The Truth About Black Friday
In honor of Black Friday:
Target Effect – the name of the behavior of going into a store intending to buy one item but leaving with a full cart.
I had heard that giving low income people clothing hurt their developing economies. Also, often if a charity gives people free shoes or clothes, they may turn around and sell them since they didn’t really need or want shoes.
This short video confirms those notions.
So while I’ll still donate to charity, I’ll be less likely to give to “hot” charities or to faux charities like Tom’s Shoes that have a new cool idea.
(FYI in China Tom’s $4 shoes are sold for $90 in their stores — and much less on the street.)
Alas, it’s easy to come across bad customer service in the US. I abhor the automated phone (“Press 1 if you want our address, Press 2 if you want your balance,” etc.) service. I dread calling about problems. When I can, I’ve gone back to writing actual letters to companies. More and more, that’s not even allowed. O, mores! O, tempora!
Today, I called to ask American Express if they’d remove a late charge I incurred because I didn’t get home and see a bill till the day after it was due. Although the service could be better by eliminating the raft of “choices” callers are given and the request for a “security code” which isn’t a password or digits from your social security number so I don’t think I have one so that results in a loop that’s low grade frustrating.
Yet once I got a real live operator the conversation was almost ridiculously positive. Since I was an “outstanding” customer with an “amazing record for paying on time,” they would wipe away the late fee. The operator could not praise me more for my excellence. It was over the top, but it made the call pleasant rather than a fight.
Another satisfying customer service was with Apple’s telephone service. I chose the option to have them call me. There was a bit of a fail there as someone else answered the phone and though I hurried, by the time I got to the phone, the robot operator decided no one was there and didn’t hear me so it hung up. Then I called them back rather than wait 10 minutes.
Apple makes you call them back when they call you, which is somewhat odd. I had to wait for assistance, but Apple gives you a choice of three types of music to listen to as you wait. That’s fairly good. (Though why did you call me, but not have a technician ready?)
The guy who helped me did a stellar job. His communication skills were top notch as he was knowledgeable, patient and sympathetic. We went through some processes with the Disk Utility feature and found out that the El Capitan operating system I’d recently downloaded was corrupted. Before fixing the problem, I had to back up all my files so I had to get a new external hard drive. (My current one had gone kaput.)
Saturday I called Apple back again and the customer service was mediocre. This clerk didn’t have the same communication skills and didn’t listen well so she had me do some of the same time consuming procedures I’d already done. She was reluctant to trust the first guy. She just wound up making a reservation at a Genius Bar where they did fix my computer by uploading El Capitan again. The “Genius” I spoke with today was as good as good as the first Apple employee I spoke with. They all get extensive training, but the second person didn’t take it to heart the same way.
If you communicate clearly, treat me with respect and do what you say you’ll do, you’re well on your way to good customer service.
Miniso shops started popping up around Jinan last spring. They have a bright upbeat look that beckoned me inside. At first I just walked around trying to figure out what the store was. They have gadgets for computers like earphones, cleaners, and chargers. They have snack foods, dishes, clocks, toys, make up, skin care products, shoes, socks and more. Best of all most items cost 10 rmb or about $1.60. Plenty of others are 15 or 20 rmb ($2.50 – 3.30 more or less).
The shops look a lot like the Japanese clothing store Uniqlo with their white decor with red signs and their cheerful, multi-lingual announcements. A lot of the packages say “Miniso Japan” so I thought the company was Japanese. I soon became a regular shopper as the quality seemed good and the prices were great. It was a way to reconnect with Japan. Why pay $10 and up for toner when you can get it for $1.60? Why pay $11 for a neck pillow for my flight home when I can get one just as good for $2.50? Why buy a new bag for toiletries for probably $10 when you can get one that’s just as cute and functional for $2.50?
Then my students informed me that Miniso is a Chinese chain that apes a Japanese look, certainly inspired by Uniqlo. Their packaging had Japanese labels with Chinese ones pasted over them just as all imported products do. I felt quite hoodwinked, swindled. How dare you, Miniso. I wanted to make sure so I went to the Miniso website and figured out it is Chinese. They’ve got thousands of shops throughout China and just a couple in Tokyo and no where else in Japan. A Japanese company would certainly have stores in Osaka or Hiroshima before they’d open one in Jinan.
For quite sometime I stopped going to Miniso, but now I have gone back. I won’t by their skincare or food because if they’ll be deceptive with their origins, why wouldn’t they use inferior, untested ingredients in make up or cleansers? I no longer feel as good about shopping at Miniso, which is a shame. It’s rather pathetic that they want to appear as if they’re from Japan. I understand the idea about distancing a brand from China, but isn’t it sad that China has such a reputation for schlock that it has to?
I think I’ve unearthed a scam in our area. This afternoon I got a call from the sentry that the Clean Environment Air Duct man was here. Well, I was the only one home and no one had organized an estimate. I called both of my parents and neither was available. I sent the estimator packing as no one authorized or would authorize this service.
He left a card with a big green recycling symbol, no address and no name. He wrote his cell phone number and an illegible name on the card. (Is it Tom or John? Clearly it could be either.)
Just now this guy called back saying that he was here and the homeowners had set up an appointment. Wrong. Neither of my parents set up the appointment and he got a bit aggressive before my mother ended the call. I’m wondering if this is just a scam.
A friend told me that her parents got duped by a traveling fix it guy who noticed their roof had hale damage. Really? How do you notice that from street level? Unfortunately, her parents believed him and paid him a tidy sum and it’s not clear that this guy did any more than bang his hammer on their roof a bit.
Just a couple minutes ago the scam artist, John/Tom at 847-630-5560 of “Clean Environment” Air Duct Specialists called back saying he should have apologized. I agreed, told him we were in the midst of dinner and no interest in any estimates. I wonder who gave them my parents’ information. Could it have been the air conditioning repair people from last month? Could it have been an online source?