My power has now been out for 48 hours. Early on I anticipated a breakdown long enough to ruin the food in my “ice box”/refrigerator (the damage was caused by a ruptured pipe and water pouring into the electrical system) shutting off power to all but the ground floor. I walked next door to a small shop and bought a couple bags of ice. I went to dinner near a 7-11 and picked up some more ice (they have great ice for this purpose – very cold and a big huge sold block).
A shop similar to this one (but the photo shows a bigger shop a bit further away)
So far it has kept things colder much better than I would have guessed. Going back to when an ice box was a box with ice works decently using a modern refrigerator. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising as the insulation on modern refrigerators is better than the old ones. Still getting and restocking ice is a bother.
It would be a good opportunity for a business to make it easy. I suggested to the condo office that they help make this process easier for tenants as a smart move to mitigate the damage to tenants but they have not done so (no surprise). Either give ice away – the management companies losing a big of cash but not much really, ice is cheap. Or the management company makes it a condo expense which means the owners just pay for it. Or at least have some company agree to schedule a truck to come at x hour and sell ice to those who want to buy it.
Update: a few hours after I posted this they actually did have ice delivered for people to use. I am not sure if they took awhile to take my suggestion to heart or if someone else came up with the idea. Either way, it was a good sign.
A bit of customer focus can help mitigate the damage customer face when things go wrong.
The people in the management office are kind. But the management company has not built a management system with a focus on encouraging employees to continually seek ways to improve and provide great service.
Related: The Customer is the Purpose of Our Work – Poor Usability for Online Plane Reservations – Great Cheap Cell Phone Plan
Update: I think we ended up being without power for just over 4 days. I found being without power really wasn’t that bad except for problems getting wifi. Luckily my building has wifi available for daily purchase and their signal was good (the power they use is separate line that is used by the elevators and stayed up the whole time). I was able to recharge my laptop in the building office (only floors 2-20 were without power). If I had been without wifi I think I would have had to move into a hotel, but as it was it was tolerable and less annoying than I would have guessed (though I still don’t want to have to deal with it again – especially since the “backup” wifi seems to have deteriorated – I have to use it occasionally when I have connectivity issues way too often – my internet connection is right on the edge of being tolerable…).
I made some plane reservations online with Tiger Airways. First the web forms failed, and contacting by Twitter and the online form them provided (which in a very bad design required 12 fields to be completed) didn’t result in a reply. So I called them. They answered in less than 5 seconds with a person that was polite and knowledgeable (airlines can’t come close to meeting this standard).
On the phone, I was told with Firefox you need to clear your browser history. As a software developer, I have to say you are feeble if you deploy production code that fails to accept customer money because you can’t deal with the cookie you created for the user.
I don’t like all the ways many of the airlines now try to take your money. Just charge honest fares don’t have all sorts of hidden fees 🙁 That is bad customer service. I do like being able to book my seats in advance and am fine being charged for that option. And providing seats with more room at a higher price is a good economic tool.
It is interesting to me how far advanced the credit card security is in Asia. The USA is way behind in several things (cell phone technology in general – due to monopolistic cell phone providers without effective over-site – also internet access in the USA is pitiful). The banking system in the USA (including credit cards) is highly corrupt with too big too fail institutions holding back innovation to an alarming degree in the USA. So it isn’t really Asia being ahead as much as the USA being behind everywhere else (Europe, like Asia is far ahead in credit card and cell phone systems).
Placing the credit card order with my Malaysian credit card required 2 factor authentication (which is a wise security practice) – they sent a one use code to my phone. If you haven’t setup 2-factor authentication for your email account you really should. Internet security is becoming a much bigger problem, being paranoid online now makes sense.
The airline web site (as nearly every site does) failed basic usability guidelines by masking the one time use approval code for that specific purchase. Even if they posted that code on the bill board on times square in New York City (or along the news crawl on Channel NewsAsia) it would have no negative consequence. But by masking it you greatly increase input errors as the user can’t verify they typed in correctly. This is basic stuff that is really pitiful that huge corporations still routinely mess up (masking one time use codes).
The airline travel system is much better in SE Asia than the USA. The airlines are decent at customer service, which given how atrocious the service in the USA is puts them far ahead. Prices are also good. Airports are much better. Huge security theater waste is missing (there is still a fair amount of security of course, due to the risks).
Related: Paying Bills Using Online Banking in Malaysia – Tips for using your credit card – SE Asia Travel: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Moving to a new culture you have to be willing to adapt and accept things different from what you may be familiar with. Most everything in Malaysia I have no problem adapting to. The biggest thing I find very annoying consistently is noise.
Noise at my condo – loud noise from temples (very loud bells, loud sound systems), firecrackers (a alot – early in the morning at 4 AM this last week over 30 loud gunshot style ones for example, which is the worst but alot of firecrackers at less unreasonable hours too). And very loud speakers blasting on the street or in malls. But that is something that is just the way it is. I can accept it and just understand that it annoys me, but you don’t get to have everything the way you want.
My philosophy is much more that: you limit very much things you do that are inflicted on other (once what you do infringes upon others rights you make consideration for others primary). I notice in Malaysia the more primary thing seems to be the willingness to just tolerate whatever others are doing. Which is a good trait to have, if you don’t let things bother you, you are much happier. I think the in West people think of Asia in general as people being more considerate, it seems to me it is really instead people being more tolerant. Just accepting that things are the way they are and if you are not powerful you can’t expect others to worry about your desires.
The condo below me started massive heavy construction last week – without any notice. I find this incredibly inconsiderate. The effect is essentially like having someone jackhammering in the room next to you (the only different in the heavy construction being inside my condo right now I have no dust). The idea that I should be given warning of such a massive disruption to the ability to use my condo seems foreign. The condo office won’t even respond about how much longer I can expect to have similar disruption (4 days last week this happened – Thursday was fine for some reason). My rental agent just says I am suppose to keep begging the condo office and maybe eventually they will tell me something.
I don’t really understand this attitude. It just seems so silly. The construction requires advance approval from the management office. But the management office gives no warning to those that will be impacted. And they don’t even respond to requests for information.
Update: P1 is unreliable, do not consider them for anything but a backup. Once they provide historical and real time uptime and real speed data from a 3rd party then you can think of considering them. In 6 weeks they have been down multiple days for multiple hours. One day for 1 hour would be bad. Being down several hours in a month would be very bad. They have been that unreliable and down multiple weeks (I think 50% of the weeks) for multiple hours a multiple days. Extremely poor. They don’t even have bother to apologize and explain each failure (at least 3 long term very serious failures in 6 weeks). As I stated in the last update, that tells you enough them to avoid P1, if you are smart. And it also explains why they keep failing over and over and over (when they don’t even acknowledge the causes of the failures, maybe they don’t even figure them out).
Finding a decent provider isn’t easy, the reviews online make it seem like P1 is as good as any provider (maybe Unify is best but it is offered on in very limited locations).
I needed broadband internet for my condo in Johor Bahru. In looking at the various options they seemed pretty similar. P1 offers the highest speed I saw 5Mbps and 30Gb a month (for the RM 139 a month plan) and so that seemed best to me. They also offer a 7 day trial period which was nice. And you can use it in 2 hours (after some setup by their system to activate your modem), which is nice. You can check out if your area is covered.
My speed was pretty bad at first. I was able to get support through Twitter. After awhile they said they would monitor the modem from their side. Then they said they made tweaks to the modem and things actually do seem better. I really wonder what they do to speed it up? The speed is still not near 5 Mbps. If I average 1.5 Mbps I would be surprised. I have only had it for about a week now so I do need to get more data. Today it has been above 2 Mbps for much of the day so if that continues it could be good (I even had 2 tests where it was nearly 4 Mbps – the average today may well be above 3). But it does seem 5 Mbps is much more a marketing gimick that what you can expect. But I don’t know if p1’s difference from their marketing is any more exaggerated than anyone else. Also I probably need close to 30 Gb so that factor matters to. If I could average 3 Mbps and had very little downtown (99.5% uptime) I will happy.
I have had several 10 or 15 min times already where I was trying to get online and couldn’t. I am hoping that is maybe initial setup issues (though really that doesn’t make much sense which is why I am just hoping). p1 has been good enough that I am passing the 7 day mark without cancelling, hopefully I won’t regret it.
I think I would have gone with Unify. They are a land-line provider which should be more reliable (historically the problem with landlines has been slow customer service and high fees, Unify is meant to address these issues and seems to be doing better on those scores). Unify’s VIP 5 plan offers 5 Mbps download and 60 Gb per month. Really I think if I was smart this is what I should have done. It takes awhile to setup and I think the upfront charges are more. I might even get Unify on top of p1 (just because I am so reliant on the internet to do my job). I really can’t have outages or it can be a serious problem. Probably it would have been smart to get the Unify package and then the a cheaper p1 plan. Oh well, trying to do all the things I have to do to get setup has been pretty stressful, making a few mistakes isn’t so horrible. I’ll just have to earn more money so I can afford to add Unify (or maybe I’ll find just P1 is enough).