Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Yeah, but...it's still a Discover Card....

...which means the people who made this commercial know that after thirty-four years, their product is still viewed as the Brand X of credit cards, the item that is sheepishly pulled from wallets and purses and apologetically offered to cashiers all over the world by people who aspire to possessing a card that doesn't get wrinkled noses and condescending looks in response.

I had a Discover Card once- when I was just out of college.  Which is the time when it's ok to have a Discover Card.

I'll give Discover some credit, though- before it was introduced waaaayyyy back in the 1980s (come to think of it, I must have been one of the first people to even get one) there was no such thing as a No-Fee Credit Card.  Discover deserves credit (no pun intended) for forcing the Big Boys on the Block to offer one themselves.  But the thing is.....they did.  All of them.  I've had an American Express and a Visa card.  I've never paid a fee for either.  Yes, I know that they both have Extra Special Cards that give bonus points for travel and exclusive entry into airport clubs or whatever, but 99.9 percent of us don't care about that stuff and find the regular cards just fine.  Which means that the only reason why anyone would want a Discover Card kind of went away a long time ago.

So, um...thanks, Discover, for forcing open the doors of Mastercard, Visa, and American Express.  Decades ago.  I suppose you're the reason I have those cards today.  But now you have to find another way to convince me that I should carry a Discover Card.  These obnoxious, headache-inducing, insulting commercials sure don't cut it.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Brighthouse Financial's "Expedition" of Privilege

It's so heartwarming to know that when I've reached my mid-fifties, my 25 years or so of hard work at a job which allowed me to stash away tons of money in investments and insurance will enable me to retire and finally enjoy life because it was managed so well by Brighthouse Financial.  Because it can't all be about work, right?

Wait a minute- I already reached my mid-fifties.  I've already worked for 25 years, too.  So why aren't I retiring?  Oh, right- because I'm one of those Americans who while putting money away for retirement doesn't make nearly enough to even think about retiring in my fifties.  And I'm actually doing better than the TYPICAL American, who isn't saving ANY money for retirement and (if they were born around the same time I was) must wait until they reach the age of sixty-seven in order to start collecting what will be the main if not only source of their income, Social Security. 

But I'm not the intended audience for these commercials anyway.  Brighthouse Financial ads are aimed at people like this couple- Double Income, plenty of which is disposable, who have the luxury of planning for the future by depositing some of that excess cash with a broker and who might as well hand it off to Brighthouse Financial because We Manage Rich People's Money.  And this couple in particular SHOULD be planning to spend lots of money in their early retirement if they are going to go off on long treks on their own and jump head-first into unfamiliar bodies of water just on a whim.  Frankly,  I wouldn't mind being one of their beneficiaries.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Win Cleaner- Absolutely Nothing, at the low low cost of $19.99!

It's almost scary to think that anyone believed this thing worked enough to purchase it for twenty bucks, or ANY amount of money....

I mean, come on.  The big-time "clean your PC" scammers work from boiler rooms in New Delhi and are experts at convincing you to turn your computer over to them so they can "fix" super-dangerous items like "Registry Errors" which sound scary but are absolutely meaningless unfortunately the vast majority of Americans have no idea what they are and are easily convinced that they are going to eat their computers from the inside out while simultaneously sharing their banking information with the entire planet.  And then we've got the jokers who made "Win Cleaner," which is nothing more than a USB drive that pretends to do the stuff they used to pay those people in New Delhi to pretend to do.  Of course it costs "only" $19.99 instead of the $50 or more you'd pay those scammers in New Delhi- those people don't have to pay their phone banks, and that USB drive can't actually seize control of your PC and hold it hostage.  Put those things together and the makers of Win Cleaner are kind of forced to give you a "deal."

Not that the makers of Win Cleaner are actually taking customers away from the scammers in New Delhi, because once people dumb enough to buy this junk realize that it does absolutely nothing, they'll be easy pickings for someone with a weird name like Lenny Napoleon who claims to be calling from New York City but sure sounds like he's someone who grew up in....well, New Delhi. 

So if you're one of the hilarious people in this Obviously Old Ad (everyone's using a desktop here,) go right ahead and pay $20 plus Shipping and Handling for a USB that will give you some very generic information that has zero to do with your computer but will make you think you actually accomplished something for a few seconds.  I mean, it's better than spending $4800 for a new computer (like I said, this commercial is Obviously Old- $4800???)  If your only two choices are buying this worthless piece of plastic for $20 or spending several mortgage payments on a new PC, go for the worthless piece of plastic.   Just don't expect it to magically clean up all that junk which is actually slowing down your PC.  That's going to take actual virus protection which, btw, doesn't cost that much in the first place. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Walmart's "extraordinary" response COVID-19....

I'm sorry, but the first time I saw this I thought it was an Onion Ad and the headline actually read "Walmart to pay workers actual salaries during crisis."

And then I started watching it, and realized....I wasn't all that far off at all. The gist of this heartwarming story of extraordinary measures taken during the current pandemic is that Walmart has decided to take the unprecedented step of coming slightly closer to actually paying it's employees a Living Wage for as long as the current situation continues...or until the Walton family realizes that a tiny sliver has been taken out of that enormous mountain of profit and oh right We Forgot Charity Begins at Home.

"Cash bonuses" from the company that once famously asked customers to contribute food to its employees so they could "enjoy a happier Thanksgiving."  Extra money from a company which is well known for educating its workers on the nuances of applying for food stamps and other federal assistance.  These are extraordinary times indeed.  Meanwhile, we can expect a tidal wave of "Walmart:  The Company that Cares" ads out of this in the very near future.  Don't worry, I'm on it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Petsmart has no respect for its customers, or thinks it's 1999?

I'm old enough to remember when that idiot David Oreck had the brilliant idea to run a radio ad letting everyone know that his vacuum company had an actual WEBSITE, and if we wanted to know how to find it, we could call this 800 number and he'd "WWW DOT GIVE IT TO US!"  It was a really stupid concept even then (sometime in the 1990s)- "want to find Oreck online?  No problem- call this number first, and we'll give you the website address."  It was old before it aired, but at least search engines were in their infancy, so Mr Oreck (who was in his mid-70s and is STILL WITH US) had some excuse....

On the other hand, we've got this really dumb Petsmart commercial, with a mom who looks to be in her late-thirties or early-forties is totally gobsmacked at the idea that you can make an on-line appointment to get the filthy smelly mammal you for some reason want to live with and spend money on groomed (I bet she can get that dog taken care of, too.)

What?  You can use a phone to access a website and make appointments?  What is this, the Jetsons??

Come on.  The mom in this ad was born during the Carter Administration, at the latest.  Which means that she was on the internet before she graduated college, and has had a cellphone since before her 20th birthday.  In short, she entered adulthood well aware of the World Wide Interwebs*  and connected cellphones and all the wonders attached thereto.  Maybe if this commercial featured GRANDMA being stunned at the Super Futuristic Amazing Internet, I could give it a pass.  But a mom young enough to have a surly teenager?  What's this woman going to get slack-jawed at next, the concept of HDTV and Uber?

*Maybe this woman is just chronically out of touch, like our friend from one of my favorite films, For Your Consideration:

Monday, March 30, 2020

Virus or no Virus, Grifters gotta Grift!

"Hello, I'm Franklin Graham, heir to the Billy Graham empire although everyone agrees that my sister is a vastly better speaker because male bloodline don't ya know..."

"Anyway, since all I really know how to do is be Billy Graham's less talented offspring, I'm here to take advantage of a frightening pandemic that is keeping many people isolated in their houses by encouraging them to call an 888 number, putting money into my already-bulging pockets."

"Feeling afraid that you're going to die without accepting that you were created by a god who later send himself in the form of a human male to subvert rules that he created and by the way that human male was not only god but also god's son Shut Up It Makes Sense?  Don't just sit in your house and talk to yourself- call the 888 number and pay money to talk to yourself while someone on the other line is also talking to himself.  That's better because Reasons- and because I like money-- I mean, I need money to continue to Glorify god's kingdom, just like my dad used to do in sold-out baseball and football stadiums because social media wasn't a thing back then. Poor dad, always had to do things the hard way."

"Don't wait.  You could die tomorrow and be cast into the fiery pit and be tortured for all eternity.  Or, you could spend x amount per minute to chant nonsense at an operator and be Saved.  Guess which one god wants you to do?  Guess which one makes me even more obscenely rich than I already am?  Here's a hint:  they are both the same option!"

"Keep in mind that you're supposed to be going to church, but you're afraid to because of this virus which by the way god, who loves you, sent to Earth Because Reasons.  Calling my 888 number is the same as going to church as far as god is concerned, Jesus told me so.  Render unto Franklin what is Franklin's-- I mean, unto god what is god's.  What are you waiting for?"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Thanks for pretty much nothing Dr Bob..

So the patient in this ad made an appointment with his doctor (a guy he knows well enough to call by his first name- I've had the same primary care physician for 30 years and I don't call him by his first name) because he's got back pain.  Sounds smart.  I know from personal experience that back pain is something to take seriously.

Anyway, I'm sure the patient expected to go from a waiting room filled with magazines to an examination room where he'd be asked to disrobe and sit quietly while Dr Bob dealt with other patients.  Then Dr Bob would come in and ask him to describe his symptoms.  Then he'd lay down on the couch/table covered with a thin sheet of paper and Dr Bob would do the usual poking and prodding, etc. etc.

But no, this visit turned out very differently.  The patient didn't go to an examination room, and he didn't undress.  As near as I can tell, Dr Bob didn't demonstrate the slightest interest in asking him when the pain started or where it's located or how severe it is or if he has a family history of back pain.  The patient just sits down with Dr Bob in Dr Bob's office and asks "what should I do about back pain?"  And Dr Bob jumps right into a recommendation that he use an over-the-counter treatment "before trying anything else" followed by a conveniently already-downloaded commercial for Salonpas with Lidocaine.

Anyone else would respond "hey, doctor?  Did you really think that my FIRST reaction to experiencing back pain was to call for an appointment and take time off from work so I could come down here and hand over a $30 copay?' OF COURSE I rubbed some cream on my back first, just in case it was a pulled muscle or just overexertion.  But then the pain came back.  That's why I'm here.  I don't need to be told that over-the-counter topical gels and pads exist for a LOT LESS than an appointment with you, because I'm a human being who exists in America and I'm not a hypochondriac who just enjoys going to the doctor for minor symptoms."   But THIS clown acts as if he should be grateful that his doctor that he's on a first name basis with tells him to just slap some cream or a patch on it and go away, don't forget to pay at the desk.

Maybe Dr Bob is kind of sick of being an actual doctor, especially the asking questions and probing naked bodies part.  Certainly showing patients commercials for mass-produced practically-placebos is a lot easier. It's a lot more profitable, too- because when this guy comes back in a few days, that's another $30 copay, and this time he'll leave with actual treatment he could have gotten in the first visit.  I think Dr Bob's patient should take a quick glance around the room and note how much free crap has SALONPAS stamped on it, myself.