CRM stumbles, NRA grumbles

AT&T Wireless' attempt to upgrade to the web-enabled Siebel CRM software left some three million of its customers speechless last week. New GSM/GPRS users were unable to activate their service.

After nearly 20 years of gossip mongering, I’m finally getting noticed around the magazine. My editor said he laughed like hell when he read my last column. "The part where you asked for a raise -- that just killed me," he chortled as he slammed the door in my face.

Please hang up and upgrade again later

AT&T Wireless' attempt to upgrade to the web-enabled Siebel CRM software left some three million of its customers speechless last week. New GSM/GPRS users were unable to activate their service, bringing new meaning to the term customer relationship (mis)management. One Cringe crewmember bought two GSM phones and spent more than a week trying to get them to work. He says, "I think maybe I can hear the other guy, if you know what I mean."

Bullet points

Gun-totin’ geeks are up in arms over Symantec’s NIS (Norton Internet Security) 2004. Apparently the program’s Parental Control feature targets the National Rifle Association and other pistol-packing sites, while leaving URLs for gun-control advocates unblocked. Company spokesdude Phil Weiler admits NIS 2004 can block sites that advocate weapons use, but says these settings are turned off by default and can be customised. Then again, NIS 2004 does allow access to the new Crossings by Smith & Wesson catalogue, where you can buy a pair of personalised branding irons ($US18) or a table lamp made from a genuine cowboy boot ($US129).

Your cheatin’ hard drive

Has McAfee hired robots to handle chat support? That’s what one Cringester suspects after a particularly disembodied experience seeking help with SpamKiller. But the truth is much weirder, according to my spies inside the company. To disguise the fact it outsources support to India, McAfee hands its techs English-language scripts to retype and has them use names like "George Jones". But that doesn’t mean all McAfee support is bad -- I hear "Garth Brooks" is a whiz at antivirus and "Shania Twain" excels at firewalls.

Flush right

According to a survey by Wirthlin Worldwide, 62% of people use cellphones in the bathroom. That explains the strange sounds when Pammy calls -- I thought it was just her new "waterfall" ringtone.

Got hot tips or good ways to brown-nose my editor? Send ‘em to cringe@infoworld.com.

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