The actual content of this post is a ways down. The beginning part is backstory.
I am a twitter user. However, I am not a twitter user in the traditional sense.
Twitter is supposed to be used to provide updates on what you’re doing in your life. I personally feel that it’s kind of pointless to use it that way. No one really cares about when the last time I took a shit was. Really, no one cares about what you do in your real life on a day-to-day basis, and you can only pretend for so long that people do. That’s also why I dislike personal blogs in general, and why I don’t do frequent updates on this site. Unless you’re someone famous, no one gives a shit about what you had for breakfast this morning, how many hours you slaved away at work, or how many lines of cocaine the ugly prostitute you picked up under the bridge on the way home from work did.
What I do use twitter for, however, is a sort of mini-blog. I read a lot of news sites, and many times, I’ll come across a particular piece of news that I want to bring to attention – but I don’t have either the time or the inclination to write an actual post about it. So I’ll post it in twitter with a couple word comment. My username on twitter is xiphux (big surprise). You may have noticed that my twitter feed is actually embedded on the right sidebar on this site. Or you may not have.
I don’t really follow anybody, don’t have anyone I know following me, and don’t talk to anyone on twitter. Mostly because I don’t know anyone else that uses twitter. The occasional @replies I’ll get are junk; they come from ad services that crawl twitter for key words and reply trying to divert your traffic to a certain site.
However, I got a response today that wasn’t complete junk.
My original tweet went as such (links will have their full links instead of the tinyurls):
“fuck overpriced monster cable http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/15/monster-cable-still-evil-will-allow-monster-mini-golf-to-exist/”
Almost a day later, I got a reply from – guess who – Monster Cable.
“@xiphux Chris, would you mind seeing our point of view? There are a lot of false statements out there: http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/”
Now obviously, this is part of the new trend of companies trying to jump in on web 2.0 trends such as twitter and facebook as a way to interact and directly support their customers. Clearly, what Monster was doing was scouring twitter for any mentions of their product in a negative light, and replying, trying to direct people to this “Monster Truth” site they have about their litigation of Monster Mini Golf. (more on this topic further below) It’s pretty obvious from taking a look at the MonsterCable twitter account’s timeline.
In case you were too lazy to look, the Engadget article I linked IS ABOUT THE MONSTER TRUTH SITE. Clearly, I had to have known about the Monster Truth site to have posted the Engadget link in the first place. I know that in reality they probably didn’t even visit the link I posted, but there may have been a slight unintentional implication that I saw an anti-Monster site on the net and just jumped on the bandwagon of hate, without bothering to read any of the content in the article. I have a personal beef with Monster (I’ll discuss further below), so I responded a bit snippily:
“@MonsterCable You are treating me as some sort of idiot that has not done his own research already and cannot form his own opinions. Stop.”
It was kind of a test to see if there was anyone at the other end of the line, or whether they just spammed pro-Monster messages on twitter. I did get a response, actually:
“@xiphux Sorry Chris, we’re not trying to insult you or treat you badly — just hoping your opinions have been formed after seeing both sides”
I ended up firing back one last reply, clarifying my first irritable response:
“@MonsterCable You also linked me to the site that was itself discussed in the link in my tweet; of course I’ve seen it. Hence my response.”
Curiously enough, their attempt at damage control backfired here. I posted a link to the article about monster once, and forgot about it. I would not have posted anything here. But the contact on twitter actually got me to write this post, so in the end, they got the opposite effect.
I kind of hate myself for descending so far into the social networking melting pot of shit that I had, of all things, drama on twitter. Or even a talk with someone on twitter. But Monster Cable is a company whose practices really irritate me.
There are two aspects of Monster Cable’s business strategy that bother me.
The first aspect is their prices. Monster Cables can be hundreds of dollars for a single cable, when other brands will sell the same cables for under ten dollars. And don’t believe any of that shit about the fancy connectors, single pieces vs soldered connections, etc. They’re the same cables. In fact, Monster Cables sound the same as coat hangers. In other words, a cable is a cable – it doesn’t matter what kind of fancy shit you do to it, it still fundamentally works the same way and therefore getting cheap cables will be exactly the same as getting expensive cables, and anyone that tells you otherwise is either:
- experiencing the placebo effect
- an asshole
- all of the above
Monster Cable also has an unholy union with Best Buy which I also dislike. Best Buy almost always exclusively carries three brands of cables:
- Dynex, Best Buy’s in-house shit quality brand
- Rocketfish, Best Buy’s in-house slightly-less-shit-quality-than-Dynex brand
Anytime anyone comes in and asks for a cable, the salespeople will give you the most expensive Monster cable they have.
“You need this cable.”
“Oh yeah? Well, you need to eat a dick.”
It happens all the time with most Best Buy customers, who don’t know anything about Monster’s prices, and assume that 3 feet of HDMI cable always costs $100. You need to (aside from just grabbing it yourself) specifically ask for a non-Monster cable.
The other problem with Monster is that they’re litigious bastards. They sue any company or anyone that uses the word “Monster,” claiming they are protecting their trademark. Some of their targets have been (from Wikipedia):
- Snow Monsters (a kid’s skiing group)
- MonsterVintage, small used clothing store
- Monsters, Inc., an animated feature film
- Monsters of the Midway, a nickname of the Chicago Bears football team
- Fenway Park’s Monster seats
- Monster.com employment website
- Monster Mini Golf
They’ve sued hundreds of companies, solely for having some form of the word “Monster” in their name. They’ll say they haven’t sued many of these companies. They’ve only shaken them down for a settlement out of court by threatening a lawsuit. At that point it’s an issue of semantics.
This is not protecting the trademark. None of these cases would hold up in court. You are just shaking down people using lawsuits in an RIAA-like fashion.
How is it that Delta Airlines, Delta Faucets, and Delta Dental coexist? It’s because claims of trademark dilution only apply when you are in the same industry and there is a risk of confusion between the two companies. No one is going to confuse Delta Airlines with Delta Faucets – one is an airline and one is a faucet company. Just like no one is going to confuse Monster Cable and Monster Mini Golf – one is an audio cable company and one is a mini golf chain. Monster is a dictionary word.
They also tried suing Blue Jeans Cable for producing a cable that infringed on Monster Cable’s patent. It failed miserably. Really, the cables were similar in that they were RCA cables, and that’s it. What they didn’t realize was that the founder of Blue Jeans Cable was a federal litigator for many years, so he essentially gave them the legal equivalent of a “shut the fuck up” and at the same time pointed out that they were using a Bermuda holding company to avoid federal taxes.
Monster’s most recent target has been Monster Mini Golf, and many people on the internet – including myself – have been upset at the way Monster is shaking them down.
There’s no reason for me to reiterate the whole story here. The first Engadget article in my first tweet (the “fuck overpriced Monster Cable” tweet) has links to the backstory. And you’ve seen Monster Cable’s “truth” page in the reply I got. So I’ll leave you with a last link to Monster Mini Golf’s response.