Electronic Design

Bob's Mailbox

Dear Bob: I enjoyed (well, as much as experiences of the sort would let me) a few months ago when you were discussing the convenience of modern credit-card billing shenanigans*—relating to my own protection and my typical spending patterns. My mother expounded to me a tale of this as it relates to a company that does this "service" in-house. I thought that was a bit odd. I wanted to forward it because it is more of the same. But my mother seems to have handled it well. I know she did better than I probably would have, but it may be a true "mother thing." (Note, mothers usually have learned how to handle idiots. But I think your mother handled it better than usual! /rap) Here is verbiage she sent me, knowing I was going to forward it along to you. The name of the business is blotted out.

"I purchased several books three times in 10 days at XXXX. When attempting to purchase additional books within two weeks, XXXX informed me that I had a 'bad check' alert on their register and they could not accept my check. Bad move on their part! I had the manager come to the register and he said that it must be the case ('bad check'), and I said absolutely not and that we would call my bank to verify the balance. The bank substantiated my statement of more than adequate funds.

"I suggested the manager contact the XXXX head office to verify their practice—which SEEMS to consist of stopping business if a person places orders for more than three items in less than 10 days. (THAT certainly would seem a special DIS-incentive to discourage repeat customers. Like, sorta the opposite of "Frequent Flyer Miles." /rap) He called back to tell me that no such practice existed. I got the name and number of the head office and contact person and called. Finally, I reached someone that confirmed that XXXX does use this practice 'to protect' their franchises.

"I talked with the local manager again and gave him the name and phone number of my head-office contact. He called and learned this is a practice. The manager apologized profusely and I requested that he send a letter of error to my bank and credit agencies, which he did. He also gave me a $50 gift certificate for the trouble and embarrassment. I very seldom shop at any XXXX after that experience."

I just thought this was great and that it spoke more along the lines of the topic that you brought up. Although it's regarding checks, it is an important note since it is so typical to verify based on routing and checking account numbers scanned from the checks these days.

Colin Shaw (via e-mail)
Pease: It sure does seem these guys are screwed up, and their right hand does not know what their left hand is doing. I think I know what kind of business they should be in: They should hold a big GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE! And, I'm glad your mother knows how to handle mistreatment of her credit.

Hi Bob: Your "Analog PowerPoint Stuff" article was great (Electronic Design, March 29, p. 18). I wish I had a nickel for every idiotic, substance-less PowerPoint presentation I have ever been forced to soak up. It also reminded me of the view graph competition that took place a few years ago between Dave Middlebrook and Slobodan Cûk of Caltech. They and their respective students were always trying to outdo each other with Analog PowerPoint overlapped sheets. Movement of the sheets resulted in some very clever animation effects and were always great to break up the formality. I wish I could remember some of the specifics, but the details are lost in the mists of Machhapuchhre!

Nicholas John Tsacoumangos (via e-mail)
Pease: Those are great mists! I saw those mists on the evening of June 15, 2002, at 7:00 p.m., from NauDanda! Then we bicycled down to Pokhara, in about one hour flat, ALL downhill. Thanks for writing.

Comments invited!
[email protected] —or:

Mail Stop D2597A, National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090, Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

*Electronic Design, Oct. 13, 2003, p. 20

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