Scripting News for 12/1/2006

My WSJ debate with Scoble about innovation & Microsoft.  

Dan Farber: “The fact the two friends and rabble rousers are debating the topic in the bastion of business reporting, the WSJ, is a good sign that big media is not just inhaling its own fumes.” 

Berkeley friend Jeff Ubois appears on The Scoble Show. 

Jon Udell interviews the director of the University of Michigan library technology department about their deal with Google. 

I’ll be in NYC the last week of the month, returning to SF on Jan 2. 

I received a Fedex package that was addressed to someone else. If it was the postal service, I’d just write PLEASE FORWARD in big black letters and drop it into a mailbox. But it’s Fedex, and I know from experience that trying to call them is like hell on earth. Their voice system is set up to get you to go to their website, where you can send a package or track a package, and everything else is impossibly difficult. It would be a lot easier to just drop the package in the trash. What should I do? 

BTW, according to Amazon, the package that I paid extra to have delivered yesterday, still hasn’t left their warehouse. I know I can call them, enough people have sent me their hidden customer service number, but I’d prefer to bitch about it here on my blog. so after giving it some thought, I called. They were helpful, refunded the shipping charge, but the package still hasn’t left the warehouse.  

Bret Fausett: “If we all started calling those MP3s we send over the RSS feeds Zunecasts, how long do you think it would take Apple to retract its trademark claims on podcasting?” 

Fascinating discussion on the Yahoo blog about their broken TV listing site. At least they have the courage to hear from real users. I think they should, if they can, restore the site to its former functionality, and then carefully re-approach the upgrade, with a small group of users giving feedback every step.  

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jake on December 1, 2006 at 4:33 am

    I used to use the TV Listings to record to TiVo right from a My Yahoo page.
    My Yahoo with Embedded TV Listing -> click to specific show page -> click to Record to Tivo.

    Suddenly, most of the shows are not links anymore off of the My Yahoo page.

    What was useful is gone. So I click the [X] and remove that content.

    It would have been nice if they had left the working version and pointed people to the “improved” version.

    Reply

  2. You were a founder of Symantec Corp? cool!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jim Mason on December 1, 2006 at 10:27 am

    I would drop the package back in a fedex boxes or bring it to fedex kinko. I received this in error. Good way of testing FedEx!

    Reply

  4. Jim, pardon me, but that’s ridiculous. The nearest Fedex dropoff is a drive away from here. I’d have to get in the car, drive there, find a parking spot, and then explain to the clerk why this is his or her problem? Sorry, but where’s the upside for me? No sale.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Brett Bourne on December 1, 2006 at 10:41 am

    you could open it up and see if it has any value, to you or the intended receiver, that might color how much time & energy you choose to spend on it – it’s FedEx’ problem that they delivered something you did not order

    or, leave it in your car until you next drive by a drop-box or a FedEx truck and then dump it – seems any agent should take charge of it

    your ethical responsibility seems quite low, if there is any at all, to me

    the relative value of “being a nice guy” is totally your call, imho

    Reply

  6. Brett, I don’t think opening it is an option. Basically The Golden Rule would prohibit that. Now that I think of it that’s why I have to call Fedex.

    Reply

  7. I went ahead and called Fedex, and aside from the operator constantly saying she was trying to help me (and me pointing out that actually it was I who was helping her), they found the mistake, and supposedly are coming by to pick up the package.

    I’m on hold with Amazon now, they acknowledge the problem, the operator didn’t make the same mistake, he says he would be frustrated if that happened to him, and that’s Good Customer Service, not only is the customer right, but you tell the customer that you understand what the problem is by saying you wouldn’t like it if it happened to you. I can’t recall hearing that from an operator ever before. But I’ve been able to write this whole message while on hold, so that’s not good. This wasn’t that expensive an item, and it was kind of an impulse purchase, so the fun of it is rapidly going away.

    Reply

  8. Posted by stephen bove on December 1, 2006 at 11:10 am

    I can honestly say that:

    1) in 15 years of hammering on fedex, thousands of packages by now, they have NEVER made a mistake for me or anything inbound to me – and that includes some really odd shipments to exotic foreign places. Statistically, that is amazing.

    2) in 10+ years of Amazoning, I’ve never had a single issue with their service: 1click, it arrives. The hundreds of hours this company has saved me is worth LOTS of money and if I ever had to call them about something I would consider it almost a kind of karmic “thank you” for all the great service over the years. For me Amazon defines what the web is about: convenience and value.

    3) When I get other people’s stuff via a mail or courier service (which has happened with even a wedding gift once) usually due to improper addressing by the SENDER, I always apply the Golden Rule or Karmic law of What Goeas Around Comes Around (kudos to you dave) and deal with it, simply to help out whoever was SUPPOSED to get the package.

    Reply

  9. I would have called fedex (or used their website) to schedule a standard pickup… and then explained the situation to the driver.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Ben Kimball on December 1, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    The day I read your message about your Amazon experience I bought an iPod on amazon.com, and paid extra for guaranteed next day shipping. Well, a day later, my shipment is also still sitting in the Amazon warehouse. Looks like I’ll have to search for the hidden phone number.

    Reply

  11. Sad to report but the “No, I wouldn’t like it either” line is a standard part of the call centre script these days.

    Cynical, eh?

    Reply

  12. Posted by j james on December 1, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    having spent the last three days trying to track down my package that was mis-delivered, i’m happy that you called FedEx.

    their phone system _is_ annoying, if you keep shouting “operator” it’ll connect you to a live person.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Bob on December 1, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    FedEx has almost always done right by me, but this week their customer service failed me. Bought a new MacBook Pro, paid for overnight shipping. It should have arrived Wednesday. Instead, another box came, tipping me off that something wasn’t right. They delivered my computer to the wrong address. I had to let them know that they had done so and convince both them and the merchant that the “DELIVERED” notation in the delivery record didn’t mean “Delivered to the correct address.”

    They waited 24 hours to attempt to retrieve it. The person at the address they left it apparently said it wasn’t there. Another 24 hours later I got the merchant and FedEx to agree they didn’t know where it was and they started to work through a credit.

    Later that night (6:30 pm), an angry FedEx guy showed up with the box. I had to proactively keep calling FedEx to figure out what they knew, which usually wasn’t more than a shrug.

    No one has offered to refund me my overnight shipping fee. No one has apologized.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Tom on December 1, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    Quote: “Sorry, but where’s the upside for me?” WOW! So you will only do something for which you will gain from it, is that right? I’m sure you’d appreciate it if the package Amazon are supposed to send you gets shipped to the wrong address and that addressee makes an effort to get it shipped to on to you. I realize you are calling FedEx now, but man, it wouldn’t take much effort in Berkeley to either drop it in a box or double park, run into Kinko’s & throw the package on the counter and say “wrong address”. You spend how much time blogging per day? Believe me the internet would survive an hour or so without you while you helped someone out. It’s not as if it’s a regular occurrence. I guess that’s the way Berkeley has gone, from hippy to yuppie. Oh well.

    Reply

  15. Dave,

    I had a similar experience with FedEx a few weeks ago. My first hint of a problem was when the FedEx online interface told me the package had already been delivered, but not to me. They delivered my package (clearly marked with the correct information) to a hospital day surgery unit, about 2 miles away. I called FedEx & was able to get a human on the line. (you basically just keep hitting the ’0′ button for operator, and eventually you get a live person)

    She was able to give me the address it was delivered to, and the name of the person who signed for it. From that information, I use Google to search for the name and phone number of that address, and drove over to pick it up. It was nearly 5PM, and I knew my chances would narrow the later it got. I found the suite number, and asked for the person who had signed for it. (usually the receptionist) She was already gone. But they found someone else to help me, and took me to the package holding room (really just a hallway), and Ta-Da! I found my package. It took 3 phone calls to get the credit for the delivery; they kept thinking I was calling because I hadn’t gotten it yet.

    The very next day, FedEx delivered someone else’s package to my doorstep. I called and had it picked up. (that only took 2 calls.)

    Total time spent? About 6 hours. Headaches and stress? Countless.

    For almost 20 years FedEx has been the compnay I used when the it really mattered that the package was on time – they seem to be losing their edge.

    Surprisingly, USPS has been getting fairly consistant with their deliveries. They just need to put in a better tracking system, and they could develop a competitive advantage. :- )

    amy

    Reply

  16. Posted by JamesM on December 2, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    You could have opened it and check the packing slip. Call the individual and let them know that you had their package. Honest mistake to make, opening something that was delivered your home.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Derick Harris on December 2, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    When you call Fedex, simply begin pushing operator ’0′. Do nothing else. You will be connected with a live person.

    Reply

  18. Dave…I have to agree with Tom…”What’s in in for me?” is a zero sum game…I would not have expected you to say that.

    Reply

  19. Dave G, you and Tom both disappointed me, by posting a public rebuke without even getting the facts. I did take care of the package, and if you had bothered to read the rest of the thread you would have known that. Sloppy. Now let’s see if you live up to your high moral standard and apologize.

    Reply

  20. Posted by Tom on December 3, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    Dave
    I had all the facts and I did read all the thread before I posted, that is why I pointed out that you were actually calling FedEx as you had pointed out. I was just surprised/disappointed that if it came down to you going out of your way a little to help someone whose package had come into your hands accidentally you were unwilling to help out unless you got something in return. Well that’s how it came across when you wrote: “The nearest Fedex dropoff is a drive away from here. I’d have to get in the car, drive there, find a parking spot, and then explain to the clerk why this is his or her problem? Sorry, but where’s the upside for me? No sale.” As if getting into your car is a big deal anyway! Fortunately a simple phone call sorted it out because otherwise, it seems from what you said, you wouldn’t have done anything, or at least been very reluctant to have done anything. I haven’t said I have high moral standards, but I can tell you that if your package from Amazon gets delivered to me by mistake and I can’t get through to FedEx or UPS or whoever by phone I will drop it off at the nearest office so it gets forwarded to you, without complaint. That’s a promise.

    Reply

  21. Tom, then you’re a whiny little girly man. :-)

    Reply

  22. Posted by Tom on December 3, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Aw shucks, thanks Dave, you’re not such a bad guy after all :)

    Reply

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