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I’ve been bamboozled in the past.  Tricked into thinking it is this, when it is that. It happened with a vendor that I was quite impressed with several months back.  They showed me some functionality.  Showed it via a “live customer.” Answered all the right answers.  Then, whammo!  A few weeks afterwards just by accident did I find out that no, it was not live, it was vapor.

I’ve equally been zapped by products outside our space too.  Maybe it was the car salesperson telling you that your car comes with salfjlhb  only to find out that means nothing, but sound cool.   Or maybe it was that super sweet real estate agent explaining that the area was quiet, only for you to find out, after you moved in, that the train which is a 1/4 out can be heard at 12 a.m. and loudly at that. 

Hey how do I get bamboozled?

If you really want to find out if you have been tricked out and not in fun way, question the following (as in did this happen to you?)

  • Everything is turned on in your demo, but the vendor fails to mention during its presentation that some of that functionality is not included in the product you are looking at
  • The courses you viewed from the course development shop you hired, are not the same or similar ones you paid for, i.e. less engagement, more static
  • The authoring tool stated that courses published for mobile would work without issue, only for you to find out, that wasn’t the case
  • Authoring tool salesperson or site makes it look so easy to create this interactive course,  but unless you have an ID skill set and with tech skills, it won’t happen
  • E-Learning vendors offer training or tell you they have robust training, you find out it is PDF guides with an accompanying video
  • LMS vendors say that VR courses are vieweable in their system, fail to mention that you need a smartphone headset with Chrome WebVR to actually see the courses as VR courses (right now, I’d chalk this up as likely unaware – making the onus on you to find out – but still..)
  • Transparency is just a word with lots of letters in it,  just as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a lot of letters meaning nothing but sounds fun

How am I getting bamboozled with an LMS vendor

First off, I want to be clear there are a lot of very honest and forthright people in the LMS/LP and subset industry.   There are of course, vendors who do not play by the honest factor rules, but who have salespeople who do.  Then there are vendors who are very honest, but who may have one or two bad apples.  Then there are just certain marketing pieces that are not true trickery, but I’d place in the questionable arena, and depending on the vendor the trick is on you.

Personal Favs

  • Listing their customers like yourselves (hmm, remember propaganda techniques) but never tells you whether or not they are other vendors with that company; same as showing you the icons/logos of clients, but fail to mention which ones they are the only vendor in.   

It’s a peeve of mine, to be honest.  And if a vendor says we believe in transparency, then back it by saying, of this list of vendors, these vendors we are the only LMS provider.  I’ll be impressed if you follow that mantra.  Rather than be tricked into assuming, that I would know, that you are not with everyone.  What is that saying about assume?  Exactly. I’m assuming you know. (uh, you do know right?)

  • Functionality exists in the system because I mentioned the key items you were seeking and maybe I show it briefly

Example:  I was seeking a system for a consumer client who wanted gamification.  The vendor said they had gamification and it was extensive.   Well, first off it wasn’t, but the vendor made notice of the very impressive badges shown in the demo.  I was impressed.  Then upon asking if these came with the system, the salesperson said no, but you can create your own and upload them.    Now, if I never had inquired on the latter statement it would be easily be perceived that functionality as it relates to the badges is in the product (or comes with it).   That is hoodwink 101 right there.

Another fab fav is the we have it and say it, but it is actually an additional cost for you to get it.   Again, tell me up-front that this costs extra, rather than have me see it on your site without notice that it is an add-on or module,  or spin it as this is what your product is about, but uh, only if you get the add-on module.  Which really means, our system isn’t about that, but it could be if you buy extra. 

If I knew what a turnip truck actually looked like (does quick search on the net),  then I would know if I fell off it.

  • It’s on our roadmap

Potential dupe alert.  When is the target release date?  2018?  2019?  In the future, when martians land?   See how fun and easy that is?  Guess what?  That function – the one you want is on our roadmap.

My brain being selected by the Fortean society of Mantra is on my roadmap.   But, telling you when, would compromise my strategic advantage.   Sorry.


Joy to the world. All the boys and girls.  And that is all I know of that song.  Any who ha, contracts are ripe for trickery.  And the surprise spin is that this is a consumer and vendor alert notice!

Because each party can play the “let’s see if we can dupe the other” game.

Actual Bamboozles I’ve seen in the “deal” and/or contract

  • Best deal – special discount no one else will get this.   Then a reader on a fluke happens to send me their “special discount” deal that no one else gets. And guess what?  They are the same.

Why?  Because there are vendors who work right off their pricing sheet which tells them how low they can go and what discounts they can offer.  So, having the same deal is not that uncommon, but finding out about both deals being the same, super duper special deal is.    A HE vendor loves playing this game.  And no it is not BB.

  • Attach is the agreement, just sign and return

Look some people just want to sign and get going.  No issue there, but take your time and read the agreement, which is the contract.  I’ve seen contracts/agreements that the cost and supposed discount is wrapped in together so there is no way you can tell.   Other ones that charge you extras, that with most other vendors are free.   And the bamboozle of them all, is that someone signs off on this without a question and/or without negotiating.   Everything is negotiable.  Now you may not get what you want, but it doesn’t mean you just say , “ok, and sign”.

On the flip side,

  • Opt-out after 30 days

Frankly, this is picking up steam with consumers.  And it makes as much sense as getting a car and saying “Ok, after spending six months looking for it, I can turn it back in, used with cheerios on the back seat,” and walk away.     In this way, it is the vendor being tricked.   When I hear this opt-out 30 days statement being slide into contracts, it tells me two things

a. You or whomever is sliding this into the contract, is not confident this is the right system.  It is not about protecting oneself, it is about worrying you made a mistake.  And if you just spent months or a year finding this vendor and you are still unsure, then there is something wrong with your process.

b.  Failed to test the functionality and see this as a test drive.  The way to just avoid this garbage is to have the vendor give you a 30-day sandbox to test the functionality of the system with your content/courses.   A vendor with integrity will do this – without any fees to you.    Heck, some may skin it – at n/c  to you.  

3rd party content providers – Bamboozled Ways 4 u

  • Show you the courses (in your bundle) that are have the highest level of interactivity and engagement.  You think all the courses are similar in terms of engagement – ha, you are so wrong.  
  • Require you to buy bundles, even if you only want one course.    The rest could be toss-in trash in my book, stuff they would flush down the drain of content if they could, but why, when you will take it off their hands with that bundle.  Reminds me of wanting that one channel on your cable/sat extra package and to get it, you are stuck with Fooseball Champions channel and how to cook dirt channel.
  • 50/50

There are plenty of course providers out there, whose content/courses have never been vetted or culled (i.e. cleaned up and removed).  Then there are those who cull, but do it so infrequently, it asks what’s the point.     I find that to be a tad of trickery there, because you are being shown the “Good stuff”, and getting all the stuff, only to realize that the good stuff is minimal and the rest, is. uh… my mom told me never to say that word in public or actually on my blog.

In all my years of doing this, I have never seen one 3rd party course provider (with more than 50 courses) in their library, have all their courses be interactive and engaging.  Best hopeful is 50-50.  Best way to figure it out?  Randomly pick various courses and look around.  

Bamboozle and you never knew it – Open Source, other e-learning tools, immersive as well

  • Assuming all open source is free.  It’s not.  And for example, Moodle which is, – the cost to an LMS is not free, the cost to maintain it is not free, the cost to host it is not free, the cost to support it with help is not free and so on and so on.     I state bamboozle here because there are plenty of sources out there who try to dupe you into thinking that the best route to building a system/platform is to go open source versus a commercial system
  • 360 video. Don’t be duped into buying a state of an art 360 camera.  It all comes down to what you plan to do. There are plenty of 360 cams for under $100 with stitching software not only included but automatically does it prior to output.  Stitching takes time, and is a way for folks to mess up, hence built-in and auto is ideal for beginners.  
  • Smartphone VR headsets is the growth of VR in the consumer space, not OR, Vive or Playstation.   Again, so many sources out there, are saying its growth is due to OR and Vive for example, is a joke.  All the data shows otherwise.  As I said once before, 96M VR headsets were sold in 2016.  Of which, 88M were Google cardboard (smartphone VR headset), runs about 10 bucks.    Now though, the growth leaders are Samsung and Google.  Try out Daydream, runs under 85 USD and works well.   
  • Standalone VR headsets such as Vive and OR work fine and are better than tether.  Right now that is not the case.  Optimum fps is between 92-96 fps for viewing really outstanding VR.  You won’t get that today with OR or Vive without it being tethered to your PC.  Maybe in 2018-19 you will, but right now, no.  And on top of that, think graphic cards.  You think a top VR graphic card is going to be in that headset?  Or is it in your PC that can be ooomphed up?    Oh, and if you go standalone headset,  go with Vive, best out there.  

Bottom Line

As an early adopter to anything tech, I have plenty of stories of being bamboozled.  It’s just part of the experience, I suppose.

But in the e-learning world, being bamboozled isn’t a game.

It isn’t fun and it wreaks of lack of transparency

The best way to avoid being bamboozled is being prepared ahead of time.  But even then,

It may not be enough.

Because If I am the one trying to dupe or trick you,  I might be unaware of doing so,

Or I might be completely aware.

Which is too bad for you,

But really good for me (salesperson). 

E-Learning 24/7

Blog next week:  Forecasts for 2018



One comment

  1. Nice one buddy…. I need to commision you to design our how to buy and LMS guide and run some webinars.

    Looking forward to speaking Thursday.

    Cheers M

    On Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 6:20 PM, The Craig Weiss Blog wrote:

    > Craig Weiss posted: “I’ve been bamboozled in the past. Tricked into > thinking it is this, when it is that. It happened with a vendor that I was > quite impressed with several months back. They showed me some > functionality. Showed it via a “live customer.” Answered all the rig” >

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