Samsung: “Our bad firmware is your problem”

On January 16, 2009, in Doing It Wrong, by Rob Levandowski

In the most recent issue of RISKS Digest, Gene Spafford writes about his experiences with Samsung Blu-ray players. (A more detailed version is on his blog.)

It seems that Samsung published faulty firmware images for the BD-P1500 Blu-ray players on their servers.  When these BD-Live equipped players contacted Samsung and retrieved the update, the player was rendered unusable.

Gene says that Samsung is not offering a fix, and that Samsung is offering no restitution for bricking the out-of-warranty model.  In fact, if the fix—once Samsung develops or admits to one, if ever—requires the out-of-warranty unit to be sent to the factory for service, it would be at the customer’s expense.

Another, newer Samsung BD-P2500 Blu-ray player that Gene owns became non-responsive after a short period of ownership. He sent it in for warranty repair, and it has been “waiting for parts” for weeks.

I guess I won’t be buying any Samsung products.

Want to drive away customers?  An excellent method is to make a mistake that destroys a product they’ve already paid for, refuse to fix it expeditiously, and then charge them for the repair when you do get around to fixing your mistake.

I think Samsung should have immediately sent Gene a new BD-P2500 to replace his dead BD-P2500, and they should have given him a rebuilt BD-P1500 or BD-P2500 to replace the bricked BD-P1500.  That would be acknowledging that it was their mistake.

Instead, someone will wind up mentioning it to a particular kind of lawyer, they’ll become the figurehead for a class-action lawsuit, people like Gene will get a coupon good for $20 off their next Samsung Blu-ray player (if purchased in the next 6 months), and the lawyers will make millions.


Management Illiteracy: “decisioned”

On January 12, 2009, in Language, by Rob Levandowski

Some of the managers where I work have that unique form of functional illiteracy wherein they use words that sound like, but are not, English.  These words are supposed to be a jargon that, I suppose, they believe makes them sound very managerial, intelligent, and possessed of secret knowledge not known to the mere mortal rank-and-file.

In reality, it just makes them sound like idiots to anyone that actually understands English.

A case in point: the management-jargon word “decisioned.”

Example usage:

We haven’t yet decisioned which software package we’re going to use. The management team is still conducting the decisioning process.

People actually believe this makes them sound smart…

The proper English way to say that would be

We haven’t decided which software package we’re going to use. The management team is still deciding.

Note the use of the perfectly good English words “decided” and “deciding.” Everybody understands those common English words, whereas only managers see the point in creating new words for the same concept. I wonder what made them decide to invent “decisioning?”

To be fair, “decisionedis a real English word. Unfortunately for the managers, it has a very specific meaning. It’s used only in relation to the sport of boxing, where it means the awarding of a fight to a boxer on the basis of points instead of a knockout.  Knowing this, management conference calls about project statuses are often unintentionally hilarious.  I never knew that management was so pugilistic!


GM Deserves to Fail

On January 12, 2009, in Doing It Wrong, by Rob Levandowski

For a decade now, I’ve been a Saab owner. When I got my first Saab, a leased 1999 9-5 sedan, GM had a large stake in Saab, but the Swedes were still calling the shots.  My 9-5 had a lot of GM parts, but it was still a Saab.

I fell in love with that car.

When I next had the opportunity to choose a car, I bought a used 2000 9-5 wagon.  The 2000 model year was produced before GM finished buying out Saab, but by the time I bought this car in 2004, the buyout was complete.

Although I still love many things about my Saab, it hasn’t exactly been reliable.

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In 2003, I wrote the following blog entry:

I’ve recently inherited a house. The air conditioner, a jumbo window model from Carrier, is operable, but the mode selector knob is broken. Although it can still be used with judicious use of a pair of pliers, I wanted to get a replacement knob.

It turns out that Carrier understands a key tenet in customer service: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Even though this air conditioner was made over a decade ago, it won’t be a problem for me to get the knob. In fact, Carrier will send one to me at no charge. They make replacement knobs for all their room air conditioners available for free, just for the asking. Their web site offers instructions for requesting new knobs online.

This is how you make customers happy. A small, inexpensive part that would be hard for service centers to stock, creating a logistics nightmare… is instead centralized and turned into something that makes customers feel “taken care of.” This kind of small gesture is what leads to repeat customers.

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This blog entry was originally published on November 10, 2002.

Some people have written to me suggesting that my experience with CompUSA was due to me being unreasonable. I recently received an email that suggests differently… from someone who works at CompUSA.

Read on to find out what “X” thought about my article…

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This blog entry was originally published on November 9, 2002.

While The Art of Turboing is all about how to complain with extreme prejudice, sometimes the same technique is useful when you have compliments or constructive criticism. Sometimes, it’s even profitable.

Read on to find out what happened when I shared some thoughts with the CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club.

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New Year, New Blog

On January 11, 2009, in Administrative, by Rob Levandowski

Several years ago, I had a blog on this website.  Unfortunately, I neglected it, and the spammers took it over.  As a result, my webhosting provider asked me to take it down—I just didn’t have the time to keep it up to date.

I find that I miss having the soapbox for my rants…

So, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2009: Bring back the blog!  Things have come a long way in the blogging world since the last time I tried this.  Things are a lot more “spam resistant” than they used to be.

I’ll be re-posting some classic posts, and I’ll be adding new updates.