Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant
Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ripped Off: Trying Times I

Last Thursday evening I returned to my new car (50 km) after a business meeting in a restaurant to find the rear driver's side window smashed .... And my laptop stolen! This has resulted in an experience that has been both frustrating (in terms of working out a recovery plan) and exhilarating (in terms of the many friends who have helped in one way or another over the past few days). It shows the value of long term relationships and how they can come to assist in an emergency in invaluable ways. (Does the word "priceless" come to mind?)

First my thanks go to my Volvo dealer of the past 32 years, Volvo of Mississauga, (formerly McMillan & Saunders) who ensured that I could have my car available for a close family friend's wedding on Saturday. They bent over backwards to find replacement parts and provide a oeprationally repaired vehicle by 4:30 Friday. All without knowing how we would get this paid for, since the new auto had not been fully entered in the insurance company's computer.

Secondly, I need to thank my long time colleague and friend (he would call me "brother" as he does his wide range of acquaintances), Victor Shepherd, whom I have assisted with his computing needs over the past several years. As both an academic and author, Victor may not understand the technology but is a classic example of someone who avails himself of the benefits of technology to meet his goals. I had the pleasure of first meeting Victor in 1978 when he began a 21 year tenure as our minister. Victor has loaned me his unopened Dell Inspiron 6000 so that I can have an interim laptop PC while ordering a new one. (And finally I am able to get around to getting his new laptop operational).

I must also acknowledge the staff at the Courtyard Marriott in Vaughan. Without a question, they provided me with a large bath towel to cover up the window opening for driving home; they also allowed me to park under their entrance arch such that the rain was kept from getting into the car while I had a business meeting. Simon Cooper is a senior manager with Marriott and also a graduate of the same EMBA program as I took. The staff's response is typical of Simon's mantra and biggest fear about running a hospitality operation: the staff most in contact with the public are your lowest paid employees -- make sure they are empowered to act in a responsible manner in resolving customer issues. I have seen this repeatedly in operations run by Simon. (Disclosure -- I am a Marriott Rewards member and also qualify for their Senior's rate where "Senior" is not as old as it used to be.)

Many other friends have offered help; also my network of business clients and colleagues have been more than patient for the past few days as I worked through a plan not only to recover my data and get operating but also to minimize the exposure to identity theft and access to my Internet-accessible accounts. Fortunately I had most of my data (and almost all my business-critical data) backed up; the largest issue was figuring out how to do this while encountering Microsoft's and Symantec's activation algorithms.

And a simple message to prevent it happening to you: don't leave anything exposed in your car. Thieves have been know to break in to steal any type of briefcase or suitcase, with contents such as "exercised" gym clothes, estate settlement papers, etc. according to stories that have surfaced over the past few days. Also I have learned that they only want to steal the laptop to sell the hard drive for drug money. Somehow the economics don't work out when you get less than $100 for the effort (you can buy a laptop hard drive for under $150 retail); it only goes to show the degree of desperation and addiction that comes from such a habit. I would blame as much as anything our collective failure to recognize and support the importance of extra-curricular activities at the high school age. Instead of athletics, music and special interest clubs, more kids are susceptible to the short term temptations of a quasi-criminal, chemically-assisted life style in the resulting "spare" time. I often credit participation in these extra-curricular activities, and the teachers who lead them, as major contributors to my own offsprings' successes.

Ironically, once I got a chance to read the new car's manual Friday evening (yes I did read the manual! ... eventually), I learned there is a way to lock the trunk such that even if someone enters the main vehicle the trunk remains locked.

In future posts I will be acknowledging the tools that have allowed me to get back up so quickly along with a story of "does the fact Hell rhymes with Bell and Dell have anything to do with pushing their customers around in circles when attempting to reach a human voice"? And, finally I hope to have some suggestions as to how computer and Internet technology can be used to investigate these activities.

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