Wal-Mart Throwing Away Ripe Produce

Ripe produce being thrown away

Wasted food irks me, a lot.  Not just because I enjoy eating and am equally tight about spending money, but because it’s just downright wasteful on so many levels.  From time to grow, fuel to harvest and transport to market, merchandising and selling at the store, when food is thrown out it costs a lot of people in a supply chain a lot of money.  A recent late night trip opened my eyes to what I’ve only heard about and seen on TV. Continue reading »

American Companies, Pay Attention, China is Coming

To say I love the Internet is a bit of an understatement.  So many facets of it, but with the development in the last decade with advancements in how we, Americans that is, shop, has been completely leveled.  Ordering pizza from the Internet is a possibility, placing an order for prints from your digital camera and picking up up in 20 minutes is a reality and most importantly, price comparison is extremely easy.  No longer are we confined to local driving distances, the whole world is accessible, and Google’s Beta program, originally called Froogle and now simply called Shopping, has helped pave the way.  It is here where American companies could shine, but China is coming full force.

My recent online shopping experiences have helped reinforce this. Continue reading »

Is eBay Driving Sellers To Use Craigslist?

eBay is, without a doubt, the crowned king of person to person commerce.  There are downsides to eBay though, which most regular users gripe about.  Bloated shipping prices from sellers, which eBay has tried to regulate, fraud, several hour delay until your auction is live on the site, the almost exclusive use of Paypal for payments and of course the biggest complaint, fees.

Continue reading »

Oberon Socks Great Quality & Amazing Customer Service

A few months ago a friend got me a pair of Oberon Socks as a gift, as soon as I opened the packaged I knew they were something special.  I enjoy nice clothing, but $15 for a pair of socks seemed a bit much for one pair.  The socks are mostly wool, blended with acrylic and spandex for shape and felt really good to the skin.  Available in two colors, I received the black and gray pair with embroidered skulls.  Taking into account how expensive they were, I waited to wear them to a special event.oberon-black-gray-skull-argyle-socks

An oppertunity came up to shoot a wedding in April with my good friend Alison and it would be the perfect time to finally wear these socks with a pair of dress pants and shirt, not my normal attire.  The fit was great and I had no problems getting my dress shoes on with them, they actually felt good to wear.  I say this because I’ve never worn wool socks and still have horrible memories of my Mom making me wear itchy wool sweaters as a kid.  The socks felt so good I’ve dedicated a whole article about my experience with them!

It was a perfect day for a wedding, low 70’s with no humidity, the ceremony was outside and the reception was inside, with a courtyard that guests could mingle before and after dinner.   The whole time I was working I couldn’t get over how good the socks actually felt; it had been more than a year since I last wore my dress shoes and I didn’t have the fondest memories of them, that night they didn’t bother me.

After six hours of shooting, my job was done and I headed home, looking forward to getting out of the monkey suit and relax, it was now after midnight.  I took my shoes off after getting in the door and to my surprise a hole half the size of a dime was staring back at my in my right sock, by the big toe.  This greatly disappointed me because my friend spent a good amount of money on socks and because I wore them one time.  Furthermore, the socks feature

a hand linked toe – a distinctive feature found only in the highest quality socks. Ordinary socks have an uncomfortable seam closing the sock’s toe. The hand linking process eliminates that seam by aligning the loops of the material at the toe and closing the sock with a single stitch for the ultimate in comfort and fit.

I set them aside, took a shower and went to bed.  Sunday afternoon I decided to write Oberon an email, letting them know how impressed I was with their socks, how great they felt but also how disappointing it was that after wearing them once they formed a hole in the toe.  Oberon makes one product, socks, currently they offer them in two colors, these short run socks are their business, so I wanted to let them know how I felt.

10:15 Monday morning, to my surprise, Chris from Oberon replied to my email.  A real person none the less, not a canned automated email message from customer service.  Chris thanked me for the kind words and apologized for the impression Oberon socks left on me.  He went on to explain they had a short run of socks that slipped through quality control but were slightly defective, causing the toes to come apart.  Because they were a gift, he couldn’t look up my customer information to see if my socks fell within the time frame this minor slip-up happened, but without question he offered to send me a replacement pair.  Additionally, Chris sent me a pair of blue and white ones as an apology.

My reply to Chris was enthusiastic, I really like when businesses, small and large, actually listen to their customers and take the time to help them with whatever they need.   Replying to my email within 24 hours is kind of a big deal, so needless to say I’m impressed.  Moreover, I wasn’t expected a handout, or even the second pair, which I thought was a great gesture on their part and proved they really stand behind their product.  I asked Chris if he wanted me to send my defective pair of socks in, or at the very least take photos, he said it wasn’t necessary and again thanked me for the business.

Thursday the replacement socks came, beautifully wrapped in paisley tissue paper.  I wore the black pair to shoot another wedding that weekend and had no issues with them, comfy as the previous pair I had worn.  The quality is there, I was just misfortunate enough to receive a bad pair.  Without question I’d recommend them to friends or buy them as gifts.

It’s rare for me to fully endorse a product or company, especially with how most businesses run their operations.  It seems too many have a great product with craptastic customer service or a customer service department that is hell bent on proving nothing is wrong and refuses to replace your faulty product because the business knows its crap to start with.  Oberon is neither, they make really high quality products, have an amazing customer support system and really strive to make their customers happy.  This is probably how they’ve managed to build their loyal fan base.

Learn more about Oberon Socks and buy them here.  Become a Facebook fan and follow them on Twitter for updates, including this design being released July 1st.  Support small independant businesses who make quality products and actually care about their customers.

Meat Cards

Found these little gems last night, not only are they possibly the most unique business cards, they have a great sales pitch to go along with them.

Screw die-cutting. Forget about foil, popups, or UV spot lamination. THESE business cards have two ingredients: MEAT AND LASERS.  MEAT CARDS do not fit in a Rolodex, because their deliciousness CANNOT BE CONTAINED in a Rolodex.

meat-cards

Equally amazing is that the prototype card’s reference to American Psycho!  This also appears to be 100% legit, here’s the meat masters running their 150 watt Co2 laser:

meat-cards-laser

These scrumptious business cards are not ready for sale yet, but more photos, an explanation of the process and general info can be found on the Meat Cards website or by following them on Twitter @meatcards.

Sex and Coffee

There is a Hustler porn store on Sunset Ave here in LA. This is not a surprise as Los Angeles is universally accepted as the porn capitol of the United States. Its not surprising considering that Larry Flynt’s, Flynt Publications is located in LA. Its not surprising even though its in the middle of a bustling area full of restaurants, hotels and clubs for locals and tourists alike. Its not surprising considering the Hollywood walk of fame is close by and so is the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards are held. Its not surprising that Hardcore porn DVDs are located inside. Its not surprising that sex toys including vibrators, dildos, sex swings and accessories such as condoms, lotions, cuffs are located inside. Its not surprising that lingerie and busty salespeople are located inside either.

What is surprising is that within this delectable den of carnal capitalism lies a coffee shop. Within the Hustler store there is a cafe where one doesn’t only have to fantasize about munching on carpet but also can literally munch on a delicious blueberry scone and chase it down with a freshly brewed coffee or even a double skim cappuccino.

“May i have a caramel macchiato to go with my double sided dildo please?” Thank you!!

Melbourne’s most exclusive nightclub rips off $10 stock photo

When a business chooses to cut costs they have many ways to do it like turn off lights when not in use, limit the hours employees work, etc. etc. One thing that should never be done to cut corners is theft. That is apparently what Melbourne Australia’s Most Exclusive Nightclub, Fusion, has done.

A Randomn3ss reader who’s been asked to be described as some guy they wouldn’t let in with limited edition Nike’s on was leaving the ultra exclusive club down under and noticed a digital projection on the side of the building. He and was astounded to see a larger than life image that showed a copyrighted image from iStockphoto across the middle! Thank goodness for cell phones with cameras in them, behold,

A quick search on iStockphoto brings up the photo, as seen here. The rights to use this photo would have been about $10, give or take today’s exchange rate, yet Fusion decided to steal the watermarked thumbnail instead. Now not only is there egg on their face, I’m sure they will be getting a phone call from some attorneys as well.

Bailouts??!!

So not only has the bush administration spent our money like a 13 year old looking for a quick sugar fix in a candy shop (mind you this 13 year old is extremely hyper yet lazy and is somewhere around 400 pounds), but now he is asking for close to $1trillion to help bailout beleaguered financial institutions!!! WTF!!!!??

Bush gives banks carte blanche to run amok during his terms in office and then sticks the taxpayers with the bill.  Its like you are planning a reunion for a bunch of your highschool buddies when one friend who you aren’t particularly close with (but hes someones brother) says “don’t worry, i got the hook up at the club, we will be straight, i got us vip bottle service!”  You and your buddies get all excited, you take a limo to the joint and down copious amounts of redbull and vodka on your way there.  You pull up to the spot ready to do the damn thing, the line is wrapped around the block but you don’t worry, your friend has the hook up right?!   Sure enough you go to the front of the line and all of a sudden said friend turns and says “alright yo, let me get your credit card cuz they wont let us in!”  This really happened.  And thats what bush and all his cronies are attempting to do to us.

We will be stuck with the bill and left with a dead dollar whose worth will value my crusty toe nails and some lint in my pockets.  If we have learned anything its that short term solutions don’t work.  You don’t spend massive amounts of money to save money.  You pull yourself up by the bootstraps and dig in.  You get ready for the long hall and don’t trust doods who say they have the hook up for the vip bottle service (bush).

One year ago: Minimum wage face off

One year ago the House voted on raising the national minimum wage to $7.25, has anything changed? Not really. Since states can regulate their own minimum wage standard, five of which don’t have any guidelines or laws on a standardized wage, all in the southern part of the country. A few other states have minimums way below the new $7.25 standard, including Kansas, which is $2.65 per hour, premium pay, often called over-time doesn’t kick in until after 46 hours of work. The states which are following or exceeding the national minimum won’t be doing so until 2009, at which point the cost of living will probably have risen 3-6% more, keeping those workers still falling behind.

See what each states minimum pay guidelines are, along with proposed increases at the U.S Department of Labor.

Poor customer service derails my desire for a better cup of coffee

Just over three weeks ago I started my investment for a better cup of coffee. The goal is simple, get a better tasting cup of coffee that I would enjoy more than a store-bought coffee and to save some green-backs from the drive through coffee places I was hitting in the morning. Little did I know that poor customer service would hold me back for as long as it did.

As mentioned in the other article, I bought a French press travel mug made by a company called Planetary Design, but they have the mug I wanted listed as temporarily discontinued, so I bought one from Amazon, who only four left, and only in wasabi green (now sold out). Not exactly the color I would have preferred, but it was the mug I thought I wanted. Before I go on. I only bought from Amazon after I had emailed Planetary Design about the wide base mug and if or when it would come back in stock, two full business days later, no response. Ironicly, the mug I bought through Amazon is actually shipped by Liquid Planet, the store version of Planetary Design, as Amazon is a “front” for many businesses.

The mug arrived a few days after buying it, however there was a problem, it was only a mug, not a French press mug. It seems that I mis-read the description and assumed that it was a French press, because that is what the company slogan is, it was just a plain old mug. Mind you, a very nice one, but no French press. This is where my frustration started.

Looking at the Liquid Planet store site, I see that they sell replacement lids and plungers, great! I’ll just find the one that will work in my mug, pay the $5 plus $2 for shipping since it was my stupid mistake and start enjoying it. Then I realized that the wide base mug was not in the drop down menu, so I started to wonder if another one would work. Since more than a week had past since sending an email to Planetary Design to inquire about the mug and it was never replied to, I figured I would just call Liquid Planet directly and talk to a sales person, get my question answered, pay the $7 and move on. Wow, I was wrong.

First call was on the Tuesday that the mug arrived, I explained my situation to the sales person on the phone, told them that I bought a mug that I thought was a French press but clearly it wasn’t and it was my mistake, and I’d like to buy a new lid / plunger to turn it into a French press, but wasn’t sure which one to get, could he help? He said that I would need to speak with a product specialist and asked to put me on hold to see if one was available. They weren’t, so he took my name and number and told me they would be in touch soon. Around 5pm that day a woman called me back, I missed the call but listened to the message, in which she said she would try me again tomorrow. I thought that was odd, I was expecting to get a request to call her back and a direct extension. At 6pm I called and asked the person who answered to talk to the young woman who left me the message, they told me she was unavailable and took my name and number, again.

Wednesday, no call back by the time I went to lunch, so I figured that I’d be proactive and call her back, same story, she was unavailable and took my name and number, now the 3rd time. At 6pm I left work and started driving home, no missed calls, no messages on my cell, I called in once again only to be told she had left for the day. I explained my situation to the person on the other line, all I wanted was a simple answer and only one person there seemed to be able to give it to me. He apologized for not being able to help me and asked for my name and number. I got my first name out and he finished the last for me, followed by my phone number. Clearly they were starting to know who I was. Sadly, I actually wanted to buy something, I wasn’t calling to complain, ask for a refund or exchange, I just wanted to know what part I needed to purchase to make my mug work like a French press.

Thursday, most of my hope was gone for a resolution, when I saw a missed call on my cell phone around 4 in the afternoon – I had given up calling on my lunch break by this point. It was the woman who I was trying to reach, and again telling me she would call back shortly. I called back while leaving work at 6pm and she was unavailable. Fifteen minutes later I was home and just about to take the dog out for a walk when my cell rang, it was them! The woman apologized profusely for the missed connections, phone tag and overall lack of customer service I had experienced and was calling to tell me that there is a proper lid and plunger for my mug and they would be mailing it to me free of charge, just for the hassle. It arrived the following Monday. For the last week and a half I’ve been able to finally enjoy coffee made in a French press.

This was clearly an ordering error on my part, yet contacting the company to purchase more over the phone was a total hassle. The downside is, I really like the mug, it is very high quality and I will give a more in-depth review of it when the follow up article comes, I’m just really disappointed in the quality of customer service that Planet Liquid and Planetary Design have. To this day, I have still not received an email response to the inquiry I sent a month ago.