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  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , award scam, business owner, , maternity, retail,   

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams) 

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams)

    Today, we end the week the same way we began it, with a roundup of scams that have turned up across the country. As always, just because the scam isn’t currently happening in your town doesn’t mean it won’t.

    The first scam is kind of an unusual one. A woman in Highlands Ranch, Colorado owns a dog training business. She received an email from someone claiming to be from the Highlands Ranch Award Program and that she had won an award for being the best dog trainer in the area. To claim a specially engraved plaque all she would need to do is send them $169. When the woman received the plaque it was of dubious quality and the Highlands Ranch Award Program was actually based in New Jersey. As it turns out, shady companies will scan news articles for ‘best of’ lists for business owners they can prey on.

    A number of women in Arkansas have received what look like handwritten greeting cards in the mail congratulating them on their pregnancies. The problem is that a great many of them aren’t pregnant. It turns out that these cards were sent from an online retailer of baby items and the card was actually a coupon. However, some of the women allege that when you enter the coupon code at the retailer’s website the price of shipping became so outrageous that it would wipe out any potential savings. The Better Business Bureau is investigating.

    And lastly, we have a scam that has a neighborhood in San Diego quite concerned. This neighborhood has been having a problem with porch pirates stealing packages from their doorsteps. Now, someone has been going around allegedly posing as an Amazon salesman trying to get residents to install the Amazon Key service in their homes. The real Amazon key allows delivery people to place packages inside the home if instructed. However, Amazon does not sell door to door. Amazon has also confirmed that the man was not an employee of theirs.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cash, retail, Western Union   

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you 

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you

    In many ways, we are moving to a cashless society. Whether it’s payment apps like Venmo or cashless banking in general, many consumers no longer carry cash on them. While this is an inevitable outcome with the march of modern technology it does have the consequence of alienating those in our country who may not have access to banking. That’s why it came as a surprise that the nation’s largest online retailer has started to accept cash as a form of payment.

    Amazon has partnered with Western Union to start accepting cash payments for goods sold on Amazon. It works by the customer being issued a QR code once they indicate their intent to pay by cash. The customer can then go to any Western Union outlet, show them the QR code and then pay Amazon with cash. This is somewhat a shocking turn of events for Amazon as previously they wanted to go cash only in their mostly automated Amazon Go stores.

    While this opens up a whole new market for Amazon there is a potential downside to this new enterprise. The first is that many Western Union outlets are in the brick and mortar locations of some of Amazon’s competitors. This could lead to these competitors no longer doing business with Amazon which in turn would leave less Western Union outlets which many consumers depend on. The other problem is that we can already see the potential for this service being abused by scammers. One example is when scammers try to get you to pay for something using gift cards. Now, they could possibly use the Amazon QR codes instead of gift cards for their scams.

    While this is great for those who live on a cash-only basis, they should always be on the lookout for the potential pitfalls of such a service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail,   

    Would you trust WalMart in your home? 

    Would you trust WalMart in your home?

    There used to be a time in our country where home grocery delivery was commonplace. However, that was before we started moving to the suburbs and usually at least one person was home most of the time. Now, with as busy as we all are we can’t afford to have someone home all the time to wait for a delivery person. That’s why a number of companies are trying out home delivery programs where you don’t have to be home to get your groceries. The nation’s leading retailer Walmart is now one of those companies testing this option.

    Recently. WalMart announced they’ll be testing a home delivery option where a delivery person will deliver groceries into your home if you’re not there. That would require a customer to have a smart lock that would allow a delivery person into your home to place the groceries directly into your fridge. The test program will be rolling out in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Florida. Walmart says that delivery people will have worked with WalMart for at least a year and will be equipped with body cameras so you could watch the delivery remotely.

    If you’re uncomfortable with a stranger in your home, WalMart has said that this attitude among consumers will change. They cite rideshare services as an example as consumers used to be wary of getting into other people’s cars but that attitude has since relaxed. They believe home delivery like this will also have a similar attitude shift. However, with ridesharing, you’re getting into a driver’s car. Letting someone into your home, especially when no one is there, is a whole other level of trust that consumers may not be willing to give.

    Would you be comfortable allowing a delivery person into your home under WalMart’s proposed security measures? Please let us know in the comments below.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Flexa, retail, SPEDN   

    Is cryptocurrency ready for retail? 

    Is cryptocurrency ready for retail?

    Even with its volatile fluctuations in value, it seems that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are here to stay. It seems that cryptocurrency is no longer just the method of transaction on the dark web as it continues to gain more mainstream acceptance. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have long dreamed of a day where they can use their Bitcoins or any other number of cryptocurrencies, to purchase everyday items such as their morning coffee or a pizza. That dream is now becoming a little bit closer to reality.

    15 retailers in America have signed up for an app called SPEDN that is said to allow users to spend their cryptocurrency in brick and mortar stores. Some of the retailers that will begin accepting cryptocurrency are Bed Bath and Beyond, Ulta, Barnes & Noble, Baskin Robbins, Crate & Barrel, Express, GameStop, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and Regal Cinemas. SPEDN is attached to the Flexa global payments network.

    However, what remains to be seen is how these retailers will be able to keep their cryptocurrency stockpile secure. Retailers are not the most secure companies as a number of them have been subject to massive data breaches that exposed customers’ information. Since cryptocurrency has been known to be stolen through nefarious electronic means will consumers turn against cryptocurrency once a large amount of it has been stolen from one of these retailers? While a good idea in concept maybe cryptocurrency isn’t ready for retail just yet until the security aspect of it can be addressed.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on November 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail,   

    The hassle of Black Friday isn’t worth it 

    The hassle of Black Friday isn't worth it

    In case you missed yesterday’s post on Thanksgiving safety you can read it here. One aspect of safety that we didn’t discuss yesterday was the specter of Black Friday. Traditionally the day after Thanksgiving sees a number of retail outlets offering sales that they’ll tell you are too good to pass up, but in reality, you can.

    As we’ve pointed out in years prior a great number of Black Friday deals the retailers are offering are nothing more than predatory business practices. In too many cases the stock these retailers have on Black Friday are limited on purpose in order to try to get you to buy more expensive products. These same items that are supposed doorbuster deals can often be found for the same sale price later on in the holiday season. That’s not even taking into account that a lot of these items can be found for better prices online than in the stores. This way you don’t have to risk injury or inconvenience by diving into the hordes of other consumers trying to get a deal that doesn’t benefit them in the long run. There are also many other scams abound on Black Friday.

    While Black Friday shopping incidents have been down over the past couple of years, it still isn’t worth your time to camp out in front of a big box store in order to get an item that you can safely purchase anywhere. Thanksgiving is a holiday intended for us to spend time with family and friends and give thanks for what we’re fortunate enough to have in life. The crass consumerism that the retail stores push on us by opening as early as Thanksgiving Night is an affront to all of us who deserve more than to waste our time competing with each other for a cheap gadget. Stay home on Black Friday, your time is better spent with loved ones and that deal will be back around sooner than you think.

     
  • Geebo 9:31 am on May 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , banned, retail, returns   

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns 

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns

    Amazon offers a lot of incentives to get customers to try to use their service extensively. For example, Amazon offers its Prime membership to its users so the customer can have free shipping for the length of their membership, usually paid in an annual fee. Another one of those features was Amazon’s easy return policy. However, while Amazon wants you to order as many items as possible they’ll send out for ‘free’, don’t send back too many or you may not be an Amazon customer anymore.

    Reports came out this week that Amazon was banning customers who made excessive returns. Amazon claims it’s to prevent fraudulent returns but many customers say they were banned even though they made reasonable returns. Like too many tech companies, Amazon relies on an algorithm to identify potential abusers and only worries about false positives if the banned customer calls to complain. Apparently, Amazon lives by the edict that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    Let’s be honest, mistakes happen in all retail spaces. Sometimes you get the wrong order or the product wasn’t exactly what you imagined when you received it. Now let’s translate Amazon’s policy to brick and mortar space. For example, Walmart has a very generous return policy. You can almost return a half-eaten fish stick to Walmart without a receipt and still get a refund. Now imagine you returned too many things to WalMart and you were not only banned from your local store but also from all the other Walmarts in the country.

    Amazon would do well to remember who it is that allows them to make all those billions of dollars in profit before customers start leaving their service without being banned.

     
  • Geebo 9:13 am on April 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Key In Car, retail   

    Amazon now wants access into your car 

    Amazon now wants access into your car

    Recently, it was announced that Amazon has started a new delivery program called Amazon Key in Car. It’s similar to their Amazon Key service which allows delivery people to leave your packages inside your house, except now deliveries are left in your car. Once again, Amazon is asking you to put a lot of trust in them for the sake of convenience.

    This is an idea that Amazon has been toying with for some time now as previously they were said to be working with some kind of smart license plate holder in order to gain access to your car. However, Key In Car relies on existing service in order to open your car. In order to get Key In Car deliveries you need to have a late-model GM vehicle with the OnStar service or a Volvo with their On Call service. Of course, you’ll also need an Amazon Prime account and the service is only available in 37 cities so far.

    While many people will no doubt consider Key In Car as a viable option for them, to me it seems like it has too many points of failure to be trustworthy, not to mention the privacy issues. In a lot of cases, cars can contain more personal information than homes as many of us spend an inordinate amount of time in our cars due to long commutes or other circumstances. That’s not even taking into account the information Amazon could gain access to through the OnStar and On Call services. We’re all up in arms about Facebook’s privacy leaks but since Amazon is sending us creature comforts we’re more than willing to give up our privacy.

     
  • Geebo 8:57 am on March 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail,   

    Walmart offering home grocery delivery in its war with Amazon 

    Walmart offering home grocery delivery in its war with Amazon

    Retail giant Walmart has fired the latest shot in their ongoing battle with Amazon. After Amazon purchased Whole Foods last year, a number of grocery chains started offering home delivery. Since Walmart is the nation’s leader in grocery sales, they’ve announced that they will be rapidly expanding home grocery delivery into at least 100 cities over the coming year. Currently, through Whole Foods, Amazon only offers that service in six markets.

    The main difference between the two services, besides availability, is cost. With Amazon, you need an Amazon Prime membership which can cost as much as $99 a year. Walmart’s new delivery service will be a $9.95 flat fee per delivery and deliveries have to include at least $30 worth of groceries. While that may seem a little exorbitant at first, at least it’s not Whole Food prices and no membership is required.

    On the one hand, Walmart’s new delivery service could be great for lower-income families who may not have the transportation to get to a local grocery store. When you factor in costs such as public transportation, taxis, or ride share programs like Uber, the $9.95 delivery fee doesn’t seem so bad. However, with Walmart and Amazon battling it out like this for retail dominance, the shadow of a duopoly continues to loom over consumers. While better access to affordable food is always a good thing, what happens if only two corporations control those avenues?

     
  • Geebo 10:26 am on February 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AiFi, , retail   

    Startup promises cashier-less experience in every store 

    Startup promises cashierless experience in every store

    Previously we’ve posted on this blog about Amazon Go, Amazon’s attempt at having a cashier-less store where you can just grab and go whatever you need and have it charged to your Amazon account. While it was initially delayed, had a few hiccups on start, and has live employees at its stores, Amazon Go has turned out to be somewhat of a success for Amazon. Now, a relatively new startup is poised to upset Amazon’s apple cart.

    A startup called AiFi claims they’ve developed an Amazon Go-like system that could be installed in any existing store. Not only that, but AiFi says that their system is scalable to fit a store of any size. From the smallest mom and pop store to the biggest box store, AiFi can supposedly scale itself to fit any sized marketplace.

    The problem, as is with many startups, is this just bluster or does AiFi actually have the technology to back up their claims? Too many startups have turned out to be just vaporware or not practical in the real world. Remember Jucicero anyone? It will be interesting to see if AiFi has actually figured out the problems to cashier-less shopping that took a multi-billion dollar corporation like Amazon so long to try to tackle.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on February 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , retail,   

    Amazon offering Whole Foods delivery amid stock shortages 

    Amazon offering Whole Foods delivery amid stock shortages

    As of yesterday, members of Amazon Prime can have orders from Whole Foods delivered to their homes. So far the program is only available in Dallas, Austin, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach although Amazon has full plans to roll out the service nationally. Prime members will be able to get Whole Foods orders delivered to their homes in two hours as long as the order is over $35. With Whole Foods’ pricey reputation that could be just a bag of Kale and a bottle of Sriracha sauce.

    In all seriousness though, one has to wonder if this announcement will only compound the preexisting problems at Whole Foods. Previously we’ve not only posted about how the shelves on many Whole Foods stores are close to barren thanks to their ordering procedure, but we’ve also discussed how employee morale is at an all-time low thanks to an almost Orwellian employee review system.

    Before Amazon starts offering new programs in their bid to be the global retail solution, maybe they should fix problems already plaguing their acquisitions. As of right now, this new delivery program is akin to adding an addition to a house that’s on fire. In their quest for retail dominance is Amazon starting to cut off their own nose to spite their face?

     
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