My XBox Live Gamer Card
Wednesday, August 19. 2009
Back at the end of June, Travis rented [Prototype] from our friendly neighbourhood Blockbuster. He liked it well enough that he kept it beyond the week, and Jennifer returned it a week or so late.
Yesterday while I was reviewing bank statements I discovered a charge for $59.99 on my credit card on July 1st. Having no idea what it was I called Blockbuster and asked. They were more than happy to tell me it was for the unreturned copy of [Prototype]. Knowing very well that Jennifer had returned the game I asked what could be done and was told I would need to call back when the manager was on duty. This morning I called back and talked to the manager. I told him the story, he asked me a few questions, and while not happy about doing so, he credited my account for the $59.99.
I had no proof that Jennifer had returned the game. I know she did but could not prove that. In addition it had been a long time since the charge was placed on my credit card. Note to self: pay closer attention to your credit card statements. Despite those things the manager chose to do the right thing. In a world where the customer is very rarely looked out for, I appreciate it very much when people do look out for their customers and do the right thing.
Wednesday, August 5. 2009
The oils in my hands seem to be naturally acidic. This came into play on my old PowerBook G4 where whatever it is my skin secretes ate away the the brushed aluminum finish and turned the wrist rests into a pitted black mess. I decided I wouldn't go through that again with my MacBook Pro, so I did some investigation and came up with Marware's solution to the problem. It looked like exactly what I needed to prevent my lovely aluminum finish being destroyed. When I got it I asked Jennifer, who is far more skilled at such things than I am, to apply all the appropriate sticky bits to all the appropriate places (both wrist rests and the trackpad). I was greatly pleased. The "feel" took a bit of getting used too, but I was very pleased with the quality and the look (the look is definitely not enhanced, but it not as horrible a blemish as it might have been).
I used everything quite happily for a couple of weeks and then it happened. The film over the track pad wrinkled just a tiny bit on the edge closest to the screen. I took my credit card and re-stuck it down, but within an hour or so it was back to being wrinkled, I decided I was going to have to live with it, but over the course of a few days three more little wrinkles appeared across the top edge, and finally I couldn't stand it any more and I peeled the entire film off. I sent an email to the support address at Marware telling them how happy I was with the wrist protectors, but also letting them know about my problem with the trackpad film. I didn't ask for a replacement, I didn't ask for a refund, I just let them know what had happened. Within 24 hours I had a response from Marware, saying "That shouldn't have happened, we'll get a replacement to you immediately." They didn't even ask for my address as they were competent enough to look up my mailing address based on my email address. Within a few days I had a replacement trackpad film in my mail box. I consider that to be exceptional customer service and I am more than happy to tell anyone who will listen about that experience.
Shortly after my father died in April I was shocked to discover that there was a bit of life insurance and a couple of small annuities of which I was one of the beneficiaries. I got some forms I was supposed to fill out, but had no information whatsoever about the amounts of money involved, or the time periods over which the annuities would pay out or the tax status of those annuities. Without that information I had no good way of filling out the forms I had been provided. Attached to the forms was Marci's business card from a company called Bankers, it included all the required contact information so I thought getting the information I needed would be quite easy.
Most of you who know me know that I hate the telephone. I would rather email than phone, I would rather text message than phone I would rather send smoke signals than use the phone. I sent Marci an email and then waited, I didn't hear back so sent another email the next day. I didn't hear back so sent yet another email for days later. I didn't hear back. Then I went and checked my spam folder. I use SpamSieve, and it works very well, however it had flagged Marci's response to me as spam and I was mortified to discover that the increasingly irate tone of my email had been completely undeserved. I sent an email of apology and we started over. I got the information I needed, delivered the forms to her office, and waited and waited. I wasn't too concerned about the money until Jennifer lost her job, then it became a bit more important.
Any time I call the office at Bankers and dial Marci's extension I get voice mail, given the number of calls, I would have expected her to pick up her office phone at least once. When I dial 0 to get the receptionist I once again get voice mail, only this time it's a general mail box. I was trying for several days to get her, but before we were able to connect I received some checks in the mail. I thought "Great! everything is resolved!" but then noticed that I still hadn't received a check for the life insurance. So I continued to call, and finally I got a call back. "There's a problem," she said "You need to fill out this other form and sign it." She faxed it to me and I faxed it back. Everything should have been good, but more weeks went by and still no check.
Once again I tried the phone calls, once again, no one in the Bankers office would pick up the phone, once again I left messages. Finally she called back. "Ohh I'll check on that for you." Miracle of miracles, I actually got a call back, it was on Friday the 24th of July. She said the check had been cut. It would be mailed to her office and would be available likely by Wednesday of the next week. She also told me she would call me to tell me when it came in.
On Wednesday of the next week I went on vacation for a week. I didn't get a phone call while I was gone. I didn't get a check while I was gone. I called this morning, as usual she didn't answer her phone. I left a message asking her to call me. I wonder how long that will take.
Just as I can't recommend Marware highly enough, I can't say enough bad things about Marci and Bankers. Bankers is a company that sells products that put them in close contact with the bereaved on a daily basis, people who need their hands held, and shoulders to cry on and understanding and care, not the thoughtless, careless and callous treatment that I have seen in the three months I have been dealing with them.
So if you're looking for life insurance or annuities I can't suggest strongly enough that you steer clear of Bankers. If you already, do business with them then please steer clear of Marci in the NE Portland Office.
Sunday, October 19. 2008
Yesterday the following appeared in my Twitterstream
Apple Store let me down for the very first time. Drove all the way to swap out an obviously dead iPod told we would have to wait until 5pm 2:59 PM Oct 18th from TwitterBerry
Turned out that a really great employee didn't allow that to happen though.
The replacement iPod we received when Travis's birthday iPod failed developed a row of dead pixels. We decided that yesterday, after Kellan's soccer game, we would return the defective unit and get a new one. We arrived to a packed Apple Store, and Travis approached the young woman who was functioning as store hostess. We told her what the problem was, she left briefly and then returned to tell us that we couldn't return the iPod until 5:00pm. She told us the Geniuses were really busy and wouldn't be able to look at it until then.
5:00pm was two hours away, we'd driven a long way to get to the store and Jennifer and I were going to the theater that evening. We couldn't wait two hours. We told her so, she said she couldn't help us.
We hung out a bit letting William play a game, while Travis and Kellan checked out the iPhones and I checked out the new Mac Book Pros. While that was going on a nice sales type guy came over and asked us how we were doing. I told him "Not so good, for the first time ever, the Apple Store has let me down." He asked what was going on, we told him. He gave us a rather lengthy explanation of why we needed to wait until 5pm. It was lucid, and completely understandable, but still didn't take the sting out of the fact that we had travelled a long way for a simple return and were apparently not going to be able to accomplish that task.
He asked if we would like to see if there had been any cancellations. We said sure. He checked, and their hadn't been. We would still have to wait until 5:00pm. Then he asked if we would like to "fly standby." Once again we said sure. We filled out the Genius Bar web-app. and stood around to wait for a while. He came back within five minutes and told us "They can see you right now!"
Travis got his replacement iPod and the Apple Store remains in our good graces, thanks to a young sales guy who didn't want his store to have let down one of it's most loyal customers.
We did learn a valuable lesson. Any time we need to go to the Apple Store for anything other than a purchase we will make sure we've scheduled ourselves for the Genius Bar, even if it feels like we don't need to waste the Geniuses time.
Friday, October 10. 2008
I've called out less than quality service on my blog before. I've also tried to give credit where credit is due and today I am happy to say, Philip at Sprint's customer support deserves a whole lot of credit. Not just for resolving my problem but for following through exactly how he said he would follow through.
Yesterday, the click-wheel on my trusty BlackBerry 8703 gave out. No click-wheel makes the device nigh-unto useless. The help desk hear at Rentrak was able to provide me with a temporary phone until they are able to get me a new 8830. The temporary 7250 worked as a phone, I could use the browser, I could SMS, but I could not send and receive email. Yesterday evening I tried to setup the email on the 7250 and when I put in my name and password I was told "Account has been suspended." That's never a good sign.
I dialed 611 and after a short wait I was put through to Philip. I told him my story of woe, he ran through a few things and said "I think it should be working now. But I will call you back in three minutes to make sure."
We disconnected the call, I waited a few moments, and got several "Activation" emails. I then got distracted by something...ohhhhh shiny...and not having set the phone up all the way, missed it ringing, so missed the call-back from Philip. I didn't notice this for a bit, but then saw the message light flashing saw I had voice-mail, and on top of that and email to my personal email account asking me to confirm that I had received it.
They're small things. But in a world where so many people apparently don't care, it was wonderful to meet someone who did care, and took an extra step just to make sure they had a happy customer.
Thank you Philip. I hope that I can pass this on to your boss.
Sunday, September 7. 2008
[Updated: September, 7th
I got an email from OnPoint Friday afternoon telling me that they were refunding the entire amount they removed in error. I appreciate them doing the right thing. I'm disappointed it took me writing publicly about it to get the appropriate response, but am appreciative that they DID do it. Thank you.
I live paycheck to paycheck. This month things ended up a bit tighter than usual and my debit card was declined when I tried to buy gas with it this morning. Knowing that I was pretty sure about the amount of money in my account, I fired up the online banking and took a look at what the problem might be. I found it, a seven-dollar charge for having an account that did not meet the minimum average balance requirement. It was the first time that that has happened in a long time, but it was not something for me to get angry about, I have an account with a minimum average balance requirement, I didn't meet the balance, so I pay the fee.
That said, I don't like those kind of surprises, so I called up my friendly OnPoint Community Credit Union and asked if there were another type of account where I wouldn't have to face the sometime seven-dollar fee. The young lady was very nice, asked me for my account number and said "Ohh you have interest checking which has that fee. If you change to basic checking there would never be a fee."
I responded with "Great, I think I'd like to do that, but are their any other services I would lose out on?" and this is where things went downhill for OnPoint and the nice girl who I was chatting with.
Her response was "Well with basic checking you do have to pay a fee for electronic bill-pay."
I was quite taken aback, because I have been paying a fee for my electronic bill-pay since I started using the service. I was under the impression it was the price I paid for using the service.
I asked her why I was being charged for it if I shouldn't have been being charged and she said "I'm sorry we must have made a mistake, let me see what I can do."
I waited a bit and she came back and said "I can refund four months worth of those charges."
At this point I was a bit frustrated. I had been paying the fee, because I thought I needed to and never thought to question it, and now I was being told that they had been taking $3.95 from my account every month for thirteen months that they should not have been taking due to an error on their part, and they were only going to credit me for four of those months.
I asked her how her proposal was right, and she said "You have 60 days after each statement to dispute any charges." My response was "How was I to dispute a charge I didn't know was wrong?" her response was "well it's all over the website and your statement." at which point I requested the four month reimbursement and left the call because I was getting too frustrated to be polite.
So if anyone from OnPoint reads this, How is that right? How is it right for you to make a mistake, a mistake which your representative has admitted, a mistake whereby you removed money that was rightfully your customer's from his account, and then refuse to give it back?
To me that's stealing, and just because someone doesn't know they're being stolen from doesn't make it OK.
Tuesday, September 2. 2008
[Updated: September, 3nd]
Went to my mailbox today and inside it was a package from Microsoft a copy of Project Gotham Racing 3. Thank you Microsoft and Jerry for coming through on your promises! That's impressive.
Now I only need the phone call from Gerald's Manager and this saga will be complete.
[Updated: September, 2nd]
I got a second call from Microsoft this morning at 6:00am. They were kindly letting me know that my unit had been shipped back to me. 6:00am is a bit early for me, but they get huge points for trying to keep me informed, so I have no complaint.
The box with my 360 in it walked through my door just about noon. The actual repair process went quite smoothly. Actually it's not the 360, it's a replacement unit, new cables, new power-supply new everything. I guess I'll get to try-out the new DLC license shuffler.
Supervisor Jerry did come through on one of his promises, I did get the one-month free of Live. There was no mention of a free game, nor have I heard from Supervisor Gerald's manager to file a complaint about his hanging up on me. So Jerry is batting 33% (though I think the one-month Live card gets sent by default so while I give him credit for that, I don't think he actually did anything.
I still give the credit for this to Major Nelson. I'm quite convinced that if I hadn't emailed him [thanks for the suggestion Seven] I would still be waiting on a shipping label. Thank you again Major.
[Updated: August, 29th]
I'm posting at the top here since Microsoft is doing the right things and deserves credit for that. I got a call from the service center at 6:52am today letting me know my 360 had been repaired and was waiting for shipment. That's incredibly fast turn-around on their end. I'm guessing I will see box on Tuesday, due to the holiday, though I will try and get FedEx to change delivery to my apartment once it has been shipped, just in case they can deliver on Saturday.
Originally Posted: August 24th, 2008
My 360 RRoD'd on Tuesday night August 12th. I was bummed. I watch all my DVDs on it and play my video games on it, being separated from my wife I have lots of time to play video games and watch DVDs. It's also a fabulous way to stay in touch with my oldest son Travanoid who I game with quite regularly. I'd heard pretty decent things about Xbox customer support and had been impressed that MS did the correct thing when it took that huge charge to extend the warranty on all 360s, so I sucked it up and called that evening.
The support person I spoke with promised me a shipping label in 72 hours. That meant I should have had a label by Friday evening. I didn't get it, but stuff happens so I didn't fret too much. Monday night the repair site on xbox.com lost track of my repair order. I was disconcerted by that so called support and the very nice man I spoke with told me that the systems were under maintenance and that was why I couldn't see the support request. I was cool with that, and asked him if it was weird that I hadn't got my mailing label yet. He said yes, and I likely would need to open a new repair order, but he couldn't do that as the systems were down, would I please call back in the morning. He was polite and helpful, so I had no problem doing as he asked.
The next morning, August, 19th, I called back and they said "Ohh that shouldn't have happened, we'll open a new ticket, you'll have your label in 24 hours."
On the morning of August 20th I called back and told them I didn't have my label yet and I was told "no one should have told you 24 hours. We can't make that kind of promise." I was a bit perturbed but waited the additional 24 hours before calling back to ask where my label was.
The person I spoke with on the morning of August 21st told me that there was something wrong with my email address, an address that they had double checked on every previous call, an address at which I get many hundred of emails a day. Since there was obviously a problem with my email address could I please give them a different email address. Once again I was disconcerted, but I gave them my work address, and then waited another 48 hours for my shipping label.
On the morning of the 23rd, eleven days after my first phone call and three service request numbers later, I checked my email, hoping that I had finally received the shipping label. There was no joy in Muddville. I checked the xbox.com website, the first item was still the one hi-lighted. The one that makes it clear that they had NOT sent an email yet and that the ball was still in their court.
I called back, the very nice girl who answered the phone told me there must be a problem with my email address, could I please provide another. I told her that was unacceptable and that I needed to speak to a supervisor. Eventually Gerald came on the line ready to help. He told me that instead of emailing me a shipping label they were going to ship me a return box. He told me that that would take three to five days. I told him that if they had done that on August 12th that would have been acceptable, but at eleven days past that time it was not acceptable. I told him I wanted my mailing label NOW.
He said he couldn't do that. I asked to speak with someone who could. I asked to speak to his supervisor. He said I couldn't. I told him we had a problem then. I told him about my son's experience with the iPod I bought him for his birthday on July, 27th that broke on August, 13th, which I returned to the Apple Store on August 22nd and had a new one in five minutes. He made a dreadful mistake. He sighed.
I don't care who you are, I don't care what your position is, you do not sigh at your customers. I would lose my job in an instant if I sighed at a customer. I told him that that was a problem, I told him that he and I would be on the phone together until I received the new email. I was quite serious about that. I work a gig where I'm on call 24/7/365. I work a gig where I have gone a couple of days without sleep. I've been there. I've done that, I know I can do it and there was no way I was getting off the phone until Gerald came through on his promise of a shipping label.
I put him on speaker, asked him what kind of music he liked (Metallica), turned on iTunes put on Metallica, and began the waiting process. He hung up on me one hour, eleven minutes and fifty-eight seconds into our call.
If sighing at your customer is bad, hanging up on your customer is far far worse. I called back, got another first level technician. She asked me for my serial number. I told her she had four service requests with my serial number on it, I wasn't going to give it to her again. I told her I wanted to speak with Supervisor Gerald. She said she couldn't make that happen. I told her that of course she could make it happen. She said she could get the supervisors on the line, but she could not ensure that I spoke with Gerald. I told her that she needed to explain to the supervisor on the line that I needed to speak with Gerald. She put me on hold for a long time (I honestly didn't think they were going to pick back up if *I* had to deal with me at that time I wouldn't have wanted to pick back up!)
I didn't get to speak with Gerald.
But I did get to speak with a very nice man named Jerry. I told Jerry that I either wanted an apology from Gerald, or I wanted to speak to Gerald's manager to file a complaint. He told me I couldn't speak to management, they weren't allowed to give out contact information. I told him he could pass on my phone number and they could call me. I was happy to wait for the phone call. He was disinclined to acquiesce to that request. We talked some more. He tried to blame my email address. He said that they had tried to deliver a couple of times but couldn't.
I asked him for the bounces or the logs, because if both my personal email server and our corporate email server are that messed up that we can't get emails, we need to fix things, I needed logs and bounces to pass on to our system administrators at work. He told me he couldn't do that. I told him that I was not going to believe his claims.
It was then that the story began to change (amazing what happens when you take someone off script). He promised me an email within 24 hours. I asked him if his recorders were running. He told me yes. I asked him if he guaranteed me an email by 8/24 at 12:30 PST. He said yes he did. I asked why he could promise that when I'd been told that no one could make that promise. He said it was because they'd been having system issues that were now fixed.
I asked him how they were going to recompense me for my Live subscription. He told me that they would take care of me. I really want to believe him. He also told me that I would get a call from management to talk about my problem with Gerald, but that would take 48 to 72 hours.
We'll see if he can keep his promises.
Over 24 hours have gone by since I first wrote the above and posted it to the xbox.com hardware forum.
Today I called and spoke with Kim. While Gerald was nice, but made a mistake, and Jerry was very nice, and made me promises he couldn't keep, Kim was rude. She asked for my serial number. I told her it was on four prior support requests and that I wasn't going to provide it again. I told her that Jerry had promised me a label in 24 hours. She said no one in the organization would do that it wasn't allowed. I said Jerry had told me he was recording the call she was welcome to check exactly what he had said. She said they didn't record calls. I asked her if she were in the habit of arguing with her customers. She hung up on me.
I tried to email Major Nelson, I thoroughly enjoy reading him, I follow him on Twitter. He seems like a reasonable and nice man. The first email bounced back immediately telling me it looked like spam. I adjusted it a bit, changed the url for the xbox forums post to a tinyurl and resent. This time I got to messages back from his auto-responder. One of them said "If you sent a URL I haven't seen your email." At the moment I'm too despondent to care. Maybe I'll cut this out and paste it into an email to him.
If, perchance, anyone from Microsoft reads this and would like the four service request numbers I currently have in my possession I would be happy to provide them.
I just emailed the Major. It would be lovely if he really could help.
[Update: August 25th]
I just got a phone call from Microsoft. Unfortunately I was in a meeting and couldn't take the call. I called back and they said they were going to send me a box. The difference is, this time they're sending the box expedited. I can live with that, at least they're trying. If Gerald had volunteered to next-day me a box I would have been happy with that. I certainly hope that this time they will do as they say.
I would like to think this is Major Nelson's doing. If so thank you Major!
[Update: August 26th]
Microsoft's service website finally says "We're waiting on you" instead of it saying "You're waiting on us." I brought the 360 to work today just incase the shipping carton arrives today.
[Update: August 27th]
I have the coffin. It's packed, I'll be stopping at the FedEx drop off on the way home from work. The service depot should have my 360 sometime tomorrow.
[Update: August 28th]
My box arrived in McAllen, Texas today according to FedEx's website, but apparently the MS site is down (well not really down but the CSS appears to be broken) so I can't see if they updated their records to reflect that they now have my 360.
Sunday, August 24. 2008
I've blogged twice before about how fabulous it is to deal with the people at the Apple Retail Stores. I'm going to add another one to the list. Given my current customer service nightmare with Microsoft, it's wonderful to be able to say something nice.
Travis turned 15 late last month and he wanted an iPod. At first he wanted one of those cute little Nanos but then he looked at the quantity of music he wanted to play and decided he needed a Classic. I didn't think there was any way Jennifer and I could afford one, but I went to the Apple Store online the week prior to his birthday and found that we could, just barely, afford the refurb models. So I ordered it on Tuesday the 22nd, and received it on Wednesday the 23rd.
Travis was ecstatic when he opened his present and discovered what it was. I helped him hook it up to his iTunes and we loaded it with music and all was good.
On August 13th, the boys and their mom were heading to the beach for a camping trip. Travis listened to his iPod the whole way to the coast. Left the iPod in the car that night, and the next day when he turned it on he got a big red X on the screen. Jennifer called me, and I walked her through a reset. That didn't help. When he got home we tried to put the iPod in disk mode and that didn't work, so we made an appointment to see the Geniuses at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store at Bridgeport Village.
We arrived and had a short delay before they could help us. We provided the Genius with the paper work from apple.com, he asked a few questions, tried a few trouble-shooting things, checked it for water damage, reached into a drawer behind him and pulled out a replacement iPod and handed it over.
As we were leaving I told him that it is that kind of service, that has made me a customer for life...
...If only Apple made a gaming console.
Monday, February 27. 2006
I should have written this closer to the event in question. It's left such an indelible impresison on me that I'm going to write about it two months later.
Sometimes things just go wrong, and sometimes they go dreadfully wrong, when it happens to you, it's miserable, when it happens to someone else it can be funny, frustrating, enlightening or a combination of those.
Christmas Eve my family makes a tradition of going to Build-a-Bear Workshop and then dinner at the Olive Garden. This year's dinner turned out to be more interesting than usual.
We sat down, placed our orders, got our salad and breadsticks and waited and talked and talked and waited, and then waited some more. Eventually a man in a blue shirt came to our table and said something along the lines of "Sorry folk, we screwed up and the kitchen lost your order. It will be here in the next 60 to 90 seconds though!" We thanked him for letting us know and went back to talking and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Eventually the same man in the blue shirt returned, looking very chagrinned. He apologized again, and said something along the lines of "Sometimes Murphy strikes and strikes hard, and we have no excuse for our failure tonight, and I'm dreadfully sorry, and I will be reducing your final bill when you get it."
We did eventually get our meal, along with a couple of little extras that the Manager through in. He also reduced our bill by a significant portion, and we left happy.
That manager single-handedly saved our impression of Olive Garden. I was so very very impressed with his forthrightness. He didn't know if we'd be polite or irate or any number of other things. Yet he still told us exactly what happened, didn't try and place blame on others or anything.
I was impressed. I wish more were like him.
Monday, August 15. 2005
The factory chain on my V-Strom lasted about 12,000 miles. unfortunately I didn't have the money to replace it until about 14,500 miles. Which means my bike has been making a lot of extra noise as the chain rattled against the chain guard on my pipes.
Knowing I was going to take the bike to Ft. Stevens on the Oregon coast last week I knew I had to replace it. So on Saturday I went to my bike dealer, Action Motor Sports to pick up a new 525x112L chain. They only sell 525x120L's so I knew I'd be ok.
Tuesday night, the day before I was to leave, I went to my friends house and we broke the old chain, and pulled the new one on the sprocket and it turned out to be two links too short. I looked at the box and sure enough Action had managed to get a 110L mixed in with their inventory and I ended up with the short chain. I called the store and they went looking for a replacement chain.
I tried a couple of other places, and found out that Cycle Gear (whom I have written about before) had what I needed. I wasn't thrilled about going but when it's the difference between riding or not riding, you do what you've got to do. I must say, Darren, the young man who helped me was wonderful. He even went looking for a clip master link and found one.
I returned to my friends house and we pulled on the new chain and everything worked as expected. While we were doing this the guy from Action called and said he'd found me a chain and it would be in the store first thing the next morning. I was very impressed that they were willing to work extra hard to correct a mistake. They're good folk to have in your corner. I'll forgive them this one mistake as they have taken very good care of me in the past.
Friday, August 5. 2005
We had a power outage in our cul-de-sac last night, so I ended up running my PowerBook on battery until I went to bed.
The power came back on about 2:00am, but when I woke up this morning, the glowing ring around where the power adapter plugs in wasn't lit. My power adapter has seen better days. My rat Turing is quite a big fan of the white cable, and I had to tape over a couple of places where his teeth had left gaps in the insulation. So my immediate and hopeful thought was...Ahhh my power cable has finally failed.
Fortunately, there's an independent Apple dealer on my way to work. I stopped off, took my notebook and power cord in, and asked them if they could tell me which failed. The very kind technician went and grabbed a power adapter and plugged it into my notebook, and my heart sunk, there was no telltale orange or green ring around the plug. The technician then took my adapter into the back room and came back and told me it was working just fine.
I asked him what was wrong and he told me it was a DC input board failure. I asked how hard to fix, and he said quite easy, but they were backed up for three days. Well three days without my PowerBook is not acceptable and I told him so. He said they were the fastest in Portland, I told him no, I got a new hard drive from the Apple Store at Bridgeport Village in 27 hours.
I got to the Apple store about 15 minutes before it opened, sat outside in the lovely sunshine and made a few phone calls. Once the door opened I walked straight up to the Genius Bar, and said "I believe I need a new DC input board." The guy at the counter said "let's just see about that" and whipped out a power adapter and plugged it into my notebook and low and behold there was a lovely orange ring! I cheerfully paid for a new power adapter (though there's NO way those things should cost $79).
I have two possible explanations for what happened at PowerMacPac. The first, and kindest, explanation is abject stupidity (using the wrong wattage adapter perchance?). The second is that they saw a lovely AppleCare repair coming their way and were willing to inconvenience me for three days to get the warranty job.
Whichever one is true, I won't be visiting there again they have yet to show me they want me as a customer...
I sent the link to the above entry to the support email address at PowerMacPac. You never know, they might try and make things right, apologize for the situation, something that will renew your faith in them and make you think about patronizing their store again.
A few minutes ago I got a response from them which out of fairness to them I will quote completely unedited...
Thank you for your feedback.
Now my first thought was that it was an automated response, but it actually came from a real person who is listed as one of their technicians.
Friday, July 1. 2005
Monday the hard drive in my PowerBook G4 died. I got a S.M.A.R.T error when I booted from my Tiger Install DVD. I was in the midst of a cold/flu/allergy bout of illness, and in no mood to deal with that kind of problem.
I called the folk who sold me my computer: "Three days at best they said." I called the other independent Macintosh store: "Four to Seven Days." I called the Apple Store at Washington Square here in town. "We're not sure, but about a week. However, you might want to try the new store at Bridgeport Village." I was out of options, so drug myself onto my motorcycle and made the 20 mile trip to this new Apple store.
They were quick to help me. They were willing to do it "right now" if they had the drive in stock. I was pleased. They didn't have the drive, so I left the machine. I called back the next morning, and asked if they had an ETA. They didn't have the drive yet so I went back to bed. I called again just before 6:00pm and got word that they were just finishing up. I hopped back on my bike and picked up my newly running PowerBook.
Just about 29 hours without my PowerBook. That's an absolutely astounding level of technical support.
Thank you everyone at the Bridgeport Village Apple Store!
Thursday, June 9. 2005
I bought my first Power Book last October. I love this computer! Apple Computer really "gets it" It's small (even with it's 15" screen), light, has exceptional battery life and just works and works.
However, since I bought the machine I have had one problem that has driven me nuts: the screensaver security lock has never worked. I live on my computer, and it's running most of the time. For that reason I much prefer that it locks when I'm not near it. However, this PowerBook did not like returning from the screensaver when I had "Require a password" turned on. I would get the nasty spinning beachball of death, and no password dialogue.
Every time Apple released a point release of Panther, I would eagerly download it and test again to see if my problem had been fixed, and sigh when I discovered it hadn't been. No one on the Apple support boards was able to give me a solution to the problem, so I just lived with it. Then came Tiger. I upgraded and everything worked the way it should...for two days, then the old behaviour reared its ugly head again, and nothing I tried could fix it.
I've always thought of my AppleCare as hardware protection. However, It dawned on me that it probably covers the OS as well, so I called Apple to see what they had to say about the problem. They weren't any help on the first phone call. We reset the PRAM and the PMU, and neither of those had a positive impact. He asked me to boot off the DVD and run a Disk Repair. I didn't have my DVD at work, so that had to wait. The Disk Repair didn't solve things, so I called back a couple of days later for more input.
For some reason this tech got hung up on the fact that I had only Verified the disk, and not Repaired it. I asked him repeatedly what doing a Repair would do when the Verify showed no problems and he couldn't answer that question. Anyway, once I made it clear I was not going to run an unnecessary Repair, he had a couple of interesting ideas, though no clearcut solutions. The first was to change the Hot Corner for the screensaver, and the second was to create a new user, log in as that user and see if the problem duplicated.
I did both, logged in as the second user, and there was no problem with the screensaver at all. Logged back in as me and all of a sudden, I wasn't having screensaver problems as me either! I have no idea which of the two things fixed things, though I'd put my money on the second account.
Anyway nine months after I got it, I finally have a slightly more secure PowerBook, and for that I'm very grateful.
Monday, April 11. 2005
The short story...
"We'll have them done on Tuesday by 4:00pm."
The long story...
I ordered a new set of Metzler Tourance tires for my V-Strom from cyclegear.com [$254 for the pair] (I'm not linking because I don't want readers visiting!) on March 15th, 2005. They finally arrived on my doorstep on April 7th, 2005. I wasn't pleased at the just over three week delivery time, but it was nothing I was going to get too worked up about. My existing rubber still had a bit of life in it, so I didn't have to quit riding.
Saturday morning I called my local Cycle Gear--a place where I have been shopping since before it was Cycle Gear, a place I have been shopping for five years--and asked how long to get my new tires mounted and balanced. The person I spoke to said it's generally next day. I then asked specifically, "If I bring my wheels in today, will they be ready tomorrow?" and he said absolutely.
My motorcycle is my only method of transport, so I planned my weekend accordingly. Having to figure out alternate methods of getting to and from work is not high on my list of priorities. My wife needs her vehicle to chauffer our three boys to and from school, and orchestra, and ball practice, so while she's willing I still hate to make her re-arrange her plans for me.
Saturday afternoon I delivered my wheels and tires to Cycle Gear, and when they said they couldn't be done until Tuesday, even after I told them what I had been told on the phone, and that it was my only form of transportation, I decided that after I get my wheels back I will not be darkening their doors again.
If you're looking for motorcycle gear, there are many other places that will keep their word.
Thursday, August 2. 2001
I tend not to get too upset about things. In fact I rarely get angry about anything. One thing that really tends to set me off is when someone jerks one of my boys around. This is the story of such an incident...
When I asked my almost eight-year-old son, Travis, what he wanted for his birthday he surprised me by saying "a remote control car." I thought that was cool as I like finding things we can do together, and I have always been interested in things that are radio controlled.
The one thing I knew was that I wasn't interested in buying a cheap piece of junk that would break after a few hours of use. I did some research into Ready-to-Run (RTR) vehicles, and discovered that Traxxas has a pretty good reputation in the RTR market. I then went to my local hobby shop, Wayne's World of Hobbies, at 109th and Halsey here in Portland, Oregon. I asked lots of questions, and got lots of answers. I then visited a second shop and asked the same questions and got similar answers. That was a good thing. Wayne wasn't trying to pull the wool over a newbies eyes.
Being a small businessman, I like to work with small businesses whenever possible. Being somewhat parochial, I like to do business in my own neighbourhood when possible. That in mind I revisted Wayne's World of Hobbies, and purchased a Traxxas RTR Rustler, two NiCad battery packs, and a charger. The total bill was about $340. I took the stuff home and put it away until my boy's birthday.
On Travis' birthday, I left work early so we could spend a good chunk of the day playing with his new toy (it was expensive enough that he got no other presents from his mom and me). We opened the box, put in a battery, and that thing took off! It was one of the most amazing things I'd seen. It was fast, handled well, and we had a ball as we quickly ran through four battery changes. After that we stopped for a while so we could do some other birthday stuff. When we went back to the car we discovered that it's forward performance had greatly diminished and it had no reverse at all. That was disappointing especially to Travis who kept asking "Dad, what's wrong with it?" and "When will it work again?" and "Can you fix it?"
I got out the instruction manual and worked through everything having to do with the motor. I finally came to the conclusion that something was wrong with the Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). That in mind, I told Travis that he wouldn't be able to play with his present any more until we took it back to Wayne's World of Hobbies and had him confirm my diagnosis and then fix it.
The next day Travis and I went to the store and had Wayne take a look at it. He too determined that the ESC was broken. When I asked him to replace the ESC he told me he wouldn't do it. That I would have to go to the factory to get it repaired. I wasn't too impressed with that answer, but left the store so I could gather my thoughts. Travis asked me why "Wayne wouldn't fix it?" After collecting my thoughts, I called Wayne back and told him I wanted to return the truck as defective merchandise he told me he wouldn't do that either. He had plenty of excuses as to why he wouldn't, but basically it comes down to his unwillingness to stand behind a product he is selling. I told him I was thinking of putting a charge-back on my credit card, and that didn't even move him. I asked him to solve the problem, and he used the opportunity to try and upsell me on a better ESC.
I called him again today--not quite a week later to see if he had decided to improve his level of customer service. He told me that the best way for me to deal with this situation was for me to deal with Traxxas directly. He got it wrong though, that's the best way for him to not have to deal with the expense of customer service.
I have talked with Traxxas, and they have been extraordinarily helpful. However, it will take time to get the part to them and back again, and Travis won't have his truck for our vacation next week.
I asked Wayne what his response would be if he had purchased a computer from me, and the video card died in four hours, and I told him that he would have to deal with NVidia directly to get it fixed. He said that would be OK with him...I don't really believe that.
Anyway, If you live in Portland, Oregon, and are thinking of buying some hobby stuff of any kind from a store named Wayne's World of Hobbies, I would recommend against it, I think the store sucks.
Friday, December 15. 2000
We're building a new development server (at least that's what we pretend that it is). It has lot's of storage 45 Gb. 36Gb of which are in a RAID stripe. We're using the software RAID that is part of the Linux kernel. It is working extremely well. It also has 512Mb of RAM and dual PIII 450 processors.
It's name is whitewitch (all of our servers are named after characters from C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. Whitewitch is an inherited name. It inherited it from our old NT 4.5 server that we used to serve up our MP3 collection. Instead of coming up with a new name, and changing all our DNS entries, we simply created a new whitewitch. Of course whitewitch is not near as fitting for a Linux server as it was for that old NT server.
We discovered something quite interesting about network protocols. Before the new whitewitch, I smbmounted a share from the NT server on my desktop computer (trufflehunter). Whenever I played MP3s using XMMS, there was alway a constant bandwidth usage--at least according to GKrellm. With all our MP3s on the lovely new server, and the same data mounted via NFS, GKrellm shows very little bandwidth useage.
About those MP3s. We do not scour Naptster for MP3s. Nor do we allow any MP3s for music that one of us does not personally own. We have built a very large 3,000+ song library from each of our own personal CD collections. I don't know whether we are within the letter of the law with that. But I do believe that it falls within fair use.
One of the great things about a collection that big is that I can go from Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras to Metallica as the mood strikes. We have everything from Contemporary Christian to Heavy Metal, to Country to New Age. It makes for a very pleasant listening experience. My biggest playlist has over 2000 songs in it. I can go for a long time before I hear a repeat!
A few days ago I said thanks to a Network Solutions customer service rep who walked me through a difficult problem. Today I called to see what the status was as the WHOIS database had not yet been updated. I asked whether the fax that I sent them had been filed and my request honoured. They told me no. That I had done it wrong because I sent them two pages with my signature on them, and that the right one wasn't on company letterhead! I asked if they were going to notify me in anyway that there was a problem with my request. They said no. I asked them if they were aware that it was that level of customer service that was driving people to alternate registrars...
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