Archive for March, 2013

It’s not hard to keep a kid from buying something on your phone or tablet…

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

How To Avoid Handing Your Tot A Blank Check Made Out To Apple

I keep catching stories about how unwitting parents hand over one of their (fill in the blank) electronic devices which are capable of making In App Purchases (for the uninitiated, many games on Apple / Android / Windows based devices allow you to make real purchases in game of various tools, supplies, etc…) only to discover that the child has racked up thousands of dollars of purchases in a very short time.

This is completely avoidable.  There are a few ways to avoid it.

* Don’t let your child use the device.

* Don’t associate a credit-card with the account on the device.

* Log out of your account prior to handing it over.

* Disable the internet access on the device.

Personally, I think Apple should take the initiative with this by adding a few new options to the App store…

* An option to disable IAP.

* An option to prompt for the account password with *every purchase* instead of caching it for a short period of time.

It can’t be that hard.  I realize that innovation doesn’t come easy to Apple these days, but if they put as much effort into raising the bar as they do in suing their competition – they wouldn’t have to worry about competition.

The customer is almost always an idiot.

Friday, March 15th, 2013

eBay’s VIN System Error Costs Me $1,000, They Don’t Particularly Care

So apparently Ebay Motors has a feature that lets you punch in the VIN of a vehicle you are selling, and it looks up the information in order to populate your auction.  Pretty cool feature, right?

Well this guy California decided to buy a Prius via Ebay.  He bought the car, and shortly thereafter realized that while the car was advertised as a Prius III, he actually got a Prius II.  The big differences beyond some trim differences?  A “solar roof” and a “nav system.”  Once he realized that what he bought wasn’t actually what he wanted, he tried to get the seller to resolve the $1000 price difference on the sticker between the Prius II and Prius III.

What has me scratching my head here is… you bought a car on Ebay, but didn’t realize that the car you bought lacked a nav system or solar roof?

I’d like to think that most people who decide to buy a car sight unseen via Ebay would actually do their research and make sure that the car they are planning to buy has all of the options and features that they are looking for – this yutz obviously skipped a few steps.

Most auctions have pictures.  Most auctions have a full list of the features on the car.  If it doesn’t have the feature you want, or the color you want, or the trim you want… DON’T BUY IT.  If anything this guy probably impulse bought the car and then afterwards realized “Hey!  For $1000 more I could have had a nav system and a solar roof?!  Let me whine to the seller and Ebay about it!!!”

The customer isn’t always right, many of them are idiots, and I don’t see why Ebay or the seller should care unless it was advertised as having specific features that it didn’t actually have.  This looks more like buyers remorse or an attempt to abuse the system to extort money from a seller.

My advice?  Don’t buy a car online without seeing it and making sure it has everything you are looking for, or that you can afford to add those features after the fact.  If you do – enjoy driving a car that does more damage to the environment in the process of creating its battery pack than you could ever offset by driving it. 🙂

Bailouts are for losers.

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Community Raises $80,000 In Attempt To Save Local Toy Store

While on the surface this appears to be a heartwarming story of locals rallying to support a failing business, there is an underlying problem here which despite the effort to help them pay off a bank loan which was not being extended/renewed – will likely doom the business to fail anyhow.

There are a ton of different opinions on the topic of big business vs small business.  I know far too many people who complain that when a big business like Wal-Mart comes to town, the smaller businesses get driven out.  I can’t argue this – it’s true… but nobody stops to ask “why did the small business fail?”

Simply put – they didn’t compete.

Within 45 minutes of my  home there are 3 Wal-Mart and innumerable other big box stores which sell the same exact or similar products to what I can find at local businesses.  In some – not all – cases, the big stores offer lower prices.  Still, most days if I need something and know I can get it 5 or 10 minutes from my home, I will forsake a few extra dollars or cents and buy local.

Why?

* I use less gas when I buy local.

* The local business knows me.

* The local business offers a selection of products to satisfy my requirements.

* The customer service is generally superior.

* The prices may be higher in certain instances – but the marginally higher cost is worth the convenience and service.

This toy store owed nearly $76k on a bank loan, the bank wanted its money and refused to extend the loan.  The toy store didn’t make enough money to pay back its loan because it didn’t attract enough customers in order to satisfy its financial requirements.  Once the publicity from this passes, unless they come up with new initiatives and ideas in order to stay viable despite the presence of big box and Internet stores – the same management and the same policies will put them right out of business.

They need to expand their market, lower their operating costs, and streamline their business model in order to keep going.  I don’t always shop local – case in point when I needed a snow blower this past winter, the local hardware store had an electric for over $350 while a Lowes another 10 minutes down the road had a more powerful similar model for under $300.  It’s a fine line between paying more for convenience and service or less, especially in this economy… When businesses can’t compete, they can and should fail.  Kudos to the customer base and business community that helped clear up the current financial issues, but without significant change in the business itself – all they’ve done is buy them a few more months before the “going out of business” sale starts.