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Jun
25
Filed Under (Advice, Finance) by brah.john on 25-06-2010

I had an interesting experience today when I swung by the bank to deposit a check.  As I walked into the bank, there was a big sign stating:

“As the teller how to avoid your debit card from being declined!”

Slightly concerned, I figured this must have something to do with my bank being bought out by another bank and changing hands.  Apparently I was wrong.

I asked the teller about it, and got a response fitting for Texas:

“Oh, that’s the government setting new rules and regulations for the bank.  The banker over there can talk to you about these new rules”.

Big government and heavy handed regulation of banks – oh my! (heavy sarcasm)

I walked over to the “banker” (apparently tellers aren’t bankers?).  She pulled out an overdraft protection from and started her spiel:

“Well, you have a checking account, and the new government rules and regulations no longer allow the bank to automatically pay for any overdraft to your account if you overdraft your debit card.  In the old system, there was  a fee levied on your account for doing so.  You really want opt in to this new overdraft protection program to avoid that embarrassing moment in a restaurant where your debit card is declined.”

I rolled my eyes.  She continued:

“So now, you can opt in to the overdraft protection; and the slight change being instead of the bank covering the negative balance, we would just auto-draft it out of your savings account – for a fee.”

Wait… so my choices are:

1.) Leave the status quo.  If I go over my account balance, my debit card is declined.

or

2.) Opt in to this “great new program” in which if I overdraft with my debit card, the transaction will still go through, and the bank will, graciously, auto draft it from my savings, I only need pay a fee to the bank for doing so!

Hrmmmm… hard choice.  The opt in paperwork that the banker gave me only made it far enough out of the bank to be thrown in the trash.  Option 1 sure seems like that’s how debit cards should have always worked.

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Jun
01
Filed Under (Rant) by brah.john on 01-06-2010

No, you did not find a shortcut for this left turn.

I'm sure your time is more important than mine.

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Mar
28
Filed Under (Rant) by brah.john on 28-03-2010

Some of my friends are shocked…

confused…

angered…

& offended…

That as of this point, I have only seen the first two episodes of Lost this season.

I plan on watching them!  I just need more time, and I’m not quite as crazy involved as you are!  In fact, after watching the season premiere, I was a bit irked by the amount of commercials during the show.  Towards the end, I could have sworn there were just as many commercials as there was actual program.

So, instead of sitting down and watching the third episode of Lost, I decided to re-watch the first episode and keep track of when the commercials were, and when the episode was on.  Here are the results:

Ok, so at first glance, this chart seems to fit the ratio of commercials to episode time that I am used to.  It seems a bit high, but heck, it was the season premiere – we can tolerate that, right?  Well, then you look at the Commercial to Episode ratio over the length of the premiere, and then you see the annoyance:

You can see them hook you in with fewer commercials, then ramp up the ratio as much as we can tolerate for the rest of the episode.  Apparently the tolerance threshold is about 1 minute of commercials for every 2 minutes of episode.

Thank god for the ability to record these shows an skip past the commercials!

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Feb
27
Filed Under (Stories) by brah.john on 27-02-2010

Last summer I learned this lesson.  I am resolved not to forget it.

I returned to my car one afternoon to find exploded soda cans in the back seat of my car.  Yuck.

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Feb
22
Filed Under (Rant) by brah.john on 22-02-2010

Subway wins my “most annoying commercial” award of 2010.

I know it is early in the year, but this jingle drives me nuts. Nuts like keep me up at night with the jingle in my head.

Make it stop!

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Jan
07
Filed Under (Rant) by brah.john on 07-01-2010

No other business operates like the airlines.  The airlines can get away with murder in regards to your ticket with no reprimand!  If other businesses would start selling one product only to deliver a different product, they would quickly go out of business.  There are a few key tactics they use that just would not hold up in a normal business.

The Bait and Switch

There have been several times where I decide to fork over the extra money and pay for the direct flight from point A to point B.  Hey, this reduces the likelihood of not making it do your destination; it is worth the extra money, right?  Inevitably it seems like something always goes wrong; whether it is a mechanical problem with the aircraft, weather conditions, or over-booking of the flight, I have been forced to take non-direct flights to get to point B for the same price that I paid for my direct flight.  Why in this case does the airline not give me a partial refund on my “direct” flight that I decided to pay extra for?  Not only am I getting to my destination at a later time, but I’m also now increasing my odds of something else going wrong on the second (or third) leg of the flight!

The Purposeful Overbooking

I’m sure everyone has experienced this.  Airlines even admit that they do this.  They sell more tickets than there are seats on a plane, and when everyone actually shows up, there are 10+ people on a standby list that end up getting bumped from the flight that they paid for.  Imagine walking in to a car dealership, working out a deal on a new car, signing the paperwork, paying them, and then receiving a different car – it would never happen.  Yet airlines are somehow exempt from being able to deliver on all of the tickets that they sell.

The Nickel and Diming

I recently flew on TACA airlines, a Central American airline, and I was amazed at the service I received.  They still played movies and gave out free headsets, they still gave out food to the passengers in coach, they were incredibly attentive and helpful and checking baggage didn’t cost extra.  On top of it all, the aircraft itself was much newer than typical US aircraft, and was actually comfortable.  I vaguely remember the days where US airlines were like this.  It is sad to think that some airlines are considering charging extra for using the bathrooms on the aircraft during flight.  Now, to be fair, plenty of other businesses use this nickel and diming technique, but don’t worry, I hate them too.

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