Monday, January 29, 2007

Coming soon to a constellation near you!

For the last few years, my wife and I haven't really celebrated Valentine's Day. It was pretty much a mutual decision not to buy each other anything.

Last week, I got an email from Name A Star Live. They provide a service that allow you to name a star, somewhere in the universe. They offer various different packages from very basic print-your-own certificates, all the way up to packages that include printed (and/or framed) certificates, charts, and software, and even a free LIVE viewing of your star using THE SLOOH Observatory, in the Canary Islands.

I thought that would be a cool thing to get my wife, even though, like I said, we don't usually get each other anything.

I logged on to their web site from work this morning to place an order for their Deluxe Gift Set. According to their web site, it includes:
  • Star name registered by Space Services, Inc— the world leader in public participation space missions.
  • Star Certificate showing the new star name, the date of registration, the star's telescopic coordinates and the message you dedicate to the recipient (8.5"x11"). Also available framed.
  • Launch Certificate — certifying that your star name and personal message was launched into Earth orbit on board our next satellite. Available for download after the launch occurs.
  • Astronomical star chart — showing the precise location of the star you named (8.5"x11").
  • Astronomy software — Virtual Planetarium™ is a software suite that includes a library of stunning astronomy imagery — new Hubble, Spitzer and Mars images; information about the sky, the solar system and the latest space events; and space weather reports about sun spots, auroras and more.
  • View your star LIVE with SLOOH — an online, robotically controlled telescope.
  • Astronomy e-book— What's Up 2006 - 365 Days of Skywatching — a daily guide to the night sky for 2006.

All for around $50.

(I just noticied the e-book was for 2006. I wonder if I'll get an updated one for 2007?)

I went through the entire process right up until the last step, when it told me that the transaction was declined, My first thought was "Crap, my MasterCard has been compromised!" I then tried to log onto the credit card's web site and it notified me that there was a problem, and to call them. Panic set in.

Anyway, as it turned out, my browser had cached my CC number and was using the old number to try and log in. I rectified that and logged in without any problems. I tried again during lunch to place the order, and again it was declined. It gave me a phone number to call for assistance with placing the order, so I called them up.

A nice lady (Carol?) answered the phone, I explained what the problem was, and she asked me if I lived outside the U.S. I told her I was in Canada. She kindly explained that sometimes it will do that for orders outside the U.S., and offered to take my order over the phone. I told her that would be fine. She then asked me if I had called them on their 800 number. I answered "No". Surprisingly, she asked me for my phone number so she could call me back to process the order so I wasn't paying long distance charges.

A few minutes later, she called, and we went through the entire order process. (I named my wife's star after my wife's name) She even advised me that sometimes there is a short delay when it gets processed through customs. I told her that it wasn't surprising.

Anyway, I thought the experience was worth mentioning because it was a good example of excellent customer service. Sure, I should have been able to order through their web site, but the rest of the experience more than made up for the small inconvenience. Kudos to Space Services Incorporated.

Once the package arrives, I'll let you know what it's like. :)

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