Saturday, November 12, 2005

BrainJams3Dec2005 on target with its message and focus

CNN reported earlier today that the Journal of Biological Psychiatry has published results of a research study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that says people who react with angry expressions to stressful situations are less likely to suffer health related problems than those who react with fearful expressions....

"Analyses of facial expressions revealed that the more fear individuals displayed in response to the stressors, the higher their biological responses to stress. By contrast, the more anger and disgust (indignation) individuals displayed in response to the same stressors, the lower their responses."

- Jennifer Lerner, Carnegie Mellon University
Seems my thought that "Anger is a better emotion than worry" has actually been scientifically proven!

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Friday, November 11, 2005

US Airways Sucks

Plain and simple. I met the CEO on a flight a few months back when he was dealing with all the BS, and he seemed like a nice guy, but our experience with them over the past few hours leaves no doubt that they just don't get it.

Kristie bought a couple of tickets on US Airways for us to go to her friend's wedding and we ended up changing flights and cancelling those tickets. So now I need to fly to DC and we just wanted to use the credit (about $600 less change fees) to buy the new ticket. On the phone with Orbitz, they wanted $130 change fee per ticket. We were just trying to buy the new ticket. They decided to release the ticket to US Airways, so we got on the phone with them. I am a gold member with US Airways, so there should not have been any problems really - seems straightforward right?

We just spent the last hour on the phone with them, most recently speaking with Hernalyn (ID #2HS), supposedly a supervisor in their customer service department. She seems to think that there is no one above her in that department, so she has the final say for the entire airline regarding their policy.

Here is the deal: The original trip we wanted credit on was booked for Kristie and I as 2 tickets. Kristie merely wanted to apply the credit from the money she spent on them to the purchase of my new flight, but they would only let us re-issue the one ticket that was made in my name and would not apply the credit from the other ticket. This would mean she was stuck with that credit for her prior ticket because she has no plans for any other travel which would use this. Regardless, to us it is very simple, we have a credit with the airline for tickets that were cancelled and we want to use it.

To them, this one transaction, on one credit card does not equal one credit, but 2 cancelled tickets that can only be used for 2 more tickets in the names of each people. So if Kristie and I were to break up (we're not) this would mean she would never be able to use the credit for the tickets. This is a silly policy and it is anti-consumer, perhaps even reason for a lawsuit.

At least now I understand why they are in bankruptcy and having such difficulty, apparently US Airways sucks so badly at understanding CUSTOMER SERVICE that they forget who the customer is and who they are supposed to be servicing. Why is it that most major corporations have customer service departments that are designed to frustrate their customers and prevent them from getting the monies they rightly deserve. I won't get into the problems we had with Cingular here, but it really does show why corporations are perceived in such a bad light and why customer service reps are getting a reputation that is actually lower than that of a used car salesman.

BTW - Hernalyn did not care that we were not satisifed at the end of the call, she did not care if we blogged about this to the world, she did not care if we ever flew US Airways again and she did not care if we influenced the businesses with which we were involved to never use US Airways either. In short, they don't care about keeping their customers in the customer service department, even though a large portion of their marketing budget is spent on keeping customers happy. So one phone call with a $20/hour supervisor ends up costing them a couple of thousand dollars a year from our lost business and even more from those people we know.

Not very smart. I predict they won't be around very much longer, so that gold status I have in the frequent flyer program means nothing. I guess I will just fly American or JetBlue now. So, if you are from US Airways and you are reading this, I have a goatse for you to look at...

Rest in Peace

In my last post I was going to link to a site about South Beach, Miami. As the once naive 25 year old founder/CEO/Chairman of in 1995, I figured there must now be a dozen sites that would be good for showing off one of my favorite cities to my new friends. Alas, I was wrong. Could not find a one. Looks like CitySearch and Knight Ridder scared everyone else out of the market. I tried to buy back the domain a few years ago when the MyShitty guys were selling off the assets, but did not even hear a reply. I would have made something of that site again... perhaps I still will one day. Turns out the domain is owned by a domain squatting company from Asia somewhere called (which is why I don't link to it above).

Fortunately for me, lives on in its former glory, thanks to the Internet Archive and the WayBack Machine.

The morning after...

Amazing what can happen when you rely on trusted friends for finding out about things. I was talking with Michael Arrington from TechCrunch the other day about BrainJams and our ideas for a national tour. On the way out the door he mentioned the launch party and the little get together Pandora was throwing. Despite having a dinner with friends tonight and the LaughingSquid 10th anniversary party tomorrow, Kristie and I decided to go. Good decision.

Though we are slightly hung over this morning, I remember the whole evening clearly. We had an especially good time hanging out with the Pandora team. Continuing the theme for relying on trusted friends for finding stuff, this is the exact passion of many of the people who work there and the enthusiasts who love the custom radio stations so much. In fact Tim Westergren Tom Conrad said it best - "I really don't care if I end up making millions of dollars from this company, what really matters if I get to spend my time doing what I love, helping other people discover good music." Now in case you are wondering, that is THE POINT. Do what you love and the rest will follow. Quite a different theme this time around, and it is not just these cool music lovers who get it, it is more pervasive than that.

The crew is really a good part of the heart of our blossoming community. While the other day I was thinking how great it would be to expand our circle to include more diverse people, it was great last night hanging out at Annie's Bar with a bunch of cool people we know fairly well. It just felt fun and comfortable (though doing that drunk interview with Irina is probably something I will regret later - I wonder if Tara has any tips for how I should handle that?)

But in addition to hanging with great friends, we also get to meet some new ones who are also cool people who get it. Had a fascinating discussion with Alex Barnett from Microsoft about some of the Kurzweil Age of the Spiritual Machine stuff, MyLifeBits, Insytes and the real value of attention. As I remarked at the time, it would have been great to have a liferecorder on at that moment... the details are admittedly a little fuzzy. As Alex reminded me later in the evening - it is always great to put a face and a body and an in-person meeting to the blogs we have been reading. I wish I could bottle up that feeling and sell it sometimes - it would make a fortune. In fact, that is perhaps one of the best things about Blogger Meetups, and one of the things that will really drive the BrainJams national tour we are planning.

Late in the evening I had a chance to hang out with Andy who introduced me to his friend Nate Koechley a "Worker / Catalyst" at Yahoo! We jumped in on a discussion around some fairly deep stuff that I vaguely remember. But I do remember talking to him about Yahoo! Maps decision to use Flash instead of AJAX - turns out he had a part in that discussion and provided me an insight that made sense of it all.

As I have been telling all my friends recently, it is great to be here in the Bay Area at this amazing point in time. In that I was in South Beach, Miami during the first boom (in D.C. for the latter part of it), I remember reading WebMonkey, Wired, Red herring and all those other sites that talked about the cool stuff going on out here and thinking, wow, how cool would it be to just be a part of that! Now I know - it really is cool, fun, exciting and fulfilling to be a part of such a vibrant community that knows it can make THE difference in the world around us.

Rock on.