Thursday, April 12, 2012

Customer Service...They're doing it right!

A few months ago I was in the market for some noise cancelling headphones. I had spent a fair amount of time looking around the Web and reading reviews to ensure that I chose a quality set and did not end up paying too much. I decided to go with the Audio-technica ATH-ANC7B Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones and I am certainly glad that I did.

First, let me say that I bought these headphones myself several months ago and I am in no way being paid to say this. Second, I almost did not purchase these due to some of the reviews that they received. Most of the issues that people had with them were due to sound leakage. I ended up choosing them because I just could not justify the cost of the Bose headphones.

After receiving the headphones, I quickly learned that they far exceeded my expectations. The noise cancelling was amazing and the sound leakage is not that bad (please save the hate mail audiophiles) and the sound quality far surpassed the cheap ear buds I was using before.

One of the great features of these headphones is that the ear cups can swivel nicely so that they lay flat and are easy to put in the case and store when you are not using them (which means they fit nicely in my laptop case when I am traveling).

It was this great feature that ended up causing me a problem. There is (what I consider to be a design flaw) with this feature. There is a small screw that holds the ear cup onto the headband. This screw goes through a very thin piece of plastic. This proved to be a fatal problem. I went  to don my headphones one morning and that thin piece of plastic split. Right across the screw. I was bummed out, to say the least. I assumed that this was not going to be covered under warranty and I knew that I would have to go back to crappy ear buds until I could purchase a new set of headphones, which meant more research (had to check out all the new models that had come out since I ordered these). This thought saddened me to the point of going to Audio-technica's website to find a contact in support to see if this would be covered.

At this point I would like to mention how I think that it is sad how often companies get rail-roaded on the Internet because of one customer interaction that gets blown out of proportion. It is unfair to judge a company by one story. I also think that it is unfair how rare it is that we share our great interactions. In the spirit of this, I decided to write this post about the great experience that I had with Audio-technica.

Back to the story, so I called the tech support number that was listed on their support site and was greeted warmly (sorry about I did not make a point of writing my representatives name down, had I known how awesome my experience was about to be I would have) by a support representative. I inquired about my headphones and the representative told me that it was no problem and that they cover almost everything (music to the ears of almost any consumer). I was told that I only needed to do was click on the "return instructions" link on their support page, then click on the Service Form link, fill out the form and ship the headphones back.

I hung up the phone, filled out the form, printed it and stuck it in a box with my headphones. I shipped them out that day (Friday March 30th). The following Monday (April 9th) a box was waiting for me. I opened it up and found that they had sent me a new headset. That is 10 days from the time I shipped it to the time I received my new one. That is pretty good turn around time. If you consider that my package wasn't delivered until Monday April 2nd and my new headset shipped on Thursday April 5th, it is even better. That means it took less than 72 hours for my return to be received, processed, and shipped! That is some amazing work and it is the reason why I am sure that I will not only be buying my next set of headphones from Audio-technica, but it is also the reason that I am taking the time to write this.

Thank you Audio-technica for making me glad I chose to purchase one of your products. You have gained a lifetime customer!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Coders at Work: Book Review

I enjoy reading and I think that reading is a key part of growing as a person and increasing your knowledge base. I also know that there is a sea of non-fiction and technical books that are available to any developer with an Amazon account. I often find it hard to determine what books to read and in what order. So when I do find a great book, I feel the need to share it.

I (not so recently) read a great book by Peter Seibel called Coders At Work. This book offers an incredible insight into how some of the world's best programmers tackle the job. I found this book to be  an inspiring look into some of the greatest computing minds of our generation (including Knuth,  Zawinski, Norvig, Allen, and Thompson).
If you are a programmer and you don't already know eight out of the sixteen developers that are intervierwed in this book, you should definately consider reading this right away.

Reading about how many of these great programmers work is inspiring.  Peter Seibel is able to draw out the passion in these developers and bring them to life. After reading each interview, I felt as though I knew each of these people personally. This book has inspired me to become a better developer and to spend more time reading and writing code. Since I have read this book, I have taken to opening projects in Git Hub just to read the code and try to figure out what it does. This is not something I was in the habit of doing before. It has helped me to see different ways of approaching my code and has allowed me to grow as a developer.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is even mildly interested in software development. I think that it has something for everyone and if you are like me, you will be moved to learn more about your craft and excited to do so!