Better Excuses Needed

We’ve all seen standard PR non-responses, as in “leaving to pursue other opportunities”, but my all time favorite excuse for an executive not responding to a question is this:

“A Giants spokeswoman said Magowan was out of the country and unavailable for comment. “
[From Giant Enablers]

Because, well you know, when you are out of the country you are completely incommunicado. Cell phones don’t work because they are on different networks and well there’s that screwy power issue to deal with. So basically when you are out of the country during the week that the report on the most pervasive baseball scandal since the 1919 Black Sox is revealed, well tough.

Seriously, do PR people really think we believe their bullshit in circumstances like this or is it some kind of understood code that says “we’re not gonna answer that so don’t even bother”? I have so much to learn in this life.

Global Carbon Tax

Does the idea of a global carbon tax administered by the United Nations frighten you as much as it does me? A massive tax scheme administered by an entity with zero accountability or moral authority bestowed on it by citizens. Whatever your position on climate change is, surely you cannot think that the United Nations should be allowed to impose a tax on countries it does not represent? We fought a war in 1776 over an issue not that dissimilar from this.

A global tax on carbon dioxide emissions was urged to help save the Earth from catastrophic man-made global warming at the United Nations climate conference. A panel of UN participants on Thursday urged the adoption of a tax that would represent “a global burden sharing system, fair, with solidarity, and legally binding to all nations.” [From .: U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works :: Minority Page :.]

Amazon World Domination Can Now Begin

AWS filled a major gap in their offering with the addition of SimpleDB. Two things jumped out at me, the first being that it’s optimized for very large datasets and the second, more important as well, observation is that it’s designed around search indexes instead of schemas.

There’s a lot more to be said about SimpleDB, most of it beyond my technical capabilities but it is safe to say that just as was the case when AWS first launched, the impact it would have was underestimated at the time.

Well after being under NDA for so long, I’m glad to be able to say that Amazon SimpleDB has gone into limited beta. Congratulations to everyone on the SDS / SimpleDB team; their several years of work on SimpleDB (formerly called SDS) is a brilliant piece of engineering. [From inside looking out » What You Need To Know About Amazon SimpleDB]

Curtis Hotel, Denver’s Worst

Maybe it’s not entirely fair to call The Curtis hotel in downtown Denver (14th Street & Curtis) the worst, it is likely that a La Quinta or Motel 6 would rank lower…

Denver is fortunate to have a number of really fine hotels, including the Hyatt Regency and, my favorite, the Monaco Hotel. I am in Denver this week and having heard good things about The Curtis, I decided to try it even though the walk to our offices is a few blocks extra (not to be underestimated in importance when it’s cold and snowing, which it is today). Having been renovated recently, I think it was an Executive Inn or something like that before, The Curtis is known as a “hip” hotel in Denver, which I discovered means a thin veneer of stylish accouterments masking an otherwise sub-par hotel.

I checked in late on Wednesday night because of a dinner commitment, so I got to my room (on quite possibly the slowest elevator in the Rocky Mountain states, and on the 16th floor no less) only wanting one thing beyond a clean room and a comfortable bed, internet connectivity. No luck, the list of wireless hotspots indicated that there were a menu of “curtis” access points (interestingly, a whole bunch of them with room numbers attached, but only odd numbered rooms).

I followed the instructions on the desk yet could not connect. I would occasionally get a bar or two, but I could not connect to the web redirect page that hotels usually have. I plugged in the cable from the pod on the desk, nothing. I called the help desk support number and after 20 minutes of them fumbling around unable to make anything happen I gave up and went down to the lobby… in the slowest elevator in the Rocky Mountain states.

I talked to the guy at the front desk, no luck. He did say that they (as in “the hotel”) thinks the company that installed the equipment didn’t put access points in every room, which is probably why the access points where odd room numbers only, but I was in room 1617. I was able to connect to the network in the lobby, proving that it was not my Mac that was the problem.

Today I come back to my room and housecleaning left the air conditioner on all day, it was like walking into a freezer (the temp outside is high 20’s). Mildly irritating but not a big problem, turn it off and wait for things to warm up.

I am hungry and tired, so instead of going out I order room service. The room service person shows up in the time promised, but forgets a bottle opener so I can’t open the beer I ordered with dinner. She leaves to get one and I uncover my food, here it is in all it’s cold glory.

At this point I’ve had enough, I call down to the font desk and leave a message for the manager that I’m coming down to have a word. After waiting a full 20 minutes for the room service girl to come back with the bottle opener she promised, so I can return the food, I give up and just go downstairs… in the slowest elevator in the Rocky Mountain states.

The manager, who is the the same guy I talked to on the first night wants to manage me by walking me off to the side, and that irritates the crap out of me. I explain the internet problem to him and he says “yeah I helped you last night” but that’s not entirely true because while he talked to me, he certainly didn’t “help” me as in the fixing anything part of the term.

I ask him why he didn’t have someone fix the internet today and he, lamely, says “well you didn’t want anyone to look at it.” WTF, it was 10:30 at night when I checked in, I certainly wasn’t interested in having Joe from maintenance come up at that hour, but I expected he would be on it today while I was out! Did he expect that the only people who would ever stay in that room wouldn’t want to to connect to the internet?

So then we get to the room service and I show him the picture of my food and he claims he can’t see any problem by looking at this picture. Seriously, am I not the guest/customer in this relationship? He then says that the room service is under different management through the restaurant in the hotel, upon which I explain the basic concept that a service offered through their hotel even if managed by a third party is the same as the hotel itself. If that is the best they can do then just don’t offer room service at all because it will only piss off their customers.

The thing that really got me fired up is that this kid kept telling me “I can work with you” as if this was some kind of negotiation. He seemed incapable of grasping the basic customer service concept of accepting responsibility and offering accommodations. He said something sarcastic on my way out the door to get dinner, making me so incredibly mad that I am now taking the time to voice my frustration through the primary vehicle, this blog.

Thanks to companies like Circos, my post here will be ranked and scored for sentiment, and applied to other user generated reviews, so for The Curtis it is no longer a matter of one angry customer but one angry customer influencing future prospective customers.

My advice: avoid The Curtis when in Denver.