Category Archives: Annoyances

And This is Why I Don’t Use GUIs…

I just read that NetApp (a company that makes file servers that I have used and administrated for over 10 years, and really like) is yanking their current Graphic User Interface (GUI, which is web-based, and therefore usable on a wide variety of platforms), and replacing it with a “more modern interface”: a Windows application. This would normally be the point where you’d be expecting me to rail on Windows, but I’m not going to this time. The point here could have been made if they’d picked MacOS or something else: in going with a single platform (yes, ok, given the corporate norm, a platform representing the vast majority of NetApp admins), they went from allowing everyone to play, to making it inconvenient at best for people like me to use the interface.

Of course, the *real* point here is that I don’t use GUIs (assuming an alternative), so I will continue to administrate my filer the old-fashioned way, via a command line and config files, annoyed at NetApp’s decision, but unaffected by it.

Native Instruments Acknowledges Bug, End of Relationship With Guitar Center

As I previously posted, I was having an issue with Native Instruments’ Kore 2 not being able to operate the way I needed it to, and the way I specifically asked about before purchasing the product. Native Instruments has acknowledged the bug, but this post isn’t about that, even though the ordeal is almost over (by Monday I should be able to move on, keeping in mind that Monday marks the end of the *second month* of trying to get this resolved!). This post is about the amazingly bad way I was treated by my Guitar Center sales rep during our last conversation.

It used to be that companies needed every customer they could get, and would do whatever they could to keep their customers satisfied and coming back. Now, maybe there are companies out there that are so big, and do so much business that individual customers don’t actually matter, and maybe in a slight twist of irony, the negative word-of-mouth that can be spread so easily via the Internet (say, via blogs) is obviated, or at least offset, by the increased business a company can do on the ‘Net, creating this situation in the first place. In any case, I’m sure these guys still work on commission, and whatever they’d like to think looking at their weekly or monthly pay checks, their customers *are* important.

So if you’re one of these, here’s a little tip: don’t tell your customer that he’s not important (actual quote: “sorry I forgot about this, but I see 200 customers a day”), don’t blame your customers or call them difficult (“I tried to work with you, and you changed your mind”), and don’t put your vendor sales reps in a bad light (“I just talked with him, and he said you weren’t interested in working with them, you just wanted to return the product” – this one especially got me, as I spent a *month* waiting for their tech support to eventually acknowledge a bug I knew was there from the first day I used the software). Oh, and I’m not just dumping on the sales reps – the store’s general manager and the district manger (whom I spoke to directly at one point) were both involved in this debacle as well. So after Monday (or whenever this is resolved), I plan never to set foot, or spend another dime, in a Guitar Center store (or website) again. I can’t (and won’t) tell you to do the same, but the next time you do, remember that you’re likely just a number to them, and hope that you don’t need to take anything back. And if you do, I hope you’re treated better than I was.

Edit: The first part of this is here.

Horrible Customer Service (or, The Customer’s Not Always Right)

Although I was hesitant to post this until the matter was resolved, this has been going on long enough. Last December 4th, I purchased a software/hardware music package from my local Guitar Center. As a band, my friend and I spend and have spent a non-trivial sum of money there in the last year or so, and had developed a working relationship with one of the sales guys.  The package in question was Native Instruments’ Kore 2.

I have pretty specific needs when it comes to software of this nature, and I know what it needs to be able to do.  The Kore software version 2.0.0 did not have the functionality I required, and was interested to learn that the upgrade (2.0.1) seemed to have added it (that alone should have warned me).  I called our sales guy at Guitar Center, and asked him specifically if the new functionality would meet my requirement.  He didn’t know, but he promised to ask his Native Instruments rep (NI).  A little while later, he called me back with the news: it would do what I wanted.  I made the purchase, and a few days later (they had to ship me a copy from another store location), I had the product.

I went through the install and upgrade.  In order to get the upgrade from NI’s website, you need to register the product, which I did.  After getting everything running, I started experimenting with the new software, trying to figure out how I could configure the new environment to work.  After several failed attempts, and reading the mostly-unhelpful manual addendum, I turned to the user forums, figuring I was just missing something.  I had noticed, as part of my research into the product, that several NI reps were active on the forums, and I figured a detailed post would allow them to point out where my oversight was, and get me going.  After a few days without any response, I posted a follow-up asking if *anyone* knew what my problem might be.  One response gave me a glimmer of hope, but it turned out not to be the answer.  Note I’m deliberately leaving out technical details here, post comments if you want to know more!

After a few more days of no response, I contacted my Guitar Center sales guy, who suggested I call their support line, and gave me the number.  I called, and after a rocky beginning (“this is not a tutorial line, sir”), admitted that this was something he’d have to talk to their German team about (Native Instruments is based in Berlin).  I should have asked for a ticket number, but forgot.  A week later, having had no response, I once again called Guitar Center, and explained that they hadn’t called me back.  I expressed my reservations about NI’s ability to address their customers’ issues, and asked for him to process the return.  He told me he’d get back to me, but that it shouldn’t be a problem.

Fast forward to the new year: January 4th, a month after my purchase.  Guitar Center is now back-pedalling, saying because the product was registered, they can’t take it back without NI authorizing the return.

Another week goes by, and my call to Guitar Center actually gets me the District Manager for Guitar Center, who, after a few hours, puts me in direct contact with their NI sales rep.  I’m told that the only way Guitar Center will take back the product at this point is if I can get NI to authorize the return.

The NI sales rep promises to look into the problem I’m having, get their tech support to handle my ticket, and if they can’t solve my problem, he’d authorize the return.  Over that weekend, NI tech support actually contacted me – but without any history: their email was basically “how can we help you?”.  Of course, the big music trade show, NAMM, was on this past week, meaning the sales rep was unavailable the couple times I tried to call to put an end to this.

So where am I?  At this point, I’ve pretty much lost any confidence in NI’s tech support.  If I have this kind of problem right out of the box, and they can’t fix it in a month and a half, what does that say for the next problem I have?  (By the way, I should mention that I’m not just missing something: I’ve been using MIDI applications on computers since the late-eighties/early nineties – I think I know what I’m doing)

On top of that, it’s not like I’m fiddling around with this in my bedroom – the package was going to be the center of my live stage rig, and there’s no way I’m taking a product into that situation without understanding what it does and how it behaves.  In other words, trust is important here, and I don’t have a lot of it for Kore’s host capabilities.

The other problem, the one that’s left me the most jaded, is that between two companies, neither one wanted to step up and do the right thing, and still haven’t, even after a month and a half.  The moral?  I’m going to be a lot more careful about the exact terms under which I buy things from that store, if indeed I still choose to continue to spend my money there.  I’ll post a follow-up when this has been resolved.


This is a test post…

(update) I had just upgraded WordPress, and new posts were being lost after I tried to save or post them. Well, one RTFM-moment later, I copied my .htaccess file back into place (like the docs say), and hey! everything works!

That is all – as you were…

The RIAA Says I’m not a Criminal, After All!

According to techdirt, my previous preparations to add some of the criminal element to my life can now be safely done away with, as the ever-magnanimous RIAA has now said that it’s OK to rip a CD that I own and listen to it on my iPod! Too bad, too, as I was this close to picking out my fear-inspiring criminal underworld nickname: “the ripper”. Huh? What do you mean it’s taken?