What’s the Mouse Smokin’?

In what seems to be one of the worst idea I’ve heard in years, Disney is releasing disposable DVDs. Once opened, they will only be viewable for 48 hours. But they will sell for $6.99, when renting the movie is only about $4.00. Disney claims that it’s a benefit because you don’t have to worry about late fees, but most movies are 1 week rentals now at Blockbuster and even if you paid a late fee half the time you rented movies, you’d come out ahead.

On top of that, they are bad for the environment! To which Disney responds that you can mail them in for recycling. But if you’re too lazy to return the movie, why would you bother mailing in the dead disc?

For those interested, here’s the list of titles available when these EZ-D’s hit stores.

Here is the list if

Culture of Customer Service

I am constantly amazed at how little effort many businesses put into their customer service. It’s like they don’t seem to realize that their customers, in most cases, have dozens of options from which to buy the identical or nearly identical goods and services. And we care about more than just price.

Last week, while looking for a pair of New Balance running shoes at Sports Authority, I asked if they had more pairs in stock because I did not see my size in stock. The salesperson replied, “Everything we have is out” before walking away. While this may have technically been true, some of the stock “out” was 10 feet up in the air above the main shelves, and may or may not have been rows deep up there. But did he offer to get up and look for my size? Of course not! So I left the store empty-handed.

In stark contrast, today I went into the New Balance store around the corner from my apartment. The second I picked up a shoe off the rack the salesperson commented that they were the updated model to the ones I was presently wearing. He noticed a crease in the shoes I was wearing and said that meant they were a size too small. Tried on the shoes and success! So maybe I paid $5 more than the Sports Authority sale price, but the service I received was worth it.

In another interesting customer service experience I encountered today, I tried Treat, this this new frozen yougurt place nearby. When I got the the table, I realized that the cup of my blizzard-like dessert was barely half full. For $4.25, I expected a full cup! I went back inside and the staff was appologetic and topped off my cup to the appropriate level. When I returned to the table outside, I found out that the owner’s wife had overheard my comments! She explained that they were still learning to deal with the new blender, asked whether they remedied the problem and was relieved to hear that they had She thanked me for speaking up. While I may have intitally written off the place, the staff’s response and the owner’s concern changed my perception of the place 180 degrees in the matter of 5 minutes. If only more businesses could appreciate the importance of customer service.

Won’t You Take Me to Shoppingtown?

Westfield America Inc., an Australian shopping mall company, strikes again buying a stake in North Bridge Mall on Michigan Ave. in Chicago.

“As a part of the deal, the Nordstrom-anchored center will be renamed Westfield Shoppingtown North Bridge, a branding campaign that’s a key part of the company’s rapid expansion, sources said.”

I believe this is now the 4th Chicago area to get the Westfield Shoppingtown name, along with the malls formerly known as Old Orchard, Hawthorne and Oak Brook.

I just don’t get this idea to brand a group of malls. For one thing, the malls are not all that similar in regards to their design, their target shopper, etc. They range from mainstream middle class mall to super upscale; two are outdoor malls; one is an urban Michigan Ave. vertical mall.

More importantly, people don’t use the “Westfield Shoppingtown” name! It sounds rediculous and it’s pointless in regards to giving any sort of description of location. Imagine the conversation:

    “Hey, let’s meet at Westfield Shoppingtown.”

    “OK. Which one?”

    “The one on Route 60.”

    “OK. That’s the one that used to be Hawthorne, right?”

    “Right.”

But people don’t like things being more complicated so they’re just going to continue to say:

    “Hey let’s meet at Hawthorne”

    “OK.”

So what’s the point of spending dollars on a branding campaign that’s going to do nothing in change what the consumer calls the place, and doesn’t give any cohesive brand image? I’m wondering how long before the Westfield Shoppingtown name comes down.