An Impatient Customer

Does anybody out there find themselves pretty busy these days?  Maybe a couple of you out there, or maybe a couple hundred or perhaps everyone is having their days filled up with more and more commitments and errands that are eating away at what little free time they can squeak out in a day.  Then again, it could just be a personal issue but something tells me I am not the only one in this rat race.  For me, this has fostered a quest to make the daily activities as efficient as possible.  So assessing the available hours in a typical weekday (5×24 = 120hrs), we have to quickly eliminate the hours dedicated to our employer.  For ease I’m just going to put this at 9hr/day discounting the extra work hours everyone gives throughout the week), which leaves us with 75.  This likely differs for everyone, but my commute total (to and from work) is 1 hr so that leaves 70 discretionary hours a week.  Note, before you ask, I do consider sleep discretionary and not mandatory and is really just an issue of how well your body can function with a specified amount of sleep.  However, let’s just take care of those hours now.  This has been going up along with the age count, but for now I do try to get 7 hrs a night (hey, it’s an optimistic goal).  Now that is a hefty slash in the available count leaving us a mere 35 hrs (5 hrs/day) to get our chores done and any entertainment we want.  In black and white that doesn’t seem to bad, but add in dinner, breakfast and human preening you likely chip away another  2hrs/day.   So there you have it, a long way to simply pointing out that there are roughly 3 hrs a day to get all my grand plans finished….and by my count I just selfishly took about 5 minutes of your day (sorry about that).

If you have time, hit the jump and find out the reason for this time assessment.

Continue reading An Impatient Customer

A Prophecy Becomes Reality

Just a short blurb and not even counting this as a real post.  This is just a followup to a recent post of mine regarding a recent experience at Bar Louie located at our local outdoor mall.  If you recall, that experience was not a favorable one and put a slight damper on our special night out.  One thing I didn’t mention is that we ordered an appetizer.  In somewhat of a surprise, our waitress mentioned she didn’t know if they had any of those left … because they had been so busy … but would check on them.  She ended up bringing some out to us and the event was pretty much forgotten.  As I was running on the treadmill today, my wife came down and read the following from the paper:

“At Bar Louie, which is also at the Shoppes [of Grand Prairie] a small handmade sign at the restaurant said it was closed.  The phone did not ring Tuesday at Bar Louie, and an official with the company that manages the Shoppes at Grand Prairie declined to comment.”

Well, there you have it and needless to say, neither of us are surprised.  The depressing thing is while we were there I think someone came in and ordered two $25 gift cards.  I did not hear all of the conversation, but I did hear “would you like that as two ?$ or one $50.  The response was two and the bartender went to the register.  I sure hope this guy wasn’t stuck with those as a result of this closing and if that bartender knew the situation beforehand he’s as guilty of theft as the owner is.  Oh, as I was wondering aloud if the new Jillian’s at that mall might have caused their closing, Linda responded with:  “By they way, they [Jillian’s] were  in the paper recently for failing their health inspection”.

Things don’t seem to be so “Grand” anymore at that particular mall.

A Christmas Scorn

Merry Christmas Everyone! Best wishes for a safe and happy holidays. Our plans for today were altered slightly due to a Linda’s mom coming down a little ill, so figured I’d make a quick post. In honor of the season, thought it would be a perfect time to post on a funny situation that occurred a mere two days ago. Linda and I decided to go out for our Christmas dinner a few nights early since the weather was looking a little iffy (ended up getting at least 6″ yesterday and even plowed for a second time today as it continued to fall well into the night). Electing to go with casual attire, we chose to eat at Bar Louie in our outdoor mall. Convinced that the wait would be extensive, it would also give us a chance to pick up some last minute gifts. The first oddity of the night occurred when we walked into the establishment. The wait time ended up being the length of time it took to tell the hostess whether we wanted a booth or a table. There were at most 10 people in the whole place with most of those sitting at the bar. If we had to guess there were at least 30 empty tables. We both looked at each other and both had a flash we had missed a health report or something. Committed, we sat down and made our order noting that it was special day so both our diets were out the door. In the end it didn’t matter since I only ate half of my food and ended up eating some of Linda’s instead (note, if the hamburger is too charbroiled for me to eat, it isn’t fit to be served – especially annoying since they didn’t even ask me how I wanted it cooked). The “lack of customers” mystery was quickly solved.

It did allow us plenty of time to shop afterward. The ever-efficient shopper Linda was either feeling the effects of the supper or was just in a good mood knowing her shopping responsibilities had already been completed. This manifested in a night of sarcastic comments and humor as I desperately tried to find the perfect Christmas gift. I was also trying to get Linda to pick out few gifts for herself, since she gave me a wish list with a whopping 6 or 7 items on it that I was forced to give to others who were looking for gifts. I had threatened a Chia Pet or The Clapper if she didn’t give me any additional ideas. After a few stops we ended up at Barnes and Noble and by that time Linda was on a roll pointing out a number of gift options in jest. As we turned the corner Linda spots this:

hit the jump to see the rest of the story.

Continue reading A Christmas Scorn

Frightened by Allegiant – Oh, and Happy Halloween

It’s October 31st, do you know what day it is?  That’s right, the last day for me to get my blog quota in for the month.  Thankfully I had a long month or just might have missed it.  As a strange coincidence, there happens to be another event going on today so in that spirit Happy Halloween everyone.  I have to make this post short today due to a big decision that is pending regarding whether I want to take the effort to carve a new pumpkin this year, but first things first.

The topic today is actually a result of a recent trip to our local Peoria Airport to purchase some tickets to escape to our favorite warm, bright, gaudy and decadent place.  Yep, we’re heading back to Vegas for our fall trip.  To be more accurate, we are heading back to Vegas and then heading up to Zion National Park from there for a few days.  If there is one part of this that annoys me more than anything is the nickel and diming we have to through these days to actually get flight tickets.  First off, Allegiant (our local direct flight to Vegas carrier) charges you an additional 30 dollar per person to book online.  Can you believe that?  When did ordering stuff on the Internet become more pricey to a company than brick and mortar operations.  You would think the reduction in ticket order staff and the improved accuracy delivered by automated processing would drive incentives to use online options as opposed to bottling up their ticket counters.  We are 15 or so minutes from the airport so last Thursday we trekked out there to get our tickets.  Per their website, they do ticket sales for one hour after the flight leaves.  They had a flight going out at 7:55 so we got there ahead of that.  There were people checking in so we hung out to give them a chance to clear.  While sitting there, Linda noticed the flight had been delayed until 10pm.  Clearly waiting around  that long was not worth the $60 of savings, but we decided to see what they would do once everyone was checked through.  About 10  minutes later, the line was cleared (this included the now common scene “your carry on is too large and needs to be checked through for a one way $35 charge”).  We walked up to the counter and asked if we could purchase tickets.  The ticket lady mentioned they usually only sell tickets after the boarding, but quickly followed up that the plane was delayed anyway so agreed to process our order.  Finally, service with the customer or may be viewing it as a fish nibbling on the hook.

Now the price jab cycle started.  I don’t recall how the clerk initiated the conversation on checked luggage, but she expected us to say we didn’t need that charge.  Linda replied we don’t have a choice which was quickly countered by “you can take carry ons”.  This will not work because our carry on items will need to cover all of the photography equipment for the national park shoots.  Chalk up another $50 each round trip.  Note, this is $20 each cheaper than if you pay to check baggage the day of.  Then there are the seat assignment charges if you want to pick your spots.  For that pleasure it is 12 or so dollars per seat per way and if you want a good seat (read as exit row) you have to pay a couple dollars more.  About this time I’m feeling like a pin cushion.  We ended up having to go with standard reservations on the way out in order to get the 2 seat side, but were able to get the exits coming back.  The clerk completed the transaction and printed out the papers for us to sign.  The ever diligent Linda noticed our seat assignments didn’t come out on the papers.  Turns out the clerk screwed that up so we went back through that process.  This time we scored.  The software glitched (let’s hope it isn’t the same system controlling the flight controls) and it didn’t charge us for one of the expensive seat reservations on the way back.  It still showed we had reserved it and it printed out on the sheets so we’ll see how this turns out on travel day.  At that point I start scanning down the list of charges, curious as to the damage that had been inflicted.  It is at that moment my mouth dropped open.  One of the charges was for 9/11 Security.  I immediately asked Linda what that was for.  She didn’t know and really wasn’t eager to start an interrogation of the clerk – especially at an airport.  Probably a little too loud I asked why I was getting charged, “I didn’t do anything bad to cause 9/11”  At that point I think my loving wife shooed me out of the terminal.  This charge bugged the crap out of me aaaaalllll the way home.  I still have not discovered the purpose for this $10 charge.  As far as I can tell, it should be charged to TSA for their complete failure in keeping my travel experience safe and non-eventful.  In fact, due to their incompetence, they should be paying me $10 for completely ruining air-travel for the masses.  These days I feel like I’m putting people out for having the audacity to fly to my destinations.  My friend Skidmarks recently sent me a few articles on how I should expect a firm hand (literally) if I request a manual scan instead of going through the full body x-ray porn scanner.  At this point, if I have to pay $10 of my own money to protect myself while traveling… they can earn the money by having to staff someone for a pat down.  I guess the good part of all of this is for 8 hours of inconvenience I get to be in Vegas!

Happy Ghouling everyone – stay safe and be sure to give rocks to anyone with the nerve to dress up like a clown.  (oh, and this makes the 6th for the month – yeah!)

Ramming It

The good news is I’ve calmed down a bit.  The bad news is I’m still torqued (or maybe the word is shocked) over a recent service experience with my Ram 1500.  Let’s step back a tad shall we?  A couple of weeks ago, my garage was in disarray due to the all the projects that were in flight at the time.  This resulted in the need to keep the truck outside and for some reason it was not driven for a couple of days.  When it came time to move it into the garage, I noticed there was a grease spot left under the right (passenger side) of the engine.  An audible groan quickly made its way out.  A closer inspection identified it was a greasy substance.  Based on a quick inspection under the truck, it looked like it was coming from the passenger side shock.  It was time for an oil change anyway, so scheduled an appointment at a local Dodge dealer.  For those loyal followers out there, this particular Dodge is owned by the same person who owns the BMW dealership – Dun Dun Duuuuun.  The only other option was to take it to a dealership 50-60 minutes away.

I had to drop it off the day before due to other commitments.  While checking in, the service rep starts by writing some numbers down (year, VIN, etc.) and then proceeds to walk all around the car.  Back in the office, he takes his piece of paper and starts entering the data into the computer.  The guy still hasn’t said anything to me so I decide to break the silence and request that someone call me with an estimate before addressing the leak.  He acknowledges that and continues typing.  My patience level was starting to strain.  Giving my best Bender (BClub) effort, I tried to hold back, but eventually blurted out “Do you have my cell number?”  I received the following response “I’ll get it, I’m not there yet”  I almost lost it and told the dude to hurry the f* up I have better things to do than stand hear and listen to you finger peck, but the inner voice won out (and probably for the best).  Eventually he found all those tricky letters on the keyboard, entered my contact numbers and printed out some papers for me to sign.  But first, he circles the license plate on a vehicle diagram in a section of the papers and then gives me a pen to sign.  Concerned, I interrogated him as to the reason behind that marking.  “Oh, there were holes there and we don’t want you thinking we were shooting at your truck”  WHAT?  there are no holes in my truck – there are two cut outs in the plate holder area, but those were factor installed.  Bored of the whole experience I waved it off, signed the sheet and left.

Okay, so now it is the next day around 12:30pm.  The cell phone rings and sure enough, it is the finger pecker.  The diagnosis was my right front strut was leaking.  I asked him how much to fix and I hear the price of $120.  He followed up with the mechanic recommends replacing both at the same time to keep the balance right.   I was also in luck because they had the parts in stock.  I then asked him if the price he quoted me was for each or both.  Again I think I heard both but figured he meant both parts and labor for one was $120 (and not both strut replacements were a total of $120).  Lastly I verified that it was actually struts they were changing because it sure looked like shocks to me.  Struts it was and I gave the agreement to proceed.  A decision I’ve been kicking myself for ever since.

Around 4:30 we showed up at the dealership to retrieve the truck.  It was not ready so I took a seat in the waiting room for a very bearable 10 or so minutes.  The same service rep comes up and tells me it is all done, the oil, tire rotation and the two struts replaces.  Cha-ching went the inner voice.  He handed it to the clerk, thanked me and walked away (oddly somewhat faster than expected).  Out came the Discover card and started to hand it to the lady when all of a sudden the TOTAL line enters my view.  Any guesses what that little box had in it?  anyone?  Obviously I do not know what you said, but with confidence I’ll say you are WAAAAAY to low.  Try this on for size over $977.  That’s right folks, nearly a grand to get my truck back – oh, key piece of information – get my truck back that had only 46K miles on it.  Ever have a rage moment?  I politely asked the clerk if I could take the papers back to the service rep and hurried off.  I asked him if the price is right because I heard him say it was going to be $120 on the phone.  He denies he says that and claims he told me was $200 each for labor and over $200 each for the parts.   I’ve tried and tried to put those numbers together and see if any of it sounds like $120 with absolutely no luck.  With no evidence to back my position, the only option was to pay it and shop around to see if they pulled one over on me or not.  To their credit, the truck did ride better… not a “grand” better, but better.

I did end up calling the other Dodge dealer.  They did confirm there were struts on the front of that particular vehicle but his final quote came to $600 range.  Guessing their labor was cheaper so next issue that comes along I’ll take it to them or Midas.  I should probably clarify that a tad – if I keep this truck long enough to have another issue I’ll make the extra effort to drive it out to them.  I think my days with Dodge have come to their end.  Speaking of end, I did feel obligated to change their logo a tad.

Wait Equipment

My battle with a pretty nasty hamstring problem continues to rage on.  14 calendar pages have come and gone since injuring it during a run last year.  A local Sports Medicine/Surgery outfit has been putting the pieces back little by little.  Since getting diagnosed by them I’ve been spending twice a week in therapy with a steady diet of strength training and intense ultrasound.  In honor of today’s solid 2 mile run at a pretty aggressive pace, this post centers on a recently purchased piece of weight equipment.  A staple of the rehab has been leg presses/squats to re-strengthen damage in the hammie.  Up to this point I rarely strength trained the legs due to all the years in martial arts and my passion for outdoor work.  Now with the imbalance caused by the injury, it is a necessary evil.  In order to increase the pace of recovery, I decided to enhance my home gym with a freestanding leg press.  After a lengthy research and exhausting all local establishments, the winner was an offering off of Amazon.  The rest of my gym is based on a unit from Body Solid and I have had zero complaints about their product or service (they even replaced all of my cabling for free without a moment’s hesitation  after 8 years of heavy use thanks to their lifetime guarantee policy).

The unit was on sale (about $500 less than local places and free shipping), but the damage was in the grand range.  Here is what the new baby looks like.

Hit the jump to read the “Rest of the Story”

Continue reading Wait Equipment

Let Off Some Steam, Bennett

I happen to harboring some angst this weekend and decided to get this one out of the way while I am still feeling edgy.  So I’ve been dealing with the BMW issue (see last post), yesterday an estimator for a concrete company failed to show up as promised for some work I am looking to get done and then I have the topic of today’s post.  To set the background, keep in mind I have a satellite based Internet service due to a decision to live out in the country.  Trust me, I’d make that decision again in a heartbeat.  The downside of this is a) I can no longer game with my friends across the net, b) the best performance I can get is 1.5M on nice sunny days and lastly c) my usage cap is 300M every 24 hrs with unlimited between the hours of 1 and 5AM.  This is Hughes Net in case you were wondering, which far exceeds what we were getting with Wild Blue.  With all this, I can still enjoy local gaming and tend to gravitate to the war or fantasy based games.  These are all played in solo mode of course which means the cost of any multiplayer game far exceeds my usage.

At some point I acquired Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (either Xmas or Bday gift, can’t remember).  Finding some extra time one night in my schedule, I decided to install it and play a little to relax and let of some stress.  I Made it through the packaging and dropped the disk into the drive.  Next thing I see is it needs to install Steam.  For those not familiar with this product, it is an Internet service that provides patches, friend status and in some cases copyright control.  You could have heard my groan half way into town.  This was a pain when I had cable service and now my connectivity was severely limited.  A quick check of the back packaging did reveal a small warning (at the bottom of the package) that it required Internet access TO ACTIVATE the product.  Well, activation can’t be that bad can it?  Wrong!  So first I have to install Steam which immediately goes out and DOWNLOADS the latest version of the product which takes over 35 minutes to complete with no indication of how big it is in order to keep tabs on my download limit.

I lucked out and remembered an old account when I was still on a better network.  The program eventually loads and the actual game program loads from the local disk – for emphasis, loaded from the manufacturer’s disk which was legally purchased by someone’s hard earned money.  With eager anticipation, the solo campaign icon was hit and the game…. wait.. the Steam window comes up and logs into my account.  Fine, it is probably just a quick validation and on to the ga…. wait… apparently in order to configure Steam to play offline, I have to make sure the latest version of the game is installed.  Anger has now replaced all anticipation to play.  It is 10PM and now the game needs to download patches.  Just how long might this take on the satellite connection?

That’s right folks, 1 hour and 5 minutes and again, absolutely no indication of the amount of data it is downloading so I do not even know if I can get it all in under the cap.  How cute, a little toggle to automatically start the game as soon as it is ready.  I hope the bats enjoy the game because I’ve given up waiting on it.  The dogs decided they needed to go out later that night.  Since it was after 1AM, I dropped by the computer and kicked off the download.

The next night I decide to see if the game was worth the wait.  Immediately, those plans were ripped to shreds.

The iTouch alerts and mail checks were all successful so the problem is likely on Steam’s side.  Let’s summarize, the game was legally purchased, I have no plans to play the game on the Internet, assumed the game was thoroughly tested before packing it in the first place and have zero use for Steam beyond the copy protection capabilities it is providing to the game.  With all that, I still have not been able to play the game for two days.  Needless to say, my wish list and actual purchases will no longer contain any product that requires Steam to run.  If this is the future of copy protection, then I’m calling it quits.  This is doubly insulting based on the fact this particular game was selling out all over the place when it came out.  In case you are wondering, I did finish the game.  As a review, if you like console games you should feel right at home… if you are instead installing it on a PC then recall how you felt once Unreal Tournament 3 came out and ruined the experience.

In my best Arnold imitation, “Let off some Steam, Bennett”  and go and uninstall that crap.

Time For Some Pressure Words

Okay,do you happen to remember a previous post regarding our BMW 135i that was spending a significant amount of time in the shop due to a reoccurring engine light issue?  I believe that particular post was summarizing the third time we had to take that vehicle in to get it serviced for loss of pressure in the fuel system.  Now for the critical part.  Do you recall the last words from that post?…. let me remind you.  “So for now, no harm done, but if that light goes on again, we’ll be having some “pressure” words for sure.”  I might as well keep the quiz format going a little longer.  Any guesses as to what happened the second time out on the road with it?  If you said, “crappy German engineering took center stage again”, then give yourself 100 points because that is exactly what happened.  The first day after getting back from the shop, I drove it to work and back without incident.  About 5 days later Linda decided to take it on a drive.  Sure enough, the light came on again.  I about went ballistic when she told me this.

Being the weekend, we had to wait until Monday to call and make an appointment to get it serviced.  Linda dropped it off on Tuesday morning and once again picked up a 328 loaner – this one was a step up from the previous ones since it had the X drive (all wheel) and slightly improved interior.  For the record, if there is one thing we have learned through all of this is we definitely do not want to ever purchase a 328 – they might want to rethink their approach when customers are bringing in better cars to be serviced.   At first the service department claimed that the car was throwing random errors to the diagnostic device and therefore were unable to determine what the real problem was.  The following day, the conclusion was the same loss of pressure issue.  As before they were going to take the car completely apart and smoke the system to see if there were any leaks.  No word came the next day or and by later the second day we decided action was required.  In the meantime, I had read up on the Illinois Lemon Law and confirmed it was 4 service calls, but that particular law indicated it had to be in the first year.   It was over a year since we purchased the vehicle, however, it is a pleasure car that rarely gets driven – only has a little over 6K miles on it.

At wits end, we decided to head over there after work and get some answers in person.  Just before heading out, Linda called me and suggested we call first to give them some time to get answers before our arrival.  We did not want to waste our time if there was nobody to talk to.  We added the service rep into our conference call and asked him pointed questions about the status of our vehicle.  In particular, we wanted to know who in their management was aware of the issue and the name of the BMW district rep.  It didn’t seem like their service manager was aware of the situation and he became very concerned about giving us access to the BMW rep.  After some direct and sharp discussion, the rep promised to inform the manager and follow up with the mechanic working on the car.  At that point Linda recommended we stay put for awhile and wait for the response.  About 30 minutes later, the rep called Linda back and confirmed that he had talked to both the service manager and the mechanic.  They had found a small leak in the system and were expediting parts to fix it.  Somewhat to our surprise, the rep also said the service manager had approved giving us a financial payment for our troubles equal to one of our monthly car payments.  This would mean our car wouldn’t be ready until Monday which we accepted having no options at that point.  The payment became an interesting discussion since it didn’t occur to the rep we had paid cash and was not leasing or making loan payments.  He didn’t have an answer for that, but promised us he would get us a figure.  So at this point, we now have the proper people engaged, there is a plan to fix the car and we were going to be compensated for our troubles (well, at least they promised us)

That Monday Linda called in the late afternoon to get a status on the car.  They had completed the changes and were in the process of taking it on a test drive.  After that, they had to check it over and wash it.  Due to the time, Linda recommended she pick it up the following morning to give them time to get it done right.  Our baby is home now and with one test drive completed it seems to be holding together.  There will be plenty more drives before we are confident the issue is resolved.  We still have not received a check but we did get our fourth email from the dealership begging us to give them superior ratings on the BMW survey we might get from their corporate offices.  I even went back and compared it with the other 3 emails from before and it was almost verbatim (the fourth had an extra sentence due to a change on the survey).  Once again the blood pressure spiked to dangerous levels.  40 minutes later, the send button was pressed on a very scathing email.  In a nutshell, I asked her how she thinks we would feel having brought a car in four times for the exact same problem and their main concern is what our survey answers were going to be.

This has been extremely frustrating and Linda has already decided one more engine light issue means a one way trip for the car back to the dealer.  The hard part about all of this is she actually likes the car and enjoys driving it … when it isn’t in the shop.

Bemmer Bummer

Okay, so what are the first things that come to mind when you hear the name BMW?  Maybe one of those words is “Fast”.  How about “Expensive Import”?  Maybe some derogatory words like “Elitist” or “Smug”.  By any chance does the word “Quality” come to mind?  As it turns out, my wife (who apparently likes to add untrue comments to some of my posts) owns a 1 series (135) black convertible BMW.  I can definitely attest to the fact they have some pep.  The twin turbos on this particular vehicle give it some nice snap at the low and high end helped by the relatively light weight of the vehicle.  There is a pool on when she will get her first ticket in it – too many of her memories coming back growing up on the dirt track circuit.  For those familiar to the local tracks, legend Bolander used to drive their race car at the Peoria Speedway when they came down from the Quad Cities.  As far as “Expensive Import” goes, we have already proved that with a $650 windshield replacement thanks to a well (more like poorly) timed rock thrown from a truck.  “Elitist”  and” Smug”, hmmm, not sure I really want to touch that being that she is my wife and all.  She grew a Chrysler girl thanks to her Father and Brother both being service managers at local Chrysler dealers.  I had to actually force her to drive on the BMW lot and she’d probably be just as happy with another Jeep Wrangler (if they hadn’t messed with it and put a yuppie second set of doors on it ruining the whole Jeep lifestyle).  She also tends to make fun of Pooorshay owners, but then again, don’t we all?

That leaves us with one other word, that being “Quality”.  If this came to mind with the name BMW, I’d like to challenge this a bit.  If you recall, we ended up having a number of issues with our previous Durango.  (We actually had similar issues with our Jeep Cherokee).  Eventually we traded this headache in for an import on the belief that they could produce a better vehicle.  I don’t think I need to go into the whole Toyota accelerator issue, but knock on wood, our SUV has had zero problems since we bought it beyond that recall notice which I doubt we really needed.  Having stepped up to German engineering with the 135, we figured our quality issues were behind us.  One thing to note is this vehicle is Linda’s fun car and therefore gets very little use unless the weather is perfect (living in IL, this means it sits a lot especially in the winter and late fall months).  A month or so ago, Linda got in to drive it and noticed the Check Engine Light was glowing.  Somewhat stunned, she called the dealer and they told her it probably was not a big issue and just bring it in when should could.  Not wanting to wait too long, we dropped it off a few days later.  What was the prognosis for her little baby?  We were informed that it was a loose gas cap which was causing a loss of pressure in the system.  Ugh, our fault, slightly embarrassed we drove back and got the vehicle.  Sure enough, the car ran fine for a few days but then that evil engine light came on again.  Now I know we had learned our lesson, so it was doubtful (at least in our opinion) that it was the cap again.  Off to the dealer AGAIN to have it looked at.  The prognosis this time?  There was a bad fuel pump which is located somewhere in the fuel tank.  We had been vindicated, but it still left us a little concerned since we invested a lot of money with the return of not having to worry about breakdowns.  After a two days, (overnighted parts), we picked up the vehicle and assumed the situation was finally resolved.  Honestly, I doubt if that was the case it would have been worth taking the time to write about it.  A few days later I decided to drive the 135 in order to alleviate some hassles with parking in a local parking garage in order to attend an SAP class.  Sure enough, the check engine light stayed on after doing the self diagnostics.  I think my words at the time could be understood by a number of different languages including German.  For the third time, our quality machine was puking up an engine light.  After some profuse apologizing by their service representative, we drove the vehicle back in.  As before, they did provide a loaner vehicle which turned out to be a 328.  I don’t want to offend anyone that might have these particular vehicles, but I recommend not driving a 135 unless you plan to trade off that wuss of an engine.  I think it only has a 2.3L or so engine in it and with being accustomed to a  low end turbo (135 has a twin turbo in it), this car felt like it had to wind up to go anywhere.  You would think they would give us a better vehicle in hopes of us wanting to trade up.  All it ended up doing is making sure I tell as many people as I can to avoid that particular car.  The assumption is they would call sometime during that day to let us know what the problem was.  By 4:00pm Linda decided to give them a call.  Turns out they were unable to locate the problem and the vehicle was “currently on the service floor in pieces”  How is that for a comforting statement?  The next day came and again no word until we called later in the afternoon.  Still nothing to report on the cause and therefore not available for us to pick up.  Sigh, my confidence in German engineering had sunk to new lows.  The next day we call and find out the car was losing fuel pressure (which prompted the initial gas cap resolution the first time).  Apparently they thought it was resolved and had put it all back together again and took it for a test drive.  Lucky for us, the engine light came on again during their test drive.  Once again, the vehicle was taken all apart, but this time they called back to Germany for some help.  It had now been at least  5 days with a weekend and our patience was wearing thin.  That along with the uber annoyance of them continually asking us how the loaner car was working out.  All that could be said was that it was running better than OUR car was at the moment – but the hamster under the hood was really getting tired.  Eventually they determined it was a flaky DMTL pump which is apparently responsible for checking the fuel pressure and signals the dashboard if there is something wrong.  So there was nothing wrong with the fuel pressure, but the sensor was randomly failing.  Once replaced, the car was put back together, but the home office in Germany would not allow them to return it to us until they performed three complete cold to hot test drives.  One they did that day, and the other two had to be performed the next day.  So, exactly one week later Linda’s baby was nestled back in the garage.

I’ve decided to write this particular event off as a fluke.  They were very accommodating and apologetic as they went about resolving the issue (better than any American dealer experience we have had for sure).   The car is also under a full bumper to bumper warranty for four years so in essence beyond time and inconvenience it did not cost a penny.  This is where the “Expensive” word comes into play.  Can you imagine how much this bill would have been out of warranty? – CHA CHING.  It is still the funnest vehicle we have ever owned/driven.  Oh, and BMW also sends us a gift every year for owning the first series of one of their vehicles –  including a book on the history of our vehicle with our actual VIN number in it and this year a pretty sweet ink pen.  So for now, no harm done, but if that light goes on again, we’ll be having some “pressure” words for sure.

She Hit the Jackpot!

UPDATE: 8/16 7:28pm – Well, if there is one thing to be said about this idiot, he is persistent.  He called again around 7:00am explaining that plans had changed and he needed to come pick up the check sooner (than the originally planned pickup time in the afternoon).  She informed him that she was busy and he would have to wait until the original time (don’t ask, I can’t explain).  Soon after she saw a suspicious SUV in the neighborhood who drove by and stopped up the road. She called the police and they check him out (just a lost general contractor who probably had to go change his shorts).  Well, from 3:00 until 5:00 nobody showed up (which would have been quite funny seeing as how her son’s were waiting), but the guy called and asked for Mizz {First Name} when her son picked up the phone.  He promptly told him that there was nobody that lived there with that name and he had the wrong number – click, scammer hung up.  A quick *69 revealed a number that ..wait for it.. wait for it… was from Jamaica!  This seems odd since the caller originally said he was in Belvidere IL.  So apparently the dude was too stupid to even go with Skype and calling card minutes to cover his tracks.

UPDATE: 8/15 5:30pm – Mother-In-Law recently got ANOTHER call but get this, things have changed.  Apparently they can no longer wait until tomorrow to meet and need the money immediately.  Still pretty bold of them to continue to harass knowing everyone is on to their little scam.  The police and the phone company are now both fully informed and hopefully on the offensive.

… now back to your regularly scheduled blog

I have good news everyone!  My mother-in-law is apparently one of the luckiest people out there.  As of this Monday she will have increased her bank account by $50K.  The amazing part is she does not have to do anything to receive this incredible gift.  You are probably thinking to yourself, “this is incredible, how does someone fall into such a wonderful opportunity?” or maybe ” Hey, our government is spending us into the ground, maybe this is another benefit of the great CHANGE and NEW HOPE”  Well, to the later I simply say NOPE (as I will in November) and to the former I can safely say you too can be part of this joyous event.  However, there is just one tiny (itsy, weenie, microscopic crumb) of a detail I accidentally left out.  Well, accidentally may be a small untruth, but let’s put everything in perspective, we are talking about 50 THOUSAND dollars.  Umm… sorry about this, but that is a slight untruth as well…. make that 49,850 dollars but who is splitting hairs here, we are talking about getting free money for doing really very little work at all and in fact you even have the option of having THEM do the work for you.

Oh, you are still a little skeptical are you?  How about some details.  First off, this is not some hole in the wall lottery outfit, this is the Donald Trump Foundation from Las Vegas.  That’s right, VEGAS BABY, the bright spot in the desert that has more money than they know what to do with.  They could have picked anybody they wanted to, even people living outside of the U.S. but instead they picked my mother-in-law because.. umm… well not sure why, but let’s gloss over that for now.  Turns out some representative of the foundation has been calling her over and over badgering her to answer some basic questions before they can release the 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS to her.  Some of the difficulty has been trying to understand the caller’s thick foreign accent, but that is to be expected because a large corporate foundation like the Donald Trump Foundation would be drawing the best employee candidates from all over the world.  Oh, remember that tiny insignificant glitch I mentioned above?  Unfortunately, in order to actually release the money, she will need to pay the taxes on it.  After all, we are in America and according to Joe Biden, “It’s our patriotic duty to pay taxes. (note to Joe, let’s compare our charitable donations and see which party is working harder for the disadvantaged).  The good news is the tax rate appears to be only 0.5%, probably because she is retired.  So for a mere $250 dollars she makes $49,850.  Rather than have to do all that extra work of finding a check, locating a pen, getting finger cramps from signing the name etc. you can simply give them your bank account numbers and a few other small details like SS# and maybe a few odd facts like first dog’s name, birth date and by the way, do you happen to live alone?  The caller is also so dedicated to getting you this  money he will continue to call over and over if you have any reluctance to providing the information because after all it is 50 THOUSAND dollars (with a few bucks taken out of the profits for those required taxes).

Turns out that my mother-in-law was not enthused about providing the details they requested, but somehow they managed to get her address and informed her that they would come to her home this Monday to provide her the huge prize in person and get this “Wanted to know if she wanted the media to be informed so they could be there to capture this fantastic moment”  In either case, just be sure to have the tax money ready or they would not be able to release the deck (what?) I mean chect (huh?) I mean jeck, (oh, the tax CHECK)…those darn accents trip me up every time.  As a quick side note, she did mention that she would be waiting for them with her two sons who happen to be deputy sheriffs.  No problem, they will be bringing an FBI representative with them just so everyone knows that this is an official event.

Too good to be true?  Well, common sense says she’s caught up in the all too common scam efforts likely originating out of Nigeria, Jamaica, Middle East or possibly even out of the States (my bet is Nigeria).  This one seems pretty bold with the added component of making an appointment to show up at her house.  I can’t imagine how easy it would be for the elderly to fall into this trap with all the constant harassment and promised opportunities for fixed income households.  The good news is both her sons are deputies for the Sheriffs department and would be a very nice welcoming committee for these criminals.  I say “would” because I truly doubt they will actually risk even getting near her house, not to imply by any means that criminals positively tip the intelligence scales.

Some things are just to good to be true.  If something happens Monday, I’ll let you know.  For those of you with elderly family, friends, acquaintances, you might want to just give them a heads up about this situation.  If it wasn’t lucrative for them, they wouldn’t be doing it.