Tag: customer service

“MacBook Pro Battery ‘Service Battery’ after Snow Upgrade”

AppleIt is entirely possible this is the longest support thread I’ve ever seen: MacBook Pro Battery ‘Service Battery’ after Snow Upgrade. Now nearly 100 pages and 1,500 replies, the only entity even remotely related to the MacBook Pro that hasn’t posted seems to be Apple themselves.

Yea, I’ve had this battery issue. And I’m on my second battery and still having problems – service battery warnings after 100 cycles, life measured in minutes instead of hours, and those spontaneous shutdowns. Sure, I could have bought a new MacBook Pro, but I chose to upgrade my existing one instead. Why?

I suspect Apple ignores the issue because that’s exactly what they want me to do. It seems that’s their stock in trade, recollecting what happened with the iPhoney Baloney 4’s antenna not long ago. Here’s a free bumper – now shut the hell up!

That’s precisely why I’m doing the opposite, along with waiting for someone with a litigious streak to file the class action.

MG signing off (to say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” three times fast)

UPDATE: Apple replaced my battery, again, and this time it was an “SMP” brand instead of a Sony. Maybe the latter was the real problem, and the fact I was lucky enough to get a very pleasant and helpful rep on the line when I made the call didn’t hurt either.

The way it has been (what’s wrong with the fly fishing industry – part 2)

Singlebarbed opines that fly shops are being taken over by internet retail (h/t to Tom Chandler). The hypothesis is manufacturers are too quick to get new products out the door, and when clearance time becomes eBay time, shops are taking a whacking as a result. An impending recession is driving bargain hunters away from the shop front and onto the net. Maybe that is so, but I’m not sure that is the whole story.

While I hate hearing the little guy lose the fight, I also believe that businesses in general need to adapt to changing times or go the way of the horse and carriage. Once “the movie” came out the fly fishing industry burgeoned, and there have certainly been some good times. However, the go-go days allowed many shops to adopt a traditionalist attitude towards their customers – I’ve been in a number of shops where “the help” never bothered providing me with any because I didn’t look or act the part of someone who was about to buy an $800 rod and a $500 reel. Many would rather stand around with the regulars, yaking about the fish I know they didn’t actually catch than provide assistance to a so-called stranger. A prime example follows…

A buddy and I planned a hike/camp/fish up in the Nevada Desolation Wilderness area. We’d heard of the chain of lakes, and were amp-ed about the prospect of finding a few Goldens. We drove from San Francisco and stopped in this (now forgotten named) local shop to get the scoop and gear up. When it came to fly selection, I thought the shop keeper’s opinion would do the trick. But when I asked the guy behind the counter what the fish were feeding on, he looked me up and down once and then replied…”bugs”. Needless to say we walked right out, leaving some tippet material on the counter.

The bottom line is some fly shops and equipment dealers know how to burn you, but there are others that can surely pick up the slack. Some shops will do the obvious, embrace the net, while others will simply maintain an attractive persona (in one way or another) that drives consistent foot traffic. Others will do both. I’ve had some great experiences with some shops, and for that reason they keep me coming back regardless of the latest deal on eBay…

Some of my favorites:

  • Western Rivers Flyfisher (Salt Lake City, UT) – The first time I walked into this shop, Steve Schmidt asked me if I wanted a fresh cup of coffee. That’s all she wrote. During my time in SLC, Western Rivers prepped me for Green River trips with piles of cicadas. My old (but still kicking) Simms waders came from there. One of their guides fixed me up with flies and custom maps for an Alaska trip (that sadly never ended up happening). An hour before I was leaving for Cabo I realized I was short a reel, and the shop came through last minute with a Tibor Gulfstream – my girlfriend picked it up while I was frenetically packing, and even she thought the folks there were mighty cool. And when I absolutely had to have a Scott G2, Western Rivers came through again with the best price I could find and likity split shipping.
  • Discount Fishing Tackle (Denver, CO) – Probably the most “non-nonsense” shop I’ve ever been in, and probably the main reason I never bothered picking up tying again. It’s like a small warehouse of fishing gear, catering to both the fly fisher and conventional tackle folks alike. No fancy fixtures in this place, but the fly selection is outstanding (in fact, at least half of my boxes are filled with their flies). And besides a few posters, the only advertising in the joint are the gratuitous pictures of hardcore fishing folks/customers with trophy fish, stapled prominently over the checkout counter. One of the proprietors even knows some old friends of mine, Grant and Gisel Hartman of Baja Anglers (some extraordinary people in their own right).
  • Orvis Cherry Creek (Denver, CO) – Orvis is a big outfit, and I generally stay away from big outfits. But the folks in the Cherry Creek shop get it, and I am hard pressed not to visit every time I am in the area (which is almost daily). My “license” experience wasn’t the only positive case at Cherry Creek either. Last year I was looking for a particular fly, and the open tray was empty. The rep jumped through hoops, pulling out drawer after drawer, opening box after box, looking for this particularly fly. We didn’t score, but all was not lost. He pointed me to Orvis on the net, and in less than a week I had what I wanted.

Note that these three shops share little in common besides the subject matter fly fishing. One is an independent, high end outfit that relies on personal service to make the grade. Another is a no frills, hard to find place that competes on price and lets their experience (in photo) tell the story. And the last is one step removed from a big box retailer, but doesn’t forget that fly fishing is still a sport that requires people.

In a recessionary environment, the fly fisher will hunger for bargains. Manufacturers will flood their SKU list, and drown the market in leftovers. That is always “the way it has been.” But if retailers presume that their revenue will always be “the way it has been” and don’t act in accordance with the changing tide, an empty shop and an empty cash register is the way it’s gonna be.

Why Marmot (and their gear) is worth its weight in gold

Gold prices notwithstanding, this is unsolicited and extraordinarily well-deserved praise

I own a bit of Marmot gear, mostly outerwear, and it’s not because I’m spoiled or have money to burn – despite being twice the price of what you’d call “comparable” items, their stuff just seems worth it. Reasoning: it’s apparent when looking at their gear that the company pays attention to details – I’m an accountant…details are good. One of my favorite pieces was this Marmot PreCip jacket I’d had for several years – it served duty as a rainy spring/summer day protector, mostly on dog walks, but also the occasional misty hike. Never abused, its exterior still looked like new.

Unfortunately, on one of those rainy days I noticed my shoulders were feeling a little damp. After returning home, I further noticed that the interior waterproofing material had started to show some significant wear…more significant than should have been apparent with anything but everyday use in the Pacific Northwest (where I spend almost no time). I decide to send this precious garment off to see if something could be done about it. That was April 15th.

Yesterday, I received a warranty claim ticket, saying the jacket had been received and the estimated turnaround time was four to six weeks (while strangely saying “as of 2/08”). It only took one more day to figure out what that claim ticket meant. This morning a package arrived. It was sent priority mail. It contained this:


…a new PreCip jacket, in the package. Marmot must have figured that spring was well on its way, and that I needed this jacket back pronto. Smart, very smart, especially considering the fact that after I saw the prospective wait time the day before, I’d already started looking for a new jacket (and had even put a few bids on one in my size via eBay). Ridiculously good customer service – ranks right up there with my charming time at Orvis.

PS: Jeez…they even gave me a better color than the one from before. I think these folks should go into the fishing gear business and distribute through Orvis – I’d be like a walking billboard for that deal!

What Google should really do with FeedBurner

Several years ago, Google developed a simple concept called AdSense. You sign up, a robot approves your site, and pretty soon you are making millions from the ads you display next to the outstanding content you create. What Google didn’t consider at the time (IMHO) was the customer service mess they were creating. Tons of ads on a myriad of platforms, placed there by a multitude of folks that may be less than technology savvy. I can’t remember having any deadly problems with AdSense or most any other Google service, but I’ve heard the horror stories. You inquire about an issue and receive an automated response. Generally, it is dumbed down below solution level. You reply to that response, and receive another inadequate recommendation obviously pulled from an unknowledgeable knowledge base. You ask a more difficult question, and the discussion magically (and abruptly) ends. It is a testament to the unimportance of the “little guy,” but it is something a now ubiquitous publicly traded organization full of geniuses should have thought about anyway.

Enter FeedBurner.

The service is, for the most part, seamless and simple. Any joker can sign up and enter the URL of their feed, hence creating a new feed which they can then load with clickable goodies and view readership statistics on. Kind of like AdSense, but that’s about where the similarities end.

FeedBurner’s customer service approach, summarized in a single word, rocks! The site itself is inundated with humor and a touch of kindness. They maintain ultimate transparency through searchable forums full of knowledgeable company moderators. And their response to inquiries, however automated they may be, are comprehensive and targeted in such a way to make the client feel comfortable, and wanted. I’ll admit that FeedBurner is a technologically proficient service, but even if it tripped and fell in that regard it wouldn’t matter. Someone in the marketing department got together with someone in the customer service department and created many dimes of the $100 million Google just paid for the company.

Instead of spending their time building the next online spreadsheet that no business in their right mind should ever use, Google should go through the customer relationship portion of the FeedBurner subsidiary with a fine toothed comb. The view should be adopting as much of the “attitude” that FeedBurner exudes as possible. There is incredible value there.

As a side note, I believe people should watch the results of this acquisition closely. Should Google choose to assimilate FeedBurner into their organization in such a way that dry, ineffective, dead end customer communication becomes the norm, there will be opportunities for others to step in. Also, I’ve attached the context of an email I received from FeedBurner regarding the (now free) MyBrand feed service. The offering is definitely not for the layman, but FeedBurner clearly and effectively points this out while giving the technical set everything they need to know to implement. It is a classic example of getting the right information into the right hands, while simultaneously detering the simply curious from getting themselves (and their network) into a world of chaos. Bravo.


Dell Did Not Make This Up

And niether did Jeff Matthews. Matthews is finally tiring of Dell’s plummenting technical support quality. I am wondering why it took a smart guy so long to figure this out.