29 Jan

Coke -- An inventory nightmare


So I'm crawling through the local Coborns store yesterday and guess what caught my eye? Of course you guessed it, after all, it's the title of this particular blog entry. Yes indeed, making Coke's (and grocery store managers) inventory lives a living hell -- we introduce, the Coke 20-pack!!!

 

Because the 24-pack was just too big to fit into your fridge, we had to come out with something that... well, still doesn't fit in your fridge. But it has a better chance now!

Marketing to the consumer: "We've made your favorite Coke container easier to carry and charged you for it." No, that's not it. Hey, since we're in a world of crappy politically-correct speak, how about "Ergonomically-correct packaging"? Nope, it's still the same look and wrist-straining feel of the 24-pack.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that it's all about sticker shock when one shops for food. Since everything costs more today (value of the dollar keeps decreasing, and corn prices keep rising), companies would rather leave prices the same and slightly shrink the package. For example (and these are only a few):

  1. Peanut Butter (check the "bubble" at the bottom of the container)
  2. Chips (slightly smaller bag)
  3. Milk (Kemps introduced the 3/4 gallon, because the gallon must have been bad for those with arthritis)
  4. Ice cream

Consumers have memorized prices of their favorite products by each package size, that companies are now forced to change the size of the packages.

Now, let's see... you're a Coke fan. Let's see how many different ways you can buy your addiction. There's the 12-pack, 20-pack, and 24-pack of 12oz cans. You can get a 20oz bottle, 6-pack of bottles, 6-pack of mini (8oz, I believe) cans, a 6-pack of cans with the irritating plastic ring holding the cans together, a 1-liter, 2-liter, and because choice just wasn't apparent at your local grocer... a 1.5 liter bottle. I'm sure there's more too, but that's beside the point. Also, it appears as though Coke has now introduced the 30-liter bottle.  

Anyway, the part that really bothers me is that grocery stores (and I'm not singling out Coborns... Cub, you're just as guilty) are charging the same price as a 24-pack used to be. Again, I understand inflation and all that, but I have a hard time justifying this kind of maneuver on something that provides nearly zero nutritional value.

So what do I do? I follow the Schoms pop-purchasing rule: If I can buy a 24-pack of cans for roughly 20 cents/can (another way of saying it... $5.00), I buy it. If not, I do without it. Sure I enjoy drinking it just like the rest of avid drinkers, but that doesn't mean I'm not price-conscious. I mean, just that you put that stupid yellow SALE sticker in front of the product doesn't mean that it's a good price. Hell, I thought those tactics were saved for places like:

  1. Kohl's (home of the "Every-Weekend-Is-A-Different-Sale" sale)
  2. Wally McCarthy's Auto Mart (where the SALE signs were up LITERALLY 100% of the time)
  3. Becker Furniture World (where normal prices are jacked up 100% and then they advertise a 40% off sale)

(mathematicians will have a good laugh at that last one)

So here are some tips I go by:

  1. Buy only with a coupon. While I don't exactly spend my time with a pair of scissors and a Sunday paper, when I do spot a decent pop coupon, I'll clip it out and purchase then, taking full-advantage of buying as much as I can. After all, pop has a shelf-life that rivals Twinkies (5,000 years).
  2. If you must pay full-price, do NOT buy a 12-pack. 12-packs ADVERTISED have been averaging nearly $4.00. You can get twice as much for roughly $2 more (regular price) by buying a 24-pack. It's like getting 6 cans free.
  3. Pop companies, for a long time, have had one of their best deals around late May/early June. Why? Easy. Graduation parties. This is nearly equivalent to "Black Friday" for them.
  4. Combine coupons. Occasionally, Coke gives coupons for "Save $1.00 on a 24-pack." Combine this with the store coupon (e.g. $4.99 for a 24-pack) to reduce the cost further.

Oh, and don't get me started with 20oz bottle pricing. The other day at the store, I heard someone mention "Cool, $1.39!" :::grinding teeth::: Keep in MIND, he was STANDING two steps from the 2-liter BOTTLES. The 2-liter bottles................... were only $1.29. :::/grinding teeth:::

I'll likely have a Gripe entry dealing with pop prices at your favorite restaurant in the very near future. In the meantime, I'll sit back and wait for the next pop sale while drinking my large cup of fair-trade Ethiopian Dark Roast coffee with a little soy milk and two natural-cane sugar packets, making sure the lid is tight.

Categories: Gripe Read More

23 Jan

"I Want My MTV..."


We've all been there, I'm sure. You're at a gathering among friends when suddenly you realize someone just changed the radio station. You had been enjoying what was on, but now you hear the awful sound of:

  1. Fiddles and honkeytonk
  2. "A little ditty, about Jack and Diane..."
  3. "Never let me slip, cause if I slip, then I'm slippin." (your boy, Dr. Dre)

Inspiring lyrics in that last one for sure. Plus, with sentences like "Compton and Long Beach together, now you know you in trouble," I learned not all sentences need a verb. It's no wonder we're getting dumber by the minute. I feel for the teachers who are already behind the 8-ball, but I digress...

So yes, you can probably see where this gripe entry is going -- it's about music. When MTV first came out in 1981, they played videos. Then, they started playing non-music-related shows, so they stopped playing videos. There was some negative feedback on that, so they introduced MTV2 -- a station dedicated to videos (both rock and alternative). Then, because the more recent generations of Americans are losing their grip on what it means to appreciate musicians that actually play their own instruments, they quit playing videos on MTV2 as well! (in favor of more of the same crappy programming that has nothing to do with music)

"Oh Schoms, you're being hypocritical You liked Beavis and Butthead!" Uh, yeah, but B&B actually played song videos within each episode, unlike "Road Rules" or that stupid Flava Flav show (or anything else on that channel for that matter), so it was at least relevant. But of course you wouldn't know that, since your only exposure to B&B was streaming them over the internet where they edited the videos out of the episodes.

We've all had our squabbles about which music is better and all, but recently, a group of friends and I have chosen to put together a top 100 songs from the 80's -- not the best-selling, not the most popular, not "encompassing all the emotions of that time" no no no.

There's thousands of "top 80's songs of all time" lists out there from expert wannabees. And of course, there's endless complaining from readers behind their computer screen stating "How could you not have ______ in there? This list sucks!" or "How could you have _____ in front of ______? You're clueless!"

Ugh

No, we've each put together a top 100 "Songs you personally loved listening to from the 80's." Hard to argue this approach... unless your friends come up to you and remind you of a song that you truly did like, but forgot about it when you were putting your list together. I personally like to view these lists instead, because it's fun to get to know people's tastes without radio dictating which songs are represented (for example, simply tuning into KQ92 tells you they like classic rock, but KQ may not necessarily play the artists the person truly enjoys). The songs have to be released in the 1980's, which makes a few songs that were on the border ineligible.

So anyway, I have put a video version of my top 100 together. It's a fairly-short 30 minute video of all 100 songs. Think of it as my way of bringing MTV back! Fun to watch/listen to at work for the following reasons:

  1. Unlike MTV, you can actually see videos (yes, I know MTV owns VH1 which does play videos, I get it, I get it)
  2. 30 minutes of commercial-free music (except for the visual at the end)
  3. Better variety than 101.3's 10-song mix list

But despite the fact that this is my personal list, there will nonetheless be some complaining. That's ok, I'm willing to take it. So enjoy, and let the griping begin!

Be patient with the links below. I'm trying to figure out why they don't work for some people. If you can't view Flash content, try the video link which uses Windows Media Player.

Video: Schoms Personal Top 100 80's (requires Windows Media Player, I believe)
Excel List: Schoms Personal Top 100 80's
Categories: Amusement , Gripe Read More

15 Jan

Seriously, DirecTV... shut the f.....ront door!


I'm not saying Comcast is immune to rate hikes either, but ever since we've been getting DirecTV service (since the beginning of 2002), we've seen seemingly endless commercials from DirecTV stating something to the effect of:

"Are you tired of Cable raising your rates over and over again. Switch to DirecTV."

Uh... *knock knock*... DirecTV... uh, you're being HYPOCRITICAL! Here's our rates since 2002. The amounts start off with the teaser rate of $29.99, so I'm fine with the first increase, but watch what happens AFTER the first increase:

  • 2/2002: $29.99 (regular rate at the time: $37.99)
  • 3/2003: $38.99
  • 3/2004: $39.99
  • 3/2005: $41.99
  • 3/2006: $44.99
  • 3/2007: $47.99
  • 2/2008: $50.99
  • 2/2009: $53.99
  • 1/2010: $57.49
  • 2/2011: $60.49 (PLUS, an extra $1 for each receiver PLUS $1 extra for local channels)

* prices above are for the legacy Total Choice package with one receiver and no local channels.

A spokesperson for DirecTV (talking about the latest increase) stated "...unfortunately, the increasing costs we pay to carry the channels you see sometimes force us to adjust our prices." 

Are you kidding me?!?! Sometimes? It's a regular occurrence! EVERY YEAR! Sick of cable hiking your rate? What a bunch of crap. You do worse than cable.

Or, to twist words, perhaps when the spokesperson said "... the channels you see sometimes," he was really talking about the fact that DirecTV occasionally loses its picture (because of rain, snow, etc). People might have been calling in and complaining because of the lost service, and to keep the customer happy, they gave a partial refund.

But this blog entry isn't about completely badmouthing DirecTV. Obviously we've had them since 2002, so they couldn't have been THAT bad. But I'm sick of the increases. Plus, we really didn't watch that much TV, so it wasn't worth throwing $70/month away.

Upon calling DirecTV to cancel our service, the Customer Account Retention Specialist wondered why we were pulling the plug after so long. I said "We don't want the service anymore... we barely watch cable TV channels" (I wasn't giving the reasons). He offered to give me a $10 credit to which I said "Hmmm.. so you think I'm cancelling because I felt we only got $60 out of our monthly $70 service?! Please cancel"

As of this last Tuesday, we terminated DirecTV. I doubt we will ever go back. We're going to enjoy the airwaves for a while. I'm sick of them getting rid of channels I watched and replacing them with more Home Shopping channels. Again, it's not that DirecTV is bad... their service was good when it wasn't raining/snowing, but I just thought I'd alert you to their pricing history and a couple other items they don't tell you about on the commercials/website.

Categories: Gripe Read More

11 Jan

This coming from a college?!?!


On a piece of mail I received from Liberty Insurance, sponsored by the University of Minnesota, it said:

"... save up to $256.78 a year, OR MORE! [switching to our insurance]"

Really? REALLY?!? Um, if you can save UP TO $256.78, how could you possibly save more? Isn't "up to" an upper-bound? Can you imagine if parents took this approach?

Mother: "Billy, I'm going to count up to 10, and if you don't come down, you're going to be on a timeout... I'm serious! 10, 9, 8, 7...2, 1... ok, I'm giving you another 10 seconds!" (ugh)

Sad and pitiful piece of mail, especially with the U of M's sponsorship on it. It's no wonder we're getting dumber by the minute!

Categories: Amusement , Gripe Read More

08 Jan

I've warned you Big 10...


Well, it was a good run. Yes, yours truly is a Golden Gopher, but that doesn't stop me from griping about what the Big 10 has done with the conference.... again!

Most know that the Big 10 is anything but -- having 11 teams in it. Because of that, the logo was modified in 1990 to reflect the addition of Penn State, adding the 11th team. The current logo contains a somewhat-hidden "11" in the middle of the logo. (see below)

The current Big 10 logo with the

Starting next year, they are adding Nebraska. Yup, now the Big 10 has 12 teams in it. 12. Yes, 12. Every conference in the NCAA seems screwed up now, because most of the big-name teams from the legacy Big 12 are now moving to other conferences. Here's the new Big 10 logo. Who the hell came up with this?!?! What's the point with having a 1 as an "I" if you're not going to follow it with a 2 somewhere?

New Big 10 logo, whose design was pulled out of the trashcan.

I warned the Big 10 back in 1990 that if they screwed around with the Big 10 again, I'm not going to take it anymore. Hey, it's the traditionalist in me! I don't like most forms of change. I still call Dayton's, Dayton's. I will always call the MSP Airport, the Lindbergh terminal (Don't get me started with Terminals A & B). Century Courts will always be called Century Courts, even though they changed to Huntington Place/Point to try and clean up the image (and now, they took a bulldozer to the entire complex!). Somehow, Wells Fargo got me to stop referring to them as Norwest Bank!

Of course I know the Big 10 isn't going to listen to me, and I know they don't really care either. So, soon, I'll take the passive-aggressive approach and cancel DirecTV so that I'm not paying for the Big 10 Network.

Hey, I've got a great idea... let's start our own network so that cable/satellite channels will be forced to pay for our games, 'cause revolt will happen if they don't!

What a concept. See what's happening? With all these specialized networks, customers now have to pay for Big 10 (Gophers), NFL Network (select football games), Versus (select NHL games)... I could go on and on. The games which are now carried on these specialized networks have been on Fox Sports Net/ESPN for years! You think cable/satellite companies are going to absorb the costs these networks are charging? D'ok...

So that's it... I'm not watching any Big 10 anything anymore. Will I go to a Gopher event again? Yeah, if it's either a Gopher hockey game OR I somehow get a free ticket to a Big 10 event. See ya Big 10! No stupid network for me!

Categories: Gripe Read More

 
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