Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Audi USA

I've been looking into buying or leasing a shiny new Audi TT Roadster. I can afford to even think about this because I am a friend or family of somebody who works for Audi. After poking around at their website the other day, I told my connection that the site really was frustrating. For example, while using the "build your car" function, I had a choice of the 2.0 turbo engine, or the 2.0 turbo "with premium package." But there is no indication anywhere about what said package contains. I could tell that it costs $3050, but that's about it.

I also tried to use the dealer locater function. I know where my local dealer is, but I couldn't recall the name. I put in my ZIP code and clicked on the search button, only to be told that no results were found. I thought that was odd, and then decided that maybe it was because the center of my ZIP code was more than ten miles (the default search radius) from the dealer. So I increased the distance and tried again. No dice. Eventually, I got up to a search radius of 400 miles. Still no results.

So after dealing with all that, I told my connection of my woes. He encouraged me to find the "Contact Us" link and pass along my comments, so I did. In the email response I got the next day, there was an apology for the problem with the dealer locater "which was damaged recently and is currently being re-established. For dealer locations, as well as any questions about current models, we suggest you contact" some 800 number.

I sat on that for a day, but this morning I had to respond. "You knew the dealer locater wasn't working, but instead of putting up a page that says 'please call the Audi Insider line', you just let it return meaningless results?"

I honestly can't understand that. I ended my response with
Every customer facing aspect of your business, whether it's your web site, your sales or service people at the dealer, or your spiffy new R8 ad, shapes the customer's perception. And perception is reality.

Which I think is pretty much the theme of this blog (excepting maybe the specific part about the R8 commercial).

I'm sure Sony hasn't figured that out, but that's another blog for another day.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Make Magazine

I discovered Make Magazine right about the time the first issue was published. Probably I saw it mentioned somewhere on the net. I didn't get around to subscribing until last year, right about this time, and because of a special offer, chose the "Premier" version of the subscription. Amongst other things, this gives me the, ahem, pleasure of an automatically renewing subscription. According to the FAQ on their website, I will always receive 30 day notification - "via email we contact you 30 days prior to expiration of your current subscription to let you know that your subscription is going to be shortly renewed."

Yep, that didn't happen. I've checked my spam folder, and nothing there either. And I never have any trouble getting the newsletter or other email from them.

Which brings me to today. I get home and have a mysterious letter, which the envelope tells me is from "ESP Computer Services". Surprisingly enough, I don't have the foggiest idea who the hell "ESP Computer Services" is.

The letter inside starts out "Thank you for your recent order" and references a credit card account that had to be cancelled because of fraudulent use last summer. Alarms start to go off.

I look a little closer and notice that at the top of the piece of paper it says


This is not a letterhead, mind you, but just some text in what looks to be about 16 point Arial Bold.

NOWHERE on this piece of paper does it mention the word "Magazine", which maybe would have been a clue to WTF this was all about.

Who the HELL is running this service, some 14 year old with a copy of Access and a laser printer?

So now I'm wondering why on earth I'd want to renew this subscription, and how to avoid having to deal with "ESP Computer Services" ever again.