The Haphazard Blog


Capital One May Want to Follow Their Own Advice

by on May.04, 2014, under Bills, Finance, Technology

This week I received a statement for my Capital One credit card for $0.00. It even says my payment is due by May 19. Also at the top of it?


Your trash could be an identity thief’s gold. Manage your account online and end the paper trail.

This reminds me of a story a software engineering professor told me. Every month she would receive a Visa bill for $0.00. She would call and ask them to stop sending them and there was nothing they could do about it. How did it finally stop? She actually wrote a check for $0.00 and sent it in as a payment. They processed the payment! I would hope their computer systems would be more advanced by now, but apparently not. On the upside, there are no blackout dates…

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DirecTV Deals

by on Jul.12, 2010, under Bills, Entertainment, Football, Life, Sports, TV

I’ve detailed in the past the troubles I’ve had to go through to get the same deals other DirecTV customers get. This year was a totally different experience. I had read that DirecTV was changing the NFL Sunday Ticket package to remove SuperFan and make it one package. Ultimately, they split the package up. They removed the online viewing part of SuperFan and called that “To Go” and put all of the rest (Red Zone Channel (not the same as the NFL Red Zone Channel that has commercials), Game Mix, Shortcuts and HD) into the base package. The new price is $300 for renewals.  That price was a lot easier to pay. A little higher than I’d like (I’d prefer $250) but I wouldn’t cancel over it (I was ready to at the almost $400 I expected this year).

The price got even better thanks to the great community over at They had a thread talking about a $20/off for 6 months discount for existing customers. I called to check on what was auto-renewing on my account and after the CSR explained that to me, I dropped the “To Go” part and asked if I could get the credit. They checked, said yes and that was it. They had also started a program to match DISH offering Free HD for life. I’ve pretty much had a credit to offset the $10 HD Access fee since I got HD a few years ago. I asked about that and was told I couldn’t get that with the current credit going and that they couldn’t drop that and add the other one in its place. I was told I could see about it once the credit ran out, but no guarantees.

There was also a thread about the Free HD for Life for existing customers (it’s really for 24/months right now). I got my notification that my bill was ready and when I looked at it, I saw that the HD Access credit was no longer there. I called in and inquired about that credit, the CSR checked that I had HD and was on auto-pay and said no problem and added it. Explained the most they can do for existing customers is 24 months but to call back when that runs out and they’ll add it back on again.

It has been a completely different experience and I don’t know why but it’s very much appreciated. That kind of service goes a long way IMO. A couple months ago I was doing the math on building a home theater PC, switching to very basic cable, getting a good OTA antenna, switching from DSL to cable HSI and switching to Vonage World. Now, I will scratch off the HTPC, getting cable and a what not. I am still considering a switch from AT&T to Cox for Internet and Vonage for phone service though.

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Finished My Taxes Early

by on Feb.14, 2010, under Bills, Life

I filed my taxes a lot earlier this year. Primarily because I did a poor job in tax planning and withheld too much money. I ended up with refunds from both the federal and state. I always got a weird sense of enjoyment in owing every year and filing right before the deadline.

This year, I need to do a much better job with investing. Bank account interest is incredibly low. I missed out on the big recovery from the bottom last year. It’s time for me to become less risk adverse. My irrational fear of losing money prevents me from making any real money. It’s odd that I can identify my problem but have yet to find a way around it. It is getting to be very bothersome. I start to invest, then bail out after a couple trades. And it’s not like they were bad trades. I made money and still didn’t keep doing it.

I wonder what makes someone a good trader psychologically?

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DirecTV, NFL Sunday Ticket and Deals

by on Sep.04, 2009, under Bills, Life

Every year it’s the same song and dance with DirecTV. They raise prices on NFL Sunday Ticket (or they break up the existing package and add some new features to charge you more to get what you had before). It’s up to $370 for auto-renenwal customers. However, after they “added” the SuperFan package (they took what was included (HD Games) and added a RedZone Channel (awesome) and some other features) for an additional $100 a lot of people weren’t happy. Primarily because they only wanted the HD games and already paid a $10/month HD Access fee.

So word travels fast when they start to offer a customer free SuperFan. Then last year for people who signed up as early birds (same discount as auto-renenwal) would get SuperFan free. That didn’t thrill customers who auto-renewed. So word traveled fast again on how to get it for free like everyone else. So it’s that time of the year again. If you read over at or FatWallet people were getting free SuperFan plus $120 off ($20/mo for 6 months) for a net cost of $150.

This is where the fun begins. You have to call and get them to do it. Sometimes a CSR will do it. Sometimes it has to be someone in the customer retention department. All kinds of stories work. The economy, the wife says it’s too much, thinking about switching, my friend/neighbor/co-worker got such and such or even just coming out and asking for it. Plenty of people get shot down and have no luck. Some call right back and get the deal. Some try a bit later and get the deal. Some just give up and are mad. Some cancel their service.

It drives me nuts. It’s all a game. All I want is SuperFan free. It really bothers me that they took something that was included in the price out of the package. They not only bundled it up with other stuff, but they also raised the price of the base package. So to get the same thing you had the year before, the price jumped $120. For every person like Bill Simmons who would pay $2,000 for it, there are people like me who just get it to watch their favorite team all season. DirecTV is smart to bump the price only $10-$20 a season so it’s easier to swallow, but they are pricing people out slowly. This is why they have an amazing new customer offer that includes the Sunday Ticket. They also started to offer this to existing customers who don’t auto-renew this summer.

In the end I went with the loyal customer and it’s unfair that some customers get these deals and others don’t. They offered me $10/mo for 6 months, I asked for $20 and they said yes. It only took 3 or 4 calls.  I think they are all trained to negotiate with customers. You have to push for it. They are perfectly OK saying no and sorry to see if you’ll just say OK. Uncomfortable silences work well too.

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