Who is lying to you? Basically anyone flappin’ their gums. But who’s really lying? I think the probability goes off the charts when it’s someone in retail and/or someone trying to sell you something.
For example, one group conducted a study and found that one-third of seafood sold in the United States is “mislabeled.” I think that’s the nice way of saying, “fucking liars.”
The study found that 50% of tuna sold in Washington D.C. restaurants was something described as “cheaper” and that 87% of the time seafood described as “snapper” was actually something else.
Talk about having a whale of a good time!
In other news, the “biggest US honey supplier admits to laundering, mislabeling Chinese honey.” Yeah, Chinese honey is banned from U.S. markets. That doesn’t mean it’s not for sale down the street, though. Why use the real thing when you can acquire “cheap honey” from China? Because, profits.
Earlier this year Apple agreed to pay $450 million to settle claims it colluded with five major publishers to inflate book prices. As part of the deal, Apple, of course, admitted to no wrongdoing.
Also this year Whole Foods Market, as part of a settlement, was ordered to pay $800,000 for overcharging customers. For its part, Whole Foods claimed their prices were accurate “98% of the time.”
AT&T agreed to pay $105 million as part of a settlement for “adding fees that customers didn’t authorize” to phone bills.
When you stop to consider that these are most likely outlier cases, in terms of actual consequences, it is easy to imagine the vast majority of fraud goes completely unpunished. And you can take that to the bank.
Banks? Never mind. Don’t get me started.
Drop on the deck and flop like a fish! You can trust me, your humble guru. I’m not selling anything.
How does bias color the advice and information we get from fair and balanced sources? This graphic might illuminate:
Continue reading →
Don’t cross business streams
True. The tweet above had absolutely nothing to do with this post. It was actually about me going insane. (A very worthy topic.) But not, alas, the topic for today.
Instead, the word “stream” caught my fancy. Yes, I’ll admit. At first it was in a “don’t stand under this” sort of way. But then my thoughts turned to things like revenue streams and product streams. While in that place, I wrote the following little ditty (sung to the tune of The Streets of Laredo):
As I walked out with my Wall Street Journal
As I walked out with my Journal one day
I spied a rich douchebag with a bad hairpiece
A hairpiece as fake as the the caring I feigned.
I see by your outfit that you are a douchebag
I see by your hairpiece that you’re a douchebag, too
I think we should do business we’d both make a killing
There are lots of dumb marks that we can both screw.
We both love money so much that we eat it
We both use work to avoid our home lives
A partnership formed in our quest for more profits
To chase that worthy dream we’re both willing to lie.
Oh cheat and lie and gray the lies lowly
We’ll giggle and laugh as we roll along
Take it the bank and pull the wool o’er
If wealth is right we don’t ever wanna be wrong.
I’ve got greed in my chest and so I must lie.
This sad story is one about the “free market.” Yeah, that free market. You know the one, right? The one that people on the right love to ejaculate about so much? Yeah, that one. This story will provide a glimpse of insight into how that sucker really works.
It started with a phone call…
“Hello, this is Blowhard.” (That’s my boss! And no, that’s not his real name.)
“Hi, this is Madame X with Acme-Fun-Time Distribution.”
Madame X (not her real name) is a representative with a product distribution company. Blowhard has been courting a business relationship with her for some time. It’s very important to him and he worked very hard to build it up. He milks her for information that she probably shouldn’t share. When they met at the convention in Vegas, she took him out to dinner on the company credit card. When he recently toured their plant, she arranged to have his room paid for and got him the all-you-can eat buffet for free. He was as happy as a pig in shit. His two greatest loves are free and food, and she went and gave him both.
You’d think he’d be nice to her after that, right?
“Hey, Blowhard. I need to ask you a question. Have you ever heard of a company called Decepto International?”
My boss didn’t miss a beat. When lying becomes a way of life, you get real good at it. “Nope. I’ve never heard of them.”
I love it when chickens come home to roost.
“Oh,” she said. “That’s a bit odd. You see, they have the exact same address as you.”
Uh oh!! The jig is up! One of our dummy companies just got busted. It turns out that the boss greedily used the dummy company to sell products on Amazon.com but forgot to use a different address. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Mom was right. When you tell lies, it gets increasingly difficult to keep things straight. Obviously, since my boss was hatched, he never had the opportunity to learn this lesson.
How do you show someone that you respect them and care about them in the world of business? Yup. You lie unabashedly right to their face. Classic.
You see, Blowhard had set up a dummy company to purchase products from Acme-Fun-Time Distribution. He did this after his main company had been blacklisted by certain product manufacturers. He was blacklisted for selling products at prices lower than manufacturers wished. Yes, this cousin of “price fixing” is alive and well here in the United States. For more about this, see my earlier post entitled “Term Stomping” and Wikipedia’s page on “resale price maintenance.”
I guess most people would feel somewhat shamed after getting caught red-handed in a lie like that. Not my boss. Not when money is involved.
I could only chuckle at how he had just taken a major shit on the relationship he had worked so hard to build. Oh, they’ll still do business with us. After all, that puts coin in their pockets. And that’s the way the game is played. You deceive me, I’ll deceive the manufacturer, and we’ll all make money.
And this “free market?” It is one where product manufacturers exert a lot of pressure to maintain prices artificially high. It’s a murky world of blacklisting, contracts, gray markets, and companies ratting each other out. And, I’m willing to bet, most of the players are just like my boss.
It’s alright – I’m a blogger!
It’s amazing how fast a crowd can form.
One moment the restaurant hustle and bustle was completely normal, then there was a wild shriek and everything went completely to hell.
A man had collapsed to the floor and a crowd formed around him instantly.
I leaped to my feet and pushed my way through the throng. “Excuse me! Make way, make way!” I said authoritatively. “Come on,” I extolled, “let me pass!”
Breaking through, I saw that no one was even helping the man yet. Jesus Christ, I thought. This is gonna be grizzly.
I moved to get in closer but hands reached out and stopped me.
“It’s alright,” I said. “I’m a blogger!”
As the man lay there choking, I snapped off a few shots with my camera (always at the ready) and jotted down some notes in my handy little book. This is going to make an awesome post, I told myself.
Then some damn doctor showed up to help the man. Shit, I lamented, there goes the story. But it turned out it was a only a false alarm. The man had merely seen the menu and was reacting to the prices. Quite understandable, really.
Luckily I didn’t fall for it. What a lame post that would have been. Good thing I was able to avoid it.
Saving money means you live better
Walmart has been in the news recently.
Walmart Sales Fall For Seventh Straight Quarter In Q4, As U.S. Stores Struggle
That’s almost two years of declining sales. Did you know that? I sure didn’t.
The store’s motto is “always low prices.” Always. That’s a powerful word. What does it mean? The dictionary says, “at all times; on all occasions.” It’s one of those words with absolute meaning. It doesn’t mean often or most of the time. It means always.
The new official motto for Walmart is “Save money. Live better.” But you’ll still find the text “Always Low Prices!” plastered all over the company’s official web site.
Save money and live better? Perhaps we should critically analyze that phrase. First, in order to “save” money in that way, you have to spend money. And that’s not saving at all. And you can’t spend your way to living better, can you? Does money mean happiness? Polls don’t bear that out. Money can’t buy you love. But that doesn’t stop companies like Walmart from offering love for sale. Continue reading →