— issue #6 {October 2014} —


Welcome to the sixth issue of Equilibrium. In this month's editorial, I'm focusing on a customer service experience I recently had. I strongly believe that customer service can make or break a company, and -whenever I can- I like to share both bad and good experiences that I have. Spoiler alert: this one was really bad!

A few days ago, I went to a Currys/PC World store (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, it's a British electrical retailer) to pick up a vacuum cleaner I reserved online (I needed it quickly, therefore I didn't want to wait for home delivery). The quite spacious store was almost empty of customers and a lot of sales people were wandering around doing nothing. Before going to pick up my order, I decided to have a quick look at some laptops they had on display. While heading to the laptops section, a salesman stopped me and asked me if I needed help with anything. I didn't. While trying out a few laptops, two other salesmen asked me the same. I still didn't. After a few minutes, I tried to find out where I could pick my item from. There was no sign indicating where I had to go, so I asked a salesman who was not very sure, but showed me a queue of 5-6 people. It was the "customer services" desk.

I quickly noticed that everyone in that queue had items they had a problem with and wanted to return or fix. There were only two people serving that queue, so it was moving extremely slowly. After a few minutes, I asked a saleswoman if I was standing in the right queue for what I came for. She asked me what kind of item I reserved, and assured me that I was waiting in the right place (since they had to bring it from the warehouse).

After about 20 more minutes which felt like a couple of hours, ​it was finally my turn to be served. After explaining what I was waiting for and that the sales staff told me to wait there, the guy on the desk just turned me away, telling me that they only deal with "large items" and I should go to one of the checkout tills... ​Since he didn't even apologise for the delay, ​​I ​expressed how unhappy I was since I had been waiting 20-25 minutes without any reason​, and headed for the till.

never listed to your customers comic strip

After waiting there for a little bit and after I was told that I should have gone to the customer services desk (no further comments on that), they ended up finding my order and sent someone to the warehouse to pick it up. I paid and left, but forgot to ask if any bags were included in the package. I went back (with the item in hand) and asked about it at the same till.

The person there assured me that it did, since (quoting her) "the features list of the vacuum mentions bags, so that means that it has bags inside". I decided not to explain to her that this is not what it means, so I just went to my car opened the box there, confirmed that there were no bags in it, and went back to buy bags.

When I went to pay, there were 6-7 people waiting in the only open till at that point. I looked around and noticed that most of the sales persons were sitting idle in random corridors, waiting for the next customer to appear; probably they were not allowed (or trained) to operate a till. The process in the tills was too slow that literally two of the people in front of me in the queue left the stuff they had decided to buy and left the store.

I paid and left, praying that the vacuum cleaner won't break within its warranty period, and I won't have to go back to that place ever again!

Enjoy the issue!

.blogs (interesting reads from around the web)

Sell Your By-products — signalvnoise.com, 2009

Solid advice by Basecamp's Jason Fried.

How I Got from Idea to Product Hunt in 4 Hours — medium.com, 2014

A nice story about how a small project built for fun became a hit in just a few hours.

Pick a License, Any License — codinghorror.com, 2007

The other day I came across choosealicense.com, and I immediately remembered this great article written by Jeff Atwood, on software licenses.

How does SSL/TLS work? — security.stackexchange.com, 2012

After Google announced that the use of HTTPS will be a ranking factor from now on, most webmasters are showing an interest buying a certificate to install to their servers. This set of excellent replies, answer in detail how the SSL and TLS protocols operate.

Origin stories — sethgodin.typepad.com, 2014

"Everything worthwhile has an origin, but those origins aren't the reason that they are worthwhile."

.images (worth a thousand words)

There are 2.2 trillion combinations of an 8 character password
— sketchplanations.com, 2013


"Which, remarkably, still does not mean they are secure."

.newsletters (food for your email)

Laravel News — laravel-news.com

Laravel News is a great resource for Laravel tips and articles, curated by Eric Barnes. If you are using Laravel, I highly recommend it.

.podcasts (sometimes is better to listen)

Chasing Product — chasingproduct.com

Chasing Product is a podcast which aims to help freelancers and consultants transition from client work to launching bootstrapped software products. The podcast went on an indefinite hiatus earlier this year, but its 17 published episodes are worth listening.

.books (physical or electronic)

UML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Standard Object Modeling Language
— martinfowler.com

UML Distilled is a short overview of the Unified Modelling Language. It is relatively old (its third edition was published in 2003), but I personally still use it and recommend it when someone asks me for a book on the subject. It is definitely not the bible for UML, meaning that it does not contain exhaustive examples for every single case that you may need to use UML for, but it's still a great, easy to use and comprehend resource.

.games (everybody needs some play time)

Runaway: A Road Adventure — wikipedia.org

Runaway: A Road Adventure

Created by Pendulo Studios in 2001, Runaway is one of my favourite point and click adventures. Brian Basco, the game's main character, sets off from New York for a road trip to California, but plans to make a quick stop on his way there to pick up a book at a bookstore. On the way there, he just avoids running over a fleeing girl who then blacks out. After taking her to the hospital, he finds out that she witnessed a Mafia murder. He saves her from the killers, but now he also has to run away.

.non-profits (for a good cause)

Guide Dogs UK — guidedogs.org.uk

As its name suggests, Guide Dogs is a UK-based charity which focuses on training guide dogs to help blind and partially sighted people.


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Photo credits: Comic strip by Dilbert & Runaway by antyapps.pl.

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