Copy Stores Fail To See An Opportunity.

On April 18, 2019, a redacted version of the Mueller Report was released to the public. Within hours of the release, downloaded versions were available in .pdf format from a number of sources.  I personally like print.  I like to highlight and make margin notes.  I contacted my local Staples store and found out that each page would cost about 12 cents.  The report has something over 400 pages which comes out to be about $48.  Amazon shows that a book form will be out about April 30th for $9.20.   Any copy store like Staples has a brief window where they could offer to print the book at a really good price. This just might be a clever promotion to get customers into their stores, a loss leader.  Counter to that is that some right wing nuts might find this objectionable.  I tried to use Staples web site to share this view but of course they think they know every subject matter and failed to offer general open communication.

I am now printing out sections of the report using my home printer.

CAUTION:  There are some reports that the Kindle edition is flawed in some way.

 

Posted April 22, 2019

E-Bay Not Recommended Because Payments Are LInked To PayPal

I ordered a television table top swivel mount from E-Bay.  The company who I ordered the item from is BulbsOutlet.   I paid with my bank credit card.  A day later I get a notification that my payment went through PayPal, which I despise.  The order is sent to my e-mail and includes the following:  “This email confirms that you have paid Ness Electronics, Inc.”  I call this company and talk to a very nice fellow who educates me. Anything you buy on E-Bay, the payment process goes through Pay-Pal.  When I purchase, using my credit card, I see no reason that the transaction should go through PayPal.  That ends my buying anything more from E-Bay.

Amazon is recommended.
Ebay not recommended.
PayPal not recommended.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PayPal

Note: There is possibly a way to purchase an Ebay item and not go through PayPal.  The transaction will go through your credit card: “How to Buy on eBay Without PayPal

Albertson’s Top Management Deals With Big Picture Problems But Fails To See Smaller Issues

Albertson’s is owned by a big box house operation, Supervalue Inc.  This may have set up top management to think in terms of resolving company and store performance issues from a twenty thousand feet top down view and not take the time or interest to view street level uniqueness for each individual store and how each store interfaces with the local community.  One approach does not fit all (stores), is the point I am making.

In a Business Week web site article it was stated that “Albertsons Southern California President Dan Sanders said in a statement. “Albertsons suffered a decrease in customers and sales throughout the division and did not respond adequately to customer needs.”  Later in the same article Greg Conger, president of United Food commercial Workers, Union 324 in Orange County stated that “ever since SuperValu purchased Albertsons, they have had difficulty running conventional grocery stores”

What I see:

  • The produce is too high priced.  Trader Joe’s is doing much better.
  • The cut beef products behind the meat counter and packaged do not seem to be better than select grade.  COSTCO is offering much better quality and value.
  • Many store sale items were close to expiration dates and some items we found were past those dates.
  • The new June 2012 layoffs of store staff may have hurt Albertson’s even more because management failed to realize that portions of their stores are separate smaller store operations.  They made the mistake of laying off all store employees by seniority and not taking into consideration individuals that possessed specialized skills along with customer loyalty and customer following.   For example, our local store offers an in store Starbucks.  That small Starbucks operation really enhanced the store sales and drew customers into that store.   This especially was true in the mornings.  Many people go to these Starbucks ONLY and do not intend to shop in the store.  But, I have seen countless Starbucks customers add greeting cards, special event balloons, gift cards, salads, bakery items to their drink purchases.  The Starbucks that we visited had personnel that offered exquisite service and banter that really made the customer feel welcome and almost like we were in a small town.  With the June 2012 layoffs, the well performing staff was fired or dispersed to other stores.  The staff that replaced those that had to leave had more seniority but failed to provide the level of service and failed to bring a customer following.  The store sales dropped significantly.  We witnessed a huge fall off from one store that had almost all of its top baristas removed.  Within a week of the Starbucks staff change, the morning drink lines were real short with only one or no one waiting.  Prior to the layoffs the lines were often times five to ten people deep and customers would stand around the counter and talk to one another while waiting for their drinks.  Some customers even stayed to carry on conversations with other customers they knew.

 

Problems with Amazon.com

  1. I purchased a men’s cologn from Amazon.com.  The actual shipper turned out to be some small apartment business run by an alleged student. The item shipped was a less than half size.
  2. I purchased a cell phone application.  I had to remove my cell phone cover to reveal the model number to specify the correct software.   Upon placing the cover back on, I noticed that a second software was selected as as a future purchase.  I tried hit the back key to get out from purchasing the item but late found that I had been charged.  I here by state that I did not say “YES” for that sale.  I went into the Amazon web site and it seems that there is no mechanism for getting you money back.  I do NOT recommend using the Amazon Appstore because it allegedly lacks purchase confirmation.

Inline Beauty Hosted By Amazon.com

We do NOT recommend anyone doing business with this company until we get clarification as to their actions.

April 15, 2011 a purchase was made of 3.4 OZ of Clairborne Mambo for Men.  The purchase was made through Amazon.com web site.  One would think any vendor that Amazon lists might be able to handle this transaction.

The shipping label shows the following:

Order Summary
Order Placed:    Apr 15, 2011
Order #:    xxxxxxxxx
Shipping and Handling    $2.50
Before Tax Total:    $18.94
Order Total:    $18.94

The actual item received shows the contents to be 1.7 OZ.

A call was placed to the company April 26, 2011 and the most unprofessional response occurred.  The person who answered the phone only said “hello?”  The young lady said to respond by e-mail as to the problem.  Going to the web site, the page that shows contact information shows NOTHING.  A complaint was made through Amazon. com e-mail portal to vendors.  This is the contents of that e-mail:

Here is a copy of the e-mail that you sent to Inline Beauty.

————– Begin message ————–

Order Placed: Apr 15, 2011
Order number: xxxxxx
Customer #: xxxxxxx
Tracking Number:    xxxxxxx
Item(s): 1 of Liz Claiborne Mambo 3.4 oz EDC Spray for Men $16.44
Problem:  The item shows 1.7 FL OZ  and not what I paid for which is 3.4 oz.

————– End message ————–

For Your Information: To help arbitrate disputes and preserve trust and safety, we retain all messages buyers and sellers send through Amazon.com for two years.  This includes your response to the message above.  Amazon.com uses filtering technology to protect buyers and sellers from possible fraud.  Messages that fail this filtering will not be transmitted.

——————————————————-

I then did some Internet investigation and found the following:

Partial review of Inline Beauty on Amazon.com:  “I had to deal directly with the seller, which was a young woman named Tina, who was completely unprofessional. And never got back to me about sending me a replacement product or issuing a refund. If you go to inlinebeauty.com, you’ll notice there is NO contact information: no email, no phone number. I had a phone number in my invoice from them, and it was Tina’s home phone number. Her mother answered at one point, telling me ‘Tina is in school, can you call back after 3?’ HUH??? What kind of business is that? Then, when I got a hold of her, she said ‘I’ll have my boss call you when he gets out of a meeting’ yeah…right. I asked for an email address, and was told ‘Give me your email address, and I’ll email you.’ This was after she told me to ‘Go to the website and our email address is there’.”  http://www.amazon.com/Pureology-Nano-Works-Shine-Luxe/dp/B001AP138W

_____________________

It would appear that this business is run by a very young person.  Amazon needs to call this person up and provide a list of duties and responsibilities, bullet points, that are necessary to continue doing business with Amazon.com and the buying public.

Newegg Is What Internet Purchasing Should Be.

My son wanted to build his second tower computer system.  He asked mom and dad to help him buy the components for a Christmas gift in 2010.  My son gave me a list of components: case, cpu, memory chips, power supply and told me to buy the items at Newegg.com.  The process was simply flawless except the tower case was added as a second shipped item due to its size and I almost ordered TWO cases because I failed to see it listed toward the bottom of the computer screen.  Newegg sent confirmation right away after I sent in the order and follow up e-mails appeared and tracking information.  I was later to discover that their prices were pretty darn good.  We strongly recommend this vendor.

Disneyland not able to provide Christmas gift confirmation.

My daughter has an annual pass to Disneyland.  As a Christmas gift, my daughter had the idea of having dad give mom an annual pass to Disneyland so mother and daughter could go to the park together.  My daughter went on line and using dad’s credit card purchased a Deluxe Annual Passport with parking, not a trivial amount of money.  We never received e-mail confirmation.  I called a day later and after a very long hold time, due to being close to Christmas, I was informed that my daughter had misspelled my e-mail address by one letter.    I asked for another confirmation be sent to me, after giving my correct e-mail address, but I was told that that could not be done.  We were given the confirmation number.  Using that number, my wife can go to the park, I was told, and get her pass.  Problem for me was the Christmas presentation was completely missing.  The land of enchantment appeared to me to be the land of alleged indifference.

Fullerton Meridian Sports Club

Meridian Club is a sports club at the east end of Fullerton, California.  The location is weird, next to the 57 freeway, south west of Target and has residential condos to the east and south.  The physical building is three stories and side parking structure is impressive.  The inside is cavernous, expansive and secluded.  Tennis court, hand ball courts, roof track, swimming pools, jacuzzi, sauna, and cafe as well as large dressing rooms. As opposed to a 24 Hour Fitness, this place is lay back and not crowded.  The lack of crowding might be more the result of allegedly bad management though.

Negative Features:

  • Weight room machines that rely on electronics and motors are not kept working as well as they should.  Most machines are old and should be upgraded with new.  Quite a few treadmills, elliptical and stair step machines only partly work many times and repairs are seldom if ever made unless a machine is completely dead.
  • It is our opinion many sports clubs as a business category use business practices that are not transparent, and allegedly close too being deceptive.  There should be a clean up of the industry.  This club allegedly follows some of those practices.
  • We can not find any published list of pricing.  It appears to us that pricing is arbitrary, decided upon by the sales person.   Your price is set as to when you joined and under what enticement plan.  We understand that this is approved marketing practice and improves sales but where the club seems to fall far short is keeping its members.  Once you enter their door things allegedly change.  Meridian Club allegedly fails to keep members by raising rates which it can do but over time these price increases get quite large and drives its core constituents into leaving.  We have heard prices range from $40 up to $80 a month for a single member.  Cheaper rates can usually be had by agreeing to pay for a year at a time.  Problem with this is there is a constant fear that the facility will be sold to another company and you will not get your money back because the company will tell you to go to the next nearest facility.  The next nearest faculty from Fullerton would be Pasadena.The Meridian Club seems incapable of looking at the long term prospects and trying to keep its current customers satisfied with reasonable prices and good service.
  • We have heard members interaction with the club management has not gone too well.  Every interview came out with the same comment.  The management does not seem to care.
  • The corporate management, located quite far away, fail to realize how different the Meridian Club is than their other operations and thus push some pretty stupid programs upon the facility, which misdirects expenditures,  without looking at the average age and interests of its customers.  For example, it put in a boxing ring and offers boxing lessons to a member population that are over 40 years of age.

Club cafe was removed:

It is quite remarkable that there is a cafe inside this club and could be a terrific asset. Our test of this cafe was very disappointing.  The prices were high.  We give this restaurant a test and it resulted in  a very low score because we did not get our side dishes thus an incomplete meal.  The food was nothing special and the service was dreadful.

Plus Features:

  • The customers are its best kept secret.  The place is like visiting a small town where most people know one another and that is an important draw.   Most of the customers are affluent and older.  These people would not be caught dead in 24 Hour Fitness because those cheaper places are sardine establishments.  Twenty Four Hour Fitness in Brea is tightly packed and at peak time you must endure long waits to get on a machine or into a class.
  • The classes are quite good.  They are easy to get into partly due to the alleged mismanagement is keeping more customers away by their out of line pricing and lack of customer concern.

Conclusion:

This club is sort of an uncut gem.  This club is in real need of another owner to show its many positive facets to the public by using a much better business model.   A fixed fee of $40 for everyone would be a terrific start for basic one person membership, month by month payment, and $30 a month for a year contract.  Another idea is to turn this club into a coop sports club.

We recommend this sports club if you are looking for a club which seems more in line with the needs of being older.  You will pay a lot more for an ambiance that is more spacious, lay back and you don’t need to fight to get on a machine or get into a class.  Finally, the  facility is not that well maintained.

Update, April 3, 2016:

Because the owner of the Meridian Club allegedly failed to understand how best to run this club, the membership has declined.  The mistakes were quite obvious so one wonders about the competence of the owner to run this type of facility.  The City of Fullerton owns the property and their tax money comes from the club making a profit.  I personally know that the front office staff has angered quite a few customers so they left.  Some of the people who left also had hired the club trainers so the loss incurred was felt by the club and the trainers.  This club looks like it might be taken down.

To read more, go to “Fullerton considers putting several city properties up for sale

This type of club is a real asset for older clientele and this area of Fullerton and Placentia.  I know of members who drive from Diamond Bar and Yorba Linda.  Most other gyms in the area cater to younger people.  This club has a lot of potential to succeed but not with this owner.  I do hope the City of Fullerton comes up with a solution to keep this club but with better management.

 

Home Depot Customer Service Gets High Score

One day in November 2009, my wife came to me and said she saw a TV commercial from Home Depot advertising they would take back old Christmas lights that no longer worked and offer $3 toward the purchase of LED Christmas lights. I drove over to Home Depot a few days later and noticed that the LED lights used only 4 amps of current while our old Christmas light strings used a lot more power. We were trying to cut our energy costs and thought this offer was just too good to pass up. I called the store a few days later to find out that the deal had expired, two days prior. We had just heard of this offer and now it had expired. I fired off an e-mail to the Home Depot people as follows:

Comments: My wife viewed an advertisement where your stores would take back old Christmas lights for credit on energy savings units. I called the store in my area and they said that program ended on the 15th. I am most sorry you did not provide a wider window to participate.

In a few days I got this response:

Thank you for contacting The Home Depot Customer Care. We appreciate receiving feedback from you and want to thank you for taking the time to forward your concerns. We apologize for not meeting your expectations.

Please know that your feedback is provided to our stores and Corporate Offices, so that we can make necessary business improvements.

Thank you, again, for sharing your comments and bringing this to our attention.

We look forward to your continued patronage and assisting you with all of your home improvement needs.

Sincerely,

Nayeem
Customer Care Research Team

I thought that was the end of it but I get a phone call from the store manager in Fullerton, California. She said she had looked over my e-mail and would extend the offer to me. I said I was most surprised and thought her offer was very nice. She said Home Depot wanted to properly serve its customers to the best of their ability. She notified me that I could call the store, if I arrived late for any sale offer, and ask that the offer be extended.  She went on to tell me that she thought this was the second year that Home Depot offered this special offer.  I told her that I was most sorry to be late to the sale and once again thanked her for her generous offer.

The very next day, my wife and I drove to the Fullerton Home Depot and turned in 7 Christmas light strings. We purchased the same number of LED strings costing around $40 total. With the credit we received from the old lights, we only paid about $20.

I am most impressed with Home Depot’s attitude toward its customers.

The story did not end. I get an e-mail from a customer care department. I will share part of that message next:

Recently, you contacted The Home Depot with a concern or question regarding our company, operations or products. We are very interested to learn about your recent experience with our Customer Care department. We have commissioned NetReflector, an independent marketing firm, to conduct the survey to obtain your valuable and candid feedback. Your feedback will help us ensure that we are consistently providing you with the highest levels of personal service. Please take a few minutes to answer some brief questions about your recent experience with The Home Depot.

I then am directed to answer a survey on line. The questions in the survey were all toward measuring my satisfaction in this issue being resolved to MY satisfaction. This is most impressive!

Business / Vendor Reviews

A

B

Batteries America Terrific selection of batteries. The web site is old looking and ugly; they use Microsoft Front Page which tells me their level of sophistication. I can NOT recommend this vendor for the following reasons. I had to call for a tracking number for my order. I specified three days shipping on their web site but sent the item ground. The items came after I needed them. I wrote an e-mail to ask what was going on but it was ignored. The operation appears to be at hayseed level. Not recommended.

C

D

E

E-Trade.   We do not recommend this company for anyone.  If your a day trader, you might look at this company but we can not figure out why you would choose it.  For the small investor and anyone who wishes to buy and hold stocks for the long run, do NOT consider this company.  They charge extremely high fees that will diminish your investments over time.

F

G

Glyph Hard Drives Customer support we found to be very good. The sales person was wonderful. Ask them what manufacturer they use in their units if that is important to you. When we purchased, they were using Seagate, not one of my recommendations but Glyph said they would guarantee the drive. Recommended.

H

Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) Anaheim I am fortunate enough to live close to this store. The sales people have saved me more than once. I walk in with a problem and they usually come up with a solution which naturally costs me money. Their attitude allegedly is commission sales, like walking on to a car dealer lot, they seem to hear the cash register ring as you enter. They do offer a lot of product, expertise and problem solving when you need it. Some of their jokes are quite predictable. It is a candy store for ham radio operators. Recommended.

I

Internet sales. We only recommend Internet sales for items that are not time critical. We only recommend Internet sales for businesses open during shipping hours where the driver can walk into your establishment to make deliveries and pick up items for shipping. Deliveries to homes is acceptable for items that are NOT time sensitive. We do NOT recommend Internet sales to the home for time critical items requiring a signiture for the following reasons:

  • Some vendors do a slow job of building, to order product, thus moving back delivery dates from when you, the customer, think it should be ready.
  • Some vendors do not do a good job of performing expedited shipping. You pay for it but you will not get it in the time you think you should get it.
  • Shippers are usually good at quickly moving product quickly vast distances but delivery to the home is the problem. The recipient is inconvenienced in time and frequently has to spend added money to get the item resulting in additional costs.
    • Waiting at home for a shipment to arrive might take you away from work costing you money. In any case, waiting for a shipment will cost you time, typically LOTS of time waiting and waiting and waiting for the delivery.
    • Missed shipments may require you drive to a local shipping depot to pick your item up at a specified time. This will waste your time and gas.

Investment Business Daily is a wonderful investment advice newspaper.  For that purpose we recommend it.  The opinion section of the newspaper is another story.  We recommend you use those pages for bird cage liner.

J

J.C. Penney Department Store seems to be a well run professional operation. I just love their sales. The people who work at the Brea Mall store are very helpful. Recommended.

K

L

LinkSky web hosting. Recommend.

M

Mervyns Department Store is not recommended. My father liked flannel shirts. I purchased one for him each year for two years as a Christmases gift. After one or two washings they fell apart. The shirts held the Mervin’s label. I was then treated rudely by store clerks twice. I have never been back. I have never had this type of experience at JC Pennney. Not recommended.

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