Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Print News May Be Dying But I Love My Magazines

The rapid decline in newspaper subscriptions has been of particular interest to me over the past few years. Like so many others, I get most of my news from the Internet, some from TV and considerably less from radio. Yet, I still subscribe to the Chicago Tribune (although I live in NW Indiana), a town newspaper called the Chesterton Tribune (mostly because the subject matter is so corny and the editing so sloppy that it gives me endless stream of content for a humor filled workshop I do around the country) and another regional daily newspaper that I rely on for relevant local news. Although I have cancelled other newspaper subscriptions in the past couple of years due to redundancy, it should be clear that I am not part of the mass exodus from newspapers. In fact, I still very much enjoy the feel of printed reading material in my hands, which brings me to the point of this blog post.

There are five magazines I consider vital to my existence: Wired, Fast Company, Esquire, The Economist, and Vanity Fair. Occasionally, I throw a couple of home repair mags and specialty books like Architectural Digest and Design into the mix because design and home decorating fascinate me. I also enjoy each issue of Chicago Magazine for its feature and investigative articles. I consider myself a news and sports junkie but I have no use for sports or pop culture magazines.

This got me to wondering . . . do others have magazines that you just can't live without?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nick Saban and Alabama Solicit Child Athletes

Yet another reason I will never be a Saban or Alabama fan. Nick Saban, the Head Football Coach at Alabama offered a scholarship to a 14 year-old, eighth grader so as to not be outdone by LSU who offered the same player a scholarship when he was still in elementary school. Coach Saban had a chance to set a powerful example for all those coaches who emulate him, but instead he stuck to his familiar script of football above all else and "You can never let an opportunity to win, no matter how far removed, get away." The Crimson Tide is so deep in its own muck, the institution's leadership lacks either the courage or the character to express embarrassment about this, let alone, rein in an out of control coach. National championships lose their relevance when education and common sense are relegated to recruiting afterthoughts while the higher purposes of the University and those who pursue them are made to look accessories to a vulgar act.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Life Happens Despite a Bad Social Media Effort

Just watched a video that was in my FaceBook news feed from a site called Life Happens. It's an ad for life insurance and not nearly as well done or moving as the cover image suggests. I feel ambushed on my own FB page. In fact, it is particularly poorly produced. I'll know better than to ever open a "Suggested" page again. And guess what? Surprise! It didn't sell me on buying insurance. Once again, some sucker was sold on the idea they HAD to have a FB presence without a clue about how to use social media. But people connected with the effort will circulate comments about how "sweet and touching" it is (not) and share numbers on viewership to convince everyone they have a hit. No one will mention the lack of sales but down the road some junior executive will present this tripe as their claim to fame.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hey, Angie's List, Are You Listening?

It only takes one bad customer experience to lose my business.

I signed up this morning for Angie's List, the highly touted referral network. My wife has been after me for over a year to have a skin condition on my ankle looked at by a doctor. I detest doctors so I have avoided scheduling an appointment. Today, I decided it was time since I now have another minor skin issue on my face that has been around for a few months and doesn't seem to want to go away. After searching the Internet rating services I found that there are few dermatologists in the area and they pop up on all the free rating services. Unfortunately, in reading the reviews, I learned that the docs that are most conveniently located to me don't get particularly good reviews, have inconsistent reviews or too few reviewers for me to form an opinion. Enter Angie's List. Sign up was quick and easy. They even let me pay by PayPal.

After reviewing the top 10 or so doctors listed (they matched what I found on other lists) I called the most highly rated (all A's) on Angie's List, a Dr. Rochik Desai who is within a twenty mile radius of where I live. The call didn't go as hoped.

The phone rang a few times and sounded like it transferred to an answering service. The woman answering the phone asked me immediately if I could hold. Four minutes and forty-eight seconds later I was transferred to an extension where it rang about a half dozen times and I got a curt message that I had reached the voice mail box for extension 110.

In my message, I explained that I had called with the intention of making an appointment but since the process didn't go so well, I decided to find another doctor. I did not leave my name or number.

My next step was to log on to Angie's List customer service where I clicked the button to cancel my membership. I was immediately connected by live chat to Charles D. and he asked how he could help me. After explaining the situation to him and giving him a couple of attempts to respond, where he tried to convince me I should leave the doctor a review and consider a second try with another doctor, he courteously and promptly agreed to cancel my membership and refund my $25.

So, Dr. Desai, we won't be doing business with one another. And Angie's List, I'm sorry but the first time I tried to rely on you, the experience was less than satisfying. The good news is, Charles assures me if I ever reconsider, I can log on and renew my membership. Won't be happening this week. The lesson for all involved, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

As an aside, I couldn't end this rant without expounding on my view of the medical profession, which I think rivals the airline business for all it cares about customer service and satisfaction. Unlike others who fear going to the doctor because they're afraid something painful will happen to them or they prefer not to know what might be wrong with them, I have nothing but contempt for doctors because their profession is filed with pirates and truly insincere hacks. If there's a good doctor out there, I haven't met them. I'll live with my minor skin conditions which is better than going to a doctor that makes my skin crawl.