Archive for the ‘Passivity’ Category

Service of a Rotten Apple: Disregard that Customers Line Up For

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Photo: LinkedIn

My service hackles first stood up when a Long Island friend’s iPhone no longer took a charge one Friday. The first appointment she could get at the local Apple service store was the following Wednesday. How can anyone wait that long for the repair of such an essential device as a phone? She was leaving for Europe that Sunday. Did Apple expect her to buy a new phone? She bought no phone and depended on her husband’s.

Entrance at Apple in Grand Central on a glacial, nasty winter day

Keep reading as I am beginning to see an unsavory marketing pattern here. And while a profitable company like Apple, with millions of happy investors, is expected to push consumers to the limit, and it gleefully does, I don’t understand why millions of customers accept paying top dollar while being given so many run-arounds and wasting so very much time to get service. Do most have assistants to do the waiting for them?

So when my iPhone 6 abruptly began running out of a full charge after I’d sent only a few emails and texts—a first—my heart sank. I blamed myself. I dreaded having to change phones.

A few days later I learned that many iPhone owners reported similar phone behavior. Like them, I’d made the mistake of upgrading to a new version of IOS with one click, which seemed to accelerate the demise of what was left of the battery.

By explanation, after the fact and once a grumble began, Apple shared some technical mumbo-jumbo about how batteries work and why what they’d done was supposed to slow the batteries to help their longevity. The real purpose, thought the customers of the older phones badly affected by the so-called upgrade, was to scare us into buying new devices or batteries.

Line to make an appointment wound around a table.

Public outrage leading to bad PR and some class action lawsuits later, Apple apologized and long story short, offered to replace older batteries with a new one at a discount–$29 plus tax instead of $79.

Those who sued in NYC, according to theverge.com, felt bamboozled into buying new phones and were angry.

I wasn’t cheered by the so-called “largesse” of the $50 discount. When there’s a recall on my car, I pay $0 for the fix. I make an appointment, sit in a comfortable waiting room, take off my coat, sip a cup of coffee and I’m soon done. I’m in relative control of my time.

Turns out the battery replacement procedure was worse than the feeling of manipulation and an expense I was forced into. It involved four trips to Grand Central where the iPhone repair operation nearest my office is located.

  • On Day 1, I had to make an appointment. I had two choices: on another day OR I could expect an email within the next two hours and I’d have 10-15 minutes to get back to the store. The latter option made sense only if I worked at Grand Central. I don’t. And who has the time to hang around a place for two hours?
  • My appointment fell on the day of the snowstorm. I arrived early figuring I’d slip into a cancellation—everyone told me not to go out in the storm. I’m greeted with, “we’re closing in 15 minutes.” Seems they let “everyone know,” but they didn’t contact me. “Wait at that table.”  I do. I wait and wait. Nobody came to give my phone a diagnostic test that was a required part of the process. I was rescued by an Apple newbie who felt sorry for me—he was helping someone else at the table. Nobody else ever came. I had another choice to make: A) Leave my phone overnight or B) Drop it off the next morning. I chose option B.
  • I thought I’d be in and out but no, I waited 20 minutes for someone to take my phone. “Come back after 12:15,” he said. I did. The wait for my phone this visit was the time to look through the Business & Finance Section of The Wall Street Journal.

I have to give it to the Apple employees I encountered. All but two were gracious and tried to do their jobs. My grievances are not with them.

New Yorkers are used to lines and crowds because there are so many of us but we’re also impatient. Does Apple spray the place with a soporific? Nobody seemed upset. Could I be the only one who feels this way? Hundreds of people were testing the phones in one area; others buying parts in another. Don’t these people have other places to go? How does this company get away with it? Do folks get the same runaround with Samsung, LG and Sony?

 

Prospective customers at Apple in Grand Central on a frigid winter day.

Service of Passivity II

Monday, July 7th, 2014

nyc traffic

There are umpteen examples of lackadaisical behavior by people of all ages, even in instances that might affect others adversely. I won’t stop speaking out in spite of the looks I usually get, [if I notice any reaction at all], for warning pedestrians who are distracted by their texts or too absorbed by their phone conversations to watch out for a speeding car or van heading right for them.

Locked Up

keyless lockThe ladies’ room is outside our office, accessible to tenants on this floor via a keyless lock that opens when you punch a code into a pad. I noticed that I could open the door simply by turning the handle, reported it to the building and we now have a new lock.

I was amazed to learn from someone who worked in another office on the 11th floor that she knew that the lock had been broken for quite a while. So why didn’t anyone notify building staff? We pass by a very receptive person at least twice a day to get in and out of the building. It took me less than a minute to report it on the phone. A friend observed that he thought the lethargy regarding even a potentially dangerous situation, was due to tremendous passivity that overwhelms people, propelling them into inaction. 

Phishing for Dollars

phishing for dollarsI received a phishing email from a hacker dressed as USAA, a company I use for a whole range of financial services. It took 9 minutes on hold—while I continued to work—to confirm that my suspicions were correct and to get an email address to forward the nasty missive. If everyone is too busy—or passive–to inform a company about thieves who might compromise their clients’ password, social security, credit card and/or bank account numbers, then how can a company stop and penalize hackers?

When you receive an email with all the telltale signs that a friend or colleague’s been hacked, do you let them know or do you figure someone else will?

Why is it so hard for people to take even simple, safe steps to fix or right a wrong? Are we harried and too busy? Do we think it’s up to someone else to handle? Have you noticed other examples of passivity?

 snoozing on the job

 

 

 

 

Service of Passivity

Monday, May 20th, 2013

GrandCentralSuitcases

I ran an errand in Grand Central Station last week and on my way in I noticed two suitcases leaning against a wall near the door to the food court. They were still there on my exit.

At first I figured a tourist must be on the curb flagging a taxi, [most New Yorkers wouldn’t dare leave suitcases unattended like that for fear of theft], but this person would have been long gone in the four or so minutes it took for me to buy bread and walk outside.

The picture above was the first one I took on my phone and as the cases were hiding behind the young woman in the shot, I took another one which clearly showed the cases and nobody near them. The camera was full so I couldn’t save that image but it was evident on my phone’s screen when I showed it to a policeman in the station’s office downstairs. By the time I emerged three police officers were standing around the cases.

Was I the only one reporting the situation? I didn’t see anyone in the police office and the young woman in the photo, like countless others on this busy midtown street, didn’t notice them.

I described the incident to a few friends. One, Martha Takayama, urged me to draft a post about it. She wrote: “It is a shocking commentary on our indifference to the realities of today’s world! What an arrogant attitude! How can we possibly, as a nation or a people, confront our social and political problems if we continue to be so turned in! Boston is still reeling and will be forever from the bombing.”

The admonition, “When you see something, say something,” seems to have been around for ages. Loudspeakers at Grand Central and in the subway chant the message for those who might forget. Don’t we hear it anymore? Why do you think the message isn’t sinking in, just one month after the Boston Marathon bombings? What might do the trick?

attention

 

Service of Buying on Principle

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

nestegg

The other week, NYC introduced its “Taxi of Tomorrow” and public advocate Bill de Blasio [Photo right, below] howled. I heard him talk about the city’s choice of foreign partner on the radio and on his website he noted that the billion dollar contract for “the exclusive right to manufacture New York’s taxis” is going to a business that operates in Iran. It’s one of a dozen car companies on de Blasio’s “Iran Watch List” that “targets businesses that operate in Iran and undermine economic sanctions.”

bill-de-blasioThe website quotes de Blasio: “You cannot do business with the people of New York City with one hand, and prop up the dangerous regime in Tehran with the other. For our billion dollars, taxpayers and taxi riders deserve a guarantee that ____ will stop selling its vehicles to Iran.” I put the space in the quote although de Blasio identifies the company on his blog.

When I’ve met investment advisors, they’ve asked me if there are any companies or industries I wouldn’t want to support. It’s a good question for many reasons. Some might forget and inadvertantly invest in–and be accused of insider trading–stock in a company the firm they work for advises. Cigarette or arms manufacturers might be on the “no” list for others.

made-in-usaThere’s a side issue to de Blasio’s point that’s worth a mention even if off-topic. I identified the car manufacturer to a friend who observed: “Why didn’t the city pick an American brand?” As I began to write I also remembered a buy American initiative where participating manufacturers hung the red, white and blue “Made in America” tag with logo on clothing, appliances and other products. Would this be unfitting today?

In wartime, many won’t buy anything made by their enemy. Some have longer memories than others and children often keep up their parents’ boycotts. Is such a consideration anti-business and therefore inappropriate in a tight economy? Or do we have no enemies?

Are there things you won’t invest in, buy, attend or support on principle, or is such thinking so yesterday?

picket-line

Service of Taxis

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

taxis

There were 7,700 complaints about taxi drivers in NYC, February-February 2010-2011, according to Andrew Grossman. In his Wall Street Journal article “Many Taxi Complaints, Little Action,” he noted that these reports of dangerous or discourteous behavior resulted in hearings for 11 percent of the drivers, according to Taxi & Limousine Commission statistics.

I’m also sure that the 7,700 complaints are only a fraction of the number of complaints that there might be. On the way in to work today I was almost run over by a taxi driven by a man who wanted to make the turn onto 42nd Street at Second Avenue when he was ready to, whether or not there were pedestrians crossing at the light. It happened so fast I didn’t get his license.

mail-a-letterGrossman also reported that after making the complaint, few bothered to take the next step to get the hearing process rolling, which was to send back to the city a letter that the city had sent them. Whew! What effort! An onerous time-killer.

Most city people or frequent travelers to cities have at least one memorable taxi story, their own or a friend’s.

A client told of a hair-raising drive to a NYC airport even though he had plenty of time and told this to the driver. He pleaded with him to slow down. Driver didn’t listen.

My parents found themselves face on with a taxi in a two lane, two-way NYC tunnel. He was passing another car and he ignored the “no passing” signs and double yellow line.

A colleague told of a nut driver who swore nonstop after she entered the car, using increasingly foul language. She scrambled out and tossed money at him when she could safely exit.

speeding-taxiI saw a driver, enraged from having to stand in traffic, dash off at such a rate his wheels jumped on the sidewalk at a crosswalk barely missing people waiting there for the light to change. His passenger must have had an anxious ride. Nobody on the street had time to note his license number because they were jumping out of his way.

Given the potential harm to others–Grossman described additional complaints such as “drivers offering marijuana and whiskey and pulling away before riders get both legs out of the car,” as well as one medallion with eight passenger complaints because the driver appeared to be sleeping or not fully alert–don’t we owe it to fellow pedestrians and passengers alike to follow up on such behavior?

What’s the cause of this passenger passivity: Lack of time? Ennui? Fear of retribution? Dread of causing someone to lose his/her job? Do you have a taxi story–good or bad?

no-time1

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