Category Archives: Thieves

AdMob a Scam ?

admob_iconI recently considered adding advertisement to my app to see whether that could be a viable method to generate revenue. In the past Google adsense turned out to be an important income for my website. So I thought admob would be as well.

Boy was I mistaken.

First of all, using the admob API is hard work. Some of the problems I encountered

  • Getting it linked in. The Android SDK for eclipse is so unstable that it just never worked. Switching to Android studio made it easier but then still it took a couple of days.
  • Resource issues After linking the library in, everything worked but Admob kept on spouting resource errors. Days later, I found a post by the admob team that I can simply ignore that error. Can’t they simply remove that error then instead of sending me on an egg hunt ?
  • The problem of API8. The Admob SDK just doesn’t support older phones, so that cuts down the market already. On older phones admob just stopped working. (Lucky people who are staring at all those black boxes)
  • No keywords The API normally allows you to add keywords so that the ads are better targeted. No luck there, as soon as you use some weird UTF8 characters (as can appear in song titles), the thing CRASHES. Can you imagine that ? A support library that is supposed to make me money crashes my app, which would lead to negative reviews ? So no keywords then.
  • Performance sucks Then there was the problem of performance: the admob runtime is not the most efficient one can imagine. While my app is rendering audio, providing the user interface and actually doing things, admob just seems to hog resources. Probably while waiting for a network connection or who knows what. 35% CPU time was used, while the mp3 decoder only used 7%. Seriously ? What is so difficult on serving adds that you need the resources of five mp3 players ?

Let’s say implementing the ads through the admob SDK took around 1000 EUR (a week work). Now it was time to actually get to the revenue…

Well… forget it… The estimated revenue per thousand impressions on admob is so so low (0.02 EUR !) that you will not see any money. That means that in order to obtain that 1000 EUR back, before even starting to make any profit, the app needs to generate 50’000 impressions. Now, you might think this is reasonable. But it is a magnitude difference compared to the old adsense ads. And the fact remains it isn’t reasonable. After all you provided something: screen real estate. It got used, yet whether you get paid or not depends on whether someone clicked on that ad or not. If impressions aren’t worth shit then why do we see so much advertisement ? Compare this to an auto route with advertisement billboards: What Google wants is that you give them the billboards and then they will see whether someone was really interested before actually paying you.

Of course, you could say: this is how it works… Well, I’m telling you: this is not working anymore. For very few people. Just search for ‘admob low cpm’ and you will see quite a lot of stories of people that have millions and millions of views to earn next to nothing.

So, that was it for admob. It was nice to know you. Or not. It took a lot of investment from my side. Your support sucked, your development team sucked and your payout sucked. Goodbye.

Amazon adds unwanted items to wishlists

amazon-crapAnother day, another cooperation trying to push their products through the customers throat. In this case Amazon.

Recently my wife her birthday was coming up, so I decided to check her wishlist at amazon.com and see what books/items she wanted to have. Between the list was a book ‘The Final Empire’ by some guy ‘Brandon Sanderson’. The book sold for 7.5 EUR and I was somewhat surprised to find it on her list since she had never mentioned it. It was of course possible since she reads fantasy. So, I bought it along with other items.

A day later, the book arrives and we figure out that this book was _not_ on her wishlist, on which I showed her that it indeed was. We figured that amazon must have fixed her wishlist by adding a recommendation they otherwise could not get rid off. It is after all an excellent plan. In most cases the one receiving the gift will not dare to ask how it came to be and the one giving the gift will never learn that this item was in reality not on the wishlist. So, the winner would be Amazon who got their stock dumped and got even paid for it. Most people will not even try to send the book back and might give it a try to see whether it is a good book or not.

Nevertheless, out of principle, I wanted to send the book back. Went to the amazon site and marked to book to be returned. A message popped up saying that I would be refunded but that I could keep the book.

London Heathrow Lodge

I would like to remark some things on how London Heathrow Lodge treats passengers that want to travel back to the airport.

I was in a situation that I had asked the hotel staff to call a taxi at 4:00 in the morning, which they supposedly did. 4:00 in the morning I’m waiting for that taxi, a car stops by and claims to be ‘the taxi’. However, as soon as I step in I notice that the guy didn’t have any sign, no counter and couldn’t accept credit cards. This set off some alarms in my head, mainly because _if_ they guy was related to the hotel (he must be, they called him), then he must be able to use the same infrastructure the hotel had regarding credit cards and _if_ the guy was related to the hotel then the travel to the airport was included in the price already, so he was asking for money where he shouldn’t. The next problem was that he didn’t exactly know how much the travel to the airport would cost. He explained that they would ‘call him’ to tell the cost of the trip, which is a very strange thing.

Anyway, I step in and see what will happen, but am already thinking off a way to get rid of this guy. Luckily he was so distrustful that he stopped in front of a ATM machine to let me get money, which is a rather intimidating thing to do if your driving somebody to the airport
a) it is halfway the trip
b) those people typically work within a time frame
c) if they don’t get money how will they get to the airport.

The cash machine was broke (or broken). In any case I couldn’t get money out, which is a good thing since I was not planning to allow this anyway. So I started to argue with the guy which suddenly explained that he was part of the hotel but no taxi (I ordered a taxi, not a family member !). The end result was that he threatened to throw me
out which also happened.

Bottom line is that the London heathrow lodge is a highly unprofessional place to stay. Watch your money and the agreements you have if you go there ! Make sure you have a backup strategy when they suddenly feel they can misuse their negotiation position.

Relocation Thieves: Majortrans AS ~ Team Allied

Below I report my experience with MajorTrans AS, a Norwegian relocation company that recently was bought up by Team Allied. At the end of 2007 we asked a number of relocation firms to provide us with an offer for 15 m^3. The total size of our furniture was around 12.5 cubic meters when laid out in a rectangular grid. So 15 m^3 is already an overestimation. Regardless of this fact, we asked for an offer of 15 m^3 and to our surprise most relocation firms insisted on 20 m^3. The only one which did not do this was Majortrans who offered to move our stuff for 44000 NOK. So after we received our furniture the total volume was suddenly listed as 20 m^3, which is almost twice the real volume and 33% more than that what we agreed upon. Of course we wrote a nice letter back explaining them that

a- they did not deliver what they billed -and-
b- they cannot change the offer they made, otherwise we would have taken another -more professional- relocation firm.

We of course paid them the 44’000 NOK we agreed upon.

MajorTrans however insists that we owe them 58’000 NOK (a 31% increase compared to the offer). They contacted us multiple times with threads that they would go through an inkasso office. And they indeed did after a couple of months. Now by the time they went to the Inkasso (August) we had long since paid what we agreed. However, the inkasso now claimed around 84575 NOK, almost twice as much as the offer !. Clearly we won’t pay this and the only way they will get it is with a court order. In the meantime I invite the Inkasso office to stop harassing us because my patience is running out. This website documents what happened and can be used by other people as a warning against using Team Allied and/or Majortrans.

Taxi 2: Tthieves located in Oslo

Below is a letter I wrote to Taxi 2 in response to misadvertisement and plain crookery. So far I never received a response to the letter, so I must assume that it has been a company ‘strategy’. As such I feel obliged to share this info.

Dear Sir,

I write you to complain about an encounter I had with your company.

On the first of May I took a taxi ride from Oslo train-station to Oslo Airport. As advertised in the airport buildings I expected a price of 395 NOK. However, when I actually wanted to take the taxi, the price had suddenly rose to 600 NOK. The strange thing about this is that the taxi driver clearly didn’t know too much about this advertisement. Therefore he choose to contact the central. This turned out to be impossible because of too much noise on his standard communication machinery.

Therefore he called one of his colleagues using his mobile phone (I assume here that it was the central or one of his colleagues. It could however also be anybody with whom he has an agreement outside the control of TAXI 2). This person explained that the price should be 650 NOK and that I would find no cheaper taxi. I managed to get this price down to 600 NOK and took the ride. However, before the driver wanted to start he needed to have the money. As such I paid 600 NOK (please note here that the one who did not live up to their advertisement was TAXI 2, not me, so I wonder why such a distrust was necessary).

During the ride, the taxi driver stopped the counter when it reached a price of 130 NOK. Arrived at the airport I asked for a receipt, which he gave me after some hesitation. On the receipt (which I have included for your records), the driver mentions 650 NOK. I understand that this would allow me to cheat on my employer, however I’m not the kind of person that would do such a thing, neither do I like to be in contact with a driver that clearly has nothing else on his mind than cheating and helping people to cheat other people.

If you agree to pay me back the missing sum (which is 600-395 = 205 NOK) to account number XYZ then I will understand that only the taxi driver was in fault and consider it to be an exception.

With kind regards,

Your beloved and so on and so on…