A popular example of chutzpah is the boy who murdered his parents and asked the court for leniency because he is an orphan. Personally, my favorite is the marketer who adopts a policy purely out of self-interest, to the detriment of his customers, but manages to dupe the customers into thinking it’s a good thing for them. Saturn and every other car dealer that advertises “no-haggle” prices is a prime example of this, as “no-haggle” is simply industry slang for “get out the vaseline.” Does anyone seriously doubt that any car dealer would be delighted to sell you his cars at sticker price without haggling? The only difference between a yes-haggle and a no-haggle price is that under the former scenario, you may be able to negotiate a better price for yourself if you are so inclined, while under the latter, you can’t. And yet, they’ve sold how many gazillions of cars by advertising the fact that you must pay sticker price no matter what?
A more recent example of marketing chutzpah is a two-bit e-tailer called FuturePowerPC, which I recently had the misfortune of encountering through PriceGrabber. You may recall from a prior post the order they held up for me based on specious concerns about fraud. Apparently, it’s S.O.P. for them to treat almost every customer as a potential swindler, yet for some reason, their average customer ratings are high. Why, you might ask? In no small part, because they’ve managed to hoodwink a number of their victims into thinking that FuturePowerPC’s paranoia regarding its customers is somehow good for them. Take, for example, this comment by their new customer johnandria:
Placed order and recieved [sic] an email to call them, this was to confirm credit card info (good thing). Order was shipped same day and recieved [sic] 3 days later. EXCELLANT [sic]
Note that he doesn’t elaborate as to why a retailer’s paranoia about his credit card information is a good thing – he simply adds that conclusion in parentheses. I supposed that’s understandable, as anyone who hasn’t been in school long enough to know how to spell such basic English words as “receive” or “excellent” probably also doesn’t know that credit card holders are not generally liable for fraudulent use of their cards, or that calls to a phone number with the area code 516 aren’t free. (They actually do have an 800 number, but unhelpfully do not provide it when they hound you with emails asking you to call them to prove you aren’t a crook.) Then again, it sounds like they got a hold of him right away, so the paranoia policy didn’t result in any delays in his instance, so I suppose it’s too much to ask that he recognize that the same policy may well result in such delays for others.
Here’s another gem from a *&^ me harder customer named Marek:
Works great – they verify order on the phone – it’s very good from security standpoint. Very fast shipping – Great shopping experience – suggested for everyone. Product works great so far !
Thanks, Pollyanna, I’m thrilled to know that they have a practice that is very good from the standpoint of them protecting their own security. Here’s one more just for good measure, from a guy named Chenkh in NJ:
I purchased a TomTom 910. Great price. Fast shipping. Good reviews. Liked the security confirmation call, but probably slowed the shipping by 1 day. Still received the item in 2 business days. Would buy again.
Liked the security call?! Is this guy lonely or what? Note that he even recognizes that this paranoid call probably caused him to receive his GPS a day later than he otherwise would have, yet still “liked” it. Then again, it’s probably unrealistica to expect better from anyone who cites other people’s “good reviews” as a reason for providing one himself.
These aren’t exactly the only three customers, aside from myself, who’ve gotten the “prove to us you aren’t a crook and then we might grace you with our business” treatment from FuturePowerPC. In fact, they aren’t even the only ones on the front page, which lists only the last 25 reviews out of more than 1,000. They’re just the three among the most recent 25 who, upon getting the shaft, rewarded FuturePowerPC with a five-star rating, a thank you sir, and a polite request for another.
Bottom line: never trust a good average rating from an e-tailer. Read the negative comments first, however few, and find out why some customers didn’t like this seller. Then read a series of positive comments defensively to see if the bad experiences of the few were an aberration, or if the only real aberration was for a few clueful customers to see through a scam that wowed everyone else.