Monday, August 15, 2016

Showrooming online

I'm sure you've all heard of "showrooming", where people walk into a physical store, talk to an expert, try something on, or just hold it in their hands to see what they like, then turn around and order it from an online store for less. I think I may have just taken this phenomenon to the next level. I used an online store to figure out what I needed, then turned around and ordered it from another online store for WAY less.

I was originally online looking for parts for a couple of things. I needed two new top rack adjusters for my dishwasher, so I Googled my model number and searspartsdirect.com came up. They made it super easy to find the part I specifically needed for my model, so I added them to my cart and grabbed a new fridge water filter for good measure. I didn't want to wait (I have a lot of kids, so a dishwasher being down is not good) so I tried to "chat" someone there to see if it was available for pickup locally. 

Naturally that didn't work on my iPad, so I had to log on to a PC (strike 1). Then, while trying to connect back to my shopping cart, I had to switch to compatibility mode in Internet Explorer to log back in to my account -- Chrome wasn't having the login process (strike 2). The customer service rep couldn't see my cart (strike 3) so at the same time I was giving him my parts numbers (a full 30 minutes after I had identified the parts I needed), I was plugging them into Amazon. The parts weren't available locally, but I could do ground shipping for free since my total was over $100 ($107.32 to be exact), but it was already too late. On Amazon, which I hadn't even thought to go to originally, my total was $61.28 for the exact same parts, with free 2-day shipping as part of my Prime membership. 

So thanks, Sears, for being so technically incompetent that I was able to save $45. This is exactly why the old economy will never win.

I'm pooped.

Earlier this week shared an absolutely hilarious post on Facebook. She actually even tagged me and #realwife because the post was about a mishap that occurred involving a Roomba (we have one of those) and the solid waste of their puppy (we also have one of those).  It was a great post, widely shared, and in fact led to some fantastic opportunities to the poster. And this was all wildly hilarious. Right up until it wasn't.

Today wen I got home from work, I smelled poop. This isn't entirely uncommon - we have two dogs, 4 kids, and if we're being honest, they could probably all use a little work. I went to the usual haunts (formal dining room back, by the hutch, or in front of the recliner in the living room) and came up empty. I did notice the Roomba wasn't docked, but again, not all that uncommon - it'll typically get caught on a charging cord or eat a sock. When I turned the corner into the den, I just knew something was wrong. It was quite literally in the air.

And on the ground.

So, so much ground.

No one is getting out early for good behavior.
The Roomba had buried itself under the corner of the sectional, but not until after it had spread the dog's filth across half of the room. Normally this is a 2-person job - one of us would tear the Roomba apart and clean with an old toothbrush, while the other worked the floor. In this case, however, I was on my own, as Becca had spent two weeks on the road for work and come home with a broken hand. I didn't have time to tear into then, so I set up a safe zone in the den, and set about making dinner, packing lunches, and getting kids off to bed with a very poopy Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

I'll spare you the details (and the pictures) but rest assured the cleanup was exactly as awful as you'd expect it to be. And if you'll excuse me, I'm off to shower forever.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Shouldn't Predictive Advertising Be Better By Now?

It happened again.

I was clicking around the inter-webs, checking prices on daily newspapers. I zeroed in on the Wall Street Journal. Later, I checked my Facebook feed. There it was...and still is.

"You know what would look great with this copy of WSJ? Another copy of WSJ." --Facebook

Through some sort of web browser/source code magicianry, Facebook saw my browsing history and plopped a Wall Street Journal ad in the number two spot on my feed. It's been there for about a month now. Here's the thing, if Facebook or Chrome or whoever does these things is smart enough to see I'm interested in the Wall Street Journal, how did they miss the fact that I actually subscribed?!! And, subsequently, why do they think I'd be interested in two subscriptions?

Here's an even more egregious example of this sort of consumer profiling. I've long been an Amazon Prime member. Love the online retailer. Last month, I ordered a car seat for $150. Like clockwork, Amazon had it on my doorstep in two days.

Why, I ask, can such an ingenious company fail to understand that a $150 car seat is not something people need five of? Yet, it never fails. You buy something on Amazon, and, surprise, here are five more suggestions of the exact type of product you just bought. What?!! I don't need another $100 messenger bag. I chose the one I wanted and ordered it. So, stop suggesting I buy the ones I passed up in the process.

To their credit, Amazon's system is much better with book suggestions. And, they have learned that I own an Xbox One, not a Playstation 4. But still, why is predictive advertising so bad?

The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp -- one of the largest publishing giants in the world. So, why is Facebook tossing the same News Corp product in my face day after day? Why not suggest Barron's or a recent book from Harper Collins? Or, here's an idea, why not suggest the New York Times or the Washington Post? (FYI: the Washington Post is owned by Amazon's CEO -- Jeff Bezos.) Different companies, sure, but still, I'm more likely to subscribe to one of those instead of double subscribing to WSJ.

Perhaps one of my more tech-inclined blogging cohorts can explain the mysticism that generates these sub-par advertisements. I just know that Don Draper wouldn't approve of this crap.