Saturday, July 31, 2010

Whisper: just pay separate processing and shipping

*Every time I see a documentary about a sunken ship and its investigation, the sea seems filled with snowflakes. I'm not a marine biologist. Does anyone know what those things are? They seem to be floating with the current and make the sunken ships seem like Christmas decorations. Are they plankton? Krill? I can see that they're not air bubbles. They vary in size and seem solid, if flaky. Do the fish have 'snow' shovels?

*My ears and eyes continue to be assailed by those TV commercials from a collectors' mint about gold coin proofs of all sizes. The beginning of each commercial describes in detail the make-up and history of a gold coin with inflated value numbers, making it sound as if you're going to be able to buy one. Then they pop in with their actual product: a 'proof.' Now according to the dictionary, in numismatics a proof is "one of a limited number of coins of a new issue struck from polished dies on a blank having a polished or matte surface." The Government Mint sells proof sets all the time. But, the TV dealers just create a new definition of the term for their own benefits. And they don't explain the differences. They call their product [a non usable coin, by the way; and generally having no secondary market] a gold proof, but they also sneak in the modifying word "clad." And of course, the ubiquitous 'certificate of authenticity.' What's that? Does the certificate state that the company is shamming the buyer? Does it explain there's no re-seller market? Then, in small print you find that gold clad means the use of 10mg or 15mg or 55mg---though you'll rarely hear about any 'clad' that heavy---pure gold. At the conversion rate, each quoted mg equals .000032 ounce of gold. What? All those zeros after the decimal and before an actual crooked number? Of course. .000032 troy ounce of gold at $1,200 per troy ounce equals 38 cents, 57 cents, and $1.90! respectively.

And if gold skyrockets to $1,500 per troy ounce? Well, the calculation leads to 48 cents, 72 cents, and $2.40! The ads claim they can't guarantee the prices for very long. Hah!! Have I got a bridge to sell you! Besides, the same commercial keeps running and running and the price never changes. It doesn't have to. There's so much profit built into the price already---and most other TV ads spout the same $19.95 [a number rarely exceeded in any TV ad.] Foggeddaboutit! These are not investment articles. If you need gold, buy gold directly from a reputable dealer. Their gold pieces are actually gold and not some unknown center clad with a few cents of gold leaf.

By the way, National Collector's mint is selling a 'clad proof' of the 1933 Double Eagle for $19.95 [31.1mg in the clad.] That gold content is worth $1.19. Is this object worth $19.95 and no resale market? You decide.

*I'm impressed with the simplicity of the credits for the movie 'All That Money Can Buy' 1941, better known as 'The Devil and Daniel Webster.' After the title, we see a list of 'Before the Camera' personnel, and then a list for 'Behind the Camera' personnel. No fighting for predominance of larger letters and the luster now shown by calling pictures by their directors' names, or including the names of actors before the title. Egos are always out-sized in Hollywood, usually from the feelings of [mostly false] self-importance and wealth. We need to return to simplicity. Doesn't Hollywood realize that super egotism is leading the film industry to near irrelevance?

*I've often wondered at the stupidity of movie and television criminals. When they outnumber the good guy [Walker, Texas Ranger as an example], why do they stand back and only attack him one by one---or by two in a carefully choreographed stupidity. If they grouped and attacked all at once, they'd have subdued him. But I guess that wouldn't make good results for a movie or TV show, would it? In most cases, a real attack by three people would probably corral any hero.

*One way of reducing cell phone and texting time when you're doing the calling is to allow your call to ring more than three times. It's hardly enough time for the other party to get from one room to another to answer you. Impatient America, what's your hurry?---yes, it happens to me.

*I wish State Farm, GEICO, 21st Century, and the rest of the companies showing television ads today would define their terms: such as coverage, time span, deductible, etc. And that means telling what the base is for giving discounts. 40% off what? 15% off what? If one has a lower basic rate, then having a smaller percentage off might actually be a bigger savings in dollars in many cases? And the savings on switching from other companies claiming great discounts doesn't make sense. So, this is a situation where the insurance companies all fighting amongst themselves with apples and oranges and pears. 'My 40% savings is bigger than your 40% savings!' By the way, NONE of these insurance companies is planning on losing money selling insurance this way. And some of the commercials are getting very arrogant with their condescending attitudes---like those with the smarmy young gun spouting off about State Farm.

*The kiss of death: 'just pay separate shipping and handling [processing.]' Interested in 'Mighty Fix-It?' 'Get three rolls for $10---but wait! We'll add another three rolls simply for processing and shipping.' Now just how expensive can it be to send six rolls of this stuff through the mail? $2? $3? Since processing and shipping is $5.95, you're actually paying $21.90 for those six rolls? A bargain? I don't rightly know. All I know is that all these TV ads doubling your offer for a separate processing and shipping charge---practically noted in a whisper so you can miss it---are all expensive choices. You don't actually think these people are in business for their health? Of course not. Most of the processing and shipping charges along with the basic product minus a probable cheap production cost give them a tidy profit. Otherwise, they wouldn't be buying TV air time. [By the way: each roll of 'Mighty Fix-It' is ten feet long, and you could use it up with just one or two of the applications shown on TV---especially if you're prone to overkill.

*Another spurious value currently being touted on TV is the 'Optic 1050' binocular offer. Just $19.98 for this great binocular---but wait again, we'll include a pencil type spy-scope [I've had one of those. They're virtually worthless.] But wait again and again! We'll include a smaller, travel binocular as well. All this for the basic price and the various duplicated shipping and handling costs. A $200 value! Where??? Duh??? These spyglasses are certainly not worth $200. For a $200 expenditure, you'll be able to buy a reputable binocular with average quality. Better binoculars cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000.

*I have nothing against companies advertising their useful and fairly priced goods. I just don't like the mis-information and outright lying in some TV ads. If Congress really wants to do something useful, stop taxing small business to death and go after the TV liars.

* I was once a big fan of archaeology, especially of Ancient Egypt. But in these modern days, I find it more and more to be a type of modern grave robbing. The archaeologists are very concerned with dead bodies. They find them, unbury them, date them, and put them on display for all to see---thus proving that no matter how wealthy you are, you're still completely helpless in death. The wealthy have big tombs and monuments, so a couple of thousand years from now---assuming human beings are still alive and kicking---they'll be the ones dug up and studied. [I hope the archaeologists are too.] So much for the sanctity of the human body. Actually, you can fool them all and be cremated!

*There's much consternation about the falling attendance at NASCAR events. I know the bad economy and the oppressive tax burdens have combined to reduce the gate, but I also think NASCAR is chopping down its own tree. So, I suggest some changes. Firstly, award five points for the pole position as well as allowing the driver to pick first for pit lane box. Secondly, since NASCAR wants a play-off, it should do it right. The twelve chase drivers should line up in the first twelve positions for every race in the chase, according to qualifying speeds. The rest of the drivers can line up behind them based on qualifying speed. Thus two drivers will get the pole points, but the twelve chase drivers should have first picks on the pit lane boxes. The race would be more of a 'chase race' then, and the top twelve cars---who raced 2/3rds of a season to get where they finished---should be predominate in each of the races. Of course, that doesn't prevent a non-chase driver from winning or placing in the top few spots. It just the top twelve who should be spotlighted by NASCAR.

*If, like the TV commercial says to the general public, it's 'your Pizza Hut,' does that mean I'll be going getting profit-sharing checks? How much is my share and when do I get it? I'd be okay taking it all in free pizza.

*'Get your thicker, higher gloss hair from our product.' Then these models swirl their hair all around to give you an idea of what to expect. Now, be honest. How often do you see a women with hair like that in real life? I thought so. I never see them either. You'd think they could come up with a better type of commercial for all these hair products.

*There are a lot of movies out there where the star's singing voice is dubbed. My sense is if the star can't sing, that star shouldn't be in a movie that calls for it. What's next? Dubbing lines? Using the stand in for most of the movie? The whole Hollywood experience needs a complete overhaul. Never mind the financial firms. Pass a bill about Hollywood and its extremists.

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