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COMPUTING

Opinion: Martha, leave me alone

by Mark Gibbs, Network World columnist

From...
Network World Fusion

(IDG) -- "Do you have a collection of books that has overgrown your bookshelves, or more sheets and towels than will fit in the linen closet? Though the stuff that we all accumulate over the course of our lives is valuable, keeping it all organized, clean and accessible can be a challenge." - An e-mail message from Martha Stewart Online

This week we're going to talk about the doyenne of doilies, the diva of decorating, the hostess with the mostest - Martha Stewart. Why? Because I can't get her to leave me alone.

I was going to follow up last week's column and tell you more about my digital subscriber line (DSL) experiences, but I haven't had a response from my carrier, IntelNet, and I suspect I won't. When I called IntelNet and asked about the phantom OAN charges, it said the charges were for services that had previously been assigned to that line and IntelNet dropped them. Just like that. Huh? Could this be a case of "cramming" - adding small bogus charges to boost revenue? IntelNet doesn't seem to want to talk to me. Have any ideas?

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Now, being hassled by Martha is a little weird. Although trivial, it is irritating. Martha sends me a couple of messages each week, and I would like her to stop.

Actually, the messages aren't for me; they are for "Shelley" who glories in the e-mail address shell@ gibbs.com. In truth, she might glory if only she could get the messages because she's not a user in my domain.

Speaking of glorying in a name reminds me of NBC's three-hour version of Alice in Wonderland broadcast on Feb. 28. I have always been infatuated with Alice. So it is with some passion that I say the show had great computer enhancements, a few stunning scenes (the Mad Hatter's tea party, for example, was magic), but why, oh why, did NBC have to embellish and rewrite the story with such wild abandon? Did the network perhaps think that Lewis Carroll's writing wasn't good enough?

Anyway, I guess Shelley must have entered the wrong domain for herself (duh) when she subscribed to Martha's "Let me tell you how I will make you feel totally inadequate as a homemaker, hostess and parent" newsletter.

In the newsletter, Martha says, "If you do not wish to receive e-mail from us in the future, please go to www. marthastewart.com/removename."

Nice idea, but when I went there, what did I find? A request to enter my screen name and password to do the deed. Of course, I had neither as it wasn't me who registered in the first place. Arggggh.

And was there a Webmaster or Webmistress to write to? No. Customer service? No again. Arggggh.

On the roster of bad Web ideas, leaving your street address off your site, omitting the pricing of your products, failing to provide public relations and sales contacts, and having pages so large that they can only be comfortably retrieved if the user is sitting at the end of a dedicated T-3 connection, all rank at the top. And not providing a contact for customer service is right up there, too.

Martha, take a second out from converting an old sofa into a table centerpiece for Easter or crocheting hub cap covers for a '59 Chevy and fix your Web site.

Send Network World columnist Mark Gibbs your Webmaking tips at nwcolumn@gibbs.com or call (800) 622-1108, Ext. 7504.


RELATED STORIES:
Color coordinate that green thumb with Martha Stewart
February 1, 1999
On the Net: Martha Stewart puts her taste online
September 16, 1997

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
All of Mark Gibbs' Backspin columns
(Network World Fusion)
Customer service on Net cuts costs
(Computerworld)
Sticky times for customer service
(Computerworld)
Tales of a Web customer
(CIO)
Web site e-mail can be a black hole
(Network World Fusion)

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RELATED SITES:
Martha Stewart Online
Analyst to Industry: Bone up on e-mail responses
eBusiness News article on Jupiter Communications' report

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