15 June 2009

Balsillie's Coyotes Bid Rejected

Ugh. Looks like the judge rejected Balsillie's bid for the Phoenix Coyotes.

I just don't understand the business sense of the NHL not wanting to move a team from the American desert to Canada, where hockey is the sport and not the 3rd or even 4th wheel as in the USA. Well, not strictly true. I can see why Toronto and Buffalo wouldn't want another team in the area, but at the same time I think that's a selfish POV and short-sighted in terms of what's beneficial for the NHL.

In this economy you'd think the NHL would shore up its fan base rather than alienate it. Though, as I posted before, that's probably part of the problem. Canadians are hockey fanatics, at least relative to the U.S., so the NHL feels free to support an American bankrupt team over relocation to Canada. It's funny... funny in a sad and depressing way... I don't remember the NHL kicking up such a battle to prevent the Winnipeg Jets or Quebec Nordiques relocating to the USA.

But who knows, if the NHL can come up with a group willing to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, and to keep them in Glendale, Arizona, for $212 million or more, I'll admit I'm wrong.

So... I wonder what happens next? I guess the bankruptcy case and auction goes on as scheduled. I wonder if Balsillie will still bid, perhaps if he could move the team in two years rather than the next.

I want to see some dollar figures on these offers Bettman says he's lined up. Will any of them really do as much for creditors as Balsillie's $212 million? If so, great, I guess. I just can't get over the fact that the NHL is in a conflict of interest -- it's both a creditor and NHL ruler. As creditor the NHL should be trying to get the most possible of its money back from a new owner. But as NHL ruler it wants to keep a bankrupt team in Glendale, Arizona, perhaps taking a lower offer to do so. Fine for the NHL, but not so fine for all the other creditors. All this would be solved, of course, if Bettman can cough up a group to offer $212 million or more and still keep the team in Glendale.

What happened to Balsillie's $17 million bridge financing to the Coyotes? I hope Balsillie hasn't already paid it.

The amount of the relocation fee is another issue. Can the NHL stick an owner with an astronomical relocation fee -- essentially preventing a move?

Right now, a part of me wants the NHL to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, just to see how much money the NHL will sink into the desert sands.

12 June 2009

Traffic Accident

Today I walked past the aftermath of a traffic accident. One car was still in the intersection, it's entire front bumper missing. A second car was perpendicular, on the sidewalk, with a snapped off traffic light pole lying on top of it. My guess is that someone tried to beat or ignored a red light. I overheard someone say there had been a pedestrian at that corner and that it didn't look good.

Condolences to friends and family of anyone involved.

I think driving is so common place that drivers often forget they're controlling 3-ton metal objects traveling at speed. As I continued my way past the accident it occurred to me that both drivers and pedestrians place a tremendous amount of trust in one another. Each driver is trusting that each of the hundreds of drivers (s)he himself meets is driving in a safe manner and not going to do anything dangerous. Each pedestrian is trusting that the multiple 3-ton moving objects zooming by mere meters away, any one of which could be fatal, won't lose control. We're essentially placing our lives in the hands of hundreds of complete strangers.

Of course, even if everyone is doing their best to act in a safe manner accidents happen. Sobering thought. I stand at that corner every day on the way to work.

11 June 2009

Fiasco at Bank of America

I never thought I'd say this, but fraud protection is not necessarily a good thing. In the past I would have solemnly sworn that people scoffing at the need for fraud protection were naïve at best. This ended last week when I ran head first into the idiotic brick wall of Bank of America ATM Fraud Protection.

I've posted before that I recently relocated from the state of Manly Deeds, Womanly Words (it's okay, you can laugh, I did) to The Land of Tim Hortons in the Great White North. Prior to moving I -- conscientiously I thought -- went to my Bank of America branch and notified them of my change in address. For half a year all seemed fine until I actually tried to withdraw my money from an ATM in the Great White North using my BoA check card.

On Day1, I first learned there's a limit to the amount of money per transaction that can be withdrawn from an ATM. I admit it took me a few tries to figure out exactly what the limit was. Nevertheless, no problem, right? I was still well below my daily withdrawal limit. I just needed to make multiple withdrawals. Actually... no. Ugh. I phoned Bank of America and was put on hold for at least ten minutes. I say at least because at that point I hung up. Hey, no way was I spending more than $2.50 to listen to elevator music. Later in the day I called Bank of America, again, and finally managed to speak to an associate (the human kind). The associate considerately explained BoA's ATM Fraud Protection and considerately cleared my BoA card for use. After all this I was still thinking of ATM fraud protection in a positive light.

On Day 2, I went to the ATM again (as I still hadn't withdrawn all the money I wanted in Day 1) and to my disgust my card was again rejected at the second attempted transaction. Eh? This time the call cost me $3.75 and the BoA associate considerately explained BoA's ATM Fraud Protection. This time I confirmed with the associate that yes, BoA records do say I am residing in The Land of Tim Hortons. I even informed them of the number of transactions, given the ATM withdrawal limit, I would be making this day and the following. And yes, I also confirmed that the total of my daily withdrawals were still within my pre-established daily ATM withdrawal limit. The associate considerately cleared my card for use.

On Day 3, my BoA card was rejected at the first transaction attempt. This time I spent $5.00 and 15 minutes on hold to call BoA, whereupon the associate considerately explained BoA Fraud Protection. The associate, also considerately, informed me that due to BoA's considerate ATM Fraud Protection I now had to travel IN PERSON to a BoA branch and show two accepted forms of identification. Until I did so not only was my card not cleared but I wouldn't even be able to use BoA online banking. Eh!? Can I do this over the phone, like the previous two days? No. Can I fax you the documents? No. Your records show I'm living in Canada, right? Yes. Do I still have to go in person to a BoA branch, crossing an international border en route? Yes. Don't you see how completely unreasonable that is? [Pause]... You have to go to a branch in person and show identification. Well, that's how that call went.

Also on Day 3 I made a second call to BoA in the hopes a different associate would be more reasonable. This second associate first considerately explained BoA ATM Fraud Protection and the conversation essentially followed the first, verbatim.

Somewhere in the midst of Day 3 any remaining positive feelings about ATM fraud protection, and Bank of America, had turned massively negative.

Still on Day 3, after having driven over an hour, crossing the international border, I presented IN PERSON two forms of identification at a BoA branch all the while wondering if I'd been living further from the border whether BoA would expect me to pay for an international flight (I wasn't optimistic). The branch associate looked at my identification and considerately put me on the phone with the BoA ATM Fraud Protection office – after one disconnected call and 10 minutes on hold (at least it doesn't happen to only me). The phone associate considerately explained BoA Fraud Protection and cleared my card. What needs to be done so this fiasco never happens again, since, you know, I'm living in Canada, now? [Pause]... I'll make a note in your file that you're living in Canada.

I didn't tell the phone associate what I really wanted to say in response to that enormously depressing statement.

After the call ended, I wondered aloud what would have happened if I'd lived somewhere like Thunder Bay where I would have had to take an international flight. The branch associate considerately recommended that next time I raise more of a stink; perhaps in that case BoA would reimburse money for gas. That the branch associate apparently assumed that this fiasco would occur in the future didn't leave me exactly brimming with confidence.

So here I am, stuck with an “okay-to-use” Bank of America check card but too afraid to use it for fear of being forced to travel to the USA, again.

Problem solved? Me thinks I've been duped. I'm back where I started in a depressingly circular fashion.

10 June 2009

SFX Performance

UPDATE (04AUG2009): Never say never, I guess. SFX Performance sent me my order -- insured, this time -- at their cost. It actually arrived a couple (few?) weeks ago. Much appreciated. As far as I'm concerned this event has come to an unexpected but positive conclusion.

UPDATE (07APR2010): Updated post title.

UPDATE (21JUN2010):  As this issue has been resolved (see above) I decided to delete the original post that was below.