Delivery Grinches This Christmas

I am among the many that had UPS deliver a Christmas package on December 26th. Oops. Yes, I have asked my vendor to refund my shipping fees. But, no, I’m not extremely mad at the situation.

The-Grinch

Why? Well, if you are buying something just a few days before December 25th, you should know there is a chance something goes wrong and the package doesn’t end up under your tree.

However, the vendor and shipper have made an agreement to be able to offer 2nd day or overnight delivery. Thus, the consumer should get the money spent on shipping back, if not more. It’s as simple as the notion that the customer should pay for the service which they actually ended up receiving. If the business decides to do more in order to really make the customer happy (and forget about this bad experience) all the better.

Customer Service As A Supplement For Branding, Advertising

I had a great consumer experience this Black Friday weekend.

On Wednesday I purchased a Motorola Moto X cell phone from Amazon.com. The price of the device was $50. That was approximately half of the typical price I found around other retailers. With Black Friday approaching I knew there was a chance of the price dropping even further. That being said, I went ahead with the purchase with the thought that the price could really only go down an additional $50 (i.e. free).

amazon-box

Low and behold, only several hours later, the price of my Moto X dropped to $0.01. Yes, a penny.

I have to admit, knowing this was a potential outcome, I also thought that if I was proactive and emailed Amazon explaining the situation that I might be able to get them to honor the new price. They did. And, boy, was it simple.

I heard back from an Amazon customer service rep within 4 hours of sending my message. With no further questions asked, I was refunded.

As I briefly pointed out in my initial message to Amazon — I am a loyal Amazon customer (Prime member and Amazon credit card holder). Without saying so, I made the representative understand that keeping me happy is, in the long run, good for business. And I truly believe that to be the best way to run a consumer business.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what the customer acquisition cost is when running national television commercials. Given the expensive price tag, and in my opinion limited effectiveness, I can speculate that it’s a lot.

On the other hand, this $49 and change refund is a clear cut investment in my continued use of Amazon and it’s various services. It’s easy to see that this small expenditure will, in the end, be a profitable branding opportunity if I continue to spend thousands of dollars on Amazon products and services.

Companies should do more to keep current customers rather than rely on the crap-shoot of typical advertising mediums to acquire new customers.

Disclosure: Rory has no professional relationship with Amazon and was not compensated for this post.

When Bernanke Turned My 30% Gain Into A 10% Loss

I recently posted some insights into my stock portfolios performance in 2013. At the end of that post, I alluded to a less than stellar situation where in a matter of weeks, all my gains where erased. I learned a long time ago that experience is paramount. This was an experience I will not soon forget.

ben-bernankeIn early May Bernanke started monitoring the idea of “reaching for yield” in a market where interest rates are irrelevant. Thus the potential of a taper really kicked up.

Then July came around and Big Ben put the nail in my proverbial 2013-performance coffin with further taper-mania. A few high-yielding stocks in my portfolio got hit. I understood that. But I try to be long-term greedy, not short-term greedy. I was going to ride it out. However, I had no idea what my REIT was in for. Had I any idea, that’s the one position I would have exited upon the chairman’s initial comments. Hindsight. I just truly didn’t know how hard the sector would pull back.

I’m not just writing about my little sob story. To be honest, it’s likely a good thing that Bernanke reined everyone in a bit. There are a couple larger points here. The middle part of 2013 was feeling too amazing to be true. That said, how scary is it that one guy’s quotes can turn an investment result by 40 points in a matter of weeks?

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The thing is, it’s so hard to really understand what those comments meant for high yielding stocks when you’ve never been in this situation before. That’s the predicament I got myself in.

Although not a fun, braggadocios post like my last investing post. This one is just as important. No, it’s more important.

There are lessons to be learned here. One, don’t F-with Bernanke. Two, stay vigilante.