Savemybutt Newsletter
December 8, 2010

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Commentary

Press 1 for Customer Service…

I ran into an issue today that thoroughly crossed the line of my patience.  I started out trying to finish preparing for this week’s Tech Thursday webinar about backing up your computer.

I have been using a backup solution for the past few months that I have found to be the simplest way for consumer computer users, especially novice users.  Like many others in the media, I was attempting to contact the corporate offices of the software’s publisher and obtain a coupon code so that I could offer a discount to my attendees, subscribers to my newsletter, and listeners of Website Wednesday Night.

When I was trying to call the company I ended up talking to India, no matter what choices I made when prompted by their telephone auto-attendant.

I explained that I teach people how to use their computers and what I wanted.  The people in India could not supply me with a phone number for the company’s headquarters in Boston.

After getting very angry that I could not make any headway, I decided to approach it from another direction.  I called again, twice, and asked to speak to the public relations department as a representative of Steve and Johnnie’s Cyber Squad on WGN Radio.

Again, I ended up in India with the same customer service center that had no answers or a phone number for the corporate office.

I contacted two other friends in the media to see if they had the number.  Through Linked-In associations I was able to find the public relations firm for the software maker.  I could not get my call returned.
I found the phone number and email address of the corporate press relations person.  I called his number that was on the publisher’s website.  It was disconnected.  I have not gotten a response to an email sent to his address as yet either.

Oh, I tried directory assistance, too.  The phone number in the phone book is the one that goes to India.
Where the problem is here is that if I, with the media strength of the call letters WGN, cannot get through to a company who sells a very successful product to the public, how the hell are you, the average consumer, supposed to do it if you need to?

The name of this company?  Carbonite.

By the way, I have run into this corporate hiding from the public  before. 

Try and contact someone at Facebook.  No numbers can be found. 

Try calling Bank of America at their giant home office in Atlanta.  No published numbers.  Even the SEC, who I called, had a valid number for a real person at Bank of America.

Try calling PC Magazine.  No numbers, anywhere.  At least PCM has working email addresses for their staff.
At what point do we, the consumer, become as important to large companies as the money we spend to buy their products?

Do you think that all companies that sell products to us at the retail level should have working published phone numbers on their websites?

There is a law called the Can-Spam Act which requires guys like me to supply working contact information at the bottom of all email newsletters and other opt-in email.  Should all retail sites have a similar law applied to them?

Follow Up:

Last week I talked about restocking fees and if retail stores have a good reason to charge them.

I got some interesting email and there were some equally interesting comments on the blog post about this issue.
Generally, it seems that most responses I read were against any restocking fees at all.  Again generally, the cost of returning an item that the customer has opened and used should be the burden of the store or the manufacturer of the product.

There was even an interesting comment that companies like Best Buy should follow the customer service practices of Target, implying that Target does not charge restocking fees.

I called the manager of my local Target store.  They do, in fact, charge a restocking fee for some opened electronic  item and other higher priced items.

I’m sorry to say that the commenter seems to be miss-informed.

Bottom line.  When you buy an item from anywhere, especially if it is expensive, make sure you find out what the return policy of the store is.

After calling several other stores, I found that if the item is not opened or has a defect, there is no restocking fee.

 

News

The Federal Trade Commission has pushed for some sort of protection for consumer’s privacy on the internet.

The upcoming release of the new version of Firefox, version 4, had a feature called “Do Not Track” in the beta version.  Mozilla has removed that feature because of pressure from the advertising companies because it might hurt the revenue.

Surprisingly, Microsoft is adding a feature to, the soon to be released, Internet Explorer 9 called “Tracking Protection”.

Could it be that IE may start to take back some of the browser market share it has lost to Firefox because Microsoft is concerned about user protection?

Read the whole story here.

Tech Thursday

This week's Tech Thursday Webinar is pretty important. We have talked many times over the years how important backing up your computer and data is.

The problems around backing up include, confusion how to do it, where do you store the backup, what software do you use, etc.

In this webinar I will be joined by Stephen Lawton, previously the marketing director of Acronis, the makers of Acronis True Image, to educate you about backing up, and answer all the questions. I will also show you the simplist way to do it.

You can sign up for the webinar, which starts at 7PM central time, by going to Tech Thursday, http://techthursday.com.

Email

Laura Asks:

I have an e-mail account with Yahoo and since cyber Monday people in my address book are getting spam e-mails from me. I'm assuming I clicked on something I shouldn't have but I don't know what to do about it now. Any suggestions?

Answer:

I'm going to assume you use a web browser to read you email at Yahoo.com.

There are a number of ways this could have happened.

The first thing you should do is change your password. Make sure it is a strong password with letters, numbers, and punctuation characters in it. Hopefully, that will that will help. Many Yahoo users are experiencing this.

You may have to create a new account to stop it. I would suggest Google's Gmail instead. Not only does it seem more secure, so far, but you can have Gmail import your email and contacts from your Yahoo account as well.

Solving this problem is like trying to catch smoke and putting it in a bottle.

 

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