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Acer Customer Support is what I refer to as an oxymoron.  The term “Customer Support” means that people like you and I (consumers) of their products have a method of support.

Main Entry: support
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: help, approval
Synonyms: aid, assist, assistance, backing, blessing, championship, comfort, encouragement, friendship, furtherance, hand, lift, loyalty, moral support, patronage, protection, relief, succor, sustenance

What is sort of funny, in an insane sort of way is the Antonyms of ‘support’…

Block, Disapproval, discouragement, frustration, opposition, stop.

Those words describe my experience with Acer Customer Support.  It is comical how they treat you like you are a sheep.  Purchasing an Acer computer is akin to  a sheep being sheered.  They take your money like they dewool a sheep, then they toss you back and there is no way to complain or get help.  Once they have your money, then the deal is done from their prospective.

Looking for a review on Acer?  Simple… never consider them.  Everything else is a better choice.  Everything else must be a better choice, because how can it be worse?  I am in awe that a company like Acer can still be in business in this economy.  We can all hope that they go out of business, or get taken over by a superior computer firm and they layoff the entire staff that works there currently.  Yes, I am that bitter over the way they treated me.

You know, I’m a pretty patient guy.  I’ve made it through life with patience and frustration, but this experience with Acer Warranty Customer Support really takes the cake as far as horror stories go.

Day 36 of trying to get help

I bought a desktop computer from Tigerdirect.com.  It’s a nice slim designed PC called an Acer Aspire X3200.  This was going to be my home theater PC.  Unfortunately, when I opened the box, I could tell right away something was not right.  As it turns out, the clips that hold the faceplate in place broke during shipping.  So my PC looked sort of ‘raw’ with the guts showing in the front.  The DVD drive, buttons, wires were all exposed as the faceplate just sort of sat limp in front of the unit.  One nudge and the faceplate falls off revealing the guts.

Cool, my computer has a 90 day warrenty… I’ll just get a new faceplate! 

Here is where the hypocrisy of “customer support” starts.  There is so much detail I could share with you, but let me give you the cliff notes to spare you the elongated agony I have gone through.

  • day 1:  call the 800 numbers for Acer support and they refuse to connect me to a person because they say my computer was bought at Best Buy and is no longer under warranty (WRONG!).  Also, I call Tigerdirect and they refuse to support the unit, pointing their finger at Acer (which makes sense to me).
  • day 2-35: email the Acer support guy in India. I start by emailing my problem.  A day later he replies with a simple question like “what is the SNID on the back of the computer.  I reply.  A day or two later he replies with “It looks like it was bought at Best Buy and is out of warranty.”  I reply back “NO!  It is under warranty, I got it at Tigerdirect.” Two days later he replies “fax me proof… scan the receipt, scan the box lable, etc.   So I fax and wait a couple days and hear nothing, so I ask what’s up.  He says to login to the web support help and it should work.  I try it and it DOESNT work.  2 days later I get another line of text to try again.  IT FAILS again.  He sends me a new serial number, one that will work a couple days after that.  (keep in mind I am getting frustrated and demanded a human being to talk to, which seemingly goes on deaf ears).
  • Finally, on day 36 I have a new serial number and try again.  For once I am connected and actually get a human being.  10 minutes later… “Oh I’m sorry sir, this is considered cosmetic and is not covered under warranty.  Here are some parts dealers phone numbers where you can go BUY the part.”  I KID YOU NOT!
  • So Boom, open up the 1 month old helpdesk ticket for ACER support again.

This is the first and last ACER I will ever buy.

I’ve been a semi loyal Dell buyer for 10 years.  I can say from experience that they support their products fully.  I’ve had PCs in the past come (and sometimes break later), but Dell was always quick to respond and usually replaced the broken parts within days.  I literally had the new parts on my doorstep in 2 days.  So, back to Dell I go.  Lesson learned for trying something new.

Cliff Notes/Acer customer support review:  Acer warranty customer support is horrible, takes several weeks to do what would take in a 5 minute phone call and in the end refuses to fix their own computer, regardless of your system being under warranty or not.  I have the paper trail of emails to prove it too.  Bottomline… buy another computer, unless you enjoy fixing and paying for your own support.

As the Lead Web designer for Fusionstream, I find 2008 to be a very interesting year.  I’ve know the first quarter of the year showed an economic decline.  Fears of foreign tension along with a slumped real estate market and a weakened dollar have people doing a double take at their financial status.  Baby boomers ready to retire are now doing one last business venture.

What’s different about starting a new business in 2008 versus any other time in history?  Websites!

I see more and more where new businesses are starting their entrepreneurships by starting digital.  Getting a quality domain and seeking out an experienced web design firm in their local area to assist them in getting things going.  The desire to have that online advantage is beyond satisfaction, and the search seems to be on to find quality talent.

2008 has been a flagship year and I see the buzz around interest in websites at an all time high.  Unfortunately there is only one of me.  So this years best learned asset is multi tasking, with a strong emphasis on multi!

The first SEO experiment has not gone very well so far. In fact, the Fusionstream ranking for the term “Web Design South Florida” actually dropped from page 46 to page 52 in Google’s search results after our initial optimization modifications.  How could this happen?  I believe it has something to do with the way the content on the Fusionstream website is structured in relation to the term “Web Design South Florida”. After our ranking dropped, I searched our website for that exact textual description and noted that the exact term was not mentioned a single time anywhere on the entire website.

Now, that could mean a few different things:

  • We should not have necessarily targeted that particular term (web design south florida) as the term to run this experiment against
  • We need to rewrite a large portion of the content on the website to focus on “web design south florida”
  • After analyzing the content on the Fusionstream website, we need to re-evaluate and refocus our search engine optimization efforts on a different phrase or collection of words

Perhaps it was foolish to initially target “web design south florida” without actually performing some due diligence to determine if those was the actual best keywords to focus on for our business. That should actually be the first step – before performing any optimization – look at the site as it stands and from the content already in existence make that determination. There is actually a Google tool that helps you determine what keywords to use based on the content that already resides on you website: Google Keyword Tool

So by the next time I post, we will either target a different set of keywords for this experiment or we will rewrite some of the site content to more closely align with “web design south florida”. On a side note, this blog itself actually appeared within the Google search results on page 22 for the (same keywords we’ve been talking about) initially but has since dropped lower and I cannot see where it stands now. It could have dropped lower because of the more recent business post in this blog that had nothing to do with search engine optimization – so I would imagine that after this post is in place, its search result should improve. I’ll report back on that as well next time. Thats all for now!

For the first blog entry ever in the history of the story of my life, I’ll talk about something that is of great interest to me.  I’ve been on this kick lately of reading business books related to social economics and statistics. It started with the usual suspects of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point and has grown from there. I received a great recommendation from a VP at Amazon (yes, that’s a little title-dropping) to read Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Here is the link even though I won’t receive any commission (thank me later, Amazon).

My main takeaway from the book is about looking for ways to use data more effectively to make better decisions. Even though Moneyball focuses on baseball, a sport which I am not a big fan of, it is nonetheless highly entertaining and a valuable read. One of the main characters of the book is Bill James, a big baseball fan who started looking for a more reliable way to predict how many games a baseball team will win in a season. Baseball is a sport that lends itself to this type of analysis since each team plays 162 games a season, and each game lasts many, many (sometimes too many) innings during which tons of measurable events occur. A virtual pioneer, James discovered the most important drivers of scoring runs, statistically determined the best coaching strategy for all situations, and developed formulas that more reliably measured an individual player’s contribution to a team’s victories. By examining the data from the game itself, these great insights were revealed to him.

The most amazing part of this story is that NONE of the so-called baseball experts analyzed the game in this way. I doubt many of them had even considered it since this kind of thinking takes a truly insightful person. Baseball experts relied on conventional wisdom and “gut” feelings to evaluate players and decide on strategy. Among the fallacies revealed by the data was that a sacrifice bunt or fly is actually NEVER the right move because protecting an out is a team’s most valuable play. James also showed the myth of the “clutch” hitter–there is no such thing statistically speaking–and that relief pitchers are extremely over-valued.

I could go on and on about what James found in the data that the so-called experts thought was “right” for years and years, but there are a few other points that I wanted to make. First, after James’ ideas made it into baseball circles, they were dismissed as coming from someone outside of the baseball circle and therefore not valid. How could anyone who hasn’t played baseball possibly tell the experts something they didn’t already know?  Years and years of clubhouse experience had supposedly shown the experts how to successfully evaluate and draft the best players–even though the experts were right about only 10% of the time.  However, one baseball exec did take notice (Billy Beane of the A’s) and used methods based on James’ work to evaluate and draft players, and direct the team’s Manager in strategy. This explains why the A’s are one of the most successful teams in baseball despite their tiny payroll when compared with the giant payrolls of Mets, Yankees and Cubs.  Using these methods they drafted players that didn’t even appear on other teams’ radars.  There was one problem, however.  Once these players became all-stars, as the methods predicted, the A’s couldn’t afford to keep them anymore.

That’s where the Boston Red Sox recent success comes in. If anyone wonders how 28-year-old Theo Epstein became the GM of one of the most popular teams in baseball (and sports), it was because Billy Beane turned down the offer and Epstein was one of the few others who knew how to use James’ ideas to win games. However, the difference between the A’s and the Red Sox success is as follows. Because the A’s had a small payroll, they had to evaluable minor league players–the only players they could afford.  Although the statistical methods they used increased the probability of selecting players most likely to generate wins, using minor league data isn’t as reliable as using major league data.  It isn’t apples to oranges, it’s more like apples to pears. Because the Red Sox could afford to sign the big players, who had accumulated major league statistical data for analysis, Boston could use this more reliable major league data to determine which players would generate the runs required to win enough games. Some might say that once in the majors it is easy to see who is good. That is true, but just because someone is good doesn’t always mean they contribute to wins, and that is what these methods reveal. Boston selected the all-stars that would help them win, not just the all stars that were “good.”

So that’s the story of Bill James and Moneyball. It really is an “outside of the box” type of adventure. I love stories about people going against established thinking to create something truly unique and successful. So in business or in anything else see what data is available or what data would help you make better choices. With the Web, there is so much data available, it is worth thinking long and hard about this issue. Some of the most successful online companies like Google and Amazon are awash in data and use it successfully to continually improve their businesses. Data, it’s what’s for Dinner.

Sadly, page 46 in Google’s search results is where the Fusionstream website now resides when doing a search on “web design south florida”. This tells you a few things: First, there is a heck of a lot of competition in the web design and development business in South Florida. Second, a lot of these companies are doing a much better job of optimizing their websites for search engine optimization (SEO) than we are currently doing (at least for that keyword combination). Third, we have an incredible opportunity to improve our search ranking by applying some of the aforementioned SEO techniques. Fourth and finally, wouldn’t it be cool to apply some of these SEO techniques and watch as our website rises up the search result charts?

Admittedly, we (and by we, I mostly mean me) have not done a stellar job of refining the Fusionstream website over the last few years mainly because of lack of time and the fact that we have been so busy working on client websites that we never really needed to spend time on our own site. Well, we are still extremely busy, however many of our clients now specifically request search engine optimization services so I thought it might make sense to optimize our own website not only as an example to our customers of what we cand do for them, but also to keep our SEO skills up to date.  So here begins the grand experiment – on July 15th, 2008 the Fusionstream website is on page 46 of Google’s search results for “web design south florida”, let’s see where we are six months from now – and we’ll track our progress along the way. Be sure to check in regulary to see how we are doing!

If you happen to be looking for a web design company and you are located in the south Florida area, please be sure to check out the folks at Fusionstream. Now of course I have to make it clear that I am a partner in Fusionstream, but there’s no harm in giving my own business some props. For those of you who don’t know, Fusionstream provides services in several areas including the aforementioned web design, but also in web application development, search engine optimization (SEO), brochure and advertisment creation, and even PC and networking support. We have been working in this field since the inception of the Internet and have several clients scattered throughout the country – a few of which will be the subject of future blog posts.

Anyhow, in the interest of time and usefulness, I will now complete this posting – yes I’m a bit rusty in the whole blog posting game. I think that this blog is going to predominately be devoted to web design, development, pc tech, networking, gadgets and gizmos and maybe a sprinkle of video game discussion… Unless of course somebody has a better idea? The trick to any successful blog is to make it useful and informative yet entertaining and “addictive” (for lack of a better word). So given that the readership of this blog is currently around 2  people, how about a vote?  What would you suggest we write about?

I knew at some point or another I would start blogging again but I didn’t realize it would happen when a client of ours requested a blog on his new website. This time instead of managing the server myself however (what a PAIN IN THE A**) we have a nice shared hosting provider (Bluehost) that easily installs many applications for us, including WordPress.  So this is the first of many blog posts that I expect to be posted by my partner Todd and I for the forseeable future. Hopefully some of them will at least be mildly entertaining and/or informative. I guess this isn’t a good start then?  In that case, I’ll share that my 3 year old son, Joshua, now says “Homie Don’t Play That” when I ask something of him that he doesn’t want to do. Oh come on – you had to at least chuckle at that one!