Category Archive: Other

How to cancel your Sprint wireless contract

I finally canceled my$29.99, 300 daytime minute “Free and Clear” plan from the year 2000.

It’s pretty easy to talk to someone in the cancellation department. It’s the canceling that’s difficult to get done.

First of all, when you reach a person, make sure you write down their name. Ask them for first and last name, how to spell it, and ask which call center they are working in. You’ll need this, because likely they will hang up on you.

You see, Sprint’s retention department is paid based on how many cancellations they “save” i.e. don’t allow to cancel. Every call they complete without canceling service counts as a save. By getting the person’s name and location, the chances of them hanging up on you decrease dramatically as they face the prospect of getting reported to their supervisor for the practice.

Second, if you’re intent on canceling, don’t feel the need to explain yourself and chatter with the phone rep. They’ll try to ask you questions and talk you into staying. Just tell them politely that you’ve made up your mind and would like to cancel.

Finally, don’t agree to pay for any days of service past the current day. They will try to bill you for an entire billing cycle. The phone rep will say something to the effect of “ok, you’re canceled as of today, and you can make calls up until the end of your billing cycle.” This is code for “We’re charging you for more service than you want.” Don’t agree to it. Ask to speak to a supervisor. Don’t take no for an answer.

I know for a fact that a supervisor can make this happen, as I had to take this route myself. The supervisor told me she could cancel my service with no billing for future service “as a 1-time courtesy.” No kidding it’s a one-time thing – I’m canceling my service after all.

Use this method, and you should be “free and clear” of Sprint in no time.

Tea Parties and Thomas Paine

I recently read Made in America by Bill Bryson, which was a fantastic book about how the English language in the US has evolved. As a lover of US history, I relished Bryson’s inclusion of rich nuggets of trivia and minutiae that reminded me of AP American History class.

One of the best was the section on Thomas Paine. Every child learns about him and his “Common Sense” pamphlet that spread like wildfire. What most kids don’t know is that “Common Sense” was his only success as a writer, most of his ideas were idiotic, and he was a very dirty man.

How dirty? Bryson noted a contemporary writing that he was “so neglectful in his person that he is generally the most abominably dirty being on the face of the earth.

Founding Father John Adams didn’t have very nice things to say about him either, saying he was “a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous man.” What a fantastic word, crapulous, meaning sick from excessive indulgence in liquor.

Tea Partiers, take note. This man, Thomas Paine, which you hold as a rallying symbol, isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. He’s dirty, ignorant, and so crapulous that you may want to consider a different mascot.

Celebrity Apprentice questions

I don’t watch much TV, but I’m a big fan of the Apprentice. The first season, when I was a wee pup having just graduated, I was fascinated by Bill Ransick’s rise to the top, and have watched every season since.

Celebrity Apprentice is a big step down from the original, but I still love figuring out how I would solve the business problems. Word on the street is that the real Apprentice with “normal” people will be back next season.

This season, I have been puzzled by 2 questions, both of which can be seen from this picture:

1. Why is cancer-survivor Darryl Strawberry smoking? He’s had terrible addictions to everything from cocaine to painkillers, but why would a man that survived colon cancer and had 24 inches of his colon, lymph nodes, and a kidney removed to combat cancer, then pick up smoking. That’s absolutely crazy. Trump should fire him for that alone.

2. Why does Sinbad carry around a leopard print blanket with him at all times? I’ve scoured the Internet but cannot find the answer.

New month = time to check your credit score

Creditkarma.com is one of my favorite sites on the Internet. Every month it allows you to see your credit score from TransUnion, one of the 3 major credit bureaus.

This is different from annualcreditreport.com, which allows you to see the details of your 3 credit reports for free each year, but not see the score that is calculated. Freecreditreport.com is a scam.

One of new features that CreditKarma added is tracking what changed in your credit report that caused your score to change. In my case, my score dipped a few points because my credit utilization (Balance/Credit Limit) increased. This is likely due to charging all of our moving expenses back in the late fall. Next month this number should be back on track.

CreditKarma also has great offers for financial services products. I took them up on 2 of them recently.

  • $25 free for making 2 Bank of America online bill payments. I do this every month anyway, so why not get $25 for free.
  • 1.45% online savings account from Capital One with a bonus of 10% interest each quarter. Pretty good deal!

I’ll be back at CreditKarma.com on April 1st to see if my score improved.

Should insurers use credit scores?

There has been some debate recently on whether insurers in Washington state (and others) should be allowed to use credit scores in underwriting policies.

I can understand why insurers have been restricted from using some criteria in underwriting. For instance, you shouldn’t have a different rate based on your race. Insurers have used other tactics such as redlining to circumvent these protected classes. For instance, insurers used zip codes to isolate high populations of minorities and refused to sell them insurance. This is an illegal practice and has been banned.

But I can’t see the correlation of discrimination of protected classes and credit score: credit score is an unbiased assessment of financial responsibility. Banks use credit scores to judge ability to repay a loan. Employers use credit scores to evaluate how responsible candidates will be with company assets. If you can’t manage your own finances, why would an employer put company assets under your management?

The connection is logical for insurers as well – your financial responsibility (credit score) is directly correlated with the way you manage your assets (e.g. homes, autos, etc.). Insurers wouldn’t want to use credit scores if there wasn’t a significant correlation.

Does credit score sometimes get it wrong? Of course. But insurance companies have an incentive to try to identify those that would be a good underwriting risk but may have a lower credit score. All insurance companies use proprietary models to try to identify these people and increase their market share and profit.

What we don’t need is more government intervention, telling insurance companies how to operate and reducing competition. That raises rates for everyone.

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