Palm Pilot ... A Customer Satisfaction Story

June 2001

"I’m mad as hell, and I won’t take it anymore!" Remember this famous quote from the film, Network? That’s the way I feel about most service providers and manufacturers who fail to meet their representations and fail to provide the quality we, as consumers, have a right to expect when we make our purchase.

Recently I had an experience with a Museum while in Miami Beach. I purchased a crystal and pewter piece while there and brought it home to place on my desk. My granddaughter liked it so much that she wanted to have one to give to her mother. Naturally, whatever my granddaughter wants, I’ll seek to do. Wouldn’t you? So, I called the Museum, made the purchase and waited for the mail, their chosen means of delivery. When the crystal and pewter piece arrived in the mail, the stem of the piece was broken off. I called the museum and had a lengthy conversation; the conversation went from pleasant to accusatory. By the time the woman accused me of breaking the original piece, ordering the second piece to replace the first one, she had already lost a future customer. While the matter was resolved, and an apology for the accusation was given, the relationship was already broken and the museum had lost possible future business.

No big deal! But, it could be a big deal. One of my colleagues in a law firm is in a different, but similar situation, and has burnt the bridge that enabled him to win a major lawsuit. This referral source has now evaporated! Why do this? If we stay in the present, be patient and tolerant, we would generally create the scenario that would allow all the parties to a dispute to walk away with their dignity intact and their pocketbook unscathed. But, alas! We seem to fall into our own trap too often.

And, I am pleased to report there are exceptions. There are cases of great service!

I recently took the plunge and purchased a Palm Pilot III C! Several years ago, I purchased a Palm III at an ABA TechShow with a great discount. But, the unit didn’t work as I expected it should; I had difficulty reading the monochrome screen and the size of the print was too small for my then aging eyes (think what they’re like now!).

When the color screen arrived, I tried different models, but none seemed to suit my fancy, so I waited. I was the skeptic. I remained with "hard copy" and printed out my calendar from my PC whenever I needed to travel. There were obvious drawbacks with this approach, among them that I frequently forgot to remove the printed calendar from my HP printer and take it with me, and oftentimes, when I had the calendar, it didn’t go far enough into the future.

Then, I heard such good reports about the Palm color unit that I ventured in again. For me, it was a leap of faith to get the color version Palm III C, though I really wanted the V or VII. I didn’t want to pay the large fee, both in extra initial cost and monthly charges thereafter, for another Internet connection. So, I settled for what I need, a calendar and rolodex, both of which the color version have with great sufficiency. Having made the plunge, I purchased the new toy and took it with me to New York and Chicago for two conferences, LegalTech Show and Future of the Profession Conference. I was without my printed rolodex and calendar (again forgetting to take the "hard copy" with me) and had to rely exclusively on the Palm. It worked like a charm; now, I’m hooked.

I didn’t like the graffiti language and was worried about making entries into the Palm, though I anticipated making most of my entries via the PC. But, someone mentioned that the Palm has an area with printed letters just like a keyboard, and because he knows how to type, he is able to use that without the graffiti. Again, it worked like a charm. Another challenge overcome! And, a close colleague suggested I buy the portable, collapsible keyboard that works on the Palm. I did, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. (This is one question I couldn’t yet ask my granddaughter!) Then, in a meeting, I saw an attorney bring out the keyboard and work with it. I looked over her shoulder and learned. I tried it later on my unit and was able to type notes while at a meeting. Great! Now, how do I get the notes from the Palm onto my PC? Well, someone else taught me how to do this as well. Now, I’m happy as a clam. I can read the Palm color, I can see the size of the type, I can use the keyboard to make entries and to make notes while at meetings and write articles when time permits. What more could I want?

This article is not about the technical greatness of the Palm, so let me continue with the story. Wouldn’t you know it, I had a problem. I went back to the store from which I had bought the Palm. I arrived 32 days after the purchase. The store said they could not take the unit back in exchange for another one because their distributor allow them only 30 days, and they would not be responsible for the cost. I went back and forth with them on this, but obviously lost that battle. I then called Palm. Palm, without a moment’s hesitation, said they would send me a brand new (not reconditioned) unit. They did; there was still a problem. I worked several hours with their customer service people and their technical support people!

Palm’s response was outstanding! As far as I’m concerned, they went beyond the required point of service. They stayed with me until the problem was solved, not only to their satisfaction, but to mine! This was not an easy challenge. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. But, I do know that there is at least one manufacturer out there that will stand behind, on the side of, and in front of their product! They will make sure ... at least they did in my instance ... that their customers are satisfied that their products work as advertised!

It is a pleasure to know that some people take the lessons of Network to heart. Here’s to good shopping!

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June 2001