Category Archives: Reviews

When Companies Get Too Big …. Amazon & Fire Extinguishers

The following letter is self-explanatory. I am posting it here as an example of what happens when companies get so large they can stop paying attention to legitimate concerns from customers about the products they sell. Before reading the letter, note that it was sent to the address on amazon.com where its “Conditions of Use” are set out. The letter was returned to me with stickers stating “Wrong Address” and “Unable to Forward.”  The address is still shown on the amazon.com website. today.

Here is the letter:

Gentlemen:

In early January 2018 I purchased from Amazon.com a pair of Kidde fire extinguishers. They arrived in good order, with the date “2018” stamped into the bottom. Since these items have had issues related to the expiration of their useful life, I inquired of Kidde through its website about the precise meaning of the year stamp. Despite automated assurances, Kidde did not respond. I asked a second time and a third time.

I then filed the following review on Amazon.com to inform other potential customer of the issue and Kidde’s lack of response:

from Paul M. Ruden on February 3, 2018

 

Kidde failure to respond re expiration date

 

I don’t know whether this thing will work or not. Bought in early Jan. 2018. “2018” is embossed into the bottom. Have written Kidde thru its website 3 times to ask exactly what that means. Unlikely it means manufactured in 2018 since I bought it so early and received it quickly. If it is an expiration date, I am due a refund. Automated response to one message, then nothing. Unacceptable to ignore my question.

 

Amazon.com rejected the review by email with the following statement:

Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again. A few common issues to keep in mind:

 

•          Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.com/feedback.

•          We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.

•          Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.

•          Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.

The Amazon “guidelines” appear at  http://amzn.to/2dpw6DK and are 1,584 words in length. Amazon’s response does not specify in what particular respect my review violated those guidelines. I am left to guess, rewrite, refile and wait for perhaps another rejection.

Your treatment of this issue, which could affect the performance of a vital safety-related product, is no different in substance from the non-response of Kidde. It is equally unacceptable.

As a long-standing Amazon customer who buys many products every year, I expected better treatment. I am therefore asking, one last time, that either you promptly answer the question I put to Kidde and identify in which specific respect my review violated your review policy, and, failing that, provide for an immediate free-return-shipment of the products.

I await your prompt response.”

Caveat emptor.

 

Miss Saigon — All Are Punished

Over the years I have seen most of the major “contemporary” (for their time) plays/musicals/dramas of the live theater. This may be an exaggeration but the current staging of Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theater in New York City is likely the best I have ever seen.

This was my third viewing, the last one being over a decade ago. No matter, it was all like new. In the event, I recalled few details of the story and little of the music. The presentation was, however, almost unbearably extraordinary in every way. A live orchestra added to the drama of the acting. The integration of the music and the play was so perfect that you were not really aware of the role the music was playing until it stopped. Even if you knew the story and what was about to happen next, the presentation was so effective that the suspense, pain, horror and resolution came each time as a surprise and a shock. The suffering of the participants in the inescapable conflicts felt completely genuine.

Jon Jon Briones played the Engineer, a maître d’-like character who brings to mind Joel Grey’s masterwork as the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret. You love to hate him even as you are forced to admire his handiwork. But most stunning, in my view, was the performance of Eva Noblezada as Kim, the love object of an American soldier about to depart Vietnam as the tragic American intervention came to its horrific close. In addition to completely convincing acting, her voice was transcendent. Her duet with John (Nicholas Christopher) entitled Too Much for One Heart says it all.

Overall, the play evokes Romeo & Juliet in that good people are trapped in a situation not of their making and there is no way out.  For those who lived through the period, and likely more so for those who served there, the complete personal and national tragedy of the American participation in the Vietnam War is fully captured in this emotional juggernaut of a play. Even if you have seen it before, this is a presentation you should see again. If you’ve never seen it, get thee to New York and do yourself a favor by witnessing this compelling spectacle.

And bring tissues.

A Patch of Common Ground – Taking Chance

We are living in highly polarized times that are remindful of the conflicts of the 1960s over the war in Vietnam and the role of nuclear weapons in America’s foreign policy. I have, however, had occasion to reflect recently on one area in which everyone should be able to have a common vision of what is right and a sense of both pride and sorrow. The inspiration for these thoughts was seeing the movie, Taking Chance, starring Kevin Bacon. This movie was “made for television” and since I don’t watch much TV, it got by me in 2009 without even being noticed, despite Bacon having won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television.

It’s a straight-ahead story, though unusual, I suspect, for a TV movie in that there is relatively little dialogue. Part of the magic is that the film relies on visual imagery rather than a lot of dialogue. The story line is that Gulf War-decorated Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl volunteered to escort to the family in Wyoming the remains of 19-year old PFC Chance Phelps, who was killed, with severe wounds, in combat in Iraq. In the film, based on a true story, Strobl has been deeply conflicted by his decision to remain with his family and perform desk duties rather than return to combat in Iraq when others did. His volunteering as escort for Phelps is motivated by a need for some kind of redemption for that decision. He receives detailed instructions on exactly how the personal effects and the casket are to be treated at every step of the long journey home to a family divided by divorce and overwhelmed with grief.

The story spends some time on the intimate, painful work to prepare the body for burial in full dress uniform in every immaculate detail. The caring and respect of the people doing this work is palpable. I had never before considered this aspect of the return of dead soldiers to their homeland and was deeply moved by it. It is presented with great dignity.

On the journey, Lt. Col. Strobl renders honors at every movement of the casket, often in the presence of overwhelmed airline personnel who have witnessed this many times. Strobl stands at attention and salutes the casket as it slowly moves from the cargo hold of the plane carrying the body. These scenes and others throughout the film will, I predict, break your heart.

I will provide no other spoilers – just a warning to have tissues handy. The film will change you, with insights into an aspect of war that everyone should absorb, as they are sitting in the comfort and safety of their homes. I came away with a profoundly deeper sense of respect for the military men and women who defend our country and our way of life every day. See for yourself. Please.