We at Consumerist will always pause and let a few subscription cards flutter to the ground out of respect when we hear that yet another print magazine has ceased printing. The final edition of Newsweek is all over the news this week, but another title that’s actually relevant to our generation stops printing and goes online-only at the end of the year: Spin. In the grand tradition of magazines going out of print, though, subscribers will receive a tangentially related title instead: Car and Driver. [More]
Executives love to justify price increases or staff reductions by hauling out the customer service argument, because then any complaint you make can be framed as self-defeating. (“Don’t you want better service?”) On that note, Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza told travel blogger Christopher Elliott last week that the new carry-on bag fee is really intended to reduce gate delays. Remember to send a thank-you card to Baldanza.
Imagine trying to buy a book from Big Generic Bookstore and watching the cashier add $5 to the sticker price. “What are you doing?!” you cry out, waving a fist menacingly at him. “You look like you can afford it,” he says back to you with a hint of entitltement. That’s basically what a publishing industry expert said in a piece he wrote last week about ebook pricing.
Kevin Robinson at the blog Chicagoist was curious about a commenter who sounded suspiciously on-message on some recent Walmart posts. Walmart wants to come into Chicago, and Walmart’s opponents are fighting the retailer at the community level to prevent that. In return, a pro-Walmart community group has formed called “Our Community, Your Choice” that argues, “Everyone else but Chatham and the South Side are making the decisions – It’s OUR CHOICE, NOT THEIRS.”
Earlier this month, Netflix made a deal with Warner Bros. to delay new DVD releases for 28 days. Over at Hacking Netflix, the CEO of the company goes into some detail on why he approached Warner Bros. to begin with (it was his idea, not theirs), and why he thinks it will work out better for everyone except those customers who signed up expecting all new releases all the time.
Last week AT&T, in yet another of a string of PR failures about the health of its network, made things even worse by publicly blaming its customers for, you know, being customers. Over the weekend, though, a new thread was introduced into the narrative: it’s the iPhone’s fault. Not because it’s too popular, which has been the old complaint, but because the hardware doesn’t work right, and AT&T can’t say anything about it for fear that Steve Jobs will reach down through the clouds and smite them.
That sounds pretty tragic and sad for AT&T, but the problem is nobody knows if it’s true, or if this is yet another strategy to shift the responsibility from AT&T.
- We’re very sorry this happened;
- We don’t condone unethical behavior
- We’ll try to remove the fraudulent reviews;
- Our business partners had no role in this fiasco.
The one thing that’s missing? The fate of ethically-challenged dimwit Bayard (edit – and anyone at Belkin like him), who the Daily Background has since caught posting his own fraudulent reviews for Belkin.
David wrote a very angry letter to Circuit City’s CEO. The CEO responded, and used the letter as a learning point in his next staff Town Hall meeting, making David angrier than ever.
Consumerist reader Darkrose writes, “I just got this in my e-mail. Thought you guys might be interested in it.” In the email, GM’s president Troy Clarke is in high PR mode, pointing out the grave consequences and emphasizing that GM wants not “a bailout but rather a loan that will be repaid.” We thought other readers who aren’t GM customers would find it interesting.
This week, Sirius XM began consolidating its channels. In reality, this mostly meant jettisoning XM channels wherever there was a tenuous overlap with something Sirius already offered, which is bad news for anyone with a favorite station on XM who woke up Wednesday morning to find it missing. Alex wrote in to tell us that the four Spanish music channels have been condensed to one without regard to genre, and that the uncensored “urban music” station Hot Jamz has been cleaned up, rechristened “The Heat,” and now leans toward radio-friendly R&B. The Motley Fool suggests that the new lineup may drive people to downgrade their subscription—it’s “an incentive to downgrade to the cheaper plan that costs $6 less a month and lets users cherry-pick 50 stations.”
Douglas writes, “Coinstar wants you to ‘recycle’ your coins in their machines, and save the environment! Minus their 8.9% fee of course.” They even have a little wizard on their website that estimates how many parts of the environment—water, energy consumption, and geological waste—you save by putting those coins back into circulation, instead of hoarding them like the polar bear murderer you are. They don’t provide any source for these estimates, though, and we’re not convinced you’re doing anything “green” other than lining Coinstar’s pockets.
Gregg saw this cheerful environmentally-friendly message on the side of his Sam’s Club soda cup. Wait, what? We guess it saves Sam’s Club fuel costs to ship the cups, but that sounds more like a profit-friendly quality. Gregg notes another benefit of the cup: “[it] may never biodegrade but at least it’s easy on my drinkin’ elbow.”
When personal finance magazine Kiplinger asked the Geek Squad about our video that caught one of their technicians stealing porn from our harddrive (peeping tomism, hardly limited to Geek Squad, is just as rampant in the computer repair industry as the photo developing industry), an unidentified Geek Squad spokeswoman ingenuously responded, “We have been the target of a blog that prefers to focus on the exceptions to our service and not the overall, vast majority of successful services we provide to clients.” That’s like saying dirt is unfairly targeted by a broom. Where there’s a valid complaint, we’ll post. Where there’s a consumer whose rights aren’t respected, we will defend. We don’t have a vendetta against the Geek Squad, or any other company. We have a vendetta against bad customer service. That’s our bottom line. After the jump, the original undercover video…
Well we’re glad that’s taken care of. Wait… the Toy Industry Association is a trade group, not a federal agency! At any rate, on February 1st the Toy Industry Association, a 500-member strong group, will “release a draft of tough new safety rules, which include a plan to require manufacturers to test toys for hazardous chemicals and defective designs.” According to CNN, the group is drafting the 3-point plan with at least the awareness, if not the help, of the CPSC, and it hopes to have the plan formally certified as the CPSC’s “new standard for toy safety.”
The Edelman team assigned to Wal-Mart, I learned, is divided into three groups: “promote,” “response,” and “pressure.” The Jobs and Opportunity Zones notion came from the promotions team. The response-team members–veterans of political campaigns–are supposed to quickly counter criticism in the press or on the Web. The pressure group works on opposition research, focussing on the unions and the press.