Monday, October 8, 2012

How $700 got lifted from my wallet. . .my LivingSocial complaint

living social customer service
Caveat emptor. A few times I have purchased deals from sites like LivingSocial or Crowd Cut, such as a restaurant discount or money off at a bed and breakfast.

Deals on those sites worked out fine for me -- until now. This spring my wife bought six Zerona laser treatments for $699.00 from Maple Grove Wellness.

I personally would not have purchased something health-related from LivingSocial. My wife, however, had researched Zerona and was waiting for the appropriate time to purchase a deal.

She made an appointment with Maple Grove Wellness, but was not able to get in until after the LivingSocial refund time frame expired (five days).

The LivingSocial refund policy says:  "LivingSocial will provide a refund if you change your mind within five days after you've purchased your voucher and want to 'return' the unused voucher. After that, we do not provide refunds except that we will provide a refund if you are unable to redeem a voucher because the merchant has gone out of business."

My wife went to her initial consultation with Maple Grove Wellness and the "physician" was unable to and/or unwilling to answer some of her questions regarding the procedure (success rates, side effects, etc.). That made her uncomfortable with having it done at Maple Grove Wellness, so she sought a refund. After contacting LivingSocial consumer services, she was told that no refund would be available.

There's a lesson to be learned here -- don't buy health-related deals (LASIK, Zerona, body waxing, facials, etc.) on deal sites. You probably will not be able to get an appointment until you're outside of the LivingSocial refund time frame, and then you'll be out your money. In my case, it was $699.00 down the drain. Buyer beware.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Creative inspiration

inspire creative
Panelists at the Minnesota PRSA event (l-r):  Brian Prentice, Scott Broberg, Bart Heird, Paul Maccabee
Create a joke about corn on the cob and thirst. Not the easiest thing to do, right? It was, in fact, the challenge that Bart Heird of Aimia gave my breakout group at a recent Minnesota Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) event recently. (You can read my fabulous joke at the end.)

Heird was one of the panelists for the "Infusing Creativity into Your Job" workshop held at Padilla Speer Beardsley on Sept. 27.

The event started out with a panel featuring Heird, Scott Broberg of Fast Horse, Paul Maccabee of Maccabee Public Relations, and Brian Prentice of Padilla Speer Beardsley.

Attendees learned many nuggets about how to inspire creativity such as:
  • Train yourself to remember your dreams to capture awesome creative ideas.
  • Unplugging is essential for inspiring creativity.
  • The solution is the least important part of creative thinking - set it aside and it will come.
The panelists each had unique takes on creativity. "What's original 20 years ago could be original today because of idea regeneration," said Heird.

Broberg pointed out that a simple twist on an idea can take it from good to great.

In regard to the "blue sky," Prentice said that it can be scary for creative people. "Sometimes it helps to have the box defined," he said.

Maccabee commented on the shifting expectations of clients as transitioning from "Get me on Oprah" to "Make my video go viral."

Breakout Sessions

After the panel discussion, attendees had the opportunity to get up close with each of the creative masterminds in breakout groups that rotated.

Maccabee presented groups with a situation involving Gold'n Plump chicken. Participants needed to collaborate on the launch of chicken called "Just Bare." Zero advertising was taking place, and Gold'n Plump needed to reach women who are "mindful eaters" ages 25 to 45 with one to three children. One caveat:  the company didn't want anyone playing off of the "Just Bare" name in the "au naturale" sense that immediately comes to mind.

Prentice provided an excellent way to break the ice:  Story Cubes. With Story Cubes, people simply rolled the dice and used the pictures on the dice to create stories on the spot.

Broberg reflected on brainstorms in his breakout group. Some tips that he had for effective brainstorms included:  removing distractions, asking "Why not?" and bringing in research and facts to help brainstorms stay on track.

Remember the challenge to create a joke about corn on the cob and thirst? Heird provided some guidelines to joke writing in his breakout session. He said that jokes need to be plausible and encouraged people to be curious and to find patterns and associations.

So, now as to my joke about corn on the cob and thirst:  The drought was so bad this year that even corn on the cob was drinking soda made with high fructose corn syrup.
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