Uber’s Response

[This is a follow up to my earlier post about this issue.]

Over the weekend, Uber’s escalations team replied to the ongoing email thread, though the reply was basically the same as all their others. At least this one did not try to say that it was because I had explicitly opted not to use the credit, but their position is still “tough luck – we changed it, didn’t tell you and we don’t care.” Not a great bit of customer service.

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Uber’s Amex Credits Scam

One of the benefits that comes with my American Express card is a monthly $15 Uber credit. I don’t use it often, but on our recent trip to Florida, the timing worked perfectly for us to make use of it for both our trip to the airport at the very end of September and on the return about 10 days later in early October.

It appears that during our trip Uber made a change to the way this scheme works (although at least some of their support people seem unaware of that).

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TriNet Experiences

It has been just over a year now that we have had TriNet as our HR service at work, and my opinion of them gets worse & worse with each interaction. There are definitely a few bright points, but still my overall advice for any small company thinking about using them would be simply, don’t. That is from an employee perspective of course, but hopefully when choosing something like this the employee experience is an important element too.

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United Accounting

We recently called United Airlines to see if there was any way to get an award ticket that had been issued with a return via LA changed to one that was a direct flight since the traveller was a teenager who has never flown alone before & was not confident of changing planes in an unknown airport.

The representative we spoke with was very helpful, and said he had managed to move her return to the direct flight without it costing any more money or additional miles (something we had asked several times). He confirmed that the total number of miles needed for her round trip would still be 25,000. The same as the original booking with the plane change.

We also received a receipt confirming the booking, the direct flights and the cost (both the $5 fee and 25,000 miles) just as the representative had stated on the telephone. That receipt is still visible in the web portal too (I have blocked out all the personal info):

However, when we next happened to be logged in to the MileagePlus website, we noticed they had refunded the 25,000 miles for the original booking and debited 37,500 for the new itinerary – taking 50% more miles from the account than their customer service representative had stated, and 50% more than the receipt / confirmation they had issued for the booking stated the trip would cost:


OK, thinking it must have been a misunderstanding, we called, only to be told there was nothing they could do. It was a mistake they had corrected. You might expect somebody to call and confirm that deducting more miles was OK, or at least send an email. Or even issue a new receipt with the corrected amount. But, no. They did none of those things. They just took the extra miles, presumably hoping we wouldn’t notice? Also notice the activity doesn’t show the correction as a separate transaction – it seems to suggest that they actually deducted 37,500 at the same time they issued a receipt for just 25,000. I wonder if they are that lax with all their financials? If we’d been paying money for this, could they have just billed the credit card 50% more than they show on the receipt?

Anyway, I contacted the Twitter support team (having found that social media support groups are generally more responsive at other companies). They took all the info (over private DMs) and after a bit of back & forth, came back with this:

Sounds promising. At least they can see that the receipt still shows 25,000 and something is amiss. But then, 21 minutes later, they came back with this:

No explanation for the mismatch between the receipt and the amount debited from the account. Just a repeat of the statement that they can’t honor the receipt / confirmation they issued (and still show online). Wonder what would have happened if the miles were not there. Would they have called, or just quietly canceled the ticket and let us find that out at check in time?

Customer Service

Most companies, if they made a mistake like this would simply apologize and refund the difference. But not United it seems. They would prefer to upset a customer (and I should note that the customer who booked the flight in this case is a gold card holder who travels all over the world with United for work) over 12,500 miles.

Of course, you could argue that we are still getting a free flight, and the miles were in the account, but the miles in question were coming from another family member’s account as a favour & he only had 25,000 spare (the remainder being ‘reserved’ for a trip later in the year). Now we are left trying to sort this out; most likely we will just cancel the ticket entirely and see what other options there are. Ideally that would be on an airline that actually cares about their customers, and especially their most loyal ones, and doesn’t make promises they can’t keep. Can’t see myself trusting United again after this.

Successful People & Early Mornings

I keep reading articles like this one on Entrepreneur.com today telling me all these things that successful people do before breakfast, or how successful people are up every day before the sun working etc, etc. But I am very definitely not a morning person! Waking up at 5am every day would, I am certain, shorten my life (and perhaps it is also shortening theirs).

Currently, the days when I am going in to the office start around 7:30am. My goal is to be out of the house at 8am and to walk to the ferry terminal (about 10-15 minutes walking). The 20 minute ride to San Francisco is mostly social time for me – chatting with the other regulars on the boat. My 30 minute BART ride from San Francisco down to San Bruno is my time to read emails and catch up on overnight Facebook, Twitter etc. My walk to the office is usually time for a phone call (yay for bluetooth headphones!), but it also gets me some more walking time.

A full day at the office, leaving at 5:30pm for the return commute (BART & ferry again most days, with the walk home) getting me home at 7pm. Dinner, some playtime and bedtime for the toddler takes a while. So by midnight I am just getting ready to start work on my personal apps business. My goal is 2-3 hours on that before getting to bed at 3am. Only manage that a couple of times a week these days though 🙁

After reading Timothy Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week and listening to a few podcasts in a similar vein (e.g. Solopreneur Hour), I am thinking that anybody working the sorts of hours these articles suggest is missing the point somewhat. I notice that a few did mention spending time with their families, but it didn’t seem like much time (45 minutes over breakfast, or some time in the evening).

If I could afford it, I would love to be at home all day with my kids; or, for the one in pre-school, be there to drop him off and pick him up every day. I guess success is measured in different ways. To me, not having to work for somebody else would be success enough!