January 28th, 2010
I ask your indulgence this time around – as I vent about my ridiculous experience with a credit card company today – specifically a MasterCard from a company called Juniper. My experience really shows why Congress must enact legislation to clamp down on these vultures.
I pride myself on always paying my bills on time – or in many cases ahead of the due date. That has been the case for the past four years with this particular credit card. That promptness has kept my rate at 7.99% – with the admonition that they can raise it sky high if there is a late payment.
So, I sent out a check to Juniper on January 2nd -for a payment that was due on January 9th. That has been my pattern forever. Well, today I get a letter from Juniper informing me because my payment was late – my interest rate is now nearly 29%!!
I checked my account – and they posted my check on January 11th. So maybe the postal service was slow and the check may have arrived one day late – two at the very most. But the envelope was postmarked January 2nd.
I was angry enough at this to wait on hold for 15 minutes to get a human being to finally take my call at Juniper. Unfortunately it was a woman in Manila who spoke nearly incomprehensible english with a very strong accent and a soft voice.
She was one of those trained robots who kept reading off cue cards – no matter how I tried to engage her in a real discussion. Of course, I asked for her manager – and waited an additional 10 minutes for him to come on the phone (he was probably just another lowly employee sitting right next to her down in the Philippines.)
Imagine this – he too had a thick accent – was difficult to understand – and just kept reading from cue cards. I asked to speak with someone who could right this wrong – and he said, “if you want to escalate this I can give you the fax number at our headquarters.” I said I want a number to speak to a real person – he said OK -and imagine this – gave me the fax number at headquarters.
I was about ready to take the next plane to Manila – but decided instead to call my bank. An easy to understand voice answered the phone (I actually had met him before) – and he said I was already pre-approved for a credit card with them. That was it. Great customer service took over – and we were done in less than 5 minutes.
That proves once again that it is always best to do business with people you know – and people who provide great customer service. It is also best to avoid doing business with these Juniper people who can’t pronounce – much less spell – customer service!!
Thanks for listening – I feel better already.
January 24th, 2010
Well, looks like NBC read my blog, took my advice, and finally came up with the right resolution to the Leno/Conan nightly verbal slugfest!
Just kidding! I doubt those NBC suits read blogs – maybe they have others read it for them? But as I had suggested – it was time to let Conan go and reinstate Jay to the Tonight Show.
It is also time to stop blaming Leno for forcing these moves – the NBC affiliates – more correctly the NBC O&O’s – forced the network to stop the bleeding before and after local newscasts. The timing is right for NBC. The Olympics will give NBC a boost – and they come out of the Olympics high viewership with the right lineup in late night.
The only downside is I will really miss the nightly war of words between Leno, Conan and Letterman.
January 13th, 2010
I am really enjoying watching the predicament that NBC finds itself wallowing in. It’s one thing to deal with two big-time personalities like Leno and Conan behind the scenes – but to do it while still giving them access to rip NBC every night on their programs makes this true reality TV.
I tune in each night to their monologues – and, of course, you have to catch Letterman’s comments too – for the pure sport of watching them bash NBC. It is much better than “Survivor” or any other so-called reality program. This is real-life network stupidity playing out in front of us each night.
I also smile while watching the so-called media experts on all the network newscasts, morning programs, and cable news channels as they expound on the battle. Many of them seem to portray Leno as a Big Foot stomping on poor Conan’s lifelong dream of hosting The Tonight Show. They need to get their facts straight.
Fact One: NBC made a huge mistake by living up to a promise to O’Brien that he would inherit The Tonight Show in 2009 or they would have to pay him $40 million. Leno is still a young man – and he kept the program on top (except for a slight stumble in the beginning) for over a decade. By forcing Leno out to avoid paying the $40 million to Conan, NBC cost themselves over $200 million in lost revenue because Conan’s ratings are much smaller than when Leno left (was forced out of) the program.
Fact Two: While I may not be a programming expert, I said from the beginning that Conan would not play in The Tonight Show slot because he had a narrow following in late night. Yes, he gained some younger demos but Conan also drove away the loyal audience from when Leno held forth.
Fact Three: Research showed, and I also espoused in various interviews that Leno would bring many of his loyal Tonight Show audience with him – but that is also a niche audience. It is strong for late night – but paltry when compared to primetime hit shows. That is exactly what happened.
Fact Four: While Leno promised a fun new show that would help drive viewers into local late newscasts – his program was a disaster. I am a Leno fan but found it unwatchable on many nights. The contributors were awful, many of the bits were worse (especially the driving track) and Leno was clearly uncomfortable sitting in a chair – without being behind a desk – doing interviews. As one person said to me – it looks like a local cable-access program.
Fact Five: Leno’s anemic ratings leading into local affiliates – and O&O’s – late newscasts caused the local ratings to come crashing down too. In Tampa, for instance, despite lowly NBC primetime programming, WFLA was #1 in late news for 18 weeks straight. That ended when Leno debuted. Leno’s numbers were so bad that he was 3rd or many times 4th in most every metered market.
Fact Six: No one is talking about the fact that Leno’s tsunami that killed NBC station’s late newscast numbers also carried over to their morning newscasts. Conan is a big culprit in this too. Because the lead-in was a disaster, and the local news numbers plunged, and Conan had a small niche audience – the affiliates and O&O’s morning newscasts also took a big hit. For the first time for many stations, NBC wasn’t the channel viewers were on when they switched off their remote for the night – so it wasn’t on their station for the morning newscast the next day.
And while I am bashing NBC, it seems crazy that they would offer Leno a half-hour after the late newscasts and try to keep Conan as host of The Tonight Show after that. Wake up NBC suits! Stop the financial and ratings bleeding – restore Leno to The Tonight Show right after the local newscasts and let Conan go somewhere else.
Conan is a little like the longtime anchor you have doing your local news who is not drawing ratings – but you’re afraid to let him/her go because they may go across the street. Who cares? If they can’t draw viewers on your station why would they draw them somewhere else. Pay Conan off, restore Leno to Tonight and move on. The monetary hit in doing that is far less than making another stupid decision to try and appease O’Brien.
January 5th, 2010
This is the time of year for leaders to step up – hold a meeting with their staffs – and clearly articulate their vision and expectations for 2010. Managers, on the other hand will continue with business as usual as their employees drag themselves back to work after a little holiday time off. Their attitude is Ho Hum – it is the middle of winter, we still don’t have enough people to compete, our equipment is old etc. etc. etc.
So your challenge is to move past being just one of those managers – and to show true leadership. Believe me – it is leadership that your employees crave right now. The new year starts at the top with the general manager, the news director and all the other department heads. The time for that leadership is right now!
So put your thoughts together, call a meeting – and be a strong leader that fires up the troops. Show them a plan that puts a rough 2009 behind you. Get them excited about the opportunities. Have a conversation with them – let them raise their concerns. Your demeanor is excited, smart, confident and ready to kick butt in 2010.
The alternative is – don’t hold a meeting. Let your employees continue to wallow in all the travails of 2009 as they slog their way through the rest of the winter.
So – are you a manager – or are you a dynamic leader?