Broken Verizon Marketing

You have all, at least in the US, probably received many offers of combined phone, internet and TV service. The carriers call it a triple play if they are able to sign you up for all three services. It is to their benefit; not necessarily to yours.
Here in Modulatorville dial up internet service is something we kind of remember. Most folks around here moved on to cable or DSL many years ago.
We have been very happy with our Comcast internet service; a bit expensive but they keep making it faster and pretty much have held the line on pricing.
So today the USPS delivers yet another plea from Verizon to sign up for their triple play package. The price, $79.99/month for a year with lots of stipulations. Hmmm, quite a bit less then I pay now.
Lets see what we get:
For TV service it is not even their own. It is a DirectTV one room basic package. Not a match for what I currently have.
Well, phone service? It is Verizon phone service. But, they include nothing that let’s make even a basic comparison to my current Verizon phone service.
How about internet:

Boost your online experience to the max.

With Verizon High Speed internet, with speeds up to 1 Mbps (for qualifying customers) you can enjoy the internet the way it should be…
(Ed: Emphasis in original)

Let me repeat: “with speeds up to 1 Mbps–34 times faster than 28.8 Kbps dial-up”
With apologies to those of you still stuck on dial-up this is a farce.
1 Mbps today is kind of like dial up 10 years ago. If you are trying to do anything interesting with large files, high quality streaming, etc., you are, well, pretty much hosed if you are limited to 1 Mbps. Never mind if you are a multi-computer household…it just is not going to work.

Dear Verizon, go green. Quit sending this schlock! Come back in you have an offering, you know, maybe when your FIOS service is available here in Modulatorville.

Marketing That Does Not Work

I still receive quite a bit of snail mail spam. If it is a credit card solicitation I’ll send the postage paid envelope back stuffed with all the paper that doesn’t have identifying information on it.
Once in a while I’ll open something to glance at the come on which led me to this blatant lie:

Dear Home Owner,
Recently while in your neighborhood I noticed that your cedar shake roof may need some attention soon.

Except that, well, we had our cedar shake roof replaced a year ago.
Really, Platinum Roofing, if you are going to use a half-baked come on like this at least do your fieldwork.
The one thing they did gain from this is name recognition.

I will remember to mention them whenever I talk to someone about roofing: don’t use these guys. They lie.

Apple, Where’s the Beef?

Last Tuesday Apple announced their new line of MacBook Pro laptops. An announcement I have been eagerly awaiting for months: the time would be right to make the case for a migration both at work and at home.
I was ready to buy but needed to touch one of the new beauties. The specifications were about what I expected. Now to touch one; see one; take it through its paces.
Wednesday at lunchtime, with great nervous anticipation, I headed over to the nearest Apple dealer, the local University Bookstore. Hmmm, the Apple stock seems a bit sparse compared to what I usually see there. Not a full compliment of laptops. I check in with customer service: “We have them on order and expect them in 10 days or so.”
Disappointed to say the least.
I give them a couple more days and on Friday I stop by a real Apple Store. They appear to have a full compliment of laptops; even some new literature but their preprinted spec sheets still describe the old versions of the MacBook Pro. There is a 17″ Pro open so I move in and start checking it out: cursor response sucks, iPhoto is really slow bringing up pictures. Hell, I’d never buy this machine. A 15″ opens up. Ahh, this is better. Something must have been broken on the 17″ machine. Why, though, would they leave a machine in that state out where customers would touch it?
Yet, something seems not quite right. The monitors look the same as the old models, there just isn’t the sense of pizazz that I expected. There was one young clerk there. I asked him if they had the new MacBook Pro yet. “No, we should have them in about a week.”
As I walked out even more disappointed I mentioned to the guy who was eagerly telling his girlfriend how much he wanted the new 15″ model that, well, that’s not one of them. Another disappointed potential customer.
I suspect this story has been repeated 100s, no, thousands of times since last Tuesday.
How hard would it have been for the Apple marketing folks to have shipped, prior to announcing the new machines, a set of the laptops to each of their stores for folks to come in and see. A birght marketeer would have made sure that each of their retail stores had a sign up sheet to place orders for the new machines for delivery in x days. A bright marketeer would have made sure that each of their clerks was trained to extract that order from everyone who walked through the door.

I’m not so sure Apple have bright marketeers on staff anymore. As for their retail stores, they could learn a thing or two about customer service from Radio Shack. Or, for that matter, from the University Bookstore I mentioned above. Their retail clerks pop out to help you almost as you are walking through their front door.

Annoyances at the Gas Pump

There are only 3 gas stations within 5 miles of my house. One of them is a Shell station which is usually the 2nd highest priced of the three but is often the most convenient.
The transaction cost ($, time and mental) is a bit higher at the Shell station because for a number of years their pumps have had a little video screen typically showing some TV news broadcast. The audio comes on as soon as the pump is activated. I am always prepared to push the mute button to keep the pollution level down.
Apparently not enough folks have done the mute thing because Shell is expanding the concept:

Pumps at about a dozen Shell stations in the Bay Area have been equipped with video screens and speakers that feature three-minute blasts of promos from TV network NBC and ads for a variety of corporate sponsors.
By the end of the month, at least 75 Shell stations in the region will have this capability, according to FuelCast Media Network, the Los Angeles venture behind the trend. Over ensuing months, as many as 200 local Shell stations will feature at-the-pump programming.
And that’s just the beginning. FuelCast says it’s in talks with other leading oil companies to install screens and speakers at their stations as well.

According to the linked article the new installations in the Bay Area do not provide a mute opportunity:

There was no way I could turn down the volume of the broadcast, much less opt out from being exposed to come-ons from a major TV network and its advertisers.
When my tank was full, the broadcast ended and a voice thanked me for picking Shell. It was, all in all, a fairly intrusive experience.

The marketeers love the captive audience but they clearly do not have a high opinion of us or respect for our privacy:

“There’s not much else to do while you’re filling your tank,” said Gary LePon, executive vice president of FuelCast. “This gives you something to do while you’re waiting.

“Whether it’s an ad at a urinal or on an elevator, you want to get people when they can’t turn away,” Porter said.

Not much else to do? How about, well, something as basic as thinking? Or, meditative breathing. Just a bit of time without external noise clamping down your brain!
Screens and ads at urinals and in elevators? Elevator music is bad enough. Expansion of this kind of crap may well warrant an ongoing monkey wrenching campaign.

The really bad news about all this is that 80% of the the market research subjects say they like this stuff….
Are they afraid of a bit of quiet?