Rose was about the only San Francisco resident not to feel last week's minor earthquake. Or, rather, she did feel it, but because the room was already spinning (due to her copious intake of vodka) she blamed it on the shot she had just downed.
Who can you turn to?
Rose's mistake is nothing compared to some of the ones I've been hearing about vendors, though. I particularly like these kinds of tips, because nothing wipes the smile off smug marketing managers' faces faster than realising they've screwed up.
My favourite screw-up of the week comes from Siebel Systems. Trying to sell its Sales.com registered users on the benefits of its new Meeting Center service, the company sent out an e-mail in which every user's name was plainly visible in the "To:" field. Even more embarrassing, the list included a few names at Oracle. As my source put it, "Why would any customer trust their sales/marketing automation to a vendor who's just given away their own customer list to their biggest competitor?"
Give me a Monster job
Monster.com also has been alienating the kinds of people it is trying to attract. A reader whose company uses the Web site for recruitment was first told to expect applications for old jobs because Monster.com had mistakenly put old job postings up on its site.
As if this inconvenience was not enough, the reader arrived at work the following Monday to 5000-plus duplicate job responses via e-mail. I wonder if this is the result of "the innovative technology and superior services" about which the Monster.com Web site boasts.
Another Web site that is making its own deficiencies public is Bank of America, according to one reader. He sent me a screen capture of what he says is his checking account balance. The shot clearly shows BofA subtracting 51 from 52 and getting . . . zero. The reader was told that his actual records are correct, and that "we know it's happening, but can't figure out why". That's comforting.
If this e-commerce snafu is making you question whether to trust online services, then let's hope your service provider is not using Microsoft's Internet Information Server. One reader who bought Running MS Internet Information Server, a book from Microsoft Press, found that the pages covering the product's security capabilities were missing - both in his copy and in the others on the shelf. Coincidence? Let's hope so.
Finally, although America Online likes to tout its newly formed relationship with Sun following the partitioning of Netscape, AOL relies on NonStop Himalaya servers from Compaq, which Compaq picked up when it acquired Tandem. Alas, the terms of the AOL-Sun alliance prevent Compaq from touting the fact that AOL is actually using Compaq servers.
Shaken by the fact that she had been caught in an earthquake without even realising it, Rose went straight out and bought an earthquake survival kit. The only problem is that once she had packed all of the vodka and cigarettes she would need to survive for a month, there was no room for anything else.
"At least I've got the essentials," she quipped.
Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld.