What it is like to be Spear Phished

March 5, 2023

I received a call yesterday from a woman who claimed to be calling from my bank, Union Bank. The caller id for the call was UNION BANK. The phone number was 720-464-9279. I live in area code 802, but location and area code are no longer tightly linked, so I did not think much of that.

She explained that there had been some suspicious activity on one of my debit cards. Since my girlfriend had just returned from a week in Puerto Rico, I assumed that there was a problem with our joint debit card, but the woman assured me that it was my card. I was told that two large charges ($500 and $700) had been made in a Walmart and a Target in Mississippi, and that someone had gotten into my online banking and had sent some money to someone whose name I had never heard of.

I became concerned.

She then said that she had sent a text to me, and that I need to respond in order for them to cancel the debit card and secure my online banking. The text read as follows:

Union Bank: Thank You For Your Response Regarding Our One Time Identity Check,Please Enter Compromised (1)USER-ID /CANCEL (2)PASSWORD /CANCEL

At that point I realized that I had been spear phished. No bank asks for your account credentials via a text. I thanked the woman, hung up, and called my bank.

Since it was a Saturday morning, that was not easy, and the timing of the call was part of what concerned me. These kinds of scams are best perpetrated when the main bank offices are closed for the weekend.

I was able to contact the fraud folks at my bank, and they said that everything was fine with my account. I changed my online account password just to feel safer.

So, if you are contacted by someone who appears to know a lot about your account (your name, phone number, and bank name), be careful and call the bank back at a number you know to be valid.

Phishing is when a crook tries to get you to reveal some account credential information, often with a generic email. Spear phishing is when the crook knows enough about you that you let your guard down, assuming that the contact must be legitimate. I had someone call me, a few years ago, claiming to be from Microsoft, and they knew the serial number for my Windows 10 operating system! Still not Microsoft, but it took me a few minutes to figure that out.

Stay safe.

How to Craft a Podcast

January 27, 2023

Podcasts are all the rage, right now, and I’m sure you’re considering starting your own. This is a brief guide for how to make a successful podcast.

First, you will need a musical phrase, a clip, to brand your podcast. Pay someone to come up with one, or just steal it. No one will know. No one will actually listen to your podcast.

Play music throughout, hopefully loud enough that it is hard to hear the actual content. Try to play sounds that, if heard in the car, might cause panic, like bells or sirens or squeaks or bangs. Sometimes play it softly, so that the listener wonders if they are losing their mind. See if you can distract the listener from what you and your guests are saying. No one could possibly tolerate your voice or your content without sound effects. You really are not that good. Only Terry Gross and Marc Maron can do an interview without background music. Add mood music to inform the stupid listener what they should feel, because without the mood music, they will be astonishingly clueless. Pay someone a lot of money to insert music throughout, even though none of the music is necessary.

The structure of your podcast will be as follows:

  1. If you are the slave/lackey of a podcast empire (Stitcher, Pushkin, etc) murmur their audio logo/name.
  2. Introduce the topic of the podcast episode briefly
  3. Play a few clips from the actual podcast episode. This will reduce the amount of content you need to create. It will also allow your listeners to hear some of the audio over and over again. Maybe they’ve already heard the clips (see 14 below). Who cares? What you are saying is important, right? Waste the listener’s time with abandon.
  4. Play the music clip. No matter that your listeners have heard it over and over again.
  5. Introduce the podcast and yourself. Give enough of your history and credentials that your listeners will groan every time they have to sit through it, over and over again
  6. Play the music clip again. Why not?
  7. Deliver some actual podcast content. Not too much. About a third of it is right. End this section with what you think is a teaser for the next segment. Ignore the fact that this is a podcast, and that your listener intends to listen to the end.
  8. Then take time off to deliver some advertisements. Make sure they are irrelevant to your podcast content, so that your listeners will cringe. And make sure that you have the same advertising content every episode, so that your listeners become increasingly irate. Do your best to make your listener give up on the rest of the podcast. Play different music throughout the ads, so that the listener can skip forward and know when they are back to actual content. Don’t tell your advertisers that no one will actually listen to the advertisements.
  9. Now for some more actual content. Not too much. Embellish every point with unnecessarily verbose commentary. Draw it out. Make them think that you actually have 30 minutes of important content when in fact you have less than 5. Then another teaser.
  10. Now for more advertising. Lay it on thick. They have too much invested in the episode to quit on you now! Who cares if they fast forward through the ads?
  11. Now for the final content, plus a wrap-up. Try to sound wise, and make it sound as if the podcast episode actually made a point or taught a lesson. If the listener didn’t see this coming they will attribute it to their own stupidity, not to your lack of good content or content structure. Puff your chest out a bit.
  12. Introduce the podcast again. It can’t hurt.
  13. Tell people about the next episode, playing clips that they will hear two more times if they actually listen to the next episode. Try to imagine that all of this repetition is not boring, and certainly not a waste of the listener’s time. Every other podcast does it, so it must be right.
  14. List all of the people who contributed to the episode. Make the list long so as to make the effort seem enormous and the podcast valuable. If you have a sense of humor, add mythical persons with ridiculous names.
  15. Play a little clip from the current episode that you held back, something that sounds witty and amusing and off-the-cuff. Don’t think about why you failed to include it in the body of the podcast, or why you didn’t just discard the clip entirely. By now the listeners have gone on to another episode, so make sure that the content of the little clip is irrelevant.
  16. Play some more ads. Maybe the listener has not yet figured out how to use their podcast app.
  17. If you are the slave/lackey of a podcast empire (Stitcher, Pushkin, etc) murmur their audio logo/name again.

And there you have it. Podcast success!

Blast from the Past

January 25, 2023

I recently had lunch with an old (and also long-time) friend, Ralph Droms. We met in 1974 at the Burroughs Advanced Development organization in Paoli, PA. It was my first job out of college; it may have also been Ralph’s first job. We worked on a set of 4 hand-wired and networked computers, each the size of a telephone booth, prototyping store-and-forward systems for ARPA. I learned about wire-wrapped backplane construction, Algol, and networking.

Ralph told tall tales about his time at Google and Cisco, and I told a tall tale about my time at GE Aerospace, in King of Prussia, PA.

One job I had involved the development of Landsat D, an early earth observation satellite. At one point, it became clear that the new image sensor had such high resolution that variations in the distance from the sensor to the ground (due to changes in the altitude of the earth’s surface, as the satellite passed over high terrain and low terrain) would produce distortions in the images. Those distortions needed to be corrected, so each image would need to be “re-sampled” in order to ensure that each pixel was at the correct location (“ground truth”). The fundamental calculation required, called “the butterfly” was simple enough, but it had to be applied at rates that exceeded the ability of any computer of the time (VAXes were running at 6 MHz, about 1/1000th the speed of current personal computers). GE designed and built a custom micro-programmable computer (the FFP) to perform the calculations, and I was responsible for writing the microcode. Fun times.

Another aspect of Landsat D was how the ground station processed the image data. Data was received from the satellite down-link and stored in Band Interleaved by Line (BIL) format on “A” tapes. The A tapes were then read, the images placed on hard drives, re-formatted on the fly, and written to the “B” tapes in Band Sequential (BSQ) format. The B tapes could then be used for image analysis. Each image was on the order of 277 MB, but the hard disk drives of that era (each the size of a washing machine) ranged from 67 MB to 256 MB. That is, each image was larger than any one hard disk. The ground station had to have 3 different computer systems (VAXen) with 10 disk drives on each system, just to handle the reformatting of the data. The amount of main memory (RAM) on the systems was so small (perhaps 2, 8, or 14 MB, according to historical records) that one could not bring an image into memory to reformat it. Even finding enough memory for disk buffers was challenging. The data had to be written to disk in one pattern, and read back in another pattern to perform the reformatting. All of this ran flat out at about 1/16 the speed of the original image acquisition. Data layouts on disk had to be crafted so that one never missed a sector and had to wait for the disk to rotate around again. Data was written directly to sectors, avoiding a file system that would have slowed things down too much.

When the ground station was bid, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) had announced a new disk drive that was bigger and faster than those currently available, and the ground station design depended on those drives. Of course, those drives were not available in time, and there was a mad scramble to come up with a system design that could perform the image reformatting. The drives were not only small, they were slow, and it took quite a bit of work to come up with an approach that worked. And I came up with the approach (with the help of others on the team). The resulting report is something I was quite proud of, and I just dredged it up to see what I was doing/thinking/writing about 40 years ago. I remain impressed.

There were no word processors to speak of at the time, but I had access to some home-brewed document formatting software, which I used to create the report. Everything was written in a fixed width font (Courier), because proportional fonts were unheard of except in book publishing. The printer was a dot matrix printer, probably an impact printer (ink jets were not yet available). I created “diagrams” in text, and graphs were drawn on graph paper and pasted in place, with hand written annotation. All very primitive by today’s standards.

A few years after I came up with the design, the ground station team reported that the disk design I came up with actually worked. That brought a smile to my face.

You can read all about it here, if you wish:

Click to access JonGE.pdf

Joe Bonamassa is the Most Crafty And Sophisticated Spammer in the World

January 12, 2023


A few days after I published this, I tried to un-subscribe again, and this time it worked. Go figure. So I guess you can ignore the rant that follows

I saw Joe Bonamassa live a few months back. It was a good show, and he is a good guitarist.

Unfortunately, I gave my email address to The Joe Bonamassa Organization, and that started unrelenting harassment.

Shortly thereafter, I began to receive daily emails, asking me to buy JB socks, JB underwear, JB hats, and JB condoms. Enough already.

There is an unsubscribe link, but using it did not stop the relentless onslaught.

There are email addresses present on the JB web site. I emailed all of those addresses, imploring that they take me off of their list. Nothing.

I emailed the WebMaster for the JB site; that also did no good whatsoever.

I went to the Federal government web sites. Sending Spam is a crime, but there appears to be no way to notify the government, nor to get any action.

I went to the SpamCop web site, and attempted to register JB as a spammer, only to discover that the email headers that JB uses lack an IP address, leaving SpamCop unable to process the spam. Very crafty, Mr B, very crafty.

Unlike most of us, JB has his own domain (JBonamassa.com) and his own email server. He does not use gMail or Outlook, so the only place to complain about JB’s illegal activities is to JB himself; as I explained above, JB wears an impenetrable electronic shield which wards off attempts to unsubscribe.

JB’s spam is isolated by Outlook into my Junk Mail folder, but I use that folder to look for good email that has been mis-categorized as junk, and having that folder full of JB’s crap is annoying.

It is difficult to understand why JB has invested so much effort to piss of fans like me.

If you know good ol’ Joe, please text him, and ask that he take me (and others like me) off of his Spam email list. I guess we will find out if the Six Degrees of Separation theory is correct or not.

BTW, here are his email headers:

Fan-Favorite Apparel & Valentine’s Day Collections – Starting at 25% Off!

This message was identified as junk. We’ll delete it after 29 days. It’s not junk | Show blocked content

Retention: Junk Email (30 days) Expires: Thu 2/9/2023 1:19 PM

This message was identified as junk. We’ll delete it after 29 days. Retention: Junk Email (30 days) Expires: Thu 2/9/2023 1:19 PM


Joe Bonamassa <webmaster@jbonamassa.com>To:

jon jonbondy.com

Tue 1/10/2023 1:19 PMTo view this email as a web page, click here

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Bambu Lab X1 Carbon 3D Printer Unboxing and First Prints

October 9, 2022

I ordered a Bambu Lab X1 Carbon 3D printer, with their multi-material handling system (AMS) which can store and manage up to 4 spools of filament in a humidity-controlled chamber. This printer has a few advanced features (multi-material, CoreXY, 300 C all-metal hot end, 120 C bed, enclosure, camera, auto bed leveling, and first layer inspection) with a reasonable built volume (about 10″ x 10″ x 10″). It arrived in a fairly small box, with very little padding, but to my surprise, it arrived intact:

With the top off, the instructions were very clear, although not written. Just grab the two exposed flaps of the plastic bag and pull the printer out of the box. Simple, easy, and successful:

With the printer out of the box, the spools of filament were revealed underneath:

The printer was wrapped in plastic, and the top of the printer contained a getting-started guide:

With the front door opened, you can see that the interior is crammed with additional goodies: the AMS fills the interior. The two orange arrows point to screws that must be removed in order to free the AMS.

The top of the AMS was well protected. The cardboard box on the upper left contained misc parts such as the LCD display, cables, tools, etc.

With the AMS removed, the interior of the printer is revealed, along with the AMS retaining structure, which can now be removed.

The extruder and hot end are well protected

Here is the AMS, front and back.

To install the front panel, you pull out the ribbon cable, attach it to the panel, and than snap the panel in place. You can control the angle of the panel to reduce glare.

Connecting the AMS involves connecting two cables and the feeder tube from the AMS to the printer, simple and quick. A spool holder (on the right) is available if you want to just use a regular spool of filament

Setup was fairly simple, starting with an in-depth printer calibration, which was performed automatically and was successful. I then printed one of the stock parts that are available on the internal storage: it printed perfectly and immediately.

Getting the printer to communicate with my PC and with the phone app was more challenging. I first searched for “Bambu app” and installed the wrong app: you need to install “Bambu Handy” not “MyBambu”. I was then able to download and install the Bambu slicer (Bambu Studio), which appears to be a Prusa Slicer clone (which is fine with me!). It took quite a few tries before the PC (Bambu Studio) and the printer were connected over my WiFi network. I was then able to select an STL, slice it, and send it to the printer for printing. The display always shows percent complete and time left, which is helpful.

The printer does extensive processing at the start of each print, including 1:00 to heat the bed and extruder; 1:00 to purge filament (even when unnecessary, which is an unfortunate waste of time and materials); 1:20 for nozzle cleaning, 3:10 for bed leveling, and 1:30 for extruder calibration. If you look at the photo below, you will see that it prints a bunch of stuff, all over the bed, before actually starting the print. Total time before the print starts: 8 minutes!

It seems that Bambu is constantly improving and updating the printer, which is comforting. It worked right out of the box, and so far I have nothing to complain about.

Popular Web Sites That Are Brain Dead

September 3, 2022

YouTube, NetFlix, and Amazon are very popular web sites and service providers, but they all suffer from one annoying problem. They are brain dead.

Let’s start out with NetFlix. NetFlix will happily suggest that you watch shows that you’ve already watched before. In fact, if you select such a show, there will be no indication at all that this is a repeat. They offer a liked/disliked option, but often that is buried so that we almost never use that feature. When a show is over, they suggest other shows to watch, rather than asking you to rate the show you just finished, as if they don’t care whether you rate shows at all. In fact, there is no way to find a list of the shows that you have already watched, without resorting to the Windows PC app or the web site. Finally, there is no way to recommend shows to friends. There is actually no concept of friends. Wouldn’t you like to know what I’ve watched and liked? You’re out of luck. You’re using NetFlix.

Or Amazon. Do any reasonable search for a product, and you are certain to be deluged with inappropriate and repetitive search results. Trying to find something on Amazon is essentially impossible. You need to do the search elsewhere and then return to Amazon to make the purchase, if you are really willing to support a business that abuses its employees so thoroughly. I am constantly amazed by people who are worried about every bleeding heart cause in the world, and yet they crush Amazon employees by continuing to patronize that platform. Convenience and price supersede caring for other people, including ourselves: we will buy Chinese products to save a nickel, allowing our manufacturing sector to disappear. And don’t get me started about the pop-up companies with names like LUKO, MAKAYLA, Vremi, TECCPO, ZAFRP, and LAOVER, all of which re-sell established products, and none of which will be around in six months when the product fails. Oh. And Amazon’s predatory practice of identifying products that sell well, and then destroying the successful companies by creating Amazon branded products of their own. Hideous, but still popular.

And then there is YouTube. YouTube happily recommends videos that you just watched, just like NetFLix. And YouTube rewards content creators who come up with provocative click-bait titles (“Everyone will be buying these from Lowes after seeing this”, “AMAZING DIY TOOL YOU WILL NEVER SEE BEFORE”, “The happy secret to better work”, “A shocking story that shows how close-minded people can be”) and with provocative thumbnails (scantily clad girls gardening, cooking, doing “yoga”, exercising, and trying on bikinis). While YouTube remains a valuable repository of historical videos (more Gentle Giant live videos that I ever knew existed), the relentless quest for clicks and views is mind numbing. Content creators post videos, monitor them for a few hours, change titles and thumbnails, and repeat for days at a time. Find a video you liked right after it was uploaded? You may not be able to find it again later. All driven by the mad lust of the viewers and the relentless quest for clicks.

I am puzzled by how badly these sites are run, while being really successful. Imagine how well they would do if they were run properly? So frustrating.

Additional thoughts…

I find that many podcasts, and YouTube videos, have very low data rates. They often could be 1/10 the length and still provide the required information. I guess no one else is as busy as I am. If I can get through a podcast in 5 minutes instead of 30, I would prefer to do so. So much padding, as if the viewer/reader will be unaware that the content is doled out so slowly.

And the YouTube “shorts” are an attempt to get people back from TicTok, I guess. I avoid the “shorts” like the plague. If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t upload a video. Perhaps I am less enamored of “cute” than most people these days.

TracFone purchased by Verizon

August 24, 2022

I’ve used TracFone as my cell phone provider for more than a decade. They do not actually have a cell phone network: they purchase services from the big providers like AT&T and Verizon.. TracFone is inexpensive (at about $10/month) and it meets my limited needs for phone use. I almost never use mobile data, since I am almost always around WiFi. I only Text to coordinate. And if I want to gab on the phone, I do it from home, not on the road, using Skype.

I had no idea that TracFone was purchased by Verizon at the end of last year. To my knowledge, neither TracFone nor Verizon announced that to me in any way. But that plays a part in my story.

I’ve had a Samsung Galaxy S10+ phone for about 2 years. In the last month, I no longer could rely on the phone to send or receive texts from within my house: I had to go take a walk to do either. The phone had 1 or 2 bars, but was not registered on the network. Puzzling. Because the cell phone system is complex, it was not clear what caused the change. Was the SIM card dying? Was the phone antenna or radio electronics failing? Had the patterns of tower transmission changed? Had one of the cell phone providers suddenly decided to drop my priority, so that I was no longer connected to the network, even when I had 1 or 2 bars? Hard to know.

I bought another new S10+ and tried to get it to work by swapping the SIM card from the old phone to the new. I was pleased to find that I could send and receive texts with the new phone immediately. I was not that pleased to discover that I could not send or receive phone calls. How could the phone “know” its number and get on the network for one kind of traffic, but not the other? So I called TracFone support.

I was on the phone for well over an hour, talking with 5 different people. Many wanted me to either join Verizon or get a Verizon SIM card: it was not always clear if they were trying to create a new Verizon customer out of me, or just get met to switch away from the AT&T network.

The cheapest plan I can get with Verizon would be 5GB of data/month for $25/month. That is about 4.9GB of data more than I need, but it is a lot more than the $10/month that I had been paying to TracFone. Or thought that I had been paying. It seems that the last time TracFone billed me was in November of 2020, almost 2 years ago. So, you can see why I want to keep my TracFone service. Hard to beat the price.

In the end I was told that the old SIM card that worked fine in the old S10+ phone could not be used in the new S10+ phone, and that I needed to get a new [free] SIM card, and switch from the AT&T network to the Verizon network. No cost except for a 10 day waiting period (they are very busy sending out free SIM cards for some reason). In the interim I can just switch that old SIM card back into my old S10+, and it works just fine.

A lot of puzzles in the story. Why does the SIM card work fine in one S10+ but not in a newer S10+? Why did service go to heck about a month ago? And why is TracFone unable to detect that their attempts to collect from me have failed for almost 2 years?


I just realized what is going on. Verizon purchased TracFone, which has customers on both the AT&T and Verizon networks. And Verizon does NOT want to be giving money to AT&T for cellular services that Verizon could provide itself. So it is pushing all TracFone customers over to the Verizon network (but not necessarily as Verizon customers). So the “problem” with the SIM card was that it was sending revenue to AT&T. There was no technical glitch, just a business glitch.

Assessing Ryobi 40 Volt Batteries

July 31, 2022

I bought into the Ryobi 40 volt ecosystem with a lawn mower, leaf blower, weed wacker, and chain saw. I have a 6 AH and a 4 AH battery. While cutting and splitting wood this spring, it felt as if the batteries were really slowing down, but I could not come up with a good way to assess their capacity objectively.

I saw a YouTube video where they purchased a RYOBI RYi300BG 300-Watt Powered Inverter and then used that inverter to power fixed loads in order to evaluate the batteries. I bought the inverter and used a pedestal fan as a load, monitoring it with a power meter that I made a while back. This is what I discovered:

VoltageAmp HoursWatt HoursLoad (w)Estimated
HrsMinsSecsHoursPct of Rated HoursActual

It seems that both of my batteries are producing about 70% of their rated capacity. Unfortunately, I did not perform this measurement when I first purchased the batteries, so I cannot comment on how much they have degraded. I will try to repeat this measurement in about a year. Since the batteries come with a 3 year warranty, that should give me enough time to see if they need to be replaced under warranty.

The End of Civilization

July 24, 2022

What follows is a summary of information gleaned primarily from two books.

If one attempts to be as pessimistic as possible, one comes up with nuclear winter and climate change (CC) as the two primary candidates for The End Of Civilization (TEOC). I recently became aware of a third path to TEOC, demographic collapse (DC).

First, CC. While there are many CC deniers at the moment (and for the past decades), the book “The Physics of Climate Change” by Lawrence Krauss provides a detailed and sobering analysis of the physics of the situation. The bottom line is that, even if we were to stop introducing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere tomorrow, CC is here to say, for centuries if not millennia. We do need to take action against CC now, but the truth is that nothing that we will do will affect us for a very long time; and this makes the argument for immediate action lack any immediate reward.

There are some technologies that could cool the earth fairly rapidly (the dispersal of aerosols in the upper atmosphere), but they have both technical and political problems. Technically, the proposed aerosols use sulfur compounds which will further acidify the ocean once they fall out of the atmosphere. Politically, while ending CC will be good for people on average, it is unlikely that universal approval will occur, likely delaying any technical solution.

The more sobering problem appears to have no technical solution. In the book “The End of the World is Just the Beginning”, Peter Zeihan outlines the forces that have brought us to a DC.

I was unaware that DC was even a “thing” until I read this book. I applauded the Chinese when they adopted the One Child policy, decades ago, because I saw over population as burdening the planet’s resources to the point where we were doomed. It turns out that the actions that China took, with the best of intentions, will destroy them fairly quickly. Best intentions, etc…

Five hundred years ago, most people lived on the country side, with some in cities. Birth rates were high partly to offset mortality, but also to provide labor for agriculture. Advances in medicine increased life span, increasing the population and reducing the perceived need to create more babies. The advent of cheap energy reduced the need for agricultural labor, pushing people out of the country and into the cities. And people around the world, envying the First World’s standard of living, attempted to emulate it by “modernizing” with industrialization and urbanization. Each society did this at different times and at different paces. And once in the cities, people tended to have fewer babies, because of increased life span and reduced need for manual labor. You can add contraception and women’s rights into this, which further reduced birth rates.

Once birth rates slow down below the replacement rate, it is hard to recover, because there are so few young people to create families, and because the social forces that reduced the birth rate remain in effect.

For most of history, there were more babies than children, more children than teenagers, more teenagers than adults, and more adults than old folks. This provided a near-ideal number of people at each stage of life, with few old people to be supported by a large number of younger people. Urbanization and the sudden reduction in birth rates has turned this around. There are much fewer young people than older people now. This can be seen to some extent with the Baby Boomers, who are about to need financial and physical care from a work force that is much smaller than they are. But this pattern is about to occur world-wide, and it is inexorable: you cannot create 20 year olds to fill the gap without waiting 20 years. There is no fix.

I suppose one way to deal with this would be to select and kill older people, in order to shape the demographic graph back towards an ideal. While this may well be a good theoretical solution, it seems unlikely to be chosen.

The combination of CC and DC will likely destroy civilization in the next 100 years, but it will not be an easy death. Agricultural patterns will shift with CC, and political unrest and mass migration will result, destabilizing many governments. With not enough workers, products will not be manufactured, and markets will collapse as purchasing power declines. And with a global economy, that destabilization will trigger problems and unrest in all of the world. Countries which are somewhat immune (and that might include the US) will become the target of envy and mass migration. It will not be a pretty picture.

I recommend that you read both books and see whether you remain optimistic for the world past about 2050.

Why You Should Avoid Expedia

July 4, 2022

Expedia has screwed us over twice, so we are done with them.

The first time, I was trying to book a flight from Burlington, VT to Raleigh, NC. Expedia showed a price of $243 per passenger, until I tried to book the flight: then it became $387 per passenger. I switched over to the Jet Blue site, and was able to complete the purchase for $243 per passenger.

The second time, my girlfriend booked a rental car from LA to Washington state for 3 weeks for about $3K. They immediately took $1,386 out of our account, on May 12th. But when she arrived to pick up the car on July 4th, Expedia explained that because we were using a debit card, they could not rent the car to her. The account was good enough to take $1,386 of our money for seven weeks, but not good enough to complete the sale. They then refunded $230 out of the $1,386, explaining that someone else had to refund the balance; so, they will have our money for a while longer.

It is [perhaps] reasonable that a debit card cannot be used to rent a car, but if this is the case, it needs to be stated up front. What Expedia did was robbery. How much money has Expedia appropriated in this manner, from dozens or hundreds of people, across the country, for months? They need to be held accountable.