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How to beat the FAFSA system

posted Nov 5, 2013, 8:08 AM by Edward Dziuk

A client recently requested my assistance in completing the FAFSA application. The husband had told me that he has a very large portfolio of marketable securities. When I sent him a request for the list of family assets, he didn't include the investment portfolio. Puzzled, I asked why. He referred me to an Education Assistance Consultant he'd hired who advised him to form a single member LLC and title the investment account to the LLC. According to the consultant, this qualified the portfolio for exclusion from reporting because the LLC met the U.S. Department of Education's definition of a small family business. To wit, a more than 50% controlled activity with fewer than 100 employees. Period.
 
I called the U.S. Department of Education and after 5 or 6 attempts got a number for the office that will discuss "Federal Student Aid Policy and Law". The supervisor that I spoke with read the definition of a business to me and said that she would have to conclude that the "experts" advice is correct.I shared my lack of appreciation for such a weak definition that it didn't exclude any activity wrapped in a corporate entity.

I pointed out that the lack of effort and insight being demonstrated by the Department is resulting in the unfair allocation of resources to those who are interested in subverting the system, and for those who would take advantage of the Department's ineptitude to attract and retain clients. She agreed and said she'd push the issue up through the heirarchy. I posted my opinion on the Secretary Arne Duncan's Facebook page. This morning, I checked and learned that the post has been removed, presumably by the Department of Education.

Wow

Working with ADT - NOT!

posted May 9, 2013, 7:04 PM by Edward Dziuk

7 May
Security Systems
Edward Dziuk from Cox Meadows
I was disappointed to learn that one of our friends just got a new alarm
system installed by ADP.
I should have shared my experience before now, but to make amends, I'll do it
now.
In May last year, I called for service on a Sunday. The voice response system
said that ADP was closed and provided a number I should call for assistance.
It was an ADP sub-contractor. They didn't have any information about my
account, couldn't retrieve it, and refused to respond to my request.
A few days later, I wanted to update the credit card used to pay our monthly
fees. I went to ADP's web site to make the change. It took 2 calls just to get
access to my account. I'd tried when we first got service and it was harder
than pulling teeth. I gave up after a few tries.
After working with their web support staff a couple of times, I got access to my
account. I then proceeded attempt to change the information so that a new
card would be charged. The web site was so dysfunctional that I gave up after
2 more calls to support and 3 attempts. See the screen shots that I took of
the problems that I had below.
At this point, I decided I'd had enough of ADP and arranged for Safeguard
Security, an Arizona company, who has provided top notch service at a fair
price. I have better more comprehensive service at a lower monthly rate than
ADP was charging.
Fair disclosure: If anyone requests service from Safeguard Security and tells
the sales rep that I referred them, they get a month free, and I get a $50
credit to my account. It will work the same for any customer on Safeguard's
system.
ADP filed a complaint on my credit record, and has been trying in vain to
collect $171. I figure we had a contract that they were not living up to. I wasn't
getting fair value for my subscription price, and I refuse to pay for something I
don't get. ADP and I aren't done yet - I'm just getting started.
Shared with Cox Meadows only in Home security service

Gaining access to my ADT account (4 tries)



Intuit's Customer "care"!

posted Oct 27, 2012, 8:22 AM by Edward Dziuk   [ updated Nov 11, 2012, 11:57 PM ]

Having been a Quickbooks ProAdvisor for 14 years, I remembered, yesterday, that my subscription expires about this time of year. I was dismayed when I logged onto my account to be met by a screen announcing my membership's  expiration. The page offered only 2 options. I could start a chat or call the ProAdvisor group.


Although, I'm able to order and pay for a subscription online, I figured Intuit had made it miserable for me because I had the ingratitude to let my subscription lapse.

Unhappy, I called "customer service", and selected the queue for membership services from the menu. After waiting on hold for 20 minutes, I explained to a representative that I had recently received an email about a purchase on my account, but none to warn that my subscription was about to expire. The representative said that I was fortunate for only having to hold for 20 minutes, and verified that the email address associated with my account was invalid. An Intuit representative had edited it during a previous call.  He corrected my email address. Then, he said he could provide no further assistance and forwarded my call to sales. I was steaming by this time, but endured another 15 minute wait before speaking to a sales representative.
Intuit is quite proud of their new and improved website, despite its defects. Other online accounts allow me to update my contact information online. Not Intuit!
 
A sales representative reviewed my account and said my subscription hadn't expired! She said there have been several problems with the website. The new design hadn't been fully debugged. She assured me that my account representative would call me in the afternoon to restore my subscription.

I hung up the phone at 10:30, unhappy to learn that Intuit had wasted 45 minutes of my valuable time. My account representative hasn't called yet, and I don't have access to my ProAdvisor subscription. I have a current, valid credit card on file which Intuit has used for years to renew my subscription. Otherwise, it wouldn't be necessary to lock out expired subscriptions. Sadly, Intuit has lost the ability to execute this simple transaction.
Since Intuit is conspicuously unwilling to allocate adequate resources to its quality control programs, it will be a cold day in hell before I will trust critical business systems to Intuit's forays into cloud based services 

Over the last few years, Intuit has unapologetically adopted a policy of pushing out products that have been insufficiently tested and debugged. I have accounts in my files of serious defects that resulted in significant losses of money and time. I havent encountered a case where Intuit was willing to adequately compensate its customers for their loss. Unless you are technically adept and willing to become an unpaid consultant, beware of being an early adopter. If your need for cloud based solutions is urgent, I recommend that you evaluate other offerings.

Edward Dziuk
Certified Public Accountant
Information Technology User Advocate


Do you really want to tie the knot with Motorola? a CLIQ review 10-27-10

posted Oct 27, 2010, 1:32 PM by Edward Dziuk

Pros:
When the motoblur facility works, my wife can sit at the computer all day long without interfering with my access to email or any of the social networking accounts that I maintain.

Cons:

According to my best guess Motorola now (as of October 2010) is providing token support to this product that has been technologically obsoleted by subsequent motorola offerings.

Bottom-line Summary:
Screw the T-mobile customers that still have a year or more on their contract with this edsel, who are tired of doing bi-monthly (or more frequent) hard data resets on the phone because of continued corruption to the motoblur database that provisions the phone's raison d etre. There must be 1 engineer working on the android 2.1 who has now missed promised delivery dates 2 times. (Motorola just solicited 2,000 testers for beta testing after missing the early 4th quarter delivery date). And there are NO engineers working on solving issues associated with the motoblur database.

My first data reset was required for continued access to news and social networking updates 4 months after placing the phone in service for the first time. It was a whole 2 months before the next data reset was required and that was a month ago. Now I'm getting ready for the third reset! Wow!

This is the third motorola phone that I've purchased and the third time that I've promised myself that I'd never use another motorola product. Trouble is they seem to be on the leading edge of every sea change in communications technology and I get sucked in again. Too bad that they are so short on execution.

As it was neatly expressed on CNET http://www.cnet.com/8301-19736_1-20020477-251.html

I have no idea how many people still own a Cliq nor how many of them really care about Android 2.1 at this point. My gut tells me that anyone looking for a decent Android experience has likely moved on to a new phone. Having said that, those who do grab the update should be over the moon with the differences.

Why BBVA Compass Bank Preys on Customers

posted Jun 16, 2010, 8:34 AM by Edward Dziuk   [ updated Jun 18, 2010, 9:44 AM ]

In the interest of fair disclosure, a Compass bank manager in Texas contacted us after we posted the following article and tweeted its title and a link to the Compass Bank's Twitter account. The Compass Bank manager sent an email June 17 to say the Merchant Services account was closed and the early termination fees had been waived. The article has not been removed from our web site in the interest of providing an example for other customers in getting fair treatment from the banking industry in general, and because negotiations in Congress in connection with Consumer Protection in the financial services industry are ongoing.

My Company is a small business that retails products to end consumers at farmers markets and fairs. Last December I realized that my Company was losing sales because we were not accepting credit cards. I’d never processed credit cards as a merchant and not knowing better, I turned to my banker for help.

My BBVA Compass banker was more than happy to help me setup an account to accept credit card payments. He gave me a 4 page account agreement, and showed me where to sign. I took about 5 minutes. He didn’t mention that there would be large cancellation fees if I closed the account before 3 years. This information was buried in the middle of 3 inches of 8 point legalese. I soon learned that Compass bank does this because it can’t keep accounts by providing value.

BBVA Compass bank provided me with transaction forms and an imprint machine that may have cost it $5, certainly no more.

When I used the Compass system for the first time, I realized that it was causing me to lose even more sales because it took about 10 minutes to get all of the information needed to process a transaction. Worse yet, if the card was fraudulent or overdrawn, I bore the loss not Compass bank.

I went back to my banker and shared my experience with him. His solution was to offer me a wireless system that cost more than $800. That is a lot of money to a small company, so I started researching my alternatives.

What I learned was that the going market rate for these devices is closer to $200. Compass bank had no incentive to match this price because it had already entrapped me in a 3 year contract for an account that I couldn’t use.

My BBVA Compass banker didn’t understand my business, and he didn’t understand or care about the cost of using the system that he provided. He expected me to pay a premium price for a product that was not only inferior, it was worse than nothing.

Instead of providing professional service and value to its customers, BBVA Compass bank has adopted a business model based on treating its customers like prey. I hope that other small businesses can profit from my experience by avoiding a banking relationship with BBVA Compass bank.

Wedding Album

posted Jan 8, 2009, 7:16 PM by Edward Dziuk

Access to the wedding album is by invitation only. Please send requests to ed@DziukFamily.info.

Contact Information

posted Jan 8, 2009, 7:10 PM by Edward Dziuk

Mail suggestions, comments or just a hello to ed@DziukFamily.info or eleanor@DziukFamily.info

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