Should I Buy It ?

Is this a

or a

A need is something that although you can live without, you feel it is necessary

A want id something that you desire to have, but life would certainly go on without it

Do you already have something similar?

This question helps you consider whether this upgrade is entirely necessary. Sometimes, we are mentally persuaded to make an on the spot purchase for something that will likely just be used once and then stored away. Consider whether you already have something that is comparable and that works. Over time you may find that self discipline when making purchases is more satisfying.

Am I going to tell your Spouse/Partner about this purchase?

We are firm in the belief that all purchases should be discussed with anyone you share finances with. These conversations MAY BE DIFFICULT at times. We may feel that some purchases are better not disclosed. Unfortunately, many have made the mistake of attempting to hide their spending habits. Often, they are found out. But even if not found it, there is a secrecy that is not healthy. So, be healthy. Have the difficult conversation before you make the purchase. Your relationship will improve as you openly and honestly discuss all purchases with your partner or spouse.

Can I borrow it from someone?

Some people just hate borrowing stuff from a family member or neighbor. We have become an increasingly sheltered society. We don’t like to go to our neighbors houses. We prefer to have it all on our own. Consider whether we can be a little more neighborly and share what we have, so that others may want to do the same in return.

Is this a Credit Card Purchase?

Your #1 goal should be to get out of consumer debt. You likely got into consumer debt by making purchases that didn’t have to be made. Sorry to be stubborn on this issue, but you should probably spend any loose change at paying down debt and award yourself when you are debt free.

Have I asked my Friends/Family about it?

If you are planning on making a large purchase, it is often wise to send out a text/tweet/facebook message before you pull the trigger. Often, someone in your social network will have recommendations for a cheaper option, a discount or will persuade you from the purchase. When making a large purchase (or small) it is nice to run it by someone else first.

Is this a soul or body improving purchase?

Tools are required to improve our souls and lives. If you are into yoga, you will need a yoga mat and equipment. If you are into meditation, you will need instructions. If you play sports, you may need a ball. If you are a runner, you need shoes and clothes. These are the types of purchases that increase our overall health and wellness and align us with the centers of our spirituality. We always recommend these purchases. As they increase our energy and often decrease our need for consumption.

Can I delay the purchase?

If you can delay a purchase for a month or two, it might be wise to do so. The longer you delay, the longer the lifespan of your current product. Sometimes when we delay, the desire to purchase goes away entirely. Try to stay away from emotional or trigger purchases.

Have I looked for a lower cost alternative?

Just because it is on Amazon, doesn’t mean it is the best price. Some prices are actually inflated on Amazon. Amazon doesn’t set the prices, individual sellers in the market place do. All you have to do is GOOGLE the item you want to purchase. You will see immediately if Amazon is the best price.

Is this purchase within my budget?

If you are making a purchase that is outside of your budget, you should sit down and reconsider whether the benefit outweighs the cost. It is more prudent, financially, to budget in for this purchase in next months budget. Than you have a cool down period to re-think what you are about to buy.

Can I get this product used?

Although used is not always better, some products are almost as good in used condition (golf clubs, vehicles, books). Check on ebay and your local thrift stores and Craigslist. Ask friends, neighbors or family if they have a used version of the product you are interested in. Often times a used product is just as reliable as a new one and you can get it for Half the Price or better.

Have I googled for discounts or coupons?

A lot of websites have free coupons online all the time. You can easily save 20% or more by doing one search.

Is this Toy or other Product that will end up at the Bottom of Storage Box?

Consider all of the items in your house that you never use. Never use means less than once a year. There are tons of these products. They are everywhere. If your purchase will be used once and then will wind up in the Goodwill sack, reconsider what you are about to do.

Moderation on Kids Toys:

We are really down on toys. Not that toys are bad, just that the over consumption of toys for kids is getting out of hand. A gift or two at Christmas and for a birthday are nice memories that can bring families together. Spontaneous purchases of toys that we buy in hopes that are kids will use them, is just not a good idea.

Are you stressed out or depressed?

Some people make emotional purchase to try to fill voids in their life. Maybe you are stressing out about relationships, jobs or life in general. If this is the case, we recommend taking a walk, talking to a counselor, communicating with a trusted friend. WE DO NOT recommend making purchases in this state of mind. This is where spending becomes addictive and negative.

Is this a selfish purchase?

Purchasing things for yourself is good. But when we become selfish about our consumption and forget about others, this is where we spending can become negative. So have you considered a friend in need? Have you looked at donating to a charity?

Is this a gift for someone else?

On a Balance, sometimes giving a nice gift that will improve a relationship is more important than the cost (within reason). So we allow you to remove some spending inhibition when you are doing it for someone else. Especially when this is an anniversary or birthday present.

Are you a cheapskate?

Nobody likes a cheapskate. So shake off your conditioned response to spending money and open your wallet a little.

Are you buying a book or educational material?

If yes, go for it.

Will buying this make you happy in the long run?

Think of the things you have purchased in your life. Out of these things, which of them do you still derive satisfaction from?

Will this purchase encourage outdoor/recreational activity?

Spending money on things that get you outside may boost your overall happiness and success. We recommend frisbees, hiking boots, camping gear, bicycles, anything that will keep you active and your mind fresh.

How Bad do you Really want to Buy this?

Think Before you Buy

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I’m going Back to the Mall, Sorry Amazon

My Story of Struggle with Biased Amazon Reviews

Currently, Amazon is full of reviews that just can’t be believed.  They aren’t trustworthy.  Consider the case of these “Truck Ratchet Tie Downs”

Ratchet Tie Downs – Non-Organic Reviews

I recently bought a new truck (new to me – 107k miles on it.  It is seriously crazy expensive to buy a truck).  This is my truck:

biased amazon reviews

I needed Ratchet Tie downs.  So I went on Amazon and Searched for “Truck Ratchet”

My mind was immediately drawn to two things.

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1).  Orange Best Seller Flag: Amazon has complicated algorithms for their operation. Obviously.  In our research, one becomes a best seller basically by having the MOST sells RECENTLY.  We do think that the Average Ranking is ALSO CONSIDERED.  We DO NOT think that the trustworthiness of the Reviews is considered in the Algorithm.

Everyone wants the BEST SELLER LABEL

SO – Companies get into “Aggressive Marketing Habits” in order to become a best seller.  This may include selling their product off at a lower rate to increase sell volume.  Or, basically giving their product away for a time to increase “Incentivized Reviews.”

So, I took the bait and clicked on the PREMIUM RATCHET TIE DOWN.

For the Average Amazon Customer (That for so many years has relied on reviews in their purchases), they would be almost GIDDY about these Ratchets.  825 Customer Reviews and an almost 5 Star Average.

biased amazon reviews

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Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Reviews

I of course clicked on the 1 Star Reviews first to see if I could get a better idea of the True Story behind these Ratchets:

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My Eyes were of course drawn to the headline: “Positive Reviews DO NOT represent the product”

And my question immediatly become “WHO CAN I TRUST?”  Maybe this one star reviewer is working for another competitive company and they too are trying to achieve BEST SELLER STATUS?

So I actually clicked on the 3 Comments to this 1 Star Review and Saw this:

There is some Intriguing Drama in these Reviews of the 1 Star Review:

Understanding amazon reviews

1).  Kerrie Ann – Why is Kerrie Ann chiming in on a product that she “bought for her husband” however “with a discount”.  Her sentence kind of drags on and doesn’t make much sense.  She seems to want to COMBAT what Darwin C has said about the Product;

2).  Amazon Customer:  A person named Amazon Customer than Chimes into the 1 star review and says “I am a non-friend here” but he sees that “something is going on”

At this point my mind is blown.  Who is working for who? Why the interest in this one star review?  Who can I believe?

3).  Company Feedback: I was impressed to see the company join the fray and stand behind their product.  I felt good about this.  But I also felt bad.  This company may be WAY TOO INVOLVED IN THEIR OWN REVIEWS.

So I moved on to Another 1 Star Review on this Ratchet Set

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This Reviewer really took his job seriously.  Video and Side by Side Comparison.  He REALLY had beef with the product.  OR, was he actually a paid member of another company sent to torpedo their operation?  The conspiracy theory side of my mind started spinning:

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You can see that he compares these blue ratchet downs to his “KREWE” that he calls “MY FAVORITE ONE RIGHT NOW BUT WILL UPDATE REVIEW IF THAT CHANGES”

Hilarious.  Is he the CEO of Krewe?

biased amazon reviews

So First the Reviewer named “Amazon Customer” (is this the same guy that commented on the other 1 Star Amazon Review?) says “This guy works or knows someone at Krewe and Was this a Vault Review or a Krewe Sales Pitch”

“Amazon Customer” is so into these product reviews that he is actually calling out Turbo Diesel for his review.  Makes you question Amazon Customer’s motivations.  Like, why the heck does he care so much?

Than Turbo Diesel Double Downs and says that these reviewers have only reviewed vault products.

Hmmmmmmm

This Truly is a Red Flag Warning to me.  I Can’t trust a review written by someone that has ONLY reviewed Products from this Company.  That is obviously blatant Review Abuse. (I did not click through the reviewer names to investigate their review history – they might have by this time purchased other products by other companies just to boost their credibility?)

Ha

Again. Mind is spinning.  IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD TO REVIEW THE REVIEWS

RETURN TO ORGANIC ONLY REVIEWS

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Some of us, with nostalgia, think back on the Good ol’ days of Amazon (5 to 10 years ago) when we could just look at the Star Review Rating and have complete confidence in the product.

These days have obviously vanished.  I spend more time reviewing the reviews than I’d like to.

The Marketing Tactics with MANY AMAZON SELLERS have become TOO AGGRESSIVE.

AMAZON SEES THE PROBLEM

On October 3, 2016 Amazon Updated their COMMUNITY GUIDELINES and finally restricted these “incentivized products” or “purchased a product for a review”

Amazon guidelines on obtaining reviews for my product

So, according to the new guidelines, a company can not:

1). Offer a Free or Discounted Product in Exchange for Posting a review

2).  Have someone post content reviews on their competitors products

3).  Have your friend, neighbor or anyone you know review your product.

Good Step.  I applaud you Amazon.  But is the DAMAGE ALREADY DONE?

biased amazon reviews

For me it is.  Until these things are cleaned up, I just can’t use Amazon Reviews as a guide to purchasing anymore.  They just aren’t trustworthy and the companies are too aggressive in their campaigns.

What is an Organic Review?

In our research, an INNOCENT Person that purchases a Product on Amazon, will statistically speaking review the product 2 out of 10 times. These 2 out of 10 Reviews are the ones that we can believe.  There should be no incentive or motivation to increase the percentage of reviews.  20% is Organic.

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Why do people Organically Review Amazon Products?

Why would someone spend their precious time to go online and write a review?

1). They may either find something they REALLY like about the product and have need to share it with the world; (These are generally the 5 Star Reviews);

2).  They find something that is broken or wrong with it and they get upset and want a release.  They want to “SAVE THE WORLD” From this evil product.  They are Superman or Superwoman; (These are generally the 1 Star Reviews);

3).  They just ENJOY having their thoughts known and they are just by their personality more likely to go online and share.  These are also the people that more likely than not contribute to Social Media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram.  These are the generally the 2-4 Star Reviewers;

4).  Some people actually feel guilty for not reviewing.  Like it is a civic duty or something.  Like it is Jury Duty.  These are also organic reviews and are trustworthy.  These Reviewers leave a spectrum of Reviews between 1-5 Stars (more likely than not compromising, well thought out and trustworthy).

We trust these reviews.  These are Organic.  This is what Amazon was built on.

Amazon NOT exactly telling us Everything

Chee Chew, the VP of Customer Experience at Amazon (Probably a lovely person whom I don’t know) did write an UPDATE ON CUSTOMER REVIEWS.

He says that biased reviews are not a huge problem and actually make up only a TINY FRACTION of the millions of reviews:

how to spot biased reviews on amazon

I actually think he is telling the truth. They obviously have the data.

But, I think he is failing to divulge the IMPACT that these TINY FRACTION of reviews have had on the marketplace.

Think about it, when was the last time you were at dinner with friends or text chatting about some of your latest purchases?  Does the conversation ever go to I WISH I COULD TRUST AMAZON REVIEWS LIKE I USED TO?

I wish I could too.

Well sometimes I wish I could.

I’m going back to the Mall

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-7-54-43-pmI haven’t been to an actual mall in years.  I’ve been to plenty of digital malls.  But I mean the one that is downtown that I have to actually drive to.

But I went last week.

With my wife.

I actually had a lovely time strolling the mall, while holding my wife’s hand.  It was kind of neat to look at a three dimensional view of a product.  I wasn’t CONFUSED by star ratings or reviewers with bias.

I was Free.

 

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