In mid-June I ordered some computer parts from an on-line company,CPUSolutions.com. Their prices were reasonably low, and they seemed tohave most everything I wanted in stock. When I finally got theshipment, after the usual interminable UPS Ground delay, there were twoboxes, a medium-sized box and a large-ish box. I opened the small boxfirst and discovered two motherboards, CPUs, and heatsinks that I didn'torder. Bummer. It was starting to look like they royally screwedup my order. Opening the second box revealed my complete order. Further digging in the small box revealed that the folks at CPUSolutions.comhad shipped an order to me that was meant for another customer of theirs inArkansas. On 29 Jun 01, I informed them of this mistake. Theirresponse was that they wanted me to sit around the house and wait for UPS tocome by and pick up the package. Uh, no. Their second responsewas that they wanted me to bring the package to work and give to a UPS guythere. I explained that I biked to work and that this idea wasimpractical. I suggested that they think more creatively and get backto me. They decided that they would send UPS out to my house topick-up the package and I could just leave it somewhere for UPS toretrieve. Nothing happened for a while and I prompted the companyagain on 09 Jul 01. I inquired whether they were serious about gettingthis merchandise back or not. The company indicated that all theyneeded from me was the location where I was going to leave thepackage. I e-mailed them on 09 Jul 01 that the package would besitting on my back steps. It sat there all last week. Finally,Sunday night, 15 Jul 01, a full two weeks after first bringing the problemto their attention, I informed the company that I would consider thepackage, and its contents mine forever if the box was still sitting on myback step when I got home from work on Tuesday, 17 Jul 01. At thatpoint, the box will have been taking up space on my back steps for over oneweek. Well, I got home today and discovered a tag from UPS. Apparently, the folks at CPUSolutions.com don't listen too well. TheUPS call tag indicated that they needed a signature at pick-up and that theywould be back tomorrow between the hours of 2 PM and 5 PM PDT. Thiswould seem to violate the very first condition that I laid down, "Iwill not sit around the house waiting for UPS to arrive to returnmerchandise that I didn't order." Now, the company is sending mewonderfully friendly e-mails with lines like:We have and will not forfeit any claim to this merchandise.That's all well and good, but legally, CPUSolutions.com doesn't have a legto stand on. California's Civil Code Section 1584.5 is squarely in my court. 1584.5. No person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation,or agentor employee thereof, shall, in any manner, or by any means, offer for salegoods, wares, merchandise, or services, where the offer includes thevoluntary and unsolicited sending or providing of goods, wares, merchandise,or services not actually ordered or requested by the recipient, either orallyor in writing. The receipt of any goods, wares, merchandise, or servicesshall for all purposes be deemed an unconditional gift to the recipient whomay use or dispose of the goods, wares, merchandise, or services in anymanner he or she sees fit without any obligation on his or her part tothe sender or provider. If, after any receipt deemed to be an unconditionalgift under this section, the sender or provider continues to sendbill statements or requests for payment with respect to the gift, an actionmay be brought by the recipient to enjoin the conduct, in which action theremay also be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailingparty.

From our "Banks Drive Me to Drinking, Heavily" file:Sarah and I wrote checks to our landlord for the July rent and mailed themin late June. They are still lost in the mail today. So, we bothcalled our banks to put stop payments on the checks. My phone call tothe bank went something like this:Me: Hi, I'd like to put a stop payment on a check.

Bank-droid: Okay, I'll just need to know a few things.

Me: Bank-droid: There is a fifteen dollar charge to put a stop-payment on a check.

Me: Are you kidding?

Bank-droid: No, I'm not.

Me: Why?

Bank-droid: Why what?

Me: Why does it cost me fifteen dollars to have the bank not pay a check?

Bank-droid: We charge you for your security.

Me: You charge me fifteen dollars to make me feel secure in the fact that you won't charge my account hundreds of dollars or you charge me fifteen dollars to secure my account against paying hundreds of dollars?

Bank-droid: We charge you to to secure your account against paying hundreds of dollars.

Me: Everytime I write a check you check the signature on the check right? (Yeah, right. If you've ever seen a bank process checks you know what complete fiction that is.) You don't charge me fifteen dollars to secure my account everytime you check the signature on a check. In fact, I assume this would be easier than paying a check. All I'm asking you to do is -not- pay a check. Why does it cost me fifteen dollars to have the bank do nothing?

Bank-droid: That's how the bank makes money. With fees.

Me: That's funny. I thought banks made money by holding my deposits. My deposits are then loaned out to other people to whom the bank charges a reasonably high interest rate. Using the interest paid by the recipients of these loans, the bank then pays me a laughable interest rate and keeps the difference for itself. Doesn't the bank do that any more? It sure seems like it does. In fact, given the nearly non-existent interest rate on my checking and savings accounts, I'd say the bank is making more money than ever through usury.

Bank-droid: No, we still do that too.

Me: So the bank is making money the old-fashioned way, but feels the need to make money the new-fashioned way by charging fees for not doing things?

Bank-droid: Do you want me to go ahead with this stop payment or not?

Me: How long will the stop payment last?

Bank-droid: Every fifteen dollars stops payment on the check for six months.

Me: How long after the check is written will the bank cash it?

Bank-droid: That depends on the teller. Most tellers won't cash a check older than six months. That's a "stale dated" check.

Me: But, if "most" tellers wouldn't cash a check, that leaves a "few" tellers who would cash the check, right? That means that I need to call up every six months and let the bank charge me fifteen dollars (either for my security or the bank's bottom line, take your pick) if I don't want to risk having a several hundred dollar check cashed behind my bank?

Bank-droid: Yes, that is correct. Do you want to proceed with the stop payment?

Me: Do I have a choice? Can I have my fifteen dollars allocated half to my security and half to the bank's bottom line?

Bank-droid: My web hosting company started having problems last night (which they, ofcourse, tried to blame on their upstream network provider, which, of course,is a crock). I couldn't get mail from the mail server. Icouldn't log in to the web server to update content. The web serverwasn't serving content. I created a trouble ticket in theirsystem. I got two canned responses back. Nineteen hours afterthe server went down, it came back up with no reasonable explanation foreither event. The response I got to my trouble ticket wasbasically: "We've gotten so many trouble tickets that we'repurging our database because we can't deal with them. If you're havingproblems let us know via a trouble ticket and hopefully we won't be swampedwith problems which will mean flushing the trouble ticket databaseagain." Uh, not necessarily the right response guys. Assuch, bogen.org will soon be moving to a new web host. I just don'tknow which one yet. Changing hosting companies should be completelytransparent to everyone, however.