Wednesday, April 25, 2007


So now we know how Rudy Giuliani will run his presidential campaign. He's not just playing the 9/11 card (his only card, IMHO), but picking up the Bush/Cheney fearmongering approach.

This week, Mr. G. (I refuse to be so familiar with politicians as to call them by their first names) flat out said that if a Democrat is elected in 2008, we'll have another 9/11. If a Republican is elected (Mr. G., in particular), there won't be any attacks. So whom would you choose?

The proper response to this is one word: "Bullshit." This sort of fearmongering worked in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but it doesn't play anymore. Vote for a Democrat and we'll get attacked? No one's buying that.

Of course, it would be nice if the leading Democratic contenders responded in this kind of plain language. Instead, we get typical politician-speak, where the point (if it is one) is buried in copious amounts of cover-your-ass verbiage, sure to inspire the average American to tune out and turn off.

For example, here's how Senator Clinton responded to Mr. G's outrageous claim:

"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm. If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change.

"One of the great tragedies of this Administration is that the President failed to keep this country unified after 9/11. We have to protect our country from terrorism -- it shouldn't be a Democratic fight or a Republican fight. The plain truth is that this Administration has done too little to protect our ports, make our mass transit safer, and protect our cities. They have isolated us in the world and have let Al Qaeda regroup. The next President is going to be left with these problems and will have to do what it takes to make us safer and bring Democrats and Republicans together around this common mission of protecting our nation. That is exactly what has to be done and what I am ready to do."

Two paragraphs where one word ("bullshit") would do. This is why I don't like Ms. C. -- too much business-as-usual politics, not enough straight talk. Where's the beef? If it's there (and I'm not sure it is), it's well-buried.

Senator Obama's response was a little more direct:

"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics. America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9-11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure."

And, just in, here's how former Senator Edwards responded:

"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.

"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."

I like Edwards' response better than Clinton's or Obama's (Mr. G. is "both divisive and plain wrong"), even if it could be a tad more concise. That said, I'm longing for that aspiring public servant to give the appropriate one-word response, and put the fearmongering to rest.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Service Update

A quick update on the Best Buy customer service situation. Turns out they weren't as good as they initially appeared.

If you recall, I had purchased a Philips DVD player that crapped out within the month. When my girlfriend went to exchange it, BB was out of that model and instead upgraded her, for free, to the "next highest" model.

Turns out, however, that the "next highest" model wasn't really. We had purchased the first Philips player because it offered upconversion to HD resolution. The "next highest" model, while a DVD recorder (nice bonus), was actually last year's model and didn't offer upconversion. The lady at BB who offered the swap, no surprise, didn't even know what upconversion was.

End of story, my girlfriend took the non-upconverting DVD recorder back and paid the difference to get an LG upconverting combination VCR/DVD recorder, the better to dub her old VHS tapes to DVDs. BB tried to be helpful, but ultimately failed because their staff was poorly educated. Lesson learned.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


A couple of notes about customer service.

First, a good story. I recently purchased a new 32" LCD TV and companion DVD player for my girlfriend. We bought them at Best Buy, even though I haven't always been a fan. I run hot and cold on BB; sometimes I get good service, sometimes I don't. In any case, less than a month after purchasing these items, the Philips DVD player crapped out. My girlfriend returned the DVD player to the Apple Valley, MN, Best Buy, where we had purchased it. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of the same unit to replace it with, so they sent her down the road to the Burnsville BB. This store also didn't have any replacements, so they just gave her the "upgraded" model instead. The upgraded model is actually a DVD recorder that sells for twice as much as the original unit, so we got a much better unit for the same price, very little hassle. Good job, Best Buy. You have two very satisfied customers. (And the cheapie Westinghouse flat screen we purchased is a surprisingly good performer, considering the $699 price.)

Now, a bad story. Best Buy's competitor, Circuit City, had a bad year last year and is now in the process of cutting costs. The way they're doing that is to fire their highest-paid store employees. (Not management, of course, just the in-store guys.) So they're taking their most experienced, best trained, and presumably best performing employees and giving them the old heave-ho. This tells their remaining employees that there's no point in sticking around or improving their performance, as this just leads to getting canned. And it tells their customers that they'll be getting worse service from now on. I used to like CC, thought they had better service and better-trained personnel overall than BB, but no longer. Apparently Circuit City thinks their customers don't deserve good service.

As a customer who appreciates and demands quality service, I say "fuck you, Circuit City." The quality of service at retail has declined significantly since I was in the retail business twenty years ago. It's apparently what the consumer wants; lower prices take precedence over quality service. That's too bad.

So the next time you go into Circuit City or some similar big box retailer and get served by a disinterested, uninformed, incompetent salesperson, know this -- you get what you pay for. And for the American consumer, poor service is exactly what you deserve. (But the prices are so cheap!)

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.