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industry

The DTV Switchover Scam: Don’t Get Taken!

By business, news, opinion, rants, sarcasm, technology

You’ve probably seen those not-so-creative TV advertisements the National Association Of Broadcasters has put out in an effort to scare inform the general public about how their TVs will no longer work after February 17, 2009. Why? The federal government has mandated that all over-the-air stations turn off their analog signals by that date. The government has auctioned off the analog spectrum to private companies. For more on this, see my post, “AT&T To Bring Free Wi-Fi To Starbucks And Beyond!” where you can learn more about the plans.

Anyway, leave it to Corporate America to capitalize on consumer confusion and take advantage of all of the many people who don’t know anything about what’s really going on with the digital switchover.

Oh, before I go any further, please notice the picture on the left. I added my own caption commentary, but the picture is for real. It’s on the joke-of-a-website DTVAnswers.com. Lets have a moment of honesty and self-reflection here. Do you or anyone you know watch TV like this? Unless they just gambled their life savings on a horse race and just won, there is no way they could be this scary-happy without hard drugs. But I digress.

These TV ads are putting many people in a frenzy. My friend’s family just replaced every TV in their house because they thought without a new TV, each with a digital box connected to it, they wouldn’t be able to watch TV anymore. They already had Comcast standard cable, but they thought they needed both new TVs and to upgrade to Comcast’s digital package (hence the digital boxes) to receive programming. Comcast’s boxes and the ones the government is offering are completely different! The cable industry is raking in the big bucks this year because of misinformed people such as this family.

My grandparents recently got a second digital box from Comcast for their second TV because of the same confusion. I know there must be countless other individuals doing the same thing and flushing money down the tubes to these companies who are using shady advertising tactics to trick consumers. Don’t get screwed over by the cable industry. Here are the cold, hard facts.

If you’re one of the diminishing number of people who uses “rabbit ears” to pick up local broadcast stations and have a TV that’s more than a couple of years old, you won’t be able to pick up the signal after February 17, 2009, without a digital set-top converter box (available free or at a discount rate from the government). If you have cable from any provider at all, such as Comcast or Verizon, you don’t have to do anything. You’re not affected in any way, shape, or form, and don’t let them convince you otherwise.

The government isn’t very clear about who’s affected either. Is this Bush’s backdoor plan to help the economy by helping manufacturers selling millions of dollars TVs and related equipment and the cable and satellite industry make record profits? Okay, probably not. But that is what’s happening in these industries. Don’t get taken!

 

New Do For The Moo: Milk Carton Makeover

By Uncategorized

Richmond’s Costco stores are the test market for a new generation of milk jugs that could soon replace all that are on the market now and will save the industry ten cents per carton because they’re stackable. I just found this interesting when I looked in the refrigerator and saw the new, oddly-shaped gallon jug. I’ve got to say though, I really like them. Here’s a Richmond Times Dispatch article about the new jugs:

The iconic 1-gallon milk jug is getting a makeover. The streamlined plastic bottles showed up this month at Costco stores in the Richmond area, and they’re causing customers to do a double take in the dairy aisle. At home, people are having to relearn a skill they took for granted — how to pour milk without sloshing or dribbling.

The redesigned jugs are flat on top and have a wide cap at one corner. They pour more like a pitcher than a traditional gallon jug. Because they can be stacked, they save money — about 10 cents a gallon. Early reviews are mixed, which is what Costco experienced in other areas as customers got used to the new bottle. “I like the milk fine,” said A.T. Grady as he picked up one of the new containers at the Costco off Hull Street Road in Chesterfield County, “but I don’t like the jug it’s in. It’s harder to pour out. It’ll drip back down the jug if you’re not careful.”

His wife, Helen, was more willing to give it a chance. “It’s time for a change,” she said. “These milk jugs have been around since the ’60s. I wonder how long it’ll be before they get to the supermarket?” Mary Dennis was glad to hear about the lower cost. “It’s something to get used to,” she said. “If it saves a dime, I’m all for saving.”

Costco has been phasing in the new design since an Ohio dairy presented the idea in 2004, said Sandra Custer, corporate foods buyer at the national Costco office near Seattle. “We saw merit in it. We’ve been slowly rolling it out around the country ever since.” Traditional milk jugs must be loaded onto a metal rolling rack called a bossie cart for shipping. One bossie cart can hold 80 gallon jugs.

The new stackable design can be shipped on a pallet that holds 224 milk bottles. “That’s almost three times as much in a similar display space,” Custer said. “Those bossie carts are often stolen for scrap metal. . . . They have to be hauled back to the dairy. They rust in a cold, wet environment. Now it’s only a one-way haul.” The savings get passed along. In East Coast markets where the new jug has been introduced, customers may have “a little bit of comment at the beginning,” said Jim Stafford, vice president of merchandising for the Northeast market. However, milk sales have remained steady. Designers have been making modifications to the jug based on customer feedback, Stafford said. “We will do another cap at some point in the future. That’s probably a few months out.” From Custer’s viewpoint, there’s something good to be said about the reaction. “It’s certainly got people talking about milk.”