Discover more from Ed Zitron's Where's Your Ed At
After a tactical mismatch, I will have 4 (5 if you count my toddler) people at Thanksgiving, the people that live in this house, and they will have roughly 18lb turkey to feed them. The big plan was to have a (small) group of family visit, all of which would get rapid COVID tests as close as humanely possible to leaving, drive down, feast, get COVID tests on the way out (which I would be covering), and everyone would be happy. Sadly, a combination of events mostly called “things got significantly worse, not better” and “for some reason people I otherwise admire and trust think that COVID is “propaganda”” have meant that it was best to tell people to stay home.
In retrospect, perhaps ordering such a big bird and extra turkey legs was dreaming. But now I have to cook this giant bird myself. The plan is to smoke it, of course, because it’s me. I’m going to use this recipe. It’s already pre-brined and seasoned. In retrospect, my wife should also probably not have insisted we get 7 extra turkey legs.
And on some level, while I am really, really sad to not see everyone, am actually relieved. Yes, I am going to have more turkey to eat than anyone has ever eaten before, but I also can continue to trace every single damn interaction that this house has.
The Macbook Air
This thing looks wild. Can’t imagine going anywhere that requires a portable computer anytime soon, but man. That rocks.
The Worst Launches Ever
If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably seen my brain matter decay as I’ve tried to get a friend both an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5. I should add that I got my own comfortably by pre-ordering, because I was lucky/twitchy enough to notice when they went up in time. However, the actual launch day for these consoles - in particular the PS5 - has been atrocious.
Basically, to get a PlayStation 5 at this time, you have to keep an eye on Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, PlayStation Direct (Sony’s own website), Gamestop and others. On the actual launch day last week, all of these companies claimed they’d have them up at specific times, with varying levels of deception - Target’s was available an hour and a half afterward, for example - and with fairly consistent levels of bullshit. You’d struggle past multiple website errors to maybe get one in your cart, then find the actual checkout process was slow, if it loaded at all, only to say “nope, sorry, we’re out of stock.” Walmart had them on sale on the day at 12pm, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm EST, and they were gone in seconds.
I know e-commerce is hard, but the specific thing that sticks out to me here is that most of these companies are multi-billion dollar enterprises. I kind of get that, say, PlayStation Direct (which at least had a queue system) isn’t used to a huge e-commerce push. But Amazon, Target and Walmart have absolutely no excuse for the nightmare of errors and problems. My theory is that they simply don’t care - they know that people buying these consoles are likely one-off customers, and upsetting them isn’t any great loss.
I have this crazy theory though.
What if your e-commerce store actually got someone the thing they wanted, and they, say, thought they could rely on your store and use it more in the future?
What if you instituted some sort of methodology of making sure people weren’t bots?
The latter is simple - if someone gets a console in their cart, it’s “locked” for 10 minutes. One per household. You block one-time credit card uses. Hell, force a 2FA check if you’re not sure. Give people the ability to run these checks in advance so that they have a smooth experience. I am just one guy with a brain that has spent years slowly degenerating from being online too much and I just sorted out your problem.
“But what about the bots?”
A pre-authorized pre-order queue, with a 2FA check, likely slows them down. You’re never going to stop them. Maybe check IPs so that someone can’t order two from the same IP. I don’t know. Seems easy to me.
The Price-Gouging Economy
Related to this subject is the fact that one day, a government would actually come down on eBay, StockX, Mercari, etc. over price-gouging. Now, I get it, there is an entire industry in clothing where price-gouging is actually good, and there’s probably an elegant solution to that (though I think it’s stupid) - either leave clothing out of this entire “thing” or simply say that one-off items don’t count under price-gouging.
Here’s a simple way of doing it. Make it so that eBay et al. has serious penalties for allowing listings that are more than, say, 25% over the RRP of an item. A PS5 can’t be sold for more than $625 on eBay. Yes, this will require eBay to do some sort of actual work to improve their user experience, which I do not believe they have done since 2005, but they will also have to factor in some math that factors in the actual cost of items. If someone tries to get around it by including a limited edition made up item, that gets ignored, because it’s transparently avoiding the cost of goods.
Now, someone I’m sure is going to say free market capitalism is good, to which I say it is actually bad, and to get off of my feed.
Of course there will be people who get around this, but the solution exists to make it more difficult for these people to profit off of people’s desperation.
Sadly, companies like eBay are built to profit off of this, and do not give a shit.
My trick for writing is that I now have a 9am booking in my calendar every day that says “write?” and I am hoping that works. If it doesn’t, well, you don’t pay for this, so please like and subscribe.