Archive for September, 2008

Why Lenovo Is The Worst, Part 2

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Update to http://aswas.typepad.com/hall_of_fame/2008/09/why-lenovo-is-t.html

My advocate called me a few days ago. She looked at my record, and the only thing she could find was that the SWAT team ran the system updater.

That was evidently it. According to her records, my computer was tested and found to have no other problems.

The computer still gets INSANELY hot once you boot it up. I’ll still be in danger of overheating. This is evidently so scary to Lenovo that a low-level tech support once nearly BEGGED me to send in the laptop just to have this fixed. Well, I sent it in, and it’s NOT fixed!

The computer still doesn’t see it’s own Bluetooth device. So I still can’t use Bluetooth because the computer is now on year 3 of not seeing that it has Bluetooth.

Same hard drive. Same parts. My format with my installations, desktop picture, and everything. All the SWAT team did was run the system updater.

I want my money back. Not only has Lenovo sat on my $2500 while I’ve had no reasonably working computer ever, but they have wasted my time. I have spent HOURS alone just talking to my "advocate" at Lenovo. I have spent days worth of time over the last 2 years trying to baby this computer into not failing. They should pay me for my time and patience.

Plus, Lenovo has now taught me that if I have a problem with my computer, nobody will fix it. Tech support won’t help. The low level repair depot won’t fix it. The SWAT team, the specialised higher-level tech support depot, won’t fix it. And I can fight them for YEARS and still be stuck with a non-working machine.

I want my money back, Lenovo.


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AZ Proposition 102

Monday, September 29th, 2008

With the election coming up soon, there are lots of commercials about voting for or against propositions. Prop 102 is, to cut to the chase, an anti-gay-marriage proposition.

I am listening to these commercials and reading what was submitted about this proposition, and there is one thing that is really odd.

Based on how these people are phrasing things, they are against MY marriage.

Over and over, these people are writing that marriage is about a father, mother, and children. A man and woman coming together to have a family. Guess what. I don’t have kids and I don’t want kids. Evidently, these people are against my marriage.

What’s more than that is their really bizarre logic. According to what they filed, you will ONLY get holidays with grandma and grandpa if there is no gay marriage. So if we don’t let gay people get married, grandma and grandpa can be whole again?

What about divorce? 50% of marriages end in divorce. People are freaking miserable, including many NOT getting divorced. I think if somebody wants to improve marriage, they need to start by making it something people want to stay in! I think the thing that threatens male-female marriages the most are that people are choosing the wrong people and then getting divorced.

Two gay people marrying each other has NOTHING to do with me. I am not sure why anybody thinks that what two other people choose affects them. I’m not affected by my neighbour’s religion. I’m not affected by my neighbour’s income or debt. I’m not affected by whether or not my neighbours are gay. I’m not affected by what colour skin my neighbours have. Why should government step in and take rights away from people who deserve rights?

Once upon a time, people wanted to take rights away from people based on the colour of their skin or their gender. Now, we wouldn’t DREAM of trying to deny a woman the same rights everybody else has. Why are we trying to put people into labelled boxes and then find something to take away from them?

AZ already voted AGAINST a gay marriage ban in 2006, and here it is again. I hope AZ will come out and vote this down AGAIN.


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Why Lenovo Is The Worst

Monday, September 29th, 2008

If you know me, then you know it takes a LOT to piss me off. You know I don’t throw around negativity and criticism easily. But Lenovo has really taken the cake, and if you or anybody you know is thinking of buying a laptop, you need to stay away from Lenovo.

The shortest version I can write and tell you the whole story is this.

I spent $2500 on a Lenovo ThinkPad T60p in September 2006. I thought I was buying the BEST business laptop money can buy. My colleagues swore by their ThinkPads, and I wanted to be part of a very happy tribe of computer users who loved their reliable machines. I paid more for a longer warranty, and I knew I was paying more for tech support that is located in Atlanta, Georgia. These sounded GREAT.

The laptop never worked right. I had constant problems with it. I was on to tech support all the time. It was soon going to the depot to be fixed. It returned and was not fixed. Problems got worse. I was out of the country in January 2007 when the computer was constantly blue screening. I came back, and complained my head off. I demanded that it be replaced because it was wasting my time and always working horribly. They wouldn’t replace it, but they sent me a docking station (retail price $199) to apologise for my problems. Docking station was nice but guess what. I still had a shitty computer that didn’t work right. So apology NOT accepted.

They also had me send the laptop back in for further repairs. Now it was being sent to "SWAT," the second level of tech support. Lenovo told me that a laptop never has to go to SWAT twice because they REALLY fix it. Why not make everything SWAT then? Anyway, the computer came back and wasn’t fixed. I learned that Lenovo will not help me. They will not fix this computer. They will not replace it. So why call tech support? Why spend my time talking to them and sending it back to depots that don’t fix it? Lenovo taught me to NOT trust them.

So how did I deal with a laptop that didn’t work reliably?

  • I travelled with 3 external hard drives that had back-ups of everything.
  • I travelled with my installation disks on the assumption that the computer would blue screen, die, and I’d have to reformat from some hotel somewhere.
  • I reformatted to factory settings (ThinkPad’s blue button) around 3-4 times per YEAR. I’d reinstall all of my apps, and replace all of my data.
  • I created a batch file that backed things up for me every night while I slept.
  • I had utilities run every night while I slept.
  • I often had to boot the computer 4 times in a row for it to start up correctly.
  • I often had to sit and do nothing after the computer overheated and turned itself off. Not "Windows is shutting down." Just off. Black screen. Fan off. Computer off. I’ll just sit while it cools off.
  • I was incredibly NOT productive, and seemed to spend most of my time trying to tape this piece of shit back together.

In July 2008, I got tired of doing this. I was tired of reformatting. I was tired of travelling with so much emergency stuff. The BSODs were starting again. It was still overheating. Bluetooth still wasn’t working. I called Lenovo for tech support. When I told them what was going on, they wanted to send it to the depot to be fixed. I told them no way because the depot doesn’t fix things, so never mind.

I went to a computer store and bought a laptop hard drive. I took out Lenovo’s drive, and I put in mine. I did a fresh install from my Windows XP CD, not from the blue button, and I installed all of my apps and restored all of my data. That worked MUCH better until the blue screens started again. It still overheated. Bluetooth still didn’t work. I still could start the computer up, and it didn’t see its own built-in keyboard and trackpad.

I called Lenovo again. They wanted it sent to the depot. I asked for a supervisor. I eventually found my way to an "Advocate" who was going to present my case to have the computer replaced. I wanted to know if THIS computer doesn’t get replaced, what does it take? How many times do I have to call tech support? How many times should it go to the depot? How much time do I need to spend on an unreliable lemon that should just be replaced?

These questions were not answered. They wanted it sent to SWAT again. Again? With the Lenovo unusable, I went to Best Buy and bought an HP 6985SE, which so far has been lovely! Only $1000, which is a great improvement over the $2500 I wasted with Lenovo. Lenovo wants this sent back? Sure, have fun with it guys. I sent it back with a 3 page typed note about everything that was wrong with it. I had JUST reformatted it anyway to use at RocketPlace, so there was nothing on there I would be missing. It was a fresh format with some RocketPlace PowerPoints and a RocketPlace desktop. :)

I got it back Wednesday, and boy am I enraged. Normally, when you get them back, you get a form saying what was wrong and what parts were replaced, or what the depot did. My laptop came with no form. The same hard drive was in it. My PowerPoints were there, along with my RocketPlace desktop. New icons on the desktop, including some sort of System Updater. New crap in the system tray like AVG and a bunch of other things I didn’t put on there.

So I slide in my 2nd hard drive, which had that fresh format on it from August 2008. I had only used it 10 days before buying the new HP laptop. So it was still a good format. Booted up. Went straight to the Bluetooth control panel, and was told no Bluetooth device found. Really. Same hard drive. Still no Bluetooth found. Laptop was on for just a few minutes, and was DAMN hot. So did they fix anything? Change anything?

I left a voice mail for my advocate. I asked her to please find out what SWAT did, and call me back. I was still angry. I called her back later in the day, and said to have her supervisor call me back. Clearly, NOTHING was done to this laptop. The side of the box has "neither" handwritten on it under my name and case number (handwritten). What does that mean? I don’t know, but it doesn’t look good. I want to talk to a supervisor about why my laptop went to SWAT twice, and nobody will replace this.

To me, the amazing thing is that at some point, Lenovo should care about my experience. Someone should have decided that it costs them less in the short and long term to just make me happy. What would make me happy? Replace my laptop with something that would cost me $2500 today. Impress me. Make me a vocal and HAPPY user. Make me believe in Lenovo. Make me want to tell friends how great my machine is. It can’t be that hard. I only want a reliable laptop that has working parts and doesn’t blue screen or overheat. It’s easy to make me happy.

But Lenovo evidently makes more money by spending dozens of hours on phone support with me, taking it back to be fixed 3 times, and sending me back the same non-working laptop. That’s evidently what they think is best for them and me. That thinking will destroy any company. I only want them to make right something they made very wrong. They made a lemon. Most people I know LOVE their ThinkPads. I just wanted to be one of them. I just wanted to love mine too. Now for two years, I have wasted time and money farting around with something that won’t work, and nobody there cares.

How do you ever fix that? Honestly, at this point, I don’t want another Lenovo. I will NEVER trust their brand again. They could send me a $5000 laptop, and I wouldn’t believe in it. They should refund my money, especially given all the trouble that I had. I spent 2 years trying to make their system work, which included frequent reformats. Three trips to the depot won’t fix it. You guys owe me. You should give me my money back. I don’t want this laptop back, and I don’t want a replacement anymore. The time to replace this laptop was early 2007 when I still believed you would make me a happy customer. Now, I’m an HP customer, and I just want my money back because I deserve it back.

Thanks, Lenovo. Good luck with the whole business model.

UPDATE: I am asking Lenovo for my money back, and not to bother pretending to fix this. My claim is that Lenovo CANNOT have my $2500 and give me neither a working laptop nor an appropriate replacement. They can’t fix my laptop, and clearly don’t want to replace it, after two years of fighting with them about replacing it. So they can have my laptop back, and I’ll just take a refund. That would be FINE.

I’ll keep you posted on how that works out. :)


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eBay In Person

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Earlier this week, eBay announced "eBay In Person," a one-day event held today in Miami, FL. eBay sellers can hear a few talks and meet with eBay staff. I think the idea is for sellers to be heard.

But announcing it last minute says, "Please don’t come to this." Having no pre-registration, which means they can turn away anybody at the door, says "Please don’t come to this."

They evidently held one like this last fall in the Bay Area. That’s two events, just about a year apart. I don’t think these qualify as the "regional events" eBay promised. I think of regional events as happening more than once a year, with real registration, with real speakers and/or exhibitors, with more than 2 days notice. :)

One of my staff lives 160 miles away from Miami, and may try to see if she can go last minute. It’s evidently as much as a 5-hour drive each way for her, so I SURE hope this is worth it! But it would be interesting to have someone there who can report back what is going on.


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Surprise Effect of DSRs on eBay Buyers

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

I got very surprised over the last week at a discussion on Triiibes.com. Triiibes is a locked up, invite-only online community mostly of genius marketing heads, headed by Seth Godin. The forum and blog posts are not just about marketing, but many of us approach topics with our marketing hats on.

Last week, a guy posted that he couldn’t believe what his eBay seller emailed him. Basically, the eBay seller emailed him that he/she wanted all 5 stars in DSRs because if he/she didn’t get them, eBay would raise his/her fees, and he/she would then have to raise his/her shipping fees.

Now, I think we can ALL agree that your shipping price is NOT the place to raise to make up for fees, especially with eBay’s new approaches to monitoring and capping shipping prices. And let’s be logical. If you’re getting lower scores for shipping pricing, RAISING your shipping pricing is not going to help!

But back to the discussion on Triiibes. The original person who posted seemed very bothered at what I’ll call emotional blackmail from the seller… like leave me perfect scores, or hurt my business. It was a discussion forum post, and other people started writing in. The main tone of their replies? Give that seller LOWER scores than you were planning so that he/she can learn a lesson about marketing. The people replying thought it was really in bad taste for the seller to have emailed such a note.

  • One person even suggested leaving lower ratings to teach this seller a lesson about marketing, and then to email the seller about what he/she could have done better.
  • Someone else wrote that what the seller said sounded desperate, which it does because we know it is.
  • Someone else suggested trying to retract your bid with that seller, and not buy from him/her at all (not realising that the sale probably already happened).
  • Someone said to not buy from this person again because asking for high ratings this way feels like extortion.
  • Someone else suggested asking the seller for 50% off to give high ratings, not knowing that’s extortion. Oops!
  • Someone else suggested writing back to ask what this seller did that was so worthy of 5-star service. Other people wrote in to say the seller should earn it, and not beg for it.
  • Someone else called this blackmail, and said other businesses could NOT get away with asking for high ratings or else someone gets fired or prices go up.

Then I wrote in. The problem was that these people in this forum discussion had NO idea what is going on for eBay sellers. I explained DSRs to them, and how if you don’t meet certain standards, you can lose discounts, lose favour in search results, and eventually just be suspended. So NOT getting 5 stars is a real concern for people, especially when eBay is not letting buyers know that a rating of 4 is technically BAD. You might leave a 4 thinking that is a great score, but you could be completely murdering your seller’s business, which would be odd if you were leaving them a 4 because you LIKED them and were happy!

The tone changed again. The people involved in the discussion were outraged, and wanted eBay’s ear. They wanted eBay to know these main things:

  1. They do NOT want sellers under this kind of pressure. It’s not going to bring out the best in people.
  2. Sellers are paying too much to eBay in fees to have to also go this far to save their own hides. "eBay is not doing good by the very people who make eBay work." Yes, two non-eBay sellers actually said these two statements! :)
  3. They do not want to be emotionally blackmailed by every seller. They don’t want to be begged for the highest ratings "or else."
  4. They felt that only truly 5-star sellers should get 5 stars, and not because they begged for 5 stars. If people who don’t deserve 5 stars are getting it out of buyer guilt over eBay’s system, or if sellers are getting lower scores because people are angry at the DSR begging, then you have a system that doesn’t work and isn’t made up of honest ratings.
  5. Even if a seller doesn’t beg, now that these buyers know what is really going on, they know that leaving anything but a 5 can kill a seller’s entire business. They don’t want that weight on them. A 4 should be a great mark, and not a death knell. These people now seemed uneasy about eBay buying.
  6. "Quality cannot survive in a marketplace that concentrates on the lowest
    possible price. That kills diversity and favors large sellers."

These people were really upset at this, and I was just surprised. I guess I had become desensitised to what life under DSRs is like for an eBay seller. It’s just a given. And yeah, you ask for 5 stars because you don’t know what else to do. Get enough 4 star ratings, and you are thrown off of eBay. But now ASKING could get you lower ratings and unhappy buyers. What will sellers do?

I hope eBay will rethink their system. I have always been FOR DSRs and for high seller standards, but I have always felt that eBay went too far when they made a 4 a bad score. Reading what international marketing geniuses are saying about this just wakes me up. They wanted this said publicly, so I’m saying it here, and hopefully some of them will comment in the blog.


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As Was Helps eBay Sellers with Holiday Selling

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Between
the many, large changes eBay has announced this year, and the economy, many
eBay sellers are concerned about the holiday selling season.  As Was, eBay’s first
Certified Service Provider, has an unmatched track record helping eBay sellers
grow, compete, be more profitable, and have higher DSRs (Detailed Seller
Ratings).

The
average As Was client grows their eBay sales 15% within weeks of finishing a
project with As Was, and then continues to grow. The average client also sees
fewer pre-sales emails, more eBay Store traffic, and higher DSRs. As Was is able to
achieve these results, time after time, because As Was does more than design;
As Was staff is made up of eBay experts in the USA to work one-on-one with each
client to improve businesses and resolve areas where shoppers feel frustration,
confusion, and disappointment.

"We
took several months to finally decide on a company to help us with our template
design and eBay strategy. After hiring As Was, we knew we made the right
decision. It took about 3 weeks for the template to be completed, and the
result was impressive. We instantly noticed a higher percentage of sales on
auctions that had the template than my older auctions that had not yet been converted.
This was no accident. The price I paid was small compared to the long term
benefits I will receive." – eBay user ID suburbanwheelcover, June 2008,
days after starting to use his As Was template.

As
Was works with new eBay entrepreneurs as well as veteran PowerSellers, and
starts with branding and identity; does the eBay seller have a name that people will
remember? When a buyer remembers your name, they are more likely to look for
you again, and to tell friends.

Next,
As Was creates a design template for all of the seller’s eBay listings. Designs are always
completely custom and unique, designed with the seller’s company image and
personality in mind. As Was designs based on how eBay shoppers tend to think and behave, and never starts with a cookie cutter
layout. The only thing As Was uses over and over is creativity.

As
Was staff also rewrite, edit, and reorganize the seller’s policies.
Better-written policies and a unique design keep shoppers interested, and make
them more likely to read and understand the nature of the transaction. Shoppers
who understand policies are more likely to bid or buy without bogging the
seller down with questions, and are likely to give better feedback and DSRs
since their experience matched their expectations.

Each
As Was client gets a strategy report from our in-house Business Strategist.
Sellers will get a fresh understanding of how to use item titles, listing
timing, listing formats, listing features, and more to best capitalize on the
demand for their items on eBay.

From
there, As Was can design eBay Stores, About Me pages, off-eBay eCommerce
websites, business cards, postcards, and other print materials, and blogs. The 
Msss Kel’s Place” designed
by As Was won eBay’s “Best In Stores: Standard Store” award for 2008. As Was
acts as a full-service business and marketing consulting firm to eBay sellers,
and is happy to provide anything sellers need to help them grow.

As
Was listing templates are compatible with Vendio (including Vendio Desktop and
Andale), Inkfrog, Auctiva, AuctionWizard 2000, Blackthorne Basic and
Blackthorne Pro, Laris, Kyozou, Infopia, ChannelAdvisor’s Marketplace Advisor
Premium as well as Marketplace Advisor, previously known as Marketworks, and
any software that allows for completely custom HTML templates.

As
Was also makes a lot of their advice and approach available to the public
through their RocketPlace conference. As Was clients and non-clients are welcome to join us
at The Rio in Las Vegas, September 10-12, 2008, for the best and newest
techniques, strategies, and tools for growing eBay businesses.

Learn
more about As Was at http://www.aswas.com.


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Review of Skyfire Windows Mobile Browser

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Well, I thought Skyfire was going to be the second coming the way it was written about. I put myself on the list of salivating beta testers months ago. I got contacted last week that I can test. I was SO excited.

I downloaded. I installed. And I was quickly pissed off. Here is the letter I sent to Skyfire about what I think of their browser.

  • I can’t put in a local file. The address bar is forced to start with http://. That means no file:// and no secure server addresses or anything else. That makes no sense!
  • The whole thing is very iPhone. I don’t have an iPhone because I don’t want one. There are plenty of emulators out there. I thought you were going to do something innovative, and you’re just copying the iPhone.
  • When a web page comes up, it’s microscopic. I have to click to where I want to start reading or clicking. That’s a three click process. Click once to bring up the magnifying glass. Move that to where I want. Click again. Now I’m seeing what I want. Three clicks? Not innovative!
  • I find scrolling clumsy. It’s hard to grab the grain-of-sand-sized scroll bars. When I try to push it with my finger, it doesn’t flow. I use SPB Pocket Plus, and when I run my finger in IE, it flies until I stop it or it slows down. That’s helpful. With yours, I have to slide my finger every time I want to move a screen’s worth.
  • I hate that I can’t just type into form fields. I imagine you grabbing every password I put in and sending that back to your site. Sure, you could steal that in other ways, but this one sure would be easy. It also adds lots of clicks. I’m looking at form field. I click. I have to wait for your window to pop up so I can type. I then have to say OK for your window to drop what I typed into the form field I clicked on. Extra clicks again.
  • Pages hang a lot. I don’t know if you’re rendering the screen, but the app seems to do nothing. The progress bar stops and I’m on the last page I was on. Nothing seems to be happening. My only choice on the screen is a back button.
  • The settings don’t seem to cover things I was hoping to be able to set. In fact, I have to go under Actions to find Settings, and then my only options are to clear cookies and clear history. I can’t set any preferences for the most part.

I went to a hotel website to get prices on a room. It had to take me 10 minutes to keep zooming in, moving around, typing in the dates I wanted, etc… to find the rates. I then went into IE on my phone, went to the same website, and had the rates within 2 minutes taking the same path to get there.

So all in all, I find your browser to be slow. It takes so many extra clicks to do things. Scrolling is slow and clumsy. Entering things into fields takes twice the time if not more. And I can’t set this for how I want to use a browser.

I think I will keep using IE and look at paying for Opera. Opera has been quite good. I will be uninstalling Skyfire from my mobile as I can’t see myself wanting to surf the web with it when I have so much better ease of use from one free app and one paid app.


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