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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rant with a Silver Lining

Today I experience the classic example of why stores should use queues instead of individual lines. I was 3rd in line at the only open register at Bed, Bath & Beyond. A few folks filled in the line behind me. One of the employees noticed that the line was getting large, so she opened up a new register and called out "I can help the next person in line." The woman in front of me moved over to the new register. I should have moved over, but I didn't. It was only after it was too late that I noticed that the person being helped in front of me was purchasing 28 items, some of them were not scanning properly, and the kid running the register must have been no older than 12 (maybe an exageration). So I moved over to the other line, but by that point, I was now behind several people.

Here is the silver lining. The gentleman about to be served at the second register noticed that I had moved over and also realized that I should be next one served. He offered for me to go ahead of him. (FYI, I was only buying 2 items). Most people don't do the right thing, as this man had done.

Some stores are getting it right: Best Buy and Borders are two that pop into mind. However, not only do most stores get it wrong, but I would say that at least 30% of the time I shop at a non-queued store I end up being pissed off when I wait much longer than somebody who got into line after me, but at another register.

That is really out of line!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Voice Mail Systems

I have three phone systems to deal with: cell phone, home phone, and work phone. Each one has a voice mail system that uses completely different commands to operate. It drives me nuts.

To enter into voicemail on my home phone, I must hit * while my message is playing. My message is short, "I'm not home, leave a message," so I have to act quick. Otherwise, I have to hang-up and recall my home phone. If the next time you call me I have a 30 second greeting, I apologize. It's because of my voicemail system.

To enter into voicemail on my work phone, I must hit **. A single * exits the system. WTF? Then, to access my voicemail, I must enter my extension# and then my pin code. I have to enter my extension even if I direct-dialed my office.

And that is just to get into voice mail. Each system has a different command structure to access/replay/delete messages.

There is a solution, a simple one, even at that. There must be a standard. It's the only way. There are examples everywhere of standards being the key to survival... HDTV, next generation CD/DVD... well those are bad examples because there are competing standards fighting to be chosen. But look at USB computer interfaces, web pages (HTML, CSS), etc.

That really pushes my buttons.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Home Owners Associations

I recently moved into my first home and, as such, I am experiencing the joys of dealing with an HOA for the first time. Actually, overall, my HOA seems to be doing a lot of good things for the community. Despite that, the fees seem to be a bit too high.

The thing that irritates me the most about HOA's, condo associations, etc, is that they dictate such silly little details about the appearance of your house. Now, my neighbor routinely leaves empty soda cans and other pieces of litter on his front lawn. So what? The thing that REALLY pisses them off is that my backyard fence is the wrong SHADE of brown. See picture below. The color on the left is the old and "bad" shade of brown. The new "proper" color is on the right.

That really peels my paint.