The Airing of Grievances (Day One)

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In an attempt to avoid getting lost in the sea of “Top X Tech Failures” lists this time of year, we’re taking a slightly different approach. Each day this week, Matt, Jared, Graeme, Keith and I will be participating in a Festivus-inspired Airing of Grievances.

Hopefully things will stay at least somewhat tech-related, but you never know. Here’s my list.

(MORE: Tech 2012: Please Don’t Call These Predictions)

Companies That Let You Sign Up for Stuff Online but Won’t Let You Cancel Online

You guys make me sick. Sick! Sirius/XM, you’re the worst offender of all. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve called up to cancel and have either been put on hold forever or disconnected.

Most of the time, it’s both. Signing up for service online was a snap, though! I was up and running in no time.

I figured when my credit card expired in November, I’d be off the hook, but I just logged into my Sirius/XM account and noticed that you somehow changed my card’s expiration date to January 2012. How’d you do that?! It doesn’t actually expire until March 2015. Such magical technology should be used to let me cancel my account online, too.

Sites That Autoplay Non-Muted Video Ads

What’s the matter with you? Do you think anybody likes that? Hey, check out this site! It plays a blaring video ad right when you load it up. Make sure to load it up at work when you have a bunch of other browser tabs open! I applied for the same mortgage three times in a row because of the company’s compelling, autoplaying, non-muted video ad!

Research in Motion

You guys have made people I know very sad, and you’re making Canada look bad. Two CEOs? What’s that all about?

Canada’s a land of great things–Tim Horton’s, The Kids in the Hall, affordable insulin–but you’re running your company with the incompetence and greed of an American company. If you’re going to keep going about it that way, strip a bunch of good features out of the BlackBerry phones you just delayed until late next year, ship them now, then add those features back one by one to new handsets you release on a monthly basis. Call each handset the best BlackBerry ever, and that’s that. Oh, and get better apps.

The Guy Who Stole My GPS

Thanks a lot, jerk. That thing was worth all of $60, but since you broke my car window on a Friday night and every glass replacement company in Boston seemed to assume I could just leave my car on the street until Tuesday–even though the cop said he’d have to tow it–the whole ordeal ended up costing me around $500. Even the dealership where I had my car towed tried to talk me out of it. When a car dealership’s trying to talk you OUT of something, you know you’re in trouble.

All because of a broken window and a GPS unit from 2008. Oh, and you left a set of nice golf clubs and two expensive Patagonia fleeces behind, you moron. Next time I’ll just leave the car unlocked.

Netflix

I don’t care that you raised your prices, split your company in two and then undid the split without undoing the price hike. You should have been more arrogant with all the complainers. That’s my grievance. It would have been incredibly refreshing.

“Oh, you’re calling to cancel? Bye. We’ll keep your queue alive for a bit just in case. Yes, we’ve heard of Redbox. Of course we’ve heard of Blockbuster, too. That’s the place you went in your car to spend $5 on a single movie that you had to return the next day or else they’d take more money from you. Then Netflix happened.”

Everyone cheered as you repeatedly struck content deals nobody else was able to strike, and then they all went insane when you asked for $6 to help cover the costs. These are consumers we’re talking about, and consumers are downright creative when it comes to finding ways to waste $6 multiple times over each and every month. Your service is a total non-necessity, yet it seemed like nobody could afford another $6 in their monthly Netflix budget for a while there.

“But it’s the principle!” everybody screamed, their arms flailing like wet noodles. Yes, the company that brings you affordable entertainment needs to add more entertainment, which makes it marginally less affordable than before. That’s how these things work.

(MORE: Tech Buyers’ Guide 2011)

Five Good Things That Happened This Year

- If you can’t find a phone you like, you’re not trying. There are good phones on every network at every price point. Service is still too expensive, but at least most of the phones are cool now.

- Computing is getting more portable. We’ve got tablets in all sizes and prices, and ultraportable notebooks like the MacBook Air and Windows ultrabooks are getting more affordable without nearly as many tradeoffs.

- Music services got better. You can pay Apple $25 to legitimize all your questionably downloaded music, and there are plenty of free (ad-supported) options from the likes of Spotify, Rdio, MOG and others out there now. It’s a good time to be a music lover.

- Social got serious. Twitter, in particular, proved to be a pretty useful communication tool for enacting change around the world. Facebook was no slouch, either. The ratio of what-I-had-for-lunch and OMG-Bieber-is-sooooo-adorbz! posts are still running rampant, but it’d now be hard to seriously imagine a world without social networking.

- People still care about tech. Look no further than Steve Jobs. His bio was the best-selling book on Amazon this year and it wasn’t even released until late October. People still squabble over the whole Apple versus PC thing, and the same types of passionate discussions are spilling over into the mobile arena now that Android’s making up a big presence. There are even Kindle versus Nook e-book camps. Technology may someday become so pervasive that we take it for granted, but for now it’s still an important aspect of everyday life that fosters curiosity and discussion.

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