Discount Tires with a Great PR Move + Fighting WordPress SPAM

A little while back, I mentioned Discount Tires. They had this free 3 minute air check service. It’s a great touch. But here’s my personal story about another good PR move.

A couple of years ago, I helped my mom buy some tires. We opted to buy them from Merlin. Don’t know why they are called Merlin. Could it be related to the King Arthur magician?

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand.

Image via Wikipedia

To make a long story short, Merlin offered a set of tires – lifetime guarantee. Merlin specializing in brakes and tuneups. They fall short of a full service shop.

This would have been a happy story…almost like the magician Merlin from King Arthur…But the magic didn’t work for a certain tire…it kept going flat. It must have been in the shop – perhaps 6 to 12 times?

Merlin doesn’t take appointments. So you need to compete with folks getting tuneups and brake jobs. The customer must spend 1 to 2 hours wait time. The service repair man must spend 1 to 2 hours repair time – at his inflated salary.

Do the math!

Merlin won’t replace a tire, if they can repair it. Let’s do some math, shall we? Suppose each repair took 1.5 hours. Suppose that our total Merlin repair visits – for the same tire – totaled 12. This means a repair man spent 18 hours repairing the same tire. Let’s suppose that his hourly rate is $60. I know that full-time mechanics go for $100 or more labor costs. If we multiply $60 times 18, we get $1080.

Wouldn’t it make more business sense just to replace the tire? I can get tires at Just Tires or Discount Tires at $100 – $125 on average.

Well, I’m as mad as hell, and I just can’t take it any more. This is actually a line from a famous movie…it eludes me.

I call Discount Tires to find out their tire check and repair costs. The answer surprised me – they’re free. I made an appointment and they said appointments are done within an hour or less.

What do other places charge for repairs? A local Just Tires store quoted $25 and Suburban Tires quoted $29.95 (but they are also a full service shop).

To be fair, Discount Tires has a large number of service bays, with an equally large number of high school kids servicing tires. Why not? It doesn’t take much to train a tire expert and pay them.

I was out of there within an hour – as promised. Goodbye Merlin. Hello Discount Tires.  But wait! Just Tires does have 2 things Discount Tires doesn’t offer.

  • Tire alignment – they have a machine that does this. So even if I buy tires from Discount Tires, I’ll return to Just Tires for the alignment work.
  • Oil Changes – they are reasonably priced and I’m not waiting at a full service auto repair place.

So free tire repairs…even when I haven’t bought the tires from them…is a good PR move by Discount tires.

Fighting Spam on self-hosted WordPress sites

If you run Crawl Protect (Crawl Protect) in the .htaccess file, along with WordPress Akismet (WordPress Akismet), Bad Behavior(Bad Behavior), and Google Recaptcha Google Recaptcha via plug-ins, your success in reducing spam on self-hosted WordPress sites is assured.

Think of this as a medieval castle analogy.  Would you attack a castle that had:

  • A wide and deep moat surrounding the castle?
  • Archers on top firing flaming arrows?
  • The moat was full of hungry crocodiles or alligators?
  • Catapults were sending flaming missiles from the castle top?

Most likely, only the most skilled commanders would attempt such an attack.  Similarly, most ordinary hackers would stay away from a combined defense system. You can read more about the plug-ins mentioned at Best WordPress plug-ins to fight spam. I would also suggest finding a web hosting company running Apache with Mod Security

As an alternative to Google Recaptcha, there is Microsoft Asirra (Microsoft Asirra).  Microsoft probably has the better solution.  But the Google solution and corresponding WordPress plug-in is more mature.

Response to a blog post on censorship

I like how you started out covering book censorship. As far as science fiction writers go, Ray Bradbury is in the top spot. I read Fahrenheit 451 and saw the movie. I loved it.

James Joyce is an excellent writer. But when he explored “stream of consciousness” writing with Ulysses – followed by Finnegan’s Wake – he dabbled in the Freudian taboo land of his time-period.

You know what? He could have stopped with Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. He didn’t…he wanted to go beyond his boundaries…like you encouraged us to do. Now we have Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake.

Fahrenheit 451

Image via Wikipedia

Ayn Rand could have been content to study history and philosophy at a Russian college… She could have told the philosophy professor specializing in Plato, that she loved him…

But she preferred Aristotle… She told the professor that her ideas were not yet part of philosophical history – but they will be. Now the world is still reading works like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged – over 30 years later.

We should try to go beyond ourselves, even if for our own benefit. Franz Kafka never published anything. It was a friend who published his works, without his consent.

What could you do? It’s up to your imagination. If we wanted to get inspired, read books like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill or How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

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