Wednesday, 30 August 2006


Three website related experiences I want to report on.

First I'll start with Amazon. I told you about the five book order I've made, which included the highly anticipated Inconvenient Truth book (which, having watched bits of the bit torrented film version, seems better than the film).
Well, last week we finally got the books. We got them, but: Three of the five books were in a worse than second hand condition! I first noticed that Inconvenient Truth had dirty finger prints and signs of being dragged on dirt; the Beatles book had scratches, burst blisters, and was all folded up; and the Orson Scott Card book was all folded and scratched, as if by a knife. It was obvious that whoever packed our package for Amazon was going through a tough day at the office.
I went to the website and did the "returns" procedure. This is a wizard that guides you through the process, while promising full refund and all expenses paid postage. At the end of it, you get a printed label to stick on the package you're supposed to post back to Amazon with the defective products, only that the label said "free postage in the USA" and Australia is not quite there (yet). The wizard didn't really tell me much about how to post the item: Airmail? Airmail express? Or maybe surface mail? The cost difference is huge, and I wasn't about to post it to them and wait for them to repay me six months into the future.
So I emailed their support and within half an hour I was told to forget about posting the books back to them. They arranged for a replacement shipment to take place, so I'll get the three books again and sell the crap ones on eBay.
Excellent service, but with a catch: First, their wizards are shit when handling people who are not in the USA; I could have easily been dumb enough to just post them the package with the label they gave me, and I don't know how things would have gone. And second, with the replacement order they charge your card and then reimburse it; with exchange rates and all, the ordeal costs $2.5 for the privilege of enjoying the good customer service I shouldn't have enjoyed in the first place had their packing department done their job right.
Next time they charge me their horrendous shipping fees, I'll know why they do it.

Next website is Flickr, which never fails to amaze me. Yesterday I noticed that you can get to see tons of information on each of the photos I upload there. Just check this out! It doesn't stop with telling you the shutter speed and the aperture, it tells you the ISO setting and the number of shutter releases since the camera was purchased!
By the way, according to their figure (circa 7400 shutter releases), I took about 10 shots a day, which translates to about $0.28 per photo.
By now my Nikon D70 is an old model, but it's still marching ahead. It's a great camera and I'm really happy with the purchase - despite its age, in this ever advancing world it is still a world class camera. Of course, now that I've said that, it will break down tomorrow.

Last but not least is the Australian Immigration Department website. To those that don't know, $400 million dollars are going in to the department's information systems budget in order to improve their systems after two Australian citizens got wrongly deported. That's a couple of two very expensive deportations, and if you ask me they should save their money and just stop deporting people. Xenophobic assholes!
But anyway, since no one is asking me (we live in a safe Liberal seat): Jo is now trying to apply for her Australian citizenship. She tried to call them to ask how to do it, and all she got were recordings of someone telling her to go for the web page.
She got to the web and started filling her application when the site crashed.
It was down for several days.
When it was up she started refilling her application, and because it's a long process she saved it in the middle. When she got back to it nothing was there.
She contacted their help through the web, and got an email saying that since the systems were revised on the second of July (!) the systems are unstable and crashes often occur. If you entered your details and saved them, but cannot recover them, they probably disappeared. We don't know when things will work, but you're welcomed to try again.
Jo will continue the application process on paper forms.

1 comment:

Moshe Reuveni said...

We got the replacement order from Amazon last night and it sucks: Two of the three replaced books are quite messed up again!
I'm not going to complain again, but I certainly have my reservations about Amazon's services enhanced.
I'm sure Australian book shops are delighted.