Braun -- Razor
Another fine example of "German Engineering". In fact the box
even claims "German Engineering". As I have explained before,
"German Engineering" is an oxymoron. In this case mostly the
moron part. I am 66 years old as I write this. I have been
shaving for 50 years. From Gillette Super Blue Blades to numerous
electric razors. Never have I encountered an electric razor this
bad! You need a mirror to verify your shave. If you miss a
hair for a couple of days (not too hard to do), the hair grows long
enough for the razor to not cut. The Braun razor seems to
be pretty good at cutting short hairs shorter. That is, if you
hit each hair from its proper direction and apply just the correct
pressure as you go over it. Wrong pressure or wrong direction,
the hair is not cut. Missing the same hair for a couple of days
means that the razor head will never again attempt to cut the
hair. This matches what I have encountered elsewhere. The
German mantra seems to be that if you make a mistake, you need to be
punished by non-performance.
In order to get a good shave, you need a mirror to verify that you
have not missed any hairs. I shave by sound: when there are no
more "clicks", I am finished. This method has served me well from
Remington to Norelco razors just fine. It does not work with the
Braun. I need my glasses to shave so that I can see each hair
that the razor missed and try it again. The glasses serve another
purpose. The Braun produces a fine film of hair particles flying
at high speed. Before I learned about the glasses requirement,
these high speed hair particles would hit my eyes. I think this
is dangerous but it is at least irritating.
There is an alternative. I can go over my entire face with the
razor's extendable shears to get the longer hairs. Then I can shave
with the regular razor head. This is good at getting the hairs that are
so long as to be obvious to the world that I am using a third class
razor. It does not solve the problem of the hair lengths in the
Then there is the battery problem. My Norelco and Remington
razor batteries would last most of a week. Because of the
extended shaving time using the Braun (about 45 minutes), I am lucky if I can complete one
shave before needing a battery recharge.
When the thin metal screen developed a tear and cut my face, I
scrapped the Braun and bought a new Norelco. Now I must remember
to only go over each place once. Made in Germany? Maybe --
but it does not claim "German Engineering".
This is an interesting company and they have found a couple of
ways to get to this list. To be clear, I prefer Pepsi to Coca
Cola. Coca Cola made an interesting mistake some years ago
when they discovered that people liked the taste of Pepsi better than
the taste of Coca Cola. The brand preference of Coca
Cola had to do with the company colors. Coca Cola reflavored
their drink to be more like Pepsi. This caused such a ruckus that
they produced two products for a while and then dropped the "Coke"
product in favor of their original cola. But they retained the
flavor in their diet product. Just recently they have introduced
their Coca Cola flavor in diet and call it Coca Cola Zero. All of this
is interesting to people like me who have an interest in
The problem that I have with Coca Cola is with their plastic bottles. My
refrigerator is one of those with the wire racks. The Coke bottle
has five "bubbles" on the bottom. I am not sure of the reason for
these bubbles as other products have similar shapes. The
problem with the Coke shape is that these bubbles are so well-formed
(and an odd number of bubbles) that keeping these bottles upright in my refrigerator is impossible. I
have resorted to keeping the Coke bottles on their sides. This is
also a problem because of their squeezed profile: you cannot stack
them. This is a nuisance but not serious.
The serious problem is the plastic they use for the bottle
tops. It deforms all by itself making it difficult to replace
after removal. This is more than a nuisance. The plastic
will actually deform in place causing the bottle to lose its
seal. When vertical, the gas pressure is lost -- leaving the Coke
tasting a bit flat. I have gotten used to flat Diet Coke. I suspect that this loss of seal is a health hazard.
When stored horizontally, as I need to do because of the strange
bottle shape, the actual Coke spills out on the bottom of my
making a real mess. Not a little mess. As much as half the
bottle may be lost this way. When I have more than a 6-pack on their sides, the loss is a real mess.
It took me a while to figure out how Coke does this. I had
originally thought that the bottles tops were just not screwed on
tightly. No, I could not tighten them. Yes, no
matter how tight, they still leaked. They deform. This is
obvious because when you remove the top, you cannot replace it without
extreme difficulty -- if you can replace it at all. You can
actually see that the top is misshapen as it is no longer symmetrical.
I think the tops are Ultra-Violet sensitive (sunlight). I
write this after losing at least half of my 24 bottles of DIet Coke to
my refrigerator floor and the remainder tasting flat. I drove
home from the Sam's Club with a case of Diet Pepsi and a case of Diet
Coke next to each other in the back of my pickup. It was not
especially hot that day. There were no problems with the
Pepsi. All of the Coke bottles leaked. No more Coke at all
until October and then it will be covered on the way home from the
store. But then maybe I shall just alternate between Diet Pepsi
and Dr. Pepper or the WalMart cola. I resent that a company as
large as Coca Cola does not bother to market test its products (we do
not all live in Atlanta). There was a reason that each of the
American car manufacturers had a desert proving ground. The
desert environment is hostile -- and not just because it gets hot.
When the phone is ringing or the alarm is sounding, touching any one
the side buttons will do exactly what you do not want to happen.
call will be answered or the alarm will start again in five
minutes. After this it is not possible to perform the action that
you desired. This "feature" cannot be disabled. These operate
even when the phone is turned off! My Motorola has the same
operation but its side buttons are not obtrusive and require some
actual, real, pressure to activate them. Thanks, Motorola.
As if stopping the alarm and answering the call were not bad enough,
you are in real trouble if your Samsung phone has a camera. The
Samsung T339 (and whatever Samsung I had before) has no zoom nor
is there any light correction. The previous one had a light that
was supposed to simulate a flash. Like the rest of the Samsung
features, the light was a token. But on both the Samsung phones,
the side buttons activate the camera. I end up with dozens of
pictures of the inside of my pocket. And I only discover that
this is happening when I hear camera shutter sounds emanating from my
pocket. I mean this is really dumb. Provide a marginal camera so
that you can tell your customers that you have one and then provide
pictures of pockets as additional punishment for making the decision to
buy a junk phone? Do the smart thing: buy another brand, for
example Motorola which has digital zoom and light sensitivity and does
not photograph your pocket.
Right. I really like this feature but like the camera and
side-buttons this is mostly a gimmick. The phone only detects
Wi-Fi within 20 feet of the transmitter. It only supports
unsecured and WEP-secured systems. It only finds them when told
to do so. Also it sort of works half-duplex: you cannot talk over
But if you can live with these constraints, the ability to make and
receive calls anywhere in the world as if it is a local call is really
great. The receive surprised me but it works. Sometimes it
will connect automatically to the Internet and sometimes you have to do
it manually -- to the same Internet source.
There is another zinger. While in Mexico I keep getting
tMobile text messages saying to use their service while in
Mexico. They all do this. Telcel sends me messages to my
Telcel phone telling me that I should use it while in the USA.
I have plenty of white T-shirts. Mostly Hanes from
Walmart. Good prices, 100% cotton, good fit. Mostly they
are good for going under other shirts.
I only buy T-shirts that are 100% cotton. Why? Because cotton
is the reason I buy the T-shirt. Cotton is great for absorbing
perspiration and then evaporating it. Then you are cool and
dry. Polyester does not absorb anything. When you replace cotton with polyester, you are defeating
the purpose of wearing a shirt. Polyester is plastic: it
does not hold water. In the same desert conditions, the polyester T-shirt leaves you feeling wet and sticky.
But what really peeves me is the pocket thing. When I but a
colored T-shirt for normal outside wear, I want a pocket. I want
a pocket on any outside shirt or jacket. I usually hang my
glasses from the collar. I often stick my pen in the collar. But
when I have something else, I want it in my pocket. A colored
T-shirt with no pocket is useless.
So. Let's presume we are talking only about 100% cotton T-shirts
with pockets. There are two more considerations. Material
weight and size. Size is easy: buy the Hanes from Walmart.
One consideration is material weight. I bought some
T-shirts at Walmart a while back. 3 in a package instead of
2. The material is really thin. This is OK. I could
live with this on cooler days. The problem is the pocket..
The darn thin material stretches. If you put a pen or glasses in
the pocket, they fall out when their weight makes the pocket sag.
Anything stretches the pocket.
The 2 in a package weight Hanes T-shirts at WalMart do not have the
pocket stretch problem. The heavier material makes a
difference. And I noticed last week that the package
advertises that the pocket actually works and does not have instant
sag. I guess someone else has the same pocket problem as me.
Then again there are the Anvil T-shirts. They
advertise their weight. They make it sound like they are really
heavy duty. With a name like Anvil, you expect heavy duty.
No. Not a chance. The heaviest weight Anvil at the store from which I ordered
is the same weight as the light T-shirts from Hanes. There is
nothing heavy-duty about them. Why do I shop at Walmart? I expect
quality and I usually find it. Trying other places or brands just
gets me in trouble.
I made the mistake of ordering some Anvil (brand) T-shirts online
month. Extra large. This is the size Hanes I always
buy. The Anvil T-shirts are so small that I have large size
T-shirts in my closet that are larger. Not just one of them is
too small. They are all too small. If you want to buy an Anvil T-shirt,
buy it two sizes larger than the name brands. It arrives one size
too small and then it shrinks another. Save yourself the
trouble, avoid off-brands like Anvil. Maybe the "pre-shrunk"
that they know the shirts were too small when they made them.
Later: I thought maybe
I was too hard on the Anvil t-shirts. No. I was too
easy. The shirts quickly developed little holes, like bleach
holes except without the bleach. Then the underarms tore
out. I know I perspire a lot and that my perspiration is
corrosive. But this is a new thing.
I thought maybe I had gained enough weight that I really needed 2-XL
shirts. I bought two other brands of shirts at 2-XL. One
Hanes and another brand I never heard of. The 2-XL Hanes works OK
but the Target store Hanes XL is a better fit. The Target (not
Wal-Mart) Hanes is longer. It says so on the package -- and I
have a long back. The Anvil always rode up on my tummy.
The other brand 2-XL is so large that I replaced them with XL.
They fit just fine. The material of both other brands feels
softer than the Anvil as well as the fits.
In other words, I was too nice on my original opinion of
Anvil: I doubted myself. Avoid the Anvil t-shirts -- there
are too many other brands out there to buy junk. I do have a rag
bag of old t-shirts now.
When I was a kid GE was the name you looked for. Then they got
into absolutely everything. Electric dynamos/generators.
Turbines. Engines. But my experience was with their
appliances. They bought out Hotpoint and Hotpoint became their
appliances for contractors. Your new house might have Hotpoint
I liked my GE irons while in college. But then GE sole its
small appliance division to Black and Decker. Not bad. I
liked Black and Decker. They made good second-line power tools
for the amateur. But they are back and they have found the dirt
under the rug and cll it quality.
I bought one of these at Sam's Club. It ran for a couple of
weeks and then quit. This was one of their larger 110v window
units. SInce the nearest city to home is Yuma, I tried to find a
GE repair center in Yuma. No luck -- or at least no luck on
warrantee service. I called their 600 number on the big tag that
came with the unit. After a few hours one the phone it became
obvious: they were not about to honor any level of warrantee.
Since I had registered with GE at my legal address in Texas, they found
a few of their service facilities in Texas for me to try. They
actually sent someone to my mail box address in Texas. Quite
contrary to my conversation with any of their pretty-voice stupid phone
agents. I finally got someone in another division of GE who told
me that that unit had no repairable parts and that I should return it
to my place of purchase for a refund or exchange. This took a
couple of weeks or rather almost the month of August. Sam's Club
took it back without question. No more GE AC units. Now I
have a couple of Korean units that together offer less BTU's than the
GE but produce reliably more cool air. 11,000 BTU's for less than
8 AmPs. Their yellow label put them off the end scale for
efficiency. GE was on the lower third.
I live on my toaster oven. I have it outdoors on the picnic
table and do all of my cooking there. That serves multiple
purposes. First off, the RV has sort of a carpet-fabric
ceiling. It readily accepts any floating grease or dirt.
Even the ceiling and range fans will not get it all. Second, I
never add heat to the RV in the summer time. Third, I go outside even
for just a little bit. Good exercise and good vitamin D.
The problem was the GE Toaster Oven. From day 1 it never
worked correctly but I thought that it was just because I did not
understand the controls. I mean little space heater overheat and
you have to unplug them, wait, turn the dials a certain way, and then
plug it back in. The directions for this are printed somewhere on
the heater. I thought that GE had just forgotten to print the
directions. No such luck. The oven would work with the
temperature set to maximum. This in an of the broil or cooking
positions. The problem was when the temperature was set
lower. It would reach that temperature and turn itself off.
I might be able to get it back on again in a day but it generally took
a week of playing with the knobs. Is the unit got a little older
the problem got worse. But it had a guarantee: return tit to any
Walmart in its original box and original receipt and it would be
replaced or refunded.
So when it finally got so that I could not get it to turn on at all,
I took it to a Walmart. They told me that I had to call the 800
number for sending it back to GE and that they only warranted it for 90
days. I showed them the receipt: two- years, any Walmart.
They refunded my purchase price against another unit.
Sunbeam/Oster. The only comparable unit in the store. The
problem is that the Walmart price for the particular Oster unit was
high for the model unit that they had. But it seems to work and I
will get used to passing other units in other stores that give me more
for my money.
But GE? Not in this lifetime.
In 1949 my grandfather gave us an Emerson TV for a present. A
12 inch black and white screen, wooden console TV. Puny by
today's standards. Giant for 1949. A roof antenna to reach
Detroit from Brighton and we were set. It left a good feeling for
when I ran into Emerson brand items later. I had one of their
radios. Red. I loved it.
But now I buy an Emerson Microwave. Electronic display
microwaves have been around for 30 years. I know -- I bought one
in 1977. So you would think that after 30 years that these
companies would have found a common denominator in control
functions. If they have, Emerson has not seen them. But
what I did like about Emerson's controls was the lack of the large
number of buttons for particular items that always seem to cook things
for the wrong time and the wrong power. To me the start, stop,
digits, and the necessary control functions are just fine.
But the Emerson makes life difficult. To cook an item for,
say, 45 seconds. You push the "Time" button then 45 and then
start. The print on the buttons is so small that I mst put on my
glasses or I will push the wrong control button ad nothing useful
happens. Most of the other microwaves that I have had just permit
you to type the number of seconds and then start. If you want
other controls, you push them first but the default is timed
cooking. Not the Emerson. Nothing happens when you push the
digit buttons. You must push something else first and the the
The Emerson does have sort of a nice feature: push start and you get 30 seconds. Each time you push you get 30 seconds more. Not a bad idea but then I always over or under cooking my food.
The other part I dislike is when the cooking is complete, the time
of day display returns. My microwave is in sort of a cabinet
space. I can barely hear the beep beep beep beep when the food
completes with the fans off. I am used to looking at the
display. If it says "END", then I know the food is ready.
If I forgot that I was cooking food and I walk by I can see the "END"
and look to see what I forgot. Not so with the Emerson.
WIth its quiet beeper and missing "END" display, I have already left
food in the microwave overnight. What's wrong with these people?
When I worked at SIemens the president of our division issued the
ultimatum that looking at competitor web sites was grounds for
termination. If an engineer or a marketer can not see what the
competition is doing in the same product area, the company is likely to
repeat the original mistakes of the original product. The one
thing you can learn from your competition is what you want not to
do. Emerson has what appears to be a good product. It just
have refused to learn what not to do from its competition.
At Costco or Sam's Club I bought a package of 8 Sylvania light
bulbs. You know, the ones that say "extra long life". My GE
light bulb had burned out after a couple of years so I bought an
8-pack as I usually do. I mean light bulbs have been around for a
long time and they should have reliability cornered by now. This
concept turns out to be a mistake. I
went through 4 of the 8 Sylvania the first month. I got tired of
reading the label saying "Extra Long Life". I called and
complained. There is a 800 number on the package. They sent
me 4 new ones. So now I had 12 bad light bulbs. I should
have waited a few more weeks then I could have said all 8 were bad and
then I would have had 16 bad light bulbs. If you can follow the
math. They had the nerve after sending me the new 4 to request
the old ones back. I save dead light bulbs? Sorry
guys. I went out and bought an 8-pack of the GE. I kept two
and gave my daughter 6 for her apartment. I still have an extra
GE. She still has the box on her shelf.
I do not buy standard light bulbs any more. I buy the little
fluorescent lamps (CFLs). But the one thing I make sure of: I buy
nothing with a Sylvania label. Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice: not going to happen.
Oops. I did it to myself. I bought a 3-pack of Sylvania
emergency flashlights again at Costco or Sam's Club. This was
really dumb but where I live without power, it is truly dark. The
Sylvania name should have warned me off. First off, they have a
3-position switch on the side: Auto, Off, On. Off is off.
On is on. Auto I do not know. There is a flashlight at one
end and a night light on the other. Cute. There is also a
red indicator light on the side. Now mostly I have figured that
LED's like these are a charging indicator. On while
charging. Off when charged. Sylvania went one step further.
On while charging. Off when the product stops working. Maybe off
when it finishes charging but I shall never know. After a few
months, the Red light is off and 2 of the 3 do not work any more.
At least I discovered the problem before I had a real emergency.
And these things are expensive.
I really wish that Sylvania did not have a monopoly at Sam's
Club. Maybe they cannot sell their junk elsewhere -- and at best
it is junk. Who designs their products? German
engineers? I mean for several years I have been seeing ads for
little lamps that go on the underside of counters to give you good
light at specific locations. These are battery operated so I have
avoided them. But my 2008 Ford Ranger dome light is not useful .
The location of my freezer and my nighttime access means I want a lamp
to see the depths of my food supply. A few other locations and
reasons. So I bought a package of 3 of the Sylvania things at
Sam's Club. I should have realized that there was a problem by
the weight of the package -- and opening these packages requires anything
from a buzz saw to industrial shears. But the amount of stupidity
found in this product overwhelms me.
The lamps are LED and spot-focused. Unless you are looking at
something the size of a quarter directly below the lamp, you are out of
luck. And do not look at the light directly. A label warns you about this.
There is no on-off tap switch. There is a cute little motion sensor
makes the LED's go from bright to soft and back to off. Except the
sensitivity is such that which position you get is sort of random. And
then they go back off after a while. A tap switch is at least predictable.
The units are steel. Very heavy -- and they even come with a
strong magnet. Talk about useless and really stupid. Maybe
German cabinets are metal. Maybe German cars have no ceiling
insulation. The only place I could find in my house where a
magnet mount of a spot lamp would work at all is on my range
hood., But then the bevel front would aim the spot at my
pants/shorts and not at the food. If I mounted the lamp on the
flat part where it might do some good, I would waste more time tying to
find it than it is worth -- and it would soon be covered with grease or
get too hot. Maybe it could mount on the underside of my medicine
cabinet -- but the lamp is wider than the cabinet and the lamp -- preventing
closing the cabinet door. Nothing else in my house has a metal
underside and I doubt that many houses have extensive steel underside
cabinets. For at least the last 30 years, steel has not been the
preferred domestic cabinet material in the United States.
The lamps are too heavy to mount using simple double-sided
tape. I mean these things would be better weapons than
under-counter lamps. I cannot use them in my car since they are
too heavy to use Velcro to hold them on the Ranger ceiling. And
all that I need is for one of these steel bombs to hit me in the head
when I hit a bump and need to simultaneously simultaneously determine which direction the Ford
Ranger will jump when it lands.
Ah. I guessed wrong. The magnet comes with adhesive on
one side. I thought that the adhesive would go to the unit
side. Now I figure it belongs on the cabinet side. If the
adhesive worked, then you could remove the lamp at will and use it for
an unwieldy, sharp-edged flashlight. But the adhesive does not work. It
does not work for multiple reasons. The first is that the magnet
disk is very strong and attaching to a heavy steal object (the lamp
itself). Pulling on the unit only tears the magnet away from the
adhesive. Just the weight of the lamp causes the adhesive to
release overnight sending you searching the floor in the morning behind
some furniture for your missing lamp. Maybe the German nights are
cool enough for their adhesive to work. I don't think so but I
can tell you my average room temperature is about 85°. And
the temperature in the Ranger averages 85° when I am in it and
driving. You can figure 150° otherwise. At these
temperatures Velcro falls off -- and they have pretty good adhesive --
not the cheap Sylvania adhesive. And then the amount of adhesive is
insufficient. I mean why would Sylvania waste more than a token
amount of adhesive for something they know does not work.
And you can forget mounting this thing inside the freezer.
Other than it would only be useful then the freezer were closed, I
doubt the motion sensor would work at below zero temperatures.
And the inside of the freezer is plastic -- not good magnet material --
and I need to see the insides of the freezer not just the drain plug in
There are more cons. There are zero pros. There is
nothing good about these lamps unless you live in an environment that
has many flying objects (such as bullets) which would damage plastic.
Again, avoid Sylvania if you
value your pocketbook (and people do these days) or you have a low
frustration threshold with junk products.
Costco: I returned the Sylvania
junk to Sam's Club and bought a set of three from Costco. The
Costco package had no recognizable brand name but the difference is extreme:
Sam's Club (Sylvania)
3 sets of 3 each -- Each set swivel adjustable
9 in the center -- spot lamp
Separate On/Off and motion sensor
Motion Sensor Only
Only On Motion Sensor: 30 or 60 second
Plastic, silver Gray
Steel, black enamel
Triangle -- rounded sides and corners
Circle -- sharp bottom flange
Screws (supplied w/template) or Velcro (supplied, big, black)
Easy -- Rotating collar on removable mounting bracket
Difficult -- not necessary with single spot lamp
$22 (reduced to $18)
3-Each (9) AA Duracell
3-Each (9) AA Off-brand
What's the latest figure? 25%? 40%? I do not
Maybe I never knew. But 12% of Americans speak Spanish in their
homes. At least twice that can speak the language. But
Sirius/XM? 1 Spanish music station (and no self-respecting
Mexican would listen to the stuff it plays). No talk.
Oh. And ESPN in Spanish. 2 stations total out of, what?
150? I mean what next, Sirius support of the KKK? Within
the next two decades more people in the USA will speak Spanish than
English. Maybe you could give us at least one Mexican talk show
or one Mexican music channel or even a Spanish-American news
of us like to hear news from home but as far as Sirius/XM is
concerned, home is Atlanta or Albany. Why would anyone in any of
the southern border states waste their money? And if anyone at
Sirius can count, California is a border state with almost 10% of the
total US population -- with a large percentage of them preferring
Spanish. This could be an enormous customer base. Could
be. For someone else and not Sirius.
This is just a warning about a bad product. I bought one of the LiteOn DVD recorders from Sam's Club. The product is just bad -- buy another brand. Problems? Push the wrong button on the remote control and the main computer controller gets lost and turns the unit off. In order to turn it back on, you have to pull the power plug to reset it. This is a pain in the neck.
Strangely enough I think that either American or German engineers designed what the buttons do My hunch is that it is German. Why? The choices are counter-intuitive on what buttons, what menus, and what choices you have at any one point. The Japanese work very hard to make sure that Americans find easy, intuitive choices. This is exactly why Japan has been so successful in this country. On the other hand, Detroit still has not figured out that they should make cars people want rather than make people want their cars. German are so egotistical that the engineers do not even test their own product: -- they expect a test team (or the customer) to test their product. The result of this is an engineering patchwork quilt that works most of the time with failures spread throughout the product just waiting to be discovered. This is where Americans prevail: the implementation engineer is responsible for the quality of the product and takes pride in his/her work. On the other hand, what does an engineer know about menu choices and what to do when the wrong button is pushed?
This is just a warning about a bad product. I bought one of the LiteOn DVD recorders from Sam's Club. The product is just bad -- buy another brand. Problems? Push the wrong button on the remote control and the main computer controller gets lost and turns the unit off. In order to turn it back on, you have to pull the power plug to reset it. This is a pain in the neck.
Strangely enough I think that either American or German engineers
designed what the buttons do My hunch is that it is German.
Why? The choices are counterintuitive on which buttons, what
menus, and what choices you have at any one point. The Japanese
work very hard to make sure that Americans find easy, intuitive
choices. This is exactly why Japan has been so successful in this
country. On the other hand, Detroit still has not figured out
that they should make cars people want rather than make people want
their cars. German are so egotistical that the engineers do not
even test their own product: they expect a test team to test their
product. The result of this is an engineering patchwork quilt
that works most of the time with failures spread throughout the product
just waiting to be discovered. This is where Americans prevail:
the implementation engineer is responsible for the quality of the
product and takes pride in his/her work. On the other hand, what
does an engineer know about menu choices and what to do when the wrong
button is pushed?
After a few months I have given up on the LiteOn DVR! It will
work for a few minutes then quit leaving a destroyed DVD+R
behind. Not only will it not record but it will also not play
back -- not only the DVDs on which it wrote junk -- but will not play
any DCD. I went to their web page for support. There is no
support but there is a PDF version of the user manual. The big
print title of the unit spells recorder as "RECODER". But then I
understand that in America we say "Recorder" and elsewhere they
say "Recoder". WalMart does a lot of business
with the Chinas.
I notice that there are no more LiteOn DVRs at Sam's Club. Just a guess but I suspect others smarter than myself returned their units and burned a few ears when they could not burn DVDs.
The other day at Sam’s Club, I picked up a pack of tuna cans. You know Sam’s Club and Costco: nothing comes small. If it is a small can, they package a group together. So it is with Tuna. I always liked the “Sorry Charlie” ads and Sam’s Club sells good things generally so I thought I was getting good food.
I was wrong. After I opened one can and drained the water, less than half a can of tuna was left. Worse, it was just mush. I thought I had a bad can. I opened a second: same results, I added them together to make tuna salad for my sandwich. Not rotten but not good. I added a can of Kirkland (Costco) tuna and improved the mix.
Then I went to the Star-Kist web site and sent in a customer comment form. I even included the code off the bottom of the cans. I received a nice (glib) email back saying that sometimes things get past their quality control and they were sorry and they would mail me coupons to make up the loss.
They did not do this. Instead they sent me a coupon for two packages of tuna. Not 8 coupons to replace the 8 bad cans of product. Not 1 coupon to replace 8 cans of product. 1 coupon for 2 packages. I emailed back with an appropriate response: you sold me bad product and when confronted, sent me a piece of paper not worth going to the store to redeem. Companies like this deserve to be put on my permanent grudge list. Star-Kist has sent me a check for the other tins: the company made good on the money loss.
What now? After all, they paid me for the money. I met a couple in Sam's Club checking out the tuna. I told them my experience. They said that they had had the same experience with the standard tuna and now only bought the albacore tuna. This is wrong. If a company puts out a bad product and you buy it and do not like it, you do not buy from the same company the higher priced product. This is the absolute last thing that you should do as it encourages the expansion of both products!
I did it again. October, 2005, I went to Sam's Club with some friends and bought some Star-Kist tuna. People had told me that the Albacore was better than the cheaper stuff. This is the only brand Sam's Club carries. This stuff is indeed cheaper than the Star-Kist regular. The next time I shall go without: the Star-Kist albacore is about the same quality as I would expect from the cheapest can in a supermarket. I mean this stuff is really bad. I shall not complain to Star-Kist this time. Just complain here. After all there is the old adage: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
Just to make an objective comparison so you know that this is not a
only gripe. If I open a Costco-brand albacore, I drain the can of
a little water, add some mayonnaise to lubricate it, some celery seed
and pickle relish to add a little flavor, and some cheese, I have
enough for two sandwiches and some crackers. If I try the same
with the Star-Kist Albacore, I drain a lot of sick-looking water, and
have enough for one sandwich and a couple of crackers. There is
enough water added to the can to make up for enough tuna for almost an
sandwich. When I pay for tuna, I should get tuna. When I
pay for water, it should come in clear bottles and be labeled as
water. I do not want to blame the runs I got later that day on
the tuna. I do not think it was the pickle relish or the
No, I did not buy more Star-Kist. I noticed last week that
Sam's Club now carries a brand in addition to Star-Kist. But it
has been several months and I have time to think more about this.
Am the only
person in this country that buys for quality? I mean,
Star-Kist would not exist if the buy-for-quality population were very
large. In many cities, people can buy at multiple stores with
multiple brands. Most people who like tuna will buy multiple
cans. Do they not try multiple brands to see which they like
better? Is it not good to buy a product containing more fish than
water ? Is not fish with the consistency of fish better than fish
with the consistency of mud? Does not anyone care what they put
in their mouths? I mean when I open the can of premium Star-Kist
and scrape the pink slush away from the remaining fish I have to
tighten my stomach. I tell myself that hundreds of people eat
this with no second thoughts and it will not poison me and I have only
a few cans left. The alternative is to give or throw the
remaining cans away.
Everyone has their own favorite brands of things. My friend
Gale likes Kellogg's Raison Bran better than Post. I have always
liked Post better. When I was a boy, my mother would buy Post for
me. When I started eating too much cereal, she would toss in a
box of Kellogg's to slow me down. In those days I did not read
the box. I just knew that something had changed for the
worse. My friend Gale likes his brand for the same reason I like
mine: plumper raisons, bigger flakes, and resistance to soggy
flakes. I am sure that Kellogg's has people who taste-test the
competition. I am sure the same is true for Post. I am sure
they each make adjustments according to contemporary tastes and the
relative costs of raisons. I have tried Kellogg's recently and I
think Gale is wrong. Once of us is technically in
error. But this is a
brand preference. These are both quality products. Someone
is paying attention to what the customer wants and the quality
difference is less significant than the decisions of the taste-testors.
I know there are people who are brand-loyal in spite of poor
quality. This is why they sell more Toyotas than Dodges -- but
Dodge still exists. When it comes to large-dollar purchases,
loyalty to American product is given up in favor of seeing a balance in
the checking account and a reduction of wasted time in the
service-center lounge. I have spent months in Chevrolet and Dodge
service areas. I have only spent hours in the Toyota service
centers. The Nissan dealer picked up and delivered. He is
probably no longer around. But they still sell Chevys and Fords
and Dodges. Probably mostly in the iron or rust belt. I
guess some people just do not care. Maybe there are a lot of
first-time buyers who believe the TV ads. But buying a couple
dollar can of tuna or cereal for comparison purposes will seriously
improve the quality of your diet and a mistake will leave you a better
person and not seriously impact your food budget. So why can they
still sell Star-Kist?
This may not be important but I know a lot of American engineers and
marketing people who lost their jobs do to below quality component
replacement in products their company bought from Gold Star. When
the products failed in the field, the selling company took the
loss. The fine print in the contract with Gold Star made them not
liable for component failure. Gold Star made components to replace the
original high-quality, purchase components. Their argument: the
Gold Star components meet the contract specifications of the original
components. Most honest manufacturing companies attempt to make
their components such that the specification is a minimum
requirement. Gold Star treated the specification as a target or
I did not lose my job but we had to reprogram a lot of chips to deal
with the Gold Star short cuts and since the problem is dealt with at a
corporate level and not an engineering level, there was little chance
to defend myself or my programming.
The objective in Japan is to make products that people want to
own. The objective in the USA is to overwhelm the marketplace
with marketing gimmicks to sell products that people do not want in the
first place. The objective in Korea is to make cheap copies of
what the Japanese are making.
Remember (South) Korea is so paranoid that until recently, you could
not legally belong to a religion where you faced east to pray (Japan is
to the east of Korea).
UPS or Backup Power supply. This brand is dangerous. It
will not only destroy your computer equipment but is capable of
destroying anything attached to it. I always
recommend people use an UPS for any electronic equipment. I
bought several of these over the last 10 years. I thought things
were dying of old age but I never thought an UPS was killing
them. So far I have burned up two desktop power supplies and a
couple of wall lamps. It was the sparking from the wall lamps
that led me to the UPS. I mean I buy the insurance to protect my
equipment and the insurance is pathological!
I live in an RV. I have line voltage gauges to measure
polarity, grounding, and voltage levels. When my lamp started
sparking, I plugged the monitor gauge into the battery backup side of
my APC UPS. It read within range. Then my power went
out. The UPS kicked in with acceptable voltage and started
beeping to let me know I was on battery power. So far, OK.
Then my house power came back on. My voltage gauge cycled up from
low voltage, normal polarity, normal ground to high voltage, no
ground. I do not know how high but the gauge stops at
values over 130. It remained at this value for a minute or so
and then returned to the 120 voltage registering on my Tripp-Litte UPS.
I thought maybe the house power did something strange. I
turned the APC off and then back on. Same thing: higher than 130
volts and no ground. What if I had not been home? What if I
had attached it to something that went into flames. I mean sparks from
a wall lamp is pretty high voltage. The wall lamps are now
trash. Lamps? I lost one a few months ago and thought it
was just another appliance failure. The two computers? I
replaced them thinking that the problem was worse than an internal
power supply. Now I regret that. Who would have thought
that the devices that you buy for protection are the cause of your
This was with DIFFERENT APC UPS devices! Not the same
one! One was an UPS I installed on my daughter's computer in
Berkeley. The others in my RV. There is a serious problem here and it
is not from the power company.