Friday, September 19, 2008

Tips to buy a coconut with some common sense!

I was at an Indian store few minutes back.  An Indian couple there was buying a $1.00 coconut.  To ensure that the coconut is fresh and they do not waste their $1.00, they asked the shopkeeper to break the coconut, then saved the coconut water in two polythene bags, and broken coconut in another polythene bag. Three bags for a coconut which doesn't need one. In an effort to be very smart and save $1.00, they are now going to drink the coconut water that will be in a polythene bags for quite some time, waste some more bags and plastic, and remove the freshness of coconut.  Fresh food in plastic, especially the low grade plastic should be avoided.

Next time, if you want to buy coconut (the one you can use for making chutney), shake it, if you can hear water shaking, its fresh and good. 100%.  People break to check only dry coconuts, not the one with water.  I know environment is last thing on most minds, but a simple common sense and google can be used some times.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

People have become very systematic these days!

And when they go to buy grocery, they very carefully put each cucumber in a clear plastic bag, bananas in another such clear plastic bag, Jalapenos in clear plastic bag, each cantaloupe in the clear plastic bag, and then they pack all these individual plastic bags in the grocery bags. Since these bags get heavy they request another plastic bag from the bagger.  The shopping cart looks mostly like the ones below.  It's difficult to realize if they are buying grocery or grocery bags.

At home they throw the big grocery bags in trash, and put all these vegetables in refrigerator. Every time they take out some of these vegetables they throw the clear plastic bags in trash. Many times the vegetables packed in these bags do not get enough air and get bad in those plastic bags and they are thrown in the trash. 

Using huge amount of plastic is already normal in our life cycle these days, and we exacerbate the problem by adding more and more plastic. If you have no idea how these plastic bags are made, they are made up of "petroleum."

I do not understnad how is it convenient to pack bananas in plastic bag and then remove the pack once you reach home? How is ot convenient to pack cucumbers, Cantaloupes, and already packed vegetables and unpack them again? I can understand using those packs for Okra, beans, some leafy vegetables and that's it. You anyways have to (should) take out these things before you keep them in refrigerator. In Walmart today, I saw a lady packing a Bleach bottle in two plastic bags.  I do not understand how come people get so engrossed in a habit that they confuse convenience and habit and intermingle it with stupidity.

Some people say they recycle the plastic bags. Either they lie or they are among 1% of the people who recycle the plastic bags.  Some "supposedly" use them as trash bags. As per my experience, only few of the trash cans are of the size of the grocery bag. Also, these bags mostly get teared up by the time they reach home, making them useless as trash bags.  As per the small clear plastic bags are concerned, they are not worth for second use for anything.

There are some people who bring reusable grocery bags, however I have "never ever" seen any immigrant (Indian, Chinese, Mexican, other Asians, South American etc.) family using reusable grocery bags.  Being an Indian, I mostly go to Indian grocery store and I have never ever seen any other person using these kind of bags (I know some of my Indian friends use that though).  It is surprising to see Indians detached with environmental issues, because statistically they are the most educated ethnic groups in US. Perhaps, education and sanity doesn't always go together.

I would also like to see stores providing some incentives of using grocery bags. Safeway gives you a 3 cent incentive (ridiculous) every time you use your own bag. Trader Joe lets you enter into a weekly raffle.  I sometimes request discount from some stores for bringing grocery bags.  Sometimes they do give the discount.  In next few days I will write feedbacks to most stores to provide incentive for people who use reusable bags, and will post them here.

This post was mostly a rant although I didn't want it to be. In the next post I will try and post some feedback letters I post to the big grocery stores.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Circuit City and its Fraudulent "firedog" Service

So, I was looking for a reasonable laptop last month. I found the most reasonable laptop on Circuit City website. The website gave me the location of couple of stores where it was available for $479.99. I went to the store to buy it and they said they were out of it, but sent me to another store which had the laptops available. This other store was in Palo Alto, CA. That store had only two pieces of the laptop available that I was interested in, but both had the "firedog" service done on it. Circuit city charged me $39.99 for this firedog service. They supposedly had done following things on the laptop.

• Perform initial setup

• Run Microsoft updates

• Clean up icons & software

• Personalize desktop

• Set user-access controls

• 90-day guarantee

First of all they pretty much forced me into buying this service, as they never gave me an option to buy this laptop without the service. Now, in this service, they run through the intial setup of laptop and make a user named Owner. This is probably the easiest thing. Then they remove the only security feature of Vista i.e. User Access Control (UAC). Further they move all the desktop icons to a folder. They run Microsoft updates and then charge you $39.99 for it. They also supposedly 'optimize' the computer for faster boot up.

So I bought my laptop on Aug 22, and as soon as I switched it on in the store, it started downloading updates and the firedog people started giving me reasons that the computer was last updated on Aug 3, 2008 (I realized later that it was actually Mar 8). I said it doesn't matter, "if I am paying you $39.99, I need the service." They said you can sit here and we will do it for you, but will not refund the extra charge. I stopped arguing, bought the laptop and came home. Updated the computer with 23 updates. I was pissed and so I mailed Circuit City on their website as follows.



I bought a laptop on Aug 22, 2008 from Circuit city at E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA. The laptop model was ACER Aspire 5720-4126. The laptop was supposedly sold with firedog package that added $39.99 to the total cost of the laptop. I went to the store expecting a price of $479.99 as advertised on the web that day. There were only two laptops available on this model and, only on this store.

So, this firedog was forced onto me which I didn't want at first place itself. Further firedog service hadn't done things that it promised. It still had lots of freeware programs installed, the computer took about 2 minutes to boot, and the computer was not updated for more than 20 days.

In wake of these things, I think I was cheated for $39.99 by Circuit City, and I think it's done on a regular basis to all the customers. I would like to lodge a formal complaint in this regard and would appreciate a formal response from Circuit City. In next few days, I will post the picture of unwanted program from "uninstall program" and a video that shows the time taken by this laptop to boot on my blog, if my complaints are not taken seriously.


I got the following response:



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I did record a video that shows very normal time for Vista to shutdown and boot, and will upload it pretty soon. Well, couple of days later the computer told me that Vista Service Pack that was released in May was not installed either. Screenshot for update history is below.

Screenshot for Vista SP1 update is below.

I called the store, and the manager and the computer guy said either I can return my laptop, or take it to the store and they will update it for me. Frustrated, I called Circuit City at 1-800-THE-CITY, and nobody ever picked up the phone there. I finally called American Express to cancel the extra $39.99 that I paid to circuit city and now Amex will dispute that with Circuit City directly.

It is frustating to see how big stores like these dupe the customers for small things on regular basis. I am not sure if BBB (Better Business Bureau), does care about fraud of these small things.