February 26th, 2011

Avenging Angel

Skype: extortionists, or just morons?

I recently got a notification from Skype that I had a voicemail waiting for me. "That's funny," I thought, "I don't subscribe to their vmail service, or any of their other pay services." Apparently if somebody else who's silly enough to pay for stuff from them calls you when you're logged out or not at your desk, it will record a vmail, and then send you a notice explaining, euphemistically, that they are holding your vmail hostage until you pay them. I sent them a support request asking how to disable this.

We understand your concern regarding the voicemail services that you are receiving although you do not have a voicemail subscription. We know this can be inconvenient specially that your contacts may expect that their message has been relayed. We will be glad to assist you with this.

Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to block the voicemails that were being sent to you by your contacts who have a voicemail subscription. We appreciate your feedback on this and we will definitely look in to this.

However, for now, your only option is to inform your contacts not to leave a voicemail since you will not be able to hear them or you may subscribe to a voicemail.

In other words: We know you don't want this voicemail service, and we know it's inconvenient for you, but tough cookies, if you don't like it, pay us money.

This severely tempts me to cancel my Skype account. Except I kinda need it right now to communicate with my boss, who is off in Thailand and Singapore for a few weeks. (I'd consider switching to an alternate VoIP service, but I don't want to make him install something else. When he gets back, maybe I'll see if I can get him set up with TeamSpeak, which was developed for the gaming community, so you can talk to team-mates in online games without being in the same room. It doesn't have all of Skype's features, but it actually does voice much better.) I do not want to have a situation where somebody can try to call me, leave a voicemail, and then think they have successfully communicated something to me. I will never hear that voicemail! I want them to be prompted to try something else -- call my cell, send an email or text, whatever.

They're certainly entitled to try to make money off their service. If providing all computer-to-computer communication for free isn't working for them, they should just start charging a small subscription fee or software registration fee, or find a way to charge for international connections. This voicemail extortion racket is not OK. It means that the service impairs my communications with colleagues, rather than enhancing it.

  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated
SF Opera

tix to SF Opera Rheingold and Walkure

I have one extra ticket to each of the first two segments of the Ring Cycle, on Tue and Wed, June 14 and 15. (My mother is coming into town to see the entire cycle, so I initially needed two seats, one for me, and one for her. My fiancée wants to come see the second half, but wasn't interested in seeing the first half again; we saw those two when they were first produced, over the last couple of years. Hence, half of her cycle tix are available.) The seat is J128, on the inner side of the first aisle out from the center, towards the back of Dress Circle. The view is excellent -- there really are no bad views from Dress Circle, excepting maybe the very outermost seats on the edge.

You could in theory grab tix to the single non-cycle performances of Siegfried and Gotterdammerung (still available through the SF Opera website, or by calling the box office), and have yourself a "discount cycle". You'd end up seeing them out of order (since the singles of Siegfriend and Gotterdammerung are showing before the cycles start), but you'd save almost a thousand dollars relative to what you would've paid for a cycle -- there was a "mandatory donation" that was required in order to buy cycle tickets.

I am selling these two tickets at face value, $135, the same as the price to purchase similar tickets for the single shows. I'll consider a slightly discounted price, if that's the only offer I get, and the offer is payable promptly in cash.

Feel free to pass on this info to anywhere you think somebody might be interested.