ABC’s 20/20 told me they’ll probably be re-running a segment tonight about a woman who is an “infomercial junkie” (she got a 2nd job just to pay for her infomercial product habit) that has a a clip or two of me in it.
The ads work by playing to our basic emotions, said consumer journalist Ben Popken.
"There’s not a whole lot of higher level cognitive thinking going on that infomercials are targeting," he said. "Fear, need, greed and sex. That’s what they’re going after.
Listen live online here or listen locally in California on KGO 810AM.
Verizon is charging a new $30 fee to customers who want to upgrade their phones. That’s right, a fee for giving them more money. I wrote a column about it for WSJ’s SmartMoney, then went on WSJ’s Digits show to talk about it. Clip from the show is above, pictorial synopsis of the video is below.
If there’s any question about whether corporations and consumers are at war, just call up your cellphone provider. Press 1 to talk to a customer service rep about a new line of service. Press 4 to talk to a customer service rep about your existing account. You will get a human in an instant if you press 1, while you can wait for eons, or get lost in a phone-tree subdivision quagmire, if you choose any other. They’ve made their priorities clear: once they have your buck, they don’t give a you-know-what.
And that point is exactly where Customer (Dis)Service, premiering Thursday Jan 5th at 9pm on CNBC, starts (the promo ad for it is above). With humor and without gloss, The deep-dive doc looks at the joke that passes for customer service at most companies. It goes from the farmed-out “Steves” in India, to the schmucks in the aisles of Walmart surprised that the global drive for rockbottom prices has resulted in something less than the neighborhoodly mom and pop service they’ve learned to mythologize. I’m one of the talking heads in the show, and my cornflower blue shirt and I get a good amount of screen time. Dave Carrol, he of “United Breaks Guitars" is interviewed there too, and they even highlight Freya Svensonn, who made an awesome video with herself in a viking helmet and sword to protest Volvo serving her up a lemon. She sliced that up and got all the free repairs she deserved out of it too. We shot this TV program months ago for CBC, Canada’s public television network. It’s the smartest and classiest I’ve been in, and I’m thrilled that a wide American audience is now getting to see it too.
For the first time ever, I got dubbed into Arabic. Here’s my interview on Al Arabiya News regarding Lowe’s initial lack of action when their Facebook wall post talking about how they pulled ads from TLC’s All-American Muslim was filled with anti-Muslim hate speech. My part starts at 1:40. They interviewed me because of my piece on Adweek. Not bad for my first post-Consumerist freelance article, if I may say so myself.
My wife says she doesn’t like how my closet looks and I should get a different background for future Skype interviews. Maybe I should get a green screen sheet to hang back there. Or maybe one with robots attacking Brooklyn.
Al Arabiya News D.C. Correspondent Muna Shikaki is taping an interview with me tomorrow for a piece about Lowe’s decision to pull advertising from TLC’s show All American Muslim. If you’re not familiar, the news channel is Saudi-owned and its stated goal, according to the New York Times, is to be ”the CNN to Al Jazeera’s Fox News… a calm, cool, professional media outlet that would be known for objective reporting rather than for shouted opinions.” Al Arabiya saw my story on Adweek and wants me to put the situation in a broader context for their international audience.
Have you ever had to handle wrapping things up when someone dies? Tune into the Michael Finney show this Saturday at 8:45pm eastern/5:45 pacific where we’ll be talking about how you go about closing up the accounts of friends and loved ones when they pass away. You can listen online here, or on 810 AM KGO if you’re in the Bay Area.