Category Archives: Just what we THINK

Just What We Think About The World Around Us

Our Love-Hate Relationship with Feedback

Feedback image

Love it, Hate it

The only thing worse than undeserved negative feedback is no feedback at all.

The concept of open feedback is three-fold. It provides a method for the online customer to help sellers improve by making suggestions, it is a wonderful method of telling others about a positive experience, and it acts as policing system to warn others about sellers that may not live up to expected standards. Open feedback can be, and often is abused. This is more true when the recipient is not allowed to post a rebuttal to provide balance by presenting the other side of the story.

As we are all learning, business and personal online postings can last almost forever, maybe even longer than forever. More importantly, in many cases, they can not be undone or neutralized by either the poster or the post recipient. When negative or unfair, the recipient can turn into a victim with little or no recourse.

The worst kind of feedback is misinformed negative feedback. In principle, online businesses love feedback, especially if it’s something specific that we can do better or something that we did very well. What we dislike is negative feedback that could have been avoided if the poster had actually read or searched our site a bit.

I’ll use an example from an Etsy Seller to explain. The photos below are actual screenshots. Just click to make them large enough to read.Now, the first problem is that the feedback poster didn’t read the title. It says that the item being sold is a Modern Furniture Plan. The second problem is that he didn’t read the description either, where it also states “This woodworking plan[…]”. The third problem is that he didn’t use a touch of common sense in wondering how exactly shipping for a 48 inch wide shelving system would only cost 3 dollars and for that matter, how a 48 inch wide shelving system would only cost 7 dollars.

The worst part about this is the seller now has a downgraded reputation for something that the customer posted in anger before rereading the description. These are the kinds of things that drive us crazy. If you do something wrong and don’t realize it, fair enough. Mistakes do happen, but if you think you were getting something and it’s obvious that what you think you’re getting is not what the shop is selling, you shouldn’t then leave negative feedback. Take responsibility and read the entire posting or listing. Quite often, the answer to your question is just a click away.

If there is any moralizing to be done here, it would be to realize that any posting has consequences, both positive and negative. Think before entering your feedback. Do some research, send an email, or just take a breath. Apply the Golden Rule. And remember, there are no “take backs” online. Once you write it, it is there forever.

If you’re spending money on it, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before you order.

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If inflation is officially 3.5 percent, why is shipping going up 5 percent?

Shipping up more than inflation

Shipping Costs About to Rise

We don’t know why and we can’t control UPS, but shipping costs are going to rise for sure. Consider avoiding the certain price increase by making your online purchases now.

Atlas Signs and Plaques uses the services of UPS for the vast majority of shipping needs. UPS does a great job, but have announced a 4.9% price increase for 2012. Of course they color their explanation rosy and justify the increase by saying they will “expand and improve our portfolio of solutions”, but 5% is a buck more on a $20 shipment, and most of us don’t care about their “portfolio of solutions”, whatever that means. We just want our package delivered on-time and undamaged. Continue reading

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Bears and Humans: A Misunderstood Relationship

The Fuzzy Bear on This Sign is Quite Tame

Some animals are seriously misunderstood. Snakes, bats, and sharks are among the most commonly feared animals—but for what good reason? Roughly 10 people die from snake bites each year, 20 from sharks. In other words, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than die from an animal attack. Similarly, people are more afraid to be within 20 feet of a bear than to be outside during a thunderstorm. Why? Because the perception of the bear as a hungry carnivore is wrong. Continue reading

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The 5 Worst Buildings on Earth

Frank Lloyd Wright style sign

An Example of Always Good--our Frank Lloyd Wright Craftsman Plaque

At Atlas Signs and Plaques we make our living off of good design. To many the word “Good” is a subjective term (as is “bad) so it is hard sometimes to brand things as always good or always bad. However, I have encountered some things that are always bad, examples are: Cat-woman, Europe (band), my laundry, the Ford Pinto, Lady Gaga, etc. My point is that some things are bad to the bone (and not in the “good” John Wayne way). Here is a list of irredeemably bad design: The 5 worst buildings on earth.


The city of Kangbashi

The Thriving Wasteland of Kangbashi

5) Kangbashi. The city that never was. If you were to travel to Ordos China you would probably feel uncomfortable by the utter mass of people living there. The city crams a dense population of 1.5 million into 46 square miles. To put that in perspective my city, Madison WI, has a population of 500k, 67 square miles, and still suffers from rush hour traffic. City officials of Ordos recognized their overpopulation and in 2003 built “Kangbashi” – a district capable of housing 300,000 citizens comfortably. However, due to high costs of living and a long commute time (30 minutes), “Kangbashi” only sports a population of 30,000. In the words of citizen Li Li: “It’s pretty lonely here”.


Osaka Incineration

What The? I Don't Even...

4) Osaka Waste Treatment. People could stand to learn a couple principles of utilitarian design. The basics are: practicality and fundamentalism. Do either of those words occur to you when you see the Osaka Waste Treatment facility? If you said yes then find mommy and have her put you to bed, because this building belongs nowhere outside of a child’s imagination. Fail.


Millennium Dome

The Millennium Dome in all its...Glory?

3) The Millennium Dome. This fail was not so much of a design fail as a marketing disaster. Remember way back at the turn of the millennium when everybody was all up in riot-gear over Y2K? Investors in England expected people to want to celebrate the millennium year-round so they constructed this building and made glittering embodiments of human life like: learning, work, rest, and play. Only problem: nobody cares. Everyone can see those things occurring in their own life EVERY DAY. The Millennium dome is now named the O2 and is a somewhat popular music venue.


Experience Music Building


2) The Experience Music Building. This abomination was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and was funded by Microsoft chairman Paul Allen. The building reportedly cost 100 million USD. To find inspiration for the EMB, Gehry reportedly studied the body of the Stratocaster and other guitars. Lets take a closer look at that statement. Stratocaster: curvy, sexy, brilliant. EMB: disastrous, cesspool, blob. I’m not seeing the connection, Gehry.


Ryugyong Hotel

Looks More Like a Roller-Coaster than a Hotel

1) Ryugyong Hotel. Tip: if something goes under the pseudonym “Hotel of Doom,” it is one of two things. Either it was Alfred Hitchcock’s preferred vacation spot, or it just really, really, sucks. The Ryugyong hotel began construction in 1987 and was supposed to be complete in time for the world festival of youth + students (off to an inspired start). The building missed that deadline and was halted in 1992 because of building costs (750 million, 2% of N. Korea’s GDP) and overall hideousness. Until recently the Korean government refused to acknowledge it; omitting it from all government issued photos and maps. In 2008 it was bought by an Egyptian investor who hopes to convert it into a 3G wireless tower. So as you can see, the “Hotel of Doom” will soon be “The Doom Network”. Can’t wait.



Shop Atlas Signs and Plaques and enjoy great customer service and (more importantly) great design.

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McDonald’s Monopoly is a Scam (sort of)

Marketing is one of the most difficult hurdles that a company must leap in order to achieve their goals (revenue). Certain companies offer promotions, giveaways, and sweepstakes to lure consumers into overspending. No company on earth does this better than McDonald’s. Last week, McDonald’s opened its 19th year of the enormously popular Monopoly game, offering the opportunity to win $1 million. If you are like me (a skeptical consumer) you wonder if the Monopoly game ever really pays out and is simply a scam. I’m here to tell you that yes, it is a scam. Well, it was (but not intentionally). Confused? Good, because it’s complicated. Continue reading

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