Steve Jobs (2015) Movie Review — Michael Fassbender

Steve Jobs (2015) takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
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The most important thing to know about the 2015 take on Steve Jobs is that the movie focuses almost entirely on his Steve Jobs’ personal life, which both helps and hurts the movie. After all, Jobs was a man of many facets and he arguably spent the least amount of time worrying about his personal life. This focus is also what makes this movie so interesting, however. Most people know the other sides of Steve – the self-destructive artist, the visionary and the businessman. So Steve Jobs (2015) decided to take a much closer look at the side we know less about.

Continue reading “Steve Jobs (2015) Movie Review — Michael Fassbender”

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PayPal is Terrible — Your Money is Not Safe From Them. [Burn in Hell PayPal]

Paypal is a terrible, horrible, despicable company. If you have little experience with PayPal, count yourself lucky. There are many reasons why the company continues to top lists such as the “Five Worst Companies for Customer Service“.

PayPal currently has a “2.6 out of 10” on Trust Pilot and a “1 out of 5” stars on Consumer Affairs. Forums, such as getSatisfaction are filled with extremely upset customers vowing to never use PayPal again. I am joining the countless ranks of burned customers that will never use PayPal again.

Continue reading “PayPal is Terrible — Your Money is Not Safe From Them. [Burn in Hell PayPal]”

GoodLife Fitness Sucks!

goodlife-fitness-sucks

Update: I’m switching to LA Fitness! They have fewer locations than GoodLife, which may not make them an option for everyone, but their rates are better and their clubs are quite nice! I went with the $49.99 upfront and $34.99/month plan. Much better than the $56/month plan I was on with GoodLife. Ripoff!

I just got off the phone with a customer service rep from GoodLife and no matter how much water I drink, I cannot wash this horrendous taste out of my mouth.

I have dealt with many customer service call centres but none as bad as GoodLife’s. The company is completely ignorant to proper customer service. Some companies like Bell, have recently made tremendous strides in customer service and I couldn’t be happier. GoodLife Fitness, on the other hand, has such poor business practices it’s laughable.

Let’s set the picture – a GoodLife employee fills out my information wrong (both my banking information as well as my address) and then try to slam me with a huge bill after a couple of months because of their error. I was confronted rudely about not having made my payments, when all the while I had assumed it was a 3 month trial. Of course, the employee that set me up has been fired and therefore is not available to take any of the blame and GoodLife refuses to take responsibility for any of it.

GoodLife Fitness sucks.

So I call in. After waiting on the phone for an HOUR I am eventually treated to their horrendous business practices.

“Can I speak with you manager?”

“I’m sorry, we don’t escalate calls here.”

You don’t escalate calls? Are you serious??? Never have I called in and been presented with a single opinion on my situation. It is maddening to speak with someone that refuses to help you with no one else to turn to and it is certainly disgusting customer service to do so.

Being a little optimistic:

“Can we please start from scratch and treat it as a 3 month trial since you guys messed up?”

“No.”

Being reasonable:

“Can you please help me by spreading out the cost over the remainder of my payments so I don’t bite the bullet for your mistake?”

“No.”

What GoodLife doesn’t understand is that I can be tremendously loyal if I am treated well. Instead, like many others, I have been burned. They may get their money from me eventually but they’re giving up a lot of future business when I quit. How much do I owe you ask? $200. A penny to them but a lot more to me. Apparently a happy customer is worth less than $200 to them,

P.s. I miss my old community centre so much. They had really nice staff and everything I need for half the cost. I highly recommend you check out a community centre in your area – they are much better than you would believe. These corporate gyms are absolute garbage and you will likely get burned sooner or later.

Other reasons GoodLife sucks

  1. Machines that are always broken. There have been times when I have come in and as many as 10 treadmills have been simultaneously broken. How do they let that happen?
  2. High turnover. They are clearly doing something wrong with their HR since the person that signed me up didn’t even last two weeks after I started at the gym.
  3. Pricey.
  4. Broken lights??? The light in the men’s sauna has been out for 2 weeks. Many people stopped using it as a result while others tried to find their way in the dark. Management has been alerted numerous times of the issue. How long does it take to replace a light? GoodLife Fitness sucks!

Here are some other angry people at GoodLife Fitness if you want to join in and share your struggle:

  1. http://amplicate.com/hate/goodlifefitness
  2. http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/goodlife-fitness-london-ontario-c116197.html
  3. http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=1978134
  4. http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/goodlife-fitness-fredericton-new-brunswick-c196188.html

Update: Courtesy of Dave in the comments, here are some links to legal information that you may want to consider if you will be fighting with GoodLife:

Government of Ontario :: Know your rights
http://www.ontario.ca/consumers/your-rights-under-consumer-protection-act
http://www.ontario.ca/consumers/joining-gym-or-fitness-club

Consumer Protection Act
http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_02c30_e.htm

The consumer protection act is a legal document so if anyone doesn’t have strong language skills don’t get discouraged. Find a friend, a teacher or legal student or professional. Stand your ground on the issue.

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Bad Customer Service? Don’t Take No for an Answer!

It seems that everyone, except the customer service providers themselves, knows that customer service is terrible these days. Cable companies, telecom monopolies and consumer electronic companies have the worst customer service but the problem exists for the majority of consumer-facing businesses.

So what can you do about bad customer service? For starters, don’t take no for an answer!

I have earned a reputation amongst those who know me for my ability to get what I want and my strategy is simple: if you have been legitimately wronged or have received terrible customer service, pull out your guns and get ready to do battle. Here is a quick breakdown of my top secret “process”:

  1. Determine whether or not the fight is worth it. You will certainly cost yourself some time so make sure you are fighting for something more than $5. Fighting on principle may be acceptable.
  2. Determine your “leverage” or the amount you were “harmed”. The more arguments you have the better your chances of getting what you want. Only one legitimate argument should be necessary to win.
  3. Consider the amount you stand to gain and convert it to an hourly wage for motivation. Yes, it sucks to fight with agents on the phone for an hour, but if it nets you $100, then it was a very good use of your time ($100/hr “wage”)
    • My personal best is 8 month’s of free internet because they missed several setup appointments over 2 weeks (It took over an hour to get what I requested but it saved my student household approx. $800)
  4. Explain your situation to the agent in a clear and concise manner, outlining your arguments. Wait for them to offer you something and if they do not, make a specific request (1 month free, a refund etc.) Prepare for a “no”.
  5. If you get a “no”, quickly reiterate your arguments and stand your ground.
  6. If you still get a no, immediately request to speak to a manager. No need to waste much time with a useless rep.
  7. If they say “sure, but the manager will tell you the same thing”, ignore the rep and request to speak to the manager.
  8. Repeat your arguments to the manager. This is where things get intense. Do not take no for an answer and sternly request retribution/reimbursement etc.
  9. Still getting a no? Grow a pair and dig-in! Now’s not the time to let up.
  10. Remember, there is always someone that can help you, even if the rep and manager say that they can’t. Ask to speak with someone who can help you if the manager won’t. Many companies have separate teams to deal with persistent customers. Reaching them is your end goal if the manager is useless.
  11. Stress that they are wasting your time as well as their own and costing the company money by spending so much time with you on the phone. Threaten to cancel your services, if necessary. Use social media as leverage (last resort).
  12. Get what you want!

Going through this process takes practice but one thing is for sure, you will certainly show weakness if you are not dedicated to getting what you want. If you’re not truly upset, do not follow this process and live with the situation. If you are truly upset, use it! I have a near perfect record in dealing with customer service departments simply because I am persistent, offer coherent arguments, express real pain and ask for specific solutions.

Companies on the customer service shit-list:

  • GoodLife Fitness – see GoodLife Fitness Sucks
  • Warrior Dash (Red Frog Events)
  • Microsoft Store
  • Bell, historically. Though they have improved greatly
  • Dell

The bottom line is, bad customer service has unfortunately become the norm, forcing you to fight for what they deserve. Whatever you do, don’t take no for an answer.

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Shop Smart: The Cheap, Value & Luxury Spectrum

Those that know me well know me as “cheap”, and while there is some truth to that labeling, the reality is that I tend to belong in the middle of what I call the “cheap, value and luxury” spectrum.

My hypothesis is this: people fall, by and large, into one of 3 categories of consumer spending — Cheap, Quality and Luxury.

Those that fall into the cheap category do everything in their power to pay the lowest price for everything, with little to no regard for quality and other factors. Though they may not act this way for all purchases, they do so frequently.

The luxury category is the exact opposite. These people tend to spend much more than the other two categories on most purchases, placing a large emphasis on quality and branding. These individuals tend to make purchases based on implicit, rather than explicit value and favour intangibles like brand value and perceived popularity points. While they value quality, they lean towards legacy brand perception rather than outright build quality and reviews.

Finally, there is the value category, comprised of individuals that tend to spend the most time evaluating purchases and striving to strike a balance between quality and price. Value consumers perform additional research to find an optimal price vs. quality” point.

The value category is concerned with explicit benefits of one product over another. Some qualities they may focus on include: build quality, specifications, availability and price.

The reality is that few people fit perfectly into one section of the spectrum but tend to fall into one category more often than the others. I consider myself to fall into the middle category most of the time, spending a lot of time researching products and throwing branding and popularity out the window, but for smaller or less important purchases, I certainly lean towards the cheap category.

Where do you fall in the spectrum and why? Let me know in the comments below.

Shout out to 20somethingfinance for the inspiration for this post.

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How Does Google Get Away with Upsetting Their Customers?

Google continues to make changes that improves their products’ user experience, but that hurts their primary customers, those that actually give them money — namely, marketers. With each new iteration of its core products, Google has made one thing clear: Online marketers, you are priority #2.

Back in Oct 2011, Google enabled encrypted search for users logged into their Google account. This caused a large portion of queries to show up in analytics as “not provided”, greatly reducing the visibility of search data useful for marketing analysis. This change had dramatic implications for online marketers, inbound marketers and especially SEOs. The change had many people up in arms.

What is interesting is that despite the blow-back, Google did nothing to make their customers feel better about the situation. Considering 96% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising, you would think they would try harder to keep the marketers happy.

The next thing Google did was even more radical. A recent Gmail update pushed out a new interface with several tabs that automatically sorts a user’s email and separates all marketing and promotional emails out of their inbox into a new Promotions tab. This change is particularly extreme because newsletters and other content a user subscribes to is now sent to the promotions tab so the email is no longer front and center in their inbox.

It is very bizarre that Google is continuing to make changes that frustrates their customer base. These user “improvements” are rarely directly requested and yet heavily impact marketers. Perhaps Google is too big to fail? They certainly have such a high percentage of search traffic that marketers are pretty much stuck with them whether they like it or not.

Have you been affected by these Google changes? Please share your experience in the comments below.

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Toronto Traffic Ranks 6th in North America | Traffic Congestion Index

Everyone that lives in Toronto knows that Toronto’s traffic is among the worst in North America. Thanks to the Tom Tom Congestion Index, we now know that Toronto is the 6th worst when it comes to gridlock.

The Tom Tom Congestion Index neatly summarizes traffic information into one, easy-to-read percentage. Basically, they look at regular travel times and then compare those with the increase in time during congested periods. The increase in travel time during peak times is expressed as a percentage and voilà, they arrive at their primary point of comparison.

As you can see in the chart below, North America has a congestion level of 18%, which compares favourably with other parts of the world. However, Toronto, and especially Vancouver, are quite a bit above the North American average when it comes to traffic congestion.
Traffic Congestion in North America

According to a recent article in Canadian Business (The End of Gridlock), traffic is costing cities like Toronto billions of dollars. The economic and social price of traffic is undeniable and according to the CD Howe Institute, it costs the Toronto region between $7.5 to $11 billion a year. With new studies coming out with numbers like that, it is easy to see why politicians like Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Premier, are getting very serious about combating the problem.

The province is so serious about solving gridlock (and making some money in the process), that they are going to ram-through new means of taxing motorists in order to make it happen. The idea is that taxes that make driving more expensive will reduce the number of people willing to drive.

Although I do not necessarily agree with the effectiveness of a broad-stroke approach, I am a big fan of some suggestions, such as implementing fees for driving in key areas during peak times. That way you do not affect all drivers (not all of us are directly contributing to the problem — I, for one, commute against traffic, 15 mins door to door), with a focus on those that insist on being at the center of the problem.

What do you think about traffic in Toronto and other major cities? Should we begin taking drastic measures to put a stop to it? Leave a comment below.

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