Bills, bills, bills

I just finished a phone call with one of the highly skilled employees of the Videotron customer service call centre (see picture, left). The sheer ineptitude of their billing department boggles the mind. It's as if they don't want my money. Hello, Videotron? You provide services, send a bill indicating the fee, and accept payment for your services. This is how commerce works.

Let me start from the beginning. I signed up for cable and internet from Videotron in September, and received monthly bills from them. I get a service, they send me the bill, I pay it. Everyone's happy, right? Then, rather abruptly, in January of this year, I stop receiving bills from Videotron. I call to inquire after a suspiciously long time passes between bills, and am told the invoice must have simply been lost in the mail. Unphased -- hey, mistakes happen -- I give them my credit card number to settle the balance from the mystery bill.

However, months later, I've still received no bills. I call again, checking my balance using their phone system and paying online whenever I remember. Given my memory, though, this results in me continually forgetting to pay, or forgetting that i've paid -- and paying twice. In April, fed up with this mickey mouse shit, I call Videotron and ask where my bills are. The sunny Gregoire did some detective work, and found out that I had been signed up for 'internet billing', and that my bills were being sent to some default @Videotron.com email address. "No problem, sir, I'll switch you back to normal mail delivery." A month and zero bills later, I called back. "It should be coming," they sighed. So, taking the initiative to ensure that I pay unto Videotron what is Videotron's, I ask them to sign me up for automatic billing. That way, regardless of what happens to my paper copy of the bill, it gets paid on time.

Nuh-uh, apparently. Further months and no credit card charges later, I get a curt notice advising me that my credit card (a gold card with a totally unused $5,000 limit) hadn't been accepting charges, and that my owing balance was now well over three hundred bucks. I call Videotron to inquire. Turns out they had set up the card incorrectly (wrong expiry date), and, of course, my actual bills were still going to some phantom email address. The only letters that get a postage stamp are apparently collections notices, so the new billing arrangement between Videotron and myself is that I only hear about my billing situation is when it goes to their deadbeat accounts department. Nice.

So, I have invested my faith, my billing address and a credit card number with the industrious Jean-Marc. Will I ever see a cable bill? Will I ever get to pay? Will an accumulating mountain of cable debt see my internet disconnected and disqualify me from ever getting a mortgage approval? Tune in next week to find out, dear readers.


Free At Last, Thank God Almighty, I'm Free At Last

With the election now over and another election a full four years a full twelve months away, Optimuscrime.com will return back to its usual pre-election format.

What can I say about the result? It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for as an NDP supporter, but it's nice to see the Tories roundly thrashed about. And all the chatter(on my blog included) about an effective 'tie' in the house is pretty much bunk, considering that the Bloc leans to the centre-left. "Si c'est bon pour le Quebec, on l'appui," Duceppe promised last night. Decentralization agenda notwithstanding, I don't see tag-teaming with the Tories to sink the Libs being construed by any Bloquistes as falling under the category of "bon pour le Quebec."

So, NDPers, take heart: The Liberals campaigned from the left, and with some decent NDP seat gains and a minority Liberal government, we have the chance to keep them from governing from the right.

No matter what, governing will be tricky for the Liberals -- but woe betide the party that tries to drag a cranky electorate back to the polls anytime soon. And between work and this blog, I was digesting 3 or 4 papers a day; I want a solid year off before having to do that again.

On a completely different note (huzzah!), anyone reading this from my hometown of London, Ontario should make sure to catch the women's world inline hockey championship playoffs this week, and cheer extra-loud for Nan MacDonald, my co-TA and co-RA at McGill, who is playing forward on the Canadian national team. Go Nan!


Kingmakers No More?

Nobody short of a few insomniacs on Rabble and Freerepublic seem to have noticed, and the Globe still reads 'NDP hold balance of power', but there's been a pretty tiny -- yet dramatic -- shift as of 02:30 EST. The riding of Westminster-Coquitlam, which had been led by the NDP, just fell to the Conservatives. So, the final tally is as follows:

Liberals + NDP = 154 seats
Conservatives, Bloc & Chuck Cadman = 154 seats

This now means that the NDP can no longer independently bolster the Liberal minority, meaning that the powerful position held by the New Democrats as of 11:00 pm last night has now seriously been eroded. It also means that the Bloc just became far, far more powerful, as it is now the only party other than the Tories that could give the Liberals the majority of the house. With one more Liberal likely out of the voting to serve as Speaker of the House, the Liberals are even more impotent without the Bloc. In short, the life expectancy of this administration, and the power dynamics underlying it, just changed dramatically.

Except, for some reason, none of the broadcasters have noticed! TVA is still using old seat estimates, with the NDP at 22 seats; CBC still has its panel of talking heads nattering about something unrelated. Will somebody wake the news outlets up?


11:00 Update

Well, with a tear shed for Olivia Chow, here's the important news of the night for the NDP, as it stands right now:


Where's Gilles?

What's missing from the mugline above? You've got three leaders (and one running-mate/wife), with one ballot for each warm body pictured.

The answer, dear readers, is Gilles Duceppe. Upon arriving at the polling station, Elections Canada officials banned cameras from taking pictures of Duceppe casting his ballot, saying that their presence was 'illegal'. Apparently the polling stations in Lasalle-Emard, Toronto-Danforth and Calgary-Southwest somehow missed the secret "cameras are illegal" memo, and like normal electoral officers with a modecum of common sense, allowed the press to get their leaders-casting-ballot shots.

Gilles Duceppe filed a complaint with Elections Canada. After my own adventures with Jean-Pierre Kingsley's minions, I can sympathize with inexplicable decisions made by returning officers.

But really, folks. Can anyone understand how an electoral official could say 'no' to this guy? Look at him! He's got the world's saddest hangdog look. Come on, just give him a photo casting a ballot, would you?