February 2007 - Posts

Why 'The ZMan'?

I have been asked why I use 'The Zman' as a nickname several times in the last few weeks. So to save me typing the story any more times here is why:

Let me take you back in time to 2004, it was a simpler time, when Bill used to write me a nice big check twice a month and I was a happy couch potato who had no desire to run 26.2 miles. I was getting into Managed DirectX and after a few months of lurking in the managed DirectX newsgroup I was ready to start trying to help folk. Firstly I was unsure of my new abilities and secondly I wanted some anonymity since I was a Microsoft employee. I had TheZBuffer partially built and so it seemed only sensible that 'The ZBuffer' would be run by 'The ZMan'. Of course I was outed within minutes of The ZBuffer going public. So that is how the legend was born and the rest as they say is history.

4 ways NOT to get or keep my business.... (part 4)

Sorry for the delay on part 4... something came up.

So the 4th and final company to annoy me in the last month is Quicken. They have been sending me 'Upgrade to Quicken 2007' with $10 off emails for the lat 3 months and when I installed Vista I figured I would go ahead and upgrade. So I followed the instructions in the email and paid my $79.99 (home and business is normally $89.99). However I had a few problems with the installation and went to http://www.quicken.com to see if I could find some help. Imagine my surprise when right on the home page was a nice big ad that said 'Buy Quicken 2007 Home and Business for $59.99'. There's nothing quite like treating your existing customers to a deal which is worse than the one you offer the general public. The reason this works is because most people are too lazy to look or complain. However The ZMan loves to complain, its his hobby and its even more special when there is $20 on the table. So I emailed them and pointed out that this didn't seem fair and that I expected a $20 refund. No kidding this is the reply I got:

"Actually this is an offer going on for our customer, you might get different prices for different version, so if you get $59.99 for Purchasing Quicken Home and Business then that will be luck, and if you get $79.99 then, it is not a good luck for you."

I'm not even 100% sure what that means. I guessed that the implication was that somehow the discount was in some ways random so I checked the website from 3 computers and got some friends to look. Apparently all of us are VERY lucky because we were all offered the same price. Thankfully Quicken did offer to refund my money even though they thought it was OK to insult my intelligence at the same time.


The correct reply would have been:

Dear ZMan, thanks for bringing this matter to our attention. Customers who have paid year after year for copies of Quicken are our most important customers and from now on we will ensure that they always get the cheapest upgrade price. To that effect we will be refunding $20 to you and ALL existing customers that we tried to pull a fast one on.

Happy Valentines day from WHO???

I've become very cynical about Valentines day since arriving in America. In the UK Valentines day serves 3 purposes:

  1. One more obligation to spend money on your wife/girlfriend so that she feels more important than her friends and therefore feels obliged to give you a little extra jiggety-jiggety
  2. A chance to make a move on someone you like who is probably pretty desperate on February the 14th in the hope of jiggety-jiggety and the chance to spend the rest of your life doing #1
  3. The chance to send prank cards to your buddies to reduce the chance of him getting any of the aforementioned jiggety-jiggety

On my arrival in the US I discovered that Valentines day is pretty much the same as Christmas except its open to all religions and you don't get to eat turkey. Everyone gives everyone cards. Teachers, parents, grandparents, stalkers, serial killers etc. There is even wonderful tradition of giving everyone in your class a card and they sell the cards by the boxful to enable this. The end result of course is that ugly people do not find out they are unlovable until they are adults which probably is great only for the psychiatrist industry.

Anyway none of that was really my point... Today I have 3 emails so far all about Valentines day. One was from the Portland Marathon, one was from KFC and I just got one from GoDaddy. The only way I can relate these to valentines day is as follows:

  1. Portland Marathon: Hey ZMan you are fat and not getting any jiggety-jiggety so maybe if you try a little joggety-joggety you will get more in the future
  2. KFC: Hey Zman nothing impresses a girl more that putting her in your car and driving her down to the local KFC for a valentines day meal. Don't forget to use the coupon we included as we hear cheapskates get lots of jiggety-jiggety
  3. GoDaddy: Hey Zman you know that chick from our TV adverts? Well if you buy some domains from us we might send her round your house for some.... yes you guessed it

When I am 'King of the Universe' ™ © I will make it one of my laws that valentines gifts or cards can only be sent to someone you either want the jiggety-jiggety with or as a joke which you swear was very very funny when you were in the pub the week before

(I'm not sure where I came up with jiggety-jiggety but I grinned every time I typed it so it MUST be a funny word right?)

4 ways NOT to get or keep my business.... (part 3)

If any of you have ever set up your own business you will know that it opens the door to a whole new level of spam mail. The paper and phone call kind not the email kind. You get catalogs for office products, phone calls about being in yellow pages and business directories (for a fee of course) but the most annoying of all is companies that want you to use their credit card fulfillment services. Well one of these companies called IMS sent a postcard rather than annoy me while I am eating my dinner. Attached to the postcard is a 120 minute long distance calling card. Well that always comes in useful for phoning back to the UK and my other phone card was down to zero so this week I tried to use it. On the card it says "Exclusive gift for ZBuffer Games LLC". On the back it looks just like a normal phone card. Before I use it there is a number to activate it. So I called the number and after a couple of messages I get 'everyone is busy please wait'. I was bored so I hung up and just tried to use the card anyway - it didn't work of course. Then the phone rings and the conversation goes like this:

  • Hi did you just call IMS
  • Yes I did - I wante to activate my phone card
  • OK whats the PIN number
  • 7727.......905
  • So do you currently take credit cards at your business?
  • No - I don't have any need to
  • Really - what do you do
  • I'm a software developer
  • Interesting, I used to work in IT myself. So how do you get paid? It would be much easier if you took credit cards.
  • Look I get less than 10 checks per year - everyone is happy paying me by check and I'm not short of work so why would I pay you a monthly fee?
  • Credit cards always increase your busines....
  • Look I don't need to take credit cards - are you going to activate my phone card or is this just a big scam to get ME to call you?
  • Well activation is dependant on you taking our equipment...
  • [click]

I'm not even going to list what is wrong with this mess but you can be sure when I do need credit card fulfilment its not going to be with these clowns. In bulk a 120 minute phone card will set you back about $3 - so once again for the sake of a tiny amount of money a large amount of goodwill is wasted. If you are going to give me a gift in return for me selling my soul to your company at least make it something better than a $3 phone card eh?



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