Shopping and Scroogled

The following article was originally published in Ask The Builder, a newsletter from Tim Carter, who also publishes the website, AskTheBuilder.com, a site I refer to constantly for how-to information. None of us can be expert in everything, so all of us do research constantly in order to provide the best quality information on-air and in writing. If you haven’t ever visited Tim’s site, I encourage you to do so and, while you’re there, subscribe to his newsletter.

From: Ask The Builder, December 8, 2012, reprinted with permission from Tim Carter

This is really timely since we’re in the heat of the Christmas shopping season. I don’t know about you, but Kathy and I are really interested in saving money and getting the best value for what we do spend. Kathy does all of her shopping online.

More and more people shop online each year, so it’s critical that you choose wisely when clicking. Remember that scene in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie where the old knight told Harrison Ford after he drank from the nondescript Holy Grail, “You chose wisely.”

Well, you need to choose wisely, That means the odds need to be stacked in your favor, not someone else’s.

A little over two weeks ago we were watching TV one night and this weird commercial got our attention. Actually it got Kathy’s attention as I was starting to drift into the comatose state that overcomes me about 8:45 pm each night. Kathy backed up the DVR so we could watch it again.

It was an edgy commercial with a young couple in a kitchen. They talked about how Google is not being as transparent as possible with the search results on their Google Shopping platform. It appears the only companies that show up in the search results are ones that have paid to be there.

Do you use Google Shopping? Did you know that? I know I didn’t suspect that to be the case.

The companies that pay the most to Google probably get the highest position in the rankings. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re selling fantastic products. You have to keep that in mind.

I visited the Scroogled website to find out more. Here are some of the quotes I saw when I was there:

Google (2004)
Founders IPO Letter: “we do not accept payment for [search results] or for inclusion or more frequent updating.”
Google’s 2004 SEC Filing: “Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them.”

Google (2012)
Google’s 2012 SEC Disclosure: “After all, ads are just more answers to users’ queries.”
Google Commerce announces shopping results will be paid for and exclude merchants who don’t participate.

So, the questions that come to my mind are: Has Google crossed the line in their regular search results?

Is Google putting search results up at the top of page one that make them the most money?

Something tells me they’ve either crossed that line or they’re testing it now.

If you read the quotes of the founders of Google at the top of the pages of the Scroogled website, you’ll start to wonder what their philosophy might be now.

Remember that line the day sergeant used to say at the beginning of each week’s TV episode of Hill Street Blues?  “Be careful out there.”

Indeed. Be very careful with the information you get from websites at the top of Google’s search results! They may not be in your best interests, but that of Google’s voting and non-voting stockholders.

 

Dry Steam Commercial

Speaking of television commercials, I’ve been seeing a regular commercial for a dry steam mop that “converts to a vacuum cleaner is two seconds”.

I want to alert you to a simple fact that steam, hardwood floors and laminate wood floors do NOT play well together. The last thing you want to do is inject water vapor into a wood floor. That can cause it to swell.

Steam is steam. It’s hot water vapor. How they get away with calling it dry steam is beyond me. That’s an oxymoron.

You can do what you want at your house, but I can tell you that I’d NEVER use a steam machine of any type to clean any wood floor or any material that contained wood.

 

Thanks, Tim, for allowing me to publish this on my blog. I hope you and Kathy have a very Merry Christmas. Maybe you’ll take time some Saturday to join me on air, so we can compare notes on home maintenance. Handyman Bob

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