Archive for May, 2009

Wedding Vows

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Yesterday was the 44th wedding anniversary of some of my friends. I love them very dearly, and I'm glad they've held together.

They've had a lot of challenges in the 6 years I've known them. The husband has had gigantic health issues, one after another. He even had a heart transplant last year. They've spent like years worried nearly daily about whether or not he'll live. Scary stuff.

It's made me think about wedding vows… in richer and poorer, in sickness and health, for better or worse. I think some people vow that and really mean it. I think plenty of people promise that, and either don't mean it or change their mind. You're allowed to change your mind!

But it's amazing when people mean it. And it's amazing to see the previous generation stay together like this.

I think my parents should divorce. They're evidently married 42 years now. I think they should have divorced decades ago. I just think they bring out the worst in each other. Sure, they stayed through richer, poorer, and so on, but are they really making each other's lives better? From the outside, I think they don't make each other's lives better… just more convenient like roommates make things convenient in sharing a house.

Someone was telling me the other day that his life has been a mess for like 10 years, and he said it has definitely hurt his marriage. But they're together, and it didn't sound like they were in danger of not being together. I'm glad that they're staying together even when times are bad. Hey, we all have bad times, though hopefully he'll soon see a better life than the last 10 years!

My first marriage was abusive, and I stayed in there WAY too long thinking that you stay with this, and you keep hoping it gets better. Once he saw that I stayed through that treatment, it only got worse. So promising to stay in something really destructive is NOT a good idea, and I'm not for it!

I guess I tend to compare things, especially watching how other couples interact with each other. I've seen some pretty dysfunctional things. I've seen abuse. I've heard about abusive things going on. Sometimes, that can wake you up to what you have… whether you have that same abuse, or hey, you don't have it so bad.

I guess I like the romantic idea of still completely loving someone and accepting someone even when finances are tough… even when finances are a disaster :)… even when someone is sick and can't totally contribute or isn't an equal partner… even when things seem or are bad… even when things are out of balance. I like the romantic idea of someone loving and accepting me, even when I'm fat, pimply, poor, and depressed… though I recognise that that may be a hard person to love. :)

Ah, romantic ideals. I do like the idea of two people being fully committed to being as equal a team as they can be.

June is often wedding month… so make sure you are marrying someone you truly love and accept unconditionally. If you're waiting for him to change, or you're hoping she stops doing those 10 things you really hate, cancel the wedding. My first husband eventually admitted to me that when he married me, he was already feeling distant and disconnected from me. That is someone who should have cancelled the wedding. I certainly wish he had.

Don't be afraid to cancel a wedding. Better to lose some money and possibly be embarrassed than to make this your life or make that person the parent of your child. Wedding vows. Take them seriously, or don't make them. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Unjust Price Changes, Part 2

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Oh remember my recent blog post on an apartment complex that changes its price every day, and won't honour the previous day's price?

They just called me to see if I'm still interested. The apartment? Oh, it's now $1875/month.

2 weeks ago, it was $1670/mo. A few days later, it was $1765/mo. A few days after that, $1830/mo. They told me that the price changes on demand… but if this apartment is still open weeks later, evidently there isn't that much demand for it!

Nobody has rented this apartment. Yet it gets more and more expensive. That's a LOT of extra money to pay for something that evidently nobody wants. :) Can you imagine if I did that with my services? Let's see… an eBay listing template is $2000, and if nobody signs up for one today, maybe tomorrow it can be $2100! Oh, you heard that yesterday it was $2000? Well, the market changes, and I hope you understand. I could never do that. It's just insane.

That was how they treated me. And they really doled out the info on how I could have locked in the cheap rate much earlier. Once the rate was at $1830, they told me how I could have locked in the $1670 rate. Really! And today, the guy told me that they WILL honour their own prices for 24 hrs. Really! That's not what the manager told me last week. She told me they can't honour any price they've previously quoted because that would be against the California Fair Housing Laws. Drip drip drip is the sound of information. These people always gave me "oh we WOULD have done that if you had said these magic words" days late. FAIL.

So thanks anyway, Avalon on The Alameda in San Jose, CA. The apartment I've picked (from a distance) put their unit and price on Craigslist. And even though the ad was days old, they were willing to honour their own price.

Imagine that. They were willing to quote a price, and stand by it. That made me trust them more, and if I'm going to live under their management, I need to trust them. So I sent them a deposit to lock it in.

Brings back memories of when another Avalon was holding an apartment for me, and then decided to rent it to someone else. Avalon, I think we're done here. My apartment looks much nicer than yours, is in a better area, and closer to public transport. It's brand new and never lived in. And they want $1733/mo.

Speak with your dollar, people. If enough of us do that, it'll work. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Injustice: Daily Price Changes

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I'm trying to get an apartment. Using only the internet (since I'm not even in the same time zone as this apartment building), I fell in love with a community. I called them up, sent in my application, but found out that they don't run the application until they get a security deposit.

Well, I'm not ready to put that down until I know they have the right place for the right price. What is your price on the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit I'm considering? $1670/month. OK, I'll think about that, thank you.

I call back a few days later. I think I might want it. Oh, the price went up? The SAME apartment you were going to give me a couple of days ago is now $1765/month? Um OK. That chips away at trust, but OK. I'll think about it.

OK I'm ready. I have my security deposit ready. The moving company is just about hired. Now, I'm in the right spot to put that deposit down, and hold that apartment! What's that you say? The price went up again? Today is Wednesday. On Monday, you said it was $1765/month, but today's it's $1830/month? WHY?

They explained to me that when demand is up and they're signing lots of leases, they raise prices because they think they can. They evidently have NO policy about sticking to a quote they gave me before. When I complain that I could NEVER get away with that in my business, they tell me that the California Fair Housing Laws won't let them offer me a different price than someone else would get today.

That's bull.

You are offering me the price that you ALREADY OFFERED ME. If someone calls today, they can get a fresh price quote. But if you already quoted me a price, at least give me a few days to make sure I am ready to put money down on this place. Stick to your own price for a few days. If someone else takes that place before me, give them the higher price… they won't know any better! But if I'm taking it, give me the price you quoted me earlier.

I could never get away with this in my business. Where I grew up, this was called Israeli Negotiating (whether or not that's flattery :) ). The idea was that you make someone an offer. If they turn it down (because they think they're going to bargain you down), you RAISE the price. You are basically teaching them that you will NOT negotiate down, and you start basically bullying them. They quickly learn that if they don't take it now, the price will just keep going up, so they'd better take it now.

That's the same thing this apartment complex is trying to do. It's bullying. They won't even honour a price they KNOW they quoted me. I can't think of any other business that gets away with this. This is not "catch of the day" where maybe the fish was harder to catch today because of the weather. This is an empty apartment standing there.

Meanwhile, the price on their website is wrong. The price on the website is WAY lower, so you also have bait and switch. I have bait and switch now, and they get around it by warning me that oh, you'd better lock this in now… the price may go up tomorrow.

I told them I will roll the dice, and wait for their price to drop. I will not pay an extra $2000 per year in rent because I am ready to sign the lease today instead of 3 days ago. That's an insult, and a waste. I will not be bullied, and I will not be baited and switched.

I've left a voice mail for the Santa Clara County team that mediates disputes between landlords and tenants. I'd like them to explain to me which part of the California Fair Housing Law allows them to do this to me, and why CA law would allow such bullying and deception.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Call Your Favourite Moving Company

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I am working on another move, and I called United Van Lines. Why? In Sept 2007, they moved my Grandmother's antique dining room set from NY to AZ. They did a WONDERFUL job. So I think of them when I am moving.

Today, I contacted my local United mover here in the Boston area. We had no idea what my Grandmother's furniture weighed, and he suggested calling the company that moved it last time.

So I called Liberty in Suffolk County, NY, and got the comptroller. This super nice guy took time out of his day to go back nearly two years and look up what the weight was. It wasn't in his computer, and he had to pull out old paper faxes of the weight of the truck. He said the fax was very hard to read, so the weight was either 460 or 660 pounds.

This was HUGELY helpful.

He then asked if I had anybody for my next move. I told him I was talking to my local United guy. He then told me that I could have started with him. They could have arranged the move, and then connected me with the local guy. I assume the make money on that, and hey, maybe he should. He was really nice, and gave me great service when he didn't have to.

So now we all know. If you were happy with a moving company, even if you are not moving from or to that area, you can call them and start with them. They probably make money from arranging it, and what better way to thank a company you like than to give them more business. :)

Thank you libertymoving.com!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

I Could Live at Disney World

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

I've done the math. Disney Extra Value Resorts at Walt Disney World, Florida used to run around $80/night with tax. 30 nights of that would be $2400/month. That's not far from the rent I pay now! I know people paying more than that in rent.

And they'll clean my room every day!

Disney's dining plan… 2 full meals and one snack each day for $40/day. That's $1200/month. OK, that's more than I spend now on food, but hey, I can eat anything in any Disney restaurant any time. That's neato. :)

And for a few hundred, I can have an unlimited park pass as a FL resident. :)

I can save even more money by moving into the local Comfort Inn. I can have my room cleaned every day! And the room seems to run around $40/night after tax. Hey, that's $1200/mo, which is like half the rent I'm paying now.

I could live at Disney World. What the hell. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Companies In The Same Industry Aren’t Always Competitors

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

If you read my blog, you know I can be a bit of a whistle-blower. I have called out plenty of companies, large and small, in the eBay industry and well outside of it. I’ve called out plenty of companies, but when I call out a certain one, people want to dismiss what I have to say, claiming I’m just badmouthing a competitor.

Not every two companies in the same industry are competitors.

  • ChannelAdvisor probably does not feel they compete with Auctiva. Auctiva is probably not working on how to get customers away from ChannelAdvisor’s Premium product. :)
  • If you asked Toyota what cars the Yaris competes against, they probably wouldn’t name some the BMW 7 series. Ask BMW who they compete with, and I think you would NOT see the Toyota Yaris on that list.
  • Wal-Mart may not feel that they compete with Nordstroms or Saks Fifth Avenue.
  • A $59 tent at Target doesn’t compete with a $200,000 Fleetwood RV, though one person may consider both and then choose one over another.
  • Just because Brand New Online Marketplace Number 13,098 wants you to think they’re a new and better eBay doesn’t meant that they’re on eBay’s radar AT ALL. eBay may not perceive them as competition… when eBay is transacting billions of dollars a year, a marketplace that won’t publicly say how much is being transacted may just not be seen as scary competition.
  • I do not worry about losing business to people downloading free eBay templates as they weren’t my target audience.

I don’t compete with these other guys. (Frooition) When I call them out for the truly bizarre things they do, it’s not because we are competitors. It’s because they are the same fair game as everybody else I’ve blogged about.

I don’t compete with people and companies in the eBay Stores Design Directory. You can’t get what we do from them, and you can’t get what they do from us. We are a full-service marketing, design, and strategy company. We know all the eBay rules, and we followed them before eBay had to crack down on broken rules. We do designs based on marketing, psychology, shopper behaviour, and principles of online user experience. We don’t use cookie-cutter designs, or sell the same things to multiple people. We think that custom work goes beyond making that stock template “that blue” or that background “that pattern.”

Not every two companies in the same industry are competitors. If I say something about another company, and especially if their customers are all over the web saying the same thing (or more harsh things), consider that I might just be factual and not “badmouthing.” Badmouthing isn’t my style, but trying to get truth out there is.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Nominate As Was for an eBay Award!

Monday, May 4th, 2009

eBay will be giving out its Developer Awards soon, and there is still time to nominate companies you think deserve awards.

http://ebaydeveloper.typepad.com/dev/2009/04/send-us-your-nominations-for-the-ebay-star-developer-awards.html

That's the page that tells you how to do it. For the nominee's name and contact info, you can use:

As Was
PO Box 68085
Tucson, AZ 85737

eBay knows us, so I think that'll be enough for them to figure out who you mean!

I feel that we should win the awards for the following categories for the following reasons:

  • DSR Rockstar (improving customer service & buyer experience) – Our templates and eBay Stores as well as our strategy help and advice improve sellers' customer service, and definitely improve the shopping and buying experience. Our clients typically see their DSRs raise or stay high after working with us. Just using a piece of software for shipping or answering questions doesn't guarantee that anybody's DSRs will go up, but stick with us, and we'll get you there. :)
  • Most Innovative – That's definitely us! Have you seen anything like our templates? If so, it's because they are copying the original. We are definitely the company to think of when you want a design that is custom, unique, innovative, and will really connect with your target audience. Considering our first eBay client was in early 2001, we wrote the book on eBay design and eBay consulting!
  • Rapid Evolution (boosting seller efficiency in a dynamic marketplace) – Yes, that's us again! Even in a changing marketplace and down economy, many of our clients are still seeing increases in sales and improvements in their businesses. As we finish many projects within 2 months of someone hiring us, we are quickly able to create dramatic changes in eBay businesses. And considering that many clients report sales going up while pre-sales questions and fees go down, we are definitely improving seller efficiency.
  • Early Adopter – Well, this could be us, but I think this category is really designed for the software company that best keeps up with eBay changes. So nominate your favourite eBay software tool for this one!

So please take a moment to email eBay (as per their blog post) and nominate us for one or more categories! Tell them why we deserve to get awards for helping eBay sellers.

Thanks!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr