Online giant service issues provide a cautionary tale

Editorial – It’s Christmas shopping spree time and, thanks to the isolation most shoppers have gone through over the pandemic years, more and more of that shopping frenzy takes place online.

But now that the pandemic panic has abated somewhat (even if the contagious virus itself remains a reality) the rapid expansion of many online businesses is now experiencing a slowdown in growth and, in some cases, outright contraction. Amazon, the multi-billion-dollar megalith of the online mercantile world, has recently announced plans to shrink its global workforce by as many as 10,000 workers.

Numerous stories, one might even say horror stories, are surfacing in recent days relaying instances of reluctance on the part of one of the largest of online merchandisers to provide refunds or exchanges for incorrect, incomplete or outright fraudulent products. This will come as a bit of a shock to customers who have become used to the somewhat liberal exchange and refund policies that were the hallmark of the online mercantile class in the heady days of rapid expansion.

Now, with margins being squeezed and reductions in employee levels allegedly rippling into the customer service realm, large online merchandisers are apparently experiencing serious lapses in that area as they seek to stem the considerable leakage in profits that comes with providing the “no questions asked” refund and exchange regimes that have been the hallmark of online and/or big box stores.

Some might recall Canadian retail giant Eaton’s mantra in bygone days “goods satisfactory or money cheerfully refunded.” Wither the Eatons empire now?

This is a great time to consider dropping by a local “bricks and mortar” establishment and making at least part of your holiday shopping list local.

The Christmas shopping season has always been the winter equivalent of the summer tourist boost for local businesses, often rivaling, if not exceeding, the fabled Haweater Weekend bonanza.

Shopping local, whether it be for artisan items to be found at the many Christmas bazaars, vendors’ markets and church bake sales, or more formal businesses you will quickly find we still have many merchants on Manitoulin Island, friends and neighbours, who look forward to seeing you at this time of the year.

No need to buy more than you need or pay for a special service in order to qualify for free shipping. No fretting over when or if the package will arrive in time to take its place under the Christmas tree. If the item is at hand in the store, you put it in your shopping cart and trundle it on home for the wrapping. It’s a win-win for everyone.

And should the product require return or adjustment, well the chances are you know the seller personally.

Island businesses may not have the product that you need, but chances are pretty good that if you don’t assume they don’t and do a bit of shopping around, you will be surprised at what you can discover locally. As any veteran Christmas shopper knows, you often set out to find a gift for that special someone only to discover the perfect gift right here close to home.

So this Christmas season, before you set out across that bridge to the crowded markets of the big city, stop by the less stressful local shop or business and help make local businesses and their staffs’ season a little more merry.

Writer recalls terror of Cuban Missle Crisis; A comparison of the reactions of JFK and Putin

To the Expositor:

I recently read a fairly accurate article regarding the Cuban missile crisis in The Expositor. The version that I was subjected to is slightly different.

As a teenager, living much farther south than Little Current, next to the quonset naval base in Providence, Rhode Island, the terror was off the chart. Living next to a military target drove the fear to the top level.  The school children were driven under their desks, as absurd as that sounds, in order to avoid an imminent nuclear attack.

Kennedy’s courage and fortitude in the face of the evil Russian threat and his final success at averting total destruction propelled him to mythic reverence.  The thankful Americans looked at him as if he was a god who delivered us from these evil perpetrators.  How dare they set up weapons of mass destruction only 90 miles from Miami and the US mainland?  Our leader stared down the threat. He was proclaimed a hero by the civilized world.

This aggression had no chance against us “brave and noble” Americans.  Now, 60 years later, as we see history repeat, as she so often does, we do not see the bravery and courage of the Russian leader who, like JFK, does not appreciate biological labs and nuclear missiles delivered by NATO and the US, to his border in the Ukraine. Like JFK he retaliates by invading the land mass that houses this terrible threat to his country.  The question, begging to be asked, why is JFK a hero and Vlad Putin a demon?

Tommy Lough

Intimate Partner Violence Disclosure Act needed in Ontario; So many lives could be saved

To the Expositor:

On the heels of the eye-opening article, ‘Flags raised across Manitoulin to end gender-based violence’ (November 30, Page 4) in The Expositor, I wish to bring something to light that no one seems to talk about. It is Bill 274, The Intimate Partner Violence Disclosure Act, 2021 that appears to be stalled in Parliament at the moment. The Act is based on Clare’s Law, a law passed in the UK in 2014. Clare Wood was a woman who was murdered in England by a former domestic partner who police knew to be dangerous. That law gives individuals the ability to apply for information on their partners to find out if they have a history of domestic violence.

Apparently in Canada it is only in effect in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador. I was shocked that every province hasn’t adopted this! This act would allow individuals to apply for information regarding whether their intimate partner has a history of committing intimate partner violence.

I think so many lives could be saved if this act was passed in Ontario. I don’t know why this Bill seems to have stalled but I would love some input from our local MPP, Michael Mantha with regards to this law getting passed. 

Robin Omnet
Little Current

Government puts people in poorhouse while corporations prosper; Rural communities are among the hardest hit

To the Expositor:

The government is sure putting a lot of people in the poorhouse while the big corporations and high-tech industries are making in the millions of dollars with the government support.

I keep hearing more people are becoming dependent on food banks to put food on their table. I do believe we have these problems too in rural areas where there is not too much media to report it.

It is harder on people who do not have transportation here and are living in rural areas. Sometimes it’s hard to find a taxi because, myself, I have to get a taxi to go someplace sometimes it’s hard to find a taxi. It is a good thing that I am not a shopper; I only buy what I need. I do not have to run around trying to find happiness.

I’m happy just the way I am.

I’m very in touch with my soul. Then Christmas is coming and a lot of people are so anxious about it. But I’m not; it will be just another day for me because happiness does not last once they start getting those bills next year. Depression maybe?

Ronald Osawabine