Monday, February 26, 2024

Mint Mobile? No Thanks!

Almost everything advertised as a raw deal.

I've been seeing a lot of advertisements for Mint Mobile on the television.  They're advertising on every single streaming channel that allows advertising. And the ads are all about the same. This actor guy, Ryan Reynolds (who he?*) appears on screen claiming to have bought Mint Mobile, and he promotes how the cost of the service is only $15 per month with "unlimited" data.

There are a few misrepresentations here.  First of all, Ryan Reynolds doesn't "own" Mint Mobile, nor did he "buy" it, but rather is a part owner (20-25% according to some sources) and as of March of 2023, T-Mobile "bought" the company (pending regulatory approval) and Reynolds will remain on as a "spokesperson."

Second, "unlimited" data is a lie that all telcoms engage in.  You get "unlimited" data, but only at normal speeds for the first XX GB of data, then it slows to a crawl, effectively rendering the service unusable.  Granted, in this case, the cap is set at a respectable 40GB, but this lie of "unlimited" data needs to be put to rest by all telcoms, period. Reynolds is selling this "Shucks, we're honest folks" nonsense, so "his" company should be the first to start.

Third, well, it ain't $15 a month, except for a brief promotional period, after which it jumps to $30 a month, paid a year in advance. Mint Mobile does have a $15 a month plan ($45 to sign up, $15 a month after that, provided you pay for a full year in advance) but it only has a paltry 5GB of data a month - enough to send and receive texts, but not enough to stream videos every night.

At the same time Reynolds makes this pitch, at the bottom of the screen is a plethora of fine print that is flashed up so quickly you can barely read it in time. In fact you cannot read the entire thing unless you pause the video. Of course, that's not deceptive - right? Putting the real deal in fine print and not letting you have enough time to read it is deception number four. And I'm supposed to trust this guy as some sort of down-to-earth aw-shucks dude who's trying to give us a good deal.

Right. Whenever you enter into a business arrangement predicated on a lie, no matter how trivial the lie, expect it to go downhill from there.  So down the road, how do you think Mint Mobile T-Mobile is going to treat you?  And who do you have to blame?  They have telegraphed in advance what sort of people they are.  Caveat Emptor.

What the fine print says and what he doesn't want to say out loud is that the $15 per month service is just a promotional gimmick that expires within a few months and the price reverts to a regular $30 per month or about what I pay for my AT&T prepaid service. In other words there's no advantage for me to switch to Mint Mobile.

And yes, there's not a lot to like about AT&T and Verizon, although AT&T's prepaid service is pretty upfront about the pricing. They've never tried to pull this scheme on me where they offer some promotional price and then change it to another number later on. Maybe they do that with new customers now, but it wasn't the case when I first signed up with the service when it was called GoPhone.

This got me to thinking about the other ads I've seen on streaming services. And they're all for pretty raw deals or just shitty deals or stuff designed to cater to your fears. There are a huge number of ads for laundry detergents, and apparently a lot of people are afraid that their laundry smells bad. The funny thing about these ads is that a lot of black people appear in them. In fact, hardly any white people appear in them, if any. Are they trying to send the message to black people that their laundry stinks? If so it's kind of racist.

The "great replacement theory" is a load of horseshit, except perhaps in television advertising. While I welcome the representation of minorities in advertising, it seems like they've gone overboard in this regard. Based on the advertisements I see on streaming services you would think that the population of the United States was pretty much evenly divided between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. You would never guess that white people make up 70% of the population based on their representation in internet streaming ads.

Is this another example of so-called "wokeness?" I don't think so. Rather I think it's because  marginalized groups are easier to snag with clever advertising. Racial minorities are over-represented  in poverty statistics, and poor people tend to spend more money on things like brand-name detergents and status items.   Maybe also, they are more likely to be watching "free" streaming services and over-the-air television.

It is interesting to watch how people shop in the stores. We go to the Wholesale Club and carefully look at the price of various detergents and usually end up buying the store-brand which is the cheapest in terms of price per ounce and price per load.

Others just grab the most expensive name brand off the shelf and throw it in their cart without even looking. It's not like we can't afford to buy the name-brand, just that we choose not to.

And maybe that's why the name-brand laundry detergents aren't aimed at us. We're not paranoid about our laundry smelling bad nor do we believe the mythology that a certain brand of detergent cleans better than another one.

In a way, all advertising is predicated on a lie - the lie that one product is superior to another, or that there are scandalously advantageous "deals" available with one company, but not another - as if half the marketplace is paying double for the same service or product, because they are too stupid to listen to television ads.

Streaming ads, of course, get even weirder, particularly on YouTube.  Apparently, people are obsessed about their health and by that, I don't mean the ads for "legitimate" prescription drugs, but the wild-eyed screamers who hawk their quack cures which were outlawed back in the early 1900s.  The snake-oil salesman is alive and well in modern America.  We just call poison a "nutritional supplement" these days.

FOMO abounds as well - you can have "fun" gambling away your last penny on a sports betting site!  Everyone is winning and no one is losing!  Or buy "Crypto!"  This "Crypto Bro" is willing to share his insider secrets out of the goodness of his heart - for a small fee, of course.  Your life's savings, to be exact.

Or maybe you can save "thousands of dollars" on your heating bill (that would be more than an entire season's worth for me!) by heating your home with some sort of "insider secret" that involves an inverted plant pot.  WTF?  People actually fall for this shit?

The world is full of idiots - look around you.

I guess there are people who look at advertisements as legitimate sources of data.  They must think these ads are vetted and approved by the networks or streaming services that host them.  Myself, I look at an advertisement like Police Tape - roping off a bad deal with "Warning!  Ripoff Ahead!"  Because no matter what is advertised on television, odds are, it isn't the great deal they make it out to be.

And today, well, it seems almost all ads are for shitty deals, particularly on the Internet.

* I guess I am officially old.  I Googled his name and read his Wikipedia page and can safely say I have never seen any movie or show he was in.  It is all comic-book explosion movies, which are aimed at the prime demographic - young men aged 15-35.  That's no longer me.