Archive for December, 2011
I am sitting at in the secret lair of Joey Snackpants deep in the mythical realm of Georgia flipping between Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2012 and CNN’s New Year’s Eve with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper.
As I type this, Lady Gaga is performing.
Here’s a random photo of my Optimus Prime toys.
I really don’t have anything profound to say. 2011 was awesome.
I plan on making sure that 2012 is even better.
Happy New Year, folks.
The Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles. I took the time to drive over and get a couple of photos of this for my wife and mother-in-law who are both big fans of the TV show Bones.
That said, I did get to see a bunch of REALLY cool dinosaur bones while I was there. You can see photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomcroom/sets/72157628095216035/
I just stumbled across the MSNBC story where they interviewed Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo – the man responsible for the ultimate public relations failure in the history of the Internet.
(For some back story, read this: http://penny-arcade.com/resources/just-wow1.html)
So after getting his ass handed to him on the Internet, he decided to tell his tale to MSNBC in this article:
Here’s the part that annoyed me…
“If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better.”
Referring to the email thread that started the whole mess, Christoforo said that he didn’t know who he was talking to in his initial, flippant response to Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik.
“I didn’t know who that guy at Penny Arcade was,” he admitted. “If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better. PAX is a great show. What he does is what I’ve been idolizing since I was a kid. It’s admirable he’s put that together. He has a lot of connections, ones I want too.”
No, asshat. There’s no “If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better.” There was nothing more that needed to be known when dealing with the person who contacted you first: Dave. You treated him like a dick and it escalated because he happened to show someone with some influence in the gaming community.
I am only left to wonder at this part:
Yet despite all the drama, Christoforo said he hasn’t lost any of his other accounts, aside from Avenger. “It hasn’t affected my business yet,” he said. “Clients have brought it up, but they’ve mainly laughed about it. I haven’t lost any clients.”
Seriously? Do his other clients not read the news? Are the located in some strange corner of the universe that doesn’t have newfangled Interwebz access? I’d love to know who these other mysterious clients of his are…
Some of you may remember when I started dealing with Comcast (Xfinity) back in early November. For those of you that don’t, here’s a recap:
November 2, 2011: I value the time of others, but it appears that @XFinity_TV & @ComcastCares do not. #Service #Fail
November 5, 2011: Good morning. My @ComcastCares hell continues & why I now regret getting @Xfinity_TV
What happened after that:
- I got a call from Comcast/Xfinity customer service. They offered to waive my bill for two months in order to offset the time I had spent dealing with the issue.
- I took a morning off from work so an alarm repair person could stop by and check out the alarm a couple of weeks later. (That was the soonest they could get someone over.)
- The alarm repair person confirmed what we had all assumed… my alarm was toast due to the cable installation.
- A couple of weeks later, another alarm repair person came to my house with the needed parts and repaired the alarm. Total bill: $501.
- I then contacted the local cable contractor and met him at a Starbucks in town to give him a copy of the bill.
- Last Thursday evening, I picked up a check from them reimbursing the $501 repair bill.
That’s right, folks. Fifty-one days to get my household back in order once Comcast/Xfinity came into my life.
To their credit, they have done a lot to fix the issues. My concern is while some compensation was given for lost time, even MORE time was lost on the back end repairing the issues they created.
This is one of those moments when I really wish things like cable television existed in a more competitive market. Where I live in South Florida, Comcast/Xfinity is the ONLY choice – so, regardless of service, you’re kind of stuck.
So it goes.
Merry Christmas and stuff!
This year was spent with the in-laws who drove down from the mythical land of Georgia to partake in a true South Florida Christmas. What, you ask, is a “true” South Florida Christmas? Well, I moved to Florida in 1988, and this year has been the warmest holiday I can remember since then. The temperature is about eighty degrees and, yes, I am wearing shorts.
Ho, ho, ho and and turn on the A/C.
Karma woke us up at 7:30 AM to open gifts because she believes that she is a human child and not a canine. This resulted in Shannon torturing her by making her wear a Snuggie made for dogs. (Photo of the act of evil taking place here.) The next few hours were spent opening the dozens of gifts that somehow found their way to our tree. A majority of my gifts were (as you see in the above photo) Optimus Prime related. My mother-in-law is a huge fan of Eeyore and (thus) her gifts were also acquired based on her fondness of a character.
Both characters, ironically, were voiced a number of times by the same actor.
So this year was a Peter Cullen Kind of Christmas.
Whether you believe in God, Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – I don’t care. What I do care about is joining in a celebration that promotes goodwill towards one another and peace on Earth.
Merry Christmas to my family, friends, fans, and even that annoying asshole who cut me off on I-95 yesterday. I’m am truly a lucky man to be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life.
The headlines speak for themselves. It always amazes me how disproportionate news reporting sites can be. While TMZ is fairly sensationalized, they tend to be pretty on the ball. Fox News on the other hand…
Either way, this is kind of amusing.
[TMZ] LINDSAY LOHAN Playboy Sales Are On Fire!
[Fox News] Lindsay Lohan’s Playboy Debut Falls Flat With Consumers, Retailers Say
Regardless of which is true, the photos ARE really weak. Soooooo much airbrushing and bad hair.
Working for Universal Orlando taught me that one bad experience can ruin a vacation & I learned it first hand yesterday.10
I worked for Universal Orlando (originally just Universal Studios Florida) from 1994 to 2001. It was a great and often challenging job that instilled in me the concept of providing, and in turn expecting, outstanding customer service.
I remember being there when attractions like The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera, Nickelodeon, Murder She Wrote, Back to the Future, and The Wild, Wild, Wild West Stunt Show all ran day in and day out.
Anyone else remember the Dynamite Nights Stuntacular? I do.
The main thing I remember, though, is how important it was as an employee to provide outstanding guest service. You see, in Universal theme park vernacular there are no “customers.” Only guests.
I remember how important guest service was because it was instilled in the training to work there and reinforced every day. There were guest service competitions hosted by management regularly. Prizes and incentives were awarded for turning a guest’s day around when opportunities presented themselves. Universal Orlando was intent on making sure that every man, woman, and child had the most memorable vacation of their lives when they arrived in Florida to “ride the movies.”
It’s always sad to revisit places that you remember with fondness only to learn the truth of how cruelly time has changed them. Who says you can’t go home? Universal Orlando.
A couple of weeks ago, Universal announced that they were closing Jaws the Ride. That attraction was my first job for Universal Studios, so I posted about it on my blog:
Jaws the Ride at Universal Studios in Florida. Memories & Let’s go ONE LAST TIME! http://www.tomcroom.com/?p=8495
A number of former boat skippers and I started working on meeting up to ride the ride together one last time. Thus, this event was created on Facebook to spread the word:
After getting messages and seeing posts from a number of folks looking to travel or having difficulty committing due to finances, I decided to contact Universal Orlando. I had no expectations, but there was a little hope that Universal would open its arms to some returning alumni to say good-bye to Bruce and the “mistake on the lake.”
Here’s what happened from there:
- On December 2, 2011, I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org presenting the event and what we had planned. I also cloned the communication via Universal Orlando’s web form here: http://media.universalorlando.com/Contact_Us/contactus.aspx?tab=PublicRelations
- On Saturday, December 10, 2011, I was in Orlando for meetings and a birthday – so I took the time to stop by Universal to talk to Guest Services since I hadn’t heard anything from Public Relations. That proved a dead end since, after checking with some supervisors, the woman at the window (who was, for the record, being very helpful) said I should contact Public Relations since they should be able to help.
- This past Tuesday (December 13, 2011… twelve days later) I hadn’t heard back. I honestly didn’t notice because (personally) I had already planned on buying a ticket. At the time I had no trouble giving Universal some money for a trip down memory lane. For me it seemed (again, at the time) worth it. Folks were contacting me, though, asking if I had heard anything about passes just in case.
- I called the Public Relations phone number – (407) 224-4233 – and spoke to a pleasant enough young woman. Her first answer after I explained why I was calling, though, was that there was nothing that could done on “such short notice.” I then pointed out that I had first made contact almost two weeks earlier. I was given the impression that I was inconveniencing her at that point and she gave me another name of whom I should speak to. She then explained that that person in question was unavailable that day and my best bet was to just email her.
- Not wanting to keep peoples’ hopes up, I posted on the Facebook Event page the direct contact information I was given (Kristen Clark, email@example.com) and conveyed that if folks wanted to follow through on their own that they should. I’ve dealt with plenty of businesses that aren’t savvy enough to operate an effective communications team, but seeing that Universal Orlando had become one was a huge personal disappointment. Even a short “We’re sorry we can’t help, but thanks for asking” would have been sufficient.
- EUREKA! I got an email back from Kristen yesterday stating that she got my email, but that she wasn’t the person that could handle it. She was, though, polite, direct, and promised follow through. This was what I had come to expect from working at Universal. Even if there was nothing she personally could do regarding the request, she was at least communicating the fact politely and professionally and offering to follow up on it.
Then I got a phone call last night.
Working for Universal Orlando taught me that one bad experience can ruin a vacation & I learned it first hand yesterday.
I wasn’t exaggerating with the title.
The person on the other end of the line was Tom Schroder, Vice President of Media Relations for Universal Orlando. At the beginning of the call, he explained that he was calling for two reasons. His first reason took over ten minutes of my time. His second took only two.
Tom went on the offensive immediately conveying his displeasure for my post on the Facebook Event page:
UPDATE: Universal’s Public Relations department is proving altogether useless. After not hearing anything back via email, I called today. The receptionist who answered pointed me to a “Kristen Clark” who is, of course, unavailable. I’ll shoot an email and check… but getting comp passes is looking slim. Sorry folks. If you’d like to email Kristen about the “One Last Time!” boat ride we’re doing… feel free to do so! kristen.clark@universalorlando
He brought up over and over again how he felt that the phrase “altogether useless” was unfair. I reiterated that almost two weeks without a reply and then being told that no one was available to discuss something was (in my opinion) enough to justify the phrase. Tom wasn’t calling to convey anything… he was calling to complain to me because I had said something disparaging about his team when they failed to follow through.
Seriously. This was almost a ten minute discussion.
Two things he said on the call REALLY irked the hell out of me. The first was the generic/passive aggressive “I’m sorry you feel that way” statement. For those of us that understand the language of guest service, that’s a talk off that means absolute zero. It is an apology for nothing and doesn’t address a situation, but instead turns the alleged apology back onto how the person feels instead of what they experienced. Since I speak fluent service-ese, I actually found that insulting.
The second thing he said was when he was trying to justify taking the time to converse with me on the phone about the statement. He related that the would allegedly have had the same conversation “if he were talking to a guest” about those comments. You know what? I am a guest. I am no longer an employee and, when I come to visit, I spend money at the resort. Every time.
As stated earlier, the second thing he called to talk about was conveyed in a huff after (from what I could tell) he felt he was good and done trying to lecture me about how unfair it was that I called his team “utterly useless” – and it took less than two minutes.
He called to say that there was a lot of focus on Jaws the Ride right now and (as a result) they didn’t have any available comp passes. In his words: “there is nothing they could do.”
It’s taking all of my willpower to not describe this unprofessional person using more colorful metaphors since I intend to forward this post to a number of people/media outlets. In short, though: uncool.
I want it abundantly clear that had I gotten a short phone call stating something along the lines of “we’re sorry, but there’s nothing we can do at this time” then I would have been 100% fine. The fact that this guy felt the need to get me on the phone and try to complain to me from his soap box AND THEN convey that “there’s nothing they could do” made it sound like he was drawing a cause and effect relationship between the two statements… meaning he doesn’t take ANY ownership for the communication failure on his team’s part.
Which means that he doesn’t take any ownership for the brand he represents.
Which means (to me) that Universal Orlando just doesn’t care anymore.
And that’s just sad.
I’m still planning on going to Universal Studios on Saturday to see old friends and revisit memories. I plan (as I did from the beginning) to spend my $80 to get in and check out the park. Rest assured, though, that Tom Schroder has single handedly guaranteed that when I take my family to Orlando, Florida for years to come that I’ll prefer giving my money to the mouse down the street.