Monday, July 24, 2017

Our next candidate for negative stars has got to be Verizon FIOS support.

In countless ads the company touts its ability to stream from the users DVR to remote devices (as also touted by Xfinity).  The only thing is, it works fitfully if at all.  I have not once been able to stream to a plain, stock, vanilla Google Nexus 7 FHD tablet.  Every time I attempt to do so, I get an error message.

What's worse is dealing with technical support.  I have spent hours and hours on the phone (at this point probably close to 10 hours) while I am repeatedly asked to: (1) reboot the router; (2) reboot the cable box; (3) reboot the OTM; (4) reboot the tablet; (5) delete the application then reinstall it; (6) disconnect the wifi repeater.  After each hour-plus long call, nothing happens.  Nothing is resolved.

Well, not quite.  Actually what happens is that Verizon Support starts robo-dialing me, calling on the 4th of July; calling Sundays; calling early in the morning; calling during my commute to work.  When one answers the phone, there is a canned message, "If the problem is resolved, press '1', if not press '2'".  Pressing "2" puts customer on HOLD (remember, THEY called ME) for upwards of 10 minutes, after which the responding tech starts over at the beginning as though no conversation has ever occurred.

It's a good thing it's not a "serious" problem --- such as when we lost dial tone and they couldn't get a tech to the house for a week, but it's particularly galling when every support call on the same issue starts from square one.

Sisyphus had it easier than dealing with Verizon FIOS support.

Monday, March 27, 2017

News Republic:  The Worst App on the Play Store?

Those of us with HTC handsets once came to love Blinkfeed, HTC's "extra home page" which would enable us to get updates of RSS feeds, social media, our calendars, and various other streams simply by swiping to the right.  With the advent of the HTC One M9, however, HTC retired the "old" Blinkfeed, and required users to install and use News Republic.

This application purports to permit the user to select topics and content providers, and receive a stream of personalized news updates tailored to the user's own preferences.

Between the intent and the implementation there is many a mis-step and News Republic nails every mis-step.  First of all, it pushes out content from a variety of feeds which the user cannot "de-select" or remove.  (If it weren't for the Kardashian's, some days my feed would be empty.)  It has pushed out offensive and adult data over the feeds coming from content providers that don't even appear in its "settings" pages.  And, since this is a blog and not Moby Dick, I won't go into details about the click-bait News Republic pushes out.

I have gone round and round with technical support, which insists that I shouldn't run the latest version of the app, but rather downgrade to an earlier version.  Excuse me, but since when did Microsoft tell folks with Windows 10 issues, "Sorry, you should downgrade to Windows 3.1?"  That's not an answer, that's a cop-out.

One star does not begin to adequately assess the depth of frustration a user who actually cares about curated content faces with this miserable application.  For now, Google News is an adequate substitute, but: (1) It doesn't run in  Blinkfeed and (2)  It occasionally has its own share of click-bait.

And the geniuses at News Republic have compounded their sin by repeatedly "responding" to one-star reviews on the Google Play Store.  Yeah, that doesn't cut it either, people.

Congrats, News Republic, on infuriating me just enough to launch my long-time planned "Negative Stars" blog.  I'm sure you'll be the first of many.