Open Letter to Honda

It’s pretty amazing. I have the money and the desire to buy a car but I can’t get it.

Here’s an email I’ve sent to one of the Honda Car dealerships when they asked me why I haven’t taken delivery of a new car from them yet.

I will say that I am plainly frustrated that Honda is unable to deliver on its offerings.

I began the car buying process in earnest a couple of weeks ago. I want to upgrade my wife from her 1995 Civic to a 2016 Fit.

According to Honda’s web site they offer colors and models of the car that cannot be ordered. Rather, they just produce cars and send them out apparently randomly so there is no way to just order a car and get what you want.

Attached please find my “built” car spec sheet.

No, I don’t want another color

No, I don’t want another model and add the missing pieces.

No, I don’t want to have the car driven across the country to me by some teenager and have the engine broken in by someone who doesn’t share my desire for the car to last and perform well. CarMax exists for those cars.

I just want a current model car in my desired advertised color.

Why can’t Honda deliver?

Honda-Automobiles-Personalized-Fact-Sheet 2016 Honda Fit

 

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on April 8, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Trying on the Metric System for Size

I’ve recently begun to use the Metric system in my personal life. Most notably for temperature. Only recently did I realize just how alone, and asinine, we are being as a country by holding out while the rest of the world has standardized on a consistent system of measurement.

Never mind that scientists and airlines need to use the metric system and constantly translate between it and our obsolete Imperial system, but we come up against this every day. How many people go out for a 3.1 or 6.2 mile run? If you want to compete in the Olympics I’m sure you’d be in for a surprise if your practiced every day in a 25 Yard pool. Or ran 100 Yard sprints. Anything we want to do where *we* don’t control the environment we have to translate. It’s inefficient and, frankly, it’s pathetic.

If the spineless politicians of the 1970’s hadn’t backed down we would have two generations of Americans comfortable with this system and it would be another non-issue-that-was-an-amazing-vote-grabbing-issue-of-the-day.

The USA insisting on using its own measurement system (well.. we’re in the company of Liberia and Burma… can you even find those places on the map) is reminiscent of the bully tactics for which people criticize entities such as Walmart. Making everybody with whom we do business conform to our way of doing things. We might as well also dig in our heels and insist on different timezones than the rest of the world. Because we can.

My only two criticisms of the Metric system are:

  1. I can’t really identify with the temperature scale. This is because I have very little history with it. I can viscerally understand that 72 degrees Fahrenheit equates to a pleasant summer day and that 90 degrees is hot and 40 degrees is not. But this is something that I am now working to overcome by adopting metric, at least personally, for the next few months. And would be a no-brainer to the kids today if they just grew up with degrees centigrade.
  2. Harder to fix: I’m not sure why some genius decided that we should move from “Miles per Gallon” to “Liters per Hundred Kilometers”. There is no level on which that works for me. Why we just can’t use the directly relatable “Kilometers per Liter” is a mystery to me. It’s a small issue but it’s a very foreign way of thinking. I am curious if Europeans or anybody else in the world are comfortable with that approach to performance.

Just my rant for the day. I hope we take this up and that we can get past the old guard that can’t let things change because they are too terrified or mentally challenged to work with a system that, while probably not *better* in every way is most certainly *consistent* with the way the rest of our planet does things.

Posted under General, Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on January 27, 2016 at 9:03 am

Has Comcast found an effective way to keep us from bugging them?

** Update September 23, 2014 ***

The conspiratorial side of my brain wants me to point out:

1) The Outage notifications on Comcast’s site ceased immediately after this blog post

2) My service has been.. spotty ever since, including a complete outage that lasted around an hour the following night….

Where my Download / Upload speeds were consistently 50/10, now I’m thrilled if my download is in the 20’s.

Just ran another check and can see that I’m sitting at 23.2/10.4.

Just saying’ . Not that the only available option of our local duopoly would *ever* stoop to vindictiveness… would they?

** End Update **

 

I had a recent dealing with Comcast that had me logging on to their site pretty much every day for almost two weeks at the end of August/beginning of September.

Something that started to bubble up in my consciousness was how many outages they were reporting in my area, none of which seemed to be affecting me.

I decided it would be an interesting exercise to, for one week, log into my account periodically throughout the day whenever I was working on my computer (which I do quite a bit) and check my status.

Of greatest interest to me was the fact that not once in all the times I logged in was there ever NOT an outage in my area.

I will concede that there was at least one day where I was impacted by some issue so these notifications are not 100% bogus. But the continuous nature of the notifications has me thinking what a great way this would be to keep folks from calling in if they *did* have a complaint. After all how often do you log into your Comcast account anyway? I know I certainly wouldn’t (haven’t) noticed the notifications during my monthly visit to capture my billing statement.

Below are the details of when I logged in and what the current outage situation was. You tell me – am I just having a spate of issues or is Comcast saving money by reducing customer service call volume?

Date and Time Outage Notification
9/10/14 9:41 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 AM tomorrow.
9/11/14 10:00 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 PM today.
9/11/14 1:02 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 4 PM today.
9/11/14 4:36 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 8 PM today.
9/11/14 7:25 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 AM tomorrow.
9/12/14 7:52 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 AM today.
9/12/14 1:56 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 3PM today.
9/12/14 6:50 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 PM today.
9/13/14 10:46 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 PM today.
9/13/14 6:28 PM An outage has been reported. We’re working to fully restore service as soon as possible.
9/14/14 12:15 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 AM today.
9/14/14 11:51 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 PM today.
9/14/14 1:12 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 5 PM today.
9/14/14 4:33 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 9 PM today.
9/14/14 11:27 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 AM tomorrow.
9/15/14 7:56 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 PM today.
9/15/14 7:07 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 8 PM today.
9/15/14 8:13 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 AM tomorrow.
9/16/14 7:41 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 AM today.
9/17/14 7:55 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 10 AM today.
9/17/14 12:02 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 PM today.
9/17/14 6:13 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 10 PM today.

 

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on September 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Vision Fitness U20 Classic Exercise Bicycle Review

I purchased this exercise bike as a replacement for my Vision Fitness E3600HRT which I used for over 10 years before it died on me. My experience with the E3600HRT and with a Vision Fitness Treadmill that I own are what led me to consider the U20.

The U20, when I purchased it from Amazon, cost about $900. The E3600HRT cost about $1,400 in 2001 if that gives you any indication of the class of bicycles I am comparing.

This bike arrives in TWO packages (Amazon did not know this), one containing the frame and bulk of the machine, the other containing the console. The bicycle package weighed in around 70-80 pounds and was pretty beat up but was packed well enough that the only visible damage to the bike was that the sleeve where the seat post enters the frame had some plastic chipped off of it. Vision Fitness is VERY good at warranty replacement and had a replacement part at my home in about 3-4 days.

I made the rookie mistake of not actually test driving the bike before ordering it. These days “Spin Cycles” are all the rage and there are precious few showrooms where you can find an old school exercise bike such as this to try out. I had decided to trust my prior experience with the brand. LEARN FROM MY FAIL.

Some of the CONs below are from my own biases which emphasizes my point that all bikes are not for all people so a test ride, no matter how inconvenient, is required.

First the PROs:

  • This bicycle is big enough where you mostly won’t feel constrained on it. I don’t see much chance of even the largest users hitting their knees on the handlebars
  • The handlebars are sturdy and the heart rate sensors well placed and sensitive. I’ve used other bikes where you seem to have to fiddle with your hand position to get them to report your heart rate.
  • Easy to assemble. Although mounting the handlebar would the one task more easily performed with some help it *is* doable.
  • The seat post appears to be standard so you can swap out the provided seat for one you prefer (see CON)

Now the CONs:

  • The cranks are those awful straight ones that ensure that you will hit your heel or ankle against the base of the crank arm on each revolution. In order to avoid this you need to cant your foot inward which leads to an awkward pedaling position.
  • The seat post was loose when attached to the frame. The way it is designed there is no satisfactory way to tighten this. This is magnified up at the seat and resulted in it being “wobbly”.
  • Contrasted with my E3600HRT, the console is nearly 3 inches closer to the nose of the seat than I’m used to, the console is also angled more steeply. These two factors put the console right in my face if I’m leaning forward during a particularly challenging interval. I’m used to using aero bars on my racing bike and this lean-forward position is encumbered by having the console so (literally) in your face.
  • The provided seat points upward to a degree that I find just about the limit of my tolerance. And it *is* adjustable, but only to point even higher.

I ended up returning the U20, the first two issues ultimately made the decision for me. I *could* have replaced the cranks with the old ones from my retired exercise bike. And I can probably find a suitable seat at my local bike shop. And I may have been able to shim the seat post to stabilize it. But for $900 and the fact that I intend to spend at least 10 years with this equipment, I want it to feel right coming out of the gate.

Don’t get me wrong, Vision Fitness is an excellent company and this bike may work very well for some folks, just not for me. Now I need to go test-drive some stationary bikes.

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on March 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Netflix and other issues since Comcast decided it needs to cap my data usage

Immediately on the heels of Comcast notifying me that they want to cap my access we began experiencing issues accessing Netflix. We absolutely could not get it to work on Thursday and I couldn’t get it through Apple TV on Friday (although I was able to get it on another i-device and mirror it over to the Apple TV).

All yesterday and today I’ve been having odd issues where websites are delaying in loading or loading part way and then quitting on me. It doesn’t matter which computer is being used.

Comcast has actually been *over* delivering for the past few months with download and upload speeds just slightly greater than promised. I had thought that they had finally figured out how to make their customers happy or at least not feeling ripped off with every interaction.

Now all of a sudden I see that they realized the error of their ways. I suppose they were drifting away from the bottom of the customer service ratings and decided they needed to implement new strategies to get back down there?

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on November 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Looks like Comcast has begun introducing data caps

I just received this email this morning. My plan was formerly unfettered. I note the spin placed on the data cap they are introducing.

I expect that if you choose to use their streaming service you’ll find the cap doesn’t apply to that data?

When I check my current usage, it tells me that “Note:enforcement of the 250GB data consumption threshold is currently suspended”

Which is it? 250 GB or 300GB?

 

Comcast Service Announcement

Important information regarding your XFINITY® service.


Dear XFINITY Internet Customer:

At Comcast, we recognize that our customers use the Internet for different reasons and have unique data needs. Starting December 1, 2013, Comcast will trial a new monthly data plan in this area, which will increase the amount of data included in your XFINITY Internet Service to 300 GB and provide more choice and flexibility.

What this means for You

The vast majority of XFINITY customers use far less than 300 GB of data in a month. Based upon your recent usage history, it appears this new data plan will have no impact upon you, and you won’t need to do anything, or change your Internet usage. If you are not sure about your monthly data usage, please refer to the Track and Manage Your Usage section below.

We want our customers to use the Internet for everything they want and your service will not be limited to 300 GB. While we believe that 300 GB is more than enough to meet the Internet usage needs of most customers, Comcast will automatically add blocks of 50 GB to your account for an additional $10, should you exceed the 300 GB included in your plan in a month.

In order for our customers to get accustomed to this new data plan, we are implementing a three-month courtesy program. That means you will not be billed for the first three times you exceed 300 GB included in the data plan during a 12 month period. Should your usage exceed 300 GB a fourth time during any 12-month period, an additional 50 GB will automatically be allocated to your account and you will be billed $10 for that data and each additional 50 GB of data in excess of 300 GB during that month and any subsequent months your usage exceeds 300 GB.

Please note that this is a consumer trial. Comcast may modify or discontinue this trial at any time. However, we will notify you in advance of any such change.

For more information on all our data usage plans, please visit www.xfinity.com/datausageplan/expansion

Track and Manage Your Usage

Comcast provides you with several tools to easily track and manage your data plan:

 

 

  • Data Usage Calculator – Estimate your data usage with this tool available atwww.xfinity.com/datacalculator. Simply enter information on how often and how much you typically use the Internet, and the calculator will estimate your monthly data usage.

 

 

  • In-Browser Notices and Emails – We will send you a courtesy “in-browser” notice and an email letting you know how much of the data included in your monthly plan you are using.

If you have any additional questions about the new data usage plan, please visitwww.xfinity.com/datausageplan/expansion

Thank you for being an XFINITY Internet Customer.

Sincerely,

Comcast

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on November 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

Which is Better, UPS or FedEx (SmartPost)?

So, I’m a member of Amazon Prime which means that anything that ships from Amazon comes automatically with 2 day delivery. This is pretty sweet.

A couple of days I shot a note to Amazon because I was a bit disappointed that one of my orders did not arrive when it was supposed to. It arrived two days later. This is not a big deal but I found it a bit annoying that clearly the delivery service (FedEx SmartPost) was – according to their tracking information – basically sitting on the package at their facility (local to me) for two days. Amazon no longer seems to send out mini-surveys asking when shipped items have arrived so I wanted to let them know that one of their shippers appears to be sleeping on the job.

As I look back at some previous orders it seems that UPS has been consistently on time while FedEx… well maybe not so much.

The funny thing is, partly due to their advertising efforts and partly due to past experience, I hold FedEx in higher esteem of the two.

In what turned out to be a kind of mini-test, I ordered two items from Amazon on Wednesday. It happens that one (25 LB Uninterrupted Power Supply) was shipped via UPS, the other (2 lbs Brass couplings) shipped by  FedEx Smartpost.

You look at the tracking information and you can see that the FedEx package actually arrived in Marietta before the UPS package arrived in Roswell. Both of these points are the last hops before delivery. The UPS package arrived today a bit after 3 pm and is sitting here beside me. The forecast for the FedEx package is to arrive maybe sometime before 8 pm on Sunday (two more days).

I’m glad I’m not counting on the second package being here for the weekend…

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on September 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm