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Verizon FIOS billing issues

I’ve been having a difficult time lately with Verizon and their billing of my FIOS account. Sure my account history is a bit complicated. Let me recount the things that have happened in the brief history of my account…

1. Ordered online with a promotion offer (ordered with a landline phone service and had billing through the phone bill).

2. Got billed wrong amount, turned out they never applied the online promotion to my account.

3. Got an account credit of $60 to cover the promotion discount for 6 months. Also got my Target gift card mysteriously after complaining that I had not yet received it after my 12 weeks or service.

4. Ported my landline phone service to a VOIP provider.

5. Switched my billing method to credit card after phone service was ported away from Verizon.

6. Got a letter from Verizon saying I was in default and my account was terminated and sent to a collection agency.

7. Called CS AGAIN and found that my account is ok afterall, they had some kind of mixup with the other CSR that processed the port. My account is in good standing and no balance is due.

So as you can see, its been fun! I love FIOS internet, its fast, reliable and perfect for my home network, but dealing with a big company like Verizon is such a pain.

When you call in to customer service, you get a rep after going through their aweful phone system, and then they find out I’m in Florida and have to transfer me. I finally get someone in Florida and they tell me they can’t help me because they are normal Verizon and have to send me to a FIOS rep. I finally get a FIOS rep and then they have problems finding my billing history and account information. Its all straightened out now though, so I can take a breath of fresh air and not have to worry about this account any longer… until next month that is when they screw up my bill again.

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Crazy night

Last night was absolutely crazy from the time I got home, until I went to bed. It all started when I walked in the door and found the house to be almost 85 degrees inside. Liz had just left, and so I started checking out the system, resetting breakers, etc. Nothing I did would work, and so I resorted to checking the phone book to find the numbers of a good after hours A/C contractor. I found one of the ads for one of the companies we had out before A-Able. I called and they said someone could be out in a few hours. I gave us messing with it myself, and decided to make myself some dinner. I baked up one of those frozen pizzas from the California Pizza Kitchen. I must say I’m not a fan of frozen pizza, but the ones from the California Pizza Kitchen are really good. They are actually pretty close to the originals you can get at the restaurant. I love the Marguerita pizza, and its really good, even for a frozen pizza.

During all this commotion with the A/C I notice a car parked next door that looked suspicious. I saw some people going through the gate and they were playing with the pool supplies, and opening shed doors and stuff. As far as I knew this house was still vacant, and the kids in the neighborhood have been screwing around with the for sale sign for months, so I did notice it was missing, but it could have also been taken by the kids. So I called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report something suspicious. I explained what I saw and that I thought the house was supposed to be vacant. About an hour or so later, a deputy finally arrived, and I met him at the garage door of my house, told him what I thought and he went to check it out. A little later he came back by my house and explained that they were the new renters and everything was on the up and up. I was concerned because we’ve had kids breaking into that yard through the fence to swim, and they mess around with the for sale sign, and we are afraid something will happen while they are back there, and no one would know they were there and someone could get hurt. So I assumed it was the same situation here, and was just trying to make sure this wasn’t someone breaking into the house. Especially since I didn’t see anyone use the front door, only the door in the fence (which the lock is broken). I chatted with the officer for a few minutes and then he left. I felt aweful calling the cops on my new neighbors. What a terrible first impression. And they knew it was me I’m sure since I was talking to the officer in my driveway.

Then the A/C guy gets to the house and walks in and I tell him about whats going on, and he says that its nothing but a clogged drain. He pulls out the end of a sensor and empties some built up water, and then we turn the air switch back on and the pump kicks on and the unit starts cooling. I felt like an idiot! At least I know there are two drains now, there is one outside and one inside, I had checked the outside drain, but didn’t know to check the inside one. The system still won’t cool properly, so he came again today and checked it out and agrees with the other two opinions we’ve had. Everyone is telling us we need to replace the pump outside. The bad news is that this is going to cost!!! I got a quote from a guy on craigslist offering to install a 4 ton pump for $1500 everything included. So I am going to follow up with that, make sure he can accept credit card payment, and then see about getting some prices from one other place.

Then Liz’s mom called me and I helped her with some issues with their new computer.

During all of this, I was also running around the house with the hand vac chasing down little winged insects that somehow decided to swarm in my house. I’m not sure what they are, but there were a lot of them and I had to go around the house several times sucking them up with the hand vac. I’d get done going around once, empty the hand vac outside, put it down for a little while, then I’d walk out in the play room and find more, so I’d have to repeat the whole process again. I finally got most of them I guess, and then shortly thereafter Liz and the kids got home. They were late and didn’t get home till after 9pm. We got the kids to bed, and talked about our crazy days for a few minutes, then it was off to get ready for bed. What a day!

A Credit Card Miracle

We have a special promotional balance on my Citicard Credit Card. Its one of those touchy offers that if you are late on a payment or do even the slightest “oopsy” they jack up your rate and charge you a really high late fee. We went through this once in 2005 I think, when our bank payment didn’t go through for some reason, and it took weeks of dealing with them on the phone and trying to straighten things out. They jacked up our rate to almost 30%!

Well the other day, we forgot to schedule the most recent payment to the card. I happened to think to check the due date, and found that it was due that day! By the time I realized this, it was after 5pm and officially the payment wouldn’t post to my account until the following Monday. I knew for sure that they were going to jack up our rate to some rediculous number, and charge us a late fee. Well I called customer service, made the payment via phone, the rep did not understand my questions about the rate and how it would be affected.

So over the weekend I checked my account after my next statement was generated, and was amazed to find that they actually credited my account with the payment on the due date! My rate was normal, there was no late fee, only a small pay by phone fee. So everything is ok. Needless to say, I’ve setup an automatic payment in by bill pay to take care of it from now on. We had been meaning to automate that payment anyway. But it was a scare there for a little while. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to get rid of this account.

Last minute change of plans

I took vacation days for Thursday, Friday – Monday and Tuesday to close on our houses and get moved in to the new house. So on Thursday morning I was off of work, Liz and I went to New Tampa and picked up the moving truck. We had purchased several items online and needed to go pick them up, so we headed out to Brandon to pickup our new couch set. We got there and the people were really nice and we had no trouble loading the new set. We left there and tried to find a place to stop and get a money order, because I was a few hundred short of the cash I needed to pay for the next item. We found an Amscot where we were going to try to buy a money order, but we only had a check and credit cards with us. They would not let us buy a money order since they deal strictly with cash. So we went to Lakeland anyway to pickup my new TV!!! I bought a 57″ Hitachi Big Screen. I got a great deal on it, it came with a matching entertainment center too. So there were two guys there at the house we picked it up from who helped us load it onto the truck. It took a while and lots of effort, but we managed to get the TV and entertainment center out of the house and onto the truck. I skinned up a knuckle hauling that monster, since we had to pick it up to get over dips and when moving at angles. We secured the TV to the side of the truck and went on our merry way. We only made it a short distance when we heard loud bang from the back of the truck. We pulled over to find the bungie cords we used had come undone. We re-secured the TV this time with rope and more blankets to protect it from any further impacts. Eventually it settled down and we made it back to Tampa in one piece. But something else happened on our way back to Tampa…

As we were leaving and about to get back on I4 to go home, we were sitting at a traffic light on Florida about to turn onto Memorial to get back to I4. Suddenly lots of police kept zooming by us, probably 10-15 cars, we had no idea what was going on. We saw tons of cops, an ambulance, lots of unmarked cars, and just a lot of police activity. We finally made it onto Memorial and were going down the road when we saw lots of people standing on the sides of the road and more police activity. We made it by the police as they just were coming out to stop traffic. We went a little further and saw motorcycle cops driving up and down the road looking for something. We went on our way and didn’t think much more of it. When we got back to Tampa, we heard what happened. Some guy (they think a drug dealer) shot two police officers and a dog. The dog and one of the police officers died and the other office is in critical condition. Last night there was a $15,000 reward for the capture of this guy. This morning, it was up to $40,000. I just now (at the time of writing this post) heard that they found the guy (think he was hiding in the woods) and they shot and killed him. So we were right there in Lakeland when all this happened just moments after it took place.

So we made it back to Tampa and decided to stop by the new house and drop off our loot into the garage. We were told to call the sellers agent for the code to the keypad of the garage door so we could get inside and unload out things. We tried calling and got her voicemail. We called over and over and were about to give up and leave after being there for about 30 minutes. Liz’s mom had just arrived to pick us up so we could leave the truck there until we heard from the sellers agent, just then the phone rang and it was her with the garage code. So we opened the door and unloaded the TV and entertainment center with the couch we got. Then we took the truck back to our house and were going to start loading more onto the truck. Liz had to leave at 2:30 to pickup Sarah from school, so she ate something quickly and left. Liz’s mom also left around that time. That left me home alone to load the truck. I was going to get as much loaded as I could and take a load to the garage so that when help came later, all we had left to move would be last minute things and the larger items I need help with. Well, once Liz left I got ready to go outside and haul stuff into the truck. I took my keys out of my pockets, and put my cell phone on the desk. I didn’t want to have a lot of stuff on me while moving. So I went outside and closed the door behind me. I didn’t realize until a few minutes later that I had just locked myself out of the house with no keys, no phone and no way back inside until Liz got back. Now Liz had to go take Sarah straight to Amanda’s house so she could watch the kids while we moved stuff. She also had to feed michael before she came back. So Liz didn’t come rescue me from my own stupidity until around 4:20pm. We originally thought that Thursday would be our only moving day since we had to be out of there for closing the next morning. So I was in a rush to get stuff loaded and moved, and was rather distraught that I had lost almost 2 hours of my moving time by locking myself out of the house. So Liz got home, and started to pack up more last minute things and I started loading more stuff onto the truck. I had put some things that were on the back porch in the truck already. Around 4:30 we got a call from our realtor, who said there was a delay on the buyers side and they were looking at a Wednesday closing now. So we had to unload what I had loaded onto the truck already, and help Liz finish getting what she needed. I then took the truck back to New Tampa and dropped it off. Liz took some things to Amanda’s house and they got Pizza for dinner. I got back from New Tampa to Amanda’s house around 8pm. I ate and helped get the kids to bed and left around 9:30. I spent the night alone at our old house since we still had most of our things in there. I didn’t want to leave it all there alone.

I got up this morning and came to work a little early so I could eat breakfast in the break room, since they provide pastries and bagels and such every Friday morning. Liz originally left me some milk so I could have some cereal for breakfast, but forgot to leave me some cereal. So I was stuck at the house with no food. I had a bagel and creme cheese for breakfast along with a yummy cheese danish.

I then got a call this morning from our realtor again with a few updates. Apparently I was not told of two more repairs to our house the buyers wanted done. Now I have to patch one more crack in the garage floor (which is normal in FL for a new house) and replace the air filter in the return on our hallway. The buyer is going to do his walkthrough on Monday while the appraiser is there.

So now we have reserved the moving truck for Saturday and Sunday just in case. Hopefully on Saturday we can get all of our stuff moved out of the house into the garage of the new house. I am meeting my realtor to get the truck at 9am tomorrow morning. This should be a fun weekend! And its killing me, I have that nice 57″ TV sitting in the new garage and no way to play with it until Wednesday! 😦 Maybe I will take my DVD player and some cables with me tonight and hook it up just to see it play. I’m so impatient.]]>

Bad Neighborhood??

It didn’t take us long to realize that even though our house was the nicest one (as far as condition and age) that we had ever had, but our neighborhood left much to be desired. We discovered lewd music being played very loud at all hours of the day and night, we found beak-in attempts on my truck parked in my driveway just off the street!!! Drug dealers and gang bangers and barred stores all over. Suddenly things didn’t seem so nice as they had after just coming from a much worse place.

Its been a year this March (almost there). We still don’t like the neighborhood, and desperately want to move. We are embarrassed to have people over for fear that they might be afraid of the area. We have one year left to live in this house before we are going to try to sell it and move to a nicer area. I’m sincerely hoping that home values will rise enough by the time I’m ready to sell that we could take the equity in the home sale and use it to pay off all our debt. This is not so far fetched and we’ve done it once before. We bought the house for $131,000 and they are already selling now for upwards of $160 in some areas. Our neighborhood definately has something to do with the value, but hopefully by next March I’ll be able to get about $169K from the sale of our home. If that happens, we will be able to pay off all our bills, and have a few K left over to put down on a new home and pay all closing costs in cash. This would also allow me to finally trade my truck in for a car with a working heater! I know that sounds funny coming from someone who lives in FL, but lately in the mornings it can get pretty chilly! I’ve had ice on my windshield for the past two mornings now. And the heater in my truck is broken.

Should this plan work out, and we can pay off all our debt, and do the things I just mentioned; then we are aced with a new challenge. First, we have to find a new home, but not just any home, it again will need certain features. It will need to be in a nicer neighborhood, in a good location close enough to my work and Sarah’s school. And of course we can’t wander too far from Temple Terrace!

The reason I want to wait until two years has passed is that I don’t want to pay capitol gains tax, which would cut into my available funds to get out of debt. I’ve managed to acquire a bit of debt over the years. I’ve got three credit cards, a few store cards (all with $0 balances), a student loan, a truck (auto) loan, and a few minor medical bills. Not to mention my mortgages, but they don’t really count. Once all this is paid off with the sale of our home, we will much more available monthly spendable income to use towards the mortgage of a more expensive house in a better area. This will also provide the funds for sending Sarah and Abby both to private school. It will also enable us to do the things I want so badly to do, such as take a family vacation somewhere nice. Perhaps take a few trips a year somewhere with the kids and do something fun.

Individually, I do fairly well in my profession. I’ve been in IT for over 8 years now, I make good enough money (though in my area there are higher paying jobs for which I qualify). The thing that sets us apart, is that Liz doesn’t work, not at all outside the home. This presents a challenge for me to maximize my income to provide for my family on my own without the income of a spousourselvese. Most families these days must have both parents working just to make it. I’ve been blessed that I have been able to make enough money to support my family on a single income. This is very difficult and we often find ourselves down to just a few dollars in the bank more than a few times each year. (in between pay periods). This presents its own challenges, for example, at work some of the guys like to go out and eat lunch sometimes several times a week. This is something I just cannot afford to do. Also we are limited in the activities we can provide for our kids, we haven’t been to Disney or Sea World or been on any weekend trips or done much of anything that requires more than $100 (and thats high). I really want to provide more experiences for my kids, I want to travel with them on family vacations, take them to interesting places and expose them to the world around them. There is a lot of beauty in the creation we are surrounded by, most of which I haven’t seen either. Hopefully one day, money won’t be so tight that we keep telling ourselves “we can’t afford to do that or go there”.

So lookout, come next March the Church Family might be moving to a neighborhood near you!

🙂
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