Archive for November, 2009

A few days ago, I felt a sudden and compelling urge to clean my coffeemaker. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. Motivations aside, I did take out all the removable parts and give them a good wash and rinse. Maybe I’ve repressed the memories of the last time I cleaned the thing, but I was shocked […]


…does not constitute an emergency on my part. I think I first ran into that saying in high school, but certainly no later than college. After a recent interaction with some rather unprepared people, I started thinking about the saying and how well it’s stood the test of time. With the advent of the Internet […]


In some industries, the bar is set so low that anyone who shows even basic competence looks like a superstar. Case in point: I emailed a prospective vendor with some questions. They responded within a few hours and answered my questions clearly — using no fewer than seven complete sentences, I might add. From what […]


If you’ve purchased a lamp in the past decade or so, chances are you noticed the warning label near the bulb socket. For instance: “To reduce the risk of fire, use 60 watt maximum bulb.” Seems simple enough, right? Make sure the bulb is 60W or less, and you’re fine. There’s just one problem: the […]


I get restaurant menus, flyers, and coupons in the mail quite regularly. Judging by their marketing efforts, I’m guessing most of these new venues won’t last more than six months. Typically, the places sending out flyers are nowhere near my apartment, or they’re priced too high, or they’re too generic to justify switching from my […]


Some stores have a dedicated “customer service” desk to handle things like returns and exchanges. When nobody has a transaction like that, the register just functions like any other checkout lane. Other stores do away with the notion entirely, and let any register handle special transactions. But is getting rid of the customer service desk […]


Many services are easier, faster, and less painful when the customer invests in a little bit of preparation. For instance: – If you’re having your carpets cleaned, try moving the furniture out of the way beforehand. – If you’re going to the dentist for a cleaning, try to brush right before the appointment. – When […]


Virtually every public transportation system has signs in each train car, bus, and station telling you which behaviors are prohibited. For instance, you’re not allowed to panhandle on a train. But I frequently see people going through the train cars — and even hopping through the emergency exit doors — to beg for change. Never […]


On Sunday, I walked into a retail store with a handful of printouts from the retailer’s website. This particular company provides no way to check which products are carried in stores versus online, let alone any type of inventory status for one store versus another. Anyways, after browsing the shelves and talking to several employees, […]


If you’re a regular visitor to a certain store, it’s easy to tell which customers have never set foot in there before. These first-time shoppers walk through the door slowly, stop in random places, and generally look rather confused. Some stores put a lot of thought into the “decompression zone” just past the doorway, so […]