In Which I Call the Internet

Actually I used Skype, not an analog rotary telephone like this one. Yesterday I had to call the Internet.

No, really. I had to call Yahoo. I had to call Yahoo on the telephone. The more I think about this, the more strange it seems. You don’t simply call Yahoo; that’s absurd in the year of our Web, 2011 – heresy even (I did call Yahoo with Skype though, which makes it slightly less so).

Of course, I could have conducted my business with Yahoo via email, and I’m sure my problem would have been addressed eventually. But I’m not a patient man; if I have flaw – one among many, actually, but if there is one thing I could actually change, it would be my lack of patience. A lack that multiplied exponentially and consequently scattered about the room in its component parts when shot through a prism of anger in the small hours of the morning.

I wanted to renew my Flickr Pro account. Even though my photography has been languishing as of late, and will for the immediate future before it becomes remedied with a new camera body and lenses – damn you Saigon pickpocket; damn you to Hell! – I wished to maintain my Pro account. I went to Flickr – owned by Yahoo – logged in and proceeded to renew it. I filled out the information, double-checked the number on my credit card, expiration date, that little number on the back, etc. and so forth. Yahoo proceeded to tell me that my information wasn’t correct.

Yahoo made me cry. I double checked my address and phone no. Tried again. Yahoo says it’s not correct. I tried this no less than 14 times; in addition to being impatient, I am also stubborn to a fault – two character traits that do not exactly complement one another, to be sure. At one point I logged into my bank and looked up my account information just to make sure that I wasn’t being an idiot, and I was not; all my info was correct. It was when I happened to be logged into my account that I noticed 14 pending transactions for $24.95 for Flickr Pro …

It is a testament to the structural efficacy of the arteries and veins in my brain that I live to write this. Surely if there was an arterial weakness somewhere in my head, presaging a bloody aneurysm, it would have burst at this moment, this paroxysm of frothy red anger. It is also fortunate that

  • a) I currently have no upstairs neighbors, because I would have wakened them my shouted curses;
  • b) That there were no small, annoying yapper dogs in the room, as I surely would have kicked them.

Bill Bixby trying to renew his Flickr Pro account with Yahoo. Not that I condone violence against animals; quite the opposite in fact. I’ve even been known to march on behalf of their rights. I was just that angry. It is also fortunate that I have never been exposed to an excessive amount of gamma radiation; as I undoubtedly would unleash the green inner beast.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have tried to repeatedly renew my Flickr Pro account, true, but then there was nothing leading me to believe that the transaction was actually being processed.

Calling Yahoo 5-600

In my anger, email would not suffice. I wanted to speak to a human being. I would not harangue them, I would not abuse them – but I wanted to to speak to a human being, in real time. I wanted shit sorted, RFN. While you will not find a customer service number anywhere on Yahoo’s multiple sites, a quick Google – yes, dripping with irony, this – for the terms customer service, billing and Yahoo reveals a blog posting from someone with a similar issue from 2006, along with a number for Yahoo. A further search of Flickr’s user forum reveals the same number posted by an actual Flickr forum admin.

Unfortunately, it was, by this time, the small quiet hour before dawn – when it’s darkest, if the literary clichés have it truthfully – Eastern Daylight Savings Time. No one was home at Yahoo Customer Service. This is the price one pays for being a creature of the night. No one is ever up and doing business when you are.

The next afternoon, however, yielded results, once I arose from my crypt. I actually talked with a human being at Yahoo Customer Service. The automated response that answers the initial call actually names billing for Flickr Pro problems by name, among others, among its options; this is, perhaps, telling.

Who knew Lily Tomlin was from Mumbai and worked for Yahoo Customer Service?Anyway, according to Ms. Yahoo – who was very nice, incidentally – while these charges would show up on my bank account, she assured me they would drop off after several business days; the final processing of the 14 charges would not be completed because the verification had failed. Indeed, if I log into Flickr it shows me as still being a Flickr amateur, and asks me to renew my Pro account.

It seems Yahoo is still convinced that I don’t actually live where I do. This apparently stems from the fact that I have old, expired cards in my Yahoo Wallet – I didn’t even know there was such a thing until my conversation with Ms. Yahoo – with my old address in it. Even though I was trying to use a new card with my new address, this conflicted with the old data stored deep in the bowels of Yahoo’s servers and causing the consequent conundrum. At least I think this is what happened; Ms. Yahoo couldn’t say.

Maybe it was gremlins. Maybe it was a ghost in the machine; perhaps I inadvertently upset Motoko somehow and this was her revenge on me. And I find it curious that even though I never signed up for, or consented to use Yahoo Wallet, Yahoo has apparently squirreled my financial info away whenever I paid my annual fee for Yahoo Mail Plus (but apparently not Flickr).

But this is life in the modern age, I suppose. Live by the electronic transaction, die by the electronic transaction.

Anyway, my actual point in recording all this – aside from my own edification, as always – is to put this out there in the digital ether for the next poor bastards that find themselves in a similar situations and decide to go the impatient route – and call Yahoo. So, without further ado, here is the Yahoo billing customer service phone number:

866.562.7228

Good luck.

In the meantime, I still haven’t managed to update my Flickr account, and at this point … not sure I want to. Methinks it might be time to investigate alternatives and vote with my dollars.

Opening up a Can of Worms … or is that Stop Bath?

It sucks! It sucks!
It sucks! It sucks!

So my first showing of my [tag]photography[/tag] started off a little bumpy. To whit: it took me much, much longer to mat 30 some photos – I was still matting two hours before I was supposed to be at Sitwell’s at 7 a.m. on Tuesday to hang them. Plus, I learned that cutting mat board to custom-sized prints – hell, cutting and matting at all – sucks. There’s no other way to say it. It sucks. And I suck at it. I sucked at crafts as a kid in school, and I suck at crafts as an adult.

To add insult to injury, I decided at the last minute that I should frame all these photos. Might as well go all out, I figured. Ever try and buy 30 11 x 14 frames at one shot? It’s not easy, nor inexpensive. So I ordered them online, thinking at worst, it would take a week – specially since I ordered them from a local place. Nope.

So I get to Sitwells, haggard and crabby, only to have the matting starting to fall apart after only a few hours because the AC is busted and it’s hotter than $2 pistol inside, as my father would say. The archival matting tape was no match for 90 degrees and 60 percent humidity. So, at this point, I’m disgusted, tired, and telling myself that this experience has robbed me of all the joy I took in creating these images, and that I’ll never do anything like this again. But I have to admit, even though I know my images are amateur – maybe advanced amateur, perhaps, but I can’t claim that they are ready for [tag]fine art[/tag] giclée print treatment – there is something about seeing your work hanging in public. I hung out at Sitwell’s most of the day today, working, and caught more than one person perusing my prints; even overheard some positive comments. And I’ve even sold a print. The very first print sold that wasn’t part of a specific shoot for a friend/client. Hot damn. That’s it, below:

Sisters in Black & WhiteSo now all of a sudden I’m looking at online photo [tag]printing services[/tag], and services for [tag]photographers[/tag], and services that provide fine art prints, and reading all about the benefits of offering prints in standard vs. non-standard aspect ratios, framing and matting, and looking at the advanced amateur and pro groups on [tag]Flickr[/tag], and looking at those photos that are out of my league (for now), and alternating between being depressed and excited. Depressed in that I still have a lot to learn, and that the business end of it completely turns me off; in fact I’ve decided that I’m not going to let photography become a job for me, like writing. I’ll save journalism vs. creative writing for another time, but let it suffice to say that after a day of writing and editing copy, I don’t often find myself wanting to jockey a keyboard in my spare time, even if it’s something I want to write – one of the reasons I don’t blog much, I suppose. I want to make photographs and images that appeal to me; I want to follow my muse and everything else be damned. But if I can sell some along the way, cool. If it could even pay for itself, even better.

Anyway, I am excited about the possibilities, however. I think perhaps I’ve opened the proverbial can of worms by agreeing to display my work at the coffee shop. …