LBS Services, The Daughter, The Wife
by mobileman (09/05/2007 – 15:05)
LBS Services, The Daughter, The Doll and the Wife! The classic example of why LBS services may not have reached their market potential yet is a story I first told at a CTIA event over 5 years ago. It happened to me about a week before the show and has the perfect metaphor for the state of LBS services. It has been re-told by pundits and even published in trade magazines. Indeed many now tell this story as though it happened to them! So now without further pre-ample is the LBS story of the daughter, the wife and the doll.
We were going “through the woods and over the hill” to grandmother’s house. In this case the woods were 180 miles of New York State Thruway and the hill was the Catskills Mountains. The car was packed for the weekend with me, my wife and three kids.
The youngest at the time was about 3 and she was never far from her beloved “dolly”, a ragamuffin doll that is stocked at every Toys-R-Us.
You see, we were now seasoned experienced parents. We learned that favorite dolls have a way of going missing and therefore getting our child to bond with one that was easily replaced seemed like a good idea. We even had bought 4 copies of the original one and stored them in our house, just in case!
Getting a three year old to go to sleep without her comfort doll is not a pretty sight.
About 2 hours into our trip our worst fears were realized! My daughter called out for her dolly. I looked at my wife and she looked at me and both of us said, “I thought you ……”. The family is now in dolly Defcon 4 mode. We stop the car on the side of the highway and do a complete search with no luck.
We continue our journey with a now distraught, crying child. All I have to do (in theory) is find a Toys-R-US and buy a new doll. This is the solution that our doll standardization efforts should have yielded.
Being a wireless guy, I decide that the easiest way to find a Toys-R-US is to use the search function on my WAP deck (at 70 miles an hour!). I was able to find a page on the toy store but it had no location information.
The crying seemed to increase and the leers from the front passenger side got more serious.
My next technological solution was to guess that Toys-R-US probably had a 800 phone number that is 1-800-toysrus. This worked! (you can try it) I felt as though my technological manhood had been restored! I navigated the 78 step voice response system to finally get the prompt that promised to tell me where the nearest toy store was. It then said “ Please enter your zip code…”.
For those of you who have not been on the NY State Thruway recently (or ever), it should be no surprise that that State highway authority seemed to have forgotten to put zip code signs next to each exit.
Okay, I am not deterred, technology will get us out of this problem, I assure my increasingly skeptical family. All I have to do is figure out what zip code we are driving through, then call the 800 number again, navigate the 78 step voice system and voila!, I will have the location of the nearest Toys-R-US.
The fact that it was now 8:45pm and most Toys-R-Us stores close at 9:00 pm was just a minor glitch.
The next exit came up and I got off. I told everyone confidently that I will ask the toll taker what his zip code is and we will be in good shape. My daughter wailed even more desperately in a demonstration of lack of confidence.
With all my self- assurance, I paid the toll and started to ask the toll taker the zip code question. I was cut off with a still painful elbow to the ribs. My wife leaned over and had this conversation with the toll taker.
“Do you have a Toys-R-US in this town?”, “You do, great!”, “Can you give me directions?”, “ 1 mile, turn right and you will see it?.”, “Great!, Thanks!”
Humbled, I drove the precise directions to the store and bought the doll and put my internet enabled phone away for the rest of the weekend!