If You Suck, You’re Dead

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I recently had an awful experience with United Airlines and feel 100% unsatisfied by how they handled the situation. I made a commitment to them in January, when I paid them money for airfare from BUF->AUS roundtrip (for my annual trek to SXSW). My flight was for Thursday morning, the day before SXSW started (which cost me $400 for admission). I watched as delays due to ‘mechanical failure’ kept delaying my flight, it reached about 2.5 hours (I didn’t wait that long, they were pushing it out that long), that I knew I’d miss my connecting flight to AUS (from IAD) — so I knew that’d be a mess if I actually got to Dulles and then was stuck there.

I spoke with someone via their 800 number, who told me to call a different 800 number, who then said to speak with someone at the actual ticket counter. (What!?) So after those many minutes of my life were destroyed, they told me they “were sorry” and that they could get me out on a flight Saturday morning. “SATURDAY MORNING?! WTF!” I mean, wtf. I NEED to be in Austin. This isn’t the first time they’ve had problems with an airplane — have planes in reserve, even if only at your main hub (IAD) and fly them over. “But sir, we can give you your money back.”

Give me my money back? Are you f’ing kidding me right now? I don’t want my money back, I want to arrive in Austin Texas. Today. “Sorry sir.”

I’m sorry, but that’s not acceptable to me. My forced option was having to go on Southwest.com and drop another $384 on a one-way flight from BUF->AUS, so I could get out of Buffalo that day. Had I known I was going to drop this much additional, I wouldn’t have been such a cheapskate in the first place when I “saved” $250 by booking via United, rather than Southwest.

I let it go and decided I’d deal with it once I got back from the trip — and thus, I wanted United to reimburse me for $384. Through many emails and calls with Indians (no offense, but I want to speak to an American that I can understand), they offered me a $25 gift certificate on future United travel. “WTF?!” Then they eventually boosted it to $35 after more angry emails to them.

Wow, Thanks United. I’m done with you. I will never fly United Airlines again in my life. I have felt shafted and never want to be shafted by them again if this incident were to arise again. I purchased airfare to Belgium a couple days ago — and I paid a little extra as to not fly United Airlines.

The Internet has become a beautiful, beautiful thing. In the past year, Twitter and Facebook Status updates (aka “micro-blogging”) have really come to fruition — and in years to come, there’s only going to be more of it. It’s the new “word of mouth” marketing — only now, when I bitch about a brand, it doesn’t go out to the 1 or 2 people that I’m telling next to me — it goes out to the world; specifically though, it goes out to all of my friends/contacts, whom I have some influence with. In Twitter I have 816 followers, this blog has 1,219 readers, and in Facebook I have 334 friends. Granted, there’s overlap. But if even only 100 people see my message — heck, they may tell their friends about how Steve Poland got the shaft from United Airlines, and they might join my boycott, because they are sick of airlines treating consumers with zero respect. (Heck, I might get this post digg’d the the homepage of digg and have a legion of United Airlines Boycotters).

United Airlines — You Suck, and I hope you are one of the companies that will go belly-up BANKRUPT in the next 5 years, as word-of-mouth on the web starts to hold all companies accountable for their actions and customer service. When I look at your logo, I visualize a middle finger in it and you’re telling me to go screw myself. Well, this writing is my middle finger back to you.

The age of (near) full transparency is here. I say “near”, because we can’t see the shady stuff going on inside companies, but maybe anonymous Twitter accounts will start popping up with insider-employees at companies ratting out their own companies on shady activities.

Why the iPhone SUCKS. Anyone have Cell Phone recommendations?


So I bought one of those trendy iPhone’s — and I signed up for a huge plan with AT&T, and I also signed up for their data plan [so I can connect my laptop when I’m anywhere — visiting my Dad, at a conference, at the airport, etc].

I’m now finding out first-hand about the limitations of the iPhone. First off, there’s no MMS support?! I just found this out — I mean, is this for serious!? When a friend sends a photo or video, I get this cheesy text message saying to visit www.viewmymessage.com and then it includes the craziest username and password. WHAT?! Oh, it gets better – I CAN’T EVEN CLICK THE LINK. Wait, better yet — I CAN’T EVEN CONNECT TO THE WEBSITE FROM MY IPHONE!!! Honestly, this is the worst user-experience I may have ever seen in my life.

Wow, seriously? Next — It doesn’t record video? Um… WHAT? I’ve had an LG phone for like 3 years that does video.

Next — The earpiece sucks — I can’t hear shit. And apparently, when I speak to people, they hear EVERYTHING that’s within 20 feet of me.

Next — The Internet speed/connection. I don’t know — but it seems to suck. I read comments that the ‘Edge’ network is crap. I’m curious whether Verizon or Sprint’s is better?

I also hear I should prepare for this battery to go to crap.

So does anyone have a recommendation for a phone? Fred Wilson loves his Curve, but then Jay Parkhill tells me he doesn’t like it.

Here’s what I want to do:

  • Easily send/receive photos and videos from my phone to any one on any carrier via MMS.
  • Take video.
  • Take photos.
  • Easily get the photos/videos off my phone [via USB or zip file in my online account].
  • Easily transfer/restore my contacts.
  • Access the web — and thus, webpages.
  • Easily record audio — a voice recorder on the phone.
  • Easy to hear people when I speak to them. The person I’m speaking too can easily hear me.

I’m also in the market for a data plan so I can hook my laptop up to the Internet. Sprint, Verizon, or should I stick with AT&T?

As for the cell phone, should I be getting a Blackberry?

Thanks for any suggestions/tips — even if it’s too warn me about lack of features on a certain phone.

IDEA #81 – iPhone Photo Plus [iPhone SDK application]

apple Ideas

The iPhone’s camera is pretty “blah”. I’d love to see an app on the iPhone that allows me to do a bit of a “zoom” [even if it is fake and just manipulating what I see], simple “cropping” (using the touch screen to zoom) in the photo gallery (because I may want to send an image direct from my phone w/o going to edit it on my computer), and simple ability to send a photo to my Flickr or Facebook accounts — as well as be posted/shared via Twitter. And ability to send/share via text (MMS) or email, to my friends.

Also, why can’t my iPhone’s camera record video? Seems like it could record video — and stream it live like Qik.

Couldn’t it also connect to my Flickr or Facebook photo accounts, so I could browse mini thumbnails and then click on one to view the full size photo — and possibly send that to a friend direct from my iPhone?

iTunes Search Engine [opportunity]

apple Ideas itunes mp3 music

Apple iTunesFred Wilson twittered that he was looking for these “I’m Free” remixes by The Rolling Stones. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Stones, but the remixes are by some hot artists — Postal Service, Hot Chip, Fat Boy Slim, and Moby.

I did some research and found out they were released exclusively on iTunes. I happen to not have iTunes installed at this time, so I did a search to try and find an iTunes song search engine. No luck — I couldn’t find one.

So here’s an idea for the taking — create an iTunes search engine. Sign up as an affiliate of Apple through LinkShare. Then I think to get access to Apple’s 6.5mm song data feed (download data feed spec doc), you have to pay $250 to LinkShare (which gives you access to product feeds from many of their merchants). You’ll then earn 5% of any sales that result from your iTunes search engine.

Note: Don’t use ‘itunes’ in the domain you choose for this (you could use something more generic related to mp3’s or music — because then you could work to get a data feed from Amazon.com’s MP3 library, eMusic, and others like IMEEM, these new ad-supported free download sites, and in the near future we’re going to see other big players opening up DRM-free MP3s for sale — like Yahoo!).

Further Note: 5% of a $0.99 track is only $0.05. You’d have to sell a lot of songs to make any real money from Apple’s affiliate program — however, you could complement your Site with display ads (much like Last.fm and Hype Machine do), as well as sponsored search results (from Google, or Validclick, or Searchfeed, etc).

Good luck!