Friday, July 31, 2009

Better Business Bureau Fails to Resolve Sony Vaio Warranty Problem

Just got this letter today:
Better Business Bureau, Inc
844 S. 4th Street
Louisville, KY 40203-2186
Phone: (502)583-6546 | Fax: (502)589-9940

Dear Laurence Jarvik :

This message is in regard to your complaint submitted on 7/20/2009 4:27:06 PM against Service Net Solutions, LLC. Your complaint was assigned ID 7935383. As you know, the Bureau contacted the business regarding this matter and obtained a response outlining the firm's position. The BBB regrets that in this case our efforts have not been successful in resolving the matter to your satisfaction.

The Bureau offers mediation and arbitration programs to assist customers and businesses with unresolved marketplace disputes. Mediation or arbitration are less expensive and time consuming than legal action, and will result in a fair and impartial solution. Do not hesitate to call the Bureau to obtain more information about the BBB's arbitration or mediation programs if you feel this could assist you in resolving this matter.

Although the Bureau's conciliation process was unable to resolve this matter to your satisfaction, I assure you that contacting the BBB has helped our effort to create a positive, customer-oriented business environment for our community. Your use of the BBB's services enables the Bureau to track customer service problems, identify patterns of customer complaints, and provide valuable business reliability information to potential customers who contact the Bureau.

Please feel free to contact us with any further questions.

Dorothy Meschede
Dispute Resolution Director
Better Business Bureau, Inc.
Well, I certainly won't buy a Sony Vaio Warranty the very least..."caveat emptor."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gary Margolis Poem Inspired by Gates v Crowley

From the Boston Globe:

Who hasn’t lost the keys to his
own house, searched for a window
to crawl through, kicked a back door

open, to see if it was left open?
Frost did at his Ripton farm house.
I’m telling you I climb through

a window when he isn’t there so I can
look around. No one’s around to call
the police who rarely exist up there.

Frost is a bridge to Cambridge.
He lived there, too. And now
Henry Louis Gates Jr. who the police

find in his own house. Mr. Gates
isn’t broke and entering. He lives
in his own house. Frost didn’t have

to carry an ID. Berryman found
the key to his own Henry and then
water under a bridge, I’m sorry to say.

The police want us to think it’s all
water under the bridge. I have to say
I’m sorry. For them. Someone has to

pay his respects. I expect we haven’t
heard the last of this. A poem needs
its refrain. White-haired Frost doesn’t

leave a key under his mat for me
when I come home late, when I’ve
forgotten which window I’ve left unlocked.

A Defense Attorney on the Law in Gates v Crowley

No answer from the ACLU or NACDL...but at last at least one lawyer has done a legal analysis of Sergeant Crowley's case against Henry Louis Gates...I wonder whether President Obama has read this? From Dan Rodricks' Baltimore Sun blog:
Veteran Maryland criminal attorney Michael D. Montemarano sent me his thoughts on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. in Cambridge.

"Most cops are, as Sgt. Crowley appears to be, hardworking and reasonable professionals. Being human, however, they can make mistakes, and can do so without being, or being understood as, racist or power-mad. The best question, it seems to me, arising out of this teachable moment, is the appropriate relationship of the police to the community.

Simply put, the police are not, and should not be considered any different or more special than, any other public servant. They work for the citizenry. If they don't like that concept, they should get out of the business. In my view, over the past 20 to 30 years, especially as driven by the war on drugs and the hostile us-against-them attitude this has engendered on the part of the police toward parts of the community, the police have lost sight of this subordinate relationship, and the courts and prosecutors have failed to rein them in adequately.

Once Sgt. Crowley learned that Prof. Gates lived in the house . . . he should have been out the door like a shot, no pun intended, with "Apparently the report was incorrect, sir. Sorry to have troubled you," still echoing in the hallway.

He did not. He described Prof. Gates, whom he had identified and who was then standing in his own home, to the police dispatcher as "a bit uncooperative." So? Having made the ID, what was the sergeant's purpose for being there? Was he invited? Did he have a warrant? With the identification of the "home invader" as the homeowner, his job was done and his presence unneeded as a matter of police policy, and unjustified as a matter of law. He should have left, posthaste. Prolonging the confrontation with an uncooperative, hostile, angry, loud and unpleasant individual was on him.

Certainly Prof. Gates did not need to get unpleasant, make comments about Sgt. Crowley's mother, whatever the officer claims. But this was not a relationship among equals, once the ID had been made. An uninvited guest was in a person's home, and under Maryland law failure to vacate the premises can support a charge of trespass. That IS a crime. This was Sgt. Crowley's legal obligation, I submit, and was not in any way paralleled by an obligation on the part of Prof. Gates to be civil. Prof. Gates' misbehavior is on him, but it does not amount to a crime, given the rest of the facts.

Any other viewpoint elevates the interests, and tender sensitivities, of the police over those of the citizen and homeowner who pays his salary. Officer Friendly is the one with the gun and the training, and he is paid NOT to overreact. So why did he? And when he did, he acted "stupidly." I start to understand why the President was on the Law Review at Harvard. Smart guy.

Updated Cash for Clunkers List

Find out if your car qualifies for a US government bailout...From

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

White House Press Secretary Doesn't Know Where Beer Summiteers Are Staying...

Transcript from
Q Any news on the beer summit tomorrow? One specific question: Where are Mr. Gates and Mr. Crowley going to be staying in Washington?

MR. GIBBS: I've got to tell you, I don't honestly know. I believe the arrangements -- their travel arrangements are being made privately. So I don't know -- I don't know if they're coming in and going home tomorrow. I don't know if they're staying -- I love these little flights over the mountains in Virginia; we had one of these flights in the campaign -- it was like this for about a half an hour, on a half-an-hour flight. So, yes, I was real excited to get back on that plane.

I don't know if they're staying or going back. All I know is, you know, we've got -- we'll see them tomorrow at the White House at 6:00 p.m. And I know -- I don't know if -- who is accompanying Mr. Gates. I know Sergeant Crowley is bringing some members of his family.

Q And is that going to be -- how is the press going to be handled on that?

MR. GIBBS: Delicately. (Laughter.)

Q I mean, is it going to be a pool spray at the beginning? I mean, what --

MR. GIBBS: Yes, my sense is what we'll probably do is a pool spray at the beginning.

Q Wouldn't a spray at the end be more useful?

MR. GIBBS: For who? For --

Q For America, it's his teaching moment.

MR. GIBBS: I'll take that under advisement.

Q Glenn Beck's comments, any response?

MR. GIBBS: No. I would be a busy man if that's all I did. I would say this: I think there are far more important issues than responding to somebody who is trying to get ratings.

Thanks, guys. Get buckled up.

Q Can I follow-up real quickly on the beer? All my folks are asking this. Any choices made on what beer the President --

MR. GIBBS: The President will drink Bud Light. As I understand it -- I have not heard this, I've read this, so I'll just repeat what I've read, that Professor Gates said he liked Red Stripe, and I believe Sergeant Crowley mentioned to the President that he liked Blue Moon. So we'll have the gamut covered tomorrow afternoon. I think we're still thinking, weather permitting, the picnic table out back. All right?

Q Thanks, Robert.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Police Release Gates Case Radio Calls

Transcripts on the Boston Globe' website:
Female dispatcher: Respond to 17 Ware Street for a possible B and E in progress. Two SPs (suspicious persons) barged their way into the home, they have suitcases. R-P 5 - SP. Stand by, trying to get further.

Officer 52 (Crowley): 52. Ware Street right now, 17?

Dispatcher: 17 Ware Street ... both SPs are still in the house, unknown on race. One may be a Hispanic male, not sure.

Officer 52: Is there an apartment number there?

Dispatcher: Negative on the apartment. Single family yellow house.

Officer 52: Stand by. Can you have the caller come to the front door?

Dispatcher: I’m sorry, repeat?

Officer 52: Can you have the caller come to the front door?

Dispatcher: It’s not her house, she doesn’t live there. She’s a witness in this.

Officer 13: C-13 to patrol im on broadway (inaudible)

Dispatcher: Received

Officer 52: 52

Male patrol: Answering 52-

Officer 52: I’m up with a gentleman who says he resides here (background voice) but uncooperative. But uh, keep the cars coming.

Male patrol 1: Copy.

Officer 52: Can you also send the Harvard university police this way?

Male patrol 1: We can send ‘em in.

Officer 17: 17 to 5-2, when you get a chance I need to talk to you.

(14-second pause)

Officer 52: 52 to patrol

Male patrol 1: Answering.

Officer 52: He gave me the ID of a Henry Louis Gates. ...

Male patrol 2: Answering 52.

Officer 52: He gave me the name of the resident of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (background voice) on Harvard property.

Male patrol 2: Sir can you repeat?

(14-second pause)

Male patrol 2: Patrol to 52.

Two simultaneous voices: Try calling him again— (inaudible) to 52.

Male patrol 2: Patrol to 52.

Male patrol 2: Patrol to car 52.


Male patrol 2: 52 go back to channel 2.

Officer 1-R: 1’s on.

Male patrol 3: Let’s see 12-52.

Officer 18: 18’s on 2.

Male patrol 2: 18 I didn’t copy 52’s last uhh, when he came on 2.

Officer 18: Right, stand by.

Male patrol 3: Patrol to 1-R.

Officer 1-R: (background voice) I’m off on Ware Street with 52.

Male patrol 3: Alright received.

Officer 2: (inaudible) to patrol. Do we have a wagon coming through to the location?

Male patrol 3: Patrol to wagon.

Wagon: Wagon.

Male patrol 3: 17 Ware Street.

Wagon: Copy.

Eugene Robinson on Gates v Crowley

From today's Washington Post:
Apparently, there was something about the power relationship involved -- uppity, jet-setting black professor vs. regular-guy, working-class white cop -- that Crowley couldn't abide. Judging by the overheated commentary that followed, that same something, whatever it might be, also makes conservatives forget that they believe in individual rights and oppose intrusive state power.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Maureen Dowd on Gates v Crowley

From Sunday's NY Times' column:
As the daughter of a police detective, I always prefer to side with the police. But this time, I’m struggling.

No matter how odd or confrontational Henry Louis Gates Jr. was that afternoon, he should not have been arrested once Sergeant Crowley ascertained that the Harvard professor was in his own home.

GAWKER's Legal Review of Gates v Crowley

John Cook takes a look at Massachusetts laws related to the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates by Sergeant James Crowley--and finds strong evidence from existing accounts that Crowley, not Gates, broke the law when he arrested Gates for asking him to produce official identification:
Badge numbers are assigned for a reason, and Massachusetts requires its cops to carry ID cards for a reason: Cops can lie about their names, making it difficult or impossible for citizens to file complaints about their behavior after they've departed a scene. If every police officer was assumed to be honest and forthright in all instances, those laws wouldn't be on the books. What's more, there are a lot of people in the Boston area named Crowley, and a lot of them are police officers. Gates asked Crowley to comply with Massachusetts law by furnishing his full name and badge number, and all Crowley told him was that he was a sergeant and that his last name was Crowley. In other words, he did not comply with Gates' request.
There's also contemporaneous evidence that race was indeed an issue at the time of the arrest:
It's not clear who Gates was calling on the cordless phone, but according to Crowley, Gates was asking asking for "the chief" and said he was dealing with a "racist police officer." He was apparently trying to go over Crowley's head and make a complaint.
BTW, why couldn't the ACLU have told me this on Friday?

Friday, July 24, 2009

A thought on "outstanding" Sgt. Crowley...

He taught police about racial profiling, but obviously didn't recognize Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates--the foremost African-American intellectual alive...if not "stupidly," certainly ignorantly.

After reading the transcript of his press conference, I'm tempted to believe that the term "outstanding" employed by President Obama might have a double resonance...perhaps even a sarcastic interpretation... Could the offer of a Presidential beer, a stereotypical beverage enjoyed by stage Irishmen, have been a coded message of disparagement?

From the Cambridge, MA Chroncle & TAB:
Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub owner Peter Woodman said you could hear a pin drop when Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley picked up his cell phone to hear President Barack Obama on the other line. After what seemed like a 10-minute conversation with the president inside the Kendall Square restaurant, Woodman said Crowley and everybody around him was shocked...

ACLU Ducks Question on Gates Arrest

Today, I tried to find out what the American Civil Liberties Union had to say about the 4th Amendment aspects of the case against Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates--to no avail...

Here's my email correspondence with the press office:
Dear Pamela Bradshaw,

Thank you for the response.

Isn’t this a civil liberties issue? I’m an ACLU member could have a one-page FAQ up if someone on your board cared, or a link at least, it’s a current controversy. I’ll follow up with the criminal defense lawyers (I didn’t know being in your own home was a crime, I thought it was a civil liberty)—and post your response on my blog, meanwhile, since it wasn’t off the record...

All good wishes,

On 7/24/09 2:41 PM, "Pamela Bradshaw" wrote:

Hi Laurence,
Unfortunately we don’t have someone available who can speak to this aspect of the arrest, but I would suggest that you contact the National Associate of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at 202-872-8600.

From: Laurence Jarvik []
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 1:02 PM
To: ACLU Media
Subject: 4th amendment rights in Gates Case

Dear ACLU Press Office:

I called with an inquiry this morning about the rights a person has in his own home when a policeman comes to the door in answer to a false burglary call. No one has answered my questions yet:

What constitutional rights does an individual have vis-à-vis the police if no crime has been committed? Does someone have a right to get upset and order the officer out of the house? To yell? If the officer is in the wrong, does an individual have to do what he says?

I’d like to know the basic law and precedents, for my blog. If any individual were in the position of Prof. Gates v. Sgt. Crowley, what legal guidance is there (not suggestions for avoiding conflict) as to rights in this situation. If you post a fact sheet on your website, I could link to it.

I think some sort of do’s and don’ts would be useful to a lot of people. There was a case in Maryland where the police shot the dogs of a local mayor when they raided the wrong that allowed?

How is probable cause determined? Can they assume anyone is a criminal just because someone phones something in? Or are there legal standards that must be obeyed.

I would appreciate an answer asap...

Thank you.

Laurence Jarvik
Now, to follow up with that criminal defense lawyers website.

Obama Tries to Calm Gates Arrest Crisis

From the Wall Street Journal blog:
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release July 24, 2009
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:33 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, it’s a cameo appearance. Sit down, sit down. I need to help Gibbs out a little bit here.

Q Are you the new press secretary?

THE PRESIDENT: If you got to do a job, do it yourself. (Laughter.)

I wanted to address you guys directly because over the last day and a half obviously there’s been all sorts of controversy around the incident that happened in Cambridge with Professor Gates and the police department there.

I actually just had a conversation with Sergeant Jim Crowley, the officer involved. And I have to tell you that as I said yesterday, my impression of him was that he was a outstanding police officer and a good man, and that was confirmed in the phone conversation — and I told him that.

And because this has been ratcheting up — and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up — I want to make clear that in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically — and I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley.

I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well. My sense is you’ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved.

The fact that it has garnered so much attention I think is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America. So to the extent that my choice of words didn’t illuminate, but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate.

What I’d like to do then I make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people, not extrapolate too much from the facts — but as I said at the press conference, be mindful of the fact that because of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, African Americans are sensitive to these issues. And even when you’ve got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding.

My hope is, is that as a consequence of this event this ends up being what’s called a “teachable moment,” where all of us instead of pumping up the volume spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity. Lord knows we need it right now — because over the last two days as we’ve discussed this issue, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody has been paying much attention to health care. (Laughter.)

I will not use this time to spend more words on health care, although I can’t guarantee that that will be true next week. I just wanted to emphasize that — one last point I guess I would make. There are some who say that as President I shouldn’t have stepped into this at all because it’s a local issue. I have to tell you that that part of it I disagree with. The fact that this has become such a big issue I think is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive — as opposed to negative — understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio.

So at the end of the conversation there was a discussion about — my conversation with Sergeant Crowley, there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don’t know if that’s scheduled yet — (laughter) — but we may put that together.

He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn. (Laughter.) I informed him that I can’t get the press off my lawn. (Laughter.) He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn. (Laughter.) But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press, as well as national press, Sergeant Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass.

All right. Thank you, guys.

Memo to President Obama: Order a Federal Civil Rights Investigation of Cambridge Police Department

At their press conference today, police union leaders upped the ante on Cambridge's Gates arrest scandal, demanding an apology from the President. This is a much more interesting political test issue than the health-care bill, now under revision due to its inordinate complexity. It gives the President a chance to show some leadership on a matter where he actually has expertise as a lawyer.

IMHO, President Obama should respond to the police unions by ordering a federal civil rights investigation into the actions of the Cambridge Police Department in the Gates case. If the police have nothing to hide, they should welcome such an investigation and be fully cooperative.

If they do have something to hide, as Bill Cosby's comments on Fox News indicate..well, then it is time the problem were addressed and resolved, rather than covered up.

BTW, At the press conference, a spokesman for Cambridge police "stupidly" revealed that he did not understand the difference between an adverb and an adjective (see post below):
Steve Killian, the president of the Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association took exception to the president's charge that Cambridge police handled the incident "stupidly."

"Cambridge police are not stupid. I am proud to represent the officers of the Cambridge Police Department," Killian said. "I think the president should make an apology to all law enforcement personnel throughout the entire country."

President Obama is Right to Say Gates Arrest Handled "Stupidly"

According to Bloomberg, the President is standing by his statement that Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley acted "stupidly" in arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates in his own home after he had determined that no crime had been committed:
“I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement,” Obama said in an interview for ABC’s “Nightline” program broadcast last night. “It was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home....In this case “everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed,” Obama said. It “doesn’t make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he’s not causing a serious disturbance.””
It was refreshing to hear the President admit that it was obvious someone in a position of authority had done something "stupidly." President Bush no doubt would have said: "Heck of a job, Crowley!" Now public employees might be on notice--the new President will no longer cover up for every stupid move they make.

It's about time.

Consider the question of intentionality. Was the term "stupidly" a mistake, or off-the-cuff, or "unscripted," as some pundits have stated? I don't think so. It was a mot juste, obviously chosen carefully in advance by a legal scholar. Lynn Sweet had been welcome to ask her question, so that President Obama could set down a marker.

Unlike those who argue one needs all the facts to judge this case, I think we have enough information available to say that President Obama--who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago and had been editor of the Harvard Law Review, for those who think he may not know what he is talking about--could reasonably determine the arresting officer handled the Gates case "stupidly."

1. All charges against Gates were dropped. This is an admission that there was no case. If there was no case, why was Gates arrested by Sgt. Crowley? Behaving "stupidly" is the simplest explanation. "Brutally," "sadistically" "psychopathologically," "criminally," "abusively," "outrageously," "cowardly," "insanely," or other alternatives might have been considered, however, the President showed excellent judgement by settling on the adverb: "stupidly."

By the way, President Obama definitely wasn't calling the officer "stupid." He was saying that he acted in a stupid manner. Anyone who doesn't understand that smart people can do things "stupidly" from time-to-time...well, they should learn the difference between an adverb and an adjective. And anyone who has objected to Obama's statement on those grounds...objected "stupidly."

(Anyone who argues that charges against Gates were dropped only because he is a VIP implies that the Cambridge Police Department behaves "corruptly"--which is a more serious charge than "stupidly," in my book.)

2. Gates' arrest resulted in a national scandal and embarrassment to the city of Cambridge, MA, its police department, and Harvard University. Had the police commissioner, mayor, Harvard president, or other officials intervened before Gates had been locked up in jail for four hours, they would have been spared the national humiliation. Like Sgt. Crowley , these officials behaved "stupidly."

3. Sgt. Crowley "stupidly" admits in today's Washington Post that he had no reason to suspect Gates was a burglar:
Crowley, 42, said that, when he first saw Gates, in "my mind, I'm thinking, 'He does not look like someone who would break into the house.' " At the same time, however, "from the time that he opened the door, it seemed that he was very upset, upset, very unhappy that I was there."
Nevertheless, Sgt. Crowley confessed to the Post that he remained in the house and "stupidly" threatened an already upset Professor Gates, thereby escalating the incident:
As the confrontation escalated, Crowley said he warned Gates that he risked arrest.

"The second warning was with me holding a set of handcuffs in my hands -- something I really didn't want to do," Crowley said in a radio interview. "The professor at any time could have resolved the issue by quieting down and/or going back inside his house."
The intelligent thing to have done, as Police Chief Joseph Thomas of Southfield, Michigan told Ray Suarez on PBS's Newshour With Jim Lehrer last night, would have been to de-escalate the confrontation--something police officers are supposedly trained to do:
Let me go back. When I first saw that, what did I tell you? That could have been handled differently. It didn't mean that the officer committed a crime, but he could have handled that situation differently and defused that whole thing with the proper training, with the proper policies in place. That could have been avoided, and it was not.
I could go on and on and on...but even these three examples show that there's more than enough evidence that Sgt. Crowley behaved towards Professor Gates just as President Obama said: "stupidly."

BTW, If Sgt. Crowley really believes he handled the matter intelligently, he should welcome a lawsuit by Prof. Gates and subsequent public trial for the opportunity it would provide him to clear his name. That he has not simply declared, "I look forward to my day in court!" indicates that perhaps he may not be so confident that he did not behave "stupidly" towards Prof. Gates as he pretends.

You can also watch a 21-minute interview with Sgt. Crowley on WHDH-TV at this link and decide for yourself whether you think he acted "stupidly."

Along these lines, the local Cambridge, MA newspaper editorialized that the police department "bungled" the Gates case:
Whether you agree racial profiling was used in last week’s arrest of famed Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Cambridge Police Department monumentally bungled this case.
The editorial concludes with an observation corroborating point 2, above:
Our city’s reputation has been damaged.

The public’s confidence in the men and women patrolling our streets will need repair.

It will take years to heal from the incidents of the past few days.
In my experience, "bungling" often results from acting "stupidly."

UPDATE: Here's Bill Cosby's interesting commentary, especially his final statement...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hollenbeck Palms' 90-Something Bloggers...

They call themselves "the OGs.". They live in the second nicest old-age home I've ever seen (the nicest is our neighboring Lisner Home in Washington, DC), where I visited a friend of the family who just relocated at the age of 95+ to Hollenbeck Palms. We saw an ad for the OG's blog on their front door, walking to the ice-cream parlor with a view of Downtown L.A. Some 117 years ago, a certain Mrs. Elizabeeth Hollenbeck paid for the original construction of this California-style complex, nestled between freeways in Boyle Heights, East Lost Angeles. The chapel features gorgeous stained class windows beneath a dome festooned with downward-gazing angels. It's all very Spanish-style, complete with a central fountain. At first glance, it seems more like a resort, than a nursing home...

More Sony Vaio Warranty Better Business Bureau Correspondence...



Dear Laurence Jarvik :

This message is in regard to your complaint submitted on 7/20/2009 4:27:06 PM against Service Net Solutions, LLC. Your complaint was assigned ID 7935383.

The business has sent the BBB a message regarding this complaint, and we are passing it on to you. The contents of this message are below or in the attached document located in the link above labeled "attachment".


It is important that you let the BBB know how you feel about the company’s response and ask that you respond back within 10 days of this email, otherwise the complaint will be closed as “Assumed Resolved”.


Better Business Bureau. Inc.


Better Business Bureau
Attn: Randy Suffens
844 S. 4th St.
Louisville, KY 40203-2186 RE: Case # 7935383; Laurence Jarvik

Dear Mr. Suffens,
This letter is in response to a complaint submitted to your office by Laurence Jarvik. We apologize for the situation he has encountered.

According to our records, the current service contract does not include accidental damage protection. For this reason the claim for service is denied.

Mr. Jarvik’s previous service contract had accidental damage coverage, but the new contract, which is, in fact, not connected in any way to the previous one, does not.

We attempted to discuss this with Mr. Jarvik, but instead he reiterated his request to have both contracts refunded, stating his opinion that we are a fraudulent company. We advised him we will submit his current contract for cancellation but the previous, expired contract has run its course and will not be refunded. We regret that Mr. Jarvik remains dissatisfied but we can not provide the full resolution he requests.

The current contract was submitted for cancellation today, per the terms of the warranty agreement:

18. CANCELLATION AND REFUND. You may cancel this contract at any time for any reason. If You cancel this Contract within sixty (60) days of the date purchased You will receive a refund of the full purchase price less any claims. If You cancel this Contract thereafter, You will receive a prorated refund based on the remaining days of coverage on a monthly basis, less costs for service performed and claims (if applicable) and subject to applicable state law, an administrative fee of the lesser of 10% of the Service Contract purchase price or $25.00. We, at Our sole option, may cancel this Service Contract due to non-payment. If We cancel this Service Contract due to non-payment, You will not receive a refund.

Should Mr. Jarvik wish to discuss the contract details he may call the Sony Aftermarket sales team at 866-618-5776.

Darienne Arcuri
Consumer Relations---


Better Business Bureau:

I have reviewed the response made by the business in reference to complaint ID 7935383, and have determined that this proposed action would not resolve my complaint. For your reference, details of the offer I reviewed appear below.

Dear Mr. Suffens:

Thank you for your quick response from the BBB. Unfortunately, Ms. Arcuri’s letter is unsatisfactory in every way and I reject Net Solutions cancellation of my warranty contract. Let me be clear:

1. 1. The damage to my wife’s Sony Vaio is not accidental, it is due to the failure of a part, namely the AC jack. I believe it should have been covered under any warranty.

2. 2. The issue of accidental coverage only came up when the company denied my claim on grounds that I did not have accidental coverage. Yet, I did in fact have such coverage in my original warranty—not mentioned by the company representative I spoke to at first. I believed my extension was on the same terms as the original. Of course, I would not have renewed for less coverage than originally offered. If I do not have accidental coverage in the second contract—the result of company deception, in my opinion—it is irrelevant to this claim since the damage is not accidental, but relevant to my belief that the company engages in false, deceptive, and misleading business practices.

3. 3. I had been promised that a copy of my renewal warranty would be emailed to me “within 24-48 hours” by “Samuel” when I called on 7/20. Today is 7/23—72 hours later, I have received nothing. Another deceptive business practice.

4. 4. I have no reason to believe that although they do not honor the current warranty, the company would have honored the previous one.

5. 5. Contrary to Ms. Arcuri’s statement, I am not cancelling my warranty. I am asking that the company honor its warranty. I should note that Ms. Acuri has never offered to fix my computer, which is why I purchased a warranty in the first place. According to my contract, the company may not cancel my warranty.

6. 6. Therefore I have asked, since the company admits to not honoring its contract, and will not repair the computer under warranty, to have a refund of all the monies I vainly paid to them in good faith for warranty protection.

7. 7. The fraudulent behavior of this company deserves to come as at high a price as possible. Simply offering to refund a pro-rated portion of one part of a warranty when a claim is made is tantamount to not having a warranty at all. The company is saying, I will keep your money if the computer does not need a repair, but refund a portion of it, if it does. That is not warranty protection—it is fraud.

8. 8. Therefore, I ask that the BBB insist upon a full refund of all monies paid for my warranties from date of purchase.

Thank you for your consideration in this regard.

Yours sincerely,

Laurence Jarvik


Laurence Jarvik

President Barack Obama on Henry Louis Gates' Arrest in Cambridge, MA

He says he might have been shot under similar circumstances...From the CQ transcript in the Washington Post
All right, I tried to make that short so that Lynn Sweet would get her last question in.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you and what does it say about race relations in America?

OBAMA: Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts.
What's been reported though is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so...


... it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago.


Here, I'd get shot.


But so far, so good. They're -- they're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate what happens.

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is, is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house and, at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause.

And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be. All right? Thank you, everybody.

Maybe I'll Write a Song About My Sony Vaio Warranty Problem...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Henry Louis Gates Speaks!

To The Root, his own website dealing with African-American concerns...

My Better Business Bureau Complaint Against Sony's Warranty Contractor

I learned the hard way that Sony contracts out its warranty (non-)service to:

Name: Service Net Solutions, LLC
Address: 650 Missouri Avenue
City: Jeffersonville
State/County: IN
Zip/Postal Code: 47130

Here's a copy of my complaint to the Better Business Bureau. A friend said I should also contact SONY's PR department, which I'll do. I'm still a Sony stockholder I think. I liked their products, but this service nightmare is surely one reason Apple is making money while Sony is losing it:
Please provide a BRIEF, FACTUAL DESCRIPTION of the problem you experienced. If you are notifying the BBB of an advertising claim that you believe is inaccurate or misleading, include the date and location of the advertisement.

1. Primary Classification:
Guarantee Or Warranty Issues

2. Secondary Classification:
Repair Issues

3. Problem:
My XXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX SONY Vaio computer purchased directly from Sony, serial # 28240831-300992 was covered by a Sony extended service plan # 7959631 issued 3/29/2006 and further extended via Amex payment on 10/8/2007 until 9/3/2009, has a bad AC adapter jack that no longer charges the battery. When I called the customer service number 1-866-374-0134 (after the website chat failed to resolve the problem), the first representative, "Antonio," said my contract didn't cover it because the problem was accidental damage and I didn't have accidental damage and the company has issued policy to turn down all claims for the AC jack. I then tracked down my original certificate of coverage #7959631--and it DID cover accidental damage. I called American Express to see about the extension and found that it was billed on October 8, 2007 for $118.07. My next call, a woman said that even if I had accident coverage, the bad connection was considered an "intermittent problem" and would not be covered. Then I was transferred and disconnected. I called back a 3rd time, talked to "Samuel," who said that although my original contract did cover accidental damage, the extension, which he said was #12347207 did not. I asked why I would remove coverage from what I purchased originally, and he said maybe I checked the wrong box. Again, he said that since there was no accidental damage coverage, the company would not cover the AC jack. I asked to speak to a supervisor. I waited for about 15 minutes on a hold line, and eventually gave up. I believe that this entire operation is a runaround. They claimed not to have the different policies linked, they kept asking for different ID and serial numbers, and they never gave me any information unless pressed (in contrast to Apple service which does it all by phone number and with which I have had no problems to date). All I wanted was my computer fixed. After paying $199.99 for the original policy, plus $118.07 for the extension--I received nothing but aggravation.

Complaint Background
Not all of these questions are required. Please provide as much information as you have.
1. Product/Service Purchased: Extended Service Plan for Sony Vaio laptop
2. Model Number: vgntx770P
3. Contract, Account, or Policy #: 7959631 extended Oct 8, 2007 to 9/3/2009
4. Order #: sw06032802386-14562671
5. Purchase Date: 3/29/2006
6. Date Problem First Occurred: 7/20/2009
Dates you complained to the company/organization

7. First Date: 7/20/2009
8. Second Date: 7/20/2009
9. Third Date: 7/20/2009
10. Payment Made: Yes
11. Payment Method: Credit Card
Name of Sales Person

17. Purchase Price: $318.06
18. Disputed Amount: $318.06

Desired Outcome
Enter your DESIRED OUTCOME below. Please keep your description within the box provided, without scrolling. A summary of your complaint is preferred, as the BBB will contact you if they need additional details. Mandatory fields are followed by a RED "*".
1. Desired Settlement:
2. Desired Outcome:
Refund all payments for warranty and extension: 199.99 118.07 ----- 318.06 TOTAL

If all of the above information is correct, click Submit to submit your complaint.
BTW, here's a link to another complaint about Sony warranties, on
I'm sorry to take up your time with such a long story, but even this version has cut out hours of being put on hold and transferred an infinite amount of times. Sony is a well known name that should be ashamed of such disgusting, misleading, uneducated, confused people working for them. Even worse, to have a supervisor hang up on a loyal customer 3 times is completely unforgivable. I am not sure how far I can go with this case, but I would like to somehow get the word out there. Sony does not stay true to their word and did not honor my $500.00 warranty.
Hmmmmmm, sounds familiar...

UPDATE: 12:13 PM, EST, JULY 22, 2009

"Darienne" of Service Net Solutions Consumer Relations (1-812-704-5181) just hung up the phone on me (she did so when I asked her last name)--when I refused to accept their offer of a refund of $118.07 on the warranty extension. I told her that I wanted the whole amount because I had never filed a claim on the first warranty but have come to believe that had I done so it would not have been honored, that I believe from my experience (and from reading similar complaints on the internet) that the company is running a fraudulent warranty business that gives a runaround instead of service. I had told "Darienne" that I would not accept a partial refund and demanded the entire $318.06, which she said they would not give. I said I would not negotiate this and would not close this complaint without a full refund. Of course I told her that I had a blog, was a member of the National Press Club, and had written a number of books as well as suing the CIA, so that I would not negotiate. They could either pay me a refund, or not, in which case I would tell the BBB that the company had not resolved the claim.

Which, considering that "Darienne" acting as a "consumer relations" person hung up on obviously unresolved. I also feel insulted by the way that I was treated. I wonder whether anyone in "consumer relations" at Service Net (non-) Solutions ever heard this phrase: "The customer is always right?"

UPDATE: 12:30 PM, EST, JULY 22, 2009

BTW, I checked my portfolio and don't seem to own Sony stock anymore--a good thing. Luckily, I still own Apple...

UPDATE: 1:14 PM, EST, JULY 22, 2009

My broker just sent me my investment history with SONY:
Buy: 50 shares on 8/29/00 for a total of $5,065
Buy: 50 shares on 9/26/00 for a total of $5,455
Sell: 100 shares for $2,079

Net loss was $9,002
I guess I'm not the only dissatisfied customer of Howard Stringer's out there...


I've just filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Sony's warranty contractor:
We have received your complaint.

Thank you for contacting the FTC. Your complaint has been entered into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide. Your reference number is: 23464582

Here are links to the publications you may find useful:

If you want to update your information or have any questions, please call our Consumer Response Center, 1-877-FTC-HELP. Keep your reference number handy.
Another Sony warranty complaint involving Service Net at

Charges Against Henry Louis Gates Dropped!

From today's Washington Post:
The charge against him was dropped Tuesday, but Gates said he plans to use the attention and turn his intellectual heft and stature to the issue of racial profiling. He now wants to create a documentary on the criminal justice system, informed by the experience of being arrested not as a famous academic but as an unrecognized black man.
I wish Gates would sue the arresting officer, the Cambridge Police Department, the City of Cambridge, and the Trustees of Harvard University (apparently their police officers on the scene did not prevent the arrest--and should have known he was in his own home).

BTW, I wish Gates would also bring up the Fourth Amendment issues at stake, in addition to the racial bias:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
I believe the policeman had no right to stay in the house once it was clear that Gates was in his own home. In fact, I believe Gates had every right to yell at him, at that point--since the policeman was violating the Fourth Amendment.

As a documentary filmmaker myself, I can tell Gates that the police, Harvard, and city officials are not as afraid of TV documentaries as they are of lawsuits. So, my "Memo to Skip Gates" is:

Sue the bastards!

More on this story at The Daily Beast.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Free Henry Louis Gates!

New York Post publishes photo of arrest: Today's New York Times buries on page A13 what should have been a front-page story about white racism in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hometown of Harvard University--the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in his own home by Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley, after a "white female caller" (covering for a white person, while embarrassing a black man, the racist NY Times does not reveal the name, but it is in the police report as "Lucia Whalen," described as a fundraiser for Harvard University's Harvard Magazine by Gawker) reported seeing black men on the porch of the home. Instead of slamming the door on the racist police officer, Gates argued with him--accused him of racism with the words: "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Subsequently, the Times reports that Sergeant Crowley handcuffed Professor Gates and arrested him, holding him at police headquarters for hours before his release. Gates is represented by another Harvard Professor, Charles J. Ogletree.

Not only is Gates owed an apology, he is owed a great deal of money for wrongful arrest as well as civil rights violations. I hope he sues the City of Cambridge, Cambridge Police Department as well as Harvard University and the Harvard Police Department which reportedly participated in the incident--and doesn't settle the case before a public trial...

Link to NY Times story here.

More from the Boston Globe, here: and here.

Boston Herald story, here.

Harvard Crimson story, here.

AP story, here.

Cambridge Police report, here.

Professor Ogletree's statement on behalf of Professor Gates, from Gawker, below:
This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16th, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home at 17 Ware Street in Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled "Faces of America". Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates's luggage into his home.

Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there. The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard. Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver's license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates's photograph, and the license includes his address.

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates's request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer's name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates's home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer's colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, "Thank you for accommodating my earlier request," and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates's counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.
Here's a photo of Professor Gates before the arrest:

Monday, July 20, 2009

James H. Warner Remembers the Moon Landing

From the Hagerstown (MD) Herald-Mail.
One morning in late December 1968, we heard the customary hiss as the loudspeaker system began warming up for what we anticipated would be the usual propaganda session from radio Hanoi. To our surprise, however, at 8 a.m., instead of radio Hanoi, we heard a man with a British accent say, "This is the BBC Hong Kong. The American astronauts become the first human beings to come under the gravitational influence of another celestial body." And then the radio went dead.

We never knew whether they wanted us to hear this or if it was a terrible mistake by someone who had been surreptitiously listening to the BBC.

An hour later, we were taken out to wash. The first man out of our cell was Air Force Capt. Kenneth Fisher. We had not rehearsed what happened next. Ken looked up and could see the moon in the clear winter sky. He came to a stop, snapped to attention and saluted the moon. Instantly, the rest of us caught on. As each of us left the cell, we came to a stop, snapped to attention and saluted the moon.