Entries Tagged as 'Shopping'

Advertising in the COVID-19 era

It occured to me today that there’s absolutely nothing stopping a retailer from advertising a product at an extremely aggressive price in order to get patrons into their stores — and then simply having no reasonable supply to fill demand.

Most grocers has (at least temporarily) stopped issuing rain checks, and I’ve heard more than once something along the lines of — that’s a manufacturer’s sale price / coupon, we can’t do anything about extending the expiry.

One would hope that reputable retailers are more focused on continuing to promote long term relationships with their customers; however, it just seems all too convenient that the sale item is completely gone, and equivalent items are well stocked.

It saddens me that so many people living pay-check to pay-check, or those already unemployed cannot purchase the goods they depend on at the prices they’ve become accustomed to…

BJ’s Wholesale “Crisis”

Below is a letter I send to the executive staff of BJ’s Wholesale Pensacola location.

While I realize that during the COVID-19 panic stores are having a difficult time keeping items in stock — you’d think that a major retail (or “wholesale”) outlet would also realize this and not exacerbate the problem by sending out advertisements which do nothing by try to drive individuals into their locations and sell them whatever they might find (rather than what they went for).


BJ’s Wholesale
25 Research Dr
Westborough, MA 01582

ATTN:  Christopher J Baldwin, Executive Chairman

SUBJ:   Poor Customer Service

Sirs,

Yesterday evening I visited the Pensacola BJ’s Wholesale club location (for the first time). Like any “new” facility, it was clean, and appeared well maintained; however, like lipstick on a pig, there’s little that can be done to cover over a culture that lacks customer focus.

Let’s start at the beginning…

On 13 Oct 2020 I signed up for a membership, taking advantage of the offer for “coupons”, gift card, and two membership cards.

I received electronic information with my membership number, and started receiving email and postal offers.

Sometime later my secondary membership card arrived in the mail, and I gave it to my sister for who I’d ordered it.

When the facilities gas station opened, I applied for (and received) a Comenity Bank BJ’s Master Card and took advantage of a discount offer on fuel.

Last Sunday I received an email offer for “free” breakfast items… of course I still haven’t received my membership card _or_ my gift card.

When I arrived at the store around seven last evening there were none of these items in the offer to be found.

I went up to the membership store, and spoke with a fairly pleasant agent, but I simply wasn’t satisfied with my conversation, so at my request she called for the “MOD” – she had to call multiple times, and I waited for quit sometime before the “MOD” arrived.

From the instant he arrived it was clear from his lack of enthusiasm and body language that he wasn’t interested in hearing anything I had to say.  Even though I paused before saying anything he didn’t introduce himself, nor did he ask what seemed to be the problem. When I queried him about why offers for goods you had no stock of were sent out – he stated that these were manufacturer’s offers prepared several months in advance.  While I understand that many marketing campaigns are prepared potentially months in advance, they can be halted in a near instant.  Then he indicated that these items should be available at 9:30am (in limited quantities); and made the statement that “it’s a crisis, the beaches are closed”.  That statement, to me, indicated that he’d much rather be at the beach than working at BJ’s (since it had zero relevance to the conversation at hand).  At the end of my “conversation” I ask him how long I had to get a refund for my membership – to which he replied, he could refund my money right then.  Not the question I ask, and I underscored that to him.

Clearly your “MOD” had no interest in talking with me, and certainly wasn’t listening to me… he simply compounded to the utter waste of my time a trip to BJ’s had been.

I left the store as I’d come – purchasing _nothing_ except with a commitment to spend my money elsewhere.

BJ’s continues to send out advertisements for items which they do not have in stock, have clear knowledge that they cannot satisfy demand created by such advertisements, nor can they realistically satisfy the number of time-limited “coupons” they send out.  Since BJ’s is in fact still sending out emailings and postal mailings with “coupons” this may be a violation federal and state laws.

Irrespective of your intent, your actions say a great deal about the type of culture your company is built on; and it speaks to greed rather than to building a solid foundation of customer loyalty and trust.

You certainly haven’t engendered any trust from me – and honestly I’d rather drive an hour to a Costco than shop at a BJ’s (you realize the Pensacola store is the _only_ store within 300 miles of my home – a radius filled with a number of Costcos and Sams).

Sincerely,

Just Say No To Adorama

I wanted to buy a couple filters for my camera, and I’m fairly picky about just what brand of filter goes on my lens.  My preference is Sunpak and Quantaray (Quantaray is made by Hoya) — both Japanese manufactured, and solid glass construction with multi-coats.

I looked up prices, and found that Amazon had a good price on a Sunpak kit with both of the filters I wanted in it; so I looked at the buy options, Amazon was a little more expensive than a couple of the other vendors they listed, but with free shipping it was just about a wash and I prefer to deal with Amazon and avoid Amazon merchants.  The only problem was, Amazon was out of stock, and of course no way to know how long it would take for them to get stock.

I guess I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked on the link to buy the item I wanted from Adorama

I have to say,  Adorama was fairly quick about shipping out the filters, and their shipping price was fair; but when I opened the bubble envelope inside was a clear plastic bag with an invoice and two Tiffen filters rather than two Sunpak filters.

  • NOTE:  Tiffen is US made, and they may be believe their manufacturing technology is great; but I’ll pass on it.

At first I thought I’d made a mistake and ordered the wrong thing; but then I noticed I could read the itemized invoice through the plastic bag.  First line on the invoice was a Sunpak filter kit with the Sunpak number; the next line said kit consists of (hmm… Sunpak sells the two lens in a package, the vendor doesn’t assemble it — but I’d have no problem taking two individually packaged Sunpak filters for the price of the kit, provided they were the Sunpak filters that were supposed to be in the kit); the next two lines listed out Tiffen filters, descriptions, and part numbers.

So much for even thinking I’d made a mistake, and so much for even thinking it might have been human error on Adorama’s side.

I don’t have a problem with a vendor being out of stock of an item I ordered; and I don’t have any problem with them substituting an equivalent or better item (with my permission — I get to make the call whether it’s equivalent or better); or advising me that there will be a delay; or refunding my money.  The key really is the vendor needs to contact me and advise me of the situation and the options they’re comfortable with. 

What Adorama did was bait-and-switch; only they didn’t have me participate in the switch so it was just out right fraud.

Personally I don’t do business with companies who think so little of their customers that they believe they can do what ever they want when ever they want…

I, of course, contacted Adorama (still no reply — and we’re moving in on a week).  I contacted Amazon, I’ve actually exchanged email with them twice on this matter, and they’ve ask that I wait until after Monday before they will take any action.  And I’ve contacted my credit card company; who were appalled at a merchant doing what I told them they had done, so I don’t expect having any problems getting a favorable resolution to this.

One of the reasons I felt it would be “OK” to purchase from Adorama (breaking my policy of avoiding Amazon merchants when ever possible) was that Ken Rockwell, who maintains a great web site on photography (and other things) had listed Adorma on his site as a vendor, and I had hoped that they had the same high standards as Ken (he also lists Amazon, B&H Photo Video Pro Audio, J&R, and Ritz Camera /Wolf Camera — all of which I tend to trust).

I’ve ordered a set of Sunpak filters from Amazon, and I’ll just be content to wait until they get them in stock, which will probably happen before Adorama sends me a pre-paid return shipping label.

__________
 
For your reference, I’ve include links to the two Japanese filter manufacturers I prefer (again I find Hoya branded filters expensive, and you can get the exact same product at a lower price by buying a store or generic brand that’s made by Hoya). 
 

__________

NOTE:

Please read the complete follow up before making any decisions on Adorama.

The Anti-Green – Catalogs

Decades ago company after company mailed out or otherwise distributed large, printed, mail order catalogs.

The age of print advertising is gone, and the environmental cost of print advertising is horrific.

However, there appears to be many companies that don’t realize the impact of print advertising, nor do they understand that most (if not all) really don’t want (or need) a large mail order catalog.

Several months ago I ordered an item online from B&H Photo Video, and item which I researched online and located the “best” price using search engines.  I never requested to be subscribed to any postal mailing or email mailing lists — nor was there any obvious option to make sure that I was never subscribed to junk mail from B&H.

My feeling is that companies that do not believe that they actually represent a value to consumers are the companies that are quickest to force a subscription to any type of mailing list.  Companies who believe they offer something consumers want understand that consumers will come back and they don’t need to destroy the environment in order to attempt to promote future purchases.

For me, I’ll never purchase something from B&H Photo Video again.  I simply cannot support a business that engages in ravaging the environment [cutting down forests to produce paper, wasting energy to produce a catalog, wasting energy and polluting the environment to distribute that catalog, and further wasting energy to dispose of / recycle that catalog].

Do your part, take simple steps to make the world a better place — adopt more sustainable practices — join me in boycotting companies that don’t have a place in a sustainable world.

Circuit City “One Price Promise”

Do retailers really think consumers are stupid?

Take a look at Circuit City’s “One Price Promise” on their web site… pay particular attention to the exclusions.

One Price Promise?  Yeah… you can be confident you’re likely to be screwed over if you’re not an informed consumer.

I’ll spend my money elsewhere — though I’ll be happy to force them to better a lost leader price by 10% with there “Unbeatle Price Guarantee”!!!

Walgreen’s

Unfortunately it’s a pattern I’ve seen all too often in the past — the tale tale signs of a merchant that clearly care nothing about you as a customer except what they can extract from your wallet.

I was in Walgreen’s, and I was purchasing a few items and I noticed that they had a $5.00 off on your next purchase with a $20.00 purchase — well, it just so happened that I could make immediate use of that so I got together $20.86 in merchandise and went up to the cash register.

The cashier entered all the promotional codes for my purchase… I swiped my credit card (which was authorized for payment), out came my receipt, an no $5.00 off coupon.

She called the manager on duty (a person I’d conversed with on a number of occasions — who I’ve always found quite competent, quite friendly, and quite helpful).  It took her a few minutes to get to the register; she said that she could void the receipt and do it again, but my feeling was that the cashier had done nothing wrong — it just didn’t work.

But wait!

Walgreen’s apparently knew there were cases where this wouldn’t work — they had provided stores with a form that customers could fill out and mail in.  It did take her quite some time to locate the form, in all I stood at the check out about 40 minutes (40 minutes of my life I’ll never get back, nor will I be compensated for in any way).

So, corporate expects customers to spend their time and money (no envelope or stamp was provided by Walgreen’s) to correct their problem.  The advertisement clearly stated that the $5.00 off coupon was instant, not a mail-in rebate; and that it could be used on the next trip to Walgreen’s (like immediately).

I can’t fault any of the store employees — they tried to do what they could; but I do fault the corporate policy.

I came home, I wrote a lengthy message to Walgreen’s customer service telling them what had happened, and what I thought of their policies, and that they’d made me a happy and loyal CVS customer (there’s a 24-hour CVS right across the street from the 24-hour Walgreen’s near my home).  And when I sent it — I immediately deleted the email address I’d provided Walgreen’s for their sales circulars and online shopping (I’ll have no need for those) and directed that they were to remove all my information from their systems.

I have no need to invest my time and my money correcting the failing of a company that doesn’t offer in any way to compensate me for their mistakes, and I encourage everyone to do what I always do — use your wallet to show you just won’t accept this type of behavior.

If a company makes a mistake — the company should fix it without any intervention of the customer that’s effected.  And my personal feeling is there should be a federal law that requires companies to pay individuals for their time and expense they invest in fixing problems that they in no way contributed to (whey are doing work for the company) – after all, the way it stands now, companies have no reason to get it right, since it always seems to be you the consumer that get’s the short end.

I’m just saying “No” to Walgreen’s — just like all the other companies who’ve shown they don’t deserve my business.

New Car Shopping Preamble

So you already know how the story ends — I’ve posted that already; but I felt it would be a good exercise to go through the exercise of buying a new car.

I’ll start with all the research I did online, all the possibilities (the field started out pretty large); my requirements for a vehicle, the items that became deal breakers… and finally what vehicle I narrowed it down to and then how I closed the deal; plus I’ll provide a little more information on getting an extended warranty.

Up front I’m just going to re-iterate what I ended up doing before we get into each of the posts.

I purchased a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited with Premium package; exterior Titanium, interior Black (leather).

I purchased my vehicle from Palmer’s Airport Hyundai in Mobile, AL.

I purchased my extended warranty from Palmer’s Airport Hyundai in Mobile, AL.

I purchased floor mats and a trunk mat made by Lloyds (Rubbertite) online (go with the absolute best price you can find and look for coupon codes).

The bottom line, I’m please with the car (it has actually exceeded my expectations thus far); and I’m happy with the dealership.

2011 Elantra Limited 2001 Elantra Limited

Kingston Counterfeits

Around the end of last November I ordered a Kingston DataTraveler 150 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (DT150/32GB Orange/Black).  When it came in it seemed to work, and I didn’t really think anything of it, but when I started to try and copy large files to it, or put a significant amount of information on it (which actually wasn’t until around the first of this year) I continually had issues with it.

I contacted Kingston the first week of March to try and get a handle on the problem or an RMA to return it for a replacement.  Kingston then requested that I send them some identifying markings from the metal USB plug — well my unit didn’t have any of those identifying markings, and since those marking would have been covered by the cap I couldn’t have told whether a new product I was interested in purchasing had them or not without opening the package in the store and taking off the cap (and of course mail order there’s no way to do it).

What was really alarming is I had a few other Kingston USB flash drives, and I took a look at them — they also didn’t have any markings on them.  So from that I would have to conclude either Kingston just implemented this and the units I have are from before that time, or all the units I have are counterfeit.  The truly alarming thing is I’m 99.9% positive that all of these units came from Fry’s Electronics, Microcenter, and Amazon.

This indicates to me that there’s a severe problem with the distribution channel of Kingston products, and that the Kingston name brand (and the Kingston warranty) is worthless.  Which means, the purchase of Kingston products should be avoided since they are frequently counterfeited and Kingston appears to be only interested in protecting themselves, not the consumers of their products (since consumers really have no way of knowing if a product is counterfeit).

As Nancy used to say “JUST SAY NO” to Kingston products.

Kingston DataTraveler 150 - 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive

Lowes Ceiling Fan Followup

I got two calls from the local Lowes store regarding my ceiling fan issue, and I have to say I was quite impressed by how efficiently the local store handled the issue.

They had a replacement fan ready for me when I stopped by, and they actually had no problem just putting the purchase price of the fan onto a gift card so that I could select a different model.

I would say the greatest failing of Lowes in this entire incident is that the corporate offices has put together an online system that poorly reflects on the ability of local Lowes management to handle problems; perhaps the best thing for Lowes to do is simply forward online request to local management and not ever try and resolve issues at a corporate level…

NOTE:  I actually purchased a Hunter ceiling fan at The Home Depot since Lowes didn’t have a suitable replacement fan in a brand I trusted.  The Hunter fan’s motor is easily three times the weight of the Harbor Breeze’s motor, and like the other Hunter fans I have (and have had in the past) it’s totally silent (and was much easier to install).

New Car

So I purchased a new car today…

A 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited with premium package; Titanium Gray with Black Interior.  I’ve posted a couple pictures on my gallery — so you can see it; or you can go to http://www.hyundaiusa.com/elantra/ for complete details.

Did I mention it’s rated at 40mpg?

I have several articles I want to post on my experience of car shopping in Northwest Florida — let’s just say for the moment it was an interesting experience; and next time I purchase a car I’m likely to do it on a trip to a real city after I’ve done my research.

I’m also going to post one article on why I chose the Elantra; and after I’ve had it for a month or so I’ll post one giving my feeling on whether or not it has lived up to my expectations or not.