If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Even on Amazon.

In today’s electronic age, where a scammer in Nigeria can take advantage of a little old lady in Broken Clavicle, Wyoming, it’s important to be very careful checking out your sources before you send money to anyone for an online purchase.

I’m in the market for a riding mower, and I was checking out what Amazon had to offer.

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I found this one that looked interesting, and noticed that there was a used one for sale at a ridiculously low price: $499.00, with free shipping.

Before I did anything, I checked around to see if it’s possible for scammers to set themselves up as sellers on Amazon… Most of the Articles indicated that Amazon has a rather strict vetting process and money back protection.

Edit: After doing some more research, it turns out that Amazon shuts down fake or scam accounts, but only after being notified – and that this is a huge problem, with phony sellers popping up by the hundreds each day.

I did notice that the seller’s storefront indicated that it had just been created, which is always a red flag, but I thought it would be worth at least sending an email to the seller to ask a question. The listing said, “Contact me before you buy!” and provided a contact email, JHONSONY86@gmail.com, so I sent off this inquiry:

How can you sell this item for so little with free shipping? What condition is it in? I know it says “like new” but still…

Here is the response I received:

Hello there,
The product is BRAND NEW, never used, ( US model, not grey market or refurbished).
The product is Sealed in its original box and comes with full Warranty, receipt, all manufacturer supplied accessories.
The total price is $499.00 including all shipping taxes, if you are in US, and for international shipping you have to pay extra 29,99 $ (outside US) .
If you want to buy, send me your phone number, full name, shipping address and I will contact Amazon asap to process your order. Dispatch is by normal UPS Services, which takes 1-3 days depending on where in the US you are.
My return policy is full money back in 30 days.
For more information don’t hesitate to contact me!
Best Regards,
Anthony Johnson

Well, there are so many red flags here that I can’t count them. The way the name was misspelled in the email address, the fact that the email address was in all caps, the bad grammar, and the absolutely ridiculous information in the response – selling a brand new riding mower for 1/4 of the list price, offering free shipping by UPS for a large item like a riding mower, indicating that international shipping would only cost $30 more, all combine to scream “run away fast, this is a scam!”

I wrote the seller back and included a few choice Nigerian insults for him; it was interesting to note today that the offer had been removed from Amazon.

Be ever so careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Your Computer Has Been Blocked! (PS – no, it hasn’t)

scam

If you get a screen like this while doing something like trying to log in to Facebook or something else, usually as a result of clicking on a link after a web search, you are being scammed.

Typically your browser locks up – you can’t go back, you can’t navigate to anything else, and you even can’t close the window. Instructions tell you to call Microsoft support because your system is infected with spyware and viruses.

It hasn’t.

If you call the number (877-382-9050), a friendly person (in India, Pakistan, or somewhere else) will answer. THESE ARE NOT MICROSOFT SUPPORT CONSULTANTS. THEY ARE SCAMMERS AND CRIMINALS. They will ask you some questions about your system, and have you do the following things:

  • Press the windows+R keys to open the “Run” box
  • Type in ” iexplore http://www.go2patch.com ” and hit enter
  • Type in the access code that they give you
  • Press the “Connect” button and then allow the program to run

If you do this, you have just given full access of your system to criminals who will steal valuable information, download real spyware or malware, or turn your computer into part of a botnet to send out spam.

This is just another incarnation of the “Zeus Virus” scam – same technique, different remote connection software.

If this happens to you, hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and open the Task Manager. End the browser task from there, whatever you’re running (IE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, NCSA Mosaic, etc.)

What do you do if you have already allowed access? According to “Slim,” a registered user at 800Notes.com,

Since the scammers accessed the computer, they probably did one or more of the following:
• Disabled the anti-virus software
• Added nasty malware to the computer
• Copied the Contact List (so they can spam/email your soon-to-be ex-friends)
• Copied any financial data or passwords they could find
• Compromised your ID on Facebook or other social site(s), and perhaps on shopping sites.
• “Zombied” the computer, so it would respond to THEIR commands sent via internet
• Deleted some important files
• Asked for money to repair the damage they caused

What can you do immediately after such an attack?

1.  Pull the cables on the computer, or otherwise disable it, so it cannot access the internet.
2.  Change ALL  passwords stored on the computer.
3.  Run FULL malware scans on the computer, in “SAFE” mode!
4.  Change the passwords again, particularly if the malware scans showed anything.
5.  Inform your bank and credit card companies.
6.  Sign up for credit monitoring, and check the status frequently
7.  Backup non-executable personal, data files to an external storage device.  (Executable files might be infected).
8.  You may have to bring the computer to a local repair shop, and tell them the story.
9.  Tell friends what happened, so they can be aware of strange emails from you.
10.  Connect to the internet only AFTER all the above have been done.
11.  Change the passwords on all online accounts.  Even better – access a “safe”, uninfected  computer, and change your online account passwords RIGHT NOW.

Be careful out there – don’t help the bad guys mess up your machine.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Scott Adams has poked fun at this bit of business triteness that workers have probably come to enjoy hearing about as much as a dentist’s drill being scraped across a whiteboard.

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This morning I began to wonder if the originator of this phrase was known. As it turns out, he is.

Allan H. Mogensen (1901-1989), known as Mogy, was an American industrial engineer and authority in the field of work simplification and office management. He is noted for popularizing flowcharts in the 1930s, and is remembered as “father of work simplification” (Wikipedia)

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Allan Mogensen (left) with Ben S Graham, Jr. at an early 1960s conference. Graham was is the son of Benjamin S. Graham, Sr., an American organizational theorist. Image: Ben Graham Corp.

People like Mogensen deserve to be recognized for improving efficiency, safety, and ergonomics in the workplace… no matter how much we may cringe at hearing their slogans – especially when they’re mis-applied by incompetent managers.

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The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

 

Next phase of the United Saga

First, Oscar Munoz “apologized” for re-accomodating” a paying passenger – by beating the snot out of him and dragging him off the plane.

Then, this fine specimen of corporate leadership doubles down by blaming the passenger.

Finally, United offers a real apology and promises changes.

With regards to United’s “apology” for the event,

“The sentiment certainly rings a bit hollow when it follows two previous failures and 36 hours of intense public pressure…The back-against-the-wall, through-gritted-teeth apology isn’t generally a winning strategy.” (Jeremy Robinson-Leon)

Have a look at these articles from the New York Times about the matter:

The Internet, of course, has come up with its own response:

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Keep up the pressure on United until things improve, not only with this airline but throughout the industry.

The security officers involved in this debacle are not squeaky-clean either – three of them have been suspended pending reviews.

Lastly, the social media flap and internal policy reviews are not the only consequences – the affected passenger has retained a high-powered attorney and begun steps to file a lawsuit. As much as I execrate frivolous legal action, I hope whatever happens is a serious financial incentive for United to be careful how it treats paying customers in the future.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, doubles down.

My previous entry dealt with an event in Chicago where a paid passenger was roughed-up and dragged off a flight by Chicago Aviation Security “officers” – notice those scare quotes, they are there for a reason – for refusing to give up his paid seat.

  • In an email to employees, United CEO Oscar Munoz addressed an incident in which an overbooked passenger had to be forcibly removed from a United plane.
  • Passenger described as “disruptive and belligerent.”
  • Munoz: “I emphatically stand behind all of you.”

United’s policies are crack-headed to begin with.

  1. Overbooking is a legal but disrespectful and passenger-unfriendly practice
  2. Throwing passengers off a flight to accommodate deadheading employees (regardless of whether or not they are needed for another flight) is morally reprobate.

Here’s a screen cap from the internal memo Munoz sent to United’s staff:

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And here’s pretty much the reality – the video of the event is damning:

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The customer defied Chicago Transportation Security because he had a right to be on the plane, in a seat which he had paid for. As a physician with patients to see, it’s not surprising that he was upset. When people are upset they don’t always act in the most rational manner, behave like sheep, put their heads down and blindly comply with corporate douchebaggery.

“Mr.” Munoz, dragging a paying customer off an airplane is not “re-acccomodating” him, you insufferable asshat.

If Oscar Munoz thinks that “established procedures” for dealing with unhappy customers should include calling for armed men to brutalize, assault, and humiliate a passenger, that’s a good reason for the flying public to shun United like the Ebola virus.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

United breaks guitars, and beats up paying customers.

We live in a tumultuous world, with a lot going on around us. There’s a lot that we can’t do much about. But I’ve always felt that corporate douchebaggery and abuse of power need to be called out whenever it happens.

According to a video posted at Facebook, and reported on at the Courier Journal, the following events just took place.

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  1. United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. (That practice in itself is worthy of a lot of discussion, but it’s standard operating procedure in the airlines and hotel world.)
  2. Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday.
  3. Passengers were allowed to board the flight. (Notice: you’ve paid for your ticket, and you have your butt in a seat.)
  4. Passengers were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees that needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. (United feels that deadheading employees are more important than paid passengers.)
  5. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats.
  6. The offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.
  7. A manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. (“The Reaping.”)
  8. One couple volunteered as tribute and left the plane.
  9. The man in the video was confronted. He became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning.
  10. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, and the man said he was calling his lawyer.
  11. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.

So here’s an elderly Asian doctor who needs to see his patients in the morning, who has a confirmed, paid ticket on a United Airlines flight, and because UA overbooked and wants their employees to have free seats, three armed thugs come on board and knock the old man out before dragging him, bloodied, off the plane, because he wouldn’t surrender his rights.

Great work, United. This beats breaking guitars six ways from breakfast.

This is what should have happened:

  1. United doesn’t overbook their flights (Not likely, it’s common travel practice.)
  2. United continues to bump the incentive – $1,000, $1,200, and free hotel, etc. etc. – until enough people take the offer. It would have happened quite soon, problem solved.

Here’s what I’m hoping happens:

  1. The physician in question does indeed get hold of a high-powered legal firm and sues the company for enough money to buy the entire European Union, plus Canada.
  2. United’s stock ends up in the Mariana Trench because nobody ever flies with them again.
  3. The three armed thugs (security personnel, cops, whatever) are fired and end up spending the rest of their days sweeping up after horses in Texas rodeos.

Here’s what’s likely to happen:

  1. Some sort of settlement, and the affair quietly fades away.
  2. United continues to abuse passengers because, after all, most of us are very comfortable and there will be a Starbucks to go to at our destination. (Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people continue to protest in Serbia and Ecuador and around the world because they are tired of government corruption.)
  3. “Proper procedure was followed.”

Disclaimer: I wasn’t there. I didn’t see the event. There are always more facts to any story than are being reported. But regardless, this looks really bad at first blush. If United’s corporate leadership were any sort of humans, they’d be filling their britches and entering DEFCON-5 damage control mode, but I sincerely doubt they’ll lose a minutes sleep over the event.

Don’t fly United. This is really sad in a lot of ways, because for the longest time United was the best of the best in airlines in the USA, and I have a long history of flying with them since the 50s.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

An honest email from HR

This I had to share. But I also had to bowdlerize it a bit, because reasons. If you really don’t care about salty language and think it improves things, stroll on over and read the original. I hope the writer doesn’t sue the hqiz out of me for sharing this in a mildly redacted form.


An honest email from a company’s HR rep to the employees.

Filed by Meg Favreau | Jul 07, 2015 @ 1:30pm

Hello, Kopencky Company Family! HR here. Look, I could care less about what you guys do in your personal lives, but I get paid to be your work mommy because, for some reason, a group of adults can’t manage to do things like not steal each other’s lunches or touch each other’s butts for the eight bleeding hours a day that they’re in an office. You people are exhausting, and since you apparently need constant reminders in order to be decent human beings, here are some ruddy reminders.

Company fun run

Our insurance premiums are going to go WAY up if Don has another heart attack, and we can’t tell him to his face to stop eating Cheetos (although whoever left him that anonymous note that I publicly denounced, please know that I privately agreed with you. STRONGLY). To that end, we’re forcing everyone to exercise with this company-mandated “fun” run that almost all of you will find demeaning, embarrassing, and really just awful to participate in. Except Jill. WE ALL KNOW YOU RAN A MARATHON, JILL. SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

Bring your child to work day

It’s next Tuesday. You are all welcome to bring your little chemical mistakes, except for Stephen. I know you and your pale wife are doing that “no negative reinforcement” thing, but last year, all you said was “Great stream, buddy!” when your kid peed on my aloe plant. Never again.

Vacation days

Reminder 1: All employees who started before July 1, 2015 get four weeks worth of vacation a year; if you started after, you get two weeks of vacation a year. Reminder 2: It was our jack-hole boss Mr. Kopencky who decided to cut vacation time in order to save money, not me, so taking it out on me will only make me hate you more. Reminder 3: This also means that you shouldn’t yell at me for: not getting a raise, no more free soda in the kitchen, the removal of vision and dental from the healthcare plan, and the fact that Mr. Kopencky will only let me buy a dozen doughnuts for “free doughnut Fridays,” so that 41 employees have to rush to be the first to get 12 doughnuts. (Yes, I know there are 42 employees here. Allow me to point you to Jill’s insufferable “Gluten Free IBS Runner” blog so you can also understand that she doesn’t eat doughnuts because of “the trots.”)

Glossary

Some people have told me that the HR buzzwords can be confusing. That’s because they’re a way for HR professionals to thinly veil how we really feel so we don’t accidentally yell “You’re a childish moron!” at our coworkers. Here are some definitions to help clarify things.

“My door is always open”

Mr. Kopencky won’t let me shut my door, so you guys can always walk in. But please don’t, because managing your dumb problems stresses me out to the point where I’ve had to learn how to cry silently, with no tears.

“Think outside the box”

You have bad ideas. I put your bad ideas all together in a box. Now, I want you to come up with good ideas. That means I need you to think outside of the box.

“Results driven”

Getting results is your job. So when I say I want you to be “results driven,” I’m saying “do your ruddy job.” Jill, that means do your job, not update your blog. Remember, we have tracking software on all the computers, so I know that you spent five hours researching “grain-free pizza” last Thursday.

The sign in the kitchen

I have overheard complaints that the dish-washing sign I put up is both condescending and passive-aggressive. I know it is, and I could change it to get at the real issue by saying, “You need to do your dishes because everyone else is sick of doing them for you, DAN.” I don’t think that Dan would like that, though, and he is Mr. Kopencky’s nephew. Did I say “Mr. Kopencky’s nephew”? I meant to say “Mr. Kopencky’s stupidest nephew.”

One other thing about the sign in the kitchen

Also, it’s pretty funny that the sign is for Dan, considering that I know he’s the one who drew a wang on the clipart man on it.

Sexual harassment

Speaking of that wang, we’re having a sexual harassment seminar in two weeks, and you can all thank Dan for that. Jill, you are welcome to bring gluten-free snacks again, but I swear if you bring grain-free pizza bites and they’re just globs of cheese and sauce, I will tell everyone about your IBS, which you have told me way, way, way too many details about. Remember, everyone, my door is always open!

Best,

Pamela