Posts tagged “outage”

Ins and Outage

Starfucks sticker, Taipei, December 2007

Service outages seem to be common news stories lately. Sure, it’s news when many people in Florida lose power, but also when Pakistan causes a 2-hour YouTube blackout, BlackBerry service goes down, or Hotmail is unavailable.

There’s a sense that we are relying on far too many fragile systems and that as complexity increases, these stories will become even more commonplace (and perhaps even less newsworthy). But being forced to do without something seems to be a tactic companies enjoy using to extract a sense of the value of their service. The Whopper Freakout ad campaign is the most prominent example, but other companies such as Yahoo and Dunkin’ Donuts have conducted (consensual) user research experiments where people go without something and report back on the sense of loss.

But Starbucks pulled off the genius move, closing for a few hours to retrain staff, and making front-page news not for their failure (see: Florida, Blackberry, YouTube, Hotmail above) but for their retraining efforts towards a clarified service promise

Starbucks is welcoming customers back Wednesday with a new promise posted in stores: “Your drink should be perfect, every time. If not, let us know and we’ll make it right.”

This won’t address all of the challenges Starbucks is facing, but it’s a pretty brilliant P.R. success, hitting the denial-of-services hot button and emphasizing the valid, powerful reason behind the outage.

Like Robinson Crusoe, we’re as primitive as can be

A landslide has disrupted telephone service on the Coastside from Montara to Pescadero.

It appears that no calls can be made to or from the Coastside, but that some calls are possible within the Coastside. Sprint and T-Mobile cellular service have also been disrupted.

The landslide – off Highway 92 at 10pm on Saturday night – took out an AT&T fiber optic cable to the Coastside. Sgt. John Gonzales of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office says that the outage is in a location where AT&T can’t take heavy equipment, but are crews are hiking in to fix the problem. He says there is no estimate when phone service will be returned.

We lost DSL about 9:30 last night. I was able to call some 800 numbers for tech support, and even a local number for dial-in access. Was wondering what the heck was wrong with our DSL; then this AM found that a neighbor had the same problem, so that’s reassuring when you find out the problem is bigger than just you (I gave up on SBC last night when the tech support person – which is a generous term) had me rebooting and telling me I would have to contact my router manufacturer since it was their fault – I hung up on ’em). Now we see that the problem is really big.

Infrastructure here seems so fragile. Devil’s Slide/Highway 1 has been closed for a few weeks and they have no estimate of when it will re-open. Nearby SF is now an hour’s drive away, through much heavier traffic than we’re used to.

Every winter is filled with frequent power-outages. Our cable TV service is low-quality, noisy, and relatively unsupported. We have no cell coverage here. And today we can’t get phone calls in or our, and barely any Internet service. It feels landlocked and info-locked and it’s scary. Looks like email is the best way to reach me right now.

Update: Various news reports said that phone service was restored around dinner time, and our DSL came back somewhere between 9 and 10 pm.


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