Posts Tagged ‘fail’

Threaten Your Customers With Legal Action; That’ll Make Them Feel Valued And Want To Renew

We’re all familiar with the scene. You’re stuck on the end of the phone, to yet another call centre, you’re on hold due to “significantly high call volume“, you’re paying premium rate for the privilege of being on hold and a disembodied voice interrupts the on hold musak to say “your call is important to us, please continue to hold“.
Well, obviously not that important, because if it was that important than there’d actually be someone to answer the phone. Add into the mix that it’s way outside of normal peak hours and you realise that “significantly high call volume” really means “we’ve only employed two people, one of them is on holiday and the other is taking their only toilet break of the day“.
So far, so familiar. The curse of the non specific, applies to everyone, on hold experience. But oddly nowhere near as bad as when the non-specific, applies to everyone approach transfers to email and a company threatens to sue you if you don’t renew.
So some background. My domain names are registered through one company, easyspace.com. They’re not the best, they’re not the cheapest, they’re a bit impersonal and corporate but they’re a case of better the devil you know and they’ve never threatened me and over reacted. My web hosting and email hosting are through another company, justhost.com. They’re not the best, they’re pretty cheap, they’ve had a few outages but overall they’ve been … OK. I should probably have shopped around a bit more but when I moved from self hosting to the cloud they fitted the bill.
And then this gem dropped into my Inbox …
To: Gary Gale
Subject: Just Host Payment Overdue
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 2009 04:22:23 -0600
From: Just Host
Your Just Host account has an overdue invoice. If your invoice is for hosting services you are in danger of losing access to your site and your domain.YOUR ACCOUNT WILL AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED WHEN YOUR HOSTING INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE.

Please use the link below to make the owed payment to ensure you keep your website, domain and any upgrades active:

https://billing.justhost.com/r/?c=nnnn&i=nnnnnnnnnnnn

**REMEMBER WHEN THIS INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE YOUR ACCOUNT OR SERVICE WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED.**

If your account has not been paid in full after 21 days, we will refer your account to our debt collection authority to investigate and your services will be cancelled. Please reply to this email immediately in order to avoid further charges and/or cancellation of your account.

If you are having trouble paying your account, please inform us and we will do our best to consider payment options that suit both parties.

Kind Regards,

Brooke Bryan
Co-Founder, Just Host
www.justhost.com

Introduce a Friend to Just Host and receive $60!
http://www.justhost.com/affiliates

Let’s just look at this in detail …
Your Just Host account has an overdue invoice.
Really? I’ve already paid for last year’s hosting and got the bank statements to prove it. So the only interpretation I have of this is that you’ve automatically created an invoice for next year and your automated system has automatically lumped me in the same bucket as everyone else so you’ve sent me this mail to remind me to renew and to pay up. Funny. I don’t actually recall asking to renew and this is the first I’ve heard of this. But let’s read on …
If your invoice is for hosting services you are in danger of losing access to your site and your domain.
Losing access to my site? Well fair enough, I’m supposed to be renewing web hosting here so let’s keep reading.
Losing access to my domain? A generous interpretation would be that web hosting and my domain are synonymous. A less generous interpretation would be that I’d lose access to the registration of my domain, which can’t be the case as it’s not registered with Just Host but this is obviously a generic, one-size-fits-all mail so I’ll just mutter “tsk tsk” under my breath and let it pass without further comment.
YOUR ACCOUNT WILL AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED WHEN YOUR HOSTING INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE.
OK, I can read. Not really any need for the caps lock to be on here. I’m an existing customer, one you want to renew with you, remember?
**REMEMBER WHEN THIS INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE YOUR ACCOUNT OR SERVICE WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED.**
Now listen, you mentioned the 7 days two lines ago. My short term memory is fine, and like I said, I’m a customer, so lay off on the caps lock and the stars.
If your account has not been paid in full after 21 days, we will refer your account to our debt collection authority to investigate and your services will be cancelled. Please reply to this email immediately in order to avoid further charges and/or cancellation of your account.
Whoah …. now hang on just a second. My account, as you term it, is at zero balance. I paid for a year’s hosting, in advance, last year. I owe you nothing. Not one single penny. So to revisit my earlier wording, a generous interpretation would be that this mail is sent out to anyone whose account is overdue and yet again, this is a generic, one-size-fits-all mail.
But a more realistic interpretation would be in the form of a question. So Just Host, do you really think that threatening a customer who’s up for renewal with legal action and with a debt collection agency is going to make me want to renew with you? Really?
But then comes the finale …
Introduce a Friend to Just Host and receive $60!
http://www.justhost.com/affiliates
So, after being shouted at in cap lock, not once but twice, after being threatened with legal action for money I can’t possible owe as I haven’t renewed and this was a renewal notice after all, after all of that you want me to refer a friend. Really?
After all of this I still can’t quite work out whether this is breathtaking arrogance or touching naivete on the part of Just Host and of Brooke Bryan, the co founder. Whichever it is, it shows just how little the customer is valued at this certain hosting establishment.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

An Open Letter to Asda and Walmart

This is an open letter to Andy Bond, Chief Executive of Asda and to Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart.
As a British citizen who travels a lot in the US I understand that the “customer service” ethos which is so prevalent in the US doesn’t travel or translate particularly well in the UK. I also understand that it’s almost naive to expect that since Asda was taken over by Wal-Mart in 1999 any type of US values would transfer to the UK arm. I also understand that the UK supermarket business is highly competitive and that through Asda, Wal-Mart is competing head-to-head with Tesco, Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s. I understand and accept all of this.
What I do not understand and what I do not accept is the sheer bloody-mindedness and rudeness of your staff, especially those of your online retailer business.
Let me explain.
As a family we tried out Asda, as their prices are extremely competitive compared to those of their competitors, so on the 19th of October we booked a delivery slot for an online shop; the order wasn’t particularly large or complex but it was still in excess of £100.00. The only delivery slot available was from 8.00 PM to 10.00 PM the following day.
October 20th. 10.05 PM. No shopping. So I look online for some insight.
We know how important it is that we deliver on time but occasionally we can run into difficulties. In the unlikely event that we will be late, we’ll always try to let you know.
I liked the answer to the question “My delivery hasn’t arrived yet?” … “If your shopping hasn’t arrived by the end of your delivery slot, please call our Helpline on 0844 8733333 (calls will be charged at a local rate, lines are open 8am-10pm, 7 days a week.)“.
Unless, of course, your shopping is due to arrive at 10.00 PM in which case if there is a problem, anyone at Asda has gone home for the night. But not my delivery driver it would seem, who rings me at 10.20 to tell me “we’re running slightly late” and that “your shopping will be there at 35 past latest“.
October 20th. 10.40 PM. No shopping.
October 20th. 10.45 PM. Shopping arrives with a giggle and a laugh; “We’re running a bit late tonight (hee hee hee)“. No apology, no contrition, no final bill so I know how much we’ve actually spent, it all seems one great big joke. Apart from the point where they knocked on the front door so hard it managed to wake both of my children up. A great joke, hilarious; only I’m the only one who doesn’t seem to find this particularly amusing.
So I look at my confirmation email … “If you have any queries about ASDA Online Shopping you can contact us on 0844 8733333“. Ah yes, this would be the helpline that closed at 10.00 PM.
So the following day at around 9.30 AM, we ring customer service; they’re open now. They promise to ring the store and the store manager would call us.
October 21st. 2.00 PM. No call. So we hold while customer services rings the store; the store manager “isn’t available and will call us back“.
October 21st. 5.00 PM. No call. So we call customer services who have, miraculously, been in touch with the store. They agree that this is appalling customer service, so appalling that as a token of their esteem they offer “Free delivery of your next order“. This assumes there will be a next order and it works out at the grand total of £4.25. Obviously not that appalling so we say that it’s not good enough.
Asda’s second, and final as it turns out, offer? £10.00 in e-vouchers, which again assumes that there will be a next order and which, by the way, needs to be redeemed in 2 months otherwise they’re invalidated. Still not that appalling so we say that it’s not good enough. So we’re put on hold … permanently as the call isn’t picked up again and after another 15 minutes we hang up in sheer frustration.
As an organisation, Asda may have had a consumer spend of almost £3.5B and a market share of 17% as of August 2008 but as of October 2009 my wallet won’t be contributing to that spend and Asda’s market share just dropped by one household’s worth, which has gone back to one of their rivals.
Photo credits: itsleftyjuliebee and Tico on Flickr

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

On Conferences, Chairs, Breakfasts and Wifi Crashes

Think about the following three scenarios for a moment …

Scenario One. You go to a conference. It doesn’t matter where or what the topic is but you turn up because you’ve been invited or because you’ve paid to attend. Breakfast is included in the conference package. There’s 400 people attending the conference but when you get to the breakfast table, there’s none left because they’ve run out of food. When you ask the conference venue why there’s no breakfast they throw up their hands and say “The company who provides our food assured us there’d be enough for 400 but only enough for 200 turned up. What can we do?“.
And now Scenario Two. Same conference. Same venue. But this time there’s only 200 chairs in the venue and you’ve got 400 people trying to cram into those chairs. It’s getting pretty cozy and people are ending up standing or going home. You ask the conference venue why there’s no chairs and they throw up their hands and say “The company who provides our chairs assured us there’d be enough for 400 but only enough for 200 turned up. What can we do?“.
For both of these scenarios you’d assume that the conference venue and their outsourced provider would have a very quick, very harsh, very frank exchange of views and that it wouldn’t happen again because the conference venue would quickly become a laughing stock.
So now Scenario Three. Same conference and same venue again but this time it’s internet connectivity we’re talking about and internet connectivity of the wifi flavour. Or to be more precise, lack of internet connectivity of the wifi flavour. You ask the conference venue why the wifi keeps crashing and they throw up their hands and say “The company who provides our connectivity assured us there’d be enough for 400 connections but there’s only enough for 200 connections. What can we do?“.
But with this scenario the conference venues are still in business, the outsourced internet providers apologise and do nothing about it, the delegates complain and nothing changes.
The last three conferences I’ve attended have had this problem to varying degrees. Conference number one had workable wifi for the first 30 minutes before connectivity crashed or the access point ran out of DHCP leases. Conference number two only managed 10 minutes after registration opened before crashing. Conference number three had no problems at all but that’s only because they didn’t offer any wifi at all and left everyone reliant on their own 3G dongles or mifi’s.
People in the tech community with far more reach and standing than me have written about this; TechCrunch wrote about the problems at Le Web and Joel Spolsky wrote about it as part of Joel on Software.
When are conference organisers going to get the message? Internet connectivity, it doesn’t have to be wifi, indeed it’s probably better if it isn’t wifi, is essential at conferences these days, tech conferences or otherwise. And if it’s a tech conference you need at least two IP addresses per delegate, minimum to cope with their laptops, iPhones, BlackBerrys and so on.
Until conference organisers make conference venues understand this and start voting with their wallets, this sorry tale will keep on replaying itself.
Photo credit: Leia on Flickr.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

Avis – Less “We Try Harder”, More “We Can’t Be Bothered”

Last week I was unfortunate enough to hire a rental car from Avis at Heathrow. The italics are important here as they point to where the problem seems to lie.

I travel quite a lot for work and so it’s fair to say I rent a reasonable amount of cars; all of them through Avis who are the company’s preferred rental supplier. After getting off a plane, the last thing you really want is to queue to get your car so I’m a member of Avis’ Preferred service; this allows me to skip the queues, pick my car up and drive out of the rental garage with a wave of my driving license. It’s quick, really quick; you see your name on a board which shows you which bay you need to go to, find the car, fling your suitcase in the boot and off you go.
It typically takes around 3 minutes to get my car; and Avis in the UK makes a selling point of this, proudly proclaiming “Your keys in under 3 minutes or £20“.
And it works too; I’ve used the service in the US, in Ireland and in mainland Europe and have been impressed in how well the system works across different countries. Apart from the UK …
I turn up at Heathrow, catch the courtesy bus to the Avis garage and look for my name on the board. Hmm, it’s not there. So into the building I go and straight to the Avis Preferred desk, where a chap sits, doing something paperwork related. I wait. I wait a bit more. I clear my throat and finally get some attention, so I explain that my name’s not on the Preferred board. I give him my booking reference number and he finds the problem …
Your card’s expired Sir“, “Really? What number do you have?”
He quotes a number for a card that expired 2 years ago. “That’s odd” I say, “I’ve used Avis at least 5 times since that card expired and have had no problems”.
It’s your fault, you need to keep your profile up to date“, “Profile? What profile?”
The one your travel agent uses, it’s obviously out of date, take it up with them“.
Nice. So I give him my credit card and off he vanishes to do …. something. So far, we’ve been at this 10 minutes. Another 10 minutes pass, the occasional Avis person from the other counter wanders over to see if I’m being looked after and I have to reply, “I think so, but I’ve no idea where this chap’s gone to with my card”.
He finally reappears and gives me the paperwork for my car.
“So if you knew my card had expired, why didn’t you contact me or my travel agent?”, “We don’t do that
“Why not?”, “We just don’t
The manager wanders over, I ask her the same question.
“So if you knew my card had expired, why didn’t you contact me or my travel agent?”, “We don’t do that
“Why not?”, “Do you know how many bookings we have a week?
“No”, “Thousands, and do you know how many invalid credit cards we get?
“Err, no”, “70!
“70? 70? Is that all?”, “Surely you don’t expect us to ring all of them?
“Actually, yes, I do, I’d consider it customer service”, “We don’t do that
“Well can’t you send an email to let me know?”, “We don’t do that
We’ve now been at this for over half an hour and that “Your keys in 3 minutes” promise is way in the distant past, but eventually I get my paper work and am told “Grey VW Passat, Row A, the hazards will be on“.
Out I wander, slightly stunned and bemused, find the only Grey VW Passat in Row A, with the hazards on, load up and drive off to the exit. Where I hand over my driving license and get ready to depart, because after all, the Avis website tells me that as a Preferred member, “all you will need to do is show us your driving licence, collect your keys and go“.
But no, I have to check the car, confirm my details, check for damage, sign here, sign there, check this and then …
This isn’t your car“, “What?”
This isn’t your car“, “Yes it is, VW. Passat, Grey. Hazards on. Row A”
But the registration number is wrong
I look, and there, in tiny 5 point font is the registration number and it doesn’t match.
This isn’t your car”, “So where’s my car then? Show me where my car is”
We don’t do that, you’ll need to go back to the registration desk and find out”
By this point I’m loosing patience and ask, politely but strongly for him to go instead and after 5 minutes he reappears, points proudly and says “There’s your car“.
I look and it’s being washed and will be “about another 10 minutes“.
So after over an hour, I finally drive out of the Avis garage with the right car and that’s a little over 3 minutes by my reckoning, can’t be considered a fast service, and no, I didn’t get £20 off, I didn’t even get anything vaguely approaching an apology. If this is preferred service, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of normal service.
So to Avis in the US, in Ireland and in Europe, you do a great job, but Avis in the UK, you’re really just can’t be bothered and couldn’t car less because the one message you sent me through all of this is that you don’t do that and you really couldn’t care less about customer service or satisfaction, but you got your money so that’s OK then.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

Deliciousness: Mac OS X 15.6, gallons of chilli sauce, globes and Virgin Media

This week’s trawl through my Delicous bookmarks. Actually this is last week’s trawl but real life got in the way of posting and I beg your indulgence.

  • Last week, Snow Leopard, AKA Mac OS X 10.6 was released though some places seem to now be selling an even more advanced version, Mac OS X 15.6.
  • I like chilli sauce, I have a fine and wide range of the stuff in the larder at home; but some people must really really like the stuff to buy it a gallon at a time.
  • In my day job I do geo stuff but I wasn’t aware that a globe, an inflatable one come to that, has sharp corners and isn’t suitable for children.
  • While we’re on the subject of geo, Virgin Media found out the hard way that place names aren’t unique and sometimes there’s more than one place sharing a name; Whitchurch in this particular case.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous