Oakla, er… Las Vegas A’s

So, the Oakland A’s are moving. Not official yet, but it’ pretty much a done deal. I’m going to focus more on my emotional feelings and add a bit of historical context so it hopefully makes sense to you.

Arriving in Oakland

I start here because I believe it is an important aspect and the basis for my thoughts. Even though I latched onto the A’s from my first game in the Coliseum in 1972, the intellectual part of my brain says they never should have moved to Oakland to begin with. Charlie Finley, the owner at the time, investigated several potential cities, i.e Dallas/Ft Worth, Seattle, Atlanta (prior to Braves move, Louisville, and several others.  The problem with Oakland was the Giants were right across the bay, and they were very successful. Back in 1968 the American League (AL) and National League (NL) were still two separate and distinct leagues and legal entities. Only the AL got to vote on the move. The NL and the Giants had no opportunity to rally against it.

Dallas/Ft Worth would have been the best long-term bet, but Oakland had a major league level stadium ready to go, so Oakland it was.


I went to uncounted games from 1972 to 2005 when I moved half way across the country. I’ve been to many A’s games in other stadiums since, and I wear the gear and all that stuff. I follow the players, I have my favorites, all that stuff. I am emotionally invested in the team and players.  I figuratively lived and died with their ups and down.

My thoughts on the move

– I’ve said for many years it needs to happen. The A’s have always been the red-headed step-child in northern California, and even though for the first forty years they had much more success on the field, better players, a better stadium, and had a better community outreach program (after Finley sold the team), the area still blindly supported the Giants. Don’t get me wrong, I love the OAKLAND A’s, but lack of respect and the first item noted above, I have long felt they would be better off if they moved. If they established their own fan base, not a shared area.

– That being said, I am NOT enamored with Las Vegas being the new city. The local population is not a wealthy population. A lot of people move there to work in the casinos when young, then move on. They will have to depend on tourists going to random games. They don’t have the time or the money or the inclination to build a devotion to a tea.  TV will show crowds with overwhelming visitor gear, especially when the Yankees and Red Sox visit. That’s not a way to establish a solid fan base.

Ideally, I would prefer they move to Nashville, or even Charlotte, but Nashville has a group pushing for an expansion team, and apparently they have pull, so that’s not happening. Personally, I believe the MLB should tell them to go pound sand. The MLB should be protecting and building they’re existing teams before thinking about expansion.

My bottom line thoughts…

  • They can move and I will remain an A’s fan as my team of choice.
  • They can change the colors, if they want. I’d be annoyed, but whatever.
  • That being said, if they change the name, the team is dead to me. Period.  There’s way too much proud history to be thrown away on a whim.

Las Vegas A’s, or somebody else. Maybe Royals, or Twins, or Tigers. I like all three of those teams, just not as much as the A’s. Even if I go elsewhere it won’t be the same. There won’t be that personal history or memories going back to when I was 8 years old.


This is a difficult issue for me. I’m torn between emotionalism and reality. I’m striving for reality while at least keeping my memories.

Go A’s!  Maybe.

Concert Etiquette

Attending a loud rock concert is supposed to be a fun event. Oh, it has its drawbacks, i.e. tight crowds, price gouging for souvenirs and refreshments, herding around with the random masses, partial hearing loss for a day and a half, etc., but we’re willing to forge ahead for the entertainment. Right?

One would think. Yet some don’t seem to know this. There is a definite lack of consideration for others. People’s attitudes in everything anymore seems to be, “I got mine, fuck you!”, so why should a concert be any different?

It’s time we be reminded of some “guidelines” for concert attending. Some of these also apply to movies, sporting events, and other places where large crowds gather and attention to the event is desired.

1. Arrive early enough to get your souvenirs, get your refreshments, use the potty, and be in your seat when the lights go down and the music starts. A band often starts their set with a popular song, and here you are climbing over people and/or making them get up and move around awkwardly because you can’t manage your time. Sorry, not sorry, that’s rude.

2. Relating to one item in #1, potty before you sit down. Potty during intermission. Potty after the show is over.

3. Why are you attending a concert if getting up every 15 minutes to go get another beer is your #1 priority?

4. Hate to break it to you, but that audio/video footage from your phone is going to be crap. Too many people have no idea other people behind them actually want to see the show and will hold their phone up to record entire songs. Newsflash: I don’t want to see the show through your phone screen. Live in the moment, if you have to raise your phone above your own eyes, just… don’t.

5. Shades of point #1, the show is about 3 minutes from being over… the band is rocking and concluding with an over-the-top finish… and here you are climbing over people and/or making them stand up and move awkwardly around, missing the show’s climax… all because you want to “beat the traffic” on the way out. Really? Seriously? This is, by far, the most selfish and inconsiderate thing you can do at a concert.

6. …and I will catch crap for this, but… SIT DOWN!!! Especially if you’re in the balcony or far enough away from the stage the performers will never see you standing anyway. If you want to dance around and stuff, more power to ya, but go to the back and do it there so others can enjoy the show in their own way as much as you want to enjoy it.

Was There a Game?

Last week there was a reasonably important football game on television.  Whole days and drunken get-togethers are wrapped around this event, so for poops and cackles I will give a run-down how my day went.

First off, I normally do not watch football anymore.  I have a few favorite teams, but know few players, so there’s that.

The ridiculously long pre-game show I did not watch.  Nothing but repetitive crap, and I mean crap.  Mundane empty interviews.  Pedantic player profiles,  You get the idea.

The “start time” for the game was something like 5:30 pm, local time.  But that’s just the television start time.  The game itself, after the pomp and circumstances, overly-dramatic singing of the National Anthem, absurdly drama-ish flipping of the coin, long drawn-out player introductions, the meeting of a foot on the ball is usually 30 to 45 minutes after that.  I skipped that, too.

I tuned in roughly 6:20 pm, the 1st quarter was roughly half over.  One team was up 7-0, but I really hadn’t missed anything.  I no longer give a crap about the commercials, either.  Look, can we be serious?  The commercials have long been over-hyped for at least 30 years.  I’m sorry, but they’re no longer the big deal so many people still think they are.

Ok, so half-time is coming up, just about zero time, so I change the channel.  I have no interest in the ridiculously long performances, either.  I heard it was good.  Don’t care.  I had to give sufficient time so I didn’t tune back in until half way into the 3rd quarter.

Oh, last play, zero countdown… switch the channel, I’m gone.  Don’t need or want mind-numbing shallow post-game interviews, either.

Long story short, why isn’t it about the GAME anymore?  Does anyone really like all that superfluous crap?  And don’t even get me start on the insipid highlighting of celebrities throughout the entire game.  Does anyone really care?  Anyone?

25 People I Hate

“Hate” is such a strong word.  It is often hyperbole, and in the interest of honesty and fairness, I don’t actually hate these people… well, mostly… but they are damned annoying and need to be told so.  So, without further ado, I hate…

  1. People who hate lists like this.  You go do your happy-happy-joy-joy fantasy world elsewhere and leave me to my grumpiness.
  2. Iowa drivers (a common theme here), whether they’re driving a car on the road or a cart in the grocery store.  They’ll hog the left lane under the speed limit, or they’ll leave their cart in the middle of the aisle and wander off.  They have no clue there is someone behind them who wants to get somewhere.
  3. People who see a question on Facebook or in Amazon and respond with, “I don’t know.”  😐  Then the question wasn’t for you, was it, Slick?
  4. People who say “perfect” to every response.  I once had a receptionist in the doctors office ask me my phone number.  After I told her she said, “Perfect.”  😐  Of course it’s ‘perfect’, it’s my phone number and I know it.
  5. People who complain about ‘reply all’.  I’m sorry, but ‘reply all’ is a ‘cover my ass’ feature and has it’s place.  (Just don’t use it willy nilly.)
  6. People who say, “I hate Mondays.”, and, “Thank God it’s Friday.”
  7. Servers who abandon me and don’t check to see if I want a drink refill.
  8. Anything labeled “for your protection”.  It’s almost always for their protection, not mine.
  9. Non-fans at baseball games.  Baseball was so much better when only baseball fans went to games.  Now it’s all about entertainment and dot racing.
  10. People who don’t understand sarcasm.
  11. People who feel the need to “one up” everything someone else does.  (On a serious note, I think it’s a sign of insecurity.)
  12. 60 year old people still trying to look 20 yrs old.
  13. People afraid of the number 13.
  14. People who say, “Thanks for the add.” when approved to join Facebook groups.  Did you really think you’d be declined?
  15. People who won’t commit to something when invited.  You know the person, the one who says, “Sure, unless something better comes up.”
  16. Men who have “Man Caves”.
  17. Women who like Hello Kitty.
  18. People who show up to buy an item you’re selling for $50 then say, “I only have $40 on me.”  Sorry, Skippy, I can direct you to an ATM.  You knew damn well what the asking price is, and we didn’t make a prior agreement, so this is simply you being dishonest.
  19. People who look for a reason to be offended.
  20. People who, in social conversation, always swing the conversation back to themself.
  21. People who forget the “good old days” had their sucky parts, too.
  22. People driving huge vehicles and you watch them and it’s clear they really don’t know how to drive it.
  23. Men who walk in public around shirtless.  I’m sorry, that’s tacky.  Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  24. People who don’t know how to park.
  25. People like me.  Seriously.  I get along better with people who are not like me.  People like me annoy the hell out of me.

So there ya go.  Maybe there will be a part two, I don’t know yet.

Rant: Stadium Naming

How much importance do you place in stadium names? How much effort do you put into keeping up?

For example, Yankee Stadium is Yankee Stadium. Say “Yankee Stadium” and everyone knows what you’re talking about. Same with Dodger Stadium. Even Wrigley Field is named after people and/or corporation, and Fenway Park is named after the neighborhood it is in, but they still have long-standing history and and tradition and are immediately recognizable.

But what about the more recent trend of stadium names changing every few years based on nothing more than who is willing to pay the most money? Guaranteed Rate Field, anyone? Third name for the same place, btw. I still call it Comiskey Park. If you were to walk up to me and mention a game in Truist Park I’d have to ask you which team or city. No lie. “Truist Park” means nothing to me.

I still call Oracle Park “Pac Bell Park”… it never had a legit name so I go with the first brain dead iteration. Oracle is what, the 4th or 5th iteration? I am a long-time Oakland A’s fan, yet as far as I am concerned they still play in the Oakland Coliseum (I know, originally Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, I’m not doing tongue-twisters, either), and always will. O.co, my ass.

Basically, stadiums names have become absurd and for the most part meaningless. When the name right’s holder sends me a check I will comply. Until then I feel zero obligation… Braves Field it is.

Soap Box: The Opposite of Bad Tipping – the Entitlement Mentality

Wow.  Just… wow!  No tongue-in-cheek tonight.  I’m serious.  A ‘Soap Box’ post.  This is the second post in a row where we talk about tipping, and this one wasn’t planned, but I read something tonight that annoyed me so much I felt the need to comment on it immediately.  Before we start I want to make sure a couple things are clear regarding my attitude about tipping.  The Disclaimer, if you will…

  • I tip.  I tip well.  Most often 20%+.
  • I don’t begrudge paying a tip, per se, but I do get annoyed by the constantly moving target aspect.
  • All but five states (I think) allow tipped employees to be paid less than minimum wage.  I think that’s wrong.  Minimum wage should be minimum wage.  (I don’t think tips should be taxed as income, either.)
  • The biggest annoyance regarding tipping in general is how it’s turned into an entitlement mentality.  That’s what this post is about.  I recently read on a forum where a server talked about how the tip was her money before the customer even gave it to her… but this is even worse than that.

I am going to do something that may or may not be kosher.  I am going to post this person’s post from another forum in it’s entirety, as posted and unedited.  I feel that to properly understand the depth of unethical behavior here it all needs to be said.  (I’ll elaborate further down.)  I am not including the name, though I suppose if you’re internet savvy enough you could probably find it on your own.  So, without further ado, here we go…

The question was:  How do waiters and waitresses handle “regulars” at restaurants who are terrible tippers?

The server’s answer was:

I handle them in a very simple way. I slip a service charge on their receipt. I always go under the “usual” good tip, I put 15% on. I get paid solely in tips. I don’t get tips, I basically don’t get paid. One bad tip isn’t going to ruin my day. But if I wait on you hand and foot to get $2 on an $85 bill and you do it every week, you bet I’m going to put a service charge on.

I had this couple that always came in. I was actually cashiering this night, another server got their table. We all know how horribly they tip, and dread getting them. They take up all of our time, asking for suggestions, pretending we forgot something when they never asked for it in the first place, multiple refills, etc. They tip $3 no matter what the bill is. I’ve seen their bill go up to $78, still a $3 tip. She put a service charge on them. Oooooh boy. They came up me at the front and demanded to know what this charge was. I told them “it’s an automatic service charge, it’s an automatically calculated tip to your server.” She was livid, “this is WAY higher than I would normally pay! Why is this on here?!” Uhhh m’am it’s because your bill was $45 and you still would have tipped her $3. I notice she went back and forth from the kitchen to your table at least 7 times with a smile. I think she deserves at least a 15% tip.

I don’t feel bad. We make $2 an hour. Until that changes and we get paid fairly, you can afford to leave a decent tip. If you can’t, don’t go out to eat. If your server sucks, by all means leave a small tip. If you leave $3 every time, I’m going to put a service charge on. And no, I won’t take it off and neither will my manager.

EDIT: I turned off comments because I’m not looking to argue. I wrote my answer, if you have a different opinion then write your own answer. No, automatic gratuity is not illegal. There is no legislation against using service charges. Usually they are only added to large tables, 6+ people at 18%. (hence, my adding 15% is a low amount) The IRS made a decision that starting in 2014 automatic gratuity would be a service charge, meaning it does not count as a separate income as a tip to the server, it goes to the restaurant and they have a choice in giving the money to the server as a tip or keeping it for themselves. This means the customer does not have a choice in paying this amount. Since posting this I’ve gotten multiple comments saying this must be illegal, I felt a need to clarify.

Again, just… wow!

I get there are bad tippers.  There are also wonderful tippers.  I’m not defending bad tippers, especially chronic bad tippers. If you’re a chronic bad tipper, screw you, you’re a cheapskate, but it’s still your money until you decide if/when you tip.

Think about the hypocrisy.  If someone tips  35% does she chase them down and give back the excess?  Ha!  I bet not.

She talks about her actions being legal.  I question that.  Maybe.  I know service charges are legal when stated up front, but afterward as a surprise, and at random based on her whims?  (I would have spoken to her manager at another time, and if that didn’t get satisfaction I just might file a small claims suit against the restaurant solely to make my point.  She’s an agent of her employer and it would get her employer’s attention, more so than if I sued her.)

Notice at one point she says, ” I notice she went back and forth from the kitchen to your table at least 7 times with a smile. I think she deserves at least a 15% tip.”  You think?  YOU think?!?  Not only are you deciding if they tip, but you get to decide how much?  Entitlement much?

She turned off comments to her post.  Basically she knows her attitude is sketchy and she doesn’t want to have to defend it.

This, THIS, is exactly the type of entitlement mentality that our tipping culture has degenerated to, ‘If you don’t give it to me I’m going to take it.’

Soap Box: Rebates, coupons, and other insidious retail games

I don’t think I’m an unreasonable person.  I just want things to be simple and uncomplicated.  I want to save any thinking and planning for things that are, you know, actually important.  And this filters down into daily activities that should be as drama-free and boring as shopping.

Why does shopping have to be so… annoying?  I mean, it’s bad enough that I have to go out and brave the wilds of rude people, now I have to run the gauntlet of pricing, too?

Maybe it’s just me… it usually is, just ask The Wife Missy… but is it too much to ask that pricing be simple and straight forward?  No games.  No illusions.  No fine print.  Just sell me what I want, at the same price you sell it to everyone else, and let me be on my way.  Is that really too much to ask?

I guess so, as evidenced by some of these offenders…

Local Regional Nursery (plants, not people)

At every sale they give special discount “bucks”. the more you spend the more you get.

The catch:  They expire next month and you can only use it at their store.

Local Regional Grocery Store

Absurdly high prices… averaging 30% more, yes, I’ve done two of my own surveys/studies… coupons and special sales galore.  Plan accordingly, or…

The catch:  …be gouged.

Local Regional Home Improvement Big Box Store

Rebates.  Awesome rebates!  11% rebates.

The catch:  In the form of a gift certificate redeemable only at their store.  So, it’s not really a rebate, it’s an in-store coupon.

All of these tactics are designed to get you to come back, of course… often.  I’m sorry, but no.  I’ve probably collected over $100 worth of nursery “bucks” over years, and never used a one.  I go back when I need to go back.  I only shop the regional grocery store when the stars align and they have a good sale AND I need what’s on sale.  Otherwise, say what you will about the primary big box retail behemoth, at least they respect me enough to give consistently reasonable pricing day in and day out.  And I virtually stopped shopping at that home improvement warehouse store solely because I didn’t like being played like that.

What other underhanded tactics can we see?

Coupons and Rebates in General

Manufacturers and retailers aren’t offering discounts and rebates because they’re swell guys.  It’s a gimmick that most people, including me at times, fall for.  They know full well that most people will never claim a rebate, especially if it requires effort, like putting a stamp on an envelope.  They know full well that people who use a coupon will likely spend more on the higher priced items at the same time.  They get to tout themselves as the good guy while not really risking anything.  It’s a win-win… for them.

The World’s Pre-Eminent Online Retailer

Prices change daily, often hourly.  See an item for $63 today?  It might be $57 tomorrow, $68 the day after, and back to $63 the day after that.  In other words, pay attention, keep coming back, and oh… buy some other stuff in the meantime.

Internet & Cell Phone

New customer?  $50/mo for a year.  Existing customer?  Sorry, you pay your standard $90/mo out-of-contract price.


Next time you fly, do a survey of ten people sitting around you.  Chances are you all paid different prices.

Bottom Line…

I shouldn’t have to worry about something as simple as pricing.  At least pretend that you actually value me and my business.  You want to impress me?  You want to really impress me?  Just sell me what I want and let me go on my way happily.  I’ll come back.  Honest.

Soap Box: Don’t lie to me

One of the great things about a blog such as this is that there’s almost never a lack of good subject matter. Today’s topic is when people lie to us. More specifically, when corporations… which are made up of people… lie to us. I’m talking the bold-faced intentional lie that no one, not even the most forgiving considerate nice person, believes.

For example: I log into my email this morning, and there’s a message from Google Play, the header of which reads…

At Google Play your security is our biggest priority


No, it’s not. Don’t lie to me. Nobody, without exception, believes that. If I had to dissect it… which I will because I need to fill some space, stating the obvious is kinda short and quick… I guess the big hang up for me here is the inclusion of the word “biggest”. As in #1, everything else pales in comparison, we will sacrifice profit to protect you. The mere notion makes my head hurt, it’s so patently ridiculous. You’ll sell us down the road for a buck in the blink of an eye. You know it, I know it.

If they had said “…your security is our priority”, and left out the ‘biggest’ lie, it would still imply #1, but it wouldn’t be as in-your-face blatant lying about it, and would have been ok. I probably would have rolled my eyes and moved on. It wouldn’t have triggered my ire to the point that I felt the need to speak out about it.

At least butter me up and pretend that I’m intelligent.

Soap Box: 10 Things Servers Shouldn’t Do

The internet is replete with articles about rude customers and how people should be considerate to servers. And let’s be fair, serving is a hard job. I won’t dispute that.  There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever to treat a server poorly.  If you think you’re better than them, the hard truth is probably the opposite.  But these articles make it sound like the customer is the only one ever unreasonable. Not so. Servers themselves do things that are unnecessary, if not outright rude, and equal time is called for. Here are some of the primary things, in no particular order, that servers need to stop doing…

1. Don’t scowl when I order ice water for my drink. Yes, it probably cuts into your tip, but either the customer wants to be healthy, or they don’t want to pay over-inflated drink prices. $3 for a soft drink is unreasonable, outrageous really. That’s $6 for two people. If that’s the issue you need to take it up with your employer, not the customer.

2. Don’t make it an issue if the customer doesn’t want to sit at the table you want them to sit. As long as the customer is not requesting a room or large section that is obviously closed and segregated from all other activity, the customer should be accommodated and made comfortable. It is not the customer’s concern whether they are upsetting the carefully planned rotation.

3. Don’t beg. If I pay in cash, do NOT ask me if I want my change. Ok, you’re busy, I get it, but it’s still my money. Asking this is equal to begging, to panhandling. It’s undignified. There are times that I will, of my own choice, say “Keep the change.”, but that’s my choice and I do so freely. If you are quick on the draw and ask if I want my change I will automatically say “Yes” just as a matter of principle and just to make you make that extra trip… even if I intend to leave it all as a tip anyway.

4. Don’t try to force me into leaving a larger tip than reasonable. The bill is $9.62 and all I have on me is a $20 bill. You bring me change of a $10 bill and 38 cents. (Some will bring two $5 bills.) What am I supposed to do with that? Too many people are too timid to say anything and will leave the larger tip. Unless your service was absolutely fanatbulous… which would be pretty impressive, and rare… I am not leaving a 50% tip. And no way in hell am I leaving a 100% tip. Ever. I now have two choices, basically stiff you, which you will misinterpret as me just being cheap, or make you go back… again… and bring me some ones. Bring me a five, five ones, and 38 cents, the first time and we’ll all be happy.

Side note: I once had a server ask me if I wanted my change when I paid with two $20 bills for a $22 tab. I’m not leaving an $18 tip for a $22 meal. I’m sure they weren’t even paying attention, but it was still insulting. And yes, I made her bring me my change, and I tipped accordingly.

5. Don’t tell me how tired you are, or how you can’t wait to get off work in an hour, or how much you hate your job. Let me be clear on this: I… don’t… care. Not only do I not care, I am now annoyed and put off that you have expressed to me that my presence has inconvenienced you. You are not earning my sympathy, I have a job, too. Oh, and I don’t want to overhear you saying these things to your co-workers, either. Be professional.

6. Don’t stop serving prematurely. In other words, when you believe that my visit is winding down, or you want to hasten my exit for whatever reason, don’t ignore my empty glass. (Doing so will affect your tip.) At least ask if I want a refill. Often I do, but if I don’t I’ll be honest and politely decline. At least then I will know that you were still paying attention and doing your job.

7. Don’t mislead me. If I ask for a Diet Coke, don’t say “Ok” then serve me a Diet Pepsi.  By just saying “Ok” you are allowing me to believe I will be getting a Coke product.  The two are not the same, not to mention that businesses actually do get into legal trouble if caught doing that. Normally I will notice, but even in the times that I don’t, you’re still being dishonest by doing this. It’s called lying-by-omission.

8. Don’t use absurd adjectives. Nothing… and I mean that quite literally… is ever “perfect”. When you ask, “Is everything perfect?”, you are insulting me by asking me to knowingly lie. Granted, it’s usually at the insistence of management, but you don’t have to be so enthusiastic about it. I would even suggest you don’t even have to do it at all. Rather, just ask how my meal is and let me answer for myself.

9. Don’t stand silent if I request a substitution that adds an extra charge. If I want to substitute soup instead of french fries, and there’s an “upcharge”, tell me right then. Allow me the the courtesy to consider my option. Don’t surprise me with a bill later where I’ve been nickle-and-dimed.

10. Don’t be difficult. Don’t tell me a certain substitution is not allowed when other servers have done it for me many times. Worse yet, don’t argue with me when I point it out that it has been done before. The customer isn’t always right, but neither are you. If in doubt, excuse yourself and go check… then be adult enough to admit if you were wrong.

Soap Box: Retail Pricing

Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed…

That’s exactly how I feel when it comes to retail pricing, and it’s getting worse. I’ll share some examples and I’ll include my evolved philosophy and procedures.

Example #1: I recently ordered some printer ink from Amazon. It was on back-order, but they said it’d be just a week, so no big deal. The price was $42. Remember that, it will be relevant as we go further. As the week is winding to an end I get another email saying it’d be another month. Ummmm, no.

So, I ventured down to my popular big-box retailer and they don’t even carry my brand of printer ink. Next I mosey on to my local brick-and-mortar office supply store. Go in, a guy asks if he can help me, so I hand him my empty box and say, “I need this.”

He finds it and goes to hand it to me, and I stop in my tracks. I said, “No offense intended, but I can’t buy it at that price.” He says ok, puts it back on the shelf and I leave.

The were charging SEVENTY-SEVEN DOLLARS for the same thing I could get at Amazon for $42. 83% higher! And they wonder why online retailers are kicking their butts.

Now, granted Amazon had it on back-order, but I wasn’t out so my situation wasn’t critical. I get back on Amazon, find it through a third party on Amazon, in stock, for… get this… $40 and free shipping (and no sales tax!). It won’t be two-day Prime, but it has already shipped this morning, two days after I ordered it. It will arrive soon.

Example #2: I have a couple friends who work for a local photo store. They often say that people don’t understand the value they provide. They often say that people will regret the day when there are no brick-and-mortar retailers from which to shop. And you know what… I agree with them. I completely agree with them. There is great value in what they provide that goes beyond the simple buying of products.

I know people who think nothing of going into a store, comparison shop, consume the salesperson’s time, then go home and buy it cheaper from an online retailer. Those people suck. They have no intention whatsoever of purchasing from the local retailer. They’re just selfish and rude. Those people suck.

If I go to a store, and let’s say I’m shopping for a new camera lens, I will ALWAYS give that store first shot at the sale. Always. I am also willing to pay a reasonable amount extra to buy from them. 1) I want a vibrant local economy, 2) I value the service that they just provided, 3) When I establish a relationship I can go in and talk with a friend in a no pressure and no expectation scenario, and that has value as well, and 4) I want a place where I can comparison shop brands and models in the future.

So, as I said, I always give them first shot. But… there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?… but, I am not a lottery winner. I don’t have a deep bank account. I am not Mr Moneybags. I have to look out for myself at the same time, and ensure my own financial well-being. I am willing to pay a bit extra for local and for service, but I am not willing to drain my bank account to do so. The retailer still needs to respect me and be competitive.

I’m not saying they have to beat, or even match, the online retailer’s price, but they do have to be reasonably close. How close varies with many factors, but my general rule of thumb is in the 5% to 10%-ish range (less on very expensive items). If Amazon is charging $750 for a camera lens, I will pay around $775 to $800 from my local retailer, and I will do so gladly. I refuse to pay anyone $900 for a $750 lens, regardless who it is.

Example #3: We have a local regional grocery store chain that is, overall, pretty good in selection and quality. I would prefer to shop there exclusively instead of the big-box retailer, but I can’t. They’re simply too freakin’ expensive. On average, according to a couple price check surveys of my own that I have done (yes, I really have), they’re about 30% higher than the big-box guys. Again, at some point it is too much, it is price gouging, and I have to look out for myself, too.

Their big slogan/jingle is about having “a friendly smile is every aisle”… note the rhyme, lol. Nothing about price (except the odd good sale), nothing even about value, just how friendly they are. Spare me <insert eye roll here>. Just know that any business that goes out of it’s way to avoid telling you how competitive they are are doing so because they aren’t competitive at all, and they know it.

Example #4: Soft drink prices in restaurants have gotten completely absurd. Most places are trying to be as competitive as possible on their food, I get that, but they don’t want it to cut into their profits, so they’re making up for it on the drinks.

I have a great deal amount of restaurant experience, including ownership for a short time, albeit many years ago. Soft drinks have always been a high-profit item, but now it’s ridiculous. A glass of soda costs the restaurant, maybe, 20c. Maybe. I’m now commonly seeing prices of $3 (ok, $2.99). This means that for my wife and I to have a refreshing soda with our meal, up to $6 gets added to our bill, and unlimited refills go only so far. And to be even more insidious about it, many restaurants are taking drink prices off their menus so people don’t go into sticker shock when they see it. They’ll still list the flavors, of course, but no prices.

My counter-measure to this is that I now always ask the server how much soft drinks cost. I have set my own admittedly arbitrary limit… $2.29, which is still very generous… and if they answer with anything higher I reflexively say I’ll have ice water… which I should be doing more anyway, but I digress.

I have had one server laugh and say she understood. Many servers look disappointed, or even annoyed, because $6 less on the bill affects their tip. Well, sorry, talk to your boss. We’re back to where I have to protect myself and my own bank account.

Example #5:  Raising the price without raising the price.  You’ve seen it.  A product gets smaller, but the price stays the same.  And of course the package never points this out to you, though they do label size/weight per law, so *IF* you’re paying attention you’ll notice, but if you aren’t, well… you know.

Breyer’s Ice Cream went from 2 qts, to 1,8 qts, to 1.75 qts, to 1.5 qts over a period of just a few years.  Many kinds of orange juice are no longer 64 oz, but 59 oz.  The dog food we buy used to come in 40 lb bags, and is now in 30 lb bags.  And I could go on and on and on.  You get the idea.

I have read instances where companies are claiming they are only reacting to people’s desires for less portions, etc.  Ok, but if that were the case then the price would go down with the packaging.  It doesn’t, does it?  Let’s be honest and call it what it is… raising the price without raising the price.

Conclusion… finally, eh?: That’s it. And to think I started with two examples in mind, and it snowballed from there.  Anyway, you have to be on-guard. You have to protect yourself. No one cares more about you and your well-being than you.