How Paying By Mobile Can Work

Posted 3 August 2010 by ezcall
Categories: Business Idea

Tags: , , ,

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and others are in a deal with Barclays Bank and Discover Financial Services to allow consumers to buy products and services with a “contactless” swipe of their mobile phones.

A pilot program will begin at retailers in Atlanta and three other selected cities.

I’m glad to see that this is not being done by Visa and Mastercard since those idiots do not know how to make paying-by-mobile work. If it was up to them they would be assessing fees of a dollar or more per transaction, basically killing the whole thing at the start.

Stock at the two largest credit card companies plummeted on the news while at Discover, the fourth-largest credit card processor behind Visa, MasterCard and American Express, shares jumped nearly 3 percent.

If you are a retailer you most likely have no love for Visa or MasterCard because of their constant raising of transaction fees. Congress last month passed restrictions on the fees these vultures can charge to retailers on debit transactions.

Hopefully Discover will do the right thing and charge very small fees for transactions that fall below ten dollars. How many times have we seen retailers put up notes on cash registers that tell us that they require transactions of at least ten dollars to qualify for payment by credit card? After all, who can make money selling a roll of mints for a dollar and incurring fees of more than 50 cents?

I’m not talking about percent transaction fees, usually 1 to 5 percent of the billed amount, I’m talking about the per transaction fees, minimum monthly fees, and other exhorbitant fees that merchant account providers assess. While Visa and Mastercard will gladly suck the blood out of credit card users and retailers, some merchant account providers make Vlad the Impaler look like a boy scout.

For example, some providers may charge 25 to 50 cents per transaction in addition to adding a small percentage fee of their own on top of those of the credit card issuers. Some even charge a minimum monthly transaction fee which requires that the merchant process a set amount of billing each month. These fees are around $15 each month although I have seen much higher.

If this new payment alliance wants to see pay-by-cell succeed not just in replacing the use of credit cards but in small one buck transactions as well then they have to insure that merchant account providers treat small transactions differently.

If they can do this, then we can be on our way to paying for everything with our cellphones. I mean everything: parking meters, candy machines, subway tolls.

But the real deal would be in micropayments, such as paying for reading a news article online or downloading a copyrighted work. I certainly would never pay 2 or 3 bucks a week to read an online newspaper in the UK but I would not hesitate to pay 1/20th of a penny to read a single article from the same source. It wouldn’t bother me if at the end of the month I spend ten or twenty bucks getting information I need from hundreds of sources. There are hundreds of millions of me in the world. Do the math.

Steve Jobs Fashion Evolution

Posted 28 July 2010 by ezcall
Categories: Marketing, New Technology

Tags:

Although Apple technology has changed dramatically over the years, the way Apple operates has not changed at all. Anyone familiar with their products knows that he will pay more for an Apple product than a competing item. In addition, there will fewer choices as to size, shape, and color compared to similar products made by others.

Perhaps this is because Steve Jobs doesn’t like change. Take his choice of clothes over the years:

steve jobs fashion statement

See what I mean?

H/T: Super Pérolas

Pay for the Weather Scam

Posted 20 July 2010 by ezcall
Categories: Business Scams

Tags:

As long as you can stick your head out of the window and look at the sky, you do not need to pay for a weather report. And even if you want the weather in an area far away from your location, the National Weather Service will give it to you for free for any city in the US. For example, right now (5:46 PM EST) the temperature in Phoenix, Az is 108 °F, the Dew Point is 57 °F, the wind is WSW at 13 MPH and it’s partly cloudy. All that without costing a penny.

Need the weather in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Try Oceanweather Inc which will give you the temperature, the wave height, and wave direction for any part of the globe. Again, at no cost to you. I have no doubt that there are free forums you can join to get the number of seagulls per square mile in a given area of the world.

So I have to wonder why anyone would pay $24.99 a year to the Weather Channel for a GOLD membership to get the same weather information they can get for free, even from the Weather Channel itself.

All you get for the money is an interactive screen that helps you track 11 cities you specify. Big friggin deal.

the weather channel

This reminds me of companies who send out direct mail selling people social security information for $9.99 – the same information anyone can get for free from the Social Security Administration.

I suppose the Weather Channel figured they could target these same morons to pay for stuff they can get for free anywhere on the Internet. What a scam.

Optimizing Images

Posted 6 July 2010 by ezcall
Categories: WEB 2.0

Tags:

Treasure Map 10
Treasure Map 10
Photo by: Mike Rohde

Make sure that your (image) ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

– Google webmaster guidelines

I try to post images for the majority of my posts. They make the articles more interesting and they help give color to what would otherwise be endless whitespace.

It is important that you optimize the images for search engines. Sometimes we forget to properly fill out alt and title tags. One way to double check your images is to use this Image SEO Tool.

Add your home page url and you get a report on how well you’ve written alt and title texts.

I have used the Image Seo Tool to mass verify the alt tags on the images on my archive pages.

It may not seem much but on some websites the majority of SEO hits come from image search. Properly describing the image through ALT text and following Google guidelines helps users locate the image better and subsequently get to your article.

No one can find your posts unless you leave a map that accurately describes the location.

Apple Has only Contempt for Its Customers

Posted 2 July 2010 by ezcall
Categories: Bad Marketing

Tags: , ,

I have written often that Apple treats its customers like crap, but the apple-sheep keep coming back for more.

Whenever there is a problem, Apple makes sure to charge their customers.

Here’s how Tech Tring describes the latest problem with the iPhone 4:

The problem which was identified in the iPhone 4 was the dropping of signal strength to very low on touching the left rim of the iPhone 4, and could result in disconnecting of calls or the loss of connectivity. The rims use the new concept of the antenna technology, according to Steve Jobs.

Jobs simply responded – “Just avoid holding it in that way”, reported CNET. This iPhone 4 grip shown by Steve Jobs has been called the “Death Grip” and this grip reduces the contact of the hand of the user with that of the steel band encircling the iPhone 4 edge which contains the antenna. Thus the problem can be solved in this way.

Aside from holding it like a Vulcan from StarTrek, the other solution is to lay out the sum of $29.00 for a Bumper made out of rubber or plastic which may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly touching the affected areas.

A decent company would have given vouchers for those Bumbers for free so that iPhone 4 users could use the phone without using the “Death Grip” and without shelling out money for a problem caused by Apple.

But Apple people are sheep and gratefully bend over to take the abuse.

See the video:

This Item is on Sale Scam

Posted 30 June 2010 by ezcall
Categories: Business Scams

I was reading a customer complaining over at Consumerist about her recent experience at Target.

She was picking up some diapers for her son when she noticed that the 54 count of Huggies Size 4 overnights were on sale for $18.99. “Nice!” She thought, until she looked on the second shelf and saw that the 64 count was sold at the same price – $18.99.

I see this all the time. All a company has to do is slap the word sale and boom, a certain segment of the population will buy it without actually comparing it to other items on the shelf.

To all of you students out there who think you’ll never use calculus or advanced algebra once you graduate, boy are you wrong.

In some cases it’s impossible to tell if you are being scammed at all. For example, which is a better deal:

a) a dozen small eggs for 1.49
b) 18 large eggs for 2.69
c) 8 jumbo eggs for 2.50

If you answered at all, you are wrong. It’s impossible to tell without knowing what the eggs weigh.

To make cheating on eggs and similar products less likely the European Union bans the selling of eggs and ­other products such as oranges and bread rolls by the unit; instead they must be sold by weight.

Until now, Britain has been exempt from EU regulations that forbid the selling of goods by number. But last week the EU voted to end Britain’s deal despite objections from UK members [Daily Mail].

In fact, grocers are not permitted to put the number of units alongside the weight. That will make it difficult for shoppers who need exactly a dozen hamburger buns but will now have to estimate how many are in the package.

I myself am in favor of the weight versus the unit count, although I do not see the problem with having the unit count alongside the weight as well. I’ve tried for years to figure out which eggs are actually cheaper. But unless you carry a gram scale into the supermarket – it is really a difficult proposition.

The Overdraft Scam

Posted 29 June 2010 by ezcall
Categories: Business Scams

Tags:

I’m sure almost all of you have had this experience: you have, let’s say, $500.00 in your bank account. Then you mis-scheduled your payments where the following three checks come in: $470.00, $40.00, and $22.00.

This is what always happened: the bank would pay the largest check first leaving you with only a $30.00 balance thereby forcing the next two checks to bounce. But you may object. Why can’t the bank pay $470 and then process the check for $22.00? Certainly there’s enough money for that. Well, according to the bank rule of paying the largest balance first, they always assure themselves of the maximum overdraft fees. Here’s how it works:

They pay $470 leaving thirty bucks. Then they attempt to pay the $40 check and since there aren’t enough funds they bounce that check and whack you with $30.00 in overdraft fees.

Now you have no money in the account and so they bounce the $22.00 check as well generating another $30 in fees. This leaves you with two bounced checks instead of one.

If banks weren’t such predators and paid the lowest amount in checks first, then consumers would not have spent $17.5 billion last year in overdraft fees.

Because of such scams newly enacted legislation prevents banks from automatically charging you a $35 overdraft fee if you happen to try to buy a 50 cent candy bar without enough cash in your account. The new rules say that the banks have to get you to opt-in to such overdraft programs.

In the past few months I received a number of calls from my credit card providers offering me the fantastic chance of opting in to allow them to extend me credit beyond my available balance.

When I logged into my Chase online account I saw this great opportunity to let them charge me $35 for an over-drafted can of soda.

Wow! Who would want to lose this important feature? Hurry now!

debit card overdraft opt-in

As that great economist and US Vice-President, Dan Quayle, once said: “Bank failures are caused by depositors who don’t deposit enough money to cover losses due to mismanagement.”

Although I generally favor little government intervention in business, there is no moral justification for the way that banks reorder transactions to generate cascading overdraft fees.