Welcome, marathon runners

It’s marathon weekend and today is the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  The marathon ends in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Capital. It starts in Minneapolis. The only reason I even point that out is because there are a lot of people who do not know that St. Paul and Minneapolis are actually two separate cities.

Enjoy the day and run, run, run!

Medtronic Marathon
Map of the finish line

What it will look like when you get there.

marathon crowd

Customer service is a thing


In recent weeks I have been experiencing some broadband issues in my home. I don’t want to mention any names but there are only two choices for internet access in St. Paul.

The company I use has pointed out that the other company is even worse.

Either way, they demonstrate how bad customer service can be.

blue houseHere are just a few of my experiences trying to get my internet access working again:

  1. Calling and being asked repeatedly for the same information.
  2. Being put on hold for over 30 minutes.
  3. Having my call dropped.
  4. Being told about self-service on a website when I don’t have internet access.
  5. Being told that a device I have hooked up is causing the problem (not possible)
  6. Being told that my problem is probably a bad ethernet cable.
  7. Believing that I am talking to a someone in tech support and being sold an upgrade by a salesperson and later finding out that the upgrade would not have worked in my home but they would have let me pay for it anyway.
  8. Spending hours and hours over a three week period trying to cancel the upgrade.
  9. Being told that the problems with the service because of an upgrade. (later learned that isn’t possible)
  10. Having two technicians come out and “fix’ the problem but the problem remained.

I could make this list longer. Each time I called for technical support I was given a different reason for my spotty internet access.

When I ask to talk to a supervisor or escalate the problem I am told there are no supervisors. I have also been told that no one there can make outgoing calls.

There are only two choices when it comes to internet access both are expensive and offer extremely poor customer service. I have tried them both.

They take poor service to a whole new level that most businesses can not even touch. They serve as an example of what happens when there isn’t enough competition in the marketplace.

Cable and satellite TV are also great examples of what happens when there isn’t enough competition. They put packages of channels together that no one really wants. Sure people want some of the channels but not all of them. I could easily get by with no sports channels.

The bill that comes with broadband services each month is ridiculous and it gets higher every year.

We have used cable and direct TV and are currently exploring the possibility of getting an old-school antenna so that we can get the local channels and stream the rest.

Someday the large companies that provide broadband are going to miss all of the customers they once had. The companies are too large to know or care if they are losing customers because of poor service and overpriced offerings.

Is a house really a home if there is no internet access?

ten years ago this September

I published this back in September of 2008. By that time we were well aware of the recession and that the housing market had crashed. Some of those vacant houses in St. Paul were demolished and some are still vacant and owned by the city and by banks too.

There are currently 615 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul. 565 of them are single or multiple housing units. Not all vacant houses are registered. There are over 64,000 houses in St. Paul.
The number of vacant registered building in St. Paul continues to grow. Currently, there are 2031 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul.  Most of the buildings are single family homes and Duplexes.  No one knows how many vacant homes there are that are not registered.  Some of the registered homes are for sale.

Many need repairs.  Some don’t appear to be salvageable as the city has cited them for numerous code violations and it simply costs more than the structures are worth to do everything that the city thinks should be done.

There are vacant houses that have been vacant for years. Will they sit empty forever?  The owners do pay taxes and there is no law that says the property has to be used or occupied.

Having a problem with a vacant property? Follow this link the complaint department. (the city reorganized their website and the link is broken)

Are vacant houses a problem?  What is it like to live next door to a vacant house?  Would you buy the house next door if it were for sale?

Also, see:

St. Paul Real Estate: Vacancy Rate Continues to Climb

Time for apples


There are numerous varieties of fresh apples at the Saint Paul Farmer’s market which is open today. I like the chestnut crabs and the honey crisp the most. The apple orchards are open now and you can never have too many apples. I like to make applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie. I dry some apple slices too.

Apples are low sodium and have no added sugar. They are gluten-free with no high fructose corn syrup. They are also high fiber and apple pectin apparently or at least currently is good for rats and maybe humans too.

Minnesota grown apples

For sale signs make the phones ring

Pink Rose

Even with all the technology, we have old school for sale signs still make the phone ring. People see my signs and they call and it isn’t always because they want more information about the house.

Sometimes people who are looking for the sellers call.  They have all sorts of stories.  One caller said he was from the census bureau but he had no way to back up his story.  He figured he would just give me a call and I would put him in touch with my clients.  He wanted to know if the sellers had moved and I didn’t answer that question either.

The callers ask for email addresses of the sellers and phone numbers and where they work and if they have moved and more.  I would never tell anyone who calls anything about my clients. I have heard some pretty compelling stories from long-lost relatives but wasn’t tempted to blab.

I have on occasion passed the information along to sellers but in most cases when I ask the caller for his or her contact information they won’t give it.  Sometimes callers want to know something about the neighbors and occasionally I get calls from law enforcement.

The sign with the phone number on it is there for two reasons, one is to let people know that the home is for sale and the other is to provide information (found in the brochure box) and a number that people can call if they have a question about the home or would like to see it. I can not give out information about the owners of the home.

Some of the calls I get are kind of interesting, with questions that really get me thinking. Phone calls are fine, that is why we put phone numbers on the signs. Just don’t expect answers if the question is about the homeowner or some complicated real estate question with details you don’t want to share. . . you know like when you are asking for a friend and can not give an address or any other details.