The e-payment I made to my Diners Club MasterCard posted yesterday, so I called their customer service, explained the situation with the payment I mailed last month that they never received, and asked if they could reverse the fees I incurred. The agent put me on hold for a minute and I braced myself for a "no, never, you deadbeat." When she came back on the line, she said, "We'll be happy to credit your account for those fees." And when I asked, she also put in a request to their points program to reinstate the over 3,000 points (=airline miles) I forfeited when the account showed me no longer current. O happy day! I told her, "You have just made my day! I feel so much better now."
She laughed and said, "See, now you're going to have a great weekend."
I agreed, saying, "Yes, and I'm going to use my Diners Club card some more this weekend."
"That's what we like to hear," she said.
She warned me that it can take several days for all of these requests to process. I said I understood, which was why I was starting the process now rather than late in the statement period. I just need to be patient.
With that financial sword hanging over my head, I was seriously considering not going to SiliCon. Now I can head off to the convention this afternoon knowing I'm not in default.
One of the subsidiary reasons for getting my Diners Club account current was that I can't redeem points when the account is shown as not current. I intended to use most of the points in the account when I buy my airline tickets to Japan, which will be in just a couple of weeks, I hope. (I can't book the tickets until it's less than 330 days after the date I intend to leave Japan.)
Diners Club has a program whereby I can book an airline ticket and pay for it normally, and just use the points to pay for the travel -- this is not the same thing as moving the points to the airline program and navigating that airline's frequent-flyer program, so it's not subject to blackouts or availability. The points I have are worth about $825 worth of airline ticket. My plan -- assuming United Airlines can accommodate me -- continues to be to buy coach tickets and upgrade them to business class using the >120,000 United miles I have. Then I'll cash the Diners Club points to pay part of the coach fare. I can't buy the cheapest fare (around $1100) because they have to be at least "class M/H" to qualify for mileage upgrades, so I'm looking at around $1600 per ticket. (That's just an estimate on account of not being able to price the flight yet -- I tried one month earlier and got those prices.)
Except that I just had a thought looking ahead to 2010. The Diners Club points might turn out to be more valuable if I were to transfer them to my Alaska Airlines account, where I would then have enough for a couple of free business class tickets on QANTAS. But then of course there's the problem of availability, and for that matter, will QANTAS still be partnered with Alaska Airlines in October 2009, which would be when I would need to book the ticket to have any chance of having an opening.
It appears that almost everyone in the Bay Area seemed to be trying to drive I-880 this afternoon, and I got to the Doubletree too late to register for the weekend, so I bought a night badge in Con-ops and can cash it in toward the cost of a full membership tomorrow. Honestly, it's only because I don't like ghosting and because I'm trying to support the cause that I sought out badge sales, on account of I really didn't need a badge to go where I wanted. In fact, because there was no way to buy a badge during the hour or so between closure of Reg and the opening of Night Reg in Ops, I went to the dealers room and the Meet the Guests wearing only my Nippon 2007 committee badge.
Turns out parking is not free after all, but a discounted rate of $3 does apply.
It's very quiet here. I set up shop at one of the vacant-in-the-evening fan tables near a power outlet to take advantage of the free wi-fi. Chatted for a while with SiliCon Fan Guest of Honor Craige Howlett and with other people wandering by. Some people assumed I was in charge, because I was sitting behind a table with a computer and looked like I knew what I was talking about.
One guy came by with a question that could be answered by Ops, which is located in the "traditional" location on the second floor of the hotel. I told him, "Ops can handle that."
He asked, "Where is it?"
"Up on the second floor, in the usual place." I realized that it's wrong to take for granted that everyone here knows where things are usually located, so I said, "Have you attended other science fiction conventions in this hotel?"
"Lots of them!" he said, rather testily, as if I were patronizing him, which was not my attention.
"Okay, well, it's in the usual place on the Party Floor," I said.
He looked grumpy, "I guess I'll have to take the elevator up to the second floor..."
"...Or take the stairs," I suggested. He looked blankly at me, then wandered off. So either he hasn't been to the "lots of conventions" here, or else he's managed to attend many cons in this hotel without twigging to the fact that unless you're unable to use the stairs, the pool stairs are the best way to get to the second floor of this hotel.