Are You A Content Marketing Phony? A Helpful Quiz!

A few months ago, the SEO industry performed a David Blaine-grade magic trick. Penguin rolled out, the industry soiled it’s collective britches – and then POOF! – overnight, businesses that had once excelled in “SEO” now excelled in “Content Marketing”.

It’s everywhere. EVERYWHERE. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an SEO agency (whether proudly wearing the label or hiding in the closet with it) who HASN’T blogged about the importance of content marketing and how it’s now the bees knees and the future of the entire internet. There’s just one problem: Phonies walk among us. You might even know a few. You might even be one without knowing it.

1. Did your company website have a section on content marketing prior to April, 2012?

2. If no, does it now?

3. Please check all of the following that apply to you: “When I began to offer content marketing to clients, my…”

  • Team composition significantly changed
  • Team structure significantly changed
  • Internal processes significantly changed
  • Approach to pitching clients significantly changed
  • Pricing structure significantly changed
  • I added a “content marketing” tab to my services section and went to town!

4. Yes or No: “My firm’s primary method of content marketing is mass guest post publishing”?

5. Yes or No: “I source the majority of the content for my clients from oDesk”

6. Yes or No: “We created our editorial calendar by going to Google Adwords, picking commonly searched keyword phrases and then coming up with blog topics about them (usually with a lot of top X lists because we heard people can digest those easily)”

7. Yes or No: “Before launching into the creation phase, we sit down and delve into a strategy that defines the voice, tone, key messages, themes

8. Yes or No: “The main reason we offer content marketing is because we have no idea how to get linked to now and byline links on blogs nobody reads are still scalable if you put them on blogs nobody cares about.”

9. Yes or No: “We could still do content marketing if every single blog fell off the face of the planet tomorrow afternoon” 11. Yes or No: “I can actually recite my client’s mission and vision statements.”

10. Are you a great big phony? (Ha, ha – just kidding. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be that transparent!)

Phew!

Let’s tally up the score:

If you’re selling content marketing now and didn’t before April of 2012 BUT your team’s composition/structure/processes/pricing structure didn’t change, your primary means of “content marketing” is pushing out mass guest blogs that you sourced from oDesk/Elancer/Mechanical Turk/Belarus, you build content calendars by shotgunning titles you think are clever into an excel spreadsheet based on search volume and don’t know what your client’s mission and vision statements are, give yourself negative infinity points.

Congrats, you’re a part of the problem!


But don’t worry. Secretly, most overnight content marketers are just like you.

A few years from now when we’ve run the phrase “content marketing” into the ground, we can all get together over drinks at a conference and talk about the next wave and wash our hands clean of the whole thing. Heck, we did it with SEO.

Posted In: Open Letters

Album Review: Sax for Sex Volume 1

As a man in my mid-20′s, I am not so naive as to think that marketers haven’t caught on to the fact that men will click on pretty much anything with boobs on it. So naturally I was intrigued when, during my usual Tuesday ritual of scanning new releases on Rdio, I saw “Sex for Sax Volume 1″.

Sax Sells – And I’m Buying

Billed as “Sensual smooth Jazzy Sax Lounge Music for Massage or Love Making” (say that 3 times fast), the album’s cover art looks like a scene ripped straight from the pages of your mom’s sauciest Harlequin novel. As fair warning, pretty much everything that follows this sentence will be NSFW.

Good gracious – somebody’s been doing their pilates

Gadzooks! It appears that poor woman has misplaced her clothing. Never fear – a nearby Abercrombie greeter yoga instructor promptly put an end to that problem by latching onto her like a spider monkey. Unfortunately,the woman was still maimed in the incident as the thumb on her right hand has completely gone missing. At least she didn’t mess up that perfect bun.

This callous affront to decency was placed precariously close to the new Jonas Brothers single (Pom Poms – not the subject of this review), which made me feel a little uneasy about the whole thing.

The cover art certainly sells this as an erotic nuclear bomb – but would the album hold up to my intense musical criticisms? This would be my first foray into sensual lounge music – and the sad fact is that I came woefully unprepared for what would happen next.

Safe Sax: It Requires Some Planning

The law should mandate that Sax for Sex: Volume 1 come affixed with a warning label. This album is the most powerful aphrodisiac on the market today.

Kids – if you’re saving yourself for marriage, stay the hell away from this album. As for everyone else – I’d still recommend you don a solid steel chastity belt and give the key to somebody you trust and are not even remotely sexually attracted to.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to this collection in public. If you’re thinking of pushing “play” on this masterpiece, stop. Take the necessary precautions. Are the doors closed? Are you alone? Is your cellphone far out of reach (preferably across the city)? If so, good. You’re as ready as you can be to dive into this lusty woodwind cesspool.

Nobody Forgets Their First Time

The album starts off with a little jazz number called “Capture the Sun (Ibiza Del Mar Mix)” (so as not to confuse you with what I’m sure are the countless other mixes of this song out there). The track is aptly titled; by the time I hit the second verse I was sweating so profusely I thought I’d captured the sun in my Levi’s.

A classy, understated guitar riff blows the bath robe wide open for the scorching sax line that comes down upon you in a raunchy firestorm. The whole experience can be summed up as “sweltering” and by the end of the song I was squirming in my chair. It was like Kenny G himself had unleashed a napalm strike and I was his unsuspecting target.

“Flying in Circles (Balearic Chill Guitar Mix)” kept the sauna steaming with a finger-picked opener that feels like an unholy cupid just took aim at your erogenous zones. In good fashion, the sax wafts in like the perfume of a beautiful woman, then throws you head first down the stairway of bliss with unapologetic trills that will tug at the buttons of your shirt.

When the nameless seducer cried out “Let me hear it go woa-oh!” in the opening refrain of “Let me be your fantasy (La Nuit Voyage Mix – seriously folks, I can’t make this crap up), I was already begging for mercy. My heart was beating so fast I thought I was suffering an anaphylactic shock. I was downright allergic to this level of impassioned reed blowing.

This record is a cacophony of slow, rising synthesizers, softly meandering beats, tenderly plucked strings and saxophone work that will make you feel like Ryan Gosling whispered sweet nothings in your ear for an entire month.

Hitting The Climax

By the time I hit “People Can’t Stop Chillin”, I was struggling to hide my appreciation for this fine sax compilation from the others in my office (also known as the worst possible place to turn this on). I’d challenge anyone who calls themselves a sexual being to listen to the sultry saxophone line that erupts at 0:49 and NOT find themselves gyrating against their monitor.

Tragedy nearly struck when, during the chaos, my headphones came loose from the laptop and spilled the lewd lounge hymns through the workplace like an airborne virus. Thankfully I was able to wrestle the pin back into the jack, an action that both alleviated the situation and made it incomprehensibly worse.

I was in a cold sweat. I needed a glass of champagne more than at any other point in my 25 year history and I inexplicably found myself Googling local providers of bulk bagged rose petals. As I somehow navigated my way through the next few tracks, my work began to take a turn for the worse. An e-mail intended to explain my strategy to a client contained no less than three instances of the word “moist” and I’d signed it off

“Thrustingly yours,”

It would have taken the entire LA Lakers roster to restrain me from making love to the mail lady had she chosen that untimely moment to deliver our Culligan bill.

Sax Addict: Knowing When To Quit

In honesty, I could only make it to “You Are The Only One For Me (Nights in White Satin Love Mix)” before I had to forcibly slam the “stop” button, leave my computer and take a long, cold shower . My testosterone had spiked so hard that my usual five o’clock shadow had gone full-on Gandalf. I’d sent compromising texts to everyone from my boss to my chiropractor and I’d placed an online order for 30 pounds of mussels. This album is a one-way ticket to unlocking your primal urges and you’re in for a seriously bumpy ride.

Only one question remained: Who could have produced such a thing?

I decided to dig deeper into Ragimusic, the label behind this insipid auditory succubus. As it would turn out, the company has put out other fine (much less lascivious) compilations like “The Psychflowers – 60′s a GoGo” (which disturbingly appears to use a similar font to Sax for Sex – see bottom)

If the van’s a rockin’, it’s because Sax for Sex is playing inside.

As I flipped through the company’s corporate blog, I learned the real story behind Sax for Sex: Volume 1. I’d link to their myspace, but I don’t want to cause any unwanted pregnancies.

Saxual Healing: The Doctor is In

Ragimusic is the label name of Ragi Swelim, a producer from Frankfurt, Germany. He’s put out more albums than Kiss and he’s got an incredible penchant for putting well endowed women on the cover of virtually all of them (spare that cute little 60′s album above). He apparently once worked as a manager for Sony Music and Logic Records before deciding he wanted to help men across the globe overcome erectile dysfunction.

Behold, the soothsayer of salacious sax

In his blog, he recounted the tale of his attempts to compile the songs for the album – which of course required that he listen to the entire thing multiple times. The process took him no less than five years, during which he fathered nine children, co-authored “50 Shades of Grey” and founded the most active club for swingers in the nation.

Ragi at the helm of his boner-producing soundboard

Saxually Transmitted Disease: A Serious Concern

This album stands as testament that music is powerful. If you have children, don’t let them listen this. If you don’t want more, don’t listen to it either. But if you do, rest assured that this raucous collection of sexual anthems will more than do the trick.

But that said, practice safe sax. The consequences of listening to this album are both many and serious. You might want to ease yourself in to lounge music before plunging head first below the untamed waters of passion herein. Ragi makes Marvin Gaye and Barry White sound like a Raffi album.

In conclusion, I can only hope that this is just the first of several volumes for the “Sax for Sex” franchise. Rarely in life do you find an album so powerful that you wish you’d worn looser pants.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted In: Open Letters

The Costco review too hot for Yelp to handle..

I originally posted this on Yelp – a place where I’m an “Elite” member and have contributed over 100 reviews - most of which should make you laugh at least once. If you read some of the other reviews there, you’ve got everything from people complaining that the shopping carts are “too big and heavy” to people complaining that they showed up on a Saturday and had to wait in line. You’ve also got this gem of a woman who complains about “crusty sample givers” who weren’t fired after asking her son not to take another yogurt sample. 

Given that these people seem to be incredibly entitled and at times downright ridiculous, I decided to write a review in response that shone a bit of light on the magnificence that is Costco. Yelp promptly removed it, citing that it’s against their rules to “address a dispute with other reviewers”

Well, I thought that was stupid. So I republished it here, and Yelp can suck it. Without further ado, here’s my original review:

“…Costco Kicks Ass & You’re All A Bunch of Whiners.”

Dear everyone who reviewed this except for me:

Please enlighten me: what on earth do you expect from Costco? Some of you must be out of your freakin’ minds.

Before I go any further, let’s review what Costco is, shall we?
A gigantic warehouse that sells everything in massive quantities and bulk. NOBODY in their right mind is coming to Costco to buy one or two items – you don’t come here for a single pack of blueberries and to soak in the scenery with a latte. No, you come to Costco to bring home enough toilet paper to keep the entire American Armed Forces clean and smiling for the next fifty years – and you should expect to compete with hundreds of other bargain shoppers all on a similar mission. You come here to throw elbows on your way to get the freshest two-pack of salmon, and heaven help anyone who tries to stop you.

This is the front lines of excessive shopping; this is where things get REAL. It’s a concrete jungle of good deals, huge packages and unrelenting adrenaline. It’s such a war zone that they had to put in little old ladies with sample trays just to keep people from mercilessly killing each other in the mad dash for an entire pallet’s worth of Vitamin D pills.

If Costco’s shopping carts are big and heavy, it’s because they’re used to haul a metric ton of Dove Soap and bags of raw broccoli across the inevitable 3km journey you’ll make winding through the warehouse. If they had tiny, dainty shopping carts like you find at your local Co-op, people would need three of them to cart around their crap. They’re the dumptrucks of the shopping cart world because that’s exactly what people need them to be. You can’t exactly take home 60 pounds of pineapples in an average sized shopping cart or the wheels would explode and the cage would collapse.

My advice to you, complaining lady, is to get used to it and rejoice in the fact that pushing your shopping cart around Costco is helping you get a killer forearm workout.

I suggest you all do as I and my room mate do: Divide and conquer. One person holds the cart, piloting it like a highly trained pro, dodging oblivious shoppers and precariously placed sales tables like Luke Skywalker navigating the trenches of the Death Star. The OTHER goes out and furiously nabs up the items you need from those hard-to-reach areas with the precision and vigour of a deal finding octopus.

Secondly – an express aisle?! For what, 200 items or less? If you’re coming here because you want a quick in/out shopping experience, you’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake. I can’t even begin to help you. The fact is that in exchange for Costco’s excellent pricing, you should EXPECT to wait in line.

If you don’t, the problem is YOU, not Costco.

Thirdly – if you go on a Saturday afternoon and you’re somehow shocked and annoyed that there are line ups, then allow me to pause for a moment and play the world’s tiniest violin for you. This is like getting upset that you went to Disneyland on the hottest day of the year and had to wait in line for Splash Mountain.Well, SURPRISE! People go shopping on Saturday. Lots of them. Write a complaint letter to the soul of humanity – or just stay home.

Fourthly, nobody is going to fire a good employee just because they told your son not to take another yogurt sample. If you’d expect them to get canned just because they yelled at your precious little wonder, you’re probably the kind of parent who wraps their newborn in bubble wrap and complains to the school board when somebody else’s kid uses a “sharp metal ruler” without rounded edges. Consider the fact that Costco employees dish out thousands of samples to disgruntled, entitled people all day. Should they have yelled? No. Should they get fired for doing so? With all due respect, that you would wish for somebody to lose their livelihood over a trivial thirty second encounter speaks more ill of you than them.

Lastly, if Costco put in some change rooms there’d be no room for their giant stacks of fresh baked muffins. Sorry world, muffins beat change rooms any day of the week.

The major highlight that redeems any and all wrongs this place might have is that there are $2 meals consisting of giant spicy hot dogs and a pop – the perfect victory lap for an afternoon spent rustling up the next month’s groceries. And yes, you’ll still have to park your bigass grocery cart while you eat it, and people might have to walk around it.

And that’s A-OK.

In conclusion, Costco kicks ass and you’re all a bunch of whiners.

(Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, there’s a few other reviews you’ll probably get a kick out of! Oh – and you can also hire me, I do freelance copywriting for people who want content that isn’t the literary equivalent of paint drying.)

Posted In: Open Letters

Here Is This Thing I Wrote

Here is this thing I wrote.  I hope you read it.

Of course you will.

People need the things I write. If I didn’t write this thing, nobody else would have written it – at least, not the way I wrote it. I think. I can’t be sure of that, mind you – there are an awful lot of people writing an awful lot of things lately.

But that’s the whole problem, don’t you see? If I didn’t write this thing, then none of my fans could have READ this thing. Without me writing this thing, my clients and friends wouldn’t be able to behold my brilliance or bask in the glow of my razor-sharp wit or revel in my bold prose and uncompromising opinions.

Simply put – they’d have nothing to read. Well, nothing of mine, of course. That’s the point. Without me, there’d be nobody to put my spin on it. And it’s my spin that makes this important, isn’t it? It’s my voice that’s important here. Nobody else says it quite like me.

More importantly, if nobody is reading what I am writing (or not writing – now there’s a metaphysical head trip for you), then I’m not building my personal brand. And personal brand is everything to those in the know.

So I wrote this thing. For them. Of course, that’s not the whole story. I had other reasons to write this thing too.

It all started when I wrote that other thing. A lot of people really liked it. It caught me by surprise, to be honest. Of course, nobody really knew who I was back then. So I wrote that other thing – I spent hours on it. I hunched over my desk and boiled my eyeballs in the glow of my monitor, I added visuals and spell checked and included a few graphs too.

And then I hit “Submit”. And I waited. And I waited. And I stared at the “Real Time Analytics”.

And every single time somebody new came through, it was like a miniature orgasm. A surge of euphoria – approval! I’d never known this feeling before. People were reading me.  Then somebody tweeted it. Somebody important. And that more or less changed everything. Double digits in my analytics. Traffic – that sweet elixir, that nectar of the gods. People were reading it and tweeting it and I got comments too – real comments. And when I checked on my Twitter feed, my follower count was booming. 10 people. 20 people. 50 people.

My heart was beating so fast. Whenever my boss left the room, I’d click back over into analytics and my cheeks would rush red and my fingers would dance across the keys responding to everything, EVERYTHING, EVERYONE MUST BE RESPONDED TO and I got hardly any work done but it was the best day on the job I’ve ever had.

I was hooked. So I wrote this thing.

Of course, it’s also important that I wrote this thing because, well, content marketing. I really don’t need to say more than that (few do, actually) but I think you’ll probably understand me when I say that the importance of me writing this thing has a transcendental purpose – I am, through my writing, demonstrating to the world that I am a grand master of the content arts; I eat my own dog food, I practice what I preach.

I really, really get that it’s all about relationships.

I tweet my friends’ stuff. They tweet mine. Sometimes, we don’t even read it before we tweet it. That’s how strong our relationships are – and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what content marketing is all about. Building that network that’s so strong that people will share your content without even reading it or having the slightest inkling as to whether or not it’s useful – it’s great content solely because it came from YOU.

So you see, I’ve got to write – regularly.

It might not be my best work. And to be honest, I didn’t spend as much time on it as I would have liked – but I’m a busy guy and I didn’t want to fall behind on my content schedule – because two days from now I’m publishing a tell-all opinion piece that will showcase my transparency and vulnerability.I’ve already announced that it’s coming on Twitter and if it doesn’t everyone will be disappointed. I can’t let them down – not my listeners. My audience that I’ve worked so hard to foster. This incredible web personality I’ve built on the foundations of great content.

If I’ve got time, I might do a bit of client work – though I’m sure they’ll understand if they get their reports a bit late. I’m really writing this for their own good. Yeah – leading by example here. This is the new era, this is the future, this is the way forward and I’m right on the bleeding edge.

So, world: here is this thing I wrote.

It’s very important that you read it.

 

Well, sort of.

 

Posted In: Open Letters

My Guaranteed, 100% Accurate SEO Predictions For 2013

A lot of people are publishing posts predicting the things that will happen in the SEO industry in 2013. Well, industry sheep, ATTUNE THINE EARS! For I have proclamations to share with you that I am so sure of, I will put my neck on the line and say that these aren’t just likely to happen, they are all but guaranteed.  Sit back and let me dazzle you:

PREDICTION 1: An idiot at a major publication will kick the SEO hornet’s nest by publishing something scathing and wrong about SEO.

I know this one is really hard to believe, but I’m absolutely certain it’s going to happen. I know that in the past publications like Forbes have been really spot-on with their assessments of SEO, but sooner or later, somebody is going to get it wrong – way wrong – and then I predict a bunch of SEOs will get their panties all twisted up as though they’d been wrung out by a linebacker.

BONUS PREDICTION: In an act of valor, a notable SEO will write a powerful counter-post that will forever set the record straight, leaving nobody confused or jaded about the whole experience.

PREDICTION 2: More people will create content calendars than ever; most of them will be truly awful

With all this hubbub about content marketing, I really think this is the year of the content calendar. But more than that, I think it’s high time SEOs got their fair shake at being the entire marketing department, from creatives to copywriters to outreach specialists and everything in between!

In the mad scramble to usurp authority from every other capable marketing professional on the planet, SEOs will create these content calendars all by themselves in isolation, probably in their basements alone drinking warm milk and waiting for the next conference to come along and remind them that they’re part of a seismic shift in the marketing world.

Sadly (and yet unsurprisingly), most of these content calendars will contain terrible seasonal content and half-baked ideas hashed out in a panic as the deliverable deadline loomed. It’s okay though, most of these calendars will be completely ignored by the client anyway.

BONUS PREDICTION: Somebody will publish a content calendar template and share it, possibly as link bait. Having written this piece down on their own content calendar, they will create a loop of content planning – CALENDARCEPTION.

PREDICTION 3: A notable SEO will totally “kill it” with a “nice post”

Alright, this one’s a doozy, but I’m going to go way out on a limb here. After publishing something for the community, a notable SEO will be lauded for doing so, rewarded the accolades of having “killed it” with his/her “nice post”.

BONUS PREDICTION: Even though the comment was published in great haste in a dated attempt to diversify anchor text, the notable SEO will still reply to the comment with a well-thought-out thank you message that will almost  certainly help build their personal brand somehow.

PREDICTION 4: “X” will teach all of us something about “Y”

I know it sounds far-fetched, but I really feel like there’s just so much opportunity to learn something about SEO/online marketing/social media/content/inbound marketing from the world around us. Maybe I’m just a dreamer like John Lennon – or maybe I’m some kind of savant like that prodigy in August Rush who can see SEO everywhere – in the squirrels outside, in my bath soap, in refrigerator magnets, the heart wrenching drama of daytime soap operas or the gleaming eyes of my fictional children.

And you can bet your ass that when I have a revelation about how much that completely unrelated experience has loose parallels to my profession, I’ll mash that “publish” button harder than a George St. Pierre superman punch to the testicles.

But I won’t be the only one. This year, I predict a lot of people will learn something about “X” from “Y” and do the whole world a favour by writing about it.

BONUS PREDICTION: At least one of these posts will come from Hubspot; possibly combined with a fun seasonal twist.

PREDICTION 5: SEOs will argue that rankings, traffic and the internet all don’t matter and you’re doing it wrong

Rankings don’t matter and tracking them makes you an idiot. Traffic? HA! Are you stuck in 2004, bro?You know what matters, sucker? Sales. And as an SEO, your job is to make those sales materialize in whatever way possible. Online, offline – doesn’t matter. It’s YOUR job to make sure your clients prosper by any means necessary.

If that means organizing a charity marathon for arthritic tradespeople, then damn it, you get on top of that. If it means picking up the phone and prank calling the CEO of a competitor so you can write about the experience in a controversy-sparking blog post, then start dialling. If it means breaking into the homes of your client’s customers and leaving thank-you notes taped to their foreheads so that they REALLY get the message that your client is unique and cares, then I suggest you brush up on your B&E skills.

SEOs across the industry will publish posts hailing the end of an era: we do not watch rankings, we do not monitor traffic. We watch sales. Up and to the right, people. Up and to the right.

BONUS PREDICTION: Somebody will argue that even sales don’t matter – only how you made people feel.

PREDICTION 6: A post from a notable expert with absolutely no case study or data attached will be widely accepted and applauded

Hooo boy. I’m gettin’ risky now, but I was never one to shy away from bold predictions.

This year, an expert will definitely publish something completely opinion-based with no data to support it. In a shocking turn of events, dozens – no – HUNDREDS of SEOs will read it, accept it and make it part of their daily lives. A few will print it out and tack it to the walls of their cubicles as a reminder that they would rather just believe what somebody says instead if testing it out for themselves – because who has time to collect data when there’s work to be done?!

BONUS PREDICTION: An SEO will share an inspirational thought or opinion. It will immediately be voted to the top of Inbound.org, where the author will be applauded for being “human” and “just like the rest of us”.

PREDICTION 7: There will be an algorithm update.

Panic! Fear! Run wild!

I don’t mean to scare everybody, but there’s most definitely an algorithm update coming. Probably a big one. And when it comes, you’re going to know. It’s going to be a serious update, with major repercussions (that impact somewhere in the vicinity of 1% of English-speaking queries).

It’s going to get written about – so there’s no need for me to go into detail here. But mark my words, there’s definitely going to be an algorithm update.

BONUS PREDICTION: Similarly useless predictions by experts in our industry will be touted as prophetic by the end of the year. Said expert will take credit and pat themselves on the back for their astute observations.

Posted In: Open Letters

Dear Direct Energy: Your $10 Loan Is Due & My Rabbit Is Starving

The following is my second letter to Direct Energy’s community manager, Trish (@DirectEnergy), where I outline how it’s not very nice to steal from people. To get the whole story, you oughta start here.

Dearest Trish,

What happened to us? We used to be great: what with the tweets, the e-mails and all.  Remember a few weeks ago when I tweeted you messages angry enough to make a therapist blush? Of course you do. $966.32 was outstanding from my account with absolutely no sign of it ever being returned. I had called your service centre, waited 27 days - and nothing.  I’d been hung out to dry and forgotten like a pair of dollar store underpants.

And then, Trish, you leapt into action for me.

I can only imagine your heroics that day – dashing up the stairs, throwing open the doors and yelling “SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET IS VERY UPSET!” before leaping over desks and clotheslining an intern in a mad frenzy to find someone, anyone with the mental capacity to reverse a $966.32 erroneous payment. I imagine, Trish, that you literally grabbed CEO Chris Weston by his custom Italian suit – and as the rolls of $100 bills fell from his pockets (lunch money?) you cried, “CHRIS! WE’VE GOT TO REVERSE THIS! A MAN’S MORTGAGE PAYMENTS ARE AT STAKE!” before breaking down in a small ocean of little salty tears.

Yes Trish, I know deep inside that you’re the Bonnie to my Clyde here. I don’t doubt for a second that you stormed into the office of the financial department with a megaphone and scared a dozen extremely underpaid eastern European women half to death when you started blaring “THERE’S BEEN A HORRIBLE MISTAKE!”. I’m willing to bet you stood over them, wringing your hands nervously while they keyed in every last detail of the return that they owed me, sighing under their breaths and cursing the fact that their free loan was now being called back.

For that, Trish, I thank you.

The very next day thanks to your diligence and after waiting a mere 28 days to get it back, there it was. A return statement in my bank account. My money was home!

Well, sort of.

See, there’s one small problem. Direct Energy returned $956.32. I think if you’ll do some simple calculations you’ll find that $10 remains outstanding.

Now, I find it fairly incredible that someone would go to all the trouble of refunding my money to me “early” through an “unconventional means” like electronic transfer (my, that’s MUCH less convenient than snail-mailing me a check!) and then not pay attention to the total that they were entering. I mean, that kind of blatant negligence certainly isn’t something I would expect from the accounting department of a massive energy company, right? So I’ve chosen to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Clearly, Direct Energy has fallen on hard times and my $10 is the only thing that could keep the company afloat.

If your execs were short on gas money to fill their Porches with premium fuel injected with the tears of an albino orphan, you could have just told me. I would have completely understood and floated you the cash. But the fact is, nobody told me they were going to borrow my $10 for another three weeks and I’m not too pleased about it. I know you’re thinking to yourself,

“$10? Is this guy for real?”

Well Trish, yes I am. See, you’ll remember that I was raised by a strict accountant mother. That same Mother would stoop down to pick up pennies from behind the counters at the grocery store, so you can imagine her horror if I was to let $10 of my own money idly slip by the wayside. That’s a metric assload of pennies.

Not only that, but let me point out a few awesome things $10 would buy:

  1. Holy crap, a Sigmund Freud action figure!  I could have been psychoanalyzing GI Joes for weeks now, getting to the bottom of their sexual attractions to their own family members. Guess that’s one experience I’ll never get to have, Trish.
  2. This BullS&%! button! Useful for times like when someone tells you a check was processed and mailed on the 22nd of May and there’s no sign of it by June 11!
  3. A twirling spaghetti fork! Can you imagine the badassery that would have ensued had I taken my last date out for Italian and whipped THIS thing out? I would have been twirling that pasta like some kind of romantic cyborg. Instead, Direct Energy completely cockblocked me and I had to take her out for dollar sushi night. We both got food poisoning.
But most importantly, Trish, do you know what $10 buys? Rabbit food.

Meet Doomsday. She’s a bunny, and she lives in the Dudeplex with myself and my room mate. As the lady of the house, we find it pretty important to keep her appeased as she (like all women) gets rather cranky when she hasn’t eaten for awhile.  Well, guess what, Trish? The $10 your company has stolen from me would have bought an entire bag of Martin Mills Rabbit Food, the delicious treats we feed Doomsday.

And now, Doomsday is hungry and pissed.

She’s making all sorts of terrifying growling noises and thumping her back feet like she’s trying to put out some kind of forest fire. I can’t even pick her up without her mercilessly clawing at my arms, not to mention the disgusted looks she keeps shooting me. And you know who I have to thank? Direct Energy. Why do you guys hate rabbits so much?

The fact is that if I hadn’t bothered to make a ruckus on the internet, I’d STILL be waiting for the full $966.32. So let me be abundantly clear: I want my $10 back. I don’t care how many more interns you have to tackle to make it happen.  The guy on your customer service line was completely full of crap when he told me that they mailed a check to me on the 22nd – that check has yet to arrive. Am I supposed to believe Direct Energy employs accountants who can’t read numbers and mail room clerks who can’t figure out how to work the postal service? Is it Direct Energy’s usual policy to lie about refunds and then drag their heels for weeks and weeks? I hate to say it Trish, but at this point I’ve got to believe you’re the only competent person sitting on their payroll.

Direct Energy has lost any chance of ever being my energy service provider. At this point, I’d sooner buy a generator, a few lengths of wire and entire pet store full of hamsters and hamster wheels to run my electricity than ever have dealings with Direct Energy again.

I know you’re not to blame, Trish. I have nothing against you personally. But I’ve got a very hungry rabbit and a bank account short $10. I know it’s within your power to fix it.

All the best,

Joel

 

 

 

Posted In: Open Letters

My Open Letter to Direct Energy, Whose Refunding Policy Is Ridiculous

(The following e-mail was sent to Direct Energy’s community manager (@DirectEnergy), Trish after she responded to my complaint on Twitter regarding an erroneous payment I made to the tune of almost $1,000.)

Hello Trish,

(…) Let’s make this entertaining for the both of us. I’m sure you get enough irate mail as-is given your company’s odd practice of withholding money from people for exorbitantly long periods of time.

It was a bright and shiny morning. I awoke in my new home (which I had just purchased short months before) under the budding branches of an apple tree. All was well with the world.

I flipped open my laptop and decided that since I was in such good spirits I ought to completely ruin my own day by paying my bills. Off I went to my bank’s website where I nearly vomited upon the discovery of my large credit card bill; understandable since I had just renovated the entire inside of my home and had spent my hard earned dubloons on some luxury-grade paint so my guests could admire the lavish walls of what I have dubbed, “The Dudeplex”.

Seriously Trish, if you could come over and see the place you’d probably understand.

What happened next is the stuff of horror stories! If there are children in your office, Trish, you ought to send them out if you’re reading this out loud. I don’t want to scar them emotionally.

With ONE FALSE CLICK, I made an erroneous payment to Direct Energy to the tune of $966.32 from my bank account. I was trying to pay that incredibly painful VISA bill, but alas, in my haste to be financially wise (I always pay down my VISA immediately as per the lessons from my strict accountant mother) I accidentally paid it to Direct Energy. Woops!

At this point, I imagine Direct Energy’s staff cried out, “HOORAY! A FREE LOAN!” and patted each other on the back while smoking cigars and wearing fine coats of Lemur fur.

Having realized my mistake later in the week, I sprung into action and dialed your customer service centre with the fury of 10,000 suns. Aside from the slight melting of the screen on my telephone (thanks to my furious thumb-dialing), I was helped by someone who said that yes, they got my payment, and yes, a check should arrive to me within two weeks. That was awhile to wait, but since that would bring the check to me before the month was out (when I pay my equally vomit-inducing mortgage payments), I thought it’d be okay. Annoying that it took 5 seconds to take my money and 2 weeks to return it, but alright.

I’ve now waited much, much longer than 2 weeks. My patience was like that of a family dog waiting for his playmates to return to the house, but alas, all my tail wagging and panting has been greeted with nothing but disappointment.

In other words, nothing has come to me and now the month is about to roll over. Now Trish, I’m sure you can respect that $966.32 is a lot of money (even moreso than $966.31, but who is counting?) and as such I’m pretty upset that it hasn’t been returned to me. Direct Energy has been sitting pretty on my money, probably buying themselves incredible things like inflatable pool toys and bean bag chairs. Well Trish, I want those bean bag chairs for MYSELF, and I’ll be damned if I let Direct Energy splash in the sun outside their enormous oil-money mansions on my dime.

So I called your centre again today and all I was told was that it was “Processed” on the 22. That is 20 DAYS from the time the payment was made, which is completely absurd. I don’t know if you fired all of your check-issuers or mailroom clerks, but that’s a wait time I was certainly not anticipating. Heck, I get my mail out within 7 days, and that even requires a long, ardurous walk to my neighbourhood mailing box. I have to pass an old man who has no teeth and takes great pleasure in spraying me with his garden hose and cackling maniacally. This often ruins my mail.

No matter.

The point is, I want this money YESTERDAY. I have bills to pay and waiting another 2 weeks for this check to arrive is out of the question. Despite my jovial tone, I’m pretty upset to the point I wouldn’t even consider being a Direct Energy customer again unless serious changes were made to your refunding policies.

My account number is XXXXXXXXXXXX. I’d love to be refunded faster and I know, Trish, you’d love for me to stop being so snarky on Twitter. So let’s make both of our lives easier and see if we can’t push what I imagine is just a great big “Angry Customer Refund” button sitting in Direct Energy HQ.
All the best,
Joel,
The Best Looking Man In The World (According to the internet)
http://bestlookingmanintheworld.com

Posted In: Open Letters