Friday, November 11, 2011

If Your Phone Ain't Ringing, That's Me Not Calling

Regular readers of my column will know by now I am something of a Google fan. I've been an early adopter of most of the services from GMail to Android and now, of course, Google Plus. Not one person believed I would ever give up my Blackberry but in 2009 I became enamored with Android and made the leap. Later, I jumped on the HTC EVO, when it came out, to experience 4G speeds, even though it was only available in a limited number of markets at that time. In my view, Android was and still is the mobile platform for business.

My mobile device contract is at term and so I am eligible for an upgrade. It will come as a real surprise then when I confess I have ordered an iPhone.

When the iPhone 4s was announced, I asked my provider to send me an evaluation unit. Being into gadgets, I wanted to try the iPhone for a few days and see if all the fuss about SIRI was justified. Coincidentally, I had an iPhone add-on product called SURC that I was anxious to test as well.

With the iPhone in hand I set about testing various functions. How well did it support my Microsoft mail, GMail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Google Plus. With these all working well I proceeded to play with SIRI and a variety of other features. This is the thing with Apple products. Everything just works.

The new iPhone hooks into my car with special software called BMW Connect. Many of the functions including internet radio and some social networks can be managed through the vehicle controls.

By the way, I found SURC worked really well, too.

Now sold on the device and prepared to make a change, I requested the upgrade. Much to my surprise, the provider required the trial device be returned and an upgrade order processed from scratch. So I had to wipe the iPhone, losing all the software installation and configuration performed. Box it up in the return packaging shipped to me. Take the package to a UPS depot where it will begin its journey back to stock, and wait for the provider to ship me a new iPhone 4s.

Sounds a bit loony, if you ask me. To add insult to injury, the provider is currently out of stock and cannot provide a new unit, nor tell me when they will be able to ship one.

My Android phone still works quite well. But the provider has inconvenienced me and, by the way, will charge me a restocking fee for the trouble. They have incurred the additional cost and risk associated with shipping equipment, not once but twice more than necessary. Once it arrives, I will have to go through the whole process, installing and configuring the iPhone again..

As a business and technology professional I have to ask the question why has no one realized this process is broken. How much better would it have been for the customer and the provider to simply enter a few transactions indicating the trial was successful, reversing the charges associated with a purchase and effecting the transfer of number to the new device? Fast, simple, convenient, no cost and risk free.

I bet if I asked why I would get the answer you and I have heard a million times. "That is the way we have always done it." Well, wake up and hear the phone ringing. It may be time for a change.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC