Archive for September, 2005

Probably Not a Strong Biz Idea

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Scattered around town, we have tanning places. You probably do too. The main different is that we’re in Tucson, AZ, which is 80 miles north of the Mexico border. We have over 300 days of sunshine a year, and the daytime temperature is rarely below 65. When we moved away from New York in 18" of snow this past March, we arrived here to nearly 70 degree days.

How lucrative a business do you think a tanning parlor is in southern Arizona? Sure, it may attract people who fear the sun’s rays, but if you fear the sun’s rays, you probably shouldn’t live here.


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$50 for Stolen Laptop

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

A company is now offering "LoJack for Laptops." I thought that they put a GPS chip in your laptop so that if it’s stolen, they can track it like they do stolen cars. This sounds great!

But that’s not what it is. It’s software, and it uses the internet to tell a monitoring center where your laptop is. That means that if your laptop is stripped for parts, has the hard drive replaced, or never gets on the internet after it’s stolen, it won’t be found. As in if you get anything except a stupid theif, you’re going to be out of luck.

The website claims that pricing for the software + monitoring subscription starts at $49.99, but I can’t figure out why anybody should buy this. The website also claims that 90% of stolen laptops using their software were returned… but in what condition? And what about the other 10%?

The most interesting statement on the site was that if their software can’t locate your laptop, they’ll refund the price of the software. So if you spend $50+ on the software but it never finds your laptop, you can have the $50 back. Thanks but how about the $2000 laptop?

I think the best answer here is to back up frequently and have your insurance company fully cover your equipment. I know someone who had a laptop stolen recently, and his insurance company covered less than 1/3 of what he was STILL paying off. My insurance company told me about a rider I can get to cover one specific piece of equipment for any circumstance. It would cost more, but it would be foolproof and full coverage. If you have something that important, get the right insurance. If your data is that important, back it up all the time!

This software sounds like bad marketing spin.


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Jury Duty

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Can they do this?

Weeks ago, I got a notice to appear for jury duty on Sept 15. I could call a number or check a website to see if I’m needed on that date, dismissed, or postponed.

We got postponed to Sept 22. I work for me, so I’ll work that out, but what about people with regular jobs? They put in ahead of time to have Sept 15 off, and then they don’t have to go. But now they have to go a week later, and maybe they can’t get the day off.

On Sept 21, I went to the website again to find that my group was excused. I can only imagine how crazy this would be for someone with a traditional job who had to ask for TWO days off and needed neither.

Can the county do this? They are, but it seems very complicated.


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Our Customers Are Insane Wackos… Like You

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

There seems to be a trend in TV commercials where humour is mistaken for insult. Companies show insane, wacky customers, and I think they expect you to laugh at this or identify with these people.

  • A McDonald’s commercial has a woman saying that first, she was mobbed by paparazzi. Then she spent all of her savings on shoes. Then she hired a pool boy… and she doesn’t even have a pool! She sure loves her McGriddles sandwich. It makes her imagination run wild. OK then what’s in that sandwich that produces that effect?
  • A Suzuki commercial has a salesman selling a woman an SUV. As he’s listing the great features of the car, she stops him to say he "had her" at warranty. The next scene is at his desk with paperwork and two pens. He asks her to choose a pen so they can get into the paperwork. She is literally unable to choose a pen, going back and forth and seeming serious. So she can’t pick a pen, but she can pick a car?
  • A non-dairy creamer commercial shows mean people. People closing elevator doors on each other, a woman squirting the paperboy with her garden hose… and why? They haven’t had their morning coffee. I guess we are to believe that these addicts are fabulous altruists once they can have their fix with their non-dairy creamer. I don’t want to show my customers or potential customers as psychos or addicts!

Somebody may think these are humorous, but I wonder if anybody sees them the way I do. I don’t know why any company would want to run commercials that make their own customers look like idiots. Maybe you want to show the competitor’s customers as idiots if you think that works for your target audience and product. By why show your own customers as wacky?

If I ever made a TV commercial, and I showed people representing my customers, I’d show them as intelligent, friendly, and all the positive things they actually are. Humor can get into the ad some other way.


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Lorem Ipsum Looking for Work

Monday, September 26th, 2005

This has been making the blog rounds, and I thought it was a goodie as well.

As reported in ThisIsBroken.com, on Sept 14th, the New York Times actually published this. Dummy text and a spaceholder for a web address. Nice work!


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Peculiar Pizza Chain Owner

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Let’s say you have a chain of pizza places, and you’ve taken the bold leap of naming them after YOU. Every pizza place has your last name in there.

Recently, a local pizza chain owner (who has his last name in the chain name) was arrested for trying to arrange to meet a 14-yr-old girl for sex. The "girl" was a Tucson detective in a chat room. Oops!

This guy made the news again last week when he was arrested again, this time on 7 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. That’s right, they got him for possessing child porn.

Talk about bad marketing, if you had seen the news story of either arrest, would you EVER go to that pizza place again? If that were your FAVORITE pizza in town, would you go back? I know that when I drive by one of his places and see his last name hanging up there, my reaction is, "Oooooooo! :("


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The Full HostCentric Story

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

For those of you looking for one great link to send to people who want to know about our experience with HostCentric aka Bizland aka Fat Cow aka Endurance International, I’m linking them all here and will update this entry if more are posted in the future. In chronological order from the start of the story…

September 2005:

  • Dissatisfied Customers
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 1 of Many
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 2 of Many
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 3 of Many
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 4 of Many
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 5 of Many
  • One Company, Many Names
  • One Company, Many Names, Part 2
  • Dissatisfied Customers, Part 2
  • Dissatisfied Customers, Part 3
  • Dissatisfied Customers, Part 4
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 6 of Many
  • Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 7 of Many
  • Dissatisfied Customers Like Me

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    Dissatisfied Customers Like Me

    Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

    Thanks to my programmer who sent me this:

    http://www.access-media.net/hostcentric.html

    File that in the "I’m not alone" folder. Hello, Endurance management?!?!?


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    Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 7 of Many

    Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

    So for nearly two weeks now, we’ve been looking at a hosting company with whom I had a beyond poor experience. I know from web searches as well as employees at the company (mostly the Canadian support techs who tried to help me) that I’m far from the only person who had those terrible experiences.

    Who’s fault is it? Whose head should roll in a company when something like this happens?

    Let’s start at the bottom. Is my experience the fault of the lowest techs? Yes, they bear some blame. They were the people who created my technical problems, and then later, couldn’t or didn’t want to fix them. There are definitely some broken links in the tech department.

    What about billing? Well, I don’t like the choices billing made with respect to my accounts. Why charge me for accounts I’ve cancelled? Why charge me for services I didn’t order? Why refuse to give me any kind of refund once you understood my problems? There were helpful people in billing, but the email "support" I got was not helpful.

    When a large company has a few bad workers, you either retrain them, get them into jobs better for their strengths, or you fire them. Weak links gone, company running well.

    What about people at the management level? Tech supervisors weren’t able to get my problems fixed. My reseller account rep, who seemed to manage people, got nothing done for me and then stopped returning my calls/emails. The VP of Pretending to Care About Client Services never contacted me. That’s Gary, and the "pretending to care about" was added in by me. You have a VP of Client Services who never called or emailed a client experiencing the worst of your company. You could learn from what I went through, or you could just apologize, but you don’t care. Hence my new title for you.

    Management either created or OK’ed the plan to move the hosting accounts from the old company to them they way they did. That’s what started ALL of my problems. Sites activated weeks after their files were transferred (activating old sites or losing days of blog-style posts we couldn’t recreate). Email not working. Database websites not working. And from what I understood from tech support, that was the plan. They moved some sites KNOWING the data was old, but "thought it would be OK." Nobody leaves this to tier 1 or 2 techs, so management either came up with this plan or were OK with a plan they saw.

    When a company like this has failure at all levels, the fault is at the management level. I can’t say that strongly enough.

    • Management is not hiring the right people. If your staff are creating problems, that’s bad. If your staff then can’t fix them, that’s double bad.
    • Management was OK with the plan to migrate the accounts.
    • Management didn’t contact me even after emails and phone reps swore that the VP of Pretending To Care About Client Services cared about my experiences and would be contacting me. My reseller rep never got in touch with me again.
    • As I cancelled accounts, nothing was triggered to try to fix my problems other than weak customer service emails asking how they can "make" me stay. See previous blog entries for one of those! Management should have something in place to save a situation before clients jump ship.

    I recently read that for every customer who complains to you, there are 26 with the same problem or concern who don’t bother getting in touch with you. I complained every chance I got, including in writing. I estimate that between the time on the phone with Fat Cow, the time emailing them, and the time trying to fix my sites, I spent approximately 180 hours over 3 months on things I should never have had to spend my time.

    I never should have been left to clean up my own site problems. I never should have been left FIGHTING support and billing to understand my problems. That’s a purpose of CRM software. Look at what the last 3 people I spoke to wrote, and stop asking me for information you already have. That’s a waste of my time. I should never have had to fight billing to NOT charge me for accounts that were already cancelled. There are so many things I should never have to have done that highlight what’s wrong at this company.

    As I was saying, the fault is at the management level. Hi, Eric, my former Reseller Account Manager. Hi Gary, the man I like to call the VP of Pretending to Care About Client Services. And look! A migration team! These people were cool with everything that happened to me. They planned it!

    So what will they do next? What would you do if this happened at your company? How far would you let this problem get? How many accounts would have to leave? How many resellers would have to jump ship, taking their accounts and clients with them? How many "negative feedbacks" do you have to get before you realize the problem is YOU?


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    Worst Customer Service of My Life, Part 6 of Many

    Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

    On Sept 11th, HostCentric emailed me to remind me that payment for one of my accounts would be due on Oct 2nd. There were many interesting things about this email.

    1. The account for which they wanted to charge me was never migrated from the old HostCentric. I had received an email that the account, which only had a few test web pages up so far, didn’t meet their standards or they didn’t get enough details from the "old platform" to move it. So unless I did something, that account was going to be cancelled at the end of August. I let it be cancelled. When I log into my HostCentric control panel, the account for which they wanted to bill me today isn’t even there.
    2. I’ve completely cancelled all of my accounts with these people. I have NO accounts with them.
    3. I have a $224 credit with them. If you think I owe you money, why are you trying to charge my card AGAIN? Why wouldn’t you just tell me that I owe you $2, but you’ll put it against the $224 credit in the system? I’m wondering if this credit only exists in the emails I got referencing it.

    It truly is a strange universe. I’m not sure why these people can’t get their act together.

    I will say that I did get SOME good customer service. Fat Cow’s website indicates an Albuquerque office. The ONLY staff I’ve dealt with who were REAL customer service people (they cared, they tried, they understood, they acted, they got things done) were in that office. I’m not sure what’s going on in Massachusetts or with techies in Canada as those people responded to the same trouble tickets as the people in Albuquerque did. I’m sure I’ll figure it out at some point since I’ve gotten THIS far in my detective work.

    But my hat’s off to the two good eggs who happened to be in Albuquerque. Thank you, unnammed Fat Cow employees. Out of the entire organisation, including upper management, you guys were the best. You know who you are, and I bet upper management knows who you are. I just hope they appreciate you because I surely do.


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