What Should We Talk About?

If our obsession with Threadless and Amy’s Ice Cream and the resultant backlash is any indication, we may be a bit out of touch with your desires.

So then, dear readers, what do you want to read about? What are the companies you want to see us go after? What are the practices that deserve exposure? What skulduggery, moral turpitude and plain ol’ meanie pants shall we shank? Maybe you’ve just got an inkling, a mote of an idea, a primordial concept, and don’t feel it warrants sending in to the tips. That’s okay, throw it out there and we’ll see what sticks.

Or, what companies are getting it really right that aren’t being given the attention they deserve? We can talk about nice things too, sometimes.

Name them, number them, we’re listening.

Comments

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  1. P33KAJ3W says:

    I think the biggest objection to your Threadless post was the fact you made a mistake and tryed to blackmail your way out. Infact alot of the complants that hit this site are from people that made a mistake and demand that it is fixed by the company.

  2. e says:

    I don’t mind you mentioning skeezy practices that some businesses (be they small or large) are using. It’s the continuous posting on it that gets old. I missed out on the Threadless hoopla, but I know the Amy’s posts got very tedious in the end. Otherwise, I really like what y’all are trying to do with this site.

  3. Smoking Pope says:

    I’ve got no issue with what’s posted on a daily basis. I think the Threadless debacle (and now it’s been called both a debacle and a hoopla, sweet) was not about the topic, but rather the way you went about it.

    Think about it, the Consumerist attracts people who feel that they, as consumers, are the underdog. So when the Consumerist uses its position as a popular Gawker site to squeeze $5.00 from a small business (whether you’re right or wrong), you’ve turned them into the underdog, and yourself into the bully.

  4. Elvisisdead says:

    Agreed with Smoking Pope.

    I mean, the real thing of it is that the industries/companies that I have the biggest problems with couldn’t care less if I’m a satisfied customer. Major airlines, dirty mechanics, jackass tailors, etc. To major companies, we’re all just ants in a line. Crush one, and another is right behind it.

    Just to follow up on my list, I’ve flown just about every airline and had bad experiences with them all (except Midwest Express). It’s just disheartening and infuriating at the same time when you’re dealing with a business that knows that they have you over a barrel and your options are limited, and they try to take advantage of you anyway.

    The BBB just doesn’t mean what it used to, and there are so many scam artists out there that most places think that you’re just trying to get away with something when you have a complaint.

  5. Gizmodo says:

    i’m going to start a website that covers all of the abuse and transgressions that consumerist puts its readers through. i shall call it consumeristist.

    just kidding. so maybe you went a little overboard with amy’s and threadless but i love your site and what it stands for – keep up the great work!

    btw, i think your posted apology, rectifying the situation, and then asking your readers would like is an example of excellent customer service. no company, blog, etc. is ever incapable of making a mistake – it’s how they handle that mistake that matters. kudos.

  6. non-meat-stick says:

    i liked the time to human polls. I also enjoy stories about eBay debacles, best buy thugs, wal mart morons, starbucks, maybe more food besides the easy target of Mc Donald’s?

  7. Grant says:

    If anyone has a beef with a company or its practices, that in my mind is the best way to start. As for complaining about where the discussion leads (bitching, weazling your way out), the simple answer is that half of this site is from our input. If you don’t like where a discussion is going or feel it is not getting to the point of it all then make a contribution yourself.

    As for what I would like to see…less whining!

  8. Kos says:

    Ditto Smoking Pole. I’d like the CSR ranting (it gives me a warm feeling of righteous indignation), but I would also like to see more helpful info that plugs into everyone’s collective knowledge. Stuff like useful websites (that blog you posted with a review of Kayak and Farefinder was excellent); what one should know before buying [insert consumer good here]; are furniture warranties truly a rip-off (I have shared my stainsafe story yet); how to deal with tow trucks, credit reports, etc…. Really, how to better arm ourselves in a more anonymous consumer society where information equals leverage._____Kos

  9. Jesse says:

    I’d love to see more actionable stories. A good recent example is why you should usually reserve the cheapest rental car in hopes of a free upgrade. I also enjoyed the time-to-human series, and appreciate the Morning Deals Roundups.

    While I’m guilty of adding to the bitch-fest over airlines, I think it’s getting excessive — we all know they suck monkey balls like they’re going out of style, so the typical stories of denied hotel compensation and the like just aren’t very revelatory.

  10. KevinQ says:

    Most of the stories are good, but if I were you, I’d avoid doing more than one or two updates to a story. The only problem I had with the Amy’s story is that it just wouldn’t end.

    This is the internet – I don’t care enough to follow a whole saga.

    K

  11. airship says:

    I like it when you go off on some poor, undeserving, innocent little company like a crack addict with a baseball bat on a helpless old granny. Who cares if you’re actually accomplishing something, as long as you have lots and lots of fun and get a big, fat paycheck, right?
    And, after all, it’s not as if there are actually a lot of big, greedy companies out there who really deserve your attention. Are there?

  12. Chi says:

    First, off I’m a big fan of the site (despite the Threadless issue). Everyone makes some bad judgements (and they are only truly bad in hindsight) but since the Consumerist wanted some companies I thought I’d put in my two cents.

    The top genre of companies that I’m bother by the most is cellular companies. Most of these companies (Cingular, Suncom, T-Mobile, etc.) treat existing customers like… (your version of manure). As an off-shot of cellular companies are the “retailers”, or “resellers” of said services. Maybe it’s just the way business is run (treating existing customers poorly and wanting to “signup new customers” or “converting old customers to new”), but there’s a lack of honest to good quality of service, in general.

    Next, the piece on RyanAir (the supposed super cheap airline) article on Consumerist, which was a link to an article on Upgrade Travel, is nothing short of brilliant! My initial response to RyanAir was “Wow these guys are awesome”, but after seeing the other side to their cost saving measures and profit maximizing procedures my opinion of them has drop them down to scum of the earth. More coverage of this type is aspiring!

    Lastly, I wonder if the Consumerist would ever try to counter some of the stories that are often posted over at the Customers Suck Livejournal? For those joining us, “Customers Suck” is a live journal (community blog) that seeks to give people who work in retail a “bite back” at shoppers, that is a venting/ranting soapbox for the people who have to serve the “shoppers”.

    It’s actually very interesting seeing both sides of the shopper vs retailer conflict from each side’s perspective.

    Anyways, these are just a few thoughts and ideas.

  13. AcidReign says:

    …..I thought the whole Amy’s thing was funny, although I can’t say I read every bit attached to it. When two sides just aren’t going to agree, the bickering gets old after a while.

    …..All Amy’s had to do was apologize [sometimes it’s smart to do this even if you’re right], then shut up, and it would have gone away. Arguing is never good for business!

  14. EarhornJones says:

    I actually apreciated the whole Amy’s Ice Cream ordeal. I wasn’t aware that minimum charges were a violation of the credit card agreement, and now I am. Informing consumers about relevant issues and exposing unfair business practices are what makes this site great. That’s what was done with Amy’s. I don’t give two shits about funny / old / fake commercials that you find on YouTube, though.

  15. Smoking Pope says:

    @Kos: Smoking Pope, not Pole, wise guy. (breaks out excommunication gear)

    @Consumerist: You know what would rule? Consumerist Undercover. Ben conspires to get hired at (Wal-Mart, Verizon, Price-Rite, etc.) and then blows the whistle on everyone. Of course, if you guys wanted real jobs, I guess there wouldn’t be a Consumerist. :)

  16. Kos says:

    @Smoking Pope: I’m Jewish…bring it. Actually, sorry (see,I can say it). It was an honest mistake after a long lunch meeting and seeing the word “poll” two comments above while scrolling to see your comment again. No, really.

  17. karl hungus says:

    I think this is all a bit silly, so one article goes wrong. Most people seem to approve of the Amy’s article (though it drag on a bit); and if people don’t think the Ryan Air article is important, you need to carefully remove your head from your anus. From now on you can take Ryan Air and I will take the airline not covered in filth that is on deck to become the next Sun Jet.

  18. Fairytale of Los Angeles says:

    I was cool with the RyanAir thing. The Amy’s saga just made the guy who originally brought it up sound like he’d made it his personal mission to exterminate the poor ice-cream parlor from the face of the Earth, then sow the ground upon which it once stood with salt. Not so much consumer, a bit more stalker…

    As for Threadless, well, you guys learned the immortal lesson of Spider-Man: “With great power… comes great responsibility!” ;)

  19. trixare4kids says:

    I would love to see:

    1)”How to buy X” articles (or pointers to them.)
    2) Tips/tricks/hints about airfare, buying on ebay, buying a new car, negotiating a lease, etc
    4) I like the morning deal roundup
    6) Scam alerts and “Time to a human”
    7) I’d love a regular “ask the consumerists” panel where folks can write in for consumer advice from their fellow consumerists. I’ve seen that a few times and I liked it. Hopefully the victi..er.. writer will get an answer in-between all the snarky/funny responses.
    8) 8, 8, 8, I forgot what 8 was for but
    9) Important Recalls
    10) Product Reviews in general

  20. Ben Popken says:

    I particularily like Smoking Pope’s idea of going undercover and getting hired at some reprehensible company and churning up the dirt. We could use more actual reporting.

  21. Danilo says:

    I really liked the whole Amy’s Ice Cream drama.

    In any case, there are times where aggressive pursuit of a story is called for. The PIN block scam? Man, you guys were all over that and it was a good thing you were. Great to stay informed on that kind of stuff. Maybe you can argue about the Amy’s Ice Cream bit, but doggedly pursuing some stories definitely makes sense.

  22. Karmakin says:

    The “time-to-human” thing was stupid, mainly because nobody mentioned that yes, those times really were acceptable. Now, if you’re waiting 10 minutes or so, that’s blech. And if they’re making you take more time, so say instead of going to the customer service department you go to the technical support department like you want to, that one minute probably saved you 5.

    Time-to-resolution would probably be a much better chart, and more informative. How long does it take each company, from picking up the phone, to handle a change-of-address request?

    The Amy’s thing was stupid. If you don’t like their policy on credit cards, don’t shop there. If their store gets burnt because they sell some product, and the person can’t pay and the product has to be thrown away, that’s their problem, now isn’t it?

    Re:Customers_Suck, I actually read that LJ pretty regularly. It’s good for a few laughts. In all honesty, it’s pretty rare that I hear of a story on there that I think that the worker is in the wrong about. Sometimes it’s company policy that the person won’t accept (which is kind of a different boat), sometimes it’s people just thinking they deserve the world.

    On the other hand, the Bad_Service LJ, probably once every 2 or 3 days I’ll see a story that I think wtf are they complaining about.

  23. rikomatic says:

    I think you should focus on stories about people buying stuff. But that’s just me.

  24. Jay Levitt says:

    As others have said: It’s not what you cover, it’s how you cover it. Be a journalist, not just a snarky pajama-boy. Find and quote multiple sources. Do actual research. Compare and contrast. Get quotes.

    You started down that road with Amy’s; you actually got hold of the merchant agreements. Follow that a little further: So Amy’s ice cream is a small business with a credit card minimum? What does Steve Herrell, possibly the original small-super-premium-ice-cream-parlor dude, have to say about it?

    Also, look at and address possible objections to your story. When I read the snips from those contracts, the first thing I thought was: “Ah, but it says ‘in your charge category'” (or some such wording). Would that give Amy’s an out? Is there a charge category for $10 and up? Why not find out.

    Ditto with Threadless. It could have actually become an interesting story – how, in the rush to provide instant, 24×7 gratification to consumers, merchants have had to eliminate humans from the process, and that means that correcting mistakes can be slow, manual and expensive for all. There are a whole bunch of angles you could take: inexorable march of technology, price of progress, UI issues, business process, a niche for order fulfillment companies, anything but just whining.

    For bigger companies, you could talk to their executive escalations staff (the people who answer the phones for “I demand to speak to the CEO right now”), their operations team, their corporate communications officer, anyone, and get quotes. Not just unedited e-mails: Quotes.

    Basically: Snarking is easy and free and anyone can do it; therefore, there’s no reason to go to your snark site instead of someone else’s. So start writing stories.

  25. Kornkob says:

    Personally, I thihk that it woudl be interesting to see some nods to being a good consumer. It may be popular to believe the ‘customer is always right’ but we all know that’s not true.