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November 4, 2005 12:03 AM
Broken: Commandments for tech manufacturers
Two notable points from David Pogue's New York Times article "10 Ways to Please Us, the Customers", which elaborates on how companies can easily improve on things from product design to how manuals are written:
V. Thou shalt not participate in rebate rip-offs. We admit it: we, the people, are cheapskates. You know and we know that we ruthlessly compare prices. We'll buy the cheaper gizmo almost every time.
But what do you do? You exploit our love of saving money by offering your delicious electronics for crazy-low prices - "after rebate."
So we buy your thing, cut out the barcode, fill out the form and staple the original store receipt. We handwrite the rebate center's address on the envelope, mail it away and wait.
And a few weeks later, you know what we get? A stress headache.
We've already sent away our only copy of the documentation and you didn't provide a phone number, so we're just stuck. You've got our money and you know there's nothing we can do about it.
But in this particular religion, there's a special circle of hell reserved for rebate cheats.
VIII. Thou shalt not prevent "zeroing out" of thy phone-mail maze. When we do finally get you on the phone, we can tolerate a voice-mail system that routes our calls. But when we get frustrated or lost in the labyrinth - "Press 2 for sales, press 3 for service. ..." - we should be allowed to press the zero key to escape and talk to a live human being.
If you have designed a phone system to ignore desperate zero presses, then you're showing your fear. And we, the customers who pay for your whole operation, may wonder why you're trying to hide from us.
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