Archive for June, 2009

If you tell a customer that you’ll be sending a confirmation email, they’ll probably expect to get it right after the transaction is completed. After all, that’s how Amazon and other big sites do it: submit your order, and they send you a confirmation within 15 minutes or so. However, I ran into one example […]

While signing up for a frequent flyer program, I ran into a confusing question. I wanted to opt-out of all the marketing communications, like emails and telemarketing calls. For email, it was easy: just change each email option to No. But when I got to the telemarketing section, I was baffled. Here’s the text that […]

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on upgrading the services we receive from one of our key vendors. But after learning that what we needed would cost far more than our budget, I began looking for a new vendor. Several times during this process, I stated very clearly to the existing supplier that […]

My browser setup is totally vanilla, relying on Firefox and common plugins like Flash. However, I frequently come across websites where the Flash banner ads appear on top of key navigational elements, or the ads expand to cover the page and there’s no way to close them. Sure, there are Firefox extensions that block ads […]

I’ve had my trusty BlackBerry for almost five years, and it’s starting to show its age. Here are two examples: – No matter how slowly you roll the trackwheel, it usually moves two positions instead of one. – Sometimes when I receive a call, the microphone doesn’t work. But aside from these little quirks, it […]

When someone gives you a gift card, there are probably two key pieces of information you’ll want to remember. First, where can you use it? That’s easy, since it’s printed on the front or the back of the card itself. Second, how much money is left on the card? That’s a little more tricky, since […]

Let’s assume that every minute of talk time costs the phone company some amount of money to provide. In this scenario, they would have a financial incentive to block abusive callers, like the automated messages that peddle car warranties and mortgage refinancing. With access to the call data for millions of customers, surely they could […]

Have you ever tried telling a friend or family member about your idea for a new business? Most likely they shot you down and said it will never work. And if the world contains roughly equal numbers of optimists and pessimists, why is this behavior so dominant? To answer this question, let’s think about the […]

A lot of TV shows are set in Seattle. However, most of those shows are actually filmed in Vancouver, BC. And if you’ve ever visited the downtown areas in both cities, it’s pretty obvious why they don’t film anything in Seattle: its downtown core is a dump. Vancouver certainly isn’t perfect, but aesthetically, there’s no […]

It’s rare that I come across a kiosk system that wows me with its simplicity and elegance. But the approach CVS has taken in the store near me is worth noting. Basically, you go up to the kiosk and put your ExtraCare card under the scanner. Then, it prints a coupon based on your purchase […]