One More Reason to Hate Computers

Discussion in 'rec.audio.pro' started by Mike Rivers, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    Or maybe a reason to hate what store managers have become.

    Yesterday, I went to Staples to pick up a couple of cheap prepaid long
    distance phone cards, anticipating some lengthly conference calls
    while I'm on a trip next week. I like to give the company a break
    rather than have them pay for the outrageous markup on a long distance
    call from a hotel room and this is a sensible way to do it that gives
    me a receipt for reimbursement.

    So anyway, the deal was two 75 minute cards for $10. I picked up the
    two two from the pile and went to the register to check out. I had a
    couple of other things that I wanted rung up separately, so there were
    two transactions. I didn't pay attention to the credit card total when
    I signed it (you know, scanned, computers never make mistakes . . . )
    That was my fault. I should have caught it there.

    So I get home, peel the glue off the cards and get ready to put them
    in my travel bag when I notice that one of them is a 150 minute card.
    I look at the receipt and see that instead of $10.45, it's for
    $21.something, with one card at $7.49 (the regular price of a 75
    minute card, even though the "special" sign said, below the $10 for
    two price "$5 for one"), and the other card for $13.49. This morning I
    went back to the store with the receipt and the cards to straighten it
    out. The nice lady at the customer service counter apologized for the
    confusion and said she'd just give me a refund for the 150 minute
    card, and let me keep it for my trouble.

    So she started scanning and punching numbers into the computer, and it
    told her that the card couldn't be returned. So she called the
    mangager over to see if he could make it work. He was only willing to
    refund both cards and sell me new ones, but since that was all I was
    really entitled to, I said OK and he got to work. He tried a couple of
    times and couldn't make the computer accept the refund either. I
    suggested that perhaps it was because there was no way to tell whether
    I had used the cards or not, so he called the access phone number and
    verified that the cards still had their original value, but still, he
    couldn't override the computer's refusal to process the return.

    Finally he phoned someone else, explained the situation, and got a
    number which I assumed was some authorization from on high that
    allowed him to override the program. When he handed me the credit
    receipt, it was for the correct amount, but the item refunded wasn't
    the phone cards, it was "Self service copy center."

    If a real person was allowed to make decisions, this would have been
    simple and taken just a minute instead of involving three people (not
    counting the automated response to confirm that the cards were unused)
    and about twenty minutes.

    This reminds me of a song on Ricky Scaggs' new live album called "I
    Live The Simple Life." He sings about a little home, a nice family,
    the bible, and then ends up with:

    "A cell phone when my old car dies"
    "The Internet to show me where, a GPS to show me where"

    Gimme the simple life.


    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  2. EggHd

    EggHd Guest

    << So anyway, the deal was two 75 minute cards for $10. >>

    Or you could have gone to Costco and got 670 minutes for 19.99!



    ---------------------------------------
    "I know enough to know I don't know enough"
  3. Mike Rivers wrote:
    >
    > This reminds me of a song on Ricky Scaggs' new live album called "I
    > Live The Simple Life." He sings about a little home, a nice family,
    > the bible, and then ends up with:
    >
    > "A cell phone when my old car dies"
    > "The Internet to show me where, a GPS to show me where"


    Great song, written by Harley Allen (Red Allen's son). You can hear
    Ricky sing it live tonight on the folk festival webcast that I mentioned
    in my earlier post. (Actually, its "....a GPS to get me there".) Of
    course, since the festival took place less than a week after Ricky
    recorded his live album, it won't sound much different from the record <g>.
  4. Om_Audio

    Om_Audio Guest

    Oh man I hear ya- overly dependent and rigid computer world we have created.
    Thank goodness things never stay the same- too bad changes sometimes take
    decades!

    :)

    C

    "Mike Rivers" <mrivers@d-and-d.com> wrote in message
    news:znr1062265016k@trad...
    >
    > Or maybe a reason to hate what store managers have become.
    >
    > Yesterday, I went to Staples to pick up a couple of cheap prepaid long
    > distance phone cards, anticipating some lengthly conference calls
    > while I'm on a trip next week. I like to give the company a break
    > rather than have them pay for the outrageous markup on a long distance
    > call from a hotel room and this is a sensible way to do it that gives
    > me a receipt for reimbursement.
    >
    > So anyway, the deal was two 75 minute cards for $10. I picked up the
    > two two from the pile and went to the register to check out. I had a
    > couple of other things that I wanted rung up separately, so there were
    > two transactions. I didn't pay attention to the credit card total when
    > I signed it (you know, scanned, computers never make mistakes . . . )
    > That was my fault. I should have caught it there.
    >
    > So I get home, peel the glue off the cards and get ready to put them
    > in my travel bag when I notice that one of them is a 150 minute card.
    > I look at the receipt and see that instead of $10.45, it's for
    > $21.something, with one card at $7.49 (the regular price of a 75
    > minute card, even though the "special" sign said, below the $10 for
    > two price "$5 for one"), and the other card for $13.49. This morning I
    > went back to the store with the receipt and the cards to straighten it
    > out. The nice lady at the customer service counter apologized for the
    > confusion and said she'd just give me a refund for the 150 minute
    > card, and let me keep it for my trouble.
    >
    > So she started scanning and punching numbers into the computer, and it
    > told her that the card couldn't be returned. So she called the
    > mangager over to see if he could make it work. He was only willing to
    > refund both cards and sell me new ones, but since that was all I was
    > really entitled to, I said OK and he got to work. He tried a couple of
    > times and couldn't make the computer accept the refund either. I
    > suggested that perhaps it was because there was no way to tell whether
    > I had used the cards or not, so he called the access phone number and
    > verified that the cards still had their original value, but still, he
    > couldn't override the computer's refusal to process the return.
    >
    > Finally he phoned someone else, explained the situation, and got a
    > number which I assumed was some authorization from on high that
    > allowed him to override the program. When he handed me the credit
    > receipt, it was for the correct amount, but the item refunded wasn't
    > the phone cards, it was "Self service copy center."
    >
    > If a real person was allowed to make decisions, this would have been
    > simple and taken just a minute instead of involving three people (not
    > counting the automated response to confirm that the cards were unused)
    > and about twenty minutes.
    >
    > This reminds me of a song on Ricky Scaggs' new live album called "I
    > Live The Simple Life." He sings about a little home, a nice family,
    > the bible, and then ends up with:
    >
    > "A cell phone when my old car dies"
    > "The Internet to show me where, a GPS to show me where"
    >
    > Gimme the simple life.
    >
    >
    > --
    > I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  5. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Guest

    Mike,

    Very rarely it's the computer. Sometimes it's the programmer. Usually it's
    the manager who specified how the program should work.

    --Ethan
  6. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <20030830153411.07673.00000287@mb-m17.aol.com> egghd@aol.com writes:

    > Or you could have gone to Costco and got 670 minutes for 19.99!


    Not counting what it costs to join Costco. I still haven't decided
    that I can spend enough money there to pay for the membership fee.


    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  7. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <oe74b.20412$2Y6.6806551@news2.news.adelphia.net> usemylastname@cheerful.com writes:

    > (Actually, its "....a GPS to get me there".)


    I knew that.


    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  8. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "Mike Rivers" <mrivers@d-and-d.com> wrote in message
    news:znr1062265016k@trad
    ]
    > If a real person was allowed to make decisions, this would have been
    > simple and taken just a minute instead of involving three people (not
    > counting the automated response to confirm that the cards were unused)
    > and about twenty minutes.


    True, but that's a business decision, not an inherent result of
    computerization.
  9. Carey Carlan

    Carey Carlan Guest

    mrivers@d-and-d.com (Mike Rivers) wrote in news:znr1062265016k@trad:

    > If a real person was allowed to make decisions, this would have been
    > simple and taken just a minute instead of involving three people (not
    > counting the automated response to confirm that the cards were unused)
    > and about twenty minutes.


    All that takes is a real programmer writing a real override into the
    software. Don't blame it on "the computer", blame it on the programmer, or
    perhaps the programmer's supervisor who was afraid the override could be
    abused.

    --Carey Carlan
    professional programmer
  10. Doughboy

    Doughboy Guest

    On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 12:38:59 GMT, Carey Carlan <gulfjoe@hotmail.com>
    wrote:

    >mrivers@d-and-d.com (Mike Rivers) wrote in news:znr1062265016k@trad:
    >
    >> If a real person was allowed to make decisions, this would have been
    >> simple and taken just a minute instead of involving three people (not
    >> counting the automated response to confirm that the cards were unused)
    >> and about twenty minutes.

    >
    >All that takes is a real programmer writing a real override into the
    >software. Don't blame it on "the computer", blame it on the programmer, or
    >perhaps the programmer's supervisor who was afraid the override could be
    >abused.


    Or to be fair the intended customers for the software, who may have
    been consulted before the software was written, and made it clear that
    they didn't want such an override in the software.

    Doughboy
  11. EggHd

    EggHd Guest

    << Not counting what it costs to join Costco. I still haven't decided
    that I can spend enough money there to pay for the membership fee. >>

    Good point.

    Check out their gas prices next time you drive by.



    ---------------------------------------
    "I know enough to know I don't know enough"
  12. Ditto for bananas. If you buy one bunch of bananas a week, you'll save more than
    enough to cover basic membership.

    >> Not counting what it costs to join Costco. I still haven't decided
    >> that I can spend enough money to pay for the membership fee.


    > Check out their gas prices next time you drive by.
  13. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <XSCdnb5VU_IoUMyiU-KYvA@giganews.com> "Ethan Winer" <ethan at ethanwiner dot com> writes:

    > Very rarely it's the computer. Sometimes it's the programmer. Usually it's
    > the manager who specified how the program should work.


    Almost certainly in this case it was a decision not just of the local
    manager, but one of policy for the chain of stores. Kind of like
    Guitar Centers not accepting returns on microphones (but if they trust
    you and want to keep your business, they can work around it).

    It's just that the computer's action seemed to frustrate the customer
    service clerk and also the local manager. Neither had ever taken a
    return on a prepaid phone card before and apparently neither knew that
    the system was programmed not to accept one.

    I went through four or five computer bags at this same Staples store
    (and I'm still looking for one that fits my computer and lifestyle)
    and they never had a problem with those returns. And one time when
    they gave me the wrong disk drive when I was buying one with a rebate,
    when I discovered it after cutting off the UPC sticker to include with
    the rebate coupon (at that point noticing that the numbers were
    different), the manager on duty that day did a bogus "price match" for
    me, crediting the difference between the price I paid and the price
    after the rebate - more than generous since I got a drive with a
    larger buffer and didn't have to wait for the rebate check to come.

    So in general that store has been good to me. Probably if the manager
    who handled the disk drive problem had been there the day I went to
    exchange the phone cards, he would have simply refunded my money and
    told me to keep the cards. But different days, different managers,
    different policies. It shouldn't be that way of course, but it's nice
    that at least some are still willing to exercise their authority as a
    manager and, when there's a mistake, make the customer feel maybe a
    little happier than if everything had gone right with the purchase.



    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  14. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <ttWdncKc4bkcfsyiXTWJhg@comcast.com> arnyk@hotpop.com writes:

    > True, but that's a business decision, not an inherent result of
    > computerization.


    Correct, and if I were dealing with a cashier who has no authority to
    do anything beyond ring up sales and make change, I would have no
    problem with it. But the reason why stores have managers is that
    there's a person who can make decisions other than those which are
    programmed by the policy-makers.


    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  15. Carey Carlan

    Carey Carlan Guest

    mrivers@d-and-d.com (Mike Rivers) wrote in news:znr1062340161k@trad:

    >
    > In article <ttWdncKc4bkcfsyiXTWJhg@comcast.com> arnyk@hotpop.com writes:
    >
    >> True, but that's a business decision, not an inherent result of
    >> computerization.

    >
    > Correct, and if I were dealing with a cashier who has no authority to
    > do anything beyond ring up sales and make change, I would have no
    > problem with it. But the reason why stores have managers is that
    > there's a person who can make decisions other than those which are
    > programmed by the policy-makers.


    Either way you can blame it on the home office. Leaving the override out
    of the software on purpose indicates that the company has no trust in their
    managers. If not on purpose ...
  16. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <vl4a8gbqj7nof4@corp.supernews.com> williams@nwlink.com writes:

    > Ditto for bananas. If you buy one bunch of bananas a week, you'll save more
    > than enough to cover basic membership.


    I may look like a monkey but I don't eat like one. My friendly local
    audio dealer goes to Costco just about every week and buys a lot of
    food there, but his idea of a fun Saturday evening is to invite about
    a dozen of his friends over for dinner and let them cook whatever he
    bought that day, so buying Costco sized quantities makes sense for
    him. As a single person without a freezer, there aren't too many
    things that I can buy there and save money on. I don't have room to
    store 96 rolls of toilet paper unless I can prove that it has good
    acoustical qualities. I don't even have any NS-10s.

    The closest Costco to me isn't anywhere near any of my normal travel
    routes, so I'd have to go about 15 miles out of my way to go there to
    buy gas. That uses up about a dollar's worth right there. Plus every
    time I've driven past there (and maybe it's worse now) there's always
    been a line at the gas pumps.

    When I buy gas using my AAA Visa card, I get a 5% credit on my
    statement for the gas purchases, and it doesn't matter where I buy it.
    The Mobil station just up the hill from my house, which I have to pass
    in order to go just about anywhere, is one of the cheapest in the area
    anyway. And they have free air and water, and a couple of real
    mechanics who have worked there for years. Sometimes saving money
    isn't worth the money you save.

    Now if I wanted something really expensive that Costco sells at a
    substantial discount, it would be worth joining to buy just that one
    thing, and if I shopped there a couple more times a year, that would
    be a little bonus. Think we can get them to stock Manley Labs gear?


    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  17. Abyssmal

    Abyssmal Guest

    On 31 Aug 2003 17:17:26 -0400, mrivers@d-and-d.com (Mike Rivers)
    wrote:

    I don't have room to
    >store 96 rolls of toilet paper unless I can prove that it has good
    >acoustical qualities.



    If you soak a roll of toilet paper, it makes quite an impact when
    shot out of a big potato gun.You could use them up quicker, and have
    some fun too.

    I agree some of the bulk stuff is overkill.When you see Sams Club drop
    off a pallet of tampons, it is getting out of hand.

    Randall
  18. TAPKAE

    TAPKAE Guest

    >> If a real person was allowed to make decisions, this would have been
    >> simple and taken just a minute instead of involving three people (not
    >> counting the automated response to confirm that the cards were unused)
    >> and about twenty minutes.



    I went to Mervyns a week or two ago and wanted to buy some Levi shorts. The
    first batch I found was all blue. Hey, I love blue for 6 days a week, but
    wanted green. So I picked up a few. They were marked $32 a pair (yow!).
    Later on, I find in the same store, but on the discount rack, a single pair
    of green 550s or whatever fits me. Everything about the green was the same
    as the blue, but for the obvious color difference. Hey, they were both 550s,
    same size and all, not irregular or anything. But the green was priced for
    something like $20 or so.

    So of course I try to reason this at the register, wanting to see if I could
    negotiate the more expensive blues down to the green price. No deal. Only
    the color is different (on the actual product) and therefore the price is
    $12 apart. The SKU was different, and that made all the diff in the world. I
    donĀ¹t know what is more robotic-- the computer or the people who slavishly
    bow down to its might and intellectual superiority.

    Its a good thing I like my blue shorts a lot.


    --

    TAPKAE
    http://tapkae.com

    "We're the cleanup crew for parties we were too young to attend"
    (Kevin Gilbert)
  19. Rob Reedijk

    Rob Reedijk Guest

    And just wait until you get screwed by the phone card company. Wait
    until they charge you a minimum $1 for each call. Wait until they
    deduct $1/week service fee.

    I once got a phone card. I used it for a 3 minute call and then it
    was expired. That was the first and last time. (or next time I will
    very carefully research the cards).

    Rob R.
    (Yes, I prefer microphones to ocelots...now we've talked audio.)

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