Monday, September 25, 2006

RCSE thread on "Customer Service" (lack of)

Don, unhappy people usually vote with their feet. Like "See Ya!" The
basically good natured ribbing about certain vendors seen here should be
a wake-up call, and a priceless set of lessons about what not to do to
succeed in business. The people here care enough to complain. That takes effort.

The truth often hurts, and if it leads to change, the hurt is worthwhile. If
it doesn't, perhaps a baseball bat is in order.
What comes through this
thread is that the public wants to do business with these vendors and
essentially is pleading with the vendors to change their evil ways and
make the buying experience more friendly and pleasurable.

Don A.

Well said. I wonder how many small business owners ever took a course in

"Small Business Management?"

I do believe that buyers of some of the pricy flying goods currently on
the market have a right to expect a little better treatment and
professionalism on the part of both the manufactures and the resellers.


>I worked for a couple weeks to work up the money to buy this plane
>and wasn't able to fly it for a few months. As a high school
>student, $150 is no minor amount. Major disappointment for a
>beginner. If people want youth like myself to get into (and stay in)
>the hobby, they'd better make sure the vendors try to make the
>buying experience pleasant.

And what many vendors are overlooking is that you will likely have a
good job in the next 10 years...and be able to afford more expensive
planes. Get my drift? They are using negative advertising to
effectively make you a non-customer for life.

As Clark Howard says, "Vote with your wallet."

I had a problem with some equipment and sent an e-mail to the retailer,
Amateur Electronic Supply.† They responded immediately.† When I called
to make final arrangements I complemented them on their fast response.†
I will always remember what they said and will continue to do business
with them.† The response was "All we have to offer you is service".
That's all I ask for.
Best I have heard so far. I hope the Vendors listen and this will be and

end of it.


On Tue, 1 Jan 2002 15:55:01 -0600 "Cam Alexander"
> I've lurked through quite a bit of verbage on this subject. Here's
> the
> bottom line. If it was my business, and my customers expressed a
> need, I
> would try hard to meet their needs. It's just good business.

Businesses that are consumer oriented spend millions on surveys just to
find out what there customers like and dislike. Take a hint here.
(Sometimes you DO get something of value for nothing.) It is in your
best interest to heed what the customers have been saying.

Happy New Year,


How difficult can this be for a
manufacturer/retailer to comprehend and follow through on?
Anything less, especially when compared to ALL the rest of the
manufacturers and retailers who DO understand this brutally simple
concept, is unacceptable.
Who knows the real reason, could simply be
laziness on the manufacturer/retailers' part.
Those manufacturers and retailers, who on their OWN recognizance made a
decision to publically enter the market to supply product/service either
understand the art of supply and service (those whom we hardly ever hear
about because there are few if any problems/complaints), or actively
choose to fall short of what the majority would consider minimal
acceptable standards.
This is such an extraordinarily simple issue...I have to ask why
supplying such a simple and inexpensive device such as instructions can
be soooo hard to accomplish, especially when 99.9% of the rest of the
world inside and outside the hobby do precisely that.

p.s. the suggestion that the poor customer should be so "lucky" as to
somehow manage to accomodate a manufacturer/retailer by doing THEIR job
by performing whatever is required to finish the model, and then supply
the instructions BACK to same manufacturer/retailer...needs to have his
head examined.
On the other hand, given the diligence demonstrated by a precious(?) few
who continue to defend to the point of stupidity of said
manufacturer/retailers' for unacceptable product and/or service, my hat
is off to you. Your unique abilities remain unsurpassed by a vast
majority I assure you.

Here is the secret to success at selling quality product to such a
hideous, villainous, demanding...oh hell, whatever you want to call the
people who are giving you hard-earned cash for your product, and also
some suggestions for you the customer:


1)Give decent instructions that will allow average Jack/Jill to safely
assemble/fly your creations.

2)Qualify your customer. If you are not money-greedy and/or lazy, this
should always be a pre-requisite and will allow you to gauge their level
of skill/seriousness/ability/etc. If someone indicates they know what
they are doing, and you have warned them of the advanced
nature/difficulty in assembly/instability/etc, you have covered your ass
at all levels.

3)DO NOT bad-mouth or trash your competition. This will bite you I
assure you. Unless you have first-hand experience and can compare word
for word, part for part, feature for feature refrain from crucifying

4)Do NOT charge the customer's card until the product is ready to go out
the door the same day (unless some other agreement has been

5)If a customer has a problem, do NOT ignore them! Respond ASAP! If the
time frame between message and your response is too long, apologize and
explain why! In other words, placate or appease the customer.

6)Attempt to solve customers problem to their satisfaction, even if that
includes offering to take the product back (in original condition of
course) with a refund. State to customer that the refund will be
withheld pending inspection. If everything is in order, issue refund

7)Do not EVER promise more than you can deliver. Your word should be
gold, cashable at any trust bank on any planet in the universe. You lie,
mis-inform, insult, berate, belittle your customers (including potential
tire kickers) then be prepared to:
a)have business sales/volume suffer
b)develop a poor reputation amongst your peers and the community
c)have negative, sometimes incorrect/inaccurate
comments/information spread about you and your operation like
d)your business eventually dies a slow horrible death
e)all of the above

8)Above ALL else, LISTEN to your customer ESPECIALLY when they complain.

Who knows, they could be full of kaka, or giving you the absolutely most
value feedback you could ever ask for (nformationa about your product,
you, your operation, etc). Anything and everything that will allow you
to keep up with the changes/demands, product inprovement will lower
overhead, increase profit margins, and most importantly KEEP YOU
SMELLING LIKE ROSES! will be a happier human being as well. Until you
have actually tried this concept, you will never know the joy.

Finally (possibly most important), if you are snitty, sniping,
short-fused, angry, un-appreciative S.O.B. who hates dealing with the
public (us - your potential customers), then do us (and yourself) a
favor and have someone ELSE talk about/market/sell your products. Some
people are meant to be in sales and others are not. NOT insult your
customer OR his inteligence...ever...even if he/she deserves
your opinion.

There is no magic here. These bare minimum points I assure you will
gaurantee as long as there is a market for your wares, you will be
respected, looked favorably upon by your peers, and maybe even make a
little more money than you first thought as a result of your
good/great/fantastic/superior/without equal product (customers get to
choose level of course). I am sure that those manufactuers/vendors who
are following this patently simple process are sitting back right now
and smiling...


1)Check the reputation of the manufactuer/vendor at the same time you
are sizing up the product you are interested in. Then conduct yourself

2)Do not allow anyone to charge your card until the product is ready to
go out the door. There will be deviations from this, but the owness is
upon you to determine and agree with the manufactuer/vendor. Ask for a
accurate cost of shipping. Ask if there are any "other" charges of any
sort. Check your statement when it arrives looking for "extra"
unsolicited charges.

3)If you are happy with the product let the vendor know. If there are
changes that you believe would make it better TELL the
manufactuer/vendor. Volumes are not great enough for them to get
feedback through other more recognized channels.

4)If there is a problem, exhaust all the regular routes of solving the
issue directly with the manufactuer/vendor. If this fails, go public,
but be accurate and PLEASE do not exaggerate!

5)And PLEASE...don't trash a manufactuer/vendor and then stop looking at
what they have to offer. They indeed are small, and maybe (in most
instances - glass half-full theory) just maybe they will choose to learn
something from the mis-adventure(s) and actually change their ways.

1. You either run a business or a hobby. A business run as a hobby may
linger a while, but usually ends up going out of business as customers
drift away. I admit that trying to make a living out of this hobby is a
Regarding Email: since the only way to know if an Email is an order or
not is to open it. I suspect that all the Emails get opened, and in a dark
mood, suggest the ones not associated with with an order (fresh money) may get
trashed, perhaps depending on what the opener had for breakfast, or some
other silly personal reason.


Good comment, HOWEVER...
Some of us are misguided enough to expect some decent service, and even
are foolish enough to think manufacturers and distributors hold the

Personally I haven't had this problem with a kit, but I have had other
problems that weren't my responsibility to resolve. When I fly someplace
and my luggage doesn't I don't try to resolve how to enjoy my trip with what
I have - I tell the airline what they need to know and if my luggage isn't
there by the time I wake up I expect more out of the airline. It is NOT

Another time I was at a hotel, with a reservation for a king size bed,
but was shown to a room with two twin beds. The thought of discussing the
situation with the people to find out how I can enjoy the twin beds
never crossed my mind; instead I had the bellhop follow me back to the front
desk where I confirmed what the reservation listed and made it clear that I
expected a room equal to or better than what I reserved.

And one last point here - if I finally got instructions but they were in
a foreign language, and was refused any further help, I would have them
translated professionally then bill the distributor. However, if the
distributor did everything they reasonably could to help I would be more
generous. But many of us can name a distributor who do not care enough
about the customer to deserve above & beyond treatment from the customer.


I'm not particularly worked up about NSP and
lying, per se.
But I have enough experience in business, enough
experience as a customer, and enough experience as
an NSP customer to know that their website and
their business in general exhibits low information
quality. Good information quality takes time,
effort, a whole lot of giving a damn, and the
right kind of people to execute it at every level,
and enough leadership skill to ensure that this
kind of quality endures as the business develops
and grows. I honestly don't think that NSP has all
those things. Few businesses do. NSP is full of
good intentions inconsistently applied, full of
good informational concepts that have to some
extent decayed or gone unsupported. Its
information shows sloppiness and hurriedness at
every turn, full of writing errors and spelling
mistakes, etc. etc. And I think that they seem to
have fallen into the habit of taking advantage of
their own information deficiencies with a bias
towards sales. Not exactly lying, but not the most
pleasant business practice (realistically more of
an unconscious cultural habit, probably, than an
actual 'practice') to be at the recieving end of.

Is it surprising? Well, not really. Small
businesses run by hook or by crook are all over
the place. Small businesses run like really tight
ships with expertise in their field AND great
information quality and management at every level?
amazingly rare.

Is it insulting? Depends on whether you're busy
having the kind of transaction that happens to
work well for NSP or the kind that is more
directly affected by these information problems.
No question it can suck to be involved in the
worse end of the spectrum, especially if you
aren't already bracing for it.

Can NSP get away with their current level of
information quality? So far it appears that they
absolutely can.

If you're frustrated, can you do anything? Sure,
you can become a non-customer, which often feels
pretty unsatisfying, but is still important to do
if you feel strongly. And you can communicate your
experience. This is probably best done by cooling
way way down first and then simply saying what
happened and what you wish you had known, or what
you wish you had done, including, if appropriate,
wishing you hadn't done any business with them,
and what you wish they had done, in case (and
don't hold your breath here) they're actually
listening. A more extreme excoriating letter of
condemnation ends up sounding fanatical, and
probably doesn't have as much of the intended
consequence as it FEELS like it has. Unless
vitriolic composition is really helping you
personally heal from your experience, then it's
probably just wasted energy, and you can always
write the really flaming letter and not send it to
anyone if you really need the experience.

Just to offer a paradigm shift, another option is
to acknowledge that NSP transactions can range
from perfectly good to just plain awful, then
radically lower your expectations, see if the
product you might be interested in is STILL worth
buying given your new lower expectations, and if
it is, then order it. Who knows, you might get
decent service and a chance to really enjoy doing
business there. They clearly pull that off some
very significant percentage of the time, or they
would be out of business already. WARNING: this
option requires a sort of zen attitude towards
business that many folks find very hard to achieve

Scobie in Seattle

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

QTVR panorama of Caltech auditorium (Jacaranda, "purple-flower trees")

[ Click above to view QTVR panorama ( QuickTime plug-in required ) ]

QTVR panorama of Caltech auditorium (aka "Wedding Cake building"), with Jacaranda ("purple-flower trees") in Spring bloom.

Stitching by Jook Leung, photography by Bob Yen

Inspired by CosmicVariance post by Clifford Johnson/USC

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

'Pearl Harbor in Reverse’, Arthur Schlesinger/Harvard

Pearl Harbor in Reverse’
Arthur Schlesinger, former JFK confidant and the country’s preeminent liberal [ Harvard ] historian, views America’s war on Iraq with “deep gloom”

[ In 1962 the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and advisor to President John F. Kennedy witnessed first-hand the tense unfolding and peaceful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis. Today he is witnessing “with deep gloom” what he calls a dangerous shift in American foreign policy towards the ideological. ]

This is one of my favorite news articles, where I refer to for some perspective (written prior to Iraq "invasion"). His perspective as a historian rings true, especially with this thread.

NEWSWEEK: How would you describe Bush as a wartime president?

Well I think he’s made a fatal mistake. I think we’ve made a fatal mis-turn in our foreign policy by abandoning the doctrine of containment-plus-deterrence (which won the Cold War peacefully), and adopting as the basis of our foreign policy preventive war. Preventive war, anticipatory self-defense, was the doctrine with which the Japanese justified Pearl Harbor. FDR, an earlier American president, said that it was a date that will live in infamy. And now the Bush doctrine is a doctrine of preventive war, which makes America the self-appointed world’s judge, jury and executioner. However benign the motives, it’s bound to have a corrupting effect on our leadership. I think the whole notion of America as the world’s judge, jury and executioner is a tragically mistaken notion.

Newsweek: Robert Kennedy called preventive war “Pearl Harbor in reverse.” Is that what we’re seeing now?

That’s what we’re seeing now. And no wonder we look to the rest of the world as a lumbering bully. I regard this with deep gloom.

Newsweek: Are you suggesting that Bush and his administration lack a sense of history that is required of someone in this position?

Yes. I think they lack a sense of history. They lack an instinct of respect for the views of other countries. It’s “the rest of the world is OK only insofar as it conforms to the views of the White House.” And I don’t think this is a healthy position for the White House to have.

Newsweek: So if personalities play a role in shaping history, then, what can you say about the personalities of Bush and Rumsfeld?

They’re ideologues. Bush seems to feel that he’s been appointed by the almighty to go to war with Iraq. But Iraq is far less of a clear and present danger than North Korea. North Korea has nuclear weapons. The difference in our treatment between Iraq and North Korea is strong incentive for other countries, other rogue states, to develop their own nuclear arsenal.

Newsweek: Still, we are witnessing a rally-round-the-flag phenomenon of a new war-Bush’s approval ratings are above 70 percent. How long do you expect that to hold true?

Well, it all depends on how the war goes. I think the British have lost more men in the war than we have. I think the war will be over in two or three weeks, if it lasts more than a month,

[ Hey people, we are over 1 month..into 3rd year, for crying-out-loud. NOW, we're talking about doing Iran? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

"You've got to be SH*TTING ME!?"
-- F105 Thunderchief pilot ("Wild Weasels"), Vietnam war
[ he was referring to crazy orders from White House, for their missions. I.e., Politicians mis-using the Military. Same deal now. ]

then I think the polls will be less enthusiastic about the war.
[ Yep, shrinking ratings for Bush ]

UNBELIEVABLE. I'm just NUMB to the whole fiasco of the Bush "administration". I don't even bother trying to find any reason for their actions (or get mad about it). I try to keep focused on my work. My old grade-school History teacher (Woodrow Wilson scholar, masters degree) told me

"We'll get over it..The World was ALREADY outrageous when you were born into it"

[ she began to tell me about "The Last of the Mohicans", where people quietly carved out their little niche & made their mark in History. I.e.,

"Dont' try to Save The World"
-- xx, friend (Vietnam veteran, served with 1st I.D. aka "Big Red One"

She also told me about her favorite movie "My Fair Lady", where her favorite line was

"All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air.
With one enormous chair; Oh wouldn't it be loverly?.."

I have a geologist friend, who has adopted this philosophy. He has secluded himself in his own world (Arizona desert), & created his own world. Blocked out the "outrageous world", essentially given up on Changing the World. The group of Nobel Laureates writing this letter are of a different philosophy, Pro-Active action. ]

BTW, she left Teaching & his running an antique store with her husband. ("It [ education bureacracy ] got too COMPLICATED") I had her in '69-'70 in 6th grade, & I can still remember seeing Nixon's speech in our family room in '70 about "invading Cambodia" (from Vietnam). I just got back from a school musical recital where the song was "What the World needs now, is Love sweet Love".

"..The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: “People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life; Life will give you back everything you have given to it.
-- Mirror of Life
[ apparently G Bush never got this lesson..idiot ]

Here we are again..talking about invading not 1..but TWO countries.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dr. Wade Smith on "Discipline Creates Performance" (Orthopedic Surgery)

from episode ER/"Denver Memorial Hospital:"

You do your Best, & you leave the Rest..that's what i tell the residents"... "They [ residents in training ] have to understand why they're here..& if you can tell them there's a STANDARD. & that standard's going to get DONE. And, if it's NOT going to get done, they're NOT going to be here anymore..they pickup real quick on that.".... "I think you teach them by example ...I think.. you teach it by having a standard, that anything else is COMPLETELY unacceptable."... "Then you have to show them that performance is.. predicated on every day, every minute, every hour..being on top of the game... "I'm a big believer in telling them right away if they're doing a bad job..and right away if they're doing a good job."... "Now i'm just worried about the people..bozos who are working with me. I've had a couple of my residents hit me with hammers..just about DESTROYED me"... "one way of really enforcing that is to invoke a physical punishment.. I need them to understand when i'm on this team, every mistake they make, my mistake too. ".... "29, 30. then i always do 2 more pushups to show that i'm stronger than they are. so it never becomes an issue"... "i didn;'t tell them it was going to be easy..but when they're finished, they better be as good as they can be, else they're going to STINK." everytime those bones buckle, they tear blood vessels & tiusse that damage affects the whole body & the whole system. we got to go through it over & over your mind fior it to happen correctly when you get in there now i'm just worried about the people..bozos who are working with me. I've had a couple of my residents hit me with hammers..just about destroyed me I think you teach them by example...I think.. you teach it by having a standard, that anything else is COMPLETELY unacceptable. you want to fix her femur as rapidly as possible.. I feel an obligation.. when I go talk with the family to think about how I'm going to describe what happened so they can understand it. but in a way they'll be able to deal with it emotionally Doctors who use big words..medical words..they don't care.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

[ CV ] Tell Me Why The Sky Is So Blue Today

Trackback URL: [ CV ] Tell Me Why The Sky Is So Blue Today"

“Life is 20% what happens to you, 80% how you respond to it”
– a wise man said


A son and his father were walking in the mountains. Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” Curious, he yells: “Who are you?” He receives the answer: “Who are you?” Angered at the response, he screams: “Coward!” He receives the answer: “Coward!” He looks to his father and asks: “What’s going on?” The father smiles and says: “My son, pay attention.” And then he screams to the mountain: “I admire you!” The voice answers: “I admire you!” Again the man screams: “You are a champion!” The voice answers: “You are a champion!” The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: “People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life; Life will give you back everything you have given to it.”

I noticed CVJ has gone on these “jaunts” to Taiwan, Death Valley, Mt. Wilson hikes to “escape from the rat-race”. He was dabbling in culinary delights in Taiwan (”take a minute to savor life”). He also has an educational outreach program in S. Africa (?).

Was CVJ above influenced by J. Brodie, or did you do this on your own? (self discovery). Myself, I left Academia because of the flaws in Infrastructure & Unreality (”It is BORING”, says S Wolfram). Peer review is a myth. Take the Bogdanoff Scandal in Theoretical Physics, Sokal “sting”, Schon scientific misconduct, Ninov scientific misconduct, David Baltimore affair. My sister is a Biochemist (PhD) & university professor & told me “there is so much junk [ papers ] out there”. The D. Baltimore thing changed the way she did research. One of my colleagues told me “What’s the point?”

I’m more of a people person.

“I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without humane purpose, without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that …the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others.”
Arthur Ashe

I’m not into the career-thing & materialism. There is such a BIG DEAL about awards, tenure, grades, etc. J Brodie got it right, & I think CVJ has the “right stuff”.