Category Archives: Travel

Observations…

The year is coming to an end and again it all feels like it has moved so fast. I think the more I age the faster time flies. Obviously having children accelerates the pace even more since so many milestones appear and disappear before my eyes with each passing day. Regardless, I am thankful for everything. 

Some of you may or may not know that on Dec 5, I married my wife. Although we have been legally married for some time – we have never had a proper ceremony. The week previous we transformed her parent’s backyard, invited lots of people and had two ceremonies plus a kickass party. Was a great time and I appreciate all the support from those who made it possible. 

And to my wife, thanks and this is just the beginning.

Currently on a plane headed to Jeju. Planning to enjoy driving around the island and even catching some snow.

The last few days we have been in Seoul. Eating, shopping, eating and touring. I had not been to Seoul in many years and as always going for a holiday means I enjoyed the place a lot more than when going for work. That is typical of most places but was fun to hang out and watch the place in action. 

Stuff I noticed:

– Every car is either a Kia, Hyundai or Chevy. Saw lots of Chevy’s but no Fords for the most part. Quite opposite from say Thailand where you see lots of Fords but not so many Chevy’s.

– Everyone carries a Samsung or LG phone and if not carrying a phone from the home country they are using an iPhone most of the time.

– Everywhere you go people are on their phones. Lots of folks walk around from train to street watching videos.

– Korean culture is consumed more than anything else it seems. Most people watching Korean stuff and even the movie theatres were only showing Korean stuff. It’s clear that Korean music and movies is more popular and also also become a clear export.

– Kakao Talk reigns supreme for chat and voice and I guess even the basics for social. The rest of the usage is games, Instagram and I guess some facebook but I saw more Instagram usage over Facebook. Was hard to tell but looks like Talk wins for Whatsapp. But gaming is huge – all sorts of genders from young to old constantly playing games.

– Coffee shops and cafes everywhere and lots of chains. Stoked to see Taco Bell but haven’t had any yet. The Food courts at famous malls are quit international – surprising amount of Mexican places as well. Haven’t had pizza yet but Italian food everywhere too. Food is everywhere which is great and I love that there is still some street food. We ate quite a few meals by grazing on the streets. Great seagfood as well. We have been eating a lot. 😉

– Like Japan English is not well spoken but feels slightly better than Japan for being able to ask people stuff. Fortunately the subway is easy to deal with and such a large system than one can pretty much get everywhere with the subway. Tack on the existence of easy airport buses and actual check in at the city center to make it super simple to get around and catch domestic flights. I find getting around super easy and we have hardly used a cab.

– Wifi is all over the place malls, cafes, some buses and generally great speeds with no connectivity issues. Could pretty much easily work remote here with little hassle. Guessing there is some amount of active co-work scene. There is even a spot in Jeju I will check out if I have the time.

All in all. Good times. Been unplugged quite a bit. I don’t miss social media much at all. I am sure America continues to drop into the Trump pit of hell but what can I do about it – so no point in trying to stay up on the news anyway. Ignorance is bliss.

Might have time to bang out a few more posts before the year end. At this point in time the blog, even with the new domain, has had a record year. I plant to try and keep writing more and explore my VC journey in blog form as much a possible.

Travel Agent for Southeast Asia

Normally I book my own trips but when I am looking for something interesting and need help booking hotels, cars, flights and tours – I find it easier to just use an agent.

Been using these guys for years and recently used them for a trip I am planning.

So if you need travel agent help and someone who knows how to pull interesting ideas together – I suggest :: http://www.dtctravel.com/

Happy travels!

Slow Scoot update

It’s Wednesday. Been more than a week since the campaign started. I can see Scoot reading my FB messages but they don’t reply.

We know see how the customer service process works – there is no service.

The people on the phone listen and supposedly take notes and then tell you someone will call you back. No one ever does.

On social media they ignore. Then you keep going and they ask you to use FB messenger. I  presume this is to take it off of the public space and into private messaging. 

You send them the required info and then tbey tell you someone will call you. 

No one ever does.

Low cost clearly means low touch.

Low class.

Enjoy!

—————-

Saturday now. No call.

FB message asking me to send a screenshot of my issue. As if it was some technical error.

Told them to read the notes from the many calls I made where I was told they were for thwere manager who would call me back.

No calls. Going on a week soon.

——————-

original post on tues.

http://www.nokpis.com/2015/04/15/keeping-tabs-on-how-slow-scoot-customer-service-really-is/
Scoot replied on FB on Tuesday evening.

I sent them a FB message immediately after.

They finally saw the message as of Wednesday night.

It’s Thursday.

Speedy delivery…

Keeping tabs on how slow Scoot customer service really is

Wrote this yesterday :: http://www.nokpis.com/2015/04/14/what-sucks-about-low-cost-and-scoot/

After weeks of calling it seems the only way to get a Scoot response is to do the whole social media shame thing. Which is lame.

Here is the FB thread – seems they don’t reply on phone, twitter or email so will keep tabs here :: https://www.facebook.com/flyscoot/posts/10152858854310980?notif_t=like

feel free to pile on and share your Scoot horror stories – sounds like everyone hates their customer service.

I wonder if they discuss this in the inflight magazine much? 😉

What sucks about low cost and Scoot

I try to relate the real world or my experiences to my craft of making product. Usually when I mentor or talk to startups one of the drums you will hear me beat is around customer service. It is a very simple concept – try to delight your customers with your craft but in the event something doesn’t go well and your customer asks for help. Be sure to reply quick, try to help and follow it up. It really isn’t rocket science, no growth hacking is needed and all you need is email.

I often wonder why I beat this drum so much and a recent terrible Scoot experience coupled with a recent great experience from Bosch has reminded my why I care about this so much. It is almost always the difference in that customer service from something low cost sucks and customer service from a luxury or higher cost brand is usually great. I believe this is worth paying for. More importantly as someone crafting an online product – you don’t have to be luxury to set your product or brand apart. Just surprise and delight your customer with great customer service. Something they usually associate with a a high cost item but when associated with a lower cost item – they will be your customer forever.

Back in my days selling enterprise software I used to have some awesome quarters and would get some extra cash now and then. I would try to upscale my wardrobe a bit since I was not known for being a snappy dresser. I was known for my mad tech sales skills. 😉

I happened to get introduced to Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco and would shop there exclusively for dress items. Service was amazing. They remembered me, catered to me and allowed trying to look better painless. It wasn’t the cheapest but I didn’t care. I had good quality items that fit me well and that looked like I knew how to dress.

For many years I was not making any money for a while and of course never bought any nice things. First world problems I know. So after a year or so while working again, this time at Yahoo, I stopped by a Wilkes branch in Palo Alto – happened to see a jacket I liked and picked it up. They fitted me, called my old sales guy from the San Francisco office, had it delivered there on my way to the airport on my way out of the city. Their service had not changed one bit and of course this is why it was very easy for me to slip back in and buy something. Like crack that shit is.

So let’s talk about Scoot. I used to fly AirAsia and after having some stuff stolen in our luggage we switched to JetStar. That worked for a bit but then one day I was one kilo over in my carry on and suddenly was paying like 70 SGD to get out of the airport. Okay. On to Scoot. Been flying Scoot for over a year for all of our regional travel for family and business pretty much exclusively.

Shit had to happen eventually and it did. The issue is not that something happened, that was inevitable, but the core of my hatred for Scoot is back to the customer service issue. They treated my family horribly and to this day have yet to return any of my phone calls. Not one time have they called me back.

I am not even sure it is worth getting into the specifics but basically the Nok Scoot counter in Bangkok made a mistake that prevented my wife from flying which meant we all had to stay in Bangkok till we could sort it out. The Scoot call center actually agreed that Nok Scoot made a mistake and was trying to fix it but yet they couldn’t. Seems people on the phone can’t tell people on the ground what to do – this is also the other issue with the way the cheap airlines are run with all sorts of joint ventures that seem to answer to no one.

To add insult to injury once we finally sorted the issue – Scoot had cancelled my return tickets because we didn’t use them. No one seemed to connect the dots to discover that Nok Scoot didn’t let us fly – we didn’t cancel the tickets. So it took 2 days on the phone to get our tickets back but I had to pay 300 SGD to do it. Highway robbery!

Upon returning home to Singapore, also giving us the chance to confirm with Singapore immigration that Nok Scoot had no right to deny boarding, I decided to call Scoot to get some help. I made close to 5 phones calls with each time being told there was no manager available to speak to and that the customer service person could not help us. I was told each time that a manager would call me back when available. No one ever called back.

In order to get Scoot’s attention I cancelled my card so I could deny their change payment. Now I am waiting for that phone call.

Scoot sucks but maybe this was all the fault of Nok Scoot. Regardless the issue is all about customer service. I might be paying lower rates but they could still provide excellent customer service. They choose not to. It reminds me of all that is wrong with discount air and how the consumer has little choice but to accept the crappy service or use a REAL airline like Singapore Air who I am sure would not have put us through this. After losing 3 nights in a hotel, time at work, and time at school for my kids – there is no way that the discount air price was worth it.

In short. Scoot sucks ass.

Let’s talk about Bosch now. Months ago I stopped into Courts in Singapore to find a vacuum cleaner. I did not do any research. I looked at the machines and then asked the sales guy what he thought. Lots of comments about different brands but in summary he simply said – I would buy Bosch, it costs more (not compared to Dyson though). However they have great after sales support with a local service center and spare parts in 48 hours. So I bought Bosch.

This past week I lost the filter for the vacuum cleaner. Probably ended up in the garbage. So I called Bosch. Answered the phone in seconds. Checked stock. Held the filter for pick up. Was even a reasonable replacement charge. I was in and out in 5 mins at the service center. They had snacks and coffee which I hardly had time to finish.

Point is. I will buy Bosch again. Their service rocks.

Scoot. I will avoid like the plague. Their service sucks ass.

Startups – use customer service to your advantage. It is your secret, affordable, weapon.

Enuff said.

Things about America

This is the longest trip back to my homeland in a very long time. Since it is not a business trip I am basically experiencing life again like when I lived here. Which is fun and slightly eye opening since for the last 10+ years I have been centered in Asia.

Around my home area, where I am staying, it feels like nothing has changed much at all. Everyone is older, as I am, and all the same houses are there but with new faces in many of them.

Things that still amaze me are the big box stores that have huge boxes of everything- massive amounts of home electronics, tons of people and the inability to escape the cash register for anything less than 300 USD. I go every trip though to stock up on socks and underwear.

The growth of whole food’s like stores and whole food’s itself is something new. I assume most of it is overpriced nonsense but the selection and quality is pretty amazing. So far this trend hasn’t hit Asia but I can see that it might over time.

What’s strange to me is it still feels like I can buy a pair of shoes made in Asia cheaper in America than in Singapore. Not sure how to grok that one yet.

As we make our way down to Disneyland I am reminded that America is huge and pretty useless without a car. Once you have to live in rural America you must have a car. Must. It’s only the cities that allow non car living. I enjoy the convenience of it but back in Singapore I don’t have or feel like I need one.

Everything is too big. Everywhere you eat the portions are insane and it seems people’s bodies slowly catch up to being able to consume the ultra large portions. People look bigger to me.

Although the market is huge in America I feel like the opportunity to build things and carve into new markets that have better connectivity and a proclivity for mobile devices feels more appealing. It may not be true but it I like building for Asia and the globe more than for America and the globe but it could be that it’s just a feeling more than reality.

That being said I am stunned how bad mobile data is here outside the cities and how crappy rural Internet is. Coming from even Thailand I feel like the Internet is more expensive and slower in rural America than Thailand – apart from the great Thai firewall issues.

My parents live in Alta, CA and they have DSL from ATT that is just crap. I think it is a 5mbps line that barely gets 3 on a good day. There is no other option for them except for some line of sight service that isn’t very reliable.

Might be okay if one could tether their mobile phone but ATT gets like 2 bars there and TMobile won’t work at all. As we drive I5 to Disneyland from Alta I am amazed at how often both our phones have no signal or have edge versus real data. It’s like I am in an emergent market or something – just stunning how America got into this backwater Internet position.

What is absolutely amazing and what gets me thinking about moving back at times though is how beautiful California is and how much I miss the outdoors. The walks, the trees, the oceans, and the mountains are just incredible. Really is no other place like it on earth.

Back to the roadtrip and my shitty gprs connection.