Saturday, April 11, 2009

Getting Even With GetSatisfaction!

So, the other day I read about this "newish" website called GETSATISFACTION.COM on John Gruber's Daring Fireball website. He was co-ranting about their new bullying user agreement ...



Get Satisfaction, a third-party customer service app/community, allows customers to offer feedback, make suggestions, get their questions answered, and generally get help with a product or service.

He was essentially nodding about this Jason Fried article at 37Signals:

Get Satisfaction Or Else

From 37Signals:

A good idea

Building support/community infrastructure is a pain point for a lot of companies. The help section, forums, FAQs, and whatever else you have to build to offer comprehensive customer support is a big undertaking. It’s often the last thing you want to do after you’ve just worked for months on a product or service.

So for those companies that would prefer to outsource this infrastructure to a third party, or use an alternative sanctioned support outlet in addition to their own, Get Satisfaction is a handy service.

But…

But if you prefer to provide great support on your own site with your own forums and your own help section and your own feedback mechanisms and your own FAQs, well, Get Satisfaction doesn’t play fair.

If you fail to subscribe to Get Satisfaction’s way of doing things, Get Satisfaction suggests to your customers that you’re “not yet committed to an open conversation.” That’s unfair and unreasonable. Just because we don’t team up with Get Satisfaction it doesn’t mean we’re not committed to an open conversation.


After reading this, I decided to search for a few things to read some reviews. I found this one on Apple's MacBook Air Ethernet Adapter so I decided to add my two cents ...

The original review/question was:

Macbook Air USB ethernet adapter is unreliable and so is the system software

The Macbook Air USB ethernet adapter doesn't reliably work on older switches, routers, or DSL modems.

When connected to many of these devices (including linksys wired routers), it doesn't properly detect the speed.

Not only is that annoying, but when the speed is manually set, it doesn't retain the settings often until you reset it multiple times.

This is both a software and a hardware problem, apparently, but could likely be remediated with a software fix.


I replied thusly:

Try this one instead:

Apple’s adapter is a software based bridge - you’d be better off using a hardware based bridge such as this one:

http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/theapplepeople_W0QQ_nkwZQQ_armrsZ1QQ_fromZQQ_mdoZ

Apple, could (at any time) disable their adapter because it has a specific firmware chip on it. While they can’t and won’t disable the chipset used in their adapter - they COULD disable their adapter any time.

A hardware based USB Ethernet bridge is more stable, reliable, and faster.

My adapter sells for $25 shipped to USA. $33.00 International shipped


So, the same guy who originally made the comment (someone named Alex) under the GETSATISFACTION user ID: xavier replies:

No offense to the user above, however, go check Walmart they have a SMC Ethernet to USB adapter which is compatible with the mac for $ 9.99

I got one a few days ago...


So ... after making this reply [below] I reported the comment to GETSATISFACTION.COM:

That is completely false.

1) Walmart does not carry SMC USB Ethernet Adapters.

2) There is NO USB ETHERNET ADAPTER at brick & mortar retail under $30.

3) The units available at retail are ONLY compatible with 10.4. & 10.5. and are software based. My adapter is a hardware bridge and compatible with every operating system 9.2.2 and higher. The ONLY adapter outside Apple's (that includes Mac OSX drivers) that I am aware of is available at Radio Shack and is made by Trendnet. Because I sell an Apple Compatible USB Ethernet Adapter I shop everywhere OFTEN. Some outlets like Fry's have MacAlly's adapter ... but the first part of #3 applies - less compatibility & software based TCP/IP interpolation.


4) Even if you did find it, which it is next to impossible that you did at Walmart - it would have been a Belkin brand and at that the clearance price for the adapter would have been somewhere around $27.88 and would have had NO Mac drivers whatsoever.

I went to WALMART.COM, 3 local Walmarts, and 1 in Daytona Beach Florida while on vacation before making this reply ... no WALMART source carries them. So, this morning I called 1-800-WALMART ... they do not currently have a USB Ethernet Adapter in stock in the USA nor have they had such a device in their system for more than 450 days - the maximum they track discontinued items that have not been recalled.

I have asked getsatisfaction to review this comment account for shill reviews.

Anyone reading xavier's replies or reviews should be aware of this.


I can also add one important caveat to buying a USB Ethernet Adapter at retail for use on a Mac - not all brands carry the same uniform chipset throughout their retail lifespan. This is particularly true of SMC adapters. Here's two USB Ethernet adapters made by SMC with the 2208 model designation:



This model [above] works with very limited out of the box support for Macs. It is labelled MODEL: SMC2208. If you can find one of these - you will find it is USB 1.1 and has outdated firmware which may cause some compatibility issues.



This model [above] DOES NOT work out of the box and DOES NOT HAVE ANY support for Macs. It is also labelled MODEL: SMC2208.



This model [above] is labelled MODEL: SMC2209 and looks like the first illustration. It too has no out of the box support for Macs and has a different chipset in it - identical to Apple's (which is based on the software interpolation AX8817X chipset). So if you managed to find this one at retail - not only would you be paying MORE than Apple's adapter, but you will get the same caveats of software interpolation - plus you run the risk of Apple breaking the driver. This adapter can still be found at retail in some areas for $39.99 - $49.99.

____________________________


For those wondering ... apparently Apple caves into GETSATISFACTION.COM's racket:



[UPDATE] GET SATISFACTION & Co has replied interestingly in the comments section of this post ... they have also removed one of my posts from their website claiming a policy violation - the post was removed by "Eric" of GS but my removal notification email said "Apple" removed it. There's something strange going on here with the people behind Get Satisfaction - their idea of damage control is handled like a verbose teenager with a nanny nanny boo boo attitude. Why can't businesses on the net just accept criticism or offer publicly to address or fix issues?

8 comments:

Thor Muller said...

Hey there,
I appreciate you flagging something you thought was potentially crass commercialism (or "shilling" in your words). We have two community managers who have a zero tolerance policy for just this kind of thing. In this case, the person in question, Alex, has been an active member of the Get Satisfaction community for long time and is very helpful to many Apple customers. You can actually see all his posts on his dashboard (http://getsatisfaction.com/people/alex_5846). I'll let you two debate the question of Ethernet adapters at Walmart, but there's nothing fishy here.

As for "racket": In case you're interested in the other side of the story regarding Jason Fried's complaint, and an explanation of our business you may want to start here:

Open Letter to Jason Fried
Get Satisfaction 101

All the best,
Thor

fixyourthinking said...

With what I posted ... I'm not sure you're able to justify leaving his comment. I thoroughly reviewed ALL of his comments. This is another reason I've been carefully biding my time so as to formulate a good solid opinion and review.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to have purchased an SMC USB Ethernet adapter at Walmart especially at $9.99 - that would be a clearance price, and clearance items at Walmart are priced at .88 and .77 ending amounts. He should have checked another Walmart before making his statement - but he didn't do that - why? - because his reply was a complete fabrication.

Thor Muller said...

I definitely hear your concern, and appreciate the research you did. However, as a long time (2 years!) productive contributor to the site we are going to let him respond to your charges before making a call. That's only fair. There is undoubtedly more to the story than he just decided to fabricate something.

fixyourthinking said...

I accept that ...

Two things:

He could have left off a 2 or 3 - making the adapter $29.99 or $39.99

The adapter he purchased does not have any Mac support out of the box and is 99% identical to Apples adapter save the firmware/identity chip Apple places "extra" on it's adapters.

I think the issue that Jason raised has risen in this instance ... a support forum that contains false information that could have a negative effect on both Apple's and my own sales.

fixyourthinking said...

One note I'd like to make regarding the initial issue brought up by Jason Fried. Since Apple HAS joined your discussion forum it appears as if the conversation of this MacBook Ethernet Adapter is somehow monitored by them. People who have purchased my ethernet adapter and who know me also know that I AM an Apple employee - it would appear as if this forum discussion is somehow being sanctioned in some way by Apple - it's not. It would also seem that when Apple doesn't offer advice on a topic (IE unsanctioned / unofficial ethernet adapters) - they are somehow blowing some customers off. It would also seem as GETSATISFACTION is saying here on this page that because someone who is a longtime member also dispenses good advice or contributes significantly to their site and therefore is an approved (or so it seems by association) approved by Apple or Apple employees to give said advice. Xavier's comments and Alex's comments (which I think are the same) are out of line with reality. Because he's given "longtime contributor" status he is seen as credible to GETSATISFACTION.COM staff and it can and probably is perceived that this advice must be coming from Apple or because it is not corrected - Apple approved.

supereric said...

Hi, FIXYOURTHINKING.COM. I'm a community manager at Get Satisfaction. I'm not quite sure I understand your complaint completely, but if you are an Apple employee, feel free to join us if you wish. We're really just trying to create an environment where people give advice to other people.

I probably won't be able to convince you with this blog comment, but Alex may be the model for the kind of customer we love to have on our site. He's always nice, always helpful, and likes to share his knowledge about Apple products. I've never seen him try to sell anything or argue with people or try to "get even" with someone. He's one of the most helpful people I've ever run across. I'm proud that he's a customer on Get Satisfaction.

Feel free to give me a shout if you want to chat further. Always open to hearing your feedback: eric [at] getsatisfaction [dot] com.

fixyourthinking said...

I wish to note that I received an email this morning that "Apple" had removed my comment from Get Satisfaction because it appeared as if I were selling something ...

In actuality ... when I go to Get Satisfaction to dispute the removal it appears as if eric who posted below actually removed it.

It is clear that the goal of Get Satisfaction is to make any critic's message seem out of line or confusing. Thor and Eric are the founding members and seem to have a nanny nanny boo boo approach to critics - while talking fairness they are behind the scenes bashing you and deleting any arguments they can - which makes one see the critique as unjustified or manaical.

We now have proof that Eric - who works for Get Satisfaction will represent himself as working for Apple - even though I'm sure Apple has no knowledge of my comment being removed.

Eric also went against Thor's original statement that we would get to hear Alex's side of the argument before taking action. Alex is being allowed to leave a false statement on GS while my comment with TRUE help has been removed.

fixyourthinking said...

Email conversation between Eric Suez of GET SATISFACTION DOT COM and I:

"As I said ... I wasn't selling ... How else am I suppose to answer the original question. You are allowing Alex to reply with a false answer.

You have to understand that I am nearly the exclusive source ANYWHERE for USB Ethernet adapters for Macs on the net. I have been selling this adapter for 5 years ... long before Apple released their adapter with far greater support for 10 years worth of Apple computers ... not 3 years of computers like THE ONLY competitor; Macally - which just recently started selling their adapter.

The Macally adapter uses the 100% exact same chipset as Apple's adapter, so does a Trendnet offering. If one experiences problems (such as the original poster/question) then the hardware interpolation adapter I sell EXCLUSIVELY is the ONLY ALTERNATIVE. It's not pitching a sale; it is pitching a solution.

I will restate that you contradicted your boss's statement that said you would allow Alex to respond before taking action.

I will repost my information and leave off my ownership of the adapter.

Just to numb your mind a bit ... What if Alex works for Walmart or owns a substantial amount of Walmart stock ... His answer is being allowed to pitch Walmart. But just to let you know ... I really did confirm 4 ways that no such adapter is available ... And on the off chance it was ... his answer was bad advice ... If one buys it they will find NO OUT OF BOX support and find it is the exact same software interpolation chipset as Apple's adapter. This means that Alex answered the question by telling him he should go out and buy the same thing.

I told him of the only alternative - which NO ONE SELLS except for me.

I wrote the drivers, and I work closely to keep them updated with another company. I also have a firmware updating device specifically for the adapters I sell and I install a custom firmware ...

If you will actually read my blog post you will see that up to date firmware and product consistency paired with chipset is the most important aspect of the unique product that I offer. I have no competition!

Philip Smith "Rus"

On Apr 13, 2009, at 12:14 AM, Eric Suesz eric@getsatisfaction.com wrote:

Rus,

Sorry if there is any miscommunication. We have a set of community guidelines that we ask everyone to follow (http://getsatisfaction.com/community_guidelines), and one of those guidelines is "no hawking". We ask community members not to sell their products on our site, which is why that reply was removed. It's just a simple rule we have to prevent folks from using our site as a place to market their products.

E

Eric Suesz
Community Manager
Get Satisfaction!
eric@getsatisfaction.com


On Apr 12, 2009, at 5:04 AM, Philip Smith wrote:

I replied on my blog ... You contradicted what Thor offered as resolution. My GS reply hardly makes sense now - it seems out of context.

Alex is being allowed to leave a false statement up on GS - possibly hurting my sales.

I offered a pure explanation and a true remedy. I'm not trying to sell anything as much as I am trying to show the alternative which is what the original posted was I suppose asking for.