Too Good to Be True

MiMi seems to melt in her cradle.

Several years ago, I wrote a marketing rant in which I admitted to having had fallen for the old 3-days only sale approach. I could write an entire post on marketing “techniques” I have fallen for over the years. It’s not my fault. I’m destined to make this mistake. I’m pretty sure if I sent a swab of spit to be analyzed by 23andMe, the report would include:

“…tendency to buy stuff marketed as being a bargain while actually selling at the normal or perhaps an inflated price.”

I’ve done that.

The combination of being an optimist and being slightly naïve (I crossed out slightly so the Editor wouldn’t have to) leads me to trust the wrong people.

I wrote a post about a disreputable vendor selling what was described as being high-quality garden carts when he was actually having an all-too-ordinary cart drop-shipped from Harbor Freight. More recently, I’ve read two articles about people who buy clearance-sale items from Target and Wal*Mart and sell them at a regular retail price through an Amazon website. It might be legal, it might be smart, but it seems deceptive. The fact that a lot of what’s being sold through Amazon a) isn’t being sold by Amazon and b) isn’t anywhere near the bargain you’d expect from Amazon are two of the reasons that put Amazon last on my list for buying a lot of things.

So, if I’m avoiding these vendors, what has me writing a post about this stuff?

Three things.

1) Facebook follow-up – As I mentioned in replies to some of the comments on Saturday’s post, an article published by CNET on Saturday, made Facebook sound even worse than I had. The headline/sub-head reads:

Facebook’s two-factor authentication (2FA) puts security and privacy at odds

Stop using your phone number for two-factor authentication on Facebook.

You can read the entire article here, but these two snippets will give you a thumbnail version:

“…The phone number you give to Facebook to help keep your account safe from potential hackers isn’t just being used for security. … people can find your profile from that same phone number, and you can’t opt out of that setting.”

“…about five months after Gizmodo found that the phone number being used for 2FA was also being provided to advertisers for targeted posts.”

2) We Miss You – Last year, I discovered that the company that manufactured my portable jigsaw, plans to stop making the proprietary blades that saw uses. My saw is in near perfect condition, so I searched for a supplier where I could stock-up on blades. I found several on eBay and Amazon, selling blades for several times the previous list price. I found one mail-order company selling the blades for a higher price than I ever paid, but not an extremely high price. I bought a bunch. I haven’t bought anything else from this company because their prices, across the board, are high. They just sent me a 10% off coupon, because they miss me. 10% wouldn’t bring their sale prices down to what I would expect to pay.

3) Facebook Only Ad – For a software product that I might like and is selling for less than 15% of the previous price. I don’t trust this. Why would the offer only be good if I purchase it through the Facebook ad? The company could be in cahoots with Facebook to gather a bunch of information about me during the transaction. They could be planning to release a new version of this software. They could be going out of business. Nope, too many questions/possibilities.

Let me close this post with a story from my consulting days in the 1980s.

I worked for one of the then Big-8 accounting firms, in their consulting division. We were asked to perform an official review of a software product. The price for this review started at $100,000 but would let the developer attach the firm’s imprimatur to their software.

I was assigned to conduct a preliminary review to determine if we even wanted to proceed with this project. The software worked, seemed like it would fill a need in the marketplace, but was bug-ridden. I spent three days evaluating the product and compiling a list of errors. At that point, we said: “Fix these things and we’ll talk.”

The owner fixed the most blatant errors, fired his development staff, hired two people to market the software and included: “reviewed by an international accounting firm” on the jacket. The best part of that engagement is that the owner introduced me to the term ‘higgledy-piggledy’ when, after reading my review, said: “it’s seems to have gone all higgledy-piggledy on you.”


Our weather went all higgledy-piggledy on us Saturday night. We got a little bit of snow, a little freezing rain and some regular old rain to start our Sunday. Pictures in the gallery.

56 thoughts on “Too Good to Be True

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  1. I have come to the sad conclusion, as I long suspected, that there is no honorable marketing, advertising or production of quality merchandise. The almighty dollar is the goal, at any cost to the consumer. People laugh when I say money is the root of all evil. To correct myeslf, I truly feel that the flade ideas of lack and of need drive humans to do all the deceitful things they do. Money is just another illusion of fulfillment. Sigh.
    I’ll bet your arms are in great shape from all that shovelling, but trying to put any of it over the fence could destroy your back. Sending warm thoughts your way Dan. You guys need a thaw.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Cheryl. I think you’re right about greed. It doesn’t seem to matter how much is there, some simply want more. All marketing is a bit of an act, but it isn’t all evil. I know you’re right about the lifting, I’m not doing that, not up and over.

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  2. I occasionally shop Amazon for books and CD’s, and an occasional this or that, but most often I like to find things in the stores and put my hands on them. It’s why I don’t shop for groceries on-line, at least not yet. And while I could be providing info to Facebook so that someone can sell stuff to me, I rarely click on those ads. I find it highly annoying, but it’s part of the package deal if I want to stay on Facebook. I guess it’s “consumer beware” these days, as much as it can be, because who among us truly knows the value of what we are buying?

    It’s supposed to be warmer here the first half of this week, with rain around Wednesday. That means with all of our snow, it will be a mess around here. I’ll take it considering I’m very done with winter. Have a good Monday, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like being able to hold things before buying them, but in so many case, that’s just not possible any longer. I do my best to separate the hype from the truth, but that isn’t always easy. But you’re right about FB, the ads are the price we pay, and, at least for now, the limited use I make of the platform is worth ignoring a few ads.

      It is warmer today, and we might hit 50 this week. I like to think winter is over, but you never can trust March.

      I hope you have a good week, Mary.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for that CNET article. I saw a comment this past weekend to the effect that if Facebook completely protected its users’ privacy, then it would be going against its own business policies.
    Anyway, I agree with Cheryl a lot. “no honorable marketing, advertising or production of quality merchandise.” Businesses are built on deceit and illusion, one of the major illusions being the belief in the pursuit of happiness, that buying new/more stuff would make us happier and more satisfied.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Peter. I like to get a little serious on Monday, but I’m not ready to start in on “buying to make ourselves happy” – not disagreeing, but I can’t go there. Facebook is already getting pushback from vendors asking how they are going to get the information they want from a more private platform – and FB only announced this late last week!

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  4. I never implicitly trust a sale. I use common sense or google to determine if the price is decent. Yes, Amazon is a procurement network for a lot of sellers. Again, buyer beware. Have you ever considered that Maddie’s walks probably keep you from having to pay a fee to join a gym? I think she needs another treat today. :-)

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    1. Thanks Judy – between walking Maddie and clearing the driveway and paths in the yard, yes, I feel like I don’t need a gym. I do hope to be able to see some time on my bike this year – I guess I need to start with the exercise bike soon. You’re right about buyer beware – it’s an old saying, so it’s always been the case. I’m less offended by the people that just take advantage of the platform than I am the ones that clearly are trying to mislead customers.

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    1. Thanks Joanne – that was a beautiful sunrise. Maybe we’ll get to see it again. A second shot at spring is the only benefit I can find in DST. I can’t find any benefits with Facebook, but I’m there to support my employer and others that I work with.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. My method for every big project is to break it down into more manageable chunks. With the snow, it also allows me to push more than lift, and at this point in my life, pushing is much less dangerous. It’s also kinda fun to see the space get divided into smaller and smaller bits.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “Truth in Advertising”…..whatever happened to that slogan?! I do no online shopping and I don’t click on any of those annoying ads. They’re probably right up there with those TV ads……”This will be the last carving knife you will ever need. You can cut logs for your fireplace and then slice through an overripe tomato clean as a whistle. And you only pay $19.95. BUT WAIT! If you order within the next 15 minutes, we’ll send you a second knife absolutely FREE …….” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    I want to see the merchandise up close and personal. I need to touch it. I want to help support the almost extinct ‘mom and pop’ stores, not Amazon.

    I really like those sunrise shots….the way the sunlight gives everything a golden glow. Maddie looks so excited to be out for a walk. She and MiMi have ‘lounging’ down to an art. Maybe we can all learn something from them. Lol.

    Hope today starts off a good week for you Dan. You really don’t have that many weeks left before you join the ranks of “retirees”. Yaayyyyyy!!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. The sunrise does make me feel better. I’m back to driving to work in the dark, but it’s the last time DST is going to have this kind of affect on me. Maddie was so happy to get down into the park. She was disappointed at getting turned around, but I wasn’t up for walking through slush. I promised her – “as soon as it dries out” – and although she doesn’t understand, somehow, she will remind me of that promise.

      As for lounging, yeah, they got that. Maddie is looking forward to getting back on her cot. She keeps pointing to it when we walk through the porch.

      I do prefer buying from smaller stores and stores with a physical presence in our community. I’ve always wondered about the knives. If they’re so good, and if they last forever, why do I need two?

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  6. While I admit I am on FB… how else would I reconnect from that long lost friend from kindergarten?… I never, ever give them anything. No phone number, no apps allowed, and no I won’t join you in FarmVille so stop asking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do my best to not click on anything other than the update I want to read. For a while, I found that my blog posts were reaching a few extra people. Then FB started limiting the number of people who see it, and increasing the pressure on me to pay to promote it. They can stop asking me to do that, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Dan – I hardly use FB and keep myself to myself as much as pos … as for my phone well it’s just about ignored by even me … However crumbs and crumpets to Mimi – she’s the most sensible …delightful to see. It’s now cold here …but not as bad as others have got it … Marketing – what’s that?! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had searched for backhoe to find one of the correct names for excavator last week. Suddenly I was getting adds to buy construction equipment. Who knows it might help in the garden ? And I gave in and went back to FB in a very limited way. The first loop of FB code must insist on having a friend. Suggested friends pop up each time I stop by FB. Still resisting that mistake. One group is more than enough. Why am I not surprised you cannot block the security phone number from public information ? It would be kind to say FB is just sloppy software. It is conniving and prying software. I would not be surprised to find out that FB has a piece of ‘Flying Monkeys’ code when I try to evade their prying practices. Now if we can get by the traditional St Patrick’s day snow storm we might really make it to spring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keep up the good work ducking the suggestions on Facebook, John. I like to think that my shrinking participation is part of their problem. I’m sure they have a few flying monkeys employed, as well as snake oil sales people. We look safe from snow for the rest of this week. Here’s hoping that March lamb is waking up.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What ticks me off is when I buy something on eBay and receive it as “a gift” from Amazon Prime. Grrr!

    And this is why I already knew higgledy-piggledy:

    Higglety, Pigglety, Pop is a Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme.

    Higglety, Pigglety, Pop,
    The dog has eaten the mop.
    The pig’s in a hurry,
    The cat’s in a flurry,
    Higglety, pigglety, pop.

    Maurice Sendak wrote a wonderfully surreal book called HIGGLETY-PIGGLETY POP! OR THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the comment and the reference to “Higglety, Pigglety, Pop” – who knew (well, you did, but…). The secret of marketing is to offer to give you something you already have. I actually still refer to the company I worked with as higgledy-piggledy, Inc.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember you talking about this. I’ve actually seen books sold by Amazon about how to make money selling things on Amazon. eBay is another one, and no, don’t expect a good deal on them, either.

    As for Facebook…. don’t get me started.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. Every time I think I’m done writing about the stupid, slimy things these companies do, they lower the bar a few more inches toward the slimy bottom of marketing. I liked eBay when it was an auction site. We picked up a few things we wanted, for prices we considered fair. Now that they’ve become a storefront for who knows who, I rarely go there.

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  11. Five years ago I bought a John Deere garden tractor to mow my six acre lawn. I know, I know, six acres sounds ridiculous but hey, it’s lovely. Anyway, I talked to John Deere and read reviews and the new model tractor seemed right. Three years later, the hydrostatic transmission went out.

    Apparently the model of transmission was too weak for the engine. The transmission was made by a third party and one could see the price of the replacement climb over-time from fair, to expensive, to outrageous, to outright price gouge.

    Thankfully for me, my John Deere dealership made it right just before they went out of business.

    Now everything I own is Husqvarna orange.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is that a named paint color you can buy at Home Depot? I thought “John Deere green” was. Yeah, there’s nothing like knowing something is in great need to justify gouging. I did the math on the saw blades. For an investment of about half the cost of a new saw, I could keep this one until I’m likely not to need it anymore. Ironically, they still make parts for it, just not blades. I am hoping that an aftermarket supplier will pop-up, or that the will offer a replacement blade holder.

      I’m glad you managed to get a repair. Sorry the shop went out of business.

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  12. I had a long career in marketing before I retired but, I am happy to say, I was never put in the position of being asked to create deceptive marketing campaigns. Mostly, I worked in the food service industry so we were advertising special meal deals. No mention of the calorie content, of course. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Why do I feel like George Orwell’s 1984 is coming to roost in a different way? I clicked on a FB ad (I know, but the dresses were adorable), and now I’m hounded. A long walk outside tells you what’s most important, like sunsets and Maddie, even snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Unfortunately, you can’t trust anything anymore, Dan. I do think Amazon has some strange marketing ploys. Take books for example, authors reduce the price of their book to zero and give it away for free. People download it but probably never read it because many people don’t value free items and then the book becomes a number one best seller. The logic doesn’t work for me. I love your pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s absurd, Roberta. If you did that with stocks, the SEC would put you in jail.

      Amazon hounded me to review a book I had been gifted by the author. When I finally relented and wrote a review (I am horrible at that) they told me they couldn’t accept it because it was a gift from the author. I’m still getting requests to review a book I bought for our daughter for Christmas..

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  15. We all have to be so on guard these days about anything we buy. No matter how careful we are, all of us somewhere down the line, are gonna buy something that is not all that it is cracked up to be. It is very frustrating! I don’t trust FB as far as I can throw it, and I do NOT use my phone number at all for sign in. Hubby just said last night it’s all about Microsoft Excel and spreadsheets to show ways how to lessen the quality in order to bring more money to the manufacturer or company. We live in very troubled times. On the bright side, I am beginning to find companies who stand by quality and man o’live I am sticking by them!

    I see by your gallery you had delightful blue skies too. Wasn’t that blue gorgeous? And like you our weather is all over the place. I’m just believing in the Spring birds that Spring is actually here, no matter what the weather does. Loved your gallery, Dan. Thank you! 🦋🌈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. Lots of companies are just trying to squeeze more money out of us, and a lot of hedge funds are trying to squeeze all the money out of reasonably good businesses. Oh well, what comes around, goes around. Someone with a mindset for quality and customer service will rise up and score big in the aftermath of the number-crunchers..

      We are enjoying some nice weather this week. Loving that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I so agree …. what goes around comes around. Believe me, this is exactly what is helping me save my sanity regarding certain wrongdoings that were committed against me and my family. Quality I also believe will win out in the end!! Supposedly, I heard 60’s for our weather. I say, ….. bring it on!!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Yeah. That phone number thing. I think ROBO calls emanate from that safety and security business. Soon our cells will be as our landlines were. I already have a friend who has two cell phones, and one of them just has 20 contacts. Either you’re on that, or as he says, “You probably have no business calling me and whatever it is can wait.” He leaves that at home like a landline. Wild, huh? I wonder how long before THAT’s how we all live, or with two phone lines in one phone.
    Early morning light *sigh* I miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s scary. The number of robo calls on my cell phone is way up this past year. The only place that has it is FB, because they required it for “security” – oh well. I don’t have the energy to manage more phones or more emails than I do at the moment. Fortunately, one phone line, one email and at least one Facebook page are heading for the junk pile. We still have a landline, but we ignore it most of the time. Sorry about the light. Thanks for dropping by,

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure about the USA, but in India there are not many options left. The government also extracts your information and uses it as and when required, so there is no such thing as ‘privacy’. However, I always have a Plan B to safeguard my ‘very private’ information. When you are in the system you eventually learn how to beat the system.

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