Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week 47 - Wax Monkey Frog


Wax Monkey Frog (47/52), originally uploaded by Twister65.

We visited the Canadian Museum of Nature on Monday, along with my sister and her family. It was the first time I've been to see the exhibits. I did go once for a wedding a long time ago. It was the first time for all of us since they renovated the museum and built the large glass structure – now named the "Queen's Lantern" – to replace the stone tower that was sinking.

One of the exhibits was frogs. These little guys are Wax Monkey Frogs and look so laid back. The second coolest frogs were the Poison Dart Frogs, but I messed up the exposure settings on my camera so the photos didn't turn out very well. :(

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 46 - Beach at Voyageur


Beach at Voyageur, originally uploaded by Twister65.

An ending to a great week of camping with my family and friends.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week 45 - Colour Depth


Colour Depth, originally uploaded by Twister65.

Although my choices for this week are very few, this was an easy one. Again, I chose from one of my DailyShoot.com shots.

It's is a colour cube that sits on my cabinet at work, mostly collecting dust. After blowing the dust off it, I sat it on my desk and placed a white sheet of paper behind it. I tried a couple of shots with my 100mm lens before switching to my 18-200mm which is ultimately what gave me the best shots. Before uploading it, I gave a nudge to the saturation to brighten the colours a little.

If I could convince my wife to let me hang it on one of our walls, I'd get it printed on canvas like the flower in last week's photo. However, I don't think it's going to happen because she doesn't see it the same way that I do. Maybe I'll find a spot on my den wall...

Relay for Life – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

After sleeping away most of Saturday, catching up on a sleep and fighting off whatever cold bug I caught between Friday night and Saturday morning, and now feel rested and pretty good.

The good

Our team goal was blown away this year!  “Lassiter Walks to Fight – Team WTF” raised $6,660, achieving the “Bronze” level status. That is incredible!

IMG_3236

Great job team!

The experience, once again, was amazing. There seemed to be a lot more people on the track in the wee hours of the morning than I recall in previous years.

The bad

I didn’t reach the goal of $1,500 that I set this year. In fact, I didn’t even make it half way, leaving me below last year’s total. I raised $730; nothing to be ashamed of, just not what I would have liked. It happens, I guess.

Once again, a HUGE thanks to everyone who did donate toward my participation! I got to see some of the people that your donations help and they are indeed grateful.

The ugly

It was disappointing to hear that due to complaints in previous years from some residents in Orleans, they were going to shut down or turn down the DJ music at 11:00pm. The music plays throughout the night to help give people energy to keep walking.

This is a once-a-year charitable event for a good cause. A cause that will likely help you or a member of your family at some point in the future. It’s not some kind of profit-making carnival or concert. What’s wrong with some people?

Thankfully, the music did NOT turn off. I think they did turn it down a few notches though. Or perhaps they decided to continue until someone complained? I don’t know, but I’m glad it kept going.

Sure, it’s easy for me to say because I don’t live out there, but if I did live out there I still wouldn’t complain because I’d be participating.

If you’re one of those people who complain about it, why don’t you drop by next year at around 10:00pm for the Luminary ceremony and see if it changes your view. I think everyone should experience that at least once in their lives.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big corporations DO care – go figure

I arrived home from work today to a surprise: a plastic-wrapped package sitting on my dining room table, from UPS.

It was my Xbox power supply.

So, it would appear that the manager I spoke with was right, it could arrive today – and it did.

So, yes, I did get all worked up over nothing. However… had a few things been done differently by Xbox support and the repair process, this blog post and the other two wouldn’t exist.

This is where things make a  change for the better.

Just over an hour ago, as I was typing an update saying that I got my power supply, the phone rang. My wife answered it and handed me the phone.

It was another surprise. A surprise that restores my faith in big corporations, like Microsoft and reassures me that there are indeed people out there fixing the wrongs rather than simply ignoring them.

The surprise was a man by the name of Anthony, who was calling from Microsoft. He had received a “heads up” about my problems, and my earlier blog post. I honestly don’t know how he was made aware of it, nor does it really matter. What matters is that he called to make an effort to fix my problem and make me a happy customer. If someone out there took it upon themselves to escalate the issue up the corporate ladder at Microsoft, thank you very much.

I won’t go into the small details of the call, but I will say that we had a great conversation. He apologized for the experience. He explained the hows and whys that lead to the problem.  He didn’t try to deny that there were areas that needed improvement. He didn’t make any excuses. He was well aware of XboxSupport on Twitter. :) He listened to my suggestions on how to improve the service.

He also told me that he was sending me a new power supply for my Xbox, to arrive tomorrow. That was before I had a chance to explain that I did in fact receive the original one today. They actually thought that it got lost in transit, so he took it upon himself to send me a new one. Now I will have a spare.

He also asked me if I had any trouble setting up the replacement Xbox. We talked a little about that, and he asked me for my email address so he could send me his personal contact info so I can let him know how it goes and if I have any problems.

There’s not much else to say, except that I am still somewhat shocked that I received a call, and so quickly. A lot of people, including myself, often bash Microsoft. My earlier blog posts are proof of that. All it took was one call to change my view of the company.  They are listening and doing something.

Kudos to Microsoft and kudos to Anthony.

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Canned responses

I sent the Xbox email support a message last night using their support submission form. I chose the “Other” option from the drop down list, thereby eliminating all of the more common issues they help with the hope that I’d get a human to read my message.

Because the form is limited to 1000 character, I suggested that they visit my blog where all of the details are posted, or forward my message to a manager or someone higher up as I had already dealt with support.

Seemed simple enough. Or so I thought.

This was in my email this morning:

Hello Scott,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft online support for XBOX. I am Kody and I will be assisting you today with this issue.

I understand that you are encountering problems with your Xbox 360 console.

As our dear customer we are committed on giving the best possible service. We know how unsatisfactory your situation is when your console is not performing correctly.

In order to check what is causing the problem and give you the correct steps to resolve the issue, please provide us further with more specific details such as:

  • Exact error message or error code as seen on the screen (if there are any).
  • Games (Original Xbox games or Xbox 360 games) that are affected.
  • The number of red lights flashing on the Ring of Light (surrounds the power button light), if any.
  • The color of the indicator light on the power supply unit while the console is turned on.
  • Please include other details that can help identify the issue.

You may also include other details that can help identify the issue.  I look forward to hearing from you again and helping you resolve your problem.

If you need to reply to this e-mail, please reply 'with history' (include any previous e-mail) or reference to Service Request Number 1133432296 so we can expedite our service to you.

Thank you for visiting Xbox.com. We hope that we were able to assist you, and that your experience with our customer service was positive - something we constantly strive to improve. If you should have future questions on Xbox products or services, please be sure to revisit our Web site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.

Best Regards, 

Kody
Microsoft XBOX Support Services
http://support.microsoft.com

That’s a canned response if I ever saw one. And based on the time I received it (6:19am) in comparison to when I sent it late last night, it’s not an automated canned message. A human, whether it really was a “Kody” or someone else, had to click a button to send it to me. Do I assume they simply didn’t read my message and just blasted through a bunch of “Other” flagged messages with the same canned response, or did someone actually read it, not give a damn, and then send the canned message in hopes that I’ll go away?

Is it any wonder why Tech Support gets a bad rap, often being compare to monkeys, when all they’re told to do is act like monkeys?

I was originally going to reply with a simple one-liner pointing to my original request, but the more I read this canned response, the more it bothered me. The temptation was too great, so this is what I sent:

Hello Kody,

Thank you for replying to my online support request for XBOX. I am Scott and I will be replying to you today with more details on this issue.

I understand that you are encountering problems with reading my original support request pertaining to my Xbox 360 console.

As the the dear customer you say I am, I am committed to giving you the best possible reply. I know how unsatisfying your job must be when upset customers, like myself, send long-winded support requests with very little detail.

In order be as clear as possible about what my problem is, I will again provide you with a link containing all of the information necessary so that you can provide me with the best possible service. I know, that you know, how unsatisfactory my situatuon is when my console is not functional.

Here, once again, is the link containing the information about my issue:

http://blog.scottpaterson.org/2010/06/it-must-really-suck-to-work-for-xbox.html

Thank you for visiting my blog containing all of the details you need. I hope that you are able to assist me, and that my experience with your customer service will be positive - something I'm sure you constantly strive to improve. If you should have future questions on my problem, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Best Regards, 

Scott
Microsoft XBOX Customer
http://blog.scottpaterson.org

Hey, if they can do it, so can I. :)

I’m still chuckling.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It must really suck to work for Xbox support

I don’t even know where to begin.

This might come out all jumbled because it was one of the most frustrating experiences with customer service I have ever experienced; and I have experienced them from both the customer side and the support provider side many times in my life (more so on the provider side)

As mentioned in previous blog entries, my Xbox Elite died and I sent it off to be repaired or replaced. It wasn’t a warranty repair, so I paid about $123 Cdn for the “service”.

Much to my surprise, once I finally sent it off, I received it back today. Amazing four business day turn-around. I was happy.

Until I opened the box.

There sat a nice, plastic-wrapped, refurbished Xbox Elite with a 30-day Xbox Live Gold card taped to it to add onto my existing account (for my troubles, I assume)… and no power supply brick.

Now, before anyone says “WTF? You sent the power supply too? You’re not supposed to send accessories!”, let me explain something.

In a brief chat with @XboxSupport on Twitter, I specifically asked if I should send the power supply with the Xbox console.

XboxQuestion

To which they replied…

XboxReply

I am well aware of the “no accessories” rule, but the reason I asked was because my Xbox did absolutely nothing when turned on. No power at all. By sending the power supply, I was hoping to ward off any bad experiences with a refurb Xbox and a faulty power supply.

So much for that idea.

So, I decided I would call up Xbox support and have a chat. Surely this can be resolved quickly, and to my satisfaction.

First off, their support line seemed to throw me into a loop. I guess it detected my phone number, saw I had a repair incident and decided I should need to know the status.

Ok, thanks, but I want to talk to someone.

For some reason, it kept telling me that for repairs, visit support.xbox.com online and submit the repair request and then just left me hanging to go back to the main menu. It may very well have been my own mistake, but I couldn’t seem to find an option to speak with a real human being.

I hung up and swore a few times.

I called back. I decided I would try Tech Support. If anything, I’m sure they could tell me who I should speak with.

I lucked out and got through to an option to speak with a person.

I really don’t recall his name, but the guy was polite and had a slight accent. It’s nothing personal, but I rarely listen to names. Bad habit. My mind is so preoccupied with what I want to say, that it goes in one ear and out the other.

So I explained what the problem was. After a few misunderstandings, he asked if he could place me on hold to look for my power supply. Yep, look for my power supply.

He came back, thanked me for holding, and proceeded to explain that it would be 9-12 days for it to be returned to me.

Umm… wait a minute… 9-12 days???

I asked him how this was possible. It took 4-5 days for my dead console to be shipped to them, be replaced, and shipped back to me… yet it’s going to take 9-12 days for them to return a power supply to me?

He actually interrupted me and began to explain that for “accidentally returned” accessories, this was the norm.

I then proceeded to clarify that this was not an “accidentally returned” accessory. (Never mind the fact that I don’t consider a crucial part for the operation of an Xbox, like a power supply, to be an accessory) I told him that had asked @XboxSupport if I should send the power supply with the console and I was told yes (or “yeah” as the case may be)

This is where we got stuck in a loop. The support rep stuck with the corporate policy of 9-12 … me explaining that this was not my mistake… him giving more apologies… me poking and prodding for some kind of compensation… more apologies… more corporate policy… and then me thanking him for his help, assuring him that I appreciated his help, and then asking to speak with a manager.

When I worked in support, I hated that. But it happens, and you comply with the customer’s request.

I got some resistance, as expected. It was explained to me that the manager would tell me the same thing. I thanked him and insisted. He asked if he could put me on hold while he found a manager. I thanked him.

{Insert annoying hold music here}

I don’t know how long I waited… 2 or 3 minutes perhaps?

He came back and explained that he was still looking for a manager. I thanked him. He thanked me again for holding.

{Insert same annoying hold song here}

More waiting.

He came back again and explained that he was still looking for a manager. I thanked him again. He thanked me again for holding.

Repeat that once or twice more. I actually thought that maybe they were hoping I’d just hang up.

Supper was ready. I was getting hungry.

Finally, he returned to say that a manager was found and told me his name. Again… bad with names. See above. He let me go and left me with the “manager” who asked me how he could help me.

He seemed a little uncertain of what to expect from me. Nervous perhaps. I know that feeling well. I asked him if he was aware of what the problem was, and so it began.

More of the same corporate policy, and apologies (a little more apologetic actually), and now it seems that it was going to be 5-10 days. In fact, my power supply might arrived tomorrow since it has already been 4-5 days since I sent it to them(???)

I explained that 5-10 days was unacceptable, especially considering that it only took 4-5 days for the entire exchange of dead Xbox for a refurbished Xbox. How could it possibly take 5-10 days to send me a simple power supply?

From what I gather, I’m lucky that it was an exchange, because that’s fast. Had it required a repair, I could be waiting 2-3 weeks and my power supply would arrive before my Xbox.

Again, it was implied that I made the error in sending them the “accessory”. Again, I corrected him.

And then something shocking happened. He asked me for more information about @XboxSupport on Twitter. He paused. He then began to explain that corporate policy forbids employees from using Twitter in any official capacity.

I told him that it is indeed official support. He repeated the policy. This went on back and forth for a few minutes. I said “So you’re telling me that there is no official Xbox support on Twitter?” He said he stood by his comments.

I had to laugh. And I did. Sorry, but it was funny.

I went on to explain that Xbox Live’s own “Major Nelson” recommends @XboxSupport on Twitter and that the Twitter account is even listed the Xbox.com support page. He asked me where. I frantically searched for the page. I had seen it earlier, but now I couldn’t find it.

In the meantime he assured me that he was well aware of the support available in their department. I told him that I believed him, but that he was obviously unaware of the support available outside of his department.

I then found the link. I read it out to him and he went there. There was silence. I asked him if he could see it.

He then tried to tell me that they don’t do hardware support. (I was later assured by @XboxSupport, during a rather humerous exchange when I told them they don’t exist, that they do indeed do hardware support) I also explained to him that I never went looking for help from @XboxSupport in the first place. They asked ME how they could help after I made a comment about waiting for a box. I then asked them about the power supply.

I told him that he should be upset that they are not made aware of their support offerings. I sure as hell would be. I’d be pissed if I just finished debating with a customer, and betting the farm that I was right, only to have them prove me wrong.

When then got stuck, once again, in the loop of apologies, corporate policy of 5-10 days, etc. I’ll give the guy credit, he sure was stubborn.

I had enough. I thanked him for his help and then asked to speak to someone higher up.

He kindly explained that there is nobody higher. Everyone higher doesn’t take calls. I then got a little sarcastic. I said “Surely they have a phone, and surely they speak to people on a daily basis!” I used to hate when customers did that to me. He said they don’t speak with customers.

I said “So they aren’t customer focused people… they don’t care about customer service?” I then went onto explain that when I was in support, there was always someone higher to speak with. If I, as a manager, couldn’t make a customer happy, there was my boss… or his boss… or the CEO. SOMEONE in the company had the power to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. It was rare that someone would not go away happy and it was very rare that they had to go above me.

I told him flat out that I was looking for some form of compensation for what was not my error… anything… 30-days of Xbox Live Gold… anything.

He didn’t budge. They don’t have that power, unlike the refurb centre and their 30-day Xbox Live Gold cards.

I explained that’s why I would like to speak with someone higher.

Again with the “they don’t accept calls” stuff… more apologies… and so on.

I interrupted him and politely asked him when I would receive my power supply. 5-10 days was the response. I said “Fine, thanks for the help, and be sure to let your boss know that I will be calling them… or someone else there, because I am not finished” and then I hung up.

This actually seems much shorter than our conversations, believe it or not. There was far more repetition from him, and me.

I really do feel sorry for the guy, in a way. To be kept out of the loop like that… that’s embarrassing and a shining example of how not to run a support department (or any department for that matter).

But then again, he’s probably working for peanuts at an outsource centre. The corporate mother ship doesn’t really care about them. Do your job and nothing more. You can be replaced.

So now what? I don’t know. Yet. I’ll figure something out.

In the meantime, if you’re a Microsoft / Xbox employee and you have any power in you to make even a half-assed attempt at making me happy, feel free to give ‘er a go. You certainly can’t do any worse than your hand-cuffed, out-of-the-loop support people. I really feel sorry for them.

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