Complementing G.M.

I don’t and won’t complement G.M. normally but this is an excellent commitment to customer services!

From THR, “G.M. Offers to Buy Back Chevy Volts

GM CEO Dan Akerson told the Associated Press, “I think in the interest of General Motors, the industry, the electrification of the car, it’s best to get it right now than when you have — instead of 6,000 — 60,000 or 600,000 cars on the road.

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I heart Clarks

I heart Clarks - pix 1

I was impressed by Clarks Shoes when they replaced two pairs of my defective shoes free of charge. Once the Clarks‘s experts confirmed the problems (via emailed photos of defective parts of the shoes), Clarks let me pick any styles of shoes currently in stock that I like and sent them to me free of charge as replacements!

It feels great and is wonderful to see a company with 175 years of history like Clarks backing up their products and do the right thing to make customers happy. Thanks Clarks!!! Thanks for setting a good example of Customer Service Excellence. I heart Clarks!!!

I heart Clarks - pix 2

P.S. Special thanks to Stacy at Clarks Canada for your help. And also help from the Clarks UK Twitter teamClarks USA, and UK.

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TIFF Double Ticketing, Consumer Protection, Criminal Provision of Competition Act, 2011 Toronto International Film Festival

TIFF Fairy, Double Ticketing (a Criminal Provision of Competition Act), 2011 Toronto International Film Festival

This article is about consumer protection against TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Thanks to Canada’s Competition Act, it is easy to determine the legal price you should pay for goods in certain cases. Hint: Lowest price will be a good guess.

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Over the last few years my Toronto friend, I call her my “TIFF Fairy”, has shipped many souvenirs Toronto International Film Festival programs, t-shirts, bags, etc to me in Calgary because she knows I love films and I call myself a documentarian. To thank her for her thoughtfulness, I have taken photos of the souvenirs and wrote about them in the past (see 2010 souvenirs and 2009 souvenirs). This year, unfortunately, the experience is not cool at all.

Bad TIFF 2011 Experiences

Last week she ran into some unexpected bad experience with TIFF when she tried to buy 2011 souvenirs for me.

First, the usual box office had only TIFF programs but not t-shirts, etc. She was then sent to another store where she was told would have all the 2011 TIFF souvenirs in stock for purchase. Unfortunately, that store didn’t have the 2011 t-shirts! Unable to buy the t-shirts, she decided to buy some bags for me. When she tried to pay for the two $9.95 TIFF bags (see photo above, as indicated on the tags of the bags), a TIFF sales lady and her supervisor insisted the price was $13 (posted on a sign near the bags) instead of the price of $9.95 as tagged on the bags. Since she was in a rush, she bought the bags and left. (update: see below for further points of clarifications from my friend after she read this article.)

“Double Ticketing” at 2011 TIFF

In Canada, consumers are protected by the Competition Act (PDF). Suppliers of goods are prohibited by law to sell goods to consumers at “a price that exceeds the lowest of two or more prices clearly expressed in respect of the product“. In the words of Competition Bureau (emphasis added),

“Double Ticketing

Section 54 of the Competition Act is a criminal provision. It prohibits the supply of a product at a price that exceeds the lowest of two or more prices clearly expressed in respect of the product.

Any person who contravenes section 54, is guilty of an offence Continue reading

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Calgary Stampede Inhospitality Survival Guide – Will and Kate bonus edition

Note: For all comments, please see the original entry here.

July 11th, 2011 Update: After repeat correspondences with Calgary Stampede‘s customer service, it is unfortunate that Stampede and I can’t come to a resolution (re my car being towed by Stampede‘s mistake) that is satisfactory to them and me. And there is no point in going back and forth further on this. So in order for me to come to a closure and to turn the negative experiences into something that can help me grow, I’ve promised myself to do the following three things.

1) To make this a fun experience for me. I’m going to try to create a music video featuring my Calgary Stampede car towing experiences. I’ve only made a handful of music videos before and the last one I made was actually inspiring and fun, if I may say so myself. So I look forward to creating another fun MV.

2) I’ll try to write/crowdsource a song with new lyrics featuring my Calgary Stampede car towing experiences. And yes, you guess it, this new song will be called something like “Calgary Stampede Tows Cars” (working title inspired by “United Breaks Guitars“). Dave Carroll really showed us customers that we are not beholden to faceless organizations who care little about customer services.

3) This last one is closest to my heart. I will try to write a “Calgary Stampede Tows Cars” business case study to share the various lessons contained in my experiences. I think others businesses can learn something important here. You see, I think Customer Service Excellence is one of the most important goals for a company to aspire to achieve. This goal is so important to me that I have a blog dedicated to writing about the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful customer service experiences I have seen over the years.

Sure, this “Calgary Stampede Tows Cars” case wil be shorter, in terms of time, effort, and scope, compare to my 2006 iStockphoto Case Study and case study extras, but it should still be a lot of fun to share my insights.

NOTE: My horrible experiences isn’t like what Dave Carroll had experienced. But I believe there are still much for businesses to learn from my treatment and how businesses can better serve customers in the future.

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Will & Kate Wristband Lineup - pix 51 - Tickets in Hand. Yeah !!!

It was a once in a lifetime occasion to see the recently wedded Will & Kate (Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) in Calgary, so I lined up early Wednesday morning at Max Bell centre for 3+ hours to get the wristbands plus filed some report (see video).

On Thursday, we got to BMO Centre early at around 3pm and parked at a Stampede Parking lot (as our wristband info card suggested). We parked at a lot on our left as per the instructions from the Calgary Stampede traffic person (someone standing in the middle of the street directing traffic). Everything seemed ok so far.

After seeing Will and Kate, and discovering our car was gone from the parking lot, we were told by a Stampede parking attendant that our car had been towed to some parking lot across the river! Huh, what was going on? We parked as we were told by a Stampede traffic directing person! How could our car have been towed? So the parking attendee tried to find his supervisor for further instructions.

Will and Kate at Calgary Stampede - pix 45 - After parking our car at Stampede parking as told by Stampede parking attendant earlier. We discovered it was towed to some far away parking lot.

Unable to find his supervisor via radio, he walked across the street trying to get help from another Stampede employee. This was when things turned from bad to worst/ugly. This employee, to protect the rude and inhospitable, I will call him “Faceless Andy” and covered up his face.

Will and Kate at Calgary Stampede - pix 46 - Faceless Andy told us to walk, yes walk, to the far away parking lot even though our car was towed because Stampede's mistakes. We parked as told. Andy set the standard of Stampede inhospitality.

Faceless Andy told us to walk, yes, WALK, to the far away parking lot across the river, even though our car was towed because of **Stampede’s mistakes**. Wow, really, this is how “helpful” Stampede is?!

Again, we parked as told. It was Stampede‘s mistakes, and now Faceless Andy didn’t even have the common courtesy to try to help us by offerring us a ride to get our car back?! What the “f” is this attitude? Remember, this tow lot is across the river, some distance away, and somewhere we had never been to. If you ask me, Faceless Andy truly set the standard of Stampede inhospitality and rudeness.

Really? Since when did Stampede start hiring employees this unhelpful and rude? Is this how Stampede‘s guests are supposed to be treated now? Worst, we, the thousands of wristbands holders actually went to see Will and Kate! We were in fact special guests to see the royals, following parking instructions as printed (yes, printed) on the 2011 Royal Tour information card! Instead of trying to be extra helpful, I saw indifference and rudeness.

Since Faceless Andy was getting us absolutely no where, and others nearby weren’t able to help. The parking attendent tried the radio again and finally was able reach his supervisor Joel.

Will and Kate at Calgary Stampede - pix 47 - After some convincing, Joel, person in charge of the lot, finally realized Calgary Stampede made a mistake in towing our car and agreed to give us a ride to the far away lot.

At this point, I wasn’t surprised that supervisor Joel had absolutely no idea about the parking arrangement for the Will and Kate event at the BMO Centre that is using Stampede’s parking lots! Continue reading

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Samsung’s non-existing printer support: Do you have hours to waste?

Samsung's non-existing printer support

Background & The SamSung SCX-4828FN Printer

After the sudden death of a HP printer and the horrible HP customer service experiences, I thought it was time to try a new brand of printers and forget HP. Seeing Korean brands are making some good products (TV, monitors, etc), I decided to try a SamSung SCX-4828FN.

For its C$250 price, the Samsung design seems nice and the construction seems solid. And I haven’t seen many bad reviews online (more on this later).

Software and Samsung customer service

* The printer driver software installed without reporting any problem or error (more on this later). And the test page printed ok.

Note: The printer manual CD, unfortunately, is defective and unreadable by the computer (running Windows XP) and Samsung has not included a paper-copy printer manual as a backup.

* Unfortunately, the initial “successful” installation had actually caused at least two hidden problems.

The first problem was discovered right away. The default page alignment for the word processing program was changed, leaving the content of the bottom fifth of each page to be printed on an additional page.

The second problem was more serious and discovered the next day. The printer installation actually caused a critical accounting software to fail to execute and caused it to report an error saying, “XML support not detected. [...]

Having never dealt with Samsung printer/technical support, I assumed when the reps were told of these problems, they would be helpful and knowledgeable enough to identify the solutions in minutes. Wrong! The first level support was unhelpful and, to be blunt, clueless. The rep repeated the claim that the printer installation could not have caused these problems. Huh? These programs worked fine before the printer software installation and now they failed afterwards, and the Samsung rep didn’t even have the courtesy to accept and acknowledge their problems!?

The next day, another first level support still insisted it wasn’t Samsung’s problems. And then I was told there was a really really long wait for the second level support reps. No second level support ever called back even after hours of waiting. In passing, I heard that only 5 (yes, just FIVE) reps were working to serve the 1-800-726-7864 Samsung technical help line for all of US *and* Canada! *&^%!!, no wonder there was such a long wait for the second level support rep! Assuming these reps actually know something!

At this point, I was so displeased with Samsung’s technical support that I tweeted, “Samsung has no printer support. Better to avoid Samsung printers. Reps know nothing.” This is just NOT the way I hope to see happening when I try a “new” brand of printers.

Fortunately for me, I was able to find someone knowledgeable to help correct the accounting software problem broken by the beeping Samsung software/driver installer. The wordprocessing software’s default is still messed up but I’ve found a work around.

As I politely told the Samsung customer service representatives, I was displeased with the service I got. But I am much more disappointed with Samsung as a brand. The fact that Samsung has such ineffective printer support lead me to tweet/vent my anger and frustration.

Concluding Thoughts about Samsung printers and Samsung technical support

If you have or work in a small to mid size office, why would you want to consider Samsung printers and risk seeing some of your critical office softwares crashing and failing to startup after installing Samsung printers?

Maybe if your company has a team/department of dedicated IT support technicians, and you don’t mind solving extra problems caused by Samsung and with no help from Samsung. Do you feel that lucky?

P.S. In hindsight, maybe I should have paid more attention to a 10/29/2010 customer’s critique, “Samsung technical support is terrible! and anticipated the clueless Samsung technical support.

P.P.S. Samsung Canada has responded to my tweet. I will update this entry if there are further worthy development to report.

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Jan 24, 2011 Update: For further updates, please see the bottom of this cross-posted entry.

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HP = Bad LaserJet Printer and Bad Customer Service

HP = Bad LaserJet Printer & Bad Customer Service

The broken and unreliable HP LaserJet printer

After the latest breakdown of a HP LaserJet m1522nf multi-function printer and the unprofessional customer service provided, I unfortunately will not consider HP printers anymore.

HP LaserJet used to mean quality and I think my old LaserJet 3330 came with a 2-3 year warranty (more on this later). Unfortunately, the now dead m1522nf only came with one year warranty and it died after only 18 months. The printer couldn’t finish its powering up initialization sequence and the tiny LCD display on the printer wouldn’t even come up. So the HP LaserJet is quite dead after its short life of 18 months.

The broken HP “customer service”

An unreliable and inferior quality product was bad already but what made the situation worst was HP’s broken/substandard “customer service”.

When I first called HP customer service, I still harboured faint hope that HP would stand behind their products, do the right thing and fix the printer free-of-charge even it is just 6 months out of its 12 month warranty. Failing that, I just wanted the customer service rep to provide a case reference number for my record. And this is where HP customer service failed completely.

The Costa Rica based rep and her supervisor refused to provide a case number unless an address, phone number, and email address were provided. As a disappointed customer, I have no interest in giving HP any future business and have no desire to provide them further with my private information. Is this too difficult for HP to appreciate?

Concluding thoughts

To me, the sad thing is that HP printers used to stand for quality, reliability, and good customer services. Remember my old LaserJet 3330? The customer service and warranty was so good in the past that they shipped a new replacement unit to me free-of-charge when I had problem! Unfortunately, this is definitely NOT the current HP customer service anymore!

Substandard, easily broken printers and horrible customer services have put me off from buy any HP printers in the future. I don’t know if my bad HP experiences are unique, if many people are experiencing the same problem, it is sad to see a formerly good brand’s image being tarnished by poor quality products and bad customer services.

P.S. By the way, I want to be clear that I have no problem with outsourcing customer service departments to international locations with cheaper cost AS LONG AS these international locations can provide equal or better customer services. When these outsourced customer service departments failed, they can easily destroy good reputations built over decades!

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How Twitter helped Krystal Yee win her Rogers fight

Really enjoyed Krystal Yee‘s article “How Twitter helped Krystal Yee win her Rogers fight“. Here is an excerpt from the article (emphasis added),

5. My 5 tips

1.Know when to negotiate. The best time to negotiate with cell companies is when you have less than 1 year left in your contract.

2.Be polite! You’ll never get anywhere by screaming. [Kempton: Totally agree on this one, polite but firm.]

3.Don’t waste much time with a customer service rep. Ask to speak to the retentions department. [Kempton: Often the 1st level reps will want to try to "help", so I talk to them a little out of politeness even I know they can't help.]

4.Do your homework. Find out what other companies are offering and use that as leverage. [Kempton: This is the most important part. You can't ask for the moon if no one else is offering it. But if all the competitors are offerring the same deal, chances of you getting a matching deal shouldn't be too difficult.]

5. Be prepared to leave. If you don’t get what you want, there are plenty of other companies that are eager for your business. [Kempton: I left Bell and signed up with WIND Mobile and have never been happier. No contracts to sign with WIND.]

My experience with Rogers Wireless taught me a lot. If you think you’re being treated unfairly by a business, don’t spend your time and energy being upset about it. Speak up and make them take notice.

In case other find it useful, I should also mention Twitter helped me fix my problems with some defective cookware as I wrote in “KitchenAid to the Aid using Twitter“.

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