We live half an hour away from Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson, NJ. Every year, we would buy a family season pass to the place. The economics are pretty straight-forward: A single visit to the park is so expensive that even if you go just twice during the year, you already save[…]
Consumer energy markets have been deregulated for a few years now. A household in New Jersey has a choice of buying their electricity and/or gas from a range of suppliers. In theory, that gives the consumer the opportunity to shop around for the best rates and save a bundle on utility bills. In practice, my[…]
Among the recent junk in our mailbox, Natasha received a cruise offer. Straight to the recycling bin, normally. Except! This one was addressed to her maiden name, correctly spelled in all its 13-character glory. And yet, it had our current address. How would a marketing company be able to tie a long-unused maiden name with[…]
Along with uncounted others, I have been unpleasantly – to use a mild term – surprised by Netflix’s changes in the pricing structure announced a couple of weeks ago. Without offering me any additional services or perks, they decided unilaterally to jack up my monthly subscription 60%. Noting the uncanny parallel with another 60% rise[…]
When I went abroad for the first time while owning an iPad, I decided to try out AT&T international 3G plan. The verdict: Never again, it’s a waste of money. The plan is supposed to be for a full month, but the data allowances are ridiculously un-balanced towards minuscule amounts for a lot of money.[…]
For the third time in about a year, Cablevision is in a dispute with a content provider that prevents us from watching channels that we like. First, it was HGTV and The Food Channel (no big problem for me, much bigger problem for Natasha) – “blackout” lasted for about a month and was eventually lifted.[…]
A little house problem: The dryer suddenly starts leaving clothes damp after a full cycle. What do I know about dryers? Nothing. I’m only aware of the fact that this is a ten year old unit, that we did not want to extend “service plan” for it last year, and that a flat-rate service call[…]
When I first settled in New York City, the single public transportation fare was $1.10. Today, it’s $2.25. More than 100% increase over the course of nearly 20 years. Adjusting for inflation, however, it comes to only about 32% over that time. At the beginning of this month, New Jersey Transit effected a fare hike.[…]
A friend was buying event tickets online. She typed in her credit card number and all of the required information and received the following response on the screen: Your transaction could not be completed because of Reason #2. Who designs these things, anyway?
It turns out that even in this age of DIY web-enabled travel planning, a good old travel agent has its uses. Case in point. Natasha is planning a half-week getaway for the two of us and, as always, she has spent considerable time online figuring out the most enticing place for us to stay at[…]
I know quite a number of technology people with strong opinions about Microsoft and its products. Usually, not too positive ones. That does not prevent most of those people continue to use Microsoft products all the time, especially seeing how PC software have always been easier and cheaper to come by as opposed to, say,[…]
Some two years ago, I wrote a cost comparison entry for basic UK-vs-US costs. It was based on generalizations rather than some hard data, but I hope it was useful for someone.
Having now been back in the States for a few months, I am probably due an updated treatise on the subject. And, predictably, I find it hard to work up any sort of enthusiasm for an exercise of this kind. Fortunately, my lovely wife has come to my rescue, at least partially. She made quite a few references in these past months that she finds some foodstuff costs to be higher in the US compared to what we knew in the UK, and she graciously agreed to perform a sort of analysis, which I now present for my audience.
A few important notes. One, the comparison is between suburban New Jersey (Middlesex/Monmouth counties, to be precise) and outer edges of Greater London (Lewisham/Greenwich boroughs); it is more than likely than the prices will be different the closer you get to Central London or if you put New York City into the equation. Two, the exchange rate has been holding relatively steady between $1.6-1.7 per pound sterling; I am going to use 1.7 for the conversion. Three, as noted in comments to that old post, UK local salaries are generally numerically lower than respective US ones, which means that proportional outlay for any given product may actually be higher even when the absolute cost is lower; for the purposes of this highly scientific study, we will imagine ourselves receiving a US-based salary, as if we were on an expat package.
Natasha was shopping for new beds and mattresses before we could move into the new house. She walked into a local franchise of Sleepy’s. The shop was empty save for a lone salesperson. He eagerly approached his prospective customer and offered his help. What followed was an in-depth investigation of the entire stock. Natasha first[…]
So I had 11 direct inquiries about our timeshare week that we put up for donation a while ago. I turned everybody away and, lately, directed them to contact the sales department of the closing company dealing with my donation. The closing company did not make any contacts with me during roughly six months since[…]
I only once, in passing (look for Florida in that post), mentioned on this blog that we own a timeshare. Without going much into pros and cons of such a possession, we have long concluded that it would be to our benefit to get rid of it. I had our week up for sale for[…]
In the first few months upon our arrival in England, I occasionally ranted about what I perceived as inadequate customer service prevalent in British business. (Various older articles filed under Customerography make mention of our aggravating experiences in that regard; one of the best examples was in this article.)
With time, we sort of gotten used to how Brits approach customer service. Or, maybe, just stopped finding ourselves in circumstances that bothered us. So, when a situation of the kind flares up, it feels all the more exceptional and worthy of an angry – or, rather, amused – rant these days. Except that the latest example involves not a British but an American company, USAirways, and its customer service.
This is a fairly long story with quite a bit of stage-setting, so I’m hiding it below the cut for the sake of those not very much interested in these types of topics. Feel free to skip if you belong to that category.
A few weeks ago, one of our most important appliances – the food processor – started malfunctioning. As soon as it was plugged in, it would start whirring and would not stop unless unplugged. While theoretically still usable, it became a nuisance to operate, scuffling some of Natasha’s most favorite experimentations with patés, salads and[…]
I have not mentioned the concept of the call limit in the past, and yesterday we unwittingly ran afoul of it.
In a nutshell, when a landline phone service is being established in the UK, the phone company determines the monetary limit that the customer should stay under during any given billing cycle. Exceed the limit – and your outgoing calls are summarily blocked unless you pay down the balance with a credit card (if you are so inclined, you can wait to pay your bill in the normal fashion at the end of the cycle, but you will only be able to receive calls during this time).
Say, you browse a store, any store, and come across an attractive item that is on sale. You’d be lukewarm to the idea of obtaining said item at its original listed price, but an ability to buy it at a discount closes the deal for you.
Now, suppose, as you reach the checkout and a clerk scans the barcode in, the original non-discounted price comes up on the register. You point out to the cashier that the advertised price is considerably below what they are attempting to charge you. What do you hear in response?