Inside The Haus: Allan Bedford, Customer Support, Hipstamatic

By on February 25, 2014

Allan Bedford holds what is possibly the toughest job at Hipstamatic: that of General Support. In essence, he is the first contact when reaching out to Hipstamatic or Oggl for a technical issue or the general functioning of the apps. Meet Mr. Support...


ITH_allan_bedford_portraitAllan, how does one become Mr. Support at Hipstamatic? How did you land this job?

It happened more or less by accident! :) I had downloaded Hipstamatic, after seeing some friends posting pictures to Facebook that had been taken with it. When I had some questions about the app, I stumbled on the Hipstamatic forum on the GetSatisfaction website.

By that time, the app was already becoming very popular and the Hipsta team was really just two or three people. So, I offered to help take care of what questions I could by responding to the forum on my own. After a few months, the team got in touch and it turned into the role I now look after on a day-to-day basis.

Tell us about your professional journey. What background do you come from?

My customer service background comes from working in music retail stores for nearly 10 years. I sold a lot of CDs and tapes back in the day. My IT background came from working at a major bank for more than a decade. I started by answering phones at the help desk, and then, eventually, became a programmer and then a systems analyst.

You live in Toronto, but the Hipstamatic offices are located in San Francisco. Isn’t that a problem?

It actually works very well. The nature of the work I do is related to, but also separate from, the work the team does in San Francisco. The emails and tweets we receive come in at all hours of the day. So, I arrange my work hours here to best suit the influx and make sure that customers are being helped as quickly as possible based on their needs. Thanks to email, Skype, and text messaging, I'm in touch with the team daily. They're always aware of the current state of the Hipstamatic community.

The support site (GetSatisfaction) is no longer up and running. Why was it shelved?

ITH_allan_bedford_05Initially, the GetSatisfaction site worked very well. However, as the Hipstamatic community continued to grow and after we released Oggl, it became apparent that we were outgrowing that forum. It became more difficult for me to track individual requests for things like help with restoring paks, and changing Oggl names, etc.

As a result, the decision was made to move things over to an email based system. Now, every person who writes in receives a separate case assigned to his / her issue and it's much easier for me to provide every customer with one-on-one service.

Are there plans for a new support site?

We do have public threads set up on our new forum:

The FAQ material there will be updated as needed. Those threads are meant to help with the most common problems. Regardless, I'm always available to help with any exceptions or unusual hiccups.

Frankly, I have been amazed at your patience and calm demeanour when faced with rather irate users. I remember, for instance, that there were a few rather harsh observations concerning “NSW Always On Freepak”. What’s your secret? Yoga? Meditation? Lego?

There are times when it's a challenge, but the flip side of that is that I also get a tremendous amount of kindness and gratitude back from the community. I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping someone resolve a temporary crash issue quickly, or helping someone restore his / her paks after an update to a new iPhone. In all, I find that to be very rewarding. It's great to be able to help someone resolve an issue with one of the apps, so that he / she can go back to enjoying them and having fun. That's what it's all about!

On that note, I do enjoy going out for photo walks to unwind. I'm lucky to live in such an interesting and diverse city. Not as much in the winter, but in the spring and fall especially I enjoy going out for long, meandering walks. I generally just head out and start walking, with no particular plan in mind, and sometimes end up walking as much as 10km. I rarely shoot to a theme, so wandering around the city is perfect for that since you never know what kinds of subjects you're going to come across.

What is the worst problem you have had to deal with since support was launched?

I'm not sure what the worst problem was, but one of the most interesting was the "Zombie eyes manifestation". Shortly after the Tintype Pak came out we saw a lot of people doing amazing portraits. The effect of the Tinto 1884 lens is remarkable. But for one user in particular it was causing the images of his friends and family to look like they were background actors on the The Walking Dead. For some reason, when this person used the Tinto lens the effect was not coming out as expected, but rather was creating portraits where the eyes were not just creepy but vacant and undead looking, and it was happening with every single image. The customer was incredibly patient. We went through every troubleshooting trick I could think of, but we just couldn't track down the cause of these bizarre images.

Finally, the customer took his phone to an Apple store and they were able to figure out what was causing the problem. The customer hadn't removed the little plastic cover that Apple puts on the lens of the camera at the factory. It was causing just enough interference with the light coming through that the Tinto lens couldn't function normally. Once the plastic was removed the customer had no further issues using that lens.  ;)


Support aside, you are also a Hipstamatic user. Do you prefer the Classic version or Oggl?

Not to sound overly diplomatic, but I love them both. I have a wonderful time browsing through the Oggl feeds and I especially love the Repost function and Collections. It's fun to go through a Collection you've built and see such amazing pictures, literally from around the world.

That said, I do have a slight preference for shooting with Hipstamatic Classic. Although I definitely use the edit function in Oggl regularly, my personal shooting style is better suited to Hipstamatic. I've always enjoyed the gist of the app - picking your film and lens combo before shooting – and I still use Hipstamatic on a daily basis.

Simply by default of your position at support, I am sure you receive tons of suggestions, complaints, general feedback, and so on about the apps.  I am curious - what would you, personally, like to see the gear, or the app itself, do that it currently does not do?

I would love it if Hipstamatic Classic were to get a self-timer function. I think that would add a lot of fun to taking selfies with friends.

What are your personal favourites: film, flash, lens and combo?

Such a tough question! There are so many combos now. :) If I had to pick a few favourites, I would go with: Jane & Ina's 1982Melodie & BlacKeys SuperGrainKaimal & BlacKeys Extra FineHelga & Ina's 1935.


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