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Archive: January 2008

Access Switch

Or, how to not appreciate your existing customers.

Back in April of 2001, I was preparing to start work at Netscape.  I’d be working from home, so I needed high-speed access, and DSL was my best option.  Eventually, I decided on Earthlink.  It took a bit of effort, as there were some physical problems along the line to my house, but they got worked out and once the line was provisioned (whatever that means), I was up and running.  Nice speed, too.

So last week, I decided to find out how my rate—unchanged since I started almost seven years ago—stacked up to current rates.  It turns out I was a bit high, paying $49.95 a month for a service that would cost a new customer $34.95 a month, once their introductory monthly rates lapsed.  And I noticed that doubling my speed should cost $39.95 a month.

So I called up Earthlink to get my rates (both data speed and monthly fee) adjusted.  Guess what happened?  Yep: roadblocks.  First I was told that those were rates for new customers.  I pushed back, and was told that because I’d been a customer for so long, they were willing to adjust my rate to $39.95.  For the doubled speed?  Oh, no, for my existing speed.  If I wanted to go to the higher rate, it would be $54.95 a month.

My pointing out that this was grossly out of line with their current rates had no effect.  I assured them that I was more than willing to skip the introductory rates and just go to the base rates.  Didn’t help.  I could pay $39.95 a month for a service that should cost $5 less, or upgrade to the better service at a rate $25 higher than it should be.

Annoyed, I hung up and resolved to take my business elsewhere, as I’d warned them would be likely.  I did some digging and discovered that AT&T/Yahoo! DSL would cost $34.99 a month for twice the data rate I’d been getting at Earthlink with no term requirements—I’m not locked into it by an initial contract.  I like that.  I called them to find out how long it would take, and found out that DSL service has come a long way in seven years.  They provisioned the line remotely in three days, not the three weeks it took local technicians back in ’01.

So I’m up and running at 6M/768k in three days with no fuss and no term obligations, and best of all, my monthly cost has dropped $15.

Of course, when I called up Earthlink to cancel, they were suddenly able to offer me the rates I’d asked for before, plus they’d even throw in a month for free.  Too late, I told them.  I’d already tried and failed to get the regular current rates, and I’d invested the time and energy to find an alternative.  I wasn’t going to walk away from that just because they had belatedly decided to play fair.

It still amazes me that companies haven’t figured out that customers will make tracks if they’re treated badly.  And given the ease with which service can be established these days, if my new provider causes me trouble… well, I can always go elsewhere.  Or even go back.

Speakers Galore

I know it was only yesterday that I mentioned the opening of registration for An Event Apart New Orleans and the other 2008 shows, but there’s already more to share: later that same day, we announced the speakers for the other three shows of 2008.  Incredible lineups, every one.  We’re beyond excited.  Check ‘em out!

An Event Apart 2008 Lines Up

The new year is here, and to celebrate, we’ve announced details and opened registration for An Event Apart New Orleans, to be held April 24–25, and opened early registration for the other three events of 2008:

  • Boston, June 23–24
  • San Francisco, August 18–19
  • Chicago, October 13–14

Now you can pick the show that best fits your schedule, fiscal year, or both, and book your seats early.

One of the things we’ve always striven to create is top-notch events for (as the motto goes) people who make web sites—covering design as well as code, architecture in addition to scripting, the big picture along with the nitty-gritty.  Focusing on that vision served us and our attendees very well in 2007, and it continues in 2008.  Just check out the list of speakers and topics for New Orleans:

  • Andy Clarke, author of Transcending CSS, presenting “Underpants Over My Trousers”
  • Aaron Gustafson, co-author of AdvancED DOM Scripting, presenting “Progressive Enhancement with JavaScript”
  • Robert Hoekman Jr., author of Designing the Obvious, conducting “On-the-Spot Usability Reviews”
  • Cameron Moll, author of Mobile Web Design, presenting “Good vs. Great Design”
  • Brian Oberkirch, Publisher of Like It Matters, presenting “Kick it Like Pelé”
  • Jason Santa Maria, designer at Happy Cog, presenting “Good Design Ain’t Easy”
  • Dave Shea, co-author of Zen of CSS Design, presenting “Living, Breathing Design”
  • Stephanie Sullivan, co-author of Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3, presenting “Design Challenges, Standards Solutions”
  • Jeff Veen, design manager at Google, presenting “Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps”
  • Aarron Walter, author of Building Findable Web Sites, presenting “Findability Bliss Through Web Standards SEO”

And, as always, your hosts:

  • Eric Meyer, author of CSS: The Definitive Guide, presenting both “The Lessons of CSS Frameworks” and “Debug / Reboot”
  • Jeffrey Zeldman, author of Designing With Web Standards, presenting both “Understanding Web Design” and “Web Standards: The Return of the King”

You can get more details on the New Orleans event page, including descriptions of the sessions and details on how to get the special room rate at the conference hotel, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.

While we don’t yet have speaker lists nor schedules to announce for the other three 2008 shows, we’re working to finalize them and hope to have at least some information out shortly.  I can already say that all the shows are at the same high level, though of course each event has its own unique flavor.

Those of you who attended one or more of our shows in 2007 (yes, we did have some repeats!) may be wondering if the shows will be the same, especially since we’re returning to some cities we visited last year.  The answer there is “not at all”.  Every show of 2008 is a mix of new and returning speakers, and we’ve done our best not to repeat speakers within a given city between 2007 and 2008.  The exceptions are myself and Jeffrey, of course, but we’re both doing new talks this year.  Simply put, if you loved AEA in 2007, we’re pretty confident you’ll love it even more in 2008.

January 2008
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