Apparently this is turning into a rant blog this week. I am trying to get my parents set up with DSL service within the Chicago metropolitan area and AT&T came back with the message that the service is not available in the area. How nuts is that? ATT sends us a million direct mail offers for DSL and then tell us it’s not available in our area? Its a suburb with 50,000 people and a subdivision with 250 homes and they say DSL is not available in the area. Ugh. It’s like they don’t even want our money.
So, after that first call from some guy saying it just isn’t available in the area I called the 800 number and got someone who also said it is not available in our area (big suprise) and I asked who I had to talk to about finding out why. She had to call 3 other people before anyone knew anything other than what their computer screen told them to say, and then finally we found the denial of service was because of a “shortage of facilities” meaning that we were the last ones to sign up and the bandwith was all taken. So, we put in an engineering ticket to see if they can fix this or if it still gets denied. Then I will have to call back again and get someone to submit more tickets to see if they can get this resolved. It would be ridiculous to have dial up when you want DSL and we can’t get cable because the line was cut accidentally during some yard work many years ago.
You would think that if service wasn’t available because of a shortage of facilities they wouldn’t deny it, they would put it on hold until they could build out the system to accommodate it. I don’t mind waiting a few weeks for them to add more capacity I just don’t believe that no is the appropriate answer when customers are there with money in hand ready to buy. And when I have to work this hard to get something this basic, why is their customer service system so inept at getting orders complete? It’s turning away revenue. Why is this an ok business practice when it pisses off the company and the customer?
I got DSL broadband in my home (from AT&T) about a year ago and I have to say it has changed my life. I no longer have to wait for pages to load and I get things done so much faster. In fact it makes getting info so much easier that I am more likley to go to the computer for info than anywhere else. I IM and email more than I talk on the phone but if someone does call it is way cool that I can talk on the land line at the same time as I am online. I can also donwload movies and watch them on youtube or netflix. It is better than waiting for a DVD in the mail. It is silly that I waited so long to get broadband. Now I just have to convince my brother and parents to get it too. There are too many things I want to show them that they can’t download over dial up. It is a little weird to put the filters on all the land lines but once that is done, they do a broadband speed test to check the line, and if everything check out, everything just works. It’s great.
I was at a dinner the other night and was surprised that the people attending were oblivious to the cook’s time and work put in to the dinner and were generally acting very un-enthusiastic about it. And yes, it wasn’t fancy or anything but still, where are their manners? What do they expect? I have no idea but it made me think of what I would do if I ever was in the position to host something and I had to involve food in the event. Two past companies for catering came to mind. I am no cook, not even when my life depends on it, so catering is the most responsible thing to do when food and guests are coming over. One great caterer is LaBelle Catering in LaGrange, IL and another that is good, but not quite as good as LaBelle, is The Perfect Dinner in Oak Park. They both specialize in pre-cooked meals either for a family or catering an event. Labelle has more options, better packaging to retain freshness, better taste with more seasoning and higher prices. The Perfect Dinner has good food, but avoid the chicken and twice baked potatoes because both become really dry when refrigerated there at their store all day. (they cook in the mornings) I have had 3 dinners from there and the salmon and rice was great, the house salad was to die for, and the steak was luscious. It’s just the potatoes and chicken that they don’t season enough or keep any moisture in or liquid. Both places deliver anywhere in the Chicagoland area and with advance notice are great for catering holiday Christmas parties and work related corporate events. The broccoli salad at La Belle with peanuts and rasins is the best salad ever. You have to try that if you call them. Check out both these great food catering businesses this holiday season if you need a caterer.
I am a huge fan of email marketing in general for it’s success in bringing in site traffic and conversions, but I am also a huge fan of email newsletters as a consumer. I subscribe to everything from google news alerts to newsletters about every service and site I use. I think they are just as great of a way to stay informed as they are to reach customers about news your company has to share and products you would like to sell.
Email Marketing is still one of the best way to cultivate an audience for your company, product or service. It is the original online relationship marketing method and it has been working well for all types of businesses since the beginning of the internet. Even Craigslist started as an email newsletter, the possiblities for your business could be endless. Two things you will need to get in order to start a newsletter for your customers: An email marketing service provider (like iContact, which has a free 15 day trial on now that I got an email about) and some content and an editorial calendar for your writing. Your email solution provider is of utmost importance because they are the one that will be storing all the email messages, dealing with bounce receipts, helping revise email lists, archiving your emails, helping you design the format and layout of the email and sending them out for you through the service. That is a lot of stuff from a company and it is best to use them rather than trying to manage this all out of a Yahoo account on your own. Plus they make it easier to manage, that is why it justifies the cost.
Your content is also very important. Try and tailor the content seasonally or around products and services that have genuine news or fresh article content about them. If you have different sales every year updates and news about them is great. Also try and give email subscribers an incentive to sign up. Maybe a email entry box on the home page with the incentive to receive special email notices of new products before they are released to the public? The possibilities are endless as long as it is tailored to your business and your customer’s needs.
I just heard about this cool new personal assistant service that is available by phone. It is called Sunday. The web site is asksunday.com and the number is 212-660-9960. You can join for free, but in order to get the personal request service it is $29.00 per month. That is a lot less than hiring a secretary, but I don’t think they will process your expense reports either.
They are great for certain things. Like flight status, and kind of a travel agent, driving or walking directions, booking zipcars and other transit methods, find and purchase tickets to rare events, book doctor’s appointments, follow up on billing disputes for credit cards or businesses, wake up calls, setting golf tee times, finding locksmiths, maids and drivers in whatever location you are in, making dinner reservations, ordering food to be sent and ordering anything you want from online or catalogs.
So it is within a certain range of tasks, but isn’t that nice? I think for someone who travels a lot and is really busy, this would be a great help.
Last year my old computer crashed. It was 3 years old, full of spyware and viruses that I couldn’t get off of it and on top of it the hard drive went out. I looked into hard drive data recovery services, but at the time I was not sure that would work and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money if it might not work. Now I wish I had.
I had my life on the computer. Everything from my taxes to my work was on that hard drive. If I had gotten a hard drive recovery service to salvage at least part of it, I would not have had to completley start all my records from scratch again.
Imagine though even higher stakes with a business. All your business records today is stored digitally and if your hard drive crashes, you have to recover it. But then again if you are a business, why aren’t you backing up your files nightly? A hard drive recovery service would be the first person you would call.
As my luck would have it, I was reading about this hard drive recovery service today that can restore and repair most anything. Where was this when I needed it a year ago? Why didn’t I back it up then? Well now I do have an external HD and I do back things up, but if I need a hard drive recovery service, I have one of those too. It’s always good to have a plan B.
I have been a cell phone customer of AT&T (ATT) since the last time it was AT&T Wireless. bought my first Nokia cell phone in 1999 from them and have been loyal and stayed with them through many name changes and buyouts (Cingular). What makes them suck though, isn’t that their plans cost too much, or that they lock you into 2 year contracts that I don’t like (and renew them without your consent) or that they have crappy customer service. Those things are pretty consistent from all cell phone companies, and no one has any control over it.
What specifically sucks about AT&T wireless is that if you choose to not have web access on your phone you get a pay per use rate. Even if you don’t want any access at all, and specifically request (as I have) to have all web and internet access turned off on your phone. So despite my asking to have the internet access turned off 3 times and being assured that it was, three times, my phone still automatically dials up to check the network for texts (they bundle the internet and text network together on purpose so you can’t have one without the other for revenue purposes) constantly and charges me nine cents each time. Depending on how often my phone is off during a month this amounts to $30-$75.00 in extra “pay per use” charges per month. WHICH IS FUCKING INSANE!! They have been doing this to me for 7 months now and I AM PISSED OFF!!! I can’t get out of the contract, nor can I get them to turn the service off after repeated calls to their call center customer service center. So, I have to have my battery out of my phone when I’m not using it now to avoid these illegal and unauthorized charges. Which means I am basically without a cell phone despite paying them $75.00 per month for my phone plan. (which for 3 phones is the cheapest plan they have, although it’s way way overpriced)
These cell phone companies are rolling in cash to the tune of being able to burn billions on re-branding campaigns every three months and it’s because they abuse the customers like you and me who can’t really afford to not have a phone, and have to pay whatever is in the contract because you can’t afford to get out of that either. They areevil mother fuckers and as soon as I can get out of this contract I’m gone and I will never use their service again.