January 24, 2006

Big Beaver Skin

I ride the amtrak now to work. It is nice and roomy and they have power outlets at the seats, which is helpful.

One thing I do not like is their large ticket. It is unweildy and as large as an airline boarding pass. The only problem is that I have to carry it around every day. To solve this problem I keep the pass in the back pocket of my moleskine large journal.

The other day, after I sat down on the train and as the conductor was nearing, i pulled out my moleskine to get out my ticket. The gentleman next to me asked, "Hey, is that one o' them big beaver skins? I love those things."


March 20, 2004

bad shopping, good customer service

I had two conflicting shopping experiences recently.

Last week, I had some time to kill and a caffeine addiction to feed, so I signed up for a T-Mobile hotspot day pass at the Starbuck's near the train station. The process itself was very simple and fast save for one fact. There was no "log out" button. Basically, I was worried that I would come home to find a big bill from the nasty wifi provider because i didn't log out.
I called T-Mobile HotSpot customer support and had a live person within seconds. Turns out the service does time out after a few inactive minutes, so I was fine there. However, the "log out" button was apparently on a pop-up window. No link anywhere. Just a pop up. The first thing the guy said was, "If you have a browser or plugin that blocks pop-ups, then you won't see the logout link." That is pretty bad. However, at least they knew about it.
I liked my free day, but certainly don't need to pay $0.10/minute to do wifi at a coffeeshop. Some of chicago's local cafe's have much better rates and you can pay with cash and surf relatively anonymously. Yay!

The other major shopping experience I had last week was a washer/dryer purchase from I know from some work I did at a former company that Sears does a lot of large appliance business online, so I was disappointed that the process was so clunky., as many large retailers online, use the BroadVision platform. I am surprised that a huge e-commerce platform can suck so much. On, i encountered "Session Timed Out" error message after just arriving at a site, broken product links and category links and other clunkiness. I saved the washer and dryer that I wanted into my cart, but was unable to retrieve those items in a later session until I added something else to the cart first. And then, the items were no longer saved in my cart, but I was not told that. So I had to search for the items again. What a pain. I am shocked that small retailers can often do it so much better.
The one big plus for Sears was my call to customer service on Friday. I was on the phone with somebody nearly instantly and had a repairman scheduled in a matter of minutes. I think i may have hooked the dryer up slightly wrong, so it is not drying as well as it should.
So, for both T-Mobile and, bad for initial experience, good for customer support. Weird.