Monday, July 16, 2007

This is customer service.

When I was in high school, a junior in high school to be exact, I purchased a copy of Chiara's zMUD, or Zugg's Mud Client, a client program you use to play several (thousands) of online text-based (no graphics) MMO's. For a little more on MUDs and clients, look here.

I'd paid full price for it, in an era where stealing software was still pretty chic. It's also probably the first purchase I'd made online, and definitely the first purchase I made for downloadable software. I told myself it was a good investment because, among other things, since I'd actually purchased a serial key, I could be a bit more free with the number of PCs I had the program installed on. I could keep it on my mom's and my own, and if I ever moved, I wouldn't have to worry about losing the disc and my whole purchase. Since I'd purchased a license key for a program with a free 30-day downloadable trial, as long as I kept the key I could always redownload it in the future, plug my key in, and instantly have a full copy again.

That was seven years ago. I kept 3-4 email addresses at that time, one of which was tied to my mom's long-defunct ISP dial-up account, and two others so old I can't remember them or log in at all. :) Ah, the perils of a long history on the Internet.

On a whim, for a long shot, I went to; it was still there, and they've got a brand-new client for Vista (cMUD, check it out). Just for the heck of it, knowing there'd be no way I'd get a response (it had been far too long, you see), I submitted a support incident to the customer service department. I gave them all the old email addresses I could think of, my old billing address, and I knew that I'd surely get some kind of canned response back, something like "I'm sorry, but we can't help you without a valid email address and password".

Three days later, Chiara himself emailed me.

"I found you!"

Thanks, guys. Thank you so, so very much. This means so much to me, and I'm going to tell everyone. :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Amazon Unbox section’s search and category listing needs two things very, very badly.

1. Sort by release date. When I go to my local video store, they have a whole wall of New Releases. I don’t have to turn each box over and check the release date, I know that if it’s on that wall, it was made within at least like a year of today’s date. Amazon Unbox has absolutely no function to sort by this (that I could find in 30 minutes of trying, anyway, and I’m pretty web-savvy). When I click Movies, To Rent, and Action, and sort by New Arrivals, The Neverending Story (released in the 80’s) shouldn’t be number 15 on the list. The closest thing I could find to this kind of a listing was the flash applet on the main Unbox page, and it displays a maximum of like 12 movies; I know for a fact more than that have released so far this year. Please add in a Sort by Release Date, so you can compete with every video rental store ever (but with the added convenience of digital distribution).

2. Categorize by language. If I click on Movies, To Rent, and Comedy, then sort by Newest Arrivals, the first 15 movies are fully Spanish-language. I understand that they probably all got added at once, but this is still very, very frustrating to me; I have almost zero interest in renting a Spanish-language only movie I’ve never heard of, and I certainly don’t need that to be the only language I can choose from on the first page of listings. I understand that Amazon has to cater to a broad audience, and I absolutely applaud you for that; my local video store doesn’t even have a Spanish section. But please give us the option to filter out movies in languages other than our own, just for convenience’s sake.

Thanks very much! As you can tell, I’m quite frustrated by this; these two problems have rendered Amazon Unbox completely useless for me for tonight’s movie viewing, and rather than use up some of my remaining $15 credit, I’m going to have to go to my local video store tonight for a movie. If you fix this, though, I promise you I’d rather spend money with your service. J