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The Great Down-Sell

Some of you long-time loyal readers might recall Jason English's funny/sad saga back in 2007 about the time his cellphone provider over-billed him for more than $600. Sure, we've all had bad experiences with big companies. Maybe not as epic as Jason's - but for each of us, these moments (those smite-your-brow-in-horrific-disbelief moments), when you feel like it's little old you against the machine, feel epic enough that we often never again use the product or service the machine provides.

In my four decades, I've definitely had more than my fair share of such situations. However, recently, I had one with a customer service rep that was SO positive, it almost felt like I'd won the lottery! It almost made up for all the poor experiences I've had over the years and inspired me to want to tell the world about it. (If this were a musical, about here is where we'd burst into song.)

It all started when I got an e-mail from AT&T saying that my wife and I had exceeded our texting limit last month and we were going to be charged extra for every text over. Now, I'm not a big texter, mostly because I've got thumbs the size of kielbasa, but I also don't like spending more than I have to if possible. The e-mail said there was a solution: call up AT&T and pay an additional $5 per month for the all-you-can-text plan. The $5 was much less than paying for the overages per text, so I figured, okay - especially when they said they'd back-date it to the beginning of last month.

Here's where the story gets juicy. Without being prompted, the guy then offers to look at our rate plan and see if we're using all our minutes. Next he starts telling me that we're paying too much per month based on the amount of minutes we're using. I repeat: he says we're paying TOO MUCH! And then proceeds to down-sell me on another plan that not only includes the text-until-your-thumbs-fall-off plan, but costs $20 less per month! I was stupefied!

Has this happened to anyone else? Where I come from (aka, Earth), customer service never offers a lower plan unless you specifically ask for one. In fact, I don't think I've ever been down-sold in my life. Saving money in this economy is awesome, but it was his personable service and friendly "let-me-fix-that-for-you-sir" attitude that really got me excited. I'm telling you folks, AT&T! They may have a helluva lot of dead spots across the country (the area between Rite Aid on Crenshaw and Olympic and my house, for example, leaves a lot t  b  de ired, if you're monitoring this AT&T social media people), but WOW! I'm a customer for life now, thanks to that down-sell.

Any companies you guys wish to laud for their customer service? Ever been down-sold? Leave your interesting stories in the comments below.

(cartoon via buhaycallcenter.wordpress.com)

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travel
The Real Bay of Pigs: Big Major Cay in the Bahamas
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When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

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Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, Top10RealEstateDeals.com reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

[h/t Top10RealEstateDeals.com]

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