Homicide, life on the streets (of Toronto)

In light of this past weekend’s murders, the area of focus for Toronto based news outlets (papers, blogs, etc.) is on homicides.

Toronto Police Cruiser

The Torontoist, is running a series entitled Metrocide, taking a look at statistics and how the city’s homicide rate has changed over the years. Today’s entry, Metrocide: A History of Violence begins with

1981 was the first year for Canada’s Wonderland and NOW, the year of the Toronto bathhouse raids, and the year that Terry Fox died. That year, Toronto the (still) Good had 40 less homicides than there were in 2007—and the second-highest homicide rate of any year since.

The Toronto Star has a more somber look at murders committed between 2005 and now. Taking advantage of Google maps, it plots each murder on a map of the GTA complete with the victim’s names and other details about the homicide. The map is sortable by year, age, gender and type (as in shooting or non-shooting).

A clear perspective

ShopSmart really puts thing in perspective when it comes to these new, immense gas prices.
Visine is more than $1,000 per gallon

As you can see, a gallon of Visine (3.78541178 litres for those of you of the non-imperial persuasion) costs $1,021. That’s $269.72 per litre (CAD270.40). No one better invent the car that runs on Visine!

[From The Consumerist]

The fingers you have used to dial are too fat

To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.” So goes an automated response from King-Size Homer, a The Simpsons episode (which coincidentally will be on CFMT at 10 PM EST on Wednesday, according to the Torontoist).

New York Times’ Alina Tugend takes a look at the state of phone trees in America and the (lack of) support a customer can receive when wading through the myriad of choices presented.

A little history: These interactive voice response systems, known as I.V.R., which recognize speech or touch tones, began in earnest in the 1980s, and the idea was that they would cut costs by reducing the number of people a company needed to respond to customer complaints.

The trouble is, companies were more interested in saving money than customer retention.

Since then it seems the trees have branched off (if you’ll excuse the pun) in an overwhelming number of directions. It seems companies (especially the ones I’ve required help from) don’t understand that calling for support is usually a last resort (at least for me). If I have to call them, I’m already pretty frustrated and I would like to ask for help right away rather than having to listen to Emily.

“I’ve listened to thousands of people interacting with machines,” Mr. Rolandi [who is founder of the Voice User Interface Company which designs interactive voice response systems for companies] said. “You hear sighs of resignation. You hear people swear. If businesses knew what I knew, they would not design them this way. Many people do not take into account the emotional state of the customer. When you call someone for customer service, you’ve got a problem and you’re probably in a bad mood. You hear someone telling you your call is so important that we won’t let you talk to a human. Then they slap people with too many options, and eventually, you’re in a fight with the system. When you do get a customer representative, you’re loaded for bear.” [emphasis is mine]

Rolandi goes on to liken the usefulness of an automated system to a bank machine’s, “who would rather wait in a bank line than use an A.T.M.?”

The good news seems to be that more companies are acknowledging something taught in first year business: It’s easier to keep a customer than to get a new one.

The article makes for a good read and you can find it on the NY Times website. It also provides links to a couple of sites which host tricks on how to get around an automated system. Definitely a resource to keep in mind the next time a robot asks you to listen the following 10 options.