22 Aug 2014, 11:49am
rant savvy shopping:
by

10 comments

  • August 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Archives

  • Self-seeking vacuum cleaner manufacturers lambast energy efficiency moves

    Consumerism, don’tcha love it. Take the humble vacuum cleaner – invented around the turn of the last century. They served previous generations well, given our Northern European habit of carpeting homes. In much of the rest of the world people use hard surfaces for floors like wood or tiles, but that’s a bit chilly in winter. Hence the need to clean carpets using technology more advanced than a broom or a mop.

    In a curious marketing arms race started by that James Dyson fellow, what was once a pedestrian and functional piece of kit throughout the 1970s and 1980s after being perfected over the previous 50 years became an aspirational product with innovation for the sake of it – one obvious problem was solved and a few more subtle ones introduced. Consumerism loves that sort of thing – make big positive changes and introduce faults that take time to develop – you only find out about the irritations as you own the product. It also became a damn sight more noisy that it used to be, with a particularly horrible high-frequency whine, in the case of the Dyson DC03 I used to have. Yeah, I was that middle class consumer suckered by the hype. The Dyson was a lot harder to troubleshoot. There were only four things that could go wrong with a bag-ful vacuum cleaner. The bag filled up, something got stuck in the intake hose or something jammed the brush roller, and all of these were something that were easily visible to the untrained householder. The fourth thing was the motor burning out, and you could smell that 🙂

    Compared with that the airflow of my old DC03 had loads of rubber seals, plastic channels that would crack under use and the whole thing gradually degraded so it was replaced after changing lots of expensive parts because it lacked suction compared to the basic Henry vac in a church hall we hired. I pulled it apart to see if there was anything worth salvaging, expecting to see all sorts of high-tech wondrousness. And was greeted with a bog-standard universal motor – so much for all the high-tech wizardry, eh, James? I don’t doubt the cleverness of the cyclone engineering, but it was the marketing of a new, and ultimately not very useful, technology that enabled you to jack up prices in the 1990s. Yes, bags make the suction fade, but the consumer can fix that. Whereas whatever made the DC03 fade over a few years wasn’t replaceable by a reasonably technical consumer – for all I know the usual little lumps that get sucked into the airways and trashed the plastic channels I replaced may have knackered the cyclone bit. I always hated that DC03 for the earache, anyway, glad to see the back of it 🙂

    Vacuum cleaners are now marketed by the power of the motor, which seems to be pure specmanship and lazy engineering. Previous generations worked in dirty manual industries, their kids played out in the street and garden rather than sitting in front of the computer. These generations were served by vacuum cleaners that were specified in hundreds of watts – I recall being surprised in the late 1980s to see a Miele vacuum cleaner that was rated at 1100W on the high range. So the question has to be asked, if one and a bit horsepower 1was enough to clean the homes of our grandparents with their grubby street urchins, why do we now all of a sudden need the power of three horses running flat-out to clean a carpet?

    Apparently, according to Which,and Dyson  an affront is being perpetrated on the human rights of European consumers by those pesky bureaucrats in Brussels limiting vacuum cleaner motor powers to 1600W, one and a half times the power of the machine that surprised me 20 years ago. It’s still more than two horsepower – people used to deliver coal and collect scrap metal with less power than that.

    Right. So you're telling me that after 100 years of impovement, you need more power to clean your carpet than this guy needed to haul tons of coal? Ain't progress marvellous, and don't spare the horses...

    Right. So you’re telling me that after 100 years of vacuum cleaner refinement, you need more power to clean your carpet than was needed to haul tons of coal? Ain’t progress marvellous, and don’t spare the horses…

    Now some pieces of technology have been reasonably perfected for the requirements most consumers have of them. The bicycle, screwdriver, the pen and paper, the digital SLR and many others. It’s not that innovation isn’t possible in any of these, but 90% of users’ needs are met adequately. The vacuum cleaner reached this stage by the beginning of the 1980s – my experience of Mr Dyson’s much vaunted advances were mixed – great at the start but hellaciously noisy, and, to be honest, overpriced to boot as well as fading over the years and being fiddly to maintain.

    I’m with the Eurocrats here – you don’t need three horsepower to clean a domestic carpet, and motor power doesn’t seem to be turned that well into sucking power. This is specmanship and marketing spin, and more power means more weight and more noise. It’s easy to sell something on a number, but after more than a century of making vacuum cleaners this isn’t a high-tech market in its infancy.

    Also if you have to make more vacuum cleaning stuff to sell to people to make them buy things they don’t need ,why not go the Roomba route – at least it’s genuine innovation in one aspect, rather than just making the motor bigger, noisier and heavier so the marketing droids can push the bigger number? Then at least you can use the time you save to go to work to pay for it. The very fact that people will put up with a Roomba, which clearly doesn’t have a three-horsepower motor 2 shows you don’t need stupendous amounts of power. One horse power, maybe. Knock yourself out with the power of two horses – the eurocrats are easy with that too.

    1408_Mailcoach

    It’s when you running the same sort of power  that used to pull a coach and horses up the Great North Road that you have to ask yourself whether you aren’t just being suckered by specmanship.

    More power, more noise and more weight  is not the answer. Let’s hear it from Mrs Kingsland – whose machine failed in service after 70 years of cleaning her B&Bs. Apparently the new one is quieter – but too big and heavy 😉 They don’t make ’em like they used to, eh?

    Notes:

    1. one horse is good for about 750Watts – your can call on the rippling muscles of nearly three from one UK socket – ain’t modern technology marvellous
    2. very few things powered by batteries have a 3hp motor. And yes, total energy consumed is a function of power and time – even there it seems the Roomba scores relative to one of those eighties-powered units of 2/3 the new EU limit, never mind a 2010 behemoth, and there are many extra inefficiencies to a Roomba)
    10 Nov 2013, 6:08pm
    frugality savvy shopping:
    by

    28 comments

  • August 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Archives

  • Poundland are cynical con-artists

    We make so many consumer purchases now, that we don’t think about them or educate ourselves about what we are buying. We often go for the easy metric, which for most of us is price. The modern consumer is thus often price-conscious and value blind, and places like Poundland play to this. They simplify the price bit, so as a result value is simple never mind the quality, count the quantity. After all, Martin Lewis shops at Poundland, so it’s gotta be good, right?

    everything's 93p this week. suspicious minds might think it's due to the <99p shop that's opened opposit to replace QD

    everything’s 93p this week. suspicious minds might think it’s due to the 99p store opened across the way 🙂

    Poundland had a discount offer when I was in town, so I thought I’d take advantage of it to uncover some subtle price-gouging

    Batteries. So many. Such good value. So cheap. So, er - crap? Zinc Chloride? Why'd they bother importing this shite from China, FFS?

    Batteries. So many. Such good value. So cheap. So, er – crap? Zinc Chloride? Why’d they bother importing this shite from China, FFS?

    Such good value. 10 batteries for less than £1. Bargain! Pile ’em high and flog ’em cheap. An ermine’s inquisitive snout was piqued, and I encountered battery technology that was already identified as seriously second-rate in the 1970s of my schooldays.

    1311_zncl_P1060127

    Yup. Before Sex And the City polluted our minds with a different sort of pink battery powered rabbit, there was the Duracell Bunny, that tireless campaigner for the alkaline battery made by the Mallory Corporation.

    In the 1960s and 1970s all common batteries were of the zinc-carbon or zinc chloride type. They were crap – they had sod all capacity, and started to fade as soon as you started using them. Mallory batteries were the non plus ultra of the battery world then – longer lasting and only fading in terminal voltage towards the end of their useful life.

    promoted heavily, these took ever so slightly longer to leak and wreck your battery compartment than the SP2 variant. Poundland's bringing back 40-year old technology because people are price sensitive and quality-blind

    Promoted heavily in the 1970s, but still crap, these zinc chloride batteries took ever so slightly longer to leak and wreck your battery compartment than the SP2 zinc carbon variant.

    However, service life wasn’t really the main problem – after all in those distant days the only battery powered devices in common use were torches and transistor radios, none of the widespread motorised and heavy loads of today. The reason we moved on from zinc chloride battery technology was this

    zinc chloride battery failure mode

    zinc chloride battery failure mode

    The suckers eat the zinc metal casing in the process of generating power, or even sitting on the shelf due to self-discharge. Eventually the gunk inside gets to break out and ruin your device. Charming, eh?

    In theory these are ideal for low power devices that are used rarely, such as clocks and remote controls. However, unless you religiously change all the batteries every year, the blighters will leak and gunk up your devices, and corrode the contacts. You need to wash out all the gunk 1, then dry the battery compartment out. Then remove the corrosion from the battery terminals because it is insulating and gives you ratty intermittent behaviour. A Dremel with the brass, not steel brush on slow works well, as does wet and dry used dry. Steel wool can work, but you easily get strands of steel left behind which is all very exciting when introduced to a battery.

    Let’s get some science into the subject. One of the great things that has happened in electronics over the last 10 years while I was sitting behind screens coding after The Firm got out of hardware has been the introduction of the microcontroller, a simple single-chip microprocessor and associated bits. In Europe we tend to favor the Atmel range with Arduino, but because of my interest in low-power sensor design I use the US-favoured PIC series, and constructed this panjandrum to measure the service life of these batteries.

    Poundland battery tester

    Poundland battery tester

    Every minute it reports the voltage and current from the batteries running through a 2.5V torch bulb, the third bulb is maintained at 2.5V to provide a reference. It transmits the signal using radio to a datalogger. I got a camera to take a picture every 15 minutes, as a video the results are reasonably clear.

    The left-hand bulb is powered by the ‘cheap’ battery that Poundland sell for 9p, the middle is powered by the ‘dearer’ alkalines they sell at about 17p.

    Alkalines - only six, not 10. I will sprt the £2 one day to test how much more capacity these have than the cheap ones

    Alkalines – only six, not 11. Obviously dearer then.

    It all happens a bit quickly in the video, but the results from the datalogger clearly show that you get more than twice as much power from the alkalines, and they have a much more stable terminal voltage too.

    Battery life of alkaline and zinc chloride batteries in Poundland

    Battery life of alkaline and zinc chloride batteries in Poundland

    If we take the service life as the time for the battery voltage to drop by a third to 2V (for two 1.5V batteries in series, which is the most common torch configuration) then you get 1.7 hours from the cheap ones and 5.8 hours from the alkalines. Therefore the twice as dear batteries last three-and-a-half times as long. You get 1690mAh from the alkalines and a lousy 481 mAh from the zinc chloride batteries if you run them to the 1V/cell point.

    special offer at Poundland - woohoo

    special offer at Poundland – woohoo

    Nowhere does Poundland or the original manufacturer  provide you with the information you need to make an informed choice here. It’s particularly crap that Kodak/Strand don’t provide this info on their website – WTF is the point of the website if they don’t give you details of the battery capacity? It’s full of waffle and garbage about Kodak’s trade dress. George Eastman must be turning uncomfortably in his grave at what the stupid tossers have done in turning a  pinnacle of research and innovation into a purveyor of ‘trade dress’ to tart up cheap Chinese batteries so that Western consumers can be fooled into paying more for less by pound/dollar stores. Instead of useful capacity info, there’s some meaningless waffle

    Is this suitable for a torch? Buggered if I know, what does low powered equipment mean?

    Are these ZnCl batteries suitable for a torch? Buggered if I know, what exactly does low powered equipment mean, Kodak?

    What does it all mean? Damned if I know, and I’m a chartered engineer and worked in the electronics industry for many years. What does low power mean? Is the 300mA of my torch bulb low power or high power, Kodak?  How do I check my device for suitability? Where do the words ‘Heavy Duty’ fit in with ‘low power’ you oxymoronic gits? Let’s take a hint from the old geezer Lord Kelvin, who quoth thusly 130 years ago

    When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.

    Lord Kelvin

    Lecture on Electrical Units of Measurement” (3 May 1883)

    Howsabout it? I’d say by the piss poor performance of the ‘cheap’ batteries that the low power line should be drawn at about 50mA, but I wouldn’t normally think of a torch as a high power device. 2 A shaver, yes, a kid’s RC toy, yes, digital camera, yes, Carrie’s SATC pink rabbit probably yes, but a torch?

    Bet Carrie uses alkalines. It's a high power device - doing a lot of work ;)

    Bet Carrie uses alkalines. It’s a high power device 😉 As the man said in the ad, Duracell batteries can make fun times last a lot longer. ’nuff said.

    In terms of the energy you are buying 3, which is what you buy batteries for, the dear batteries are in fact the cheaper ones and the cheaper batteries are the expensive way of buying power. The cost of running a 2-cell torch with cheap ZnCl batteries is 10p/hr and the cost of running the same torch with dear batteries is 5p/hr. Plus you get to change them a third as often and a reduced risk of gunkage which has to be worth something in itself.

    It was plainly obvious that Poundland were shifting a lot more of the ZnCl batteries, cynically abusing their customers’ inability to make the right call with the information supplied, and marketing the ‘lots of batteries for a pound’ to make twice as much money out of their customers. While doing this they’re shipping twice as much weight from China and creating twice as much waste. No doubt they would say they are simply providing consumer choice, it’s out of our hands. There’s a lack of integrity in selling things like this. I can think of only one use for the ZnCl batteries, which is if you are going to give a child a toy for Christmas that makes an irritating noise then you may be prepared to pay double for your power so the pain only lasts a third as long 😉 But you really should ask yourself some searching questions about what you are doing and the example you’re setting in that case…

    We discovered that in the 1970s that you get longer runtimes from alkalines, and you don’t get to chisel corrosion out of your kit, but it seems Poundland is taking advantage of generations who don’t remember that – I don’t recall seeing many ZnCl batteries for sale in the 1990s or early 2000s though they never totally disappeared. Poundland is promoting an obsolete 40-year old technology because people have become price sensitive and quality-blind, so they can make more money out of them. The value for money equation has two sides – the value you get and the money you pay for it. Focusing just on the money side leads you to rotten value at times. We seem to have become inured to that, and become trained like Pavlov’s dogs to always follow the lowest price in a race to the bottom. You’ve got the science here. Don’t buy trash, it’s better for your wallet and better for the environment 😉

    Poundland also sell a lot of gizmos to discharge those batteries so you come back for more. Take this battery discharger

     

    Can't use rechargeables

    Can’t use rechargeables

    It draws 15mA from two AA batteries. You will observe Poundland reminding you to go get yer batteries bottom left.

    AA alkalines - great (probably okay on zinc chloride too, the terminal voltage is the same)

    AA alkalines – great (probably okay on zinc chloride too, the terminal voltage is the same)

    These things are designed not to work right from rechargeable batteries 4, which is by far the cheapest way to run standalone Christmas lights. Remember I was paying 21p/kWh from the mains and £72/kWh to Poundland for their alkaline batteries. Even if I lose 5x the power in the inefficiency of the charger and battery cycle 5 I’m 70 times better off. As an added bonus I can get 1/3 more runtime from a 2400mAh rechargeable. However, if you try that you will find the LED string is dim as a Toc H lamp and no earthly use to anyone.

    Gutless at 1mA with rechargeables

    Gutless at 1mA with rechargeables

    I went to Poundland last year after Christmas to see if they were selling Christmas stock off cheap, but they weren’t – they’d cleared the shelves overnight for a new range of junk. I wanted about 20 of these things, because an Ermine can make these work with rechargeables – you order three-battery switched battery boxes on Ebay, wait three weeks to get them from China and then unsolder the wire from the old two cell battery box and swap the resistor to run the LED string at 20mA off three NiMH rechargeable cells. I get to reuse the original two cell box elsewhere. On taking this to pieces I discovered what Poundland did with their unsold Christmas stock from 2012.

    What Poundland do with the unsold stuff - store in in a damp environment for next year, I guess ;)

    What Poundland do with the unsold stuff – store in in a damp environment for next year, I guess 😉

    They store it somewhere damp and flog it to us next year 😉 The 20Ω series resistor looks just ready to short against the battery terminals too. You can’t get the staff anymore in China it seems…

    So overall I think it’s game, set and match. Poundland are cynically selling an obsolete battery technology to extract more money from customers, along with devices that can’t use rechargeable batteries. But of course it’s a discount store and everything’s only £1 so it’s great value. Kodak can do with a mention is a supporting role, along with Strand Europe with a gong for most useless website of the year award.

    Welcome to the World of KODAK Batteries

    Strand Europe are delighted to present to you the world of KODAK Batteries. From the brand known as its excellence in photography over many decades, comes a range of quality batteries to compete with the very best in the market. Enjoy browsing our site to see how we can support you in your use of our products.

    Support us in any way other than telling us some basic facts like the capacity and the absent great big warning that using these batteries may knacker your gear.

     

    Notes:

    1. obviously without soaking your item in water or getting it into the works
    2. I was slightly unfair on Kodak when I wrote this, as I’ve since discovered this page which indicates that these are suitable “For common household appliances, our zinc-chloride heavy duty range is meant for everyday use such as toys, flashlights, clocks and remote controls”
    3. the energy available during the service life was 0.6Wh for ZnCl and 2.2Wh for alkalines. I paid £141/kWh for ZnCl and £72/kWh for the alkalines, as opposed to 21.4p/kWh from the wall socket from those nice Frenchmen at EDF
    4. rechargeables have a terminal voltage of 1.2V as opposed to 1.5V, and it is the 0.6V lower voltage that conveniently stops you using them with the Poundland lights
    5. this is an overestimate – you lose about 14% of the power over the battery charge/recharge cycle
    21 Apr 2013, 7:54pm
    savvy shopping:
    by

    17 comments

  • August 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Archives

  • A fascinating peek into the inner workings of capitalism – manufactured demand in the making

    Years ago, my Dad had reason to take the cylinder head off the engine of his car and regrind the valves.He showed me the engine running without the rocker cover, and it was fascinating – the busyness of something we take for granted many a day. I’ve never forgotten that insight into the workings of something so commonplace, yet so hidden from everyday sight.

    So it is with the works of capitalism at times. Many companies exist now to create wants in their customers’ minds, which they can then address. One of the secrets to retiring early, indeed to financial freedom of all sorts, is to avoid being sucked in, and here is a beautiful example of the process of need creation in the making. Sheer genius!

    A decent piece of chocolate is a very good thing indeed. Thing is, with gustatory pleasures as well as most consumer goods, the relationship between quality and cost aren’t directly connected. They go something like this:

    genral form of quality versus price for consumer goods

    general form of quality versus price for consumer goods

    Now the trouble is that the price axis is logarithmic – each step roughly doubles the price of the previous step, whereas quality is linear. This reflects the fact that most improvements are subject to diminishing returns. Most of the win is had early on, though there is a rump of cheap and nasty crap that is not really fit for purpose at the bottom end below a price of 1 unit. Most of the quality improvement is to be had in the steep rise of the curve between 1 and 2, and then it flattens out as the price skyrockets. Now what a company wants to do is create a sense of want and desire in you, so you ignore the fact that the price is skyrocketing but the quality isn’t really much better than lower down the scale.

    Fortunately, humans are social animals, and we ascribe value to scarcity, all sorts of fancy trimmings and plumage irrelevant to the item in question, and we are suckers for a good story. Plus we don’t have the time these days to really think about what we are buying, so we make mental shortcuts and analogies with similar patterns elsewhere. As well as these foibles, there are, of course, the age-old things we inherited from the animal kingdon – the value of a peacock’s feathers are not in their great utility, but in showing the female that even carrying all that conspicuous consumption around, the peacock doesn’t get eaten. That same applies to bankers swilling Dom Perignon to excess. It’s not the champagne they are valuing, it is the fact that drinking it to excess shows they are rich enough not to worry about the price 😉

    What a great piece of marketing puffery - Coastal Ecuador, Hacienda Iara 100% Organic Dark

    What a great piece of marketing puffery – Coastal Ecuador, Hacienda Iara 100% Organic Dark

    Allow me to introduce you to Exhibit A. The Hotel Chocolat corporation, and more specifically their Single Estate Rabot 1745 collection, welcome to the £7 bar of chocolate. I first came across this in the Torygraph, who basically line-printed the press releases with a moducum of added spin by the looks of it. However, I was tickled. A few years ago I read Jason Vale’s Chocolate Busters which sensitised me to how chocolate is promoted, and I thought of that book when I saw this.

    You can picture the scene now. Somewhere in a three star corporate hotel near an airport somewhere, a newly appointed Head Honcho of Hotel Chocolat is organising a hothouse workshop, on how to enhance the brand, and drive profitability. In short, to create some value that can be sold to more willing punters. A bunch of guys in off-the-peg suits show up with those wheeled cases with their laptops in. In the morning, the Head Honcho addresses his droids, and tells them this hothouse will come up with thrity-six Innovative Ideas to Revamp the Brand and Drive profitability. Their bonuses depend upon it…

    The trouble with meetings like this is that time is so short, and the leadership usually such arrogant peacocks that there’s no time to actually reflect on whether some of the ideas that come out of the pressure-cooker hothouse are actually any good. We’ve all had those ideas that seemed good at the time, but on reflection of a few days or weeks were actually quite ghastly. However, this one isn’t so bad, perhaps Hotel Chocolat don’t do things that way. Perhaps they have stand-up meetings of no more than 15 minutes, or something like that. The basic idea was

    Why don’t we make chocolate more like wine. Let’s give it a massive big backstory and raise the perceived value. There’s only so good chocolate can get for 99% of our potential customer base, but everyone is a sucker for a great story!

    And so the new marketing was born.

    The Story

    Hotel Chocolat: – I’d have guessed established in the 1990s, and that was a good guess. Companies House tells me that it was incorporated in 1993. Good move on changing the name in 2003 to Hotel Chocolat from Chocexpress Ltd, which made me titter, that sounds so low-rent compared to the image Hotel Chocolat is trying to project now 😉

    I was actually warmed up to be sceptical by the marketing strapline “British cocoa grower and chocolatier”. It’s very nouveau-riche and pretentious  – Cocoa doesn’t grow in Britain and we have confectioners, not chocolatiers. That dissonance matters, particularly if you are trying to create a patina of established competence with

    Rabot 1745: rare and vintage

    The implication is that there is an esteemed heritage going back to days of Empire. It’s bollocks, of course, but adds a haze of antiquity, without ever claiming anything really goes back that far 😉

    The label: a classic piece of spin and flummery. That’s the beauty of taste, it can’t be measured. I could say it tastes like angel tears and pulverised unicorn horn with a soupcon of plum and be just as right 😉

    A charmer with a smouldering intensity. Quickly floods the mouth with super-mellow but deep cocoa, roast nuts, vintage leather and cream.

    Short story: The battle of the cocoa bean is ongoing in Ecuador. The less flavoursome but easier-to-grow CCN-51 variety has been taking over from the delicious and indigenous Arriba Nacional, the one used here.

    Harvest: 2012 Roasting time: 35 min @135 C. Refining & Conching: 65hrs.

    (label backstory, from the website)

     Ecuador was once the world’s powerhouse of cocoa back in the late 1800s, but a disease wiped out many estates in 1919. This estate, known as Hacienda Iara, was re-planted with the fine Arriba Nacional cocoa from the more protected interior of Ecuador and is run on organic principles. An easier to grow, but less flavoursome cocoa variety known as CCN-51 has recently been taking over the country’s crop, but a fight back has started to maintain the true ‘Nacional’ cocoa taste, characterised by an intense cocoa flavour with a subtle jasmine/floral note and relatively low acidity.

    I wasn’t able to substantiate this with research on the web. The whole CCN-51 and Nacional seems to be a shimmering chimera, and depends on who you are reading 😉 But I do accept this isn’t my area of expertise.

    The Price: £7 for 70g, that’s 10p a gram. Tesco sells Galaxy for 1.2p a gram and a good match for this would seem to be something like Green and Black’s Organic Dark at 2p a gram. We’re clearly straddling that knee point of the graph.

    Let’s take a look at what’s happened here. I’d hazard a guess that the value price chart looks something like this

    all that yellow value has been created by marketing

    all that yellow value has been created by marketing

    Basically a huge amont of perceived value has been created by the guys in the suits creating a story that people will buy. It’s because of things like this that many of us find that our Wants grow to about 110% of the size of our take-home pay. We’re suckers for a great story, and we get caught up in it and buy into it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am sure Hotel Chocolat’s Hacienda Iara Organic Dark is probably a very decent chocolate. But chocolate just isn’t worth the extra 8p/g  a throw to me, compared ot the Green & Black’s version at 2p/g, which is about as far as I need to go with chocolate. Life is too short to go around paying more for the Story than for the Stuff. I try to just pay for the steak, not the sizzle, because there’s a limit to how much steak you can have before you just don’t want any more. Not so for the sizzle 😉

     

    25 Sep 2012, 5:04pm
    rant savvy shopping:
    by

    8 comments

  • August 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Archives

  • an offer you can’t refuse?

    The Ermine household took a wander into town, on the lookout for a point and shoot digicam for Mrs Ermine. Savvy shoppers are going to immediately think – first mistake, wtf are they going into town for this, the best deals are always on the Internet? Well, yes, but DW is exacting on the size she wants of a P&S, and to get to know that you have to touch it and handle it. We started off at Cash Converters, it’s my favourite store for heavy stuff secondhand.You can’t help feeling that the Dark Side is taking over round these parts, however.

    Are you sure that typo on the ad shouldn’t read “a loan of £666”, Mr Cash Converters? Is this the power of competition with The Money Shop next door?

    I bought our PA amplifier there for £30, secondhand from a pub. I’ll probably get our PA speakers there as well. They are variable on small electronics – I’d say they are overpriced a bit.

    Cash Converters. Bet they don’t have ‘don’t be evil’ in their mission statement

    Cameras of the sort we wanted (compact, IS) seemed to roll up at the £50 mark. The problem with this is a P&S camera lives on borrowed time. The action of the lens coming out sucks in dirt, which either gums up the lens mechanism or gives you dust spots on the sensor. You just don’t know how a secondhand P&S has been kept, so we had a look at the new market to see if this risk is worth taking. Checked out a couple of stores on prices, a Panasonic DMC-LS5 wasn’t bad at about £70.

    Then you get the smartphone out, a Samsung G2 in DW’s case, to establish whether the price is right. Since the web browser on a smartphone is worthless for finding anything out 1 you curse the bugger and remember the county library is nearby. For the first time I got to use the Web in the library, after removing the JSA instructions left by the previous user from the table. The camera price was sort of okay, not fantastic.

    We then went to Jessops, who had a Canon 117HS for ~£80. Apparently, this is the same as a Canon 115 HS but the different model number. This is a scam so Jessops can avoid price comparison sites. Some investigation on the web showed £80 wasn’t bad for this. Yes, it’s £30 more than a secondhand digicam, but the year’s worth of guarantee for what is inherently an unreliable product has some value (cash converters warranties for a month ISTR).

    So we asked them if we could fire it up and check it out. Consternation in the ranks, and we were informed that there wasn’t a battery or charger, though these could be purchased. The Ermine voiced, perhaps a little loudly, that this was therefore a scam, it wasn’t £80 they wanted, but £80 plus the £20 cost of the essential parts to get a working camera. The sticker price was deliberately misleading. Anyway, the shop-assistant went back to see if they could find a battery, and a chap came back, and DW took over the negotiation.

    the haul, I’m glad I didn’t throw out the charger from the last Ixus

    The upshot was that she paid £85 for the camera, with a hahnel battery charger, hahnel aftermarket battery, camera case priced at £16 and a three year extended warranty. The Ermine is still not quite sure how that happened, as I’m sure the 3-year warranty was originally quoted as £20. Normally I don’t touch extended warranties, but for a product class which has a known unreliability problem it has some appeal. Particularly if they throw in a case, and drop the extra to £5 which seems a little bit less usurous. Okay, so the 12V power supply of the charger didn’t work, though the charger did. I have enough 12V supplies, and indeed it so happened that we still had the battery charger for the previous Canon Ixus so no big deal 😉

    More offers you can’t refuse. The Ermine is too poor to get a loan from the Money Shop these days

    You know you’re on the wrong side of the tracks with Cash Converters. It isn’t just the gold ads, it’s the fact they’re right next to a Money Shop. You’d have thought the Ermine is right up their street, no job, no income, what’s not to like? Hey, that sort of thing used to get you a NINJA mortgage in the bad old days!

     

    Bank card and a job? £1000 can be yours

    Well, hot damn, no £1000 today for me. Got bank card but no job, so The Money Shop ain’t talking to me today 😉 Psst, got a Rolex? What’s up with that. Firstly, if you have a real Rolex or Breitling are you going to be hob-nobbing with the riff-raff in the Money Shop rather than the sort of pawnbroker with a top-hat and three gold balls outside his shop, and secondly if you are a likely client of the Money Shop your Rolex was probably £5 at the local car boot sale, no?

    So, thoroughly dejected at being not good enough for the services of The Money shop, I carried on, to observe yet another offer I couldn’t refuse

    Borrow £100 for £125? hell, YEAH!!!! Why Not? bring it on

    Why would I want to do that to myself? Really? Borrow £100 and pay back £125? Do I get fries with that? It wouldn’t be so bad if I got my dodgy motor fixed all inclusive, but no. I’ve kept this photo full size, if you look at the small print at the bottom you get to see

    Representative 1410.33% APR … Interest Rate 300% p/a fixed

    Who are this bunch of criminals and charlatans then? Say a warm welcome to the usurers at the Cheque Centre, impecunious citizens of Ipswich

    At least they can spell. It’s the Cheque Centre over here, rather than the Check Center….

    They’re actually recruiting at the moment. I was half tempted to go in and hit them up for a job, just to see what sort of punters come in to buy £100 worth of notes for £125. However, I’d probably discover a whole bunch of people who want to kill me, because even the Cheque Centre must have some criteria for lending.

    Let’s remind ourselves of what they are offering me. I go in today, with an urgent need of Stuff, so I get a load of these

    £100, waiting to be turned into booze, Harry Wraggs and Sky TV vouchers

    I turn them into beer, Sky TV minutes and harry rags

    to come back later, having had to work 25% longer to earn this lot to hand back and call it quits

    £125 – so paying 25% more is a great deal because I couldn’t wait a month?

    Whatcha say to that sort of offer? What other answer is there other than Hell No! If ever it looks a good idea to you to pay 25% for 30 days, then STOP RIGHT THERE. Sit on your hands. Think. Stop buying shit. Let the kids scream I wanna have, I wanna have,  I wanna have for all they’re worth. Because when this looks like a good deal you are in a deep hole, and rule#1 in a hole is Stop Digging.

    There are a lot of offers you should refuse in this town at the moment!

    Notes:

    1. that’s why you have apps on a smartphone, to munge the data to suit the poxy little low-resolution screen, old stagers will remember it as what was hi-tech EGA graphics in the mid 1980s.
     
  • Recent Posts

  • Subscribe to Simple Living In Suffolk via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.