Buyer Beware, Bloggers Be Careful

fastmacthumb As I have an iPhone, I’m always intrigued when I see new gadgets and accessories that float about for those devices. This was the case with the iPhone Battery Sleeve from FastMac.

Not just a sleeve, the FastMac Battery Sleeve will power up your iPhone, and also comes with a flash light that can be used as an aide in low light photography with the iPhone. In addition there is a USB port for charging other devices. The device has been talked about on blogs for the last week or so with everyone pointing to the $79 price. Which is indeed what it looks like. Unless you actually go to order.

On the product page you are directed to click an image of either the original iPhone or the iPhone 3G and that takes you to an order page. However, it takes you to the same one regardless of what image you click. You then have to click a small drop down menu which gives you different SKU’s for the two iPhones.   If you select the iPhone 3G you’ll see this pop up a $20 price premium taking the order to $99. I looked at this last week and that price premium was $10. There’s nothing terribly wrong with how things are laid out, but unless you’re paying attention you could be surprised given the path you’ve taken to reach that point. In fact, I could see where it would be quite easy to overlook the drop down and order the $79 model without looking at the drop down.

I’m not sure if this is deceptive marketing or just lousy website design, (to be fair the site does say starting at $79), but buyers should always beware and alert. What is equally concerning is that in all the blogging about the FastMac Battery Sleeve, not once did I see a mention of the price difference for the later iPhone. Everyone focused on the $79 price tag, primarily because it was $20 cheaper than other similar battery solutions that are just now shipping.

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6 Comments

  1. Abbi

    11/11/2008 at 3:11 am

    Whoa! That headline is a bit unnecessary, don’t you think? I appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention but you should have at least contacted us before using words like “buyer beware.” You suggest deceptive marketing on our part but IMHO your headline is partially guilty of the same. There’s no deception here: the price of the iV *does* start at $79 and you can still buy it for that price. Yes, there’s a premium for the 3G version, but it’s not like we tucked the model selection way at the bottom or in fine print- it’s right there below the photograph smack dab in the middle of the store page & above the fold. Please also notice that the link for the 2 models (from the product page) is different, but for some reason it doesn’t always work to populate the model selection pop-up. This is something that needs looking in to, but it’s not meant to deceive & it’s wrong to jump to that conclusion when you don’t even know us or contact us to clarify.

    In our press release, you will notice that it talks about introductory pricing. No blogger reported the wrong price because the 3G version *was* priced at $79 initially and we *did* sell hundreds at that price (I’d be glad to give you references if you like). Once we reached our internal targets, we raised the price to the normal price in 2 stages. I don’t see what we have done that is so outrageous that it warrants your headline & I would appreciate if you could clarify the matter with your readers. Even at the regular price, the iV has more battery capacity (3100mAH) AND more features (dual charging, flash LED, dock-ability, etc) than any competing product. The fact that you can get 1 model for $79 makes it even better! I wish you would report on that instead because it really is a unique product that many of your readers would find useful. Nevertheless, I’d be glad to hook up readers of your blog with a discount coupon if you think that’s a good idea :-)
    Thank you

    Abbi

    Reply

  2. Ben

    11/11/2008 at 11:16 am

    Abbi…I have to side with Warner on this one. I saw your product on Macrumors.com first and went to check it out. I had the exact same feeling Warner did. I’m not a tech blogger or really that much of a computer guy though I love electronic “toys”. I too felt a little like someone was pulling a fast one on me because you click on the 3G phone then the big price noted is $79 until you change the tiny drop down. That is like going to the fair and seeing all the big stuffed animals under the “a winner every time” but when you talk to the guy working, he says you when a small animal first before getting to the level of the big stuffed animals.

    I don’t see why you got upset. All you have to do is change a few things on your website and all is done but instead you commented here and opened a can of worms and bad will.

    Reply

  3. Abbi

    11/11/2008 at 11:55 am

    Hi Ben
    I appreciate your comment. My beef is not with the article, but more so with the headline which gives off the wrong impression (which is why I said it is partially guilty of the same thing!). Most people don’t bother to read the details; they make snap judgements based on headlines and pictures.

    I agree that there are issues with the code and we’re taking steps to correct it/ clarify it. That’s why we have a starting price and our position is that the story doesn’t warrant the type of headline it received. I’m having a dialog with the author and communicating with his community. I sure hope that doesn’t create bad will because that’s not the tone of my comment or my MO. You should be able to give your side of the story, no?

    Abbi

    PS: In response to my comment, I received a nice email from Warner. He said he understands our side of the story and is willing to write a follow-up post. In fact, he likes our product and wants to purchase it for himself- what more could one want than for your critic to buy your product and become your fan :-)

    Reply

  4. JimAtLaw

    11/11/2008 at 6:07 pm

    You should just put right up front $79.95 for iPhone 2g, $99.95 for iPhone 3G, this would avoid people being irritated by the increase.

    By the way, while you’re monitoring the thread, why is the 3G version 25% more expensive? Does it have a bigger battery? What additional features are present that add 25% in value? Thanks in advance for your reply. :-)

    Reply

  5. Abbi

    11/11/2008 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Jim
    Thanks for your comments. Since the store programming is not under our control, we’ve made some changes that should clarify the price up front (just as you suggested) so that people won’t be surprised when they get to the store. Hopefully we can fix the underlying code in the store to display the right pop-up when you link from the site to the store.

    Both the 2G & 3G contain the same 3100mAh battery but the 3G is also compatible with the iPod touch. We discounted both to $79 initially and once targets were reached for the 3G, we raised the price back to normal. Those same targets have not yet been achieved for the 2G, so we continue to discount it because it’s not as popular.

    If you have any further questions, please email or call us. Thanks for your interest and hope you get an iV for your iPhone :-)

    Abbi

    Reply

  6. John

    11/13/2008 at 8:27 am

    Why buy this when there is a much less bulky and more attractive battery that is actually “Works With iPhone” certified for the same price? http://www.mophie.com/products/juice-pack-iphone-3g

    My 2 cents.

    -John

    Reply

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