We’re generally quite critical of companies that try to squelch negative online reviews, astroturf them, or just bribe customers for positive ones. Not only is this behavior bad for consumers, but the experience of one company shows that it’s bad for businesses, too.
Walmart is looking to grow. Yes, grow. Their latest initiative, “Project Impact,” aims to make stores easier and quicker to navigate, improve customer service, and to move in on competitors’ territory as much as possible.
Brand specialist Bertrand Pellegrin has published a new book for retailers that says if they want to capture the typical guy’s dollar, they need to create more inviting spaces to shop in. The author “points to electronics stores, strip clubs, sports bars and gyms as spots where men feel comfortable socializing and spending money.” That may all be (kind of) true, but that’s gonna make one hell of a noisy, sleazy, sweaty, drunken place to shop for clothes.
That Sears website exploit we posted about a couple of weeks ago was funny, mainly because it seemed more embarrassing for Sears than a true security risk. However, an independent security researcher had also discovered a more significant issue with the site—it allowed for an unlimited number of gift card verification attempts via an external script, so a criminal could use the site as a brute force method to identify valid gift cards for Sears and Kmart.
Jay Goltz, a small business owner in Chicago, thinks there are three reasons why customer service is so terrible at so many companies.
HD Guru took a deeper look at the extended warranties and service plans Best Buy pushes on customers who buy expensive electronics like hi-def TVs. You probably won’t be surprised to find out that the fine print negates a lot of what the person or pamphlet on the sales floor will try to promise you—but you might be surprised at just how useless these plans can be when you get right down to it.
When you think of “boutique tea,” you probably don’t associate it with obnoxious upsells and sneaky add-ons. If you do, perhaps you’ve visited the same Teavana outlet as one of our readers. Michael was so annoyed with his recent visit to the Willow Grove, Penn. store that when he realized what had happened, he had to share it with Consumerist over a nice cup of white needle tea.
Reader IfThenElvis forwarded us the following email he received alerting him to changes in the Reward Zone program from Best Buy. He adds, “I can’t tell if this is good new or not. I suspect not.” It’s not the end of the world or anything, but it definitely marks a slight constriction in the program.
Another week, another article about brick-and-mortar stores phasing out their plus-sized clothing lines. (Edit: And here’s another!) For those who missed it, Tatiana the Anonymous Model over at Jezebel posted an interesting essay on the economics of women’s fashion, comparing pattern development issues designers face when developing both petite and plus sizes.
Eddie Bauer is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy, and it says it hopes to be sold outright rather than try to reorganize, refinance, or liquidate. The AP says the clothing company had “$476.1 million in assets and $426.7 million in debt at the time of the filing Wednesday with the United States Bankruptcy Court of the District of Delaware,” and that by declaring Chapter 11 now it hopes to reassure suppliers and stave off impending cash flow problems.
Jan bought a keyboard from Circuit City last year. Since then, the company filed Chapter 11, the stores liquidated and closed, and another company bought the name. But last week, Jan finally-FINALLY-received her rebate check. Now she wants to know: is cashing this thing a good idea?
Clothing retailers are holding off on their crazy, desperate discounts a bit, and plan to discount less aggressively this summer. Why? Women’s Wear Daily reports that it’s not so much that the economy’s improving (it really isn’t) or unemployment has stopped rising (it hasn’t) but Americans need stuff. Retailers anticipate that they will need to mark down, but not at the desperate levels that have characterized the last six months or so.
This fall, credit card processors will being rolling out a new approach to preventing data theft, based on the assumption that it’s impossible to thwart every attack. Instead of keeping 100% of criminals out, they’ll segment and encrypt the data into such small chunks that it will no longer be a cost-effective crime.
The decline in the “work clothing” market continues to take its toll. S&K Menswear are closing all 105 of their retail stores. The liquidation will be handled by Gordon Brothers, so don’t expect any actual deals. Going-out-of-business sales started on Thursday, May 21.