Archive for the ‘Mistakes’ Category

Service of Persistence Pays if You Luck Into an Adolfo Hererra

Monday, January 10th, 2022


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I first wrote about my issues with Verizon Wireless November, 2021 in “Service of Automation Hiccups.” I’d been unable to get credit for the paperless option I’d agreed to in spite of countless calls to customer service.  On one call I agreed to change the account from my deceased husband’s name to mine.

With that my FIOS bundle–phone, Wi-Fi and cable–increased by $400+/year and I’d not been warned this would happen.

A strident conversation with a nasty customer service person who told me I’d committed fraud by keeping the account in Homer’s name increased my irritation and disenchantment. She hit the ceiling when I said I felt bamboozled and explained I hadn’t been but that I wasn’t eligible for the discounts he had. When I was explaining the situation she said in a voice filled with sarcasm, “Are you through?”

That’s when I wrote Ronan Dunne, executive VP and group CEO of Verizon Consumer. I wrote that to take away discounts given a man because a woman was now the customer was sexist. My credit is excellent, we had been decades-long customers, have other Verizon accounts and pointed out that it was my checks paying for the bundle from the get-go. Nothing changed but the first name.



Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  

Soon after I heard from Adolfo Hererra, a member of the Verizon executive relations team. He was thorough and polite and he listened. He warned me of some things that might happen although he did what he could to avert them. For example, auto pay took money to satisfy Homer’s cancelled account and a few days later took money for my new one.

Throughout the process I knew I was in good hands. Hererra always called when he said he would and he returned my calls promptly.

In the end, he gave me a credit of $50 because of the time it took to sort out the tangle. With a company as big as Verizon I suspect he and his team had to knock on many doors, starting with the one to initiate the elusive discount for the paperless option. I’d agreed to it in August 2021 and it will kick in January or February 2022. Only when he was certain that I’d be receiving the discount for going paperless–he’d said he could confirm this in early January–would he close the case. We spoke last week right on schedule. He assured me that I’d get the discount. He also securely closed Homer’s account and sent a debit card to refund the money that shouldn’t have been taken to begin with.

He feels pleased when he brings down an unsatisfied customer from a ledge of anger and frustration. Thank goodness for dedicated customer service employees like Adolfo Hererra.

Can you share a recent example of top of the line customer service in an era of rampant neglected emails and phone messages and often pleasant sounding customer service people who say they will do something and they don’t?


Image by Magic Creative from Pixabay

Service of Internet Shopping 2021 Style

Monday, September 13th, 2021


Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Because most of my favorite haunts are out of business or their Manhattan branches don’t measure up to the quality I was used to in their upstate stores, much of my shopping has moved online.

Here are a few things that e-commerce vendors might easily change and should consider doing.

Don’t ask stupid questions

I didn’t want to lug home a large package of paper towels so I bought one online. Next I was asked to review my recent purchase. Paper towels? Really?

Know when to stop knocking on my door

A woman’s clothing store sends daily emails about intros or discounts, sometimes multiple times a day. At end-of-season sales time they up their emails. Eventually, the prices were so favorable and thinking ahead to next summer I bit, ordering a few gifts too. The next day they sent an email saying that one of the items is no longer available as there were too many orders for it. Note: They clearly show you which sizes are in stock when you make your selections.

OK, those are the breaks. However, two weeks later I get one of the remaining three items ordered with an invoice that indicates that two were oversold so you won’t get them. I was irritated as I might have found similar on sale elsewhere and wonder why the inventory department can’t communicate more efficiently with the website but worse, I’m still getting notices about that sale.

Get rid of the crooks

And what did I see again on Facebook? The sponsored rip-off promo that I fell for early in summer and I wrote about in “Service of Always Buy from a Website Not a Social Media Advert Link.” The first comment was written by someone who declared it a scam. I may have gotten off easy from the looks of it. But Facebook should remove creeps like this from its site so as not to entrap other suckers.

When a mistake causes customers too much work

I ordered one item from a topnotch vendor but never got a confirmation email for the online purchase. Thinking I had again ordered from a fake site I called. There was no record of my purchase so I bought one from the customer service rep. Next I checked my credit card and there were two entries for the item so I called again and got the same customer service rep who promised to cancel one order. But I received two of the same item in separate packages. I called and was promised not to be charged for returning the duplicate as it was their mistake. I’m sure I’ll eventually be credited for the full amount but I wasted a lot of time turning things right.

I appreciate the convenience of ordering things at any time of day or night but miss walking into a store, choosing just what I want and walking out with it. I suspect under-staffing is the cause of most of the problems I’ve encountered.

Have your internet purchases been seamless? Are there some irritations that could easily be remedied?



Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Service of Big Mistakes

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Photo: careerbuilder.ca

When I make a mistake in my work I want to hide under a piece of furniture. When I realize what I’ve done it takes away my breath. At first I can’t admit it to a soul. I’m so lucky my mistakes don’t kill, usually haven’t been expensive to repair, few people know about them and most can be fixed followed by profound apologies. I remain disgusted with myself for quite a while.

I empathize with others who make mistakes and if news gets out on top of it–oh my.

I wrote about “heart-stopping goofs” back in 2011. One described a royal mug mishap where the image of bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, was paired on porcelain with her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, instead of her intended, Prince William. Put yourself in the place of the marketer who opened the shipment and first saw Kate and Harry.

How would you tell your boss if you’d discovered the recent mishap at the Baltimore plant? Somebody mixed the ingredients for two vaccines resulting in the contamination and tossing of 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s. Thank goodness those involved admitted the error. I hope they were not fired. Kudos also belong to the boss for creating an atmosphere in which staff feel they can come clean about their mistakes.

What mistakes–yours or others–have given you goose bumps? How has your client or boss reacted? If your error, you don’t have to admit it: post anonymously or attribute the blunder to a friend.

Photo: akc.org

Service of How to Discourage Me From Opening My Checkbook for Your Charity

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Photo: thelifeyoucansave.com

I’ve covered charity here 28 times. Today I’m writing about how an organization that might seek my support can turn me off.

Each bullet refers to a bone I’ve picked with a different organization.

I would ask a charity to please:

  • charitynavigator.org

    Respond to my request to delete my deceased husband’s name from their database especially when I’ve included a donation with the change of name information. This isn’t a tiny, struggling organization but a gargantuan one that mails printed pitches every quarter. My mother had the same issue with a different organization deaf to her similar requests in the mid-1980s and eventually she stopped donating. Clearly topnotch computer programs haven’t helped.

  • Improve your profile on charitynavigator.com. Don’t pay your chief executive officer over $700,000 and spend 25 percent of your budget on marketing. I missed a bullet when I checked out this well known organization that dealt with a friend’s interest. It was to be his birthday gift.
  • Allow me, on your website donation form, to dedicate a donation either in celebration of or in memory of a friend or relative.
  • Confirm that you have notified the friend or family member I’ve asked you to alert that a donation was made in their or their loved one’s name.  So many people don’t acknowledge gifts and it’s awkward to ask if they’ve been informed.

Have you encountered irritations when selecting or dealing with a charity? Which are your favorites?

Photo: canadahelps.org

Service of What Happens When You Don’t Double Check: A Package Lost in Zip Code Hell

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Photo: fanpop.com

It’s not just Santa who should check things twice–so should I.

I didn’t immediately read the zip code the postal clerk put in the computer. She did not post the information in the digital portion of the credit card reader [photo right, below] and I didn’t think to ask her to do so nor did I look at my receipt.

The birthday gift was destined for New Hampshire in plenty of time. I don’t know if it will ever arrive. It has been lost in zip code hell since November 29.

Photo: stateofthenet.net

I first looked at the receipt to track the package a few days after my post office visit. My heart sank: The clerk had inverted numbers so it headed not to New England but to Maryland Heights, Mo.

A clerk at the Grand Central post office confirmed the correct address on the label–it apparently is in the system but nobody refers to anything but the zip code. She admitted that the wrong code would keep sending the gift back to Missouri.

This clerk was correct. I received 25 USPS tracking email notices confirming this–as late as this morning. The package arrived twice in Southern Conn. and once in New Hampshire–though not to the right post office–but it went back to Missouri after that.

I asked her if postmen and women read the full label on a package and she said, “sometimes.” She didn’t have faith in an option to stop the delivery which she said would cost me money and “didn’t always work.”

Back at my computer I found a lost package form to fill out online even though the package is misdirected. I got a standard reply from the appropriate postmaster in the correct New Hampshire town that stated he would look into it. But the automatic tracking emails kept on coming telling me where in Missouri the package was out for delivery.

Light bulb: I found the phone number, called the New Hampshire post office in the right town, left a message for Kirkland S. and he subsequently left a message for me on my phone later that day. He seemed to be optimistic that the package would arrive at its destination because he’d spoken with customer service.

Alas, I got another auto message announcing the package was again out for delivery in Missouri.

I again called Kirkland who admitted to having called 12 numbers before reaching someone in Missouri who would send a person to rescue the package and delete the incorrect barcode so that the machine could not read it.

He explained that up until now a human had not been near the package. Computers read the zip code.  My heart, once lifted, was once again dashed this morning when the auto-tracking email announced the package is out for delivery in Missouri. Kirkland S could not be more sympathetic and he seems almost as frustrated as I am.

I fear that if and when it arrives it will be in shreds. It wasn’t packed to be tossed from truck to truck to truck to truck.

I just sent a slew of Christmas packages and confirmed, on the credit card reader, that each zip code and address were correct.

I consider the mistake to be equally my fault because I didn’t check. Even Santa, as busy as he is, takes time to confirm who’s been naughty or nice.

It’s so easy to type wrong numbers on a keyboard. Mine couldn’t be the only misdirected package. Shouldn’t there be a simple way to fish out mail headed in the wrong direction because of a mistyped digit? Have you run across a similar glitch?

Service of Logos that Give the Wrong Message: They Don’t Communicate

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Photo: Deirdre Wyeth

You can’t read some logos and others give the wrong message. One awning featured a spelling error. You’d think folks would take better care of these crucial and basic marketing tools.

 

Deirdre Wyeth posted on Facebook the logo above that advertised a nail and spa salon in her neighborhood. Its name remains a mystery as it’s impossible to decipher the script.

I followed a friend to a restaurant bar on Manhattan’s west side to hear jazz and as I entered, I couldn’t decode its name on the awning in the time it took to slip inside. The orange card–photo right–with its disturbing italic font provides a clearer clue [but is it Sugar or Suggr?].

I felt sorry for the bistro on the upper east side that the windows indicate didn’t make it. I snapped a shot of the awning [photo left] from the bus. The logo for “Le Paris” was OK but the owner of the supposedly French restaurant didn’t know how to spell bistro. Maybe the chef didn’t know how to make French bistro fare any better than the owner knew how to spell a standard French word.

The captions were as funny on the “Bad logos” post on firstwedesigner.com as the logos are faulty. For the dentist’s logo [above right] the author wrote: “That looks like a lot more going on than your regular cleaning if you ask me.” And another logo, for The Detail Doctor, stood out from the many on the website[below]. The caption: “Based on the sketch of this car, seems like this doctor needs a better understanding of the word detail.”

Do you think that poor logos happen when a business owner hires his/her kid, friend or in-law to save money?  Have you seen memorably bad ones?

 

 

 

 

 

Service of Mistakes That Are Not All Bad

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Photo: viralnovelty.net

“As long as they are well-intentioned, mistakes are not a matter for shame, but for learning”– Margaret Heffernan, Businesswoman. That’s what you read after Matt Schiller’s signature on his e-mail. He’s advertising and business manager for Catholic New York. I noticed the quote when I was in touch with him earlier this week. Heffernan, headquartered in the UK, is an international businesswoman, author and TED speaker.

The quote reminded me of a perfect way to finesse a mistake that impressed me years ago. The speaker was VP of design for a luxury brand; well regarded in the interior design world; a big deal at the American Society of Interior Designers and president of the International Furnishings and Design Association at the time of this story. One of his board members proudly presented a brochure on furniture design at the annual meeting that her committee had just published. Instead of speaking with this person privately, a busy-body, also on the board, raised her hand and said, “I saw a typo on page four….” Robert replied, [and I bet it wasn’t true]: “We always place an error in our marketing materials just to see if people are reading them.”

Photo: leadershipstyles.org

When I told Matt about this incident he admired Robert’s response, “his defense of a team member and his non-confrontational way of handling what could have become a tense situation. That’s the kind of leadership we need more of in every aspect of life.” Matt added: “I have often said to colleagues, ‘I have made an incredible number of mistakes in my life, and I have tried to learn something from each of them.’”

My biggest mistakes happen when I don’t follow my gut and when I work when too tired. I don’t always listen to my instinct and I don’t stop when I know that I’ll get whatever I’m working on accomplished in a fraction of the time the next morning.

Other mistakes happen when dealing with vendors who deliberately hide information or don’t volunteer what may change a prospect’s mind about accepting their proposal. They hope you won’t ask the pertinent questions. These are the mistakes Margaret Heffernan refers to. The fix: Experience. You learn what questions to ask.

In what category do most of your mistakes fall–when you don’t listen to your gut; you work when exhausted; you’re misled and haven’t asked the right questions to unearth the facts or something else?

Photo: agapegeek.com

 

Service of Buyer’s Remorse

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Photo: realsimple.com

Photo: realsimple.com

“The Lists Issue: Style and Fashion” page of last weekend’s Wall Street Journal’s “Off Duty” section asked five “stylish men” to report their “most regrettable purchase.” These included three pairs of a Clark shoes–all the same–that the owner tired of; a suede Ralph Lauren car coat with too much fringe; Nike sneakers with pink and purple accents bought online while under the influence of Ambien; a $450 umbrella from London enjoyed for 31 minutes before being left behind in a taxi and boots purchased on Piperlime, [it’s out of business now], with too thin soles discovered while walking five miles in a parade.

Too tight shoesShoes that hurt account for most of my mistakes along with a pasta maker I never had time to use so I eventually gave it away after dragging it, with good intentions, from home to home.

However, the one that stings the most and longest was a red dress I pleaded with my mother to buy when I was in eighth grade so I’d have something to wear at a Christmas party at school. We wore uniforms—except on Friday when we could dress in civilian clothes. My mother said, “You don’t like red and will never again wear this dress.” Nevertheless she bought it for me and I don’t think I ever did wear it again. When I think of it I still cringe at my selfishness.

What are some things you’ve regretted buying? Have you learned something from each experience or do you keep making the same mistakes?

 Girls red dress

Service of Getting the Facts Right

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Just the Facts

This guest post is written by Homer Byington who continues to devour history books and biographies as he has since childhood and has an uncanny memory for facts.  My husband wrote:

Ashley Jackson’s Churchill, (Quircus, New York, 2014), and Harry L. Katz and The Library of Congress’s Mark Twain’s America, (Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2014), have more in common than that I just finished one and started the other.

Churchill book coverBoth books received excellent notices. The recent glowing review in The Wall Street Journal was what prompted me to read the latter, and I can attest to the quality of the writing and fresh, balanced thinking in the former. Jackson’s work reminds me a little of that great popular historian, George M Trevelyan’s. However, while the illustrations in Mark Twain’s America are lavish and stunning, it reads like it was written by a committee, which it probably was. The book is also minimally annotated and the index is a joke.

Mark Twain's America coverThese books have more in common than just success. Unfortunately, they both contain factual errors.

The photo caption under a photograph of the three men on page 5 of the insert to Churchill reads, “December 1943: The Bermuda conference. French Premier Joseph Laniel, President Eisenhower and Churchill.” The 1943 must be a typo; the date should be December 1953 when the three of them did meet in Bermuda. What is confusing is that Churchill also met with then General Eisenhower in Tunis in December of 1943, but it was not likely at that time that either of the two had ever heard of Laniel who was then living in occupied France.

On page 22 of Mark Twain’s America, the authors, writing about John Marshall Clemens, the father of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) state: “Trained as a lawyer in Kentucky, and named after the country’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he….” John Jay was the country’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I am not bragging, but I knew that before I reached high school. John Marshall was not even the second or third. The position was considered sufficiently miserable, that nobody would do it for long. That is the beauty of the Marshall story. When President Adams offered him the job, he took it and did much to make the court what it is today.

I know about editors, proofreaders and fact checkers, but I blame the authors. If they cannot get their facts right themselves, how can we trust what they write? The Library of Congress, especially, should be ashamed of itself, and Mark Twain’s America, because of the pictures, is likely to end up in every school library in the country.

What do you think? Should authors be held accountable for errors of fact in their work? Or is it all right for them to slough off the blame on their editors, proof readers and fact checkers?  Can you share other such examples of factual mistakes?

Proofread

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

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