Dec 31, 2007

Making (partial) good on a promise

In a recent blog I took Canaca to task because they did not want to reimburse me for a purchase, even though it stated on their front page that I could get a full refund, for any reason, within 30 days of signing up.

Well, after a bit of back and forth, they made good, partially, on that promise. They will refund part of my initial fee and they will also refund an excess charge for currency conversion. It's not what I wanted, but it's better than nothing. I could keep on fighting them but at this point, I feel I have better things to do with my time.

Dec 21, 2007

Christmas, good cheer, and the in-laws

Here is an interesting post on relationship dynamics around Christmas time:

Holiday gaffes

The comments from the readers are interesting also.

It had me thinking: how do you deal with in-laws when you don't get along with them? Should you even try to get along? Should you constantly keep your guard up and defend yourself and your convictions at every turn?

My philosophy, when it comes to personal relationships, is "Live and let live." I figure, unless lives are at stake, most arguments and ensuing resentment are not worth it. I wholeheartedly adhere to Steven Covey's Fifth Habit: "Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood." I also believe that nobody will be interested in you, until you show you are interested in them.

I've seen it in the workplace, I've seen it in families, I've seen it with my wife and my children. Until you start to take the focus away from yourself and turn it to others, the relationship dynamics cannot and will not change. Most of the time, the reason we keep the focus on ourselves boils down to one word: ego.

As Walt Kelly, the creator of the Pogo strip said: we have met the enemy and he is us.

Dec 13, 2007

You're only as good as your word

NBC, the American television network, has decided to refund advertisers because it had promised them a certain level of performance and didn't live up to it.

Now, I don't know the specifics of the deal and I don't know if they were obliged to do so by contract, or not. My understanding is that when these situations occur, networks usually give advertisers credit for future ad sales. NBC has taken it further and decided to refund. Good on them.

I can't help but think of my own situation with my service providers. During the month of October, I had to switch my Web hosting to a different company. I had to go through 3 companies before I found the one that worked.

The first company I tried was Canaca, a Canadian company. I went with them because on their front page it says:
If you become dissatisfied with your web hosting service for any reason, you will receive a
full refund (minus domain name registration fee)
After two weeks of usage, I began getting complaints from people telling me that when they sent me email, it bounced backk to them. I also noticed that some of my mail was not reaching its destination. So I located another service provider, signed up with them and cancelled my account with Canaca. Or so I thought.

In followup emails after asking for cancellation, I received this message:
Also note that the 30 day money back guarantee is not a trial. It's a guarantee of service that we had promised you. If you have become unsatisfied with our services with the first 30 days due to "service that we promised you but did not provide", will refund your hosting fee. If the issue is related to something that we did not promise you to provide then this 30 day money back guarantee will not apply. Also you are not in 30 days money back guarantee any more.
All of a sudden, now that I am not satisfied, the 30-day guarantee applies to "service that we promised you but did not provide", not "if you become dissatisfied with your web hosting service for any reason."

As if that was not enough, I noticed this little ditty on the bill from the company:
1. We have lowered our US --> CND exchange rate from 1.3 to 1.2
So, because I am a Canadian customer, paying a Canadian company, I am being charged a 20% premium on my bill. This, mind you, occurred when the Canadian dollar was at par, if not higher than the American dollar.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of paying the bill when I received my credit card statement. I really should not have done that. Now it's going to take a while to get that money back. If I ever do, that is.

A personal and a corporate reputation can only be built on whether you are true to your word, or not. It is also built on integrity and ethical conduct. In this case, Canaca does not make the grade.

Dec 12, 2007

Getting great ideas

Here is an interesting post on generating ideas. An extension of the "Think Outside The Box" approach:

Innovation Wednesday: Where Do Ideas Come From?

Which all ties in to an interesting quote I read in this morning's paper: the best way to have a good idea is to have many ideas.

Generating ideas, writing, playing a musical instrument all have a commonality: consistency and repetitiveness.

The only way to get better at any of them is to find a consistent way to put them into action and to repeat the action over and over again.

If you want to write, one of the best ways to improve is to set aside a portion of your day dedicated to writing. One or two hours a day. Over time, your writing improves and you produce faster.

Brian Tracy has a technique for idea-generation that he calls the "Twenty Questions" approach. Ask yourself a question and then find 20 answers to the question. The first few come quickly but around the 12th answer, you start to run out of ideas and you need to think a little deeper in order to get new ideas. He says that most of the best ideas occur around the tail end of the 20 answers.

Dec 10, 2007

Get Ready for the holiday office parties

This couldn't come at a better time and I couldn't have said i better myself:

Avoid Ending your Career at the Holiday Party

I'll add another one: have someone be your chaperone, especially if you are prone to drinking. There is, of course, the usual DUI implications but you also may want that person to monitor your behaviour and make sure you don't go overboard.

Before doing so, make sure you have a clear understanding that if your chaperon says it's time to go, you will go. The last thing you want is to make a scene in front of everyone else.

While I'm at it, don't bring your spouse/significant other if you don't get along. Unless you both can fake it remarkably well. Nothing puts a damper on a good party like a quarrelling couple. If you can't hold it in until you get home, don't go together.

Dec 5, 2007

Things you don't want to hear at the doctor's office

I had an eye examination with an ophthalmologist today, to figure out why my vision was becoming cloudy. She took a first look and said, "It's a small uveitis. Nevertheless, go with the nurse so she can dilate your pupil and I will look at your cornea in a few minutes."

So I did, and the nurse put a couple of drops in my eyes to make me look like a cat.

When I was called back to her office, the doctor sat me in my chair and started to look at my right eye, where I hadn't really noticed any blurred vision. She said, "Yep, it's inflamed alright."

Then she looked at my left eye and exclaimed, "Woah!"

You never want to hear a doctor say, "Woah!" when looking at your eyes.

She immediately added: "OK, let's lie you down to take a closer look." Here's a tip: a normal eye exam has you sitting, not lying.

She brought out some instruments I'd never seen before and started to poke my eyes left and right. I'll spare you the details, but I sort of felt like Arnold Schwarzennegger in Total Recall when he fell out of the pressurized cabins on Mars. If you've never seen the movie, go rent it!

After poking around, she sat me back up and started writing in my medical file. Then she said, "Do you have that prescription sheet I gave you? Please give it back to me."

Another tip: when doctors ask you to give back a prescription sheet to add more stuff to it, it's never a good sign.

After handing me back the sheet, she took me by the hand and said, "Come on, if we're lucky we'll be able to get a specialist to see you right now."

When a doctor leaves his/her office to accompany you to an unscheduled appointment with a specialist, it's time to panic!

We were unlucky. My next exam is on the 11th.

Dec 1, 2007

Late night drive-thru

As we were coming back late from an event, a colleague and I decided to stop and get a bite to eat a the drive-thru of a fast food chain. We came to the mike and placed our order.

I asked for a sandwich. The reply came briskly: "We don't have any bread." The voice did not sound enthusiastic at all.

So I tried again: "Do you have the wraps instead?"

Answer: "Not at this time."

Not only was I not able to get what I wanted, but on top of that, the person at the other end sounded like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was at that particular time.

My colleague asked what was available. By the tone of his voice, I felt that the person coming from the speaker was thinking: "Who are you and why are you bugging me for food at this time of night?"

We finally placed our order and proceeded to the pick-up window. When we got there, the only thing we could see was the skull on his black T-shirt.