I couldn’t login to my account just now – it kept giving me that second security question about “In what city is your vacation home?” which seemed a little odd because I don’t remember ever buying a vacation home, so it would be silly for me to pick that as one of my security questions.

For a brief second, I was worried that maybe my account had been compromised and somebody had went and bought $4,000 worth of lumber on my card, but while waiting for their IVR to let me talk to an actual person, the website finally said, “Oh, I see you’re having some trouble answering this question!” and let me login with my account number and that crap instead.

Note that it also had me select new security questions at that time.

Nonetheless, the first thing I did when I logged in was pull up my security questions to verify that my new ones were listed so that I wouldn’t have that problem again.

I think we found the problem – who would’ve guessed that I had a vacation home in “a” … which just so happens to be the same “a” where I went to high school?! 🙄

Earning My Business

May 16, 2014 8:32pm
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Until maybe the last year or so, I’ve always generally steered clear of doing maintenance and repair work directly at car dealerships under the idea that they’re always just so ridiculously overpriced.

That’s slowly changed with Sara’s car because although for a while we were shopping around or taking it to the local shop where I’ve taken my own car for years, it seemed like her standard oil changes kept going higher and higher … at everywhere but the actual Honda dealer. Whereas the other guys liked to tack on new fees for the special oil that her hybrid uses – I think the absolute worst wanted something like $60 for a single oil change – the dealer seems to have no problem staying competitive and after coupons, it’s now some of the cheapest oil changes I’ve ever seen!

But that’s not what this post is about.

10292520_10202812742572103_2926047506917846785_n[1]So yesterday we traveled down to Anna Maria Island south of us to celebrate one of Sara’s cousins renewing their vows. Despite numerous visual cues, the weather somehow managed to remain remarkably not rainy, and it was surprisingly nice having the sun hidden behind clouds all evening because it helped to keep the temperatures on the beach down a bit. All in all it was a pretty fun time, however the evening wasn’t without it’s share of “excitement” in that only a few miles away on our arrival to said party … the brakes on Sara’s car went out.

Well, I’m not entirely sure if went out is the appropriate term, but just as we were going over the last bridge onto the island, which is pretty much the worst possible time for one to experience problems with his vehicle’s braking capabilities, the brake pedal suddenly went all the way to the floor and a bevvy of warning lights flashed across the dashboard as I temporarily panicked about whether we were going to hit the car in front of us as an alternative to driving off the side of the bridge…

Thankfully there was still some sort of braking left, though nearly all of the resistance in the pedal was gone. We limped our way over to the party, and afterwards stopped at the nearest 7-11 to pick up a bottle of brake fluid … of which I dumped nearly the entire thing into the container, although it didn’t seem to do much good…

…until I hit a giant pot hole in a parking lot, and we heard a *cling* as something fell on the ground, and then they started working just fine again?!

So needless to say, we were pretty paranoid all of the way home and I did my best to pick the route with the least stops so that we wouldn’t have to brake much. Luckily because it was 11pm on a weeknight, traffic was fairly minimal on the freeway all of the way home. When we pulled in the driveway safely an hour later, I vowed to get the thing in to the dealership the next morning to figure out what in the world was going wrong. My Mom is flying in tomorrow and we need to pick her up from the airport, so we need to have a car that can actually stop on demand! 😯 

Because at that point there were two possible solutions in my mind:

  1. Something bad had happened with her brakes that was going to cost me hundreds of dollars after I just spent $450 doing all sorts of other maintenance on her car
  2. Something bad had happened when the dealership had flushed her brakes and what had just happened was totally their fault

Surprisingly after only a short diagnosis, it turns out that neither of those scenarios were correct, and what had happened was that somehow a tiny rock had flicked up from the road at some point and somehow managed to get stuck in one of the brake calipers, meaning that because it couldn’t maintain pressure like it was supposed to, instead whenever I pressed on the brake pedal it had just been spraying brake fluid all over the ground, hence the empty fluid and the lack of braking power.

Now what was pretty awesome about the whole thing is that after explaining just how unlikely it was that the scenario even happened in the first place, much less would ever happen again, the dealership didn’t charge me a dime for bringing my car in.

I would’ve expected even just a $90 diagnostic charge or something for their trouble, yet instead the service advisor merely shook my hand after he explained to me what they had found, and that was that.

You don’t really ever expect to get free things when you take your car into the shop – if anything, it’s usually much more painful than that, so that quick reassurance as a simple courtesy went a long way for showing how much they actually appreciated my previous service visits over the last couple of years.

It’s also why they’ll continue to see me in the future – because I don’t mind paying a little more every now and then if you also treat me like a human being and cut me a break every once in a while, too. 😉

So thanks again, Mike and everyone else at the Wesley Chapel Honda Service Department … we’ll see you next time!

Babies ‘R Us is Awesome

March 30, 2014 7:46pm
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This afternoon we spent roughly 4 hours at our local Babies ‘R Us.

This afternoon we saved $1,080.89 completing out our baby registry, so all in all I think it was a worthwhile use of our time!!! :mrgreen:

The staff at our local store was awesome in spending as much time as it took with us to finish everything that we wanted to do, and by the end of it all we had applied an average of 40% in various discounts across the multiple orders it took to get there!

(a few items were either out of stock or online only, so in addition to checking us out, they helped us to place those online orders as well to make sure that the same discounts carried over across the whole lot)

Packed Sara’s car from front to back, with thankfully the largest items either getting delivered straight to the house (with free shipping!) or shipped to the store where I can go pick them up when the car’s not quite as thoroughly packed. As you can see above, we had a whopping two shopping carts overflowing by the time we were done this afternoon!

But I think we should be just about done with the shopping for now – got the crib and dresser coming, rocking chair is on its way as another gift, playpen, car seat, diaper dumpster thingy, a really cool play pad where he lays on his back on the back of a whale – so much stuff, and right now it’s all piled in the middle of our family room until I finish painting the nursery and we can start putting it all away.

I was also pretty pleased that I was able to slip in a couple of new Lego sets for me, too, because hey – that baby’s not the only kid around here who loves toys around here! 😉

Anywho, once again – MAJOR major kudos to Cindy and Jasmine at Babies ‘R Us for taking the time to help make our baby shopping spree extravaganza so spectacularly successful. We were told when we first setup our registry last fall that it was possible to stack coupons in order to maximize our discounts to pick up whatever was leftover after the shower, but I never would’ve expected this…

Babies ‘R Us Baby Registry Completion Coupon – 10%
Toys ‘R Us Friends & Family Discount Mailer – 20% (just started today)
Toys ‘R Us Credit Card Application Reward – 15% (day of application only)
Grand Total – 45% off!!!

And scanning back through the veritable book of receipts that we have shows that there were even a few items that were discounted another 25-35% before our other discounts were considered, so wow!!!

One note I will offer for anyone who finds this post and does their best to beat our discount (post a comment if you do!), the percentages aren’t taken off the total altogether, but are applied to each item, in order, so instead of this:

$10 Random Baby Thing
45% off item = $10 – $4.50 = $5.50
$5.50 Sale Price

You actually end up with this:

$10 Random Baby Thing
20% off item = $10 – $2 = $8
15% off item = $8 – $1.20 = $6.80
10% off item = $6.80 – $0.68 = $6.12
$6.12 Sale Price

Now I certainly wasn’t going to quibble over the math when you considered that we still pretty much made out like bandits, especially considering that they had a special sale on breastfeeding stuff for buy 1, get 1 50% off that was a nice little chunk of change by itself for this new, apparently Medela-branded family … but it’s just something to keep in mind when you’re doing your numbers because it probably ended up being an extra hundred bucks in the grand scheme of things when the purchase price of everything was close to $3,000 for us.

Plus we’ve even got another $200 coming back to us in rebates for 10% of the total items bought against our registry by everyone, not just us … so needless to say, Babies ‘R Us has probably earned our business for a while even if it sometimes is a little more expensive than Walmart or Target. Not today, though – that’s for sure!

What do you know – I grew up, and it seems that I still get to be a Toys ‘R Us kid after all! Not too shabby… 😉


Kudos to Keurig!

March 16, 2014 7:55pm
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So I figure that if I’m going to spend as much time as I do bitching about bad customer service, the least I can do is also share the stories when one of these companies actually does something right! 😉

Anyways, this is actually a pretty quick one – our Keurig machine stopped working a little while ago. You’d turn it on and it’d make all sorts of sounds like it was sucking up water, but then it wouldn’t actually do that.

So after a fair amount of procrastination, I called up Keurig and after a few minutes of troubleshooting to see if I could clear out the clogged nozzles or whatever on my own, the girl took down my address and said that my replacement would arrive in 3 – 7 days … simple as that!


All they asked in return was to send a part from the broken machine back as proof that it was defective … no 20 questions, no trying to schlep their responsibility by arguing about what the warranty does and doesn’t cover – just a company that actually stands behind its product, which is pretty refreshing when you consider corporate America’s past track record!

Thanks again, Keurig – you’re definitely one of the good guys! 😀

Did I click to the wrong website or has my challenge question been transformed into some sort of challenge riddle?

How does one answer the question that isn’t one???


Keeping in mind that this is the same website that for six months required that I setup my challenge questions every single time I visited as if each visit was my first, this doesn’t really surprise me. Thank god the same people who run their credit website aren’t the ones who sell me stuff at the store… 🙄

So admittedly I’ve kind of been bitching about Verizon FiOS a lot lately, between their latest interactive guide update being way too full of ads considering how much I pay for the service, or even simply how their prices always seem to be creeping up in general and how it really frustrates me that they’re not nearly as liberal as Brighthouse ever was about giving out promotions to help keep existing customer pricing in line with new customers…

And yet all of that dirty laundry aside, tonight I was reminded why I can’t bring myself to switch back to my old provider.

Today my sister-in-law moved out on her own, and ultimately she decided to go with Brighthouse for cable/phone/internet. As far as the tech that came out to install her service, though … I’m not sure if they hired him at random off the street an hour before the job or if in fact he was just plain incompetent, but what I do know is that I spent an hour and a half cleaning up his mess tonight so that she would have actual service before we left. 😕

1. He installed her router under the bed.
That’s not an exaggeration – when I came in, it was literally setup underneath the new bed that had also just been delivered that day. Apparently his claim was that because she got the phone, too, that was the only place where he had both a phone jack and a cable jack on the same wall.

…and yet he couldn’t have used a slightly longer phone cord so that at least the router could maybe be underneath the nightstand with plenty of wiggle room for when it needed to be pulled out, because not for nothing but my first comment when I saw that joke of an install was, “Wow – that’s going to be a pain in the ass when maintenance is required…”

2. He didn’t write down her wifi network name right … or the password, either.
I thought it seemed a little weird when I saw another network that looked almost the same as hers, but off by one digit … and in fact, it was actually hers all the time. Didn’t matter, though, because he had screwed up the password, too, so even when I tried to login to that similar network, the password we were given got rejected.

For future reference, 5 and 6 are different numbers, and F and f are not the same thing when it comes to case-sensitive passwords, like 99.9999999% of passwords are!

3. He didn’t leave the admin credentials for the router itself.
So my saving grace through all of this was the idea of finally just plugging her computer directly into the router, then logging into the router via wired connection to verify what wireless settings it was actually expecting. This proved to be a little more complicated because although there was a printed sticker on the side with an SSID, passphrase, etc…, of course none of those worked, either!

I kind of figured that that was going to be the point where I’d need to call customer support, and they’d say that they can’t do anything over the phone and would need to send their idiot tech back out … but before I did that, I basically just started guessing passwords for the router! The login was locked down to admin, so I tried the same for the password, and all of the different values listed on everything that he gave her … and then on a whim, I did a quick search on my phone for Arris Modem Password.

Yeah … the password was password, and Brighthouse never changed it. 😯

At least at that point I was able to login and verify that the SSID and password were both wrong, and then I took 5 minutes with her doing what the tech should’ve done that afternoon by helping her to create a new personalized SSID and password that she can actually remember, and of course, I also locked down her router, too, and gave her the password to put in a safe place.

It’s bad enough that they charged her an extra $50 to setup the wifi, but to not even test it prior to walking out the door?! The guy’s handwriting as atrocious as it was, he should’ve connected her computer for her – it got brought out separately that morning just so that it would be there when he was – or even just testing it on his phone real quick would’ve pointed out the written errors. How do you install something if you don’t take a minute to stop and make sure that it actually works???

Way to kick things off on the right foot with a new customer, huh?! Woof. 🙄

Good and Better Customer Service

February 4, 2014 6:58pm
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I learned today that Chase is issuing new credit cards to cardholders who were potentially impacted by the recent Target breach.

All in all, a good practice – it’s nice to see a bank going the extra mile to help protect its customers, especially even because the breach was in no way their own fault.

Here’s how they could’ve done one better…

I came across this information this morning first by logging into my Chase Online account and seeing this message:


Well, for clarification – I found out after I called the 800 number because my first thought when I saw this message was, “Oh shit – somebody is trying to steal my credit card by requesting a new card for my account.” I knew that *I* hadn’t requested a new card, and even though the address listed online was still correct, I was still a bit concerned! But when I called in, the girl was very quick to inform that it was something that they were doing proactively because of the data breach and that everything was fine.


So then I just received this e-mail about an hour ago:


Makes all of the sense in the world and includes all of the pertinent details … looks good!

So what’s my one tiny critique???

Wait an extra day to push the button to start sending out new cards until after you send the e-mail out to tell your customers what you’re doing. 😐

If you follow me on Twitter, you can probably note that roughly 1 in every 5 tweets are me complaining about a company not removing me from their mailing list. It’s a very common complaint of mine, and I think the reason that it rubs me the wrong way so much is two factors:

  1. It’s in really poor taste to sign someone up for something that they didn’t ask for.
  2. Technically speaking, mailing lists should be very easy to manage with almost instantaneous unsubscribe options.

So when someone like Sears or Williams-Sonoma comes along and offers to e-mail me my receipt, and I specifically ask if they’re going to use it for marketing and they say no, it really steams me when they turn around and do exactly the opposite of what they told me that they wouldn’t. My second point is simply icing on the pissed off cake because realistically, an unsubscription request is just a simple database update, and yet they have the nerve to offer a pop-up citing “It could take up to 3 weeks to remove your e-mail address from our database.”

I think 3 weeks is the worst that I’ve ever seen and that was from Williams-Sonoma, who I still manage to get marketing crap from on a regular basis. I’m debating whether I want to try and contact them in fear of starting another Sears incident because believe it or not, I don’t want to be that guy who just bitches at customer service at every little thing, but I’m also an Internet guy who takes these kinds of things seriously and I know that anytime I’ve been accused of sending out unsolicited e-mail, I’ve jumped through hoops to resolve it as quickly as possible because I always felt like a gigantic douche when it came up!

I guess that’s really the crux of it all, even aside from my two points above. Make a mistake or a poor business decision here or there, fine, but giving a shit about it when your customer actually raises a complaint is really the tipping point for me when we’re deciding whether you’re an asshole apathetic spammer or not…

Best Buy should take a cue from Amazon – this is how customer service is supposed to work…

I e-mailed Amazon earlier this evening to follow-up on some Amazon Prime purchases that had been delivered late:


The items listed above sent in two shipments were not received according to the Amazon Prime Guaranteed Delivery Dates: 

Shipment of XYZ (and 5 other items) was guaranteed delivery on Thursday, 12/5 by Lasership, however it did not arrive until Saturday, 12/7. 

Shipment of PDQ was guaranteed delivery on Friday, 12/6 by UPS, however it did not arrive until Monday, 12/9. 

I subscribe to Amazon Prime specifically to take advantage of these expedited shipping times, especially during the holidays. Please advise how I will be compensated for these errors. 

– Scott Sevener 

And low and behold, within a matter of hoursI had a response:


I’m sorry to hear your items didn’t arrive by the guaranteed delivery date under Prime two day shipping. This usually doesn’t happen.

To help make up for the inconvenience, I’ve extended your Amazon Prime membership by one month. The membership will now renew on October 27, 2014.

We hope to see you again soon.

Best regards,
Gopikrishnan P

See how they didn’t argue with me and hem and haw about what they could and couldn’t do, and then make me go out of my way to fix their mistake in the first place, ultimately offering no actual compensation for all of the time that I spent resolving their issue??? Their compensation has an actual value of $6.67 (one month of Prime), and yet at least they did something, and I appreciate that!

Take notes, Best Buy, because these are the guys who will actually be selling me my next TV instead of you. 😛


I think it’s time that we as consumers started demanding more of the companies that we support with our business.

Specifically, when they make a mistake that inconveniences us, I think that they should acknowledge that and make at least a small effort to be sympathetic to their mistakes. Is that too much to ask???

I wanted to write about this because I’ve kinda been fuming all evening after my interactions with Best Buy went increasingly sour regarding the new TV that I ordered from them on Black Friday. You see, it arrived via UPS yesterday – a day late – but more importantly, it was damaged in shipment and the screen had been shattered. It happens … stuff gets piled on top of stuff that it shouldn’t, contents shift during transport … I’ve driven a delivery truck before, so I know that sometimes these things happen, but it’s how the error was actually handled that really rubbed me the wrong way…

I called BestBuy.com last night almost immediately after I disappointingly found the broken screen. I spent a good 20 minutes on hold before I finally reached someone who milled about before finally asking why I hadn’t called the store instead. I explained that it was a BestBuy.com order, despite being placed in the store, and the store doesn’t even stock that item, so I called the number that was on my e-mail from the order.

He called someone at the store and transferred me to her anyways, who was actually really nice and told me to bring the TV in today and they would take care of it there. When I mentioned that her store wouldn’t have a replacement because stores don’t carry that model, she replied that maybe it could be exchanged for a similar model, or I could have a new one shipped there instead so that I didn’t have to worry about trusting UPS again.

So jump ahead to today … I took the broken TV in to the store and actually got the same Customer Service guy who had ordered it for me on Black Friday last week, and at first he seemed like he could take care of everything, even though he had to check with someone else for procedures. When he noted that they still didn’t have that model in-store, he suggested that I go over and look at the other models to see about a comparable, and in the meantime he would figure out what the other options were.

I did that and found a guy who helped me to locate the next model up in the same product line. I decided that I really wanted to stay with Samsung because right now we have two other TVs from them in the house and I’m fairly satisfied with them, so here’s what we came up with:

Pretty much the only difference was the refresh rate – everything else stayed the same … Smart TV Apps, size, brand, no 3D. It seemed like a decent option that wasn’t too much more expensive, and they had the replacement in store, so I hoped that would be the end of it.

Take it back to my new friend at customer service and he looks it up, disappears for a bit, then comes back and says, “No, it’s too much of a difference – we’re not allowed to go more than $200 over the sales price…” to which I reply, “Then this is actually perfect because it’s only $170 over that.”

But no, because apparently they’re going by the Black Friday price that I bought it for, not their current list price, even though that’s what the TV is actually worth and you’re not comparing apples to apples if you compare a sale price to a non-sale price. From their perspective, somehow it was actually a $350 difference, which from my perspective is just dumb.

The best that he could do was to give the new TV to me at the Black Friday price, which was a difference of $150. And there was no way in hell that I was going to get duped into buying even more TV when I’d brought in a damaged TV in the first place!!!

And then it got worse … my other option to have another one just like the first one shipped out … didn’t exist anymore … because the TV was now discontinued and they didn’t have anymore left.

This is where I started to get pissed.

Nevermind that I’ve been shopping at Best Buy for probably two decades, ever since my Dad started shopping there when I was a kid. Nevermind that I’ve bought pretty much every major appliance in my house there, and my old TV, and countless other video games and movies and accessories.

I’m told that the reason they can’t give me the upgraded TV is because of an agreement with Samsung that’s out of the store’s hands and that the store can’t just take a $180 loss and call it a day, so instead we screw the customer because the first TV that he tried to order got damaged in shipment and now we can’t get him another one unless he either picks something else or pays us even more money.

It was at this point where I was trying really hard not to be that asshole customer, and I knew that the customer service guy wasn’t directly at fault, but Best Buy didn’t exactly give him much to help keep me happy.

After another 30 minutes of waiting, he magically might’ve found another TV like mine (less the broken screen, that is) in another store on the other side of town, but he was waiting for them to call him back to confirm. While we waited, he explained that he could have it transferred up to his store, which would take another 3-5 business days … plus I would have to come back a third time to pick it up.

At that point I explained to him that I thought all of it was ridiculous and that I didn’t feel like my time was very valued to Best Buy, but I think I’d been written off as one of those customers by then. Really, the nerve of me being upset because they sold me a defective product, then wanting a replacement without having to go out of my way to get it!

The longer I waited, the angrier I got as I counted down the time lost between UPS’s delay in delivery and the time on hold the night before and now the time wasted in the store.

Once the store finally called back and confirmed that they did have it in stock, despite all odds, I told him that I’d just drive down and get it myself because at least it could be done that evening and otherwise it was going to require another trip on my part anyways. He cut me a gift card for the exact amount of my purchase and that was about the end of our interaction … no further apology or sympathy after working with me for over an hour.

Of course, when I got down to the other store, the first girl I talked to had no idea what I was talking about and cited that she’d been working the phone all night and hadn’t talked to anyone from the other store, so we waited some more – this time with my wife in tow – until finally a manager came by who had been talking to the guy from the other store and knew exactly what was up, and then went and got the TV and helped get us rang up.

He mentioned that the only reason they had them in stock was because they had been ordered for a customer and never picked up, not because they have a bigger show floor like the first guy had proposed.

And despite his ability to help give me a TV that wasn’t broken, he wasn’t particularly sympathetic either … I retold him parts of the story, thinking that maybe he would step up and help make things right after my wife suggested in the car that I should’ve asked to speak to the manager at the first store rather than just taking his comments in relay, but the most I got out of him was, “Yeah, that’s a long drive from XYZ Store…”

Yeah, no shit, and I just did it because YOUR COMPANY fucked up.

I guess my point in retelling this story here tonight that already has me riled up again is that even now that I have the new TV home and it’s all hooked up and it looks great, I’ve still got a bitter taste in my mouth from Best Buy because between last night and tonight, they wasted about 5 hours of my time and even as just a customer, my time is valuable to me.

Sure, you can say, “Sorry for the inconvenience – I understand that you’re frustrated…” but why should it stop at that?

What’s it worth to keep the customer happy so that he actually wants to go back and shop at Best Buy again???

It certainly wasn’t $170, which would’ve been the difference to just give me a slightly better TV right there in the store.

It wasn’t even a $50 gift card to say, “Hey, pick out a couple of movies to watch on your new TV on us because we’re sorry that you had to run all over town for this.”

After 5 hours of wasted time, 60 miles of driving round trip, and loads of frustration with a company that said that it wanted to help me, but only if it could do so without it being inconvenienced any way in the slightest, I’ve technically got the TV that I ordered from Best Buy a week ago, but I’m not a happy customer and I probably won’t buy my next one from them, either.

Why should I if my time isn’t valued to them just as much as my money is???

To be honest, it’s always really bothered me when I’ve had to deal with customer service departments for issues caused by the company where they didn’t come back and offer something proactively simply to say, “Hey, sorry man – our bad.”

My local HoneyBaked Ham store does it – if they screw up my sandwich and I have to wait while they remake it, or even if I mention that they did something wrong with my last one, they’ll throw me a coupon to get my next one for free because they see me in there all the time and they genuinely want my business.

CreateSpace, the vendor that I use to print my books, did it, too – sending me entire cases of books when I found bad ones in the mix because the loss was worth it to them to keep me happy. That was with the very first order that I had with them, and even though subsequent orders for other books also experienced some issues, I stuck with them just the same because I knew that they’d make things right no matter the cost.

And I know that most companies don’t do things like this because a random customer lost here or there might not be that big of a deal to them, but if more of us collectively started to demand it, then maybe they would be forced to start to care and they’d strive to do better. I know when I threatened this evening that I’d never buy from Best Buy again if I had to go with a refund, one of the responses I got was, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but that’s fine.” Maybe he didn’t mean it like that when the words slipped out of his mouth, but the entire interaction as a whole sure made me feel like it didn’t really matter whether I shopped at Best Buy in the future or not.

Which I suppose is good because next time, I won’t. 

Next time I have a TV or something for my home theater to buy, I’ll order it online from Amazon, and even if it costs me $40-50 more, and even if UPS screws up again and smashes it in shipment, I know that Amazon will stand behind its sales 100% and will do whatever they have to do to make things right if they make a mistake.

Best Buy proved to me this evening that they’re not willing to do whatever it takes. They technically fixed the problem, but they didn’t to anything to fix the customer relationship. That’s something that can’t be broken simply by dropping it off the back of a truck, but it’s also a lot harder to fix once it’s broken, too.

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