This may sound strange, but quality is a lot like hard core porn. When someone gets screwed, it’s easy to tell.
In 1964, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio. A movie theater had shown a French film about adultery called “The Lovers”, which had graphic sexual material, and the theater owner was convicted and fined for the public depiction of obscene material. The case, which became an important precedent in the question of obscene material as free speech as covered by the First Amendment, was heard by, among others, Justice Potter Stewart. For him, the question was whether or not the film could be considered “hard core pornography”, which he felt wasn’t protected by the First amendment, was key. The task of defining what that was, however, proved to be difficult.
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
- Justice Potter Stewart, 1964
Quality, I feel, is equally hard to define. I mean, what is hard core porn? Naked people getting it on on camera for it’s own sake, without any sort of story or artistic value to back it up? And no, Logjammin’ doesn’t count. Or does it? Who is to say that the grainy, obviosuly ironic tale of love and cable isn’t art or story?
Ask yourself now, what is quality? Is it merely having an experience or getting a product that you can feel good about having spent money on quality? Or is it possible to not be pleased over what is otherwise a quality product? I mean a Ferrari is still a Ferrari, even if you don’t like the color.
So yes, quality, like porn, is something that can only sort of be predefined. For the most part, you only really know it when you see it. Conversely, when it’s truly not there, it’s easy to recognize as well. Today’s subject, the IncenseCafe, is a good example.
So it is fairly obvious at first look that the IncenseCafe is another one of those resale/vendor affiliate sites like we saw with last week’s review. Unlike last week’s review, however, IncenseCafe seems to miss the mark. There is that sort of sense of “not right”-ness pervading the whole thing. Nothing malicious or sinister, just amateur and unpolished. We’ll get to that, however. Let’s focus on the positive and just take a look at what they have to offer.
As I said in the past, one of the upsides to being a reseller is the fact that you aren’t bound to any one type of product or brand of product. You are free to offer whatever the hell you feel like/can get away with. To the credit of IncenseCafe, I will say that they offer a decently diverse selection of products one doesn’t normally see, like White Queen, iAroma and ZeroGravity. They have a large and diverse incense selection and a hand full of more popular salt varieties. You can even buy one or two different herbal extracts. Their Terms and Conditions and Shipping Info is laid out neatly and very plainly stated. A bit harsh (especially that 12pm cutoff time) but in this business, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is worth noting that they do not accept returns on any open product, so if you have quality issues, you’re out of luck. For a reseller to take this stance isn’t surprising. After all, it isn’t as though they are making this product. They get it from someone else. Quality isn’t their concern once the product is on their shelves. Making sure it flies OFF the shelves and recouping their wholesale cost IS of concern. They are a business, they are trying to make money.
It’s a shame they didn’t do a better job of it. While there aren’t any annoying gimmicks or carnival type theatrics, like only marginally attractive women covered in plant material, there are a host of other problems. The general layout of the site is just bad. The sort of menu on the side model of whatever kit website builder was used to create the IncenseCafe can work well enough, but not if you’re trying to compile a list of everything under the sun. Generally speaking, if your menu is longer then the body of your content, you’re doing something wrong.
The site is also peppered with some very strange instances of neglect. For example, there are a couple of the bath powder listings for products that I can only assume are out of stock. I can only assume this because rather then a page listing the product as out of stock, clicking on one of the links in question will instead simply take you to the listing for White Lightning. I find this sort of neglect to be really lazy. I mean, you could change the link to point to a different page, why not just alter the page you HAD there, or remove the link entirely and shorten your otherwise mammoth list of products. While reviews of most of the individual products aren’t too hard to come by, the only thing resembling reviews that I could find about the IncenseCafe itself are the few offhanded comments ON the site itself, bundled in with probably fake reviews of the products themselves. You would think one would just not carry crap product rather then take the time to bullshit reviews, but you would be surprised.
So you’re amateur, so you’re running it as a side job out of your garage and a post office box, so what? What about that is supposed to convince me that you deserve my money? What about half-assing something is supposed to encourage me to be a customer? Why, when it is so obvious that you’re only skating by on the bare minimum on what is supposed to be your face to the world, would I want to have to sign up as a customer to order from you? I understand that you’re not getting any more info then you would if I just ordered, but that level of “we want to know you you are” is just unsettling. And even at that, it isn’t that the IncenseCafe is a bad place to shop. I’m sure that you could order from here and do just fine for yourself. The prices seem reasonable enough. But with so many better options, why settle? It’s like going to an Old Country Buffet when there is a Golden Corral right next door.