Venky's Blog

Work hard...Party harder!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I did two things this past weekend that I am proud of. Sometime back, I canceled my dish network account and returned all their equipment. However, I received a bill from Dish Network for $105.75 which were fraudulent charges claiming I hadn't returned the equipment. After spending several hours speaking to customer service agents without luck, I had had enough. Through the help of and some googling, I found the email address of the Charles Ergen, the CEO of echostar (the company that owns dish network) and wrote him an email and copied the customer service department on it. I sent the email yesterday evening at about 5pm. This is the email I wrote to him:-

"Mr. Ergen,

I have been trying to resolve a billing issue with Dish Network for a while now and wanted to write to you since I have received poor customer service.

In September 2006, I became a dish network subscriber through a local retailer in Detroit. I had initially ordered a DVR, but when the technician came to install it, he only had a regular receiver and set that up. He asked me the go to a local dish network warehouse and exchange the receiver for a DVR. I did that within 24 hours and I thought everything was fine. In the first month I received a bill for the DVR.
In November 2007, I canceled my Dish connection and returned my equipment. However, Dish sent me a bill for $105.75 for equipment charges. After a few phone calls to Dish Network, I was told it was for the original receiver I returned. Dish never took that out of my account. When I told them I had exchanged that for the DVR, they told me that was a transaction between me and my retailer and that I had to call her and have her send the receiver back to Dish.

I then called my retailer and she agreed with me that I had returned the receiver and that she will send a note to Dish. She told me Dish shouldn't be charging me for the receiver as the receiver belonged to the retailer and that it was a transaction between me and the retailer. She tells me she sent a note to Dish asking them to remove the charges from my account. However that hasn't happened and I received a letter from a collection company attempting to collect the charges. Every time I speak to Dish network, they ask me to speak to the retailer and when I speak to the retailer, she wants me to speak to Dish network. Incidentally, for the 14 months that I had service, the Dish receiver never showed up in my account or my bills. The thing I don't understand is me getting played between the retailer and Dish. My understanding was that the retailers represented Dish Network, but apparently Dish doesn't consider the retailers a part of themselves even though the retailers sell their products and services and use Dish Network's name.

My Dish Network account number is ****. The service address was ****. The name and address of the Dish Network retailer is ****.

After spending several hours on the phone with the retailer and Dish network, I am just really frustrated. I would really appreciate it if you could ensure that this issue gets resolved. I can be reached at this email address or at the phone number below if you would like to discuss. I am even willing to get on a conference call with the retailer and Dish Network to get this resolved.

Thank you,"

Guess what happened? At around 10am today morning, I got this email from a guy called Matt Kliewer from the executive communications office


I will go ahead and remove the charge from the account. We will have our retailer service department get in contact with the retailer. I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

Thank you

Matt Kliewer

Executive Communications

Echostar Satellite LLC"

Oh! boy, wasn't I happy to see the charges removed. I was getting ready to file a complaint at the better business bureau and at The charges still show up in my online account, but I am assuming they will be removed soon.

Second, I usually get my shirts dry cleaned. I really like the convenience of not having to wash or iron them. However one pet peeve of mine is the annoying wire hangers that come with the dry cleaned shirts. Most people just throw them away, but my dry cleaner gets them back and recycles them. The "green" person in me wanted to take them back to the dry cleaners and have them re-use it. However one problem with that was after a year of throwing the hangars in the corner of my bedroom they were all tangled up and looked something like this

I am proud to say I sacrificed a significant portion of Sunday afternoon to
(save the planet) untangle the hangers and made them look something like this

and eventually like this.

They are all packed up in a green whole foods bag (made of recycled paper) ready to be returned to the dry cleaners where along with their friends they will live happily ever after, bearing the burden of freshly dry cleaned shirts in their slender shoulders.

So those were the two things I did this past weekend that i am proud of :) - Comments?

P.S> I know I don't have to color green text in green, but i thought that created a nice visual effect!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Life in these US

When I was in my 9th grade, my aunt and uncle visited us in Chennai from Bombay. They had just returned back to India after spending 6 months in the US with their children. That night, lured by the cheap Sanford mechanical pencils, papermate pens (no offense to anyone, I get those now when I go back home. For some reason they seem to have an appeal back home) and Snicker bars, I decided I was going to go to the U.S for my M.S. In fact after seeing my aunt's family picture in front of the Niagara falls, I couldn't wait any longer.

While I was in college, this longing was further emphasized, especially listening to the stories from our seniors in the U.S. The stories were almost always about long road trips, visiting exotic places and being able to buy fancy gadgets and gizmos. Money ofcourse was a big part behind my motivation to come to the U.S. I wanted to drive nice cars and wear designer clothes etc., However a bigger aspect was also freedom. Being able to be with friends and do a lot of fun things with them and not to have to worry about Money....that sounded like paradise.

Anyway, fast forward 5 years and here I am in the heart of Chicago. I have missed all my best friends weddings (SVCE and UK). I speak to my friends once in a while and in some cases have no idea what's happening in their lives. I have no idea or sense of festivals I used to enjoy and look forward to. During festivals I care about (Diwali, Pongal etc.,) I have to work. When I have holidays (Christmas, Independence day etc.,) I don't really care about or relate to those festivals (if you want to call them that). I speak to my folks back home at the most once a week. So anyway, you get the picture...

Its not that I don't enjoy the things I came here to buy and relish. It is a pleasure to hear my 3.0 liter engine in my BMW, roar to life every morning. Its great to live in the city of Chicago, which is a melting pot of so many different cultures. Above all, seeing a paycheck every other Friday sure puts a smile on my face. I have to admit this country has been good to me. I was able to spend a considerable amount of time in Europe and see the old country, travel and work on challenging projects in the U.S., all as a part of my work.

However, on moments like this, I question if it was/is worth it. I wanted the nice things to share with my friends and family. After all its whom you are with that makes all the difference, not where you are or what you have. My college was in the middle of no where and the nearest half decent theater was a good hour away. Yet those were the 4 best years of my life. I guess where I am getting at is what is the cost incurred for these economic gains and other things that at times seem so superficial? I wonder if in an attempt to find the AC first class compartment, I am missing the entire train.

Or all this could be just a part of growing up. As you start working your responsibilities increase and there just isn't enough time to spend with friends anymore. The little free time that you have, you want to spend it in solitude rather than speak on the phone. Either case, this SUCKS!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Chicago I come!

Yes! I managed to get admitted into the University of Chicago's Graduate school of Business. The last 4 months have been a slog, with GMAT preps, essays etc. It feels good to have an admit.

I hope this will jump start my business blog (I highly doubt it). For those who are new or have no idea about the world of Business schools, you probably don't care. However, here are a few fun facts about the University of Chicago (The admit gives me bragging rights).

  1. In 2007, It was ranked number 1 business school in the U.S. by Businessweek and number 1 in the world by the Economist, even ahead of IIM-A for career guidance.
  2. The University of Chicago has the most number of Nobel Laureates than any other school in the world
  3. Milton Friedman taught in the University of Chicago and considered it his home. (Do I need to say more?)
Oh! I forgot to mention, Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) is a professor at the University of Chicago. Ok, I rest my case!

I am looking forward to a valuable learning experience.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Only in France!!

In how many countries can a President get away with divorcing his wife one month after taking office, publicly dating and chasing around a young model (with a long, well documented modeling career often with little or no clothes)?

NY times reports
that the couple got married recently. I also found this article amusing (Warning! I wouldn't open it at work!!).

I wonder if this happened with the U.S. President or the Indian Prime Minister, what kind of reaction it would generate!

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Winter begins!

And so the snowfall starts in Chicago. The next 4 months will be pure torture!

Picture taken from my 19th floor apartment in Chicago. The bottom of the picture shows the snow accumulation on my window sill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I read this article today and was pretty shocked to say the least! I have been fairly indifferent to the presidential race so far, but find it atrocious to hear a fore runner speak this way of a leading candidate, not to mention former first lady (He referred to Ms Clinton with the B* word). I wonder how many votes McCain is going to lose because of that. May be not much considering he didn't have a lot of supporters to begin with.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Website registration images

I know the text in image form which you have to enter while registering into sites is a security feature which is meant to protect the user and the site from unwanted spam and tons of random automatic subscriptions. But I have been noting that recently the text in these images is so crypted, I can barely read it. I was trying to register to a site today and after the 4th time of entering the wrong text I'd had enough. To make matters worse, I had to re-enter my email address and password every time I entered the wrong text. Attached below is a sample image. May be somebody can look at it and guess what the text is, because honest to god, I had a hard time figuring it out.

Finally at the 5th attempt I managed to get in!