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  • Chubbing Up!

    Posted on April 23rd, 2007 ben No comments

    Elliot is at around 15 pounds these days. Meaty.

  • Message from the COO

    Posted on April 18th, 2007 ben No comments

    Here’s the latest from Oregon Community Credit Union: The Chief Operating Officer has written me back with a very pleasant, yet unsatisfying, response to my problems and questions. Here is a brief and totally unfair summary of what I wrote and how he responds:
    Me: Your junk mail was labeled deceptively.
    COO: Whoops. But it was really great stuff inside.
    Me: You ought to tell people they can opt out of junk mail from you, or better, not send it unless they opt in.
    COO: We mean well. These are really great services.
    Me: I joined a credit union to get better banking services and no bullshit.
    COO: Some people like that bullshit.

    Here is the text of his letter, with names removed.

    Dear Mr. Quady:
    I have had an opportunity to read your correspondence with [the branch manager] and I believe that I have a clear understanding of your concerns. I’m sorry I haven’t responded earlier, but I have been out of my office for a few days.
    It appears that [she] has coded your account in a manner that assures that you will no longer receive unsolicited offers from us regarding ancillary products and services.
    I think I also have an understanding of the bigger issues that you feel like this solicitation represented and I would like to attempt to address your concerns around those issues.
    First, let me apologize again regarding your feelings that the correspondence from our partner was deceptive. That was not our intent. For many of our members having supplemental insurance coverage is important and to that end we feel that informing them of their options is a service we can provide.
    We strive to be a trusted advisor to our membership regarding other products and services that we believe may benefit them. Consistent with that goal we try to provide products that could benefit our members and to do so at a competitive price and through a convenient delivery vehicle. Many of our members have communicated to us that this represents an additional value added dimension to our relationship with them.
    There are occasions where quite candidly we are not in the best position to develop such ancillary products and as a result we occasionally enter into partnership agreements with organizations that specialize in those areas. We utilize our numbers obtain price breaks or other concessions on behalf of our membership. We explore entering those relationships very carefully to sure that they are consistent with the standards we believe you have the right to expect as a member of Oregon Community Credit Union. We do not sell these lists or make them available to “non-partner” organizations. We also monitor their performance and make changes on both products and partners where we feel we are not providing a value service or the partner is not meeting our service expectations.
    We really appreciate the feedback of our members as to our products and services, our delivery, and other matters related to your relationship with us. You are our owners and at the end of the day our success is measured by your satisfaction with that relationship, not by our size or asset base. Indeed we strive to create a relationship where you can confidently recommend us to your friends and family.
    Feedback such as yours allows us to further define our product offering, our delivery systems and our marketing efforts. I can’t tell you how much we value feedback like yours and how seriously we take it.
    If you have any other concerns or questions about your credit union, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at [phone number] or email at [email address].
    Thank you again for your candor and feedback.

    Best Regards,

    Chief Operating Officer

  • A Couple of Elliot Photos

    Posted on April 17th, 2007 ben No comments

    Here are the latest and cutest Elliot shots.

  • Switching from Comcast cable to Qwest DSL

    Posted on April 14th, 2007 ben No comments

    After a discussion with Hans a week ago, I decided that DSL service from Qwest would serve me better than Comcast’s cable internet. It was a fairly easy calculation, really. Download rates for my DSL roughly equal the maximum sustained rate I ever observed with cable. (~450 kB/s) And the upload rates for my DSL are nearly double the maximum sustained rate I ever observed with cable. (~90 kB/s vs. 50 kB/s) This is a very important number for bittorrent users! And the price is roughly $15/mo. cheaper for DSL in our case.

    I gave Comcast a chance, too. I called them up, told them that I was about to drop them, and that they could make me a better offer and I’d stay. The dude on the phone told me that they could drop the price for a few months, but that it would bounce back up. Perhaps they’ll go further when I actually call to drop them? [update: nope]

    On another note, Hans was very very kind and (among other kinds of help with the DSL) he moved the telephone wire from hanging low right down the middle of the back yard to hanging high roughly on the fence line. Awesome. It’ll be nice to get the cable line out of our way, too.

    This also means the end of my comcast.net e-mail address. Ah, well. It’s going to be kind of a hassle to change all of my online services to the badmotivator.net address, but it’s worth it.

  • Mercurial Elliot

    Posted on April 11th, 2007 ben No comments

    Although these pictures were taken in a handful of different sessions, the collage still shows how quickly the weather can change in that little head. And these are just the happy faces! Cheryl and I have been trying really hard to capture those really amazing moments when he puts on a big smile, but they are fleeting… Click the thumbnail for a big-ass version.

  • Kicked Upstairs

    Posted on April 11th, 2007 ben 2 comments

    The very agreeable and helpful Branch Manager at Oregon Community Credit Union has responded to my e-mail:

    Dear Mr. Quady,

    Thank you for taking the time to send me an email with your concerns. I appreciate your feedback and your honesty. I have decided to share your email with our Executive Team so they will also be aware of your concerns.

    Sincerely,
    Branch Manager
    Oregon Community Credit Union

    This seems sensible to me. I knew, even during our initial phone conversation, that I was talking about issues with which a Branch Manager has little to do. She should be commended for doing what she could, and knowing when to pass it on.

    Who steers the ship? That’s the gang I want to talk to.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the “Executive Team” will dish me out a very polite “thank you for your concerns, we hear you” kind of letter which is really meant to signal that the conversation is at a dead end. I hope I’m wrong, but there’s my prediction.

  • Today's Correspondence with Oregon Community Credit Union

    Posted on April 9th, 2007 ben No comments

    I received a voicemail from the Branch Manager with whom I spoke last week. It’s down at the end of the post, with her name edited out, if you care to hear it. The gist of it was: OCCU got my name removed from Hartford Insurance’s mailing list, and would you still like to talk about those more general issues about OCCU?

    I applaud this woman’s professionalism, follow-through, and willingness to keep the conversation open. Here is my emailed response:

    Dear Ms. Garcia,

    Thank you for your phone message this morning, and your email from Thursday. Thanks, also, for your willingness to continue this more general conversation about OCCU.

    I regret that I may not have been as concise about my other problems with the direction OCCU has taken as I might have liked when we talked on the phone last Wednesday. Let me reiterate them briefly.

    1. The words on the front of the envelope I received were deceptive. My letter was marked “Important Information About Your Account.” The letter had nothing at all to do with my account. It was, in fact, an advertisement. I can understand, at least, a commercial enterprise engaging in that kind of behavior in order to get people to open the mail. In fact we all kind of expect it. Shall members assume, too, that mail from OCCU is junk and not trustworthy? Deception of this kind is a profound disservice to your members. (The piece of mail which prompted my phone call appeared to have been sent by OCCU, not Hartford. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that. If Hartford was sold or given my address, we have another issue to talk about.)
    2. It would be a service to the members if OCCU simplified the process of opting out of junk mail and made a good-faith effort to inform its members of that option in every correspondence. Even better, OCCU could send “promotional mail” about commercial opportunities with “partners” on an opt-in basis by default.
    3. Here’s the real burning question, for me: why is OCCU sending out junk mail at all, and how does that advance my interests as a member? This experience has reminded me that among others my interests include a) being a member of a healthy credit union which offers fair rates on interest and credit, and b) avoiding fraudulently-labeled unsolicited “promotional mail”.
    I understand why profit-seeking enterprises send junk mail. But OCCU is not a profit-seeking enterprise. What assumptions lie behind the decisions made by OCCU managers about partnering with corporations, sharing member information, negotiating “special deals just for members”, etc.? Is there some big picture that I’m missing?

    I very much appreciate your efforts on my behalf and your attention to these outstanding issues. Please feel free to share my letter and my address with anyone you feel might be interested.

    Sincerely,
    Ben Quady

    Here’s the Branch Manager’s voicemail, if you’re interested.

  • Elliot talking to the squeaky bird

    Posted on April 8th, 2007 ben No comments

    Elliot has really started to chatter quite a lot. It’s pretty heavy on the vowels, still, but he’s got the “G” sound pretty much down.


    Click on the picture to play the video
    Quicktime 7 Required 3.1MB 00’20

  • My tete-a-tete with Oregon Community Credit Union

    Posted on April 5th, 2007 ben No comments

    I have been banking with one of the local credit unions for twelve years or so. It used to be called U-Lane-O, which was a stupid and funky name, but who cares? It was a cool little local organization, and it wasn’t a bank. There were never any surprises on your statement; the fee structures were cheap, fair, comprehensible, and obvious. Buying a car using U-Lane-O’s financing was a pretty decent experience both times I did it.

    But then something happened in the credit union world, the details of which I don’t quite understand. My credit union changed its name to Oregon Community Credit Union, expanded its “field of membership” to include all of Oregon, started advertising like crazy, and then came the junk mail…

    So the last straw, for me, was a piece of mail I received yesterday, in a window-envelope, clearly from OCCU, with the words “Important Information About Your Account” printed prominantly on the front, in bold, red ink. Inside the envelope was just this: an advertisement for life insurance from OCCU’s corporate “partner”, Hartford.

    This was too much for me to bear. I got on the phone right away, and was very quickly routed to the branch manager of the large downtown branch. I explained that I had a few issues for her. First, OCCU should not be labeling mail deceptively. Second, OCCU should not be sending junk mail, and if it is, it ought to clearly offer a procedure for opting out of future junk. Third, OCCU should not be in the business of chumming up with these “partners”, selling names and addresses and credit info, and acting bank-y. Those three things seem to be member disservices to me. At least I hope that I explained all these issues… I’m afraid that when we’re on the spot we are not always as clear and concise as we would like to be.

    The Branch Manager seemed to want to help me with the narrow, trivial issue of me getting this particular offer for life insurance from Hartford. She would try to flag my account as no-mass-mail-from-OCCU, and she would work on the no-mass-mail from “partners”. But she seemed not to understand the other points I made at all. Now, this may be for several non-sinister reasons. Perhaps I was inarticulate. Perhaps I am crazy. Perhaps I am missing the BIG PICTURE, and those things are really good for me in some way I just can’t comprehend. At any rate, I struggled to get her to acknowledge that those issues were significant, real, actionable, whatever. But after a while I just let her go.

    She wrote me an e-mail, as she promised. Here is her letter:

    Dear Mr. Quady,
    I wanted to let you know that I have coded your account to prevent you from receiving anymore Oregon Community Credit Union promotional mail. The original letter you received regarding accidental death and dismemberment insurance was sent to you by Oregon Community Credit Union and our partners at Hartford Life Insurance Company. We are trying to find a way to prevent you from receiving anymore Hartford Life Insurance Company promotional mail and we should have an answer for you by Friday. I know that you don’t like receiving any kind of promotional mail so I wanted to let you know that there is a phone number you can call to stop receiving pre-approved credit card offers. If you call 1-888-567-8688 you will get in contact with the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry Opt-in and Opt-out number. I hope this information proves to be useful. I will follow up with another email once we have a final answer about the Hartford Life Insurance mailing lists. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at (541) 681-6137 or agarcia@OregonCommunityCU.org.

    Sincerely,

    Branch Manager
    Oregon Community Credit Union

    I will be sending her a letter tomorrow in response, and will be posting it here.