Monday, April 13, 2015

Neato robot vaccums are cool Neato customer service are NOT.

We bought a Neato robotic vacuum from Woot! as scratch & dent sale. Supposedly in "as new" condition with possible cosmetic issues. The only thing we could see was a scratch on the small round top piece. We loved it for the first few monitored runs. Alas, it died after a week. Troubleshooting with Neato tech support, batteries were ID'd as the issue. Rather than wait for them to warranty them in 14-18 days (first warning!) we bought replacements off Amazon with Prime 2 day shipping. Indeed, that solved the problem for another 3 cleanings (second warning!) at which point they said we needed to pay $26 to have them ship us up a replacement and ship this one back. The replacement they sent is a model down. No big, we already bought extra filters and brushes, we'll just upgrade them on the one they shipped. Alas, this one dies in less than a run after a full day charge. As in, fully dead. Won't charge, won't respond at ALL. Faint green light when docked but otherwise utterly unresponsive. They offer to ship the replacement at their expense after we pitch a complete fit that they shipped a ****** defective piece of work. Mind you, this takes 10 days. They are a 1 day UPS and FedEx from my HOUSE. I can drive to their doorstep in 6 hours in zero hurry dealing including dealing with bad traffic. It still takes them 10 days to get us a refurbished replacement that is again a model level down from the that refurbished model we purchased. The last one they send is the uh.... absolute worst of the whole bunch. It staggers around for two minutes and then stops. Stuck wheel. There are forums for this, but nothing doing on the advice those offer. We watched it, physically monitored our awesome new toy. It got a total of 17 sq. ft. of floor cleaned across all of the resets we did before it finally begged to be put to bed. And the 1.8 sq. ft,. it cleaned the following day, under supervision. Mind you -this is on nearly spotless hardwood floor. Also, to be very very clear on the above technical support: there are levels of ridiculousness that defy belief when dealing with Neato! support staff. Absolutely brain-dead questions and instructions from their call center team. It is literally ridiculous. They do not understand even the simplest questions you ask. And when they do try to answer them, the answers they provide are even worse. Calling the Neato support staff worthless would be an insult to those who actually deserve the effort to label them as such. To be so sensitive and kind to such completely inept call center people, and then be treated like we aren't capable of being their customers is pure craziness. What does Neato say about the stuck wheel? To quote from a supervisor when we had to escalate it "Neato will refund you for this vacuum and is ending the relationship with you. We will send you a check and a call tag to return the vacuum." A week passes. Neato customer service denies the above conversation occurred. They offer to submit a request to review the offer and see if they can get someone to "approve it". Zero record of this occurring, apparently. Calling back reveals that even the conversation immediately prior (2 days time) has not occurred and the rep this time offers to try to get someone to approve the return. Oh, he can confirm that we've been fired as customers, but he can't tell me why. He's nice enough about it. Since we are "fired as a customer" he's "definitely gotta send out a call tag." Two more days pass, we're still in limbo. And this is with a promise, once they FINALLY get the vacuum back, that they'll refund us TWO MONTHS after that, assuming they don't find ANYTHING wrong with the busted garbage refurbished Neato that they sent us. Called again, they have confirmed they are going to send a call tag. That was a week ago and we've had radio silence from them since. Woot at this point denies any responsibility. The warranty for defective vacuums through Woot! is 21 days. And I believe that's from the time you purchase, not the time you receive it so we're totally out of luck now. You get 60 days warranty if you pay with a visa debit as we did, but we weren't "fired as a customer" until 64 days had passed so Woot is just "sorry for your experience, there is nothing we can do." Finally, assuming that Neato DOES offer you a refund for their LEMON GARBAGE VACUUM REFURBISHED RETURN RIPOFF SCAM HASSLE OVERPRICED UNREPAIRED DEFECTIVE WARRANTY POLICY VOIDED and many other keywords I think should be associated with Neato and their vacuums, be aware: It takes SIX to EIGHT WEEKS for them to process the refund. Again you need to bear in mind that is from the date they receive the returned broken refurbished Neato vacuum which you send them. To be clear, when all is said and done, they keep our $160 for 2 months in their bank account, plus the cost of the batteries and the first and last return shipping costs. Nice. That's a great scam, you jerks. Woot! could at LEAST give some sort of escalation path for this issue, that's all we are asking... You sell enough of the worthless broken refurbished Neato vacuums that you can spare a few keystrokes to make this whole thing disappear? That's the amazing mod staff of the old woot, not the deaf, corporate mumbo jumbo ears that we get now. For all future purchasers, your credit card warranty is definitely something to look at before you ever make a purchase from Woot! or Neato or of a substantial appliance in the future. All we wanted was a working vacuum. Hardwood floors and a small bit of tile with cats here. This vacuum worked good, WHEN it worked. Don't buy from Woot! unless you've got some solid backup through your credit card company because to us it appears they have screwed us over in favor of Neato. I make it my mission now to tell others - Neato will screw you. Definitely avoid their products, they will try to buy your silence with refunds and then they will resell your old broken vaccum (refubished or not) to the next sucker down the line. Very unethical, as is the new Woot! Disclaimer: - We are both smart people. - We are not about the money. The money is not the issue. We do okay financially but having some jerkwad company sit on our money for TWO MONTHS because they don't WANT to send us a working flipping vaccum? Again, this is not about the money. - We sanitize our house for the vacuum, before it ever runs. - We read the manuals. Literally RTFM. All of them. And we likewise try and grok the spirit in which they were written as well, because assuredly not all of them own English as a native tongue. Vacuum is a language a couple of OCD people speak. Never mind the three cats. - Neither of us is anything above sub-passive when working with technical support or customer service staff on the phone or in person - we are the least aggressive folks towards the service industry that you can imagine. That said, sorry for the long ramble, others need to know how about this. I say this to mean people AT WOOT! and/or Amazon need to step up and fix this bullshit. Literally hours of my life on the phone with them, just trying to get a working robotic vacuum after giving Woot! our money! The least I can do is some expository review of their company policies and processes so others can learn to avoid Neato products (and especially avoid buying them through Woot!) else they will likewise have a very NEGATIVE experience with Neato.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Does it blend?

My old standard cab Nissan Hardbody D21 2WD 4cyl truck was rather nice.
I had spent nearly $20k over 10 years modifying it to suit my desires:
Bucket seats.
Decent stereo.
Tinted windows.
Larger wheels.
Low-profile sticky tires.
Big, highly effective brakes.
Polyurethane bushings.
Tuned spring rates, sway bars, etc.
Modified motor.
Aftermarket clutch, driveline, rearend, etc.
Reduced weight body and chassis.

Some goddamn fuck-tard piece of shit ass-borne dick-less monkey(s) stole it out of my driveway September 2010.

Well, I got shit back for my insurance. Thanks, Progressive. I love you too...
Anyway, I bought two stock trucks from my insurance payout. I've been modifying one of them to make it as good as,  if not better than, my old one.

Thankfully, it came with a new clutch and newish brakes. At least, it hooks up under irresponsible power shifting and stops relatively well given the sad stock wheel/tire combo.

So far, all I have done is:
New grille, front bumper, clear corner lights, clear turn signals. Stock bits were hashed.
3" drop leaf springs from Stillen
3" drop control arms from DJM.
KYB GR-2 shocks,
Polyurethane leaf-spring bushings, upper and lower polyurethane front control arm bushings,
New upper and lower ball joints,
Addco front and rear sway bars.
Painted the chassis, replaced some engine sensors.
Removed the rear bumper in place of a stock filler plate and license-plate holder in the interest of saving weight. Wrong end to save weight, I know.
All told, it goes, it turns, it stops.

My next steps in upgrades, not really in any particular order:

Wheels and tires.
-I learned my lesson about Titan rims - they are uncomfortable to ride on the daily. Instead, I have NISMO 16x7. They are basically Rays TE37 with a NISMO sticker on them:

- I also have some Pathfinder 15" chromies for daily use, just need some sticky rubber.

Rear LSD from a Pathfinder.
- I have one now. It has disk brakes, as well.
- I will have to remove the rear brake proportioning system to accommodate. Oh well.
- This is not a bolt-in. It requires chopping off about a dozen brackets, grinding down the housing, welding on spring perches. It also needs a custom driveshaft made from V6 Hardbody flange combined with a 4 cylinder shaft in order to make it work.

KA24DE motor from a S14 240SX.
- Purchased two complete motors and harnesses. Plus a transmission and some other accessories.
- 6 puck stage 3 clutch, should hold to 400 HP
- Lightweight pulley set.
- Still need to buy:
--Oilpan (cut and paste front sump 240sx pan flange with truck sump.)
--front cover/oil pump
--water pump
--timing chain

- I intend to move to a large plenum intake and use a eBay turbo kit to do the initial fitment. Figure 250 HP to the wheels.  After it works, I'll fortify the spare block and invest in a name brand snail.

- It looks like it'll be a very rough satin black with a ghost Ratsun logo in the tailgate.

- Some nice buckets that might allow my 6'7" frame to clear the headliner.

- Upgraded rotors and pads. Use the 2WD HD rotors and calipers, not the Pathfinder ones else it doesn't bolt up. Drilled is great for cooling but has the potential to crack. Slotted is much less likely to crack. I got drilled and slotted rotors front and rear, plated as well for appearance.

- I am torn on tint. I like the privacy it affords but I know it attracts the attention of the police.

Stereo, I'm just going to try and do the same thing I had before.
- 2 x 6.5" 3-way speakers in the doors
- 2x 4"x9" 3-ways in the B-pillars behind the doors,
- 10" rear-firing sub in the center
- 4x250W amp for the components
- 1x500W for the sub.
More than loud enough.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Heidi's of Gresham

Breakfast today was Heidi's of Gresham. This is an old-school place done up all Alpine-lodge Germanic/Austrian/Switzerland style. It seems to appeal to both young and old, and has an attached "lounge". Other amenities include a wall o' greeting cards and an extensive gift shop. There are additional knick-knacks and tchotckes for sale throughout.

When I say it appeals I mean the lot is packed, and you have to wait in the lobby to get a seat. I see the same phenomenon at every Denny's I've ever been to (back before I appreciated food...) In retrospect, this should have been a warning, but my previous dining experience here had been so unremarkable that I didn't remember it. I had to go back and try it again. I continue to hold out hope that there is a dining area of excellence somewhere in my section of the city. That hope grows fainter every day. Good job, Gresham/Troutdale/Fairview/Happy Valley/Oregon City/Molalla/Wilsonville/Milwaukie/etc...

There is a pastry case on either side as you stand in line to get to the dining area, which I'm sure must improve their sales of those items. They didn't look any different than the same pastries at any grocery store, so I wasn't all that interested. There were some rather large eclairs on display in one of the cases that I was halfway tempted by.

Breaking my fast here entailed a bloody Mary. The mix was weak in all respects, with a very mild horseradish kick. It was a relatively small volume glass, and was dressed with stick of celery, a lime slice, a plain salt rim, and two large but slightly bland green olives. By the book, for sure. What did I expect? There are old people here, you might kill one of 'em if you put any flavor in the food, right?

I also had their coffee. And that is how remarkable it was.

My food came, and the verdict is: straight greasy spoon line cook fare.

I had some delicious ironed hash browns, some serviceable over-medium eggs, a little bit of some salty, fatty cured pork flavored bubble gum they were calling "bacon", and some French toast. The French toast came with a gravy boat full of syrup. Enough syrup to saturate an entire loaf of bread, easy. It had a nice congealing film on the top of it when I went to slop it on my plate. Yum! Also, part of a Florentine omelette which had mushrooms from a can and swiss cheese that was probably purchased in individual plastic wrapped slices (processed, for sure!) The spinach in the omlete was salty, and the eggs tasted vaguely of grilled cheese sandwich. Nice. How weird is it when the hash browns are the high point of your meal?

Once done with breakfast, I went to stand in line again to check out. The prices weren't even all that good, given that it's such mediocre fare.

I have learnt me a lesson for this second visit: DON'T GO LOOKING FOR GOOD FOOD IN GRESHAM! Also, write it down sooner so I don't make the same mistakes over and over. Note to self: you know how to make good hashbrowns. And bacon. And poached eggs. And coffee. And a damn fine bloody mary. What the hell are you doing complaining about places like this?

Heidi's: Take your grandparents there. As an aside, this place felt very similar to the TA truck stop in Fairview, although that breakfast was a buffet and the tables had telephones on them. The rest of the vibe was very similar to me.

Answer to self above: because sometimes you aren't in any state to cook on weekend mornings, but still need calories to hike! Best those calories be tasty and cheap...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random Good Stuff

I've been busy, too busy for posting adventures, but I did want to recommend a really funny and entertaining site: Random Good Stuff. They have a give-away going on now, go check them out! They also have some very entertaining shopping links and some awesome flash games.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Temporary change of direction.

I have to pick a different tack. Changes in the wind dictate a course change. If you know me, this will probably come as no significant surprise. If you are unfortunate enough to lack an RSS feed, you'll prolly not get any further push updates by me, alas! Anyhoo, this site is getting new stuff. Lots of new stuff. It's crazy. It may appeal, it may not - flee if need be this is for me.

I'm going to break it down one time on some gear. I'm also going to flood reviews of hikes, restaurants, beer, etc. All these posts have been held up by the lack of connection since my outside-work internet has been extremely limited for about 6 months now. A story in itself, but that'll require a bit of careful editing - I've just not been diarizing as often as I ought. This current episode might just be the mental fiber need to clear the brain constipation...

What have I been doing during the winter? There is no end to the cool stuff that has happened in this period, and I did record some bits for later autodigestion. I post them shortly.

As far as the new gear that prompted this diarrhea is concerned, it's mostly pretty decent. I shopped it pretty hard. I so got not a ton of money, so these are for you if like relatively affordable high quality stuff.

So it begins:
Cousin Jason's Beer Story
Kershaw Damascus Scallion Frame Lock DLC + Damascus Scallion Frame Lock + F'ing Damascus Steel + Tuf Cloth
Daniel Cash's 1%'er
Hot Shit: Pepper Infused Vodka, Hot Sauce, Dried Peppers + Ketchup Fail
More Hot Shit: Ultimate Bloody Mary
Pocket Gear: Gerber Infinity Ultra 1 AA Light + Gerber Artifact + IDL Tools (both microtool models)
More Pocket Gear: Leatherman - all the good shit.
Desk Gear: Soyo 22" Widescreen Monitors + Razer Diamondback Mouses

Camping Gear: Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag + Sirius 2 Tent + Big Agnes Air Core Sleeping Pad
Drive From Hell: Chico/Stockton/San Francisco Trip + Clutch Slave + Bad Food
Deliciousness: Chico/Oroville/Corning Olives and Oil
Thrifty: Food in the woods + Mushrooms
Extreme hedonism: EaT + Bamboo + Special Occasions + Salty's + Some F'ing No'Po Breakfast Restaurant That Was Actually Really Good
Hikes: Saddle Mtn., Gorge Hike Summary
More Hikes: Plans for Spring/Summer/Fall

Monday, September 29, 2008

Home cooking.

Rather than eat at the roach coach around the corner from my house, last night Loni and I made our own tacos! I'd started some pinto beans soaking in the morning before our hike, and cooked them after I got back in my new stainless pressure cooker (thanks, Emily!)

Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places to buy good food. I got some thick handmade tortillas rather than stack two of the thin ones.
I also grabbed a giant slab of carne asada marinated meat, some Jalapenos, an onion, a bag o' limes.
Still had to get cilantro from Fred Meyers, but that's okay.
Salsa: Jalepeno, garlic, onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt.
Taco: several strips of meat, a couple spoons of beans, and a couple spoons of salsa.
Overall, delicious. Should have got some serrano peppers for the salsa, because the jalepenos weren't that hot. I ate three and was stuffed. They tasted pretty authentic, even though my neighborhood anthrax shack doesn't use beans. Oh well. Fiber is ALWAYS good for you, right?

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Update: Added a habanero and serrano pepper to the salsa, to see if it could be kicked up a notch. The answer is yes. Also added some queso fresco for greater fat content, and cubed the beef for convenience. God, I could fork myself full of those tacos until I died of complete cardiovascular arrest from lipids plugging my pipes. Ahhhh.

Silver Star Mountain from Grouse Vista

Loni and I did Silver Star Mountain today. Our previous attempt a year or two ago failed on account of a painful knee plus running out of water. Current attempt was almost derailed on account of Loni has a cold. She wanted to hike anyway, and since it would otherwise have been a boring day we geared up ad headed out.

3.4 miles to the summit, 1000 vertical feet. It's a breeze exercise-wise, but the large loose rocks on long parts of the trail can be hard on the ankles. In much the same fashion, the road to Grouse Vista is hard on car suspension.

We had much trail munching, with huckleberries, salmonberries, blackberries, and thimbleberries. I also found small patches of chanterelles on the way up and the way back. Omelets for breakfast tomorrow, obviously.

The whole time we were on the trail, we could hear the routine cracking of a rifle at regular intervals. It didn't really affect us, but started to get irritating towards the end. The wind blew my brains out, but the various birds looked like they were having fun performing aerobatics in the gusts.

When we hit the top, it was fairly close to where we'd turned around the time before. So close! Oh well. We'd found fresh bear scat, same as our previous hike up this trail. Next trip, we'll be taking a detour to the Indian pits. We'll probably also do the Tarbell trail on the way up if we come via Grouse Vista.

The view is pretty amazing from up top. There is a concrete foundation on one side of the forked summit, and you can see Adams, Hood, Rainier, and St. Helens. It was sort of hazy, so my pictures don't show the peaks as well as I'd like.

There were some older folks arguing about the hikes they'd done while drinking some wine. Also a pack (herd?) of loud boys and girls wearing almost no clothes and drinking beer on top of the rocks. 6 people doesn't really constitute a herd, I guess. We'll say pack. I was jealous for a second because I didn't have beer, but then I saw the domestic swill they were guzzling. C'mon, if you're going to grab cans, get some Caldera or Dale's Pale Ale.

It was a nice slow hike up, and a somewhat quicker descent. On the way back, a couple passing reported a second-hand bear sighting on the trail. No bears were seen by us. Alas. This prompted an alphabetical listing of all of the things we'd seen on the trail, which occupied the next mile or so.
  • A is for Apples, which we forgot to buy.
  • B is for Black Bears, which we didn't see. Or Bolete mushrooms (many!) or Blackberry.
  • C is for Crowded, at the summit. Or Chanterelles, in my fridge. (Caterpiller!)
  • D is for Dogs, brought by everybody, apparently.
  • E is for Enteritis, and the hopes we don't get it from eating all those berries.
  • F is for Fall, bringing mushrooms and red leaves, also maybe waterfalls.
  • G is for Gun, being shot by the asshole down in the valley continuously for 4+ hours.
  • H is for Huckleberries. Yum. Also lots of them in the bear scat on the trail...
  • I is for Idiots. Drinking beer at the summit. Should've packed a pony keg at least, bros!
  • J is for Junko, what a cute little bird.
  • M is for Mushrooms, quite a few out early this year.
  • P is for Plants, none of which I know well enough to eat yet.
  • Q is for Quick, the descent from the summit.
  • R is for Rocks, my feet hurt. Somebody get me a tissue.
  • S is for Steep. At least for the first part. Also salmonberries.
  • T is for Tarbell, the trail we'll take next time. Also thimbleberries..
  • V is for View, although today was sort of hazy.
  • W is for Wind, trying to blow us off the mountain.

K, X, X, Y, and Z don't bring anything to mind, so I leave them be.