Tag Archives: Communication

Sir Richard…What’s With Virgin Mobile?

When I think of Sir Richard Branson aka @SirDickBranson, I think of “The King of Customer Care”.

Love Virgin Atlantic Airlines and all your personal touches with the website.  VA makes you feel like you are entering the First Class cabin if only you are traveling in the last row of coach.  I pull up my page and in the upper right hand corner it says:  “hello, gorgeous”.  Now that’s customer service!

So why is Virgin Mobile such a departure from your mystique?

Several months ago I changed from AT&T to Virgin Mobile – it took 4 days, 2 without any phone service (I have only one phone), and the courage by me to call the Investor Relations department of Virgin Mobile in order to get it switched to VM.  AT&T had released it right away, but VM and Sprint allowed it to fall into that virtual abyss where the black hole seems like a warm fuzzy place.

My origial plan of changing carriers was to save money from AT&T.  My contract was up and I thought I would go with Sprint and purchase the Palm Pre as soon as it came out.  I won’t bore you with the facts that one of Sprint’s resellers, Let’s Talk, gave me misinformation about transporting my phone number and cancelled my order because I wouldn’t accept another number.   So I called Sprint who checked with “porting” and said the information was incorrect in that I only had to accept another number till the phone arrived then call Sprint and Voila!  The transport of my old number would take place.

Thinking I would take this event as “someone was trying to tell me something”, I called a friend in Hawaii and we discussed all the geeky things about the phones and the networks.  My experience with Sprint and Sprint’s reseller made me think not to take another chance with Sprint.

On Saturday, 8-15-09, with my normal, unbridled enthusiasm, I went into the AT&T phone store and said, “I want the 3Gs iPhone in white”.  I even put my password (vKey) into the store’s computer, so I know it was correct.  Gorgeous in an orange and black case, I sparkled.

By Wednesday I was still using your VM phone and the iPhone.  So, lacking the same unbridled enthusiasm, I called AT&T who told me that according to VM there was no password.  We were given the run around by 3 different people.  Excuses that the system was going through an upgrade, to we are missing the password, to a request AT&T to change my street address abreviation from “Ln” to “Lane” and an equally inane request to remove the initials from my name .  Do these people know how to program “globally”?

Day 6:  This AM I got a call from AT&T, doing their follow-up.  We started the conference call with VM.  I’m not sure who we started with, but we asked for a supervisor and we got a “team leader” by the name of Mata.  She wouldn’t give us her last name and when we asked to speak with her supervisor, she flatly refused to give us her supervisor’s name.  I lost my normally cheerful demeanor and demanded to speak with her supervisor and explained that I had already filled out a complaint with the FTC (true – done night before), so I had nothing to lose at this point.  I just wanted my new iPhone to be the recipient of calls in and out.  Finally Mata told us the name of her supervisor, “Jennifer” but refused to connect us with Jennifer because Jennifer does not accept phone calls from the consumers.  We were then given an “IVR” number of 888-322-1122 which was the phone number we had called in the first place.

Now my cheery disposition took on “total resolve”, the “squeeky wheel”, you know…  And taking the ball and running with it was AT&T’s very able agent who asked that Mata at least ask Jennifer if she would call the porting department and find out what the status was with transporting my number.  We waited for over 20 minutes to find out that the “updating” of the system had started on the “14th”.  We had been previously told the “15th and 16th” by another agent.  Mata cheerfully said it was just as she had been telling us about the system updating and that my phone number would probably be transported within the “normal” 24 to 72 hours”.

Yikes!!!!  I lost it.  6 days plus another 24-72 hours!  Is this 1892?

I thanked my new friend with AT&T who I convinced to try Twitter while we were whiling away the many, many minutes waiting to hear the “script” again.  She was so cute when she said, “My mother would be saying and doing the same things you are…”  I told her that her mother and I had earned the right to go to the top and work down, which was what I intended to do next:  put in a call to Investor Relations.

Did it work?  You betcha, Kimosabe!  I made my day, Clint!  Probably didn’t make your staff’s day, Sir Richard, but by this time I was high on adrenalin and as most men know, that is just steps from hormonal infusing and PMS-ing.  Luckily I don’t own a gun…

Thanks to the lady who answered the phone at 908-607-4000, and Jose’ at “porting”, I had full iPhone transport within about 30 minutes.

Now I’m a happy camper.

Could you make me happier?  Well, a trip to your Island to spend the weekend with you and your wife, but since that’s not going to happen, maybe a refund of this last month’s charges… ??  I’d go for that to cover a discounted cost of my time today.

Necker Island purchased by Sir Richard Branson over 25 years ago.

Have a great day.

Kathy Howe

PS.  Get rid of that blight on your reputation.  They don’t deserve you.


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An Elected Sedona Mayor? Maybe Not.

Last night (8-11-09) I attended the Sedona City Council meeting where it was voted 6-1 to put the issue back to the voters:  Should Sedona “elect” the Mayor or should the Council determine who will be Mayor by appointing someone from their numbers.

What are the issues?

  • Miscommunication about the role of the elected Mayor
  • Not explaining the role of the City Manager in depth

Last night the discussion included the information that should have gone out to voters years ago, but somehow, missed the mark or was forgotten along the way.

Sedona has always operated with a “strong City Manager” (someone educated and proficient at running a city) model.  The role of the Mayor in either situation, appointed or elected, is to preside over meetings and to act as a representative of the Council at events that require Sedona’s “leader” to be present.

A “strong Mayor” model is where the City Manager is but an educated employee taking his/her direction from the Mayor.  AZ has no cities with such a model.  All 7 Council members agree we do not want this model.

The current Sedona city Council is responsible for the policies and the City Manager carries them out and runs the city in a fiscally responsible way.  We are a “strong City Manager” model with an elected Mayor.

We drove off the road this last election when campaign promises were made and executed by the elected Mayor without full Council approval, and last night, our Mayor, Rob Adams, admitted that he understood his campaign promises could not be executed without the full backing of the Council.

What went wrong?

Egos.  Yours, mine, and theirs.

The issue is about collaboration, not competition.  Our last election showed us how low we could go.  That’s not the Sedona we love.

Then there’s the price of running for office.  Spending over $20,000 for a $650/month job?

Last night the Council members, one by one, discussed the problem of finding competent people to run for the Council with the cost of running for office so very expensive.  Perhaps they should have said:  “The cost of winning the office of Mayor”…

In their wisdom (and I do mean wisdom), they have decided to ask us, the electorate, to once again decide about “electing” a Mayor or allowing the Council to select one from their numbers.

Too many bad feelings carried over from the last election and the finger pointing continued long into the Mayor’s term.  We, the voters, will be deciding if we want to go through this again.

Let’s think long and hard.

Have a great Sedona day!

Kathy Howe

Kathy Howe

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What Do Options and Mortgage Fraud Have in Common?

Maybe some time in the “Big House”, and a reduction in your 401K.

Brokers, do you hae a listing whereby you find out there’s someone who owns “an interest” in a property you have listed, but that person is not on title?  Ask your agents.  They don’t volunteer this willingly till the offer comes in and the Seller says, I’ll have to get with Joe, and let you know”.   You need to be involved here.

Brokers, find out if your buyer agents have an offer in on a Short Sale that has an Option-Holder (who is not on title).  Your agent may not understand what is going on.  You need to be involved here, too.

Is an Option illegal?  Not usually.

But, it is if the purpose of the Option is to circumvent state licensing laws or to defraud the lender from reaping the most possible from a Short Sale.

Question:  If a lender agrees to short a loan of $200,000 by writing off $50,000, and accepts the buyer-seller agreement, no problem.  What if the lender agrees to this agreement, only to find out that there was a simultaneous closing that was for $10,000 more than what the lender received?  Who pays the $10,000?

You and me.  Yes, the losses are what we the taxpayers shell out through the Feds to make up all the bank losses.  If there were only a $40,000, instead of a $50,000 write off, we would not have to shore up the banks any where near as much as we will if the short sales continue to have so many hands in the pot.

Would the RTC hae done a better job of clearing the market of toxic assets?

Real story:  one of my agents and I were doing an Open House at one of our listings.  Sheepishly my agent told me that the property was scheduled for a Trustee Sale.  Note:  In AZ we use Trust Deeds and a non-judicial foreclosure period of 90 days from filing of the papers to the Trust Sale.  Agent unsure of date.  So, will the Seller agree to go through the process of filling out and submitting to the bank, short sale papers, ask I?  I couldn’t get a straight answer and had to get out my pliers.

“Why hasn’t the Seller spoken with the lender and asked for a packet if she’s without a job and cannot afford to pay the loan on this 2nd home?”

“A what?”

“The Seller did what?”  Gave 1% interest in the house to a man she hardly knew to do property management?  Unlicensed?

Yes, the story goes down hill from here.  My agent then continued to tell me that that same “property manager” was going to remove the cabinets the following week.

Some of you don’t know me… but by now can guess…

I said, “you call the Seller and tell her that if one cabinet is removed from this property I will make it my life focus to make certain that the person removing the cabinets spend time behind bars!”  I should have been more inclusive.  The next week the cabinets were there but the light fixtures, appliances, etc. were gone.

That agent is no longer with me.

People, that is mortgage fraud!!!

Watch this video:  http://activerain.com/blogsview/1168080/what-is-the-difference-between-a-real-estate-wholesaler-and-a-real-estate-broker-be-careful-out-there

Dick Fryer is a member of the Floride Real Estate Commission and he believes, as do I, that real estate professionals are eventually going to find themselves in a world of hurt just by turning a blind eye to the hanky-pank that’s taking place.  By the way, the term “wholesaler” is a synonym for “dealer”.

Here’s what the AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard just filed:


Brokers, ask your license law officials about these issues, call your attorney and discuss transactions like this with him/her, and for heaven’s sake, get involved with your agent’s short sale and Rent-to-Own transactions.  Look at me, sounding like the lady in the drug ads telling parents to get involved.

Must get back to writing the AZ CE course…  look for a post about the “Shrink-Wrap House”… more on short sales, AZ’s amendment to the anti-deficiency judgment statute, and bankruptcies.



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Don’t Post Your Business Stuff on My Facebook Page…PLEASE!

How did something I enjoyed so much become a place that I no longer want to go?

Facebook is for my family and friends.  If I “connect” with you, I hope you will respect my page and only post to me things that are about you personally…maybe an occasional post about what you’ve been doing in business, or where you are going in business, BUT, please do not try to solicit me to buy your books, your training programs, or your children!

LinkedIn, I allow people to try to solicit me.  I figure it’s all about business.  But, not my Facebook page.

Today I “disconnected” someone I “connected” with recently.  His first post to me was an out and out solicitation.  Flush!

Using someone’s Facebook page to advertise your wares is like pinning a note on someone’s child and sending them home to Mom.  Mom does not like that.

We’re all looking for ways to “connect” and I am glad to “connect” with strangers as long as they don’t abuse their welcome.  My page has become so cluttered with videos that I will never watch, business news and comments from people I don’t know, and information I don’t need.  Can I be the only person who is getting p—-d off?

You may “tweet” me with business news, or post on my LinkedIn page, but PLEASE, discontinue posting to me on Facebook.  Give it to me on Twitter.  It goes away and does not go to everyone who views my page.  I’m about quality, not quantity.

It’s called Social Networking for a reason… Facebook is for my chosen friends or people I think I would like to have as friends.


Kathy Howe

Kathy Howe

Tweet your news to me at:  http://twitter.com/sedonakathy

LinkedIn: http://linkedIn.com/sedonakathy


Filed under AZ CE Courses, Pets, Real Estate, Retirement, Sedona Housing, Taxes, Technology, Uncategorized

What does the NSA and AMY CHOREW have in common?

They both made my week!

NSA is the National Speakers Association.  It’s members include people you have only heard about or seen on TV.  They are the creme de la creme of the speaking industry.  I only wish I were a member.

Through twitter one day I received a “tweet” from someone who did a twitter search and found my name.  Michael Benidt introduced himself and we “tweeted” about our worlds.  He asked if I knew that the NSA was meeting the week of July 12-17 in Phoenix…I replied “no”…he asked if I had time to attend… I said I would find the time.  Why did he go this far with someone who was not a member of NSA.  As the President Elect of the Real Estate Educators Association (REEA) he thought his organization and our organization had common ground.  Now, friends, this is the ultimate in Social Networking!

I’m not sure what NSA got out of meeting me, but I can tell you what I got out of the National Speakers Association:

  • They are competent, dedicated, professional, and in a class by themselves
  • They put on one dy-n0-mite conference – thanks Sarah Michel
  • Their speakers push you to the max with ideas that don’t quit

I had the privilege of being invited to attend a CSP-only session presented by Michael Benidt and Sheryl Kay, Hidden Treasures of the Internet:

“New Online Survival Strategies:  How to Find Real Value in an Overloaded World”, at which, in the Twitter portion, I was introduced as a way in which Twitter can expand your SOI.

My privileged day then included sitting with them at the Conference Chair’s table and sharing the excitement of the speakers, holding the “windbag” with Steve Spangler‘s wife, and making new friends.

…as well as seeing those already in my SOI:  Amy Chorew, Rhonda Hamilton, Doug Devitre.  All are both NSA affiliates and REEA members.

Is there an ROI for Social Networking?  What do you think?

The next day I was in a real estate CE class presented by AAR with Amy Chorew as the presenter.  No disappointment there.  She rocks!  And her passion for what technology can do for your business is her gift to the classroom.

So what do these two have in common?  Me.

Oh no!  I’m not trying to be arrogant.  They both gave me such get-up-and-go that I’m afraid my to-do list will be perpetual.  Keeping up with change is almost a full time job, but to be good, you have to stretch.  I’m feeling like a 300 lb woman trying to get into a pair of Chico size O tights… there’s going to be a lot of stretching going on.


Oh, I might add that the day was probably an expensive one as I will now have to have an iPhone so I can “bump”, apply to the NSA for membership, and plan on adding 3 more conferences to my already committed 8 conference dates over the next year.  Anyone want to adopt and fund one slightly aged, inquisitive, passionate, often outspoken blonde?

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I-17 Closed 7-15 Due To Brush Fire

Going to Phoenix in the summer is always iffy!  During the monsoons we have lightening (the dry type as well as storm lightening) which ignites the now-dry spring plant growth like a match to cotton.  The car is always packed with water (or coffee – can’t do the AM without it!) both directions.  Toolbox…well, actually mine is a toolcase with flags, bungee cords, a sledge hammer, and open house signs.

Yesterday’s fire had been phoned in to me after meeting a friend for lunch.  So what did I do?  I called DPS and asked how long they anticipated the fire to burn and the roads to be closed.  They said 1-2 hours, so I planned my shopping accordingly!  An extra stop at Marshall’s at 18th St & Camelback cost me a bit more than I had planned…

Headed up the Hwy and screached to a halt just south of Black Canyon City.  Turned off the engine, grabbed an Open House sign to block the sun on the drivers side and made a few calls.  Got bored…got out of the car…4″ heels get the attention of others and other drivers came over to talk.  They weren’t aware of the fire, so with them standing there I recalled DPS who said the northbound lanes were opened 5 minutes earlier but it might take another 10 minutes to move traffic.

Can you even remember life without a cell phone?

I carried that Motorola “brick with an antenna” starting 1988 and paid $.32 per minute.

Oh, the fire was started by a car fire this time, but as I speeded across I-17 to Copper Canyon, the lightening was vicious and at one point I thought it had hit very near me.  Mother Nature having a snit.

Have a great day!

Kathy Howe

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Is REALTOR.com What You Want It To Be?

Did you realize that you cannot put an address in the Search box on the splash page of REALTOR.com and get to that listing directly?

Do you know that you have to scroll down quite a way to find out who has the property listed?  And then you only get a name and phone number unless the broker has paid to “enhance” the listing with a web address, etc.

Does the consumer realize that there are “rules” at REALTOR.com that don’t allow REALTORS to identify the broker who has the listing?  We get fined for violations if there is anything that identifies the listing agent in a photo or even the remarks.

Do you know that if I want to direct you to my website as the listing agent, I have to pay REALTOR.com to “enhance” the website?

It may be the broker’s listing, but REALTOR.com is designed to hand off consumer leads to the person who spends the most money on “enhancing” or advertising with REALTOR.com.

Those of us who truly believe in the consumer being a real estate educated person believe that the more the consumer knows about the property, the more the consumer understands about the property, the offer, and the transaction.  Yet, we direct the consumer away from the listing agent (unless the agent “pays” to get the consumer to the agent).

Anyone else have a problem with REALTOR.com as it exists today?


Filed under AZ CE Courses, Real Estate, Sedona Housing, Technology, Uncategorized