Shopping online – smart shopping?

Shopping online – smart shopping?

Walk this way….

So, you’ve got an hour to kill for your lunchbreak, you work near a major shopping centre, and you want to buy something. Do you:

A. Use your iphone to search for what you want and then buy it online?
B. Walk into a shop and browse the array of goodies on display and buy something that way?

It seems that unless you and your iphone are permanently attached at the hip, or you can’t go for an hour without getting your Facebook or Twitter fix, you would choose B. Which makes sense. You can try before you buy, whether it be clothes, cosmetics, jewellery, shoes, handbags. And you can be content knowing that you’ve purchased something you like at a price you were happy to pay. No stress. No paying for postage. Walking out with that item on the same day you bought it. All good.

But can the same be said about online shopping?

The Online’th degree

Now, if you were to order any of these items online, you have all these things to consider:

• How long will the item take to be delivered?
• What if the item gets lost in transit?
• What if it gets stolen?
• What if the clothes or shoes you’ve purchased are the wrong size?
• Or that lipstick is so the wrong shade for you and looked much better on the catalogue model than it does on you?
• Or the jewellery isn’t the quality that you’d been led to believe?

Maybe shopping online isn’t worth it after all?

So you’re not happy with your purchase and you want to get a refund or an exchange. You have these factors to consider:

• You need to pay additional postage costs to return the items (provided you can return them for a refund)
• What if the company doesn’t refund your money?
• What if there’s only an email address you can contact the company on and no contact phone number?
• What if they don’t have the size you want so you can’t exchange? (So you have the refund issues to think about!)
• How long will it take for them to refund your money?
• What if there’s some hidden refund charge you weren’t aware of?

So what turned out initially to be a very stress-free and pleasurable experience turns out to be quite a drama.


You could be so happy with your online purchasing experience that you would buy from that online store/s again.

Convenience and choice

I’ve only had very good experiences when I’ve bought something online, so I’m an advocate for online shopping, as well as the walk in retail experience.
Any negatives of online shopping aside, at just the click of a mouse button you can search for practically anything – from clothes to handbags, shoes to gifts, electronic gadgets to books… The list goes on. You can book an exotic holiday away, look for a property to buy, search for the perfect restaurant to take your special someone, look at wedding venues, and so much more, all online, without having to leave wherever you are, and with just one click, (or a couple), so you’d probably be able to put up with any negatives.

And with the non-online retail sector suffering a bit of a downturn in sales, with the online shopping world so appealing to many customers because it’s fast, convenient shopping right at your fingertips, does this mean there’ll be an end to the walk in, walk out retail shopping experience that many of us grew up with?

My cents worth…

I don’t think it will be the end. At least I hope not. After all, there’s something to be said about going into a shop, looking, feeling, touching, trying, that you can’t get online.

In my opinion, both modes of shopping have their place in the world, and we should shop both ways. I just hope that people will still buy items the old-fashioned way. After all, shopping this way is helping our economy, which in turn is helping all of us.

We’re keeping the bucks here.


Australia’s Got Talent – Questionable Judging?

Australia’s Got Talent – Questionable Judging? ©

So, I was looking at the first semi final of Australia’s Got Talent on Tuesday 31/5/11, and first of all I have to say that I was very impressed by the talent on display. But when it came to the judging, not so much.
Question: Should the judges be allowed to judge each performance before votes are cast by the public? Many people are impressionable, and the judge’s comments would influence their decision, so there is the chance that a really good act that deserved to go through, won’t.

So is this a fair system?

Shouldn’t the judges give their opinions after the votes have come in by the public? That way, people will cast their votes for the acts they genuinely liked, without any bias.
Or maybe it’s all part of the politics of such a competition. The judges have their favourite, and no doubt want their favourite to win, so if they happen to sway a few votes (or several thousand!) that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

And how do you know that the counting of the votes is going to be fair? What’s to stop the powers at be altering the number of votes for one act to make sure it gets through? We don’t know what happens behind the scenes. We just believe that the counting is fair.

Based on the judge’s comments alone from Tuesday night, it seems very plausible that the judges want to influence the public’s votes.

Case in point (1): “Rock N Roll Rollers”

Bryan McFadden: “You did a great job. I did watch the rehearsal earlier, but tonight you did make the mistake at the end which is such a shame when you were doing that really fast thing, you took my breath away in rehearsal, but you screwed it up there. It’s a shame but you did make a pretty huge mistake in the semi finals of the show. If you make a mistake that big you’re not really giving your best, so on that I have to say I was disappointed.”

Okay Bryan I think we get the idea.

Bryan re-iterated this mistake, not just once, not twice, not three times, but four times! Maybe he thought the viewers didn’t get the message the first time, the second time, or even the third time!

I didn’t really notice the mistake myself, and I don’t think most of the viewers would have either. Kyle didn’t notice the mistake.

Kyle Sandilands: “I didn’t notice the mistake, and I was still impressed with the full on chooka chooka thing you did and luckily for you guys, nobody at home got to see the mistake either, so hopefully it won’t affect the judging, the votes, but Bryan has let everybody know at home that there was a huge error, so they will factor that in.”

While Kyle was more fair in his judging, by saying “but Bryan has let everybody know at home that there was a huge error, so they will factor that in” this just reinforces the unfortunate mistake in everybody’s mind, not necessarily helpful to Rock N Roll Rollers.

But I like Kyle, and I was pleased when he went on to say…

“What you kids do is a great message for parents that if you don’t let your kids play and run around on the streets, going to parties and living their life on Facebook, your kid can have talent as well.”

Case in point (2): Bree De Rome

Kyle: “Another fabulous performance. You’re a real find. Genuine. Authentic. I find you fabulous and can sit there and watch you for hours.”

Danni: “It’s your personality and the voice. That performance is how it should be done. Your voice is magnificent, like listening to a recording, like you’ve had 50 years experience.”

And there’s Bryan’s comments…

Bryan: “You just captured in 2 mins in that performance what it feels like to fall in love. You took everybody in this room to a different place, for that whole performance I was in a different world. You are just beyond incredible. I love every single thing about you, your voice, your performance style, your personality, how you look. If you had an album out now I’d listen to it on repeat, if you had a concert now I’d go to your concert. I’d be your biggest fan.”

I have to be honest, when I heard Bryan’s comments, I wanted to turn off the TV. If the comments by the judges, especially Bryan’s, aren’t enough to sway the votes, then nothing will.

I personally didn’t think the performance was as brilliant as the judges have made it out to be. Okay, Bree has a cute look, a nice voice, but did she really deserve so much praise? Compare her performance with Soprano Fiona Mariah’s. I much preferred Fiona’s performance, but unfortunately the judges didn’t.

Case in point (3) : Fiona Mariah

Kyle: “I loved that song. First time we saw you everybody leaped to their feet and you had a huge standing ovation and you felt the electricity in the room, but we didn’t get a standing ovation tonight, so to me that means that they (the audience) didn’t enjoy it as much, but you sang it beautifully. I did enjoy it and I think you’re amazingly talented.”

Bryan: “I was blown away by your original audition, I thought it was amazing, dramatic. For me I was really disappointed by that performance. I found it underwhelming. I don’t think it has to do with your voice, you didn’t recreate the drama you created in your first audition. It started really slow, it took you a long time to get to the big notes, which is what made us stand on our feet the first time, and you really only got there at the end, and to be honest with you, by the time you got there I was kind of over that performance. I put that down to bad song choice.”

Bryan says that the performance started really slow, but Unchained Melody is supposed to be a slow song. It’s an emotional song.

“It took you a long time to get to the big notes” he said, but the big notes are only in the middle and end of the song, so what would he have wanted her to do? Gone straight into the middle of the song?

The judges said that she didn’t get a standing ovation for this song, like she did when she sang Nessun Dorma in her audition, so therefore they said the performance wasn’t good? There’s always a standing ovation for Nessun Dorma. It’s like it’s programed in people’s mind that if anybody can sing it the audience will be up on their feet.

Is the judging really fair?

The judges put their comments out there in an attempt to sway votes, and people chat about it on Facebook and twitter, echo and quote what the judge’s say, which empowers the judges and gives them more credibility. The judges know that most of the voting audience is the younger demographic, and that many of them are very impressionable and more likely to take on board what the judges say when casting their votes.

I noticed 4 or 5 comments on Youtube from young people that were identical to what the judges were saying about Fiona’s performance, e.g. ‘disappointing, poor song choice.’

In the case of Jack Vidgen, who is one of the judge’s favourites, and in fact one of everybody’s favourites, the judges know that the younger generation are looking for an idol, so they can play on that. They can say whatever they like and know the younger demographic will support what they say because they are looking for someone to idolize, to look up to, like another Bieber phenomenon.

It’s all big business

The judges are happy to be controversial too. They attempt to create sensationalism. It’s a smoke screen that the judges are there just to judge. It’s a case of good cop, bad cop. They’re giving their own performance. They’re there to spice things up a bit, keep things interesting.

A lot of people like negative commentary because a lot of people are cynical, and also people are very quick to judge. When a judge puts somebody down, a lot of people enjoy that.

The order that the acts are shown also play a part in the program rating schemings. If they showed Jack Vidgen’s performance in the beginning for example, they could lose ratings. The producers usually save the favourites to last as a ploy because they know that there’s a possibility that you could tune out after you see the performance. It makes sense for them to push someone like Vidgen that’s going to make money for the network and help with the ratings.

Jack Vidgen is the perfect poster boy for the teeny boppers, the main demographic of this show, so pushing this guy is great. Ironically in my opinion this guy looks like a girl, but whatever. When people are sitting in their lounge rooms enjoying the performances, they don’t think about the show as a money spinner for the network. While we’re being entertained, we’re making the network rich. Like everybody signing into Facebook is making Mark Zuckerberg rich.

In conclusion

The judge’s comments are strategic and deliberate, in an attempt to manipulate votes, increase ratings for the network, and stir the pot if necessary.

The judging system isn’t fair in these competitions. If it was, the judge’s comments should be made after the votes have come in. This way all the acts get a fair go.

© Simone Cooper

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