Spectrum Mobile clusterf### redux

Yay, Discover card

spectrumOne of the great sources of anxiety, not to mention a massive timesuck, is the online Spectrum mobile clusterf### I’ve been dealing with over the last two months.

Indeed, it’s been so exhausting that I can’t give an exact blow-by-blow, as I did three years earlier when a variation of the same damn thing happened.

This time, I got a phone delivered that I didn’t order. I immediately got a call from someone purporting to be from the company telling me that I received it in error and that I should ship it back to them via UPS to an address in Kissimmee, FL, which I did.

That was a fraudulent address. And Spectrum Mobile, I’ve since learned, always ships and receives returns via FedEx.  After my initial call to Spectrum Mobile, after I got an email for two MORE phones, I was told to reject the package, which I did.

I talked to Spectrum’s customer service for at least five hours on four calls involving eight representatives since late February.  Retelling the same stories was exhausting. The sixth person, in particular, read the script without thought. I’ll admit that I got irate on the phone. It’s something I rarely do, and I hate when that happens.

Only the last representative had a scintilla of what was happening. They recommended I not use the Spectrum app, and they disconnected it. I changed the account code.

The two phones I refused are still on my bill because Spectrum Mobile has not restocked them. For several days, all their systems said there was “trouble with the delivery.” An $843 account in my name is due to be paid before the end of the month.


Meanwhile, I changed my Discover card number. The person I talked to there, Heather in Delaware, was great. She was going to pass me io to another department, but then she looked to see that another department had passed me on to her.

(When I was a business librarian for over 26 years, being passed from A to B to C, back to A was particularly frustrating.)

Discover card blocked bills from Spectrum Mobile, yet paid other recurring bills, even when I had not contacted those entities that my number had changed. So if the Mobile bill is still in the system, Discover will refuse it.

As I said, a massive and enervating timesuck.

Subway: Eat Fresh Refresh program

subway. eat fresh refreshYou may have heard that the Subway restaurants will be closing early on Monday, July 12 to implement their Eat Fresh Refresh program. It will open the next day with a menu that “features updated ingredients, as well as new sandwiches and revamps of existing options. Added ingredients include new breads, smashed avocado, and marinated steak, among others.”

The changes, not all of them clarified, reportedly will include:
Italian bread
Multigrain bread
Smashed avocado
Fresh mozzarella
Parmesan vinaigrette
Bacon (it will now be hickory-smoked)
Black forest ham (it will be sliced thin)
Oven-roasted turkey (it will be sliced thin)
Steak (new seasoning)
Rotisserie-style chicken (seasoned with new Subway secret rub)
Roast beef (a new type of Angus beef will debut)


CNN notes: “To encourage customers to try the new ingredients, thousands of restaurants plan to give away up to one million free sandwiches” – a  six-inch Turkey Cali Fresh – “between 10 AM and 12 PM on July 13. The chain is also updating the look of its app and partnering with DoorDash to let customers order delivery directly from the Subway app.”

When I was a business librarian, not so long ago, Subway usually ranked very high in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 calculation. The publication looked at hundreds of franchises’ Costs and Fees; Support; Size and Growth; Brand Strength; and Financial Strength and Stability.

In 2011, Subway was #9 on the list. Then it was #2 in 2012 and 2013, #3 in 2014 and 2015, and #5 in 2016. But it dropped to #35 in 2017, then plummeted to #105 (2018), and #125 (2019), before an uptick to #107 in 2020.

Is it real?

In October 2020, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that Subway’s rolls used for hot sandwiches should not be considered as actual bread items, BBC News reports. The court said Subway’s bread has a high amount of sugar, which disqualifies the bread from being actual bread.

More recently, The New York Times and a lab collaborated on analysis to review the meat. The lab found that the meat had no real origin. “No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA. Therefore, we cannot identify the species,” the results read.

Subway has doubled down on their tuna. “While many of Subway’s core protein choices were improved as part of the Eat Fresh Refresh, one ingredient that doesn’t need an upgrade is the Subway high-quality, premium tuna. Subway sources tuna from leading global food suppliers that have a reputation for working diligently with food safety and quality experts to ensure consistent, high-quality products at every stage of the supply chain.”

Independence Day

There is a Subway two blocks from my house. I’ve discovered that ordering online is generally quicker. On the 4th of July, my wife was away helping her mother. After my daughter and her beau spent time washing the porch and trimming the tree branches, among other tasks, I ordered sandwiches for the three of us, then went a few minutes later to pick them up.

There was one guy behind the counter. At my designated pickup time – set by the Subway app, not me – he was still working on the previous customer’s meal. Soon, there were three people behind me as he prepared my order, though one eventually left, audibly disgruntled.

The preparer was very apologetic to the guy in front of me, and then to me. No problem; I’ve been there. So if Subway’s going to Eat Fresh Refresh its menu, I hope this franchise also does something about its staffing.

TIME is not on my side

TIME Magazine appreciates your business and is committed to your satisfaction with our services.

I have a current subscription to TIME magazine because it was so cheap, I couldn’t help myself. I alternate between buying TIME and Newsweek because, invariably, one or the other will make a deal so enticing – “Come back, Roger!” – that, even if I read only one or two articles a week, it’s worth it.

It’s particularly valuable because one can also access articles online. I go to the TIME’s log-in menu, and do what I’m asked to do, then try to get to the online article, but – nothing. I play with the system, and it asks for the confirmation number, but I haven’t a clue as to what that is. So I call customer service. The woman on the phone asks me what my confirmation number was and I assured her I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turned out, the confirmation number had gone into my spam folder, which she blamed on Gmail. But I wasn’t supposed to retry to register, which I was doing while I was on the phone with her, because that action generated ANOTHER, different confirmation. I was supposed to go to the e-mail and click on something. But she was so clearly impatient – “I TOLD you that you need to click on the link on the e-mail” – even while maintaining that faux professional calm, that it took me a minute to figure out that I first had to move the e-mail from the spam folder because otherwise, the link she wanted me to click on would not work. I said, “Sounds like you are losing your cool.” She said nothing.

Finally, I moved the correct message from the spam folder to the regular folder, clicked on the link, got the confirmation number, entered the confirmation number on the proper line in the registration, and all was right with the world, except that customer and customer service rep were both exhausted.

Then I got this e-mail a day or two later:

“TIME Magazine appreciates your business and is committed to your satisfaction with our services.

“Our records indicate that TIME Magazine Customer Service responded to a question or request on your behalf on 04/14/2012. We would like to invite you to use our Customer Service Survey to provide feedback on your experience and our quality of service. Your evaluation of our performance is extremely valuable and will help us be more responsive to your needs in the future.

“The survey is very brief and requires only a few minutes to complete.”

So I told the story of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree the frustrating system and the frustrated CSR. In four-part harmony. That felt rather good.

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