Archive: May 14, 2005

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GoToMyPC is horrible

Saturday,  05/14/05  08:50 AM

So GoToMyPC is horrible.  Not the product, which seems to work very well, but the company behind it, which seems to have no clue when it comes to customer service.

A couple of weeks ago I was experimenting with various approaches for remote customer support.  Aperio has customers all over the place, mostly behind firewalls on secure networks, and connecting to their machines so we can provide technical support has been an ongoing challenge.  Anyway one possible approach was to use GoToMyPC, which would enable our technical support people to go to a customer's computer.  The approach seemed to have some technical merit; I signed up for a "free" trial, conducted an experiment with a remote computer, verified that the approach worked, but ultimately decided there were other products which would fit our needs better.

Fast forward to this morning; I noticed an email which informed me that my credit card had been charged $20 for "GoToMyPC Personal Edition".  Apparently this is a monthly charge.  So much for the "free" trial, eh?  Can you say "bait and switch"?  Yes, I thought you could.

So I went to the GoToMyPC website and found their "24/7" customer support number.  I sat on hold for the [expected] 10 minute wait, and then was routed to an [unexpected] voicemail box, which informed me that customer support is available only certain hours on business days!  What!!  So much for "24/7", eh?  Can you say "horrible customer support"?  Yes, I thought you could.

So I left an appropriately angry message on their voicemail - I have no expectation of getting a call back - and I sent an appropriately angry email to their customer support address - I have no expectation of getting a reply back - and I'll have to call them during certain hours on business days, wait for 10 minutes, and then explain to an untrained kid support person what happened, and beg them to cancel my account and refund my $20.  All of which will cost me way more than $20.

What motivates this sort of horrible behavior?  Here we have a nice product which good technology, but which has somehow ended up in a not-nice company with a rotten approach to customers.  And this happens all the time; I'm sure you've seen it yourself, all too often.  Sigh.

[Update: I just received the following automated email:]

This is an automated response from the GoToMyPC Customer Care Center.  We received your email message on 5/14/2005 at 8:51:20 AM.  We are available to respond to messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If your message requires any follow up you will receive a personal response by email.  Messages are normally answered within two business days from the time received.

Stay tuned...

[Another Update: I just received the following email:]

This is to confirm that the following amount has been refunded to your credit card:

INVOICE #523044445-3
CREDIT: 1 PC Monthly purchased on May 13, 2005

I have to give them credit, that was a fast response on a Saturday.


As the laptop turns - episode 11

Saturday,  05/14/05  08:47 PM

The saga of my laptop trouble continues...  (Links to 1, 2, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 4.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)  Here is episode 11...

-----Original Message-----
From: Ole Eichhorn []
Monday, April 11, 200510:44 AM
Subject: episode 11 - as the laptop turns

It’s Monday, so it’s time for a new episode of ATLT.

Okay, so I have my new spiffy Compaq nc8230.  I’ve been using it daily – this is being typed on it – and it works great.  I’m one happy camper.  The story appears to have a happy ending, which I understand makes it somewhat less interesting to you, but better for me :)  I’ll try to have a full-on disaster next time.

You will remember there were a few hanging chads.  First, I was still in possession of my old laptop, and my old new laptop, as well as my new new laptop.  I finally convinced HP to pick up the old laptops.  I am pleased to report that HP did pick them up, so I am now down to one laptop.  So HP are not quite as bad as I thought they were.  They’re even planning to “recondition” my old laptop – which still has a questionable display – so perhaps it won’t be junked, and of course my old new laptop was brand new.

P.S. I highly recommend a utility called killdisk.  This zeros your entire hard drive.  It doesn’t merely erase all the partitions and files, it writes zeros to every sector several times.  This way nobody can recover old ScanScope source code and other valuable tidbits from my old drives :)

Next, I did need a new port replicator, since my new laptop is incompatible with my old one.  I bought a new one and have sold the old one on eBay.  Net loss $100 so not bad.  Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for this story, the new replicator arrived dead.  Well actually it sort of worked but not really; in particular, it could not drive my 21” Viewsonic display without a blizzard of snow.  So I had to place a trouble call, they mailed me a new one no questions asked, and I mailed the defective one back.  The new one works perfectly and score another point for HP service.

Finally, there is still the matter of laptop memory.  You’ll remember since you’ve been taking careful notes that my old laptop had 1GB of memory.  Well the new one has “only” 512MB, so HP did agree to send me a new 1GB chip.  The chip duly arrived, but unfortunately for me and fortunately for this story, the chip was the wrong kind.  It looked like it should fit, but there was this little notch that just quite didn’t line up.  Turns out it was 3.0CL memory and I need 2.5CL memory.  EVERYONE knows what CL means, right?  I don’t.  All I know is that the little notch didn’t line up, so now I have to get another chip from HP and return the old one.  This project is single-handedly keeping UPS delivery in business.

So that’s the news, as always, stay tuned for more…


Continue to episode 12...


Saturday,  05/14/05  08:55 PM

Here's something I meant to post about, but, um, I wasn't posting so I didn't, but now I can...  Ain't It Cool News tours Pixar!  What a wonderful workplace...  The top picture at right shows the "great room"; apparently Steve Jobs wanted everyone to pass through one place together each day, and this was the answer.  It also allows rooms like the conference room in the bottom picture to have views "outside".  The middle picture shows the flexibility granted employees in arranging their personal workspaces - no cubicles here! - these animators have little huts like the dwarves in Sleeping Beauty.  I love it!  [ via Xeni Jardin

Another one from recent past; Christopher Locke, aka Rageboy, aka Chief Blogging Officer: Winning through Worst Practices.  This defies summary; you'll just have to go read it.  Bonks about five nails on the head, and keeps you laughing meantime.  He still writes at night when he should be sleeping :)  [ via Sam Ruby

Chris Anderson, he of the Long Tail, contrasts the Long Tail vs. the Bottom of the Pyramid.  The bottom of the pyramid is all about commodification, the idea that the same things can be made less expensively to serve more people, while the long tail is about niches, the idea that different things can be distributed less expensively to serve less people.  Not the same. 

Speaking of Long Tail markets, how about the long tail of lending?  Wired reports: "A new U.K. website called Zopa aims to hook up two distinct groups of people -- those with spare cash and those looking to borrow some.  The auction-style exchange could give banks a run for their money."  Then plan to use an eBay-style reputation system to score credit.  Interesting! 

Here's an interesting video on CNet: tablet PCs used by Cardiologists.  Tablets are a great technology for medical imaging, they're a very natural way for doctors to interact with images.  The portability is nice but the ability to draw right on the image is essential.  I've been waiting for the screen resolution to improve so they can be used for Pathology images.  Toshiba just announced two models with 1400x1050 pixel screens, that might do it... 

This is/was a good call by Dave Winer: "Sounds like Barry Bonds' career is over, and he knows it."  I guess time will tell, but I had the same reaction.  Recovery from knee surgery at age 40 is a lot tougher without steroids. 

I never know how to react to this sort of article: Tom's Hardware on How to Crack WEP.  One side is that by publicizing security problems, they help plug them; nobody with a WiFi network that uses WEP should feel secure.  The other side is that this enables a great many more people to become hackers, and the average guy with a WiFi network in his house doesn't read Tom's Hardware.  I guess in the end information wants to be free.  Anyway it isn't that easy; sort of like copying encrypted DVDs, yeah, you can do it, but no, it isn't easy and you have to invest more time than it is probably worth. 

Here we have the Lego Harpsichord, by Henry Lim.  Thought you'd seen everything?  No, you didn't think that, but here's more proof that "everything" is so much more than you thought.  Unbelievable feat of engineering, imagine how heavy this must be!  [ via Gizmodo



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