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Comment: Re:Always be polite. ALWAYS. (Score 1) 207

by sjbe (#48949279) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

I agree w/ you, but how exactly do you 'fire' customers? Refusing to sell them the product/service in question?

Just just either ask them politely to take their business elsewhere or you charge them a rate so high that it will accomplish the same end. If you have control over pricing you can give them a "go away quote" which basically charges a ridiculous rate. If they pay, fine but then at least you are being compensated adequately. We have a pain in the ass customer at my business and we simply keep raising rates on them to compensate us for the time we have to spend. Sometimes though no amount of money is worth the problems some customers cause.

I have on two occasions however told a customer in no uncertain terms that due to their behavior we no longer cared to do business with them. One was sexually harassing one of my employees and on the other occasion they had someone who simply was rude well above and beyond what his business was worth to us.

Comment: Monopolies abuse those without options (Score 1) 207

by sjbe (#48948731) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

We'd switch to another provider if one was available

There is your problem. They have you by the short curlys and they know it. Doesn't make it right but customers without options tend to get abused.

What I would do after a conversation like that is take it to your Public Utilities Commission if possible. That usually gets their attention. Another option is to call and ask for their legal department (after consulting your own) after very completely documenting what has gone on. That also tends to focus their attention. You also have the option of filing a lawsuit if their legal department won't return your calls. You don't have to actually do anything with it but I can almost guarantee it will get a response.

Comment: Calm in the face of incompetence (Score 1) 207

by sjbe (#48948705) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

If you treat the customer support badly, don't expect good service.

Absolutely. Be a nice person and you'll usually get better results. HOWEVER, it can be very difficult to remain calm when you run into an incompetent support person and most of us have at one time or another. You know the person reading from a script, who doesn't listen to what you are telling them, who is under orders to not really be helpful, incentivized to get you off the phone as fast as possible and doesn't speak the language very well after you have been transferred between 5 different departments thanks to their incomprehensible phone tree. I've run into plenty of support people who have absolutely no idea what they are doing and/or clearly did not have a fuck left to give. If the person I'm speaking to doesn't know how to solve the problem then I expect them to get me to someone who does as quickly as possible. I'm ok with someone admitting they don't know the answer. I'm not ok with them being rude, dismissive, or wasting my time.

Comment: Always be polite. ALWAYS. (Score 3, Insightful) 207

by sjbe (#48948671) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

Sometimes (Often) you really do get a customer that is an a*****e. When doing an adjust or refund we have to put down a reason for it.

While I will agree wholeheartedly that some customers really are a-holes (I've run into quite a few myself) there is NEVER any excuse for behaving as if they are. You behave professionally and politely even if asking the customer to take their business elsewhere. Always. No exceptions. If they get threatening or abusive then you end the conversation or transfer it to someone whose pay grade justifies taking the abuse. But at all times you remain polite even when the customer doesn't deserve it and isn't being reasonable or nice. If you cannot do this then you should not be talking to customers.

A few times corporate called us asking why the paperwork said "Customer is an asshole" Well, which part of that don't you understand? It was later changed to "Code 10"

Customer being a jerk is never a "reason" to give a discount. You either give a discount because you need/want their business or you don't give a discount and let the customer do whatever they feel is appropriate. Management can set whatever guidelines they want. I have *increased* the amount charged to a customer because they were not being nice but I would never give a discount they were not otherwise entitled to just because they were a jerk. That said, there does need to be a way to signal to others in the company that a particular customer is problematic. I've fired customers because they were not nice to people who worked for me. I've also fired people who worked for me who were unprofessional towards customers.

Comment: Re:As someone who used to do support for Comcast (Score 2) 207

by sjames (#48948613) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

At least one of the customers that got called asshole did nothing more than insist on cancelling a premium option on their cable service. Her 'offense' was actually wanting the option cancelled.

As for the rest, for better or worse, these people are the only people reachable and so their job is to listen to the complaints. I do try to avoid screaming, but when I tell you there is no signal on the line at all anywhere on my street, I do not want to hear "reboot your computer" or I can't ping your modem, please be home between Monday and Thursday of next week so I can send someone who doesn't have any equipment to fix the actual problem (yes, paraphrased). Of course you can't ping my modem, your network is down. Apparently they haven't been provided any training at all and can't even look up other customers in my neighborhood so they can try pinging their modems.

Yes, it's the management's fault that they don't even have that very basic knowledge and necessary tools, but since they can't or won't put a manager on the phone (probably a matter of policy), all I can do is ask them to take dictation into a note on the account.

"Human Shield" has never been a pleasant job title, but it's the one that fits their role in the company more often than not.

Comment: Technology builds on earlier technology (Score 1) 367

by sjbe (#48948431) Attached to: How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

Oh, and the thing that started it all, the iPod? Sorry, that is pretty much entirely based on a Kane Kramer patent from 1979 called the IXI plastic music box.

Guess what? Technology builds on previous technology. The automobile was a progression of earlier technology. The PC was a progression of earlier technology. So is almost any technology you care to name. Here's the thing. The actual implementation of the idea in a market is every bit as vital and often far more difficult to execute than the initial raw idea. Ford wasn't the first company to build cars but they were the first company to mass produce them in a way we would recognize to this day. Apple wasn't the first company to come up with a GUI but they were the first company to bring one to market in a way that was appealing to folks like you and me. Merely creating an idea is nearly worthless unless you can also turn it into something people can use. Something people want or need. Something that scratches an itch for them. For almost 40 years Apple has regularly figured out how to actually turn ideas into products with wide appeal. The fact that they weren't actually the first to come up with the raw concept is not especially important.

There are almost no non-trivial technologies you can point to in the last 1000 years that did not build directly off of earlier work in some form or fashion. Yes you probably can trace the iPod to work done 30 years earlier. So what? That IXI plastic music box you mention wasn't useful to anyone. The supporting technologies such as flash memory, mp3 encoding, the internet, compact microelectronics, online music stores, etc simply didn't exist in a usable form at that time because the state of the art in technology hadn't gotten there yet. Apple wasn't first into lots of technologies but they regularly have been first to get technologies turned into products that people actually gave a shit about. And that matters. A lot. Apple is the most valuable private company in the world because of that fact.

Comment: Re:w***e ? (Score 3, Insightful) 207

by sjames (#48948207) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

Sure, some people who call for support are frustratingly inept or just act like assholes. I get that. Sure, a support person may feel a need to vent by the water cooler. Fine and dandy.

But, these support assholes are changing the customer name in the database such that the bills go out addressing customers as "asshole" or "whore". That is beyond unprofessional. Perhaps their paychecks should be made out to "dumbass", or "fuck head". Fair's fair.

+ - Is there a modern IP Webcam that lets the user control the output? 4

Submitted by Tronster
Tronster (25566) writes "Owners of a local shop have a menu that changes daily and wanted an IP webcam to update an image on their web-site. After a frustrating 2 hours of a "Hikvision" refusing to behave, I threw in the towel and looked for a better camera to recommend. The biggest issue today is that the new webcams that come out don't support FTP, they all support sending images/video direct to a "private cloud" (e.g., Simplicam, Dropcam, etc...)

Google has been no help; all the sites are either outdated in terms of ranking or the most recent ones recommend a Foscam. They previously tried one of these and it's image quality was too poor.

While security systems and home automation has been discussed recently, I haven't found any recent discussions on webcams that give a user control of where the content is sent. Does anyone in the Slashdot community have recommendations, reputable sites that are up-to-date in rankings, and/or hacks to have control over some of these newer cameras?"

Comment: Re:why google keeps microsoft away (Score 1) 276

by swillden (#48947665) Attached to: Microsoft To Invest In Rogue Android Startup Cyanogen

"No Android device I'm aware of uses flash for swap"

Then you're not paying attention. There are a number of mods to allow exactly this kind of operation, particularly on older hardware with "only" 1Gb ram.

MicroSD cards are cheap, so burning them out isn't a big deal.

Heh. Obviously I was talking about OEM devices, not user customizations. If you include custom configs you'll find just about everything.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 406

by sjames (#48947427) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

It is possible to do it proportionally. For example, just replace some of the income tax with the gas tax. The thresholds for income tax could even be adjusted so that the EIC pays for the gas tax for the poor. You could tax based on octane rating as well. Few poor people drive cars that need premium gas.

+ - Gmail is no longer acceptable - Slashdot, please opine on alternatives! 6

Submitted by Press2ToContinue
Press2ToContinue (2424598) writes "Bettering security, I enable a VPN now (Avast Secureline) before accessing my banking and any other financial sites. Difficulty: gmail then thinks I'm a bot, and requires a captcha. In the past, after a few days of answering captchas, Google disabled access to my gmail, without recourse. It lasted 48 hours. I don't need this happening again. So, Google has now gone far enough IMHO. I need a reliable, secure email provider, with calendaring. So, (ahem, apprehensively) /.r's, you know the history (and can you see into the future?) of this sordid tale, what email service do -you- recommend to keep -my- email communications private? Or do you succumb idly to the false sense of security that accompanies the services of the almighty Goog?

(with a semi-faux-sheepish, yet vaguely wicked grin)"

Comment: Re:"Rogue"? (Score 1) 276

by swillden (#48943685) Attached to: Microsoft To Invest In Rogue Android Startup Cyanogen

Ah, I see what you're saying. In all of those cases, I'd say Google shifted to working on a component that integrates with other Google services. It does happen that the service-integrated component largely duplicates the features of an existing OSS component, plus adds a lot, but I don't think that's because of any move to close Android.

At this point there's really no need for Google to maintain generic apps for all of those things; there are plenty out there in every category you mentioned. I'm less sure that there are open source apps in all of those categories... but anyone who wants is free to pick up that ball. I suppose it would be nice if Google were to do it, but that's no longer necessary for the success of the platform.

I reiterate that the above represents only my personal opinions. Google pays me to write code, not define platform strategy (except in my narrow area) and certainly not to act as a proper corporate spokesperson. When I say stupid stuff it reflects on me.

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"