Archive for the ‘ Feedback ’ Category

An E-mail Message to Smarthome

I am very disappointed to see that you’ve significantly revised (read: increased) prices on your Insteon products. While you continue to lag in releasing much-anticipated products to the Insteon line (motion detectors, wireless controllers, etc.) and the Insteon technical specification continues to be a moving target, I find it hard to understand how you justify such significant price increases for your products. Specifically, it appears that Insteon switches have increased in price anywhere from 15 to over 100 percent!

SwitchLinc and KeypadLinc devices have leap-frogged inflation costs since Insteon’s introduction, but the real offense is with the devices from your ICON line–your supposed budget Insteon solution. Icon switches now cost as much as SwitchLinc devices cost last year. To be clear, this is more than twice their price just one year ago! How do you explain this?

Adding insult, your tenuously updated Web site continues to advertise that ICON devices are a “fraction of the price” of SwitchLinc devices. For clarity, that fraction is now a whopping 87%. Hmmm…not such a great deal any more, are they?

I really can’t imagine what you’re thinking with this new pricing strategy. While the repricing of ICON devices at SwitchLinc rates tastes quite a lot like bait-and-switch, it’s your continued claims that Insteon is an economical solution to home automation that baffles me.

I’ve invested in Insteon already for my own home, but I have a hard time recommending this solution now as compared to more flexible and comprehensive automation solutions that don’t really cost significantly more for initial adoption. Zigbee and Z-Wave technologies are closing in on SmartLabs solutions with more and more third-party support and adoption. I’d think that if you really wanted to compete with these technologies, you’d get your products to market and realize the advantages that your initial price points once gave you. Sadly, you’ve done neither.

Sincerely,

Richard
Early adopter, home automator, long-time Smarthome customer, blogger

cc: Dan Craig, CTO, Smartlabs; [this blog]

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Solicited Feedback for Best Buy

I went to my local Tenleytown Best Buy in Washington, D.C. for one thing yesterday: a Vista-compatible digital audio sound card. After selecting a Sound Blaster card, I went to the counter in the computers section to find out if the card I’d chosen would work with Vista.

The first person I asked directed me to another person named Chris, who was currently helping a customer with a seemingly complex and extensive transaction. I waited for ten minutes without even an acknowledgment from Chris that I was waiting.

Another associate was focused on helping a business customer. Even though I was clearly waiting without assistance yet and he was also waiting for access to the same computer that Chris was currently using, he made no attempt whatsoever to help me.

Disgusted, I walked away and looked for a computer with Internet access, hoping I could just find out for myself if Creative had released Vista drivers for this sound card. No luck – all of the computers I tried were locked down and could not access the Internet.

Next I went back out onto the floor, looking for someone else working in the computer section who might be able to help me out. When I found someone, I explained my situation. He suggested I check at the counter in the…; I cut him off, since I’d already tried that approach. I volunteered that I was perfectly willing to find the answer myself if he could point me toward a computer with Internet access, so he whisked me away toward a PC where he quickly found that the proxy prevented him from accessing the outside world. Interestingly, it was as if this was the first time he’d ever faced this realization.

He and I then went back to the counter in the computers section, where Chris was now nowhere to be found, and nobody was around to help us. At this point, the guy helping me tells me that he can’t provide any further assistance. Can’t! When I ask to see a department manager, he doesn’t flinch or give his conclusion of failure a second thought; he just gets on the phone and calls for “any available manager for customer assistance.”

Five more minutes pass; no available manager shows. I leave, box in hand, chip on shoulder, concluding that it would be easier to just buy the item, check for drivers when I get home, and then return the item if the necessary drivers are unavailable.

My Best Buy experience ended at a register where the POS signature unit had been broken off the counter and sat loosely atop its base. The device rocked as I attempted to provide my signature, but it didn’t really matter, because (of course) it wasn’t properly calibrated.

The only redeeming point of my entire experience was that – despite my obvious chip – the cashier pleasantly reminded me (for the first time in as many years as I’ve shopped at Best Buy) to keep my receipt available for the attendant at the door.

So here is my parting thought: At 3 in the afternoon on any given weekday, shopping at Best Buy shouldn’t suck so much.

An e-mail message to Ben Woods

I just read your article about the RIAA’s crying over CD prices. I’m not one to defend the RIAA on anything – especially their absurd argument about CD prices. CD prices were, however, MUCH higher when they were introduced. This isn’t surprising – it was entirely new technology, and the initial production costs were very high. The initial CDs typically cost about $24.95! Seriously. I bought a few when they first came out, and it was a significant investment. That said, this happens with all media. Even blank, recordable discs were astronomical when they were first available; now they cost just a few cents apiece. It would probably be interesting to consider the cost trends of vinyl and cassette “albums” over their respective lives. Or an even more telling trend—the consumer-driven drop in initial release price of DVDs. Once listed at $34.95, DVD titles are now introduced at street prices of around $15. And now we’re seeing high introductory prices again with high definition disc formats. This is basic economics! When is someone with the necessary clout going to finally debunk the RIAA’s desperate arguments and claims about the recording industry? I am so sick of their whining….

Feedback for tvguide.com

You know how your own publication has jeered at the networks for BLARING commercials, while they (the networks) claim that they can’t do anything about it? We all know that they can, of course…do something about it. Even I know how to normalize audio across multiple sources. Well shame on you, TV Guide. Not only do the pre-roll commercials you run on tvguide.com’s Videos section SCREAM at an unreasonable volume, but you’ve also prevented visitors from pausing the commercials, you’ve prevented visitors from changing the volume of the commercial*, and you completely ignore visitors’ volume selection for videos, reverting to the previously-mentioned unreasonable volume when playing each new commercial. Seriously? Tonight was my first and last visit to your new Videos section.

*It’s worth mentioning how poorly you’ve implemented the volume control for commercials. I’ve noticed that you don’t actually prevent me from attempting to change the volume. Indeed, I can click the volume icon and move the slider. In response, however, not only do you not change the volume, but you pop up another browser window that, in some browsers, displays an error message. Sloppy. Really sloppy. Your customers expect and deserve better.


I encountered problems when I attempted to submit this feedback online at tvguide.com. The customer support section requires that you select a feedback category [note that it doesn’t tell you this…it just requires it]. Since there isn’t a category appropriate for web site or online video content, I didn’t select one. In Internet Explorer, I received this error:
We are having a technical problem. Please try later.

In Firefox, absolutely nothing happens when you click Submit. Nothing – categories selected or not. Nice error-checking, team…very nice.

Feature Suggestions for TiVo

I have HD TiVo (Series 3). I wish it would:

  1. Display the caller ID information for incoming calls. Your most direct competitor – Windows Media Center – already offers caller ID support.
  2. Allow me to watch content from TiVo Series 2 devices elsewhere in my home. There’s no reason that transferring external content to the HD device would jeopardize the digital content on the HD device.
  3. Provide me with the subscription content like TiVoCast, Rocketboom, etc. Series 2 devices can do it – why not Series 3?
  4. Let me know the remaining storage space and alert me know when a show is in immediate danger of being deleted. Again, Media Center can do it.
  5. Give me an option to avoid recording two scheduled programs at once during typical viewing hours. Dual tuner is great, but if TiVo schedules two recordings at the same time, I still can’t watch anything else. With an option that avoided simultaneous recording when possible, TiVo could attempt to schedule other showings of an episode at an alternate time.

A letter to D-Link

To Whom It May Concern:

$25 worth of hardware. Seriously?

Please find enclosed one (1) mounting kit, previously missing from my shipment to you when I exchanged my “defective” D-Link 8-Port gigabit desktop switch (DGS-1008D) under RMA number CS-135234. Per your cross-shipment agreement—which stated that I would be billed “standard replacement pricing” for missing parts—my credit card was charged $25 for the missing mounting kit. Now that I have found the mounting kit, I am returning it, too, hoping that you will refund the difference to my card.

Unfortunately, my product exchange experience with this network switch has pushed me away from D-Link completely, and I am now strategically replacing my home network switches with those from another leading brand. Let me outline the facts that led to this:

  • In the early part of 2006, I purchased three new network D-Link Gigabit switches, upgrading all of the fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) switches on my home network.
  • In May 2006, I called D-Link technical support to explain a problem that I was experiencing with the new D-Link switch to which my network laser printer was attached. Specifically, whenever the printer awakened from power-saving mode, the D-Link Gigabit switch would restart itself, dropping the network link to all of the connected computers and running through its startup diagnostic cycle. Your technical support desk was unable to help me—they had no record of such a problem with the switch and questioned whether there was anything wrong with the switch itself. Nonetheless, I was given the option to exchange the unit through your Return Merchandize Authorization process, so I did. With no other option at my disposal, I agreed to accept a $199.99 charge if I did not return the original product within 15 days of your sending its replacement. It’s worth noting that the product retailed for about $100.
  • With a reminder message from D-Link, I installed the new unit that had arrived and returned my original device. Unfortunately, I failed to notice the small heat-sealed plastic bag with what you refer to as the mounting kit. To clarify, the mounting kit in question consists of two screws and two plastic wall anchors. In a few days I was notified that I was being charged $25 for the missing mounting kit. Twenty-five dollars! That’s really your “standard replacement pricing” for two screws and two plastic wall anchors?!? It’s worth noting that the cost of these components at my local hardware store is under $1.50, including tax. I checked.
  • The new unit suffered the same problem as the original. Each time my printer spun up from sleeping, the switch would reset. Ultimately, I decided to start replacing my D-Link switches with another brand. These work fine.

The epilogue to my story takes place two months ago, when I stumbled upon the D-Link Gigabit switch in question on Amazon.com. Reading the numerous customer reviews, I found that the problem I had experienced with the switch is quite common. Numerous customers report that the D-Link 1008D switch was extremely sensitive to power surges and habitually resets itself when printers or other devices draw extra amps at startup. How odd that D-Link’s own technical support folks didn’t know this.

Regretfully,

Richard
Former D-Link customer

cc: The World According to Richard (my blog)


It is now February 2007, and I have not yet received any feedback from this letter. No correspondence and – though not surprising – no reimbursement. Maybe I should have insured the envelope for $25.

An e-mail message to Fox Broadcasting

I was really interested in watching Vanished, but the season started so early that I missed the pilot and started recording episodes a week or two into the story.

No problem…I figure I’ll watch the pilot online. So I go to Fox’s site to stream it. No luck. Apparently, Fox is only streaming episodes for a limited time. Very limited. [Blink] Hey…it’s gone! It…vanished. I’m weeks late, so no luck there.

OK, no problem. I’ll buy the episode on iTunes. Nope, not there. In fact, there’s nothing new there. That’s right…Fox has none—zero, zilch, zippo—of its new shows available for download through the iTunes music store.

It’s also not available for download or streamed viewing on Google, Guba, Amazon, AOL, or Yahoo!

So I won’t be watching Vanished this season. It’s a shame because I was really interested in this show. With the technology and media outlets available to content providers today, it could have been so easy! I was willing to pay to watch this episode that I missed, but Fox failed to make it available through any of the numerous delivery outlets. When will you folks get it?

D-Link DGS-1008D 8-Port Desktop Gigabit Switch

I suffered from the same problem with this switch that others here have reported [periodic resets]. I returned it to D-Link for a replacement, because they had no record of any customers having such a problem and no idea what could cause it. When the replacement device arrived, I experienced the same problem–whenever I sent something to my network printer, the switch would reset, dropping all connections. I believe I’ve isolated this as a power spike issue. Each time I experienced this problem, it’s because my laser printer is coming out of sleep mode. Note that my switch is NOT plugged into the same power strip as my printer. In fact, I have my switch plugged into a surge/UPS block. One other point worth noting that I think speaks poorly of D-Link. Though they sent me the replacement product, I was charged twenty-five dollars when I hadn’t included the original “mounting kit” in the return package. The mounting kit consists of two screws and two plastic wall anchors. TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS! Unbelievable.

An e-mail message to the SciFi Network

Wow…VERY disappointing news that you plan to cancel the long-running series Stargate SG-1. As a long-time Stargate fan, from the original movie to this series and Atlantis, I’m saddened by your decision to end this show that continues to deliver new and interesting stories, despite its long run. Even Anderson’s departure was handled adeptly, introducing Browder and (cleverly) Black. The tongue-in-cheek dialogue combined with continually intriguing mythologies make this a mainstay for SciFi. Or so I thought.

I hope you’ll reconsider this decision. Here we are just weeks into the new season, days after the celebrated 200th episode, and shortly after your inclusion of the series on iTunes for mobile consumption. This decision just doesn’t make sense. PLEASE, consider that television viewership has been at an all-time low this summer, as more and more people move away from traditional on-time, live TV viewing and adopt alternate entertainment experiences (gaming, web, etc.) and alternate content consumption habits (e.g., time- and/or place-shifting). As such, this series’ summer ratings alone may not be sufficient measure of its success.

Respectfully (and regretfully),
Richard
Washington, D.C.

Feedback for ABC.com

Streaming popular shows to the masses on abc.com…good. Streaming video ads with sound on the abc.com home page…bad. Experimenting with new advertising models…good. Disabling consumers’ ability to pause or stop advertisements…bad. Please consider that automatically playing video advertising on your home page (with sound and no ability to pause or stop the ad) is invasive and um, rude. I applaud your efforts to consider new media delivery models, but please be considerate of your audience.