Thursday, November 9, 2017

United Breast Cancer Foundation Calls Me. Again.

What sort of organization employs a call center that spoofs their CallerID and uses not one, but TWO layers pre-recorded operators in order to solicit people? The answer should be obvious, but, I'll spell it out just in case: Any organization that employs these tactics is much more interested in separating you from your hard earned money than they are in actually helping you or anyone else out. This brings me to the United Breast Cancer Foundation. I've dealt with them before, earlier this year, and they had been calling me about three times a day for the last two weeks. Usually, when I would answer, they'd just hang up. Today, however, they connected and I was met with Alice, that familiar robo-voice.

There must have been some kind of lag Alice's programming, because when I picked up the call, she didn't identify who she was calling for. She was already mid-way through her pitch when she started telling me how she hoped that the ladies could count on my support. She never mentioned the United Breast Cancer foundation. And when I asked for a representative, she put me down for a $30 donation! She forwarded me to "Jen from verification" which was another pre-programmed robo-voice! After saying "representative" over and over again, I finally got kicked over to a "manager" who was an actual living, breathing person working at a call center.

Andrea picked up the phone, and I wasn't sure that she was actually human. Through her intermittent gum-smacking, I asked her to prove to me that she was human. Andrea actually works for a call center service named "Associated Community Services" and, when I asked her how she felt to be soliciting donations on behalf of an organization that spends only 6% of the money they raise on actually helping people, etc, Andrea tried to beg off. She eventually tried to say "They are helping out as many people as they can". I couldn't abide by that bullshit. In the midst of my berating her, Andrea said that she had indeed looked up the United Breast Cancer foundation, which, if true, shows me that she's content to make money off of working for charities that are questionable at best.

And why is that? Well, one doesn't really have to wonder why Andrea feels that way, considering that she works for Associated Community Services, an organization that ran afoul of the Michigan Attorney General and had to pay a settlement after a cease-and-desist order. In 2015, three Michigan based cancer fundraising organizations erroneously portrayed themselves as charities with financial programs for cancer patients that provide pain medications, transportation and hospice care. Guess which call center they used? Associated Community Services. You might be seeing a correlation here.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Papa John Blames NFL For Low Pizza Sales

Papa Johns pizza sales and stock price have been falling recently, and company executives think they know why. "Papa" John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John's International Inc puts the blame squarely on the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. Papa Johns, the official pizza company of the NFL, has a deal with the league and with 23 teams. Company executives believe that fallout of the National Anthem controversy has resulted in many NFL fans boycotting the pizza chain "The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said during an earnings call on Wednesday. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this." This coming from the guy that complained that the Affordable Care Act forced him to raise prices and then a week later promoted a one million pizza give away. Company executives also blamed the increasingly competitive restaurant environment and temporary store closures caused by hurricanes for weak sales.

Personally, I think that while boycotts may have been a small factor, the overall cause of declining sales at Papa Johns is due to the fact that it has become a sub-par product. One of the first things a company needs to do when sales decline is to look inward. Domino's Pizza is a fine example. Here's a company that realized it was putting out a below middling product and allocated the time and capital necessary to improve upon it. And they ended up making a product that tastes good (for a chain store) and can be cheaply and quickly produced. They also implemented some technological innovations. Their web ordering app is the standard by which similar companies are judged.

Papa Johns needs to do some research on how to improve their product and update their ordering process. And, while they're at it, they need to do something with their commercials. Maybe hire a spokesman. I'm personally tired of seeing that douche-nozzle Papa John on every commercial they company does. It worked when the first did it ages ago when the touted Papa John's as a one-man success story, but the guy has become a caricature.