Brad Feld

Most of the customer support stories I read on the web are about lousy experiences.  Tonight – I had an awesome one.

After dinner, Amy treated me to 30 minutes at Best Buy in Soho to buy a Verizon Wireless EVDO Card for my October Life Dinner gift.  The folks at Best Buy did a good job even though they ended up setting me up for the wrong version of the service.  My laptop doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive, so I had to download the software from the Internet.

My first attempt failed as the Verizon web site didn’t recognize my cell phone number.  I called customer support, worked through the phone tree, and immediately got to a guy who seemed to know what he was talking about.  He gave me a special magic code to download the software and then asked if he could stay on the phone until everything was up and running.  I downloaded the software and then walked through the installation step by step.  When I got to the end, things worked, but they seemed very slow (much slower than my expectation).  It turns out that the Best Buy folks set me up with the wrong service plan.  Mr. Good Support told me he could transfer me to an account rep to get me on the right plan.

Two minutes later I was talking to Ms. Very Nice Southern Accent who looked up my account, made the change (while keeping me on the same payment plan), walked me through resetting my EVDO card, and confirmed that I was all set to go.

For once, an awesome experience.  Thanks Verizon people.

I spent some time at lunch recently with Chris Sacca – one of the business development guys at Google.  Chris just put a post up on his blog with hints about how to get his attention if you are a company that wants to do a deal with Google.  It’s instructive, useful, and full of Google style.

Apple Hell

Sep 28, 2005
Category Technology

Jeff Jarvis – who has written extensively on his terrible customer experience in Dell Hell – doesn’t have a monopoly (nor does Dell) on stupid customer experience moves.  Ryan McIntyre – who I work with closely and has been a huge Apple user (and fan) for as long as I can remember – has a delicious post on his absurd experience with Apple, at the Apple Store, and with the Apple Customer Support Immune System.  Painfully funny.

Toilet Paper

Sep 28, 2005
Category Random

I’ve had a life long fascination with toilets which I’ve blogged about several times in the past, including Toto’s awesome throne, a tricked out toilet, and my personal favorite toilet / bathroom in the world.

Today I learned something useful about toilet paper.  I’ve clogged more than my fair share of toilets (c’mon – admit it – so have you).  I now know that I need to check the brand of paper before I do my thing.  No more Charmin for me.  Thanks Joanne.

As Jason and I launch into our new series on the Letter of Intent (LOI), we thought we’d start out like most LOI’s do – with a little foreplay.  To keep it simple, assume there are two primary parties in an M&A transaction – the “buyer” and the “seller” (for the time being, let’s not worry about complex deals that have more than two parties – this is a family blog after all – well, not really.) 

By the time the buyer presents the seller with an LOI, there have been meetings, discussions, dinners, expensive bottles of wine, lots of conference calls, and an occasional argument.  However, the buyer and the seller are still courting so they tend to be on their best behavior.  The LOI is typically the first real negotiation and the true ice breaker for the relationship.

In ancient times, when the first LOI was presented, someone crafted an introductory paragraph that starts off with something like the following:

Dear CEO of Seller:

We have greatly enjoyed our conversations to date and are honored to present you with this letter of intent to acquire <Seller’s Company>.  We look forward to entering into serious discussions over the next several months and reaching an agreement to acquire your company.  We’d like to thank you for entertaining our proposal, which follows:

While every company has their own style, most LOIs start off with some variation of this boilerplate paragraph.  Of course, you’ll find – later in the LOI – a qualifier that states that most everything in the LOI is non-binding, including the appearance of civility as part of the negotiation.  What would you expect in a world where ABC can launch a series called “Commander in The West Wing Chief”?

Next up – some real stuff – namely a discussion about one of the keys terms in the LOI – price.

China in the summer (via Bokee), now Japan in the fall (via GMO Affiliate).  FeedBurner continues on its quest to deliver the world’s content everywhere it’s needed

My friends Ben Neumann and Chris Ueland have a clever idea for helping out Hurricane Katrina victims called MillionDollarHelpPage.  They’ve taken the idea that Alex Tew came up for MillionDollarHomePage and repurposed it to be a Katrina fundraiser with the goal of raising $1 million.

If you are a frequent flyer like me, Ask the Pilot is a must read.  The author – Patrick Smith – has been a pilot for about 20 years and has been writing about it for for the past two years.  The book is an extended Q&A session broken up into logical topics.  Smith is witty, acerbic, and spares no one.  I’ve read a few titillating “insiders guide to air travel” books (flight attendant stories, sex in bathrooms, dogs exploding, near collisions in the air) and they never really did much for me.  Smith’s book is much more practical and interesting – I actually learned some stuff and – even though I’m not a nervous flyer – have new perspectives and have had some myths debunked.


Sep 26, 2005

Two people suggested Pandora to me in the past 24 hours.  It’s from the creators of the Music Genome Project.  You create a radio station based on things that you like (e.g. I’m listening to the Pink Floyd Station right now) and it find music you’ll like.  You give it feedback, and it adjusts its recommendations.  It harkens back to Agents Inc (Firefly) from the mid-1990’s, but in addition to recommendations, actually streams the music and lets you buy the song from iTunes or the album from Amazon.  Very cool.