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Archive for July, 2009

By the press coverage in New York and elsewhere 3 weeks ago, you might have thought the Canadian Mounties were about to try and take over New York City. Of course, our friendly northern neighbors wouldn’t try something like that. We’re only talking here about a doughnut and coffee shop that happens to be Canada’s largest quick service restaurant (QSR) chain, Tim Hortons. They have about 3,000 Canadian locations, and an almost fanatical brand following by many Canadians.

TimHortons_Logo NYCThe company, which according to this press release, serves seven out of every 10 cups of coffee sold in QSRs in Canada, opened 12 stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn on July 13th. The press it got was quite something, including an article in BusinessWeek and several in The New York Times like this one, announcing the openings. Further articles described the openings, and comparisons between Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts offerings, but mostly focused on the donuts. Taste tests were done by The New York Daily News, and on several local blogs, including Urbanite, The Feed and Diner’s Journal. It even made it to the New York Times’ Week in Review section.

Timmies (as Canadians affectionately refer to the brand) even got in the heat of competition before the openings, as the brand’s first dozen locations were Dunkin locations only 3 days earlier. (more…)

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In most industries, there are a mix of competitors, some of which people love and others that people hate. But in others, it seems that no matter which company you talk about, they are universally disliked. The airline industry is one – you know an industry is not in good shape when customer service rankings are consistently below those of the IRS.

Perhaps above airlines, but still very disliked, are the cell phone providers. Most people love to hate their carrier. And there are good reasons why. Mandatory contracts, poor customer service and high pricing are among them.

In his column this week for the New York Times, David Pogue lists many of those reasons. Among the items Pogue mentions are text messaging fees, double billing (being charged for both outgoing and incoming calls), subsidy payback through contracts, and the long set of instructions you’re forced to listen to before leaving a message. And it comes as a Senate committee is holding a hearing on handset exclusivity that is bringing out both the benefits and disadvantages of the practice.

However, the reason most people dislike their provider is because the industry markets their services exactly the opposite as they should. (more…)

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By now, many of you have now seen the latest YouTube video sensation – United Breaks Guitars. For those who haven’t, the basic story is this: Dave Carroll, a musician, was traveling with his band, Sons of Maxwell, from their home in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Omaha, Nebraska for a tour. After getting seated on a connecting flight in Chicago, the woman sitting behind band members looked outside and noted that “they’re throwing guitars out there.” The rest of the story is predicable – Dave’s guitar is damaged, and after a year of trying, Dave still wasn’t able to get compensation from United. In the meantime, he spent $1200 to repair the guitar.

But Dave has different ammunition than most of us. As a singer and songwriter, he could write music about it. Enter United Breaks Guitars – which is the first of three songs the band plans to release about the incident. (more…)

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