Author Archives: Robert McKay Jones

Robert McKay Jones

I have spent more than 25 years working hand in hand with clients in creating custom software applications that improve and enhance their operation, productivity and visibility.

Travelocity; A Cautionary Note

If you have ever had the occasion to book a rather complicated itinerary, you might find that it is better to handle it over the phone rather than on-line. Travelocity travel services has operators standing by 24-7, albeit in India. Travelocity hawks their San Antonio call center, but users of Travelocity know better. Their first line of calls are fielded in India. You might find the experience a bit stressful, but the operators will spend hours if necessary scheduling your travel.

Here is the cautionary note. Make sure you read your itinerary confirmation thoroughly and completely before 11:59PM central time the day you make the reservations. If there is a problem and you find Travelocity made a mistake, that error becomes your error if you do not correct it by the end of that day. If this problem does arise, you may just find that it takes more than three hours and hundreds of dollars to get a resolution. You will be required to make more than 5 calls and your calls will be dropped by the call center employees. By the casual observer, it might be assumed that it is the call center employees first line of defense in complicated situations. When confused, just hang up. They don’t say, I’m sorry, I can’t help you, they just hang up.

Last checked, WNS, a company that outsources business processes, handles call center duties for Travelocity, a privately held division of Sabre Holdings Corporation. Working with WNS has purportedly reduced operational costs for Travelocity by 40% annually. But at what cost to the consumer. At what point will we demand better?

Posted in Customer Service, Transportation Discounts, travel, travelling.

Dell Financial Services

In a mishap that took nearly two months to resolve, I learned a little bit about dealing with Dell Financial Services. So here is a word to the wise, a cautionary tale, and at the same time, a plea for change.  You see my plight is not uncommon.  It is far too common.  It is unimportant what the problem was, let’s just say it was of my own doing.  I accidentally paid them too much money when making an online payment.  I recognize that was my error.  But the stakes were high and I needed to correct the problem.  It was too late for me to correct the problem on-line, so here is the saga.

I made the phone call.  Yes, of course I got sucked into the voicemail maze which our larger companies seem to think we appreciate.  Well we don’t.  When we press zero, it means we want to speak with a human being.  We don’t want to hear what our balance is, or the date of the payment or when the next payment is due. Pressing zero is a cry for help.  So few companies understand that.  So I finally persevered and spoke to a human being.  Oh if only I knew other languages.  Well I don’t.  I have learned some Spanish along the way. At least what 3 years of US Schools can teach you.  Hello, my name is…  I don’t speak Hindi nor Bengali, and I certainly haven’t had a chance to learn Filipino.  Well there are the two choices, I head to the Philippines first.  Lovely people who try their hardest to find a solution.  If they only understood how things work.  Well how can they.  The system is so convoluted within the DFS organization that it is nearly impossible.  So after 40 minutes, I ask for a supervisor.  Well actually, after this much time getting nowhere, I confess to raising my voice and adjusting my tone. I made no threats.  Like magic, the call is transferred to another service representative.  Oh good, English is a little better.  Well I tell my tale of woe yet again.  I am told that a request will be placed with the research department.  It will take up to 48 hours to get a response.

Fast forward 48 hours.  Yes, I have to call back.  Ah, but now I have a case number.  Everyone understands a case number.  And they do have a call center system that permits the entry of verbiage.  Now I am told that a check will be sent to me but it will take up to 10 days to get it.  OK.  I can understand.  It is a lot of money. Debits need to be issued.  Checks and balances need to be managed.  So I wait.

I see that a debit adjustment was issued to my DFS account.  OK.  They are moving in the right direction.  But I have no money yet.

Fast forward 12 days.  I call again.  I am told that some confirmation authorization needs to be obtained to send me a check.  I gave them that authorization.  I wait 5 days.  No check.  I call again.  Yes, back to the Philippines. The young woman and I are getting to know one another.  I am actually understanding her much better although I need to tell her to articulate her words every once in a while.  I am told that a check will be sent overnight.  Great.  I wait.  I call back in 2 days.  I am told no check has been sent.  As it turns out they are not going to send me a check.  Oh, my God.  Help me be patient.  No, no help is available.  I am getting visibly angry at this point.  I demand to speak with a supervisor under threat of legal action and involving the state attorney general.  No help.  No supervisor is available.  I demand to speak to someone in the United States.  I get a phone number and an extension.  Oh, too bad. No answer.

I call back the main number for DFS.  Oh goody. I have travelled to India where I learn that DFS has two and only two call centers, yes that’s right, the Philippines and India.  The lovely gal from New Delhi or Mumbai told me that there was nothing she could do but transfer me to the supervisor in the Philippines that was handling my issue.  So much for trying a new angle.  I start researching DFS through the Better Business Bureau and the standard Internet search engines.  Well, I learn a great deal about why I shouldn’t do business with Dell Financial Services. 

So back to the Philippines I go. Oh good, a new story.

Seems Dell issues an ACH transfer to Checkfree, I am not sure which, for the amount I am looking for.  Why?  To this day, I have no idea.  But they seemed to think that Checkfree was the service I used to make my payment originally to DFS.  Well if it was, I didn’t know that.  I signed on to Dell Financial Services at this URL,  Sure seemed like I was dealing with Dell.  Well, allright.  I speak with a lovely woman from Checkfree in Ohio.  Refreshingly excellent verbal skills.   They don’t know anything about my issue.  They need to send the issue to the research department in California.  It may take a couple of days to get a response.  Great.  I am not a happy camper.  In fact, I am pretty upset.   I do a little research on Checkfree.  Oh great, BBB Rated F.  I am feeling doomed.  The money has been reversed on my account and now sits with a company that has an F rating on BBB.  This can’t have a happy ending I am thinking.

Ok, so I go back to Dell and ask to speak to a supervisor because as far as I was concerned this was a Dell issue.  I was not given a supervisor but told that the issue would be resolved by Checkfree.  I am asked to please give it another 48 hours.  I do.  I go back to my contact at Checkfree and she can’t help me.  No response from research is available.  I ask for her supervisor.  I get a gentlemen from Ohio who also has mastered the English language.  He assures me that my issue has been tagged as urgent and is being handled as such. Please give it 24 hours.  So the day drifts by.  I get a call, yes, that is correct, I get a call from the lovely woman in Ohio. She tells me that the funds will be deposited into my account in the next 2 to 5 days.  Thank goodness for electronic fund transfers. 2 to five days.  OK, well they said it would happen.  What am I to do. 

Lo and behold.  51 days had passed.  The funds were miraculously back in my account safe and sound.  Later that day, I get a call from a charming woman who works for Dell Financial Services in Atlanta.  She just wanted to make sure everything was settled.  I was so elated to have my money back, I didn’t even swear at her before I hung up the phone.

So that is my tale.  Corporations, take note.  We (the proverbial 140 million members of the silent majority) don’t like being treated like this.  Change your ways.  We will eventually band together and pound you into the ground.  As soon as we can rescue our checkbooks from the near 30% finance charge you are extorting from us.

Posted in business climate, Credit Card, Technology.


Ok, I unsubscribe from emails almost every day. I might accept mass-marketing emails for a while, but then cyclically I go on the rampage and kill everything I can.  The latest is this new fad Groupon which provides local deals not unlike those coupon booklets you receive from your kid’s school as a way of earning extra money for your school.  Groupon negotiates discounts and passes the savings along to their customers.  Well, the next time I need an herbal spa treatment, I just may have a peek, but for now, I want the emails to stop.  So I go to the bottom of the email and find the word unsubscribe and click it.  Usually it goesthrough a process of selecting what you are unsubscribing from and why you are unsubscribing, but Groupon does one additional thing.  They apologize and tell you that Derrick is at fault and ask you to click the button to punish Derrick.  So of course I did.  And you can see Derrick get scolded by a superior and then assaulted.  It catches you off guard and makes you think twice about unsubscribing. 

How do they do this?  They make it personal.  They make you feel as if someone was harmed as a result of your actions.  And of course, they give you the opportunity to resubscribe. This is a great way to provide an easy, non-offensive way for your audience to stay connected with you.  Maybe you can’t reproduce this little video clip, but you might think out of the box and consider another ploy.

Many use Constant Contact which provides an easy way to unsubscribe, they call it safe unsubscribe.  It is instant and respects the wishes of the recipient, but it doesn’t provide an opportunity to think twice.  That’s all you want to try and accomplish. Provide an opportunity to reconsider without annoying.



Posted in Uncategorized.

Where is the Passion

So many words flow through our brains every day.  But how often do we hear the word passion and how is it used?  I bet if you think about it, you will find it used in the arts, causes people have, things people stand for, and love.  How often do you find it in business?  And when you do, is it sincere?  Ah, there’s the rub.  Is passion sincere or is it marketing hype? Is it written by an ad agency or does it come from the soul of an organization. 

Well life is so short that we need to find passion in our business.  We need to find it in the way we conduct our business, the vision for our business, the results we aim for, the value we provide.  If we have passion for these things, our customers will share our passion.

So this is a call to arms to think about passion and how it fills your life everyday. If it doesn’t?  Time for a change.

Posted in Passion.

A New Way of Communicating

Or is it…. For a few months now I have been dabbling with an artistic iPad App and Community. I have written about it before. It is called Sketchclub. It is a high end low cost drawing/painting creation program that combines the best of what the iPad has to offer with the best that digital drawing tools Oxymoron by Dahave to offer. Sketchclub also links this powerful drawing tool with a worldwide community of thousands of artists. These artists are as varied as their locations would indicate. From the United States to Russia and everywhere in between. From Japan to Australia and all points in between. It is a community of thousands of artists that all have something to say. Some have the ability to speak in art, some do not. 

I provide here an example of an artist that knows how to communicate with digital drawings. The artist goes by the name of Da and resides in Croatia. This piece drives home the dichotomy of beautiful music, wildlife and nature with starvation, killing and war. Some may love it, some may not, but everyone will understand its meaning.  To see the process of creation in motion is awesome. SketchClub enables the artist to record the entire creation process and if desirable, set it to music. You can watch the five minute video of this drawing on Youtube. You can look at the drawing full screen on SketchClub. This artist has much to say and has found a way to communicate her minds eye through digital art using SketchClub. Artists have long since spoken their minds through art and now they can speak using digital art and also document the process. If you have an iPad, look for the App on the iTunes Store.

Posted in Apple, Art, Technology.

SketchClub – What other iPad Apps Can Hope to Be

SketchClub is an App and a Community.  It provides ANYONE with the desire to express themselves artistically to create beautiful art.  No artistic SketchClub - Artist Vermeertraining is required. However, for those that do have training, it is an exceptional way to create and share your works with others. 

As an example of that, pictured here is a drawing by artist Vermeer who happens to be one of the most able and prolific of the SketchClub artists.  This piece is astoundingly beautiful. The program allows the artist to render extraordinarily accurate portraits such as this, or expand your horizons with imaginative abstracts.

SketchClub provides all the tools and advanced drawing capabilities of applications such as Photoshop but is actually more intuitive and fun to use.  It has a wide array of tools, brushes, colors, layers, copy, merge, and more.  As you complete a piece of art, you can save it, push it to Facebook, email it, and share it with other SketchClub artists.  You might get a thumbs up or maybe a nice comment, or, if your work is outstanding in the eyes of another, you may receive a heart.  Special works will be featured by the site operators (fondly calling themselves Gloperators) which will earn your art a bigger audience.

In the end, it’s all about finding peace and pleasure in creating and the comradeship of sharing your efforts with other like-minded artists.  Yes, we are all artists!

Posted in Uncategorized.

iCloud Means iMoney!

Apple iPad, iPhone and iTouch users upgrading to IOS-5 will have many new features including iCloud, the subject of the article. iCloud is not free, well not really.  Only 5gb of space is provided free of charge.  Most of us have more than that on our Nano, let alone iPad.  If you are like me and have near 60gb of space tied up in music, photos and videos, you will likely spend $100 per year for the iCloud service.  Now that isn’t a terrible, but it is a consideration. 

iCloud is free for the first 5gb, $20 per year 15gb, $40 per year for 25gb, and $100 for 55gb.

You can see the price schedule on Apple at this link.

Posted in Apple, iPad, Uncategorized.

Somehow Sorrow Is Just Not Enough

It is a moment of real sadness. We seemed to all know this man that gave us a new way to look at an apple, a new way to use a phone and a new way to be inspired. Steve Jobs who climbed high, fell down and climbed even higher, out of shear will and courage. He will be remembered. Probably always. With the vision of Walt Disney and the tenacity of Teddy Roosevelt, he made his mark on mankind. He touched us all. Somehow the world seems a little less wondrous. A light has gone out. I hope to see a new star in the skies tonight because sorrow is just not enough.

Posted in Apple. Tagged with , , .

Given the Choice…

Our blog face has changed. We purposely fly our flag in a conflicted sky. On one side, we have the threat of a darkness with a stormy and damaging outcome. On the other, the sky is open to the sun and the stars shedding light on everyone and everything. What will it be? Doom and gloom? Or hope and faith? Here is one view.

Big business, big banks and big government have wreaked havoc and devastation on America. It’s been nearly a century long hurricane of greed and deception. The malicious gluttony and self-indulgent hunger for wealth and position has overtaken this great country and overshadowed our ideals. The deterioration and ineffectiveness of our educational system hinders our children and grandchildren and threatens our future.

Is there anything that can bring us back? Are there any heroes left? Who or what will save this nation? Wal-Mart? Novartis? Sandoz? Pfizer? Merck? Bank of America? Goldman Sachs? Citibank? J.P. Morgan Chase? Cardinal Health? UnitedHealth? Kaiser? Exxon Mobil? Chevron? Home Depot? Dunkin Donuts? None-of-the-above? You are correct, none-of-the-above. These companies are killing us or helping us go broke or stealing our future or investing in the blinders that cover it up. Or all of the above. Meanwhile we perish in blind apathy.

Ah, but there is hope. There is a super-hero. It is you. It is me. If anyone can save this nation, if there is any hope at all, it lies with little people and little business. It is our community. I don’t mean the next door neighbor. I mean community – whatever that might mean to you. It might be your towns-people. Your buddies at work. It also means your Facebook friends, your Tweet-buds or your blog readers. What can one person do? It all depends on how much that one person cares. It depends on wanting to do the right thing. It hinges on passion and conviction. It’s just a decision.

So decide then act. You can control the weather in your own community. Push the clouds away and cause the sun to shine. Your light will help us all see better.

Posted in America. Tagged with .

Images of

In August 2011 we were redefining our mission and vision for TRI. Although similar in emphasis, the mission seems closely aligned with the symbolism associated to the Peacock. This picture was taken by Robert Jones during a visit to the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida.

The Peacock smbolized incorruptibility vision, protection, watchfulness, good-will, nurturing, guidance, kind-heartedness and integrity.

We identify with the peacock in our quest to serve our clients.  For that reason, we have selected this image as our home page image on

Posted in Images of, TRI, website.