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I have never in my life had the misfortune to work with a company with service as poor as this misbegotten excuse for a telecommunications provider. Ever since they bought SBC (which was no great shakes to begin with), our phone service has been a downhill slide into a stinking mire of service issues. We have had our service cut off. We have had our unlimited long distance converted to a per-minute plan and received multi-thousand dollar phone bills with no notice. We have lost service inexplicably. Our DSL costs MORE than cable for less speed and iffy connectivity.

They always apologize, but what good is an apology when nothing changes in the future? I don’t want an apology, I want good service!

Now we’re moving. What could be more fun than another phone problem? Answer: Three phone problems!

  1. At first they refused to speak with anybody but the owner of our business. Come on people, do you really expect to talk to the ‘owner’ of HP or IBM when they call for phone service? We’re not paying $30 a month for a residential line here, and we’re certainly not paying to get ME on the line to move phone lines with everything else on my plate.
  2. Then they told us we couldn’t keep our phone number. In the next town over. What? What business moves and discards its phone number? Oh, wait, no, sorry, we can keep it, but for a rate so high it must burn its wings, a Daedalian offering in the telecom world. It’s actually cheaper to reprint all our business cards and letterhead.
  3. Finally, despite telling them in VERY clear terms that we’re moving on the 15th, and we want to transfer on that day so we don’t disrupt our own customer service, we’ve just discovered that over the weekend all of our phone lines and DSL service have been shut off. All of them. I suppose we shouldn’t have expected a company for whom customer service is a vague mystery one reads about in books to understand our OWN determination to provide good customer service.

What choice do we have? Not much, in the past, but recently VoIP services have produced better business offerings, and you can bet we’ll be exploring them. Now it’s becoming MUCH clearer why traditional phone companies are fighting VoIP so much. It’s not that customers are switching to get better rates – phone companies are great at competing on price. It’s that they know they can’t compete on service, so retaining monopolistic control over a market is their only hope of staying in business.

AT&T, you get our fax lines, but you can kiss a business customer goodbye for the rest of our account.

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Yes, I own a Ford, a 2001 Ranger pickup, to be exact. In my particular model they have to remove the bed of the truck to replace the fuel pump, which doesn’t sound like something you’d do often until it happens to you. I’ve never owned a car in which the fuel pump died, but there seems to be a healthy aftermarket in Ford pumps. I’d have changed it myself but time’s a-wastin’ with the move rapidly approaching and the new company just starting to get off the ground.

So, some distractions and not much done on the plane. Tomorrow I hope to complete the reinforcing layups between the firewall and the aft landing gear bulkhead. John has built up a bit of a rim inside the landing light area to hold the Plexiglas cover, which we’ll install with RTV. We’re making progress, slowly but surely.

It will be a challenge to get anything done in the next few weeks. For several years I’ve built where I’ve worked, which lets me do bits and pieces during the day – immensely valuable for keeping the project moving along. Now that I’ve two kids, this is basically the only build time I have left.

Time marches on, however, and as the plane project grows, so has our company. We’ve reached a point where it’s no longer practical to live in what amounts to a nice but spartan warehouse, and are moving to new quarters. When we do, it won’t make any sense to rent a 4000 sq. ft. building to build a Cozy (ha!) so we’ll move it to the hangar. That’s going to be a major project since we have more than your average number of parts – two fuselages, three wings, lots of spare build foam, etc. Building will also be slowed down by proximity to John Slade’s Cozy, as we’ll be sharing the same hangar.

Still, it’s for the best, and we’ll have plenty of space to complete the build. With some luck and hard work, the primary structure will be completed this year, while it’s warm and we don’t need to heat the space as much, leaving the engine and avionics to complete over the winter. That would get me flying by 2008. Fingers crossed!

I’ve moved the project to a blog, to try to keep it up to date more often without as much overhead as my last site required. To see why I made this move, click here.