Arbitrage Advantage

I found that I needed to buy some toilet paper. Normally I buy it in bulk from Amazon. These sales are normally through a third party that advertises on the Amazon web site. I had found such a buyer this time. The price seemed reasonable. I liked that they offered free shipping. I made the purchase.

It was weird that the package was delivered by Federal Express. Normally somebody else delivers Amazon packages. The other strange situation was that the box came from Walmart. I looked at the invoice from Walmart. The price was much lower than what I paid. There was also a shipping cost of $6 plus tax collected.

Turns out the Amazon seller absorbed the shipping and tax. They still earned a couple dollar profit from the transaction. They connected me with the actual seller (Walmart), and took advantage of the price difference between Walmart’s price and what I was willing to pay.

I was not even mad that Walmart offered a lower price. This Amazon seller was providing me with a service. If I had not purchased through them, I would have paid more from another Amazon seller. I wonder if it is worth the trouble of potential customer problems by becoming such a middleman for selling goods?

Hot Topic Spamming Failures

I follow a friend into a Hot Topic store in the mall. Saw some cool merchandise. Decided to buy something. The salesperson asked me a bunch of questions, including my email address. I gave them one that I give all people that ask. I wonder what they are going to do with it?

When I get home, I find that I have been signed up for some nonsense newsletter from Hot Topic. Okay. I always unsubscribe from those things. I scanned the email and found the links at the bottom. The unsubscribe link was disabled. WTF?

I thought about contacting customer service. But why waste me time? I just reported the email as spam and blocked the sender. Simple as pie. Way to go Hot Topic. I buy something from you, then you spam me, and make it hard to unsubscribe? That's how you alienate new customers.

Sales Requires Respect

I sold my old car recently. After turning in the license plates, I called my insurance company to cancel the insurance on the car. They said they could also provide homeowners insurance to me. I listened to their pitch. Took 10+ minutes to go through the details of my house.

One of the questions they asked was how old my roof was. I had no idea really. The rep I was talking with got snippy with me, trying to force me to give her an answer. At that point I gave my best guess. But they had already lost the sale.

I did continue on just to see what their end quote was going to be. Turns out it is higher than what I am paying now. You cost more and you are rude? Nope. No sale for you. When are these fools going to learn?

Fail by Fee

I somehow got on a marketing list for National Pen Company. Might stem from when I was running my own business. They sell customized SWAG you can give away to customers. For over 10 years, National Pen has been sending me samples to get me to buy some pens from them.

Here is the thing. They have nice pens. When it came time to buy, I figured why not give them a shot? They persevered for such a long time. I placed an order. They had a "first time buyer" discount that sweetened the deal.

They called me up to confirm my order. Then it arrived. They even shipped it without me first paying. The invoice was included with my shipment. That's when the bad surprises came. Yeah I expected they would tack on a shipping fee. But they also added a setup fee.

The setup fee feels like what I call a garbage fee. This is not a third party fee such as the real money they have to bay UPS to deliver the package. This is some in house nonsense extra money I need to pay. Hey if you have costs, roll them into the cost of your project. Don't try to trick your customer by gouging them with a surprise fee.

It is a shame. Their marketing and project was really good. The pricing and billing killed any repeat business they might get. Now they are going to get bad publicity. Every time I talk about them, I will say they have good pens but they try to rip you off on the transaction. Fail.

Chik Fil A?

I was talking with an old buddy of mine. He said his cash flow was bad. Previously he had planned to leave his old job, collect a severance, and start a new job. The severance was paid out monthly. My buddy thought he would effectively be getting double paid while the severance lasted. Unfortunately it took him a long time to find a replacement job. Thus no doubling.

My friend wanted to have another $50k to $150k in the bank. Well then maybe he should do some lucrative contracting on the side. His problem is that he is a busy guy. He barely gets his work done with all his other commitments. We got to talking. I asked him what other ways could he make a big windfall. He thought he could run a fast food franchise.

One big name that came to mind was Chick-Fil-A. I assumed my friend could not afford the franchise fee. However a little researched showed that the franchise fee was only $5k. You also needed another $5k in liquid funds to begin. Woo hoo. Sign me up. Of course there were a lot of other costs that could range between $250k and $750k. But my friend thought he could convince a bank to loan him the capital.

Who knows? Maybe this is the right way to go. Chick-Fil-A restaurants seem to always get a lot of customers in our local area. I presume there is enough demand for another restaurant or two in the area. This is running a business. Fast food might be a tough market. But with the right franchise in the right place, profits may be forthcoming.

The Reach of Marketing

I love a good original chicken sandwich at Burger King. That's why I head there when I get a coupon from them that sweetens the deal. I might get a free fries, drink, or even a second sandwich. The coupon gets my attention and reminds me to go. However it is the tasty sandwich that seals the deal.

As I was waiting for my sandwich to be cooked, I stared and the digital display of food in Burger King. Their latest promotion is for chicken fries. They got a cooky looking animated chicken running around their display. I smiled when the chicken winked and me. And I laughed when the chicken drank a coke on screen.

The problem with the chicken fries is that they just don't taste good. No amount of gimmicks is going to get me to buy them. You got to start with a good product. Then use your marketing to draw in the crowds and hook them. The hook does not work if you are selling snake oil.

The Art of Pricing

I am downloading a couple free books I found referenced on a cool web site. Before I download a book, I figure I had better research what the book is about. One particular book I checked out was "Don't Just Roll the Dice". Apparently this is a book that talks about how to price your software. Sounded good to me.

The real funny thing was that the book was going for $350 from third parties on Amazon. What were those clowns doing? Maybe they used some algorithm that went wacky to price their second hand merchandise. So a book on pricing goes for a huge price. Ha ha. I already downloaded the book for free. Might just have to check it out since it comes highly recommended on Amazon.