A good business

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It occurred to me today that with all the BS I’ve been dealing with as far as bad businesses go, I have failed to make mention of good ones! There are plenty of those in the area, so I’m happy to give them a plug.

One such place is Sonic Sound in Arlington. This is a place that installs car audio, and since I got the Redhead a new receiver for his car for Christmas, I figured I’d call and see what it would cost to put the thing in this car.

I spoke with Kevin Juarez. I’m not sure if he’s the owner or the manager, but he couldn’t have been more helpful! We spoke for a while on the phone, I explained to him what I got, the car model and year and what I needed. I was disappointed when he said that if I had that receiver installed, I may experience an issue with sound degradation. But he was honest with me, and I appreciated that. We then discussed just putting an auxiliary jack in the car. He quoted me a price, and told me to go ahead and have the Redhead bring the car in.

I am more than thrilled with the results! Not only did they examine the car and determined that they could indeed put in the new receiver with no sound degradation, but they also charged the Redhead less than what they had originally quoted. That’s right. Less. Not only that, but they did the job in time to send him off to work on time.

The treated the Redhead with respect and kindness, even though he’s just a ginger kid. They did the job well. They did it quickly. And they did it without trying to jack up the price!

I can’t thank them enough for their professionalism, their courtesy and their skill, and I’m thrilled to give them a plug here, because they’re nothing short of fantastic. I’m betting that’s how they’ve been in business for 14 years!

So, thank you Sonic Sound!

They know how to take care of their customers, and I highly recommend these guys if you’re in the area!

Another business you should avoid (UPDATE)

33 Comments

I don’t know why customer service, honesty and integrity elude some business owners. After all, when you take care of your customers, it ensures they come back, right?

So why is it difficult for some business owners to do the right thing?

Some are simply thieves, who are out to steal your money. Others are just incompetent, and need a little goading to do the right thing. But it’s those who claim that customer service is important to them, and yet proceed to avoid personal responsibility for their screw-ups, that perplex me!

As an example…

In late November, I financed a vehicle for the Redhead. The goal was to find him a safe car that he would drive for a few years, and one for which he could afford to make the payments himself. Ultimately, even though I was the one who financed the car, it would be his – something he paid for on his own and something of which he could be proud.

We looked at a few vehicles, before connecting with Absolute Auto Sales in Fredericksburg, VA. The dealership apparently prides itself on its honor.

Absolute Auto Sales is founded on trust, integrity, and respect. We are proud to offer these values in our sales and business practices so our customers keep coming back. The vehicles on our lot have the best prices and quality in the area so come by and see us today!

Just remember the words, “integrity and respect.” You will see them later.

The owner appeared very knowledgeable, and helped me settle on a 2001 Mercedes CLK430 for the Redhead. Yes, it was a 2001 vehicle, but it had very low mileage (82,000, which is great for a car that old), and the engine sounded great when I test drove it. It was smooth other than a bit of a shimmy, which Derrick promised to have examined when an inspection was performed on the vehicle. He wouldn’t give me any more than $5000 for my 2010 Nissan Versa, because it did have some slight cosmetic damage and high mileage, and he explained thoroughly why, so I wound up with about $1000 of negative equity, but overall the Mercedes appeared to be a really good deal for my son at $8000.

The vehicle passed inspection, and Derrick told me he even had a mechanic put in a new wheel hub, because one of the lug nuts was stripped, and he did not want my son to have a blowout and not be able to change his own tire. He showed me a receipt that said he paid $550 for it.

He struck me as thorough and honorable, as well as knowledgeable.

That was November.

In December, the Redhead did, in fact, have a blowout, and it turned out that the lug nut was, in fact, still stripped. I note with interest that Derrick seems to have foreseen this happening. But the lugnut was stripped. Nothing was replaced. I wound up paying nearly $900 to replace the bent rim and tire that resulted from that incident. The mechanics at the nearby Mercedes shop said they did not believe the hub was new.  I contacted Derrick and told him that the person who claimed to have replaced the hub on that wheel may not have been completely honest. He said he would look into it.

It is now early February. I took the car in for a scheduled maintenance and had the mechanics at Mercedes run a diagnostic on the vehicle. Imagine my shock when they told me that the front brake rotors were worn 2mm below standard, which could not have happened in the 2 1/2 months we owned the vehicle! There are also significant oil leaks in the rear main seal. The front engine and transmission mounts are worn enough to be dangerous. The rear spring link bushings are worn and have caused significant damage to the rear tires (which now that I think about it, could explain Derrick’s interesting foresight), so the other tire in the rear has to now be replaced. Oh, and the lug nuts on that tire? Several of them are stripped as well.

The Mercedes mechanic told me he honestly had no idea how this car passed inspection! The grand total for this mess? $6000!

I’m certainly curious how this car passed inspection. The State Police requires that the rotors be checked during inspection. They also require that A MINIMUM of two wheels and drums be removed from each vehicle at the time of inspection. Had the person who performed the inspection done that much, they would have seen the worn rotors and would have certainly seen the problems that caused the problematic wear on the rear tires.

What else does the State Police require? This (pay special attention to the text I have bolded above).

8. – INSPECT STEERING & SUSPENSION FOR:
       (Jack up front end as shown in “Official Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Manual”.)

  • Wear in bushings, kingpins, ball joints, wheel bearings and tie rod ends.
  • Looseness of gear box on frame, condition of drag link and steering arm.
  • Play in steering wheel; leakage of power steering fluid in the system.
  • Wheel alignment and axle alignment.
  • Broken coil springs, spring leaves and worn shackles.
  • Shock absorbers.
  • Broken or weakened frame.
  • Broken or missing engine mounts.
  • Lift blocks.

9. – INSPECT TIRES, WHEELS & RIMS FOR:

  • Condition of tires including tread depth.

  • Mixing radials and bias ply tires.

  • Wheels that are cracked or damaged so as to affect safe operation.

I don’t know about you guys, but I doubt having the car for 2 1/2 months could have caused such significant wear so as to not be able to pass inspection!

It certainly does appear that whoever did the inspection did not do their due diligence, and Absolute Auto Sales wound up selling me a car that was dangerous to drive. Dangerous! I put my son in that car and let him drive it!

Let me repeat this. Because of this obviously faulty inspection, my child was driving an unsafe car!

Did Derek know about this? Did he know about the car being dangerous, and simply not tell me, choosing instead to make the sale? Did he not talk with the inspector who performed the inspection on the vehicle and ensure it was done properly? After all, the guy did claim that there was a stripped lug nut on one of the tires and claimed to have replaced it, charging Derrick $550! So was it negligence or just plain unethical fraud? What happened?

That’s a good question. It’s not one I can answer with any certainty, because as of this writing, he has refused to call me. I have sent numerous emails and texts to his phone. While he answered almost immediately in the past, he has pretty much ignored all my attempts at communication.

All I asked for was information about who performed the inspection. I did not ask for any kind of refund. I simply asked him to call me to discuss the problems and to give me the name of the person who did the inspection on this car – a car, which I bought for $8000, but which will cost me more than $14,000 thanks to this apparent fraud on the part of the inspector.

I realize I bought a used vehicle. I realize  there is no warranty on it, and I certainly do not expect a refund. But the damage to this vehicle should have been obvious to anyone performing the inspection, and I wonder if Derrick knew about it when he delivered the vehicle to my possession. The fact that he now refuses to get in touch with me and to give me the name of the person who did the inspection is telling.

It certainly appears that Absolute Auto Sales simply had someone stick a state inspection sticker on the car without actually… you know… inspecting the car! It certainly appears that if Derrick didn’t know about all the problems, he didn’t want to know and simply wanted to sell the car, without concern for my son’s safety.

And that is unacceptable! That is not the way to run a business.

Integrity and respect?

Is it honorable to avoid responsibility for your actions?

Is it respectful to ignore numerous messages from a customer, just because you already have their money?

Can putting a child in a car that is obviously unsafe to drive be considered respectful?

And I will be damned if I don’t at least let every person who reads this blog know that if you are in the Virginia area, you should never do business with this particular used car dealer.

Never.

UPDATE: If you were wondering about the emails I sent to Derrick, please see below.

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Now, I suppose it’s entirely possible that email could be screwy, but I also sent a message through the “contact us” link on the site, and two text messages.

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I suppose all those means of communication were a fail? Interesting, given the fact that I used that number to have an entire conversation with Derrick just a few weeks prior to this.

Honesty. Honor. Integrity. Still a zero. And he still hasn’t contacted me despite numerous attempts on my part. Sad.

UPDATE 2: I just now finally got a phone call from Derrick King. He claims he never received my emails, never received my texts and only NOW looked at the second message I sent through the contact link on his website. Now, I understand if there are email issues, but here’s the thing, when I asked him for the name of the shop that performed the inspection, SEVERAL TIMES, he hung up on me. Just like that. I told him there was an easy way to resolve this: give me the name of the shop that performed the inspection. He refused.

OK… State Police here we come.

UPDATE 3: Just got off the phone with State Police. He took the car to an Exxon Station in Woodbridge, VA to get it inspected, and according to their files, this shop did the bare minimum. Looks like I will be lodging a complaint.

When you stick an inspection sticker on a vehicle, the assumption is that the vehicle is safe to drive. This one apparently wasn’t, and now I will be paying thousands to make it so.

UPDATE 4: After Mr. King rudely hung up on me when I demanded the name of the inspection station, I just received the following email.

Per our previous conversation the vehicle inspection was in the vehicle when it was sold.  We are not in the office as of yet but we will reseach the information for you. We apologize for not responding sooner as you emails we being filtered to our lead management system we are now aware of this problem are mitigating it immediately.  We appreciate you patience while we research our records. 

Thanks in advance

I would assume that as the owner, he would receive said emails, as well as the ones sent through the site, as well as the text messages. But, whatever…

I have the name of the station. I have the name of the manager of said inspection station. I have gotten the State Police involved.

How much mucus can one face possibly produce?

12 Comments

Apparently quite a bit, if we judge by the amount of snot currently leaking out of my nostrils. How the hell does that much fluid escape one nose? I don’t understand it. I don’t really get why cold viruses have decided to take up residence in my face, because I don’t really provide a very friendly environment for them. I run around a lot. I work hard, and I sleep little. I drink a lot of hot fluids and ingest much vitamin C, and yet, they not only continue to infest my face, but they also appear to be having a bloody party! They’re singing karaoke and line dancing in my sinuses right now, the bastards.

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So until the mucus departs, I’m afraid I’m going to do nothing but stay in bed and be miserable.

And moan.

Do not do business with these ripoff artists… EVER (UPDATED)

38 Comments

Just a note to those who want to purchase keyless entry systems for their vehicles, or replace them. Do not EVER EVER EVER deal with the shitbags at Original Keyless of Prescott Valley, AZ. I will not link to their site, because I refuse to give them any traffic. But in a nutshell…

On 20 December 2013, I ordered a keyless FOB for the Redhead’s car from Original Keyless in Arizona. They processed my $82.49 payment on 23 December 2013, and informed me that “We ship out most orders through USPS with Delivery or Signature confirmation within 3-5 business days of actual payment receipt. Once your order is packaged and delivered to USPS you will receive an update email with your shipment information.”

My aching asshole.

I contacted them on January 4th, with a request about the status of my order. I received the following reply:

“I looked up your order information and show the order has been authorized and sent downstairs to the shipping department to be packaged and shipped out.

I will send a note downstairs to check on your invoice # to pull up the tracking information..

I know once your order is packaged and shipped, you should have received an automated email with the tracking information that can be entered on the USPS website.”

Since then, I have sent numerous inquiries, and finally demands for a refund, and they refuse to respond, to refund my money or to communicate in any way. Their phone number has no voice mail, and no one picks up. Today, I attempted to call them at their listed phone number (928) 999-8005 only to get an automated message saying their voice mail box was full.

Essentially, they have stolen $82.49 and have not provided the product as promised.

I have reported these thieving bastards to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB has sent them correspondence, to which they have until 23 January to respond. I have also reported these scumbags to my bank, although I doubt there’s anything that can be done on that end.

So, if anyone has any other ideas, let me know.

UPDATE: According to my bank, the address for this shitbag outfit is:

11690 N LADY DOVE LANE PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ 86315

The current resident of this address is listed as Nicole Cucuzza on Zabasearch. This is the correct person, because the search also has the PO Box of this crooked outfit listed under this woman’s name. Her phone number is listed as (928) 771-0050, although I am not sure if this number for her is current. But there is no doubt that this woman is somehow associated with this “store.”

Apparently, she’s also doing business as Desert Pro Transport LLC -  a moving company with the same physical address, but a different PO Box.

MC Number: MC783290 US DOT Number: 2293925
Phone number: 928-308-8005

cucuzza

UPDATE #2: I was correct. The number above does belong to the Cucuzzas, and it conveniently goes to voice mail. Nicole Cucuzza is also the owner of this Original Keyless scam. More on her at the Ripoff Report.

NICOLE CUCUZZA
11690 N LADY DOVE LN
PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ 86315

UPDATE #3: I don’t think Nicole Cucuzza likes the attention she’s getting. I have received two emails tonight so far.

Hello,  Again no money was taken. We do not collect money until it ships as shown to you on the email sent to you on 12/22/13.Your item was Temporarily Authorized.     Please let us know if you have any other questions.
     

    REMOTE PARTS – BASIC KEYS – “TRANSPONDER KEYS” & REMOTE COVERS for all types of vehicles! – Be sure to check out our NEW parts, keys & cover listings!Thanks!

    Tech Support

    OriginalKeyless.com

This is a blatant lie. My bank account clearly states the money was taken out of my account and sent to Nicole at the N. Lady Dove Ln. address listed above.

The second email claims that there’s no way she will return my money once the order has been authorized, even though she claims in the above email that she didn’t take my money. And she claims that the return policy is clear on this. Except this is not a return, since I never received any confirmation of shipment, nor did I receive the merchandise I purchased. Ergo, the policy is invalid.

Hello,  
    For your review, the order terms & conditions/return policy:  http://www.originalkeyless.com/termsandconditions.sc      Please note, the above link is posted on every single page of the website, and as indicated in checkout, by placing an order, you are indicating that you agree to all terms & conditions.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

I don’t give a fuck about your link, Nicole. Which is it? Did you take my money and won’t return it, or did you not take my money, as you claim in the first email? My bank says you took my money, so if you haven’t delivered the product, you may not keep the payment, you fetid cunt.

UPDATE #4: I’ve received a reply from the Prescott Valley Police Department. They’re very aware of Nicole Cucuzza and will be forwarding all information to Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and the Postmaster General. I get the feeling there will be unpleasantness.

UPDATE #5: I just received the following email:

We are not a fraud company, we deal with hundreds of customers a month. We do get slowed down around the holidays and I apologize for that. Your order has been canceled and all funds returned. Have a nice day

My reply was as follows:

…since you claimed in a previous email that you took no money from my account, I find it fascinating that you now claim you will return money you supposedly didn’t take. Again, I will wait for confirmation from my bank of an issued refund for $82.49.

I have a Marine

65 Comments

A little more than 13 years ago, we got this kid. She was small – only 5 years old. She didn’t speak English… hell, she could barely communicate at all, having come from a family of drug addicted losers. She didn’t know how to use utensils. She didn’t know how to brush her teeth. She had never met us before, and she didn’t understand why she wasn’t living with her mom and dad any longer.

The adoption proceedings had been completed by May, 2001, and Sarah was officially our kid.

She wasn’t without her issues. We had to teach her everything from rudimentary hygiene to speech. She had lice. She was malnourished. A few months after she arrived, I took her to her first dentist appointment, where we found out her teeth were so rotten from malnutrition, a few of them had to be extracted. Poor little one cried – she was so terrified!

When she began to communicate, we realized she didn’t know she was with us permanently. Her parents told her they were sick, and that as soon as they got well, she would come back to live with them. We had to inform her that she was not going back, and that her parents chose drugs over her. This was not an easy revelation, so we did it with the help of a family counselor.

The next years were a combination of pride, fear and downright terror. There were emotional ups and downs. There was rebellion. There were deceptions and betrayals. There was a divorce from her father and fights with her sister and the Redhead. But when she finally graduated Washington-Lee High School with an advanced diploma, Sarah knew what she wanted to do with her life.

She wanted to become a Marine.

She left for boot camp in mid-October, and after nearly three months of stress, bruises, exertion and hard work, Rob, the Redhead and I drove down to South Carolina to pick up our Marine.

sarah

It was not a short drive. We got under way on Wednesday afternoon at 1630 hours, and didn’t get to our hotel until 0230. I consistently drove more than 90 miles per hour just to make up for the time we lost in Northern Virginia traffic. The Redhead drove as well. He was behind the wheel through North Carolina, before I took over again. We finally fell asleep in our hotel room at 0300, and were up by 0900 for Family Day.

This was the first time in 3 months we saw our Marine. The pride on her face is unmistakeable, and she couldn’t stop talking (or eating, for that matter) the entire time we were together. I have to say the love between brother and sister was palpable that day. The Redhead had always been close with his sister, but I didn’t really realize how much he missed her until he ran to her, grabbed her and gave her the biggest hug I’d ever seen him give anyone!

The ginger kid and his Marine.

The ginger kid and his Marine.

(No, I will not publish photos of his face until he turns 18)

We had to return Sarah to the parade field at 1445 hours, after which we drove back to our hotel, and I took a much-needed 3-hour nap.

The next day was Graduation Day, and it was a disaster. I don’t mean that Sarah didn’t graduate. She did. But the morning can only be described as a class A clusterfuck!

We arrived a half an hour early and parked in the visitors’ lot. The weather was beautiful – warm and humid – after rain the previous night. I figured the ceremony would be held on the parade deck. Nope. After several back and forths, a woman directed us indoors. We went through a metal detector and were shuffled up the stairs to where family members were seated.

Remember, we were there a half an hour before the ceremony was to have taken place, so there was plenty of time to make an announcement that the women were graduating AT THE LYCEUM!

That’s right. We were directed inside. We were shown where to sit. And not one announcement was made about the fact that the women were graduating in a completely different venue.

None.

The ceremony began on time, and we began to realize that only men marched into the facility. I whispered to Rob that perhaps the women were graduating right behind the men?

The ceremony ended, and the families poured down the steps to congratulate their Marines. I approached a female Drill Instructor who was watching the ceremony and asked her if the women were graduating right after the men.

She looked at me confused, and then horrified, “OH NO! The women are at the Lyceum!”

“The WHAT?” I nearly shouted.

“I’m so, so, sorry!” She replied. “The women graduated in the Lyceum. It’s down the road. Wasn’t there an announcement?”

I looked at her, and I literally saw red. “NO! There wasn’t an announcement! How could this be?”

She turned around to a male NCO, who was standing next to her and asked him, “Was there an announcement about the women’s change of venue?”

He looked at me, then he looked at her and shrugged… SHRUGGED, like it wasn’t even important, “No.”

The female DI looked devastated. She was tiny and Hispanic, I think, and she looked flushed with embarrassment. “I’m so sorry. If you head over there now, you will at least see her and take some photos.”

Meanwhile, I was staring at the male NCO, who shrugged it off like it wasn’t a big deal, and I was seething. These women worked their asses off. They pulled together. They accomplished something the vast majority of women in this country couldn’t hope to accomplish in an environment dominated by men. They earned the title United States Marine, and he acted like their graduation didn’t even matter!

I finally grabbed my jacket, and ran out of the facility, with Rob and the Redhead behind me. I threw myself into the car, and looked up the Lyceum on my phone to get directions. We arrived just as everyone was leaving.

The females’ graduation was approximately 30 minutes long, if that, according to Sarah. The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps didn’t attend their graduation, like he did the men’s. There was no pass in review. Nothing. After all that work to become US Marines, it didn’t even seem that the females mattered all that much, and a number of families apparently missed the graduation ceremony, because they were not informed about the change of venue.

Thanks for nothing, MCRD Parris Island. The only photos I have of the graduation right now are the ones I copied from the MCRD Facebook page.

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Sarah wasn’t upset that we missed her graduation, even though I was in tears. She insisted that the ceremony wasn’t a big deal, even though it was supposed to be, because her cycle was the first that was to have graduated Marine Corps boot camp having met the pull-up standard. She was devastated that the women in her platoon were not afforded the opportunity to perform the pull-ups on the physical fitness test. Apparently, because most female Marine recruits struggled with the pull-up requirement, the young women in Oscar Company were informed that despite their hard work, they were not going to graduate having met the standard. Sarah was more angry about this than she was about graduation. She explained that the majority of the women in this cycle were, indeed, ready to pass the pull-up requirement, but that they were told to stand down, because the women who graduated before them could not measure up. And instead of allowing these women to do the work, and perhaps even fail, but at least try to meet the standard, the Marine Corps chose to allow them to slide.

My daughter, at the very least, was furious!

Nonetheless, I have a Marine. I have a Marine who overcame emotional difficulties, who matured, who turned her life around and committed herself to the service of the nation she loves. She excelled at physical fitness and got 299/300 on her combat fitness test. She put exhaustion out of her mind and completed the Crucible.

And no one can take that away from her.

Me and my new United States Marine! Semper Fi!

Me and my new United States Marine!
Semper Fi!

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