No, I have not blogged about my car getting hit and then getting fixed, or about the fun-filled birthday day my friends held for me, or about my three-week stint with a gastrointestinal parasite. Nope. Better to post stuff like this:
Some site called Showbiz Notes has posted some amusing, sarcastic “salutes” to different marketing types. Since I bitch about marketing people several times a week, you can understand how much these little trifles made me warm inside. [NOTE: That site is no longer with us (already), but I found some lower-quality versions of the files and am hosting them here now.]
A couple of them are less funny, dealing more with the kind of people you find in any office, but they are still worth a listen.
The link to “Miss I Don’t Know How to View a Rough Cut Lady” doesn’t work right, so I’m just gonna link to all the audio clips here. But do click the link above to read more about these clips.
You may feel that, following my cereal post, I have no right to speak out against an overabundance of variety. Yet take a peek at this, won’t you? This is the sight that greets the casual toothpaste shopper of a day:
That, friends, was the toothpaste section at Target as seen at noon today. What’s more is that this is only the COLGATE section of the toothpaste section! I feel the picture does not do justice to the bewildering array of choices avalanching upon the consumer, so here’s a little recording of me reading off the flavors and kinds.
Yes, I was doing that on my phone as people were shopping around me. I imagined they would believe I was a simpleton boyfriend listing the toothpastes over the phone to my girlfriend because, had I come home with the wrong kind… Well, you know what girlfriends are like.
Now, despite the audio-visual aids, I still do not feel I have impressed upon you, gentle reader, the true scope of Colgate’s offerings. Text is often mightier than multimedia, so here, cobbled from various lists off the Colgate website, is their current spate of toothpaste options (all Â®s and â„¢s removed to, ironically, dispense with clutter):
Cavity Protection Great Regular Flavor
Cavity Protection Winterfresh Gel
Total Whitening Paste
Total Whitening Gel
Total Clean Mint Paste
Total Mint Stripe Gel
Total Advanced Fresh Gel
Total 2in1 Advanced Fresh Gel
Max Fresh Cinnamint Tube
Max Fresh Cinnamint Bottle
Max Fresh Cool Mint Tube
Max Fresh Cool Mint Bottle
Max Fresh Clean Mint Tube
Max Fresh Clean Mint Bottle
2in1 Oxygen Whitening Cool Mint
2in1 Whitening with Tartar Control
2in1 Icy Blast Whitening Gel
2in1 Kids Bubble Gum
2in1 Kids Watermelon
Tartar Control Whitening Crisp Mint Paste
Tartar Control Whitening Cool Mint Gel
Sensitive Maximum Strength Plus Whitening Fresh Stripe
Fresh Confidence with Whitening Gel
Luminous Crystal Clean Mint
Luminous Paradise Fresh
Simply White Advanced Whitening Spearmint
Simply White Advanced Whitening Sparkling Mint
Sparkling White Mint Zing
Sparkling White Cinnamon Spice
Sparkling White Vanilla Mint
Baking Soda & Peroxide Fresh Mint Stripe Paste
Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening Oxygen Bubbles Brisk Mint Paste
Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening Oxygen Bubbles Frosty Mint Striped Gel
Dora the Explorer Mild Bubble Fruit
SpongeBob SquarePants Bubble Fruit
Barbie Sparkling Bubble Fruit
If you find yourself flummoxed by this vast register, the Colgate site has a handy dentifrice interface for choosing which of their 37 breeds will suit you.
Me? I still use the original Colgateâ€”now called, simply, “Cavity Protection Great Regular Flavor.” Though the “Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening Oxygen Bubbles Brisk Mint Paste” sounds nice. Or maybe I’ll start using Crest. After all, they have 42 kinds of toothpaste. I applaud that commitment to consumer choice!
I simply had to post this, considering my run-in with the near-lunatic yesterday. Have a little listen to this woman accosting a telemarketer. Could this be the only time I will ever feel sorry for a telemarketer? No. Because he handles it brilliantly and now has a story to tell the rest of his life.
It’s almost nine minutes, but it’s quite worth your time.
Can you imagine? First off, what if this woman were allowed to driveâ€”which she probably is? Second off, what would have happened had she been the one whose back passenger window I’d smacked? Can you, truly, imagine?
Since Disney pays for my cell phone service, I have not used my home phone for anything but incoming calls and the occasional toll-free number call. A while back, I pared down my Verizon and my AT&T services to the absolute minimum so that I could still have a land line in case of emergencies. Oh, and because I get DSL and have to have a Verizon telephone account to get the DSL. Yeah, I know, stupid requirement.
The AT&T plan I chose was a pay-as-you-go thingy, which means I haven’t paid any long-distance charges for many moons.
Here’s the post card I got in the mail today:
Beginning with bills issued on or after July 1, 2006, a $5 monthly usage minimum charge will apply to the AT&T One RateÂ® Simple plan. If your monthly AT&T qualifying calling charges* are less than $5, the difference will be included in your bill for that month. For example, if your applicable monthly calling charges are $4.00, then $1.00 will be added to your bill.
(The bold and the asterisk are part of the original text, so I left it in. The asterisk led to some mumbo-jumbo that meant nothing to me.)
I called the number on the card, and once I was in the menu branch explaining the new charge, I could not get out to talk to anyone. When I called the number back, I was told by the recording that the AT&T Customer Care office was closed for the day.
I got out the one piece of paper I have with any AT&T info on it from when I changed my plan, and I called the different number there. Same thing. Yes, AT&T no longer has 24-hour customer service.
I went to the website and hunted around (after first creating a new user account so I could do so). I compared the plans to see if they had one without the fee. Under the Fee column of the plan comparison page, three plans said “NoneÂ³.” Ah, yes. The numbered footnote. That said, “Â³Learn about the Minimum Usage Charge that applies to this plan.” Following the link, I was treated to a wonderful surprise: All of the fee-free plans were not at all fee-free. There was a monthly minimum charge for all of them.
Poking around, I found I could not cancel my account online, which was fine, because I wanted to cancel in someone’s face. But there was an inviting “TAKE A SURVEY” link, so I clicked it and did so. At the end of the survey, I was offered a text box. Heh heh heh. I wrote something fun. Then I went to the e-mail section and sent AT&T an e-mail.
Below is what I sent through the e-mail interface:
I sent a comment via a survey on your website (see below), but I will send it to you again anyway. I have also posted this experience on my blog, which is read by at least five people, and will tell a couple consumer-sympathetic sites I know about it. Just because. I know you will not be quaking in your boots to hear this. I know you will not care that you have lost a customer who has not been making long-distance calls from home as of late. However, you should know that charging for “nothing” is a pretty reprehensible practice. I chose the long-distance plan I chose so that I would only pay you if I used your services. Now you’re planning to charge me for doing nothing. It’s disgusting.
I also know that there’s a small chance you will send me some reply message written by a Frankenstein committee of marketing and legal, the meaning of which will be, in the end, “too bad.” I look forward to that message and getting a good laugh and eye-roll out of it.
Following is the message I sent in the survey:
I am a decades-long AT&T customer. Your stupid $5 minimum charge that goes into effect July 1 for my “no-fee” plan, and the fact that all of your “no-fee” plans now effectively have a fee (which makes your company a big, fat liar), has left me no choice but to cancel my service with you. I have been making my long-distance calls from my cell phone as of late, but had your plan in place on my land line in case I ever needed it. But I will not pay $5 to your company for providing no service whatsoever. You also no longer have a 24-hour customer service numberâ€”an SBC carryover “feature,” perhaps?â€”so I will be calling tomorrow morning to cancel. I realize that you are no longer truly AT&T, but just another big-ass conglomerate who doesn’t care about its customers. Good luck gouging your remaining customers. Bye-bye.
The sad thing about all this is that, even though Disney pays for it, my cell service is through Cingular, which is SBC, which is AT&T. They’re still getting my (or someone’s) money. I hope they don’t figure this out and have themselves a good laugh and eye-roll.
I called AT&T today, and the woman was very nice. She laughed when I called the new fee “stupid.” I hated to pull the miffed customer routine on her, but, hey, I am a miffed customer!
In fact, I recorded the call. There it is, below, ready to be played for your amusement and horror. (It won’t show up in the RSS feed, so you’ll have to actually visit the site! DOUBLE HORROR!)