Friday, August 5, 2011

Flawed Execution

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the greatest. From the simplest bit of inspiration can come an idea whose time has come, especially with the advent of smart phones.

This past Wednesday evening, I was a LaLacheur Park, the home of the Lowell Spinners, a minor league affiliate for the Boston Red Sox. (They proudly announce that Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youklis, and others got their start at this park, and rightly so!). My wife and kids were also there, and we had some nice seats in right field.

On my way to my seats, there was a table set up that had people handing out flyers announcing a new smartphone app, that lets you check in, and then play some games, with prizes given away. Having an iPhone, I went to the App Store and downloaded Bozuko. The idea of being able to kill time waiting for the game to start playing a few games appealed to me, as did the idea that I might win a prize of some sort. Alas, the game requires you to have a Facebook login in order to check in. Why? Damned if I know. Since I do not have a Facebook account, and don't want one either, for what it's worth, the app had very little appeal to me. I could not use it, so it got promptly deleted. Nice try, but FAIL.

Once we were seated, I was tasked to get some pizzas for the family.

On my way to the concession stand, I noticed there was a bit of a line (not too long, since the park just opened). Still, there was a QR code on a sign saying that I could order my food from my seat. Geek that I am, I decided to try it. The QR code led me to a web site called It asked for my venue (perhaps they should use Location Services to figure this out for themselves), and then asked for my credit card information. I am usually leery about entering financial data over the web, and since I was using the built-in web browser within the QR app, I couldn't really verify that I was using a secure (https) session. Since I had very little money on a particular debit card, I decided to enter the information for that card. The app sent me a verification SMS, and there was a bit of a hassle of reading the SMS, going back to the QR app, and where it was supposed to be waiting for a verification code, it simply asked me for my order. I figured they needed to work out the kinks in their system; a dedicated iPhone app using Location Services, a secure connection, etc. would be much better. But I decided to press on.

I ordered my pizzas, a chicken sandwich for myself, and was surprised to see they offered beer as well (since all the concessions at LaLacheur Park require positive ID before purchasing alcohol). I placed my order and went back to my seat.

"Where's the food?" my wife asked.

"It should arrive soon." (Indeed, I was sent another verification SMS that said my food would arrive "soon."

I'm not sure about your definition of the word "soon," but after AN HOUR of waiting with nothing delivered (nor did I see anybody wearing any kind of outfit indicating "Munchly" in the park), I sent an email with the subject line "Where's the food?" to only address that I could find on the Munchly site.

If you wander the site, you will notice there is NO feedback system. No way to query the status of your order. No way to find out if there was a question (did you enter your seat number correctly?) on their end. No way to find out if they decided to empty your credit card account and laugh hysterically for idiots that relied on them to actually do what they said they would do.

Irritated no end, I went back to the concession stand, and waited on a line that was now twice as long as it was earlier. I finally made it to the end, and ordered my pizzas, and was told that there was a wait for pizzas. Since my wife and kids were starving at this time, and I was given no alternative to the pizzas, I decided to wait. TWENTY MINUTES LATER, I managed to get my four pizzas. My family waited over an hour and a half for their food.

I have to say that this experience has left me feeling angry at They promised a service, and did not deliver. I got an email from Greg Pelly (apparently the "Greg" at, that asked if my food arrived. Hello? If this is YOUR company, wouldn't you know if you delivered an order? Further, the email stated:

If not we will get in touch with the Spinners and find out what went wrong. I'm very sorry to hear that you were having problems. We will straighten this out for you.

That was the last I heard from them. In my response, I said that if I saw a charge on my card, I would dispute it because they never even attempted to deliver anything. To date, I haven't seen the charge, but I'm still watching it daily. I have no warm-fuzzy feeling that these people are on the level.

Here's some free advice: If you offer a service, you should make sure you deliver on that service. Don't look like a complete imbecile that doesn't know anything about the service, and don't give a vaguely worded message that you'll "get in touch with the Spinners" as if to palm off the responsibility to anybody else. Also, a vague suggestion that they will straighten things out (how? when? where?) without any details, and a lack of follow up (it's been two days now), doesn't seem to indicate that this Greg fellow, or anybody else at for that matter, understands the meaning of the word "service."

Broken promises are not a way to run a company. Making your customers feel like idiots because they trusted you to do what you said you would do does not make them happy that they used your so-called service.

Anyway, it's quite clear that these two attempts of using The New Media at LaLacheur Park show a lack of understanding of the basics of business. Let's hope this situation improves, because it's difficult to imagine how this could get any worse. A check-in site that doesn't allow you to login without a Facebook account (not everybody does/likes Facebook, what about Google+?), and a food delivery site that hasn't figured out how to deliver food isn't impressive to me at all.

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