothing back from WM or the City on this as of yet.. will update when I hear something.

Nothing rewards waste and ineptitude like a government enforced monopoly.

UPDATE: response from WM:

Hello. Thank you for contacting Waste Management.

I do apologize for the confusion. I show your services as a 64 recycle and a 35 trash. Are you wanting to keep these services. I can have a driver come back and remove the 64 and bring the 35 back. I am sorry about this mix up.

If you have any questions please contact us anytime. We truly appreciate your business and look forward to hearing from you again.

My response:

Yes I want to keep the existing service.

What you do with your waste bin is up to you, however we will not be paying more than the rate for the 35gallon waste bin and 64 gallon recycling bin.

We’ll see what happens…

Last update

I have submitted a delivery of a 35 gallon msw and a removal of a 64 gallon msw. Please keep the 64 gallon curbside for the driver to access it. This should be happening by your next service day. I apologize for all the confusion.

Now we see how this all works out.

Jul 022013
 

I feel like I’m picking on Waste Management, however it’s just because they’re a very very easy target.

Take this wording from an invoice:

If full payment of the invoiced amount is not received on or before the delinquent date, you will be charged a monthly late fee of 5.0% of the unpaid amount with a minimum monthly charge of $100, or such lesser late fee allowed under applicable law……

In order for them to assess any late charges, the delinquent date must be defined.  Nowhere in the invoice does it state any delinquent date.  The only date is the invoice date and they claim it’s ‘Due Upon Receipt’.   When I called to ask I got nowhere at all.   So, if I don’t receive the bill (USPS could have lost it)… and they try to assess late charges, er… I don’t think so.  I wonder how much money they scammed off people who think they have to pay these fees?  How much money have they made on interest convincing people to pay before they really have to (it’s already a prepay anyway)?’

They of course get away with this because the idiots who make these agreements (cities and counties mostly) don’t give a rats ass about your rates or how hard you get screwed in the deal.  They only care about what they’ll get, kickbacks, re-elected..whatever the leeching rats care about at the moment.

Apr 182013
 

I ran more numbers as I was curious how bad the deal Reno struck with Waste Management was.  Turns our they are screwing customers with a huge rate increase, in one case over 566%!  They do this by playing shell games and making things confusing for their customers.

For the purposes of this article I’m ignoring recycling, it’s only a minor side issue and irrelevant to this.

The current schemes are:

  1. 96-gallon can (we provide) Plus up to 7 extra 32-gallon cans/bags $14.72 per month
  2. One 32-gallon can (customer provided) Plus up to 6 extra 32-gallon cans/bags $12.02 per month

The new scheme allows for the following, note the deletion of provide your own bins.. you are not required to garbage up your property with WM’s bins:

  1. 1 35 gallon bin – $13.85
  2. 1 35 gallon bin – $14.28 – larger recycling bin is all you get at this tier
  3. 1 64 gallon bin – $15.33
  4. 1 96 gallon bin – $16.97

On the face of it this seems like a small increase, however when you factor in the previous deal allowed you to put out several extra 32-gallon cans/bags things look much worse.   Comparing the bottom two ‘services’ shows that currently you can dispose of 970 gallons of waste per month, the lowest new plan allows 151 gallons per month.  Even factoring in the ‘stickers’ they ‘give’ you (20 per year) you would have to purchase 24 stickers per MONTH at $2.25 each to get the same level of “service” you currently have.  That adds up to $814.20 a year, vs. $144.24.

This is what you get with “services” at the point of a gun, you have no choices at all.  There already is a relatively free market in commercial garbage collection, there’s no reason that cannot exist in residential garbage collection.

Oh yeah, because Fuck You..we’re the Government and you’re the flock to be fleeced.

Mar 292013
 

We opted out of the smart meter bullshit, mostly due to privacy concerns.  As part of that process NV Energy needed to adjust our bill.  However they went back in time, adjusted the bill and didn’t actually send me an updated bill until much later.  As they adjusted the bill after the due date, a late fee was charged AND 4% tax on top of that.

It was a whopping 17 cent late fee and a penny (.6 cents rounded up of course) tax.  As a rather pedantic accounting freak, where was I going to put that?  Rather than dealing with that I killed 10 minutes of customer service time getting it fixed.  At first she waived the late fee, but I pushed for my damn penny as well.  She had to put me on hold for that one.. probably laughing with her coworkers.

I don’t care, NV Energy made an attempt to rip me off. I suspect this is business as usual and likely accounts for 10’s of thousands of dollars of unearned income every year.

Mar 272013
 

They’ve been talking about ‘single stream recycling’ for a while, and I received a notice with my bill to ‘pick my new recycling cart’ and a convenient URL http://reno.wm.com/#signUp

If you read my article on how they’re already screwing people you’ll know that they’d love it if you rent one of their bins, they’re quicker to empty into the truck which saves WM money AND cost you an extra $32.40 a year.  That doesn’t seem like much but it adds up quick.  If you want to ‘sign up’ for single stream recycling you have to choose to rent a trash bin as well, no option for using your own.

Reviewing the latest monopoly enabling document. (edit: they of course got rid of that link, so I downloaded the document local Mirrored monopoly enabling document).  Turns out they are trying to screw customer extra hard.  Looks like there’s no option for using your own trash cans, and you can only put out 20 trash bags a YEAR (using stickers provided by WM).   Currently I can put out up to 6 trash bags per week, that’s 312 bags a year.   This works out to nearly double the previous rate.