Archive for January, 2010

As I was looking through a list of tech support cases that I had opened within a particular web application, I noticed something strange. Most of the cases had the status of “expired”. What exactly does that mean? Maybe these cases were: – Abandoned by the customer – Ignored by the vendor’s tech support team […]


The combination of seeing a Chili’s commercial and buying some new glasses in the span of a few days jogged something in my memory. Many months ago, I was at an optometrist’s office and saw some truly bizarre frames for sale. Among them: a Chili’s-branded frame, which looked exactly like the others but with the […]


On Sunday, I went to the convenient (but incredibly overpriced) grocery store nearby to pick up a few random things. I only shop there a few times a year, because the prices for most things are outrageous, and the customer service is rather poor. During my recent visit, I was amazed by the high prices […]


Big retailers like Amazon have trained customers to expect free shipping, or at least a low-cost economy shipping option. When choosing shipping providers for your own company, should you go with the lowest-cost provider? Probably not, and I’ll explain why. In most cases, the cheapest shipping option will be the US Postal Service. But even […]


Suppose that you’re a typical online retailer, and your official policy is to ship orders in 24-48 hours. Sure, you try to get the product out the door as fast as you can, but you don’t guarantee any exact turnaround time for shipping a given order. Now, what if a customer says they really, really […]


For most customers, the whole point of a user forum is to provide a place where they can get questions answered and share tips with other users. There are several ways to make this happen: – Get so many customers using the forums on a regular basis that virtually every question gets answered by the […]


Earlier this week, the frame from my glasses snapped in two. Without a spare pair to use, I was forced to clumsily tape the frame back together while waiting for new glasses to arrive. My lack of proper planning aside, it’s really incredible how spectacularly a pair of eyeglasses can fail. In fact, I would […]


Let’s say you sell a product that consumers usually buy in batches of two. Your store starts with five in stock. Someone comes in and buys two units, leaving you with three. Then someone else shows up and takes two more. Now you’re down to one unit left, and it sits there untouched for months. […]


Whenever you add a feature or attribute to a product, there’s a good chance that the new addition creates an unintended consequence or cost. For example: – Smaller gadgets are easier to carry in your pocket, but also easier to lose. – Latex-based paint is water-soluble for quick clean up, but will show ugly streaks […]


Returning holiday gifts can be a real drag. I ran into this problem first hand when I needed to exchange a few items from a small, online-only retailer. Without the option of going to a local store, I contacted the website to ask what the options were. They didn’t have any method for processing returns […]