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21st Century

Among the things that’s been frustrating me lately, is that, not only am I broke, but I don’t know exactly how broke. When I got back, two bank statements were missing. Quicken can’t handle the simple concept of reconciling things out of order. Actually, Quicken is very Microsofty, even more than Windows, in that if you don’t do it the way they have set for you, you’ll be forever haunted by it. I still have a huge batch of statements from “1902” that I tried to “import” from my last finance manager, that show up every time I load Quicken, because there’s no way to get rid of them, short of clicking on each in turn and clicking several times to confirm that I want it gone.

Bastards.

Anyway, I went to WaMu.com to look up my old statements online. Nope, they only show the last and the current statement. Why? Because if you want to see anything older, they already have a racket where you pay $4 for them to mail one to you. I ordered the two missing statements online.

A few days ago my latest statement arrived, which Quicken can’t reconcile, because I’m missing two of the earlier statements. This statement has charges for the two statements I ordered, even though I never received those. Today I called Washington Mutual to ask what’s up? They said they sent those to my California address, and I should harass the Post Office.

Ah, yes, the Post Office. When I moved back to Mountain View I got all 21st Century and went to their web site to set mail to forward to Mountain View. It costs $1 to do it on the web, though I figured this is better and faster that going down to the Post Office to wait in line, except after you fill it out, it then tells you that it will take a week to process. Say what? It is as if the “web enabled” feature takes the information you fill out, gives it to someone with a typewriter, who fills out the form, and mails it in to the Post Office, which hands it to someone who takes that data and feeds it into a computer.

So, mom says that she received a letter telling her that mail was forwarding. I’m not sure why she received this in Chicago, because they’ve only ever mailed such notices to my new address. A few days later, I received another in Mountain View, and I figured everything was right. Well, except, only about half of the mail that has been addressed to Mountain View actually shows up here. The other half seems to disappear into the void.

I’d been trying to work this out with the Post Office. I wrote them on their web site, they said I had to call the Post Office in Chicago. I asked them what telephone number should I dial, and they said that I could find out on the web site. I called Chicago, and the woman seemed very shocked at my problem, put me on hold, and then told me that I had to call before 9AM to speak with a letter carrier. The only correct answer to any problem is that someone else knows the correct answer to the problem.

I wrote another complaint on a different part of the Post Office web site, explaining how crappy this service was. They said that my problem had been referred to the local office, and someone would get back to me about this. That was five days ago.

Today I called the Mountain View Post Office, to find out what’s up. “Oh, you have to cancel the old forwarding,” meaning, the forward order I’d put in to shunt my mail to Chicago before I left on my trip. She said I could fill out the form at the Post Office.

So, I went down to the Post Office and stood in line to cancel the forwarding so that my mail could forward to Mountain View, and not come up missing every other day. When I got up to the lady, she had to go to the next counter over to find the form, which was a “request to forward mail” that had space to cancel an old forwarding request, and set up a new one. This seemed extremely straightforward, and hopefully my mail will start to turn up.

Maybe … I suspect the problems still aren’t over. Meanwhile, I need my bank statements, and I also need my phone bill from T-Mobile so I can send in for my rebates on my Danger Sidekick before the rebates expire. I called T-Mobile, who were very slick about it, informing me that the bill had been sent out, for such and such amount, to Chicago, which they had somehow magically determined to be my address even though they had sent my Sidekick to Mountain View. Okay, could you send me a fresh copy of the bill to Mountain View? No problem! After all, they make money only after I receive their bill, not by charging me to see my account history, like Washington Mutual’s “no-fee” checking account.

One piece of mail I did sucessfully receive was from Progressive explaining to me that they’d pulled my driving record, and discovered that the at-fault comprehensive claim I made in September, 2001, was due to an unsafe turn, therefor my premium for the year was up by $281, due immediately. I called Progressive, to make sure that they had the exact right explanation of the incident, to make sure that I wasn’t being charged for my own confusion from trying to guess which box on the web was correct when I signed up for the policy. Nope, everything is correct. Okay, I don’t have $281 right now, can I switch to periodic billing for this one-year coverage? No … but since you’ve already paid the bulk of the premium, they won’t actually threaten to cancel anything until I run out of pre-paid premium … so, I could get away with ignoring their warning letters for a while. They might get pissy and charge me a $5 late fee, which would be consistent with the slightly-higher cost of going in installments anyway. Gee whiz, okay.

What I mean to express in all this rambling, of course, is to never ever ever do your business through the USPS web site because not only is it slower that going down to the Post Office and standing in line for twenty minutes in the 18th Century way, but they also wont fill the form out properly to get your mail forwarded along to the correct address. After this, the only mail you receive will be mail you never really had to receive in the first place, and all the really important mail that you paid $4 apiece for will disappear into the void.

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