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  1. mtn
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    #21  
    Hurray superfreak!
  2. #22  
    Reganc - the reason that I disparaged jimmyg's post is that he is a staff member of VisorCentral and I feel that his post was inappropriate as a staff member, representing VisorCentral. Their job should be as a voice of reason in the middle of the mob. He is certainly entitled to his opinion as a member and perhaps should post as a member when he is expressing such a strong opinion.

    Superfreak - great post - I could not have said it better.

    For the rest of you complainers - I bet you throw a tantrum when mommy brings you your milk and it isn't warm enough.
  3. #23  
    I was the one who suggested to VisorCentral that they move the shipping-related issues to a new forum. I was happy to see them take action on the idea immediately. Now the General Visor forum has a better vibe as a result. Kudos to VC.

    There's not much point in telling people to be patient. They're upset by Handspring's service (outsourced or otherwise), and not without some justification. Some people are upset and they need to vent, and that's entirely healthy. Besides, HS shouldn't take the loyalty of Visor enthusiasts for granted, so we should have a place to see the negative feedback as they've engendered, even if some of it is petty.

    So I would encourage people to rant and rave all the want about HS's customer service, now that there's an appropriate place for it. Keep those flames coming!
  4. #24  
    reganc:
    You're right. It's not the numbers that matter. It's the fact that the VAST majority of the complaint posts (on this board, I'm not actively reading any others at this point) are coming from a disproportionately SMALL group of people with far too much time on their hands and far too little patience.

    stadd:
    Re-read my post and note that I DIDN'T say that only 10 people have complained. I said that those (approx.) 10 people have done VASTLY more complaining than the other folks.

    Winkle:
    Fair enough question. I began to notice that a few people were posting the same basic complaint in several topics several times over the course of a few days, & started hopping around picking random topics & taking note of what people showed up more than 2 or 3 times on two or more days. While I admit there is the possibility that I've missed a good number of complaints, I did my best to sample threads randomly throughout the General Discussion area in an effort to keep the sampling statistically sound.

    diogenes:
    I'm not talking from a 'temple of Handspring' or using a 'rose colored screen filter' & I'm one of the people still waiting for his Visor. However, having recently worked in an understaffed retail environment (they canned people because we weren't making enough money because customers were leaving pissed-off because there weren't enough of us there to cover them all in a reasonable time), and currently working in a software-development environment, I understand the situation Handspring is in all too well.

    Here's the short of what happened at Handspring (near as I can figure):
    They announce a really cool product at a really affordable price. They take pre-orders to get a feel for what normal sales will be like.
    Unfortunately, the pre-order demand blows away their worst-case estimates by a factor of 5 or more.
    At this point they're scrambling to get the web store up and running ahead of schedule to try to reduce the stress on their small number of rental CSRs.
    Their web server, which was doing an admirable job of keeping up with the demand before the web store was launched, begins to collapse under the increased load of more larger pages, CGI-scripts and database access.
    The server fails, probably in the middle of a massive write to the database, corrupting a small (but significant) set of order information.
    The call center is now inundated not only by order calls, but also by people asking what happened to the web store.
    The CSRs, half a country away from Handspring HQ, and actually employed by a different company don't have the slightest idea what happened, and either make up a story to try to aleviate the paniced caller, or admit that they don't know.
    People start posting horror-stories of call center discussions to the various discussion boards (ie: the 'all the September orders are gone' and 'they're only shipping 150 a day' rumors).
    Nervous people panic and flood the call centers with even more calls.
    Handspring sees the panic forming & attempts to get ahead of it by trippling it's call center staff & retraining the whole lot, while paying a dozen or so software engineers 120 hour weeks while they try to get the web store back up and running on a platform that can handle the immense load.
    The new phone line count is more than the local phone company's switches can handle for that area, and calls start getting dropped.
    People post about the dropped calls, which results in even more people panicing about what the situation with their order is, so they call to re-re-re-re-re-re-reconfirm their order.
    Somewhere in there Oct. 1 happens, & people started complaining that their visor STILL hadn't reached them yet (though the deadline to START shipping was Oct 15.), and the colored visors (much more popular relative the the graphite, than expected) go on backorder resulting in the 'I ordered express on the 16th and still don't have a visor, but this guy who ordered on the 27th without express has his' posts, which completely ignore the fact that that other guy ordered a graphite where the first guy ordered a blue.

    The situation on Handspring's end is analogous to studying for your SAT/ACT only to find out on test day that you're really taking the Bar Exam, or being picked to clean up 'some old church' and finding out that they want you to renovate the Cisteen(sp?) Chapel.

    In short; realize that Handspring is most likely doing everything in their power to fix any and all problems which have happened, and limit yourselves to one call every 3 days.

    On a side note, for anybody who has complained about I've gotten authorizations on my card, but when I called they said I'm on the 'problem list', here's how the whole process works. Your order is taken, the authorization charge is done with your name and card number. The authorization comes back ok, so they send your order off to the fulfillment center. The fulfillment center trys to actually bill you with billing address, shipping address, name, card number, expiration date, etc. The card company rejects the charge on the grounds that your billing address had 'av' instead of 'Ave', but only tells the fulfilment center that the charge has been rejected. The FC sends the 'problem orders' back to HS who has to try to figure out what the problem was & have the call center (already critically overloaded) try to get in touch with the customers in question. It's a bit like pulling teeth from a T-Rex without pain-killers.

    All that's the long version of how come I'm so calm about the mess that's happened. Remember, I don't have my order yet, either. I just understand what's going on at Handspring's end all too well.
  5. #25  
    Theo:

    Well-put. I am getting my Visor tomorrow (actually today) so my concern is generally how this company will handle tech support and future customer problems.

    As far as the problem from 9/14 to present, I won't dispute your rundown of it, whether or not it's accurate (it sounds pretty plausible to me). I doubt any of the more vehement complaints are suggesting that Handspring had anything but the best intentions. I further doubt that many people believe these problems will not get solved (ie the overbilling, their eventual Visor deliveries, etc.). The main problem is that whether or not your version is accurate, people are angry and/or disappointed with Handspring's poor planning. Is the whole situation unfortunate? Of course. Is it acceptable? Well, that's the question.

    I don't advocate "legal action," and I don't want to see the company fail. The product is excellent, and offered at a terrific price. However, the customer relations they implemented are beyond poor, and again, based on your possible synopsis of what went wrong, it seems to me that they made a few serious blunders in solving the problem. Had they simply stopped taking orders for a few days while they fixed the problem and had a phone message saying that they are experiencing technical difficulties and will resume order resolution and acceptance on day X, then a lot of the venom running rampant herein would have been cancelled. The point is that they continued accepting orders after they knew they had a serious problem (I'm assuming they knew this), and by doing so, it sends the message, whether implied or otherwise, and whether fair or not, that they don't care much about their (most excited, eager) customers.

    Despite the message from DD, which was a decent move, the order problems increased. Then, when they implemented the pay-for-play service line and continued accepting orders, the message was reinforced. Then, as people began receiving their Visors (graphite or otherwise), the message was again reinforced.

    Keep in mind that I am responding to this entire situation with an even hand and a) want to see the company succeed, and b) am bummed that I don't have my Visor but am not "angry," and c) understand other people being pissed that they are Visor-less but have had their cards dinged for authorizations, double-charges and no accurate order information. If I ordered something from an online source, ie Amazon.com or the like, that was this poorly organized, I would not be happy. I have had experiences like this with Shop4.com, CDNow.com and Buy.com, and the first experience with each was my last. Unfortunately, this is not an ongoing vendor/sales issue, this is a one-time thing which Handspring should have gotten right. Coupled with excitement for the product and eagerness to get one of the Next Big Thing, people have had this excitement dumped on by a company, whether by omission or comission, and again, I don't fault them for being less-than-thrilled.

    In short, there are plausible reasons for the problem, and the best solution is to stay calm and wait it out. But I am fully sympathetic to people who are angry, though I don't share their anger. Perhaps once they get the product they will remain Visor owners, perhaps not. But either way, we should all keep in mind that people have the right to express their displeasure in whatever way they feel appropriate, and not suggest they shouldn't be angry, but let it subside.

    I was pretty angry a week or so ago, simply b/c I was tired of waiting on hold. It's irritating, boring and anger-inspiring. However, I decided that I would give it a certain number of days before a) I get my Visor, b) the problem is fully cured, and c) I am satisfied tech support can handle the customer base. If Handspring misses any of these deadlines, I'll go elsewhere. Instead of getting angry/ier, I made a conscious decision as to what I could do to resolve the situation I was in, and so far I'm mid-stream. However it gets solved, it gets solved.

    Bottom line, if people are angry, let them vent and share information so that they can resolve the situation how they best feel it can be solved. By tsk tsk-ing (not suggesting you or anyone else is, btw), it only aggravates people more, and feeds on itself. And that's no more productive than waiting on hold for an hour or guessing at UPS tracking numbers. At least that's how I see it...
  6. #26  
    Theo,

    You wrote:
    "At this point they're scrambling to get the web store up and running ahead of schedule to try to reduce the stress on their small number of rental CSRs.
    Their web server, which was doing an admirable job of keeping up with the demand before the web store was launched, begins to collapse under the increased load of more larger pages, CGI-scripts and database access.
    The server fails, probably in the middle of a massive write to the database, corrupting a small (but significant) set of order information."

    TRG partnered with Yahoo for their pre-order web store; why not partner with someone who's familiar with high-volume internet traffic?


    "The call center is now inundated not only by order calls, but also by people asking what happened to the web store.
    The CSRs, half a country away from Handspring HQ, and actually employed by a different company don't have the slightest idea what happened, and either make up a story to try to aleviate the paniced caller, or admit that they don't know."

    How do you know this? There are a good number of organizations out there that can handle high-volume phone call orders? Who do infomercials use for their fulfillment centers? And what about the HSN or QVC?

    What does it matter...it's just reconfirming my order for my Palm, where I'm bummed is...there goes a neat idea for Christmas gifts. And my colleagues are switching their orders to Palm V and IIIx's because HS doesn't seem to care. I'll still carry a little optimism for the future, afterall, depending how HS handles a comeback from this fiasco, they'll be worth a reconsideration.

    Let's see if I'll be giving neat graduation gifts instead. ;-)
  7. #27  
    Theo,

    Handspring is lucky that they still have a few loyal folks like you around to take up for them. Your interpretation of what is going on may be accurate, but I doubt it. I can only speak for myself, but this is the worst customer service I have *ever* received on any type of ordered merchandise. Maybe I have been lucky in the past, but there still is no excuse for it. So far the explanations that have been given by the company and those loyal to it are about as effective as someone who has just run over my dog explaining that he did it because he was asleep at the wheel. An explanation? Yes, but still no excuse.

    So far, the "good" customer service stories I have seen are mostly "They messed up my order, but then they told me everything was ok." In the past, I have cancelled orders after having far fewer problems than I have had with my visor order, but the problem here is that to cancel something you must be able to reach someone with the authority and the ability to do so. These people have been hard and expensive to reach.

    Instead of a chapter on how not to start up a company in business textbooks, Handspring may actually be hailed as pioneers of the new marketing technique of beating customers into submission with non-existant customer service.
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