How Many Ways Can One Repair Shop Break an iPad?

Every once in a while, my sister-in-law stays over at our house.  We live fairly close to her work, and if she has something else going around our part of town, she’ll sometimes crash in the guest bedroom.  A few weeks ago, she was staying over and came out of her room, upset.  She had dropped something on her screen and now had a cracked iPad.

It was still usable but definitely not something you want to live with long term.

Repairing A Cracked iPad

She looked around but was finding most screen replacements to cost in the neighborhood of $125-150.  Money has been a bit tight so she was holding out for a better deal.

I came across a Groupon where it advertised that they would do replacements for “as little as $85.”  Trying to be helpful, I sent her the link.

I looked up the place and it was basically a side business off of a cell phone sales shop, where I’m guessing they sold phones from different carriers and plans.

She called and asked some questions and they directed her away from the Groupon and said that they actually had a deal where they replaced the screen on the iPad mini for $75.  So, she dropped it off.

mb-2016-05-crackShe said that to this point, everything seemed pretty straightforward, and that they said they would have the repairs done the next day.

Starting To Get The Runaround

The next day they called and said that they were running a day behind.  Hmmm….red flag?

So, the following day she drove down there to pick it up and was told that it still wasn’t ready.  She was a bit upset by this point because the shop is out of the way and added about an hour drive to her day.  Time that she would now have to repeat.  They promised that it would be a day or two longer (I think Sunday was somehow part of it and they may have been closed).

On Monday, she called and received even more bad news.  They admitted that while replacing the screen, they had somehow broken the power button.  So she now had a new screen but they needed to fix the button.

At this point they refunded the money and promised that it would be another day or two to replace and repair the button.

From Bad To Worse

Another day or two passed, and shockingly, things didn’t improve.

At this point, my sister-in-law turned the handling of the situation over to her boyfriend, who she figured would be a little bit more forceful to the situation.  (He’s a big guy and I definitely wouldn’t want to mess with him). At that time, she also mentioned potentially taking them to small claims court, at which point the relationship started to break down and the guy got mad and said that they would not award her anything if she didn’t give them time to fix it.

So, they waited a few more days.  By this point, I think the reality was setting in that they had really screwed up this device.  They still had the opportunity to make it right.

They didn’t take it.

10 Days In With No Signs Of Improvement

On about day 10 to this whole thing, the person from the store said that he couldn’t fix it but that he was going to make it right and that he had personally made an appointment to take it into the Apple store the next day and would have it repaired.

My sister-in-law’s boyfriend found out that you can call the Apple Store and verify, by the device serial number, if in fact there is an appointment scheduled.

I’m sure you can guess that there was no appointment scheduled.

He texted them asking them why this was, and tried also calling.  At this point, they stopped responding altogether.

My sister-in-law is good friends with a lawyer (they went to college together), and she called and asked for some legal advice.  He advised moving forward with small claims court, and also offered to write a letter on her behalf.  I don’t think the letter really said much, but the lawyer speak was largely designed to get them to respond.  Basically, at this point they just wanted to scare him.

It worked.

A Less Than Ideal Resolution But Still A Resolution

The guy called my sister-in-laws boyfriend and said that he was done, that he was not working on this anymore and that they could pick up the f-ing iPad. Exact quote!

My sister-in-law took to the web.  She went on Yelp and a couple of other sites and immediately posted one-star reviews and detailed the situation,of course advising people against ever working with this business.

The guy called and cussed some more at her and tried the ‘scare tactic’ threatening to sue her for slander.  She laughed and told him that it’s not slander if every word is true, which it was.

The day after that some reality called in.  He called again and offered to pay her near-replacement cost for a new iPad.  She just had to go down and pick up the money.  The following day she went (with others as backup) and picked up the money.

The funny part about it is that the owner’s father was in the store when she went to pick up the money, and he got mad and started cussing….at his son.  He knew that his son had messed up the situation so badly that he couldn’t even come to his defense in the slightest.

Unbelievable.

When A Repair Shop Makes It Worse

It turns out that they completely messed it up.  She has her iPad with a new screen but everything else doesn’t work.  Her boyfriend knows someone who looked at it and said that on top of everything else, the system board was damaged and that it is useless.  She’s wondering if they did it on purpose.

Looking back, several things pop to my head:

  • My sister-in-law really put up with a lot.
  • She admitted that she probably should have just paid more up front to a qualified facility.
  • If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • The Groupon purchase may have been more effective in reaching a conclusion once things had started to go wrong.  They will typically get involved and stand behind sales that had gone through their site.
  • It was really cool that my sister-in-law didn’t get mad at me at all for passing along the referral.  I’m sure she wishes (as do I) that I had simply scrolled past that Groupon.  In the end, it was just something that didn’t work out.

Readers, have you ever had a repair gone bad?  Tell me your experiences in the comments below.

Vending Machines And Disproportionate Rage

I can actually tell you the approximate last time I bought something from the vending machine here at work.  It was in February 2014.

If that seems odd that I know that, read on.  It’s kind of a funny story.

Irregular Regular Buyer

I’m normally not a big buyer at any vending machine.  I’m a frugal guy and I know that vending machine products cost way too much money.  Generally, I’d use the vending machine to buy a snack, and so to make sure that buying from the machine didn’t turn into a regular habit, I usually keep a small stash of snacks in my desk drawer.  Cereal bars, granola bars, crackers, or other such things that satisfy most mid-afternoon cravings as they pop up.

Still, the song of the vending machine was often something I couldn’t pass up when it came to the occasional candy bar.

My two favorite candy bars are Milky Way and Twix.  I love them.  They’re two of the best things ever put on the planet, wouldn’t you agree?  Good.  (Because I know you all did since it’s true!)

So, when temptation hit and I just couldn’t resist, I went off to the vending machine and satisfied my craving.

Honestly, it was probably once every 4-6 weeks.  Often enough that it was sort of ‘regular’ but nowhere near often enough that I felt guilty about it.

The price was, after all, 80 cents.  I figured the 6-8 bucks a year wasn’t really a bad proposition.  See, while I knew I could get them cheaper elsewhere, the fact was if I got them elsewhere I’d probably get more, so in the end, the lower price would mean, well, that I’d get fatter.

So, 80 cents it was.

Except until it wasn’t.

Vending Machine Rage: March 4, 2014

I told you that the last time I bought the vending machine was roughly in February.  I know that because of the date above.

See, March 4, 2014 was a Tuesday.  It was also the day before Lent was starting that year.

I grew up Catholic, and it’s a common practice as a Catholic to give up something for the period of Lent.  It’s meant to acknowledge the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by dying for us on the cross.  He gave his life, we give up something that we love for a few weeks.  We definitely get the better end of the bargain on that one, that’s for sure.

In any case, Lent was starting the next day and I’d already made the decision to give up chocolate.

So, like probably everybody else that gives up something does, I decided that if I was giving it up starting tomorrow, that I was darn well going to enjoy it on the last day before the ‘giving up’ started.

I grabbed my dollar bill and headed over to the machine.

I stuck the bill in, punched in the spot number and waited for my delicious Milky Way bar to fall down.

Except it didn’t.

I looked over at the display and it was flashing that it needed more money.

The price had gone up!

The Reason For My Continued Boycott

Now, you might think that boycotting a vending machine for over two years is a bit irrational because of a price increase.  But that isn’t the full story.

See, I get that prices go up.  I am fine with it.  If memory serves, I’d been buying candy bars at 80 cents from that machine for several years.  So, the price going up was not the problem at all.

It was what they raised the price to.

They made the price $1.05

That’s right, a dollar and five cents.  FIVE CENTS.

Are you kidding me?

It actually still makes my blood boil.

Now, see, while I’m sure some people already get it, maybe there are others still confused.  So I’ll explain.  Many people put bills in vending machines.  I generally don’t carry around many coins at all.  So, if I wanted to get a candy bar and didn’t have change, that meant that I would have to put in two dollars.

And then I’d have to carry around ninety five cents worth of change.

It was just absurd and I refused to do it.

I actually took the money back out and denied myself my last Milky Way bar before Lent.

And I haven’t been back since.

Afterward, I took a look and having known some of the prices of some of the other items, I saw that what they had done was simply raise the price of every single item by 25 cents.

That was just pure laziness in my mind, and I wasn’t having any of it.

The bottom line was that I was incensed that they couldn’t raise the price of the candy bar by an amount that made sense.  Twenty cents and it would have amounted to an even one dollar.

Plain, simple, and clean.

mb-2016-06-machineBut, no.  They couldn’t do that.

And I haven’t been back.

Probably a bit irrational, but it made sense to me.  These are the types of things that I take offense to, even though it was largely probably someone being lazy.

Now, I’ve sort of lost my anger over all that, but I sort of just keep the streak going because it’s been over two years and I figure why break the streak.

Readers, have you ever gotten angry over something that probably wasn’t a slight but you couldn’t get over anyway?  Also, what are your favorite candy bars?  Please let me know in the comments below.

When You’re Not Sure Whether To Laugh Or Cry

I almost didn’t believe it when I saw a friend of mine post a series of tweets by columnist James Bloodworth.  He recently wrote a book about how so much writing these days is unpaid work.  He then wrote about how the Huffington Post asked him to do work for them.  And they wanted him to do it unpaid.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

Huffington Post – Ugh

Personally, I’ve never liked the Huffington Post all that much.  I read stuff on there from time to time, because they have built up such a big following that it’s inevitable that’s where a lot of content will appear.  But, it’s never been my go-to place.

I think a lot of that stems from my thoughts on the original founder, Ariana Huffington.  She’s one of those famous people that I just feel doesn’t deserve to be famous.  It’s kind of like how I know many people feel about the Kardashians!

Now, I know that she rose to fame long before I was aware, but once I was, and I looked back, she just didn’t seem to have a moment where I felt she deserved to have the spotlight.  She just sort of snuck in and took it.

So, while I know she sold the site that bears her name, a lot of the ideals, practices, and well, the simple distrust, still remain.

And, stuff like this doesn’t help.

Offering No Pay To Write About Unpaid Work

I mean, they don’t see the irony of seeking someone out to write an article about their book about not getting paid, and then make it clear that they aren’t going to pay him?  Yet, you best bet that they’re going to make a profit from it!

I don’t get it.

Actually, I do.  Because that’s the way of the world now.  The people that have the money are fine to make more, but everybody else gets scraps, or in the case of the Huffington Post, they offer EXPOSURE, and well, isn’t that just as good? (so they say).

Short answer: No.  Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

How Did This Trend Start?

I think that this all started back in the Great Recession.  A few years ago.  Don’t you remember when people started losing their jobs and their houses and all that, and it somehow became a mainstream line to hear over and over again:

“Well, I’m just lucky I still have a job.”

Think about it.  How often did you say that or hear that or read it or see it come up in some form?  It was everywhere.  And, look what it’s done.  It lowered the bar.  Down to the ground.

People started saying that, and those that control the jobs heard it, and had their a-ha moment.  and they started conditioning people to really believe it. Does this sound familiar:

Boss: “Hey, team, we need to raise your health care contributions this year and by the way no raises this year.  It’s tough but we were glad to have you still with us”
Employee 1: “Wow, that sucks.”
Employee 2: “Yeah, but I’m just thankful I still have a job.”
Employee 1: *nods*

And, look, here we still are today.  Isn’t life grand?

Are we laughing or crying yet?  Maybe both?

Amazon Must Limit Third Party Sellers

I had a pretty frustrating experience with Amazon recently.  By and large, I’m willing to forget about it for two specific reasons:

  • Amazon rocks more often than not.  They’ve built lots of goodwill points
  • It wasn’t technically Amazon’s fault

The Lost Fitbit Charger

It all started last November.  After we returned from our Disney World trip, I realized that I had left behind the charger for my Fitbit.  I have a Flex, and the charger is really quite simple.  It is about six inches long with one end holding a cradle for the Fitbit, and the other end a plug to a USB port.  It’s pretty small and I can see where it got overlooked during our packing.

I knew I’d probably rule out buying one directly from Fitbit, but decided to check anyway.  The charger was $19.95 and I was pretty sure that they would want to clip me for shipping, as well.

No stinking way.

So, of course my next stop was on Amazon.

I typed in Fitbit Flex charger and it turns out I was in luck!

I quickly looked and determined that I probably wanted a charger that was less common.  See, to do a reset of the Flex, you have to put it in the charger, and do the old ‘press a button with a paper clip’ trick.  This power cycles the
device and short of letting the power drain, it’s the only way to do so.  I have had to do it occasionally to resolve sync issues, so I determined that this was what I needed.  Many of the devices on Amazon did not have this feature, so I skipped past these listings.

I found a few listings, and found one that I really liked.  It offered the charger with the power reset button, and they offered a two pack.  Plus, it was $12 for the two pack, and it was Prime eligible.  It was sold by a third party seller, but fulfilled by Amazon.  Cool.  On top of that, they offered a one year replacement warranty.

Bingo!

So, I placed the order, and a couple of days later the new chargers arrived, just as advertised.  Prime is so awesome that it came before the battery even drained on my charger.  Pretty cool.

Good Thing I Bought Two

Everything went smoothly for a few months.  I loved the idea of having two chargers, as I kept one at home and one at work.  Typically, I charge at work a couple of times a week, but having the extra one at home was nice.

One day I dutifully charged it, and popped it out at the end of the day, only to find that it was dead the next morning. Uh-oh.  I checked, and sure enough, one of the chargers was no longer doing its job.

Boy, was I glad that I had the second charger as a backup and also glad that they offered a replacement option.

I went back through my order history, and from there clicked ‘Contact Seller’ and notified them that one of the Fitbit chargers had failed, and per their product page, could they please send a replacement?  They replied within 24 hours that they would.

Easy, right?

Well, it was a little too easy.

A couple of days later I glanced out on the porch and saw a package sitting there.  It was about the size of a shoebox.  I opened it up, not yet figuring out who it was from, only to discover that I was now in possession of a replacment Roomba charger.  And we’re talking the entire charging station that a typical Roomba would go put itself into at the end of a cleaning cycle.

It’s a pretty cool charger…except I have no use for it as we don’t have a Roomba!  Until recently, we had cats, and they would occasionally make messes (throw up) on the carpet, and the last thing I wanted was for the Roomba to dutifully spread around such mess, so we never had one.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I had this much larger charger.

The Run-Around

I contacted the company again, letting them know what had happened.  I once again contacted them from my order page, so I knew that they had the exact order information.

They replied back and pretty much said that it was impossible, and asked if I could send them a picture.

So, I sent them a picture of the box I had and the charger that I was looking for.

They replied back and asked for a picture of the shipping label.

So, I sent them a picture of the shipping label.

Then, they replied back and told me that I needed to contact Amazon since it was fulfilled by Amazon order.

Now, I was getting mad.  I haven’t mentioned that each e-mail took about 24 hours to reply, so we were working on a few days of back and forth.  All while I looked at this stupid charger sitting in the corner of my eye.

I explained (clearly but a little less politely) that although the *initial* order had been fulfilled by Amamb-2015-07-signzon, that the problem came with the replacement item, which was not sent by Amazon, but had been sent by them directly.

It took about 48 hours but they finally replied back and apologized for the misunderstanding.  They indicated that they would send me the correct Fitbit charger, refund my shipping fees, and also send me a UPS label to return the Roomba charger.

To their credit, they did send the correct Fitbit charger within a couple of days.  They did not refund the shipping costs…because there weren’t any that I’d paid since it was a Prime eligible purchase.  And to date, they still have not sent me any label or requested the incorrect item to be returned.

Now, just out of curiosity, I looked and the Roomba charger sells for $45, so I guess there’s a certain point where I could actually turn this into a money making deal for me.  You know, for my frustrations and all!

Why Amazon Should Limit Third Party Sellers

Now, this whole thing was a bit frustrating.  It was more amusing than anything else, but because it was a third-party seller issue, I really didn’t assign this as a referendum to Amazon.  Yes, I went to Amazon to buy the product, but in my mind, none of the issues that I had, whether it be from the product failure itself to the replacement process, really had anything to do with Amazon.  They were just the go-between.

Which is fine, so long as that type of transaction is the exception.

I looked through our purchase history and I’d estimate that less than 15% of our purchases came from third party sellers.  Most are sold directly by Amazon.  And, that’s the way I want to keep it.

Amazon Must Maintain Brand Control

So, I hope that Amazon realizes the value of keeping control over more of their transactions.  It’s easy to picture a situation where they could start farming out more and more transactions, or even partnering up with other sellers for entire lines of products.  This might make sense in a conference room somewhere where I’m sure the word ‘bottom line’ would be thrown about many a time, but the counter to that is that Amazon loses a little bit of control each time they do that, and it can be a slippery slope.

I think Amazon has worked and grown so well because they keep so much of that control.  By limiting the control over what others have access to ‘mess up’, so to speak, they can limit their risk of problems so long as they set and maintain their own processes.  And, to their credit, they do that very well.

I’ve even heard rumors that Amazon intends to set up their own delivery network, meaning that one additional piece that is handled outside of Amazon’s control, the carrier that brings the product to your door, could be brought within their control.  So, yes, you might very soon see an Amazon truck rolling up to your house, and an Amazon driver getting out and bringing the package to your door.

That tells me that Amazon seems to understand the value of keeping things in house.  Let’s hope they keep it that way!

Readers, have you ever had any problems with Amazon, and if so, was it an issue directly with Amazon or was it a third party seller?  What are your experiences with things like third party sellers, fulfilled by Amazon products, and other offerings?

Why Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders Are Still Candidates

Seven months ago, I penned a post noting that I thought it was absolutely absurd that Donald Trump could actually be elected President.  While he still has a long way to go to be elected, he’s come a lot further than I had thought.  Seven months ago, I figured he’d be long gone by now, and predicted the Republican race would come down to…Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Oops.

I’ve done some digging on why I was so wrong about Trump.

Why Trump and Sanders Are In The Race

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are two politicians, that in many years past, would have not come anywhere near making it this far.  Trump is loud, brash, offensive, and really has not dictated much of a plan if he were actually President.  Bernie Sanders is as close to a socialist as you can be without actually calling yourself one.

These are not the types that would strongly be considered President.

So why are they in it?  Well, in my opinion, it boils down to one thing, it’s all about the middle class and what they want from a President. Actually, no, that’s not right.  It’s about what they don’t want from a President.

The Middle Class Is On The Decline.

Since the mid-1980’s the middle class has pretty much been in a rut.  The middle class itself has shrunk and those left in the middle class have pretty much seen wage growth match or even come in under inflation.

I’ll even take it one step further.  Many people say that we’re in jeopardy of current generations being worse off then their parents.  I don’t think we’re in jeopardy.  I think we’re already there!

People doing effectively the same jobs are earning roughly the same pay as they did 30 years ago.  At first glance, this doesn’t seem all that bad, but then start to consider:

  • Pensions were in place for many workers in the mid-1980’s.  Now, most workers do not have a defined pension plan and must contribute a larger portion of their income to retirement than their 1980’s counterpart, just to keep pace.
  • Health care premiums and co-pays were often picked up in full or in large part by employer offered insurance.  Now, employees must contribute more both out of their paycheck to cover the plan, and at each doctor visit.
  • The stock market has gone up a lot, but the middle class hasn’t reaped the gains on par with their rich counterparts.  Consider that after the 2008-09 stock market crash, the market doubled, the rich, who had certainly lost money on the downswing, were able to recover their losses and then some, because they had a cushion of wealth that allowed them the opportunity to stay in the market.  Many middle class families lost their money on the way down, but were not able to get back in as they needed every cent just to try to keep afloat during the Great Recession.

The X-Factor: Redistribution of Wealth

So, from the items above, you can see that the middle class is getting squeezed.  That’s not the worst part, though.  The worst part is that the middle class is taking the brunt of it, but the rich have not.

During the entire period where the middle class continues to get squeezed and see a flat if not declining standard of living, the rich have seen their wages, their wealth, and their position continue to increase.

Effectively, many in the middle class see that there has been a redistribution of wealth, where money has flown from the middle class and to the rich.

The Middle Class Is Sick Of It (a.k.a. Why Trump and Sanders Are Here).

So, how does this tie into the presidential election and how Trump and Sanders are still legitimate candidates to become President?

Simple.  The middle class is sick of it.

The stagnation of the middle class has gone on for roughly eight presidential terms.  In that time, a Republican will have served 16 years and a Democrat will have served 16 years.  Every Presidential candidate has promised to take care of the middle class, and each party has had equal time to do so, yet over the last 32 years it hasn’t happened.  The middle class is sick of it.

mb-2015-08-trumpThe average person works for roughly 30-40 years before retiring.  That means that most of the work force in place today has gone through their entire careers with this stagnation of the middle class in place.  Entire careers from start to finish have gone by.  The middle class is sick of it.

Wage Growth Is Absent.

Real wage growth in the middle class is largely stagnant.  But it’s not for the rich.  How many CEOs and executives and other rich folks get huge raises and big bonuses, while the middle class gets a puny increase or none at all?  Do people realize what message this sends? I’ll tell you.

When Henry Ford effectively created the explosion of the middle class, the workers and people were made to feel important.  It was by their hard work that the country grew and there was recognition by the rich that, in fact, their prosperity would not have been possible but for the hard work of the middle class.  There was appreciation and with appreciation came the middle class being made to feel important.  Come time to divvy up the fruits of their labors, the middle class had a seat at the table.  Now, when the rich get the rewards and the middle class get scraps, it sends a message that the middle class is unimportant.  The middle class has effectively been marginalized and is sick of it.  That was not Henry Ford’s dream.

Can They Deliver?

People don’t know whether Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders and their outrageous ideologies could actually work.  Most people actually don’t believe they will.  But, at least they’re different.  The middle class is getting desperate.  They know that these last 32 years haven’t been great to them.  The can read the tea leaves enough to know that there is more of the same ahead.  They know that Trump or Sanders probably won’t really be able to change all that much, but at least there’s a slight chance, right?  Otherwise things just stay the same.  And the middle class is sick of the same.  Look how desperate the middle class is for change that even this type of crazy is now the chance we’re willing to take.

It’s Anyone’s Guess, Now.

I read a lot about the election and all of it makes me cringe a little.   I’ve heard that the Democrats would love Trump getting nominated because that would mean a clear path to the White House for their candidate.  They forget that Trump has overcome the odds to get this far.  I’ve heard that the Republicans loved the idea of Sanders getting nominated because no way would the general election see a socialist get elected.  Again, have we not learned so far from this election season that darn well anything is possible?

I really don’t know what’s going to happen now.  No idea.  I know whatever it is, it’s likely going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.  Buckle in for the ride!

Readers, what do you think?  Do you think that some of the candidates have made it this far simply because they’re different?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

How Companies Active On Social Media Can Still Come Out Looking Bad

Social media is a great way to get in touch with companies, often to let them know that things aren’t meeting your level of satisfaction.  Many companies have realized that social media customer service is a concept they need to embrace. In fact, many organizations employ or outsource social media specialists.  Their  job is to build and maintain their customer service relationships through social media networks.

I’ve found that that social media customer responsiveness falls into three groups.  Originally, I had two groups:

  • Companies who are good at social media and customer service
  • Companies who are bad at it

But after a couple of recent interactions, I decided that there is now a definitive third option:

  • Companies who are just sort of trying

Here are two recent encounters that illustrate my point.

My Recent Example: RecycleBank

Our city took over trash and recycling pickup services a few years back.  Now everybody has pickup on the same daymb-2016-01-boxes based on your location, everybody pays the same rate (which is cheaper than it used to be), and everybody has bins provided that they use.

One incentive that they offer is a tie-in with RecycleBank, a company that offers ‘rewards’ for recycling.  For each pickup, our recycling is logged, and we automatically receive points in our RecycleBank account.  These points can be used toward redemption of a variety of things, like percentage off coupons, gift cards, etc.  They advertise as affiliating with national and local companies.

At first, it was pretty cool.  There were a few local restaurants and stores that participated, as well as national retailers.  We never had a problem turning in our points, whether it be for a Home Depot gift card or a percentage off a meal at a local Greek diner.

Then, slowly, the number of new rewards went down and down.  Eventually, they stopped.  Finally  to top it off, existing rewards started going away.

Now, there are but a handful of rewards, and virtually all of them are just not worthwhile to use.  So our point total stacks up and stacks up.

This seems to be the norm everywhere.

I’ve written on their Facebook wall, always very politely, about how it’s disappointing that rewards are going away and that new ones are not being added.  Other people write the same thing.

When A Response Isn’t A Response

RecycleBank always responds.  Which is great.  However, it’s always the same respond.  Paraphrasing “Thanks for your feedback.  We’re aware that our selections are out of stock and we’re sorry you’re disappointed.  We’re always working toward new opportunities.  Keep recycling!”

That’s it.  So, they get credit for replying.  But…

  • Are they answering the question?  Nope.
  • Are they providing a solution?  Nope.
  • Are they providing an estimate of when things might return or get added?  Nope.
  • Are they even taking ownership?  Nope.

This is how companies fall into the ‘new’ third category.  They respond to every inquiry, but they don’t really provide an actual response.  It’s patronizing.  The company, in essence, are patting you on the head and just hoping you’d go away.

That’s little better than providing an actual answer.  At least in my opinion.  Now, I get it, they’re providing a ‘free’ service.  Still, if you’re going to go through the trouble of signing people up, sending out e-mails, partnering with communities, and organizations and companies, and if you’re going through the effort of putting a customer service presence on social media, why just go halfway?

I don’t get it.

Consultants At Work?

This seems to be more the new norm, and I hate it.  I’m sure there are some consultants out there for social media telling the executives that they need to “be active in the social media space”, but that they need to “make sure to keep the responses positive”, and how offering answers that could be “perceived as negative” could “hurt the brand” and blah, blah, blah.

Or in a word: Baloney.

Personally, if companies are going to be active in the social media space, I’d prefer they either go all the way or not bother at all.  Trying to straddle the line in the middle is trying to please everyone, while in reality, nobody actually gets anything close to what they want.

Now there are a lot of companies out there that still fall into the first category, where by they answer truthfully and directly to each question, not just providing a ‘copy and paste’ type response.  These companies are great, and I applaud them.  I really hope that more companies follow their lead, and for the companies who are trying out this ‘middle ground’ idea, I really hope that they quit and get on board with real, full-out social media customer service!

Readers, have you experienced this social media presence where you get responded to but you don’t actually feel like the company bothered?  Share your examples in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!