Saturday, January 18, 2014

Google Stop Calling Me

The phone rings. It is Google - again.  Good grief.  What part of Do Not Call don't you understand? The frequency of these calls is increasing and I'm tired of it.

Is it really Google computers that telephone our numbers several times per day?  No. The calls claim to be from Google Maps, Google Business, or a similar division and the caller ID says Nashua, New York, Detroit, Michigan or some other city or town. When I see odd places, I now assume it is a Google robocall but I can't ignore it.  It could be a client or a state agency.

These illegal calls are coming from scammers. That's a given. However Google demonstrates a surprising lack of interest because it is not protecting its reputation, its trademark, or its customers. Apparently it doesn't matter to Google whether or not I am annoyed or financially hurt by these calls; otherwise it would do something about them.

I realize that Google cannot directly stop bad people from doing illegal things. Most of these calls are probably not originating in this country.  However, what surprises me is how little has been said in the media about this scam. The only warning I found online in a quick Google search was from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture made in November, 2013.  There is a reference to the problem buried on the support page but the corporation hasn't really worked to defend itself or its users. Why isn't Google shouting warnings from the rooftops?

The scammers call us because they make money doing it.  If they didn't make money, they would stop calling. It's that simple.

It seems logical to me that Google would make sure we all know it isn't them placing those calls. Then no one would spend money with the crooks and the calls would stop. What is Google saying by not saying anything?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Goodbye Walt Disney World

This will be my last post based on our recent trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. I've had a month to reflect on our experiences. Most of them were good and we are glad we went. However the place we visited in 2013 was quite different from the one we experienced during earlier trips.

What we took away from this trip was that, while portions of it were still wonderful, overall WDW wasn't the magical place we experienced in the past. There are obvious maintenance issues and cast members, stretched to the limit, rarely have time to simply chat with visitors. For the first time ever, I didn't spend much money on extras. There was so little that was unique, we weren't tempted.

In addition to the physical changes in the parks, we realized that we no longer fit into the demographic that Disney is chasing. How do we know? Because there were market research people everywhere but no one asked our opinion about anything. Why? Perhaps because we had no children with us? We were not obviously grooming the next generation of Disney customers?  Even the vacation club salespeople ignored us; a fact that I found fascinating considering we were heavily solicited during our last trip. Obviously we no longer look the part.  Odd considering we have more money now than before.

It's all about communication and this giant corporation said a lot to us in eight days. We got the message. We will cherish the memories of earlier vacations to WDW but this trip was the one where the company told us it no longer wanted us or our money.

Mind you, I am a big Disney fan and that has nothing to do with my name. But the Disney World we loved no longer exists. I accept that. Times change. People and corporations move on. We were a little sad but at least we had the opportunity to say goodbye to an old friend.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Disney Fast Pass+ Too Much Leash?

Disney World is  too big to attack without some kind of plan. We do but we leave ourselves open to adjustments based on weather or crowds. For example, much as we wanted to try Be Our Guest, standing in the hot sun for an hour was not at all appealing so we ate elsewhere. It was quite cool one evening so we went to Downtown Disney and saved Illuminations for another night. However, we did book some meal reservations and Fast Passes before we left home.  A Disney mobile app allowed us to keep track of our schedule so that we arrived at an attraction during our Fast Pass-assigned time window and it reminded us of show times for those we wanted to see. We saw a lot of people glued to their smart phones, trying to decide how to be in two places at one time.

A family standing next to us at Spaceship Earth could see they would not finish the Spaceship Earth ride before their chance evaporated to get Fast Passes for Soarin' . The solution was for Dad to go over to Soarin' and get Fast Passes for the family to use later in the day. However that meant that he would not be riding Spaceship Earth.  His comment was "Why do we have to do everything at a set time? This is the worst vacation ever."

Too many of those reactions and attendance at WDW will drop like a stone. In trying to manage the guests in order to control expenses, Disney has successfully taken all the fun out of the experience.  By forcing the guest to schedule every moment, the company implies that the schedule will guarantee a wonderful vacation. Consequently the guest is dissatisfied or angry when their schedule falls apart.  Disney failed to include fallibility in its calculations. Rides break down, humans make mistakes, weather changes.

There have been numerous blogs and postings on the Fast Pass+ program. We have no issue with Magic Band; ours worked just fine. However, being forced to plan for every ride, every parade, and every meal doesn't sound like a vacation. Our regular lives are controlled by the calendar. Is it a vacation if we have to book everything in advance in order to experience it?

There is no doubt that the corporate plan is to give Fast Pass+ to guests staying at Disney resorts and "outsiders" will have to stand in line. Disney guests will be able to book optimum seating for parades, fireworks and shows. We get that. But heavy-handed control only works for a while. Eventually people rebel.  As we did. By the last two days of our trip, we blew off our Fast Passes and didn't use the mobile app once. We returned to the WDW of our memories and just enjoyed the parks. If a ride was too busy, we went on a different one. If one restaurant couldn't take us, we tried something new. Obviously not everyone will react the same way. If Dad foots the bill and thinks WDW is the worst vacation ever, the family won't be back.

So, Mr. Iger, be careful about what your Fast Pass+ system is telling your customers. Some guests might rebel as we did and simply opt for alternatives. And some guests may pass on WDW altogether.