Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Uber’s “Safe Rides” fee is ridiculous

22 Oct 2015

I’m a huge fan of Uber. But, I also know they take a huge percentage of each fare (I’ve heard from Uber drivers as much as 30%.) However, I also understand websites and technology and the costs to run such businesses, so when I see $1.65 fee on top of an $11 fare – of which Uber gets 20-30%, it makes me click on the link next to the ‘Safe Rides Fee’ line item.

Here’s their reason for charging that fee:



The Safe Rides Fee supports safety efforts for the uberX platform, including among other things a background check process, motor vehicle checks, driver safety education and development of safety features in the app.

Here’s the issue… As of October 2015, Uber confirmed a $40 BILLION valuation. That’s a lot of money – and I love entrepreneurship and capitalism, but in this case, Uber is just being greedy. That $1.65 for “background checks’ and ‘vehicle checks’ should be coming from the 30% they take from EACH fare that a driver collects. That IS the business that Uber is running. When I see the line item on my phone bill for $1.28 to help extend phone service to rural areas, I get that – it’s basically a tax to help those people Uber’s “Safe Rides” fee is ridiculouswho choose not to live near city centers, and it’s an infrastructure cost that will give a return in years to come. And yes, you pay that $1.28 each month on your phone bill. But that’s each month, not each fare.

Uber – you’re doin’ a great job (be sure to thank your drivers), but seriously, you need to re-think this fee. Those checks are part of doing this business. If you want to raise fees, do that – don’t try to hide your massive profits in lame excuses in the name of “safety”.


Facebook’s wikipedia spam

14 Mar 2015

Facebook is clearly a web super-power, so why do they insist on spamming Facebook with duplicate business pages that business owners can’t claim? The spam I’m talking about are the countless wikipedia pages that were imported a few years ago.

NPR - This Means Wiki-Warwikipedia is notorious for untrustworthy content and endless edit-wars between subject matter experts and wikipedia trolls. NPR even did a story on the edit-wars. So why does Facebook force the content on users?

What’s worse than being forced to view garbage content is that these pages can’t be claimed by legitimate business owners who want Facebook users to find their official business pages, rather than some other company’s version of their page. Take the famous “Randy’s Donuts” in Los Angeles… if you go to Facebook and want to look up Randy’s, you might not get what you’re looking for – the official business page. Instead, you may, like 7,134 other people, get the wikipedia business page.

Thousands and thousands of business owners have asked Facebook how to merge the wikipedia spam page with their official business page, but Facebook refuses to respondWhen it comes to social media and online marketing, businesses should have the right to protect their brand from false information. Thousands and thousands of business owners have asked Facebook how to merge the wikipedia spam page with their official business page, but Facebook refuses to respond.


Hashtag Database

23 Mar 2014

hashtags on products - DaveTavres.comIn 2010 when I first wrote about QR codes, several friends say, ‘nah, they won’t take off’. I’m sure people said the same thing about hashtags. Well, hashtags will soon be included on packaging for major brand products, just like QR codes.

#Hashtags are more than common now and there are dozens of websites that promise to give businesses ‘tracking data’ to determine how popular a tag is – in other words, see just how many people passed along the message that was trying to be conveyed. Facebook and Twitter are obviously the most popular social media outlets to use them, but more and more television stations, individual TV shows, movies and of McDonald's hashtag - DaveTavres.comcourse whatever the internet fad of the moment are using them.

Quick quiz… you write a quick post online about wanting to watch the Olympics. Do you write:
A) “Can’t wait to watch the #Olympics tonight!”
B) “Can’t wait to watch the #SochiOlympics tonight!”
C) “Can’t wait to watch the #2014Olympics tonight!”

Of course the answer is – all are correct – but if you want to ‘correctly’ attribute the tag so that searches will take you to the Olympic organizer’s website, which is the “most” correct?

Here’s another one – what if you’re writing about the bone disease Avascular Necrosis which is often shortened to AVN and you add “#AVN” to the post, but don’t check it before you post it… then find out that AVN is probably far more commonly known as the “Adult Video News” – which runs their own version of the #Oscars for porn. Whoops.

Disney hashtag - DaveTavres.comOne last scenario… you’re working on article about camping and travelling and you sidetrack a little about visiting a nearby rainforest. Your article will be released to a broad distribution newsletter that will also be printed and emailed and posted online. You want to ’correctly’ give reference to an organization that raises funds for “saving the rainforests”. You’re not an expert on rainforests and you didn’t easily find a tag for it… So which tag do you use?

You logically use “#SaveTheRainforests”. Then you find out that an oil conglomerate is using that tag in their advertisements, trying to show how environmental they are – when in fact, they clear cut thousands of acres of rainforests a year but ‘save’ 1% of each forest. You may not want to support that company… but now you are supporting their message. Another “whoops”.

Facebook hashtag - DaveTavres.comSo, where do you find the tag that GreenPeace uses when they talk about saving a rainforest? In this article title “The Great Bear Rainforest Victory” or this one “Protecting forests”? Nope. They don’t have any hashtags there. So what should you use?

A website idea

2014 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial: Wings

Okay… how about a website that lists all the hashtags that a company uses for their various advertising campaigns and brands? On the same site you can search (and watch) that fun commercial where the car guys get their wings… Was the tag #Wings or #VW100000… no, it was just #VW (kind of a missed opportunity).

The revenue model would be purely ad-based. This isn’t likely to be a popular consumer website (but who really knows?) If it caught on, companies could pay for click traffic when someone searches for a specific tag to find the ‘official’ company that started using the tag.

In Closing

As hashtags become more commercial, brands will be using them more. Not just in commercials, but in more printed materials, including product packaging. So why not get a jump on the “hashtag database” now?


Amazon feature idea… Gift contributions

01 May 2013

Bose Computer MusicMonitor - www.DaveTavres.comScenario: A good friend has mentioned several times that they REALLY like that set of high-end speakers, but they just don’t want to spend $300+, plus they don’t really need them – but they’d still like them. At the same time, you don’t want to spend $300 on a gift for your good friend.

So, what do you do? Maybe you know some of their family members or their other friends and maybe you can get them to chip in on buying this great gift. Maybe. Even then, you have to coordinate the cash, make sure everyone puts in their share (or pay it out of pocket and then bug those lazy ones for months to get paid back… ahem.)

Yeah, sometimes that works. Most of the time it’s a pain. Another option is to just give your friend a gift card for $50. It IS a nice gesture, but they’re still short $250+ to get those speakers. Maybe they’ll get a few more gift cards for their birthday or Christmas. Hopefully they’re all from the same place (and from a store that sells the speakers), rather than one card from Starbucks, one from Crate & Barrel, one from Best Buy and another from Home Depot. D’oh!

Instead, what about leveraging Amazon’s “Wish lists” feature with a NEW feature… “Gift contributions”.

How do wish lists work?

Amazon Wish Lists - www.DaveTavres.comWhen you browse on Amazon, there’s this great “Add to Wish List” button below the “Add to Cart” button on each item. The key is, you need to BUILD your wish list. In fact, create several lists based on your different likes and passions. You might have one group of friends that are also Back to the Future nuts who would love to help buy that $330 replica of the Flux Capacitor for you – but they aren’t really into art or baking, so they may not chip in to get you that Cake Decorating Airbrush Kit. So – create some lists.

How does a Gift Contribution work?

Go to and in the “Find someone’s list” box, enter a friend’s email address. Amazon will show you the wish list(s) your friend has built. Now, look through the different lists and items and decide what gift(s) you’re going to chip-in for…

Gift Contributions - www.DaveTavres.comAs a gift ‘giver’, simply click the “Chip in on this gift” button. Before you do that, you can see the number of people who have ‘chipped in’, how much has been “Contributed so far” and the “Amount needed” to make the purchase. (The tax and shipping needed should be shown as well, probably based on the friend’s location.)

You can only contribute up to the full amount that’s needed and once the final gift amount is given to reach the total, the item is immediately ordered and shipped.

Of course, we all know that products go up and down in price and often go out of stock or are discontinued. Price changes and discontinued items could be handled like this:

  • Price increases
    • Usually prices don’t jump UP by much, so the “Amount needed” number would just change and each gift giver could see the current amount needed. If the price increases by a significant amount (say… 20% higher than when the friend added it to their wish list) AND there is at least one contribution, the gift receiver would get an email that their wish list item increased and they have the option to ignore the notice or reallocate the contributions to a different gift.
  • Price decreases
    • When an item drops lower than the amount that has already been contributed, the gift receiver would get an Amazon gift card in the box with their item OR they could simple show a ‘credit’ on their wish list, that they could reallocate to other wish list items
  • Out of stock and discontinued items
    • The gift receiver could choose to collect the cash from all (or some) of the gifts in the form of an Amazon gift card (but what’s the fun in that?)

Non-profit Organizations

Donate to non-profit organizations - DaveTavres.comAnother beneficiary of a “Gift Contribution” feature on Amazon could be non-profit organizations. Most NPOs want cash, as they have to pay electric bills, legal fees, payroll and other costs, but there are PLENTY of items that all NPOs need – printer paper, pens, software, cleaning supplies, window blinds, building supplies – yeah, just about anything. When I first setup (about Bodie State Historic Park), I had a page that listed items the Park wanted. There was a digital camera, printers for their computers, extra gloves and jackets and even a snow-mobile! Some people may donate used items, but others prefer to give with their credit card – so why not give more options?

A responsible party for the organization could setup an Amazon account and a few wish lists and give donor another way to give – entire items or just contributing a certain amount to specific items. Churches, human and animal shelters, museums, parks, community organizations, zoos… they all need things that Amazon sells.

3rd Party Version

I’ve been focused on Amazon adding this feature, but a 3rd party site could setup similar functionality. Have users grab the web address of a product and add it to a list and make the lists accessible. Some logic on how to make the purchases would need to be figured out, but it’s certainly possible.


There are two main ways that Amazon makes money here. The obvious – they sell more product! The maybe Layaway Available - www.DaveTavres.comnot-so-obvious – they get to hold on to that contributed cash until it’s used to purchase the item. Yes, it’s a significant amount. Imagine hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in AMAZON’s bank, getting some crazy interest rate. It adds up. Especially considering that they don’t actually take anything off the shelf (like Sears, Kmart, Walmart and other stores do with lay-a-way.) The product is still available for sale until the purchase amount is reached.


Microsoft Stores – Have some stock!

27 Apr 2013

best-buy[1]Home-Depot-Black-Friday-2012[1]If you’re Home Depot or Best Buy, I can understand running out of stock on items. It happens. Businesses can only carry so much debt when ordering products from suppliers. It’s understandable that Best Buy might only have 50 iPad 2’s in stock at a given store. Home Depot could run out of 3/4 in. HD Maple Plywood, as they only order it once every 6 months and don’t sell much of it.

Let’s look at the Apple Store. Sure, Apple only makes and sells about 50 products, which includes everything from desktop computers, laptops, phones, viewing devices, software, mice, keyboards and other little 157186-apple-silver-apple-logo[1]accessories. Most of those items sell like hotcakes. Apple junkies know they can go to any Apple Store and get the product they want – Apple makes the products. Sure, they run out of stock too, but you can be sure they won’t be out of stock long. Apple wants to SELL PRODUCT. Before they had stores, they relied on retailers – until they realized they could make even more money by selling it themselves (and helping people upgrade.)

microsoft-store-logo-600x250[1]Now, let’s look at Microsoft. Specifically, Microsoft’s attempt at competing with Apple on the retail front – the “Microsoft Store”. Microsoft has been far more successful for much longer than Apple. Microsoft has released thousands of products since 1975. They came late to the retail game though and it looks like they still can’t compete. The first Microsoft Store opened in 2009 to sell THEIR products. Yes, they sell OEM hardware that runs Microsoft software, but they have plenty of other items that they make on their own; computers, tablets, phones, gaming systems, mice and keyboards, webcams, headsets and of course, software.

Considering the items that Microsoft sells, there are few that are really expensive to manufacture. Most of their branded items are peripherals; plastic (and thin metal) with small circuit boards that are likely made overseas in mass quantities. So why then, can’t Microsoft keep their own items in stock… at THEIR stores?

I’ve been looking for a new mouse. I have LOVED Microsoft’s mice through the years, but I’m down to my last one and it’s starting to fail. I’ve been studying the new models that Microsoft makes. There are a lot! So after reading reviews, watching videos and asking some questions online, it has come down to three. As it turns out, they are the three that are the most expensive. The “Touch”, the “Explorer Touch” and the “Arc Touch” – I’ve also thought about the “Wedge Touch”. Ranging from $50 to $80!


A mouse is a significant piece of equipment to a computer geek like me. I use it a lot. I count on it for ease of use, control and the features it brings that allow me to work faster. I tend to be more of a keyboard guy, but I love my five-button Laser Mouse 6000. I use all the buttons. No, I’m not a gamer. I have buttons mapped for different shortcuts and I use them very efficiently. I understand that I’m odd – most people probably don’t give mice much of a second thought. I do.

Well, I’m not going to order an $80 mouse online just to find out I don’t like it. I want to go to the Microsoft Store and use it first. Make sure it fits my hand and feels good. I guess people buy shoes online, but I don’t want to have $80 to $150 in mice being returned each time I’m ‘trying’ out a mouse. I’m lazy, just like most people, and I’m likely to just leave the mouse in the closet and never return it. So, I’ve picked several mice made by Microsoft. Best Buy doesn’t have them in stock in the stores. Fry’s doesn’t either. Neither does Radio Shack, Sony Style Target, Walmart or OfficeMax. As it turns out, the Microsoft Store doesn’t have them either! That doesn’t mean the story near ME doesn’t have them… that means they haven’t had them in stock for MONTHS at ANY store in all of Southern California! What?!?!

Keep in mind, these are not old models. These are CURRENT products. Go to Microsoft Store’s “Mice” section of their website… *3* of the four mice I wanted to see in person at the store are at the top of the “Mice” section. These are the products Microsoft “wants” to sell? But they haven’t had them in stock at their retail stores for a long time.

What can be learned from this? Does Microsoft care about their customers? Do they understand how a retail location works? Do they not have the products because they’re going to abandon them like other products, but haven’t told customers yet? (ZuneKinSurface?) Are they really trying to stay in business?