Update On Customer Dissatisfaction – (See Previous Blog Post)


Early this morning I received an email asking for me to provide feedback about my customer experience in the Microsoft Store yesterday evening (5/28/15). I was brutally honest. My experience started out well. Everyone was polite as I said in my previous blog post. However, I left dissatisfied because I’d been lied to – whether the Store created the problem or not they did not back up what a Microsoft Tech Support person had told me.

The Store Manager called me later in the morning. I explained everything to him and he offered to replace my Surface Pro 3 from the store inventory. I am having it shipped back to me so that I don’t have to get a ride to the store again (and risk having the same thing happen as before). So the Manager is doing the right thing, what should have been done last night – except why does it take the big boss to solve a problem?

In my previous Blog post on this subject I mentioned my 30 years of customer service experience and that I have trained employees on how to handle customer problems. I have also dealt with my share of situations requiring a manager’s judgment call. There have been times when I did something for a customer that required a bit of explaining to my superiors. But always, if I did the right thing for the customer, even if what I did was not specifically what my supervisor would have done, it was handled as an opportunity to discuss what to do next time anything similar happens. It was never a cause for punishment. Perhaps I’ve been lucky working for enlightened companies that believe in putting the customer ahead of corporate policy, but I kind of think that any successful organization will have people in positions of authority who believe the job of manager is to do everything in his or her power to say yes to a customer.

For future reference – or whatever – here are some basic truths I’ve learned over the years for dealing with customers.

1. Never lie to a customer. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Be honest. Nothing pisses off a customer more than being jerked around – being told one thing and then being told something different or even contradictory. (This was clearly what happened with Microsoft).

2. Be the hero. Take care of the customer at the lowest possible level of authority in the organization. Empower front line employees to make decisions with customer satisfaction in mind.

3. Never argue with a customer and don’t ever cite store policy as an excuse for poor customer service. If a policy gets in the way of taking care of a customer then the policy needs to be modified. If that takes a management decision, then so be it. Get the approval and don’t kick the problem upstairs requiring the customer to explain everything to someone higher up. Be the advocate for the customer, plead their case to your bosses.

4. Customers probably are not always right but that is irrelevant. No one who has worked retail for more than a few days honestly believes customers are always right but customers sure as hell think they are. Knowing that, and that customer will usually win every pissing match if they plead their case high enough up the food chain, why bother creating an artificial barrier that impedes customer satisfaction?

5. A dissatisfied customer will always tell everyone they know about their bad experiences. Unfortunately, very few people hear about the good things that happen in a store. Stores spend millions of dollars advertising to gain a customer’s attention. It only take one bad experience and the ensuing word of mouth to sour ten or more potential customers from ever shopping in a store – because we tend to believe people we now before we believe the hype of advertising.

6. Listen to the customer. Most of the time customers have reasonable expectations. You don’t need to give away the farm. Ask the customer what will satisfy them. (I’m not sure why Microsoft couldn’t have just given me a DVD with the image on it to correct my problem, but apparently that is a huge no-no. That would have saved a whole lot of trouble for everyone, though).

7. Customers expect to be the focus – the center of attention. Treat each one as if they are the only customer in the store because if you don’t soon enough you will have only one customer to take care or – if you are lucky enough still have one.

8. Don’t believe your own bullshit about how great your customer service focus is. As soon as you stop trying to improve the customer experience you will start ignoring what customers want.

9. Actively seek customer feedback.  Otherwise you will never know about the problems that were never called to your attention. Don’t be defensive. Respond to customer criticisms as opportunities to learn. Pay attention to what the customer is telling you about his or her experience. You can assume that if one customer is having a problem and alerts you that ten or more have had the same problem and never mentioned it – instead, they are no longer shopping at your store.

10. Never let a customer walk away unhappy. There is an old saying about marriage that you should never go to sleep angry with your spouse. Consider a customer relationship as similar. Also, you almost never get a second chance to close a sale. (I learned this from selling cars). If a customer leave unsatisfied, they are likely never going to return – or if they return it will be after a very long time)  If you allow a customer the time to analyze why they were treated unfairly they will build a very good and reasonable case for why somebody needs to be disciplined. (The first thing the Store Manager asked me was who the employee was who didn’t take care of me. Having been on the receiving end often enough, I really didn’t want that to happen but the employee probably needs a re-orientation on customer cultivation discussion or at least how to handle the situation next time).

For the record, I feel much better about Microsoft now. Some of my faith in their customer support has been restored. So the Store Manager did what he needed to do, getting me back in the mindset that if I have a problem they are going to take care of it.

#MicrosoftStore #MicrosoftTechSupport #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerDissatisfaction #MicrosoftSurfacePro3


Customer Dissatisfaction – or – Wrestling An 800 Pound Gorilla Named Microsoft


Let me tell you a story, but first allow me qualify things and set the stage so you better understand. I have worked in retail as either a manager, sales association, customer service associate or retail vendor support representative for more than thirty years. Also I was a computer technician from 1997 to 2007.  Between 200 and 2007 I worked as the manager overseeing a technical repair shop.

Over the years I have trained others and lead discussions about customer satisfaction. I may not know everything but I have a level of expertise. Also I do not believe the customer is always right but understand that my opinion on that matter as a retailer is immaterial because the customer usually if not almost always believe he or she is always right.

Now then, with all that out of the way, let’s begin. About a month ago I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 I5 256GB from Amazon. It came with Windows 8.1 installed. My overall experience with the product has been favorable and until yesterday I did not believe there was anything physically wrong with the device. My problem came about from upgrading it to a Beta version of Windows 10. That installation works, albeit with some expected glitches.

The past few days the computers has begun to randomly tell me my computer is “Out of Memory”.  In Microsoft jargon that usually has something to do with how memory is allocated by the OS not anything to do with the physically installed memory, which in this case is 8 GB. Also the computer has a problem whenever it boots up in Tablet Mode. The Tablet View appears to crash immediately leaving only a black screen. Since I have a mouse there is a cursor that still moves about when as I move the physical mouse on a mouse pad. As long as the cursor moves the OS hasn’t crashed . It is just some application or overlay that uses the OS that is to blame. In this case it is a new feature in Windows 10 that gives a transparent mask over the background screen that is color coordinated with the desktop theme.(When it works it is pretty cool.) After  I give the computer the tradition “Three Finger Salute” by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL I am able to click on Sign Out and then log back on. After that everything works. It is an annoyance more so than a problem.

The combination of the two issues I have with Windows 10 Technical Preview caused me to desire returning the computer to Windows 8.1. When I installed Windows 10 I followed the instruction to a “T” when it came to backing up stuff. I created a USB Recovery Drive. So I didn’t think I’d have a problem reverting to Windows 8.1, but I did. The computer tells me I no longer have a recovery image even though I purposely left the image alone when I created the USB Recovery Drive. The system has the option of deleting it to free up space, but I have enough room in my SSD storage drive. When I tried to use the USB Drive the computer tells me the Recovery image is missing.

So, I think – no big deal. There has to be a way to download the image from Microsoft, right? I couldn’t find the image so I logged into Tech Support. I go through the same process with the online tech and we reach the conclusion there is something corrupted. He tells me they will replace the Surface Pro 3. However that’s going to take a few days. I can either give them a credit card for expedited exchange or they can send me the return authorization and once they receive my Surface Pro 3, they can ship me a replacement. I really didn’t to replace my device. All I wanted was a new drive image. And I didn’t want to be without my computer for a week or maybe 3. So I asked if I could do the exchange at the Microsoft Store – there are two in Orlando but both are a bit of a haul from where I live and certainly now within bike riding distance. When I asked the support tech if the in store exchange was possible he assured me it was and said he’d ensure they had a model like mine in stock to exchange and would schedule an appointment for me. I sent my son a text message to ensure he could drive me there and made an appointment for 8PM last night.

Based on what tech support told me I expected to go into the store, maybe have to explain my problem to them and perhaps have them check to see that the computer wasn’t otherwise damaged. Bottom line was I would end up with a different computer (likely refurbished) when I left the store. I did not expect wrestling with the 800 pound gorilla named Microsoft.

I was greeted when I entered. As Tech Support told me to tell them my name and that I had an appointment (for which I was early, by the way) I thought it would be a ten or fifteen minute consultation at most. I sat down at the service desk to wait for maybe three or four minutes before a service tech appeared and offered assistance. I really can’t complain about anything up to that moment. It was what happened next that floored me. He asked what I needed. I told him Tech Support made an appointment for me to exchange my Surface Pro 3. He asked what problem I was having, which I expected. I explained. He informed me that my warranty was voided when I installed Windows 10 because it was a beta and that they could not replace my Surface Pro 3 and that if I wanted they could apply the image to my device for me but they would need to check it in and keep it for a few days. When I informed him that was not an option because I don’t have a car and had to have someone drive me there he reiterated that was all he could do.

It was immaterial what Tech Support told me or that they offered to ship me a replacement. He asked me if I had purchased the Surface Pro 3 from the Microsoft Store  as if that mattered somehow. I replied I bought it through Amazon. I told him I was completely dissatisfied. I expected to come there maybe have them check out the Surface Pro 3 I had with me and then exchange it. He said even if that were to happen there would be a $200 charge.

What infuriates me about this whole affair isn’t about a exchanging a defective device. All I wanted in the first place was a recovery image or something to fix my problem. The first rule of customer service is to never lie to a customer. Microsoft Tech Support created an expectation that could not be fulfilled at the Microsoft Store. As a customer I feel they lied to me and in the process I was inconvenienced. To add insult to injury, after I expressed my dissatisfaction they asked if they could get me anything, like a bottle of water – as if that would cool me down. I’d been in the store for maybe twelve minutes at this point. I might have actually accepted the water when I first arrived.

#Microsoft #MicrosoftStore #MicrosoftTechSupport #MicrosoftSurfacePro3 #Windows10TechnicalPreview #Windows8dot1 #CustomerService #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerDissatisfaction #PoorService #Amazon #USBRecoveryDrive #Warranty


Origin of Pandaman


The other day someone, a stranger, referred to me as Pandaman. I was amused and actually flattered. I’ve always liked pandas. But the reason for calling me Pandaman was more interesting. It seems there is a little girl somewhere in cyberland who wakes up daily and wants her mommy to show her the pandas. And so, the lady logs onto her Facebook account and hopes that I have posted my daily panda pictures. Now that I have a fan I also have an obligation to continue my posts.

It’s funny in a way that a little girl refers to me as the Pandaman though it certainly fits into the grand scheme, I suppose. I have been posting pictures of cute pandas now for well over a year. The reason I began was to gain some attention to my FB account. And my oldest sister, who also loves pandas, sort of suggested I do it.

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I started posting a daily picture. Then, after a couple of weeks, I began posting multiple pictures of certain days of the. A few months passed and I started posting daily multiple pictures, first five and now six. I’ve been doing the six picture thing now for several months.

I’m not sure how many people actually see the pictures. There’s no simple way of appraising that with FB’s weird and warped algorithms that throttle one'[s ability to send anything out to everyone – even those who are listed as friends. I post the pictures on FB to my main account which is under the user name “elgone” and to my Google + account which is under my real name. I guess that somewhere between a few dozen to maybe as many as a couple of hundred people see them on a daily basis. But knowing there is a little girl anxiously waiting to see my daily post seems to matter more to me than anything else.

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Most of you know I write professionally. My publisher is Pandamoon Publishing, so there is the panda connection if you were seeking one, though in truth one of the reasons I submitted a book, Fried Windows, to Pandamoon in the first place was that I like wore to a Jim Gaffigan concert and had the comedian autograph. In his routine he did a joke about pandas. Anyway, in the world of being and only Elgon, all of that fits together into a neat ball that I’ve adorned with a nice bow. That’s how I became Pandaman, I guess – at least in the eyes of a little girl somewhere.

#Pandas #Pandaman #PandamoonPublishing #FriedWindows


The Way

The Wolfcat Chronicles


About a month ago I attended a book festival here in Orlando. One of my friends, Steph Post, was a panelist in a discussion on Crime and Mystery writing. Although those aren’t in my usual wheelhouse there is always something to be learned from any author’s experience. Anyway, I believe that for a book to be successful in the modern marketing climate it must have elements of nearly every genre. For example, one of the hottest subgenres in sci-fi right now is Romance.

Following the panel discussion, as I was gathering my stuff together to follow Steph to her scheduled book signing in another building, a guy who had been seated at my table approached me. His first question was, “Do you write?”

“Of course.”

“Me too,” he said. “You know, overtime I come to one of these things I never hear what I want to hear.”

“And that is…

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Update On Just About Everything


Greetings from (mostly) sunny Florida. Lately it’s been hot here. Yes, it’s Florida and all that but it seems unseasonably early to be hitting the low 90’s. It’s especially hard when I commute to or from work in the afternoon. On the bright side I’m losing a little weight in the process. And I’ve been working on my sunburn. – I don’t really tan. (Yes, I am that white.)

I’ve been working nearly full time hours, which is a good thing. I’m able to save a little money. The down side of that is that I don’t have time to spend writing. I worked oink a short story this morning, one that will appear in an anthology my publisher is putting together. It’s about 5000 words now but I doesn’t feel completed yet. It may balloon into a short novella. We’ll see. It’s not my usual fare as writing goes. I’m having some fun with it.

I’ve been spending more time using the Surface Pro I recently bought. This is the first blog post I have done with it. I’m trying get comfortable with the keyboard on the cover. It’s a lot like a laptop’s and I’ve never really liked those. But it is highly portable. I’ve been able to throw it in my backpack and haul it to work where I can use it on my breaks and before I clock in. Yesterday I wrote a review during my lunch hour. So, the reason for getting it has been just justified.


I’m still getting used to Window 8.1. Remember I have a Windows Phone so the learning curve was not quite as steep. Also, I used Windows PC’s up to an including Windows Vista. That disaster of an operating system drove me to use Linux for a couple of years and eventually compelled me to buy my first Mac. I never officially used Windows 7 on a PC, although I have played with a couple of computers that had that OS. Anyway, there are many things I like about Windows 8.1. From what I know about Windows 10, I’m not going to like all echo hangers because a couple of the features I use with Windows 8.1 are going away.

As for hardware, I think the Surface Pro 3 is the best touch screen computer available. I did a lot of shopping around and it was the only machine I played with that didn’t feel cheap and flimsy. Maybe I should have waited until the Surface Pro 4 comes out later this year but I got a  pretty good deal on a slightly used Pro 3 with 256GB SSD. It also came a year’s subscription for Office 365 and a 64GB micro SD. Oh, and there is the stylus pen.

For the record I still prefer Mac OS to Windows. But the touch screen is pretty cool and though haven’t used the pen all that much it is a nice feature intend to play with.

My birthday came and went without incident. I received a lot of well wishes from online friends and a card or two via snail mail. I don’t feel 59, and that’s a good thing. I have a lot of books that need to be published and promoted. Two new ones for later this year?

#update #Windows8.1 #Windows10 #MacOS #SurfacePro3 #Microsoft #Office365


Beating The System: Some Thoughts on Tom Brady and Deflategate


Winning at all costs appears to be the mantra these days. Why is that? Everyone looks for an angle, getting the edge or an advantage. Whatever happened to integrity, good sportsmanship, or, simply, playing by the rules. Well, we have been inundated with examples of how the ends justify the means and somehow cheating is okay. Even if you get caught you either deny everything or have your spin doctors make light of it.

This blog is not solely about Tom Brady or “Deflategate”. I’m not really sure how serious deflated footballs become in a championship. It still seems a great deal depends on execution of plays necessary for the win. But the question will always remain: how much did the deflated balls influence the outcome of the game? Would the Patriots be the champions had none of this happened? Who knows? The incident the NFL was investigating happened before the Superbowl in the divisional Championships against the Colts. It seems a lot more would have had to happen for the Patriots to have lost the Superbowl. They nearly did that on their own and how it not been for the Seahawks blowing their chance…well, they would have had to run the ball on the final play of the Superbowl but lets not revisit that.

It’s somewhat fitting that every scandal since Watergate has borrowed the “gate” ending. Maybe that’s where all this rampant cheating to win started – though I doubt it. You see, cheating is as old as people. It’s just that in the annals of stupidity there is hardly anything that rises to the example of a President, almost assured of a victory in his reelection bid, trying to gain an unfair advantage over the opposition. Yes, that was all that Watergate was truly about. Afterwards the denials and coverup were the real reason a President had to resign.


What should be the punishment for Tom Brady? A fine, suspension, a lost draft pick for the team? Ya, know, it probably depends on who you ask and what is their favorite team. Still, it puts into question the integrity of the sport of football an the NFL. It affects the image of the league. That’s kind of serious. I mean – how do we as fans know whether the fix is in on games? What sorts of things go on that have not been uncovered? That’s the true crime, here. The lost innocent belief that there was ever a level playing field. It calls to question whether it is a team using their raw talent and considerable practice at honing skills that wins games.

In America we have reared a generation or two of cheaters. That’s what it looks like. And this is the end result. Winning at all costs no matter how it is done is all that matters in the modern world. No one seems to mind the tarnish on the awards or the asterisk mark next to a entry in the record books. Everything is okay as long as you don’t get caught, right? Fortunes are made and game are won by outsmarting the competition, finding the advantage and seizing the opportunities. There is considerable grayness when it comes to whether something is really cheating.

I guess that in the end it comes down to how much one’s personal integrity matters. If your conscience is fine with the way you won something, then that makes it all right. As long as you can sleep at night. Maybe I’m the dinosaur here. I still believe that rules matter and playing fair is how we should conduct our business whether it is sports or business. It was how I was raised. Then again, I had a pretty sheltered childhood where what is right and what is wrong was pretty clearly defined. I can thank my parents for the lack of ambiguity in how I see things.


By the time the Superbowl comes around next year, all of this will be forgotten unless, perhaps, Tom Brady has returned to the playoffs. Then I suppose the question about Tom’s balls maybe asked again. He has some to claim he is innocent of wrong doing, at least in my book. It taints everything else that he has done with his talent and through hard work.

#TomBrady #Deflategate #Football #NFL #Patriots #Seahawks #Colts #Cheating


Hidden Dangers of Texting While Driving


There are streets in my neighborhood that have bike lanes present, which is kind of nice when you commute everywhere by bike, as I do. I’m told that if a bike lane exists bikers must use them as opposed to the sidewalk. Most of my commute is done on a sidewalk because a the road that leads to where I work doesn’t have a bike lane. Despite what good shape I am in after riding a bike everywhere I go for over a year I can’t sustain enough speed over 4.5 miles to use the actual street. The way people drive not hat road, I’d get killed for sure.

That is not to say that the sidewalk is completely safe either. You see, driver do not expect bikes to be crossing the side streets’ cross walks. I’ve actually been hit in a cross walk. Thank God it was more of a bump than anything else, but it did damage my bike and gave me a bruise. Here’s the math on that: 2500# car vs 10# bike + 230# rider = injured bike rider. Drivers don’t pay attention to motorcyclists, let along bicyclists. Anyway, I’m the one who watches out and so far I have avoiding being run down though there have been well over a dozen close calls.

The point of this blog is a hidden danger, though. You see, I’m aware of the cross walk danger and I am paying close attention to vehicles coming and going around intersections. What I cannot force is a distracted driver swerving into the bike lane from behind me – which happened the other day and resulted in a close call. The cause? Well, the lady had a smartphone in her hand and I assume she had been texting. Then, about five minutes later, I’m at a cross walk waiting for the light to change so I can proceed safely through a busy intersection. There was a duffus sitting there texting away while the light was red . It changed while he was still texting and the guys behind him honked to alert him. Having just experiencing what I did earlier with a car I wondered to myself what if he was texting and didn’t notice the light was red I was crossing with he light in the cross walk?

I have a lot of issues with people and their cell phones. Yes, I have a smart phone too. I use it on occasion, when absolutely necessary. But I refrain from using it whenever I should be paying attention to something else. I don’t know how I could use it while riding a bike although I have seen people riding along with a cell phone in one hand. Really!

What is so damned important that the text message you just received can’t wait? Do you need to answer every friggin’ message immediately? More to the point, is it worth risking your life or someone else?

There have been several studies done that indicate text messaging while driving is by far more dangerous than driving under the influence. The reason school be clear. Even a drunk is paying attention to the road and trying to keep the car between the white lines. I’d be inclined to say let fools kill themselves with their ignorance except there is potential for innocent lives to be lost int he process – other drivers, pedestrians and bikers. Yet, despite laws against texting while driving it still goes on.

I know the laws are difficult to enforce. But perhaps the penalty for being caught doing it should be elevated to make the risk of it a stronger deterrent. You see, drunk drivers can lose their licenses or go to jail. Texting while driving will get you a stiff fine.

I’m gong to sound like an old man here, and since I am turning 59 tomorrow, maybe that’s fitting. But back in the day when people didn’t have a phone with them at all times we had to leave messages on answering machines. The world didn’t end just because the caller had to wait for an hour or two to get a response. Again, I ask: what is so damned important that every message needs an immediate response?

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#texting #biking #driving  #TextingWhileDriving