The Truth Hurts

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So I purchase some nutrition bars from a prominent online store. 


If you click on 2 boxes (12 bars each), they charge you $30. 


But if you look over a little on the website page, they have 24 bars for $24. 


I contact customer service and start chatting with them about this. 


Basically, I wanted the difference refunded to me. 


Surely, not a lot of money, but more the principle of it. 


They are charging 2 different amounts for the very same thing! 


The lady on the other end of the chat asks me to forward her the link for the product. 


I comply. 


She says, “You see that link is 2 boxes for $30!”


I say, “No, that’s just the primary link to the product, and it has 2 different prices for basically the exact same thing.”


She says, “On that link you sent it has 12 bars x 2, which is different than ordering 24 bars!”


I’m thinking, Oh really!  What math class did she take in elementary school???


And then for good measure, she adds socking one to me:

“Truth Always Hurts!”


At this point, I couldn’t believe my chat “ears”.  


Aside from her “truth” not being “the truth” in any universe…


I was in shock and said something like “How dare you.  You are incredibly rude.  Put your supervisor on.”


She says: “Well, my supervisor will tell you the same thing!”


I repeated once more: “Please let me speak to a supervisor.”


Finally when I got the supervisor, who was a more normal, reasonable person, and also could do simple arithmetic, she immediately apologizes issuing me a refund. 


She asked if there was anything else she could assist with.


I asked, to confirm again, “Are you a supervisor?”


She responded affirmatively. 


I asked her to review the chat with the prior customer service rep and asked, “Is this how you want your company represented to your customers?”


Needless to say, she was flabbergasted by what she saw from their outsourced “customer service” representative.


She assured me she was flagging the chat for review by management and that this outrageous behavior from this company representative would be addressed. 


To me, it is amazing that our companies not only outsource the manufacture of our vital goods, but they also outsource customer service to people that barely seem to speak the language, can’t do basic math, and have zero customer service skills. 


This does not bode well for American competitiveness–in the age of Coronavirus or at any other time. 


I believe that this truth hurts much more than any company’s horrendous customer service. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Holiday SHOULD BE Giving To Children’s Hospital

Thought this was a pretty good display with the Three Bears for holiday donations for Children’s National Hospital. 


While it gets your attention (who sees three pink bears lite up on the street at night?), asking people with a small impersonal sign on the floor to remember to login and make the donation later isn’t very effective. 


People act on the spot, especially when it’s an emotional appeal for charity for sick children that need help.  


The children deserve for there to be a way for would be donors to actually give on the spot–where they can swipe or tap their credit card, write a check, or drop some money in for giving. 


Later, later, later…and unfortunately, it may never happen for the Children. 


Come on–it’s the new roaring 2020s–we can create some urgency and convenience and do better than this!  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazon’s Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 


Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!


For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.


But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 


Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 


Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 


Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 


For a long time, they didn’t even charge sales tax!


It seems people can’t even imagine not having Amazon–where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don’t even want. 


So here is the rub.


Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns–with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 


Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 


Amazon got us all as their slave customers–and we let them and love them for it. 


And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?


I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don’t like that they’ve built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 


Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you…


Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  


Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.


In the end, that is a winning strategy that won’t land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 


Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it’s not product returns that you’ll be for long worrying about. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazon + Teva = A Marriage Made In Heaven

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Amazon has upended so many industries–and you can basically buy almost anything there.


And yes, what you can’t buy today, you will be able to buy tomorrow. 


What started as books and DVDs is now virtually synonymous with e-Commerce itself!

Next up for Amazon is pharmaceuticals!


Some people may think that Whole Foods gives Amazon the footprint it needs to sell these and dominate.


But what people aren’t considering is that Amazon can sell the pharmaceuticals online.


Amazon can do what other online drug distributors can’t.


Why?


Because Amazon has the most unbelievable distribution network in the world. 


Currently, people can order drugs through the mail, but these tend to be for regular reoccurring prescriptions that have lead time. 


However, Amazon can outdo these mail order pharma companies, because they can get you the drugs you need when and where you need it. 


– You don’t feel well and can’t make it to CVS, Amazon will deliver to your door. 


– Need same-day delivery, no problem. 


– Plus do all your shopping together in one fell timesaving swoop. 


My prediction: 

Amazon the low cost, efficient online seller of everything to everywhere is going to partner with Teva Pharmaceuticals, the #1 world leader in low cost generic drugs.


Teva already produces 120 billion tablets and capsules every year, operates in 80 countries, and currently fills 1 in 6 generic prescriptions in the U.S. 

Together, Amazon and Teva can make beautiful music, that is medicine + money!


Who needs CVS when pharmaceuticals perhaps soon can be gotten at Whole Foods or at your Trusty Amazon.com.  


One more time, I see some radical disruption–and this time it will bring you cheaper and more convenient drugs–make a l’chaim to your health. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)


(Endnote: I am a big fan + investor in Teva, and of course, all opinions here are my own.)

No Smartphone, No Life

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So we are utterly and helplessly dependent on our smartphones and mobile communications.


If our enemies strike our communications networks, we are as good as dead. 


Can you imagine the panic and chaos that would ensue?


Cut off from family, friends, and colleagues.


Unable to get unto the Internet!


No eCommerce. 


No online Banking. 


No social networking.

No easily and readily available information.

No online music, videos, or gaming.

No online (fake) news. 


As you see in the photo, under the smashed smartphone…it says, “Disaster”!


We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. 


And we wouldn’t know how to conduct ourselves by ourself. 


We are completely dependent on mobile communications and connectivity to each other.


Without, we wither and die. 


And G-d created the marvels of the Heaven and Earth in 6 days. 


But we have become so tethered and dependent on our technology, we are toast in just a split second. 


If we don’t get serious about cybersecurity, and fast, there is going to be hell on Earth to pay. 


And not a single shot needs to be fired. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

USA Surrendering The Internet

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So here we go again, we cut off the hand (and arm) despite the face.


We are recklessly giving up control of the Internet, specifically of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the Domain Names Servers (including all the DNS root zones like .com, .net, .gov, etc.) that handle all the addressing of our Internet traffic.


Despite repeated cautions from many in industry, academia, and government not to do this, we are moving ahead anyway with tomorrow being the transition date!


Why would we give away anything, let alone control over the awesome technological power of the Internet that we depend on in some way for virtually every activity we do these days?


Aside from non-explanations of “fulfilling historic promises” to cede control (i.e surrender the Internet out of fear that other countries will challenge us and set up their own alternate DNS’s) and nonsensical talk of “protecting Internet freedom” by giving it away to authoritarian regimes and despots–there seems to be no REAL reason to do this drastic action that weakens our country and puts our technology, commerce, critical infrastructure, and national security at risk!


Rather than defend the Internet that the USA invented (specifically DARPA), here we go again in fear and weakness going in the wrong direction–surrendering and giving up control of the web.


If you love the Internet and recognize how important this asset is to us, then like an FCC Commissioner said this week, you should be worried about what the h*ck we are doing to the freedom (vice censorship) of the Internet and to ourselves . 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Transitioning To Virtual Ease And Triviality

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I took this photo a few weeks ago on the streets in Washington, D.C.

This was a huge box from eBay coming to someone.

In my building, they recently built an extra storeroom for all the deliveries that are coming everyday–there is no where to put all of them.

Jeff Bezos was recently names the 4th richest person in America, as the stock price of Amazon is up 45% in the last year alone. 

While today in the Wall Street Journal, even the revered retailer of Herald Square, Macy’s, had their stock price shed half it’s value in the last year, and other big box retailers are hurting just as bad. 

eCommerce is threatening the very survival of brick and mortal retailers, as they are seriously eating their lunch–and breakfast and dinner too!

But this is part of a much larger transition occurring from our physical to virtual worlds…

As we abandon department stores and the Mall for online shopping, 

movie theaters and playhouses for home theaters and video streaming, 

physical activities for gaming and virtual reality, 

and even factories and office work for telework and robots

soon we will have no real place to go and nothing to physically do. 

From the bed and couch to the computer and gym, like hamsters on the wheel of triviality, we might as well package ourselves up in the big eBay box and send ourselves to outer space–but only as long as we can get Internet access there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)