Tuesday, December 20, 2011

BPAL: Snake Oil or Snake In The Grass?

One of the reasons I decided to do a blog dedicated to bitching instead of my other love, indie makeup, is that there are tons who do this so much better.  I suck at descriptions, and I'm too damned lazy to take pictures.
One subject I would avoid would be scented stuff. Scents, to me are a personal thing. It's all a matter of body chemistry. What smells great on someone stinks on another. I've got the kind of chemistry that very few scents work with, so I'm sure a review of "smells like shit on me, but you should try it!" wouldn't be appreciated by a seller. But I read reviews, and sometimes will try stuff based on that.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, or BPAL, is a perfume company that has a huge cult like following. It's impossible for anyone who reads blogs about indie products not to have come across some BPAL reviews. So I've tried several of their stock and limited edition fragrances. And no matter what fragrance I try, they all smell the same on me. Like the morning after a night of drunken debauchery. Where you jump out of bed, holding your head, throw open the window, wake up the lump next to you and tell them to get the hell out and swear off alcohol forever. Anything to make it go away.
So I've left BPAL to those who love it. Until now.
Someone who I've been a customer of, who has a small indie bath and body shop, who I LIKE (and that list is small) sells a product that she calls Snake Oil. She's not the only person in the world that sells a product that they call snake oil, but for some reason BPAL has decided to give her a ration of shit about it. Apparently, BPAL sells something they call Snake Oil, which is not the same product as the other, for more than twice the price. And they're claiming that she, who has sold her product longer, is infringing on a name that BPAL has trademarked.
WTF?! The term "snake oil" has been around for hundreds of years, long before all of us were a twinkle in our daddy's eye. We use the term "snake oil" to describe anything from that used in the Craft to anything sold by infomercial. What moron in a trademark office would allow anyone exclusive use of an everyday term?!
And why would anyone whose company has several times more volume in sales want to bother a small indie perfume maker during the busiest time of the year? Is business so slow at BPAL that they have enough spare time to act like shitweasels?! Here's a few suggestions for being more productive with their time at BPAL:

Do something about that hot mess gawdawful website. Hire someone with opposable thumbs that can create something customers can navigate.

Hire more people to spend more time filling orders. You may actually have more business if customers can get their products in the same lifetime that they ordered it.

Put more effort into your quality/batch control. It sucks to reorder something because we loved in in an imp only to find out the full size is nothing like it.

For gawdsakes, blend. Even I, who can't describe perfume, can smell when it's not blended properly.
Quit calling your stuff unique when anyone who knows perfumes knows you use stock scents.

If you're going to harass one person about using a common phrase you now think you own, then do the same with everybody else. It's a long list, get busy.

Congratulate yourself. You've made the Cranky CatWrangler's AssClown List. Not distinguished enough to be AssClown Of The Year, but you're definitely a runner up.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PAYPAL: Assclown Of The Year

 ***Update 12/7/11: Due to this thing going viral the way it did, not only did Paypal  fix the mess, they are donating $100 to each of the 200 families that Regretsy is helping. You can read the update here.
This doesn't make me love Paypal any more, but it does show that with enough people coming together to right a wrong, we CAN change things for the better. Thanks to all of you who took the time to speak out.

Since I can't say it any better, I'll post the links here and here.

I'm all about helping animals, but I've always felt that no child should go without a present under the Christmas tree. Our family buys toys all year round and stashes them to give to the various charities who make a difference to the kids at Christmas. It's as much of a tradition in our house as decorating the tree. The awesome folks at Regretsy have taken it to a ginormous new level, working their butts off to raise money for needy kids, and all you have to do is click to help.

Until Paypal decided to play Scrooge. They insisted that the folks at Regretsy refund all the donations. Since they had already purchased gifts with the money, they had to dig into their own pockets for the refunds. And Paypal kept the transaction fees. According to Paypal, the spirit of giving is okay as long as it all goes to Paypal fees.

So, according to Paypal, I can put a Donate button on my site to buy myself some Clitter but I can't help needy kids? WTF is up with that?
If you're as outraged as I am over this mess, here's what I suggest:

Leave a message on Paypal's Facebook wall

Go back here, scroll to the bottom of the page and tell the biggies at Paypal what you think.

Go here and sign.

If you're a buyer, use something other than Paypal to make purchases. If you're a seller, use an alternative to Paypal for payment. There's other options, use them.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Much is That Puppy in The Parking Lot?

The year has passed quickly, and we're back at the season of giving. And overindulging, overspending and impulsive purchases that we wouldn't normally make any given time a year. We think we're done, and trudge tiredly to our car, when we spy a crowd in the parking lot; yet again, someone is selling puppies.
Once upon a time, we'd see boxes of mixed breed puppies and kittens in boxes in front of the grocery store that were being given away for free. A bad economy and the trend toward designer dogs has those who have intact dogs with the ability to breed looking for a way to earn some cash: sell them as the next trendy thing in a parking lot.
A reputable breeder would never take a young animal into a public place to sell it. With all the viruses that young unvaccinated pets can potentially be exposed to, they know they will be carrying that back to their own pets at home. Everyone who stops to ooh and ahh, and PETS the animal will be exposing it to everything that human has come in contact with.
And then there's the stress. No matter how good the home, being moved from one environment to another is stressful. Which is why we see so many new owners with sick puppies and kittens. Stress weakens the immune system in animals as well as people. Reputable breeders are happy to hold puppies and kittens until after the holidays.
If you must have a warm fuzzy of your own during the holidays, remember that during the hustle and bustle you're already in that you'll have to schedule at least one vet visit during this time. A well pet check and vaccinations are not something that should be put off, whether it's a pedigreed purebred or an adorable mutt.
Make sure when you're equipping your home for the new addition that you also make a safe, quiet place for the pet to go when it needs to. A crate for the puppy or a bed for the kitten in a quiet room so that they can escape all the noise is essential. Holiday time is stressful and overwhelming for pets, too. Keep them away from holiday decorations. Pets love to drink from the Christmas tree bowl, eat pine needles and ribbons from packages. Any of these can result in a serious emergency.

If you just can't resist that parking lot puppy, get in your car and go immediately to the local animal shelter. Shelters that euthanize unwanted pets will be doing more euthanizing this month than most others. They will have only a small crew during the holidays and need to keep the population down. There's plenty of choices, you're sure to find something hard to resist. And your adoption fee includes a vet exam, vaccinations, and spaying/neutering, usually for less than the price of that parking lot pup.