Todays Target Black Friday

How Black Friday Promotions Are Often Deceptive

How you are being duped into spending more money then you have for the holidays

We all like to think that the holidays bring about peace on earth and goodwill towards men, but there is mounting evidence and substantial documentation to show that the holiday season is often just an excuse for desperate retailers and merchants to con you into spending more money then you can afford.

Take for instance, this example of how Target is using outright deception to get you to buy an Iphone. According to  Mike Wehner reporting for bgr.com  ,

If you head to Target’s online store and search for “iPhone 7,” you’ll be met with the retailers much publicized gift card promotion, which nets you a $250 store voucher with the purchase of any iPhone 7, 7 Plus, or 6 Plus. It’s a great deal, in line with similar promotions from Best Buy and Walmart, but it’s not the only thing you’ll see on the search results page.

If you scroll down to the actual individual listings for various iPhone 7 models, you’ll see prices that have no reason to exist, much less under the guise of a “sale.”

The iPhone 7, which starts at $649 for the 32GB model and goes up to $849 for 256GB, is being sold for $1,129.99. That’s a hefty $280 premium over the regular price, and for no discernible reason. It’s not a bundle that includes anything else; it’s just the phone, and its “regular” price is marked even higher, by $20.

What’s even more hilarious, is that it’s listed as a Black Friday sale, and its price is slated to go back up on Sunday.

And this price adjustment isn’t limited to the 256GB model, as both the 32GB and 128GB versions are also priced at a ridiculous markup.

What’s worse, people are apparently actually buying these phones at this jacked-up price. Target’s handy little buyers tool shows that the iPhone 7 is being bought for over $1,000.

So what’s the deal here? It’s hard to tell. At first I assumed the prices were the result of some third-party seller antics — Walmart, for example, sells products in its online store that come from third-party merchants, and they can set the prices to their own liking. However, there’s nothing on the store page or individual listings to suggest these devices are being sold by anyone other than Target itself.

Maybe Target discovered the secret to Black Friday: People will buy just about anything as long as they think it’s on sale.

While this is not a new phenomena; it seems that the Black Friday deceptions are beginning to stretch beyond one day a year into an entire month or more. I have noticed advertisements locally that proudly proclaim that the entire month of November is a Black Friday Event. I am not the only one to notice this trend.  Hayden Dingman writing for pcworld:

“Black Friday has outgrown itself as retailers have cannibalized the name ‘Black Friday’ and used it to promote deals all throughout the month of November,” says Matthew Ong, a senior analyst at NerdWallet. “This is partially a response to the late Black Friday date in 2013, but this Christmas creep is a trend that’s been ramping up in the last few years and [is] only likely to continue.”

But it’s not just about the timing. A closer look at the deals around Black Friday show how the date has become a buzzword to trick people into pulling the trigger on shoddy deals. Retailers are manipulating prices and the products themselves just to get you into the store. Once you’re in the store, they’ve already won. So before you camp out in line, read on to learn the real deal about Black Friday. “

Many unsuspecting consumers such as yourself make assumptions about how the whole Black Friday thing works. But according to the  Wall Street Journal  , Black Friday promotions are a part of an annual business planning process.

The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.

And Black Friday deceptions are not new either. Although there may be examples of large well established retailers using deceptions to lure consumers into overspending prior to 2009; this example of how Walmart has been accused of deception for Black Friday was documented by  Sue Walsh for technologytell.com  shows it has been around for a while.

Customers from around the country are complaining that the deals Walmart promised on  Black Friday  were given away ahead of time in a pre-sale procedure many are calling a scam because it was not made known to the public.

In Tracy, CA, customers who arrived before dawn to snap up the $198 eMachines laptop that was advertised as being on sale between 5am-10am discovered the stores entire inventory of 37 units had been sold the day before in a non-advertised pre-sale. The manager admitted there was no way for the general public to know about the pre-sale unless they called the store (and obviously there was no way for most people to know they needed to do that), and apparently had not told the line of customers that started forming around 3am that the laptop was not available.

Nearly half of the Black Friday deals studied in the UK from just last year showed that the prices were actually lower at other times in the year as documented by Jay McGregor writing for the Wall Street Journal.

According to a  study conducted  by consumer watchdog Which?, the latter.

The report found that 49% of 2015 Black Friday deals in the UK were actually cheaper at other points in the year. Which? tracked prices for 178 items across multiple major retailers like Currys, John Lewis, Amazon and Argos for three months before Black Friday 2015. It found that the discount shopping day was only the cheapest, or joint-cheapest, day to buy the tracked goods half of the time (90 out of the 178 deals).

The phenomena of Black Friday Deceptions has even been documented by Government Officials.  United States Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office reported:

Some of the tricks and traps that advertisers use to get consumers into their stores or onto their websites include: deceptive and overly broad advertisements, hidden fees at checkout, and emailed coupons that hide the fine print in links to other websites.

For example, a JCPenney circulator advertises, “No interest if paid in full within 12 months.” However, the extremely hard to read, white-lettered fine print says: “Must request at time of purchase. Offer applies to window treatment purchases of $500 or more made between 11/24/13-11/27/13.” In addition, the consumer must have a JCP credit card or a JCP Mastercard.  And, if a consumer fails to pay off the amount within 12 months or fails to meet minimum monthly payments, the interest rate – charged back to the purchase date – jumps to 26.99 percent. So any small mistake by the consumer, like not asking for a no interest promotion or accidentally missing a payment, would result in potentially huge interest payments.

So what to do? Well most experts are offering some ideas on how to find out if you are being deceived.  This article by Lori Grunin  offers some ways of making sure you are not manipulated into spending more money then you have.

  • Decide what you want before you shop.
  • Research using your favorite search engine or app.
  • Unbundle the bundles
  • Watch out for hidden fees.

But overall, it is my opinion that Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be completely ignored. And I am not alone on this idea.  Aol.com  encourages consumers to follow these steps and just skip it all together.

Don’t be quick to fall for overhyped “doorbuster” sales. Oftentimes, retailers will dangle a popular item at a big discount to lure customers in, but what they don’t tell you is how limited their quantities are. These stores know that once they get you inside, you’re likely to stay and spend on the lesser deals, so always call and check their inventory first.

Next, watch out for derivative products. Some Black Friday ads will only include the bare minimum when it comes to technical specs for devices like TV’s, laptops and tablets. Usually, this is because the item on sale is a derivative product, specifically manufactured for Black Friday and the holiday season with lower overall quality and less features. These items may look like their pricier counterparts, but they probably won’t last as long, costing you more in the long run.

Lastly, don’t be swayed by phony markdowns. This is when a sale price is posted alongside an inflated “original price,” creating the illusion of a great deal. This is a classic retail trick, so don’t be misled. Focus on the sale prices and use those as a comparison.

Remember the everlasting tension between businesses and consumers. Business wants you to spend no matter what your means. You as a consumer are responsible for what you choose to spend. And make no mistake. If you overspend due to deception on the part of a business, you will be the one on the hook for it.

Image courtesy of experienceheadphones.com

Today’s Target Porn

Image courtesy of KNPR.org

Today’s target is porn. I discriminate against Pornography for a few reasons as you can well guess. But the inspiration for this post is this new development in the porn industry. The use of facial recognition software to find webcam models.  This is going to turn many a webcam model into the kind of celebrities that will be earning entirely too much money to EVER get out of the sex trade.

And that is one of the reasons I hate porn. Because it takes one of the most beautiful and intimate activities that God has given man and turns it into a commodity. Like Orange Juice or Pork Bellies. People get so caught up using pornography that they ignore their mates, stop dating, and sometimes even pursue the most perverted of activities just because they saw someone else do it and thought it may be fun.

To be fair, it is actually a love/hate relationship. But I am doing my best to avoid it going forward simply cause I am single and it is way too easy to rely on porn and avoid real opportunities to actually share intimacy. But enough about me.

Another reason I am discriminating against porn is that in many cases it is the product of sex trafficking and the sex trade.

How tragic is it that people get caught up in the sex trade?

Let’s look at some statistics:

Sex trafficking that involves the forcible abduction of people for the purposes of profiting from sexual slavery either in the porn industry or prostitution. According to one source equalitynow.org 20.9 people are enslaved every year. With 2 million of them being children. Children. That means that 2 million children every year are enslaved by some criminal to perform sex acts for money.

That is some wack shit right there.

And what of the death toll for sex workers who are enslaved? An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old. According to a Newsmax story that was published in 2001. So if we extrapolate a modern estimate, it is probably closer this year to 50,000 people. Or maybe even 100000. Only God knows for sure.

And here is the last one that hopefully will persuade you that porn is worth discriminating against: According to Louise Shelley in Human Trafficking, A Global Perspective:  Human traffickers are increasingly trafficking pregnant women for their newborns. Babies are sold on the black market, where the profit is divided between the traffickers, doctors, lawyers, border officials, and others. The mother is usually paid less than what is promised her, citing the cost of travel and creating false documents. A mother might receive as little as a few hundred dollars for her baby.

So you may be saying to yourself, well how does all this relate to the nice dvd my wife and I like to pop in every now and then cause we want to do it, but we need a little impetus to get us started?

Consider the logic I employ here.

Maybe the people in the DVD were kidnapped at the age of 13. Maybe they were compelled to perform sex acts on other people for money or just for fun.  Maybe this caused them to be involved in filming the sex acts so they could continue to support a drug habit they acquired due to the fact that one of their customers gave them a pill one day to help them perform some extremely perverted act. Maybe you are watching a victim of human slavery. Maybe you helped the criminal that enslaved them to pay for his BMW. Maybe you are just as guilty as they are. Guilty by Association.

Todays Target Criminals

Image courtesy of appdevelopermagazine.com

Criminals are on my list today. Why would I discriminate against criminal activity? Because it discriminates against me and mine. Because criminals of all sorts are out there preying on people like you and me who are just trying to get through and find some peace. But modern American society glamorizes these piece of crap gangstas. People who sell your children drugs and rob your homes. People who would just as soon kill you as look at you if you get in their way.

So we get alleged criminals like Donald Trump running for president and a whole bunch of lost souls supporting him. We get alleged criminals like Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre teaching generations of children that it is good or even beneficial to flaunt the law to get ahead. We get tons of modern entertainment options in the movies and tv that glamorizes crime and make it seem as if it is somehow ok to break the law to survive.

Sure a lot of these entertainment options usually have some morality component, like it is ok to become a criminal if you or yours have been wronged somehow, but that doesn’t change the fact that vigilantism is illegal. It is illegal to take the law into your own hands. For any reason. But criminals and the criminally minded make it seem like it is OK. So then, we get white collar criminals who somehow justify to themselves that it is ok to take people’s money for themselves to take care of their families or somehow pay back an unjust society.

And the most appalling of criminals, the so called terrorists. The religious fanatics who can somehow justify the terrorizing of people just cause they hold a different belief system. The lunatics who believe that the only way to change society is to destroy it. These criminals come with various self rationalizations, but the end result is all the same.

Today then all you criminals be put on notice, that just cause people emulate you and you get paid well in  all cases, there is also justice. You will pay it all back. You will end up in jail. You will end up dead. Universal Jurisdiction is a real thing and you are courting yourselves to a sorrowful end. My advice, if you are not interested in having the universe rule against you, then consider allowing people to hold their own believes and opinions, and you hold yours. Then go out and get a real job and pay your taxes like everyone else does.