Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

Bells are ringing, all right, but they’re not Christmas bells. No, sir, they’re telephone bells as every telemarketer that you’ve ever heard of—and some you probably haven’t—are trying to meet their Christmas quotas.

My phone rings several times a day with eager, dare I say determined people placing those calls, anxious to sell me something—anything! No, I don’t usually listen long enough to know what. I generally tell them I’m not interested, and sometimes I repeat that several times before I just hang up. These last few days, if call display shows a 1-800 number, I simply don’t answer.

The media refers to the day after the U. S. Thanksgiving as Black Friday. I understand why that is, of course. That one day is when retailers, who’ve been operating in the red all year long, supposedly sell enough to pull themselves out of debt, and if not firmly in the profit column, at least onto even ground.

But it’s “black” for other reasons, in my estimation. There were times in years past when I thought it should be called, “black eye Friday”, as in, people behaving badly gives all of the rest of us a black eye.

Fortunately I didn’t read of any truly horrific incidents of moms trying to beat each other to death over the latest Star-Wars toys, Barbies, or iPhones. There doesn’t seem to be any planned shortages this year of “must have” toys to make people frantic to have a particular item, as I suspect happened in years past(remember Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Kids?).

That doesn’t mean that the Black Friday shopping experience was necessarily completely without peril. But I did hear on the news that the actual dollars spent in brick and mortar stores was down several billion over years past—and that the answer to Black Friday—Cyber Monday—was most definitely a hit, bringing in several billion more.

Gosh, I hope no one sprains a brain trying to figure that one out, but I suspect they will. Can you just see a meeting of great marketing minds? They’re sitting around a table, wondering why people would rather stay home, save gas, order from the comfort of their den, living room, or home office as opposed to joining the general melee known as the Black Friday in-store shopping experience.

Well, the answer is simple. A lot of us would much rather stay home, save gas, order from the comfort of our den, living room or home office as opposed to joining the general melee known as the Black Friday in-store shopping experience.

Generally speaking, I prefer shopping on line, primarily for all of the above twice mentioned reasons. Not to be dismissed from the equation is the fact there are no commission-paid sales staff following you around, asking you every two minutes if they can help you. Not, of course, that the online browsing experience is without the cyber version of those facilitators.  Actually, in some ways, the cyber version is much scarier.

Let me tell you what I mean. Are you on FaceBook? If you are, then I invite you to go to Amazon and browse something—but make it something specific, maybe something unusual. I recently went looking online for a new feather pillow. The one I’ve been using for the last 4 or 5 years lost its “umph”. I can only sleep on feather pillows (the other kind tend to give me headaches). Not too many stores have feather pillows anymore, and I wanted one, specifically, that had added down. If you don’t know, a pillow boasting “down” has the hard quill part of the feather removed.

The day after I was looking at feather pillows from a specific company through Amazon, low and behold, the ads that began appearing on FaceBook as I was going over my news feed were for the exact same brand of pillows! Coincidence? I think not.

I do sometimes worry about all the metadata that Amazon generates, and how they use it. But I guess I don’t worry about that nearly as much as I want to avoid, whenever possible, going to stores during peak shopping seasons.

No, it’s much quieter and much more pleasant to shop from my home—even if big brother really is watching me.


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