In my call for Bob Cratchit award nominees, I got some great responses. Some of them seem a bit more in line with what Scrooge would say, but then again, this is the Gripe Line -- so here goes.
The first is from a reader who would like to remain anonymous but who nonetheless reports, "I have a company MacBook Pro. I bought the three-year service policy for it when it was new. That recently expired. About a month ago it started to make a horrible sound. My company IT people said they would just send it in to Apple for repair. With nothing to lose, I walked instead into the local Apple store at the mall. A genius there tested it and verified that the warrantee had indeed expired 41 days previously, that the fan was bad, that the display had some bad pixels, and the battery failed the life test."
[ Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]
Anonymous thought he was in for a big bill -- only to be proven wrong: "The Apple expert looked at it and said he could see I had taken care of the machine, so even though it was out of coverage, he offered to fix everything under warranty. In the end Apple replaced both fans, the display, and the battery pack. After reading Gripe Line for years and hearing the nightmares people have just trying to get vendors to honor their warranties, I was floored."
Christopher wanted his nomination to be a response not only to the Gripe Line but to an earlier post here about a customer who needed help getting out of his T-Mobile contract after moving to an area that did not have service. "I've had almost that exact same experience myself," says Christopher.
He continues, "But I want to be a voice adding that T-Mobile does honor its policy to let you out of a contract if you relocate to an area with no service. And they do it -- typically -- without a fight. When I called to ask about an early termination fee, the company never mentioned it had a policy on this. The representative simply volunteered to waive the fee. I will happily look to see if the service maps change so that I can sign up with T-Mo again in the future."
Karen wrote to nominate a product. Granted, it is her employer's product, but I did suggest that people could nominate their own employer if it's a particularly non-Scrooge outfit. Also, the company makes a product geared at saving money for enterprises, as well as sparing IT people from mobile connectivity hassles -- I'm all for such benefits.
"I would nominate the iPass service," she says. "It is pretty sweet to open my laptop, have the iPass client 'sniff' for a Wi-Fi connection, and just connect me. I was in the Houston airport with my kids, and suddenly my laptop started making noise. It had found the network, logged me in, and started running the YouTube video (of my nephew) that I had interrupted at our last stop."
Finally, a more cynical -- perhaps he works for a Scrooge? -- voice suggested that the awards are a bad idea because they will get Cratchit into trouble with Scrooge. "Every company -- even those that are universally disliked -- are quite often peopled by great employees," says David.
He explains, "Unfortunately, these employees are usually disliked by their own company's upper management because of this great work. Remember the scene from the 'The Incredibles' where Bob gets into trouble with his boss because Bob's customers were getting through the company bureaucracy too easily? If I was one of [those] customers, I wouldn't want to nominate him for the Bob Cratchit Award, because I don't want him to suffer any unwarranted scrutiny from his upper management." Point taken, David -- now will someone call in the three ghosts to talk to the upper management at these companies?
Catch up on last year's Cratchit Hall of Famers:
- Cratchit Hall of Fame: Painless collaboration
- Cratchit Hall of Fame: MPC tech support
- Cratchit Hall of Fame: Impressive tech support
- Cratchit Hall of Fame: Web innovation and support
- Cratchit Hall of Fame: Toasts to HP, Symantec, and Verizon
Got gripes or questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.