This Week In Web - 7.18.14

  •   Miki Pacifico

By Miki Pacifico

This week - The world’s cutest robot, affordable Tesla, and Comcast is (still) the worst.

 World’s Cutest Robot

MIT Professor Cynthia Reazeal has announced the development of “the world’s first family robot”, adorably named Jibo. This EVE lookalike provides a variety of services, including taking photos, making voice and video calls, making calendar reminders and actual emotional companionship. This touchscreen friend will run at a semi-affordable $500 (come on, when you read family robot weren’t you expecting it to be in the thousands? That's a new iPhone.), and will be available to upgrade with apps to expand its service offerings. 

Jibo will be able to recognize and track its family’s faces, accept verbal directions and input from anywhere in the room, and will be able to recognize tasks you are performing that it may assist you with. Basically he is the ideal husband. Don’t tell my actual husband I said that. If you are in the market for a husband-type stand-in or replacement, check out the Indiegogo campaign to help get the prototype off the ground and into mass production. Do it for mankind. Do it.

World’s Most Affordable Tesla

Tesla, the uber-chic electric car manufacturer, has announced the name and brief details of their first mass-produced vehicle, the Model III. It will be introduced to the market with a starting price of approximately $35K, putting it competitively amongst the likes of BMW, Audi, and Lexus. This (again, somewhat) affordable pricing goes hand in hand with Tesla’s recent release of copyright technologies to make energy-efficient advancements available to expand the electric vehicle industry as a whole. 

The Model III will have a 200 mile range between battery charges, more than doubling the range of more established electric models such as the Nissan Leaf® at 84 miles, or the Chevy Volt® at 40 miles. Both competitor models come in at under $40K for base models (the Leaf® starts at $21K and the Volt® starts at $34K for 2014 models), putting Tesla at the top range but still highly competitive from a pricing standpoint. With Tesla’s reputation as an innovator in the electric vehicle industry, its easy to imagine that the slightly higher price point comes with quite a few additional perks I haven't even thought of yet (privacy windows and a backseat bar, amiright?!)

The World’s Worst Telecommunications Company

I think we all know that calling your utility providers is about as fun as ripping your eyelashes out one by one. The husbeast and I have been experiencing this particular hell all week with none other than Comcast as we battle out the “our promotion ended but there is no way your service is worth twice what we were paying before” dance. Believe me when I say that if I had any other options for internet service AT ALL I would choose them over Comcast. Alas, canceling our service only hurts us and our rabid Netflix addiction. 

One gentlemen was perhaps in a better situation than we, and made an attempt this week to cancel his Comcast account. Ryan Block just wanted to end his service with as little fanfare as possible. He didn’t want to get into an in-depth conversation about why Comcast is the worst (cause really, we all know that they are) and he didn't want to be offered a new promotion. What ensued was over eight minutes of pure customer service hell, with Block insisting that he simply wanted to cancel his account and the rep continually rephrasing the question “why are you leaving me?” 

The fervor that this call has gained since the recording was published to SoundCloud reached a height that Comcast simply had to respond to. Not surprisingly, they claim embarrassment by the actions of the rep and state that his belligerence is not in line with how Comcast customer service representatives are trained to interact with customers. As a former call center flackie, I must call BS here. Reps are given a list (or screen, depending on the center’s tech level) of redirection questions to get the company back into the good graces of the customer. Basically thirty different ways to ask “why are you leaving me?”. 

Not only is talking to telecommunications customer service centers the worst, but working in one is also possibly the worst, most stressful, least rewarding job on the planet. You are paid to be an obnoxious salesman. Spaghetti Monster help us if Time Warner and Comcast merge, making it also the world’s largest provider of internet services, and thusly less likely to care at all about how many similar calls are recorded. What are you going to do? Leave? Have fun with no internet. 

Header Photo by Eliana Castillo