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June 2006
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August 2006

Comcast and SciFi

Everything I want is on Comcast analog, except for the SciFi channel.   So a new season started 3 weeks ago, and my digital receiver is quite unhappy.   Techs have been out for the last couple of weeks and cannot figure it out, other than when it gets hot, they have problems.

So I decided to have a chat with the billing people to see if I could get a credit for part of my bill:

Nate.12638 > Thank you for contacting Comcast Live 
Chat Support. My name is Nate.
I am happy to be of assistance to you this evening.
May I please have your name as well
as a brief description of the issue you are experiencing
or question you have?

> Hi Nate, this is Bruce.

>  We have digital cable so I can watch Sci-Fi.
  Everything else we watch on analog.
  It's been cutting in and on for three weeks now
and the line techs cannot fix it.  They say it's the heat.

> Hi Bruce.

> How may I help you today?

Nate.12638 > OK Bruce. What can I assist you with today?

> I'ld like a credit for my digital cable which I cannot use.

> Bruce, we'll be happy to give you a service credit
once the problem has
resolved itself. We give full service credits.
If you'd be kind enough to contact us once
the problem has been resolved for over 24-48 hours,
we'll be happy to apply a credit for you.

> Is there anything else I can help you with today?

> Oh, so I should call you back in September?

> Please call us once the problem resolves itself, Bruce.

> Is there anything else I can assist you with?

> no thanks

> Not a problem Bruce.

Nate.12638 > Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. 
For your convenience,
we're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also contact us via phone
at 1-800-266-2278 (COMCAST). Have a great night!

Nate.12638 > Analyst has closed chat and left the room

I don't think Nate thought I was funny.   So I called into the 800 number and they're investigating.

So I cannot get service because they cannot fix the problem.  I cannot get a credit because the service doesn't work.

But if you pay your bill one week late you get a nasty gram talking about them cutting off your service.

Stay tuned. 

Just Leave It Alone Already!

Innovate, improve, change.   Make it better, make it faster, make it cheaper.

Kill the product.

Some things just work the way they are and should be left alone.

Coca Cola.  O.K. it's not quite the same since they stopped using cane sugar, but close enough.

Several years ago I downloaded a spy-ware program which worked great.  It hooked up into "spynet" (for all you Terminator fans) and did a great job.  It had a little circle icon so you knew it was working.

Then Microsoft acquired the product and improved it.  It is now called "Windows Defender" and has a castle icon.   It automatically upgraded itself , worked for three weeks and died.  A very horrible death.  So I clicked on the repair button, and it came back with "file not found".  Pretty darn helpful. 

I fixed it.  I unistalled it and turned on Trend's anti spy-ware stuff. 

On the other side of the coin, it pays to really understand what people like about a product (maybe it's one feature which just is head and shoulders above all the rest).    Back in the good old DOS days, we all used a hot key program called Sidekick.  Great stuff.   No matter what you were doing, press a key and all your useful programs popped up.

Windows killed it, but somehow it always irked me to have to jerk a mouse around to pull up a set of programs to get something done.  And no, the Windows key didn't do it for me.

Turns out that Mac OSX has a way cool feature.  When you press f12, up pops a set of widgets you drag and dropped onto your desktop.  It is the coolest thing and people are writing all sorts of new widgets.   So sometimes you can improve on a good thing too.   

Focus on what is needed, not what is possible

A problem we all seem to have in market research is seeing great ideas of what is possible and who might be interested in it.   Then off we go to deliver a product, and......... THUD!

I had this brought to home in a big way earlier this year.    Seven years ago I wrote about doing file I/O over the Internet to a consumer site.   This was the next big thing.  Since it could be done, I figured it would be done.   As you know, we are all still waiting for Google to release GDrive.

So the lesson here is twofold.  First, figure out what other factors need to be in place for this to work.  In this case, crtical mass of broadband was years off.   Secondly make sure people really need it.  Print up a fake product slick and see if you can get a P.O.   If not, why not?   Is it a matter of timing, partnerships, or just a dumb idea?

Otherwise you get too far out in the field and we all know what happens then.Blockers