Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Service of Microchips for Humans

Monday, April 24th, 2017

 

Photo: medium.com

Photo: medium.com

I’m too chicken to pierce my ears yet I’d consider getting a microchip implanted under the skin of one of my hands.

Charles Osgood [photo center, below] spoke about microchips in people on The Osgood File. He said they had potential for use by buildings that use access keycard IDs; to open office doors and unlock smartphones. Magic happens with a swipe of a hand. “All of this information may be reduced to a microchip about the size of a grain of rice,” he said on the radio. The result is a reduction of cards, keys and time spent now to punch in or activate codes that open a bunch of things.

Photo: metro.co.uk

Photo: metro.co.uk

Osgood’s news colleague John Blackstone reported that volunteers in a building in Stockholm are already using the chip. Blackstone said: “The microchips are Radio Frequency Identification Tags – the same technology widely used in things like keycards. The chips have been implanted in animals for years to help identify lost pets. Now, the technology is moving to humans.”

 

Lock on our office door is on the left, by the floor.

Lock on our office door is on the left, by the floor.

We must kneel on the floor to  unlock the door to our office [see photo at left]. Think how much easier a swipe of the hand would be, were the appropriate access keycard ID installed.

One of the volunteers who appreciates the convenience calls himself a “biohacker.” He warned: “It’s very easy to hack a chip implant – so my advice is don’t put your life secrets on a chip implant.”

According to Osgood, Ian Shore, executive editor at CNET, objected to the “nonstop potential connection to my body. I can’t turn it off, I can’t put it away, it’s in me. That’s a big problem.”

Blackstone added: “But biohackers also predict the next generation of chips will save lives by monitoring health and fitness. For now, ‘being chipped’ means never having to say you’re sorry you forgot your keycard.”

I’d not want to be one of the first for this mini operation. I’d want to see if there was a rash of people hacking off hands to get access to a person’s office, bank account, smartphone etc. Mr. Osgood didn’t mention this. Admittedly I watch too many episodes of “Blue Bloods,” and “Law and Order SVU” but I also imagine the chips will be handy in law enforcement. Think of yourself locked in the trunk of a car driven by a thief and how the chip might help the police find you.

Would you consider having a microchip installed under your skin? What do you predict the pros and cons to be?

Photo: cbsnews.com

Photo: cbsnews.com

Service of Everything Old is New Again: Automat 2017-Style

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

 Eatsa back wall turned

Dashing down Third Avenue for a morning meeting I passed a business I couldn’t figure out at first glance. Was it a dry cleaner? No—no counter. Laundry? No. No washing machines–though I wondered what that wall of plastic bins were in the back [photo above]. Anyway, a laundry would be a nutty addition to a midtown neighborhood—43rd and Third Avenue–a block from Grand Central Terminal.

eatsa logo turnedI dropped in later to inquire. I gleaned food was the objective. I didn’t see the name, Eatsa, on the window—it’s on a wall inside. Right now pedestrians see only  a logo–a bowl of food with heat radiating from it [like the one on the white shopping bag, left].Eatsa has been open in NYC a few weeks.

Horn & HardartIn fact, Eatsa is a modern-day automat, an early 20th century concept. In the day, food was sold cafeteria-style from vending machines.

I returned at 1:00 and there was a short line that moved fast. Two young women guided people to iPads on stands [photo below, left]. I swiped my credit card, placed my order by tapping my choice and waited for my name to pop up on a screen on the wall. Soon it did and soon again a number popped up, much like the arrival time of a subway, telling me to go to cubby 19. There, in a cubby with my name on it [photo below, center], was my “No Worry Curry”—stir fried quinoa [pronounced KeyNois if you say the nois part like “nut” in French]; egg, arugula, roasted potato, spaghetti squash, pickled onions, red Thai curry, apple cabbage slaw and curried wonton strips. For $6.95 there was plenty for two. My mouth glowed for a while after lunch…the no-nonsense curry. The wonton strips were a wonderfully crunchy addition.

Eatsa ordering on iPadsThe concept was born in San Francisco. Founder, Dave Friedberg, made his money selling a weather data startup to Monsanto. According to Beth Kowitt in her New York Times article, “the tech-driven approach is a means to support a bigger mission: selling nutritious and sustainable food at a reasonable price.” I predict that eventually, the business won’t even need the ushers—everyone will know how to get their food from systems like this as they do their money in ATM machines.

Kowitt reported that automated ordering means he charges 30-40 percent less than Chipotle, his “fast-casual rival.” Because meat has what Friedberg calls an environmental cost, he doesn’t offer it. “Friedberg’s strategy to stay mum on the company’s environmentally friendly and nutrition bona fides comes down to his ambitions to reach more than the wellness and eco-warrior set. It’s a decision that distinguishes him from the rest of the restaurant industry, which is scrambling—and in many cases stretching—to claim its food is ‘clean’ and healthy.”

He’s invested in quinoa and is exploring other ways to make protein efficiently. “Friedberg, a lifelong vegetarian with a degree in astrophysics, then put together a spreadsheet that calculated the net energy to produce all different kinds of protein. His findings showed that quinoa required the lowest amount of energy to produce. It was also a complete protein and required a lot less water and fertilizer than other crops.”

I wonder if Friedberg knows that his first NYC restaurant is a block from where the last fabled Horn & Hardart stood. Until 1991 it was on 42nd and Third. It was late to the table, opening in 1958 when the first one launched in 1912. Then a cup of coffee cost a nickel. For years all the food cost increments of five cents.

The restaurant ushers said how the right food gets into bowls and to the correct bin is a secret nor would they divulge who or what is behind the wall of cubbies–a person? A robot? My name was also printed on the tape that ensured my container of food stayed closed.

What do you think of ordering food this way? Do you predict that fast food will increasingly be sold like this with minimal staff?

Eatsa door with name on it

Service of Facing the Music: It Doesn’t Get Better if You Wait, Yahoo and Target

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

face the music

When something goes wrong you’re better off taking action quickly—that goes for people and companies: Most have to fight putting off facing the music.

Dr. Alan JasloveUrged by my husband to move quickly I averted a disaster last week by immediately acting on a dental emergency that seemed overwhelming when it happened. My instinct was to hide and hope. My great dentist, Alan Jaslove [Photo, right]—I’ve written about him before—saved my tooth and a whole lot of stuff that depended on it, squeezing me in and staying late to do so. Had I waited, as he was scheduled to be out of the office for four days which I didn’t know, I might have damaged the tooth beyond repair causing a domino effect of horrendous proportions.

I know this yet avoidance is in my DNA.

yahooIt must also be in Yahoo’s. It took two years for the company to report and/or discover a humongous customer hack. It doesn’t reflect well in either case: That it knew and didn’t tell or that it didn’t know.

“The Yahoo theft represents the most accounts ever stolen from a single email provider,” I read on usnews.com from a syndicated AP story, “The Yahoo Email Hack is Bad,” by tech writer Michael Liedtke.

  • According to Liedtke, “Yahoo didn’t explain what took so long to uncover a heist that it blamed on a ‘state-sponsored actor’ — parlance for a hacker working on behalf of a foreign government. The Sunnyvale, California, company declined to explain how it reached its conclusions about the attack for security reasons, but said it is working with the FBI and other law enforcement. Yahoo began investigating a possible breach in July, around the time the tech site Motherboard reported that a hacker who uses the name ‘Peace’ was trying to sell account information belonging to 200 million Yahoo users.
  •  Jeff John Roberts on Fortune.com, in a fact sheet format, answered the question “Why did Yahoo take so long to warn everyone?” as follows: “Good question. It’s currently unclear when Yahoo learned about the attack…….All Yahoo has said so far is that a ‘recent investigation… has confirmed the breach.’”

The breach happened in 2014 well before the public knew that Verizon was planning to buy Yahoo. Did executives at the digital services company really think a hack involving so many customers could be forever hidden from the purchaser and that a sophisticated company like Verizon wouldn’t protect itself from such a bad surprise had the sale gone through before this news leaked? And what about 500 million hacked customers who turn to Yahoo for email, finance or fantasy sports—according to Roberts–who must take steps to change passwords and, in some cases, answers to security questions.

TargetTwo years seems to be the magic number for Target too. From August 2014 to July of this year it sold—for as much as $75–what it thought was 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets and pillow cases according to Bloomberg news, the company bought the products from Welspun India that turned out to be lesser quality cotton.  Target has offered refunds to its customers. But I wonder why it took so long for buyers to discover this. Eons ago, at a party, a friend in the retail business remarked on the quality and thread count of the shirt my husband was wearing without touching it. He was right: It was a pricey shirt in soft, fine Egyptian cotton.

  • Do you drag your feet when you really shouldn’t?
  • It can’t help people sleep well at night to realize that it takes years to discover a giant email hack. Should it take two years to learn something’s amiss?
  • As for Target, did no buyer open a single package over 23 months to check the contents and did he/she even know what Egyptian cotton was supposed to feel like?
  • Do you pay for premium products and sometimes wonder if you are getting your money’s worth?
Photo: cbsnews.com

Photo: cbsnews.com

 

Service of Tweaks in Tomato Land: Is What’s Good for Shipping & Shelf Life Good for Me?

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

tomato 1

The words “safe” or “healthy” appeared nowhere in Daniela Hernandez’s Wall Street Journal article, “GMO Tomatoes May Stay Firm Longer–The genetic tweaks don’t significantly affect color and may preserve flavor, according to a new study.” She covered highlights from a paper published in Nature Biotechnology that showed that the modified tomatoes stayed firm for 14 days after they were picked, significant for shipping and shelf life.

When tomatoes are old they wrinkle

When tomatoes are old they wrinkle

And there was something else. The study, partially funded by Syngenta [seeds and pesticide], was performed at the University of Nottingham in the UK, a country that forbids people from eating genetically modified foods, so that nobody knows how these two-week-still-hard tomatoes taste!

Growing up in NYC before the advent of farmers’ markets, I disliked supermarket tomatoes that tasted at best like mushy apples. I realized how delicious the fruit can be when I lived in a foreign country where farmers waited until the fruit was a deep red before picking and selling.

“It’s unlikely the same DNA-wrangling technologies will be used for tomatoes grown commercially,” wrote Hernandez. “The tomato market isn’t big enough to ‘justify the cost of going through the regulatory hoops’ necessary to sell genetically modified tomatoes, said USDA plant molecular biologist James Giovannoni. ‘That is why the GMOs [genetically modified organisms] currently in the market are major crops, like maize or soy.’”

Tomato 3 commercialHernandez continued: “The research’s benefit is providing a road map to genes breeders could target. It’s more likely they would cross tomatoes with less pectate-lyase activity to commercial varieties and select those that are firm and tasty, he added.” [Not quite sure what that means.] “That will require growers to figure out what conditions give them optimal flavor and texture, at the right harvest time.”

So should I worry about the definition of “commercial growers?” Obviously they sell to behemoths like Del Monte and Heinz but what about the farmers who sell to small grocery stores, restaurants and at farmers’ markets—will their tomatoes eventually be tweaked to support more favorable shipping and storage or are they subject to the same complicated regulations as commercial growers? Do you believe that a genetically fiddled tomato will be safe and healthy to eat?

tomato 2

Service of Quick and Easy Solutions for Depression: Intrusive Much?

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Photo: pano.com

Photo: pano.com

I appreciate companies that tackle a challenge in resourceful, efficient ways, but not at risk to safety, privacy and efficacy. According to Rachel Emma Silverman, “Companies are waking up to the costs of untreated mental illnesses like depression, which is linked to $44 billion a year in lost workplace productivity, according to the University of Michigan Depression Center. The center cites data suggesting that workers suffering from depression cost companies 27 lost work days a year.”

Her Wall Street Journal article “Tackling Workers’ Mental Health, One Text at a Time–Employers are turning to counseling services that can be accessed on smartphones,” inspired questions. We’re not talking about tips to treat a paper cut here. Plus, to receive what resembles a mental Band-aid an employee must be willing to give up privacy.

StressEmployee assistance programs [EAPs], where staff has access to free counseling on the phone, don’t seem to work, she reported. In contrast, Silverman wrote: “Some apps mine data about employees’ phone usage, or medical and pharmaceutical claims, to determine who might be in need of care. Others allow workers to text and video chat with therapists—in what are being called ‘telemental’ health services.”

The apps also collect data—telling employers how many look for help for stress, anxiety or depression–but according to Silverman, an employer doesn’t learn anything about individuals. However some in the industry worry that a lost or hacked phone puts an employee’s privacy at risk and others, who are happy to see something is being done, point out that the security of the privacy is unproven.

AnxietyAccording to Silverman, one app, Ginger.io, “alerts a health coach when a user hasn’t texted in a while or hasn’t left the house, potential signals of increased stress or anxiety.” She continued, it “gathers phone-activity data with users’ permission; the app does not monitor the content of messages or a phone’s specific location.” The human resources director at a company that offers both EAPs and mobile apps reports about the latter. It “feels like a more immediate solution for folks, because they are always on their phones anyway.”

Another corporation expects an ROI of over $2 million this year. Last year it spent $11.5 million on “behavioral health treatments” for its US employees wrote Silverman. It has signed them up at Castlight Health Inc. that “computes users’ health and pharmaceutical claims, as well as their search history within the app, to identify who might be at risk for a mental health condition and direct them to appropriate care.” Silverman described that the smartphone screen of staffers with something like chronic pain– associated with depression and anxiety–might be “Feeling overwhelmed?” A click leads to a list of questions about mood, treatment suggestions and an online therapy program.

Mental health mavens add, “While treatment by text is convenient, some users may still need to supplement it with in-office visits to a therapist.”

I’m all for mobile apps that share weather, sports scores, the shortest driving distance between here and there, movie reviews and the time to expect the next First Avenue bus and I don’t care if the world knows I’ve accessed them. With technology as fine tuned as it is, I can’t believe that the employer won’t know if someone seeks out help which might prevent them from getting a promotion.

  • And if an app determines someone has stayed at home for two days, might the reason not be the flu or a sick child–rather than an indication that you are paralyzed by depression?
  • Haven’t you researched a disease or condition a friend or relative mentions? How would the app know it’s not about you?
  • Are corporations blaming stress and anxiety on staff, who must be cured, instead of fixing the management style, unrealistic expectations or work conditions that may have caused much of the employee anxiety and blues in such numbers?
Photo: tinybuddah.com

Photo: tinybuddah.com

Service of Too Smart For Your Own Good

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

 

Photo: makeuseof.com

Photo: makeuseof.com

I love helping to introduce new products but because I do, I’ve noticed the risks for those first to buy them. Unless the investment is minor, I wait a cycle until the manufacturer has ironed out kinks.

However it’s for another reason I will stand on the sidelines happy with my dumb house and apartment, as much as is reasonable and as tempting as some of the new fangled appliances sound. I first want to know that there is a solid handle on hacker prevention.

Security camera

Security camera

Leigh Kamping-Carder’s Wall Street Journal article only served to confirm my reserve. She wrote: “Keep Your Smart Home Safe From Hackers–As Internet-connected devices in homes grow more popular, so do the risks of unwanted intruders.” What’s smart in a house? Anything that connects to the Internet such as security cameras and lights to appliances and thermostats.

Why would you want to connect your coffee maker, washer/dryer, fridge, lights or house alarm to the Internet? With your mobile phone as action central in partnership with the right apps, you can set a brewing schedule; control washer/dryer and hot/cold temperature settings; look up recipes and track expiration dates on food. You can also program lighting to turn on and off and have a system notify you if someone has opened a door in your home while you are away, for example.

Samsung smart refrigerator

Samsung smart refrigerator

Coldwell Banker Real Estate conducted a survey, wrote Kamping-Carder, in which over 4,000 respondents in the US said they already own such technology or plan to add it this year. What was unusual–given the presumed smarts and education of wealthy folks who own luxury homes and normally try to protect what they’ve earned or inherited–is that “only recently has security become a priority. While there have been few reported incidents, online-security experts expect smart-home hacking to increase.”

According to Kamping-Carder, “The risks range from relatively harmless (pranksters cranking up the heat) to outright criminal (disabling security cameras to orchestrate a break-in). One of the biggest dangers is that poorly secured smart-home devices could be used as a ‘backdoor’ to gain access to more sensitive information.”

Topnotch insurance companies, such as Chubb Personal Risk Services, recommend security measures. Another company Kamping-Carder mentioned provides the level of security services to monitor home networks that corporations subscribe to, [hopefully with more success, say I], starting at $500/month.

Belkin WeMo smart light switch

Belkin WeMo smart light switch

Kamping-Carder shared tips from security experts such as “changing the password on your device from the default, protecting your WiFi network with a password and ensuring that your wireless router uses some form of encryption. If you have given a password to someone who should no longer have it (like a former dog-walker), it is important to change it immediately.”

She quoted an architect who tested home automation and lighting systems by having them installed in his home and found them satisfactory. “The system cost $135,000 in 2012. He chose the provider partly because of its reputation for tight security, and liked that the installation company could monitor the system remotely and shut it down in the event of fraudulent activity.” [I highlighted the last 21 words.]

Wall Street Journal reader CJ Hall, in a comment about the article addressing the highlighted copy re. the system providing remote monitoring, wrote: “…So can hackers or anyone with access to the installation company [monitor the system].” Hall continued: “Bottom line?  If there is outside access to a system, it can be accessed/monitored/controlled from outside. Do you REALLY want your installer (and anyone with his password) to know when you’re home? Away? Awake? Asleep?  What show you’re watching?  (oops. The cable company already knows the last one.) My personal rule is NO outside connections unless I NEED them more than I need the privacy they sacrifice.”

Do you agree with CJ Hall? Are you tempted or have you already installed smart devices? Are they worth the risks? How do–or would–you protect your privacy?

 

Smart garage door opener Photo: electronichouse.com

Smart garage door opener Photo: electronichouse.com

 

Service of Expecting the Worst and Getting the Best

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Verizon Grand central flipped

Whether you dread a doctor’s appointment, party or visit to a cantankerous vendor, isn’t it miraculous when the doctor says you’re fine; the party is fun and the vendor agreeable and helpful?

I’d visited a Verizon Wireless store on several occasions before Icat takes a leap took the leap into the second decade of the 21st Century—or more accurately was pushed by my nephew who upgraded his iPhone and gave me his.

Long before, I knew I needed to upgrade but was discouraged by early forays to the store. I was off-put by the apathetic responses to my questions about the different phones and billing options. Each time sales associate reactions ranged from disinterested and dismissive to rude. I knew one thing: I didn’t want to buy anything from this crew or to ever return.

I asked around to see if there was another branch with helpful staff. Seems what I experienced was standard. I was anxious about my visit to transfer my mobile number to a different device–that required a visit–and came with reinforcements: My remarkable IT expert.

Blue ribbon for excellenceSo what happened? I won the equivalent of the best sales associate lottery last Wednesday. Tyrell Person was watching from the top of the stairs near the street entrance as I entered the Verizon store at Grand Central Station looking bedraggled with dripping umbrella, sopping shoes and soggy telephone folder. He was smiling. He said, “How may I help you? Please have a seat and you can put your umbrella over here, right near you.”

He quickly made the phone transfer, gave me an estimate of what it would cost to add my husband’s phone to my plan, [I wanted to think about this], answered all my questions and volunteered his contact information and the days he’s at work. He also sent me a text with his email address and phone number.

He was so nice that I returned this week with a few more questions, a favor and an add-on to my monthly invoice.

The favor was to replace a cracked screen protector. I was warned that it’s tricky to lay it just-so on a spotless screen without creating bubbles. Tyrell performed the operation with the expertise of a surgeon.

He also discovered that I was inadvertently doing something that wasted the iPhone battery and shared the remedy as well as a few other shortcuts as he continued to recalculate the bill. He added my husband’s phone to my plan, took the time to call my mobile number with the other phone to make sure the setup worked and to ensure that I have the right number in my phone.

In addition Tyrell remembered, from the week before, an answer I’d given about my previous usage.

In spite of charges for the additional phone, the total bill should be about what I was paying before.

The nicest part: Tyrell was pleasant, patient and kind. As I left the second time, he reminded me that I have his email address and that he checks email daily and assured me that I should come by anytime.

While he was working with me one of his other fans came by and we agreed how lucky we were to be working with him. The man said he’d be back in an hour and joked about being Tyrell’s neediest customer. So the word is out about how customer-crucial he is!

Have you expected the worst and instead enjoyed the best? Isn’t it grand?

 iphone 6 screen

Service of Robocall Follow-ups

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

robocall

Our phone at the house is set to ring five times before the voicemail kicks in so on last Friday night we heard only half of a robocall that came in on Wednesday. 

It was a woman’s voice calling for the New York State Police. She shared a phone number we were to use if we saw a 68 year old Hispanic black man with an Afro coming from the direction of Stanford, NY. He was wearing jeans and a jacket. We missed any details, such as why we should report seeing him.

NY State PoliceI called a friend who lives nearby. She hadn’t heard about this. At the transfer station Saturday morning, the attendants said the man had been found–but they were wrong. 

My next stop was the library to check on the news. Bobby Welber in the Hudson Valley Post  had updated his previous story a few minutes before. He wrote that the search had moved from the Hudson Valley to NYC. “State Police have concluded their search in the Hudson Valley for the missing 68-year-old schizophrenic Dutchess County Man.” It was around 1 pm on March 19.

Welber went on: “Edward E. Lopez was last seen before 5:00 p.m. on March 14, 2016 at the Lakeview Chateau Community Residence located on W. Hunns Lake Road in the Town of Stanford. It is believed he left the residence on foot.” That is some five miles from our house. 

Neither Welber nor Nina Schutzman in her article in the Poughkeepsie Journal described what kind of facility he lived in nor whether he was dangerous. I tried finding out to no avail. The librarian on duty told me she lived in Stanford, but because she doesn’t have a landline, she never received the police robocall.

search for missing personThe upstate search party had pulled out all the stops in helping the NY State Police. Welber listed eight agencies from Forest Rangers to NYC and MTA Police in addition to nine volunteer search and rescue teams from around the tri-state area. 

Around 5:30 pm I stopped at the local NY State Police office. I asked a trooper for an update. He told me “it’s over,” that they’d found Lopez in NYC. I asked if there was going to be another robocall with this update. He looked at me as though I was stupid and replied, “Why? It was on the news.” [Clearly, I'd missed it. Was I alone?] I asked him what he knew about the facility from which Lopez had escaped. He said he didn’t know. 

Isn’t technology grand? The police can alert neighbors about a crisis with the flip of a switch but it doesn’t occur to anyone to flip it one more time to let folks know the crisis is over. In addition, nobody anticipated that part of a robocall message could be lost depending on the setting controlling when a voice message system kicks in. And what about alerting local residents who use mobile phones exclusively–aren’t they worth contacting? Have you come across similar situations in which people with access to technology haven’t thought through what they’re doing and how best to use it?

Police tape

 

Service of Businesses That Forget Who Pays the Bills

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Paying the bills

Here are three businesses or employees who forgot that it’s through customers that they earn their salaries.

Face the Music

I read this on a friend’s Facebook posting: “I liked TOYOTA MANHATTAN until today. I had a 9 AM appointment for my car which I bought there at A VERY inflated price 1 ½  years ago and waited in line an hour and was told by an employee to go to the front since I had an appointment, only to be told to go back in line and by then, I’d lost 5 spaces. ANGRY. And the fact that 3 people were on their personal phones when I was waiting for an hour makes it worse!”

How do I know?

Newspaper delivery truck vintageI notified The Wall Street Journal, online, that we didn’t get our issue and received two automatic notices: 1) that they’d told the distributor and would credit us for a copy and 2) was a request to evaluate the service.  The wanted to know if I was  __ Delighted; __Fairly Satisfied or __Not Satisfied.

I clicked “Not satisfied” and because they asked respondants to explain, I wrote “How can I be satisfied when I don’t know when I will receive the missing copy?” We never got it as that is not an option when you report a missing copy online which was strike two. Further we have no idea if we were credited to receive an additional copy. My advice: Call, don’t report a missing issue online.

A Loyal Customer Left High and Dry

Employees [and policies] cause problems not only at world-renown brands. A follower of this blog, frequent commenter and friend called about a recent incident with a service her family has used extensively and loyally since the 1950s. Last summer she estimates that she spent $500 on dry cleaning at this suburban Boston company. Given their history, the company, that has four branches, has always billed her.

Dry cleaner in 1941

Dry cleaner in 1941

She was dealing with an employee, not an owner, when picking up clothes this week. She’d received a notice that they had some of her belongings that she might have forgotten. The young staffer insisted that the clothes might not be hers and said that in any case, she couldn’t take them unless she paid $103 on the spot. He presented no bill.

She explained that for decades the owners have billed her and that’s when sparks began to fly. He became increasingly rude to both her and her husband using an elevated, obnoxious tone. [Note: They are an elegant, distinguished couple.] He’s not a nubie: He told them he’d worked for the compay for six years. He didn’t flinch when she told him “We will never come back here. You have no idea how to behave or treat people.” She’s contacting the owners about him.

My questions:

  • Re: the Toyota incident, it’s amazing how employees aren’t embarrassed to take personal calls in front of a line of customers waiting for service, isn’t it? And why bother to make service appointments if you ignore them?
  • Saving itself money was the goal of The Wall Street Journal’s subscription customer service department. The idea was to get rid of a complaint ASAP, not accommodate subscribers. Can you share other examples?
  • As for the dry cleaner, does brand loyalty have no importance anymore? Does the in-your-face political atmosphere in some quarters feed such aggressive behavior?

 Yelling 3

Service of Loyalty

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Orchids for blog Jan 2016 002

Loyalty to my belongings has been a lifelong fault: You’d think I grew up during the 1929 Depression. What’s strange is that I’m fascinated by what’s new, love attending trade shows to be among the first to see the latest, adore to shop to enhance my wardrobe and buy gifts and I’m in awe of/admire innovation.

I realize that by taking loyalty to the next level, [jargon I despise], I’m being un-American because I’m not helping the economy. Here are examples:

I kept my first car 16 years even though at the end it broke down more than it ran. I remember a conversation with my father, the king of frugality. I’d called him to explain why I’d be late because the Dodge Dart had stopped running [again], this time on Park Avenue in the 30s. He said, “Maybe it’s time to give it up.” For him to say that was a shock!

The window of a basement laundry room of a co-op we once lived in was filled with orchids discarded by tenants once their flowers had finished blooming. [The plants were rescued from the trash by staff.] In our apartment our orchids bloomed on and off throughout the year. When we moved during a bitter winter in which they were exposed several times to frigid air and wind, the orchids suffered. Landing in a different place, with unfamiliar light and ridiculous amounts of heat, I didn’t hold out much hope for them. We never gave up and over the holidays, [see the photo above] they all burst into bloom!

Outdoor thermometerLast weekend I taped a thermometer’s suction cup to our bedroom window. Its ability to adhere had given out and yet it seemed a waste to toss it. When we wake up at the house, about the first thing we do in any season is to check the outside temperature. This stalwart gadget lived through quite a few winters, even last year’s blizzards and ice. It deserves another chance.

My brilliant IT man resuscitated my ancient Blackberry when it decided to stop showing emails. It does everything I need so why spend money and time to learn a new system when I already own a terrific device?

I worry every time I use our washer/dryer because Mr. Hobson, the crack repair man, is no longer in business. He also sold appliances and couldn’t compete with the big boxes. If the smallest glitch happens, we’ll be forced to toss and replace.

Do you know others like me? Are there antidotes?

Orchids for blog Jan 2016 004 flip sml

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