Buyer Beware – bargain electronics

I’d suggest you avoid buying from Digital Elect – the Terrible Customer Service and Ripoff Company.

I found them on Nextag, as they were advertising the Canon Rebel XSI I’m after for a good price.  I did my homework, read reviews like this one, but they had enough positive reviews to outweigh the bad ones. Plus, I’m not worried about fighting off some upselling and it seemed most bad experiences were with camcorders.  However, as anticipated, I had a bad experience.

4 business days went by after ordering (they said they ship within 2-3) and I contacted them to check on my order.  Got an automated e-mail back saying “call to verify your order.”

Here’s how the call went:
– on hold for 20 min
– tried to upsell me on a lens kit (I bought body only, no big deal)
– tried to upsell me on a battery as the included one only lasted 20 minutes
– tried to upsell me on a rechargeable battery as the included one was one-time-use (seemed to contradict the prior upsell)
– Added $40 to my total price for insurance.  I worked for one of the top 2 global delivery companies for 5 years… NO SHIPPER charges 10% for insurance on a sub-$500 item.
– I cancelled my order.
Tried to give them a bad rating on Nextag, but it looks like they ran out of funds and all their ads are not currently being shown.

Bummer.

YouTube Promoted Video Hits a Milestone

YouTube recently served it’s 500,000,000th promoted video view! That’s an incredible number.  First of all, it helps further legitimize the new(ish) ad medium, and second, it should be a wakeup call for anyone not aware of the power of YouTube.

Many have already seen the famous Dynomighty Magnetic Bracelet videos on YouTube, but in case, I’ve got the original one below.  This incredibly simple spot turned out to be brilliant marketing.  Anyone with an iPhone or cheap camcorder could make something like this, slickly showing off a product in a no-frills fashion with some blatant website pimping scattered about.  It’s compelling, it’s simple, it drives a TON of traffic.

The point of all this?  You don’t need to have a movie studio and professional equipment to do video advertising.  Brainstorm, come up with something you can easily execute and get it out there.  Don’t try to be too clever, just let the personality of your brand speak for itself and put your company at the forefront.  You never know what might come out of the efforts.

Breakin’ the Chains

No, not talkin bout Dokken… I’m talking about restaurant chains. The big ones. Have a discussion with 5 random people about their favorite restaurants and probably 3 of them will mention some watered down national chain. Oh sure, it makes sense… They’re (generally) cheap, they’re safe, they allow white middle-class families to eat out without leaving the safety of the suburbs

No, not talkin bout Dokken… I’m talking about restaurant chains.  The big ones.  Have a discussion with 5 random people about their favorite restaurants and probably 3 of them will mention some watered down national chain.  Oh sure, it makes sense… They’re (generally) cheap, they’re safe, they allow white middle-class families to eat out without leaving the safety of the suburbs.  And of course, like top-40 radio, they appeal to the middle 80% of the population.  While I’m not a culinary expert, I tend to avert myself from these places in favor of local flavors.  Here’s what comes to mind when people mention some of the big name restaurants…

Applebee’s – Ubiquitous as syphilis in a 1500’s Roman bathhouse and just about as desirable.  Nothing on their menu is too inspiring and it really is the poster child for bland dining.

Benihana – The teppanyaki cooking experience has been really bastardized over the years, and there’s no telling anymore if one place is better than another.  I will say this, I cannot recall the last time I saw an actual Japanese person taking on chef duties at a Benihana.

Denny’s – Denny’s may be the first of many themed restaurants where the staff acts a very specific role.  Ed Debevic’s in Chicago later perfected the experience.  The staff at Denny’s will “act” as though they are rude, apathetic, or going through the initial stages of heroin withdrawal.  The food isn’t great, but it is a fine place to buy low-grade drugs.

Pizza Hut – Are you eager to lose weight but diet and exercise isn’t for you?  I suggest the Pepperoni-Lovers pizza from Pizza Hut.  Your bowels will burst like the Hoover Dam in Superman I.  Good way to drop 5 lbs overnight.

Texas Roadhouse – As a resident of the state of Texas, I can assure you that if you’re chomping on Rattlesnake Bites in Grand Forks, ND, you’re just insulting my home.

Chipotle – South Park referenced the burrito chain, saying it caused bloody stool.  Need I say more?

Outback Steakhouse – Kind of an identity crisis with this one.  It tries to float between being a semi-respectable steakhouse and just another obnoxious place to fatten up your kids.  Don’t take that description too seriously, the steaks are terrible and even if they used a decent cut of meat, the $7/hr guys in the kitchen wouldn’t know how to prepare them anyway.  It’s kind of fine dining for folks who think Culver’s is a family restaurant.  I lovingly refer to it as “Outhouse Steakhouse.”

California Pizza Kitchen – Any time your entire entree list can be purchased in the same aisle as Hot Pockets, you’re missing the mark.

Ruth’s Chris – Hi, we’re going to charge you $50 for a steak and then throw it in a pan full of butter and toss it in the oven long enough for any remnants of meat flavor to disappear.

Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, Bravo, Carabas, Bucca di Beppo, Maggiano’s, etc, etc. – Ran out of steam with those names, but you get the idea.  The BMT at Subway is more authentic Italian than anything served at these dumps.  The Soup/Salad lunch deal at Olive Garden is nice.  However, if you decide to stay for dinner, I’m sure they’ll offer you a glass of their signature white zinfandel with your NY Strip D’Italiano.  Good grief.

PF Changs – Another place for white people to feel cultured without the inconvenience of interacting with different cultures of people.  Not sure what their aim is with the cuisine.  It’s kind of like they grabbed the worst cook they could find in each east-Asian country and had them whip up a menu.  Not a good place for diabetics either; no matter the dish, the secret ingredient is sugar.

CBS: Christianity & Bikini Girls = Good. Homosexuality = Bad.

Now, CBS has said they refuse to run this commercial during the Super Bowl. That’s their decision and I feel they have a right to make it. However, what message does this send about CBS as a company?

There’s the commercial, go check it out before you read any further.

Now, CBS has said they refuse to run this commercial during the Super Bowl.  That’s their decision and I feel they have a right to make it. However, what message does this send about CBS as a company?  They’re running the equally controversial commercial featuring Florida football star Tim Tebow telling a dramatic pro-life story.  They’ll no doubt run numerous ads featuring women with very little clothing trying to sell domain names, beers, animal rights, etc.  Yet, a rather silly and non-graphic ad featuring two men kissing is beyond what they deem acceptable for public viewing (on a side note, apparently another gay themed ad from godaddy.com was banned, but we all know they rely on pushing the boundaries of what is inappropriate for shock value and the American public can’t handle sexuality).

Now, while I definitely don’t agree with CBS’ clearly bigoted decision, I’m a realist.  I’m not going to expect people to boycott the Super Bowl or stop watching shows like the Big Bang Theory or CSI or whatever else you enjoy.  However, I would encourage people to keep this in the back of their minds going forward.  If CBS is premiering a new show and you’re on the fence about watching it, I say skip it, there’s plenty of entertaining programming elsewhere.  If a major CBS sponsor wants to sell you a product, look at the competition.  If a major event like a presidential address is airing on CBS along with other networks, watch the coverage on one of them.  I know those are things I’ll be considering from now on.