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Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

AVOID Skadate! – Lack of tech support

25 Jun 2017

AVOID Skadate! – Lack of tech supportSkadate – AVOID THEM!

Sadly, I started a website using the Skadate software, and it has been a nightmare from day 1.

LOTS of people have complained about Skadate. I’m not the first. BUT, the most people I can steer AWAY from Skadate, the better. They operate under the name "Skalfa LLC" as well.

One of the *ONLY* redeeming things about Skadate / Skalfa, was the customer community forum. There were THOUSANDS of entries with hundreds and hundreds of solutions to the countless problems Skadate has… and today, when I’m trying to figure out and solve a problem with the software, they’ve REMOVED the forum!!!!

SKADATE REVIEW / SKALFA REVIEWSI only found out because their "Pre-sales" live chat person told me that it was taken down, but they are putting it back "on Monday." I HIGHLY doubt they’ll have it back up on Monday – and I suspect they will have removed all of the useful history. BUT, let’s say that they DO bring it back up, and all of the existing information is there… WHY did they take it down in the first place? They could have left it up, but disabled the ability to add new comments, so that CUSTOMERS could still make use of the information while they retool it. (For REAL software development companies, THAT is how they do it!)

Again – BEWARE of Skadate / Skalfa!

Trust me, this is just the latest in a DOZEN issues I’ve gone crazy over. I’ve just never written about them – but going forward, I’m going to share EVERYTHING they say, in the hopes that other SUCKERS like me don’t fall for their sales pitch.

Here’s the full transcript of my chat session with them tonight:


Chat transcript

Sabrina – Sat, 06/24/17 11:43:16 pm America/Los_Angeles
Hi! Do you want to start a dating website with iOS & Android? I’m here to help.

Client – 11:43:16 pm
Where’s the URL for the community support forum?

Sabrina- 11:43:46 pm
Are you a SkaDate Customer?

Client – 11:43:51 pm
Yes
I use to find other customers on the forum who had answered questions…

11:44:10 pm
I already submitted a ticket to "support", but the answer might already be in the community forum.

Sabrina – 11:44:43 pm
May I please have your name and email?

Client – 11:44:50 pm
Dave Tavres – dave@tavres.com

Sabrina – 11:45:08 pm
Thank you! Hold on please

Client – 11:50:02 pm
? Hello?

I just want the URL for the community forum

Sabrina – 11:51:28 pm
Dave, I was told that the Forum will be activated on Monday.

Client – 11:51:43 pm
Huh? It’s been up for a few YEARS

Sabrina – 11:52:39 pm
Yes, they upgraded the Client Area but no Forum yet.

Client – 11:52:52 pm
Fine – where is the OLD forum?

I just want to search for existing solutions.

Sabrina – 11:53:59 pm
I understand but it is disabled now. You will have the access to Forum on Monday

Client – 11:54:29 pm
!!!!!! WHY DO YOU GUYS SUCK SO MUCH?! You don’t have 24/7 tech support, and now you TAKE AWAY access to the only USEFUL information?!

Can you have someone answer my support ticket NOW then?

Sabrina – 11:55:25 pm
I’m a pre-sales operator. I do not have access to customers accounts. You will need to wait til Monday when support team is back to work.

Client – 11:55:37 pm
Yeah… figures.

Duration: 12m 36s

Chat started on: https://www.skadate.com/

 

Bank idea for potential fraud charges

19 Jun 2017

chase_logo[1]I do *love* that banks will decline charges on your card when they think the charge is fraudulent. It has the potential to save me a lot of time, and save the bank a lot of money. Of the 20 or more times I’ve had it happen in my life when my card was ‘on hold’ because of unusual spending, it’s never been a terrible inconvenience, considering the work they are doing on the back-end to help protect us both.

I recently got a short survey from Chase Bank after they declined an unusual charge. The charge was mine, but their process to unblock left something to be desired. They left me a voicemail telling me to call their fraud department using an 800 number. Well, scammers could just as easily leave that message, so I searched the web for the 800 number. No where to be found. I went to the Chase Bank website and searched for the number – again, nothing found. I checked my personal email for a message – nothing. I checked my "private Bank idea for potential fraud charges | DaveTavres.cominbox" on the Chase website for my account – again, nothing. I double-checked for txt messages on my phone, and again, nothing. My red-flag-meter started cranking up, feeling pretty sure that this lonely voicemail, supposedly from Chase Bank, was in fact an identity thief or scammer. So I finally called the 800 number on their website.

This is the frustrating part. I had to wait and get transferred twice to get to the right department – verifying an amazing amount of information each time. Then when I finally got the right person, and got verified, I confirmed the charge and they removed the block on the card. Done. Okay, it only took 20 minutes of my life, but it’s still slow and frustrating. So, here’s the idea – and some banks already do some of this…

First – send email, txt, and a private message on the bank website.

Second – have a published number on the official bank website.

Third – have two big buttons (links) in the email/txt/message that say "I VERIFY THIS CHARGE" or "BLOCK THAT CHARGE".

If you click the "VERIFY" link, you’re taken to a bank webpage where you only have to enter a single keyword, phrase, or password to prove that it’s YOU, and not an identity thief who has your phone. If you click the ‘Block’ link, you’re taken to the Bank webpage where you do not have to enter a passphrase, you just confirm that you don’t know what the charge is – which should then prompt a call from the Bank.

Pretty simple. And of course, this should be opt-in/opt-out. Some people want the phone call, or they don’t want emails, txt messages, etc. Personally, I want it to be easy. This is pretty easy.

 

Internet Basics for Small Businesses

17 Mar 2017

This article is intended for small to medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations with limited or no experience with technology and the internet. If you have someone you consider to be your “tech person”, consider reviewing this document with them to get their opinions on each point. If they aren’t very familiar with each point, you may want to have a second “tech person” person involved in decision making to make sure your decisions are well planned and understood.

The points below are laid out in order of importance.

Domain hosting - Google Domains | DaveTavres.comDomain hosting

Also called a ‘domain registrar’, this is a company that you pay each year (or for multiple years at once) to control your domain on the web. Your domain is the “.com” or “.org”. It is not your website – it’s just the domain. Think of your domain just like you think of your main phone number. You can have many services attached to your phone number that may not be provided by your phone company; voicemail, 800 numbers, call forwarding, etc. Your domain host does the same thing – it directs your domain name to IP addresses that handle the ‘behind-the-scenes’ internet traffic. This is called DNS or Domain Name Services. DNS is like the yellow pages for phone numbers. If the yellow pages have your name but the wrong phone number, people can’t reach you.

Use a well known, trusted domain host who doesn’t charge more than $15 per year for a domain. Some companies say they offer better service or features for the higher cost, but don’t fall for that. Domain hosting, by itself, is all you need. After years of bad experiences, I now actively tell people DO NOT USE GoDaddy, if at all possible! I’ve had many clients who make mistakes and get charged hefty fees for their ‘help’. There are LOTS great alternatives. However, only if you must, GoDaddy will work for your needs.

I do recommend Google Domains – www.google.com/domains.

Approximate cash cost: $12/yr.


Web hosting - A2Hosting | DaveTavres.comWeb hosting

A web host is the company that actually ‘serves’ your web pages to visitors. This does not have to be the same company as your domain host. After many years of this work, the ONLY benefit I’ve seen to having the same company host the domain and the website is that you only have to login to one website to do administration. However, that also means that if that account gets ‘hacked’, both your domain and your website can be compromised at the same time.

Web hosting has a wide range of costs. If you’re doing a WordPress site (which I cover later in this article) you probably don’t have an expensive web developer and a huge website with a lot of content and logic. So you you can get away with about $6 per month hosting (about $72/yr). Most likely, that will give you all the storage and bandwidth you’d need for your website. If you’re a niche business/group that gets a lot of website traffic because you have something unique and popular, spending $15 per month (about $180/yr) should cover the needs of even a medium sized organization. Don’t be fooled into paying $30 or $60 a month or more for web hosting. It is not worth it! As of 2014, the technology has become ‘easy’ for a hosting company to manage – so there’s no need for you to pay two or FIVE times the cost. If you do have a large, complex business and website (think RedCross.org) this document is not for you. If you’re a large organization, a better choice would be to work with a web consultant for a comprehensive strategy – which means you should not be reading this document. Go hire a consultant or full time developer and they’ll know how to help.

Approximate cash cost: $90/yr.


G Suite Email hosting | DaveTavres.comEmail hosting

Many web hosts will bundle your website with your email. If you’re a 501c3 non-profit, don’t do it. You have a free option from a huge company that REALLY knows how to handle email – Google. Google’s Gmail is huge and well managed and guess what… they will give non-profits free email hosting – using YOUR domain. The program is called “G Suite for Nonprofits”. There are other very useful features of this program, but email is likely your biggest benefit. It allows you to create email accounts for everyone in your organization and Google does a really great job of filtering junk email. Yes, there can be a small learning curve of people learning how to use web-based email, but you’ll benefit from everyone having email. Oh, and the best thing is – it’s free. As long as your have your 501c3 IRS determination letter as a PDF, they’ll give you this service.

If you’re not a non-profit, the price is $5/per user, per month – which is well worth that minimal price.

Now, just like with the other items in this article, you will want a tech-savvy person to set this stuff up for you. Getting G Suite for Nonprofits setup is not trivial, but once it’s setup correctly, you should have smooth sailing for years to come.

I’m not going to expand further on this, as you absolutely should use this service from Google. It’s a no-brainer. Free for nonprofits, very low cost for businesses. 30Gb of email storage per person, email is accessible from any computer connected in the world, and the great Gmail app for smart phones. And the built-in safety and security of Google. So, just do it.

Approximate cash cost: $0.


Photos - Flickr | DaveTavres.comPhotos

We all know that people look at pictures more than they read, so photos are very important. If you want to get attention and interaction, you need a lot of images. Images tell your story better than words – at least when you have only a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. This gets a bit more into the ‘social marketing’ discussion, but if you’re using new media well, you’ll have A LOT of images after a few years. Managing those images becomes very difficult.

The short answer here is Flickr. You need to setup an account using your business or non-profit information. Make the account generic so that when the current president or tech-person moves on, the account still belongs to your organization. Then you need to create a few albums, upload a bunch of photos and, here’s the important part’, add meta-info! What’s meta-info? It’s the title, description, tags and locations of each image. Why is this important? Because Google and other search engines “crawl” (or “index”) everything. The words in an image’s title or description can bring new visitors to your website. Which could mean a new customer, volunteer, online sale, or donation. Also, Flickr has a large community of people who pour over photos the way others pour over catalogs. Remember, pictures tell a story… but that meta-info gets the story to the people.

Approximate cash cost: $0.


Website - WordPress | DaveTavres.comWebsite

Finally! Yes, your website is very important, but if you don’t have the items above in place, your website just won’t be as effective. Most small businesses and non-profits don’t have the money to hire a full time web developer or even a consultant which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to do a website. So now I say this magic word – WordPress. WordPress is a “content management system” (CMS). It started as a ‘blogging’ platform, but over the years has been transformed into the easiest and simplest way to create – and manage – your website information. Why? Because you get a system that’s basically ‘WYSIWYG’ (What You See Is What You Get) – You type in an article, drop a photo or two into the middle and hit publish. Poof! It’s online and it looks good. You don’t need to hire someone to make changes. YOU can edit and add content (with a little training).

Approximate cash cost: $0.


SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

“SEO” is not what it was in the 1990’s. Google, MSN, Yahoo, all the major search engines have “fixed” the “flaws” in their systems that allowed people to get an unfair advantage (or ‘game the system’) and they regularly change the algorithms on how page ranking is displayed specifically to keep people from ‘gaming the system’. Instead, search engines use content and links to help judge page ranking. That means more content, better content, with links to other large websites that are connected via logical content. (That means, don’t link to Microsoft unless you are talking about software, etc.)

There are things that help with SEO, such as Google’s Webmaster Tools. Making sure your site is properly indexing, and displays navigation, and has your name as text (rather than graphics) all help search engines to find you and rank you.

This does take time to setup, but usually does not require much ongoing work – so DON’T fall for those “SEO Marketers” – unless they are going to write content about your business – and I hope they aren’t. YOU and your staff need to write one or two articles a month to add to your site.

Approximate cash cost: $0.

Watch this 2010 video from Google’s old head of Search to learn how Google put those fake SEO marketers out of business (specifically, the ones who “promise” to get your site to show up at the top of the search results. This change took place in April 28th – May 3rd of 2010)


Social Media/Marketing | DaveTavres.comSocial Media/Marketing

As of 2014, this is the age of social media. If you don’t have at least a Facebook page, Twitter feed and a website, you basically don’t exist online. And be sure to connect your Twitter to your Facebook so that everything you post on Facebook auto-posts to Twitter. SUPER time-saver there. Then, be sure to use Flickr and Pinterest to help catch people’s attention and maybe get some ideas too.

Now, with regard to “How often should I post on social media?” I have found that posting interesting facts, history, info, etc. once or twice a week keeps most people interested and engaged, without overwhelming the majority. And, try to engage your audience – ask a generic question, get a discussion going. On special occasions you can do multiple per week, but that shouldn’t be the norm. If you do “Today in history” type posts, those are usually okay 3+ times a week. Oh, and EVERY POST should include a photo. Remember, photos are what grabs people to read the text. Yes, social media marketers will tell you that 2-4 posts per day is needed, which may be true for your business, but that’s a lot of content, which equals a lot of time and/or money.

Oh, and seriously, make sure you have a ‘friendly’ Facebook address. Here’s an example of a bad address: www.facebook.com/pages/The-International-Printing-Museum/162469617149182  -  Here’s a good address: www.facebook.com/printmuseum. You can fix this by simply going to the ‘About’ section of your Facebook page. AND, use correct capitalization!

Also, at least 50% of the time, try to post a link back to your main website content. If you don’t have directly related content, just put a link to your site. When people share Facebook and Twitter posts, that web address goes with it! And use hash tags now and then. Facebook and Twitter both support them and other services use them as well. Do one or two hash tags, but probably not more than five. For example, a post about the Disneyland Railroad should have hash tags at the bottom like: #business #NonProfits #help #technology

Your business listings

No one uses the yellow pages anymore. Make sure your business information is correct everywhere possible, even if you have to create the profile. Here are some sites to start with: LinkedIn, Google Maps, Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Yahoo Small Business.

Approximate cash cost: $0.


Emails - SendGrid | DaveTavres.comEmails

SEND EMAIL! Well, first, collect emails – then send emails. SendGrid or MailChimp are a good, free and easy way to create and send good looking emails. You NEED to practice these first. Look at other BIG businesses and non-profits’ emails to see how they do it. COPY THEM. They have paid someone with expertise to design and layout their emails – get it for free and try to mimic those emails in look and content. And when it comes time to sending messages – make sure you have practiced ahead of time – don’t do this for the first time when you’re rushed and trying to get it working.

The ‘collect emails’ part is VERY important. Your website must have a way for people join a mailing list. MailChimp makes this very easy to integrate into your website, or you can just share a link that takes people to a customizable page on SendGrid or MailChimp where they can join your email list. If you’re concerned about keeping ‘members/donors/etc.’ in a separate list from the ‘potential members/interested/fans’ list, that’s also very easy to do in MailChimp. Your website should, at the VERY least, let people join the ‘interested’ list.

Approximate cash cost: $0.


Online sales - Woo Commerce | DaveTavres.comOnline sales

If you have products to sell, sell them online too. Using WooCommerce’s free WordPress plugins and a free WordPress store template and a ‘free’ Stripe or Square account, you can sell online. The question really is: can you monitor and ship orders in a timely manner? If the answer is no, DO NOT SELL ONLINE. What does “timely manner” mean? If you post on the website that orders are shipping twice a week, but you only get to it twice a month, that is not timely.

Approximate cash cost: $0.


GuideStar | DaveTavres.comGuideStar

For non-profits, get on GuideStar! www.GuideStar.org is the main site for finding and tracking non-profits. There are some companies that will give freebies to nonprofits IF they can find your verified account on GuideStar. Plus, they have a lot of free resources to help small-to-medium sized groups.

Approximate cash cost: $0.


Become a Venue | DaveTavres.comBecome a Venue

Renting out you space or location as a venue for corporate events or parties can bring in big bucks for minimal cost to your organization. Companies will often hire their own catering, entertainment and party rentals to stay within their budget – which means all you have to do a make sure someone is there to open the door for the people to setup the tables and chairs. But how do you get known as an event venue?

Have information visible to your regular visitors – they are the people helping to plan their corporate party. If they remember seeing a poster or taking a flyer or reading an email with a mention about your space being for hire, they’ll bring that tidbit of info to their planning meeting and you might make some money. Once a year you could even do your own event and invite the businesses near you and the local party and corporate event planners from the yellow pages (okay, LinkedIn, Google and Yelp!) In any case, know who your market is! You might even just send snail-mail postcards to every event planner on the web who’s in your ZIP code. Then, maintain that list of names and email address to let them know when you’re running a special on your space.

Oh, and give something away with your venue rental! Free passes or discounts off your merchandise for the evening, private tours, items from your merch shop – or even a big-ticket item that the company (or the event planner) may enjoy as an incentive to bring their business to you. Other venues don’t do it – so stand out. Those items (big or small) can help sway the planner.

Approximate cash cost: $500 – $5,000 (if you throw an ‘informational’ event)


Other internet tools for business and non-profits | DaveTavres.comOther internet tools for business and non-profits

 

Uber takes 33%, plus $60/mnth and doesn’t pay tolls

03 Nov 2015

I recently took Uber across a San Francisco bridge, which cost the driver $4 in cash. Cash that I don’t carry. Cash that I can’t add to a tip in the Uber app. I apologized to the driver (he wasn’t upset in the slightest and fully expected to pay the bridge toll.)

It surprised me that the Uber app doesn’t recognize that I went through a toll and automatically add it to my fare – especially considering that Uber charges my a ‘safe rider fee’ separately from the fare.

Uber takes 33%, plus $60/mnth and doesn’t pay tolls - DaveTavres.comAs we drove, I asked the driver more details about fees and found out that Uber is now charging drivers $60/mnth for an old iPhone (with service) that is used for connecting to the Uber servers for getting and tracking rides. I DO think Uber can/should charge for the device, as drivers apparently have the option of using their own phones instead (although I do not know all the details of that.) However, Uber is handing out ancient iPhone models, while at the same time adding thousands of Uber drivers each month, which would reduce their costs. So, this is yet another money-grab by Uber, but the cash-grab is from the drivers, rather than the riders.

To top it off, I learned that the rate is now 33% of each fare goes to Uber. That is HUGE considering how many drivers there are around the world. In 2014, Uber’s revenue was $1.6 Billion.Lyft - DaveTavres.com

In talking to other drivers, I’ve heard that Lyft only charges drivers 20% of each fare and (probably for a limited time), if a driver does 25 or more rides in a single day, they get 100% of the fares.

I’ll be re-thinking my commitment to using Uber and give Lyft a try.

 

Uber’s “Safe Rides” fee is ridiculous

22 Oct 2015

I’m a huge fan of Uber. But, I also know they take a huge percentage of each fare (I’ve heard from Uber drivers as much as 30%.) However, I also understand websites and technology and the costs to run such businesses, so when I see $1.65 fee on top of an $11 fare – of which Uber gets 20-30%, it makes me click on the link next to the ‘Safe Rides Fee’ line item.

Here’s their reason for charging that fee:

I WAS CHARGED A SAFE RIDES FEE (US + CANADA ONLY)

I WAS CHARGED A SAFE RIDES FEE (US + CANADA ONLY)

The Safe Rides Fee supports safety efforts for the uberX platform, including among other things a background check process, motor vehicle checks, driver safety education and development of safety features in the app.


Here’s the issue… As of October 2015, Uber confirmed a $40 BILLION valuation. That’s a lot of money – and I love entrepreneurship and capitalism, but in this case, Uber is just being greedy. That $1.65 for “background checks’ and ‘vehicle checks’ should be coming from the 30% they take from EACH fare that a driver collects. That IS the business that Uber is running. When I see the line item on my phone bill for $1.28 to help extend phone service to rural areas, I get that – it’s basically a tax to help those people Uber’s “Safe Rides” fee is ridiculouswho choose not to live near city centers, and it’s an infrastructure cost that will give a return in years to come. And yes, you pay that $1.28 each month on your phone bill. But that’s each month, not each fare.

Uber – you’re doin’ a great job (be sure to thank your drivers), but seriously, you need to re-think this fee. Those checks are part of doing this business. If you want to raise fees, do that – don’t try to hide your massive profits in lame excuses in the name of “safety”.