I’ve been silent because I’ve been busy being a Christmas elf. Here’s what I’ve accomplished since Saturday:
It feels so good to get so much done. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the family participating, and it took the promise of a fine new flat panel HDTV to bring them to the table and get to work. And get to work they did, even Sticks, who was actually home for two consecutive days in a row!
Now that I have sipped the HD Kool-Aid, I have to say that I didn’t think a TV could bring such fun back to our house. In 18 years of marriage, we’ve never actually bought a TV. We had old ones from our single lives, and when they wore out someone always had one they wanted to give away. The problem is that we live in tight quarters, and have about 8 times as much stuff as we do room. Because of the weird way our living room is configured, the only place we could put a traditional TV was in the corner by the stairs, meaning that all of the storage area under the stairs was lost, because we had a behemoth TV/component stand that consumed the opening. So we’ve been talking about getting a flat panel TV for awhile, and I had secretly built it into the 2006 budget, hoping to have the money by Christmas.
We checked Consumer Reports and decided on the Panasonic 42″ HD Plasma. This weekend brought big sales with secret online prices from Best Buy, Fry’s and Circuit City. We started at Frys, but it was so crowded and insane with no one really available to help that we ended up doing price checks and moving on to Best Buy. Best Buy was slightly better, but the salesman we got didn’t have any answers to our questions about adding on a home theatre sound system, how best to wire the system, the best surround sound options, etc.
Off to Circuit City we went. A huge kudo goes out to our salesman, Joe at the Oxnard Circuit City. Joe was the perfect person for us to get as a salesman. Low key, just the facts, he spoke to both of us, and didn’t push us on any decision. He really knew the differences between all of the different HD systems as well as the sound, and when it came time to total up the shopping cart, he got us the best price available after discovering we’d gone to Fry’s and Best Buy first. We ended up jumping up to the 50″ TV when we discovered the price was about $350 more than the 42″ after he applied all the discounts. He got us free delivery on the TV (since it wouldn’t stand up in the Prius), and it arrived right on time this morning at 11 AM.
This is exactly how a big purchase like this should go. No hard sells, respect for the homework we’d already done, and an eye to what we could afford and what we wanted. We will definitely send our friends to Joe and he deserved every penny of the commission he earned. If you’re reading this and live in the Oxnard/Ventura areas, consider going to this store and asking for Joe by name. Tell him you heard he was great from a recent customer who wrote about him on the Internet.
The reason I’ve gone into so much detail about this whole thing is because I truly believe in word of mouth testimonials as an effective marketing tool. The reason they’re so valuable is because they represent one person’s experience, impressions, and opinions, both positive and negative. What I’ve written here is as true as other posts I’ve been paid to write. (This one is not paid, by the way…) I don’t write posts about sites or products unless I can actually have some kind of experience with them and be completely honest about what I write, good, bad, indifferent, or otherwise.
The PayPerPost change to its TOC this weekend requiring disclosure is all over the blogs. Props to Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Matthew Ingram, and others for writing about this development in a positive light and acknowledging the move to requiring what I’ve been doing from day one blogging for them anyway, as have many others. Jason Calacanis is curiously silent on this development, something I find really surprising considering his dogged determination to sink them as often and hard as he can.
This changes nothing for me. I’ve had a posted disclosure policy, I disclose in the text of each post I write for PPP, my posts are tagged, and most importantly, I write honestly about every single opportunity I’ve taken. I’ve never written a positive opinion unless I actually had one, and I’ve never taken any opportunity that would run counter to my own philosophy or interests purely to be paid. so now their TOS and I are completely in synch. I see this as being nothing but positive for them, their advertisers, and their bloggers. Props all around for a smart move.
As a consumer, I’d much rather listen to someone’s opinion or recommendation based on their real-life experience, whether they were paid to try the product or simply tried it as a result of their own pursuits. Those testimonials, good and bad, are worth their weight in gold to me. As an example, Chris Pearson blogged about the beanbag chairs he received from Sumo Lounge. They sent the chairs; he was free to blog about liking or not liking them. He did like them, and I think they’re pretty cool, too. They’re definitely something I’m interested in having.
On the other side of things, a friend suggested that I use iTrackr to try and get a lead on a Nintendo Wii for Sticks. I paid my 1.99 for the tracking and cell phone alerts. It notified me of an inventory update at Game Stop but failed to notify me of the Sunday Target inventory update, so that when I got to Target on Sunday morning after wasting an hour going to the two Game Stops in the area, the last Wii was already sold and walking out the door just as I arrived.
Advice to Itrackr: Get commitments from your vendors to update their inventories on a timely basis or don’t charge for the service. You don’t get to have it both ways. A big thumbs-down to Itrackr right now — it could be a terrific service but it’s broken until they get reliable inventory updates and notifications.
And now, back to glorious High Definition goodness. For someone who doesn’t watch TV or go to movies, this is as close to nirvana as it gets. Hi-def DVDs with surround sound, popcorn, and a warm pug snoring on my lap.