Not cool Citibank, not cool

Over the last few days I’ve been attempting to re-acquire access to my online accounts using the laptop, since my desktop remains down for the count.  For the most part I’ve been successful, but my Citibank account has remained elusive in being accessible.  I encountered the first problem on Wednesday, when I attempted to log on, only to be told that there had been multiple failed attempts to access my account (more than likely by my continued efforts) and I needed to reset my password.

I went through the motions that the site said was necessary, having a code sent by text to my phone, and inputting it in the appropriate place when prompted.  At that point I was prodded to change my password and when I did, I was presented with a screen that said ‘the content you’re looking for doesn’t exist on our website’, or words to that effect.  I tried the same process twice more just to get the same response, so I shelved my efforts to another day.  Which turned out to be Friday.

Friday was the day that we were getting our vehicle (finally) inspected prior to the end of  our lease, so I had to be awake at 6:45 in order to make a call to the dispatch people to be certain the inspector was coming at the right time, to the correct place.  We’d been through the merry-go-round more than once with this and I wanted to be completely certain there weren’t any screwups this time.

After successfully handling that (vehicle came out clean, no issues) I took the time to call the 800 number referenced by Citibank when I was unable to access my account.  After navigating through the myriad of automated menus, I was finally able to speak to a real person.  I told the woman what my problem was, she asked for my checking account # and I told her that I wasn’t a member that had a bank account, I had a credit card.  “Oh,” she says, “you called the wrong number…this is the customer service arm for bank accounts.”  But…this is the number the website gave me.  She proceeded to apologize for the error on the website and transferred me over to the credit card customer service section.  Where I had to wait on hold for another 10 minutes.  No pleasant music on hold either, just dead air.

The next customer service rep asked for my account number and SS #, which I told her the account number but said I wasn’t willing to give out my social # over the phone.  She asked a challenge question and I answered it, these were preset when I originally set up the account 12 years ago.  Thank goodness for my password storage program, or I might never had remembered the Q&A.  But having been given the correct response, she asked what she could do to assist.  So I proceeded to relate my problem again.  To which she had no offering of assistance on her own, I was going to have to be bumped to the technical support people.  Wonderful.  I was beginning to get a little despondent of ever regaining access to my account.  The only lament I had been, my bill was due in about a week and I wasn’t completely positive I still had it on auto-pay, so if I had to do a transaction over the phone, they were going to charge me a fee to do so, because they always do.  It’s not convenient for me if you’re going to charge me more money for taking my money.

So it was back to holding.  And finally I reach tech support.  The woman who I spoke to this time, doesn’t have the information of why I called, but she does want to know my account # and social again.  I mention that I’ve already spoken to two different sections of her company and both have asked me the same questions and been rewarded with the proper responses.  She replies that she has no record of it, and do I want the help or not.  Seems a bit snippy to me, but what the hell, I wasn’t in a good mood at this point either.  So I give her the account #, and tell her I’m not obligated to give out my SS # and she accepts that.  Asks again my problem and I tell her.  She asks what browser I’m on.  Chrome, I reply.

Tech Support Lady: Do you have a different browser you can use?
Me: I have Microsoft Edge, but I’m not confident in its ability to do what I need it to do, which is why I have Chrome.
TSL: I see.  Can you try it anyway?
Me: Sure, but I don’t see the point.

I bring up Edge and attempt to go through the Citibank credit card website. I get the same result as when I was using Chrome. I relate it to the woman and she’s perplexed. Enough to mutter under her breath ‘It should work‘. I’m with you lady, it should have worked the first time.

She asks if I can delete my browsing history and cookies etc. from Chrome. I can, but I have to log out of Chrome so I don’t lose my history etc from all the other devices I use. She wants me to delete ALL of my browsing history, all the way back from when I first started using Chrome. Which admittedly was a while ago. I’m really not interested in losing all of that history. So I log out of Google on the laptop and proceed to delete the browsing history on that particular version of Chrome that’s running on the computer. And then Chrome crashes. Perfect. Have to reboot the computer so I tell the woman who it was going to take a while (truth), and if I needed further assistance I would call back. No sense me wasting her time while I’m waiting for an old Thinkpad to reboot. So I bid her good-bye and wish her a good day, anything to get her off the phone.

Needless to say once I rebooted, I still wasn’t able to access the account. I even tried to use the Citi app on my smartphone but every time I attempted to use either the old or new password, the app replied there was a ‘long wait time’ and kicked me out of the app. Finally this evening I tried a different laptop that hasn’t been used online in over a year. Again I got the same result, but this time I was able to change the password successfully. And when I did that, it all clicked and fell into place. I was logged on. About damn time. I checked my account, the auto-pay was active, so I didn’t have to worry about missing a payment after all. There was a blurb from Citi asking if I wanted to see if I qualified for a credit increase. Just for the hell of it, I clicked yes, answered their questions and was rewarded(?) with a $2300 increase in my limit. Granted the interest rate is still ridiculous, but just about any card is these days. Even if you’ve been a customer in good standing, the banks are inching up the rates little by little about every six months or so, knowing that people are inured to them with more debt so they don’t have a lot of recourse.

I certainly could have done without the merry-go-nowhere that I had to deal with, but anymore customer service is a crapshoot. I know many people who work in call centers, and they say that the people they deal with, have no patience. Well, when things go to shit and you get raked over the coals time and again, there’s a good reason. And this is coming from someone who works in the customer service industry.

More Small Engine Angst

The carburetor arrived yesterday.  A couple of days early.  I actually used that as a good omen, though I honestly should have known better.  After taking my wife to her eye dr appointment (all’s well, it was just a 6 month checkup on her cataract surgeries) I got out of my work clothes, into my more comfortable home working clothes and got to work taking off the old carb and bolting on the new.

If I can take anything from the trials and tribulations of this experience with the engine, I feel that my learning curve has greatly increased when it comes to the ins and outs of small engines.  I certainly have a greater respect for them, they’re not really just means to an end anymore, they seem to have little lives of their own and really do need TLC from time to time, in order to work the way they’re supposed to.  Change the oil, check all the lines and so on, otherwise you’re going to be in dutch, and not in a good way!

This time, instead of removing the muffler and the air filter, and trying to wrest just the carburetor from the engine, I took a page from my experience and removed the two screws from the valve that led from the carb to the engine block and removed the entire assembly.  That worked much better, and I could get to the bolts much easier with a wrench.  If only I knew about that trick the first time!  Would have saved me a good 10 minutes of angst in getting the darn thing off.  Still, I forgot to dump the excess gas from the bowl of the carb using the little exit port and got gas all over my fingers when it went from level to cockeyed.  At least this time I had a rag to clean it up with.  I went ahead and cracked a window in the garage as I could already smell the gas and knew it wasn’t going to get much better if I kept spilling it.

Having the whole thing together, I slowly separated the valve from the old carburetor and set it aside.  Getting my tools together, I bolted the new carburetor on and reassembled the whole thing, ready to put it on the engine block.  Looking at the carb, I noticed what might already be a problem.  Ok, two problems.  First one; the choke lever is longer on this carburetor than the old one, so its going to be knocking against the protector arm that lies just beyond the cover of the air filter.  I bent the choke lever a little, making certain that it wasn’t bent too much (or worse yet, snap it off!) so it would clear.  I thought that was acceptable (turns out later it wasn’t).  The second issue was with the way the gas line would need to go into the carb.  On the old one, there’s a metal thingy on an angle that takes a straight line from the gas tank and bends it towards the carb.  On the new one, there’s no thingy, just an extension that the gas line slides onto, which is going to be a problem since my gas line isn’t all that long.  And it’s 40+ years old which means it’s probably pretty brittle.  I’d been concerned about clamping it with vise grips for fear I’d break it, so I’ve been very careful with it up to now.  In all good conscience I should replace that as well, but it threads past the engine block on an odd angle and to replace it requires removing another part of the machine that I really don’t want to get into, if I don’t have to (the recoil starter, if you really wish to know).

At this point though, I removed the metal angle from the gas line, pulled on it a little to get a bit more slack and slid it onto the extension of the carb.  Using a clamp that was already on the line, I went ahead and bolted the air cleaner onto the other end of the carb.  Sure enough, the choke lever was being interfered with by the size of the air cleaner cover, as well as being restricted in its movement by the guard as I feared.  Fiddling around with it, I thought that I had it nicked, so I went ahead and filled the block with 10W-30 oil, making sure that I didn’t overfill the block.  I didn’t want to be burning oil if I could help it.  I added gas to the tank, even though there was gas in the tank already and set up the tiller to start.

Yanked on the starter cord a few times after pushing the choke over to start.  Nothing.  Yanked a few more times.  Still nothing.  It finally occurred to me that the throttle was still on stop and that was probably a big reason I wasn’t getting any action.  Changed that and gave it another two pulls.  Ah!  It coughed.  That suggested I might have flooded it initially.  Another couple of pulls and it fired!  But immediately it was running rough, so I grabbed a screwdriver and adjusted the idle screw.  That helped a bit.  It started to run more smoothly, and it didn’t sound completely rough.  However, when I went to shut it off, I ran into the same problem as with the other carb.  Pulling the throttle all the way back caused the engine to chug, but it wasn’t stopping, so it was still getting too much gas to keep it running.  Not having a completely good idea how to rectify that, I resorted to the trick I figured out the first time this happened.  I pulled the connector off the spark plug.  The engine died.

About that time, I smelled the distinct odor of fresh gas.  Looking down, I saw a puddle forming under the tiller and looked closer.  What I had feared occurring had happened.  I ripped a hole in the ancient fuel line and it was bleeding the gas tank onto the floor of the garage.  Oy.  Grabbing a nearby can I shoved it underneath and allowed it to pool there instead.  I tried shutting off the flow by using the vise grips, but the gas just shifted from bleeding at one point to flowing down the handle of the grips into the can.  After watching that for a moment or two pondering the options, I finally gave up and ripped the gas line in half and drained the gas tank completely.  I’m going to have to get a new gas line and either re-thread it behind the recoil cable assembly like it is now, or get a longer line and wind it underneath the tiller dangling under the machine completely. I’ve seen a YouTube video of someone else’s tiller of the same model where they did that, but I’m not certain that’s the best option.  When its exposed like that, if it happened to get hung up on some protrusion while tilling, it could easily rip the line and then I’d have gas in whatever bed I was working on.  That would most definitely be not good.

So that’s where I’m at now.  One step forward and still a few steps to go.   I can probably get a fuel line locally.  I won’t have to order it online.  That should save some time…I hope.  Stay tuned!

BSoD

I hate the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). On a PC. Always have. It’s just a portent of doom and nothing good comes of it.

Friday evening, after something finally going a little right, I sat down at my computer to do a little web surfing.  Over the last few days, I’ve been having intermittent problems with the computer, specifically the video, or what I thought was the video.  Too, there has been a feeling, one of those suggestions that things might be going almost too good and this was a sign that something was going to go wrong.

And of course, it did.  I don’t remember Windows doing any update recently, but I got the BSOD with the little sad face on it, and Windows told me that there was a problem, the OS was going to collect some information and reboot.  All well and good.  Except in this case, it was not to be.  It rebooted, and 10 seconds later shut off.  And then power cycled.  It would turn on, not even get to the point where I’d get the hardwired display from the motherboard and shut down again.  Over and over and I finally just shut it off for the time being, thinking it needed to rest for a bit.

Normally, I leave my computer on for days at a time.  Always have, when I’ve had a desktop computer.  I finish what I’m doing at whatever time, set it to sleep mode and walk away.  When I need to wake it up again, I hit the power button and continue where I left off.  I’ve heard that perhaps this isn’t the best way to handle things, but if that was the case, why did MS bother to have the option?  And I’ve only been working with computers almost before they had monochrome screens.  To be candid, the last time I bought a ready-made computer from a reputable firm (It was a Dell fwiw) was (I think) 2003.  I might be wrong about that, but I believe that’s fairly close.  Every other desktop computer I’ve had I’ve built myself, and for the most part, I reuse components so I don’t have to outlay large sums of money for extraneous hardware.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve had problems with this particular computer, I needed to do a little research on the Net for what might have been causing the hardware issue.  Too, since I wasn’t able to use the computer that was having the issue, I went to my phone instead.  Checking some things, going to YouTube as well as a few websites I normally use for ‘brain picking’ it seemed to be more of a hardware problem than software.  There were several suggestions about the CMOS battery on the motherboard being faulty, or perhaps the RAM that’s installed in the motherboard needed to be reseated and so on.  Both of these options involves pulling the tower out from under the desk, disconnecting all the peripherals and opening the box.  None of which is a problem, except it takes a good deal of time.  Which I don’t really have right now, seeing as I work weekends.  So it’s going to have to wait for a time when I do have the time, energy and patience to do problem-solving on the computer.

Though it does create yet another problem.  What to do about a computer in the interim.  Expert pack-rat to the rescue.  I just so happen to have three laptops available to me, though one is in dire need of a hard drive replacement.  Of course, that one just happens to be the newest of the three, and for about 2 years I was using it as the desktop replacement while that particular computer was waiting on me to install a new power supply.  But at the present time, as I’m writing this, I happen to have two nearly identical Lenovo Thinkpads.  They’re the same series, only one has a webcam and the other one doesn’t.  I remember buying the second one when a friend asked me about buying a used laptop on eBay.  I bought it for her, and then she decided to go in another direction, and I ended up keeping it.  Add another to the ever-growing collection of computers and what not I have around the house.

So, I have a couple of things to add to the project list, as if I really needed another thing.  When I mentioned the problem to my wife in passing, she said ‘well, you could always get a new computer‘, which is true.  Though that is another headache should I decide to go that route.  For the time being, I can make do with the laptop, it took me several hours this evening before and after dinner to get it charged and interfaced with what I needed to have for it to work properly, as well as interconnect with things like this blog and my passwords.  Just have to cobble together a method for getting my mail in the interim.