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26 Reviews by fred

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Netflix

Netflix

12/27/15

I belong to this tech discussion site where someone asked "What are the best films on Netflix" and everyone listed about the same 20. Which reminds you the selection is not that wide.
Then there was the Narcos fiasco.
They already had a 60 segment drama about Pablo Escobar made in Colombia of very good quality. Netflix decides to spare no expense to make their own version seen through the eyes of 2 clueless US DEA agents?!!!

The alleged formula for suggestions base on your ratings of other films is a bad joke. I do not have to rate anything on Amazon and they manage to get my book and movie suggestions spot on. I always have to turn off the "chosen for you" because it is always junk they want to dump on me rather than reflecting my choices.

I do not like their original programming. HBO and Showtime are much better.

Nevertheless, for daring, innovation, originality and foreign films it is brilliant. Also incredibly inexpensive. Did I forget customer service? Terrific. Some helpful person answers the phone instantly.

OfficeDepot

OfficeDepot

12/27/15

Once upon a time I used them a lot, in part because they had an excellent friendly hands-on manager. This man did not promote a very rude employee with a criminal background. The crook hired a good lawyer and sued the parent company, which proceeded to fire the loyal manager and reward the crook.

Most people do not care about this sort of thing, I do.

The friendly manager made up for limited choice and high prices.
Once he was wrongfully fired I never went back.

Bloomingdale's

Bloomingdale's

12/27/15

Bloomingdale's invented the trick of moving products around and building a store where people got lost, all so they would come in for 1 product and go out with 2.

They create a very pleasant shopping experience.

In the old days department stores had restaurants, sometimes several, always of good quality. Bloomberg continues this tradition.

There are many people from Japan and Tahiti who visit Hawaii to shop and Bloomingdale just opened a store there.

KFC

KFC

12/27/15

There was this film Kentucky Fried Movie in which a customer holds the box his meal is in sideways and all this grease comes pouring out.

When KFC started it was better than most people could make themselves. In the South.
The mashed potatoes were from real potatoes, not a mix. The gravy was great, not stale and greasy. The chicken was of better quality and soft, not hard.

Nevertheless KFC is a big hit all over the world, especially where there is no similar product.

Popeye's is better and less expensive.

There really was a Colonel who invented all this and he had a great deal more pride in the product. He also was more convincing that the fake they now use in ads.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

12/27/15

Once upon a time Southwest was the cheap no-frills airline that made up for it with flight attendants in shorts who told jokes.

Then the quality of the major mainstream airlines went down while Southwest kept making slight improvements.

They have an excellent safety record.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg

12/27/15

Bloomberg TV was the first to split the screen into several sections so that during commercials you could focus on the stock market or newsperson. Brilliant idea.

Reliable world news sources are BBC and Bloomberg.

Mark Halperin is a reliable political reporter for Time and Bloomberg. His father was in the LBJ White House so he grew up with saturated international news.

Bloomberg the person does not shy away from controversy in the public interest, such as regulating the health of fast-food in New York.

Albertson

Albertson

12/26/15

The most innovative is WholeFoods.
I used to live a few blocks from an Albertson's and I rarely used it.
Truly awful deli section.
Overpriced considering the quality.

They say that if you live close to a Trader Joe's your home is worth 40% more.
I imagine with Albertsons this is not the case.
In 20 years they did not come up with one single good idea.
The difference between the people who work at Albertson's and Whole Foods is spectacular.
Whole Foods is like Palo Alto.
Albertsons is like a Pigly Wigly in Georgia.
Actually Pigly Wigley has better fried chicken.

Banana Republic

Banana Republic

12/27/15

Some person in Mexico started a chain called Banana Republica with bootleg copies of all their producs.

When it started it was a daring and innovative store selling everything Indiana Jones might need on his next adventure.
The stores had jeeps sticking halfway out of the window and elephant tusks and terrific safari jackets.
Not everyone who buys this stuff intends to go on safari, just look like you just came back.

Then the GAP bought it and removed all the things that made it interesting and raised the prices.

I have 3 safari jackets from the old Banana Republic (all good value and quality) and a $110 belt from the new Banana Republic.

The design and quality of the old safari jacket was unique to them.
A $110 belt is not.

Fry's

Fry's

12/27/15

The only similar store I have seen that is better is the French chain Fnac. I am 100% satisfied with all my purchases. That is good because their return policy is not very good.
You have to do your research.
I made them a lot of money by correcting a gross dysfunction.
A salesperson told me that at the time of Windows Vista, 60% of customers refused to purchase a computer from them if it ran Vista. The head of the repair dept told me it was no problem to uninstall Vista (or Windows 8) and put in some other system. The sales department did not know this service existed. No more turning away 40% of business.

They have full page ads in all the newspapers all the time, not just during holidays.They do not stock junk .

They are big enough to stock every imaginable gadget you might need.Much greater variety than Best Buy or Costco.

Victoria's Secret

Victoria's Secret

12/27/15

Ten years before the Social Network I told hundreds of people the story of the founder. It was my best way of explaining to people in foreign countries that a millionaire might jump off the San Francisco bridge because the new owners turned it into a billion dollar global business.
I lived in Mill Valley at the time so had different versions of the story.

When the internet was new I did a content analysis of the titles of the 1000 most popular web sites and the key words they used: celebrity, angel,sexy,model, free, new,teen. The only company in the world that has used all in their ads since 1995 is Victoria's Secret. Now you know what the business of wings on supermodels is all about.

Not far from the defunct Macy's in La Jolla is a very popular Victoria's Secret.

Macy's

Macy's

12/27/15

The only major construction in downtown La Jolla in 30 years was the gigantic 2-story Macy's.
La Jolla is a small version of Beverly Hills. It closed.

I like everything about Macy's but I do not see how it could be profitable.

There used to be this show on PBS about a department store in London. All these people on their toes to help the customer. Macy's is staffed by somnambulists. They are asleep.

I like the products but not the location of the stores or the service.

TravelChannel

TravelChannel

12/27/15

The Travel Ch will set out to promote some obscure hotel in Mexico under the title of the 10 best resorts in the World. The other 9 are and the #1 is mediocre. They pull this stunt all the time.

In the area of best beaches in the world they are very good, finding Ipanema in Rio consistently #1. Maybe it is harder for a beach to influence the ad department than some hotel.

I am a huge consumer and user of travel information so I am hyper-aware of bias. There are endless specials that end up promoting the gambling or alcohol industry.

One of the most reliable people on TV is Anthony Bourdain. Not just travel and food. Lets see how the Travel CH treated him. At every commercial break they warned women and children to beware of Bourdain's spicy language (No warning about ads for alcohol or gambling). They tried to turn him into a circus geek eating disgusting food in foreign countries. CNN had the good sense to let him write his own ticket, treat Bourdain with respect, and use his image to re-brand CNN as cool.

Best Buy

Best Buy

12/27/15

For 10 years I tell the Geek Squad that comes to install stuff in my home that they should look around and come up with suggestions of other products that could better integrate all the electronics in the home.
They have no clue. They are not Apple geniuses. They are installers.

Somebody at Best Buy should get to the point I was 10 years ago and see that it makes sense to upgrade the Geek Squad that comes to your home to be useful in the sales area as well.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

12/27/15

They were the first to allow people to have their meals at the time and place of their choosing and not require formal wear.

The rules by cruise lines in this area were set back in the days of Transatlantic liners with First, Second, and Tourist class.Now it is all Tourist class and they were the first to stop pretending that US tourist wanted to dress like First Class on the Titanic.

Hilton

Hilton

12/27/15

Good
They are excellent at correcting mistakes.
In areas which are notorious tourist traps (Vegas, Orlando) they offer better value.

The bad: Like Sheraton there is too much variation in quality and not enough quality control over the franchises (which is most Hiltons).
They are over-the-top in extra charges.
In very hot areas they do not keep the room temperature within normal levels until you check in. This could take 6 hours or more to rectify itself.

Amazon

Amazon

12/27/15

There is this flaw in the instant pay system. If during the previous 60 days you accidentally included some item in your shopping cart, which you did not in fact purchase, the next time you purchase anything these items magically re-appear and if you are not very careful you will pay for them!

They also take no responsibility for most 3rd party sellers which has become most of the business.

The function which suggest other products based on previous purchases actually works and I find it more helpful than others.

DirecTV

DirecTV

12/26/15

I was the first DirecTV subscriber in San Diego. I had the antenna on top of a beach front home where it could be seen by thousands, many of whom asked what it was. I paid thousands of dollars for the equipment and installation and had no complaints as it was a huge technical improvement.
All the tech magazines rated TIVO as the best tech idea in years and TIVO was installed later on DirecTB boxes.

As soon as Murdoch purchased DirecTV he ended the relationship with TIVO but the salespeople falsely represented the opposite.Even though you bought the box it remained the property of DirecTV.

People were so outraged by this change that used HD DircTV with TIVO installed were selling for $2000. DirecTV had to maintain the TIVO service to legacy subscribers but no longer included it in the new DirecTV boxes.

If you are like half of all Americans and came from some other country or used to live in some foreign country or do business abroad and would like to get TV from their to keep up with news and your language skills, you are out of luck.DirecTV does not supply foreign TV. You have to go to DishTV for foreign programming.

DirecTV focuses on expensive sports packages and sports specials which are less expensive and of greater quality in the FOX/Murdoch TV in the UK.

Staples

Staples

12/27/15

Some years ago the local newspaper had an article comparing the cost of an average "back to school" package from 10 different suppliers. Staples came out being the most expensive.

For something that looks like and operates like a box store it is very expensive.

When you check out there are endless delays by the obligatory request for the Staples reward card, or people filling out a new one, or updating their information.

The Staples reward card in my 20 years experience is a scam to get peoples personal information for the sales and marketing people. Out of at least $20,000 spent I never received a dime from this alleged Rewards card, despite several managers calling some private home office number directly.

There is a huge turnover in employees. Customer service has not been improved by the employees having earphones and mikes like old time telephone operators. It looks strange and means they are talking more to each other than helping you.

There are reviews that state the Staples web site is the worst designed they have ever seen. You go to the web site pre-sold to purchase a given item and they distract you and delay you. Get a rewards card, join a business club, sign up for mailings, are you interested in this similar product?

If you want a particular item and they are out of stock they try to turn it into a special order and have you pay in advance. This is unique. About 5 times this has happened. No other place in the world has the nerve. The others start by apologizing for being out of stock.

Avis

Avis

12/27/15

If you rent a car in a foreign country and there is some problem, you are at a disadvantage to resolve it with either local companies or even some US based car rental agencies.

In my experience Avis is the only one where the US management can correct mistakes made by a foreign office.

One common "mistake" is the Avis office in Italy or Brazil will not honor a reservation you made on the Avis website, or want to insist you add on "insurance" or other items.

If you rent from Alamo or Enterprise abroad and you see fake charges added on (commonly unwanted insurance) the home office claims it can do nothing as that office is independently owned.

In my experience you pay Avis almost exactly what the reservation states without hidden charges.

Better Business Bureau

Better Business Bureau

12/25/15

The Association of Retired People magazine is not known for controversial articles. They had one about the BBB that made them out to be not much better than an extortion racket.
In sum, you pay their very hefty monthly fee and they give you an A rating despite negative consumer reviews. You do not pay and they give you a bad rating.
Certainly this is the case with a site called Bonanza. Bonanza has 90% negative online reviews, including those sent to the BBB, but Bonanza replies to its consumer critics that it has a A+ BBB rating.

fred Has Earned 30 Votes

Fred L.'s review of Better Business Bureau earned 7 Very Helpful votes
Fred L.'s review of TravelChannel earned 2 Very Helpful votes
Fred L.'s review of American Express Travel earned a Very Helpful vote
Fred L.'s review of Banana Republic earned 4 Very Helpful votes
Fred L.'s review of KFC earned a Very Helpful vote
Fred L.'s review of Bonanza earned 13 Very Helpful votes
Fred L.'s review of Norwegian Cruise Line earned a Very Helpful vote
Fred L.'s review of Bloomberg earned a Very Helpful vote

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