A tale of two states – comparing food prices

Yes, this is a post about supermarkets.

Fresh Market is an upscale market, concentrating on fresh food (wow!), trading on the organic foods fad… it competes with Whole Foods and Trader Joes on a national level. In the Northeast, Wegmans is also a competitor. Fresh Market is the closest store to my home, thus I’m very familiar with its prices on my basic food items.

In New Jersey, Fresh Market is definitely competitive with Kings, marginally competitive with the artisan products and meat counter at Wegmans, and radically out of line in any comparison to Shoprite, Stop-n-Shop, Acme, Walmart… (Can’t compare to Trader Joe or Whole Foods; don’t have them available at a reasonable distance).

But this is just in New Jersey. Recently I spent three weeks on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, and boy howdy was that an eye-opener! One afternoon I stopped in to the Fresh Market in Wilmington NC and found that many of the prices I’d complained about in NJ were the same in NC. And in North Carolina, Fresh Market is competitive – in many cases cheaper. I find it amazing that meat-counter bacon is lower-priced than prepackaged national brands, but that was the case in almost all comparisons.

At first, I thought this was just the usual “stick it to the beach tourists” markup so common in the area from May through October. So I checked some inland stores as well. Food Lion was the only real competitor price-wise, and the prices were consistent across all five stores I checked. Lowes Food is an oxymoron; it may be food but it’s certainly not Low(e) – the prices in two stores were higher than any price I’ve encountered in NJ. Harris-Teeter (three locations) were consistently higher; Piggly-Wiggly (three stores) is lower on staples but astronomical on meats.

Note that in New Jersey almost all foods are non-taxable (candy being the big exception in my experience) whereas North Carolina has the philosophy of “tax everything!”

Astounding.

(The market basket for comparisons: pint half-and-half, eight ounce hard cheese (Cabot), sixteen ounce cottage cheese (Daisy or Breakstone), pound bacon, pound ground chuck, salad package, pound fresh-ground peanut butter, pound lima beans (frozen), pound green beans (frozen), broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts).

Getting your system back (The Win10 blues, part 1)

Microsoft has decided to force-feed Windows 10 updates, as a “recommended update” which will not only automatically download, but also actually upgrade your system to the new OS. I think this is a mistake, but since there is no longer any adult supervision in Redmond, it will probably continue.

If you’re caught by the Windows 10 forced-upgrade, here is how to get Windows 7 (or 8.1 if that’s your flavor) back.

Go to Start -> Settings -> Update & Security -> Recovery and you should see an entry on the right for “Go back to Windows 7” (or “Go back to Windows 8.1”). Click “Get Started” and follow the directions for “Keep my files.”

Figure it will take at least an hour, maybe two or three, and when it’s done you should be back, but you’ll have lost somewhere between 5 and 25 GB of disk space (which can be purged later).


 

Now – if you have a laptop machine, you may just want to play for a bit with Windows 10; I’ve found it to be a noticeable improvement over Windows 7, especially as far as managing battery life. But depending on your system’s age it may take a week to get all the necessary updates so that everything is working.


Otherwise, if you want to stay on Win7 (or 8.1) for a while longer, go get GWX Control Panel and make the headache go away.

Fixing a problem

So here I am, getting four or more emails a day for various Nissan vehicles I don’t own, from a dealership which  doesn’t read email, and now it escalates.

It’s not just the dealer sending email, now it’s Nissan USA itself, wanting a quality-control survey filled out. And blocking Nissan USA isn’t particularly viable because they use an anti-spam service which is fairly popular (thus blocking them blocks many other emails which I do want). And  while Nissan USA will eventually (takes 10 days, jerks!) unsubscribe the address from one vehicle, their system won’t scrub it from other vehicles.

This is getting out of hand. And no one at that dealership apparently reads email.

Thus it is  necessary to take the battle to them.


 

Those surveys affect a bit more than just the commission structure of the service adviser. The manufacturers base a lot of discounts and media buys and other spifffs based on dealer satisfaction ratings.

Let’s see if this dealer pays attention to his rating surveys.

I pick one, and rate everything as low as it can go, and use every available text block to complain about getting spammed and neither the dealer nor Nissan USA being competent to handle basic email management (so why would I ever buy a car from them?).

Got his attention… and an email to “whoever you are we took your email off the vehicle  and checked our files and took it off some others and won’t use it again.”

Congratulations on finally getting a clue.

But I still don’t expect to ever buy a Nissan.

When it isn’t spam, but isn’t wanted

About six weeks ago, I got an email reminding me of an appointment to have my Nissan Altima serviced.

I don’t have a Nissan Altima – figured it was some sort of scam (something new every day), and punted it into the trash.

Then I got another, this time for a Nissan Pathfinder. And more, for other Nissans (but mostly Altimas, Pathfinders and Sentras) – none of which I have.

The names on the accounts change, but the dealer is always the same – Robbie Woodall Nissan in Danville VA.

I suspect I know what’s happening; poorly-designed software at the dealership service desk demands an email address and the advisor is just using woodall@woodall.com without bothering to think that it might be a real address (In the 1980s pharmacy software demanded a date of birth even for cash customers so 11/11/11 became the popular birthdate).

But it is a real address – it’s my address – and the volume is growing. I forward a couple of the emails to the service manager down there but apparently he doesn’t read his email.

 

Facebook begins the transformation

…into AOL.

Let’s examine this. AOL (America On-Line) wanted to be the gateway; the hub of all interactive life. It wanted to handle email, web browsing, commerce, and eventually added rudimentary video conferencing and telephone control – all for a low monthly cost, with advertising.

It mostly didn’t work out for AOL. While they’ve gone through various mergers, and the email accounts live on, AOL as it was is almost entirely gone.

Facebook is already establishing itself as a messaging hub, mostly via its Messenger App. They’ve stepped up on curating news through a sidebar feed. The place is predominantly advertising-supported.

The greatest similarities are in the business model; that is, when the peak is reached, start looking for merger targets to ‘grow’ the reach. AOL picked a bad target (Time-Warner), not quite understanding the power of disruption of the Internet and how that would eventually supplant traditional media.

So far, Facebook has avoided that sort of deal.

An idea, to be revisited.