Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pulling Out The Staples

It's one of those seemingly minor things that the majority of people don't give a second thought to, and don't complain about. Not complaining about consumer issues is not a good thing.

For the past few years, Staples has been among office supply sources offering a credit for returning finished printer cartridges to their stores to be recycled. Just a few weeks back, I got a $6.00 credit for bringing in three of my recently used cartridges.

Last week, I was going in to Staples for something unrelated, and, of course, used the opportunity to bring in two finished cartridges. When I handed them over, I was then told that "the program has been changed". The rep said something about how much I need to buy over a period of time, and told that I would not receiving any credit for these. Sure enough, my receipt showed "$0.00" for my returning the cartridges.

It is true that a $4.00 credit isn't worth this time time to deal with. But that isn't the point. Staples had been giving these credits for a few years (that I know of). If they were giving away "too many" of these credits, it really meant that they had a successful promotion to guarantee return business. If they weren't giving away very many of these credits, there shouldn't have been any reason to mess around with this promotion. This was not something they only did on a limited basis.

However, this action hurts them more than it hurts me. I can simply start throwing out my finished printer cartridges, and not have a reason that in the past would get me to go specifically to Staples. For years, I would often go there even though their nearest location to both my home and business is further than a couple of their remaining competitors.

This is nowhere near as strange as when OfficeMax did away with their Perks program a few years ago and took away a huge reason for frequent shopping there. And it wasn't long after that when that company's problems began.

While it's true that these businesses don't have to provide regular customers with additional benefits, taking them away is another story.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Think Before You Promote

There is nothing wrong with AMC Theatres sending out special offers to its e-mail list. But there is something wrong with, on January 25th during the coldest winter in years, sending out a promotion for a free ICEE - when you purchase one. Oh my!

Granted, doing this is probably the least costly promotion they could implement, but the idea is to give people reasons to visit their theatres. It's a lot cheaper to stay home and enjoy a hot chocolate.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wondering Why...............

We as consumers should spend more time questioning ludicrous charges. I'm taking the wise suggestion of pointing them out as they come up.........

The All-American High School Basketball Game is taking place tonight (3/28) in Chicago at the United Center. For Bulls and Blackhawks games, concerts, and special events held there such as Ice Capades and a circus, attendees are asked to pay in the $25 to $35 range just to park their car in the closest parking lots.

Yet, for this basketball game, the promotional materials point out that it will be "free parking". Of course, we don't want to say or do anything to discourage this. But it raises a very important question.

What is it that was done so that parking for THIS event could be free? Why can't the same thing be done for concerts, sports events, and special events all of the time? Especially when you consider the cost per ticket, plus fees, gas prices, and the cost of traveling to the venue.

Speaking of ticket fees, I see where Aerosmith will be in concert at Milwaukee Summerfest in July. They are promoting $25 tickets, even if it is for the lawn. I suppose that's reasonable. Yet, the TicketMaster site indicates that the "convenience fee" per ticket is $25.50. Well, we know what entity this fee is "convenient" for.

However, TM continues to escape the majority of the lawsuits filed over this. Even though it is not necessarily the fault of the musical act (or team in the case of sports), those ridiculous charges for the Aerosmith show (among others) bring one response. Dream On !!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Poor Banking Chase Continues

It is possible to take a break from reading about more of the antics of Bank of America. In doing so, there is this about how attorneys were also involved with the false inflation of debts owed to Chase Bank, and how they are being 'found out':

I continue to think that now these large banks should pitch in and bailout the government.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Waiting Out The Movies

Now it looks like Warner Bros. is indirectly making it possible for us to pay less to see movies simply by waiting a while longer.

At first, when I saw today's announcement about Warner Bros.' new "deal" with Netflix, I thought it was another way for a large movie company to aggravate consumers who choose to buy or pay-for-view for recent new releases.

The story basically says that Netflix customers will now have to wait an additional 4 weeks to be able to watch selected movies beyond the on-sale date for the DVD. Clearly, Warner Bros. wants anxious consumers to purchase the DVD, at a higher profit margin for them, than to view the film through Netflix. Until now, consumers could make that choice immediately. Warner Bros. is banking on (literally) the possibility that more consumers will purchase the DVD than otherwise would if given the immediate choice.

After thinking on it for a few minutes, I realize that this actually helps us frugal consumers in the long run. This formula of the theater release, then DVD sale, and THEN via Netflix. Thus, the longer we wait, the less it will cost to see these movies.

I have no problem with waiting to see a movie, and hope others adopt this approach. The fact remains it is the SAME movie no matter when you see it for the first time. It is not like sports, where every game is different and there are specific plays and results every day.

Over the years, I go less and less to movie theaters. Years ago, theaters would have double features plus 'short' features in between. You could easily be in that movie theater for more than 4 hours. It was what you did for the evening for the entire afternoon. And it was affordable. Now, these theaters expect people to pay more than twice the price for less than half of the entertainment they used to offer. And that's without buying anything from the overpriced concession stand. (Of course, that's not necessary, since we are in and out of there so fast these days that there's not enough time to get hungry.)

All things considered, the new formula is taking shape. The same $10 that now gets you only 90 minutes in a theater will get you 2 or 3 movies at home a few weeks later. I, for one, can wait.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Penney Earned

Great move by J.C. Penney to announce that they are changing to "everyday low prices" and additional savings on all of their merchandise.

Sure, as a consumer this is good news. The more retailers that lower prices, the better it is for us.

If you missed it, here is the story:

But this announcement is more than that. This could very well turn this large retailer around, and that's good for their employees and investors in the long term as well.

Few, if any, would have questioned if Penney's had started closing a ton of their stores and began the journey to oblivion that some other regional and national retailers have been faced with over the past couple of years. This move turns a negative into a positive.

Their stores, or at least the ones I have been in over the past few years, became a bit stale. Not quite polished enough to feel like an elite (another word for overpriced for us consumers!) department store. But certainly not discounting anywhere near enough to be considered a discount or "low price" retailer. If the "low price" people and the "elite store" shoppers have what they are looking for down the street, and quite often in the same malls, it is no wonder that Penney's has become less and less busy lately.

Their "captain" is not only staying with the ship, but it seems this is an attempt to steer it in a better direction.

They deserve our consideration as they make these changes. We'll be watching............

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How I-Phones Are Monitored By Outsiders

It looks more and more like cell phone companies are out to destroy what personal privacy we all have left. This story links to several accounts of how I-Phone calls and texts can be monitored by outsiders:

Yet, while this is going on we have several large banks encouraging people to "bank by phone" which means entering in private account and personal information, along with checks and debit card transactions. So if "big brother" and most likely advanced hackers are watching and listening to your every move on your advanced cell phone, how long will you have all of your money and your identity?

Personally, I'm still not planning to use my phone for any transactions.