Poor Retailers, and working CoffeeKid and the future CoffeeGeek.com
Posted February 13, 2001 8:20pm
Hi Folks, thanks for stopping by.
Today, I'm going to be doing something a bit different. Normally this page is full of coffee stuff, and while there will be some (scroll down below), it's kinda going to be a rant.
But first, Happy Valentine's Day to my sweetie. Thanks for sticking with me, kiddo.
I've been spending part of the evening reading the story of the dude who has a complaint site against Egghead.com (which, in my own experience, needs complaining about - one of the worst ecommerce experiences I've ever had was with onsale.com and egghead.com). It brought back memories about a time, way, way back in history (like around 1996) when I ran a very popular site called Futile Shop. I won't go into too many details, but it made me think, not for the first time, that I should have stuck it out and fought it. But at the time, I was fairly poor, definitely could not afford lawyers, and of course Future Shop was making this assumption and they would have been right.
I was kind of upset personally about the events in 1996 and 1997, but you know what made me even more upset? When CBC Marketplace got ahold of the story from Electronic Frontiers Canada, they contacted me and initially I didn't want to participate - it was a past event, I moved on. But CBC came back to me and said that Future Shop never sent their lawyers after me. That made me see red. How could this company make such a bold falsehood? Did they still think they could get away with anything they wanted? I was so upset at this, that I changed my mind and agreed to participate off camera. I supplied CBC with all my records from that time, including the faxes and emails from Future Shop and their lawyers, and the story made it to air. What was cool about this was a small sense of satisfaction that Future Shop was shown to be misleading, and it kind of closed the chapter for me.
I bring this all up because of a recent email I received asking what exactly my problem was with Mr. Cappuccino, a Calgary-based company. The person who emailed knew what my problem was, but his question was more personal - as in, "get a life". Hrmmm. (btw, you can read all about the saga by clicking the link at the bottom of my Rancilio page).
This did give me cause to think. What was my problem? Well, it's not a problem per se - it is a philosophy. I do not like it when companies lie. Especially when those lies are meant to cause harm emotionally or physically. Now Mr. Cappuccino may not have intended physical harm to me, but there definitely was an attempt on Walter Catoni's part to injure my reputation, along with that of my wife. (Cattoni is one of the upper-ups at Mr. Cappuccino). And to this day Walter knows it to be true - I've never been called to the mat about what I wrote concerning my rather poor experiences dealing with his company.
The only thing I would have done differently if it happened today is that I think I would have taken a higher moral ground in the "fight" than I did. I wouldn't resort to any kind of insinuation or "name calling" of any sort, no matter how mild. I would stick to the facts, and let them present themselves.
I am a capitalist-socialist of sorts. I believe everyone has the right to make a good living, healthy profits in their business, but they must do so in an ethical, moral way. This includes giving customers respect whenever they can (some customers, I acknowledge, are impossible to deal with), treating your employees fairly, and at the end of the day, you should be able to look yourself in the mirror and think, "today, I provided products / services to my customers, I didn't rip anyone off, and and I helped spread satisfaction and good will".
Okay, maybe not do this everyday - I'm not suggesting a cult of ethical merchandiser here :-)
When I first made public my events with Walter Cattoni and Mr. Cappuccino, I wondered if I was some sort of problem customer, if this was the norm, or if it was the exception. The volume of emails I got early on, and the trickle I get to this day suggest that this is the norm when it comes to the company. 'Nuff said on that.
Anyway, I don't mean to go off on a rant, but the email I got yesterday kind of bugged me, and I felt that maybe it was time to revisit this issue, and give my real reasons for why I feel this info needs to be publicly shared. Just as I am a firm believer in praising exceptional retailers in a public venue, I believe it is the duty of any conscientious person to share the exceptional mishaps that occur when dealing with an unethical retailer. And trust me, it has to be exceptionally bad for me to raise the issue publicly - I try to give retailers (and anyone, really) the benefit of the doubt when I can, and if they make amends for their previously poor actions, I am almost always ready to accept them, and possibly even give them a second chance.
Okay okay okay. This is supposed to be a COFFEE RANT page. Sorry! Sorry!
Okay. So lemme say this. My house is flooded with stuff right now that is being (has been) reviewed. They include a couple of grinders, two espresso machines, 5 books (and counting), 3 different bean types (yeah, 3 more types - I'm not counting the reviews I've already done), and a vacuum brewer. What is my problem? Why aren't they online yet?
Well. I suck. Actually. So much is going on in my life, I need three of me. I just recently completed the incorporation of my company, hiring a HR company to handle all my internal human resource paperwork, hired a new accountant, and hired new staff (and had to fire one - firing staff sucks, it sucks it sucks it sucks. I hate doing it). I've also tried to close the deal on our new office space, but it fell through, so I'm looking for another location as we speak. Then there's the issue of our moving (Jean and I) - we're moving back to Kitsilano. I thought we landed a total dream home that was simply amazing, but it fell through, and went to another couple who were also expressing interest.
Then there's the work I'm supposed to do. 10 hours a day of design and coding, and meetings and conference calls, and more design, and web surfing, and interface design, and figuring out "how'd they do that??" and the like. Because of this, several things fall to the wayside. One is my personal site which I haven't updated in over half a year. Another is the huge project that my partner Wayne and I have planned for CoffeeGeek.com (though that has recently come to the forefront again, and gets about 10-15 hours a week attention from me, and about 10 hours a week from Wayne). Heck, even my company site hasn't been updated in eons, and features zip about our current staff, our current technologies, heck, even our current (and recently finished) websites. Hey check out one!).
But I do have three tools that are constantly used for CoffeeKid.com (and CoffeeGeek.com) notes, updates, and just plain content. There's this notebook I am typing on right now, which is constantly used to write Word documents for the reviews, Photoshop for photoshoppin', and HomeSite for, well, homesitin'. Then there's my trusty Palm Vx and folding keyboard, upon which (part) of this rant and many other rants were written, as well as many of the notes, commentary, plans and reviews for this and the new site. Right now my Palm has about 2mb worth of DOC files (DOC is Palm's compressed text format, not Word .doc) directly related to this site and CoffeeGeek.com. And there's my little notepad, a little 3x5 inch, 2 inch thick pad I take with me everywhere and jot notes, draw layouts, and do all sorts of stuff with.
So while it may seem at times that nothing is going on around here, and nothing is going on with CoffeeGeek, something definitely is.
CoffeeGeek.com is vaporware right now. I know. I know. I've been promising it since April, 2000. And every month it doesn't move to real status, is another month that Wayne and I (along with the proposed content writers) lose income from. In fact, coffeekid.com is so popular that it costs me roughly $90 a month, plus about 40 hours a month just answering email. I have no advertising on this site, no source of income. At most, I get the occasional freebie of a half lb. of beans or the gracious donations of a machine or grinder (which will, in turn, be prized' off to new readers of the CoffeeGeek.com site).
Not that I mind at all. I really don't. I just want 3 of me so I can get a lot of these pressing projects done. :-)
Hey, as a final note. (and to see if anyone reads this far). I've been trying, without any success whatsoever, to contact Tognana. They are an Italian porcelain cup maker and I want to order of 2000 cups and saucers with the CoffeeKid / CoffeeGeek logos on them. So far, they completely ignore any emails or requests for info and pricing. I'd give up, except they have what I consider the absolute perfect espresso cup, and I want it. Anyone ever have any luck contacting or dealing with this company? I know Schomer has bought from them - his anniversary cups are made by Tognana.
Till next time, thanks for stopping by!