January 5, 2006
Update 2: Card Caffeination
The last eight months or so have also been quite busy due to a not-so-small side project called CardCafe.com. Early in 2005 I was approached by some former associates of mine who had a fantastic idea but needed someone to implement it.
The concept was relatively simple — create a website where people can:
- Send high-quality paper greeting cards in just seconds
- Personalize their cards with text, photographs, and signatures in an easy-to-use manner
- Receive e-mail reminders for birthdays and other special occasions
- Choose from dozens of gift cards to turn the greeting card into a gift
And so work began on my most ambitious side project to date. After several months of caffeine-fueled 80-hour work weeks, CardCafe.com launched in August of last year.
Is everything perfect just yet? Of course not, and the site will continue to evolve as we better learn what the customer wants. But so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and it has been extremely gratifying to see how far things have come since we launched it.
If you haven't had a chance to try it out for yourself, head on over to http://www.cardcafe.com to see what the fuss is all about. Use the promo code "cafelatte" for a 20% discount — you can use it as often as you like.
As always, I am interested in any feedback, positive or otherwise.
Update 1: A wedding, a hurricane, and a near finagling by the Travelociraptor
Okay, so it's been quiet around here as of late. To those looking for updates, or whose emails went unanswered, I apologize and resolve to do better this year.
In my defense, I have been a bit busy the last few months. After a lengthy courtship/engagement, Michelle and I finally tied the knot on October 21. We basically decided one afternoon that we were ready, and a few days later we were married. Though it was a small, impromptu ceremony — bride, groom, officiant and a witness from each family — it was pretty much just the way we wanted it.
The honeymoon, however, was another story. Shortly after we made the decision to get married, we booked a last minute Luna de Miel in Cancun. This was on Monday, October 17, when tropical depression Wilma had scarcely been upgraded to a tropical storm off the coast of Jamaica. Come Wednesday, Wilma was a Category 5 hurricane headed directly for Cancun, and our prospects of flying out on Saturday looked bleak.
Travelocity informed us that we could cancel our trip, but we would only be refunded half of the cost, because up until this point our flight and reservation had not been cancelled by the hotel or airline. However, we were politely informed that we could reschedule within three weeks at no extra charge. We still wanted to go to Cancun, and we didn't want to be out a thousand dollars, so we reluctantly rescheduled for two weeks out. The hope was that by then, things would be back to normal in Cancun.
Wilma had other plans. The following week we learned that our hotel had been virtually destroyed and would not reopen until the end of June.
Seeing as Travelocity could no longer fulfill our flight+hotel package, we thought it reasonable to cancel for a full refund, and they thought it reasonable to laugh in our faces. Because we had already changed our trip once, we were not entitled to do so again without incurring additional charges. On top of that, they told us we could only be refunded the hotel portion of the trip, since the flight had not been cancelled. The fact that there was nowhere to stay in Cancun was irrelevant. And you can forget about the fact that we bought the trip as a package, or that we payed extra for the Travel Protection plan which really ought to cover things like this.
As the date of the trip approached, we endured several more hours on the phone attempting to get a refund, but were flatly denied at all levels. We finally relented, and decided to go ahead and cancel our trip for the partial refund. In an ironic twist of fate, it was at this point the geniuses checked and discovered that the airline had actually cancelled the flight, contrary to what they had been telling us all along. We would be getting a full refund after all.
It seems that Travelocity's greed is matched only by its employees' stupidity. We were fortunate in the end (apart from not getting to go on our honeymoon), but I can imagine others were not. Sadly, Orbitz and Expedia seem to be just different sides of the same steaming cowpie. Caveat emptor.