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Old 08-11-2010, 11:25 AM   #46
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Well said, Catsittingstill, and Karma for doing so.

It is probably true that it will be all better once the odor has had time to dissipate. Until then, we'll have to wait and see if we ever see another announcement that a FW upgrade is on its way (or has been made available), and whether concerns like excess battery drain as a result are even acknowledged, let alone addressed.

IF not, then we aren't any worse off than any other ereader owners who have to dig the information out themselves. But it was sure nice having that little extra attention to detail Robert provided.

For myself, I have said more than enuff on the subject, and will wait to see how things go.

Oh, btw. The Plus is still the same unit peeps were talking up on Monday. The unit hasn't changed, and according to Jennifer's casually-inserted comment, it is ready for purchase online right now. So anyone looking to buy, don't be shy. Despite the feelings expressed over Robert's disappearance, don't hesitate to start a thread saying a Plus has been ordered and you are anxiously awaiting its arrival.

For one, I would truly like to hear how it measures up.

Last edited by eGeezer; 08-11-2010 at 11:58 AM. Reason: changed "smell" to "odor" and "fade" to "dissipate". More classy. lol
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Old 08-11-2010, 01:51 PM   #47
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I too would like to hear what people think of the Plus when they have it in hand.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:29 PM   #48
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I too would like to hear what people think of the Plus when they have it in hand.
Me as well.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:32 PM   #49
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Not sure how it works in the US but in Australia we are required to give a period of notice, usually somewhere between 2-4 weeks.
Job security in the US is pretty much nonexistent. Robert worked in San Jose--the heart of Silicon Valley--where the unemployment rate is hovering around 10% at the moment. Money is tight, and a lot of companies are cutting back. Astak is now facing some fierce competition; they no longer have prices remotely comparable to the other entry-level devices in the industry.

Many, perhaps most, jobs in tech industries in California are "at-will" employment, meaning either side can end the job at any time, for any reason (barring some forms of discrimination), with no notice. That's why a lot of the US posters are suspicious; many of us have friends and relatives (or themselves) who've gone to work one morning and been told "the company's making a change--clear out your desk and be gone by two o'clock."

OTOH, Robert had mentioned health problems; it is possible that he either retired, or decided to take a long stretch of time away from the job. (On the gripping hand... lots of US employers will lay off workers who are ill, injured or disabled, especially if they're trying to cut back.)

I don't believe this is what happened to Robert. I don't believe it's not, either. I can say that, without a statement either with verifiable facts (hard to provide, that) or by someone I trust, I never believe any company's public statement about why someone is no longer working there.

In this case, I can get as far as "Robert is no longer working at Astak; Jenifer will be doing his PR job." Reasons are in total limbo.

A *good* PR move would be to ask Robert to make a final goodbye post-- "I'm fine; parting with Astak was on amicable terms that I don't want to discuss; the new crew loves the Astak readers and our customers as much as I did so I hope you all enjoy their presence at MR." But that may not be possible, and not all the reasons are sinister.

An *awful* PR move would be to replace Robert with someone who speaks in careful corporate-vetted language, and never seems to be personally interested, and dodges any specific questions that might cast aspersions on the company, its products, or its staff.

From Robert, we got the impression that *he wanted us happy with Astak ebook readers.* We liked that. He seemed honestly interested in everyone's opinions, and willing to pester the rest of the team to find out whether the company could accommodate people's preferences.

Replacing that with someone who wants to sell ebook readers & avoid a bad reputation (which may or may not be what's happened) would be awful. Might as well not have a rep, as have one whose only purpose on the forums is announcements & damage control. (I am *not* saying that's what's going on.)

Astak *cannot* compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble on price or wireless access. They can't get the price breaks from ordering devices by the half-million. Their only options are to compete on features, reliability or customer service. If the customer service isn't going to be as enthusiastic and friendly as Robert's, it will need to be perfect in accountability and responsiveness instead.
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:23 PM   #50
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Elfwreck has the "Valley attitude" identified.

There used to be a time here (Think: the old HP way ) when a company did everything possible to hang onto good employees through rough times, and gave you a "Gold Watch" when you retired.

Now days, the bottom line (and top levels) are what counts. Get them gone before a pension vests.

I've been laid-off twice with 2-weeks notice, and left 2 others on the same day, before I said something that could not be un-done .
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:09 PM   #51
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A *good* PR move would be to ask Robert to make a final goodbye post-- "I'm fine; parting with Astak was on amicable terms that I don't want to discuss; the new crew loves the Astak readers and our customers as much as I did so I hope you all enjoy their presence at MR."...
Too late for that. The party line wasn't believable when we first heard it (because of the way we heard it), and it wouldn't be believeable now if Robert came back and said it. The believeablitly factor is long gone.

Quote:
An *awful* PR move would be to replace Robert with someone who speaks in careful corporate-vetted language, and never seems to be personally interested, and dodges any specific questions that might cast aspersions on the company, its products, or its staff.
I don't believe this is what is happening, either. Astak is a small company with only small "toy top" spin capability. Jenifer was put in an untenable situation to parrot the party line and I doubt strongly if she is part of the itty bitty Astak spin machine.

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Astak *cannot* compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble on price or wireless access. They can't get the price breaks from ordering devices by the half-million. Their only options are to compete on features, reliability or customer service. If the customer service isn't going to be as enthusiastic and friendly as Robert's, it will need to be perfect in accountability and responsiveness instead.
I believe Jenifer has potential to do a fine job, if not excell beyond Robert as unbelievable as that may seem.

For example: you may note that at the top of the thread she asked me to send me the email chain I had going with tech support. She immediately understood the three main points of "what is wrong with this picture." I won't relate them here, cuz I've done enuff Astak-bashing for a while. But, she GOT IT. Now we only need to see what she does with it.

What's funny to me is that if they had come out and said "Robert and Astak have parted ways due to strong differences of opinion", we probably would have said, "Well, that really comes as no surprise from what we've heard", we would have wished Robert well on his future ventures and gotten down to the serious business of sending our money in to Astak.

On the negative side, I probably wouldn't have ranted about my problems with support and would still be waiting silently fuming with my fingers crossed hoping to get my PPro back by Christmas.

Yeah, I said I had said enuff in my last post. But since Jenifer was quick to do a little something positive (actually, major as far as I'm concerned, although it didn't involve a $50 credit toward a new Plus, lol) I shouldn't keep it secret.

Last edited by eGeezer; 08-11-2010 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 08-12-2010, 12:50 AM   #52
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I don't have an Astak device, but I feel this thread reflects the way the ebook reader market is changing so fast.
I think an $139 Kindle would scare the ### out of any ereader manufacturer.

Good luck, Jenifer... wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:57 AM   #53
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considering the amount of good will Robertb developed for astak, this is really a shame. it doesn't seem right, since Robert was talking to us regularly till he disappeared, and as far as health problems, he's kept us in the loop. he's enough like family here that i truly believe he would not only have let us know if he was going to retire, but he might even drop by.
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:30 AM   #54
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he's enough like family here that i truly believe he would not only have let us know if he was going to retire, but he might even drop by.
It could be that staying off the forum for a time is part of a severance package contract, but I hope that Robert is reading these threads even if he isn't able to post. That way he will know what a difference he made to many of us and that may give some confidence as he gets his feet back under him.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:19 PM   #55
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I am an external observer, so to say. I don't own any Aztak products, but I've liked to follow this forum due to RobertB being a humorous ham and really passionate about his products and his job. Heck, he almost makes me buy DRM'd books from the store I know what it means to have a great PR folk for your product only: we have one in Pocketbook too (the famous mtravellerh). People like him or Forkosigan create brand loyalty. For some reason, it's the PB sellers in the forum who fill up the extravagance quota

Jennifer seems to be the kind of person who gets things done. She shows very clearly as well, though in less flamboyant ways, that she's serious about her commitment to her products and her customers. Time will tell, but I think someone like that can't let you down.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:30 PM   #56
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jenifer seems new to me - nothing wrong with that, we were all new at stuff once. she seems polite, friendly and impersonal, and impersonal isn't going to build loyalty. i would have bought my husband a sony 5" reader had it not been for robert's friendliness, the way he made sure support issues got dealt with, his grace under fire and his willingness to let us know what was really up.

if i needed a rep for my company right now, robert would be it. he wasn't your typical corporate rep - he went beyond that in ways that most companies wouldn't allow, which is sad because in reality having a rep who's a real person to clients and potential clients is just about the best thing you can do.

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I am an external observer, so to say. I don't own any Aztak products, but I've liked to follow this forum due to RobertB being a humorous ham and really passionate about his products and his job. Heck, he almost makes me buy DRM'd books from the store I know what it means to have a great PR folk for your product only: we have one in Pocketbook too (the famous mtravellerh). People like him or Forkosigan create brand loyalty. For some reason, it's the PB sellers in the forum who fill up the extravagance quota

Jennifer seems to be the kind of person who gets things done. She shows very clearly as well, though in less flamboyant ways, that she's serious about her commitment to her products and her customers. Time will tell, but I think someone like that can't let you down.
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:14 PM   #57
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Yeah I agree, I bought the EZ Reader Pocket Pro as a pre-order because Robert was a real person who could be communicated with and I liked that.

I don't believe for a second that his retirement was pre-planned by him. Someone with that kind of commitment to their customers does not just flip the light switch and leave the room.

I'm sure it is related to the difference in business management cultures between the East and West, childish issues with "face" and stuff. This situation would occur in any Asian company, not specifically Astak.

Good luck Robert, you are a great marketer, keep at it you'll be fine!
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:50 AM   #58
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I would buy a plus without any hesitation if Robert is still working for Astak, because he will answer my question without any PR jargons or a dismissive shrug like "everything in our store is the latest model....(and in their ordering page it is still the old name and specification..., I'm talking about the "international order" page, not the one offered by Jennifer). How do I know whether I'll get what I want or not?

In addition to that, I'm buying outside of US, if there's any problem, I can't rely on anyone if Astak ignores my email.

I'm really sad that Robert is leaving the scene and no longer viable in Astak's support team.
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:25 AM   #59
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Corporations have the right to make any stupid decision they wish, but they also then have to live with the consequences of handling them equally as stupid.

However, Jenifer has responded quickly to two poster's concerns so far with positive results in each case.

In addition, when she first almost accidentally mentioned the Plus was on sale Tuesday, the only indication of it was after waiting for the banner at the top of the webpage. Since then, the plus has replace the non-plus everywhere, except maybe the International page.

Perhaps now that you have pointed it out, someone will catch on.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:28 PM   #60
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I will miss Robert too - his approach/service is what made me 'choose' Astak - I hope the parting of ways was amicable. I too would like to see a final post from him to help me understand the companies new direction.
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