Unsolicited business proposals to Microsoft: there is a way

My friend, Sean, has a post from January on how he’s not feelin’ the love so much from McDonald’s, specifically how the company doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals.

This was sent to me today:

Not clear if he was offering a new spin on the Filet-O-Fish® or what… (and who knew that the bun has more calories than the patty?)  One of Sean’s comments on the blog noted that…

“Microsoft has no such policy [on unsolicited proposals]…The challenge is more likely that there are too many ways to give suggestions and feedback which makes idea management and follow up difficult. is one such visible place.”

A commenter notes that Microsoft does have a general policy on unsolicited ideas…

Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy: Microsoft or any of its employees do not accept or consider unsolicited ideas, including ideas for new advertising campaigns, new promotions, new products or technologies, processes, materials, marketing plans or new product names. Please do not send any original creative artwork, samples, demos, or other works. The sole purpose of this policy is to avoid potential misunderstandings or disputes when Microsoft’s products or marketing strategies might seem similar to ideas submitted to Microsoft. So, please do not send your unsolicited ideas to Microsoft or anyone at Microsoft. If, despite our request that you not send us your ideas and materials, you still send them, please understand that Microsoft makes no assurances that your ideas and materials will be treated as confidential or proprietary.

OK, that’s pretty clear (and note that I formatted the type smaller than is displayed to save on space). But there is a flip side to this legal boilerplate.

I have noted previously that when you live in Oz, you have to remember what life was and is still like in Kansas.  We shouldn’t ignore new opportunities, but you can’t expect that an MS Wish like avenue will allow for proper vetting.  As a company, we recognized that we need a managed and scalable way to accept unsolicited business proposals.

That’s why there is the Proposal Submission Tool at the Opportunity Management Center (OMC), a managed way for companies and individuals to submit their unsolicited business proposals to Microsoft.  The OMC’s tool was designed to provide potential partners with a managed way to submit business proposals to Microsoft.

“If you are interested in working with us and your needs are not met through the programs found on this site, please submit a non-confidential business proposal through the link below. Please ensure that your proposal conforms with our corporate idea policy.”

Remember, it’s for business proposals. There are other links on the page to help you connect with other services at the company 😉

Tags: Microsoft, customer satisfaction, Microsoft culture, Oz, business proposal.

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(Updated 20171025: corrected link to OMC)


A few Microsoft DST and Time Zone Blog Posts

A few posts on DST and time zones on a few MS blogs…

When in doubt, check out


Spiceworks IT Desktop now on Windows Vista

Spiceworks IT DesktopA few weeks ago I noted that Spiceworks IT Desktop — a very cool and free utility — really works on Windows XP… but at the time of my post it did not run on Windows Vista. (PC Magazine said in a recent article that this is one of their favourite free small business tools.)

I recently received a post fofrm Jay Hallberg at SpiceWorks, who informed me that “on June 25 (just a couple of days after your post) we released Spiceworks 1.6 which now runs on Vista.”

I’ll be downloading it tonite (late… as the weather is pushing 100 degrees today) and trying it out, managing a network of PCs and IP devices on our home network.



Of interest: Sprint cancels contracts for excessive customer service calls, roaming

A few mentions in the news this weekend in the ways that Sprint addresses a few customer service issues, receiving letters from Sprint and customer service alerts.

Apparently, if you contact customer service too much, Sprint simply cancels your account.

No warnings.

No assumption that Sprint may be in error, or that some issues may take several calls to fix. What I particularly found irksome, the letters were signed “Sincerely, Sprint Nextel Corporation.” No one to call, to name associated with your account termination.

In once case, a letter was sent to a Sprint customer “to inform him that his account was being canceled due to excessive roaming charges,” according to CNET.

CNET also notes that “carriers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless all reserve the right to cancel contracts if the majority of their service is used over a roaming network,” and that some (such as Verizon) canceled accounts when people used too much data bandwidth on the network.

The Washington Post reports in their article “Customer Service Hangs Up” that “If you want to get out of your cellphone contract, try calling the company a few hundred times.”

“Sprint Nextel is disconnecting service to about 1,000 subscribers who call customer service excessively… a tiny fraction of Sprint’s 53 million subscribers, and it’s the first time the Reston company has used the measure.

“The terminated subscribers called customer service an average of 25 times a month over the past six to 12 months, mostly complaining about billing or technical problems that Sprint was unable to resolve. Some called as many as 300 times a month, Singleton said. Customers did not have to pay a termination fee, and they were given until the end of July to find a new carrier.

“The bottom line is that we were not able to resolve their issues,” Singleton said. “We wanted to allow them to find another option that would make them happier.”

As ZDnet News reports, customer service calls can cut into the carrier’s profits, costing companies $2 to $3 on average per minute for customer support, according to Roger Entner, a senior vice president at IAG Research. Doing the math, that means if you call your carrier on average once amonth for a 10-15 minute call, the carrier’s profit for that month may be eaten up in customer service calls. That’s about the length of time it took me to call into my carrier last month with a service issue.

OK, so how about a warning and perhaps even an investigation to understand why customers are calling excessively? That would be a good place to start. Basic people and behaviour skills certainly play a part in good customer service, and taking the time to triage the problem may help you solve other similar issues. 

But this seems not to be the case. ZDnet blogs on IP telephony has a link to post on, “citing an internal memo said to be for Sprint phone customer service types who are faced with overly frequent (90 or above in last six months) callers to customer service who have been notified of cancellation and are calling to appeal…”

“Employee Actions Include:
1. Do not engage the customer in non-Sprint related conversation – simply confirm the information that the customer was sent
2. Do not attempt to save these customers
3. Do not transfer these customers to Account Services (Retention) to be saved
4. Do not reactivate the cancelled accounts for the customers
5. Do not establish a new account for these customers

“Inform the customer to call the specific toll-free number that was given in the letter and attempt to end the call as quickly as possible. If during normal business hours, cold transfer the customer to the number immediately (877-527-8405).”

…and this post from a worker at Sprint, noting that “retail store employees are instructed to put the hammer down when ticked off customers come in and rant…”

“I’m a Sprint rep at a retail store, it’s bad enough that we get yelled at by customers when customer care screws up now will get yelled at for getting the customers account cancel. When we called up to help fix the customers problem (which the customer attempts to fix by calling customer care before hand and getting transfered many times) we get transfered another 5 times before someone fixes the problem.”


One thing I’ve learned at home is that a warning usually helps my kids check their actions. If I tell them that they are going down a path that will lose them a favourite activity, they tend to course correct. (OK, not always.)

Sure, customer service can be abused just as anything, especially services that are perceived as free. 300 times a month? That sounds excessive to me: I don’t think that I call any nunmber that many times a month. 


Of interest: Project Kesho brings teachers to East Africa

First off, enjoy what some are saying is the luckiest day of the year

Project Kesho is a non-profit organization founded by our son’s elementary school teacher, Cathi, and her husband, Ian. It’s “dedicated to improving the tomorrows of East African communities through the education of today’s children.” This group of young adults is spending time on the ground in Iringa, Tanzania, East Africa this summer to help improve access to quality education and improve the lives of children halfway around the world from sunny Washington. This summer, they are joined in Africa by anothegr teacher from our son’s school, Amie.

I’m cleaning the garage this weekend while our kids slip and slide after a week at the beach, and these young teachers are spending the summer doing some real good.

The group has set up a blog to provide updates on their activities in the region, at…

“Project Kesho is focusing its programming efforts during 2007 on one small community located in Iringa, Tanzania. Iringa is located in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. It is the political, economic, and cultural hub of this region of Tanzania. The town is located along the Tanzam Highway, which stretches from the capital city of Dar es Salaam, along the coast of the Indian Ocean, and all the way through Tanzania to the country of Zambia. (This highway eventually continues all the way to South Africa.)”

Live EarthSo, take a look at the good work Project Kesho is doing when you take a break from the vide feeds from Live Earth…