Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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

Service of Museums & How They Attract Audiences

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Agave Pod Vase by Christine & Michael Adcock

Agave Pod Vase by Christine & Michael Adcock

 

Ellen Gamerman shared a glimpse of “The Museum of the Future” in a Wall Street Journal article reporting how technology is one of the ways these institutions plan to revolutionize and transform a visitors’ experience. A goal: Attracting audiences.

For starters she told how Metropolitan Museum visitors saw a Jackson Pollock picture through 3-D headsets; mentioned a “virtual-reality film that recreates ocean creatures from 500 million years ago,” at the London Natural History Museum; wrote about movies with “special effects in a 4D theater with piped-in gunpowder smells and seats that jiggle whenever cannons are fired,” at the imminent American Revolution Museum, Yorktown, Va. and more. Lots to look forward to.

Seascape necklace by Beth Farber

Seascape necklace by Beth Farber

There are also valuable, effective traditional ways museums introduce potential enthusiasts to their exhibitions. For the third year Brooklyn Museum is the venue for the American Fine Craft Show November 21-22 where 90 exhibitors, handpicked by my clients Joanna and Richard Rothbard, will exhibit and sell some of the best crafts designed and made in America. Tickets to the craft show include general admission to the museum, including “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008,” an exhibition that opens on the eve of the show.

Selecting to feature the work of only a few exhibitors from the riches of images I have is always difficult but what fun: Almost as good as shopping.

JEWELRY

Mediterranean Decay Coral Necklace by Barbara Heinrich

Mediterranean Decay Coral Necklace by Barbara Heinrich

Whether gemstones, coral or polymer, jewel tones from nature will punctuate the display cases of many of the 19 jewelry designers.

Barbara Heinrich transformed perforated red-orange coral from the bottom of the ocean into necklace beads [photo above, left]. The Pittsford-NY jeweler added an 18kt gold egg-shaped bead that mimics the coral’s perforations and a toggle clasp.

Another necklace informed by the deep, but in brilliant turquoise, is Beth Farber’s “Seascape,” hand-woven with apatite, a boulder opal and gold [Photo above, right]. Farber, whose studio is in Minnetonka, Minn., says her work combines the ancient with the contemporary. Adapting ancient bead weaving techniques, she hand-weaves fine gemstones, silver and gold with a contemporary sensibility and edge.

FASHION

Bern and Trusk vests by Teresa Maria Widuchn

Bern and Trusk vests by Teresa Maria Widuchn

Fashion takes pride of place where 25 of 90 handpicked artisans will exhibit handmade coats, jackets, dresses and accessories in the museum’s regal Beaux-Arts Court. Standouts reflect Asian influences in style, fabric and/or construction as well as elegant design simplicity.

Spare simplicity in form and motif translates to classic elegance that Teresa Maria Widuch understates on her website as “an efficient use of materials with a clean line,” [Photo of Bern and Trusk vests, right]. In her Chicago studio she creates one-of-a-kind wool felt and Ultrasuede jackets, vests and coats at her Chicago studio. Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass., explores the relationship between painting, Shibori dyeing, Rozome and hand embellishment to create art to wear. [Photo right, below].

Barcelona jacket by Jane Herzenberg

Barcelona jacket by Jane Herzenberg

Both Shibori and Rozome [batik] are Japanese techniques.

DECORATIVE/FUNCTIONAL WORK

Glass, ceramics, wood, leather and wool are transformed to one-of-a-kind decorative and/or functional pieces by artisans who describe their work as “improvised” and “intuitive.”

Ceramist Pat Warwick “has never been far from the sea.” [Today she lives by the sea in Warren, RI]. She wrote on her website that the drawings she made to illustrate and design materials for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Marine Resource center “became the basis for her first installation- a school of fish for her own kitchen.”

Christine and Michael Adcock, Leaves of Grass Fiber-Clay Arts, Santa Barbara, Calif., are collaborative mixed media artists. [An example of their work is at top.] Christine is a basket maker and Michael a studio potter. Christine Adcock said that nature is the ultimate teacher and inspiration. “I delight in its every detail, from the beautiful markings on a tiny bug or moth to the majesty of mountain and meadow. My work is an effort to take tiny, beautiful, elements of nature – a seed pod we tread upon or a leaf of grass – and put them in a context where people take time to experience and enjoy their perfection.”  

Haven’t museums always felt they needed to entice people to visit? Is this an American habit because the public is used to being marketed to? Are there lines a museum should take care not to cross in “merchandising” collections even if tempted by technology?

 

 

Pat Warwick ceramic wall piece

Pat Warwick ceramic wall piece

 

 

Service of Internet Love: Security & Swindles

Monday, July 27th, 2015

 

Caveat emptor

 

While a third of couples who have married between 2005 and 2012 have met online, according to a National Academy of Sciences survey funded by eHarmony, Internet love isn’t always lovelier the second or 20th time around. This was made clear by two examples in the recent news.

Caveat Emptor I

I hadn’t heard of Ashley Madison, the online dating site for married people who want to cheat on their spouses and whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair,” until I read that its database had been hacked. The hackers warned that they might divulge personal information unless the website, which claims to have 37 million members, is shut down. According to cnn.com, “The hackers called themselves the ‘Impact Team,’ and the potential release includes ‘profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.’”

Apart from the fertile ground for profitable blackmailing, “The hackers — or hacker, perhaps — appear to be upset over the company’s ‘full delete’ service, which promises to completely erase a user’s profile, and all associated data, for a $19 fee.” The hackers claim that the most important information—names and addresses—are not removed. “Avid Life Media also said that it had hired ‘one of the world’s top IT security teams’ to work on the breach.” Between the leaky “full delete” service and the hacking, I doubt that Ashley Madison members are sleeping well at night.

Caveat Emptor II

Last week Elizabeth Olson wrote in The New York Times about women who were swindled by older couplemen they’d met on Internet dating sites. She was unable to report the total number of people pulled in but noted that according to the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center in just six months–between last July and December 31–grievances representing $82.3 million were made by almost 6,000 people. In one case history in her story, “Swept Off Her Feet, Then Bilked Out of Thousands,” a woman sent nearly $300,000 to a fellow who claimed to be in Ghana on business and ran into snags. Another didn’t tell her family about the $292,000 she sent to another con-person.

Hacking into a dormant dating profile is how it generally starts, Olson learned from Vermont’s Attorney General office’s Public Protection Division. The fake lover alters age, gender, occupation and quickly asks the target to continue to communicate with them via email, phone or instant message. The swindler creates trust and then a sense of urgency/need of cash.

It’s become such a problem for women mostly in their 50s and 60s that AARP has asked dating sites to up their surveillance for romance cons wrote Olson. Its Fraud Watch Network suggests that users check Google’s “search by image” function to see if the new contact’s photo appears on other dating sites under different names. Google also has romance scam sites on which to confirm suspicious language.  The FBI’s Internal Crime Center also shared clues: Watch for someone who says they love you, asks for money so they can visit and then, if you refuse, reprimands that you don’t love them back; tells you that your “romance is destiny or fate;” or that they are from the US and are going overseas for business or to attend to family.

Given the high profile triumph of hackers are you amazed that so many would voluntarily put such intimate information about themselves—not to speak of their marriages–in such a potentially compromising situation? I know people under 40 who have met their life mates on dating sites and others who are older who haven’t. How might older people safely level the online playing field?  In addition to the Internet, local pub, through work or religious institution, where else might people meet once they’ve left school/college?

The Heartbreak Kid

The Heartbreak Kid

Service of Marketing Slipups for Bud Light & Twitter

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

  Oh no 1

Is there a single soul who hasn’t felt that heart-sinking feeling of “Oh no!” after clicking on “enter” or “continue” whether they’ve inadvertently sent an email to the wrong person, allowed spell check to have its way with them or incorrectly completed an online form due to a runaway autofill function on a computer.

sendSome missteps can be avoided with a diverse marketing team—I suspect the first example occurred because decision makers were all men. Others are due to computer glitches that will happen increasingly as corporations race to market a service with insufficiently tested technology.

Don’t Take This Lightly

Budweiser ClydesdalesErica Martell sent me “Bud Light Label Snafu Teaches the Value of Proper Message Vetting,” by Christine Birkner in Marketing News Weekly. Birkner wrote: “On April 28, Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev NV pulled Bud Light labels with the message: ‘The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever.’ The label messaging had ignited a social media firestorm because some consumers perceived it as promoting rape culture.”

I don’t know about you but that was the first thing I thought of. The label was part of the brand’s #UpForWhatever campaign to appeal to ingratiate themselves with millennials with a devil-may-care approach to life. In addition, Bud Light created a beer festival in Crested Butte, Colo, a town they renamed “Whatever, USA.”

According to Birkner here were some of the reactions:

  • “A Change.org petition asked A-B InBev to remove the labels, stating, ‘The brand is blatantly linking their product to sexually assaulting people while under the influence of alcohol.’”
  • “The Center for Reproductive Rights tweeted: ‘So gross. Nope, definitely not #UpForWhatever.’” 
  •  “Other marketplace responses on Twitter included comments such as, ‘Budweiser execs  should be ashamed,’” and,
  • “‘Maybe I’ll drink a bunch of @budlight & then drive a bulldozer into their corporate headquarters, since I’ll be #UpForWhatever.’”
  • “Twitter users created a hashtag in response to the label: #UpForThingsIExplicitlyConsentTo.”

Chirp

Bird with bugSpeaking of Twitter, in Social Media & Marketing Daily Erik Sass wrote “Whoops: Twitter Runs Ads Next to Porn.” Sass wrote that affected brands included Nielsen, Duane Reade, NBCUniversal, and Gatorade.

Sass credits Adweek, which broke the story, and continued: “The Promoted Tweets appeared in Twitter feeds that were clearly inappropriate, with profile names like ‘Daily Dick Pictures,’ helpful purveyor of all your day-to-day dick pic needs, and ‘Homemade Porn,’ which sounds nice and crafty. The naughty ad placements apparently resulted from a bug, and unsurprisingly marketers are suspending their campaigns until Twitter fixes the technical glitch.”

All male boardroomCan you share other examples of lamebrained marketing? In the Bud Light case, does it happen because the marketers are too rushed or, as I suggest above, all male? Given that Bud is now owned by a Belgium-based company, might it be an example of global marketing run amok? As for Twitter, in its rush to sell ads, did it jump the gun before its staff understood how to use the technology or was someone in the digital layout department not paying attention–simultaneously tweeting friends, perhaps?

Lamebrain

Service of Computer and Software Support

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

software 1

Frank Paine, a retired Federal Reserve Examiner and international commercial banking officer, has previously written guest posts for this blog. He is more than comfortable around computers so when he proposed this topic, and wrote the following, I jumped at the chance to publish it and look forward to your answers to his questions.

Frank wrote:

laptopI just bought a new laptop, a Dell equipped with Windows 8.1.  While I haven’t had any problems with the machine, I have had many problems with the software I bought with it. 

Dealing with Dell’s software download department has been a nightmare, with several problems still pending.  I’ve been getting answers to questions I didn’t ask, lengthy prescriptions for what I should do to make something work using a browser I don’t use (and which I learned isn’t compatible with the software I had ordered), and a version of Internet Explorer (which I hate) that doesn’t work because of an extension that was added that I didn’t want.  Oh, and also, I received a bunch of software that I didn’t order and didn’t want and more…Very frustrating!

Help buttonI sent a couple of e-mails to Dell’s Customer Support on the specific instructions of Technical Support.  Both received automated replies saying that I could expect a reply within 24-48 hours (usually), although they gave themselves some wiggle room by saying that depending on the nature of the inquiry, the response might take longer.  96 hours later, there has been no response. 

I’m not expecting a clear answer, but I’ve had times (not yet with Dell) when software vendors never did reply.  What has your experience been? When should I stop being patient? How long is it appropriate to wait before following up?

As I read Frank’s story I imagined myself in a swivet with a looming deadline, programs I needed that weren’t working and an attitude from those I was counting on to fix the glitches of “you’ll hear back from us when you hear back.” My suggestion is to use the resource– www.gethuman.com–that DManzaluni recommended in a recent comment to get Dell’s phone number [or any other corporate consumer service number] and call right away.  And you?

Patience

Service of Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Someone else's shoes

In one day two things happened that made me wonder about customer service programs that don’t take into consideration routine customer habits.

Pennies Wise

Does the person who configures the electronic customer service systems for large corporations think about where people might be and what information they’d have access to when they call to request a repair? Not everyone is at the office or at home with a file cabinet filled with past bills handy.

During an ice storm our phone at the house went dead. When, the next day, we could get out and into ice stormthe car by treading carefully on a glossy rink on flagstones worthy of Rockefeller Center, successfully coaxing the car up an icy driveway slope to the road, we were able to call Verizon to report the problem by mobile phone. [Verizon cell phones don’t work at the house so we drove to a place they do.]

Before we could speak with a person—I began slamming 0000000 to get out of the computer voice maze that wasn’t in the slightest advancing the cause to repair my dead phone—the irritating recorded voice asked for our account number. I didn’t have it with me. Next it asked for the amount of the last bill. I hadn’t memorized this either.

First petDoes the person who set up the system, meant to reduce live staff time, commit such info to memory? What happened to “what’s the name of your first pet?” or “your mother’s maiden name?”

I was fuming as I waited to speak with a customer service representative. The call should have taken a second and I’d already been on hold for 600. I was, after all, reporting that the service wasn’t working. So was this the best time to alert me that the rep might tell me about additional services?

I explained to the live person–who may have been sitting in sunny Florida and unaware of icy conditions in upstate NY–that the outage clearly was weather-related and nothing to do with “our equipment” and she insisted that someone be home for a technician to come to the house. So I made an appointment.

Meanwhile, I called the house and heard a constant busy signal for a few more hours. Finally the phone rang and our answering machine kicked in. Hooray! A working phone.

When I called to cancel the appointment I did it through the voicemail system. The only question the recorded voice asked was why I’d cancelled: “Was your equipment the reason for the failure?” I hollered “NO.” There were no options such as “The phone works now.”

Much Ado About My Package

USPSI asked Amazon.com to send an order to my office. On Sunday I received a notification that the USPS had tried to deliver it on Saturday and nobody was there to sign for it. On Saturday the USPS doesn’t send mail to any office in this 18-floor midtown Manhattan building—so why would it send a package?

I clicked the link in the notification to fill out the info needed to get someone to redeliver the package and after doing that I clicked something else on the form where I learned that the USPS doesn’t redeliver to this building.

post office at grand centralThe next morning I visited our 10017 post office, a big one next to Grand Central Station, on 44th and Lexington Avenue. A helpful postal worker punched in the 17 tracking numbers in a computer on the floor and said, “It’s at 10022.” I asked for the address of that post office. “You can’t go there—it’s not open to the public.” I told him that it says on line that the USPS won’t redeliver to 228 East 45th Street. He said, “Wait. There’s nothing you can do but wait.” So I did. And after all of that, the package arrived with the mail the next business day.

Technology without thought doesn’t save staff time and it doesn’t help customers.

How can a company like Verizon that handles incredible amounts of technology accept a  customer service telephone application that is customer tone deaf and doesn’t free up its live staff? What was the point of the misleading USPS online information and links other than to cause me to waste time?

tone deaf

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics