Quality of Service and Customer support

One of the biggest components to making life easy for a Customer Support agent is having a good product. But let’s be honest, every product has its flaw and because of this the customer support/service agent’s role is critical for filling in the gap when the product fails.

I had a recent interaction with a customer support agent that left a very bad taste in my mouth as the agent didn’t understand the gravity of the situation.


Every year I run the annual RECSS awards which recognize outstanding customer support and service across multiple industries. This year was the 3rd year for this award. The process leading up to the winners only lasts about 2-3 months and is an intense time of marketing through word of mouth along with usual mediums like email and social media. This year I sent out my email through Vertical Response ,as I have done in previous years, letting them know that voting is open. I luckily received an email from one of my subscribers letting me know that the links in my email were leading off to a phishing site. Now as a disclosure my email list isn’t that large, but every person on the list is important and they are able to help spread awareness of the awards program after receiving the email. I checked the links I had setup in my email and confirmed there wasn’t a typo and then went to the email and clicked on the links and sure enough they were leading off to a random spam site.

I contacted Vertical Response about this and first asked how this happened. They replied and said it was an internal error and that their team was working on it and they apologized for the inconvenience. This was very frustrating as this was more than just an inconvenience, which I would consider a delay in sending an email campaign, but instead a major mess up. I replied and asked for a refund of the amount of money I’ve spent with them which didn’t exceed $50. I was going to take my refund, move onto a different vendor and chalk it up to a horrible issue. I didn’t get a response for a while and so I sent another email asking for them to confirm the refund of my payment and they replied that they provided credits in my account and gave me some more credits for use on my next campaign.

Now I had no intention of using the service again after that issue. All I wanted was my money back so I could move on. I asked them again if I could just get my money back and they said they couldn’t refund credits that have already been used. I can understand this from a business standpoint but at the same time this was a major error on their part and all I got was more credits.

In the end what I really wanted was someone to reach out to me on a personal level to understand why I was so frustrated so at least I was heard. If someone would have at least done that, then I would have still moved on, but I wouldn’t have this left over feeling of being taken advantage of.

Oh well, I’m using MailChimp now and loving their interface along with the ease of extending it. It is a little bit more than VerticalResponse, but well worth it in my opinion.

Buying a car

I just recently bought a car and it was a fun experience as always. I ended up choosing a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible. I’ve never had a convertible and I have to say it is a blast to drive. Here is a pic of it:

While buying the car I had to put it through some tests to make sure it was worthy to be a vehicle of mine. The first test I did was to test the struts. Struts provide the smooth ride and if they aren’t in good shape the car will be bouncing a lot. A way to test the struts is to push down on the bumper and if it recovers right away, then that means the struts are good. If it bounces and then bounces again, that means the struts are most likely shot.

The next thing I checked were the tires to make sure they had enough wear on them along with making sure they weren’t wearing abnormally. This can point to an alignment issue, which is easily fixed. Next I look at the rotors to make sure they are in good shape and aren’t gouged. I check the strut boot to make sure it isn’t cracked and leaking at all.

I check under the hood and make sure there isn’t leaking any fluids, although it being an old car there is still the chance for the small leak. Then I run through all of the electrical to make sure it works. Check paint for dings or cover ups. This can be seen pretty easily. Take it for a test drive and make sure all of the components work along with ensuring that there aren’t any noises. I take a look under the car to check for rust (old habits from car buying in MN) and make sure that the exhaust pipes don’t have leaks/cracks. When you start the car, see if the exhaust is a blue’ish color, this means that the engine is burning oil and could be costly to fix, but at the same time is common in older/high mileage cars.

Check the age of the battery to see if it is the original. Check the brakes while driving to make sure they grab and that they aren’t squishy. Check the car on Edmunds.com to ensure there aren’t any recalls or gotchas about the car that could cause more expenses down the road. Also you’ll be able to get an estimate as to the value of the car.

There are additional items I check, but this is a quick and dirty list for anyone buying a car to add to their check list. I hope this is helpful to anyone who reads this.

Midwest tour recap

I was fortunate enough to work remotely the past couple of weeks so that I could do a mini Midwest tour. I started off in Saint Paul, MN and connected with friends. It was great to play catch up. From there we went down to Winona for Pam’s cousin’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful and everyone had a great time.

Next stop was my sister’s place in Illinois. I hung out there for a couple of days and got to celebrate my nephew’s birthday through a fun visit to a mini golf and go cart center. I also helped my sister setup their new trampoline and got to bounce around on that a bit. It was good just having downtime with my sister and her family as usually we only get to connect around holidays or special events and there isn’t enough socializing time or even time just to hang out.

I went to my brother’s place in Indiana next. I lucked out to see my niece’s end of the year dance recital. It is crazy to see how fast they have grown and how talented they are. I also got to play video games with my nephews and brother. We made it to a couple of movies including Kung Fu Panda and Xmen, both were good. I also got to have downtime with my bro and weight lifted along with grabbing some breakfast.

I think moving forward I’m going to try and do one of these trips every year, except the next time I need to have Pam with me. I was away from her for about a week and a half and it was way too long. Also I missed Lucy and she missed me too. Pam said she waited outside of our bedroom door in the morning and whined as she was waiting for me to come out. Poor pups.

All in all it was a great break from routine and amazing bonding time. Thanks to all of the family that I saw and stayed with. Definitely a highlight of 2011.

Chivalry isn’t dead

Pam told me today about a guy that was hitting on her, this happens often, and in this case and previous cases when the guy sees that she has a wedding ring they immediately back off and say, sorry I didn’t realize that you are married.

Now Pam wasn’t leading them on, she is just nice like me. But it is nice to see that chivalry isn’t dead from the standpoint that people respect the institution of marriage and won’t disrupt it. Now I know that not everyone is like this, but it is refreshing to see that there are people out there that still act this way.

What a night at Frys

I went to Frys (A geek store, similar to Best buy, but geekier) tonight to get a desk that I saw there and was stoked about.  This was my first purchase at Frys as I do a majority of shopping online.  We went there, got the desk, and brought it home.  It weighed about 100lbs so I was glad to get it in the house.  I pulled it into the office room and unpacked it and found out that there was a leg missing for the desk.  This threw a wrench in the works as far as my goals for the night.  I called Frys and they said to bring it back and they would exchange it.   So I used what Duct tape I had left, muscled it down the stairs and went back to Frys.   We got there and had to wait in line to get to the refund desk (which was fine), we got to an agent and she said she needed to survey the box and told me to go get another one from the dept.  I thought they would just bring one up to the returns area, but whatever.   I get back to the desk area and hunted down someone that worked there to find someone for the Desk dept to grab a replacement desk for me.  I waited there for 10 min while 6 employees gathered around a customer playing a video game.  I approached another employee and they said they would call again and that the warehouse was busy.  I waited another 10 min and went to another employee who was the manager of the software section.  He called a couple of other people and finally someone came out to get me a replacement desk.  By this time I’m not in the best mood.  We got the desk up to the front (mind you this is 9pm and the store is closing) and we requested that the Desk be opened up to verify that all of the legs are in there.  They were, which was good, so we did the swap and brought it home.  Unpacked everything and I was missing 4 screws!!!  4 screws aren’t that bad to be missing, but it just pissed me off.  I’m not impressed with the attitude of Frys where everyone stays in the “departments” and that is all they are responsible for.  I mean cmmon, all you need to do is go in the back and get desk.  Anyhoo, I’m not sure I’m going to be shopping there for a while.  The desk itself is pretty cool, but really annoying that both packages that I got were missing pieces.

On a side note Pam and I finished painting this weekend and are in the process of putting things back in their place.  Once that is done then I’ll take after pics for comparison.

WOW!!! I own a condo

So it is official, Pam and I own a condo in Ocean Beach.  We are sooo excited about it.  Friday we had to move out of our place by 2pm, note that we didn’t actually close and get the keys until 5pm the night before.  We got everything moved over though through a series of trips.  It is really easy to get to downtown and we live near some really cool shops.  We started painting already and have the first coat on.  When we are done I’ll take some more pics so you can see the after photos.  Also this week I’m going to mount the TV on the wall…super stoked about that.  Other than that we are still living out of suitcases, need to organize our closets.  Can’t wait to have everything setup so that we can have a house warming party.  Stay tuned for more info on the house.

Text Message scam

Today I received multiple text messages all referencing Unapproved activity. These include a url/email that doesn’t resolve and isn’t being sent from an authorized source.  I searched for info on it but it appears to be a new scam.  Here are the text messages I received so that you can be aware:

Fr: [email protected]

ImportantUSE CREDIT UNION notify: *492
UNAPPROVED ACTIVITY.  Tollfree call 8663845761

Fr: [email protected]

ImportantUSE CREDIT UNION notify: *592
UNAPPROVED ACTIVITY.  Tollfree call 866.384.5761

Fr: [email protected]

Important USE CREDIT UNION notify:
UNAUTHORIZED ACTIVITY.  Tollfree call 8007261453

If you received any of these emails it is clearly a scam, don’t respond.  Seems related to this scam.

Packing, Taxes and Little Caesars…a good day

Yesterday was very productive.  I packed a majority of non necessary things in our apartment that are ready to be moved.  I also finished my taxes.  This was the first year I did my taxes and was a little nervous to push the e-file button, I was using TurboTax.  All in all it was a fairly easy process and if everything goes well I’ll get a refund before the end of February which will be nice.  I got to take a break and grab Little Caesars with Roy for lunch.  It was a gorgeous day out and felt good to do a little trunk little caesars eating.  To remember this day I colored a picture on www.littlecaesars.com, here is is for your enjoyment:


Almost there

We’re so close to closing on the house I can almost taste it.  The past week has been a hurricane of scanning and signing documents to please the underwriters.  Needless to say they need to know everything down to my underwear size.  As of today though, they should have everything and we are hoping to hear on the loan tomorrow.  Then we can finally set a closing date and start to move.  Pretty crazy to think this time next week I could be living in our new house.  Between now and then though is going to be a lot of work, moving, and filing for change of address.  I’ll be glad when we get to the finish line.

Other than that I’ve been keeping busy with wrapping up some side projects like a PHP application for my brother to help manage his bookkeeping along with some websites.  Also I’ll be sinking my teeth into a new VPS from linode soon to setup an ecommerce site for my brother.  Really excited about that.  Until then hope for the best as we get closer.

clearing out the ole place

Well we are in the countdown to close of the house.  This week we should be able to get the loan documents so that we can finalize that and move on to the close.  In the interim pam and I have been cleaning out the apartment and posting stuff on Craigslist.  We had our first sell today and it felt great.  Another first today was we went to Home Depot to start pricing stuff out for our new house.  You should have seen me, I had a pretty big grin on my face.  I’m so frickin stoked about fixing it up and geting it ready.  Even the stupid things like replacing the locks are going to be exiting.

On a bummer note I’m trying to finish up taxes right now and am looking forward to having it all done.  I’m glad that this will be the last year for a while that I’ll have to worry about what address to put down for the return info as I’ve always been in the middle of a move.

Other than that I’m still geeked out about getting a boat.  So many things to look forward to…It’ll be like I drank a cup of coffee.  Those who don’t know me, caffine makes me jumpy.