Customer Service

Apple's laptops impressing Windows users

A recent AP article reviewed the new Apple laptop lineup with a focus on the impressive MacBook.
With extra software, the newer Macs can run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows as well as Apple's Mac OS X. This could spell trouble for notebook makers who can't offer the best of both worlds, particularly in light of the MacBook's starting price of $1,099.

This is something that other computer companies should take note of. Especially in light of the lackluster customer service. For example since March the university I work for has been trying to purchase UPS power supplies for our computers. Our sales person at Dell has been the most uncooperative possible. Whenever I ask who we can talk to at Dell about the string of commitments and broken promises I'm told to talk to the university. Not once has the sales person or anyone else at Dell acknowledged that their failure to be able to ship equipment when promised or that they need purchase orders faxed three or more times is a problem, not of the university's failing but of the business providing the service.

When will the geniuses get it?

At the end of the year I wrote about problems with Apple Store service. So six months later I took the plunge and bought Pro Care. Since I live so far away from a store the promise of first-in service appeals. Just under a week ago I took a machine in with a problem that required ordering a part. "We'll call you when the part comes in," the Genius told me. Yeah right, I thought.Sure enough I call today to see what the delay might be (since the Apple website was unable to show anything but an error for the service status). The parts are in. Great. Now I explain my situation to the Genius and ask whether I have even a chance of same-day service today. Not a definitive answer but a sense of what the odds might be. I explained further that "If there's no chance today I'll wait and bring it in first thing in the morning." You'd have thought I was asking for the key's to Steve Jobs' secret product development lab with a video camera in hand.Twenty minutes later I walk in the store and wait another ten minutes as there are no Geniuses in sight. The store is not busy but they're somewhere in the back. After I drop the machine off I'm told it will likely be tomorrow as they're really backed up. This leads to the question of what self-respecting service organization doesn't have visibility to the queue while talking on the phone but does half an hour later in person. The simpler answer is likely that the Geniuses have undergone extensive training on customer stonewalling. Now this might seem a bit over the top but it got me thinking.

Wonderful computer systems

A few months ago I tried to unload my EDS employee stock. Through the management companies utter failure to be able to do customer service I was unsuccessful. Of course the stock continues to decline.

AOL decides how others name servers

A colleague got a notice this morning that their email had been rejected by AOL. "I can't even email my mother," said the user. Well it turns out AOL decides it can determine how anybody should name their servers. If the reverse lookup for your mail server has a dhcp000-000 in your reverse lookup it will prevent AOL users from getting email from your mail server.

Thoughts from vacation

We spent last week traveling and relaxing. It was easily the best break I've taken since starting my present gig a couple of years ago. However I would offer some observations from the trip.

Your kids aren't that cute - Sorry to be the one to tell you but your screaming kid is not as cute as you think they are. Even if you've programmed them to scream intermittently (every 5-10 seconds) instead of continuously they are still not cute. Here's an easy test. If you think your kid does something cute multiply the cuteness by 0.1 and you'll come up with an estimation of how cute others think it is. There are plenty of parents in the world that have well-behaved polite children and you can too. However ignoring your screaming child will not make them stop, especially when they've been programmed that the only way to get attention is to scream your name repeatedly.

Also there is another part to this equation. While it is not easy to take your toddlers in and out of backpack carriers when getting on or off a shuttle bus, it is the right thing to do. Stacking them off to the far side of the bus as one more piece of baggage will not make the trip enjoyable for any of your fellow passengers.

Hotels need TiVo - I largely gave up on watching TV some time ago. However in the motel room I still tend to turn the boob tube on and see what I have (or haven't) been missing. There seems to be a rule of motel-TV scheduling, however, that says the one thing you'd like to see will be on at the only reasonable time to eat dinner, go to the pool, etc. Which of the hotel chains will be the first to add TiVo to the room?


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