Time for a new strategy? For all the new horizons the World Wide Web has opened up, there is a dark side to the Internet as well.
Some designers of "alternative" Web sites use similar-sounding names to attack and trash the reputations of well-known companies or establishments, which can inevitably lead to a loss of revenue, an article in Business Week pointed out. Because of this tactic—and the difficulty in suing these "hate sites" out of existence—some firms have been forced to turn to another strategy.
"Most big corporations, as a matter of course, now buy the Web addresses, or URLs, for their names followed by the word `sucks.com' or preceded by `Ihate,'" the article noted.
Problem is, they often don't get there in time. And although some companies offer to take care of whatever complaint some hate-page creators might have against them, that strategy doesn't always work, either.
Basically, the magazine advised that Corporate America has little choice but to get used to these Web sites. Maybe you can get used to it, but you still don't have to like it.
A star-crossed sale
Before you talk about having a weird day at the dealership, compare notes with Randy Hatch, owner/manager of a Big O Tires Inc. outlet in Mesa, Ariz.
"I was working with a customer on a wheel and tire deal for his recently purchased pickup truck," Randy wrote in a note to Tire Business. "After haggling back and forth on prices, we finally came to a fair selling price for both of us. I took the customer's keys to process him through our speed lane, as he sat down in our waiting room and began to read the daily newspaper.
"Well, not 15 minutes later he walks over to me and says to never mind about the purchase—he would like to leave. I questioned why, and he handed me his horoscope for the day which he had cut out of the newspaper."
The horoscope for this capricious Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) read:
"You may have a tendency to spend on items that are not a necessity. Think twice. You are not likely to get a good deal and may find that you're short of cash later in the day."
In his note, Randy included a copy of the horoscope, and added: "PS. I got the sale."
So we called him to ask how.
He said he couldn't believe the customer, a young kid, was really serious, but indeed, he was.
"I turned it into a joke," Randy said. "I started laughing, without ever really asking him if he was serious. Then I said to our receptionist, `Didn't you get this in your horoscope last week?'"
Still, the young man wasn't laughing.
Finally, after some prodding from Randy, the customer said, "Yeah, I guess it's just a horoscope."
They went around again about the price for the $1,100 tire/wheel package—Mr. Stargazer wanted to pay $900—before agreeing to split the difference.
Maybe a telescope would have been a nice add-on.
In car coloring, who can figure consumers' tastes?
Take, for instance, the 48th annual list of the most popular exterior colors for vehicles in 1999, compiled by paint manufacturer DuPont Herberts Automotive Systems.
"It's a new millennium and consumers want vehicle colors that reflect the public's growing interest in technology, as they seek comfort in nature," the company's press release trumpeted. "Either way, motorists want a choice of colors that deliver a strong emotional impact."
What are these strong, emotional colors?
Topping the "luxury car" category was (are you ready?), white metallic, followed by silver and light brown. Whoa, pretty dramatic choices, eh?
White also was the No. 1 choice in the full/intermediate and sport-utility/truck/van categories, while silver headed the sport/compact list. "Bright red," as in little red sports car, finished seventh.
Those top choices may indicate a disturbing psychological trend: blandness. It may not be "your father's Oldsmobile," but it sure is colored like it.
This 'n that
Enrich your vocabulary—A press release from Castrol North America's automotive division provided a couple words we can't wait to use to impress friends (both of them).
The company said its new "Castrol Super Clean" product contains an ingredient that is both hydrophilic (water loving) and lipophilic (oil loving). So you can be as clean—or dirty—as you want to be.|.|.|at the same time?
New word for a "medical condition"—Continuing in that vein, perhaps some of you know persons who are tirephiliacs (we just made that up). Or maybe you yourself are one. (Do you have an attraction to tires?) Sad to say, there is no known cure.
Separated at birth?—Check out the photos of Nissan Motor Co.'s COO, Carlos Ghosn, and Ford Motor Co. CEO Jac Nasser.
The Brazilian-born Mr. Ghosn is a former Michelin North America Inc. exec who's become almost legendary at the car company for his cost-cutting. He looks enough like Mr. Nasser, who's of Lebanese-Australian descent, that if they ever end up at the same company, it might become easier to blame "the other guy." At least it usually worked for Patty Duke in her long-ago TV show about "identical cousins."
The `Tattler'—At first glance, it looked like the front page of one of those tawdry tabloids.
A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer automotive classified ads section displayed the screaming headline: "Breakup shocker! Man dumps faithful 25-year companion for topless model," alongside a picture of a smiling young couple in happier times posing by their 1975 Datsun.
The pseudo-scandal sheet was, in actuality, a teaser about how "Devilish Dale" finally traded in his car "for a brand new ragtop." And to think we perused the entire section looking for candids of his new "model" and all we found were pictures of cars. What a letdown.
You want an oil change with that?—Perhaps taking a cue from the automotive service industry, an osteopath in Wallingford, Vt., told National Public Radio that she has put up a price board in her office with "Parts and Labor" differentiated.
She said patients in her acute care practice seem to like it. By the way, she charges by the minute. OK, all you "Dr. Crankshafts" out there.|.|.|don your white lab coats, grab your engine analyzer stethoscopes and start your engines.
"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno had a little fun at the expense of an Akron "institution" recently.
During a segment on so-called "Truth in Labeling," he referred to the mode of transportation six-year-old Cuban exile Elian Gonzalez used when found floating off Miami.
Showing a picture of a Goodyear inner tube, Jay said new government guidelines have forced the tire maker to use the product's "real" name: "Elian America Cruise Lines." And, to paraphrase Jerry Garcia, "What a long, strange trip" that's been.