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Instagram Can Now Use Your Photos in Ads

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5969237/remains-of-the-day-instagram-can-now-use-your-photos-in-ads

Remains of the Day: Instagram Can Now Use Your Photos in AdsInstagram changes its terms of service, Facebook wants a piece of the SnapChat pie, and Rhapsody launches an iPad app.

  • Privacy and Terms of Service Changes on Instagram Effective January 16, 2013, Instagram is updating its Privacy and Terms of Service documents. The new policies, which can be read on their blog, addresses sharing user information as a part of Facebook and new spam/abuse policies. The biggest change, found in the ‘Rights’ section of the new Terms of Service, gives Instagram the right to use your photos and profile information in ads without compensation. [Instagram Blog]
  • Facebook to Launch Its Own Snapchat Competitor App Facebook is prepping to launch a service that will go head-to-head with Snapchat, a popular app that lets users send photos and short videos to one another—which are then automatically deleted after a brief increment of time. Facebook’s as-yet unnamed application will be, much like its Messenger and Camera apps, entirely self-contained and separate from the main Facebook app. Look for its release before the year’s end. [AllThingsD]
  • New Rhapsody for iPad and iPad Mini: the Fastest, Most Visually-Stunning Rhapsody Experience Yet Premium music streaming service Rhapsody has released a new iPad app. Built for the ground up for the tablet with a visual-heavy interface, the Rhapsody app comes with a free 30-day trial for those looking to give it a shot. [Rhapsody Blog]

Photo by photastic (Shutterstock), a2bb5s (Shutterstock), and Feng Yu (Shutterstock).

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Monday, December 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Newspaper Uses Photoshop to Make Syria Look Worse

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5929952/newspaper-uses-photoshop-to-make-syria-even-worse-somehow

Newspaper Uses Photoshop To Make Syria Look Even Worse SomehowThe Kronen Zeitung is Austria’s largest newspaper, with a daily readership of around three million people. Yesterday, those readers were treated to the image on the left of war-torn Aleppo, bombed out and desperate. Except, as one sharp-eyed Redditor points out, that wasn’t the scene at all. It was just another Photoshop job.

Just to be clear, the family in the photograph is, in fact, in Syria; the original photo (on the right) came from the European Pressphoto Agency. But merely fleeing a city ravaged by guns and mortars apparently isn’t quite dramatic enough on its own. The editors of the Krone—as it’s commonly called—needed this baby to sing.

Using Photoshop to make actresses and models look unrealistically attractive is bad enough. Using it to make a part of the world that has enough problems as it is look even more apocalyptic? That’s just disgraceful. [Facebook via Reddit]

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Sunday, July 29th, 2012 digital No Comments

The Entire Advertising Industry Is Shifting To This Strategy

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/native-ads-2012-7

twitter promoted tweets ads

Native monetization is a fast growing form of digital advertising that is changing the complexion of the advertising industry in New York.

Native advertising refers to ad strategies ad strategies that allow brands to promote their content into the endemic experience of a site in a non-interruptive, integrated way.

From Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, to Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, to YouTube’s TrueView Video Ads, the major social platforms have doubled down on native ad formats.

Dozens of traditional and upstart publishers, such as Forbes, The Awl, Thought Catalog, and The Huffington Post are following suit. The growth of this form of advertising has affected all corners of the advertising ecosystem in New York ranging from creative and media agencies, to publishers, to startups and investors.

Native ads are attractive to brands because they allow their content to become part of the fabric of a website or app. For example, the main use of Twitter is to read and create Tweets, so to create an advertising experience that is native to the experience of their platform they built “Promoted Tweets.” This allows brands to be part of the main use case of the site, rather force brands to put their ads in easily ignored display ads sitting to the right of their Tweet stream or interruptive mediums like interstitials and video pre-roll ads that force a user to see them before being able to use the site.

 Native ads are fundamentally different from traditional online marketing mediums like display and pre-roll, as they are driven more by original brand content instead of traditional commercials, and by voluntary engagement and sharing instead of interruption.

As a result of the industry-wide shift to native monetization, creative and media agencies are creating new departments and roles to help brands create, distribute, and measure native content; New York publishers are rolling out their own native ad models; brands are aggressively experimenting with native ad campaigns; and investors are backing startups built on the native advertising vision.

Here are a few ways different NYC industries are being transformed by native advertising:

1)    Creative Agencies –Because native ad formats do away with many of the limitations of earlier ad formats – such as time constraints for pre-roll video ads, and size or content constraints on display and banner ads – creative agencies have been freed up to produce a vast new array of brand content. New York creative agencies like Mother, SS+K, TBWA, and Droga5, are continually producing creative that transcends the traditional commercial spot that people are forced to watch to standalone content that people actively choose to experience and share.

2)    Media Agencies – Native ad budgets won’t grow unless media agencies can measure their impact on brand reach, loyalty, and conversion. Facebook Likes, Re-Tweets and YouTube Views already pose a challenge for traditional media ROI analysis, and as new platforms emerge with native ad products, such as Twitter and Spotify, media agencies will have to further expand their research and analysis teams. To get ahead of this new morass of media complexity, many media agencies are re-structuring their organizations around social media and are deploying new tools and metrics to bring transparent buying and measurability to native advertising. Digitally-focused media agencies like Horizon, Razorfish and MEC, which recently announced a new proprietary tool called Crossmedia to improve their measurement capabilities across multi-media campaigns, are examples of agencies that are moving aggressively to evolve their organizations to be able to harness the complexity of social media measurement and maximize the opportunity of native ads.

3)    Venture Capitalists – As Microsoft’s recent multi-billion dollar writedown of aQuantive suggests, there are serious concerns about the future of traditional display advertising and investors are in turn going to take a hard look at any future investments that rely on display ad revenue. Conversely, investors like Fred Wilson, Partner at New York’s Union Square Ventures and one of the earliest proponents of native monetization, are invested in native ad platforms like Twitter and Foursquare.

      4) Startups – The New York startup scene is white hot. Native advertising is one of the biggest drivers of this growth, leading to huge acquisitions like Buddy Media, a social enterprise software company recently acquired by Salesforce for $689 million, and promising new companies like Percolate, a content marketing platform focused squarely on helping brands create content for the social web. Startups based in New York have a unique opportunity to work right around the corner from the heart of the advertising industry at a time when brands and agencies are hungry for new tools and ideas to help them maximize the opportunity with native ads. Both advertisers and publishers are looking for new partners to create new scalable advertising experiences that will make a genuine impact for their brands and bottom line, so expect to see more native ad-focused startups emerge in the next year.

5)    Publishers – Social content publishers are re-thinking the design of their sites and monetization models to be more native to their content experience. Hugely popular New York-based social publishers like The Cheezburger Network, Thought Catalog, The Awl, and Gawker have all been very active in experimenting with new forms of native ad formats.  To execute this evolution requires new site designers, editorial teams that can innovate and re-define the sponsored post model, and sales teams trained in selling native placement. As these companies continue to grow their audiences, innovate on the native ad model and come up with native ad solutions that can scale, much larger traditional media companies like Hearst, Time and Conde Nast are likely to take notice and explore native ad formats across their portfolio sites.

Dan Greenberg is the founder & CEO of Sharethrough, the native video advertising company. Dan has been honored as an AdAge “Media Maven” and was recently named to the Forbes “30 under 30″ list. You can find him on Twitter at @dgreenberg. 

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Monday, July 16th, 2012 news No Comments

The Third Screen

In digital marketing, the third screen is often seen as the “holy grail” since it is a device that most users have with them 24/7. However, that doesn’t mean advertisers have the right to “spam” people at all hours with messages, no matter how targeted.

 

Slideshare on The Third Screen

http://www.slideshare.net/augustinefou/three-screens-the-third-screen-in-marketing

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Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 digital, marketing No Comments

A Truly Embarrassing Chart For Wall Street Stock Analysts

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/this-chart-shows-why-wall-street-stock-ratings-are-a-joke-2012-2


Only five percent of ratings on companies in the S&P 500 are sell ratings.

That’s right: 95 percent of ratings tell investors to hold or buy and only 5 percent say you should sell.

The following chart comes from FactSet via Cullen Roche:

chart

Henry Blodget recently offered a few reasons why you rarely see sell ratings:

  • Most stocks–especially growth stocks–generally trend up over the long haul, so saying SELL often means betting against the odds and/or making a short-term timing call.
  • Stocks with excellent fundamentals don’t often go down just because they’re “expensive”–instead, they just get more expensive. So saying “SELL” based solely on valuation often sets the analyst up to be wrong.
  • The lack of SELL ratings makes SELL ratings sound like a complete condemnation of the company, to the point where it seems the analyst has a vendetta against it. The more polite way to tell people to sell, most folks on Wall Street whisper, is to say “hold”–or just ignore the stock altogether.
  • The issuance of a SELL rating often drives a stock down, hurting investors who own it. These investors will not usually say “thank you.” Instead, they’ll want your head.
  • Most investors are long-only, meaning they can only buy stocks, not short them. Thus, “SELL” ratings are only useful to hedge funds and investors who already own stocks.
  • Most companies refuse to talk to analysts who hit them with SELL ratings, thus reducing the analyst’s ability to gather information about the company.

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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5884415/travelling-in-modern-china-requires-serious-secret-agent-skills

Travelling in Modern Day China Requires Cold War Era Secret Agent SkillsIf Kenneth G. Lieberthal were anything but a China expert at the Brookings institution, his travelling-in-China security procedures would read like the product of a paranoid mind that watched too many spy movies as a kid:

He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, “the Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop.”

Talk about overkill, right? Well he’s not alone. The Times reports that these seemingly paranoid precautions are par for the course for just about anyone with valuable information including government officials, researchers, and even normal businessmen who do business in China.

But what about the rest of us? I may not have any valuable state secrets or research that needs protecting but that doesn’t mean I want the Chinese government snooping on my internetting when I visit my grandparents (especially when the consequences can be so severe). In the past, I’ve relied on a combination of VPNs, TOR, and password-protecting everything I can, but now it sounds like even that isn’t enough. Or maybe it’s totally overkill given my general unimportance in the grand scheme of things. Dear readers, I ask you, how much security is enough when it comes to the average person on vacation? [NY Times]

Image credit: Shutterstock/Rynio Productions

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Sunday, February 12th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

The Most Overpaid CEOs In America (OXY)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/obermatt-overpaid-underpaid-ceos-america-2012-2


oil occidental irani

Executive compensation is one of the most ironic hotly-debated topics out there.  It’s hotly debated because people often complain that CEOs are overpaid.  It’s ironic because most of the people who complain about excessive pay have the capacity to do something, yet they do nothing.

You see, every year shareholders of a company are mailed a Form DEF 14A, also known as the proxy statement. In the proxy are the details of the company’s executive compensation plans, and they are typically written plain English.  If shareholders don’t like the plan, they vote it down.

But many shareholders will receive the proxy in the mail and throw it right into the trash. And by default, they vote in favor of whatever plan is recommended by the Board.

Anyways, research firm Obermatt (via The Economist) computed the excess pay of CEOs of the S&P 100 companies.  Excess pay is calculated as deserved pay less actual pay.  Deserved pay is measured considering earnings growth and shareholder return and the compensation practices of peer group companies.

On the top of the “Most Overpaid” list is Occidental Petroleum’s Ray Irani. Irani is widely considered the poster child of excessive pay.

On the bottom are fan favorites Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.

Here’s a chart of Obermatt’s rankings courtesy of The Economist:

chart

SEE ALSO: These CEOs Were Paid $100+ Million To Quit >

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Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5882209/five-best-ways-to-stream-live-tv

Five Best Ways to Stream Live TV Whether you’re looking for a way to catch the big game this weekend when you’re away from your living room, or you just like to catch live television when you’re trapped somewhere without either cable or a television, you have plenty of options to help you catch a broadcast on your mobile phone or your computer. Here’s a look at five of the best ways to tune in when you’re on the go.

Earlier in the week we asked how you tune into live television that you’re subscribed to on your mobile device or when you’re not in front of the big screen. You responded, and now we’re back to take a look at the top five, based on your nominations.

Photo by IK’s World Trip.

Five Best Ways to Stream Live TV

Orb/Orb Live

When you need to stream audio or video around the house, to your mobile device, or across the globe when you’re away from home, Orb can certainly deliver. We mentioned Orb several times, and it’s still a great way to stream your media from your computer to other devices in your home, or, if you’re willing to pay for an Orb appliance to connect to your cable box or HTPC, stream live TV or recorded TV to any other device on or off of your home network. Orb supports video up to 720p, and gives you the flexibility to watch live sports, prime time TV shows, or anything else that’s currently airing in your living room on your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop over Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G when you can’t be in the living room to enjoy it. Pricing varies depending on whether you need hardware (between $79-$99 for the set-top box) to connect to your TV and home network, or you already have a TV tuner in your HTPC (the Orb Live and Orb Caster software are both free, but the mobile apps are $9.99.)


Five Best Ways to Stream Live TV

Slingbox

Where other live TV streaming solutions offer complexity, Slingbox offers elegant simplicity. The Slingbox from Sling Media is a set-top box that connects to your TV and your cable or satellite receiver that makes it easy for you to effectively log in to your TV at home and watch live TV on your computer or mobile device as though you were sitting in front of your TV. You can change channels, browse TV listings, and even set your home DVR to record TV that you won’t make it home in time to watch. The Slingbox comes in two flavors, the Slingbox Solo and the Slingbox Pro-HD (which predictably supports HD and additional devices connected to it) and will set you back $179.99 to $299.99 (not including extended support options). You’ll also need to drop $29.99 for the SlingPlayer app to control your Slingbox from your smartphone or tablet, but the price buys you one of the most feature-rich and hassle-free live TV streaming solutions on the market.


Five Best Ways to Stream Live TV

EyeTV

Elgato’s EyeTV line of TV tuners and live TV software were, for a long time, the only option for Mac users who were looking for an easy way to use their Macs as TV tuners or HTPCs. They’re not the only options anymore, but they’re certainly one of the best, and if you plug a TV source in to an EyeTV and then the EyeTV into your Mac via USB, you want watch live TV right there on your computer screen. Combine an EyeTV tuner or DVR with the EyeTV app on your mobile device, and you can stream live or pre-recorded TV on your mobile device when you’re out of the house. The EyeTV app will set you back $4.99 in the iTunes App Store for any iOS device, and the tuners vary in price from $99 to $199 depending on whether you need a DTV tuner, a DTV and HD tuner, a tuner with a DVR inside, or a Wi-Fi enabled tuner that can wirelessly stream TV to other devices in your home.


Five Best Ways to Stream Live TV

Vulkano Flow Box

The Vulkano Flow may not be one of the most well known set-top tuners on the market, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful. For $99.99, the Vulkano Flow is an easy to install and set up device that connects to your cable or satellite tuner, supports HD video, and your home network to allow you to wirelessly watch live TV on your iOS or Android device on your home network or when you’re away via 3G or 4G. You get complete control over your home TV, so you can switch channels, browse a built-in programming guide (that you don’t have to pay extra to view), and even connect to other video inputs like a DVR or HTPC and control that as well. Vulkano offers desktop players for Mac OS and Windows (Free), and mobile players for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry ($12.99.)


Five Best Ways to Stream Live TV

Hauppage WinTV

Hauppage is an old name in TV tuners, and the company is still going strong by offering a range of products to HTPC enthusiasts who want to build their own devices to stream, save, and watch live and recorded television and to people who would rather buy a set-top box to handle the streaming for them. Those of you who nominated the WinTV mentioned that you can easily install a WinTV tuner in your HTPC and download the WinTV application on your HTPC and iOS or Android device to stream TV from your HTPC to your device. Pricing varies depending on which tuner you’d like, whether you want HD video, and whether you want an internal or USB tuner to install at all or you’d just prefer a set-top box like the Hauppage Broadway ($199), but the WinTV Extend app you’ll need to stream from your Tuner will set you back $9.95, and the mobile apps are free (although they only support Wi-Fi.)


Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all out vote for the winner.

What’s The Best Method to Stream Live TV?

Honorable mentions this week go out to streaming TV sites like Justin.tv, which many of you said you use to stream your own TV shows to the web so you can catch them when you’re away from home, and to The NFL’s website, which many of you noted is indeed streaming the big game on their own. Finally, since we mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security had shut down FirstRowSports‘ primary domain, many of you made note of the fact that the site is still up and running on a different URL.

Have a favorite method that didn’t get the nominations needed to make the top five? Want to make a case for it, or for your favorite of the nominees above? Sound off in the comments below.

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Sunday, February 5th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5882027/sharing-with-friends-of-friends-on-facebook-exposes-you-to-150000-people

Sharing with "Friends of Friends" on Facebook Exposes You to 150,000 PeopleWell this is mildly terrifying: according to a new Pew study, the Facebook privacy mode a lot of us rely on for photos and status updates is, on average, anything but private. Time to reconsider your settings, everyone.

The finding is staggering—Friends of Friends can hit as many as over seven million people:

Facebook users can reach an average of more than 150,000 Facebook users through their Facebook friends; the median user can reach about 31,000 others. At two degrees of separation (friends-of-friends), Facebook users in our sample can on average reach 156,569 other Facebook users. However, the relatively small number of users with very large friends lists, who also tended to have lists that are less interconnected, overstates the reach of the typical Facebook user. In our sample, the maximum reach was 7,821,772 other Facebook users. The median user (the middle user from our sample) can reach 31,170 people through their friends-of-friends.

When you think friend of a friend, the IRL analogue comes to mind. Your buddy’s buddy. That guy you met at a bar who seems okay. Your girlfriend’s pals from college. They must be okay people, right? They’re so narrowly removed from you, why not share all your photos with them?

Because 150,000+ people includes a hell of a lot of strangers you probably shouldn’t trust, and certainly don’t (and will never) know personally. You can read the study in its entirety below. [Pew]

PIP Facebook Users 2.3.12

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Friday, February 3rd, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

My Horrific Experiences With Sony Customer Support

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/my-horrific-experiences-with-sony-customer-support-2012-2


Sony laptopI have a Sony laptop computer. It is less than a year old. It was not cheap. I bought the best components, memory and hardware components options available including 3-year in home support.

A couple of months ago the monitor developed a problem (a line of dead pixels down the entire length of the screen). I knew it was a hardware failure because I run a dual monitor setup and the line did not appear on the second screen.

I ignored that problem because it was relatively minor. However a hard drive failure cannot be ignored. 

Unfortunately I experienced a hard drive failure at the beginning of January and was dead in the water. I could not boot.

Please follow this chain of events (Mac users, please try not to laugh too loudly).

My Sony Support Experience

  1. I called Sony support and told them of my problems. They told me my computer was out of warranty even though it was less than a year old and under standard warranty. I told them I had a 3 year warranty. They told me I they had no record of it but gave me another Sony phone number to call to verify my warranty.
  2. I suggested that rather than me hang up and dial Sony, that Sony should dial Sony and verify my service contract. The technical rep said that was not possible.
  3. I called the service number at Sony the tech rep gave me and that service rep verified my date of purchase as less than a year old. The service rep also gave me my 3-year in-home service contract number.
  4. I called back Sony technical support and gave them my service contract number. The technical rep said they could not find that service contact and would not help me. The tech rep told me to call back the service rep and get the right number.
  5. I called back up the service rep, and I did indeed have the right number. The service rep agreed to call the tech rep and stay on the line to verify the number. Apparently service can call technicians but not vice-versa. Some of these calls took 20 minutes.
  6. The service rep informed the technical rep of my purchase date of the service contract (less than a year old), and that it was for 3-years. At that point the tech rep agreed to help me. The service rep hung up.
  7. The tech rep then took my serial number and other information but said before he could schedule a service call he needed a copy of my receipt. I did not have a copy of my receipt. Given the Sony service rep verified my purchase date and 3 year service contract I failed to understand why I need a written receipt. As you might expect I was quite upset and talking rather loudly at this point.
  8. The service rep said he needed to know whether the computer was to be repaired under the service contract or the 1-year standard warranty. As you might imagine I did not see why any of this mattered as my date of purchase was confirmed by Sony as was my 3-year warranty.
  9. Well this mattered to the technician who demanded a receipt. The technician gave me a Sony website in which I could look up my order and get a receipt. I said “If I can go to a website on Sony and look up my order, why can’t you?”
  10. As you can probably guess from what has transpired so far, the tech rep could not do that. It was now late in the day and I had company over and a backup PC was working but without a lot of programs I frequently use and need. I waited overnight to get the receipt.
  11. The next day I attempted to get a receipt but the website URL the tech rep gave me was invalid. 
  12. Once again I called the service contract rep and that person gave me the right address. I said why don’t you look up my purchase day and get it to the tech but this time the service rep was uncooperative.
  13. I go to the Sony website and find my order. I print out my order and fax it to the tech rep. I call the tech rep number and the tech informs me he has scheduled a service call and someone would call me shortly to arrange a time within three days.
  14. I was suspicious of that claim, so the next day I called up the service rep who indeed verified the tech rep did not schedule a service call. 
  15. The service rep put in the order noting they had received my fax and that everything was in order.
  16. I was told I would get a call within 3 days. I was actually shocked to get a call the next day but the pleasant surprise quickly ended on news they had to order parts and I would get a another call within 3 days when the parts would be ready.
  17. Two days later the parts arrive and I get a call and schedule a time.
  18. The rep brings out another monitor and another hard drive. 
  19. The monitor is bad. It has a line of dead pixels in a different spot. 
  20. The tech rep installs the hard drive and leaves me with a set of install disks.
  21. One might think that the on-site technician might actually load the disks they delivered but one would be wrong. These guys are 100% without a doubt strictly hardware only. They do not load disks. Even ones they hand deliver.
  22. It is late in the evening and once again I had company. The next day I run the setup disks and get an I-O error. I cannot tell what is wrong. 
  23. I call Sony and they suspect another hard drive problem and tell me someone will call me within three days to schedule an appointment.
  24. I am screaming at the top of my lungs at this point as I have had it. The rep agrees to do nothing but schedule another call. I ask for his supervisor and an transferred to a “national customer relations specialist” NCRS.
  25. I ask the NCRS to send me a new computer. He tells me that the computer I have is no longer available. That was a direct lie because in advance (in expectation of lies) I had gone on the Sony website and could order the exact computer I already had. 
  26. I informed the NCRS that the computer was still orderable and he said he did not have the authority to do what I asked. If a national customer relations person does not have that authority, one has to wonder “Do they have ANY authority?”
  27. I asked to be transferred to his superior and was put on hold. His superior (and the NCRS refused to tell me the title of that person) would not take my call but whoever that person was did tell the NCRS that if the next delivery did not work they would pro-rate a refund.
  28. I demanded to talk to the NCRS superior but the NCRS would not comply.
  29. At that point I had had enough. I had been without my computer for 11 days and had loaded trial versions of software I use on another computer to get by, but I was still running in limited mode in a number of ways.
  30. I do an online search for computer repair for my city at 4:30 PM. The first two places did not answer the phone or had a messages they were closed. The owner of a third local repair shop in Barrington Illinois did answer the phone. He was open until 7:00PM and Barrington is only a half hour away.
  31. He agreed to look at my computer. I brought in my computer, the install DVDs Sony gave me, and an external hard drive backup I had of my computer.  He took one look at the install disks and said “this one is bad” (it had a discolored spot on the DVD). He changed the bios on my machine to boot to an external DVD drive and fortunately the external drive was able to read the install disks. It was now going on 8:00PM and the owner had stayed an hour past closing to help me but the configuration was only 70% done.
  32. The owner had to go but the next day when I called in, he had reset my drive to the original Sony state, removed all the Sony bloatware including Norton. He loaded all my personal files from an external hard drive I brought in. Above and beyond the call of duty, he found every ICON on my computer and went out and loaded trial versions of every software program I had.
  33. Now that is service. I had my Microsoft Office Key as well as keys to the other programs I use.  I had no idea how to configure my POP account at SBC on to my Microsoft Exchange account but he did that off the top of his head. By accident, I found someone (a business owner) who not only understands computers but someone who also understands the value of a customer.
  34. Five days later (two over the weekend) Sony did come by and replace my monitor. It might have been done sooner but I was out of town on Friday.

Moral of the Story

  • Have file backups. I did.
  • Don’t count on Sony
  • I have had bad experiences with Dell as well so don’t count on Dell or any other mass producer either.
  • Instead find a local computer shop that understands computers and the value of a customer.
If you live in NW Illinois, the place I found that helped me isBarringtonComputer. The owner is Richard Zatek.

By the way, I left out one interesting detail.

Barrington Computer has the ability to access a computer remotely. Zatek gave me a way to see what was happening remotely to my computer. When I checked on it at midnight (from my backup machine  at home), Zatek was also dialed into my computer and we exchanged messages right on my computer remotely using notepad, at midnight. We could see what each other was typing. That is pretty cool as well as exceptional service.

One good thing came out of this. I am pleased to have found someone who knows computers and also understands the value of a customer. Sony sure doesn’t.

 
Addendum
 
I received many emails regarding this post. Here is one from attorney “BR” who says …

Dear Mish,

I’m a big fan of your site and it is pretty much required reading for me most days. I read your account of your travails with “Big Corporate Customer service” with great empathy. I encountered a very similar experience two years ago getting a burner part replaced on my natural gas hot water heater. It took six weeks, 7 separate “house calls,” at least 15 different phone calls, and nearly being divorced before the problem was rectified. And it was a parts problem for which the company had issued a “recall,” so it wasn’t a unique or unexpected problem.

I’ve become convinced that this type of customer “service” is viewed as being a “feature” and not a “bug.” And it crosses all lines of products and services, but especially those covered by “warranties.” They are actively discouraging you from insisting on your right to the free repairs and other services for which you have already paid when you purchased your warranty. In my judgment it represents a calculated effort by corporate types to maximize the profits they obtain under extended warranty agreements. It really is a form of fraud.

Lesson learned is that while P.C. stands for piece of crap, warranties are worth even less.

Very truly yours,

BR

Addendum Two
 
I received many comments about the poor quality of consumer products. I failed to mention a possible remedy.
 
I asked the store owner if he custom built computers and he said it would not be cost-effective. After all, he still would be using components straight from China.
 
Instead he said, never buy a computer from a normal retail store or through the “consumer division” of a PC maker. Sony only has a a consumer divi! sion. HP and Dell have business divisions.
 
Unfortunately, that may not mean support will be much better, but rather the components will likely be of a higher quality. Large businesses might buy hundreds of computers or more at once. To get repeat business, the computers need to be more durable and have no built-in bloatware (trial software and other garbage).

Addendum Three
 
I received many emails like this from Mac users but here is one from a person at VMC Consulting Corporation with a email address at Microsoft.

Reading your recent “Horrific Experiences” post, I just want to make a friendly suggestion.

Next time you want the best Windows machine money can buy, get a Mac.

No kidding.

The Mac is the best Windows machine you can buy, and the support is fantastic. I don’t know where you live, but if it’s a major city, I bet there’s an Apple store nearby.

You can either use “Boot Camp” and run entirely in Windows, or you can be booted into the Mac OSX, and run Windows inside of Parallels, which is a fantastic Virtualization program.

Cheers,

David


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Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 news No Comments

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