August 08, 2006

I worked from home today, and after a frustrating morning on travelocity, I actually acomplished a lot of work.

First, the good news: I've been making steady progress working on the Modern Physics course I'll be teaching in the Fall. Steady, but still slow. I've been hacking away at relativity for what seems like an eternity now. But, the end of that fight is coming; I can feel it.

What held me up this morning was trying to book the flight and hotel for the conference that I'm attending the week after Thanksgiving.This morning I checked my email and saw that there were airfare specials from Bloomington that I could use for the trip. I went to travelocity (travesty) and found that they had a promo for $150 off the package if you book for 5 nights. No problem. I find the flights we want and the hotel R. picked and even chose the seats for this flight. When I went to confirm the reservation, I was greeted with a message that said I had to use a different credit card than the one I was using. I checked the promo page and NO WHERE did it say anything about using a specific card. However, the page linking to the promo codes had a Mastercard logo on it, but also didn't specify that Mastercard had to be used. I called customer service to ask about the promo, and the guy who answered the phone had no idea what I was talking about. Huh. Funny, as it pops up on the homepage about every fourth time it loads! By this time, my session had expired and I had to start over.

When I redid the exact same search, I found that flights from Bloomington were suddenly about $300/person more expensive. So, I quickly abandoned that idea. I searched on orbitz, southwest airlines, delta and united before giving up for the morning. Everything was coming up about $300-600 more expensive than it had on the first search of the morning and every search I had done in the last 3 weeks.

I have my suspicions that the more times you search on travelocity, the higher the average price gets until you are scared enough to pay an elevated price.

The pricing of airfare and vacation packages in general is rediculous much in the same way our cable company's pricing scheme is out to screw the customer (i.e. me).

I cannot call the cable company any more, because my phone number is tied to my account and they will look up my account whenever I call to see what deals are available. Over the weekend R. saw that Our cable bill had jumped by 50% to $120. Instead of calling them on Monday, I walked into their office with my bill in my pocket. When I asked how much digital cable and broadband internet costs per month I was told "it depends. Are you already a subscriber?" WHAT??? How hard is the question, "How much does your service cost?" I grudgingly admitted I was a subscriber and the agent immediately wanted to look up my account! Cripes! I know how much I'm getting charged. I want to know what everyone else is getting charged! Why is this so hard??

When we signed up for cable, about a year ago, I was told that I could get digital cable and broadband internet for $70/month and they had a special promo going on where you would get 9 Showtime channels for free. The $70/month was $5 off the regular price, I was told. Sweet!! Sign me up! Three months ago, our bill went up by $15, and I called to ask why that was and was told that the free Showtime package had expired. Oh, okay. I explained that no one had bothered to mention there was a limitted time on that deal, but no biggie I thought. It was canceled and we were happy. This time, when I went in I was told that our free "premium broadband" trial had expired and the "promo basic cable rate" had expired. Huh?? This was news to me. I never knew that I had "premium broadband" whatever that was. And I was told that our digital cable box rental was a special promo rate that was set to expire "any month now". WHAT THE HECK?!? Why was I not told that all this stuff was only good for a year? Why they can get away with bait and switch tactics by not letting new subscribers know the full extent of the promotion details is beyond me. Surely they were not losing money on me when my bill was "only" $80.

So. Frustrating.

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