Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019

20191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 0120191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 02

I posted “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” as a comment on CostCo’s Facebook page yesterday. And Costco’s social media teams replied promptly (within the hour) to inform me my concerns have already been sent to the appropriate team(s). Will see what happen next.

===

For the record, here is “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” ,

Hi, We just had a rather #awful Costco Wholesale Canada membership renewal experience this past Friday. Ended up spending ~30 minutes talking to three (4) different customer service employees/manager with one of them even threatened me to stop writing down her name (I said I might want to complain about my experiences at some point). I was told I’m not allowed to remember their names in order to properly complain if I wish to. Is this normal and standard operating procedure of CostCo employees to threaten members who may want to complain with precision?
Can someone explain why does CostCo treat loyal customers WORSE than brand new customers? Shouldn’t renewal NOT be taken “for granted”? Is it wrong to think each renewal should be treated as EARNED?

— Calgary Zoo example
In stark contrast, Calgary Zoo does things right and treat each member who decides to renew (some don’t renew) with full respect and work hard to earn each renewal. As a start, the zoo treats a renewing member EQUALLY as a new member and would NEVER shortchange/disadvantage a loyal existing member!

— CostCo: a multi-billion dollar entitled company?
Now back to CostCo, please correct me if I am wrong. When a NEW customer decide to take out a NEW membership on November 1st, his/her membership will expire in 2020 November 30th, correct me if I am wrong?
Now when we renewed on November 1st, we were told that our membership expired on September 30th! Major #fail with CostCo! In fact we were further explained, for ANYONE who “renew” within three (3) months of their previous membership expiration date, their membership expiration is the OLD date! So for example, members who decide to renew 89 days after expiration will have their membership shortchanged with 89 days LESS!
Fair? I don’t think so. This, to me and to be frank, is the actions of a multi-billion dollar entitled company that disrespect loyal customers because “it has always been done like this” or it is in the “terms and conditions” (which I tried to read “Membership Conditions & Regulations, and Privacy Policy” but is unable to find the exact exploitative legal language).

— More Training (not punishment) & Will CostCo start treating Loyal/Renewal customers with respect??
I will NEVER want anyone be punished for my stupid complains. Life is too short. Training may be. I want other customers be treated much better than I had been.
I take time to complain not just to benefit myself (sure, I want my complains fixed) BUT I take time to publicly complain in order to raise issues that I think companies like CostCo should think seriously and consider fixing.
I’ve laid out my complains and the issues (hopefully clearly and factually). Will CostCo review your corporate policy and START respecting all Loyal/Renewing customers reminds to be seen. Don’t take my words for it, Google or ask Calgary Zoo how they treat their renewing members and if they treat their loyal renewing members as good as their new ones and if they also shortchange their members because many are too busy to ask?


Kawhi Leonard “paid” millions to “buy” NBA Championships

Thursday, 11 July, 2019

 

20190711 Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely By Doug Smith - Sports Reporter

20190711 Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely By Doug Smith – Sports Reporter

I love Doug Smith’s analysis and he is always a good read. In this case (see below for an excerpt), I disagree with Doug and want to make a few observations.

  1. No one got “played”. Everyone knows exactly what they get themselves into.
  2. I won’t call billionaires “riverboat gamblers” because the millions to them is “nothing” like you and I pay $5 for a cheap movie. For billionaires, it is not gambling if you enjoy the time spent watching the movie (or your NBA team do stuff) as they can never finish spending their money in their lifetime and last I check, even if you bring money to your grave, your hands are kinda stiff and you can’t spend the money.
  3. And wow Kawhi! I admire Kawhi so much as he has left “that much money on the table” (in the words of Doug) to buy (“buy” is my word, and yes, he “paid” millions to “buy”) the maximum chance to win NBA Championships and to win them fast asap, preferably in the next two seasons in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021!
    Kawhi (and his team of advisors including Uncle Dennis) thought carefully about how best to increase Kawhi’s chances to win. He is gambling with a pair of legal mercury loaded dices named Leonard & George that he personally designed. He has put the Clippers on the clock (and they know it) to win like NOW.Remember, at some point, any extra millions Kawhi can make also becomes meaningless to him because, lets not forget, his aim in life is NOT to collect the biggest number of houses around the world or the most number of fancy cars! Kawhi’s aim in life is to win the most number of NBA championships in the time that he is healthy to play basketball. In case anyone is counting, Kawhi is currently at 2× NBA champion (2014, 2019).

Kawhi told a reporter in 2015, “I’m just trying to pass Tim Duncan in championships if I can one day.”

For the record, Tim has 5× NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). That my friend is what the #FunGuy has been thinking since high school and aiming to achieve in his basketball career all along, 6(?)× NBA champion (2014, 2019, 2020(??), 2021(??), ????, ????) How can you not admire Kawhi and think he is kinda “fun” in his own champion kinda way!

Here is a brief excerpt from Doug Smith’s blog post, “Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely

“Wow.

Only doing a two-plus-one deal with the Clippers sure caught everyone I talked to by surprise and once again proved Leonard is impossible to read and to think you can is folly.

But a lot of people were combination of mystified and perturbed by the move and some were kind of thankful it ended as it did.

I talked to agents who simply couldn’t comprehend a client leaving that much money on the table and I presume some eyebrows were raised at the players association office, as well.

It’s kind of telling that no player – not Leonard, not Durant, not Kyrie Irving, not Jimmy Butler to name just four – got every last dollar they could have out of the market. Not sure if that means the market is flawed or just too full of money but I do think it means something.

What it also means, to me in the immediate moment at least, is that the Clippers got used and a bit played and now the pressure on them to win big and win fast is astronomical. [K note: “win big and win fast is astronomical” is exactly the position Kawhi want Clippers to be in] It was one thing to pay the highest price ever paid by an NBA team on the trade market – basically two good players and a decade of draft picks to get the one guy the guy you wanted demanded you get – when the expectation was you’ve have Leonard for four year, a much longer time to win championships than just two.

I don’t know for 100 per cent that they knew they were only going two years guaranteed and if they did, wow, are they riverboat gamblers. If they didn’t, they got played.”

2019 July 11st update:

ESPN, July 10, 2019 “Kawhi’s contract puts the Clippers under pressure – Stephen A. | Pardon the Interruption” (quite similar to one of the points I made)

xxx


Lee Iacocca (1924-2019)

Wednesday, 3 July, 2019

 

My 1986 copy of

My 1986 copy of “Iacocca: An Autobiography” which I used for a high school English class assignment/book review. This is one of the autobiographies that got me onto the path of lifelong learning form insightful people’s biographies.

Goodbye Mr. Lee Iacocca (1934-2019), you will be dearly missed.

Thanks to my high school English teacher for letting me use Iacocca‘s best selling autobiography for one of the book review/class assignment which got me on a lifelong path of reading and enjoying autobiographies and biographies of many people which got me to learn valuable life lessons and teachable moments from them.

CNN, “How Lee Iacocca became an American icon” (bought back so many good memories)

Jun 2017, RegularCars, “The Legend of Lee Iacocca” (hope this is good)

xxx


Banksy’s $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?)

Sunday, 7 October, 2018

(with 2018, October 11th & 18 updates) Fascinating $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?) by anonymous UK-based street artist Banksy. The work is not really “destroyed” because it is in a funny Schrödinger’s cat half-alive & half dead state. A total and more messy destruction would be one that cut the canvas into tiny squares and cut the whole canvas completely and let the pieces fall onto the ground. A total and more beautiful “destruction” is what Tibetan monks do when they blow away their own sand arts (sand mandala is a ritual of creation and destruction, that “symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life“).

Finally, the money/worth question is probably the easiest one to answer. It will be rather stupid for the buyer to use legal means to get out of the deal. The work, after this stunt, will easily worth a lot more. Way more! But what is more interesting to me about art is always about the questions we ask ourselves or the thinking we do about them. We (National Gallery of Canada) paid a controversial $1.8m for Voice of Fire (a painting consists of “three equally sized vertical stripes, with the outer two painted blue and the centre painted red“) in 1989. It was estimated to worth $40m in 2014 and probably more today. And of course, art can’t just be about money. [HT Seastar]

P.S. This “making of” video was posted on Read the rest of this entry »


10 Things You Don’t Know About #CrazyRichAsians (with video)

Friday, 17 August, 2018

Here are 10 things you don’t know about Crazy Rich Asians the movie:

1) Author Kevin Kwan Optioned His Book for Only $1
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has a great cover story on CRA, here is an excerpt about why Kwan ended up optioning the book for just $1.

“I met with, I think, six producers in one day,” says Kwan. “It was like a beauty contest.” Many had renminbi signs in their eyes. “They were interested in getting into the Chinese market, and I was like, ‘This is a 
movie with worldwide and domestic potential — that just happens to star Asians.'”

Color Force’s Jacobson and Simpson, known for the Hunger Games franchise, saw it the same way. “It feels so mainstream and accessible — anybody can relate to being rejected by in-laws,” says Jacobson. She and Simpson vowed to secure financing from a company with Asian ties, and UTA steered them to Ivanhoe Pictures, Penotti’s then-brand-new company with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. While Kwan had lucrative offers, he optioned his book to Color Force and Ivanhoe for just $1 (with triggers in place for him to earn more as the project got made) in exchange for the right to remain involved with development decisions — a rare opportunity for a first-timer. “To say, ‘I’m going to do this for a dollar,'” says Simpson, “the only other person I know who does that is Stephen King.””

2) (see pix) Real life inspiration for Rachel Chu
See author Kevin Kwan’s Instagram post, “[my dear friend Vivian’s] stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

View this post on Instagram

More than ten years ago, my dear friend Vivian in New York started telling me stories about how she grew up in Northern California amongst all her cousins and how close knit they all were. As I moved to the US when I was eleven and had to leave behind my closest cousins, I was fascinated by the stories of her cool American-Born Chinese family, so different from my own, and her stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of "Crazy Rich Asians," was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

A post shared by Kevin Kwan (@kevinkwanbooks) on

3) (with video) Getting permission to use Gardens by the Bay went right up to the PMO
The producers were having a hard time getting permission to film at the epic beautiful Gardens by the Bay location until CRA author Kevin Kwan visited the set in KL one day and heard of the challenge and mentioned that actress Janice Koh’s (she played auntie Felicity Young in the movie) husband was the CEO of Singapore Tourism Board. Ultimately, it went right up to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of Singapore to get the OK. Watch the producers talk about it in this segment of Oscars video (timecode 9:30).

4) (with video) Location for Young’s family home was a shithole (literally :)  
Finding a location for the Young’s family home was very hard as a home like that doesn’t exist in Singapore. A location was found in KL (where 65% of the film was shot). After watching the beautiful house in the film, you wouldn’t know it was run down, “collapsing on itself” and had monkey pooh on the floor! Watch the producers discussed it in this segment of Oscars video (10:10).

5) (with video) Dumpling & mahjong scenes are new and not in the book
(*** NOTE:
Unfortunately, this video is no longer on YouTube.)
The dumpling scene and the mahjong scene aren’t in the book and I quite like them both. Here co-screenwriter Adele Lim talks about these two scenes in this Q&A.
WARNING: Some spoilers!!!! Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim on writing CRAZY RICH ASIANS (6:53)

6) (with video) Coldplay‘s “Yellow” in Chinese
Director Jon M. Chu (朱浩偉) had to work his magic on Warner Bros and Coldplay to get the song into the movie. QZ has an excellent report in “HOW COLDPLAY’S “YELLOW,” IN CHINESE, ENDED UP ON THE “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” SOUNDTRACK” that is worth reading in full. Here is an excerpt, Read the rest of this entry »


Uber self-driving SUV fatal accident – a Computer Scientist’s views

Thursday, 22 March, 2018

20180324 update: For now, I’ve found these two posts by Brad Templeton to be very insightful and cover some of the issues that I want to write about but Brad wrote in much more detail! Have a read, 03/20 “New facts and questions on Uber robocar fatality” & 03/21 “It certainly looks bad for Uber“. I may still add more if I see more facts of the case especially when Uber starts to voluntarily (or be compelled to) provide more of its internal technical data. I hope Uber won’t try to brush this fatality under the carpet. Will see.

***

I just read some news reports and watched the video of the Uber self-driving SUV fatal accident. (WARNING: Video contains disturbing images. Viewer discretion is advised.) I know I do not have full information yet so I hope to share my views (for now, semi-technical/semi-informed) on this Uber self-driving fatal accident as best as I can. And in the coming days when I have time, I hope to keep updating this post when more technical and police investigative information are available.

A bit of background first. In 2013 February (more than 5 years ago now), I was already interested in driverless technologies and already interviewed U of T Professor Emeritus C.C. Kelly Gotlieb, “Father of Computing in Canada”, to talk about many topics including Google driverless car and issues like whose to blame when an accident happened? Sadly, we now have a fatal accident on hand to talk about.

From the AP report “Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman”, this Uber self-driving SUV is using LIDAR laser sensors technology to “see”. (note: LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and it “measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light” which can see perfectly well even in total darkness as it uses laser.) I made this observation re LIDAR in direct response to this sentence of the news report, “The lights on the SUV didn’t illuminate 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night until a second or two before impact, raising questions about whether the vehicle could have stopped in time.” And the fact the Uber safety driver was NOT paying attention to the road when he killed the 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg!

Let me quote from the AP report “Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman”,

““The victim did not come out of nowhere. She’s moving on a dark road, but it’s an open road, so Lidar (laser) and radar should have detected and classified her” as a human, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor who studies autonomous vehicles.

Smith said the video may not show the complete picture, but “this is strongly suggestive of multiple failures of Uber and its system, its automated system, and its safety driver.”

Sam Abuelsmaid, an analyst for Navigant Research who also follows autonomous vehicles, said laser and radar systems can see in the dark much better than humans or cameras and that Herzberg was well within the range.

“It absolutely should have been able to pick her up,” he said. “From what I see in the video it sure looks like the car is at fault, not the pedestrian.”

Smith said that from what he observed on the video, the Uber driver appears to be relying too much on the self-driving system by not looking up at the road.

“The safety driver is clearly relying on the fact that the car is driving itself. It’s the old adage that if everyone is responsible no one is responsible,” Smith said. “This is everything gone wrong that these systems, if responsibly implemented, are supposed to prevent.”

The experts were unsure if the test vehicle was equipped with a video monitor that the backup driver may have been viewing.

Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The National Transportation Safety Board, which makes recommendations for preventing crashes, is investigating the crash.”

I will try to come back to this article and add more details and updates in the coming days when I have more time. Will see.

For now, here is the particular segment of my 5 years old 2013 interview with Prof. Gotlieb talking about “Google [and by extension, any other company’s] Driverless Car gets into an accident, whose to blame? And who can you sue? The person who wrote the program? Google who authorize the car? Car manufacture? The person who is in the car? Or all of the above? […] Lots of questions to be asked when failure happen.”

xxx


The catch CBC & CTV missed: Loblaws $25 “gift” card/hush money for bread price-fixing

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018

The following three news reports cover various aspect of the Loblaws $25 “gift” card but missed an important catch that I want to discuss in this article.

  1. CBC News, “Loblaws $25 gift card registration now open, but there’s a catch – Signing up for gift card doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted
  2. CTV News, “The catch: What Loblaw wants for its $25 gift card
  3. Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet – The bread price-fixing scheme is a moment when the curtain is pulled back and we get a peek into how things really work.

In short, the “catch” as others and CBC reported, “Signing up for gift card (and getting that $25) doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted“.

The catch that is missed at least by CBC, CTV, and even Huffington Post is that as millions of Canadian adults apply for the gift cards is the “Retention and Cross-border Transfer” clause in the “Program Privacy Policy“. The “missed catch” is why should millions of Canadians subject our private and confidential information including

a) Full name
b) Date of Birth
c) Address
d) Home phone number,
e) Mobile phone number, and
f) email address

to courts of foreign countries including El Salvador or other random countries we don’t even know! When we are talking about millions of Canadians’ private and confidential data potentially being “stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada “!! Why shouldn’t our data be treated with more care/respect and be stored in Canada and Canada alone?!

Don’t trust my words blindly. Visit the “Program Privacy Policy” link on the registration page, you will see (emphasis added):

“Program Privacy Policy
[…]
5. Retention and Cross-border Transfer
Personal Information may be stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada by Loblaw, the Program Administrator, Blackhawk and/ or Peoples, or by service providers engaged by any of them, for any of the purposes identified in Section 4 above including the United States and El Salvador. Where Personal Information is located outside of Canada, it is subject to the laws of that jurisdiction which may differ from those in your jurisdiction and any Personal Information transferred to another jurisdiction will be subject to law enforcement and national security authorities in that jurisdiction.”

Canadians may want to question and challenge Loblaws’ Program Privacy Policy. by calling Loblaws and ask them directly or even ask our elected MPs and try to hold our government and the Competition Bureau accountable.

20180109 Loblaws price-fixing - program_privacy_policy - Screen Shot

Loblaws price-fixing – program_privacy_policy – Screen Shot

P.S. The Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet” raised some good points. (emphasis added) Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: