All posts by Emily Binder

Emily Binder is a marketer who likes good copy, technology, and progress. Hobbies include chess, cooking, and rollerblading. University of Michigan alumna.

Target Customer Service and Faxing Twitter: Illusion of Hard Copy as Fraud Prevention

Girls with old fax machineRecently, two ridiculous, antiquated requests have been made of me in order to verify my identity to two companies that I like: Twitter and Target. I somewhat understand the fax requirement for a Twitter impersonation report so I’ll focus on Target. (FYI I’m the real @emilybinder and @adoreajabakery and @thedigitaldive_. If any other handle claims to be me, it’s not me: I wouldn’t set up a handle that required a number on the end because my desired name was taken. I would find another handle. I don’t do numbers on the end.)

A couple weeks ago, I signed up for a Target RedCard in-store. I applaud Target on the convenient offering of quick sign-up with the cashier by providing a blank check and a driver’s license: no forms or visiting guest services.

Annoyance #1: Lack of Internal System Network Cohesion

The RedCard account must be set up with the address on the customer’s driver’s license. Mine happens to be my old address. The cashier couldn’t enter another address or update it after setup. She instructed me to call the RedCard 800 number immediately afterward and request an address change so that Target wouldn’t mail my new card to my old address. My blank check — tied to a bank account with what is necessarily a more reliable current address than the one on a driver’s license which doesn’t expire for years — should have sufficed for proof of address.

Annoyance #2: Human Error Followed by Outsourced Customer Service Giving Dangerous InstructionsTarget bullseye RedCard dog

I called the RedCard 800 number and asked to change my address. The lady in India asked for my driver’s license number, which I read aloud. It did not match my account: the cashier had mistyped my DL number. The lady said that since she could not verify that I was the account holder, she could not change my address. For that to happen, I would need to send a letter in the paper mail to Target headquarters including:

  • name
  • old address
  • current address
  • driver’s license number
  • social security number
  • last four digits of new Target RedCard

She did not instruct me to explain the situation – just to list these things.

A of all, that is a joke if you think I’m sending my social through the paper mail to your PO box.
B of all, I told her that, and she said, “Okay, you can exclude it.”

Identity Theft

IDENTITY THEFT written on shredded fax paperBut her protocol was to tell the customer to send the above and nothing else. That would be a great formula for
1) no action due to lack of context
2) identity theft with that piece of paper floating around Minneapolis
Some customers are ignorant though, and would have followed those instructions. NEVER GIVE YOUR FULL SOCIAL unless you truly need to and you’re dealing with a trusted government entity or a bank, for example. Every single time a company or office has requested my social, I’ve refused and they’ve said it wasn’t necessary after all. Comforting. Keep it secret keep it safe. -My high school

I couldn’t print that day. So I, Emily Binder, hand wrote the letter. To make a petulant point about how ludicrous this was. After filling two sides of a page (many details to cover by this point) I finished with, “Please call or email me to confirm your receipt and processing of my request.” (That never happened.)

The Outcome

Two weeks after sending the letter, no card. I called the main Target customer service number. The system required entry of the last four of my RedCard and social. The lady who answered sounded like she was in Minneapolis. Great, maybe she will actually be able to update her own company’s system that she is staring at right now. She said the account showed my current address and that my card was just mailed. So my handwritten letter worked, which blows my mind. (I hand wrote it because I expected my request to fall into the void and I planned to later complain that I was merely providing information in the 1800s format they requested.)

Why couldn’t the outsourced RedCard 800 number customer service rep use the same credentials to verify me and change my address on that first day?

My letter provided no new (or verified) information that I wasn’t telling her over the phone or that I couldn’t email. At least with an email, the sender’s identity is somewhat traceable. USPS does not require a return address. Anyone could have sent Target a letter from “Emily Binder” and given any address where my card would then be sent to a scam artist. Note: Target still sent a RedCard to my old address.

The Customer

Do not burden the customer. If an onerous hard copy type of action is needed, there better be a good reason why electronic submission would not suffice. It’s ludicrous for anyone to think that fraud is any less likely by requiring a customer to print and put a stamp on the same letter they would otherwise email. Even if it includes a scan of a photo ID. It’s a scan. This mailing a letter ballyhoo is simply a waste of paper, time, and resources and in fact creates a greater chance of identity theft because there is a paper trail. Or, for the unfortunate ignorant or trusting customers in my position, it creates paper floating around with the customer’s full social security number on it. This 5% off all purchases better be worth it.

Banning Bikinis and Booze – Advertising, Censorship, and Sexism – Episode 21 – The Digital Dive Podcast

vintage-ketchup-ad-you-mean-a-woman-can-open-it

This week, Melanie and I focus on advertising, censorship, sexism, and the media. Where should we draw the line between free speech and offensive content? Does controversy and banning empower the content or spark an important dialogue? Enjoy our heated debate.

  1. Flickr announced in late May that every user will get a free terabyte of space
  2. Windows 8: Less talking, more doing commercial for Asus Vivo Tablet mocks the iPad using Siri’s voice. The Windows tablet at 64GB is $449 vs. $699 for a 64GB iPad. Windows jabs the iPad for not being able to multitask (in the desktop sense of the word) and lacking Powerpoint (which is a weak point).
  3. Censorship and Sexism in Advertising – At Home and Abroad:

3.1 Turkey to ban alcohol ads

  OOH advertising - bus shelter ad space "No Alcohol Ads Here"
  • The Turkish Parliament passed legislation on May 24, 2013 to ban advertising of alcohol and to outlaw sales of alcoholic drinks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. except in tourist zones.
  • Sparked riots and protests in Istanbul and Ankura
  • Not unheard of: Los Angeles City Council considering a city-wide ban on alcohol advertising on municipal property; already prohibited on bus benches
  • Philadelphia already operates such a ban
  • San Francisco bans alcohol advertising on public transport
  • Alcohol ads are already mostly banned in Sweden, Malaysia, and Russia
  • US standard: alcohol ads can only be placed in media where 70% of the audience is over the legal drinking age (21)
  • Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) has called for a review into existing rules – which ban alcohol ads from airing in shows that appeal to under-18s – after finding that between 2007 and 2011, number of alcohol commercials seen by children rose almost 19%

3.2 “Sexist and degrading” Pamela Anderson commercial for Crazy Domains banned in UK

Videograb of Pamela Anderson in Crazy Domains banned commercial (deemed sexist and degrading)

The Australian commercial was first broadcast in 2010 and was banned shortly thereafter. Much like the notoriously sexist GoDaddy Superbowl ads in the US, this ad for another web hosting company depicts females as sex objects to be consumed… but this time they are in a business setting. We’re not going to embed the video but you can view it at the Huff Post link below.

Australian Advertising Standards Board decided the bikini sequence was sexist, exploitative and had ‘no relevance to the product.’ –Huffington Post

Last week, the Crazy Domains commercial was allowed to air in the UK after 9PM. A few days later on 6/5/13, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned it but with different reasoning:

We considered it gave the impression that he viewed his female colleagues as sexual objects to be lusted after. Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some viewers. -ASA

“Crazy Domains’ parent company Dreamscape Networks insisted that the dream sequence was not “gratuitous or pornographic”, saying it portrayed the women as ‘attractive, dynamic and confident business people.'” Dreamscape Networks is based in Dubai…
We discuss censorship in advertising, the media’s portrayal of women, and argue over whether marketing and media inform culture and shape our minds, or gain their power from the attention society gives to controversial content.
  • Startling statistics about lack of female leaders (the US ranks 90th in terms of number of women in legislative positions, behind China, Iraq, Cuba and more). 67 nations have had female presidents or prime ministers. The US is not one.
  • Who is responsible for perpetuating stereotypes? Should we blame an ad for misrepresentation of women, or the society that makes the ad successful?
  • 2010 documentary film Miss Representation “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.” Watch the full movie free here. Trailer:

Thanks Digital Divas Atlanta for the March 2013 Miss Representation screening.

TIPS ON TAP

  1. Sort Gmail inbox by sender: Go to your inbox and hover over the sender’s name. In a second or two a window will pop open. Now choose “emails” near the bottom. Your inbox will now be sorted by the sender you hovered over. You can now read, delete, or move all those emails at once. Quite a time saver!
  2. Tips to Keep Your Mac Running Like New:

    2a) Restart your computer somewhat frequently. Restart can help flush out some old gunk that’s slowing it down.

    2b) Keep desktop clean of files. Place them in folders and Finder will be faster.

    2c) Restart your browser and clear the cache.
  3. FrontFlip is a mobile loyalty and engagement app for businesses. Get customers to scan to win prizes and gifts from restaurants, shops, bars, salons, etc.

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Millennials Can’t Play Dodgeball – Episode 20 – The Digital Dive Podcast

Stream on YouTube here

Video playback slow? Stream audio only here.
who-are-the-millennials-social-media

The Digital Dive celebrates our 20th episode with a special video podcast. Millennials: scrutinized, fascinating, controversial. A bunch of overly coddled narcissists? Or the highly educated, tolerant, tech-savvy hope for our future? Our familiar voices can now be seen in action as we report on Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr and tackle the ever-controversial subject of the Millennial Generation.

I. In a bold move (that follows Google’s and Facebook’s acquisitions of startups in hopes of gaining an edge), Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion, Yahoo officially announced Monday, May 20, 2013. A popular social blogging hub for photos and funny gifs, and a major meme birthplace, six-year old Tumblr has ~900 posts a second with 300 million monthly unique visitors and 120,000 sign-ups every day. It also does not have a revenue model, much like Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012 for about $1 billion in cash and stock. Tumblr is highly mobile and has a young user base, in contrast to Yahoo’s older users. Tumblr could help Yahoo compete with Facebook and Google in the social networking space.

II. The Millennial Generation: In the wake of the controversial Time magazine article Millennials: the Me Me Me Generation by Joel Stein, we discuss some of the most prevalent complaints and praises of the most talked about generation since the Baby Boomers, along with a few surprising statistics about work ethic, narcissism, and tattoos.

Referenced in this episode:

1. The Pew Research Center’s comprehensive 2010 report: Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change. 2/4/10
2. David McCullough Jr.’s controversial “You Are Not Special” commencement speech 6/7/12

Tips on Tap:

I. Artsy iPad cover: GelaSkins. Wraps front and back of iPad with your chosen artist’s design. Get free matching wallpaper for your screen. $29.95

II. Houzz – Landscaping, decorating and home design app.

III. Custom Inspector Stamp and Card keychainCool alternative to a business card: Custom Inspector Stamp is a keychain stamp by Mikey Burton in collaboration with Cranky Pressman. The Salem, Ohio based online letterpress service was founded by its original owners in 1934. Read more about Cranky Pressman.

Infographic about Millennials (click on the image to view it in full): Caveat: we are also coddled narcissists who did not play enough dodgeball in gym class.

Millennials Infographic cropped preview

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Modern Music: The Money at the End of the Rainbow

“We should stop asking, ‘how do we make people pay for music?’ and start asking, ‘how do we let people pay for music?‘” -Amanda Palmer, TED Talk: The art of asking (February 2013). I don’t want to discuss Palmer’s controversial, record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, which asked for $100,000 and ended up generating $1.2M from 25,000 fans. What’s more interesting is the paradigm shift in the music industry that most markedly began with Radiohead’s 2007 free digital release of their newest album. Artists are asking and fans are giving. Sometimes.

Radiohead Thom Yorke cover of Rolling Stone issue 1045 February 2008

Palmer’s opposite of Metallica M.O. is more salient to the reality of music consumption today than the traditional pricing, touring, and record label model. In a vacuum of capitalism where the Internet didn’t allow such easy piracy, standard pricing and control over content would make sense like it used to. But we don’t have a vacuum, and smart artists adapt.

Radiohead Let Us Pay

Public Enemy (1999 – paid download), Smashing Pumpkins (2000 – free download), Radiohead (2007 – free download), Trent Reznor (2008), Amanda Palmer and others have released their music first online with varying price structures before iTunes Store opened on April 28, 2003. But in 2007, iTunes had just become the third largest music retailer in the U.S. and online music was exploding. Radiohead blazed the trail on October 10, 2007 in the first major album release in which consumers could name their own price. Radiohead’s contract with their label EMI ended after 2003’s Hail to the Thief. After four years of turning down offers from other labels, in October 2007 Radiohead took a bold step in releasing their next album independently and digitally with a pay-what-you-want model.

Thom Yorke told Time,

“I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘F*** you’ to this decaying business model.”

Radiohead beat the album leakers to the punch by basically leaking their own album. Fans went to the band’s website inrainbows.com to download the 15-song MP3s. Big Radiohead fans, my college roommate and I were blown away and totally impressed when we clicked the download button and saw the prompt “It’s Up To You.” Click again and it refreshed with, “It’s Really Up To You.”

Including $0 payments, the average fan paid $2.26 per download, meaning Radiohead came out ahead compared with the ~15% they’d receive via the standard record company release model.

“People made their choice to actually pay money,” [Radiohead manager Chris] Hufford said. “It’s people saying, ‘We want to be part of this thing.’ If it’s good enough, people will put a penny in the pot.”

The CD release followed at the end of 2007. A year later, In Rainbows had sold more than 300 million copies worldwide in digital and physical formats.

Creative musicians will continue to find ways to circumvent the technology that has made it irresistably easy to pirate their music. But Amanda Palmer’s asking/giving/taking and Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want models aren’t new; they are a return to the organic way street musicians and entertainers exchanged their art with others, as Palmer points out in her TED Talk.

Now We Expect Free Music

Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails on stage singing 2009Following In Rainbows, in November 2008 Trent Reznor took a shot at a different online release model when he co-wrote and produced Saul Williams’s album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust. Fans could download it for free or pay $5 for a higher quality version. The results were disappointing. As of January 2, 2008, 154,449 people had downloaded NiggyTardust and 28,322 of them paid the $5.

… the way things are, I think music should be looked at as free. It basically is. The toothpaste is out of the tube and a whole generation of people is accustomed to music being that way. There’s a perception that you don’t pay for music when you hear it on the radio or MySpace. -Trent Reznor, cnet.com

Radiohead’s free offering compelled us to pay a $2.26 average, but Reznor’s tiered free/premium model had less lucrative results at first.

For artists to follow Radiohead’s model en masse with success, our entire culture of music consumption would need to resemble the one Amanda Palmer champions. Unlikely for now, and unfathomable for less famous bands without dedicated followings and years of successful marketing and albums behind them.

I haven’t bought a hard copy album in years. The last I can remember was Tool’s 10,000 Days in 2007. The unique hardcover album case with stereoscopic glasses and Alex Grey’s art was simply incredible (and it won the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package). I have dabbled in iTunes and Amazon MP3 purchases but the closed environment and lack of ownership always bothered me. You’re leasing, not buying. I have no need to illegally download music now. Spotify is revolutionary. And mind-bogglingly cheap for the universal multi-device access you get to nearly all recorded music. Spotify hardly pays the artists, but overall it’s a more reasonable solution to the problem at hand than expecting consumers who won’t pony up $5 for an album to keep paying 99 cents a song. Maybe the Spotify model will make fans more willing to pay in other ways. It’s certainly the most convenient and instant access I’ve ever had to music, especially brand new music. Plus, with the Copyright Alert System, who wants to risk illegal downloads anyway? Instead, I’ll attend concerts and — after our Digital Dive Podcast interview with Zoroaster’s Dan Scanlan — I’ll buy plenty of merch.

 

Sources

Radiohead Says: Pay What You Want. Time, 10/1/2007

Public Enemy Makes Friends Online. EW, 5/14/1999

Pay What You Want for this Article. NY Times, 12/9/2007

Google Now for iOS, Amazon vs. Netflix, & Surprising Twitter Study – Episode 19

Netflix vs. Amazon punching bagsTopics

  1. In response to Netflix‘s exclusive programming featuring their hit series House of Cards, Amazon announced in March 2013 that they were creating a Zombieland pilot. On April 19, 2013 they released Amazon Original Series as fourteen original pilots available free to Amazon Prime members. Users vote on their favorites and Amazon will likely produce two winners as full series. I share my thoughts on House of Cards and two of the Amazon pilots: Those Who Can’t and Betas. Follow-up from Episode 14. P.S. Downton Abbey fans, by the end of 2013, Prime Instant Video will be the only paid streaming service to offer Downton Abbey. Hulu Plus and Netflix are out.Google_Now_iPad_and_iPhone_610x414
  2. Google Now comes to iOS. Available since July 2012 for some Android users, Apple device owners now have access to the clairvoyant Google Now by signing into one’s Google account in the free Google app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
    The nascent Google Now is a more predictive digital assistant in ways that Siri can’t compete. Because Google records its users’ actions in all of its products (from web search to Maps to Gmail to Google+ and more) it has access to massive amounts of data and can triangulate personal information, behavior patterns, calendar events, contacts and more. There is major potential for Google Now. Some users have concerns over privacy issues. But personally, I’m happy to benefit from the data I’m already sharing with Google in exchange for predictive, personalized assistance. How will Apple and Facebook compete?
  3. Instagram app update: 5/3/13: Now you can tag other Instagram users in photos like you tag friends in Facebook photos. Tags must be approved.
  4. Best Brands on Twitter: Social Media startup Nestivity released their list of the top 25 most engaged brands on Twitter – we look at the top 10 and why they are successful.

About the List:

  • Brands were selected based on the results of a study that examined how brands cultivate relationships with influencers, customers, and advocates on Twitter.
  • Primarily using push marketing on Twitter doesn’t work (obviously)
  • Conducted by Evolve Capital Inc. (private equity firm) and UCLA Anderson School of Management, the study looked at the top 100 most-followed brands on Twitter, analyzing over 739,000 tweets over one month.
  • Significant: study was backed by a private equity/venture capital fund. Investors are paying attention and putting money into researching the success of brands on Twitter. Investor attention is often a barometer of the times; the players who have a major say in the lifespan and ultimate success of companies and industries are making a real connection between brand engagement on Twitter and a company’s bottom line.
  • High follower count also did not necessarily equate with an engaged audience: “While all of the 25 most engaged Twitter accounts had over a million followers, so did the bottom 70% of the same.”
  • 76% of content that was shared (RT’d) had a photo attached, and 18% had a video.

Top 10 Brands on Twitter:

  1. Notebook of Love
  2. Disneywords
  3. ESPN
  4. Playstation
  5. Disney
  6. Chelsea Football Club
  7. BBC Breaking News
  8. NASA
  9. CNN Breaking News
  10. Instagram

Tips on Tap:

  1. Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts:
    M = new direct message
    N= new tweet
    R = reply
    T = retweet
    GR = Mentions
    GH = Home
    GM – Messages
    . = load new tweets
  2. Tips to resize and optimize layout of web images:
    A. Two free tools to resize web images: Picresize and Resize Your Image
    B. When resizing, c
    hoose small file sizes: Upload a PNG or JPG not too much larger than your desired image size. Choose PNG or JPG over BMP as the file format. Your site load times will benefit.
    B. Have subjects (people, animals, products, etc.) facing in toward the block of text instead of outward and away from the text.
  3. Smartskin Condoms for Smartphones
    Sex sells. This thermoplastic skin slips on and stretches to fit and protect your iPhone 4/4s/5 or Galaxy S3. Water-resistant plastic wraps retain touchscreen and call functionality and 98% camera clarity. Note that neither headphones nor cables can be used with Smartskin. Up to three uses per tab/pack. Smartskin from Firebox costs $18.50.

Show Notes:

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You can download or stream The Digital Dive Podcast at thedigitaldivepodcast.com or search for us in the iTunes Podcast Directory–> If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us a review!

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Hear us on Stitcher Smart Radio

The Digital Dive PodcastTM: Get the most out of technology… without ever fully giving in