Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Service of Backwards

Thursday, August 17th, 2017


Backwards is nothing new to me. I passed economics in college by figuring out the answer and writing the opposite in exams. Long before that, at camp Frog Hollow Farm, we celebrated backwards day.

Hit On for Off

My husband’s printer—an oldie but sturdy–has been acting up. To get it to work I disconnected it from electricity. I was reprimanded by instructions on the little screen when I turned it back on [and it worked again]. The printer told me that I’d turned it off incorrectly and warned me not to unplug the printer from electricity again before first turning it off by hitting ON.

Don’t Walk the Dog

New York is a walker’s city. It’s the best way to get many places quickly as traffic on sidewalks is usually easily negotiated unless you’re passing a Broadway theater when audiences convene or exit or around famous museums on Sunday afternoon. Tourists walk at a slower pace than most New Yorkers while rush hour foot traffic generally moves swiftly.

That said, I can’t get over the number of dogs that are carried in arms and in conveyances when out for “walks.” There are suddenly too many of them to explain it as the graying of the dog population in need of assistance. Exercise is as essential for dogs as it is for people.

“Wrong Way” Signs Ignored by Bicycles

Bicycles are invading the city—racing by on sidewalks now. And bikers pay zero attention to signs on one way avenues informing them that they are going the wrong way [photo top, center taken this week]. To think tax dollars paid for the printing and installation of signs that exclaim the obvious and are ignored! At least one friend was knocked down by a bike that was bucking the tide on a major avenue.

Growing Taste Sensations

A conversation with a 5 year old took a surprising turn. She told me that when she was young, she liked to eat everything but not anymore. There’s a lot she doesn’t care for now, she said. And here I thought people’s tastes expand as they “age.”

Can you share any examples of backwards or counterintuitive behavior that you’ve seen or heard?


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––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?


Service of Consideration

Thursday, September 26th, 2013


Photo irishcareerman

Photo irishcareerman

I’m certain that the designer of the checkout system that inspired this post thought it was a hip departure for this international high-end market known for innovative food retailing, but all it did was cause me to depart.

Customers didn’t understand how it worked–and actually, it wasn’t working last Thursday–and even though it was at a time that New Yorkers would drop in to buy supplies for that night’s dinner, there wasn’t a staffer in sight to help out. The place was set up to let computers do the job and they weren’t up to it.

There were four lines which stopped opposite–and about five paces away–from a lineup of cashiers. There were many registers but only a few cashiers in place. You could choose what line to stand in.

It took me a while to figure out that there were four screens above the heads of these cashiers because the lines were long enough that they made an L and the screens weren’t visible for much of the wait. They were more or less aligned with the queues, and every once in a while one of the screens would flash the number of a cashier.

carrying grocery bagsBut most people didn’t get it and stood there waiting for something to happen. Cashiers were silent.

One couple, in frustration, took their cart and planted it in front of a free cashier without waiting for a number causing the person who should have gone there to jump to their line. [Otherwise she’d have had to wait ages for the sequence to go to all the other screens and return to the one in front of her original line, she explained.]

When it was my turn, the screen flashed a number where there was no cashier. That’s when I bolted. I wasn’t going to wait another second, I wanted to get out.

Trader Joe grocery bagTrader Joe’s may have long lines in its stores but people–not computer screens–guide customers: Simple, old fashioned and it works. Fairway also hires people to feed customers in lines to its cashiers if necessary.

Then I heard another story relating to lines. On my way home I stopped in a bakery to replace some of what I’d left behind at the market and shared my recent experience with the counter staff. One told me what happened to her while waiting in line at a major discount store. It was about to close, she was buying one thing and had cash in hand to pay. She was concerned she wouldn’t have time to dash to the ladies room before closing time if she waited for some college girls to get through the line. Their basket was brimming with lamps, rugs, sheets and other dorm paraphernalia, so she explained her situation and asked them if she might please go before them. Their answer: “No.”

A store can’t be responsible for the lack of compassion of its customers or the bad timing of the woman who might have arrived earlier so as not to pose a time crunch for herself. Yet it might adapt the standard model of creating an express line for people with only a few items.

Consideration–or lack of same–is the theme running through this post. The fancy market thought more of its cool image and innovative brand than of the convenience of its customers. Who knew what the young college women were thinking.





Service of Did You Get the Message?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013


With all the technology at our fingertips, I wonder how well we have learned to effectively communicate, absorb and act on information, especially in giant organizations and companies.

Oh what a tangled web we weave….

TenTripTktI buy a 10-trip web ticket on the Internet—have been doing so for years.  When I handed mine to the conductor, she said, “It’s expired.” I said, “I just got it in the mail!” She pointed to a date on the ticket which must have been the date the ticket was processed. She took it as the date the ticket expires. I explained the situation and convincingly as she didn’t make me pay, but the confrontation was heated and I didn’t like all the fuss.

The next conductor punched my ticket without a word so I asked him what the deal was and he said that scads of tickets were mailed with the distribution rather than the expiration date and not to worry about it—the conductors all received a directive about the glitch.

ConductorPunchingTktThe ticket-collecting conductor for my third ride on the web ticket had not read the directive as I had to again explain the situation, with pairs of rider’s eyes staring at me suspiciously from behind Kindles and newspapers as I argued for my cause.

So it got me to ponder how, when you run something as big as Metro-North and there’s a mistake like this one, a company gets out the word effectively.

Metro-North has the email addresses of all the web ticket buyers. Why not send a copy of the directive to carry in our wallets at minimal cost in time and none in out of pocket.

Sticker shock

CarRegisinWindowI thought of this when a friend told me about the letter she received from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. It explained that the department “has identified a defect in the registration documents supplied by our vendor that has prevented the printing of most registrations and window stickers that were ordered starting January 1.”

The letter went on to say that her registration is processed and everything is in order and if kept in the vehicle, the letter should serve as proof should she need to show it to law enforcement officials. Further, all police agencies and courts were notified.

Since then, she got the sticker. In the interim, this friend, who lives in Westchester, had received no summons for an expired registration.

The police and traffic staff in NYC have an easier time checking registration dates on parked cars in city streets to fulfill their ticket quota and I wonder: Did they all get and retain the message? Recipients of the letter wouldn’t put it in their car windows because both name and address are clearly typed in a bigger font than the body of the letter. My parents, parked on a city street, once got a ticket for being one day overdue.

Drug test

PharmacyI renewed a prescription on the phone via press one press two, punch in your Rx number, for an ordinary drug from a store that asks you for the date and time you expect to pick up your order. When I got there an hour or two after the time I’d noted, the pharmacy attendant said that the meds were on back order and asked if I could return the next day. The next day I got a call to tell me my prescription was waiting for me.

To save me a fruitless trip, shouldn’t they have also called to tell me when it wasn’t?

Are my expectations too high? Do you have examples where someone didn’t get the message and instances of a company or organization communicating them flawlessly, where everyone involved heard and remembered?


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