Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Monday, August 02, 2004
There's service, and then there's service  
I'm in a cynical mood today. I'm finding it interesting to compare the responses I've had to various dealings with service organisations.

Item: Fiddling around on a certain university library website, I realise that I can access (at least some of) their full-text databases via their OPAC without providing any authenticating information to prove that I'm actually a student. I check this on another machine to make sure that my machine hasn't got a cached record of me logging in to the database. Nope. So I do what any good student librarian would do and email all my friends to invite them to access someone else's intellectual property for free.....Nah, just kidding.

I email the library and explain what the problem is, and point out that this puts them in violation of their Terms of Use in their deal with [incredibly huge and well-known database provider who would probably eat them for breakfast if it knew that they were doing this]. Five days later. No reply. No acknowledgement. No thanks. And most importantly, no fix to the bug.

Very disappointing. (I'm not mentioning the university because I'd probably get charged with hacking, or with aiding and abetting copyright breach, or something like that. Actually, I'm lucky I don't live in the US or the INDUCE Act would probably make it illegal for me even to mention that this was happening at a library anywhere).

Item: an ISP that provides the ability to do almost anything online via its website - except cancel your account. It gives you detailed instructions on how to cancel, by phoning an 0800 helpline. Great. Except that, after queuing for half an hour, I get a recorded message that tells me the accounts desk is only open till 5pm (even though the website says 9pm). I don't get the option to speak to an operator, I'm locked into a automatic phone system and can't get out of it other than by hanging up. So I email them. Four days later I get a reply that doesn't offer a word of apology for their incompetence, but presents a terse list of demands for information that I must supply before I can stop being their customer. Some of this is OK (it's personal verification information) but some of it is just rude - I resent being told that I must explain why I wish to close my account, before they let me do so. I'm a customer guys. It's my prerogative.

The guilty party? IHUG.
The good vendor I'm with now? Woosh. Not much more expensive, and it's faster, and doesn't tie up my phoneline.

Item: I still haven't had any response to my email to that record company, asking if my credit card payment had gone through. Suggestion: if you're going to have an email address on your website, it helps if you, you know, reply to the emails you receive. Do they want my money or not?

Item: email a publisher to order books late this afternoon. Two hours later I have a reply saying that the books will be in the mail tomorrow. That is what I want to hear. Credit to them (Exisle Publishing).


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