A week ago, Avon found an inventive way to get its brand noticed in peak-hour traffic.
I could make this about how people don’t know how to drive these days, or about the media fascination with Asian drivers when the reality does not bear this out, but let’s make it all about Avonâsince they are the ones who have actually inspired a full blog post today. To think, it could have just been on my Instagram and Tumblr and I would have let it go, since the following video is over a week old.
A video posted by Jack Yan ççľćŠ (@jack.yan) on
To be fair, as well as posting on my own platforms, I thought it would only be fair to alert Avon about it on its Facebook. In this age of transparency, it’s not good to talk behind someone’s back. I would have used the website advertised on the side of this Mazda (avon.co.nz), but the below is all I get. (You can try it yourself here.) I told Avon about this, too. They need to know one of their people is a dangerous, inconsiderate, and selfish driver who is ignorant of basic New Zealand road rules, namely how a give-way sign works and how to change lanes. And if I were in their shoes, I’d want to know that the URL emblazoned in large letters on the side of my fleet of cars is wrong.
It was ignored for a while, now my post is deleted.
Immediately I had these five thoughts.
1. Its brand isn’t that great. When you’re starting from a poor position, the best thing to do is try to work harder. As a network marketer, Avon can’t afford to have an office that doesn’t deal with complaints. I might even be a customer. In any case, I’m part of the audienceâand these days, we can affect a brand as much as the official channels. For instance, this post.
2. In the 2000s and 2010s, social media are seen as channels through which we can communicate with organizations. Going against this affects your brand. (There’s a great piece in the Journal of Digital and Social Media Marketing, vol. 3, no. 1 that I penned. Avon would do well to read this and integrate social media marketing into its operations.)
3. If you’re an Avon rep and you know that the AustraliaâNew Zealand operation ignores people, then what support do you think you can count on? My post will have been seen by many people, and a follow-up one todayâinforming them it’s poor form to delete commentsâwill be seen by more. It discourages more than customersâits distributors surely will think twice. (I’m also looking at you, Kaspersky. Another firm to avoid.)
4. Advertising your website in large letters and have it not work is a major no-noâit contributes to the image I (and no doubt others) have on Avon as, well, a bit amateur.
5. This is a US firm. If you’re an exporter, isn’t now a really good time to show that you care about your overseas operations? Nation brands impact on corporate ones. Now I’m beginning to wonder if Avon might not be that interested in overseas sales any more. Their new president, with his stated views on free trade, has said in his inauguration speech that they need to ‘buy American’ and ‘hire American.’ Let’s delete stuff from foreigners!
The question I have now is: wouldn’t it have been easier to apologize for its representative’s inability to drive safely, and thank me for telling them their website is dead so they can get it fixed? The video contains the registration number, so Avon could have had a word to their rep.
This is all Marketing 101, yet Avon seems to have failed to grasp the basics. I guess the folks who flunked marketing at university found jobs after all.
It’s a shame I had to write this to Auckland Airport today (salutation and closing omitted):
Iâd like you guys to know that on Monday night, your inter-terminal bus never came. Passengers (around 20) were waiting at the stop at domestic from 9.45 to 10.15 p.m. The airport staff I spoke to were really surprised at this, too.
I donât mind the walk but there was an elderly lady among the passengers who didnât enjoy the gales blasting through that night. I helped her with her huge bag to international, and I am sure another passenger would have helped her if I wasnât there, but itâs a shame this had to happen.
During our walk, we never saw the bus pass us, so it looked like the 10.30 p.m. finishing time that you advertise was not observed that night.
I hope you can look into it.
And Novotel, no, it is not cool that if someone orders a drink at the restaurant, pays for it, and decides to finish the remainder in his room, that you would try to charge him again the following morning (note: at 6.30 a.m., before any cleaning crew came) for consuming an ‘in-room beverage’. Thank you for not charging when I disputed it, but, again, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. (Having no free power outlets by the desk but two where the kettle is also seems a bit odd.)
It’s more reason for travellers to come to Wellington, where we’re fairer.
There are some companies that do not realize that we live in a global community.
And there are at least two who have done themselves a disservice by referring our account or enquiries to their Australian representative.
We left Rackspace in 2013 although, for most of the 11Â˝ years we were with them, things were fairly good. I had issues with them in 2005, but they werenât serious enough to depart. In the last year, the server fell over regularly, and suddenly we found ourselves being referred to their Australian office.
From then on, I just got jargon from their rep who tried to get us on to the âcloudâ. When I asked about further specifics, I heard nothing back, and when I sent another query to the company, I found her response rude and dismissive. The sense I got was, âHow dare you keep asking questions on how much you expect to spend.â I canât remember her exact words, but I seem to recall she used the, âAs I told you beforeââwhen in fact she hadnât.
So we left. It was a sad end though I still think the world of Rackspaceâs techs. The guys running their Twitter are second to none as well. The guys in the US are fantastic and are completely on to it. But, as I told one of the Kiwis working from their Australian office, I wasnât going to stand for their rudeness after paying them a fairly hefty amount each month.
He explained that they were rude in Australia, which is a pity. I wasnât sure if he referred to his company or to Australians in general, because I certainly havenât found the latter to be the case on my visits there, and I havenât encountered that in 99 per cent of Australian organizations.
Before the Australian office was opened, we had very cordial dealings with our Texan and later Hong Kong account managers. I get why they want to localize: itâs to serve different time zones and, in many cases, to serve different languages. But, for goodnessâ sake, make sure that you hire people who have had some training on how to talk to customers.
I was always under the impression that the account manager is the one who doesnât talk technobabble, the one who translates all of that to human, in order to secure your business. Sheâs not the one who joins in with the throng in a game of âus and themââand in Rackspaceâs case, undoes a decadeâs worth of hard-earned goodwill, earned largely by the US staff.
Interestingly, they were replaced by a small Australian firm run by an expat New Zealander, who tells me that there is some rudeness in the Aussie IT sector. Maybe thatâs what the Kiwi at Rackspace meant.
Hugo Boss is the other story, to whom we sent a query for press images, at their German HQ. We were referred to their Australian office. And from there we never heard back. Luckily for us, we wound up using catwalk imagery from Berlin Fashion Week, which we can access. They got their story, one which looked at their history and how it impacted on their design, written by one of our associate editors, but Iâm not convinced they deserved the two pages in Lucire.
And now weâve been referred again by a European label to their Australian PR. I wonât name this company this time, because the rep might not have had the chance to respond yet. Or the enquiry is somewhere in their system. But it is a company for whom we had a username and password for their press database, neither of which works now. (That is a whole other storyâcompanies which take your data but upgrades mean that you have to sign up again. I am looking at you, Telegraph Group plc.)
She was nice enough and asked which images we sought. The reality, as I explained, was that we often didnât know ourselves till one of our editors went through the image database for something that fitted with the issueâs theme. In addition, as we at Lucire produce magazines for the international market-place, the Australian season would be off. We needed to get access to the European database.
Companies like Hennes & Mauritz, Swatch or Bang & Olufsen have no trouble comprehending this, but it amazes me that some still do. A New Zealand-HQed company does not necessarily produce things strictly for the New Zealand market. Why is this so hard to understand? Globalization has been around for centuries, and surely in the electronic age, it applies even more regularly.
Of course, in future, this compels one to start lying. Or Iâll use one of our alternative addresses in New York or London, but Iâve only employed that in situations where they require a local address. Iâm proud of being a New Zealander and letting people know that this country does amazing things internationally. Thatâs why we went to that last label, who sells next to nothing here, in order to give them some publicity.
Weâve also been approached by what I believe is an Australian SEO firm wanting a link for their client in one of Lucireâs online articles. Thatâs all well and good, but I had to tell her that the au.companyname.com domain would have little relevance for the siteâs readers, 38 per cent of whom are in the US. Less than 10 per cent are Australian. However, I can imagine behind the scenes, they were employed to get these links from regional publications, and we never hide our Kiwi origins. She didnât do anything wrong, but again the reality of globalization changes initial perceptions.
If I wanted the local rep, I would approach them (as I have done on many occasions, e.g. with Chanel or LâOrĂŠalâand both companies are smart enough to get me the information I need from their French counterparts if required nearly immediately, so there are no hiccups). But the first two situations are ridiculous because they seem to suggest that their regional reps donât understand the global links in modern business. In the first case, not everyone dealing with IT is a boffin. In the second, palming things off to a regional office simply doesnât work.
Then you wonder how they could even have global marketing and salesâ ambitions.
Forty-nine hours and counting, which makes it the beginning of day three without Facebook.
I didn’t really need it yesterday, so there’s something to be said about habits breaking after a couple of days. However, for work, I have needed to go on there: while Sopheak is covering for me as far as Lucireâs social media are concerned, I’m checking the finalists’ pages for Miss Universe New Zealand today. The problem now: many are coming up blank. Also it’s now impossible for someone to add me as an admin to their page (Facebook tells them I’m not a member and that it needs my email address).
Facebook has been resolutely silent despite Tweets to them, which makes them worse than Google. At least Google has a support site where people lie to you, after which they go silent when they realize you have them over a barrel. At Facebook, you know you are getting ignored, and there’s no real way to file a bug report (if one of the bugs is you can’t post, then how can you post?).
This bug appears to be spreading, if Twitter chatter is anything to go by, although things haven’t changed much at the unofficial forum at Get Satisfaction. However, I did find two posters at Get Satisfaction who have been out for six to eleven days.
One Tweet of mine, strangely, did make it through as a cross-post; I wasn’t kidding when I said that being able to post is now the exception rather than the rule. (This, again, reminds me of the dying days of Vox.) But no one can like or comment on that post. If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you can give it a go here. At least those who visit my wall and can see it (not everyone can) know something is up with Facebook, and that the site is, once again, broken.
On one of my visits today, this quiz intrigued me. It’s from MIT, and it ‘examines people’s knowledge of English grammar. We are interested in how this is affected by demographic variables such as where you live, your age, and the age at which you began learning English.’
After completing the quiz, it made the following guesses about my English and what my first language is.
It does appear my dialect is African American Vernacular English, and my first language is English. The second choice of dialect, ‘New Zealandish’, is an odd one: does this mean Australian? Or a bad impersonation of Kiwi (Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game or, worse, Steve Guttenberg in Don’t Tell Her It’s Me)? There’s a possibility my mother tongue is Dutch or Hungarian.
One out of six isn’t good, but I suppose I should be happy that we even come up in the survey, and that there are sufficient quirks to New Zealand English for it to be identified by an algorithm.
One is allowed to feed in the correct details, so hopefully the algorithm improves and other Kiwis won’t have such way-out results.
Or, it means that if our government wants someone to visit the White House, I am the ideal interpreter.
In 2009, when my friend Vincentâs Blogger or Blogspot blog was deleted by Google, I fought on his behalf to get it back. Six months on the Google support forums, nothing.
One day, a friend on Twitter told me that with Googleâs deletion of John Hemptonâs blog, as publicized by Reuter journalist Felix Salmon, Blogger product manager Rick Klau had intervened, and had it reinstated. Maybe I should approach Rick, who had a stellar reputation was being one of the good guys inside Google.
I did, and within a day, he had sorted everything out.
Six months using the official channels, one day getting the boss involved.
Admittedly, I began getting suspicious of Googleâs Blogger service, even though my own blogs never fell foul of the Googlebot. Google then announced that it would end FTP support of blogs anyway, so I decided it was time to pack up and leave.
One by one, I deleted my blogs from Blogger, and I watched the number drop slowly inside Google Dashboard.
Google Dashboard always lagged a bit, but between the start of 2010 and today there was a problem: all my Blogger blogs had been deleted, but Dashboard continue to record 1.
And so began another saga with Google.
Again I used the official channelsâthe support forumsâand got no response.
Rick had left Bloggerâhe would up being YouTubeâs product manager for a whileâso I contacted his successor, Chang Kim. Chang passed it on to Brett, one of Bloggerâs staff.
Brett told me the name of the blog I supposedly still had. The weirdest things are these: Iâve never heard of this blog, so itâs definitely not mine; but, I do know the gentleman in Canada who owns it, and he tells me that I have never had any connection to it, nor has he ever added me as an author. I responded to Brett at the time and told him this, but the conversation was dropped.
I never knew if Brett was on the level. What if Google had not properly deleted all my data as I had asked it to? What if the 1 reflected that? Or if it was a bug, then really Google needs to fix it, so being a good netizen, I really should point out this discrepancy.
I started a new thread this year on the Google support forums, and it was answered by our old friend Chuckâthe chap who fenced with me at the end of 2009 asking irrelevant questions and ignoring specific answers. He asked yet another irrelevant question, I gave him a specific answer, but this time, he just dropped it (a typical experience, I might add, for anything that falls outside routine matters on the Google support forums). I suppose thatâs better than fencing and keeping me on there for another half-year.
So, would Google ever sort this out?
One evening, I decided I would turn to the one person inside the company who showed some responsibility for his companyâs actions: Rick Klau.
Rickâs with Google Ventures now so he had no real reason to get involved in an enquiry concerning a branch of a company he left three years ago.
But in classic Rick fashion, he stepped up.
And while it wasnât 24 hours, it was a single weekday. Rick asked me one question the day after my enquiry, I answered it, and a weekday later, he had sorted it: my Google Dashboard says I have no blogs with them.
Three (nearly four) years using the official channels, one day getting the (former) boss involved.
Google might do some questionable things, but it has at least one good bloke working for it. If only everyone was as professional as Rick Klau.
Interesting to spot this link. When I started Autocade in 2008, I approached Haymarket, letting them know I was a Classic and Sportscar reader since it began in the 1980s, and I was inspired by the Sedgwick guides that it ran then. Autocade was to be an online cyclopĂŚdia that would use a brief format, with original research, of course, but I would welcome the input of C&SC if it so wished.
As I recall, the response from the boss was condescending. His staff were so busy there was no way they could ever contribute to such a venture, he told me. That was before the threat: if any part of the Sedgwick guides wound up in Autocade, there would be a lawsuit.
All this in a single reply, to someone who told him he was a customer since 1983.
This link illustrates that the first part of his response was complete bollocks, as the guide now exists online, and has done so for nearly three years. In fact, C&SC solicits input from the public. They have taken the Autocade approach.
And seriously, did he think another publisher would be stupid enough to reproduce the guides online for all to see?
No, Haymarket has not broken the law: anyone is free to do a guide with their own, original content, and they are free to solicit outside help.
Nor do I particularly mind seeing this guide online (right down to the ‘most recently updated’ column) because it helps with researchâanything is better than the inaccuracies, assumptions and rumours that pass for facts in Wikipedia. There’s only a tiny bit of overlap with Autocade in terms of the eras covered, so the two sites complement one another.
But it smacks of gross hypocrisy.
Not only are they doing something they said they would never do because they lacked the resources, they threatened a loyal customer when they had no basis to do so.
In essence: Haymarket Publishing once threatened me with a lawsuit for proposing an idea, one which they have since adopted. Yes, it really is that simple.
I lost a lot of respect for a certain Haymarket big-wig that day, someone whose work I had read and admired for decades. Itâs surprising to think he hadnât learned some basic rules in business.
Brands are not steered by market dominance or big corporate mouths. They are, instead, steered by everyday people, who you should work with, rather than make unwarranted threats against.
Oh, after reassuring the chap that Autocade would have only original content (after all, he may have not known that New Zealanders are generally law-abiding), I never received an apology for his unprofessional behaviour.
Even a note of thanks now would be nice for borrowing an idea they were presented with five years ago.
There have been quite a few tech posts here of late, but there are a few points that can be drawn. The first was how deceptive some brands can be for people who would rather not peel back the top layer to see what lies beneath. Even when the media expose their wrongdoingsâas the Murdoch Press did with Google’s spying through Iphonesâthe general consensus might remain unchanged. Google has a major cultural issue: when I tell them that something’s wrong with their system, their approaches are one of two: the first is to argue that you are wrong and they are right, no matter what the evidence is; the other is to bury their head in the sand because the “official” explanations are exhausted. If they take their head out, they realize the Emperor has no clothes. Google is where Microsoft was accused of being in the 1990s, when it almost missed the boat when it came to the World Wide Web: a firm that didn’t take in outside feedback, getting more and more out of touch with reality. When your volunteers and fans start behaving badly on the support forums, long before I ever had an issue with Google deleting my friend Vincent’s blog, and you tolerate it, then something’s wrong.
It can be contrasted to a related discussion I’ve had at McAfee, which seems to begin with the notion that the customer is right, and they have a chance to improve their product. Granted, McAfee’s programs can be buggy, but at least they admit that there are different configurations and there’s a chance that they’re wrong. This thread that I started, querying an issue with its SiteAdvisor product, wasn’t met with cynicism. Hayton, in particular, has stayed with this issue for days, investigating and digging so that I can have a better experience with McAfee’s product. He’s identified an ad network that we used that leaves something to be desired. Now we have a chance to improve our products, too, and we’re going to phase out those particular ads once our OpenX server is cleared by Google (which could take months).
Companies, organizations, and even cities would do well learning from the latter example. If you know the other side is a rational, decent personâand at some point in your adult life, you will have developed this instinctâthen admitting that you’ve got something to learn, something to improve upon, is a useful opportunity to make things better. Paying a bit of attention and working with a customer, audience member or constituent helps both sides improve.
It seems obvious to most of us, though it remains a distant target for the house of G. It may take new leadership to inspire and ensure a cultural change, otherwise it’s just businessâor, in some cases, politicsâas usual.
Now that all of our email, bar a handful of client accounts, are going through the paid version of Zoho Mail, I couldn’t be happier.
When we shifted things over, my friend and web development expert, Nigel Dunn, suggested either Google or Zoho. He’s a big fan of Google, and I can see the good side of the company I bash regularly. But I opted for Zoho, and anyone who’s followed my ongoing privacy battles with the big G will know why.
It turns out I had a Zoho account anyway, thanks to Gabriel Weinberg and his Duck Duck Go team. But to go from the freebie that I’ve had for four years to a paid one was quite a big step, since we hadn’t ever done this newfangled cloud email before. However, I have to say I am very impressed, because of one major thing: Zoho’s customer service.
For starters, it exists. No more going to abusive Google forums where cocky users, in their worshipping of the cult, make it all your fault. Zoho staff actually write back to you. In fact, they put me on to their support system after a while and they’ve been dealing with my enquiries really quickly in there, too.
The longest wait I had was a question about Eudora, because I wasn’t sure how to get the Zoho POP mail working with an older program. While most answers came in 24 hours, this one took a weekâbut I’ll turn a blind eye to that one, given that it’s one out of a heap of questions I fired at them and it’s not a program they knew well. (For Eudora readers who are reading this, you turn on SSL, but you choose the ‘Required, alternate port’.)
The replies are courteous and make you think that India knows customer service considerably better than the United States, or Australia for that matter: you’re treated as you would expect, and they don’t start from the basis of “the customer is stupid”.
Even before I became a paying customer, Zoho treated me with respect.
Good service isn’t just the province of Indiansâjust yesterday I blogged about how well Tumblr handled user enquiries and reports, despite reaching 100 million users. However, you sometimes wonder if they are the exceptions in a world dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook.
The real kicker is this: the system works wonderfully when it comes to combating spam. I get thousands of messages per week so not having spam is a good thing. Our old Rackspace box, at best, killed about 50 per cent of the spam that came in. Granted, we chose our own blacklists, so this is not Rackspace’s responsibility. However, we used the ones we were recommended by experts.
Zoho gets rid of over 95 per cent, maybe more, of the spam. After a day, I’ve had no false positives, and only a tiny handful has crept in. My emailbox, as downloaded in Eudora, is almost as untainted as it was in the 1990s, and I am not exaggerating.
For those of you who use Gmail and are sick of the ads, this should appeal: Zoho is ad-free. No more using your personal data and linking it to advertising across all websites where Google and Doubleclick have their banners. As we become more concerned with online privacy, I’d say this was a very good thing.
Itâs marketing 101â[Vodafone New Zealand] seem to breach the rules quite regularly and youâd have to hope that these signiďŹcant ďŹnes are a signal to them that they canât continue to do that.
And it is the principle: because since 2006, I have not been a Vodafone customer. And since 2009, one of my companies has not been a Vodafone customer. In fact, since March 2009, I have no ties with Vodafone whatsoever, either personally or as a director of a company that uses Vodafone.
On the same invoice is an ‘Opening balance from last statement’ for $4Âˇ21, which they debited from my credit card on February 25, 2011. But that time, I received no invoiceâthey just went ahead and did it.
When I called Vodafone, I was told that the charges were made on a calling card that was still valid. Problem: I have never had a calling card with Vodafone.
And now, today, they revealed that they took $24 in 2010.
But as Vodafone is guilty of 21 breaches of consumer law in a July case aloneâand was found guilty of misleading customers over Vodafone Live and its $1 a day services the year beforeâyou can summarize that something is very rotten there.
I’d swore I’d never go backânek minnit, they’ve acquired TelstraClear. Oligopoly much?
At Vodafone’s request via Twitter, I have emailed them the following. It does contain the usual pleasantries at the beginning and the end, omitted here for brevity. This summarizes the entire case so far.
This is further to SS’s request on Twitter that I send you these details. I will note that two customer services’ officers on the call care centre have also been investigating. Attached you’ll find a bill that I was sent via email on September 7. You’ll see it’s for 22Â˘, and that in April 2011, another $4 was debited from my credit card. A phone call to Vodafone today revealed that over $20 was taken in 2010. The problem with all of this is that I have not been a Vodafone customer since March 2009. If you want to split hairs, I actually haven’t been one since 2006, I believe, but one of my companies was between 2006 and 2009. Here’s what I recall.
â˘ Became an Ihug customer in 1998, but left Ihug for Saturn in 2000. I kept some toll calls with Ihug but switched back to TelstraClear some time during that decade. Your records show the account was closed in 2006âalthough I was also told a contradictory statement that the account was not closed. â˘ Lucire Ltd. was a Vodafone customer on a three-year contract between March 2006 and March 2009. I am a director of that company.
Here’s what I understand from Vodafone (gleaned from conversations on September 8, 9 [I think] and 29).
â˘ In 2010, Vodafone debited over $20 (I believe $24) from my credit card. In 2011, it debited $4. In 2012, I get a bill for 22Â˘. (Note: I’ve never received a bill from you since I left except for the 22Â˘ charge.) â˘ I have been told various things. On September 8â9, I was told that the 2011 and 2012 charges were due to a calling card. (Note: I have never had a Vodafone calling card.) â˘ Today I was told that the charges were due to toll calls. (Note: TelstraClear has handled all my toll calls since 2006, if not before.)
I was promised a refund of the $4 in one of the early September phone calls. My credit card statement shows no such refund. I have confirmed that the credit card details you hold are correct. Worryingly, they are also currentâwhich they cannot be if I left you in 2009 and my credit card originally expired that year. I also began receiving spam from you this week for a cellphone number that was with you, but has not been with you since 2009. Here’s what I don’t get if I was still a customer:
â˘ I don’t hear from you guys for three years. All of a sudden I start getting spam from you; â˘ I’ve never received a single invoice from you for the money you’ve takenâat least not till September 7, 2012.
So I’m pretty sure you know that I’m not a customer of yours. Now, I’m willing to take my share of the blame. I should be reading every line of my credit card statement. But, I’d also like you guys to refund what you’ve charged since I ceased being a customer.
There’s also the buggy Air New Zealand site where they shifted the blame to me for not clearing the cookies or understanding how the back end of their website works, but I’ll leave that for another day. What they didn’t figure was my taking screen shots of what I did.
PS. (October 15): Vodafone has just emailed me asking that my credit card details be updated. So much for ‘We have made sure your account is cancelled.’ But since they updated them unilaterally in 2009, I imagine they will just do it again. Air New Zealand, meanwhile, sorted out its bug and apologized, so there will be no post about that.âJY
P.PS. (October 15): I’ve been on the phone with Vodafone. Now I’m told that in June 2009, I was charged $116Âˇ30; in July 2009, $43Âˇ43; in August 2009, $63Âˇ51. All for toll calls. All while not being a Vodafone customer. The amounts appear to have been debited from my credit card each time. No invoice was ever received this end though Vodafone claims that they sent them to me via email. This is dodgy already since I have never opted for emailed invoices, and that they had always come in the post prior. Lucire Ltd. was a Vodafone cellphone customer till, I recall, March 2009, and up till then, I had invoices mailed to me. I was an Ihug customer (allegedly till 2006) and also had invoices mailed. So why the change? I still find this very, very hard to believeâit’s as though Vodafone cheekily took money knowing that I was not a customer and is using email as an excuseâjust as it originally claimed that I had a ‘calling card’ and that that was the reason I received my 22Â˘ bill.âJY
P.P.PS. (October 15): TelstraClear says I have been with them for tolls since May 6, 2008, which is later than I thought, and also later than the 2006 date Vodafone gave in the last September phone call. It doesn’t change the core argument though, but it does give us a precise date on which to start any inquiry.âJY
P.P.P.PS. (October 16): Chris from Vodafone calls and can find charges almost every month from May 2009, a few in 2010, and one in 2011. He’s promised to get them refunded. It really sounds like I’ve paid for tolls twice. He’s as puzzled as I am why I have never been posted bills since that was how Vodafone always did it while I was a customer till March 2009. Apparently the 2011 refund was never done.âJY
P.P.P.P.PS. (October 27): No sign of any refunds on my credit card statement.âJY
P.P.P.P.P.PS. (October 27): AimĂŠe says she has organized a refund of NZ$433Âˇ11, which appears to be the total debited from me without notice between May 2009 and April 2011. (More disturbing is that my previous credit card expired in November 2009, so how they managed to continue billing without my updating my details is beyond me.)âJY
P.P.P.P.P.P.PS. (November 3): Vodafone emails me a PDF credit note for $433Âˇ11. Is it over? I hope so!âJY
This wouldn’t have been the first time I bought a wifi adapterâthe first time was back in NYC, when laptops took PCI cardsâso they should be dead simple to install, right? Despite an OAP on Amazon.com saying, in his review, that he had no issue with his Level One WUA-0605, which arrived overnight from Ascent (props to them), naturally, things took four hours here (still an improvement on a day and a half) because, put simply, reading the manual does not work. In fact, it’s a useless manual, which simply rewords what one sees on screen with no attempt to explain the jargon and acronymsâabout as helpful as a Macintosh help screen to a layman. Why, oh why, does one need a computer science degree just to deal with basic matters?
This post, however, is not to complain about the lack of care in manual-writing. It is to publicize the helpfulness of two parties when things got tricky. First, Joe Ruwhiu at Ascent was very helpful in offering to forward any technical issues back to Level One. Secondly, despite a myriad of pages covering the problem of “can connect to my router but not the internet”, offering well meaning advice that was, sadly, ineffective to me (I had a reasonable idea of what I was doing, and that the majority of settings at and to the router, the TCP/IP and security were correct), only one was methodically written and gave step-by-step instructions on what to do. As it turned out, step one was successful. To Aseem Kishore, who wrote his piece in November 2008, I thank you. Now, if only people who wrote manuals did so as clearly as you write your help articlesâwith an understanding of the regular person.
Keyboard update: I ordered a Manhattan 177528, which appears to be a clone of the Ione Scorpius U2, from Taiwan. It’s not mechanical, but a scissor-switch keyboard, which is the next best thing. I type efficiently on my laptops, which have all had scissor-switch keys, and at US$18 (plus another US$18 for shipping), it seemed too good a price to pass up. My mechanical-keyboard quest, eventually, came up with nothing that fulfilled my requirements, and I wasn’t sure about what type of keys the one Razer that looked right had.
To top it off, when I emailed Manhattan Products, I actually got a reply from an Emmy Wang in Taiwan, who explained to me the features of he 177528 keyboard. She also noted that if I had a concern over the keys’ noise, there was an alternative. That’s quite a step up from Intopic, to whom I also wrote after buying one of their keyboards, raving about it and suggesting they should look at retailing here in New Zealand. I never received a reply to that, and I was a satisfied customer. How would they treat a dissatisfied one?
PS.: One day later. Aseem’s fix does workâbut for me it meant employing it every time that computer rebooted. The adapter would fail each time I started up and required the fix. And since the gadget was for Dad, I didn’t want to subject a man in his 70s to feeding in DOS commands every day. So, after another few hours, I came across the fix at a Microsoft page and downloaded the ‘Fix it’ app. Running that seems to have worked but considering that’s only one of about seven reboots today, the jury’s still out. I still wish these things would work the way the manufacturers claim, but my experience is that there’s always tinkering involvedâsomething I can’t imagine the average user would be bothered doing. Joe at Ascent was willing to give a refund or replacement.âJY