Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Verizon Wireless Wanted My Opinion

Oh boy. Verizon Wireless wanted to know how likely I am to recommend them to a friend. So I clicked on their survey link and gave them a neutral rating, they asked me to expound. So I did. But I'm wondering if others share my opinion of Verizon Wireless and the industry in general. Here's what I wrote.

It's hard not to compare giant telecom companies in terms which is the least evil. Verizon is a terrifically efficient money extraction machine. Not that the others aren't, but despite the decent coverage in my area and better customer service than most, there absolutely no question that Verizon exists only to get my money.

If you want to foster brand loyalty, you gotta give a little. Take MiFi for example. I'd buy one in a heartbeat if you'd let me use my existing data plan, or at least cut me a good deal on the monthly expense. But when I'm already paying you $150 a month, there's no way I'm going to kick down another $50. Or they way you hold back technology. I remember when you were disabling bluetooth in phones (an exec at the time told the press your customers didn't want it), and holding the GPS chip in my old Blackberry hostage unless I paid $10/mo for VZ Navigator. And when I got my Droid a year ago, Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney stated that tethering would become available in 2010. I bought that phone largely because I wanted to show Verizon that many of your customers will pay for phones that aren't hobbled. Then, in August of 2010 the company announces a change of heart. Want to tether? Buy another phone.

It's all those little digs that undermine brand loyalty. Customers know where we stand. No wireless company has ever demonstrated a sense of loyalty to me, so it shouldn't be hard to understand why your industry can't seem to keep customers from jumping ship. I think it's naively sweet that you posted this survey, but I'm pretty sure Verizon's executive team and board of directors don't care what the customers think as long as we're still paying up.

Then they asked if I could use my comments in their marketing materials. So THAT'S what this was about! They're going to scan the comments of the people who rated them highly and ignore the whiners like me. I've been suckered again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

These Instructions are Mocking Me!

Your humble author is pretty good with technology. I've managed to make a little business out of my skills and provide for my family, even. What I'm not is handy. Not even a little. I once changed out the flush mechanism in a toilet and, drunk on my sense of accomplishment, attempted to change out another one. I had, in fact, been lucky. and a few hours into the second attempt I called a plumber. He was a nice enough guy, but dispensed with diplomacy when he told me my plumbing skills were so bad, I really ought to steer clear of garden hoses. Other failures include 6 hours attempting to install a car stereo (cost me $200 to have it removed and installed correctly), and a kitchen flooring project that stalled for 5 months at phase 1. That one cost $1,200 to correct. Point is, I really, really, suck at most tasks that require tools.
One day last spring, my darling comes home with a new gas grill. In a box. In pieces. And it's my job to assemble it. Gamely, I unpack the box and start looking through the assembly instructions. It doesn't look good from page 1. By page 6 I'm becoming concerned for my safety. By page 10, I'm becoming concerned for my neighborhood's safety. Then I land on page 12- the exploded diagram showing parts A through SS. To a guy like me, that's fiendishly complicated. Click on that picture above to see it and be sure to read that sentence at the bottom. "Estimated assembly time: 30 minutes." Are you freaking kidding me? That's not an estimate, that's a taunt and a mean spirited lie!
Eventually– very eventually- I got the thing put together and working correctly. Well I'm assuming it's working correctly only because we haven't yet experienced any property damage or injury related to use of the grill. And how long did it take me? Three hours, not counting cleanup time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

QuackBooks Pro

I was working on a review of QuickBooks for Mac this week. Intuit, the money extraction regime- er, company that makes the product has never made the Mac version comparable to, or even fully compatible with, the Windows edition. Researching the latest release, I looked for an indication that they'd made some strides toward better compatibility. Short answer: they haven't.

But I did manage to dig up this little gem of a chart. Some "Key Features" of QB for Mac just aren't available on Windows. Those first three features integrate with Apple software and services that don't exist on Windows. So, yeah, take that Windows users! Your QuickBooks can't integrate with software for a computer you don't own! Snap!

More interesting yet is Key Feature number 4. According to the chart, Mac users can share data with their accountants and Windows-based users, but Windows-based users can't share data with Windows-based users. I'm sure it was a simple oversight on Intuit's part and Windows users will be able to share data among themselves for a $39 monthly fee paid annually.

But my favorite by far is Key Feature five. Pity the poor Pee Cee drone trying with grit, determination and earnestness to become a more confident QuickBooks for Mac user. If only our hapless hero had checked in advance! He would have known that you just can't become a more confident QuickBooks for Mac user if you use QuickBooks for Windows.

You just know that some jackass marketing director brayed incessantly "give me five key features or you'll be looking for another entry level job!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's not you, it's me. Actually it's FailSafe™ MEGA E&O insurance.

I just got an oddly worded letter from my business insurance company. I carry something called "Error and Omission" insurance which is akin to malpractice coverage for nerds. For context, consider that I've had a policy with this company for five years, my business model hasn't changed in that time and I've never made a claim of any kind.

Perusing the letter, the following statements appear in the order presented.

  1. They value me.
  2. The success of my business is their top priority.
  3. They'll be there when I need them.
  4. They want to continue to provide my insurance coverage.
  5. They're dropping the only part of the policy I really care about.
  6. They look forward to continuing our relationship.

I weep for the jilted lover who gets dumped by the Cyrano de Bureaucrat who authored this breakup letter.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Juxtaposition of Incongruent Images

So I open up my email from Costco, which, like my beloved SkyMall, is full of the most random assortment of products thrown together in no particular order. And I come across this little gem. The Trojan Pleasure Pack is on sale this week. Someone in the art department must have been concerned that the only product shot they had wouldn't scale up nicely. So what's an artist on deadline to do? Quickly! To the stock photography! Here's how I imagine the process went.
  • 2:37 PM - "OK, gotta get a picture for these sausage casings."
  • 2:43 - "Too bland."
  • 2:59 - "Too 70s."
  • 3:12 - "Too many dudes."
  • 3:38 - "Too much oil."
  • 3:53 - "Legal might have to OK that one."
  • 4:17 - "Oh God!! My eyes! It burns! It burns!"
  • 4:42 - "Almost out of time. Gotta come up with sexy but not offensive."
  • 4:59 - To boss: "I did not rush through this! That's a sexy laboratory, man."
  • 5:01 - Unicorn Chaser

Friday, September 17, 2010

Instrucciones en Espanol

Hey there Spanish speakers! Looking for a new cabezal de la ducha? We've got you covered. And just in case you can't figure out the directions, there's a title just for you!
-Thank you Pamela Starbuck for the contribution
Copyright 2007, 2008 Stuart Gripman. All rights reserved.