First Coffee for September 1, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for September 1, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “No More Looking Back” by The Kinks, one of this great band’s finest songs:

Today customers are being introduced to the new Sprint,” says Len Lauer, Sprint’s chief operating officer.

Company officials are saying the “new Sprint” is opening for business “under a new brand,” where the “resounding answer” to “virtually all” customer questions will be “Yes, you can.” They promise a greater number and diversity of devices and the extent and breadth of applications and content, along with “new, compelling pricing plans.”

Get ready for an “aggressive” market-saturating ad campaign where “Sprint will be hard to miss in September and into the fourth quarter,” as they’ll be busy convincing you that “the new Sprint will make digital life simple, instant, enriching and productive.”

Sprint’s also promising to drive true revenue through meaningful and relevant content directly to the wireless device, part of “aggressive position in maximizing its sponsorship assets,” such as its deals with NASCAR and the NFL.

Highlights of their go-to-market offers include:

Sprint Fair & Flexible. A plan that includes nationwide roaming and allows customers to use their phones as much as they want with no huge overages, as the plans “adjust automatically to meet a customer’s usage month to month.”

Sprint Free Incoming. Free incoming calls anytime, from anywhere on the Sprint PCS Network or Nextel National Network.

Sprint Mobile to Mobile Calling. Unlimited minutes for just $5 a month for customers on the Sprint PCS Network and the Nextel National Network.

The Ability to Turn Back Time. With a new plan, the customer can choose when their nights begin: at 6, 7 or 9 p.m. All plans include unlimited night and weekend minutes starting at 9 p.m., but for $5 more the unlimited clock starts at 7 p.m., and for just $10 more it can start at 6 p.m.

No word on whether morning can actually start later, a feature First CoffeeSM would gladly pay almost any price for.

Customer service outsourcers Sitel Corporation are announcing a multi-year contract with Belgian cable TV, Internet and telephony company Telenet. Sitel will manage a “substantial part” of their customer contacts.

The three-year deal, according to Sitel officials, further underscores their success in “building long term partnership with major brands” on the all-important Belgian market.

Under the terms of the deal Sitel reps at their facility in Brussels will handle Telenet invoicing and “administration related inbound contacts.”

That didn’t last long.

On Tuesday Apple announced a 30-day, money-back guarantee on the Mac mini and select accessories via its online store, saying the promotion would last until Halloween. But last night, “without a single word of explanation,” according to Caesar Fisher at Ars Technica, “the deal is gone. Kaput.

Calls to Apple’s PR types, Fisher reports, have not been returned, except for one guy at Apple’s telephone sales center who told him the deal was “pulled” and they would not comment on such matters. It was yanked so abruptly that sales help at the Apple Store in Cambridge were “surprised to hear that the deal was off.”

If you’re like First CoffeeSM, you’re learning about the promotion’s existence through its obituary. As Fisher says, “If Apple was out for a buzzkill, I guess you could call this a success.”

No explanation has, as of yet, been given by Apple for the bizarre volte face.

Network Computing Architects Inc. and IP PBX company ShoreTel, Inc. are announcing ShoreTel 6, the sixth generation of its distributed IP PBX voice product.

ShoreTel’s marketing it with a new Office Anywhere feature, which supports mobile users irrespective of their location and the device they are using at the moment. It has also delivered two new telephone devices, a low-end IP phone and a 24-button programmable button box for operators and assistants.

Basically, the marketing pitch goes, with Office Anywhere, you’ll only need one phone number to reach someone, no matter where he is. Plus, according to a company-furnished testimonial, “ShoreTel 6 also solves a big problem we have in distributing software upgrades because end users don’t have administrative privileges.”

What’s nice is that the SIP interface in ShoreTel 6 allows users to expand their phone system beyond what ShoreTel offers, such as using a conference phone or integrating with other phone systems.

Speaking of SIP-enabled VoIP phones (smooth transition, huh?) Bios is reporting this morning that the wonderfully-named Funkwerk Enterprise Communications has announced that “it is shipping the new elmeg IP290 SIP Voice-over-IP telephone.

It’s designed for “entry-level users wanting a ‘professional solution’ to switch to VoIP quickly and simply, without losing quality of service or features.”

The elmeg IP290 has two Ethernet ports, company officials say, for network and PC, and can be connected directly to an Ethernet network. Evidently there’s a “growing number” of UK SIP service providers so you have options when it comes to sending and receiving calls from other VoIP, digital or analog phones or connecting to other SIP compatible hardware and software.

Ever since First CoffeeSM tried to buy a CD from seller, and got royally… well, not treated well, he realized that here we have a textbook example of how a company should not treat customers.

Turns out it wasn’t exactly an isolated case. More than a few readers have written in with their own horror stories of’s terrible customer service. Yesterday “Brian” left a message on First CoffeeSM:

I wish I had seen this page before ordering from Caiman, because I’m in the same boat as all of you. I’ve been extremely patient in my matter, but I placed the order on 7/22/05, it shipped on 7/27/05, but I have yet to receive anything.

After I e-mailed them over a dozen times they finally just claimed that the order was lost in the mail, and that they would replace it if I waited 21 business days (that’s actually an Amazon policy). Well, 21 days later it never arrived, so I e-mailed them and asked them to replace my response. So I e-mailed them response.

I plan on canceling my order through Amazon using their customer service policy, hopefully they will stop using Caiman on their marketplace. I’m not sure what one person’s review of the company can do, so I urge any of you who haven’t reviewed Caiman to do so an They are not an honest business, they are rude, and I sure as hell am not giving them my damn money.

It’s one things to write about customer service, as First CoffeeSM does, it’s another thing to try to put these principles into practice. First CoffeeSM isn’t exactly flirting with megablogs Instapundit or Little Green Footballs’ number of hits, so the fact that so many readers of this blog have had miserable experiences with should suggest to the appropriate action to protect its brand.

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