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New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-25-2004, 11:50 AM   #1
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New cost of having a web presence

I've seen bits and pieces of this over the last few years, but its really hitting me in the head this past week.

Rotten and incomplete data on web sites.

For example: I'm looking for sources for several specific high end pet foods. The web sites for some show no distributors in my area. The web sites for others list a handful in my area.

Here's the problem. In the former case, there are several who do in fact distribute locally, the manufacturer just doesnt have a system for their tiered distributors to put in THEIR retail channels (and their local store locations) on the manufacturers site. In the latter case, many of the listed distributors no longer carry the product, and in one case the retailers address was an empty field with a scorched slab. The weed growth indicates that this distributor stopped distributing anything at least a couple of years ago.

This runs to marketing as well. I found one web site with a half dozen links to favorable stories written about their product; none of the links worked anymore. Another had links to product reviews; half of them didnt work and the other half wanted me to pay a subscription to read their review of the product. Booooo!

The cost to the manufacturer in the first instance was that I wrote them off of my evaluation because it appeared I couldnt buy their products, with a secondary cost of improving their system to fix this. The cost in the second instance is going back and validating and refreshing every piece of information regularly enough to maintain confidence with the average user.

We've all seen web rot; in fact may of the personal ER web sites are full of links that dont work anymore, go to unrelated sites these days, or have documents and spreadsheets for versions of software that were obsolete 5 years ago.

Improving the data detail gives you more fodder that has to be verified and reverified at a cost of time and money.

So...do web presences sock in the cash to identify their products and services, along with availabilities and details down to the local level and then put in the cash to keep that fresh, or do they start withdrawing data to force you back into the yellow pages and retail stores?

I note that some big box outfits like Home Depot dont list everything they sell or let you buy much on their web sites.

As someone who likes to do their investigation work and comparison shopping in their living room, and only get in the car when I already know what I want, where I can get it, and how much I'm willing to pay, the implications of this are disconcerting...
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Re:  Is this Google & Froogle?
Old 05-25-2004, 07:09 PM   #2
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Re:  Is this Google & Froogle?

I'm no techie, but I'm under the impression that Google & Froogle base their rankings on links from other sites. If a site is full of dead links you'd hope that would kill its ranking.

I share your pain. I do a lot of my retail research with another Internet-ready tool-- the telephone. My two most-feared phrases are "Four to six weeks from the Mainland" and "Shipping? Oh, you're in Hawaii?!?"

I don't know if you have one in your area, but feed stores (e.g., horses & cattle) either carry a lot of the high-end pet stuff or know of good dealers. And I wonder what eBay can offer?
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-25-2004, 10:00 PM   #3
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

I think the smaller part of the problem is the dead links.

The bigger part is dead information in databases...dead products, dead distributors, old phone numbers, ex-employees, contacts in new jobs, etc.

A lot of $$$ was put into creating internal and external web accessed databases. Its a shootload of work to make sure the data integrity stays current. I just wonder how well the financial folks and pertinent managers are aware of all that.

For the non-techies...imagine if the phone book worked like this: everyone has to go and put in their new phone number, take out their old one, and make any name changes. If someone doesnt put their new names and numbers in or neglects removing their old ones...imagine how useful the phone book would be 5 years...10 years later...

Looks to me that within a year or two, outside of dilligent actors like Yahoo and whatnot, half the stuff you access will be aged, no longer valid, or misleading at best.

A different problem is OCD over whisking. I've found several tech manufacturers who have removed product info, manuals, support files and so forth for products that are discontinued but only 4-5 years old. I didnt realize disk space costs had risen so quickly lately :

Back on the subject of dog and cat food...

About ALL we have 'round these parts is feed stores. No petco's or petsmarts or none of that city slicker stuff we dont need in these here places nohow. And we might shoot 'em up if they showed their durn faces here.

In the process of b&m snooping I found a gem though. Of all things, the closest feed store to me, just up the road a ways. They happen to carry ALL of the good brands I was interested in, they just arent listed on ANY of the manufacturers web site because they're 3 or 4 links down on the distribution chain.

Anywho, bunch of teenaged girls working there, which isnt a bad start, but I'm not expecting a lot in the way of product knowledge or service.

Damned if I wasnt proven wrong with a shovel.

Everyone knew their stuff about the foods and associated products. I was signed up for an inhouse frequent buyer program where THEY track the purchases themselves, no saving of UPC codes and receipts. THEY went out to a couple of shelves and grabbed me some free promo products, including a bag of canned food that matched up with the new dry I bought. Then when they were out of the 20lb boxes of premium biscuits in the flavor I wanted, the cashier brough me a 6lb bag and repriced it to roughly 1/3 the discounted cost of the 20lb box. Six bucks instead of eleven. Wow. I didnt have to ask. Nobody had to check with a manager. Everything was done to make my life easier.

I was almost stunned at having received actual customer SERVICE for the first time in I dont know how long.

I decided I need to meet the owner and thank them for being one of the very few people on planet earth who still understands the value and merits of pleasing the customer, empowering their employees, and insisting on product training that exceeds answers like "I dunno", "thats not my department" and "whatever!".

My next question is: "Are you profitable". I sincerely want to know if doing it right by your customers ends up really making you money. I want to believe thats the case.

My dad ran a business for 30 years on a simple premise. He took in work, did it the best way he knew how, didnt ask for payment until the work was done and the customer liked it, and if anything wasnt right he fixed it himself on his own dime and fixes were his priority.

He made plenty of money and except for a few dickheads who tried to take advantage of someone trying to "do it right", really enjoyed those 30 years and kept many of his customers from start to finish.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-26-2004, 05:33 AM   #4
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

I know this really isn't the topic, but I hightly recommend Biljac premium dog food. My dogs do great on it and one is a very picky eater. I got the recommendation some years ago from a breeder.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-26-2004, 05:06 PM   #5
 
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Our dogs (4) get cheap dry dog food with some
table scraps thrown in from time to time. They all seem
fine, and even if they are not, they are dogs.............

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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-26-2004, 06:59 PM   #6
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Quote:
Our dogs (4) get cheap dry dog food with some
table scraps thrown in from time to time. *They all seem
fine, and even if they are not, they are dogs.............
LOL. So it's not just me who abuses my dog with cheap dry dog food.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-26-2004, 07:32 PM   #7
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

The cheapness is an illusion. Dog food 101:

Inexpensive dog foods have corn, wheat, and rice hulls in them. Some fool you by putting the same ingredient in 3 or 4 times, like "ground corn, corn middlings, corn flour". Your dog cannot digest these ingredients as well as meat proteins, whole rice, oatmeal, etc. So you're paying half as much, but they're eating twice as much, and making twice as much poop. Not to mention gas. But then I just did.

Some dog foods make meat their #1 ingredient by weight by showing "fresh" beef, chicken or whatever. That has to be dessicated to produce the food, and since meat is mostly water, the meat ends up being 3rd, 4th or later on the ingredients by weight after processing. The rest of the soluble protein comes from the cheap corns and wheats.

So a food that lists chicken meal as its second ingredient is better than one that lists whole fresh chicken as its first.

Avoid by products...we're not talking about liver and whatnot here. Byproducts can legally include horns, feet, feathers, heads, and intestines with whatever the heck was in them at the time of processing, including feces. Did you know that feathers are 15% protein and are included nutritionally in the analysis?

Once you get a no-byproduct feed with a high quantity of protein meal, skip the corn, wheat, soy and other grain by products (ex: "brewers rice" sounds great but its actually the bits and pieces of rice budweiser scrapes up off their floor every day after processing), you're 90% of the way there.

Surprisingly, some of the bigger name "premium foods" like iams, science diet and so forth are absolute crap and no better than some supermarket brands.

The extra 10% I'm getting: probiotics and enzymes that help with digestion; I get a very small amount of non-smelly poop to clean up as a result of this and the other better ingredients. High quality oils, omega fatty acids and other additives that improve skin, coat and overall health...instead of "mixed animal fats" of questionable origin. My animals dont scratch, dont have "pink skin", no ear problems, shed less, and dont smell bad.

I think you get the idea.

The bottom line is cheap dog food isnt any easier on your wallet, and its the animal equivalent of eating corn dogs and budweiser for every meal. Tastes ok, you can live on it, but you arent going to live well or long.

My critters live surprisingly long lives in exception health. I credit a decent diet with that. I had a cat live to 24 and another to 22. I have three others that are over 10 years old, entering old age for cats...but they play like kittens. My dogs have expected lifespans of about 10-12 years...we'll see about that...

Nutro's Natural Choice is widely available and a pretty good food for about $25-30 for a 40lb bag. I'm feeding mine Canidae for $28/40lb bag with a free one every 10 bags. My feed rate is about 2 cups of food per dog per day vs the 4-5 they used to eat of supermarket foods that cost only $16/40lb bag.

Do the math. Then do your best friend a favor and get them some half decent food.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-26-2004, 09:00 PM   #8
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

See there, John. You're a dog abuser.

Actually, I'm quite familiar with the story on dog food and why it's supposed to be just as cheap and more healthy to feed them the "good" stuff. But I think dog food 101 is being taught by vets and pet stores (who make money selling more expensive foods). The story has never held true for my dogs.

I've gone the Eukanuba and Science Diet routes in the past. It's always cost me quite a bit more money than the cheap dry food to keep the dog at the same weight & muscle tone. I've never had a dog with gas problems. And my dogs have all lived significantly beyond the average life expectancy for the breed.

My dogs have always gotten a lot of outdoor freedom and exercise to go with their diet. I don't know if that might be the reason my experience is so different than the dog food 101 story.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 04:57 AM   #9
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Golden Retriever - lots of exercise and swimming, dry cheap Win Dixie high performance dog food and NOW IN ER time to play(the both of us).
Prior dog was a Lab - during working years was a 'house' dog who even got fat on science diet and of course leftovers - liked chinese takeout especially.

MORAL - ER is good for dogs and people.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 11:42 AM   #10
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Oh I agree about the crapola stories from vets and pet stores, however as I noted, science diet (and eukanuba) arent really any better than grocery store brands. I do recognize marketing without substance when it occurs.

Note the dogs diet from 100 years ago...pretty much what we ate and what they caught on their own, as dog food didnt exist. It was a creation of large food processing conglomerates who discovered a new way to get rid of the leftovers and byproducts of food manufacture that humans wouldnt eat. While all of it is nutritious by feeding standards, there is great variance.

Unfortunately a few companies sell you that great marketing story of better food thats really a bag of junk, and a couple go overboard and charge you double for meaningless ingredients. To make matters worse, several magazines put out articles in the last year saying all animal foods are equal. Their experts? One of their employees who had no special knowledge or training. I wrote letters to both editors and after reviewing actual information with them, both retracted the stories.

The two foods I mentioned arent full of crap, will cost you roughly the same amount a month as Alpo, and will provide your pet with the very best nutrition available. Lets say your pet DOESNT eat less. Wow, you're out five to ten dollars a month for a couple of large dogs. Obviously a huge downside.

Good exercise, care and necessary veterinary attention, plus genetics and breeding are also obviously important factors.

And Unclemick, my pets agree that ER is good for them too. Now they get more rides in the car and walks than they can stand.

But while you're ER'ed, and we have nothing better to do than poke around the internet, go do your own research. Dont feel like it? Put your pet on one of the foods I mentioned for 3-4 months and see if you see a difference.

Some links to look at:

http://www.nutroproducts.com/pdf/ncdog.pdf
Decent chart of the more common foods

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/pub...es/5037-1.html
A great article on pet foods; subscription based but they have a 14 day free trial

http://www.breeders-choice.com/PDF/wdjtorydry.pdf
A good slice of the above story for free

http://members.aol.com/smplyschnz/nu...wdjtopten.html
The results; this is a few years old. I've seen the newer charts, pretty much the same foods

http://feedfido.bidhitter.com/compare/
Good chart from someone who is selling Lifes Abundance, a foofy overpriced food IMO. The chart is good up until they skew all the feeding amounts and costs to make the overpriced, ship-to-your-house-only food look cost competitive. However this gives a good look at Nutro's product compared to other comparable price-per-serving foods
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 11:55 AM   #11
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Of the WDJ's top 10 foods, many are expensive and some available only by mail. Canidae is on the list every year and is the cheapest and most available.

I also buy the Natural Balance, which is a cool food for travelling. Comes in a plastic wrapped chub like salami and requires nominal refrigeration. I take this with us when we go on long one and two day trips as I can cut off chunks and feed them on the go, then throw the rest back in a cooler.

The Nutro Natural Choice, while by these guidelines is not as good a food as Canidae, is widely available in most pet stores and is a cut above others.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 02:56 PM   #12
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Bubba the black lab will be thrilled to know how much the Early Retirement Forum is concerned about his diet. I'm certain he will wag his tail and scrury around in circles when I tell him the news. Of course Bubba has been known to eat rocks and sticks, so he may not appreciate the subtleties of these ads and comparisons.

Thanks for your efforts.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 03:28 PM   #13
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Bubba is bored and needs some chew toys, rawhides or pigears. He may also have an upset stomach and is looking to eat something that will make him vomit. Cheap food or food that doesnt agree with him is a good source of an upset stomach.

I'm pleased that your dog will welcome this information. I was deeply concerned that exposed to a full material analysis of the economics of feeding half as much superior food that costs twice as much, that a million and a half dollar difference would somehow be found.

For those of you who just cant bring yourself to make a trip to the feed store and spend a little extra, if you go to Costco on a regular basis, their Kirkland Lamb and Rice "new no-corn formula" isnt bad at all and its about $15 for a bag around 40-50lbs.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 03:58 PM   #14
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

Quote:
Bubba is bored and needs some chew toys, rawhides or pigears. *He may also have an upset stomach and is looking to eat something that will make him vomit. *Cheap food or food that doesnt agree with him is a good source of an upset stomach.
I do appreciate your concern, but Bubba's vet disagrees with your conclusions. In fact, he has taken photos of Bubba to show to other lab owners as an example of how their animal should look in terms of weight and body tone. When we discussed food, he concluded that we should certainly not change anything we were currently doing.

Although I know you believe that you are doing what is best for my pet, developing a diagnosis and prescription based on my posts and jokes may not be the best way to show your concern.

You may be convinced that I am ignorant of the important points of dog care, feeding and training. I assure you that is not the case and that I have read much on these topics over the past 40+ years that I have had dogs. There are many points of view you can find among vets, breeders, pet owners, pet food manufacturers, etc. I suppose it is good that you believe so passionately that your view of dog feeding is right. I'm sure your dogs are healthy and happy. So is Bubba.

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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 04:23 PM   #15
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

As usual, you make a lot of assumptions that arent correct.

Glad you and your vet has decided that your dog eating foreign objects is ok.

Good luck!
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-27-2004, 04:37 PM   #16
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

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. . . Good luck!
Thank-you. . . and good luck to you too.
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-29-2004, 08:44 PM   #17
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

I wish the pet food dilemma at our house hadn't been solved by congenital kidney malfunctioning. My cat, Little Trouble (best friend of lab mutt Zaidi, also known as Big Trouble, until Z. went with the ex in the divorce). Where was I? Little Trouble got deathly ill when she was still little, and it turned out to be her kidneys. Fixed by food that the vet sells and frequent trips in the dreaded cat carrier to the dreaded vet for the dreaded blood tests. Followed by the dreaded bill (about $80 a whack). Makes the food look cheap.

Little Trouble also fell off of an icy roof while trying to keep out of the way of the neighborhood cats in their perennial territorial disputes. Punctured lung, coughing up bloody foam, late-night trips to the kitty-cat ER, and you guessed it, hundreds of bucks in vet bills.

Not to mention that the punctured lung and the ER trauma put her kidney functioning back several notches.

Poor Little Trouble! The kidney food made her too fat, so now she's on the GERIATRIC diet at the ripe old age of 2.

She's a helluva toy-mouse chaser, though.

Anne
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-30-2004, 06:33 AM   #18
 
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

I love animals, cats, dogs, you name it. My wife also.
One reason I gave up hunting.

I own a black lab, 5 years old. Previously I had a yellow
who lived to be 14. In her dotage, she cost me an absolute fortune as one organ after another started
to fail. I love my current lab just as much but I would
not take such heroic steps if she got seriosly ill. I
guess I wouldn't want it done for me either.

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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-30-2004, 08:29 AM   #19
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

JG, what happened to your raves about Ted "Kill Something!" Nugent and your rants about save-the-whalers?

Welcome to the light side of the force
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Re: New cost of having a web presence
Old 05-30-2004, 08:37 AM   #20
 
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Re: New cost of having a web presence

To clarify my "rants", I am a big Ted Nugent fan,
musically, politically, etc. I don't object to others hunting.
I just opted out. Same for politics. Re. the
"save-the-whalers", tree huggers, etc. I have sympathy
for the goals, if not the methods. Alas, these folks tend to be left of center politically which renders them
"untouchables" from my perspective.

John Galt
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