A sort of life

Riding the foreclosure roller coaster

RICHMOND, Va. — Don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about. At this point, don’t really care. Cool how that is, isn’t it?

As an aside: the title of my last post is really more appropriate for this one. I apparently made my move too soon!

Anyway, I work for a company that provides web hosting and e-mail to average (and only sometimes special) businesses.There’s nothing inherently complicated to it — thousands and thousands of companies offer said services, and probably thousands more open shop every month. This is called commerce (and if you’re anything like me) is the foundation of the supply-demand economy taught during those macro-econ classes you slept through freshman year of college.

Here’s the thing: Company A buys Company B and says: ?We don’t want to offer a service with company B’s name on it anymore.? I’m for it. I hate places that have offerings like e-mail addresses with @sprint.nextel.att.world-net.com slapped on the end. I made that up, but I think you know what I mean. So, I agree which Company A when they decided to phase out the @CompanyB.com offering. Fuck them, you know?

But here’s the thing: it’s now on you as Company A to go to all your customers and let them know what you’re doing — and not only what your doing, but why. And this has got to be something more than a couple e-mails sent weeks before the big event. How about a direct mailing? A postcard or something? A notice on the bill? These are all grand ideas because they’re tangible. E-mail, on the other hand, is not. So what? Company A did notify the customers. So what if it was just by e-mail? It’s now the customer’s responsibility to act. And if they don’t, then that’s their problem.

But here’s the thing: it’s now your problem. Company A shuts down @CompanyB.com. Here come the calls:

?My e-mail’s not working.?

?That’s because we turned it off.?

?What?!?

?We sent you several e-mails regarding the move.?

?I didn’t get no e-mail! How do I get my e-mail??

?You can’t. The server’s turned off. Your e-mail’s gone.?

?Gone?!!?

?Yes. I can, however, make a new @CompanyA.com address for you.?

?What about all the people sending things to my old address??

?The messages will bounce back.?

?So I just drop off the face of the earth? Just like that? What about all the business I’m losing??

?There’s nothing I can do. Do you want a @CompanyA.com or not??

?How do I know who to tell about my new address when I don’t have my old messages with their addresses on them??

?That’s on you man, all we do is provide e-mail.?

?No, that’s on you man, for turning my e-mail off man!?

?I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but Company A turned the off the servers and now there’s nothing you or I can do about it. It’s gone. Not coming back?

?You guys are costing me money!?

?I can make you @CompanyA.com address.?

?I want to speak to your manager.?

?Just a moment. Let me try to get one.?

Ten minutes pass.

?Hello? Hello? You hang up on me? Hello?

?I’m here. Just waiting for a manager.?

?What’s he doing, making a sandwich or something??

?He’s on another call?

?Talking about what??

?I don’t know.?

?Probably this e-mail business.?

?Probably.?

?This is fucking stupid–? click.

There were a thousand reasons why this move had to happen. A thousand reasons it made business sense to ax B. But of all the things we did right, we dropped the ball with the customers. No amount of justification will reverse this simple truth. E-mail is a poor forum for customer discourse. Change the TOS, fine. E-mail. Change the size of space offered, fine. E-mail. These things customers can ignore because they just don’t care (And it doesn’t actually matter in the daily life). But turning off customers for what they perceive is no good reason, even if there is good reason, is just bad mojo.

Here’s my take. You’re making the move to streamline operations. To solidify your offerings. One system is easier to manage than two. Less people needed. Less money spent. You, as a company, are making money off the backs of these customers. You wouldn’t make a move like this unless you were looking for a way to offer more service, to ultimately make more money. Can’t you spend the money on a direct mailing or two? Attach a god damned notice on the top of the bill or something? Begin attaching notices six months out. Give a deadline. Then turn the damn thing off two weeks after that deadline. This gives an opportunity to send daily e-mails to the fools that wait too long.

But just sending e-mail is not good enough. Not unless the customer is expecting it. And what customer would?

Hey! Why not try to make some money off the whole thing? Six months out: ?We’re turning off @CompanyB.com on such and such day. You need to do this and that to be updated to @CompanyA.com. Or, if you act now, we’ll give you a @whateveryouwant.com for half off!! Or, buy a @whateveryouwant.com and get free web hosting for three months.? Slap that sucker on the top of the bill. See what happens then. Incentives. Incentives make people move. Incentives make people do stupid things like go to a mall the day after Thanksgiving. Use that to your advantage.

And all this got me thinking about a project I’ve been working on for quite some time now. More on this later — and I know I said that back in July — but it’s coming. I promise!. It’s really got me thinking that I’ve got assets that are much too valuable for monkey shit like this.

And lets be honest: monkey shit is exactly what this is.

As a side note to all this, I finally fixed the way archives are displayed here. For the longest time You could only see the last 25 entries. Even when the page claimed it was listing entries 50-75, or, 150-175, you only got 1-25. My best work, I feel, is deeply embedded in what we’ll call the “middle part” of the archive. I began to fear people would judge me by my recent mush, and so I fixed it. It’s done. I’m done talking about it.

“Riding the foreclosure roller coaster” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

And I was desolate and sick of an old passion

And I was desolate and sick of an old passion

A congested Jenny De Soto naps with a Kleenex stuck in her nose in Vienna, Va. on December 5, 2004.