Unwarranted Rants

jetBlue Just Blew It


jetBlue just tripped over a dollar to pick up a dime.

Here's the deal. I'm flying to Boston next month. While there are a bunch of other airlines that offer direct flights to Boston and have a much shorter actual 'trip time', I bought a ticket on jetBlue. You see, I used to fiy to NY all the time on jetBlue where their hub is and flying on jetBlue feels something like the home team.

I just got off of the phone with jetBlue customer service. It was an example of complete mistrust and obfuscation which surprised me more than a little. You see, I loved jetBlue...

But I'm not loving jetBlue right now.

You see, when I booked my flight last night I used their online system (good) and made a mistake in booking the date for my return (bad). I'm going to Boston for the weekend and accidently booked by return flight a month later in August instead of the 4 days I was looking for.

Of course their site has a lot of bookings and almost no one makes an error like this. But any UI designer who looks at their site could see that it's absolutly possible since the length of the trip is never revealed except for the flight dates. (I"m arguing that they could put in a little fading header that tells you how long your trip is for.) If' I'd see anywhere that my trip was scheduled for 35 days I'd have immediately know there was an issue. (I could make a simple change to the jetBlue UI that would solve this problem for everyone within a day.)

Today when I looked at my emailed itinerary I immediately spotted the problem and went online to change my ticket. They have a $100 change fee which I paid thinking I'd give them a call and that surely they'd waive that. After all, it wasn't a change I was asking for, it was the ticket I wanted in the first place. It was less than 24 hours and the flight wasn't for a month.

But no.

In speaking to the customer service rep who 'called' a manager. I was informed that I had only a 4 hour window to make any changes and that after that, there was nothing anyone could do. You see, no one at jetBlue customer service has the 'authority' to refuse this fee. It was company policy that they couldn't actually do anything.

What kind of a company has a customer service department that can't service customers?

I was instructed that my 'only recourse' was to submit feedback on their web site. That's it. Evidently they wouldn't even be entering it as a note. I couldn't even talk to the manager. I was just informed what she supposedly said.

Look, I run customer service for Sendside and deal with customers all of the time. I know unreasonable when I hear it. But asking for a change fee to be waived when it's obvious you made a mistake is not unreasonable.

Evidently jetBlue doesn't trust their own employees enough to make any decisions, at least until you get somewhere past the 'Manager' level. That's sad, and indicative of a company that doesn't really value customer service. Customer service should allow the people in the trenches making decisions. jetBlue just became another airline in my view.

I'll cease to sing the jetBlue song. I won't book with them if there's a shorter trip. And I won't give them any preference at all when having all of our corporate travel booked.

So jetBlue will make an additional $100 from me, but they're losing so much more.

Climate Change

The Skeptical side claims at least 31,486 dissenters in their ranks, according to the PetitionProject.org. That sounds like a lot. But is it?

Climate Change: A Consensus Among Scientists?
Of course, not all 12 million US scientists therefore agree with ‘The Consensus’. But this puts the PetitionProject’s 31,486 signatories in some kind of context.

Our maths here is somewhat coarse. Some better data suggests the ‘consensus’ figure is around 97.5% of publishing climatologists and around 90% of all publishing scientists supporting the human-induced climate theory. See this study for more details (PDF – Doran And Zimmerman 2009)

Actually, here’s how some of it looks:

Climate Change: A Consensus Among Scientists 2

Skeptical Field

Among the climate skeptic scientists, we wondered which fields of science were most represented. We expected climate and earth sciences. But we got…

Climate Consensus: Breakdown of skeptical scientists by field

In fact, when you adjust the PetitionProject’s odd categorisation – they filed ‘chemical engineers’ as chemists and physical engineers as ‘physicists’ – the total number of engineers who signed the petition, by our reckoning, jumps to 49%

Why so many engineers?


For any remaining IE6 users...

Hi, if you are coming to this site via Internet Explorer 6, you might not be getting the best experience possible. Honestly, I can't even begin to think about what your entire experience on the internet must be like? (...probably like riding a bike on the highway while cars blow by you on their way to Costco to get gallons of mayonnaise and 60-inch plasma TV's). How will you ever be able to use this website?????? You wont. You're an asshole and your browser is an asshole. So look, I'm going to be honest: I kind of hate you. BUT we c-a-n make this work. Here is what I am going to need you to do: fire up your Toshiba ShitBook© that weighs about 45 pounds, wipe the Cheeto dust off the screen, download Safari, delete Internet Explorer from your computer, punch yourself in the face, and get me a pulled pork sandwich.

Adobe Support: Does anyone give worse customer support than Adobe?

I just got told by Adobe to go screw myself.

Of course, they didn't exactly say that. What they said is, "You'll have to upgrade your Adobe Premier Pro software if you want us to help you."

Here's the  Adobe issue: I've got an activation issue for an Adobe software product (Premier) that I received as part of a video editing suite. Unfortuanately, it won't activate successfully. It gives me the 'it appears your system configuration has changed' message and when I activate it (which it does successfully) it crashes.

Look, I'm pretty tech minded. The problem, according to Adobe Customer Support, is that the software isn't correctly saving the file. (It activates correctly and then looks for the file which isn't there and crashes.) In fact, Adobe knows its an issue and has a patch called FF1 for it. So, I call Adobe customer support to get some help.

My experience with Adobe customer support over the last 4 days??

Spoke to 14 people. Was told 5 separate times that I'd receive a patch  (FF1) within the next 24 hours that never came. Today, I was finally told that the patch wasn't available and that I would have to buy new software in order to get this to work! Nice. The last customer service rep, "Ron", refused to give me any identity number.

Between the 14 people on two contenients I spoke to Adobe Customer Support, Adobe Activation Support, and Adobe Premier Support and I wasted 5 hours on the phone to be effectively told that if I didn't pay for customer support troubleshooting, they wouldn't help me activate my software.

My opinion of Adobe Customer Support is deep in the toilet right now.

Patient Gagging: Sign here before you're treated.

I wrote a post on this on Medical Spa MD, a blog I own, but since this crosses the bounds from medicine and straddles all of blogging, I've posted most of the original here:

Medical Spa MD, my blog for physicians running med spa and laser clinics, hosts anonymous comments. I made the decision to allow that after some careful thought when I first launched the site. (Of course, almost all comments on the web are anonymous.)

There are both benifits and drawbacks to anonynimity. With the number of cease and desist letters I've received I'm aware that not everyone is happy when they're pilloried in public by namless commenters. Here's a story from the AP on doctors who are asking patients to sign what amounts to a gag order befor they'll treat them.

The anonymous comment on the Web site RateMDs.com was unsparing: "Very unhelpful, arrogant," it said of a doctor. "Did not listen and cut me off, seemed much too happy to have power (and abuse it!) over suffering people." Such reviews are becoming more common as consumer ratings services like Zagat's and Angie's List expand beyond restaurants and plumbers to medical care, and some doctors are fighting back.

They're asking patients to agree to what amounts to a gag order that bars them from posting negative comments online.

So... where to come down? The right to criticize and protect yourself, or additional protections for individuals who may be the recipient of negative comments.

A number of companies; Sona, Solana, Dermacare, medical spa frachises and consultants, RealSelf.com, Cutera, Thermage, Lumenis... these companies have taken some heavy hits on Medspa MD from disgruntled docs. Would you want unhappy patient to have a high profile forum like this one that they could use to damage your reputation and business?

Edgar Jerins

So I used to be a painter. If you're a painter you have painter friends. One of my painter friends is Edgar Jerins.

steve_edgar_jerrins.jpg This is a drawing that Edger did of our buddy Steve and his girlfriend. (Steve's an artist too.)

As an artist you often hear this: "I don't know art but I know what I like."

That's bullshit actually. If you knew about art, the art you like would drastically change. Saying that you don't know art but you know what you like is a complete manifestation and admittance that wallowing in ignorance is preferable to interest and knowledge. Here's what a critic said of Edgars work.

A recent show at the Tatistscheff Gallery in New York City (May 13–June 26) showed six works by Edgar Jerins that stretched the definition of drawing. There was nothing offhand or intimate about these huge charcoals on sheets of paper often measuring five-by-eight feet. The Nebraska-born artist describes these unsettling interior genre scenes as narrative portraits. The figures—friends and relatives, worked up from hundreds of photographs—are depicted in emotionally fraught domestic situations. Jerins admits to a special interest in the discontents of the middle-aged American male, as one title, The Artist’s Family, “We have to Move” (2004), suggests. Alienation is a venerable American theme, most notably embodied by Edward Hopper, but Jerins’s pictures are far more

CyberSLAPP Suits & Your Blog

a94_w10.jpgThis is just one of my blogs. I have others.

One of them is Medical Spa MD, a blog for physicians in medspas and cosmetic medicine where there's a pretty active community. Medspa MD has around 50,000 unique visitors a month, mostly doctors, who are interested in both the business and treatment aspects of cosmetic medicine.

Medspa MD's become the defacto leader for docs in that field and as such it's become both an aggregator and a target. Loved by it's members and hated by those who have a less than pristine reputation. This has led to the following confrontation.

Dermacare and it's CEO Carl Mudd want to sue eveyone on Medical Spa MD.

A few of the posts on Medspa MD is a bout a medspa franchise called Dermacare and it's CEO, Carl Mudd. 

Together, these three posts have mucho comments. The middle one is gong to break 700 shortly.

Evidently, Dermacare and it's CEO Carl Mudd are not pleased since they sent me this email and letter threatening me with some sort of action if I didn't hand over all of the IP addresses of everyone who's commented.

This sort of action is both extremely cynical and growing in popularity. It's called a CyberSLAPP Suit and it works like this: If you don't like what someone is saying about you on the web you file a suit. This allows you to issue subpoenas to whoever you like. So now you can find out who these individuals are and threaten to haul them into court. It uses a lawful procedure to effectively intimidate dissent and free speach, both of which are protected after all.

If you've never run into this, count yourself lucky, but don't think it couldn't happen to you. It's a dragnet. 

Here are some links about these kinds of CyberSlapp suits and where the law comes down on free speech and other issues around this:

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you.

The law of defamation balances two important, and sometimes competing, rights: the right to engage in free speech and the right to be free from untrue attacks on reputation. In practice, the filing or even the threat to file a lawsuit for defamation has sometimes been used as a tool to shut down legitimate comments on the Internet.

John Doe Anonymity
Do you post to a public message boards or discussion areas on websites such as Yahoo, AOL or Raging Bull? Do you use a pseudonym, fake name or a "handle"? Has someone asked the host of the discussion or your ISP to turn over information about you or your identity? If so, then the John Doe/Anonymity section may answer some of your questions.
Topic maintained by Stanford Center for Internet & Society

Protest, Parody and Criticism Sites
The Internet, which offers inexpensive access to a worldwide audience, provides an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to criticize, protest and parody.

Paris Hilton & The Crying Game

art.hilton.gi.afp.jpgYou've got to be kidding.

"...sources saying Hilton was refusing to eat much of the jail food served her. Whitmore said that after "extensive consultation with medical personnel" it was decided to offer Hilton "reassignment" to home confinement, which she and her lawyers accepted."

Is there anyone who's not pissed off by this?

Evidently she cried in prison, couldn't sleep, and refused to eat most of the food. That just sounds like a good jail to me. I'd write more but the tears are starting and the keyboard's getting blurry.

And then there's this:

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer issued his order after the city attorney filed a petition late Thursday afternoon questioning whether Sheriff Lee Baca should be held in contempt of court for releasing Hilton on Thursday morning.

"What transpired here is outrageous," county Supervisor Don Knabe told The Associated Press, adding that he received more than 400 angry e-mails and hundreds more phone calls from around the country.

Sauer himself had expressed his unhappiness with Hilton's release before Delgadillo asked him to return her to court. When he sentenced Hilton to jail last month, he ruled specifically that she could not serve her sentence at home under electronic monitoring.

Taxing Entrepreneures & Risk Takers

postagedue.jpgI hear a lot about encourageing risk taking and the benefits entrepreneurs provide to an economy. I'm still waiting for all this good will to funnel down to the level I'm at. It's kind of like that saying about Trickle Down Economics: 'The middle class didn't get trickled down... they got trickled on.'

Should We Worry about the Rising Inequality in Income and Wealth?, Judge Richard Posner considers how a high marginal taxes effects entrepreneurs and risk takers:

high marginal tax rates discourage risk-taking. Consider two individuals: one is a salaried worker with an annual income of $100,000 and good job security, and the other is an entrepreneur with a 10 percent chance of earning $1 million in a given year and a 90 percent chance of earning nothing that year. Their average annual incomes are the same, but a highly progressive tax will make the entrepreneur's expected after-tax income much lower than the salaried worker's. Many of the people at the top of the income distribution are risk takers who turned out to be lucky; the unlucky risk takers fell into a lower part of the distribution. It is rich people as a class who are growing relatively richer, not necessarily individual rich persons.

via Venture Voice 

No flaming comments are safe.

I think that most businesses should be running their own blog. Most businesses don't.

The most common excuses I hear are no time and no knowledge. 

For the first time today on any of my blogs I deleted a comment. Damn. Simply a knee jerk reaction and something I regret. Adam, owner of My Secret Chef in Bountiful, flamed me for my post about customer service. I didn't even get the whole thing read and deleted it.

But there is something to be learned and it's something I've tried to teach to my daughter. "Never bait anyone who owns the mic". You're stuck in a no win situation. This blog gets a few thousand unique viewers each month from inside Utah. It's not the place to pick a fight since you don't control the mic.

I actually like Adam quite well. He's trying to run a difficult business from what I saw. I'm sure that he was angered when he came across a post that used him as an example of  what I saw as a poor choice. Guess he got a little miffed and decided to use my own blog to flame me. It's not the first time someone's taken exception to my opinion. These things can get a little out of hand and are generally not worth the effort and conflict.

So he flamed me and I deleted his comment. My bad and I'm sorry for it.

So, if you're around Bountiful, My Secret Chef is a great place to pick up dinner on your way home from work.

The Uninsured Patient Experiment

From the Healthcare Advocate Blog: Here's what he found when posing as an uninsured patient requesting an elective CT scan:

  • The list price varies by 75% ($1,013 to $3,970).
  • The best uninsured price varies by 92% ($204 to $2,600).
  • List price discounts range from 0% to 86%.
  • To get many of the discounts hospitals offer the balance needs to be paid in full at the time of service or a large down payment made, to receive it.
  • Some hospitals are unwilling to divulge the price over the phone and others will not call back.

Orrin Hatch wants your renegade software pirating computer vaporized.

Click here to find out more!Via Wired: See Also

Orrin Hatch, the entertainment industry-affiliated Republican who made it a federal crime to play a DVD on a Linux computer and tried to enable copyright holders to destroy the computers of suspected copyright infringers, is accustomed to representing Utah in the United States Senate.

After voters head to the polls on Nov. 7, he will most likely continue to do. But it won't be because there was no young, straight-shooting, idealistic, tech-savvy candidate there to oppose him.

ashdown-sign-235-notext.pngHis name is Pete Ashdown, and if anyone can clue Congress in to technology before it legislates the internet into a bunch of pneumatic tubes, it's Ashdown, who breathes bytes and exhales bits. He founded XMission (the first and largest ISP in Utah), deejayed raves and posted a Wiki version of his campaign platform for anyone to edit. One contribution to that Wiki formed a cornerstone of his platform: that the Iraqi people should vote through a referendum on whether U.S. troops should stay in their country.

In an age where energy magnates meet behind closed doors with elected officials to determine policy, Ashdown posts a calendar showing every meeting he takes in a day, and thinks other politicians should do the same.

This political transparency comes as a breath of fresh air to Ashdown's supporters, many of whom reside outside the state of Utah. The New York Times pegged Hatch as the "overwhelming favorite" there, but that hasn't stopped Ashdown from fighting for every last vote in a state he considers to be full of Democrats who just don't know that they're Democrats.

Fight Club: To flame or not to flame, that is the question.

PE01588_.gifMatt Asay wrote a column in Connect Magazine about entrepreneurship and startups in Utah. Matt states that Utah has significant hurdles for startups and concludes that entrepreneurs should consider leaving the state in order to gain experience. (I'm speed paraphrasing.)

Chris Knudsen takes exception to this on his blog here. In addition to trashing Matt's article, Chris uses the following language to attack Matt:

"Bay Area transplants riding into Utah on their high horses and knocking the state.."
"condescending garbage"
"How may I help you leave Utah…forever?"
"leave the Bay Area attitude in the bay. We do things a little different here and for that we offer no apology."
"don’t lecture me about whining. You’ve made an art out of it and Connect has been your outlet."

First: I do not know Matt Asay. I do not really know Chris Knudsen (although I met him once at Fight Club.)

Second, and this is the point, while Matt may be right or wrong, it's obvious to anyone reading Matt's blog (AC/OS) that he's worth listening to. Chris damages his credibility by resorting to personal attacks. No matter what your disagreement with an opinion, personal attacks are unwarranted. I've been on the receiving end of these type of flame attacks and it's not pleasant. So while Chris won't apologize, I will. Sorry Matt.

Utah has potential, but to think that Utah isn't a pale shadow of the coasts is silly. The reason companies or entrepreneurs relocate is because it's in their best interest. Matt's opinion is one I find reasonable (as were his comments on Utah's funding problems.). The first step in change is to understand where there are problems. Personal flame attacks have no place in the discussion.

I'll extend an invitation to both Matt and Chris to duke it out at Fight Club. I'll supply the oversized sumo suits.

Inflatable - Sumo Wrestlint


Threadless: Sticking it to the man.

You have to love a bunch of guys who are sticking it to the man just because they're too lazy to sign the contract.

Via Jason at 37 Signals:

It’s about time the Chicago press noticed a few dropouts in their 20s selling nearly $20,000,000 worth of T-shirts on Ravenswood Avenue.

“It certainly doesn’t hurt our PR when we go to speak and stuff like that to say, ‘Yeah, we turned down Target. We turned down Urban,’ ” Kalmikoff says. “But honestly, a little bit of it was laziness. We were like, ‘Well, who’s gonna fill out all this paperwork? I’m not doing it. Are you gonna do it?’ It just sat for like two weeks. Then we’re like, ‘Just tell ‘em no.’ We couldn’t take the time away from our client work for our side project to be filling out the paperwork to get into Target.”

Some dirty SOB stole my iPod.

j0287156.gifJoshua Stimle got robbed and blogged it. Some dirty, low-down selfish SOB smashed the driver side window of my landrover and pinched my iPod with all my beloved podcasts on it. Truly, I hate that. I would gladly replace the iPod and the $500 landrover window replacement if I could have caught that filthy thief in the act. I'd have beat him worse than Billy Barty whupped Ryan Coombs.

Insurance Companies: How to charge more than no coverage at all.

 Insurance companies are not your friend. In fact, they don't have friends.

As health insurance costs skyrocket and more people turn to high-deductible policies, a key question is emerging: When you're paying out of your own pocket, what rate do you pay?

Is it a discount negotiated by insurers, or the provider's gross charges, which could be several times higher than the negotiated rate?

Case in point: Lisa Stamm of Kendall, who had a simple earache and got slapped with a $375 bill for about 10 minutes with a nurse practitioner. If she had no insurance, she could have paid $125. If she had a no-deductible policy, her insurer might have paid about $140, and she would have paid nothing.

But Stamm showed the receptionist at ER Urgent Care Center on SW 137th Ave. her Cigna insurance card, and that sparked the problems.

''This really made me mad,'' Stamm says. ``I called the insurance commissioner's office. I called my insurance. You'd think something could be done.''

But no. ER Urgent Care insists she cough up the full $375. ''We as consumers have to make our choices,'' said Trudy Herdocia, the firm's vice president of operations. ``And live by them.''