Posts Tagged ‘keyboards’

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The Ballad Of Gregg Sansone (Uncut)

March 28, 2016

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Author’s Note: This interview has been on a wild ride in the last ten years.  A shorter edit originally appeared in Buffalo Spree magazine, the longer format ran on Acid Logic and the version you’re about to read finally found its way into my fourth book If They Can’t Take A Joke (Authorhouse, 2007).  Gregg’s been a dear friend of mine for more than 15 years and with his 55th birthday approaching, I thought I’d revisit this interview.  

If you’ve participated in (or just enjoyed) the Buffalo music scene for the last six years, Gregg Sansone is a pervasive, melodic, keyboard-driven entity. The two-time Buffalo Music Award Winning Solo Artist Of The Year plays out at clubs, bars and other venues over 300 nights a year (when he’s in peak physical condition), and his cover shows run the gamut of Steve Winwood to Elton John to Stevie Wonder. Dabbling in rock, jazz, blues and classical standards, Sansone has become a local icon and a national underground phenomenon. I saw Gregg play (or channel, to be more accurate) Elton John covers at Route 66 in downtown Buffalo four years ago, and I’ve been a Sansonite ever since. His two and three hour shows are lousy with fans, electric in their intensity and craftsmanship, and brilliant to witness. I had the opportunity to sit down with Greg at my apartment in Lancaster while he was recovering from major back surgery (he had a disc removed).

TW: You haven’t had a drink since you were 15. Why is that, and do you find it surreal to play out at clubs and bars for the majority of the year in the company of people who are soused out of their minds?

GS: No. Alcoholism runs in my family. I’ve got a huge family. Eight boys and one girl. Some people put down meat and become vegetarians. I had the hindsight as a fifteen year old to say ‘You know, I’m addictive as hell. I have a real addictive personality. I’m just not going to do this. Otherwise, I think it could be a problem, and it just stuck through college and everything else. Like anything, I stuck with it and it developed and it’s been years and years. I have a blast (at the shows). People come up to me and say ‘Man, you were hammered because you were dancing on the bars!’ and I say, ‘No, but awesome, thanks man.’

TW: How does your strongly held belief in Buddhism inform your singing and songwriting?

GS: Songwriting and instrumental writing are different. They’re along a spiritual line, but my performances are an extension of what I believe in anyway about myself. Buddhism isn’t a religion as much as it is a philosophy. They didn’t invent being honest and they didn’t invent being good people, they just do it well. So you can apply it to any faith that you have and for me, it just helps me to not want to kill everybody. Or when someone is drunk and they fall into my keyboards and everything, now I don’t want to drag them into the parking lot. Before (Buddhism) I did.

TW: Do you think the era of disposable pop/porn performers like Britney Spears and Ricky Martin is nearing its end, or is it more of a popular music cycle?

GS: I think human nature is human nature, and within music, I’m no expert on anything. I’m just an Italian from Buffalo. Before them when Madonna got really popular, they produced people like Jody Watley, and-

TW: Rick Astley.

GS: People like that, that’s exactly right, but specifically female singers to sound like her (Madonna). Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, so it does go in cycles. I think the American people, we’re a disposable society. There’s a huge portion of the population that buys into that, and they just go into whatever’s popular. But there’s this undercurrent of people like us that-

TW: Observe?

GS: Observe and evaluate and say, ‘This is good, this doesn’t work for me, that’s kinda bullshit. I know that you love Elton John for instance, as do I. People like Elton John, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and even Madonna, and I’m not a Madonna fan, but she’s stood the test of time. They’re not a flash in the pan, and for good reason. If we didn’t have those people, it would be a sad, sad world with the boy bands, although Justin Timberlake has broken from that and has really made a name for himself. I mean, I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

TW: And Mark Wahlberg-

GS: Mark Wahlberg is kinda cool in the movies, though! When he was Marky Mark it was a different story.

TW: Your best one night stand story after a show:

GS: Um, my best one night stand story after a show-because I have one night stand stories during a show.

TW: That sounds like the better story.

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You’re Doing It Wrong: My Three Month Experience With Logitech Customer Service

December 26, 2014
"The #1-selling case for iPad" according to Logitech's packaging.  It's safe to say that there are one or two design flaws.

“The #1-selling case for iPad” according to Logitech’s packaging. It’s safe to say that there are one or two design flaws.

Before I get started, let me qualify myself. I’ve worked in customer service (in one form or another) since I was sixteen years old. Whether it was on the front lines during Christmas in retail, being the first line of defense for a home security company, managing a locally owned movie theater and just about everything in between that you could think of, I have a pretty good grasp of what good service is and how that trickles down from a corporate or privately held company philosophy. The golden rule remains that you should treat other people the way that you’d like to be treated. Some insist that the customer is always right. That’s not a belief I subscribe to, but within reason, you should try to take care of the customer’s needs.

That being said, my three month ordeal with Logitech is (without a doubt) the worst experience I have ever had with any company in my entire life. I am appalled at the leaps, hurdles and bureaucratic bullshit that I had to endure to fulfill a replacement for a product that was well within warranty. After what I went through, I would never recommend them as a company to anyone. Quite to the contrary, I will most likely go out of my way to tell people NOT to do business with them or support their products. Here’s what happened. Up until three months ago, I loved Logitech. They make a lot of electronic accessories and I was familiar with their headsets and game controllers from my time as a manager for Electronics Boutique. Their accessories were always a bit more expensive than their competitors, but they were also better designed, sleeker and longer lasting than their counterparts. They gained a reputation for having responsive, durable accessories with inspired design.

Over the summer I bought an iPad Air. When looking around for a keyboard/carrying case combo, I naturally selected Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Folio ($99). It’s a compact case that was advertised (on the packaging) as the “#1Selling Case for the iPad”. This may have more to do with the prominent marketing and merchandising of their product in Apple stores than the quality and durability of the product itself. The case functions with magnets on the bottom (near the keyboard) and a pair of plastic bordered clips at the top rather than the all-inclusive left and right mesh-gripping sides that I’ve seen on similar products.

Shortly after I bought the case my iPad fell out onto the floor. I was walking with the iPad in the upright position, so one could argue that it was my fault. I wasn’t running, I wasn’t jerking the case up and down while moving, I was just walking with the case in order to keep busy during a commercial break on the show I was watching. Luckily, the iPad wasn’t damaged. I wasn’t as lucky the second time. The next time it happened (about a month later), the iPad fell down a concrete set of steps and cracked irreparably across the screen in multiple places. It appears as if the two tiny plastic border clips at the top weren’t as tight in their grip on the iPad as they were when I bought the product. Thankfully, I purchased Apple Care with the iPad, and was able to replace it for a $50 fee. As for the case, I noticed a hairline fracture on the border clip at the top right. AT NO TIME did the Folio case fall to the ground. I had to apply some Gorilla Glue to the crack, which made the entire case combo look ridiculous.  A week later I set the iPad on a counter with the case closed and my new iPad slipped and fell onto the floor. The right border clip had cracked and fallen off completely. This is just poor structural design.

On or around October 15th of this year I filed a warranty claim through Logitech’s website. I included my entire original receipt information, warranty information, serial number and manufacturer number as requested. The generated response by a Lani V. informed me that the company would get a hold of me within seven to ten business days. They didn’t. I followed up with the company and sent an email on October 26th including pictures of the damage. By November 5th, I still hadn’t heard from anybody via phone or email, so I re-sent my previous email. Twice. I sent a new email referencing my case number on November 9th explaining the entire experience and asking for a new case as well as some sort of reimbursement for the damage directly caused as a result of using their case. No one from Logitech called or responded to my email.

By November 19th, I called Logitech at their non-1-800 number, waited on hold for twenty minutes and spoke to a Daryl L., who didn’t leave his name in the body of the email he sent me. Much like my original email over a month earlier, Daryl L. told me that the case was covered under a two year warranty and that I would be receiving my replacement. He had me re-send my original email (which I had already sent multiple times). We got disconnected. A few days later on November 22nd (when I had time to dial long distance and sit on hold for awhile), I called Logitech again to make sure that my replacement was sent out. I’m not sure who I spoke to that particular time as I have no notation in my emails and they never offered their name on the phone or email. In my experience, if a customer service representative won’t offer you their name it’s either because they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do or because they don’t want to get in trouble. The email I sent out THAT day was another trio of pictures displaying the structural flaws of the case along with all of my warranty information (serial #, manufacturer’s #, etc.) all over again.

Another month passed. I was amazed that I still hadn’t received my replacement and had long since purchased a Belkin Folio case for $20 less with better functionality, a longer charge cord and a better grip on the iPad itself. Out of determination and sheer curiosity at just how long Logitech was going to draw this fiasco out, I called Logitech again at their non-1-800 number and spoke to someone else who didn’t offer their name. This was last week, December 17th. When I asked why it was taking so long to reach my home, the male customer servicer rep blamed it on UPS. In my almost forty years on this planet as a manager for a video game retailer, a shipping and receiving employee for big box stores and as someone who’s ordered plenty of things online that ship via UPS, I have NEVER known UPS to take one month to ship anything to anyone anywhere for any reason. It sounded like a complete cop-out and there is zero doubt in my mind that this customer service rep was trying to shift the blame away from Logitech and onto anyone else. I finally received my replacement Folio keyboard on Christmas Eve this week, over three months after filing the initial claim through Logitech’s website.

This isn’t a case of one person dropping the ball. As a result of this experience, it’s my firm belief that there is a major systemic failure at the core of Logitech’s customer service philosophy. From a lack of response emails to a lack of any accountability by any of the three or four reps I spoke with on the phone to a daisy chain of procedural warranty filing and photograph sending to actually blaming another company, anybody else for their total failure to live up to their product, their warranties or their customers, I am left with the impression that 1) Logitech makes a shoddy product that breaks the tablets said product is designed to protect, 2) Logitech really doesn’t give a shit about their customers after they buy their products and 3) Logitech will go out of their way to avoid accepting responsibility for their products at every single level of their customer service department from their website straight on through to their live customer service department. The three months that I spent with Logitech were without exception the WORST customer experience I have ever had with any company in retail or out of it. I am flabbergasted that they have any brand name reputation at all if this is the way that they treat most customers when they have an issue. Please don’t support the company, their products or their way of doing business.

Sincerely,

Tom Waters

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