Tag Archives: Black Friday

Your Call is Very Important…


There is a popular image of retail “customer service” as a call center in some faraway land filled with people you can’t understand, yet somehow their names are Chad or Stacy. (An image, I believe, that retailers don’t mind perpetuating if it keeps you from calling.) But, somehow people still use the telephone.

So how was their experience on Black Friday, one of the toughest shopping days of the year? The Consumerist reports on a survey:

The survey, conducted by the folks at STELLAService, looked at the 35 largest online retailers — most of which are websites for major bricks-and-mortar stores — to determine how these companies performed at responding to phone and online chat requests. Consumerist.com

The results:

2012 Top 5:

JCPenney :22 sec, Office Max :30 sec, Amazon :59 sec, Target 1:05, Gap 1:33

2012 Bottom 5:

HSN 5:46, Dell 8:49, Walmart 11:20, TigerDirect 12:14, Costco 12:34

Read the article to see all the results. Did you call any customer service on Black Friday? How was your experience?

And, for the record, MindField Online uses home-grown customer service talent. If you can’t understand them, it’s just because they are from West Virginia! 😉  Have a great weekend!

(photo: apartmenttherapy.com)

Vendredi Noir

That’s French for “Black Friday,” because I am sooo clever! Anyway, after you’ve done your combat shopping, please head over to the MindField Online Facebook page and give us a report of what you’ve seen. Big crowds? Craziness? Better or worse than you expected? Let us know…and have a great weekend!

(photo: the churchofnopeople.com)

Pre-Thanksgiving Brainstorm

By the time we meet again, you will be ignoring this space and engaging in hand-to-hand combat at the mall. So, to kick off your battle planning, here are some gift idea links from around the web:

CNBC has this year’s top gadget gifts

Good Housekeeping picks this year’s best toys

Consumer Reports likes these electronic gifts

Help for Parents has a Top 10 gifts for kids list

Digital Crave picks the 5 best cell phones

Ask Men has a top 10 for her (relax, it was written by a woman!)

And also a Top 25 for him

And hey, who’s hungry? Planning your Thanksgiving Day feast?

Consumer Reports names the best stuffing mixes

Epicurious picks the best frozen pumpkin pies

Here are the top 5 cranberry sauce recipes (from 2010, but hey)

Hope this helps! Have a great Thanksgiving Day. Remember to actually, you know, give thanks. And be careful on Black Friday- I don’t want to see you in a riot on YouTube!

(photo: wetcanvas.com)

Thanksgiving and Late for Work

“Watch for Falling Prices – and Flying iPads!”

Have you seen that nightmare YouTube video of the redneck Wal-Mart warehouse guys “playing catch” with your iPad, laughing with glee when it smashes on the ground? Go on, Google it (but NOT at work.)

Anyway, those three ding-dongs got fired (because they posted the video online, durr.) But thousands of Wal-Mart and Target employees remain, and they all have to work on Thanksgiving. Are they mad enough to destroy your merchandise? Probably not, but I wouldn’t count on any surplus of smiles.

Imagine you’re at mom’s, packing away the turkey and giblets, watching Dallas and Detroit and generally having a good time. Then at 8pm, you have to head to work for the next 16 hours.  “But I’m still full of turkey – and resentment!”

Last year, a Target employee gathered 200,000 signatures on a petition to stop the retailer from opening at 11pm Thanksgiving night. If you read the Target guy’s statement, he is careful to say that he LIKES Target. They give back to the community, support charities, etc. He just thinks they’re going a little nutty with the Black Friday business.

Target responded, “You’re right, 11pm is dumb. Let’s open at 9pm instead!”  Meanwhile, in a touching show of solidarity, Wal-Mart will open at 8pm.

Sign of the times, I guess. There will always be retailers looking for an advantage, employees willing to work and shoppers looking for that big score. If that’s you, here is a guide to Black Friday opening times, if your conscience can stand it (it can.) Happy hunting!

November’s Best Buys!

Of course, Black Friday draws near – the big bargain day for combat shoppers. But the rest of November is no slouch, as retailers try to grab your attention in the days leading up to the madness.

Here, from DealNews.com, is a list of some of your best November buys:

  • Cookware: Good prices, typically through December and January. But November is best.
  • Tools and Hardware: “Sets” are big, such as a 50-piece socket set. Hint hint.
  • Apple stuff: Apple often has 5 to 10% discounts on Black Friday, and retailers often make further cuts.
  • This season’s clothes
  • Wedding dresses: They’re just not on a woman’s radar this time of year, so it could be a chance for you to grab a bargain from a hungry retailer.
  • Halloween candy! Natch. (The author suggests you stuff some in your purse for Black Friday!)
  • Budget Laptops: Some as low as $200!
  • Turkey: Many stores give a bird away if you spend a certain amount. Don’t overspend just to get the bird, though.

Those are just some highlights of good buys. What’s NOT an especially great buy in November – or, not really any better than other times? Tablets. Turns out Amazon and others are basically giving them away already, selling them at cost, and making their money on the digital media you buy.

Lots more useful info at the original article, so check it out!

Know that Return Policy!

Thanksgiving 2012 is a mere 30 days away. Do you know what this means? Right, Black Friday is only 31 days away!

People have made a sport out of this pre-dawn ritual. Bursting through the doors at 5am, racing to the toy aisle, etc. It’s chaotic and fun, but mostly chaotic. And in the chaos, mistakes are made, and returns become necessary.  And returns can be a drag!

If you fail to read a store’s return policy before shopping there, you could get stuck with an item that doesn’t work out. But if you fail to read return policies before gift shopping, it’s a friend or relative who could get stuck with an unwanted item. MoneyTalksNews.com

So how do you learn about a store’s return policy? What are some warning signs? Which stores have the best and worst return policies? That’s the subject of this article. But briefly, the author likes Costco, LL Bean, Nordstrom and Zappos. Not so much love for Babies R Us, Macy’s Kohl’s or Toys R Us.

Lots  of detail in the article, so check it out!

What’s Your Return Policy?

From Black Friday to the Return Desk: it's the Circle of Life!

We’ve all seen the of Black Friday news footage madness – the stampedes, shoving and hysteria. Whether you find these scenes funny or horrifying, I bet you don’t watch them and say, “These look like reasonable people who will use good judgment to make sound purchases.”

Apparently the logic, i.e. “can we really afford this?” doesn’t kick in until well after you get home from the mall and eat those leftover turkey sandwiches.

So, while our spending is up over 15% from last year, returns are also way up, long before the actually holidays hit!

Buyers remorse? This is the ultimate environment for it. You get lured in by the deals, but ultimately you realize you don’t want to be paying this stuff off for the next six to 12 months. Retail Analyst, NBC Today Show

The segment taking the biggest hit is electronics. They will lose $17 billion to returns this year, up 21% in the past four years.  Why do we return electronics? 5% of us claim some product defect, while 27% claim buyer’s remorse.

Despite getting killed by returns, some retailers are seeing the value of a good return policy. For example, Nordstrom.com used to charge a $6 restock fee. Now, returns are free.

For some, this is all a bunch of humbug. The shopping truly is part of the fun of the holiday season. To you I say go crazy…but keep your receipts!

Online Shopping, Credit Card Use On the Rise

Extreme Online Shopping: It's RADICAL!

Black Friday is a time-honored shopping tradition. In recent years, Black Friday had a baby named Cyber Monday. And this year it was a BIG baby! This year…

Cyber Monday (was) the heaviest online spending day on record, with $1.25 billion in sales.  Tuesday and Wednesday followed with billion dollar spending days, helping Cyber Week reach a record weekly total of nearly $6 billion in spending.  Consumer Affairs

So far this season, we have spent almost $19 billion online, an increase of 15% over last year. So, great, we’re spending again – that’s got to be good news for the economy, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. It seems that we’re doing a lot of that spending using our credit cards. Credit card spending is up 7.4 %, while debit card use is up only 3.4%. Will we pay off those credit card purchases, or will we let ‘em ride? That’s the question! Paying them off is usually a sign of consumer confidence – which has been in short supply lately!

So, how about you? Have you increased your online buying this year? What makes you choose one retailer over another? Are you using more credit or debit? Let us know!

Black Friday Thankfulness

A fun chart. Multiply by 1.55 to get Dollars

Here’s a little bit of good news for all you Holiday shoppers here in the States. Imagine reading THIS article in the UK Daily Mail that says the following:

  • An iPod Nano costs $175 in London and $135 in Boston
  • UGG boots: $269 London, $147 Boston
  • Elizabeth Arden 8-hr cream: $39 London, $18 Boston
  • Men’s Ralph Lauren pullover: $185 London, $95 Boston
  • Sesame Street Rockin’ Elmo: $130 London, $62 Boston

What would you do? Would you buy a plane ticket and do your Holiday shopping in the US of A? Due to a relatively weak Dollar, and HUGE UK taxes, thousands of Brits are doing exactly that this year!

So, as you watch the Wal-Mart credit-card swiper start to smoke and throw sparks as it adds up your purchases, take heart…it could be worse!

Retailers Pushing Social Media for the Holidays

Looks like Facebook is about to have its biggest Holiday season ever, with more retailers jumping into Social Media marketing, and existing marketers pushing even harder than before. And Facebook fans are paying attention:

 44% of consumers plan to use social media sites when holiday shopping, according to a recent survey. Of those who plan to use social media, 57% percent will seek discounts, 51% read reviews and 49% research gift ideas. Internet Retailer

So, which retailers are on the bandwagon, and what are they doing online?

  • Soap.com, Diapers.com and Wag.com are having a Battle of the Brands on Facebook. Customers vote on their favorite, and the winner will be discounted 30% on Black Friday weekend.
  •  Sears is doing a similar Battle on Facebook, but with weekly winners that will be discounted every weekend.
  •  Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Walgreen’s are publishing a sneak peek of their Black Friday circular on their Facebook page, 2 weeks in advance so you can plan ahead.

And on and on. How about you? Are you a Facebook fan of a big retailer? What are they doing online, and do you “LIKE” it? Let us know!