Part II - My recent experiences with corporate and governmental America

By Don Koenig 2006

These are just a few of the experiences I have had recently that reflect the decline in goods and services in the United States:

– They keep going up in price but quality of workmanship keeps going down. It used to be that those who built houses went through an apprenticeship program but most houses today are now built by inadequately trained people. If one buys a new house most likely illegal aliens have built a good part of the house. When you buy a new house, you will generally get a two-year warrantee but good luck in getting them to come out to fix anything. They tell you to make a list and when the list gets large enough and you bug them enough they might send someone out within two years. However, do not expect them to show up on the day they said they would. It is very likely that you will have to take off work and sit home several times before anyone shows up.

Even the construction of new housing makes little sense. Many houses are all-electric in areas of high electricity cost. The sunshine in this area most days heats the house up during the day so the heat pump is almost exclusively used at night. What sense does an all-electric heat pump make at night when temperatures are below freezing (as they are in the high desert)? Therefore, much of the time I am heating this house with inefficient resister back up electrical heating at better then 10 cents a kilowatt-hour. What brain figured out this lovely energy wasting scenario?

This house and most houses built now in southern Arizona have water pipes that are exposed to the air where they can freeze, and freeze they do. They do not even bother to keep the pipe underground until it reaches a heated area of the house. My main water pipe comes up from the ground six inches in front of my unheated garage. Then the main pipe goes through the walls of the unheated garage before it even gets to the heated house. This intelligent design will do wonders to keep the pipes from freezing when it gets down to 10 degrees!

This house is built on a big lot where the terrain allows only a small part to be useable. There is not even enough room for a truck to get into the back yard without running over the septic pipes. Yet, the house needs crushed rock desert landscaping that can now only be brought in by wheelbarrow. The house has many windows on the southwest side that warms it up nicely in the winter but contains nothing to block the sun in the summer. Thus, the property also needs a patio with a patio cover to block the sun. I guess we will have to wheelbarrow in the concrete for the patio as well. Houses in the southwest now come standard with stucco cracks, sliding screen doors that never stay on track, vent covers that flap in the wind and chimney vents that groan like they are in pain.
The state tells us all to conserve water and requires that low flow toilets be used. Yet, I have to run the shower for two full minutes before I will get hot water to the shower near the master bedroom. The hot water heater sits in the unheated garage on the other side of the house. They have laws requiring conservation but they allow building practices that are clearly contradictory to their stated conservation objectives! Oh, by the way, the quality builder in this area built this house! One other thing to think about is that someday this subdivision will have 30,000 houses sitting on half-acre lots with their 30,000 septic systems dumping into the aquifer we all drink out of.

I am sure everyone who buys a newer house these days has problems. My point is that few builders give a hoot about the people who will live in the structures they build. They just slap them up. They are only in business to see how much profit they can make on each house. This means hiring low skilled labor and using the cheapest design, production methods and products.

In some parts of the country, local governments are now adding thousands of dollars of fees to each new house built in order to pay for low cost housing (there is a $5000 fee for each new house in the Tucson area). They think they are taking from the rich and giving to the poor but they are really robbing working couples and giving to some who will not work. Almost all government and utility services now have socialistic practices where those who make more than a certain income pay a good part of the costs of those who make less. I am not against voluntary charity but since when did this nation become communistic and since when did socialistic robbery become legal in most corporate services in this country? Would it not be wiser to raise the minimum wage of workers to levels where they could pay for the houses themselves if they worked? The sick and the elderly should be taken care of. Nevertheless, do we need a Robin Hood approach of fees and taxation to do what is right for them?

Automobiles - The fact that the major auto companies in America are losing money, shutting down plants and laying off tens of thousands of workers while foreign manufactures are thriving says all I need to say about the quality of American automobiles. Those who buy American cars know they are buying trouble down the road. One measure of quality in cars is the warranties they offer. When you can get a 10 year 100,000 mile warrantee with free road service included from a foreign manufacturer, why would you buy a car that only offers 3 years, 36,000 miles and no road service? The reason most American manufacturers only offer this low warrantee is that they would go broke if they had to repair everything that goes wrong in many American cars driven for 100,000 miles. Yet, the foreign manufactures that offer these 50,000 to 100,000 mile warrantees are spending less than 2 percent of their budget to honor their warrantees. That expense breaks down to less than $300 a car. Try driving an American car 100,000 miles and see if you will only spend $300 on non-routine maintenance repairs! American manufactures can not offer better warrantees because they can not compete and that says more than we want to know about the management of American car companies. Foreign cars made in the United States do not have greater unreliability problems than those made overseas, so the problems in American cars are caused by faulty engineering, poor management, lack of sufficient quality control and by trying to save a nickel using parts that might fail. The American car companies, after making junk for many decades, had to improve their cars due to foreign competition or they would have been put out of business. The government once had to bail out Chrysler or it would have gone bankrupt. American cars have improved but even after over two decades, they have failed to get the quality of their cars to the standards of foreign manufactures and most of our auto manufactures are now losing money and in danger of going bankrupt.

Automobile repairs – I took my Dodge truck to one repair shop for a complete work over. The owner of the shop did a brake job but he obviously did not even turn the drums. He put almost 100 percent antifreeze in the radiator instead of 50/50 and told me that this would help stop electrically charged water from doing damage. That sounded screwy to me so I looked up what all antifreeze in the cooling system will really do. One hundred percent antifreeze will not dissipate the heat like a 50/50 mixture with water and the extra heat will soon burn up the rings in your engine among other parts! In addition, using pure antifreeze will not even provide antifreeze protection in sub-zero weather and it will freeze and crack your block. While I was at the shop, the owner was telling me about a car engine he was rebuilding with only 30,000 miles on it because he said the woman only followed the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes. Was that really the case or did the engine burn up because he once serviced it and put in 100 percent antifreeze? His specialty was rebuilding engines and there were several engines in the shop in the process of being rebuilt. That in my opinion was his motive for putting in all antifreeze. I find it hard to believe that someone who worked on race cars for years and that rebuilds engines would not know that you can not put all antifreeze in a cooling system. Several gullible people in the area obviously bought into his various yarns and recommended him to me. This same shop owner after working on my transfer case and axle told me I did not have a limited slip differential (I paid for one), so I asked Dodge to resolve the problem and was told by all accessible management levels that they would do nothing about it even though they were the ones who replaced most of the drive train while it was under warrantee. I was told I would have to take it up with the dealer who did the work (1500 miles away). I told them I would never buy another Dodge. Later I found out from another mechanic that my truck certainly does have a limited slip differential (even though in my opinion it has not worked since they did the warrantee work). The repair shop that put in all antifreeze and that said the truck does not have a limited slip differential is now no longer in business so maybe someone ran him out of Dodge.

I took the truck to another repair shop because I was low on Freon. The first mechanic put in R-12 that leaked out after two weeks (probably because the mechanic did not properly tighten the high and low end connections or check them for leaks). When I brought the truck back, the manager found leaks on both ends of the cooling system and while messing with them he vented much of the R12 Freon remaining in the system into the atmosphere. This was done by sheer stupidity and by not having the right equipment (and it might be a felony). Then he mixed R-12 and Freeze-12 without extracting the rest of the R-12 and told me that mixing these Freons is not a problem. After a few days, the air conditioner was not working again so I check the Internet for information
. I found out from the Internet that mixing Freons is illegal and Freeze-12 might gum up my air conditioner dryer. I brought the EPA law documentation to the shop manager. He got indignant and told me he is a certified air conditioner specialist! He said he knows what he is doing and what he is doing is legal. Then he says he is through working on my truck and mentions something about the "Federal way" or the "Ozark way". I then pointed out to him that I have already paid him $200 just to find a leak and that there is a very large reward offered for turning in people who do not abide by Freon environmental laws. If he was going to act belligerent and not finish the job he started, I might just be angry enough to actually call the EPA (I was not intending to do that because I believed he was just stupid, not criminal). He then agrees to finish the job he was doing if it will settle the whole matter. Anyway, the air conditioner had a low cooling effect for three more days and then it gave up and I gave up. After several hundred dollars and going through three cans of R12 and four or five cans of Freeze-12, dye, mineral oil, and sealer along with labor charges, he basically told me that I have a leak that he couldn't find. (I probably have a leak but his mixing of Freons probably gummed up the system so it will not work properly without replacing everything anyway.)

Another time I took my truck to another repair shop because I knew the transfer case was going bad. I told the manager that the problem was in the transfer case and asked him if he could fix transfer cases and he said "
yes". He called me a couple of days later and told me he believed the problem is in the differential. I told him I have had this same problem before and I know the noise and the shifting problem from two to four-wheel drive is coming from within the transfer case. I told him if he put his ear to the transfer case, he could hear that the problem was in the transfer case. Days later, he calls and tells me my problem is in the transfer case and he wants to know if I want him to pull the transfer case…duh! The next week he tells me he sent the transfer case to a transmission shop because he does not fix transfer cases! I had asked him if he fixed transfer cases to start with! After being left without a car for weeks, I was forced to buy another car for transportation. When I did get the truck back with a rebuilt transfer case the light that tells you when the vehicle is in four-wheel drive stays on in any position. He told me that this is an unrelated problem. The light did not stay on before he touched it. According to the transmission shop, the transfer case failed because it had water in it. (I have to cross a river because this county does not care enough to provide adequate bridges for access to homes in the second largest subdivision in the country – see below). The car I bought while this truck was being fixed was missing the parts to change a tire and the car dealer bought a six-month license, registration and tax instead of the year period that I paid for. I did get the parts and the money back after contacting them. Oh yeah, after we came to agreement on the price that I would pay the dealer for this car I was told to see the finance manager, who then proceeded to try to sell me an extended warrantee and an expensive anti-theft system. I told him I did not want either. He then gave me a song and dance about car theft in the area and then lowers the price of the anti theft system by half. I said I did not want it. He then tells me that they have already installed it on the car and if I do not want it I will have to wait for them to remove it. I said I don't want it. Take it off. I waited around awhile and I was told that they did take it off but this car still has an antitheft system installed. This is a late model used car and I suspect that it already had an antitheft system on it when the previous owner traded it in. In my opinion, the finance manager was just trying to get extra money over the price I agreed to pay on the car. Since I did not finance the car, there really should have been no reason to see him anyway. In my experience, I have found that finance managers at new car dealers are basically there to sell you things that are overpriced or that you do not need. They are dealer sponsored crooks.

The 1998 Ford Explorer we have has been riddled with problems. It has a theft system and it failed so we could not start it. We had to have the Explorer towed to a dealer over 50 miles away. The cost of the tow and the repair was about $400. The Ford Explorer assembly that jacks the spare under the vehicle stripped. We had it fixed but after the next flat the assembly stripped again. Now the spare tire resides in the back of the Explorer instead of under it. A mixing door on the air control system that allows a mix of hot or cold air into the Explorer failed.
The mixing door has a cheap five-cent plastic part on the door that will eventually fail. It is a well know problem in some years of the Ford Explorer. However, Ford will not stand behind their product and fix this well-known design and cheap part flaw in these existing models. In order to fix the problem the dash has to be removed to get to the part so labor charges are $500 on up. Therefore, we have not fixed the Explorer. We now run on maximum air to get air conditioning. Otherwise if the system is on we get maximum heat. The temperature in the Explorer is now controlled by turning the system on or off or by opening the windows. The Explorer also has gasket oil leaks that can not be fixed without a thousand dollars in labor charges. The automatic windows stopped working so we had to get that fixed. We had to replace the fuel pump and there were several other problems all before 100,000 miles. U-haul also does not allow anyone to pull trailers with the Ford Explorer due to some lawsuit about tires that are no longer on the vehicle. This is great information to find out when you go to pick up your rental trailer with your Explorer on the day of your move!

Electronics and appliances
– It certainly seems that everything is designed to fail after the warrantee expires or even before. I bought two computers and both of them had to be sent back or be taken 60 miles away to get them repaired. I had in home repair service on the one computer but when it stopped working, I was told I lived out of the service area. They do not tell you these things when you buy the computer or service. Both computers needed new motherboards and new power supplies. One had a hard drive that crashed causing me hundreds of hours of work, one had a memory chip that failed, three modem cards have failed and two cd readers have failed. Telephone support for my computers requires that I be able to understand Chino-English and the outsourced individuals can only help with fixes that they can read from script cards. I have long since given up on telephone computer support because I know from experience that they will waste my time. Their answer for anything that is not on their simplistic script cards is for you to reformat your hard drive and start all over. They told me to do that on more than one occasion and I ignored them and eventually found the fix for the problems myself. I also have had two ink jet printers fail. The cartridge with one or two ounces of ink costs about as much as the printer; of course I got stuck with a few of these high cost cartridges when the printer failed. I also had an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) fail after only a few months.

I bought a carpet shampooer for casual home use and the main hose that extracts water broke in a couple of months. The only way to fix it was with duct tape. Within two years, the bearings in the motor burned out so I bought a new carpet shampooer made by the same manufacturer. The main hose broke in the same place as the other one within a month. It seems after two years this manufacture still does not know that their design has a defect or more likely, they do not care. I could send the product back at my expense and get it fixed but to ship it would cost almost as much as a new shampooer and the hose would again fail after a few uses. Manufacturers have no problem putting warrantees on their products because they know it will cost you just as much to pack and ship the product to them as it would for you to buy a new one.
Warrantees are pretty useless unless they have an authorized repair shop in town.

I bought a rear tine garden tiller from Sears for $700 and after two seasons and less than 20 hours of use it no longer shifts.

I bought a GE washing machine; the motor died after 5 years of light use. The motor and labor would cost more than a new washer, so I bought a new washer. After using it for two years it dances all over the house when it spins.

I had several microwaves that died. One turning plate cracked but the manufacturer charges almost as much for the glass plate as the cost of a new microwave.

Home depot around here sells many outdoor plants that can not possibly survive in this local climate. They give you a year guarantee on the plants but who keep the receipts and they will not take them back without receipts? What motivates them to sell plants that die when it gets below freezing when it gets well below freezing 50 to 100 nights of the year here?

And the beat goes on and on and on - products are not made to last, warrantees are generally useless and you will generally waste a lot of time trying to do anything about defective products that you buy.

Fast food – Have you ever noticed that no one listens anymore? You can slowly and distinctly give your order and then they will repeat back something you did not say or they will ask you again what you have already told them. Fast food places expect you to know exactly what you want the minute you walk in the door and they get this look of annoyance if you want to read the menu on the wall. What is it about the price of drinks? For years, I was getting a unadvertised 42-ounce drink for less than a buck in McDonald’s in Missouri. The folks who did not know enough to ask for a 42-ounce drink would pay a higher standard price for the smaller size that most ordered. I simply do not understand why a small soda costs well over a dollars these days. The cup and the soda cost the fast food place less then a quarter. Therefore, I guess the plan is to sell sandwiches just slightly over cost and to gouge people on drinks and fries.

Postal Service?? - What a service we have in our area! I have to travel three miles to a group box on the main road to pick up my mail. When my truck broke down, I had to walk. I am one of the fortunate; others in this subdivision have to buy their own postal box and plant it as much as three miles away from their house because the postal service does not have any more group boxes. They put up an unlocked box miles from their home. This makes their mail real secure, huh? Getting a box at the post office that is as much as 10 miles away is not a solution either because they usually are out of boxes. If you can somehow get one, they cost a small fortune to rent although they are rented in many cases only for the convenience of the postal service. The only alternative way for some to get their mail is for them to come to the post office and wait in line for a half hour to pick up their mail (no joke - 15,000 people to serve in this town and one clerk)! What ever happened to the days when the postal service delivered mail to your door? Their answer to all these service problems around here is that they do not have the budget. Why not? I thought we are paying for service! I do not see UPS and FedEx having any problems delivering door to door in this area. People out East get mail delivered to their house but many new homeowners in the West and South no longer get mail delivered to their houses. We all pay for this service and it is time that the “postal service” provided equal service for all.

– We came from another state with rabies shot documentation on all five dogs but they expired in four months so our county would only give us dog licenses for four months. However, they charged us for a full year. To get the shots and rabies certificate we had to take all the dogs to a vet but the vet would not give them the shots unless he first did an expensive well dog exam. (He also is a drug store for dogs and charges high markups on all products that he will suggest to you.) We also had multi-year registration on our vehicles but most states will not reimburse you for the year or years you do not use. I had to drive 20 miles to get my drivers license changed to Arizona. They said my Missouri drivers license and all the other proofs I had of my identification including social security card and credit cards were not enough to prove who I was. I needed to have a proof that was on their approved list. Therefore, it seemed the only solution for me was to drive 40 miles round trip to dig out my birth certificate that was still packed somewhere in moving boxes. At the last minute, I went through my wallet and found a picture ID proving that I was qualified for VA medical services. I told the woman that you can not get one of these cards unless you are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces and that this card is as good as a government ID (which was on their list). I must have sounded convincing because whoever was in charge decided she could accept it and I did not have to go home and dig out my birth certificate. I bet later, some review board chewed her out because she deviated from their acceptable proof of identification list.

Phone Service? – The phone company says that it charges about $15 a month for basic service but when you get the bill, it is $25. There are fees and taxes they have not told you about. Each phone company is free to rip you off anyway it pleases with their own designer fees. I am on a do not call list but the phone companies are exempt. The worst abuser of phone spam I know of is the telephone company.

I had a problem on my phone line causing a bad Internet connection knocking me off-line every few minutes. I called in a trouble report and of course was greeted by their electronic answering system where you have to punch in numbers for five minutes and then wait on hold for any numbers of minutes until you can speak with a live person. When I finally got someone live, I was told if the problem was inside my house, that I would be charged a fee. I said fine, it is not inside my house. They sent someone out somewhere (not on my property) and I got a recording that said the problem was cleared. The problem remained the same as it was, so I called the trouble people again. They informed me that an $85 fee was charged to my account because the technician found no problems on their lines.
I said "Then why did he say he cleared the problem?" I told him I know they did not come on my property because I have five dogs, so how do they know the problem is not on their lines? I said, "The problem is intermittent, so does that mean every time you do not find your problem that you are going to charge me another $85?" What kind of loony service is that! The customer service repair person also said that this phone company really does not care about the quality of Internet connections, all they care about is voice. However, this same phone company provides home Internet service. I was told to open a new ticket but I will get charged another $85 fee if the problem is found to be in my house. I said it was not in my house because I tested it from the jack outside the house. Both times that I called the repair service they did a test on the line and said the line was clear but both repair operators told me they heard a hum on the line. So how could it be clear if there is a hum on the line? The next day I called the billing department and said I wanted that $85 charge removed. They said they can only remove it for a problem on their lines and they had found no problem on their lines. I asked if he could hear the hum and the clicking. He said "Yes". Then this “customer service” business office phone-jockey with no technical expertise proceeds to tell me it sounds like an inside wiring problem to him. He tells me that they can only remove the charges if a technician verifies that the problem is on their lines. Therefore, if I do not agree to another $85 fee they will not remove the $85 fee they already charged me because they did not find a problem. Is this nuts, or what?

Later in the day, a line technician called and told me he cleared the problem and that it was
on their line that comes from a town near here. When I asked about the bogus charges he said they should be removed and I should call the business office, give them his employee number and what the problem was, and don’t take any lip. I called the phone company, gave them this information, and told them that I want the $85 charge removed. The customer service representative seemed to have to confer with others and said he will flag it but it may still appear on my bill and if it does I will have to call again to get it removed. Of course, by that time who knows if anyone will remember anything about the situation. Removing that hum allowed an Internet connection between 45 kb and 51 kb. Before the problem was fixed, I could only connect at 14 KB to 20 KB. Occasionally the lines are still bad.

Water Service – When I called the local water company from my previous state to turn on the water here in Arizona I was told I had to appear in person. I was relocating from out of state and did not want to arrive to a house after a 2-day drive with my 5 dogs and 3 cats to a house without water. They said that this is the only way they would do it. They would not take a credit card or anything. I said "It is time you joined the 21st Century." When I arrived, the water was on, because they never got around to shutting it off from the previous owner although over the phone they told me the water was already turned off.

Electric Service – I wish someone could tell me why electric can be offered at less than 5 cents a kilowatt hour in some parts of the nation but costs more than 10 cents a kilowatt hour in others. What happened to the idea that we were going to get national competition and rates would even out. I know many of us are paying for the “cheap” nuclear power plants they promised us but again what happened to national competition? In addition, information that came with my bill said I can get rates up to 30 percent cheaper if I am low income. So even in electrical service we have this communist Robin Hood mentality where corporations are going to rob working people for those who many times will not work.

Propane Gas Company – When we sold our house I told the gas company several times that we no longer owned the property and if the new owner did not contact them, they should remove their tank that I leased. Nevertheless, months later I got a bill for the tank rental. Since I had told the new owners several times to contact the gas company and they had not, I told the gas company to remove their tank and reimburse me for the $400 worth of gas that I had paid for that was still in the tank. I have received nothing.

Real estate services – In the area of Missouri I lived in, they take 10 percent commission. They pretty much spend the same amount of time and money on a property worth $20,000 and one worth $500,000. Yet in one case, they get $2,000 commission for their effort and in the other, they get $50,000. Property should have a sliding commission based on value. It is rather obvious that this is a form of price fixing when every broker in an area charges the same 10 percent outlandish commission. One broker I had would not even renew my listing because I suggested that if I renew with her she was going to have to comply with my condition that she put information on the Internet that the property is completely surrounded by state forest. I had listed the property with her for 6 months but her ads were anemic and it took her four months to even get any ad at all up on the Internet. She refused to list it again under my condition because she thought I was telling her how to do her job. (Actually, I was, because she apparently did not have a clue how to sell my property.) I got more interest from my $15 Internet ad at than she ever did from her real estate office efforts. During those six months one deal on the property was blown by the two real estate agents involved because of incompetence and rudeness toward the buyer. The buyer walked away from the contract a few days before closing. Less than two months after the contract with this incompetent broker expired my $15 ad attracted enough buyers to sell the place very quickly. Yet, my next broker also probably blew a deal when a couple I had corresponded with for months (because of my ad) came 1500 miles to see the property without an appointment and was given a total brush off by the real estate company (while we were out of state). They told him they had no one available that week to show him the property. Fortunately my $15 ad brought in another buyer within weeks that bought it.

Insect exterminators and inspections
– Years ago I sold a house and moved out of state. In the process of the sale, a termite inspection was ordered. The company said I had termites and I needed a very expensive treatment (a house bag). I doubted that I had termites since I have never seen any evidence of them when I was there and the house had passed a termite inspection 2 years earlier. I ordered a second inspection from another company and was told the house did not have termites. The first company was obviously trying to rip me off because I was out of the state. When buying another house an insect inspection company said it saw evidence of termites but before they got around to treating the place, I had already gutted and remodeled the house. I found no live termites; apparently any termites had been killed by a previous termite extermination process. Nevertheless, the local bank ordered a treatment of the house for termites after I remodeled it. I suppose every time that house is sold the seller or buyer will pay for a termite treatment because there ONCE was evidence of termites on a few wood posts by the fireplace where they piled wood.

Pool Company -  The previous owners of a house I recently bought paid over $7000 to get a new pool liner and pool cover with for an in-ground pool. The pool company also did all the winterization of the pool and covered the pool for the winter. I bought the house and in the spring when I removed the pool cover, the pool liner had pulled out of the track in a few places. In addition, the pool level was lower than it should have been and the floor of the liner had some major wrinkles. I called the pool company to try to get them to fix the problem. I got a quarrelsome owner who put the blame on rain water somehow forcing out the water in the pool. He put the blame on everything but his own work and would not come out without a major charge. The previous owners and I threatened to take action against the pool company to no avail. The previous owner’s wife decided to smooth over the situation and paid the company to come out and fix the problem. It turned out that the seal they put in around the light in the pool was leaking and it caused the water level in the pool to drop. Yet, as far as I know, the previous owners were still charged for fixing the problem that was the fault of the pool company that did the installation.

Trailer rental –This national trailer rental outfit now has vendors who do the business as a sideline and who rent junk! What should we expect from a company that has no competition on trailer rentals? I recently rented one of their trailers and the person in charge told me I could get a light package at Wal-Mart. He said he would connect it up but he does not have time. His express oil change customers were more important. Most of these trailer rental vendors only do it on the side and know little about less. Therefore, I had to drive the trailer illegally without taillights for twenty miles and had to get a friend with more knowledge on connecting up trailer lights to come and connect it.

On my recent move, I rented another trailer from a different vendor of this company. This company has a monopoly on long distance trailers rentals but they do not have a trailer large enough to haul a king-sized bed. The trailers have no ramps so have fun trying to load one by yourself. They also are not tall enough to stand up in unless you are a midget
so you will bang your head until you get in the habit of ducking when entering and exiting! Their flat bed trailer will not haul the weight of most trucks so you can not even rent one of their trucks and tow your 4-wheel drive truck on their flat bed. On the trip, every time the road was uneven or I went over 60 MPH the trailer would start to fishtail. I was cruising at 59 mph at night when I was hit from the rear by a Semi who tried to knock us to the moon. The main damage was one of my cats had a concussion and there was damage to the door and the door track of the trailer. The hitch was bent to a 60-degree angle but the coupler stayed on the ball. When I called the number they listed for accidents from my cell phone after a very long recording, I only got complete idiots who were of no help. They obviously were just part of a phone answering service that would tell me where to go to get a damage estimate. I decided it was best to keep going to my destination rather than spend the rest of the night parked at some Goodyear waiting for them to open up in the 100-degree heat of the day. When you have five dogs and three cats and you have no air conditioning in the truck, you can not stop and wait for the Goodyear blimp to come to the rescue. After the trip, I brought the trailer to my destination vendor and I told them about the accident but I never heard anything from them. I believe the dealer was too lazy to write up a report. He probably just rented the trailer (with a now very hard to open and close door) to someone else.

By the way, the highway patrol officer who arrived after the accident did not even want to write up a report on an accident that could have killed us. I had to tell him that it was not my trailer and I have no way of knowing what the damages are. The officer’s main concern was that I reload my stuff that I removed from the trailer to free the trailer door and leave. He did not even give me any license or insurance information on the truck driver that hit me. A couple of weeks later, I called the state wanting to get a copy of the officer’s report and was told they would not get accident reports on that interstate for several more weeks at least and to try back in a month! I never did since the vendor did not contact me.

The largest furniture store in our area - I had to buy some furniture for the house we bought. They scheduled a delivery to my house about 60 miles away but when they arrived, they did not have most of the delivery on the truck. The mattress and box springs came but there was no frame and the box springs were of different brands and of different heights. Talking to customer service was quite an experience. After about 30 minutes on their recording machine I would get someone live, they would ask some questions and finally they would tell me that they would have to call me back but they never did so I had to go through the entire procedure several times with other customer service representives. None of them could seem to understand why two box springs of different heights were unacceptable.

I called the sales clerk because she told me upfront that customer service was useless and to call her if I had problems. Although she was helpful, what she said would happen and what happened were two different things. After a couple of botched deliveries with the delivery truck people just shaking their head at the incompetence of others in their store, I asked to speak to supervisors and got someone who called herself a supervisor in customer service who was of no help. I later asked to speak to the store manager and was told that he was not in but he would be in tomorrow. I called the next day and was told that he was not in. I asked to speak to whomever was in charge of the store at that time and I got someone who said they were a supervisor in customer service but she had to call me back, She did call but she never did get that problem fixed. Days later after the next botched delivery, I asked to speak to the floor manager after being told again that the store manager was not in. He finally got some things straightened out. To make a long story short I must have wasted more than 12 hours on the phone and I spent a good part of 5 days waiting for furniture to arrive. I did not get matching box springs until four deliveries and a month later. Another problem was that I ordered a desk but part of it was broken when it arrived, so that piece had to be replaced. I never did get the frame for the bed that I wanted but I did get a frame on the last delivery.
By the way, this furniture store has a sale on TV on its furniture every day of the year. How can everything be on sale all the time? I thought such business practices were illegal but nobody in government seems to care.

– Around here, you have mostly national or regional chains. If you have their club card, products are 30 to 40 percent cheaper on the average than if you do not. The only reason they want you to get a club card is so they can track your buying habits. However, it is a license to steal from those out of the area and from those who will not join with their club of nonsense. Charging like this should be illegal. Some supermarkets give triple on coupons--guess who pays for this? They rob from people who can not waste their time messing with coupons and give the money to people who have too much time on their hands. I also continually notice that some advertised items are sold below their cost but they raise their prices on everything else to pay for their losses on these items. Unless you are just buying real sales items, (there are many phony sales) or their store brands, you can always get most products cheaper at Wal-Mart and that is why they have now have become the nation’s largest grocer. The greed, mismanagement and the gimmicks used by most supermarket chains in the United States will soon put many of them out of business. Do not blame Wal-Mart if your supermarket can not compete. They are offering much the same products you are with a small markup instead of using price-gouging techniques and gimmicks for come-on sales.

Local government services – We live in the second biggest subdivision in the nation. In order to get to my house I have to travel 10 miles up a 35 mph two lane access road where everyone on the east side of the subdivision also has to travel. To go north on the freeway I have to first go south 10 miles although the freeway is less than a half mile away and a freeway access point two miles away. The problem is that there is a river in-between the subdivision and the freeway. Actually, the river is nothing more than a brook over 95 percent of the year so in most states they would just build several low water bridges across the river so residents would not have to waste 20 minutes in travel time. However, they seem incapable of providing any services around here even though they are on their way to having the highest sales tax in the state. There is a private river crossing near where I live but it is private and you sometimes need a four-wheel drive to cross the river. This is where I got the water in my transfer case that cost me $1200 for repairs. Several miles south, a gravel company owns another river crossing. Thousands of cars and trucks use that crossing each day. However, the road is in very terrible shape and people are getting stuck and losing vehicle parts to the rocks in the river and the large potholes in the road all the time. Yet, thousands of residents including me still use it because we do not want to waste all the time and gas it takes to get to the only accessible bridge that can be as far as 10 miles out of the way. As I said, all this could be fixed with a few cheap low water bridges but does anyone in government around here care? There also is a high tech bridge over the river just 2 miles north of here but the county is doing nothing to open the access road to get to it. It seems the county officials do not care or they are kowtowing to or are bought off by a handful of large landowners. The people around here seem afraid to say anything about all these substandard services in this county. Perhaps too many of them are illegal aliens or they just accept these things because they grew up in the corruption of Mexico where only money talks.

In order to get a permit to put a patio on my house I had to pay $200, make about ten trips to the zoning office, providing engineering drawings and get two inspections. No wonder why few pay attention to the laws around here.

Have you noticed that state and local sales taxes continually go up? In many places they are above 8 percent. Just a few decades ago sales taxes were running 3 or 4 percent.
What is happening is that those with pet projects put their sales tax proposal on the ballet in an off year election when they know mostly their own supporters will show up for the vote. If somehow the new tax fails, it will appear repeatedly on future ballets until perchance it passes. We just had a new sales tax proposal pass in this county. All local advertisement was in favor of the proposal. The county even sent out a brochure to every mail address in the county giving the pros and cons of the proposal because state law requires that they do this. I read the brochure, It had two pro arguments but under con it said there was no opposing argument offered! What a joke! For this election, only about 10 percent of the registered voters in the county showed up which means that about 5 percent of the adults in this county actually voted. It was a law enforcement issue so all the officers and county employees voted and the sales tax passed. So we call this democracy and say these increased sales taxes are the will of the people around here? What a farce! Such are the methods of politicians. They continually pass new taxes and put new burdens on their citizens and they continually pass new laws people do not want by using similar methods.

Part I - Decline of products and services in the United States reflects her morality.

Part III - Solutions for the moral problems of Corporation's in the United States

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