Monday, October 24, 2016

Wait, now they recommend car seats?

When David was a newborn, we carefully followed the AAP recommendations about how to avoid SIDS: no crib bumpers, put down on his back for sleeping, nothing else in the crib for the first year. I heard plenty from prior parents of newborns about how different the recommendations were, and I heard the doubt in their voices (whether it was intended or imagined on my part) about whether these recommendations were really necessary. How could they doubt, I wondered. Human knowledge advances, and of course we should follow the latest advice.

Now AAP recommends that newborns sleep in the same room as the parents for the first year. And here I am doubting the new recommendation, or possibly just feeling the gut-level punch of being told we hadn’t done the best we could as parents. We put David in his own room across the hall after about a month, and we know we all got more sleep that way. But if this recommendation had been in place five years ago, we would have taken it as the current gospel, and we would never have known any differently. I know that, just like I’ve always known that recommendations would continue to change. Maybe I just figured it would take longer than 5 years to start feeling like I belong to a previous and outdated generation of parents.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why are j2 and efax so expensive?

Short answer: because customers don’t shop around.

If you want a simple voicemail line because you don’t want to use the voicemail service that came with your cell plan or your home line, Google Voice is free. Maxemail was $24 to $84/year. j2 and efax cost even more, if you can even get their voicemail service to work correctly. Why use j2 or efax?

If you want a simple fax line, Maxemail was $24 to $84/year. efax is over $200/year. You can see some other prices at typically $60 to $120/year. The cost for efax is through the roof.

What bonus do you get with efax? Semi-personalized trolling if you dare to criticize them publicly. And while efax might outsource their customer service to the lowest bidder in other countries, the efax troll could be someone in your own country! I’ve removed over 10 nasty comments from the efax troll just this past week. That kind of semi-personalize trolling service that efax provides costs money, so rest assured that the revenue from efax’s premium prices are being put to good use.

A smart troll would cost more. Perhaps when efax raises their prices again, they’ll be able to afford that.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Kids Footstop

Time for new shoes for David, and we had heard good things recently about Kids Footstop in Winchester. Those good things were right! Friendly and competent help, a nice selection of decent brands, and they carefully measured David’s feet with the same sort of Brannock device that I remember from when I was a kid. Turns out he’s currently a 12.5 with regular width, so aiming a little up for longer wear means either 12.5 in Tsukihoshi or 13 in most other brands. No wonder he was having trouble getting his size 11 Stride Rites on.

The Tsukihoshi shoes are machine washable and unbelievably lightweight, but don’t come with light-up options. The Skechers had an on/off switch for the lights, which we really liked the idea of, but the foodbed was too squishy. The Pediped shoes were waterproof, which would have been really nice for the winter, but they were too stiff and might have been a bit too tight across the toebox. The Stride Rites that he landed on, the same brand that he just wore out, have a very odd-looking tread that resembles rubber balls. He declared them “perfect!”

The price was pretty much the same as Zappo’s, with some assurance that he’s actually getting the right size shoe and a chance for him to try them on first. We could have saved a few dollars if we knew exactly what we wanted and shopped around online, and it would have been the wrong few dollars to save.

Reputation management, j2 style

Are you concerned about the reputation of your business? Do you want to know how to turn unhappy customers into your best asset? Well, j2 has the winning formula!

Keep unhappy customers focused on your business! A happy customer tells 3 others about your business, while an unhappy customer tells 100 others about your business. But sometimes 100 isn’t enough. If you can keep those unhappy customers thinking about your business, you can persuade them to expand their reach. Maybe they will keep writing about your business, and that’s marketing that you just can’t buy.

Demean your unhappy customers publicly! Call them names. Accuse them of being dishonest or stupid. Hurl the worst insults you can think of, like “feminist.” Don’t worry about changing the opinions of your unhappy customers. Your real audience is prospective future customers. They want to know how you treat your current customers, and this is your chance to show them what life will be like if they decide to go with your business.

Do not try to resolve complaints! Never show weakness in any way. If you decide that it’s really important to offer some sort of refund or compensation for having failed to provide the product or service you promised, then make sure to include a statement blaming the customer for your failure. Remember, an unhappy customer tells many more people about your business than a happy customer does, and how you respond to failure is what truly decides whether customers are happy or unhappy.

Do not listen to your customers! You know your business better than anyone else, so why would you listen to people who have different priorities? They will wind up diverting you from your real priorities. There is nothing you can learn from listening to your customers, because customers are notoriously focused on silly distractions like pricing, products and services, and customer service.

Ignore the Better Business Bureau! The BBB is an antiquated holdover from before customers could talk to each other directly and before sites like Ripoff Reports or Google. Nobody cares about an F rating from the BBB any longer.

Hide behind multiple business names! Shell games have a long and glorious history. If your customers can’t figure out whether you are j2, eFax, TrustFax, RapidFax, or lots of other names, they won’t be able to figure out where those pesky credit card charges are really coming from. And you can stop them from leaving for months by pretending that they are contacting the wrong company. Want to cancel? Oops, guess again!

If all else fails, you can always buy another competitor, jack up the prices, and hope that some of their customers are too busy to notice and find a better alternative.