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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Apps! I Gotta Have More Apps!

Well, in the course of upgrading to a phone that doesn’t require tape to keep the battery cover on, I went with a major supplier’s leader.  (BTW, if you’re looking for me to say that I stayed with T-Mobile, forget it.  They continue to amaze me with their business prevention department.)
But that’s not the topic here.  If you haven't noticed, though the "...there's an app for that..." promo is over, there is no end to the number and variety of applications now available for just about every type of mobile device.
Today, I’m just getting the word out to a few folks who, like me, may have upgraded, or have loaded apps on their phone and allowed “automatic update.”  This applies to every OS I can think of and it’s pretty important.
Many new apps – and upgrades of older ones – now try to blow a high hard one past you like Ricky Vaughn.  They bury an acceptance in the “other” or “see all” category.  It’s worded a number of ways (after you drill down that deep) and may say “phone access” or “line access” or just phone…but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the app can ask your phone for its serial number, its phone number and the numbers of anyone you may be talking to while that app is in use.
In other words, you download say, a YouTube viewer.  It’s custom and you love it because there are no additional ads, it has great controls, and, hey, maybe even the colors are your favorites.  But, when you open it, it will phone home with info you your phone and your number.  And if you get a call in the middle of a video, it’ll get that number too.
To be fair, they are telling us.  But you really have to look for it.
Frankly, not too cool.  This is especially true since updates can slip this info by you, especially if you’ve set any apps to update automatically.
So I’m taking a closer look at everything, and I went back and reviewed all on my phone.  Someone tell me why a game like backgammon has to know my phone’s serial number, my phone number and who I’m calling or who’s calling me.  I actually lucked out.  I saw this as I transferred data and apps to my new phone.
Now what concerns me is (are) all the folks out there calling me with these apps on their phones.  I guess it’s no big deal.  I don’t have a bookie; I don’t do billion dollar deals on a cell phone, and, what else, well, nothing blackmailable so I guess I shouldn’t worry.  But just the thought that some clown can page through his phone-homes and see who’s calling me is a bother.
Do as you wish – address or ignore.  But, if you ignore this, please tell me you did so the next time we talk.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The NOT Customer Service

Online commerce – ecommerce – call it what you want…it’s great, isn’t it?  Don’t you wish a few more companies actually understood it?
For all you great firms who are proud of your online store (or have been told by your IT and marketing folks that you should be proud of it), I once again invite you to buy something from your site.  Oh, and when you do, use your online chat.  Yeah.  Do that.  Pour two large glasses of liquid, one of water and one of your favorite alcoholic beverage.  You’ll need the former because you’ll get pretty thirsty during the long and arduous task of extracting information from your online chat folks.  The latter?  Well, figure it out.  When you realize how poorly your company – YOUR BRAND – interacts with your clientele, you’ll down the whole thing.
I’ve been part of some really interesting exchanges in online sales chats. Most recently, when I questioned why a product hadn’t been delivered as promised and was, in fact, two weeks late, I was told, “Sorry, we don’t actually carry that.  It is in our catalog but is drop shipped from the manufacturer.  They may have a problem or be out of the item temporarily.”
My smartass response was, “…and that affects me how?”  I went on to ask why I didn’t at least receive an email telling me about the delay.  It was a response like, “sorry, we can’t do that.”
Can’t, won’t, don’t actually carry, not ours…isn’t that fantastic?  
I went on to tell the chatter that it had been 4 years since I had ordered from them; that it took me that long to get up the nerve to try again after they had totally screwed up the last order.  Then I added that I’d think about them again in another four years, maybe.  Didn’t matter.  Didn’t affect them, not that I expected that it would.
I asked a couple more questions; neither was met with an acceptable answer.  I also asked about canceling the order.  The chatter again had no answer for the chatee.  Instead, she (I assume, it was a female name) asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Again, the smartass kicked in and I responded with, “Else?  You haven’t helped me with anything yet.  You can’t tell me why the product is two weeks late, you can’t tell me when it will be delivered…you don’t even know if there are any in stock.  And you can’t even help me cancel the order.  So what’s with ‘else’?”  Then my usual angry signoff of.  Seeya.” [click]
So, once again, take the time to buy something from yourself.  That sugar-baked ham or teeth-whitener, or seatcovers.  Whatever.  Use your online chat and see what you have - or don't have - working for you.  But, please…no drunken dials to me about what you found.