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Amazon got caught being sketchy but does it actually matter?

(NEWS) A feature on Amazon’s website recently came under scrutiny for being misleading but we doubt it creates too many waves.

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Amazin’ Amazon

I don’t have to tell you that Amazon is crazy convenient. Forgot to get a bunch of random stuff at the store? Order anything from lip balm to groceries and find it on your doorstep within a couple of days.

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There are tons of options for basically any category you can think of, whether it’s TVs or mattress covers, and prices are usually competitive.

Golden age of e-commerce

It’s also a great place to scroll through reviews for larger purchases, or products you aren’t familiar with.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find that golden reviewer who claims to have read every. single. review. and lists out all the important pros and cons for you.

You’ll feel sad for them and incredibly relieved that it wasn’t you all at the same time.

Less of a deal than you think

Amazon is understandably doing pretty well for itself, but a new report commissioned by Consumer Watchdog claims that the e-commerce powerhouse has been posting misleading discounts for about 40 percent of its merchandise.

That means a deal is not a deal is not a deal.

List price lies

The report focuses on falsification of the “list price,” which Amazon defines as “the suggested retail price of a product as provided by a manufacturer, supplier, or seller.”

Consumer Watchdog claims that for two out of every five items, the list price far exceeds any reasonable estimate of the market price for that item.

For example

Take this handy dandy Pneumatic brand drill, which currently sells for $182.99 on Amazon.

The list price, according to Amazon, is $305 – 40 percent off is a great deal, right?

Welllll the same drill sells at Jet.com for $182.99, and Walmart charges $189.99. Amazon looks a little less impressive now, huh?

Fishy fishy

This example was featured in the Consumer Watchdog report, which was released on a Monday.

Notably, as of that Tuesday, this drill no longer features a list price.

Anything you’d like to tell us, Amazon? Guilty conscience keeping you up at night, compulsively deleting list prices?

List price mark up

Amazon doesn’t make public its list price methods, but neither the average market prices, mean market prices, or median market prices jibed with all of Amazon’s claims.

The report found that 71% of the products scrutinized in the study featured list prices higher than those used by competitors.

In fact, Amazon’s list price was an average of $18.88 more expensive than the market mean.

Everything’s higher

And median (middle) list prices weren’t any better – 74 percent of the products covered by the report cited list prices higher than the median competitor prices, by an average of $22.

Compared with the most common competitor prices, a full half of Amazon’s list prices were higher.

False reference

“In other words, the reference prices were an entirely bogus notional price that created the false impression that customers were getting a deal when they were not,” said Consumer Watchdog.

This practice is misleading, for sure, and dishonest discounts are something every shopper should be wary of.

If the claims are justified, it’s a bad sign for Amazon’s integrity as a company.

Does this feature matter though?

But honestly, I never pay attention to how much “off” something is.

I and the fellow millennials I know who use Amazon regularly do our research, especially for a larger purchase like a fancy drill or a laptop.

We know what it retails for elsewhere. We only care what Amazon’s actual charging price is, not how much it originally cost.

Amazon’s rebuttal

Amazon released a statement in regards to the Consumerist report.

In that statement they said, “The Consumer Watchdog report is misleading. Manufacturers, vendors and sellers provide list prices, but our customers care about how the price they are paying compares to other retailers. We validate list prices against actual prices recently found across Amazon and other retailers, and we eliminate List Price when we believe it isn’t relevant to our customers. Using recent price history of the product on Amazon we’ve also introduced a ‘Was’ price to provide customers with an alternative reference price when we don’t display List Price.”

No harm, no foul?

That doesn’t mean Amazon’s off the hook, by any means.

But it does mean that there might not be too much of an uproar.Click To Tweet

Especially since shoppers are, sadly, pretty used to distorted discounts in all kinds of brick and mortar stores. Regardless, Amazon has largely set the tone for e-commerce, and they should be better than this.

#FakeDeal

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Business News

How remote work has changed over the last decade

(BUSINESS NEWS) let’s reflect on how remote working and telecommuting has changed in recent years and look to how it will continue to change in the 2020s.

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As someone who often works remote, it’s interesting to see how much that means for work has evolved. The increase in commonality has been steady, and shows no signs of slowing down. Go Remotely has developed an insightful graphic showing the changes in trends regarding remote work over the years.

“For decades, the established economy dictated that you should pick one job, visit the same office for the next 40 years, and then retire,” reads the graphic’s intro. “However, recent remote working stats suggest the working world might be in for some revolutionary changes.”

From there, the graphic is broken down into five facets: Flexible Workspace Policy, Entrepreneurial Minds, Telecommuting is a Growing Trend, The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World, and The Future of Telecommuting.

With Flexible Workspace Policy, its suggested that telecommuting could be a solution for costly issues including lack of productivity caused by employee distractions, health problems, etc. It is said that employers lose $1.8 trillion annually due to these issues.

The end of 2018 found 35 percent of the US workforce working remotely. This is only expected to climb. Ten percent of employees don’t know if their company offers flexible work policies (this is something to check into!)

Bills and laws for virtual jobs passed by governments reflect the need for accessibility, economic stability, and emigration concerns. Companies with flexible work policies have reported seeing increases in productivity and profits. (Funny those both start with pro, no?)

With Entrepreneurial Minds, a few interesting things found include: remote workers are less likely to take off if they are sick, the majority reports better productivity when working alone, the majority reported lower stress levels. However, there is a problem with not being able to unplug after work which is an issue for some.

Telecommuting is a Growing Trend finds that there has been a seven percent increase between 2012 and 2016, with the majority (80-100 percent) reporting they work remotely. Industries seen embracing remote work include: transportation, computer/information systems/mathematical, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, finance/insurance/real estate, law or public policy, community/social services, science/engineering/architecture, manufacturing or construction, healthcare, education/training/library, and retail.

The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World finds that the pros to hiring remote workers includes: finding talent outside of your geographic area, improves retention on work/life balance, increases productivity by decreasing commute time, and saves money by requiring less office space. The cons include lack of timeliness when it comes to receiving information from employers.

Finally, the Future of Telecommuting suggests that in 2020 the US mobile worker population will surpass 105 million (and will account for 72 percent of the US workforce). Hiring managers predict that telecommuting will increase tremendously, most skills will become even more niche over the next decade, and many think that 38 percent of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade.

How do you feel about the increase in remote working and telecommuting?

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Business News

ClickUp team productivity app is gorgeous and wildly efficient

(BUSINESS NEWS) Seeking to improve your productivity and speed up your team, ClickUp is an inexpensive option for those obsessed with efficiency.

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Back again to obsess over productivity apps – ClickUp, is a project management tool seeking to knock the frustration out of PM. It’s getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try for a week by setting up my current job search as a project and getting a feel for the app. And as you’ve read in my other reviews, we will address features and design.

On the feature front, ClickUp offers a pretty standard set up of tools for a productivity app. What stands out first and foremost are the status options. In general, most productivity statuses are simple: not started, started, in progress, done, etc.

But ClickUp lets you set up custom statuses that match your workflow.

For example, if you’re doing instructional design projects, you may assign projects based on where they are flowing in an ADDIE model, or if you are a Realtor, you may have things cataloged by sold, in negotiation, etc.

Customization is king and custom status is the closest you get to building your own app. And if you like it simple, you don’t have to customize it. The assigned comments feature lets you follow up on specific comments that originate action items – which is useful in team collaborations.

You can also assign changes to multiple tasks at once, including changing statuses (I would bulk assign completion tasks when I finished applications that I did in batches). There a lot of features here, but the best feature is how the app allows you to toggle on and off features that you will or won’t use – once again, customization is front and center for this platform.

In terms of design and intuive use, ClickUp nailed it.

It’s super easy to use, and the concept of space is pretty standard in design thinking. If your organization uses Agile methodology, this app is ready for you.

In terms of view, you can declutter the features, but the three viewing modes (list, box, and board) can help you filter the information and make decisions quickly depending on what role you have on a board or project. There is also a “Me” board that removes all the clutter and focuses on your tasks – a great way to do focused productivity bursts. ClickUp describes itself as beautifully intuitive, and I can’t disagree – both the web app and mobile app are insanely easy to use.

No complaints here.

And the horizon looks good for ClickUp – with new features like image markup, Gannt charts (!!!!!! #nerdalert), and threaded comments for starts.

This application is great, and it’s got a lot of growth coming up to an already rich feature base. It’s free with 100MB of storage, but the $5 fee for team member per month that includes team onboarding and set up (say you’re switching from another platform) and Dropbox/Google Docs integration? That’s a bargain, Charlie.

ClickUp is on the way up and it’s got it all – features, a beautifully accessible UI, relentless customization, and lot of new and upcoming features. If you’re into the productivity platform and you’re looking for a new solution for your team, go check it out.

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Business News

Should you alter your business travel due to the Coronavirus?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Got a business trip coming up? Worried about the coronavirus spoiling those plans? Stay up to date and safe with this cool site!

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The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University has created a website that tracks one of the biggest trends of 2020: the coronavirus. Also known as 2019-nCoV, this disease has already spread to over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with over 900 deaths (as of when this article was published, anyway.)

Not to mention, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that we still don’t know exactly how the virus spreads from person-to-person. In fact, there’s quite a bit we don’t know about this disease and although some people are reported as recovered, it’s only a small fraction compared to how many are sick.

So, what’s so great about this tracker? Well, first of all, it updates in real time, making it easy to keep track of everything we know about confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It’s chock full of statistics and visuals, making the information easy to digest. Plus, with a map front and center, it lets you know exactly where there have been reported outbreaks – and how many people have been diagnosed.

Because the site sticks to cold hard facts like statistics and maps, it also means you can avoid the racism and general panic that’s accompanied news of this outbreak.

This is a great tool for staying informed, but it’s also extremely helpful if you’re going to be traveling for work. As the virus continues to progress, you’ll be able to see just how many cases of coronavirus there are in the areas you’re planning to visit, which will allow you to plan accordingly. Even if you don’t feel the effects, you can still risk passing it to other people.

(In fact, the CDC recommends those traveling from certain areas in China practice “social distancing” when they return to the US, avoiding public spaces like grocery stores, malls and movie theaters.)

Of course, if you have something planned several months from now, don’t cancel your conference plans just yet. A lot can happen in that amount of time, so avoid the urge to check the website every couple hours. It’s supposed to be a tool for staying informed, not staying stressed out.

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