Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Comcast Cuts Service without Warning, Reason

I came across this article while I was at work, entitled Comcast or Concast? You decide. Apparently, Comcast and Sprint can now ride, guns-blazing, into the piss poor customer service sunset...

As BusinessWeek's Olga Kharif reported on her blog in early July, Sprint sent cancellation notices to roughly a thousand people. These notices were sent to customers that frequently called the customer service regarding their bill or other general information (click the link to see a sample letter).

Now, TelecomTV tells us that Comcast, the largest internet service provider in the US, is warning its customers not to use too much bandwidth--without telling its customers what how much is. If a customer then surpasses the undisclosed limit, that customer can be cut off and or suspended from Comcast's service for a year.

Moreover, apparently while the service is suspended, customers have been charged for services not rendered and unable to get anyone in the corporate hierarchy to pay attention.

I'm glad to see customer service is alive and kicking!

How do these two customer service idiots compare?
  • Sprint cut customers who were costing the company money in support services and staff time.
  • Comcast is cutting people off for a service they are paying for without telling them why or how to avoid it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Brookline Public Library Recycles... Books!

I manage the recycling at work. Once a week or so, I bag up all the cans, plastic and glass walk next door to the supermarket and cash in the bottle deposits. Little did I know that Massachusetts doesn't require deposits for all recycle-able bottles and cans. So, I'm always left with a pile of recycle-ables that I feel guilty just throwing away. These nonredeemable recycle-ables end up in the backseat of my car.

Sometime last week, I was walking down the street in Brookline and realized that everyone's recycling was out on the street. So I grabbed the bag of nonredeemables from the car and set out down the street to add it to someone's pile.

At the corner of the street, I found the perfect spot--a large plastic recycling can, complete with a lid. I popped the lid opened and found a whole garbage can full of books. These books were not torn or unreadable; these books were not missing pages or water damaged. There were history books, ranging from Japanese civilization to Israeli political structure; there were children's books, classic children's books with the gold binding; there were popular paperbacks including Harry Potter, The Scarlet Letter, and Tom Sawyer.

I couldn't believe it. The library was recycling perfectly readable books. It's sacrilege!

Suggestion Time
This question seems pretty obvious, but I'd love for people to participate in this:
What could the library have done with the books instead?

1) Donate the books to charity;
2) Hold a fundraiser;
3) Craigslist--curb alert even!

Your turn!

Friday, August 24, 2007

My sweetener packet talks to me

It's not that I hear voices when I rip open a pack of Splenda for my morning coffee. But those bright yellow packets speak. They speak in fortune cookie, childrens' rhyme wisdom and I'm sure I'm not the only one listening.

"Find a packet, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck."

“A car in every garage and a packet in every cup.”

“Every sweet deed you do will be repaid to you tenfold.”

My Splenda packets are inspirational and filled with sweetness. My Splenda packets are in line with that form of marketing that requires consumer attention to be grabbed and stimulated. Momentary amusement has become a product differentiator… Other sweeteners don’t talk to me.

This amusement factor is hardly new. In fact, it’s a line out of Snapple's playbook. Flip-the-cap factoids became such a part of Snapple’s branding and image that the Snapple website includes a section devoted to Real Facts!

It's easy to see how momentary amusement can be a product differentiator in food products--eat the ice cream off the stick and solve the riddle, Splenda packets, Snapple lids, Taco Bell sauce packets... Point being, food doesn't last that long. A momentary differentiator is all you need.

But will this form of product differentiation hold out? Or is it another tool in the kit that makes your product seem quirky and playful?

Really--is it just something to amuse the people who design the labels? Be honest!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Universal Car Care?

Having just recently bought a car, I found myself in need of insurance. My parents were planning to add the car to their existing policy, thinking that would save me a few bucks. But that dream was squashed because, apparently, insurance policies can't cross state lines. Something about state rights to write laws; something about different requirements in different states. Right. Translation: What a pain!

Perhaps it's because it's campaign season, but I liken this car insurance issue to the debate over universal health care.

What's the purpose of universal health care?
To raise the national baseline for health care.
To protect hospitals and ultimately states from covering the loss in unpaid / un-pay-able medical expenses.

How many car accidents happen in a year in which one or either party does not have medical insurance?

How many car accidents happen in a year in which one or either party is driving with a suspended license or without insurance because they couldn't afford the upkeep?

Join me in support of universal car care laws!
Facilitate greater competition in the car insurance market. With universal car care laws, all companies would be able to do business nationally. (I just spent a substantial amount of time trying to find insurance providers my dad knew, none of which offered coverage in MA.) SDIP--some sort of point system that calculates your insurance premium in relation to your driving record--should be standardized! An accident is an accident in any state. It's going to count against you when you're looking for an insurance policy--shouldn't it always count in the same way?

What would you like to change about the way insurance is dealt with?

It's Been Days...

... since I've finished a post.

I keep starting posts and wandering away from them. So I'll try to finish a few stories before bedtime.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Sketchy Craigslist Experience: Strangers in a Strange Land

I need a car. I don't like to admit it; I was hoping to borrow my boyfriend's car forever, rather than own one for myself. But I need a car to get to work five days a week. The commuter rail just doesn't do me right--driving takes 30 minutes in the morning, the rail system takes three times as long.

So I was scanning Craigslist for cheap cars, looking for something reliable to get me to and from work. That's all I really need. I found an old civic that seemed promising so we packed up to go look at it.

Now, I'll admit the car wasn't in the greatest shape. And we knew that before we left to test it out. The looks of it and it's location should have told us not to bother. But we had a mission, a need to appease.

We got to the car and it was as ugly as we expected. Though the car was originally all white, the hood and the trunk were black--replaced for one reason or another. Oh, there was always a reason. In fact, we got in the car to test drive it and there was a reason for the pull to the right (one tire with more air than the other), a reason for the door being in pieces ("it's in my garage"), a reason why it couldn't be driven too fast, and a reason why the A/C didn't work (apparently, if you disconnect the A/C, you get three extra miles to the gallon).

So with all those reasons, it didn't take much to imagine how I was feeling about the civic when I got behind the wheel. Then I got to experience first hand all the clicks, grinding and rubbing noises the car made. Turn the wheel and it sounded like the wheel was rubbing against the quarter panel, only it wasn't that consistent. I wanted to check it anyway, so I asked where there was a big grocery store, thinking I could make use of the parking lot and give it a thorough look-see.

The owner asked me to pull into a gas station. The car was on empty, so I decided I'd run in and get something to drink while he filled up the car. I got my drink and we were talking about the car situation, without realizing the owner had come in to pay and could hear us. By the time we had paid for my drink he had left.

Yes. I said left. We didn't believe it at first. We walked around the gas station in all directions to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then, to remove all doubt of his intentions, he came back and said he needed to show the car to someone else, that he'd come and get us in half an hour, that we had wasted his time.

His time? He stranded us at a gas station! Moreover, a gas station in a town we had never been to. Time? Let's talk about safety and respect!

Roughly half an hour later, we arrived back to the car we had parked outside of this man's house. The spotted civic was parked out front too. Our car was untouched (thank goodness).

Sure we thought of all the nasty things we could do to the car, though he would have just spray painted it again, and we entertained all the spiteful notions we could muster. But can you imagine actually stranding someone at a gas station in an unfamiliar town?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pounce on Pownce? Or Tweet for Twitter?

I have a Google alert set up for the word Pownce. So everyday, I get a sizeable list of articles and blog posts that mention Kevin Rose's new project... Mostly, I skim through a bunch of people offering Pownce invites through their blogs (alright, I have some invites too; leave a comment if you're in need).

Pownce, like Twitter, is a microblogging service with some snazzy features--like file sharing (limited to a certain amount of space, with a larger amount for the upsell). To that end, Pownce seems to have more options for functionality (file sharing, link posting, etc.), but I'm still tweeting for Twitter.

Twitter is simple microblogging service. You have 140 characters to make your point; short and to the point; terse. It doesn't have the bells and whistles that Pownce has, but if I found a need for 'em or I would have crossed over. Moreover, all my friends are on Twitter. And there isn't much motivation to move to another similar service and rebuild net communities that are already in existence elsewhere.

FYI- I'm sandyk at Pownce and skalik at Twitter. Be advised I'm on Twitter all the time (even now) and I only check Pownce once a week, if not less.

Jargon Jar: Microblogging
I think of microblogging more like instant messaging to the masses than to blogging. Instead of sending a direct message to one person, you post to a microblogging site (Twitter, Pownce, et al) and every one of your friends / followers sees it. Most sites have direct message options, it's the exception rather than the rule.

Generally speaking, microblogging is a tool for quick, often up-to-the minute, updates. Posts range from what the person had for breakfast to shout outs to new friends or followers and syndicating blog posts (i.e. "check out my post on this at").

Shameless self promotion is encouraged... But I suppose when you work in PR, you ought to expect promotion of all kinds.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Occasionally, one is faced with a moderate to intense personal situation--emotional, interpersonal, medical or what have you-- at work. Everyone has his or her own coping mechanism, but I'm intrigued by the different work ethics or philosophies used to address these "personal" or "private" troubles while at work.

I've come to this question a few times in my "professional" career. (I don't know what other sorts of careers I've had; I don't think my high school fast food experience counts as a career move, at least I hope not...At any rate, the question:) But is there a correct way to deal with a personal problem while at work?

There are many perspectives from which to approach this question. Here's the lay of the personal trauma land:

Control Freak
To this person, any evidence of a problem at home could be construed as a side of weakness. You must, as always, maintain constant vigilance in warding of second-guessers and other forms of critique.

Check it at the Door!
For whatever reason, this person was taught that emotions don't belong at work. So while you're thinking about your dog that just died or your mother who is sick or whatever could be bothering you, you should, regardless of how worried or concerned you are, check it at the door.

Emotional, so What?
This is the guy or girl that would be crying at her desk, unabashedly. Perhaps after whimpering for a bit, once people had noticed, he might remove himself from his cube and go to the bathroom or outside for some fresh air. But the mentality here is, life is. You get emotional and deal however you need to--and who cares about everyone else?

Combination Treatment
Combo literally goes through the stages of emotional distress, and everyone listed herein, dealing with a stressful, emotional situation. Combo is in limbo, emotionally and egocentrically unsure. This person wonders, "Is it alright for me to feel this way?" Then momentarily encompasses the control freak, or emotional, so what. Difficult to predict this one, but usually the course of thinking, though not action, will be the same.

Did I forget anyone? How do you manage your emotions at work?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I Am Not Unique!

Turns out this blogging thing is quite popular. I launch my blog and a day later the Globe calls Boston the top blog city. How exciting it is to be a statistic!

Apparently, "Greater Boston had 89 posts per 100,000 residents," which beats out all those other wired, tech savvy, well-educated places... How many of those are there anyway?

Jargon Jar: Blog
(I'll have to make a cool graphic for that later.)
The term blog comes from mashing together the words web (i.e. world wide web) and log. A blog is an Internet based journal put out there for all to see. Blogging--the verb meaning to create or maintain a blog-- enables citizen journalism, where anyone can start or join a conversation.

Some blogs now are highly regarded news sites, which initially stirred up a debate on journalistic integrity. Check out TechCrunch or BoingBoing to see examples of popular blogs. It goes both ways however, now traditional media outlets are sponsoring / hosting blogs--these often take the form of digital opinion columns.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Important Meeting Preparations: Iron Shirt, Stuff Packets... Straighten Hair?

This morning, I woke up early to prepare for an in office client meeting. If it sounds official, that's because it was; it was the first big meeting with a new client and it was my first client meeting where I had an actual role, a line item on the agenda. I was to talk about part of our PR plan, sound intelligent and look the part. So naturally, I planned to dress accordingly and straighten my hair.

This morning, I stood in front of the mirror, clad in a terrycloth robe, straighter in hand. My hair was unruly as ever. The curls were frizzy and kinked. There were fly-aways in all directions. Straightening it would make me look neater, I thought.

But really? And then a hodgepodge of thoughts trolled through my mind simultaneously--a neat appearance is confidence inspiring; professionalism is important; accurate, honest interactions are a must in PR; straight hair is more mainstream; mainstream is feels safer... Oh! I was lost in my own self pondering. Not too lost--I managed to straighten my hair and get to the office early to finish the final meeting preparations.

Let's go back to the hair raising issues though (sorry, I couldn't resist)...

Is there something confidence inspiring about straight hair? Does Marsha Brady have one up on me because she was born with easily managed hair?

Why do I associate straightening my hair and make-up with professionalism? It seems to me that these things conceal me, perhaps enhance what's already there, but cover other things that are. Example: foundation erases blemishes, but blots out freckles. My hair falls straighter, but that's not how I identify myself.

Then again, I know people like the way I look with straight hair...

Ladies (and Gents)--tell me what you think!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Simpsonized Me

Now, I'm a Simpson. Burger King, as a promotion for the Simpsons Movie, created SimpsonizeMe. The site creates aless than accurate, but still funny, Simpsons-style likeness of you.

Give it a try (and share your simpsonized selves here)! You submit a picture, tell it whether you're a chick or a dude, state your age and -poof- a yellow you appears... You actually get to pre-set your color too. In essence, you get to choose your ethnicity. Though I didn't think of it at the time, I could have chosen brown and set my background to the Quik-E-Mart. I didn't notice any Krusty color option... That might warrant further investigation!

All the time I spent making a Sandy Simpson got me wondering if there are other websites that allow you to generate cartoon versions of yourself. Does anyone know of a site that can make me into a Jetson? I want to be Jetsonized!

Meet Sandy Jetson. ... Her boy Elroy.

Sandy's First Blog

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for quite some time now. First, I debated the name. Naming a log of your thoughts seemed to be a highly personal matter--or at least that was what I was telling myself at the time as a way of putting off actually starting this thing. Vetting the name through friends only created further room for wiggling out of actually blogging. "Are you sure you want to name your blog that?" "That's a dumb name."

Maybe this "sandying" business is dumb too. But no more excuses!

This is my blog. I'm planning to post here often. And I plan to try to post in themes (i.e. topics that I intend to write on regularly).

Possible themes, you ask? Here's the working list:

MyNews: I, like everyone else who has a blog, will blog about me--hence the name of the blog.

PRoper-ganda: Bernays, the father of public relations, said that what he did was propaganda, and that he just "hoped it was 'proper-ganda' and not 'improper-ganda.'" A very witty little woman I went to college with named our PRSSA chapter newsletter PRoper-ganda and I would be remiss not to mention my title borrowing (much PRSSAmor).

Middle East Mash-up: Not so occassionally, the coverage of the area is, well, amusingly disparate. Three different stories covering the same event will recant three radically different stories. And don't get me started on the bias!

Jargon Jar: posts of random mumbo jumbo I hear at work, in the news or anywhere that may need explaining for me and others.

And there will be more to come, as I have many more interests I like to talk / think / write about. But this is a good start; it's an introduction really.

Welcome to my blog. Visit often.