Customer Service Policy: Is This Good For the COMPANY?


(Image Courtesy of Google Images)

Lowe’s really set me off last Friday. Five years ago, my wife and I bought a fridge and a stove from Lowe’s. The fridge wasn’t working anymore. The freezer was frosting up and the fridge wasn’t keeping anything cold. We were told that means it’s low on freon and it’s easier to just buy a new one. Our dishwasher also stopped working, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and buy both, from Lowe’s, on a 10% off coupon that my wife had.

My wife doesn’t like contractors and delivery people coming to our house when I’m not there. Obviously, we wanted the use of our new appliances as soon as possible, so we asked for the earliest delivery, last Friday, but please come in the afternoon. I had a risk review meeting that I needed to be at in the morning, but I could make it home for an afternoon delivery.

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It Should Be Harder to “Reply to All” Than to Start a Nuclear War

I’m not going to deny that the “Reply To All” function in email clients is a useful and sometimes necessary function. However; I would like to submit that “Reply to All” is abused more often than any single function of any communications platform.

I have several methods to communicate, and quite a few email account, especially for work. I’ve got most of my personal email going through my gmail account, but for work I have two main accounts. I am a contractor to another organization, so I have to be on their email domain. That one is particularly annoying. Who, in an enterprise environment working on large programs can survive with a 50 MB email limit? Well, we’re supposed to, and I am constantly hitting it, especially on travel. I can access through the webmail client, but most of my functionality comes through one workstation devoted entirely to that network. I also have another email account through the company I work for, which my BlackBerry is tied to.

Somebody in my company had a baby today. Good for her; having babies is a wonderful thing. But it seems that everybody in the company had to “Reply to All” to say “Congratulations!” It seems that, while I was supposed to be in a meeting this morning, I spent the entire day deleting replies to the announcement of the birth of the baby. This drives me nuts.

I especially am annoyed when a meeting announcement is sent out to hundreds or more people in varying locations around the country and that one “impotent” jackass has to “Reply to All” to say “I shouldn’t be on this list.” That makes me want to reply to that person to say “I shouldn’t be receiving this.”

It’s even worse on my personal account when an email for a group I belong to goes out and other members of the group start a conversation using “Reply to All” that goes on for days, leaving me to spend the better part of my life deleting this stuff from my inbox. I just went though another aggressive filtering campaign in my gmail account so that I don’t get new message warnings for much of this “bac’n”.

Here is the solution that I propose. Obviously, there will be those times when every single person on an email message really does have a serious NEED for one person to Reply to All, but those are few and far between. I propose that if you want to send a response to an entire distribution list of people, you are welcome to individually type each and every one of their names into the address fields of your mail client. OK, I’m not that anal. You can select them from your address book, but you MUST select them individually. If you have a serious need to use the Reply to All function of your email client so that each person on the list has to see your reply, then you can go before a judge and state your case.

“Your honor, I got this meeting request from xxx organization to attend xxx meeting at xxx location. The problem is that I don’t work on that project anymore, and I have not been removed from the distribution list. I’m tired of spending the better part of my days deleting non-relevant email for a project that I am not involved in anymore. My current project generates at least as much traffic through my inbox, and 50 more messages just piled up while I’m talking to you. Crap, there go another 50. I simply do not have time to look at the “From” field to see who is sending these meeting invitations. I need to Reply to All to say I’m not involved and shouldn’t be getting these emails anymore.”

“Motion denied. You think those people have time to delete your whiny reply? Let 10 or 15 emails pile up while you’re looking at the “From” field, use “Reply” and ask to be removed from distribution. Then mark any emails sent from that distribution list as spam and ignore them.”

In the event that the judge is moved to grant your plea to Reply to All, then a nuclear launch-like cipher code will be broken apart by both yourself and the judge (think Crimson Tide), the two parts of the code will be joined together, and you will enter the entire code in the box that pops up when you hit Reply to All, but don’t wait too long or the code will expire and you’ll have to go back to court to get another one.

Please don’t bother to comment about how difficult this would be to implement. I’m a geek and I’ve already thought that through. This would never happen, but I find it a refreshing outlet for my frustration at the amount of self-important or inconsiderate people who think I (and others like me) have nothing better to do than delete their emails. Please, before using “Reply to All”, THINK. THINK about whether everybody needs to see your response.

I Love This Advertising

Sunday night, we went out for dinner to Fuddrucker’s. While my wife was getting the kids’ drinks, Joshua, my 4 year old, leaned over to me to ask if he could touch my cup. I said "sure" and slid it over to him. He put his finger on it and thanked me. I asked him "Did that do something for you? Did it make you feel better somehow?" He said it did, when Caleb, my 3 year old, asked to touch the cup as well. I obliged, and a game of me sliding the cup back and forth across the table and them touching it erupted. Somehow that was a lot of fun for the three of us until my wife got back and gave us a "What the heck do you think you’re doing?" look.

That comes to mind when I saw this.From



Having been issued a BlackBerry 7130 from work (did I ever actually post that blog entry?) I’ve gotten much more interested in the platform. I think I can answer the Storm’s question as "yes, I want to touch you." I have no idea what will happen when I do. Will I get a shock? Will I drink the Cool-Aid and jump platform from Windows Mobile and AT&T? Or will I find that I just touched a plastic case full of IC chips and a really cool touch screen?

One of my coworkers is planning to get the Storm. I’ll wait to touch that one.

This Is Why Senators Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Run for President

McCain was on the telecommunications committee, so he helped invent the BlackBerry. Seriously. If he were on the transportation committee, would he or his staff claim that he helped invent the hybrid? If he were on a defense committee, would he claim to have invented the UAV?

Gore invented the Internet (don’t forget, Gore was a Senator), and McCain invented the BlackBerry. What committees has Obama been on, so we can figure out what he could have invented?

I Could Cry

Out of 25,667 Twitter users, I rank 23,123. Which percentile is that?

You can follow my Twitter feed at

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The Funniest Campaign Moments of 2008

I’m too lazy to embed these, but since the work is already done for me, I give you the link:

McCain promises to veto beer, Obama has traveled to 57 states and still has one to go but couldn’t get to Hawaii and Alaska, they’re all at that link. Click on the link for some non-partisan exploits of both major candidates.

Microsoft Can’t Do Search to Save It’s Life

When it comes to search engines, my choice has always been Google. Well, not always. I can remember the days before Google really took off when I was forced to stumble in the dark with inept search engines and portals like Alta-Vista, Yahoo, Excite,, and some others. Google is far from perfect, but for the most part, when I need to find anything other than a solution to a technical problem. Google will find it fast and right away.

Because the Delaware River Port Authority raised it’s bridge toll rates, I decided that maybe it’s time to get EZ Pass. I know from previous attempts to sign up that I have to go to the EZ Pass NJ site. I’m used to using the built-in search box on my browser, but I keep forgetting that IE on my work laptop is still set to Microsoft’s Live Search, which for all purposes is worthless. I went to the search box in the upper right-hand corner and typed in “EZ Pass NJ”. This is what I got:


OK, the main EZ Pass site was the first response, and I could have navigated my way to where I needed to go, but EZ Pass is some kind of “public private partnership”, which means that it has no competition and has no burning need to make things easy for a consumer to use it’s services.

Since I realized at this point that this was NOT Google, I opened another browser tab to Google just to see what the difference is. Here it is:


Wow, look at that! was the FIRST response. It was so easy I could have guessed it, yet Microsoft’s Live Search algorithm didn’t return it.

I do think that Microsoft does some things right, but search is not one. It’s probably too late considering public perception of Microsoft to adopt some kind of mirror of Google’s “Don’t be evil” creed, but I have a suggestion if they’re interested: “Just be useful.” Stop getting into areas that you’re no good at just because other companies are raking in the money. Just because Google is making billions on search and advertising doesn’t mean that Microsoft will mirror their success. As I recall, there is an area that Microsoft has made billions at. Oh, that’s right, it’s SOFTWARE. It’s making software.

I Like Solutions to Real Problems

Last week, I echoed Real Dan Lyons’ assessment that Google’s Android as “A solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” This week, I am happy to be able to link to a solution to a problem that does exist.

I came across the Joel on Software blog during my days working on my degree at the University of Phoenix. I used several of Joel’s articles as references for my papers. I cannot attest to Joel’s ability to program, but his ability to write about programming is amazing. When I was in my programming classes, I would often come across a problem that wasn’t addressed by the textbooks, and my instructors weren’t meeting their requirement to answer student questions. I was left with search engines, which didn’t turn up anything useful.

Joel, together with some of his contacts, is addressing that problem with Stack Overflow. I wish this had been around two years ago.

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iTunes 8 Causes Windows Vista Crashes?

I’m on TypePad’s Windows Mobile client, so forgive any lack of formatting. I saw this link from The Unofficial Apple Weblog about iTunes 8 causing BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) on Windows Vista. I installed iTunes 8 on my work laptop yesterday, and it worked fine.

For the most part, I like iTunes 8. The Genuis playlists will be useful to me since my playlists usually consist of the same songs in a different order. As for iPod Touch 2.1 firmware, so far I like it except for how it handles podcasts. I’ve never agreed with Apple’s podcasting philosophy. They assume that you always want to listen to the newest episode first. That’s never the case for me. A lot of the podcasts I listen to come in parts or series, and I like to listen to them in order. With the new firmware, suddenly I listen to the oldest podcast in a list, and it finishes and immediately starts playing the newest. This isn’t good when I have like 80 unplayed podcasts in a list. It would be nice if iPods allowed you to list and play podcasts from oldest to newest.

No Windows Mobile 6.1 Update for Me

From the “Your Mobile World” eNewsletter:

Want to get the benefits of Windows Mobile 6.1? Check your mobile carrier’s Web site and find out if the update is available for your mobile phone. If it isn’t available yet, stay tuned because it will be soon!

How ‘bout you design a mobile operating system that isn’t bound by anal retentive mega telecoms like Verizon, so I can get the benefits of Windows Mobile 6.1 for a nominal fee rather than buying another $500 device and a two year contract?

I’m going to amend my statement from earlier, that got picked up by Real Dan Lyons, who gave me the largest traffic spike I’ve ever seen.

“Windows Mobile: the perfect blend of power, capability, instability, and boneheaded business policy decisions.”

“Windows Mobile: enriching the megalithic corporations, frustrating the paying customers.”

To be at least a little fair, now that I think about it, I bought my phone unlocked directly from HP, so it’s not entirely AT&T’s fault that an update won’t be released for it. It’s HP’s, which is still a monolithic mega corporation.