Earned Value

The company I work for tries to tie specific performance (value to the customer) into more money for our company. This effort requires a large task of tracking and measuring the value. To me it seems like a pseudo science. However if this helps my company stay in business, and therefore paying my paycheck, I can’t complain.

One of the handles broke off a faucet in my house. So I called the plumber. Since he was coming over any way, I decided to get another faucet upgraded at the same time. The plumber did the upgrade, but he said the other faucet fix would take a long time due to the fancy sink that I have. He had to reschedule for another day.

The plumber gave me a fixed price estimate on this second faucet. It was going to run me $350. That seemed kind of steep. But so far this plumber seemed competent. So I scheduled him to return and do the work. Today he came and spent some time installing the faucet to replace the broken one.

When the plumber was done, he said he also secured my sink. I had noticed that it was loose. However I did not give it any more thought. The real bonus came when I got the final bill. The plumber said the actual price was lower because he applied a discount for me. In the end it cost me $315 for the repairs. That was still a chunk of change. But I felt like I got a good deal.

That is the way you earn value and respect. The plumber did not go into any deep analysis as to how he was giving me a good value. He did some extra work. He charged me less than the estimate. And he came early so I did not have to wait around for him. When I need to get a big plumbing job done, guess who I am going to call first? Yep.

Returns Department

I found an inexpensive mail order company where I get a lot of clothes. The price is great. However I am finding that sometimes the quality is lacking. It may be more accurate to say the quality is not consistent. Some things I buy fall apart immediately. Others last a lifetime.

A coat I ordered from them came apart at the seams. I still needed a coat. They have a great returns policy. You can return anything at any time for a refund or exchange. I decided to choose another coat which actually cost less than my initial purchase. I wrote on my exchange request that I wanted the difference refunded to me.

What I got back was a letter from the CEO. He said he also serves as the head of quality control at his company. He noted that I was a good customer. And he was sorry about the problems I encountered. He also had sent a check for the difference in price between my return and the defective merchandise. Who knows? Maybe this is a standard form letter for anyone who asks for a refund. But it felt good. That's what it is all about - making the customer feel good. I do not link out frequent or lightly, but if you are looking for bargain clothing I highly recommend Haband.

iPhone Riches

I read an interesting blog post about the author of the iPhone game Dabble. He estimates that he spent over $30k of effort on the game. But his sales were disappointing at best. There was a landslide of comments to his blog entry. I feel like I have learned a lot by reading them.

Selling is hard. Sometimes nothing you do will help, as the gold rush may have passed you by. The software and games market is often a saturated one. To win you must stand out from the crowd. You need to set your price points correctly to compete. Lower prices equals more sales, although maybe not more profit.

You might be able to generate sales by releasing a lite version of your application. In addition, a free trial can help sales if your game is good. You could release a free and paid version of your game at the same time. Something that hurts sales is having your game cracked and distributed for free by hackers.

Some parts of sales depend on user perception. If it takes too long to download an online game, users will balk. Other times your success depends on plain luck. You might be able to tip the scales in your favor by advertising. You can also employ frequent updates to keep your application fresh.

An entirely different way to make money is to give away the application, but make it ad supported. One thing that seems to not affect sales is reviews, positive or otherwise. You could also release your game for multiple platforms. Or you could create multiple variants of the same game.

There are only a select few that will makes millions on their games. The rest of us may not even break even. What is the goal of your game development? Do you want to have fun? If so, you may succeed with a little hard work. If you want to make a fortune, the odds are stacked against you.

Suing Google

This morning I read an interesting but rather pointless rant about a guy that sued Google and allegedly won. He was making money off the Google AdSense program. The he got kicked out. Google gave him no reason. In the end he took Google to court for the money he earned. He says the judge sided with him.

Now here is the interesting part. This guy's bio claims he invented The Facebook. I did a double take. His name did not seem familiar. You would think everybody would know who created Facebook. So I decided to research a little further. If you click around enough on the Facebook site, you can get to the Executive Bios page. That's where I confirmed that Mark Zuckerburg is the CEO and founder of Facebook, not this guy claiming a victory over Google.

I cannot tell for sure whether the guy suing Google actually invented Facebook. But here is where the story just does not make sense. He sues Google for a couple hundred bucks that he believes they owe him. However he invented The Facebook which has blossomed into a company worth hundreds of millions, or even billions. Why is he not suing Facebook for his part of their money? If I were to be a "judge" of this situation, I would say there is too much that just does not make sense about his claims of inventing Facebook. Now that the claims of his bio are in question, I wonder how much of the Google lawsuit story is true as well. Either way it made for a great read, even if it were all a figment of a talented author's imagination.

Good Business

The checks in my checkbook were running out. So I decided to order some new ones. I chose Checks Unlimited because that is where I got my checks the last time. The checks arrived in the mail promptly (no pun).

Then I got a letter from Checks Unlimited. It said that I had not paid my last order. They shipped the checks anyway. And they were invoicing me. I had thought I supplied payment information. I was happy that they were so accommodating.

If you treat customers like this, you get good karma. You will get repeat business from me. I will speak highly of you on my blog. And yes, I will tell my friends. Good show Checks Unlimited. I should take note and treat my own customers this way. Hopefully I will receive the same benefit.

End of Cash Back

I have been a loyal customer of the Discover card for over 15 years. It is nice how they share some of their profits back with me through the cash back rewards program. Every time I make a purchase with their charge card, they reward me with 1% of the purchase back in cash.

Well that was the policy up until last month. They informed me that they are dropping their reward by a whopping 66%. I guess greed got the better of them. What's a guy to do?

I figured I could complain. However I would not have too good of a case. If they restore my 1% cash back, they lose money. I guess the only way to fight this is to charge purchases on a different credit yet. Yes I will not get cash back. But I will send a clear message to the bear counters. Don't screw the customers unless you want to lose customers. Simple isn't it?

Hotel Greed

I made my spring break vacation plans about a month ago. There is a historic place to go that is only 4 hours away from my home. That was perfect. I just needed a place to stay.

In the past, I have used Hotels dot com once to get a good deal on a condo rental. So I went back to book my hotel stay. Their web site helped me see what was available.

I chose the best deal. It was a little pricey. But it seemed what I wanted. I made reservations through Hotels dot com, paying with my credit card.

This month I got my monthly credit card bill. There was a charge from Hotels dot com. My vacation is still way off in the future. I called up Hotels dot com. They said they charge me as soon as they make the reservation. That does not seem right. I have not even stayed a night yet. No hotel charges have been incurred.

While I like their features, I cannot prepay for my hotel stays. And I don't think Hotels dot com is actually paying the hotels yet. They are taking my money immediately and pocketing it. Perhaps that's how they make money. But I am not going to be handing over any more of it. What a quick way to lose customers.