Category Archives: consumers

T M I, Please

Some people give too much information (TMI), some businesses want too much information. Personally, I want to control who has my information.

Image from Pixabay.

I’ve got three examples to talk about, all cases where businesses I’ve interacted with demanded far too much information from me for what they were giving.

I’ll start with the generic hair cutting place in Toronto. I don’t live in Canada anymore, but I occasionally visit. On this visit, I also needed to get a hair cut. So I went to one of the chains.

They cut my hair, no problem, but when I went to pay, it became a problem. I forget how much it was, but I had exact change, so it didn’t matter.

The cashier wouldn’t take my money. She wants my phone number first. She adamantly would not take my money until I supplied a phone number.

I don’t have it now, but at the time I took a picture of the board that stated services offered and prices. Nowhere on the sign or in the shop was there any notice saying that you had to give up personal information for a simple hair cut.

So I give her the old Hollywood standard, 555-1212.

“Is that a real number?”
“I don’t know.”
“Sir, I need your phone number.”
“No, you need the money, and it’s right here. I’m trying to give it to you.”
“Sir, I can’t complete the transaction until I enter your name, phone number, and date of birth into our computer.”
So I gave her the mayor’s name, 555-1212 and January first, 1901.
“None of that’s real, sir. I need real info.”
“I’ve given you info so you can complete your form. My only legal obligation here is to pay you the price you’ve posted. Here’s the money, thank you, I don’t need a receipt. I won’t be back.”

You may argue that I’m just giving a poor working stiff a hard time. But that’s a fallacy. Her employer put her into that situation, not me. Her employer wants you to give in because you feel for the poor, underpaid worker being forced to do this grunt work. But giving in doesn’t actually help her, it helps the employer.

This past week I bought a blender as a birthday present. The store offered me different options to pay, including paywave (maybe you call it “Tap & Go” Whatever, you touch your debit card to the reader and the transaction goes through). I chose that. We’re in a pandemic and the less people who touch things the better.

The salesperson tried to take my card from me to perform the paywave transaction. I didn’t let him. It’s a pandemic, we’re minimizing touch. I touched my card to the reader. The transaction went through, he printed 2 copies of the transaction and a separate receipt. So I’ve got the receipt and the blender.

The salesperson suddenly tells me he needs to see my card again.

“I need to swipe it in the store’s computer.”
“To close the transaction.”
“I have the receipt. Have you been paid?”
“Is there a problem with the payment?”
“Then why do you need my card?”
“I need the numbers from your card for our files.”
“Store policy.”
“To … assist with your warranty.”
“My warranty is between Philips and me, not your store.” (I didn’t take the ‘extended warranty’) Again I verbally made sure that they had my money, and I had the receipt. I thanked them and left.

I saw an ad on a news site that I read. The ad was for a funky furniture shop, and it had a ‘view catalogue’ link. I like the bookshelf they showed in the ad so I clicked the link – exactly what they want potential customers to do! What do I get? A form I’m supposed to fill out before they’ll honour me with a peak at the goods they’re trying to sell me.

Looking the form over, I noticed that there was only one actual mandatory field, email address. Now I’m not going to give them even that. I don’t know yet whether I’m actually interested in their products, never mind some kind of email newsletter or God knows what else.

If they want to validate the address before I can see the catalogue, I’ll just go away and hopefully they’ll see enough stats on people being turned away by the form that they’ll rethink their strategy.

So I made up an address, one I’d never used before, and hit enter.

A “Welcome back!” banner loaded, and full access to the catalogue. So I’m not alone! There are others out there who are also fed up with this crap! Woo-hoo, I have a tribe!

Are we tribe mates, you and me?

Can Cinemas Survive?

A forum that I participate in was asked the question, “This pandemic aside, are cinemas still relevant to our entertainment experience or has TV supplanted them completely?”

I … had some thoughts.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

From a technological perspective:
TV has caught up to and even overtaken cinema – TV screens are huge, Dolby and other cinema-quality audio streams are available, and streaming bandwidth and/or blue-ray allows for the delivery of better picture quality.

From the social perspective
TV offers greater flexibility in timeshifting, pausing, rewinding to catch a missed piece of dialogue. or continuing at another time. Theatre’s main advantage is the “experience,” which other than seeing a picture in a crowd, is also being improved upon by consumers watching TV at home.

From a content perspective:
Theatre’s exclusivity window keeps shrinking. So movies can be enjoyed at home sooner. Certainly, the pandemic has accelerated this, as studios have product they want to monetize and theatres can’t fulfill that desire.

As for the quality difference between movies and TV shows, that’s been dwindling for some time. For me, HBO’s Rome was the first indication that TV could supplant movies as the home of epic storytelling.

I think many studios are coming around to the idea that serialized TV is a better format than movies. Look at how characters like Jack Ryan are migrating from movie releases to TV seasons. Marvel’s various forays into TV series have shown them that the format was viable for something cinematic like WandaVision.

From the studio’s economic perspective:
Movie theatres aren’t owned by studios, so they have been until recently a necessary middleman between the studios and their profits. If the studios can build streaming services, then they own the middleman’s share of profits as well.

From a consumer’s cost perspective:
Taking a family to the movie theatre twice a month could easily set you back $100. How many streaming services (with massive libraries) could you sign up to for the cost of taking your family to see those two movies? Yes, buying the components of a home theatre are not insignificant, but they’re coming down, and it’s a sunk cost – this commitment isn’t only used for home theatre, it plays many other entertainment, informative, and potentially educational roles.

So for consumers, I think the shift from movie theatres to home theatre experience is inevitable. And I think studios realize it and are planning accordingly. If any of you are old enough to remember theatres before the megaplex concept, then you know that theatres have been losing audience for a long time and have been trying to reinvent the traditional experience.

However, we need to acknowledge that there’s also a socio-economic consideration here. While the price of entry for enjoying cinema is coming down, it’s still:
A) a good TV;
B) Broadband internet; &
C) The ability to afford streaming services or purchase Blu Ray discs and own a player.

Not everyone has the funds to support that kind of infrastructure.

Will theatres disappear completely? Probably not, but I would expect they’ll end up more like the DVD-bongs that thrived in Korea in the early 2000’s – a small room that you rented to view a movie with a hand-chosen audience.

Mass capacity theatres may be preserved for special premiers in select cities, or they may just join vaudeville as castouts of modern society.