Category: Business

¿Te apetece un café?

Last Monday I was hanging out at a dimly-lit Starbucks sweet-binging my week frustrations away when a light bulb went off in my head (pun intended) – how come most coffee shops have dim lighting?

I’ve read articles about how the pineal gland produces more melatonin, a hormone which controls our body’s circadian rhythm, most especially when the lights are off. Controlling the brightness of the light signals the pineal gland to produce more melatonin and induces drowsiness. The brain is tricked to think it needs to stay awake and we eventually hanker for another coffee cup or refill.

Back in August I used to hang out in another coffee shop to work on long pages of translation documents and I remember spending 5 hours in 4 or 5 consecutive days to get the job done. It was ideal to stay there starting lunch time up to pre-sunset. When the sun sets the staff pulls down the window blinds and it gets dimly-lit from then on and I found it hard to concentrate – along with less brightness was my waning interest in work and I get tempted to pack up and go. But what happens after I switch to another brightly-lit area is my brain starts to function again and I would want to pick up where I left off.

I made a mental note of that back in August and told myself if I ever work on long pages of translations again I would move to a brighter hangout place. I counted local coffee shops I’ve been in and controlled brightness of the light in the room is never absent.


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Click. View. Sore.

I came across a website yesterday which hosted one of the PTC ad banners above and didn’t leave the site without checking and rechecking the last word, Sore. What does Sore have to do with Clicking and Viewing? Because I was always curious as a cat, I decided to go to the official website of Insanity Clicks to verify if I misread the word. (A few months ago I did read “Dealership Appointment Outcome” as “Disappointment Outcome”.) Okay, I found out there was no typo. I am reading it as Click. View. Sore. like the rest of the population.

I don’t claim to know every word in the dictionary so I did a quick Google search by entering “sore meaning” in the search field.

If that’s what Merriam-Webster says about Sore then I don’t know what Click and View have to with it. Is it supposed to be Soar? You know, like your earnings would soar if you surf more sites enough to reach payout. It’s curious that they stated this in their FAQ page:

Registered users view those advertisements to earn money and work their way up to cash out.

Or is it an acronym of something? Acronym Finder gave me these results:

Small Off-Road Engine

Source of Raw Energy

Special Operations Regional Engagement


You’d be hard-pressed to find anything relevant to clicking, viewing and surfing sites when it comes to any SORE acronyms in the search results.

If it’s a serious typo on Insanity Clicks’ part, they need to change it ASAP. Otherwise, it should be worth mentioning in their FAQ page.


For the story preceding this article, click HERE.

I stayed a fine two years in Malaysia per my work contract requirement. It’s funny and interesting how I was not able to visit most tourist spots any resident expat normally could in a span of two years. Within that period I had gone to the US for a business trip and to Taiwan for a short company trip but ironically had never gone to Batu Caves, Genting, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, Melacca or other states within Malaysia.

Throughout my stay there I never forgot that the whole point I was working in Malaysia was to be able to find work in Canada, a stepping stone to fly to another country as I had previously planned when I wished to go to Singapore.

One of my housemates was a French-and-Arabic-speaking Algerian who also did not foresee getting into the same company as he came into Malaysia under a student visa. He encouraged my goal to fly to Canada but I hesitated because I felt not being a skilled worker would hurt my chances to try.

During my last year stay, I would frequently notice billboards displaying Air Asia flight discounts to cities in Australia. Coincidentally I also saw the movie, Australia, that year. However, I could barely get my free schedule to coincide with my friends’. Read: I didn’t like traveling alone. That same year I had reconnected with one of my best friends, Christine, who I had totally forgotten had been working in Sydney since 2007.

Maybe I was fated to visit there instead of flying to Canada. I hardly had any problems nor delays in applying for a tourist visa to Australia and had spent 7 weeks observing and trying to immerse myself in their way of life.

Looking back, I don’t think being put in Singapore would have given me the same string of profitable opportunities in work and travel. Things would have run an entirely different course. As the lyrics of John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) says, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”


I did not expect to get a message on Skype from an old client in my previous job. I had not used Skype for several months and to be asked about a software issue caught me by surprise.

I worked in an overseas biometrics company for almost 5 years and I remember handling this potential customer last year. You probably are familiar with customers who is so persistent when it comes to asking too many specific technical questions, leaving you with an impression that they’d buy and can afford it but not without haggling for the price of 2 machines for the initial purchase. He is in that category of the kind of customer.

So you can imagine my surprise when he’d randomly messaged me, giving me that false impression again that he was gonna purchase. I remember my former colleague who took over his case did say she had to revise a proforma invoice not once but thrice.

I courteously told him I don’t work for the company anymore and he has been aware before of the contact e-mail for technical queries. He further told me he was starting out a company selling products from a competitor. I understand he probably wants to diversify the brands of products he could sell but asking me why the product prices of my previous company is too high is preposterous.

I didn’t comment and cut the conversation short. It was déjà vu all over again.


This is the reason why I like GMail a lot – it has an intelligent spam filtering system. Despite that, I still check my Spam folder just in case some of my important e-mails were redirected to that folder by mistake. Last night I found one phishing e-mail legitimately disguised to look like it’s coming from Liberty Reserve.

If you have ever received the same kind of e-mail and it landed in your main inbox, never click on that link. I’m glad GMail never gave me reason to debate myself on the e-mail’s credibility by giving me the warning message which goes like this:

“Be careful with this message. It contains a suspicious link that was used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information. Learn more.”

I have to give mad props for the creator of this phishing e-mail. Assuming themselves as Liberty Reserve and subtly convincing registered members that their account will be suspended if they do not click through the suspicious link for the Liberty Reserve Terms of Service Update is utterly brilliant. If only they would redirect their energies towards something more productive than simple black hat methods.

Support Tickets in Disguise

Currently I have 1,944 unopened e-mails on my Gmail inbox. 60% of those are affiliate marketing tips subscriptions, the rest are myLot new discussion notifications, Astrology updates on planet transits and offers, healthy living tips and related products, social network notifications and online moneymaking groups.

My mentality has always been “don’t delete, you might need the information contained in an e-mail later”. Although I am pretty sure the 60% can be reduced to half if I just take my sweet time to do a periodic general cleaning of my inbox. That never really happens because as a Life Path number 7, my mind flies from one idea to another quickly and I feel compelled to write when I get an inspiring idea and get distracted from inbox cleaning.

When I find an interesting article about tips on affiliate marketing, I don’t hesitate to click the subscribe button. My inbox is littered with subscriptions about affiliate marketing tips and I don’t get to read all of them. I simply browse and scroll down. If I see a catchy title I would click through.

Two days ago I stumbled upon an offer with an eye-catching yet misleading subject: Support Ticket [#GPT-3824]. I disliked how deceiving this was. Anyone getting something like that in their inbox would be tricked to think they have pending support tickets in a certain company.

photo (16)

So far that’s the odd one I could recall being used for a current e-mail newsletter subscription title. What about you? Have you encountered unconventional and misleading titles being used in disguise to catch your attention enough to be able to click through the offer link in the message?

I might just do that general inbox cleaning now.

Yesterday I was with my mom at a local bank and the transaction I made necessitated providing a photocopy of my 2 valid IDs. We didn’t have to walk that far from the bank as one of the country’s favorite bookstore is conveniently located across the bank branch.

photo (6)Once inside the bookstore we went over to the photocopying/scanning service section where one staff was leisurely trying to remove wrinkles from a laminated document. We said we wanted to photocopy 2 cards and I opened my passport to the front page and placed my SSS identification card on top of the passport front page on the desk. He only glanced a while at us and continued back to fixing the previous laminated document. We stood there and waited, wondering when he would attend to us. I was getting impatient as we had to go back to the bank and we never know what other delay might keep us from going home on time. I had stuff to do and unlike normal employees who are guaranteed to receive a paycheck every month, freelancers just can’t afford to slack off.

I blurted out to my mom and it was loud enough for him to hear, “How long are we gonna be standing here?” I then turned around and walked towards the bestsellers aisle. That was when he started to pay attention to us.

I would have been tolerant had my work circumstances were any different. I also don’t understand why anyone who’s supposed to be attending to customers isn’t warm enough. But I have to give him the benefit of the doubt – it was 10am and it wasn’t a busy day at the bookstore.

That experience awoke me to another realization – one that had to do with my 9-year career in the customer service industry. Having dutifully and diligently attended to client inquiries for that long has made me expect the same standard I had given to the clients whom I had served. Having responded to e-mail sales inquiries within a 12-hour period for almost 5 years in my last job has made me a wee bit impatient if I couldn’t get any reply within 12 hours to my technical inquiry regarding a website I am using.

It’s not about being too demanding – it’s about considering that your customer’s time is precious just like yours is.

As product consumers, I’m pretty sure most of us would have something to say about the customer service of one or more companies we’ve transacted with. Either we were dissatisfied or pleasantly surprised, it nevertheless leaves a mark and forms our overall impression of a company brand.

The whole process of shipping back the Macbook Air to the company I recently resigned from has given me constant headaches since mid-November. I had been working with a Malaysian company from 2007 until 2009 but my contract was generously extended for another two-year period and I was allowed to work from home since 2010. However, since I resigned last month, I was required to return the laptop to headquarters via courier. And if you’re wondering why I couldn’t hand over the laptop to a local branch, the answer to that is no as the company I worked for only has its main office overseas.

Since mid-November I have communicated with my colleague from the human resources department for the exit interview. She had contacted the courier company DHL to schedule the pickup from my address and I would not have to pay for shipping as the charges for the latter would be borne by my company.

The laptop was picked up at my address, Cagayan de Oro, but it was held up by customs in Manila for 3 days. DHL knew that I was shipping a laptop but I wasn’t informed that they would need a document called Material Safety Data Sheet. It was my first time shipping a laptop via courier and I had no idea what it was. The DHL staff from Manila advised us over the phone that a Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS is a document signed by a licensed chemist to prove that the laptop was non-hazardous. Unlike other conventional laptops with removable batteries, the Macbook Air (and not just the Macbook but even their iPhones) has a built-in battery. My sister’s friend who is a licensed chemist informed us that the MSDS is not just any document signed by a licensed chemist, rather it is actually an official document signed by an authorized body that even she who was licensed could not produce a document like it. On the third day we called to follow up, I could not believe one DHL staff’s alibi on why they could not ship the item – the staff said the import account to charge the shipping cost to could not be found in their system.

As a result of the lack of MSDS (I did not believe the import account could not be found in their system as DHL Malaysia could verify it), Macbook Air was shipped back to my address. I could not find any document called MSDS in the Macbook package and my former colleague in Malaysia who kept the invoices affirmed they didn’t have the MSDS when they purchased the laptop for me. My colleague had called the Apple store they bought it from but the store said they do not give out the MSDS. Apparently Apple is not so fond of removable batteries, hence the non-issuance of MSDS for their products.

Nevertheless I tried to research online for the MSDS of the Macbook Air but could not find any. I got hold of Apple’s 1-800 number in the Philippines. The service was so quick and efficient though I wasn’t sure the PDF document I got from them titled Macbook Air 13-inch Environmental Report was what the Philippine customs needed for the item to be approved for shipping.

I wanted to make sure it was the right document so I consulted DHL by e-mail and asked them to verify if Apple’s Environmental Report for the Macbook Air 13-inch laptop was equivalent to the compulsory Material Safety Data Sheet. I clearly explained in my e-mail that the item was returned to me. What I got in return made my blood boil. I was told curtly by the girl who handled my inquiry that “the item was shipped back and was received by “. She even misspelled my last name. I told her that she obviously did not even try to understand what I was driving at, which was for her to solely verify if the PDF document I sent would suffice. I never got any reply from her, not even to apologize for not fully comprehending my message. Unbelievable. Even if their courier company couldn’t do anything about it, she should have had the gumption to tell me that. Seriously, it makes me wonder if she has ever had proper training on how to cogently respond to inquiries such as mine. I didn’t feel her heart and dedication in her reply, no sense of tactfulness even came through. I was really sad because if I were in her position, I wouldn’t answer anyone coldly as she had done with me. I don’t know what their customer service mission statement is like but from the impression her reply created, I felt like my urgent concern was nothing but a nuisance to her daily job routine.

My former colleague did her part by consulting their DHL Account Manager about how they can get through customs. I thought that move was futile and a waste of time, and, yes, we did waste two more days going back and forth with them. Their Account Manager responded that what they actually needed was a specific MSDS for the built-in battery of the Macbook Air itself.

With the help of my mom, we tried to contact Apple again and requested an MSDS specifically for the built-in battery only. The customer service agent at Apple Singapore took over the matter. They explained that Apple doesn’t have a specific MSDS for the lithium ion polymer battery of the Macbook Air. However, they requested that we transfer them to the person in-charge of the final clearance for shipping the item overseas. DHL said that suggestion is not going to work because all they need was the MSDS.

DHL made it seem like it was really hopeless to deal with them. Even my colleague gave up and conceded to my suggestion to use FedEx instead.

When we dealt with FedEx, they told us that DHL in the Philippines do not use their own plane – they tie up with the local airlines to ship items. I was in doubt about this until I noticed that the storage box which was returned to us by DHL had a Cebu Pacific sticker on the side. I then realized what he meant when he said the reason why the MSDS was required. Since they just tie up with the local airline, Cebu Pacific in this case, DHL had no control over airline rules and regulations for shipping laptops with built-in batteries.

Still, how difficult can it be to tactly refuse a customer? How difficult is it to apologize and inform me that it was the airline regulations they were up against? Is it so much nuisance to write a proper response and admit she misunderstood my concern?

As of this writing, FedEx has successfully DELIVERED the item to Malaysia.

Clearly, DHL couldn’t ship the Macbook without the MSDS and Apple couldn’t provide the MSDS. What this experience has proven to me is that even if Apple didn’t provide the document which was essentially required for final clearance, the way they treated me didn’t make me feel angry for them at all. Why? Because I felt their concern in trying to go out of their way to resolve my issue by proactively asking to speak with the person in-charge of the final clearance of the item. I did, however, make the suggestion to at least have the Apple management consider including an MSDS in the near future in the product package just in case.

People never forget how you make them feel. The essence of customer service is built around making customers feel good and important even if you couldn’t provide what they want. The words and the sentences you choose when responding to your clients can make a big difference in keeping your customers or driving them away.


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