AT&T Digital Life – Digital Scam

DigitalLifeDigitalScam

I hate writing posts like this. I don’t like to use this site as a platform for consumer complaints but… This is important enough.

Back in 2014 we signed up for AT&T Digital Life, a security/home automation service offered by AT&T. From day one, we had issues with the system. The 7-8 hour installation was highlighted by my wife and I witnessing a supervisor relentlessly abuse his employee. After the install, none of the equipment worked properly. Even after several phone calls and technician visits, sensors would work for a bit, and then stop. It was bad enough that we asked to be let out of our contract and cancel the service but AT&T refused, citing our two year commitment and that we’d have to pay an ETF and some equipment cost if we canceled early. So we relented, and just kept the service, waiting for the two years to be up so we could cancel.

There were two occasions that, for no reason, the alarm system dispatched the sheriffs department. We were told by AT&T that a glitch caused the alarm system to notify the authorities and that they took corrective action. Part of that action was to put the system in “test mode” for 24 hours to insure that the system was operating correctly. While in test mode the system would function normally, with the exception that it would not be actively monitored, any alarms from the system would be ignored.

We continued to have issues (non-working sensors, etc.) but no more early morning calls or visits from the Sheriff. I had a suspicion that the system was never taken out of test mode, but never checked before this last month. Shame on us for not getting after AT&T to fix the system, but dealing with Digital Life support was a bit like going out to get flogged.

Last month (July) I actually set off the alarm twice to see if we’d get a response from AT&T. What you’d expect is that the alarm would go off, and we’d get a call from AT&T asking if everything was ok. We didn’t get any calls. This basically confirmed that the system was never taken out of test mode. Shame on AT&T.

A couple of days later my wife called to cancel the service. She brought up our concern about the system being in test mode to the representative. Shockingly, they confirmed that the system had been in test mode since March of 2015.

One person I talked to actually told me that it’s common practice for them to put problematic systems in test mode. Effectively, leaving them unmonitored.

My wife then said she’d like to talk to someone about getting some sort of refund since we were paying for a monitored system that wasn’t actually being monitored.

Nearly 20 hours of phone calls later and the best AT&T offered us was to reinstate our account and give us a month of service for free. I even talked to people in the “Office of the President” to no avail. No one we talked to seemed at all concerned with the fact that while we were paying for a service, they were actively not providing it.

So, this is a public service announcement. If you are an AT&T Digital Life Customer, check to make sure that your system is actually being monitored properly. If you are not an AT&T Digital Life Customer, I’d recommend staying away from them, based on our experience, as far as we’re concerned, it’s a scam service.

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
Very modular design. You could perform a non-destructive disassembly.

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
Yikes! Is that right? Turns out, it is.
Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
This LED fell off during disassembly. They are not hard to get off but I wonder if this one was loose and could have been the cause/contributing to the issue the bulb was having.

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
Interestingly, no heat sink compound was used between the heat sink and the LED substrate.
Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
This part was in the center of the heat sink. The bottom contacts made contact w/the driver board and the top contacts w/the LEDs.

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb

Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
Could the discoloration on the silk screen labeling be a sign the board was getting to hot?
Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
Good quality, high temp rated CAPs
Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
There was a lot more of these white cruddy spots on this inductor before this picture was taken… Not sure if this is an indication of an issue.
Disassembly/Inspection Of A Failed Cree LED Light Bulb
Some crud around the right lead of the primary capacitor. May just be left over from manufacturing. The cap looks fine, no bulging or signs of leaking.

Hannah the Pet Theft Society

I’ve grown tired having Hannah’s astroturfers using this post as a platform to spew their drivel. Therefore, I’ve removed all comments and have disabled commenting on this post.

oregonlive.com – Oregon investigates Hannah the Pet Society after dog killings

kgw.com – Oregon pet-leasing company accused of killing adoptable dogs

Columbia Humane Society’s statement on why it canceled its agreement with Hannah (tl;dr – Hannah the Pet Society is killing animals).

Lawsuit filed February 2016 alleging that Hannah did not provide proper care for a dog under the Total Lifetime Care program.

What

Hannah is an Oregon company that offers pet adoption and care services to Oregon residents. I’d originally heard of them through their radio spots where they advertise what seems to be their main shtick – Total Lifetime Care.

According to the ads, the Total Lifetime Care program will provide you with all the care your pet needs for a small monthly fee. The video below sums up the program rather succinctly (if a bit unnervingly given the creepy voice over).

Continue reading

Architectural Mailboxes’ “Security” Mailbox [UPDATE]

After posting my video demonstrating the easily exploitable security flaw in Architectural Mailboxes’s security mailbox I was contacted by the CEO of Architectural Mailboxes who had this to say:

Hi Adam,

Thank you for reaching out to our company. After viewing your video it is apparent that the mailbox display you videotaped is a very early design. As with all products we are constantly looking for opportunities to improve the designs. This display may even be from the very original sample sent to the store and the retailer never changed out the display when an inline design change occurred. The Oasis Jr. mailbox is on the shelf in literally thousands of stores due to it being the #1 best-selling locking mailbox in the USA for several years running. I assure you if you were to buy the Oasis Jr. today you would find that your hand would not be able to fit in the opening past the curve.

We would be very appreciative if you could provide us with the store name and location so we can send them a new display.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Sincerely,

Vanessa Troyer
CEO

I found the explanation curious since my wife originally pointed out that she discovered this flaw years ago. Maybe I was assuming too much but is seemed to me that the old displays would have been purged by now. So I asked Vanessa if she could provide a demo of the current design that showed that one could not reach into it and grab mail out.

To my surprise Vanessa was very approachable and offered to send me an updated unit to try first hand. She also requested the location of the Home Depot the first video was shot in so that she could make sure their display was changed out.

I’d have loved nothing more than to show you how the mailbox was still insecure but that simply isn’t the case. As you can see in the video even our youngest child-unit, who has arms like toothpicks, could not get his arm inside the mailbox.

I want to commend Architectural Mailboxes for their rational response to my initial post. It’s nice when a company responds to criticism in a calm, measured and respectable way (unlike others).

UPDATE: 6/9/2012 – Vanessa, CEO of Architectural Mailboxes, offers the following additional info:

I wanted to point out that with all USPS certified locking mailboxes there needs to be an opening to allow the USPS carrier’s hand to deposit the mail (in the Oasis Jr.’s case a small parcel also). The objective for us was to allow delivery while at the same time make it very difficult for anyone to reach all the way into the Oasis Jr. and retrieve the mail from the mailbox floor. In an ideal world we could make a solid door where one side is housed with a homeowner lock and the other side is a USPS control lock. Although this would be a more secure option it is not a realistic one as it would require the USPS carrier to carry a key for every locking mailbox they deliver to. This would add an additional step to the delivery process and the cost implication would be significant. At present, the USPS is operating in the RED and we do not anticipate this occurring any time soon, if ever.

For now you will only find two types of locking mailboxes on the market; letter slot style which can accept letters/magazines and hopper door styles like our Oasis Jr. which in addition to letters/magazines can accept small parcels. In addition, when the Oasis Jr. is installed on a post where the entry point is located at 54” off finished floor this makes it a bit more of a challenge for one to reach into the mailbox. I think you would be surprised how many tests and scenarios we create when developing a product, a lot of time and resources are spent trying to constantly improve our products. We too rope in people with long slender arms to help in the testing.

END UPDATE


Full Disclosure

I had asked Vanessa to send me a video of them demonstrating that you could not put your hand completely in the mailbox. I also offered to test the mailbox myself if they would send me one, that I would send back after testing. Vanessa kindly asked my color preference and said that I could keep the mailbox after I was done testing it. So yes, I got a free mailbox. Make of that what you will, it does not change the fact that, as you can see in the video, the flaw demonstrated in the first video is not present in the updated mailbox design.

Architectural Mailboxes’ “Security” Mailbox

Turns out the mailbox shown in this video was an early design that was being (improperly) used as a display – click here for more info.

Via the Architectural Mailboxes’swebsite (emphasis mine):

Our Oasis Locking Mailbox has an innovative oversized patented Parcel Delivery Door which allows for delivery of small parcels and mail bundles, keeping items secure until the box is unlocked. The delivery and access doors are equipped with weather tight seals to keep mail clean and dry. The Oasis has a re-keyable zinc plated cam lock with zinc die cast cylinder. Every aspect of the Oasis locking mailbox was selected to provide security, durability and style.

Architectural Mailboxes, you use the word “security” but I think it means something different than what you must think.

Turns out the mailbox shown in this video was an early design that was being (improperly) used as a display – click here for more info.