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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Losing The Poster In A Fire

I am going to have to second Stoney’s post about Blockbuster Total Access taking another misstep because something similar just happened to me. I joined an online forum and received a crazy no help welcome email. But first a little background to explain why I wanted to join this yet unnamed forum.

Living in Reno NV, the Angora Fire that is burning up the South Lake Tahoe area is dominating the news coverage. I happened to be up there at South Lake rock climbing this past Sunday when the fire broke out. We had no idea there was a fire burning until we drove down (West) Luther Pass on Highway 89 towards Highway 50. We didn’t pull over with all the “looky-loo” rubber neckers who were gawking at the Angora Fire. We just drove on, continuing our way toward home. The chaos had not yet ensued and traffic moved smoothly along North bound Highway 50 … South bound was not so smooth but that isn’t part of my story. We stopped on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe (it is a village) for a cold brewski before making our way down the final push to the valley floor. During this time I received a call from home on my cell phone.

My story starts connecting to the Blockbuster story…
As we continued our drive home, my cell phone rang again. This time it wasn’t from home. It was a recording from a South Lake Tahoe Community Service Officer, notifying me a voluntary evacuation. My first thought when I heard the recording and “South Lake Tahoe Service Officer,” was that they were calling me to tell me they caught me speeding. Ridiculous in hind site, how would they know my phone number? Besides, I don’t exceed the speed limit, I “velocitize.” (sounded funnier to me the first time). The second thought was “why did they call me? I don’t live here.”

How did they know my number? That is the real question that has been bouncing around in my head ever since, begging to be answered. My friend’s cell phone didn’t ring, she didn’t get any message. It couldn’t be my wireless carrier calling all the customers in the calling region. My billing address is 50 miles from South Lake Tahoe. Nearest I can figure, because I used my cell phone within some probably very scientific calling radius from South Lake Tahoe, my number got grabbed and thrown in a database of users who would need to be kept up to date on the situation. None of the rest of my family, on the same calling plan, got the phone calls.

Did you notice I wrote phone calls? Plural not singular. I have continued to receive evacuation update messages. The first call came in around 3:40 something Sunday afternoon. Another call around 6:00 that evening when I was home. Monday I got another call. Monday night I did an extensive search and didn’t find anything to indicate why my phone was getting updates. Tuesday when the fire flared up again, I got six more calls.

My story really connects to the Blockbuster story…
Tuesday evening I was reading up on the latest news about the fire and came across a reader forum to chat about the fire. I finally found some place I thought I could post my “how come I get phone calls” question. So I hunted around to find the link to register to post. There is one similarity to Stoney’s post. I had to do the work. They didn’t make it terribly obvious as to how to register. After registering, I eagerly tried to post my question. But alas I found that I could not. There was no message on the web page. Checking my email for perhaps a “Welcome letter,” I found this:

Wonderful. I get welcomed but told that my account is inactive. I realize the text is hard to read in the image, so let me help:

Your account is currently inactive, the administrator of the board will need to activate it before you can log in. You will receive another email when this has occured.

Please do not forget your password as it has been encrypted in our database and we cannot retrieve it for you. However, should you forget your password you can request a new one which will be activated in the same way as this account.

There is no indication as to when my account will be activated. (and they spelled occurred wrong, not me) I can’t post my question. So I’ll live with the suspense until another day. Oh, I failed to mention that I did a reverse look up on the phone number that leaves me the recorded messages. It is from the Tahoe Unified School District. Somehow I don’t think they’ll be answering any phone calls from me. I think they’re busy preparing for the worst.

At least Stoney got a few links in his email. Nearly two hours after receiving my “Welcome” email, I still had yet to receive the email indicating my account was active and that I could post my question. RGJ.com forums fail the customer service test. Invite me to post, and then don’t let me. Like the fire, my desire to learn know how my cell phone number got on the calling list, is still smoldering.

So I went to bed. Grateful at least that I had my bed, in my home. My home wasn’t threatened by the fire. But I’d bet I get update calls tomorrow when the wind whips up again. But I’ll still be in the dark as to why I get them, assuming but not knowing if anyone else gets them.

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