Bobby looks to e-scape

Bobby looks to e-scape

After schmoozing with so many marketing types at the recent Fall Internet World in New York, I was ready for an escape from society for a while. The big city, where sunlight never hits the pavement, had beaten me down. And I was tired of hearing about `revolutionary' new products and services for the next millennium. No more e-this and e-that - it was a whole lot of e-coli, if you ask me. So I started searching the Web for a little e-scape.

Amazon wisdom. Apparently, many of the residents of Fairbanks, Alabama have also felt the way I did at that moment. According to's buying circles, which let you look at top sellers for a particular geographical area or even for a particular company, the most popular book in Fairbanks is Hide your Assets and Disappear: A Step-by-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace.

For a while, I thought that was the book Frank Ingari, former CEO of Shiva, must have been reading. After Shiva was sold to Intel, Ingari dropped out of sight for a while. But I have heard that Frank is resurfacing, this time at the helm of a dot-com startup called Growth Alley, a marketing services company.

The EDI in-crowd. Looks like Ariba could use some marketing services to bolster its image these days. It seems that long-time electronic date interchange (EDI) vendor Harbinger believes that Chevron's catalogue partnership with `unproven' Ariba for business-to-business transactions and its financial investment in the company was a big mistake.

So big that Harbinger has given Chevron 30 days notice before it will stop providing network services for the partnership. What a snub to Ariba. Guess they're not as cool as the old-school EDI types.

E-banking e-xposŽ. Meanwhile, American Express is also running into some trouble with its online-banking services, according to our tipsters.

One wrote that the company was not sending out monthly interest cheques on certificates of deposit because of an argument going on between two of Amex's departments. Each department thought the other one was responsible for cutting the cheques, and neither one was cutting them. Amex claims the problem has been resolved, but some customers are still waiting for cheques a month late.

Better serving you. American Express also seems to be running into a problem with its online-banking credit card services. One business traveller tried to log on to its site, only to find `the online service is being upgraded to better serve you and might be unavailable from time to time. Please try again later.'

Amex's service stayed momentarily unavailable for the next couple of weeks, the travelling reader wrote.

Perhaps its time for American Express' online-banking marketing folks to read How to Hide your Assets and Disappear.

Searching the Web for a suitable escape from all the New York Internet World marketing speak, I can't help but notice some other best sellers from the purchase circles. At American Express Travel Related Services, it's Memoirs of a Geisha. Perhaps the Amex e-banking folks are looking for new careers.

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld.

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