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Tag Archives: corporations

Now that I am no longer a Rogers customer, I need a new corporation to hate at. I pick…the 407ETR. Why does it deserve my hate? Because they rip you off! (albeit they provide a valuable service which is difficult to replace if they weren’t there)

My first rip-off hate of the 407ETR started when they started charging trip tolls. Instead of charging per-km that you drive on the 407, they started charging a flat fee every time you used the 407. The trip toll started out at 25¢ and is now 40¢! I thought renting a transponder was to make each trip electronically tagged, and not induce a cost on each trip?

What’s pissed me off today is the whole business of renting a transponder. How much do those little boxes cost? I’m guessing $20. Yet you have to pay $21.50 year upon year that you want to use the 407. If you use it for 100 years, guess what, you’re out $2150 for a $20 box. Between the transponder “lease” and the trip toll charges, we’re being repeatedly charged for the same things. It reminds me of Ticketmaster.


When I get lazy with blogging, I just post links to some neat stuff around the web:


Why is it that it is so much more difficult (time-consuming) to buy mutual funds than to sell? Every time I went in to buy mutual funds, I had to make an appointment, then physically go in, then sit through a assessment to see what portfolio mix should be, and finally make my purchase. It’s a lot of effort just so the bank can make some MER money off me.

In comparison, selling my mutual funds were really easy. I just called the bank up and sold it via telephone banking. I got it all done within a coffee break.

That strikes me as odd, why would they make it so much easier for me to sell than to buy? If I wanted to sell, then it is likely that I might want to move it out of the bank. Then the bank would get no MER and can’t use the capital for other means. I can only presume that the bank doesn’t like offering mutual fund products, but do so because of competition?


When I get lazy with blogging, I just post links to some neat stuff around the web:


From my sites-I-should-make-but-won’t (really this time!) mind, here’s an idea: there should be a site, a wiki really, which lists when things really go bad. For example, I know there is a “best before” date on my milk and my bread, but I *know* I can drink and eat it until the milk curdles or the bread gets moldy.

There’s a “best before” date on almost everything now; but I suspect it very rarely means that you actually HAVE to consume it before that date. Do vitamins really expire? I’d wager the dates are more so the companies can guarantee an acceptable level of quality in their product and so they don’t get complaints and returns.

Instead of listening to corporations, I’d really like to know the truth. Like, can I eat these spongy potatoes? they still look white when you peel them…


Time has an article asking whether we pay too much for SMS. Yeah, we know the answer to this already since Rogers decided to all of a sudden raise the costs of incoming texts ∞% from 0¢ to 15¢. But two things were neat about this article.

The average U.S. mobile teen now sends or receives an average of 2,899 text messages per month, according to Nielsen Mobile.

Holy cow, that’s 100 texts a day on average. I wonder where the 95% percentile people are at?

The other cool thing was that they brought a prof from Waterloo to be an expert witness in front of the US Senate

At those hearings, Srinivasan Keshav, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and an expert on mobile computing, presented a detailed analysis of all the expenses that carriers incur in handling SMS messages. He showed that the wireless channels contribute about a tenth of a cent to a carrier’s cost, that accounting charges might be twice that and that other costs basically round to zero because texting requires so little of a mobile network’s infrastructure. Summing up, Keshav found that a text message doesn’t cost providers more than 0.3 cent.

Hmm, Roger’s $5 messaging bundle provides 250 outgoing messages. That means that make a 600% profit on that plan!


Because I only watch a smidgen of TV, I’m getting confused about the advertisements for Bell and Rogers. I recall seeing this ad for Rogers with the red/blue couch split in the middle:

But then I’ve also seen ads for Bell with another couch, this one was quite a bit longer and more on the blue side. I could swear that that was a Bell ad. So I’m just confused as to which brand these sofas are supposed to evoke, Bell or Rogers?

I tried looking online for a Bell example as comparison, but they don’t have their commercials posted (get with the times Bell). Instead, I found an article in The Star that had the same idea as me.

The battle waged on a common couch started June 1, when Rogers launched an ad campaign with a two-seater, half red, half blue, saying its home phone service was a better buy – $25 less – than Bell’s.

Bell reacted quickly and launched the couch ad by June 16, this time with five blue cushions and one red, its way of expanding the conversation. The ad notes that Bell has more TV channels and is $25 less expensive than Rogers. Bell also went after Rogers’ wireless service, comparing a Rogers cellphone to a Bell cellphone.

I think this is a waste of money. Roger’s is spending money building a mnemonic, but Bell is paying money to associate the same mnemonic with itself. I don’t think they’re doing themselves a favor with their consumers either, since this sounds like two brothers fighting it out in public.


Coldplay is coming to town this summer, and their tickets went on sale a couple weeks ago at noon on Monday. I just happened to have a meeting then, and totally forgot about buying tickets until 1 something. I went on Ticketmaster and all the decent+ lower bowl tickets were gone. So I looked at the upper bowl – those tickets were cheaper anyways, being less than $40. There were actually good seats available and I thought about buying them, but didn’t. Why? Because Ticketmaster wanted to charge a $10 convenience charge PER TICKET. That’s more than 25% the face value. Add on to that the service charge, and taxes = NO THANKS!

If a 25% markup isn’t enough for providing online middle man services, Ticketmaster now wants to make even more money! They already have a monopoly on ticket selling, but they’re going to stretch their arm into concert promotions and venues by merging with Live Nation. This makes me angry and makes me hate the music industry even more. Why should I bother going to concerts if I have to put up with this rip off?

Even if the artists want to evade the system, like Trent Razor of the NIN, they can’t thanks to the monopoly. And now he is especially mad that Ticketmaster is branching into scalping:

Here’s the rub: TicketMaster has essentially been a monopoly for many years – certainly up until Live Nation’s exclusive deal ran out. They could have (and can right now) stop the secondary market dead in its tracks by doing the following: limit the amount of sales per customer, print names on the tickets and require ID / ticket matches at the venue. We know this works because we do it for our pre-sales. Why don’t THEY do it? It’s obvious – they make a lot of money fueling the secondary market. TicketMaster even bought a re-seller site and often bounces you over to that site to buy tickets (TicketsNow.com)!


Dear MBNA,

I haven’t heard any news from you in a long time, although I haven’t written to you myself either. I hope you’re not mad. I’ve actually been avoiding your mail (because it is always useless) by moving to a new address and not letting you know. I hope you take it personally and stop sending me useless cheques. I’d appreciate that!

Happily,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

Again with the two mailings this month? I thought it was just a momentary blunder, but two is a trend! Fortunately for you, I had a balance I wanted to pay off, to the tune of almost $5k, that your cheques would have been perfect for (had I not ripped them up immediatly), but unfortunately I received a “payment holiday” so I won’t need to use your cheques — sorry!

On a holiday,

Kevin

P.S. I noticed your new color scheme for your cheques – red and white is very Canadian, although Canaday Day was earlier this month. By the way, where did you come up with the idea of red and white? I don’t see color in any of our other mailings, or brand?


Although it’s still my site of choice to catch up on NHL news, I’m no longer a big fan of TSN. I might be biased because their brand colours are red and white like another company I don’t enjoy working with, but I think the reason I no longer like TSN is because of their website. They recently redesigned their site to add more live (i.e., video) content (and probably some other mechanisms). I don’t care about the video, but they have a huge drawback in that it makes the page incredibly slow. There is a delay when I click on a link to open it in a new window, and infact I usually end up releasing CTRL before the action has completed, and so it ends up in my curent window.

Speaking of hockey, you know you’re getting old when the players that you grew up watching: Gretzky, Brett Hull, Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, Tony Granato, Rick Tocchet, and now Joe Nieuwendyk are on various coaching staff or GM positions.


Dear MBNA,

I am quizzically looking at your last mailing which states my credit limit of $8800 when I know for a fact that you’ve not-that-recently, and against my wishes, raised it to 5 figures. In fact, I have just about $8k on my bill now and still have room for a tv or two, so I would very much like a clarification of what exactly is the truth. In the meantime, I will promptly rip up your inaccurate marketing mail.

Confusingly,

Kevin


I’ve bottled up my distaste for dealing with Rogers and moved ahead with getting my services setup. It’s not like I had any other choice right? I scoured online for the “best” deal for Rogers High-Speed and there really was no choice. I could do a 1-year contract at $39.95+$3/mth or I could buy a modem for $99.95 and get a $99.95 credit. I chose the latter and attempted to set it up this weekend.

I called them on Sunday after noon, and after 30 minutes and talking to 5 people, got nothing done! Apparently their systems were down so they couldn’t do any sign-ups. Plus, they used some VoIP line (to India?) and between the static and the accent, I couldn’t really hear anything on my cellphone that was getting full reception.

I called back on Monday and finally setup my services. Instead of the $100 back, I got 3 months for free (which is a better deal), but I couldn’t get everything activated because I didn’t have the serial number of the modem on me (my fault I guess). So I still have to wait to call them back and setup my account (let’s hope they honor my 3-months-free deal). Plus, then I have to wait for someone to come to the building and “wire” my cable. I thought that’s what got me into this problem in the first place…


I have a money-hole called my cellphone. Being a life necessity, I need to have a cellphone but I don’t use it enough to warrant its cost – and I’m not even talking about a lot of money here, I pay $22.60 inclusive a month for my cellphone service.

I’ve written about the benefits of the prepaid plan but the problem I’m facing now is that I can’t use up $20 worth of airtime in a month. It’s a constant problem, and although I’ve been better at using up my monthly allotment, I’m still consistently over $100 worth of credit. This is getting to be a problem because the iPhone is coming out. If I were to switch to a contract then I have to find someone way to use up this $100, which isn’t an easy task.

But in the end, I think it’s just a thought exercise. Would I want to spend $70+ a month (or $50 more than I do now) over 3 years AND pay $200 upfront for GPS location and the ability to access the internet the web anywhere? Not really.


Dear MBNA,

It’s that time of the month again where I unhappily receive your letter in the mail. It’s always the same and rather tiresome now don’t you think? My credit limit is the same (well to your credit the word NEW got dropped off), the cheques are the same, the utility I receive (read: none) is the same. I think it is about time that we stopped writing each other don’t you think?

Irritably,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

I was really confused this month because I received two mails from you on the same day this month. One was your regularly schedule penpal mail, and the other was your regular scheduled collection mail. I opened your penpal mail first of course, and promptly ripped up your cheques. But when I went to deal with your collection mail, I noticed that I had received another four cheques. Did I miss that sheet when I ripped up your previous mail? No I didn’t think so, I couldn’t be so untidy. I reached the conclusion that it was you, yes you, who had repeatedly mailed me on the same day with multiple cheques! Gosh that’s so confusing, which set am I supposed to rip up first then?

Single-mindedly,

Kevin

P.S. I took notice that my “new” credit limit is the same as my previously lucky credit limit.


Boo

Dear MBNA,

Only a $500 increase in credit and three cheques? Cry!

Crying,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

When I read about plans to purchase Bear Sterns for $2/share, losing 95+% of the worth, I immediately thought of you. No, I’m not aware of any extra-curricular activities of yours in the mortgage-backing business, but I suspect that you may have been suckered into the same black hole of greed that has siphoned away many financial companies’ cash. Of course, it would be to a lesser extent because I can only sign my name so many times before the remainder on the big credit limit number becomes a doughnut.

I don’t live in fear though, because I live for tomorrow! I know you, my big greedy friend, will decide to make that number even bigger. It’s people with friends like you that can buy a fifth plasma TV for the upstairs bathroom, and a second snowblower to clear the lawn for an ice rink. But I feel bad for you my friend, it’s easy to be blinded by greed and oblivious to the unstable footing beneath you. Because of that, I solemnly pledge to rip each and ever check you send me (including the three I just received in the mail — thanks!) and not use your money for gratuitous means.

Capping my pens,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

It has been a month since our last communique, and I was wondering where your predictive mailings were this month. Perhaps, the shortened month caused your delivery to be delayed until the start of March.

But then I reviewed my mail, and realized that it was I who had missed your correspondence. I did not notice that you had enlarged your usual business sized envelopes to a more square-ular, larger footprint one. I applaud your move for your dismissive attitude to environmental preservation and allusion to bigger-is-better spam mailings. However I question whether this close link to irresponsible online advertisements would lead me to consider your monthly cheques as being spam?

Ignoringly,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

Your shotgun approach to palm reading is certainly paying you interest! How did you know that the winter monster known as Winterlicious has been gobbling up portions of my income? While I believe it enjoys the slightly bitter aftertaste of the Canadian greens, I’m afraid the Winterlicious’ stomach is not used to digesting on credit. Presumably it has a death wish as it certainly takes a long time before AMEX credit is finally absorbed into the blood stream. Perhaps you are also friends with Winterlicious and wish for me to feed it with my newly increased credit line?

Hungrily,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

How thoughtful of you to deliver some cheques to my door just as the holiday season is ending and my holiday bills are arriving. I must say, of all our recent correspondences, this is perhaps the most timely one of all. Bravo. I am expecting a rather fat bill to arrive shortly, and would love to apply your convenience cheques to pay it off; although quizically I wonder whether paying my MBNA bill with my MBNA cheques will put off my lump sum interest payments indefinitely?

Budgeting,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

After I switched from a “preferred” penpal to a “platinum” penpal, I was afraid that I would lose the mails that you send me every now and then. So it was with glee that I received not one, but two mailings from you within a week. The pack of 4 cheques you provided me with along with my cash advance PIN would not have lasted a long time, so I am glad I got another full envelope of cheques from you! Oh what would I (or my shredder) ever do without you??

From,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

MBNA why are you holding out on me? Your most recent letter said my credit limit was $900 less than what I saw on my online account! How can I keep signing away these cheques that you send me if you won’t let me use my full limit? Please have your story straight before you go and milk my cash.

Disappointingly,

Kevin


Dear MBNA,

Hey we’re pretty good pen pals. Over the summer we’ve sent four letters back and forth but even though it’s fall now, it looks like you’re still dedicated to sending me mail. It’s a good thing you sent me another batch of cheques, seeing as how the credit on my MBNA card is almost used up from holds by 2 different car dealerships and a year’s payment for car insurance. Doesn’t that mean that my cash advance limit is not as much as it was before? I don’t think I can use up all the cheques you sent me then. I better rip them up.

Toodaloo,

Kevin


Hello MBNA,

I hope that there isn’t a pile of these letters sitting on your desk, and if there are, hopefully you will reply to them on a rainy day when you’re not at the post office. I was busy last week, and wasn’t able to reply promptly to your last letter (which I now religiously rip up). But let’s talk about more serious things. I heard from a friend on the Internet that the incredibly low interest rate you offer me on your convenience cheques are in fact a lie! I, of course, being your loyal friend did not believe their stories. They said that the sub-3% interest rate is in fact used in lieu of the normal cash advance interest rate (which is admittedly a discount), but I would have to pay the usual, almost-20% interest rate on the owed amount starting as soon as I cashed the cheque. That does not seem like quite a deal to me, and I know I should make better friends than my pals on the Internet, but say it ain’t so MBNA!!

Distressingly,

Kevin