Addendum to VPI Experience

Addendum:

Interesting that only seconds after to Twittering my bad experience earlier I had some new followers and one was the co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance.

About an hour later I received a phone call from the supervisor who I had originally dealt with.  She and I were more civil this time.  Turns out she did some digging (sorry to say should have been done the first time but glad it was at least done this time) into my account.  She found something pending (didn’t say what exactly) that was from the time I had originally signed up with VPI.  I found this odd because whatever this was it did not keep me from making claims or receiving my payments.  She also let me know that because my email had contained attachments (2 screen shots so they could see exactly what I was seeing) it had been deleted (even though I got a confirmation email that they had recieved it).  So she asked me to try the web site again and if that didn’t work that I was to submit the email again but without the attachments.

I gave ol’ Firefox a try again and it still doesn’t work in Firefox.  Gave into using Internet Explorer and was able to FINALLY cancel the policies.

A few moments later I got a call from Patty at VPI to let me know that my policy cancellations had indeed gone through.  I thanked her for following up.  I asked her if I could speak to someone in the web dept.  I explained to her my main frustration had started with the inoperability of their web portal.  I enlightened her on not limiting your customers to only one browser (IE is FAR from the only thing out there).  She assured me that the web dept. was working to have their web portal work with Firefox and Safari (odd earlier they only knew that Safari didn’t work with it).

I truly hope that VPI learned a lesson from this today.  Follow up customer service is great but it shouldn’t be in place of good customer service to begin with.  Also that you don’t limit your customers or frustrate them by designing a site that isn’t web standards compliant.  Don’t launch a site until it works in all the major browsers (and OSes too – Linux, Windows, Mac).

I did Tweet that I appreciated them calling me back.  Am I completely happy?  No.  But I certainly feel a lot better than I did a few hours ago.  Thank you for getting back to me but let’s work on getting it right the first time.  🙂

My Tweets:

VPI Pet Insurance just earned a few points – supervisor called back and gave me her ext. plus update on my problems – good customer service

few more pts 4 VPI – told me they are working on getting site to work w/Firefox & Safari never launch a site until it works in ALL browsers

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Behold, the Power of Email

Well I am absolutely squealing with joy.  I got a response from the webmaster of the Baltimore County Government web site that I was upset about just the other day.  They took my suggestion to make their site not only for Internet Explorer.   It is now accessible to those using Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera.  I am absolutely thrilled to see them make this change and include more than just Firefox.   My hat is off to Baltimore County Government’s webmaster.

Amendment to the Bill of Rights

I hereby suggest that my country’s Bill of Rights be amended. If the Bill of Rights is about freedom then there is one amendment seriously lacking (no offense to our forefathers they could not have seen this coming). Freedom of browser, web browser that is. I am not one of those open source fanatics that insists you only use Firefox or Opera but I do insist you allow me the right to choose my browser and have your site work correctly in it.

Gone are the days of only one name in the game. It is time for the web-so-called-masters to wake up. Code to web standards and not only will your site work in the browser of my choice but it can be accessible by all. It isn’t that hard to do. Why on earth would you limit the audience you are trying to reach? Are you that ignorant to think that only Internet Explorer is the only choice out there? Come to the Howard County Library and you’ll find it isn’t even an option. We prefer a much more secure (but not completely invulnerable) Firefox, Flock or Opera. Try convincing all the Mac users out there that use Safari or Firefox on their Macs. If you still think that IE is the only game in town you haven’t been looking lately.

I am completely frustrated by sites that “work best in ….” or “must use Internet Explorer only” (like the Baltimore County web site).   If properly coded your site will work best in ANY BROWSER!  I find it insulting that in this day and age of enlightenment and choice there are still those who think that limiting a site to a browser (or god forbid an operating system) is making the right choice.  Keep on making sites that only work in one browser and I’ll (among others) will keep not using your site.

Endangered Species

I don’t like to think that another species might be in trouble of surviving on this planet but this time it might be a good thing.  Internet Explorer, all versions, are in serious danger from the latest unpatched security hole.  IE is no longer the only beast of the jungle nor is it the best.  Firefox still has better security and functions much better than IE.  You also have other contenders such as Google’s Chrome (love how if a website for whatever reason crashes your browse it only takes the tab with it not the whole browser), Flock (the social browser), and Opera among others.   Time has come for the ol’ IE to move along to the great browser graveyard in the sky.


Digg!

Windows? I Ain’t Got No Windows!

I don’t need no windows! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ windows!” to continue to parody what I learned is the one of the most misquoted movie lines from the movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Over the last 3 months or so I’ve been a dual operating system kind of gal.  Not a dual boot but 2 CPU’s with 2 different OS on them.  Considering that we are an open source shop you’d be surprised to learn that I used Windows OS at all.  Because I had to use a client based ILS that only ran on Windows I was stuck.  But with our upcoming migration to Koha, an open source web-based ILS, I’ve been able to switch over to using Ubuntu (like the rest of my co-workers).

At first I found myself swiveling my chair between the Windows PC on my right and the Ubuntu machine in front of me.  Then I realized more and more I wasn’t moving from the machine in front of me.  Other than the times I need to look something up in the ILS client (e.g. customer account) or if I have to use PhotoShop (sorry, haven’t taken time to learn GIMP yet) most of the day my Windows machine stays unused.

I have my beloved Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock, and OpenOffice on the Ubuntu machine.  I have Meebo, Staff Intranet (using Joomla), DeskNow (collaborative email/file sharing/calendar software), FriendFeed, Facebook, Flickr, other Web 2.0 sites and our soon to be new ILS all in the browser of my choice.  I have TwitterFox, web developer toolbar, Stumbleupon toolbar and colorful tabs as some of my Firefox addons.  I’m in heaven on my Ubuntu machine.  Only thing I miss about my Windows machine is I had dual monitors hooked up to it.  Just need to find another monitor and I’ll be set.

What is really amazing is how quickly one can adapt if one has to or wants to.  I honestly could not help someone with an Word/PowerPoint/Excel question if I tried.  I can’t remember the last time I used them.  Ask me how to do it OpenOffice and I can pretty much answer them or at least find out how by going to Solveig Haugland’s great blog, OpenOffice.org Training, Tips and Ideas.  I had a staff member ask me about her home pc which is running on Windows XP and she uses Internet Explorer as her browser.  I haven’t used IE in years!  I was struggling to remember just where something was located on the menu bar.  I could easily tell her how to do it on Firefox.  It is amazing – you get used to what you use.  If I had remained on Windows I would have seen Linux as being a hard thing to convert to – now that I’ve been converted it wasn’t that hard at all to switch.

Do I miss Windows?  No, because the operating system shouldn’t be what’s important.  With more and more being about web-based solutions to issues the concern should be with the browser.  Do I miss Internet Explorer?  Heck No!  Matter of fact I think you do yourself and your customers/users a huge disservice to tie yourself with one operarting system, one browser.  People love choice.  If you are writing for the web you need to adhere to web standards so that your site can work in the browser of my choice (or anyone’s choice).

I can’t wait for the day that I can cut the cord to my Windows machine completely.

One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap for Open Source

Oh I feel so vindicated right now.  For the Doubting Thomas among you, this one’s for you.

I received an email alert “Due to incompatibility issues between the new version of Marina and Internet Explorer, please use Mozilla Firefox for your Marina requests.”  Marina is our state’s version of URSA a product provided by SirsiDynix.  SirsiDynix really seems to love Microsoft products so the irony of this is not lost on me.

I imagine libraries all over the state of Maryland are scrambling to install Firefox on their PACs so their customers can submit their interlibrary loan requests.  Ah, not at the Howard County Library.  We ONLY use Firefox and have for many years.  So for all of those customers and staff members that worried that Firefox couldn’t do what Internet Explorer could, I salute you.  You were right.  It can’t do what Internet Explorer does – it can’t install malware, spyware and the ilk, it can’t have problems with pages that are written with bad code, and it can’t not submit an ILL request through Marina.  Gosh, what a horrible browser it must be.