Off in the Land of Milk and Honey

Avarice Adulterated Altruism

 

My local supermarket chain’s owners, at present, are extending a helping hand to their customers, who are having a tough time making ends meet. At the checkout lanes, their cashiers will be asking people to donate one gallon of milk. Even better, is the owners’ dollar for dollar match… to the tune of $20,000.

While such altruism is always admirable, why is it that this very same store’s prices… nearly item for item… typically range 50 cents to $1 higher when compared to their competition?

Why would anyone… even the wealthy folk…. not be feeling the same as poor little old me? Why would we not all be fleeing out of town, to patronize the more reasonably priced stores? I know I am!

True, such a glaring price disparity might be easier to buy into if… IF… it involved ONLY their gourmet product line… i.e., the type of food / libations that their more affluent customers typically toss into their shopping carts. However… this business’ godforsaken price gouging runs both store wide and yearlong.

The truly altruistic store owner would own up to the fact that poverty is a year round prospect and that fair pricing would go much further towards, ultimately, eliminating this problem.

When any business makes its fortune at the expense of the less fortunate, this is akin to…

Milking the poor people dry.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let A Clogged Drain Drain Your Wallet

 

Seeing how it’s been eight long years since I last hired a plumber to snake my kitchen sink’s drainpipe, it was no surprise that, as of late, it’s been a bit slow in getting the job done. I was just about to place a phone call for help when something totally unexpected went down.

On the night prior to my recycling day, I had prepped an almost empty shampoo bottle by rinsing it out / draining the sudsy contents into that very kitchen sink. By the next morning, I noticed a dramatic drainage improvement.

Hmm… methinks my shampoo brand is fully capable of doing double duty as a pipe cleaner.

Since I do wish to avoid angry blog comments, allow me to downplay my qualifications and qualify my claim. When it comes down to rating other shampoo brands’ pipe cleaning worthiness… I’m no expert… I just play one on the Interwebs. That duly noted, I do suspect that if your shampoo’s formula involves any oil based products you’d be more apt to clog rather than clear a drain. In other words… under those circumstances…

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Anyway… seeing how my merely rinsing out a nearly empty bottle has worked wonders, I now plan to deliberately drizzle a few cents worth of my shampoo down that drain. Comparing that cost to a steep plumber’s bill, I’ll be, at least, $100 ahead.

 

A Tale of Two Economies: Robust vs. Going Bust

 

The Best of Times? Trump oft crows excessively about the American economy… as if he, alone, made it a glowing success.

• To keep it all real, we need to acknowledge that, in the wake of George W. Bush’s Crash of 2008, it had been President Barack Obama’s adept, no nonsense leadership and problem solving skills that’d actually returned America to solvency.

The Worst of Times? Donny also incessantly implies that the economy is so fragile that it cannot even support an influx of asylum seekers ISO employment in the United States.

• To keep it all real, we need to acknowledge that the positions immigrants fill oft involve occupations that many Americans deem unappealing.

Hmm… one would think that were Donny’s glowing scenario true, he’d be able to supply enough jobs for everybody, right? So much so, that… other than to indulge his deplorable bigotry… there’d be no need for him to whine about immigrants.

So which economic picture is it? Robust? Going Bust?

True, in Trump’s past life as a so-called businessman, it’d been his avariciousness and recklessness, which had rendered him oblivious to his own oncoming, business failures / bankruptcies. Even so, in the here and now, even he has got to know that he presides over an unsustainable, smoke and mirrors economy that cannot, indefinitely, withstand this triple whammy…

[1] HIS ill-conceived, ill-timed trade war with China
[2] HIS reckless deregulation of the financial world
[3] HIS massive tax breaks for the wealthy which re-
boot the twice failed, trickle down Reaganomics

Sooner or later… long sigh… Trump will crash the American / global economies… at which time, that snake oil salesman will tuck tail, cut and run, and promptly dump HIS whole mucked up mess onto the Oval Office desk of his successor… probably a Democrat… who will possess genuine, adept, no-nonsense leadership that’ll successfully morph Donny’s Worst of Times into America’s Best of Times… AGAIN!

 

 

The Disagreeable Greeting Card

 

I just received my bank’s annual “Greeting Card”… a.k.a. a multiple paged print-out of their amendments to “my” credit card “agreement”. Oh, btw, I’ve positioned quotation marks around both “my” and “agreement” because… be they original or amended… [1] I’ve had no say in any of these stipulations AND [2] no one has any right to disagree… unless, of course, they don’t want to have a credit card at all.

But this does not mean I cannot recommend a summarizing, cut through all the crapola blurb, which would never need any revisions. How tree / time saving and honest the following abridgement to their terms would be…

We, the undisciplined, unprincipled, unforgiving, usurers of the world reserve the right to… on a whim… bankrupt you into homelessness and hopelessness with our sky high interest rates, penalties and fees. We will always have the final word and last laugh and… Ha! Ha! Ha!… there’s not one damned thing you can do about it… Ha! Ha! Ha!

As for their privacy statement… why do they even bother issuing one. If they truly respected our privacy they would do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING with our personal information without our prior, written and signed consent.

 

 

 

Hoping for a Hoopless Life

 

This past May, it suddenly dawned on me how… with ever increasing frequency and annoyance… I’ve been jumping through too damned many big biz, billing department “hoops”… my “gymnastics routine” starting even prior to sliding the opener under each snail mailed letter’s flap.

It’s the ever-present need to avoid the following problems and issues, which present the hoops.

Hoop #1

May I have the envelope please? Envelopes festooned with advertisements and barcodes can easily be mistaken for junk mail… worthy of tossing… unopened… into the nearest recycling bin. Ironically, even the reminder: “IMPORTANT: Your monthly statement is enclosed!” could get lost amidst such clutter. As for the barcoding, itself, what gives? Might these, essentially, be an open invitation to identity theft? Were a scammer to aim a scanner, might he score some sensitive customer data?

Hoop #2

Addressing more envelope issues: Due to dinky envelopes, scissors and openers can easily damage the enclosed statement… maybe even the return stub and envelope.

Hoop #3

Save it for a sunny day: During cloudbursts, return envelopes get wet and self-seal… rendering them dysfunctional. True, nobody can control the weather, but, considering our plasticized everything existence, why can’t USPS mailbags be designed with protective flaps and made of waterproofed fabrics?

Hoop #4

Two bad timing issues: [1] While Friday and Saturday USPS deliveries can mercifully coincide with a customer’s payday enriched checking account, try discussing… toot sweet… billing issues / errors when nobody will be back in the office until Monday. {2] Once a billing cycle ends, why do computer speed billing departments need 10+ days to get their bills into our hands? Getting our checks in the mail in a timely manner is a challenge when payment due dates only allow about a week… even less during December when the holiday glut of cards and gifts slow deliveries further. At risk, is being wrongfully socked with late payment penalties / interest fees and lowering one’s credit rating.

SIDEBAR #1: What’s a bill payer to do? Camp out at the mailbox, rudely snatch the envelope from the letter carrier’s hand and write out the check on the literal fly to the PO? To even attempt racing the four minute mile?

FYI FUN FACTS: As of 06/08/19, the World Records for the One Mile Race are held by male Hicham El Guerrouj (3:43.13) and female Svetlana Masterkova (4:12.56)
.

Hoop #5

Mad Madison Avenue: When advertising crap gets printed out on billing pages topped off with an account number, this requires wasting time to haul out the ol’ shredder.

Hoop #6

You do the math / phony phone charges: One needs to sift through the accountants’ fuzzy math, levied arcane fees / taxes and fine tooth comb the barristers’ fine print… as well as ensure there are no “accidentally” tacked on, never placed by you long distance phone calls.

SIDEBAR #2: Would it surprise anyone to even be charged for long distance calls to Mars… even though… to the best of our knowledge… it’s “ONLY US” in universe? Or is it?

Hoop #7

The numbers racket / writer’s cramp: Who cooks up those 16-digit customer / account numbers (oft loaded with a slew of place holding zeroes and ones)? Were a billing department to simply start account numbers at “1” and then go 2… 3… 4… etc., to get out to 16 digits, they’d need to have 1 Quadrillion customers… on a planet with “only” 7.7 Billion peeps!

The bill payers’ legitimate gripe: A 16-digit number handwritten on the face of a check requires a font so small, it’s nearly humanly impossible make it legible. Same problem re companies with names almost longer than the average length, pay-to-the-order-of line.

Hoop #8

I don’t do windows: Aligning the return stub so the company address fully appears in the return envelope’s window can be damn near impossible. Possessing Japanese Origami skills would be helpful when a too large pay stub needs a precision bottom fold… one measured in scant millimeters / sixteenths of inches. At the other extreme is the too small stub where the address insists on slipping beneath the window “sill”. Seeing how each billing department admonishes: “Don’t use tape, paper clips, staples, rubber bands” WTF other viable solution is there? Re-hydrated boogers? Uh… so sorry if I grossed anyone out.

Hoop #9

Addressing two return envelope issues: [1] Why should bill payers need to force feed a stub and check into a too dinky envelope? Why is flap glue so cheap it doesn’t assure a reliable seal? One can only hope that “no tape edict” is non-applicable under such circumstances. [2] Thinness of the paper is an identity thief’s dream come true. Not only does it tear open easily but a mere flashlight can render it see-thru.

Hoop #10

Filing cabinet paper glut: Ever notice how pay stubs are uncluttered, compact and thin, while the retained for our records portion of our bills are the exact opposite? To blame is the overabundance of advertisements intermingling with the account data. Such huckstering of exorbitantly priced devices / services is an ill-conceived, ill-timed business stratagem. I mean, psychologically speaking, who the hell is ever in the mood to take on additional debt on bill paying days?

Going Hoopless?

Checking account electronic debits do seem to be an obvious solution… BUT… even that can be fraught with woes. To e.g. that… what about criminal enterprises and clerical errors? In either eventuality, there are the prospects of tanked out bank balances, “rubberized” E-checks… and lest we forget… each bank shoveling on its own odious penalties.

Hoping for a Hoopless Life

Perhaps it’s time to pull up stakes? Head for the nearest wilderness refuge? Make a non utility metered cave this man’s castle? Under those circumstances, successfully placing a call would depend on only two things, [1] the sufficient decibel level of the sender and [2] being within earshot of the intended recipient… as humorously portrayed by the 97-year-young comedic genius / actor, Ms. Betty White, in the vid below…

The appropriate scene is cued to automatically PB at 11:55. Should that fail, merely FF to that point. BTW.. for those ISO plenty of LOL humor, rewind back to 0:00 and view this clip in its entirety… YES… it’s just that good!]

 

 

Cereal / Serial Gouging: This Oatmeal Deal Is NO Steal!

 

As a shrewd consumer, I can smell a raw deal a mile / kilometer away. Case in point… last week, while wheeling my grocery cart down the cereal aisle, for a fleeting moment, I was pleased to see sale signs above the Quaker™ Old Fashioned™ Oatmeal display.

However, upon taking a closer look, my joy waned and my jaw dropped.

You see… Quaker™ offers their fine product in two sizes: 18ozs / 0.51kgs and 42ozs / 1.19kgs.

This particular in-store sale only applied to the smaller containers… to the tune of 2 for $6. Purchasing two of them would’ve netted me 36ozs / 1.02kgs.

However… right below these shelves were the larger containers… at the going REGULAR price of $5.

In other words… by paying the $1.00 LESS REGULAR PRICE, I’d be netting 6 extra ounces / .17 extra kilograms.

Now, I realize that this weight deficit may seem minor… BUT… since running a household is akin to running a small business… since my oatmeal consumption is almost daily… such shortages are fiscally and calorically cumulative. Any bogus sale, if undetected, does negatively impact my own “corporate” bottom line. Even worse, I’ve discovered that this shameless grocery chain store’s management doesn’t limit their ripoffs to just cereal.

Anyhow, my seeing how the larger containers’ shelves had sold down while the smaller containers’ shelves remained full was a bit encouraging. That means most of us were not fooled!

Thinking ahead to my next grocery shopping trip, I cannot help but wonder what management’s next ploy might be. Will these cereal / serial gougers deliberately refrain from restocking the larger containers in an attempt to force shoppers to buy into their oatmeal deal that is NO steal?

Of course… from the management perspective… this is a steal. These thieves are ripping off any of their customers who are not paying enough attention. Considering how so many of us are barely making ends meet, that makes such opportunism all the more amoral and unforgivable.