Another Day, Another Cry-Baby

Quite a few Premium subscribers actually stay on the free distribution specifically to see the advertising. That’s cool: the advertisers pay for this free distribution, so it’s nice that people actually look at the ads! But now and then people whine about the ads. That’s dumb: without them, they wouldn’t be getting the newsletter at all, would they?!

Sometimes it’s not the concept of the ads, but an advertiser in particular. I’m not going to say what advertiser, but Bill in Maryland whined about one who ran here recently, saying I need to stop taking that ad.

I have a canned response I have for such whines: it notes I already prohibit ads in certain categories, like “adult” or gambling sites. I even nix tobacco. And of course anything that is, to my knowledge, illegal.

Do You Need My Protection?

As far as whether something is a good deal or not, I let the readers decide for themselves whether something is “worth it” to them, or “good enough” for their use; I trust your intelligence to know that ads are ads, and there just might be a little hype in them from time to time. And if you just can’t deal with that, there are two options: 1) Upgrade to Premium, which doesn’t have outside advertising, or 2) Unsubscribe so you don’t have to see the two brief commercials in the content you enjoy.

That explanation wasn’t good enough for Bill. He replied: “All I asked you to do was look into this guy and decide whether you wanted to be connected with him. I wasn’t busting your chops, I gave you direct and private feedback. I can deal with ads just fine, and do so on a daily basis. Your response to my feedback is inconsistent with the ethical ‘straight shooter’ I’d imagined you to be, though. Kindly consider this my request to avail myself of Option 2.”

I can just see the tears streaming down his face as he typed. Boo hoo! And now he expects me to “look into” the advertiser!

Meanwhile another reader — let me guess: a Friend Of Bill? Quite the bit of timing there — helpfully provided a URL that purports to say why the advertised product isn’t wonderful to prove why I need to ban the advertiser.

What, now I’m supposed to conduct an investigation? And then what, am I also supposed to “investigate” the anti-website that he sent me to? Maybe it was posted by a competitor who’s trying to unfairly slander his better? Hell, I promote Paypal all the time, but there are plenty of people who completely hate them; what does he propose I do, say “I accept Paypal, but PaypalSucks.com has some horror stories”? (And yes, that is a real web site with real horror stories!)

Every Company Has a Horror Story

No matter what the company is, there are people who hate it, and probably plenty of horror stories about them. Heck: some people probably hate True, and are very willing to whine online about how I wouldn’t publish a story they sent in or something.

What does that prove? Nothing, except maybe people have way too much time on their hands. I like Dell computers, but there are plenty of horror stories about them — including one I wrote that’s listed #1 in Google! (Not even counting the lead story this week’s issue, of course. 🙂

But here’s what really irritates me about people like Bill: he sends me this URL of a horror story (which I read, and it’s not any too horrible: the poster says she returned the product for a refund and — gasp — didn’t get it right away! She actually had to wait until the post office got it to her! Sob.)

So based on this, he demands that I never run an ad for the company again.

So what is he really saying? Nothing less than “I’m smart enough to know that there ‘could be’ a problem with your advertiser, but your other readers aren’t so smart and you should protect them by refusing the ad.”

Since any company could have unsatisfied customers putting up horror stories, from Dell to Paypal to little web sites, I don’t kowtow to such demands. Not just because the people who make such complaints insist they are smarter than you, but because of this: if I was willing to censor advertisers because they have an unsatisfied customer out there, what sort of publication would this be? Simply: one that insists you must be an idiot unless proven otherwise — which, come to think of it, is how a lot of publications treat their readers. Me? I prefer to think you’re smart unless proven otherwise. Deal with it! And if you can’t, well, the unsubscribe link is at the bottom of every issue, Bill in Maryland!

I later dropped one of the ads — and added another story — to the free edition, so instead of four stories + 2 ads it’s now 5 stories + 1 ad, all made possible by reader support.

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22 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Cry-Baby

  1. I’d be willing to bet that “Bill in Maryland” is a micro-manager. In my experience, ALL the micro-managers I’ve met shared one trait in common – that they believed that their way was the one and only way; in essence, they were smarter than me. I learned fairly early on in life that, at least in one case, I could actually get my supervisor to do my work for me, or at least a portion of it. All that was required of me was to do the assigned task differently than he would have done it. He would then show me the “proper way” while I would sit back and watch him do the work.

  2. I’m sure John is right — that Bill is a “micro-manager” — but he defined it wrong: the micro surely refers to his intellect. IT’S A FRIGGING AD! You look at the pitch and you take it or leave it. Want to “look into” the advertiser? Then do it! That’s what the Internet is for. It’s no surprise to me that someone like that feels superior (you got that exactly right, Randy). I’ve seen people like him before: every day, at work. And so much so that I’ll make a prediction, even though he says he’s unsubscribed: he’ll peek at the issue on the web site to see if you’ve published his letter, and then he’ll whine about it.

    You slightly underestimated Bill, Jim: while he did indeed unsubscribe (I checked), he didn’t wait for the newsletter to be published and appear on the web site. Instead, he was watching the blog (probably the RSS feed) and spotted it minutes after it was published — I posted it ahead of the issue so it’d actually be here when readers clicked through. Sure enough, you’re right: he wrote me to complain about it. -rc

  3. Ads are ALWAYS hyped. It’s how they work. If anything, the text ads in the Free edition are harder for the advertisers because they can’t use flashy gimmicks to get your attention. It’s HARD to convey convincing text to adequately describe your product/service without having any visuals to back it up immediately. I actually usually click one or both of the ads in each issue, not just because I hope it boosts Randy’s revenue, but also because most of the ads are worded cleverly enough to actually get my attention.

    But I digress a bit. Hey Bill, we all know you’re reading this (and probably still receiving True on a secondary email address), so please do us all a favor and lighten up a bit. The ads on True have always been respectful (as far as I can remember, anyway). Please stop being a drama queen.

  4. So, Bill…do you watch TV? Read the free magazines in airline? Listen to the radio? Do you think they “check into” all the ads on there? C’mon, I don’t think we need Randy to protect us. Even if he chose to fully investigate every advertiser, who would pass the test? We’ve all been to hell and back thanks to “reputable” companies. (Wanna hear my war stories about Comcast, Citibank, Bank of America and many, many more?)

  5. I cannot believe that “Bill in Maryland” wants you to pull the ads from a specific advertiser just because he has a problem with them. Does he complain to TV and radio stations if an advertisement comes from someone he has a problem with? or a newspaper? Without advertisers, free publications (such as the non-premium edition of True as well as TV and radio programs) wouldn’t be free and he would be paying more for his local newspaper, as well as his cable or satellite provider! Why should you be held responsible for the advertisements that appear on your page? It’s up to the consumer to evaluate an advertiser and decide if they want to buy what is being advertised.

  6. Ooh! Ooh! Can I make a prediction too?

    You’re going to get complaints asking why you’re so mean to talk back to such a whiner, or why you dare to hold your readers up to the same standards you hold everyone else to.

    I’ll bet some will think that but won’t write, because they’re afraid you might be “mean” to THEM, too. And that’s just the problem: they don’t have the ability to think clearly enough to be confident in their own assumptions, or the ability to be open-minded enough to listen to an opposing viewpoint. I only ask one thing: if I am ever dumb enough to say something stupid to you, PLEASE argue with me. That’s a most powerful lesson, and I want to be smarter.

    Yes, I have gotten a couple of such complaints — but so far, only a couple. I’m not sure if I argued with you you’d become smarter, but I greatly respect your desire to be as open-minded as possible — it’s a great start, and more than what most people want.

    Why am I “mean” to readers who write without thinking first? Because it’s entertaining — and that’s what TRUE is about — having fun seeing how people dig themselves into holes. Indeed I polled the (Premium) readers asking them if I should “go easy” on letter writers who they say something stupid. They not only said no, but hell no. The write-up of that informal survey is here: https://thisistrue.com/dumb-readers/ -rc

  7. I’ve become virtually blind to all ads, except for those that I find unusually clever or unusually annoying (GEICO, I’m looking in your direction), unless I’m actively investigating a particular product and looking for ads. So I read about Bill, I actually look at the ads in the free issue, then I read about Bill again, paying particular attention to the TRUE policies on ads.

    It just surprised me to see that the 2 ads in the issue were for products in 2 areas that are at the top of my spam subjects, weight loss and investing. I don’t think this is a case of “everyone has a horror story.” These are 2 areas where if you randomly selected someone’s services from everything available, you would have a greater chance of getting ripped off than getting your money’s worth.

    To sum up, as dumb as Bill may be, I think that the current ads diminish Randy’s argument somewhat and make me feel a little more sypmathy for Bill.

    Yes, those categories tend to be more spammy. Yet can you agree that some advertisers in those sectors are legit? If so, and I do argue that, then I also argue that the advertisers who pay to be placed in a legitimate email publication are vastly more likely to be legit in that sector compared to those who instead choose to steal resources to spam the message to you. There’s just no comparison.

    So I truly do applaud those in the more “difficult” sectors who use legit means to get their word out rather than stooping to spam — and indeed think that for those in the market for such services should support that legitimate means of advertising and shun those who choose spam.

    Last, for the record, the advertiser Bill was complaining of were not in either of the sectors mentioned. -rc

  8. Before you tag someone as a “Friend Of Bill”, I wanted to advise you that it’s a discreet way that members of Alcoholics Anonymous identify one another anonymously. (If you’ve been on a cruise ship and seen a notice for a meeting of “Friends of Bill W.”, yep that’s us.) It is taken from the name of one of our founders, the late Bill Wilson. I’ve been a “friend of Bill” for 14 1/2 years.

    As far as whiners about the ads go, why can’t they just IGNORE the stuff? I rarely read the ads in my free email. I understand that you need ads to pay for stuff, and I don’t have the money to upgrade to Premium so I tolerate them.

    While I’m not a “Friend of Bill” in the way you are, my “tagging” of Bill in that way was indeed a deliberate invocation of that concept, since it seems to me that someone who gets that worked up over trivia, and is that bent out of shape about both being right and in “right” the sense of being superior to others, is much more likely to be an addict (of alcohol or something else) than not. (Reference) -rc

  9. I’m sure you would have mentioned it if “Bill” was a Premium subscriber, and since he unsubscribed I’m sure that confirms he was not. So here’s what I see: a guy who doesn’t support the publication in any way, takes what he can get for free, and yet still complains about what he sees and, worse, demands a say in how the publication he doesn’t support runs. You hit the nail on the head: a whining crybaby. I’d say “never listen to such folks” but you’re right: it was enormously entertaining seeing your response to him, picking apart his thought process like you were his long-term psychiatrist. Bravo!

    In the past, readers have suggested I run for office. And I never did a thing to them! The only thing worse that I can think of is being a psychiatrist for a git like that. *shudder*! -rc

  10. As a longtime “Friend of Bill” in the AA sense, I thought I’d also mention our suggested solution to the types you mentioned (“someone who gets that worked up over trivia, and is that bent out of shape about both being right and in “right” the sense of being superior to others”). It’s called Rule 62 and newbies are often advised to look it up in the literature. I think it would apply to most of the people who complain to Randy. For those of you without access to AA literature, I can summarize Rule 62: Don’t take yourself so damned seriously!

  11. Regarding Ed’s comment about the “spammy” subjects of weight loss and investing, I can’t speak for the investment advertisement but I actually did try out the weight loss ad about six months ago – yes, because I read the ad in True (and I’m a premium subscriber).

    That $50 was money WELL spent, as I am now 30 pounds lighter, and all of that weight loss was FAT! I kid you not, I went from 225 and 30% body fat to 195 (presently) and 19% body fat. That actually represents a net muscle gain. For various reasons that the advertised product details, that is about as ideal of progress as you’re likely to see, and I’m not done yet.

    So, I totally support Randy’s side here: unless you have actually tried the specific product and had a terrible experience, don’t judge it. There are bad weight loss products out there (hint: weight loss ISN’T easy and anything that suggests it is probably won’t last), but there are also athletes that actually understand the process and can give you the “true” information. I’m sure the same can be said of investment companies.

  12. Jarred’s praise concerning that weight loss product has piqued my interest. I don’t suppose he or Randy could tell the name of it?

    Sorry, but I’m not going to allow my blog to become a forum for advertisers. He is talking about a regular advertiser, who has run recently and, I’m sure, will run again. -rc

  13. I understand where Bill was coming from in his email to Randy warning about an advertiser that he (Bill) felt was not legitimate. I feel that Bill sincerely felt that the advertiser was unethical and was worried that “This is True” could be tainted by association.

    Randy’s “canned response” clearly explains his advertising policy. A complaint about a company is not the same as a company that is doing something illegal (that’s why we have both civil and criminal court systems). If Bill had evidence that the company was doing something illegal, he should have forwarded it to the authorities and brought this fact to Randy’s attention.

    Advertising and marketing are used to hype their products/services and minimalize any of their poorer aspects. Smart consumers (who I believe are Randy’s target audience)know this, and resond accordingly.

    I hope all this makes some sense.

  14. I love this blog. With one article about people being too easily offended, and another article about advertisers, I can’t help thinking about the current batch of GEICO ads (also mentioned by someone here) in which cavemen are offended by the common impression that they’re stupid.

    I’m not sure how the marketing aspect works out to GEICO’s advantage, but I sure love how they’re picking on everyone’s ‘right’ to be a Professional Victim. Insensitive? Too bad. Look it up; there is no right in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or myriad other documents regarding the governance of the U.S. in which the people have a ‘right’ to be free from offense.

    Don’t like a word that might be offensive? Too bad. Don’t like a particular ad that might be offensive? Too bad. Want my sympathy? Maybe. But that’s all; certainly nothing to force the entire rest of the world to adhere to one person’s (or group’s) particular sensitivity. I mean, Holy Cow! (oops, don’t want to offend the reincarnation people)

  15. Oh, goodness. I’ve worked in retail for 25 years. If you stop taking advertisers because they might have disgruntled customers with imagined (or even legitimate) issues, then I might as well close my store (and everyone else should stop shopping everywhere). Regardless of accepted customer service policy, the customer is not always right! Unhappy Customers will hopefully show up infrequently, but invariably, will show up; that’s reality. You ain’t happy, obtain somewhere else. We all do our best to provide services that please the majority; if you do it well enough, you stay in business. Period.

  16. There’s that word again. Disgruntled. It makes me wonder as the prefix implies that it’s the opposite of, what, gruntled? Why have I never heard of gruntled customers? You’d think advertisers would rave about all their gruntled customers. So I looked it up and I found out, everybody has it wrong. Disgruntled is what happens when a pig has laryngitis.

    Gruntle is indeed a word, though obviously used infrequently. -rc

  17. Strange, I seem unable to find “gruntle” in the American Heritage Dictionary, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, nor the Oxford English Dictionary.

    I also noticed that the word “nonchalant” describes a condition of being unconcerned. Does the prefix “non-” imply that there is also the word “chalant,” a condition of being concerned?

    Well, if corporate leaders can make up words like “proactive,” then I wouldn’t be surprised to hear them making speeches that they’re chalant about current issues.

    You need a better dictionary. Gruntle is in both Collins and Webster’s. -rc

  18. Does he write to TV and radio stations for running ads for very questionable products, especially late at night? (I’m a shift worker, so I see and hear ads for very questionable companies. Not sexually explicit stuff, just junk.)

    As for PayPal and Dell, yes there are real horror stories, but I’ve had good experiences with both. Thanks to your recommendation, I was one of the earlier users of PayPal and still prefer using it whenever a vendor accepts payment through them. So far, after all these years, I’ve never had a glitch. The only two times that I’ve been ripped off on ebay were from sellers who refused to accept PayPal. Maybe their complaint is that PayPal helps keep people honest? Hmmmmm. As for Dell, I recently retired (not because it quit working, which it didn’t, but because everything it did is now done by my Android) an Axim X5 PDA that I have used for many years, and my desktop is a Dell. I used to do warranty work on them, among other brands, so I knew what I was looking for. Like you said, every company is going to have some horror stories. Oh well.

    Btw, I’m going to stay subscribed to both the premium and free versions. Keep it coming Randy. Thanks.

    Writing TV and radio stations is one thing; demanding action and stomping away mad when they don’t do his bidding is another. I should think he’d end up in a cave somewhere in about a week if he applied this policy universally. -rc

  19. Stupid people do serve a purpose, entertainment. Of course, if we examine ourselves honestly, we all have to admit that we have all been the stupid person once or twice.

    Absolutely! We’ve all been stupid. Hopefully, we listen when someone points it out. -rc

  20. Poor Bill. Oh well, maybe he can produce an even better This is Truer newsletter/blog and then he can pick and choose his own advertisers himself.

    It’s a free newsletter, subscribers have little say what you use for advertising to keep it free beyond readers paying for premium.

    After Bill goes and take a walk and clear his thoughts and take a few deep breaths, maybe things will become more relaxed and clearer and he’ll reconsider his stance. As always, I try to be optimistic.

    Oh heads up Randy, advertisements for Devil’s Food Cake promotes evil. Mmmmm … Just a warning in case … mmm I have a craving for cake … un case it wishes to advertise in your newsletter … I wonder if the bakery has some fresh ones made … I lost my train of thought, gotta go shopping for cake. Great job Randy.

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