Stop Falling For Scams

Last week a TV pitchman that I’ve seen from time to time was indicted on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, promotional money-laundering, and transactional money-laundering; nice laundry list, eh? His name is Donald Lapre, and he sold and franchised online what he called “The Best Vitamin in the World”.

major league creep

I see this stuff on TV all the time, all these commercials telling us how great something is that frankly looks pretty ridiculous. It seems to take time for law enforcement to decide how to handle these folks, and often their commercials disappear and they’ve moved on before criminal prosecutions are made. Still, I always wonder how people get scammed by this stuff so often.

I’ve talked about certain scams on this blog. I mentioned secret shopper scams, survey scams, website money making scams, internet marketing scams, domain name scams, Craigslist scams, SEO scams, and affiliate marketing scams. Frankly, I assume that most of the folks that read things I’ve said about scams can count themselves among the educated and aren’t falling for scams anymore; can I get a witness?

Yet, it’s not always so clear. Man, some stuff just starts sounding really good at times, doesn’t it? I’ll go on record and talk about MLM, most of it, as being some of the biggest scams on record. Some of you might not see it this way but in my mind, the Mary Kay model is a scam, and if you do the math you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s just a scam with an air of legitimacy, and most women that sell Mary Kay will come to that realization in an epiphany one night as they’re getting ready to put in their next mandatory monthly order, even though they still have lots of inventory on hand, and feel, well, what’s the woman’s word for emasculated?

Most of us get scammed because we want to be trusting of others. We really think that most people are out there to help us. Yes, there are a lot of people ready to help us, but sometimes we need to be more circumspect in who we trust. Goodness, we have the internet; we have Google! Everything imaginable can be looked up online. The internet is replete with websites telling you about scams, just as it is with websites proclaiming that these scams aren’t scams at all, at the same time they’re trying to sell you something from that company.

The thing is that one has to do a few things not to be scammed. First, you have to take the effort to look stuff up. Second, you have to take the effort to sort out who’s trying to make money off something and who’s actually telling you the truth. Although this was a rant about hamburgers, it’s something that happened to myself and a friend of mine, it has pictures, yet there are a number of people that say “I love that place” or “that didn’t happen to me”. Yet, as I described in that post, the majority of people writing online had the same view I had. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, in this instance we’re probably both correct, yet a reader will still gain pretty good perspectives and know what to expect by reading both good and bad things about it if neither of us has an agenda.

And that’s how you avoid a scam; you have to determine the writer’s agenda. If there’s an affiliate link read with a bit of doubt if you don’t know the writer. If the person hates on a product or company but doesn’t give any specifics, don’t get all absorbed. But if you see multiple people in multiple places ranting about the same thing over the over, stay clear, run away fast, and go wash your eyes and your brain. Forget you ever had the thought about purchasing or joining whatever that was and go back to enjoying your life.

Heck; now I have to go wash as well. 😉

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5 Ways Your Blog Might Be Irritating People; Part Two

On the last day of May I wrote a long guest post for Ileane of Basic Blog Tips called 5 Ways Your Blog Might Be Irritating People. For whatever reason it turned out to be pretty popular, probably because Ileane has a larger audience than myself. The funny thing is that almost everyone focused only on one thing I mentioned on that blog, that being popups that we seem to encounter more and more each day. Hopefully some of the folks that have popups read that and will eliminate them, although I noticed no one supported popups, which means those people that didn’t comment were probably the ones with popups. lol

Near the end of that article I said that I had more things to address, but decided to stop because that article was getting way too long. I’m going to add 5 more things here, but I hope not to make it as long as the guest post. By the way, that guest post was proof of what people say in that if you’re going to write a guest post, you need to give it as much attention as you would a post of your own. And here we go.

1. Test your comment system. You know, I visit lots of blogs, and I leave a lot of comments. I don’t receive close to as many comments on my comment. Most of the time I had figured that the writers just aren’t interested in replying to whatever I’ve had to say, but then I noticed on some return trips that indeed they had responded, but I never received any notification.

That’s just irksome. With each new blog I’ve created the first thing I did after writing my first post was to pull up another browser and do a test comment to see if I received notification of it. Then I’d comment on the comment to see if the commenter was going to receive a notice from me. Obviously many people aren’t doing that because they don’t know people aren’t receiving their comments. I hate to say it but some of you that comment here often don’t have your answers to comments showing up via email. I’m not going to call anyone out here, but I will encourage you to test your system. You could ask people, but if they’re not getting your email responses then it’s a useless effort.

2. Pick a comment system then leave it alone. Some folks are consistently changing their comment systems. I understand doing a quick test of a system, but I don’t think you’re actually testing it but adding it then leaving it alone for awhile to see what happens.

Here’s the thing. Y’all know I’ve mentioned that there are some blog types I’m just not subscribing to, and it’s because of the commenting system employed. A few I’ll just grin and bear it, but if I don’t already know you well trust me, I’m not subscribing because I’m probably not commenting.

Thing is, every once in awhile I get roped in because the commenting system is one way, and suddenly it’s changed to something I don’t like such as Disqus or Intense Debate or something else of that ilk. If I unsubscribe because I don’t like those and then you realize you don’t like it after awhile and change it back, I’m probably never going to notice and neither are other people that don’t like it. Of course some of you don’t have to worry about me unsubscribing if I already like you, but I may not comment all that often. 😉

As Sire discovered in his post asking people about Disqus, nearly 50% of responders said they wouldn’t comment on a blog with it, but around 50% of those who said they would indicated they’d do it only if they knew and liked the person that wrote the blog. I’m just sharing…

3. Don’t have stuff start playing when I arrive at your blog. Man, I hate when I visit blogs or websites and suddenly I hear music or some video starts or some person walks into the picture and starts talking to me or the main blog page is flash instead of the article I came to see. When people click on your link, they have an expectation of what they’re going to see. If you shock people with something else, most of the time they’re not going to like it. Think about why MySpace is failing; we hate the anarchy. Of course this could go back to popups again, but we’ve already talked about those on Ileane’s blog.

4. Toolbars; slow down already! I hate toolbars with a passion.

Having said that, let’s talk about why I don’t like them. I don’t like them because they get in the way. I have my print enlarged on my computer so I can read things easier; I can read smaller print but I have this big ol’ widescreen 22″ monitor so why would I make myself struggle?

The thing is that the larger I make my screen to read, the larger the toolbars get, and suddenly they’re blocking stuff and irritating me to no end. Whether they’re at the top or the bottom I don’t like them. I especially don’t like the ones on the side because as I enlarge the screen, suddenly the printed article is covered up, and for me to read things I have to shrink the screen.

I get it; you read an article saying that adding toolbars helps people promote you better. Personally, I much rather the advertising, which in general I don’t have a problem with to tell you the truth because at least it stays in its place. If I have interruptions in reading your content then I’m not going to read it and I’m not going to comment on it.

Now, even if I don’t like it I might still comment on it, but I’m going to ask you folks that have stuff like toolbars or other things popping in from time to time to test your blog by enlarging everything (Ctrl-scroll your middle mouse button to shrink or enlarge) to see if those things start blocking your content. If they do, decide if you really want to keep messing with your visitors like that just to encourage one or two of them to retweet your stuff.

5. Believe in yourself. Okay, this last one is more of an opinion than something that irks me, but I figured I’d comment on it anyway; those other 4 plus 5 are enough for ranting. I was reading a post on Brankica’s blog earlier today (she’s changed her commenting system so I won’t be writing a comment there, but here will suffice) asking if bloggers are self centered. She was ranting because some guy on Facebook wrote something where he said that he could write anything better than any of the guest posters he’s ever had on his blog. She didn’t like it one bit.

I’m going the other way, but only slightly. If I didn’t believe I could write my blog better than anyone else I wouldn’t write it. I expect everyone that writes their blog believes they can write their blog better than anyone else; I certainly hope so. At a certain point I’d hope that I not only knew myself well enough but started to learn the style that suits both myself and visitors.

A guest blogger won’t have that kind of knowledge. They’re not emotionally invested in my blog as much, so they shouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean that what they write isn’t good; many guest posts are excellent. What it means is that its excellence can’t top anything you write on your own blog, just as any guest post you write for someone else’s blog will never top their excellence on that blog.

People really need to believe in themselves and what they stand for and what they represent. They need to be able to put it out there with all the confidence and boldness they have. They can be funny, serious, educational, ranting, whatever… they just have to be sure of themselves, say what they want to say, and they’ll have an audience that will love them… okay, will like them a lot. lol

And that’s that; I’m done. This isn’t as long as the post on Ileane’s blog, and I’m betting y’all are happy about that. Still, I’m sure you’ll have something to comment on as well, so let’s get to it, being assured that when I respond to your comment, you’ll know it. 😉
 

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Best Buy Doesn’t Understand Social Media Or Customer Service

Best Buy seems to be at it again. Of all things, they seem to have forgotten a big time rule in business; have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Some folks never learn.


by Lynn Lin

All of this comes on the heels of a post I read by Adam Singer of The Future Buzz titled Best Buy Meets Streisand Effect. In it, Adam explains how Newegg, a technology products company, did a commercial where they poked fun at Best Buy. Best Buy decided to respond with a cease and desist letter, which was pretty ominous stuff. Newegg responded the way most of us would; they popped the letter up on their site. You can see a copy of at the link I provided above.

In many communities these days Best Buy is almost the only game in town. Here in central New York, unless you want to find a small store or an office supply company, you can only pretty much get everything you might possibly get at Best Buy. In my opinion it’s one of the reasons they’re one of the worst companies in the country when it comes to customer service. I don’t say this lightly. I know a little bit about customer service and often I have stood or sat at Best Buy waiting to buy something only to be ignored.

At least I’m not blaming them for being racist by ignoring me since I know they do the same to pretty much everyone. My friend Pat wrote about them, calling them WorstBuy, which is a pretty neat play on words, and of course I’ve had my own issues with Best Buy, once writing about it in a newsletter. I even briefly mentioned it when I was talking about my purchase of Windows 7; waiting around while being ignored seems to be a common complaint about them.

Anyway, what’s happened is there’s been an online backlash against Best Buy for the strong arm tactics. It’s showing up in many places including The Consumerist, Techno Buffalo, 404 Tech Support, WebProNews, Maximum PC and a host of others. I’m wondering if they’ll end up getting a threatening letter for posting it like I did with Finish Line.

Here’s the thing. It seems that the companies that are ready to quickly threaten or sue over stupid stuff like this are the ones that deserve to be outed the most. Best Buy could really care less about most of us, but if they ever do decide to try, customer service needs to be the first thing they work on. Sure, when you’re buying a $2,000 TV or a $2,800 set of LG washing machines they’ll genuflect quite nicely to try to get the sale. But when it comes to almost anything else, the employees don’t care, management doesn’t care, and obviously the administration doesn’t care.

By the way, I’m not giving any link love to Newegg either since they killed their affiliate program through Commission Junction, a company I didn’t talk about in my rant against some CJ affiliates because if an advertiser expires, they take out everyone and not just me. Nothing personal this time around, but hey, they took money out of my pocket as well. lol

Anyway, in the long run, social media will be Best Buy’s Pandora’s Box because once the masses start rising, there will be a competitor, one that learns from the bottom up how to treat customers. That’s what killed Comp USA, and what will eventually get Best Buy.

Of course, if Best Buy is listening and it needs a customer service trainer
 

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The Hate For LeBron? My Take

About two weeks ago I wrote a post titled Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan. I tried to make it clear in that post that I wasn’t demeaning anything LeBron James has done to this point, only that comparing him to Michael Jordan right now was not only unfair, but not even close to realistic. At that time, I had hoped I wouldn’t have to write this particular post, but since Miami lost and people feel the need to pile it on his shoulders I felt I just had to have my say on this entire matter.

Man, where is this hate coming from? This man hasn’t been caught doing drugs or drinking. He hasn’t been caught beating women, cheating on women or having multiple babies by multiple women. He hasn’t said a bad thing about anyone that hasn’t said a bad thing about him first. He didn’t get caught in some kind of scandal; he hasn’t broken any laws.

What did he do that made so many people mad? He uttered one phrase: “I’m taking my talents to Miami.” Really, that’s it? That’s the thing worth beating him up about? Oh yeah, he did it on national TV, ESPN to be exact, in a hour long show. Ooohhh, the humanity!

Sheesh people, let’s get a life. Let’s look at some reality here. So Cleveland fans were upset; who cares? What did he do to the rest of the league? So he decided to join two other young superstars to try to win a championship. So did Kevin Garnett when he teamed with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Anyone ever heard the name Earl Monroe, who had to leave Washington for the NY Knicks to play with 4 other future Hall of Famers to win his championship (okay, one of those guys made it as a coach, but he’s still in, or will be)? Did people beat up on Karl Malone, who left Utah to go to the LA Lakers to try to win his championship with Shaq and Kobe? For that matter did people beat up on Charles Barkley, who’s been beating up on LeBron James, for trying to do the same thing when he went to Phoenix many years ago to join Clyde Drexler and Kevin Johnson in trying to win a championship?

Does anyone care that it was ESPN that came up with the idea of doing the special in the first place, and yet all these ESPN analysts keep beating up on him instead of their own network? Does anyone care that doing that show raised almost $3 million for charity? Does anyone care that he left employment at a place he didn’t want to be anymore (something many of us have done) to go take another job with a pay cut (something none of us would have done)? Are people really so jealous and vain that they would deny a 25-year old (yes, by the way he’s still only 25) the opportunity to try to improve his lot?

No, I’m not hating on LeBron James now or ever, unless he does something illegal or really, really stupid. So he didn’t win this year; how many superstars have lost more than once before finally winning it all? How many of us have former employers dumping on us publicly because we left their employ, and would we like it if it happened to us? For that matter look at the governor of the state dumping on him; how childish is that? This man put your state on the map for something other than being a cesspool and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (yeah, I said it); just asking, but where did Cleveland basketball end up this year? For that matter where did either of your football teams end up? And how do you turn your back on someone that brought his all to you for 10 years of his life? Shame on you.

Yeah, I know, this post won’t necessarily be popular, and it’s kind of a deviation from the norm, but come on folks. Isn’t this what we paid for when free agency was made legal? In the scope of things is this really worth the derision?

Go on with your bad self, LeBron. So you didn’t win; I’m sure you will. And to keep it all honest, I’ll still be pulling for the Lakers as my main team, and I’ll be pulling for the Knicks as my team that’s in your division. But if those two teams can’t win, then you’re allowed to take the Heat to the top.

Just don’t beat my teams. 🙂

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Weird Or Unique Habits?

Is there anything that’s known as “normal” anymore? I tend to believe that the answer to that is “no”. Having said that, I’m sure that all of us see habits and things that others do that make us question their sanity. Our friend Charles of Mostly Bright Ideas comes up with a lot of stuff that makes many of us think that maybe his parents were saying about him as a child “that boy ain’t right”, but I’m thinking that we’re probably not all that much different.

I figured that after my last video and rank that I’d lighten things up a bit and fess up to a few things. I laugh at myself often but I don’t often do it in public. Still, I’ll admit that I have some quirks that maybe others do or don’t; let me share some of mine.

I can’t go to sleep unless I’m covered by some kind of blanket. Luckily, I have the blanket my wife made for me that fits the bill. I also run the fan every night, mainly for sound. When it’s cold I run the heat and the fan, which seems odd but I need the noise. When it’s hot I aim the fan at me, but I don’t like air blowing on me so I cover up with the blanket, which gets a slight bit of air to my body, but it’s more my face I’m concerned with. I also have a second fan that just blows on my face, but it’s small so it does the job without getting on my nerves. But if I don’t use the blanket, and the equivalent of 5 pillows (in a hotel it’s 5 pillows; at home it’s a body length pillow, an extra “hugging” pillow, one for my head and a booster that goes against the headboard to help the first pillow sit in the proper place.

When I eat cake with frosting, which is most of the time, the frosting must be on the left side. That’s because I’m right handed, and I always want to finish with the best part of the cake, which is the frosting. I also have to eat it in a pattern, to make sure the cake stays even all around until I reach the ultimate frosting and slight bit of cake finish.

Whenever I eat food that has to be cut, I cut it all up before I start eating. I cut everything in precise patterns so that almost all pieces of meat or whatever else I’m eating are the same size. And when I eat more than one thing at a time, such as meat, potatoes and nasty vegetables (I hate vegetables), I eat everything such that my last bite will have one of each in it. My meal has to end that way, otherwise I’ve jinxed myself.

I also have periods where I won’t touch food. I don’t mean I won’t eat; I mean I’m just not touching it, whether raw or cooked. It limits where I’ll go out to eat because if I’m not touching food, I’m not eating sandwiches or many other things. Funny, but that never seems to prevent me from touching cookies. lol

Anything that needs butter on it I need to see the butter, otherwise I’m putting more on. The same goes for salad; if I can’t see it, it’s not there.

Toilet paper must go over the top instead of underneath. I don’t know a single male that does it underneath, though I’m betting there’s one out there. I think my wife does it the other way sometimes to mess with my head.

When I encounter stairs, whether I’m going up or down, I count them ahead if possible so that I always end on my right foot. If there are a lot of them and I miscounted by my quick review, I will stop 3 steps before the end and alter my steps to make sure I end on my right foot.

I count letters and words in sentences. It’s probably why I’m good at spelling and math. I don’t count every sentence, but I count a lot of them. I see how many letters there are and then divide everything by 3, which is my lucky number. If it ends up divisible by 3 I move on; if not, I have to create alternate ways of saying the phrase and recount until it divides by 3. I’ve been doing this since I was 8 years old; no idea why.

When I eat ice cream with chocolate sauce, I always eat the first half or quarter the regular way, then I have to mix everything together to finish. After everything is mixed, I eat using the back of the spoon instead of the regular way.

Finally, if I eat a sandwich and it’s meat, it must have mayonnaise or Miracle Whip on it. If there’s cheese on the sandwich, which is rare, it can only be Miracle Whip, not even mayonnaise. If I eat hotdogs at home, I start with Miracle Whip on the bread, then a thin stream of mustard and then ketchup. The only deviations are if I decide to add barbecue sauce, in which case I don’t use mustard or ketchup, or chili, in which case I don’t add ketchup.

Why am I talking about weird things I do? First, trust me, I only scratched the surface, though I’m saying now that if my friend Scott stops here and says anything, he’s lying! lol Second, I mention these things because I just want to show that overall I’m a regular guy with some habits that others might think are a bit different, but that everyone has differences and things we do that might or might not be embarrassing. Trust me, I’m not embarrassed by any of the things I’ve shared because they’re my hard rules; anyone who’s ever eaten out with me can attest to this. My wife will attest to the rest of it.

See, when I talk about blogging I talk both about their being rules and no rules. For instance, the main non-rule is that people should just write and worry about other things after they’ve figured out if they can write things on a consistent basis. Until you find your voice, it doesn’t matter whether you follow any certain patterns or not.

The main rule after that is to be yourself and not to be afraid to show people who or what you really might be. I tend to believe that people love to read whatever you’re writing about if they can relate to the writer in some fashion. Giving one’s writing personality is a big deal; revealing something about yourself that others can read, take in and even potentially laugh at is cathartic, but it’s also a way of making yourself more real to your readers.

So this is me; well, a small part of me. I’m not even going to tell you about Rice Krispies treats.
 

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