Burger King, Your Pricing Model Makes No Sense!

Burger King Original Chicken Sandwich

Honestly, I rarely go to Burger King.. But I was in the area, and I had a hankering for an Italian Chicken Sandwich. Of course, when I get there, I’m told that they’ve once again gotten rid of it. Why? Who knows, they seem to enjoy playing games much like McDonalds does with the McRib. Grrrr!

Instead, I decided to just get an Original Chicken Sandwich, which is basically the same thing, only with lettuce and mayo instead of marinara sauce and cheese. Then I looked at the price on the menu. $4.99! This sandwich was $2.79 for DECADES, and then all of a sudden they decided to jack up the price something fierce. But what’s even more perplexing is that they’re doing a “2 for $5″ promo right now, and included in that promo is the Original Chicken Sandwich.

So let me get this right.. I can buy one sandwich for $4.99, or two of them for $5? That makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever. Had it been $3 or $3.50, I would have gotten it and that would be the end of it. But instead, I just left and got a better sandwich for less at Chick-Fil-A across the street.

Good job BK. See you when you bring back the Italian Chicken Sandwich.. Maybe.

Should You Move From WordPress To Tumblr?

Tumblr-vs-Wordpress

I started blogging back in 2005, and my blogging platform of choice was WordPress. Now back then, WordPress was still relatively new, with the majority of people still using Blogger. But I wanted to make money from my blog, and my concern (rightfully so) was that Blogger severely limited the way you could monetize your site..

So I went the hard route, which meant registering a domain, finding a web host, installing WordPress, working with databases, customizing themes, worrying about traffic/load exceeding my modest host’s limitations, etc. If you’re a WordPress self-hosted user, you know what I mean. As someone with a background in IT, this wasn’t too difficult for me, but for the Average Joe, it can be a daunting task.

For the next 10 years, I upgraded WordPress from version to version (all the way from 1.5.1 to 4.2.1), dealt with security breaches, plugin conflicts, and other headaches that often had me muttering, “There has to be a better way!”

Fast forward to 2014. I’m managing a popular men’s lifestyle blog called Guys Gab, and I saw something in Google Analytics that made me do a double-take. There was a HUGE amount of traffic coming from an unfamiliar source, a random Tumblr page. It turns out that this guy shared a story we had written (Domino’s Pizza Tracker Saved A Person’s Life!), and it went crazy viral on Tumblr, getting over 175K likes!

Needless to say, I started playing with Tumblr almost immediately. In some respects, Tumblr is similar to Blogger and WordPress.com in the fact that they’re hosted on a centralized server, and you simply login and post your content. But Tumblr is a much more social platform, one that thrives on images and video. Within a few hours of playing with it, I could already see the appeal of it, and why it’s so popular with millenials.

If you’ve got a site (or a site in mind) that’s very visually oriented, Tumblr is a no-brainer. People will openly like and share your photos and videos, opening you up to be discovered by countless others. It happens very organically, and it’s pretty exciting when you see new followers and activity. Unlike blogs which rely heavily on SEO (a tough road, for sure), most people will discover your content inside the Tumblr ecosystem, where real people control how popular something is or isn’t.

Overall, I’m very impressed with Tumblr. While we can’t exactly abandoned 5+ years of content that we’ve developed on WordPress thus far, we now actively use Tumblr as a secondary tool to help expose our content to a whole other audience. But if I were to start a new blog tomorrow, I might seriously consider ditching WP completely and making a go of it with Tumblr.

Food for thought..

Carrabba’s Got Rid Of Their Pollo La Scala

Carrabbas

Last spring, my wife and I were invited to a #FirstTastes sampling event at our local Carrabba’s Italian Grill, where we got to sample from their new Carrabba’s Italian Values Menu, which featured over 15 items for $15 or less.

Up until this point, I wasn’t a huge fan of Carrabba’s, but my wife convinced me to try it out. And since it was all free, how could I refuse? And I was glad I went, because I absolutely fell in love with one of their new menu items, the Pollo La Scala. The menu described it as a sautéed chicken finished with white wine, mascarpone and a roasted bell pepper sauce. It had a little bit of heat, and an insane amount of flavor. It didn’t look like much, but trust me, it was amazing, and I was in love!

Over the next year, we came back to Carrabba’s at least a dozen times (probably more), and each time we’d order the Pollo La Scala! So imagine my shock when we went to order it on our last visit, only to be told that they took it off the menu!?

FUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKK! I swear, this always happens to me. The crazy thing is that Carrabba’s isn’t even close to us, we specifically drove out of our way to go there and eat the Pollo La Scala. Since we had already driven all this way, we tried the “Surf and Turf the Carrabba’s Way” promotion that they had going on, which came with a 6oz. Sirloin and a side of our Lobster Ravioli. It was “Meh” at best.

I’m guessing that Carrabba’s removed the Pollo La Scala from the menu because not enough people ordered it. And that’s a shame, because had people actually tried it, I truly believe they would have loved it as well. But instead it was regulated to a small 2-line item on a crowded menu, with a description that did little to excite people.

That’s too bad, because now I have no reason to go there anymore. Sure, I still have a gift card for there that we got at Christmas, but it can be used at Outback or Flemings as well, so I’ll use it there instead.

Are You Ready For Google’s Mobilegeddon Tomorrow?

Google Mobilegeddon

A few months ago, Google started sending warnings to webmasters who didn’t have mobile friendly sites, alerting them to the fact that a new mobile-friendly algorithm change was taking effect on April 21st.

As you can imagine, this caused quite the commotion, as people started scrambling to get in compliance so they didn’t risk facing the wrath of Google. Officially, Google said that mobile-friendly pages would get a ranking boost for mobile searchers, and that this shouldn’t have any impact on desktop or tablet searchers.

Given that we live in a mobile world where a large percentage of web browsing is done on a mobile device, it only makes sense to make your site mobile friendly. Of course, for many of us, this is a pretty massive undertaking. I manage a large e-commerce site that simply wasn’t built with responsive design in mind (it was built before that was even such a thing), and the cost to retrofit it just doesn’t make business sense.

But if you’re a blogger, this might be the time to either move to a responsive theme, or use a mobile theme like WP Touch to get into compliance quickly.

Good luck!

Sitemeter Redirecting Visitors To Ad Site?

Sitemeter

Last night, I got a frantic call from my business partner. He said, “I think we’ve been hacked!” FML, it was 11pm at night, and this was honestly the last thing I wanted to hear. :(

We manage over 50 sites, so I asked him which one. “All of them!

Yikes! Now right off the bat, I was dubious, as all of these sites are locked down tight, and there are many levels of redundancy in place. Essentially, when you tried pulling up one of our sites, the page would display for a brief second, before being redirected to a page on x.vindicosuite.com with the page title of ‘Advert’.

But when I loaded the same site in Firefox (which has Adblock Plus installed), it came up just fine. So I went to Google and searched for “x.vindicosuite.com redirect”, and it took me to this post from June 2014, where this person claimed that Sitemeter (a popular analytics script that we’ve been using for close to a decade now) was doing all kinds of dubious things.

So I pulled the Sitemeter code from one site, and it started loading up just fine. Now came the fun part, removing the Sitemeter code from 50+ sites. :(

Apparently this was a widespread problem, as this morning I saw plenty of people posting about it. It’s hard to say if it was an insolated hack or if this is something more nefarious that Sitemeter’s been doing (it would explain some of the random ads and such that have popped up on our sites that we couldn’t always explain), but in any event they lost our trust last night.

So with that, it’s Adios Sitemeter. It’s been real.

Hey Zuckerberg, Nobody Wants The Messenger App!

Facebook Sucks

If Foursquare’s attempt to force users to download Swarm taught us anything, it’s that people really don’t like being forced into using apps. But Zuckerberg apparently doesn’t care, because Facebook is now FORCING it’s iOS and Android app users to download Facebook Messenger in order to access their private messages.

While the company has been warning users for months about this impending change, they’ve finally pulled the trigger, and already users are sounding off about this arbitrary change. Last week, I was forced to download the Facebook Pages app in order to view a private message sent to one of our pages while I was on the road, wasting 50MB+ of my precious space on my iPhone. Now they want me to download Messenger in order to communicate with my friends?

Screw that!

What Zuck doesn’t realize is that by doing this, he’s just offering users yet another reason to leave his social media platform for any of the other ones happily waiting in the wings. I was an avid Foursquare user until they completely screwed the pooch with this whole Swarm debacle, and if FB keeps making changes like this, I’ll happily deactivate my account and spend more time on Twitter and G+.

It should be interesting to see how things play out over the next few weeks as this change rolls out across their network.

Be Careful If You Sell Through Amazon Marketplace

amazon

About a year ago, I got fed up with eBay. I was selling items on there pretty regularly, but it seemed like 20% of my winning bidders wouldn’t pay for the item once the auction ended, or if they did it took DAYS for them to send payment. I discovered Amazon Marketplace, and while it wasn’t exactly perfect, it was much better than dealing with deadbeats. Or so I thought.

Last week, I sold a $200 item that was brand new, sealed in the factory packaging. The buyer was clear across the country, so even though Amazon reimburses you $4.99 for the shipping charges, that didn’t really help since it cost me $12 to ship it there. No biggie, that’s just the cost of doing business.

The package was delivered, and about an hour later, I received an e-mail from the buyer tell me he wanted to return it because it was “defective”. Only his description sounded more like user error, and yet he wasn’t willing to listen to reason. He wanted to immediately send the item back and get refunded. Only now, we’re dealing with a package that’s been opened, and there’s the cost of returning the package to me.

When I tried talking to him about resolving the “problem”, he became indignant and basically told me to either refund his money or he’d file an A-Z claim with Amazon. And that’s exactly what he did. I figured that Amazon would read the e-mails between the two of us and mediate the situation. But instead, they said that sellers are bound by the same return policies that Amazon uses, which basically means that anyone can return anything for any reason, and you’re basically screwed. There is absolutely NO seller protection, which is BS.

Now I’m waiting for him to send me back the item I sold him, which I’ll only be able to resell for 50% of my original selling price since it’s now been opened and used. Fun!

So back to eBay I go.. [sigh]