Top things NOT to do on social media sites

In the interest of keeping alive my tradition of yearly rants, this years dialogue is a result of the ignorance and stupidity that people display when using popular social media sites (a.k.a. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc).  Granted, some people just don't quite understand what it is that they are doing, be it due to lack of tech savvy or that they just want to do it because "everyone else is doing it".  But being the fact that my entire life revolves around technology, including and most importantly my ability to support and sustain my family's needs, comforts and well-being, I have comprised the following list of things NOT to do one these popular social media sites.

Set your profile to PRIVATE instead of PUBLIC

This is the easiest way for hackers and scammers to use your profile to extort money from your friends and family.  If your profile is set to "Public" then anyone with an internet connection can see not only you, but your friends and family, all of your posts, and all of your pictures too.  This is enough information to give them the ability to create a duplicate profile where they send out friend requests to all of your friends and family.  Once they do this (and your friends/family accept) they now have a clear doorway into sending a followup message telling them how you took a last minute trip to Brazil but lost your passport and wallet and need money to get home.  Whether you believe it or not, there will be people who fall for this and run to the bank to withdraw a couple hundred dollars to wire over to you (or at least they THINK that it's you).  Meanwhile you're sitting in the lunchroom at work without a clue that your sister just wired $500 to some scammer thinking it was going to you to help you get home.  So what's the downside of setting your profile to "Private"?  That schoolmate who you haven't seen in 30 years can't see anything that you post unless they send you a friend request first.  Meanwhile they're whole purpose in getting in touch with you in the first place is to show you pictures of their grand kids (see the third one in this list).

Don't post anything that you wouldn't want anyone other than your immediate family and closest friends to see

NOTHING that is posted on the internet is EVER deleted, removed or otherwise disposed of.  The second you click that button, whatever you just posted is immediately harvested by hundreds of technology robots and put into a database somewhere for later analysis.  Even if you go back into that post and click to delete it (thinking that you never have to worry about someone seeing it again) it is still just don't see it where you think it that it was.  As a Senior Software Engineer with over 20 years in the industry I can assure you that whatever you posted is still there.  How do I know?  It is a common practice is almost every software ever written (including websites which are also software applications) to mark something as deleted rather than actually deleting it.

When the web page loads, it only displays the things that do not have the "deleted" marking.  A simple example of this is in a program that handles sales transactions (like checking out at the grocery store).  If my store sold 100 cans of corn in the first week, but then half way through the month the store quit selling cans of corn and I deleted it from the software, when the manager runs a sales report at the end of the month it would show the money that came in from each can of corn sale, but no product going out of inventory.  But, if the product wasn't deleted, but rather marked as "no longer for sale", it would not show up in the inventory, but would still be available for the monthly report.  Read that again if you have to, but you can see why things aren't simply deleted.

But what does that have to do with my FaceBook posts?  Well, let's think about that.  Your information (regardless of how meaningless you think it is) is used to build a profile of you for the sole purpose of selling you something (a.k.a. targeted advertising).  So, when you post pics of your family vacation is Disney, suddenly you start seeing ads for Disney products.  Your posts from the local car show suddenly produce pictures of automotive products.  Pictures of that doe and young fawn magically kick off hunting products from local sporting goods stores.  Get the idea?  How do you think they know that you might be in the market for some landscaping products after you posted pictures of the new deck that your husband and his brother just built onto the back of your house?

Don't flood my feed with 50 pictures of you and/or your kid(s) every day

Your kids are just that....YOUR kids.  No one wants to see pictures of his/her every waking moment.  Yet you feel it necessary to post multiple pictures (all taken within a short period of time) from varying angles to say nothing more than "Look at what Johnny learned today!!!  Isn't he so adorable?!?"  Unless your child is a prodigy and can either play Beethoven's Fifth at 8mo. old, or finally figured out a way to stop world hunger while eating Goldfish and drinking Juicy Juice, I'll let you in on a little secret....NO ONE CARES!!!  No one but your grandmother who has nothing better to do than knit a stocking cap for Johnny's first Christmas and wait for your next picture of him to come across her cheap $79 tablet that you bought her just so she could see him.  It can be likened to the days where you'd be sitting next to someone who snaps out their wallet with 30 pictures of their grand kids expecting you do go crazy over how cute they are.  Meanwhile you're thinking in the back of your mind "How the hell do I get away from them without appearing that I really don't give a sh*t about pictures of their grand kids?".  Yea, it's like that.  So for the love of God, if you feel the necessity to overload your wall with pictures of dear little Johnny, click the option to only share with Grandma and Aunt Betty and not the rest of the cognitive world.

Don't post self-gratifying selfies

So you're trying to lose weight, or show off that new dress that you just bought...GREAT!!!  But if you honestly think that taking the picture from that oddly high angle, and making sure that no one can see the "love handles" that you obviously still have (even though you claim that you've lost 30lbs in the last week), you're only fooling yourself and making yourself look stupid.  Holding the camera above your head, looking up in what you believe is a sexy and seductive pose, does nothing more than prove how desperate you are for people to compliment you in a vain attempt to make yourself feel better.  You're not fooling anyone, and the quicker to understand that the faster you can get to focusing on what actually with help you achieve your ultimate goal.  I'm all for people wanting to better themselves, and I don't pass judgment on anyone honestly trying to do so.  I applaud the efforts of someone legitimately doing whatever they can to improve themselves in any aspect.  But for those who claim one thing, and try to post "proof" that their efforts are "paying off", all you are doing is embarrassing yourself without even knowing that you're doing it.  Comments of "You look great!!!" and "Keep up the good work!!" are nothing more than people trying to say something nice when what they're really thinking is "How stupid do you think I am?".  Save yourself (and the rest of us) the aggravation of dealing with your insecurities.  There's enough other REAL problems we need to focus on then what size pants you wear this week.

Don't post the same pics with slightly different people

So your daughter is pregnant, or you just bought the car that you've always wanted.  That's awesome, and congratulations.  Why the hell do you feel it necessary to post 5 pics with different people standing next to her rubbing her stomach, or 4 different people behind the wheel?  Do you honestly think that people want to see that?  Do they NEED to see that?  The ultimate answer is NO!!! Hmmmm...let's take a picture of Suzie and Mom.  Ok, now you get in there Dad.  Now a pic with both Mom AND Dad.  Hey Aunt Gertie, it's your turn now.  Oh, we can't forget Uncle Melvin and and Loulou.  Now let's take all the photos we just took of Suzie standing there with a big, fake smile with everyone touching her unborn child and post them on FaceBook, because EVERYONE wants to see the entire family and how much we can't wait for the baby to get here.  We just want to show the entire world how much Suzie is loved.  And don't forget we're going to do the same thing next week because she'll be in her second trimester, and Lord forbid we miss taking the same pictures all over again.

Don't use social media to try and make up for real life situations

You and your sister had blowout of a fight.  You said something that hurt your friend's feelings and they won't talk to you.  Rather than changing your profile picture to the last vacation that you went on together, or posting a picture of "If you have the best sister in the world, share this flower", how about you pick up the phone or (in the age of technology) send them a text message telling them that you want to talk about it.  There's nothing more insulting then a public display of your ignorant and vain attempt to reach out to someone.  No one else may know why you're posting that picture, but the person you've hurt does, and by doing so you're doing nothing but slapping them in the face even more.  Yea, they may have told you never to talk to them again, but in reality that's exactly what they want you to do.  They want you to show them how much they really mean to you, and how much you really do care.

Don't keep posting politically charged content every chance you get

So your candidate didn't win the last election, and you think there were outside influences for why they lost.  You think the other candidate should be locked in a dungeon and fed moldy bread and water imported from Flint, Mi.  I get it...and so does the rest of your friends and family.  The First Amendment protects your freedom of speech, and you can say whatever you want to.  Yes, it's your page, and if people don't like it then they don't have to read it.  But the reality is yes we do have to read it, because that's how the posting system is designed to work.  We have to read (or at least see) every single post that you put out there, unless we click to not see ANY posts that you put out there.  So don't get pissed when I don't comment on your post about you buying a new house, or landing that dream job, because I didn't see the posts since I "unfollowed" you after your political rant about how Russia hacked the election, and the 47 links that you posted proving it.  He/she is our president, and there's nothing you and your 391 posts are going to do about it except piss me off to the point where I say screw you!

So there you have this years rant, and the list that makes it up.  I may add a few more items to the list, no check back if you think that you may miss something.  

And if you're offended by anything that I said, I really don't care, and neither should you.  There's a reason why it's called the "Royal pussification of America", and you taking offense to my opinions and beliefs only proves how ignorant and self-indulgent you really are.

5. June 2017 13:56 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Yahoo blocking my company mail server

For a week now Yahoo has been blocking emails sent from our company mail server.

As most of you know I own CG Design LLC.  Since 2003 we've offered web and email hosting, and have dedicated servers in a data center in Pittsburgh, PA and recently New Jersey.  We are constantly monitoring the servers for attacks, mostly dealing with email-related issues.  We serve both personal and business customers who rely on our servers to be up and running and free of issues.

Over the last week we've had numerous complaints from our customers that they can't send email to any of their clients with Yahoo email accounts.  After looking at the server logs we discovered that Yahoo is blocking email from our server IP address.  The following is the exact messages that appears in the server logs:

Thu 2014-08-28 08:54:15: <-- 421 4.7.1 [TS03] All messages from will be permanently deferred; Retrying will NOT succeed. See

As the owner, I personally took on the responsibility of handling the issue, and have reached out to Yahoo to resolve this issue.  The frustrating part is that there's no way to call Yahoo, as all of the numbers that I have found and tried I've been on hold for over an hour each time with no live person to talk to.  I can't send them an email because...well...they're blocking our mail server.  So, I took to Twitter and received a general response to use an online form that I already filled out.  I responded to their tweet, only to receive nothing in return.

At 3:55pm PST I received a response from my online form submission stating that they "made appropriate changes to this IP address in our database".  So, I logged into our mail server and attempted to re-send two of the emails that had failed.  To my dismay I received the same message that the server had been blocked.  So, I thought maybe it would take some time for the change to take effect.  This morning I made another attempt, and the above message is what I received.

The sad thing is that our server is not listed on any other spam blacklist, including SpamHaus, McAfee Trusted Source, or any other blacklist that we've been able to find.  All of the tests check out for DNS issues, MX records, etc.  There is absolutely no reason for Yahoo to be blocking us, but yet they have made it impossible for us to continue doing business with our customers who rely on us to send email to their clients with Yahoo-supported accounts.  And, this isn't just people with email addresses.  It's also people with SBCGlobal addresses and a number of other domains.

Believe me when I tell you that we have spent a considerable amount of time fighting spam, both incoming and outgoing.  I am constantly adjusting the security settings for incoming mail filtering because I'm personally tired of getting 50-60 messages a day trying to get me to buy windows, switch insurance companies, or divorce my wife for a new Russian bride that it waiting for me.  And as a result I have implemented a very strict policy for any of my customers who want to initiate an email campaign for marketing purposes.  I personally approve or deny each request, and once the campaign kicks off I am glued to the server watching its every move.  If something doesn't look right, I immediately stop the campaign and notify my customer.

Only once has a spammer been able to infiltrate our server, and it was used to attempt to send 68,000 unsolicited messages before it was caught.  This was due to one of our clients giving their username and password out to someone they shouldn't have.  The server was immediately suspended, and the majority of the 68,000 emails were permanently deleted.  We adjusted the security settings to be even more stringent and haven't had an issue since.

As you can see I am extremely frustrated by this whole situation, and it's severely affecting our business.  We already lost 2 customers, and a third one is threatening to leave by the end of the week if it's not resolved.  Yahoo isn't being much help, and at this point I don't know what more I can do.


**UPDATE** - 8/28/14 @ 12:22pm EST

Right now we have 21 emails in the retry queue of our mail server that are waiting to be delivered to business clients of 3 of my customers.  This is completely uncalled for considering that this issue is supposedly fixed according to Yahoo.  Apparently they noticed on Twitter again, as I just got a response that they have "escalated this to out Postmaster team to review further".  I surely hope this is true because I'm waiting for a phone call that we just lost another hosting customer.

If you are reading this as a Yahoo employee, the incident numbers are 140826-014905 and 140828-014342.  My contact information is included and I am eagerly waiting for you to contact me.


**UPDATE** = 8/28/14 @ 1:54pm EST

Just received the following message from John at Yahoo Customer Care:

Hi Chris, 

I want to add some additional information to ensure you're updated on the findings of our investigation. 

It appears your domain and IP address are on 3rd party blacklists not associated with Yahoo.  Therefore, we are unable to resolve your issue.  You’ll need to address this blacklisting immediately, as it may be contributing to your delivery issues. 

I highly recommend that you begin an online research for your domain’s DNS/SMTP records.  It’s widely known that negative domain information can contribute to your mail being blocked or categorized as spam.  

Thanks for your patience. 



Yahoo Customer Care 

Go mobile with Yahoo, so you are always in the know!


This is complete garbage, as I have ran NUMEROUS tests for blacklisting and EVERY one of them have come back negative. If this was the case, why didn't John provide the names of the lists that our server is supposedly on?  AND obviously he didn't read my original comments or he would know that we've been hosting websites and email since 2003.  Of course I am fully aware of the effect of "negative domain information".

Here's just ONE of the tests that we've ran:

Furthermore, our server logs specifically show the IP address and a URL pointing to a Yahoo site.  In tracing the IP addresses that are listed they are all owned and registered to Yahoo Broadcast Services or Yahoo.  So how can he possibly say that it's not Yahoo that's blocking us?

Here is the server log:


Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:16: Attempting SMTP connection to []
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:16: Resolving A record for [] (DNS Server:
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: * TTL=(0) A=[]
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: Attempting SMTP connection to []
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: Waiting for socket connection...
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: *  Connection established ( ->
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: Waiting for protocol to start...
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 220 ESMTP ready
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: --> EHLO
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <--
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250-PIPELINING
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250-SIZE 41943040
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250-8BITMIME
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250 STARTTLS
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: --> STARTTLS
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 220 Start TLS
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: SSL negotiation successful (TLS 1.0, 256 bit key exchange, 128 bit  encryption)
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: --> EHLO
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <--
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250-PIPELINING
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250-SIZE 41943040
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 250 8BITMIME
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: --> MAIL From:<> SIZE=3469
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: <-- 421 4.7.1 [TS03] All messages from will be permanently deferred; Retrying will NOT succeed. See
Thu 2014-08-28 09:40:17: --> QUIT

And here is the IP trace report.  Check it out for yourself to see that the server belongs to Yahoo:

So, according to John's response, it can only be determined that Yahoo is using some 3rd party blacklist that no one knows about, or they simply don't want to deal with the issue.

At this point I'm ready to launch a campaign involving the news media and all of the major tech blogs.  This is completely uncalled for, and obviously Yahoo doesn't want to do anything about it.


28. August 2014 09:27 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Dynamically resize images in memory

Recently I was working on a project where I needed to have the ability to resize images, but not have the newly created image be saved to the filesystem.  I also didn't want to modify the original image, as the images needed to be kept in their original unmodified form.

After searching the blogs and forums, I came across some code that seemed to do exactly what I needed and then some.  Not only did it create the file in memory, but it also allowed me to specify the width and height, and maintained the aspect ratio of the original image.  What I came up with was an HTTP handler that allowed me to specify a filename, width, and height and have the server return an output stream containing the new image.  Additionally I added a key to the web.config that allowed me to specify the folder that the original images are stored (since this never changed) allowing me to only specify the filename in the calling code.  The resulting code works for both ASP.Net image controls and standard HTML image tags since the ImageUrl or SRC is set to a virtual path with 3 querystring values.

The code for my custom handler is as follows (note that my standard disclaimer found here applies as usual):

First, you need to the this to the <appSettings> section of the web.config, replacing the "Images\Test" with the folder that contains your image

<add key="ResizeHandlerInputFolder" value="Images\Test"/>

Second, add the httpHandler code to the handler section of your web.config (be sure to add it to the correct place depending on the version of IIS that you are using

<add name="PhotoResizeHandler" verb="*" path="*.image" type="PhotoHandler.Resize, PhotoHandler" />

Third, create a new class with the following code, modifying it as you see fit. 

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;

using System.Web;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Configuration;
using System.IO;

namespace PhotoHandler
    public class Resize : IHttpHandler
        public bool IsReusable
            get { return false; }

        public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
                if (context.Request.QueryString["filename"] != null)
                    if (context.Request.QueryString["width"] != null && context.Request.QueryString["height"] != null)
                        Image FullsizeImage = Image.FromFile(context.Server.MapPath(context.Request.ApplicationPath) + "\\" + ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ResizeHandlerInputFolder"] + "\\" + context.Request.QueryString["filename"].ToString());
                        int NewWidth = int.Parse(context.Request.QueryString["width"].ToString());
                        int MaxHeight = int.Parse(context.Request.QueryString["height"].ToString());
                        // Prevent using images internal thumbnail                        

                        if (FullsizeImage.Width  MaxHeight)
                            NewWidth = FullsizeImage.Width * MaxHeight / FullsizeImage.Height;
                            NewHeight = MaxHeight;

                        System.Drawing.Image NewImage = FullsizeImage.GetThumbnailImage(NewWidth, NewHeight, null, IntPtr.Zero);

                        using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream()) 
                            if (Path.GetExtension(context.Request.QueryString["filename"].ToLower()) == ".jpg")
                                context.Response.ContentType = "image/jpg";
                                NewImage.Save(ms, System.Drawing.Imaging.ImageFormat.Jpeg);
                            else if (Path.GetExtension(context.Request.QueryString["filename"].ToLower()) == ".gif")
                                context.Response.ContentType = "image/gif";
                                NewImage.Save(ms, System.Drawing.Imaging.ImageFormat.Gif);
                            else if (Path.GetExtension(context.Request.QueryString["filename"].ToLower()) == ".png")
                                context.Response.ContentType = "image/png";
                                NewImage.Save(ms, System.Drawing.Imaging.ImageFormat.Png);
            catch (Exception ex)
                throw new Exception(ex.Message);

To use the new handler, create a standard HTML image with the SRC set as a call to the .image extension. You'll need to pass in the 3 querystring parameters as well. An example of this is as follows:

<img src="Resize.image?filename=mypic.jpg&width=100&height=50" alt="" />

The result should be as seen below with my logo. The top image is the full-size image, and the bottom is the newly resize version:

Full-size logo

One last note is that the height that you specify isn't necessarily going to be the final height of the image, but the maximum height that the final image can be.  The code adjusts the height to maintain the aspect ratio depending on the width that you specify.  In my above example I specified a width of 200px and a height of 100px.  The resulting image is actually 200px wide by 48px high because the code also maintains the aspect ratio.

I hope this code helps someone.  Feel free to modify it as needed and use it in your own projects.

14. August 2014 16:44 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Fruit Basket Frenzy

Fruit Basket Frenzy

Available now on the iTunes App Store

The sky has opened up and fruit is raining down on the land. Your mission is to catch as many fruit as you can while avoiding the bombs that are mixed in. Grabbing a PowerUp clears the board of the same kind of fruit, bombs, or if you're lucky enough to grab a star it will clear everything.

Move your basket anywhere on the field, but don't get too greedy or you'll catch a bomb instead. The longer you go, the more the fruit numbers multiply, and the faster it comes down.

Fruit Basket Frenzy is my first attempt at iOS development, and it quickly becoming a popular game for all ages. As a seasoned software engineer with 10+ years of experience in the .Net world in both Winforms and Web applications, I decided to expand my skillset to include Objective-C used by Apple for Mac OS and iOS development. Coming from a primarily C# background, the learning curve was bearable as I dove into the Apple realm to see what I could do. This initial idea was to come up with a simple game to "test the waters" of iOS development, and to familiarize myself with the XCode IDE and Objective-C language.

I started off exploring Cocos2D as the primary framework, mainly due to the cross-platform capabilities. I wanted to be able to write one code base and distribute it to both iOS and Android (my current phone of choice). In the end I chose SpriteKit for the initial development, firstly because of the documentation and tutorials that I found covering the framework, and secondly because Cocos2D for Android requires knowledge of language that I have yet to dive into full force

After a few short hours of exploring SpriteKit, I was off and coding the core parts of FBF and had a semi-working app shortly after. I went through a few iterations, trying to balance my lack of experience in game development with the fundamental aspects that make a game fun to play. The overall objective was to create a simple game that our 3-year-old could play, while keeping it challenging enough for teens and adults as well. Over a 3-day period I was able to successfully put everything together, and managed to come up with the game that is available today

As stated in the app description, the objective is simple. Move the basket to catch the falling fruit while avoiding the bombs. Various powerups are included for each type of fruit, as well as the bombs, and a star which clears the entire playing field. A powerup is visible by a rotating, flashing icon of the fruit, bomb, or star, which when caught sets off a sparkling explosion of the items that it cleared. The longer you go without catching a bomb, and the higher your score climbs, the faster the fruit falls, and the more of it there is. There is a point where the fruit stops multiplying, but the speed at which it drops continues to increase.

I decided to release FBF as a free game which is ad-supported using the iAd framework. The ads appear at the bottom of the screen, and do not interfere with the overall gameplay. I figured this would be the best option for monetizing the game, and didn't think that anyone would appreciate it if I forced them to watch a 15-second video ad after each game played.

In the end, I hope you enjoy my first attempt at iOS development, and tell others about it. You can post your scores on Facebook using the link on the Game Over screen so that others can see your accomplishments, and as a link for them to download it too.

As part of the official launch of Fruit Basket Frenzy I am holding a competition from now through April 1, 2014. The top 3 high scores will receive a gift card of their choice valued at $50 for 1st place, $25 for 2nd place, and $10 for 3rd place. To qualify you must post your high score on Facebook using the link from within the app, and then notify me on my Facebook page for verification. Only those scores which are posted through the app will be valid (i.e. no screenshot, photos, or videos will be accepted). In addition, the first person to score 1500+ points will win a 16gb iPod Touch. Again, to qualify you must post your score using the link provided in the app, and notify me for verification.

Visit the official Fruit Basket Frenzy Facebook page and tell all of your friends about it.

4. March 2014 16:07 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

"15 minutes" costs you $800+

As if dealing with the effects of my recent car accident wasn't enough I now am forced to deal with the financial burden of a rental car for the next 4 weeks.  The lady that hit me has Geico as her insurance company, and they are refusing to pay for my rental, even after they accepted 100% liability for the accident, until the repairs are completed on my car.

I spoke with Tracy Dean at the Geico claims office after I purchased a copy of the police report.  She stated that since Allstate (my insurance company) was handling the repairs that Geico wouldn't pay for the rental until after the body shop gives them the final bill.  In speaking with the body shop they stated that my car won't be done until March 20...a full month after the accident.  Even worse, I go from driving a 2011 full-size Chevy Malibu to a compact Chevy Cruze.  With a wife and 2 kids it makes it very difficult for us to go anywhere as a family since my daughter is in a car seat.  We even had to take the car seat out of Missy's vehicle to put it in the Cruze because of the smaller back seat.  When we bought the Malibu we actually looked at the Cruze and decided against it for this exact reason.

I'm getting a discounted rate through Allstate for the rental, but it's still costing me $204/week in rental fees.  I told this to Tracy, but she stated that there's nothing she can do.  This is completely unacceptable given the fact that I was not at fault in the accident, and Geico has accepted liability.  I'm now seriously considering taking the Cruze back and getting something bigger simply for the principal of the matter and the comfort level (or lack there of) of driving a smaller vehicle.  Then Geico can pay even more because of their lack of reason in these types of circumstances.

This could all be put to rest if Geico would agree to take over the billing for the rental.  I would have no problem if they simply did that, and then once the repairs were completed told me to take the care back that day or within 24 hours.  If I didn't then it would be on me.  Now it's ALL on me, and I did absolutely nothing wrong in this incident.

So in the end I get a damaged vehicle that will be decreased in value when I trade it in, a financial burden for the next 4 weeks, a rental car that's too small to go anywhere as a family, and nothing but excuses from an insurance company who touts their customer service.

Boycott Geico.  Go Allstate!!!


Update 3/1/13 @ 5:49pm

I spoke with Tracy Dean again this afternoon and gave her 3 choices.  The first was that Geico takes over the billing for the rental, and they never hear from me again.  The second was that I go back to Enterprise and rent the best vehicle they have with all the options, and tack on the daily insurance coverage instead of using the coverage on my Allstate policy.  The third was that Geico pays me the equivalent of what my hourly rate would be for me to take the next 3 weeks off since this is my primary vehicle.  She said that she see what she could do and would call me back shortly.

She called back with a voicemail that she contacted Enterprise and asked if they would be willing to continue with the rental and send Geico a bill when I returned the car.  Enterprise agreed, but said that they would not release the hold on my credit card until the bill was paid.  I can understand that, and I'm more happy that I don't have to come up with more money up front and then fight to get it back.

Allstate it still the best, but at least Geico made the attempt to handle the situation.  It should've happened before this, but never the less it's done.


Update 3/7/13 @ 2:17pm

Well, my last update apparently didn't work.  Enterprise called and said that there was an outstanding balance on my account that I needed to pay for.  I explained the arrangements with Geico, but they said that since Geico hasn't arranged direct billing that I was still on the hook for it.  I called Geico back, and they said that there's nothing more that they can do.  This is getting more frustrating by the day.

Update 3/8/13 @ 5:39pm

So today I spoke with a supervisor named Christopher at Geico about the rental issue.  At first he wasn't too eager to help, but said that he would see what he could do and call me back.  He finally called back on my way home from work and said that due to the circumstances he has arranged with Enterprise to authorize direct billing through next Friday since there's a possibility that my car will be out of the repair shop by then.  Any additional days will need to go through the normal claims process.  I agreed and thanked him for his efforts.

Update 3/15/13 @ 12:46pm

Talked to the repair shop today, and unfortunately my car won't be done until Monday or Tuesday.  Hopefully this won't cause any issues with Geico, but I guess we'll ahve to wait and see.

Update 3/19/13 @ 7:00pm

Finally got my car back today, and she looks good as new.  The shop said that I could leave the rental there and they would see that it was returned, so that's a good thing.  Back to normal life once again.

Update 4/3/13 @ 1:23pm

It never ends does it?  Enterprise called today and said that Geico has yet to make good on the remaining balance of the rental.  They said that Geico refuses to pay for the remaining 4 days since they only authorized up until the 15th.  I called Geico, and they changed their story saying that Allstate still hasn't sent them the final claim demand letter.  I then called Allstate and explained this to the claims agent who said that they already sent out the demand letter.  He in turn contacted the repair shop, and to my complete surprise the shop said that they would take care of the remaining 4 days of the rental.  Allstate said that they would then go after Geico to repay the shop, so hopefully they will get that taken care of.

Update 4/4/13 @ 10:41am

I think I'm finally done with this headache except for on thing.  Geico owes me 1 days pay for the day that I missed because of the accident.  I sent a message to Allstate, and he said they would follow up with them.  I then called Geico who said to fax over a copy of the doctor's excuse and a current pay stub.  We'll see how long this one takes.

Update 4/11/13 @ 11:13pm

Got a call from Geico today about the missed day.  They agreed to pay the same amount that I calculated, and in turn requested a release for this part of the claim.  I agreed, so they are supposed to send the check out tomorrow.

28. February 2013 22:27 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

OnStar response team failed to call me

As the proud owner of a 2011 Chevy Malibu I have maintained an active subscription with OnStar.  I've never had a problem with them thus far, nor have I needed them in an emergency...until today.

At approximately 5:15pm EST I was on my way home from work when another driver drove through an intersection in front of me.  The area that I was in consisted of one lane splitting into two, and I was proceeding to move into the right lane at that time.  About 100 yards ahead is a stop light, and I was going to be in that lane to turn right.  Traffic was backed up to the preceding intersection waiting for the light to turn green.  

As I approached the intersection and moved into the right lane I was passing a vehicle who was stopped in the left lane.  The driver that I hit was crossing the intersection in between the stopped cars, and did not stop or look before proceeding through into my lane.  There was no time to react, so I slammed on the brakes but ended up T-Boning the car in the center of the passenger side door.  The speed limit through that area is 25mph, but with the traffic I was doing 15-20mph at most.  However, it was enough to cave the side of the car in about 6-8 inches and to actually push the car into another vehicle that was sitting at the stop sign on the other side of the intersection (to my right).  As a result we now have a 3 car pile up.

I immediately got out of my car to see if everyone was ok, and reached for my phone to call 911.  I didn't even realize that the 3rd car was involved until I was on the phone with the 911 operator.  As I reported the accident I asked the driver if she was ok.  She was obviously shaken up, crying, and her hand was shaken tremendously.  I answered the 911 operator's questions, and gave as best of a description as I could give considering the events that just took place.

After I hung up the phone the driver of the 3rd car got out and walked around her vehicle.  She looked quite distraught, so I asked if she was ok again.  She said she lived down the street and needed to contact her husband.  I gave her my phone and told her to call him and let him know what happened.  A couple minutes later the police arrived to assess the damage and make out the report.

I didn't realize that all this time my car was still running.  So I opened the passenger side door and turned off the key, but the stereo continue to play since I opened and closed the driver side door with the ignition still turned on.  Despite the damage to the front end of the car (as you can see from the pictures below) the electrical system was still in full functioning order.  In fact I later moved the car into a nearby parking lot once the police took pictures of the scene.

When my wife came to pick me up we were discussing the accident and I realized something...OnStar never called the car's phone system to check on the incident.  This could only mean one of two things.  Either there was some type of problem with the phone system in the car, or OnStar was never notified of the crash.

I later went to the hospital to get checked out, and when I returned home I searched the internet for reports of OnStar not responding to an accident.  At first I thought that maybe it was because the airbags didn't deploy, but then I found other stories of the same type of crash and the person also stated that OnStar never called, nor had any record of a crash.  This peaked my interest, so I dug in a little more and found more than one story resulting in the same scenario.

I then called OnStar's customer support line at 1-866-466-7827.  I decided to record the call so that I could have it on record in case I would need it in the future.  After listening to their voicemail tree, I finally got through to a customer representative.  The next part of this post is the full 15 minute audio recording of the call with my phone number bleeped out.

Recorded call to OnStar customer support

As you can clearly see from the recording I notified her that I was recording the message (according to Pennsylvania law), and proceeded to ask her about the service, how the sensors worked, what the response team would do in the event of an accident, if the system in my vehicle reported any abnormalities, and if there were any software/hardware updates that my particular system needed.  She stated that everything was in order and that there were no reports of any defects, and more importantly no accidents detected by the system.  When I asked about the sensors, she clearly stated that there were enough sensors on the car to detect a crash from multiple angles of impact.  This indicates that in the type of crash that I was in there should be no reason why the sensors should not have detected the impact, and even more an impact with resulting in the extent of damage that my car received.  The accident occurred at approximately 5:15pm and I called OnStar at 11:18pm the same day.  According to the customer service representative my vehicle was in perfect working order, even though at that exact time it was sitting in a secured area with the front end completely damaged, with parts falling off as it was towed..

This brings to light a severe discrepancy in the OnStar service, and what OnStar claims in their advertisements and promotional material.  When we bought the car the dealer touted the features, and made specific note of the OnStar system.  Since this was my first vehicle with OnStar, I was interested in the features that they offer.  After further research the particular system in my vehicle is OnStar version 9 which was a new model for the 2011 class, and is supposed to the the latest version available.  All of the advertisements that I have seen indicated (or imply) that if you are in an accident an OnStar representative will contact you through the internal phone system to inquire as to the severity of the accident, if you are alert, what type of emergency assistance you need, to dispatch emergency personnel etc.  None of this happened in 30 minutes that I was on the scene of my accident.

I couldn't understand why the system didn't work as it is so plainly advertised.  After calling OnStar I realized why this was...the system never notified the response team that I was in an accident.  None of the variables that could cause a notification not to be sent were applicable.  I was in an area that had enough cellular signal to make a call (proven by my call to 911), the vehicle was in perfect view of the sky (for GPS functionality), the electrical system was fully functional (my stereo and the fact that I moved the vehicle after the fact proves this), and according to OnStar the system reported no faults or irregular activity during any diagnostics sessions since the service was activated in May of 2011.  Quite simply the OnStar system in my car failed to perform as it was advertised to me when I purchased the vehicle, and in every discussion that I had with OnStar since purchasing my subscription.  In effect I have been paying for a service that does not work as it is advertised, or how it is designed to work, and apparently I'm not the only person that this has happened to.

I'm not sure of any recourse that I may have at this point, but I am going to seek legal advice regarding this.  Clearly (at least in my understanding of the law) this is at least a misrepresentation of a product and/or possibly false advertising since the product did not work as it was explained to me when I purchased it.  I was led to believe that I would receive a certain level of service, specifically if an accident should occur, yet when it did I did not receive the service indicated.  Effectively I've been paying a company for a service that failed to deliver.

I'll update this as the details come in, but for now here's the pictures of the accident scene.







Update #1 - 2/21/13 @ 9:57am

I received the call from OnStar executive team, and explained the situation and my concern.  Soco (the name of the representative) proceeded to explain that not every crash would be detected by the system, and that my crash most likely fell into that category.  I expected this answer, so informed her of the conversation that I had with the previous representative, and the detailed questions that I asked leading up to me divulging that I was in an accident.  She maintained that there are a limitations to the system that would cause a crash to not be detected and reported.  She then asked if I read the Terms and Conditions of my OnStar service (a copy of which can be viewed here).  Again, I expected this answer as well.  I stated that I had read them, and that the limitations stated in the T&C did not apply to my situation.  After going over the stated limitations, and explaining how they did not apply to my accident, she stated that there are some limitations that are not outlined in the T&C, but then changed the topic.  This raises a concern over the disclosure that OnStar is providing in their contracts, as well as their T&C.

In the end she indicated that if I had any out-of-pocket expenses for towing that I would be reimbursed by OnStar since part of the service is roadside assistance.  She also indicated that once the vehicle is back on the road that she would like to give me 3 months of service for free.  My first thought was "Wow..a whole 3 months or a service that obviously does not work", but I did not say this to her since I do appreciate the attempt and did not feel that a smart answer would be appropriate.  She stated that she would be performing and investigation into the accident, and we ended the call.

On a different note, I just received an email from OnStar as I was typing this edit stating that my hands-free calling minutes are about to expire, wanted me to refill.  I really don't think that I'll be doing that anytime soon.

Update #2 - 2/21/13 @ 3:58pm

The insurance adjuster completed the damage estimate and sent me a copy.  According to them there is $7335 worth of damage.  They stated that the entire front end of the car needs replaced, including frame damage on the left front area of the crash zone.  Afterwards I called Soco at OnStar to get my case number, and informed her of the findings.  She continued with her line of "there are limitations to the system" as well as "our terms and conditions".

On a side note she is sending me a reimbursement check for $150.00 to cover any out-of-pocket towing expenses.  I'm supposed to receive the check sometime within the next 30 days.  She also gave me 3 free months of service now that she knows that the car is going to be repaired.  I'm not supposed to be charged the normal $12.95/month fee that I've been paying until June.  And she said that she is continuing the investigation and will contact be with more information.

Update #3 - 2/26/13 @ 6:10pm

I went to Sterling Auto Body on Rodi Rd where my car is being repaired to use the OnStar system inside the car to run a diagnostics.  In doing so the representative stated that the 5 codes that came back were related to the transmission, a drivetrain malfunction, and various air sensors.  I specifically asked about the OnStar system and she stated that there were no codes related to it, and the system was reporting 100% functionality.  Again, I recorded this portion of the conversation for my records.  

I then called the executive review team (with recording) to speak with Soco.  She was unavailable to I spoke with another representative.  After detailing the case again she added a few additional notes to the case and stated that she would have Soco return my call the next day.  I also informed her of the statement that Soco made regarding the limitations not outlined in the T&C, and that I had recorded the conversation.  I explained the concerns that I had about this statement, and that I have a real problem with this type of behavior from a company.  She said that she would make a note of it in the case and bring it to Soco's attention.

Update #4 - 2/27/13 @ 1:47pm

Sterling Auto Body just called me and gave me the final estimate of the damage to my car.  They explained that they dismantled the entire front end and cataloged and inventoried all of the damaged parts.  As it stands the total is now up to $8800, but they won't have the final estimate complete until the repairs are completed (misc. bolts, clips, etc.).  He stated that the left frame rail would need to be cut out and replaced, the upper right rail has 3 or 4 kinks in it, and the rest of the components in the front (steel bumper rail, radiator, a/c condensor, plastic body parts etc.) would all be replaced.  Thankfully there's no mechanical damage to the engine or transmission, but rather structural parts around the engine compartment.  Taking into consideration the extent of the repairs he gave me an estimated completion and delivery for my car of March 20...a full month after the accident.

I asked about their knowledge and experience with OnStar systems, and if they could tell me why the system did not detect the crash.  He said that he had no idea, and suggested that I take the car back to the dealer after the repairs are completed and have them run a full diagnostics.  Once again no one can tell me why the system failed, including OnStar themselves, considering the significant amount of damage ($8800 worth) that was done to this vehicle.

Earlier I was able to speak with Soco and I informed her that I would like a refund for the total cost of services that I have paid over the last 18 month (minus any complimentary time periods).  She sated that she would see what the total amount that I have been charged is to date, and would get back to me this afternoon with a decision.  She also stated, in regards to her statement about the limitations not covered in the T&C, that she misspoke and that everything is indeed outlined in the T&C.  I confronted her on this, reciting and quoting her from the recorded phone call, and she said that she apologized but that was not what she meant.

21. February 2013 01:02 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

It's time to quit glorifying failure

It is so discouraging and a true discrace to our society that we choose to make headline news out of people who cause death to others or themselves, only to continue to spread the news even more on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  What is wrong with people when they feel that it's Ok to glorify these individuals by positing or "sharing" a story of someone who they have no business mentioning.  I'm not saying that people don't have a right to express themselves, to have an opinion, or to post whatever they want to on their page.  But what kind of person are you who feels it appropriate to spread news about someone who commits such a horrible act.

It doesn't matter how many #1 hits they had, or how many touchdowns or sacks they had in a game.  It doesn't matter how many medals they won, or the odds that they overcame to do it.  The fact is they chose to make the decisions in their life that brought whatever event you're posting.  They chose to fill their lives with drugs, alcohol, abuse, or whatever the case may be.  They chose to pick up the gun, and they chose to end another person's life, their own, or both.  But yet this is the kind of person you want to post about because "She was a great country music singer", or "The way he tore through that offensive line was remarkable".

You are the reason why kids grow up desensitized to the violence that we see every day across the headlines.  It doesn't phase them when they see a news story about a robbery or killing because that's all they see in the first 15 minutes of every 1/2 hours news program.  And then they see you posting about a singer that committed suicide.  But what really goes through their mind is "She was mommy's favorite singer"...not that for the last few years she was arrested for drugs, skipped state with her son against a custody order, and finalized it all by pointing a gun to her head and pulling the trigger.  The simple act of posting it on your Facebook page is condoning what she has done, and the life that she chose to lead.  And as if no one else has any idea what happened, you feel it your duty and obligation to let everyone know.

That simple act alone makes YOU the discrace to society.


18. February 2013 11:09 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Put him on the ballot and let's vote him in!!!

As a follow-up to my previous post, I came across this video of a Newtown father testifying in front of Congress.  Just listening to the 3-minutes that he spoke gives me hope that there are people (and more importantly fathers) our there like him.



6. February 2013 12:42 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Video games, music, movies, and we go again

Let me start off by saying that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place December 14, 2012 is indeed a devastating and tragic situation. I still can not begin to imagine what the parents of those children, as well as the community as a whole, could possibly be going through.  And as we've all seen with other shootings such as Columbine and Virginia Tech, the lasting pain that is left behind is something that is difficult to forget.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have, and are still suffering from these unsensible acts.

As we all attempt to recover in some way from these events we are constantly bombarded with the same arguments and statements that appear with each event.  Whether it's blaming music, video games, movies, or whatever the next topic that someone will think of, it never fails that these topics are placed in the forefront on a continuous basis.  Frankly, I'm as tired of hearing people come up with something to blame it on as I am with hearing about the incident itself with the media plastering it across every channel for weeks afterwards.

For decades people have blamed music lyrics for the reason why people act the way they do.  I am not a fan of Elvis, but when his music first came out he was practically labelled as the anti-christ simply for the way he danced.  When N.W.A and other rappers became a hit in the 80's and 90's everyone blamed violent acts on the individual listening to the songs and albums.  Today it's become even more of an issue with video games being the topic of blame, and music being added in as a backup argument.  Shortly after Sandy Hook decisions were made to cut certain scenes out of movies because they might be taken by some people as promoting or being too violent.  And I won't even get into to gun control issues and debates that are being thrown around the government, as CLEARLY this is an attempt to garner "brownie points" and not to deal with the underlying issue at hand.  More on that later.

Before I voice my opinion and reasoning for my thoughts and beliefs I want to say one thing.  You can agree with me, or you can tell me I'm full of it and have no clue what I'm talking about.  That is your decision, and I respect your right to have that opinion.  I do not condone violence, nor do I feel that anyone who commits a violent act, whether it's a domestic abuse case or a serial killer, should be "glorified" in the manner in which they are in today's society.  Just look at the media, Wikipedia, or a host of websites that discuss these events and you will quickly see what I mean.  In the case of Sandy Hook the media was so ruthless to be the first to report who the killer was that they didn't even get the right name (let alone the right person) before blasting it over the air waves.  Effectively this ruined Ryan Lanza's (the older brother of the actual killer) life for at least the first few days all because the media wanted to be the first to report and did not without verifying that what they were reporting was in fact the truth.  The list of FaceBook pages that immediately went up calling for Ryan to "burn in hell" prove this without a doubt.

This brings me to the point of this post.  I am sick and tired of hearing that the violence in video games, movies, and music are the causes of these types of tragedies, because this is not, nor has it ever been the reason why someone goes on a murderous rampage.  Now, there may be a few incidents where this isn't the case, but those are a very small percentage.  The true cause is that parents and people who have the ability to directly or indirectly influence a child are the cause.  Parents not teaching their children to be respectful, to have manners, or to value the life that they have are the real cause.  I can't tell you how many time we have taken our kids with us and people have commented how well-behaved they are.  Other kids are running around, carrying on, screaming, yelling, or crying, yet ours are standing or sitting right there with us mostly watching the other kids be disruptive.  Just recently I was in a local Avis car rental office with both of our daughters and the attendant didn't even realize that they were sitting in the chairs against the wall until one of them coughed.  He commented that he was surprised to see them sitting there because he thought that he and I were the only one in the room.

In our house we have certain rules about the type of movies that are on while the kids are awake, and the songs that played on the iPods.  Movies that have excessive language or intense sex scenes are tuned to the Disney channel or other channels with more kids-related shows.  With that said there have been times where we haven't turned the channel simply because there were a few "F-bombs" thrown out or scenes involving guns or fights.  We don't actively promote those types of movies with our kids, but at the same time we don't shelter them from them either.  It is a reality that at some point they are going to be exposed to these topics, and we would rather be with them when they are so that we can discuss it with them.  

I'm a fan of first-person-shooter games, and have played Halo and Call-of-Duty numerous times with our 8-year-old sitting right there next to me.  In fact since she was 6 she has watched me play, and has even grabbed the controller and ran around with me.  Some of you reading this may find this appalling, but think about this.  Is it better for me to be sitting there playing with her and to explain that it's just a game, or for her to play it without us knowing and be so engrossed in it that it starts to become a reality?  I do this because I want to teach her how to deal with what she sees and experiences so that she understands the difference between hurting a fictional character and hurting a real human being.  A friend of mine goes to great lengths to keeps his kids out of the room, and to block every possible view of the TV while he plays the same types of games.  While this in some form can be viewed as being hypocritical, he chooses to treat his kids like caged animals instead of teaching them the difference between shooting an enemy on TV and what real life war is.  In theory he is supposedly being a good parent by not allowing his kids to view this type of material, but in truth he's sheltering his kids from reality so that when they inevitably face it they won't know how to deal with it. Parents like him are the exact reason why kids grow up to be the one with the gun walking into the school.

Unlike me, my wife grew up with guns in the house, but most importantly they were taught how to live with them around.  The ammo was always kept under lock and key in a separate location, and the only time they were allowed to touch them was during hunting season or going out to the shooting range.  There were 6 kids in the house, and none of them thought once about grabbing one and going on a rampage.  They all listened to rock-n-roll, played video games, and watched movies with violent scenes and drugs and alcohol in them, but never once had the urge to commit a violent crime.  

I know hundreds of families with the same exact scenario and every one of them have the same results.  But yet according to lawmakers, lobbyists, the media, and everyone else who has some kind of agenda to fill or who wants their "5 minutes of fame" this exact scenario is why we have incidents like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook.  They make statement after statement that "We need to put an end to violent video games, and movies and music that promote violence" because it's an easy target.  What you don't hear them say is "We need to put an end to bad parenting" because...oh we're telling people how to raise their children and we can't do that for fear that we might offend someone.  So instead we'll pass bills that tramp on the Second Amendment, and make it harder for the citizens of this country to protect and defend themselves and their families.

I am not a gun activist, but I must say that I completely agree with the NRA's statement that there should be armed guards in every school building in the country...PERIOD.  We do protect our banks, the President, sporting events, etc. with armed security, so why shouldn't we protect our children with the same?  And it shouldn't be up to the school to provide this security.  It should be up to the government, whether local, state, or federal to provide.  That's what the government is there PROTECT and to serve, and that doesn't just mean the politicians.  It means everyone, and most importantly the people who are going to someday be running this country.

17. January 2013 13:51 by Admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

eBay and Paypal account restrictions are unfair and borderline blackmail

Over the next few days I will be listing approximately 25 items on eBay in an attempt to have a restriction lifted for withdrawing funds from my Paypal account from eBay auctions.  Anyone who buys the item(s) with be reimbursed for the selling price.  For those of you wondering why on earth I would do something like this, please read on.

I have had an active eBay account since 2003, and have it tied in with my Paypal account.  Both accounts have verified identity information, including credit card, bank account, and all of the usual things associated with the accounts.  I've sold 90+ items over the years, and bought even more.  That may not seem like a lot of items, but for the casual seller it is a decent amount.  Never once has anyone filed a complaint on anything that I've sold, asked for a refund, or otherwise had anything bad to say about my level of service as a seller.  Even two customer service reps at eBay and one at Paypal that I spoke with confirmed that my reputation is impeccable.  With all this in mind, there should be no reason why I should have to worry about any kind of restrictions or limitations on either of these accounts right?  Well, apparently that isn't the case, nor will it be the case for anyone who sells on eBay the same way I do.

Ebay bought Paypal back in 2002, and has tightly integrated it into the whole eBay buying/selling process.  So tightly integrated that as of an eBay policy change in 2008 it is virtually impossible to sell something on eBay and not take Paypal payments as the exclusive method of payment.  Because of this, eBay "double dips" in regards to the fees that they charge to sell something.  They charge an initial listing fee based on the features that you choose.  When the auction is over they charge you a percentage of the final selling price (a.k.a. the "Final Value fee").  Then you have to pay a fee to accept Paypal payments.  They force these conditions on a seller by the following paragraph located on their site at

"Sellers who offer PayPal as a payment option in their eBay listings (either via logos or through text in the item description) must accept card funded payments. Sellers must have a Premier or Business PayPal Account or be willing to upgrade from a Personal PayPal Account to a Premier or Business Account upon receipt of a card funded payment. Sellers may not communicate to buyers that they only accept account balance or bank account funded payments, or will not accept card funded payments."

So, in order to sell on eBay I have to accept Paypal payments.  In order to accept Paypal payments I have to acept ALL forms of payment including credit and debit cards.  To do that I have to upgrade to a Premier or Business account.  And in order to have such an account I am subject to a 2.9% to 3.9% fee for each transaction according to the fees page available at

Here's something better.  At any point in time eBay and Paypal can restrict your account by placing a "pending hold" on any funds.  The hold can last up to 21 days, but it is explained that the hold can be reduced by providing tracking information for any item that you sell.  The hold is then released 3 days after the item has been verified as being delivered.  They claim that this is in attempt to handle refund claims by dissatisfied buyers.

Fast forward to present day.  I havent sold anything on eBay since 2010, but have made quite a few purchases.  My account is still in good standing, with no issues on either buying or selling.  In April 2012 I list three cell phones of eBay because I was in the process of switching from AT&T to Verizon and had no use for the phones.  A few days later I receive an email from Paypal that they are restricting my account and placing a hold on any future incoming funds for up to 21 days. After logging into my Paypal account I saw the following banner at the top of my Account Overview page.

click the image to enlarge

Two of the phones sold immediately, and the funds were already in my Paypal account.  The auction for the last phone had not yet ended, so the funds were never sent.  Fortunately I was able to withdraw the funds for the first two, but the last one was indeed held.  In my case it was held for the full 21 days even though I provided the tracking information.  So why was my money held, and what would make eBay and Paypal do this to someone who has an impeccable history for the last 9+ years on buying and selling on eBay?  I called the customer service number for Paypal and asked that exact question.  What I found out makes me seriously reconsider selling anything on eBay.

The Paypal representative listened to me, and took a look at my account.  She stated that she saw absolutely no reason why my account had been restricted.  She said that it must be something eBay placed, so she transferred me to them.  The representative that I spoke with from eBay informed me that the reason was because I did not sell 25 items in the last year, and therefore failed to meet their requirements for un-restricted selling and withdrawls.  After explaining to her, and her verifying my history, I stated that what they were doing was completely uncalled for, unfair, and borderline blackmail.  After speaking with another representative claiming to be a suprevisor in some capacity, he instructed me that once I meet the 25 transaction count that the restriction will automatically be lifted.  Essentially what they are saying is that unless you pay them money they are going to hold yours for up to 3 weeks.  For those of you who don't see this, refer to my previous statements regarding the fees that we are charged to list an item and complete a transaction including payment.

So, the bottom line is this.  According to eBay's policy for selling you have to have to satisfy all three of the following requirements:

  • You must complete at least 25 transactions per year.
  • You must have at least $250.00 in total revenue based on all of your transactions.
  • You must not have created your account within the last 90 days. 

So according to these requirements, even if you sell 25 items for $5.00 each you still have not fullfilled the requirements, and are subject to having your funds held for up to 21 days.  Likewise if you sell 3 items (as in my case) for almost $1000.00, your account is subject to the same restriction, regardless of the history that you have as a reputable seller and member of the eBay community.

As a direct result of this, I will be posting approximately 22 eBay listings (I already sold 3 cell phones towards my 25 count) where I am selling insignificant items (i.e. pencils, erasers, paperclips, consulting services, etc.) just so I can get up to my 25 transaction count and have the current restriction lifted.  If you are looking at one of my auction listings, and have any reservations about why I've sold such items, you can now rest assured with a clear understanding of the reasoning, and can bid in complete confidence that you will receive exactly what I am listing in the exact condition that is described.

Additionally I am asking for your help.  If you would kindly go out to my eBay site at and buy any item that you see that is less than $5.00 I will refund your payment back to you plus any fee that you are charged for accepting the money.  I am doing this simply to procure my 25 transaction count, and have the restriction lifted.  Since eBay doesn't let you post "multiple identical items" I'll need to spread this out over the next few days as each active listing ends.

** UPDATE **

It appears that my voice has been heard (or at least read) somewhere.  I received another email from Paypal stating that the restriction has been lifted, and that funds from all future transactions will be immediately available.  I'm not exactly sure what prompted this, but I have a feeling it was from the links that I put in each of my listings pointing to this blog post.  I'll never be able to confirm that for sure, but at least I can go about my business without worrying about this type of unfair action.

It's sad that people need to go to these types of "extremes" to be treated fairly.  I understand that businesses need to protect themselves, as well as others that you may interact with, but to place unfair restrictions on people who have never given reason for such action to be taken crosses the line.  I will continue to use eBay and Paypal because I truly believe in the concept of both.  I just hope that I, nor others with similar circustances, have to deal with this situation again.

Thank you PayPal and eBay!!!

10. July 2012 14:12 by Admin | Comments (1) | Permalink