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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-03-31 06:56
Subject: [personal] Customer service - the good, the bad, and the ugly
Security: Public
Tags:culture, personal, politics, tech, travel
Some minor observations on customer service, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

When I was in Omaha last week, Hertz gave me a Toyota Camry with 3 miles on the odometer. The paper tag in the window had been issued that same day. The car had that funny new car smell in spades. I think maybe I've bought three brand new cars in my life, so that was kind of a neat experience. Not special customer service exactly, in that someone had to be the first to drive it, but it was fun in a trivial but pleasing way.

Flying home Friday on American Airlines, I was changing planes at DFW. When I got the departure gate for the Portland flight I had a friendly and funny conversation with the gate agent. I was just making sure I was at the right gate, because the display board hadn't been updated yet. He asked if I had a boarding pass, and I said yes, mentioning my seat number but not my name. A while later, when I went to board, as I got to the little scanner to have my boarding pass, he recognized me, smiled, and handed me a First Class boarding pass, thanking me for the conversation. The flight was oversold, so American, like most airlines, will bump people to empty seats up front if possible to clear more coach seats. And due to having flown over 1,000,000 miles on American I have lifetime premium status with them, so I'm certainly on the eligibility list for such an upgrade. What was nice about it was that he went to the trouble of figuring out who I was from my seat number.

The Bad

In the cab on the way to the airport last Monday, at 3:45 am, I got a garrulous driver. As verbose as I am, even I'm not all that conversational at such an hour. But that's okay. Except what he wanted to talk about was essentially FOX News/Rush Limbaugh talking points concering (to put it politely) immigration, taxation and cultural issues. Now I'm political as all heck, and don't mind engaging at length with people of any conviction. (c.f. this post about my extended conversation with an Iraq war vet [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]) But 3:45 am trapped in the back seat of a cab was not the time or place for it.

This morning I woke up to a notice in my email inbox that GoDaddy.com had billed my PayPal account for some domain names I had planned to let expire. What I've since been told is that their terms of service include an autopay renewal provision. This irritates me profoundly. I never knowingly sign up for autopay renewals, as I prefer to control the transaction. So shame on me for missing it. Nevertheless, this is an underhanded business tactic that tricked me into doing something I would never have chosen to do, and cost me money out of pocket. I won't ever be doing business with GoDaddy.com again, and strongly suggest anybody who is doing so should review their service agreements.

The Ugly

Of late, one of my favorite sites for finding cool, weird and serendipitous material has been Curiosity Counts. However, sometime in the past few weeks they underwent a site redesign. Individual stories are now tiled in boxes of random size that at least on my browser essentially rearrange themselves as you scroll down the page. I find the new presentation very annoying and almost unreadable. As a result, I've stopped using Curiosity Counts for a source for Link Salad. Which is a shame, because they were a nearly daily resource for me for a while. I did make a comment about this on Twitter, which the site curator responded to politely, but that seemed to amount to "we like our new look!" I'm glad they do. It's rare that a redesign of a favorite Web site is so annoying to me that I exit as a reader, but that's what happened here. Not precisely a customer service issue, but something that fatally affects my transactional experience with them.

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User: radiantlisa
Date: 2012-03-31 14:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not that this changes the response from the Curiosity Counts folks, but I think you can follow them on Tumblr (you'd have to create a Tumblr account) and see their stories one at a time. At least, that's how they come up in my Tumblr feed.

And I think it's interesting that they've essentially picked a Tumblr look-and-feel that mimics Pinterest.
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User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-03-31 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
GoDaddy are generally evil and should be avoided by default, anyway. This sort of crap is only one of many reasons not to touch them with the proverbial 10' pole. They're so bad that they're one of only two individual registries that have been named and shamed by folks in the ICANN NCSG community to advise non-commercial registrants to avoid them.
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Peter Hollo
User: frogworth
Date: 2012-03-31 15:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You don't use RSS readers? I find that site redesigns don't affect me that much because my favourite blogs and news sources come up in the familiar reverse-chronological sequence you'd always expect in my RSS reader (Google Reader as it happens, but viewed via Reeder both in OSX and iOS).
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Jay Lake: tech-x4449_lamp
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-03-31 16:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've tried RSS feeds in the past. They just don't really do it for me. From a user experience perspective, I much prefer tabbed browsing, with loads of grouped bookmarks.
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Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2012-03-31 20:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>I won't ever be doing business with GoDaddy.com again<<

Sadly, we use GoDaddy for a number of sites and services, primarily because of price. Nobody else we've found can touch their prices. I suppose that's part of the trade-off for their meh customer service and repulsive advertising. We're open to switching to a new provider but need strong recommendations. (Note that we previously used Network Solutions, so everyone is probably cheaper than they are.)
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User: mrtact
Date: 2012-04-02 20:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Godaddy's attitude regarding SOPA was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, and I'm in the process of migrating to DreamHost. But the price wasn't an issue AFAICR. Seems to me godaddy was charging me $15 for a one-year renewal, and I paid around $10 on DreamHost. But maybe I'm misremembering.

I will say, their hosting is way better than my old provider (Joyent), so my homepage will now arrive at your browser sooner than the heat death of the universe. Which wasn't a given, previously.

So, yeah... dreamhost!
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