Buy Right From The Start

This was a funny sign in an eatery:

Our tasting panel samples each item before we buy it.


And the picture is of the guy  ready to dig into the food. 


There was another saying that I heard that I liked:

If you buy on price, you buy twice. 


In other words, never just buy the lowest price item if you don’t really like it, because in the end, you’ll end up having to buy a replacement for the cheapo, crappo thing you really didn’t like to begin with. 


Better to save up and get what you really want to begin with. 


A savvy shopper, indeed. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Contrarian on Apple

As Apple approaches the unbelievable $1 trillion mark in market value, I am going the contrarian. 


Historically, I love Apple products–truly. 


But since Steve Jobs, Apple has done virtually nothing!


They are losing the battle for common sense priced products. 


They are losing the battle on innovation. 


Think for a second what has Apple come out with that is “WOW” in the last few years–either in terms of new product or design. 


Do you care anything about Siri?


Are you in love with their Apple Watch? 


Do you think much of their new iPhone X?


What about the computers–same old, same old?


I am still using the iPhone 7plus and have no intention to upgrade anytime soon. 


See the picture above, this is Apple’s idea of innovation. 


It’s the new Mac Pro — virtually the same as their iMac Pro, as their store rep explained to me–except it’s shaped like a tall and weird version of the Amazon Alexa personal assistant. 


BTW, you still need to attach a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. 


Are you impressed NOT? 


Apple as a brand used to mean the latest and greatest. 


Even now, I am still drawn to Apple products, just because I am conditioned to think of it as the best!


But is it still the best and is it worth the premium price?


Apple still has me as a customer and I am still a big fan of what they have done in the past.


But they better do something amazing again and now, because I think their stock is in for a mighty big and painful tumble if we don’t see the old Apple again soon. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Uber Overconfidence

Uber.jpg

As everyone knows, Uber is essentially–for now–a high-tech taxi company.


And high-tech tends to command high price.


But they are IMHO very overconfident of their position. 


And while I generally like taking Ubers, I would go so far to say that in many respects they are potential dead cab meat!


Why?


– Not because their leadership is in disarray and their founder and CEO was just forced to resign.


– Not because they have a disastrous corporate culture.


– Not because of their uber low or not profitable margins.


– Not because of the threat of autonomous driverless vehicles.


– Not because of the (alleged) stolen documents from Google.


– Not because Uber is (potentially) overvalued at nearly $70 billion (more than GM, Ford, or Honda)!


– Not because of its numerous competitors coming up from behind, including Lyft.


But a major reason is because:


They just gave you a not-so-hidden increase in price by tacking on a new tipping mechanism that will result in many people paying as much as a 20% hike to their overall fares.


Uber is now losing a sizable portion of their price point competitive advantage!


With the risks involved here, who could be so overconfident?

Perhaps, it’s time to take a cab or hovercraft somewhere else. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


(All represents my own opinions)

613 The Perfect Trip

613 Trip.jpeg

So the sightings continue today of the mystical and holy 613 (number of commandments in the Torah).


Check out the cost of this vacation trip to Yellowstone National Park.


It’s not $599 or $699 like you would usually see these things advertised for. 


Instead the family adventure starts at $613!!!


Too many times now, too frequent, and in too many different places to be just random or chance. 


Someone is trying to tell us something.


Hopefully, it is a sign for blessings for mankind. 😉


(Source Photo: Ellen Weiner)

That’s Getting A Little Personal

Pants Ad
This was a funny advertisement hanging in Hot Topic in the mall. 



It says: “Get in our pants”–well, excuse you!



Using sexual come-ons to sell, sell, sell…is not a new marketing strategy. 



As they say in the biz world, “Sex sells!”



Perhaps a more targeted ad about quality, fit, and pricing would be more to the product point.



But why sell with facts, when you can sell with fantasy. 😉



(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Lowest Price Guaranteed!

Chair and Lush Carpet
So I bought a really comfy chair–everyone wants one of these. 



(Note: Pictured here is not the actual chair or store from my story today.)



Anyway, I was so happy thinking about how lush the sitting experience would be. 



Yes, the “retail price” seemed high, but I got the “Veterans Day discount” and then bargained some more. 



So I thought I probably did okay on the negotiation, especially since I was dealing with a major national brand.



Also, the contract/invoice had in writing a “lowest price guarantee“–so that if within 30 days, I found the chair for cheaper, the company “would gladly refund the difference in full”!



Sounds good, right?



But something wasn’t feeling right and when I went home I had trouble sleeping–something seemed off with this purchase and this merchant. 



So in the morning, I checked online and found the exact same chair for almost $300 less!



Well, I headed straight to the store with a printout of the lower price I had found and promptly presented it to the store manager for the refund of the difference as promised.



But instead of the glad refund, I got stonewalled and the dumbest look on the store manager’s face I have ever seen. 



He started the million excuses why he wouldn’t refund the difference in price as promised. 



First he said, oh, the chair I found was a different color–I showed him the chair online and the one in his showroom, and they were the identical color and everything. 



Then, he goes for a second attempt, saying, uh the price guarantee doesn’t apply to prices found at outlets, and I said where does the price I found say outlet anywhere? He couldn’t find anything like that. 



So he tries a third time to get rid of me, and says, the merchandise has to be advertised under “the same terms and conditions,” and it wasn’t.  I said what terms and conditions weren’t the same?  He said, well, they just weren’t the same. 



At which point, he told me plain and simple that he wasn’t going to refund the difference and that I should get out of the store. 



I won’t tell you all the (legal) details how, but let’s just say this guy was sorry for trying to do that…and I walked out with the price difference refunded. 



Buyer beware–lot’s of crooks out there trying to take your money and giving guarantees that are complete b.s. 



This is probably especially the case with many brick and mortar retailers who are having serious problems competing with their significantly lower overhead online brethren. 



Beware–Beware–Beware!!! 



I learned again today and taught my daughter to stand up for what is rightfully yours and don’t let anyone take advantage of you!  



You work for your money too and no one should cheat you out of it. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazing Amazon

Amazing Amazon

So Amazon should be renamed Amazing, because they are.

They are the best online retailer–love ’em!

SELECTION: Amazon has everything.

PRICE: Amazon is reasonably priced.

SPEED: Amazon Prime gets you your goodies delivered in under 48 hours.

RETURNS: Amazon takes returns easily; virtually no questions asked.

Amazon is so customer focused that you can even email Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO himself, at Jeff@Amazon.com.

Aside from their highly successful retail operation, they have the Kindle tablets, Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing, Kiva Robots for warehouse operations, and more.

So what’s the secret of their success?

One thing, according to the Wall Street Journal, is their tough hiring practices.

Amazon has “several hundred” interviewers called “Bar Raisers” that give candidates extremely thorough interviews.

Bar Raisers typically have conducted “dozens or hundreds of interviews and gained a reputation for asking tough questions and identifying candidates who go on to become stars.”

Typically, it “takes five or six employees at least two hours each” to evaluate and vet an applicant.

Amazon makes all this effort in recruiting to weed out people who are the wrong fit for the company.

They believe that it’s better to invest in a sophisticated recruiting process than to make costly hiring mistakes.

While this certainly sounds like a well thought out and vigorous hiring process, the article makes little to no mention of performance measures showing that their hires really are better matches, have superior performance, or stay with the company longer.

The one anecdote given was of a Bar Raiser who found a candidate for a programming job that “didn’t know much about the specific programming language.”

Barring some real statistics though, either you could conclude that Amazon’s hiring process is truly superior or perhaps question why it takes them 5 to 6 interviews to do what other successful companies do in 1 or 2.

Either way though, Amazon is a amazingly great company. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)