Sunday, October 12, 2014

On Products and Services

I used to have a lot of respect for Korean products. I have also been quite impressed with Korean dramas. And having visited Korean, albeit on a package tour, I was quite convinced that Koreans have “arrived” – until my wife bought a Samsung’s iBot – a robot that can take over the chores of a maid: cleaning up your floor and return to its base after the work is done. In short it is an i-Maid. But this Samsung iBot proves to be dump maid. Surprisingly it is not sensitive enough to detect drops in floor levels. It would tip over and hangs up when it comes to one. When it meets an obstacle, like the base of a chair, it would struggle and try to climb it – like a dogged mountaineer trying to climb Mount Everest! And from the following picture you can see how ridiculous it can behave when it goes near a bed. It would mobilise its entire might to squeeze itself into the gap, only to lose its power and ends up stranded in that place. Samsung should have offered it in golden colour!

Dumb Blonde, where are you going?
If your product is not ready, it is best that you don’t introduce it to the market. It will cause irreparable damage to your brand. Ask me to buy a Samsung phone or a tablet now?  I will certainly think more than twice.

I have never bought a car from Cycle & Carriage Bintang before. When Mercedes Benz introduced its new A-class, I thought it suited me – small, economical and, of course, “prestigious”, at least my ego told me so.
Mine was the lower end version. The car turned out to be disappointing. The accelerator response is worse than the Perodua I replaced. And its frugality in fuel consumption was nowhere near what the brochure claimed. Its appetite is in fact as big as the C-class I use in Melbourne. I wrote to give them the feedback. Guess what? A lukewarm response from both Cycle & Carriage Bintang, followed by Mercedes Benz AG, but nothing useful was offered. One day I took the car for a trip up north – the first long-distance run – and found that the car keep towing to one side. A Chinaman mechanic told me the obvious. He suggested that I sent it back to Cycle & Carriage Bintang to have it fixed, since it involved camber adjustments. The service consultant confirmed it was the case, but slapped me with a huge bill. The car had only done less than 10,000 km, including the long trip to Penang. I wrote in to protest. Guess what? A case number was given to me, but it has been months, I have yet to hear from Cycle & Carriage Bintang. Ask me to patronize the company again? You must be joking!!!

ASUS’s Wifi thumb drive is another case in point. It asks you to connect, then you are supposed to enter your password, next it asks you to save, which attracts another question like: Do you want to override the old one. You can click yes or no to your heart’s content; it will take you back to the same series of questions one more time!
It is strange that these IT designers don’t get users, especially those who are new, to walk through the process. Sure, such silliness is not a problem since they know the system. But others, especially older dinosaurs like me?

Microsoft likes to hit you where it hurts most. As recent as last month, even though my Office suite was the 2010 version, for Outlook, I still used the 2003 vintage. Outlook, as we all know, is the most expensive component of Office and I was too stingy to change, since the old "Morris Minor" was still very much functioning.

Lately I was attracted by Microsoft’s new offer. For A$9 a month, I could have its Office 2013. I lost no time in signing up. The next couple of days were very frustrating. Error messages kept popping up: Error 40x800blahblahblah. They were worse than Greek to me. Its Technical Support was not available during weekends and non-office hours. I went to its web notes to look for solutions. I got nowhere. Finally, I spoke to their support team. Despite my handicap in Filipino English, I managed to get the programs activated. However, I have yet to be able to access my contacts with one click, a feature which Microsoft proudly claims.

The gold medal for the most laughable brochures in English, I reckon, has to be awarded to suppliers of Chinese products and services. Many volumes have been written on this phenomenon. I would just like to contribute a little here. I love to cite CCTV’s English Channel. Is it for the West? If it is, then its producers have certainly not been doing their job. I have yet to come across any westerner who bothers to tune in to this channel. If it is for English-speaking Chinese, then I must say that it is also a very mediocre do, notwithstanding the money spent. Even I find the commercials irritating; same voices are being used over and over and they sound as if they were doing a drama! The so-called experts that have been brought in to talk about global issues would always start their sentence “I think” or “You understand” or the likes. These are direct Chinese translations from the way we Chinese tend to speak. Even the former chief economist of the World Bank, who is supposed to have a PhD from one of the top universities in the States, also displays the same thought process.
Jia Qing Ling was a governor and later party secretary of China's ujian Province before he went on to become the mayor of Beijing and later a politburo member. I thought I had made a friend out of him when he visited Genting. I wrote to him to suggest that China should start a clearing house for English translations of the products and services that it exported. Guess what, it must have ended up as a piece of junk mail in his secretary’s rubbish bin.

I can go on and on with examples like these. Fortunately, there are still many good companies around.
If you forget to turn off data-roaming when you are overseas, you are likely to end up with a fat bill after your return. I believe Maxis, Digi and all their buddies don’t alert you about this; they only want to trap you to pay more. I like my Optus. For an old man like me, I tend to forget things. The moment I turn on my Australian phone overseas, I am sure to see a message from Optus that my data roaming facility was on and this would incur costly charges. Why do you need this on when Wifi is quite readily available in many places nowadays? Turn the feature off! Before Optus introduced this alert, I was hit by a couple of hundred Aussie dollars because I was overseas and did not turn off data roaming. I telephoned to explain; the lady over the line was happy to credit much of the amount back. There are also another two occasions when they informed that their internal audit had discovered that I had been overcharged. Credits were promptly given.  Do you get that from Maxis or Digi or their likes in Malaysia? Fat hope!

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