does your copy hold up?

Our first article is up at Digital Web Magazine, and we couldn’t be happier. We talk about optimizing text for a quick scan in order to make websites more accessible to new viewers. With all the RSS feeds we read every day (189 at last count) we appreciate it when articles are written in a way that facilitates scanning. Who has time to read every word? Though clearly you should read every word of our article. That just goes without saying.

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Skype: not VoIP-tastic

skype_logo.pngWe spend a lot of time working at home or shuttling between home and office, so when we set up the office phone we wanted to make sure it was available anywhere. After looking into several VoIP options, we decided Skype was the way to go. It had a lot going for it: we could set it up on the home computer and the work computer, so it’d be accessible from both, and when we were away we could route calls to the cell phone. And it cost way, way less than regular phone service. Way less – even when we got a SkypeIn number, which we then, giddily, handed out to all our contacts, feeling as we did that we were giving the metaphorical finger to The Man. Sure, the call quality was a little spotty (especially with our cheapie USB phone, which we thought would work with the Mac but were fantastically mistaken) but: free.

Unfortunately, free isn’t synonymous with good. The first hint of ungoodness came when we realized that the call-forwarding feature wasn’t so much forwarding calls. This was baffling, since a) it had been working just fine for months and b) we hadn’t changed anything. We verified that none of the settings had been inadvertently modified, made sure we weren’t mysteriously logged in to the service (forwarding only works when Skype is not running) but – nothing. Calls were just not being forwarded. Huh.

Then we tried taking advantage of the promotional pricing offer for unlimited calling. Half price until January 31st: what a deal! Except not so much, since our order confirmation, sent on January 20th, showed that we were charged full price. Interesting. All the pre-payment screens had showed the promo price, right up to the point where we hit “buy.” Bait-and-switch? Processing glitch? Vast conspiracy between PayPal and Skype?

We sent a support request to Skype, since it’s the only way to contact them. The request went unanswered for a week, at which point we got the following e-mail from Skype: “Unfortunately, we have been experiencing extremely high volumes and as a result we are very sorry that we have not been able to get to your request for Billing Support in as timely a manner as we would like. As many issues have been resolved already, we are hopeful that your request is among them.” Um. The e-mail went on to suggest that if our issue had not been spontaneously resolved, we should contact Skype support. Again.

Our latest indignant support request has, unsurprisingly, remained unanswered. We say unsurprisingly because the Skype forums are bursting with similar stories. Yet nowhere on the official Skype site, not even the Skype blog, is there a mention of the issue. (The closest thing we found was an unsubstantiated series of forum messages from another user – not a Skype employee – claiming that credits would be issued to everyone who overpaid.) What the hell, Skype? Is ignoring support requests a good way to run a business?

We’ve got a business to run, too, and that’s why Skype is not going to handle our phone calls anymore. We’re keeping them for messaging, but we’re no longer enthusiastically singing the praises of Skype to anyone who will listen. Being ripped off will do that. Funny thing.