Now Blogging at

April 12, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Customer Service, Financial 

I’m excited to announce that I am now blogging at WalletPop a personal finance blog with attitude and humor. Don’t expect a boring article about why your 401k is more important than your morning latte here. Expect us to rock your caffeinated socks off with reasons you should be contributing to your 401k but also pointing out new ways you can still get your morning jolt. The blog has a diverse group of authors including the well known Dolan’s, a Tax Expert, Mortgage Man, Student Loan know it all, Attitude packing former academics and more. If I didn’t mention someone else on the blogging team my apologies I am still getting to know you all.

You should head over and check out Josh Smith’s latest postings at WalletPop and then hit the front page to see what the whole site is about. As one of my friend’s put it, “It was surprisingly REALLY good…..more helpful than I thought it’d be!”.  Thanks for that vote of confidence Liz, I think there is a  complement hidden in there somewhere.

I’ll still be blogging here with loads of game, tech and mobile computing items but anything relating to consumer issues or personal finance will be posted on WalletPop.

Comparing the Final Days of England’s Wool Industry with the RIAA

March 8, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Customer Service, Music 

I have been studying globalization recently and I am finishing up, “Travels of a T Shirt in the Global Economy” by Pietra Rivoli. Travels of a T shirt traces a t shirt from the cotton fields of Texas through a myriad of legislative quota mucking to other countries and back to the racks of clothing stores in the US. A large section of the book is dedicated to the legal maneuvering of the “alphabet army” who lobby congress, other acronyms and the president to legislate the US cotton industry which is reminiscent of the RIAA and the MPAA today. An even better example requires that we step further back in time to jolly England. Well the scene wasn’t quite so jolly for those living in 17th century England as they trudged through damp days wearing woolen clothing head to toe.

Read more

Staples Needs a Calculator for Savings

March 5, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Customer Service 

I snapped this humorous pricing issue at Staples. Not often that the store undersells the savings on something!  The savings is either really 31.45 or the purchased seperately price is incorrect.

I am posting this guiltily since I lamented the overposting of camera phone pricing errors on consumerist of late, but I found this one humorous.  A feeling I am sure all the other posters had regarding theirs.

Another Bender Ball Complaint Video

February 18, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Customer Service 

In the continuing Bender Ball coverage here I wanted to share this video with you as a warning regarding ordering the Bender Ball.

From the video description:

Very cheap simple Abdominal Exercise ball early AM TV infomercial. Call to buy is fully automated. The quantity question is ambiguous/confusing & you end up with two units. They dont repeat the # or price so you dont know you have been had until you receive it. They get $8 S&H each & won’t refund that plus you have to pay postage again to send one back, IF, you can get an RMA. DONT GET SCREWED! If you used a check card, cancel it since they are billing some monthly for stuff not ordered.

This consumer ended up ordering two balls as well as getting signed up for the continuity dvd program. Don’t order the Bender Ball. As some commenters have said a kids kickball is a good replacement, though users are still on the lookout for a dvd replacement. Anyone out there want to put together a Youtube series for the Bender Ball workout?

How To Implement Low Pressure Auto Sales

February 3, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Customer Service, Tech 

Jeep Key With Autostart

The auto sales industry is often known for the high pressure sales tactics. The low pressure atmosphere of regional auto shows can lead to increased sales for local dealers due to the relaxed nature of experiencing many different cars. I think dealers could replicate this by allowing individuals to check out their entire stock without a watchful eye and constant blathering. Imagine if you arrived at the dealer’s lot and were handed a keyfob and blank key and told to press a button on the fob if you want an employee to come help you out with a car. This would be a benefit to the dealer due to the psychological benefit of walking around the lot with a new key!

While I’m here, dealers, if I give you my email and ask for information about a specific car you should not send me 4 emails saying how awesome your dealership is and leave me two phone messages before you have replied about my initial request.  It’s bad form.

The Real Reason Auto Sales Climb At Auto Show Time

January 31, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Customer Service 

This past weekend I had the chance to visit the Toledo Auto Show at the Seagate center and sit in numerous new vehicles. The show was a pleasant experience, I got to sit in numerous cars I cannot afford, met some Jeep enthusiasts. I also had a chance to discuss the fact that Yark Automotive Group in Toledo Ohio sold us an ’05 Equinox which had a major and potentially fatal safety issue with someone from Chevy corporate. The individual gave us advice on getting the problem resolved. A few things bother me about the setup of the Toledo Auto show but for now I’ll focus on the perception that the shows will increase sales due to .

Every time I have heard mention of the any of the big auto shows the author referred to an increase in sales for all of the local dealers. Many people pin this increase on the dealer incentives which usually increase near the time of local auto shows. I believe that the real reason sales increase post auto show is for a completely different reason! I cannot think of any other environment in which the consumer has such unfettered access to all of these vehicles in a low pressure setting. Good luck showing up on any dealership lot and hoping in and out of every model on the lot without getting a high pressure sales pitch.

In short sales increase not due to incentives or general the excitement of consumers but because consumers can get in and at least partially experience all kinds of makes and models without any pressure.  I’ll be following up later this week with a method for dealers to replicate the low pressure environment and boost car sales, all while having happy and satisfied customers.

First Premier Bank’s $50 Limit Mastercard

January 30, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Customer Service 

Though I thought I had opted out of the pre-approved credit card offers today I received an offer for a Mastercard.  Being on the lookout for a good 0% balance transfer offer I dug into the packet to see what the terms of this Mastercard were.  Boy was I shocked.  Apparently the card I got is for people with damaged credit,and has some downright ludicrous fees associated with it.  As an aside I wonder if Yark Automotive sold our information when we purchased a car from them last year and I should check my credit report for inaccuracies.

Once I read through the enclosed disclosure I found a slew of fees associated with the new Mastercard I was being offered.

  • $29 Account Setup Fee
  • $95 Program Fee
  • $48 Annual Fee
  • $84 Monthly Servicing Fee ($7 per month)
  • $20 Additional Card

These charges would bring the fee total on the card’s first statement to $199!   Just to get that across you start off with $199 in fees and you haven’t purchased anything.  After you get the card you better hope all you plan to use it for is the dollar menu at McDonald’s because your credit limit is $250.  Yes your new card will buy you about 17 gallons of Gas before you Max it out.  As an added Bonus First Premier bank will up your credit limit when available at a $25 charge each time your account is  able to increase.

Here are a few scans of the Disclosure:

First Premier Bank Rate Structure 1


There is no point in getting a credit card if your available balance is only $51 bucks.  Your just going to dig further into a hole and you would be better off just using your existing money to buy $51 worth of stuff at a cost of $51 instead of $250, and that is assuming you pay the balance in full before month two and cancel the card.  If you need a credit card that bad, try opening an account at a local credit union and getting a secured card.  That route is almost assured to be cheaper by month two even though the funds are sitting in the bank.

Wal-mart Issuing Apology Gift Cards for Cancelled Pre-Orders

January 18, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Customer Service, Games 

Last Week Wal-mart had loads of pre order games going for $20 to $30 below MSRP. The games included Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Burnout Paradise to name a few. I placed an order for each of them with little hope of actually receiving the product at the discounted price. Wal-mart pissed off quite a few gamers by sending out emails confirming that the user had requested the cancellation of the pre order. Late today though Wal-mart attempted to make good and sent the following email letting those affected knwo they would be receiving an electronic gift card worth $10 as an apology.

Dear Josh Smith,

We apologize for our recent video game pricing error and the incorrect information included in our follow up e-mail correspondence with you.

As we are always striving to provide a positive customer experience, we will be sending you a $10 electronic Gift Card toward a future purchase as an apology for your recent experience. (One Gift Card per affected customer; this card can only be used online at Look for details in a separate email.)

As a reminder, your payment method was never charged for the canceled items. Any related authorization hold on your credit or debit card account will be released in accordance with your financial institution’s holds policy. Please contact your financial institution for more information.

If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected]


Customer Service at

While I’d rather have 2 games and $50 extra bucks in my pocket 800 MS points will certainly sooth my pain.  Given the circumstances I think this action is an appropriate action for something the retail giant could have as easily ignored.  Bravo Wally World, Bravo.

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