Corporate Relations

How Corporations Affect Me

Last updated January 3rd, 2001.

This page is intended to list particularly positive and negative experiences I've had with corporations. Why? Because this is a way I can have an effect on them beyond my direct decisions to buy or not buy their products.

I have a list of good experiences and bad experiences. It is not impossible that some corporations will be on both lists.

The Good Guys

Another of the "free upgrade" winners, LucasArts sent me a free upgrade to Monkey Island, when I found that there was no patch to make the sound work in the version I had. Also noted, an excellent web page, with good, helpful automated advice. It's been right every time I've tried it. I should also point out that they make excellent games; good quality, and no compromises.
Small Dog Electronics
The name says it all; when I was on the phone ordering parts for my Mac, I could hear yip-dogs in the background. A small, friendly mail order company. They've had good, competitive prices on Macintosh stuff, good service, and I've not been disappointed. As an extra, they include two little plastic dogs with every order! I bought my PowerMac here last year, and I got some upgrade parts for it more recently, and both times, the service was good, and the delivery was on-time. But mostly, I just like the little plastic dogs; a nice touch, and they look cute sitting on the monitor.
Apple Computer
I recently (well, October of '96) got an Apple laptop, which came with a docking station. Thirty three days after I got it (used) with a 30 day warranty, the dock's power supply blew up. This was apparently a known problem with this model of dock, and Apple paid for the out-of-warranty repair on a used piece of equipment! The customer service reps I talked to while resolving this were friendly and helpful. A good experience, and it makes me a lot more confident about the value and quality of Apple products.
I got Sim City for my Macintosh, but it doesn't work on my brand new Power Macintosh, which has no 16-color mode. The solution? Maxis chose to give me a free upgrade to the current Sim City Classic, because they had, after all, claimed Sim City ran on Macintoshes using System 7. A very positive experience.
(There used to be a bad stuff entry for Toshiba, in reference to their phone line being understaffed. They fixed it!) I got a Toshiba desktop computer from Best Buy as a floor model, and it came with a Windows disk, but not with the custom Toshiba disk. The result? I couldn't use the special features of the graphics or sound hardware. I called them, and they sent me a free replacement.
A bookstore with good service, decent prices, and a kick-ass privacy policy. (Disclaimer: After much consideration, I decided to sign up for their affiliate program.)

The Bad Guys

eBay used to be good guys. Then they went bad. They suck now. This used to be a discussion of their excellent privacy policy. Then they changed it unilaterally, and refused to stop spamming people, and kept bugging me even after I told them to terminate my account. Bunch of lying scumbags.
Lots of other people have had problems (see for more info), but most recently, FirstUSA spammed me. They took the email address from my registration form, added it to a list, and started spewing.
They spam. They harvest lists from God Knows Where, then send out spew claiming to be associated with Apple or Iomega. Their spam problem continues to get worse over time; no clue.
Spam, support for spammers, and no response whatsoever to a long letter; imagine this letter with addresses and phone numbers for most of the signatories; imagine AT&T ignoring it. For eight months. Despite frequent calls to remind them. After eight months, they finally deigned to respond: They have no plans for a policy of not spamming.
This recruiter insisted on posting job offers in comp.lang.c. The guy doing it knows it's rude; he just doesn't care, as long as it improves his business. Lord knows dishonest money buys better tasting food. He seeems to have stopped, but it took over a year of complaining to administrators at various sites. The last post I spotted came through a university server; I guess people never learn.
Bally Total Fitness
Some time ago, my spouse made the mistake of signing up for an account with Bally Total Fitness. What a horrible mistake! When I called asking to cancel the account, they told me that he would have to call in for them to cancel the account. When he called, they said he couldn't cancel the account by phone. The phone service representatives refuse to connect me to a manager, because only the person whose account it is may speak with a manager, even if it's someone else that's being told untrue things. They did finally close the account after we wrote to ask them, but it was a pain.
Furthermore, it's obviously not true that I can't do things on behalf of my spouse for this company; they accepted my payments without complaint. Just a way to get an extra month or two of dues out of an ex-customer, while creating obstacles.
Computer City
Boy, do I dislike Computer City; they have told me things that aren't true, and I recently had the displeasure of seeing a very, very, dishonest store clerk telling some rank newbies various untruths, for perhaps 15 minutes, to support the conclusion that they shouldn't buy a Macintosh. (The real reason? Because Computer City is being discontinued as an Apple dealer, and he'd have been obliged to refer them to CompUSA, which is the competition.)
Tragically, Computer City died - it was eaten by CompUSA. If you want to read the whole story, you can find out why.
I'm not sure this is really their fault, but one of their people posted things to comp.lang.c which I would have considered advertisements, and when I complained about this, and flamed them, the guy called me to insult me. This produced what is, to the best of my knowledge and memory, The Rudest Thing Anyone's Ever Said To Me. (The "one of their people" is apparently the president, so maybe it is official policy.)

Furthermore, they added me to a list for product information, without any visible reason to do so, and ignored complaints for around a year. More spammers.

Cyber Promotions.
Anyone who doesn't know what's wrong with Cyber Promotions has been living in a cave. They lie, cheat, and steal. They send sexually explicit solicitations to minors, they send pyramid scams to everyone, they steal millions of dollars worth of bandwidth, disk space, and time... and they insist that this is "commerce". The only redeeming feature of Wallace Sanford's latest excretion is that it may do to junk email what he did to junk faxes before — make it completely illegal. Go Wally!
Norwest Banks.
For a long time, I've been recommending Norwest. They were the good guys; the one bank in the entire Twin Cities area that wasn't charging an extra dollar to everyone else to use their cash machines. (In case you've ever wondered, they are already reimbursed costs by the other banks, typically actually making about $.25 profit on the transaction.) Now they aren't. They charge an extra dollar, over and above any other costs or reimbursements. Why? To crush competition. I have an account with a small bank. In fact, I have two accounts, at two different small banks. Those banks can't afford to put a cash machine in every mall, so Norwest and others are trying to crush them by imposing a tax on using small banks.
Gateway 2000
I've had several problems with Gateway 2000.

First, when I was having trouble with the battery in my Solo 2300, I got this useless support rep who insisted that my problem was that I was running Unix, not Windows, and that there was no way the battery could cause the symptoms I saw. Indeed, the battery did fix it. (As a side effect, while I was trying to get this straightened out, I ended up getting two laptop chassis shipped to me, instead of the battery, but everything worked out in the end. I shipped the extra chassis back.)

Secondly, their web page has become one of the most hostile I know of. I don't normally like to leave image loading on... And this makes it nearly impossible to navigate the maze of frames, ".asp" pages, and other nonsense. I wish they'd fix this, it's a lot of extra effort and data for no real content improvement.

It's not a customer service problem, but I do wish they'd allow more unbundling of their build-your-own PC's — I'd like to be able to buy them with no Windows, no disk, and no video card, for instance. Oh, well, can't have everything.

Third, they've gotten worse about the bundling. If you ask about a computer without Windows, they may just laugh at you. They make excuses, but really, they just don't care about people who aren't mainstream enough for them.

Finally, they started spamming, on the grounds that their lawyers had assured them that unsolicited email to their customers was almost certainly legal. They somehow managed to get my email address (possibly through their partnership with NECX), so they even spammed me.

The world's spammingest bookstore. If you order from them, they reserve the right to add you to mailing lists, whenever they feel like it, forever. Do they let you opt out? Sure! Just send mail to ... oh, wait, they changed it again. This week's entry in the "send mail here and we'll leave you alone" contest is "". Oh, that's obvious enough. Wonderful. My answer? Go to Powell's, they're honest, they have a clear and firmly stated opt-in policy, and they actually carry a lot of books in stock. They're a lot bigger than Spamazon, and they carry obscure books. They even have used books!
Colorado Prime Foods
They don't just telemarket, they lie to you about it; they claim to be only doing a survey, but the survey turns into a sales pitch. Telemarketing is rude, but lying about it is completely unacceptable.

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