Letters: April 2000

Everyday the news is full of stories warning buyers to beware. Has anyone ever stopped to look at the other side of the coin?

A new way of doing business is taking center stage; to some it is the oldest trick in the book, to others, it is a new breed of consumer that could lead to their downfall. Brick-and-mortar companies and web-based businesses are suffering from credit card charge backs from customers ­ after services have been rendered. Customer service should be very important to businesses, but some customers take it too far.

An example: recently, a man ordered a domain name through an ISP. He completed the form that clearly states domain names are not reversible or refundable, and entered his credit card information. The ISP in turn registered the domain for him, sent him a confirmation e-mail, and a copy of the order. Weeks later, Mr. Doe decided he didn’t want the domain name, and disputed the charge. In turn, the credit card company refunded his money and charged RWG for doing so. Meanwhile, guess who still has a free domain name.

Sound familiar? It should, it happens all the time. If a professional shoplifting ring is operating in a city, the stores are warned and therefore prepared. Moreover, the shoplifters are treated as the criminals they are. What is the difference? Too many consumers are hiding behind the law, and we are letting them get away with it. Why doesn’t anyone look deeper?
Regina Doettger, via e-mail

I enjoy reading your magazine, and had to respond to Mr. Frohlich’s letter in the February issue. I have been a Sprint PCS customer since December. I have found that the service is far better than the digital Bell South service I had previously.

Apparently, the problems Mr. Frohlich describes are regional. I have had no trouble with voice mail or coverage area, and the analog roam capability of the phone I purchased works as advertised. Even more impressive is Sprint’s inexpensive wireless data. The combination of a dual-band Qualcomm 2760 phone and mobile data cable was less than $200. And since it connects directly to a serial port, no PCMCIA modem is required. Sprint PCS is definitely a pretty good deal.
Matthew A. Treskovich, via e-mail. Central Florida Computer Services

It’s nice to see a review of web authoring tools [Business Tools, February 2000] that isn’t just another ad for Microsoft Front Page. But you’ve done a disservice to your readers by failing to include Softquad’s Hotmetal Pro editor among those listed.

Hotmetal costs about half as much as Golive or Fusion, offers more flexibility in design than either of them, and has a substantially lower learning curve. Plus, its tags-on view offers the best of both worlds (visual and raw code) when it comes to editing.
Jeffrey L. Fishbein, via e-mail. Riverweb Internet Commerce

I experienced, both at home and at work, a kind of “reverse” Y2K bug using Microsoft Excel and Word. I say “reverse” because we were generally warned about dates with 00 being incorrectly interpreted as being year 1900 instead of 2000. The problem I had was that once the new year rolled over, I had dates with 99 being interpreted as 2099 instead of 1999. Before the new year rolled over, the dates were correctly interpreted as 1999.

I have Microsoft Office 2000 at home and it was a fairly easy format change, once I recognized that the problem was occurring, but it was a bit trickier at work where we have Office 97. In Office 97, the pre-formatted date-type selections included only one choice for a four digit year, one that spelled out the month (which was useless for my purposes). It took me a bit to realize that I could define my own mm/dd/yyyy format in the custom area. Very easy once I realized, but not obvious at first. I would have thought mm/dd/yyyy to be a common example to have in the pre-formatted date area. Stanley Anderson

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.
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