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Dec 06 2011

Another rant about companies where databases are separate so the customer has to do extra work. I am business manager of a non-profit arts agency. We keep our book on QuickBooks. Every year they charge us an annual fee for their updated version coupled with their payroll function updates. Every year they ask us for proof of our tax-exempt status. Since we have already sent them a state tax exempt certificate that covers several years, I always call and ask why they need another one. Well, they do. On some occasions, they can find what we’ve already sent them. On most others, I have to send it again. So, I did this a couple of months ago with them.

This month, I ordered W-2 and 1099 forms online from Intuit. I checked on their order form that we were a tax-exempt organization. Of course, I got an email from them telling me we had to provide proof. I called the 800 number and discussed this with an agent. Seems as if THIS division had a copy of our exemption letter from the state that expired in 2010. The fact that another division had the current letter meant nothing. You see, they keep their data separately.

They keep their data separately. Got that? Here’s a company that sells database accounting software to lots and lots of folks, does payroll, sells supplies for its products, etc. and they don’t have an integrated database. Causes one to wonder.

Dec 05 2011

For several weeks, our Uverse modem for our Internet connection has been acting funny causing me to have to unplug it about every day and reboot it. The problem is on its wireless side where all of a sudden we cannot connect any wireless device to the Internet.

On 11/25, I went online to look for how to contact customer support. The wait time on their 800 number was way too long, so I did an online chat with an agent named “Peter” whose English made me believe it was not his first language. We had a good online chat wherein I explained the problem, he listened well (which is an exception to the rule, in my opinion). I told him I thought I had a defective modem. Upon testing the system from his end, he agreed. Pretty quickly he gave me a order number and told me I’d have the replacement modem in my hand in 2-3 business days. I wrote down Peter’s AT&T ID number from chat session.

I got a call from another Uverse agent/salesperson a couple of days later welcoming me to Uverse. I told him that I had been a customer for well over a year and had only contacted them to fix the problem with my modem. He thanked me and gave me an 866 number to call if there were any problems.
Read more: Do You Have a Modem of Decency

Mar 27 2011

Minnie, my 14-year-old Pointer/Australian Shepard mix, suddenly turned old. I went to Venice for a week. When I came back, she was old. Stiff. Still willing, but lacking her usual energy. Even her appetite has changed from ravenous, wolfing down her food to slow, picky, wanting to be fed by hand. 

All is normal in the health department when she had her usual six-month checkup this week (which, along with one for her brother and worming and flea meds cost $800). But she’s old now. She has outlived her mother, as has her 12-year-old half-brother, Simba.

As I contemplate her sliding downhill, it’s hard to not look inward, too. I’m 70. She’s a bit older, but not much. How much time is there? When she goes, I will be sad. And I will get another dog so Simba and I have company. Until then, I will look into Minnie’s eyes, stroke her, and slow down her decline any way I can. It’s what you do for a friend.

Nov 26 2011

Been lots of media about the use of pepper spray by the campus police at U. C. Davis. I’ve seen videos taken by folks right there.

One shows that the protesters were warned by the police that they’d use force if they didn’t move. A quote heard is that if they didn’t move “you are going to be subject to the use of force.”

Another shows a police officer calmly dispersing pepper spray onto the faces of those sitting quietly on the ground.

And there are others. The question to me is whether the use of pepper spray was a proper use of force against these protesters. One clue could come from the New York City’s protocol for its police: Read more: Would You Like Pepper Spray with That?

Aug 23 2010

Over the weekend, four of us went to dinner at a local restaurant that is pan-Latin. It’s one we like and have eaten at frequently. The service was as slow as sap in January in Maine. But that’s not what this is all about. We ordered a bottle of a particular malbec, one that we’ve ordered many times here. After quite a delay (the poor service thing), the waiter told us the wine was no longer available. He tried to steer us to a wine that was $51 a bottle as compared to the $39 for the wine we wanted. We said we’d rather try other wines in the same price range as our original choice. The waiter said he’d bring us a taste of another malbec. 

Time passed. The waiter returned with a malbec which none of us liked. He went away again. Time passed. He brought another malbec that none of us liked. And we’re not that picky about wines usually. All through this, he was trying to get us to buy the $51 bottle of malbec.

After all this, one of our party said to the waiter that we thought since the wine we wanted was not available and that none of the others in the same price range were acceptable to us, they should sell us the $51 bottle of wine at $39. Let me add at this point that on a particular night of the week, every week of the year, you can come in and buy any wine on the list at half price. We weren’t asking for this, but it’s part of the background on the transactions.

The waiter told us he couldn’t make such a decision and would get the manager. So the manager comes, we tell him the same thing we told the waiter. The bottom line in his response was that he wouldn’t sell us the $51 wine for $39, but had other wines he would sell us that were not on the wine list at about the same price or lower than the original wine. He brought one over. We tried it. By this time, our food was arriving and we were not happy to be negotiating on the wine and settled for what he brought. We didn’t finish the bottle, which is very rare for the four of us altogether.

Customer service opportunity #1 missed: “Oh, sure. No big deal. Glad to sell you the wine at a lower price since you’re loyal customers and we’re out of what you usually order.”

The next day, I wrote the manager an email recounting the entire story. His answer merely said he was sorry the service was so slow and sorry they were out of the wine we had wanted. See the customer service opportunity #2 that was missed?

That night, Marian and I went to a local Indian restaurant. When we ordered our entrees, I asked the waiter if naan came with them. He said, “No, but tell me what you want and I’ll bring it as an appetizer.” We did. He did. It wasn’t on the bill. Big customer service points for this guy. He understands.