Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Restaurant Round-Up?

Thanks to reporter Darren Rovell, whom I follow on Twitter, we have documentation of this practice by a Denver restaurant:

Of course, I replied to him hoping he "rounded down" when it came to a tip.

But, c'mon with this. This ranks right there with restaurants that add a 15% or higher "service fee" for groups. I have canceled reservations over that bit. Or, on the couple of occasions I have been a part of finding this out when the group bill comes, that amount replaces any tip.

Yet, even replacing the tip can still be a ripoff. Maybe the service wasn't good enough to justify the percentage tacked on.

And, I point out that a professional restaurant should have enough experience and expertise to time 8 meals (or however many) to all be ready at the same time. And how they should be glad that a group of that size could all agree on eating there.

One of the times I pointed that out to a restaurant manager he appeared to be offended. So I pointed out that, if anything, they should DISCOUNT that percentage for large groups who eat there. "And if you consider that to be too hefty of a discount, how do justify sticking all of us with that same cost?"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why We're Really Cutting The Cable

I found today's news story about how cable and satellite subscriptions are dropping to be quite interesting, but mainly for the reasons which are given. It's not all because of the economy.,0,5039580.story

Maybe, just maybe, this will give the cable and satellite providers and the TV stations and networks the long overdue wake up call that has been needed. After all, canceling seems to be the only way that consumers can be heard on this issue.

I'm here to tell you that it's not just the economy as much as it is the quality, or lack thereof. And there is a lot of blame to go around.

The cable and satellite companies need to realize that they are in business to provide us with a service. That service is to install and/or provide the facilities through which we watch the programming, whether via a dish or installed wiring. Once installed, these facilities need to be maintained and services, and upgraded as needed.

For some reason, the cable and satellite companies were given the right to determine what programming we can get and not get. That flat out stinks. Some of the companies providing these TV facilities also provide phone service. Yet, when I get their phone service, I can call into any area code I so choose with a plan that covers the level of service I seek. There are no restricted area codes and none that cost extra.

Yet, with TV, I am forced to pay for channels I don't want and won't watch. And I don't get all of the stations or networks I would like to watch. Why are there restrictions for TV that aren't there for the same company's phone service?

The cable/satellite companies tell me that the majority of these exhorbitant monthly fees I'm paying go to pay for programming on the channels I am getting, some of which are available on a tiered basis at a higher price option. I could live with that, but under one condition. I should decide which channels I'm paying specifically for each month.

Instead, I'm stuck literally paying for channels broadcasting in languages I don't speak, supporting religions I do not practice, and for programming I would never watch. I'm certainly not suggesting that any channel I'm not interested in should go away. Let them prosper. But let the people who want them support them.

My cable or satellite provider should exist to bring me only those channels I want them to send me. Period.

Those of you who are not sports fans should be outraged that ESPN's channels take the biggest chunk of your cable/satellite bill each month. And you're not watching.

However, the cable/satellite providers are not the only ones to blame. The stations and networks programming these channels could stand some improvement as well. It seems that many channels no longer do what they initially set out to do and consumers are stuck paying for something different.

MTV and VH1 were all about music. Now they have more "original" programming which has nothing to do with music than ever before. That's not what we were initially told, and I should be able to send them a message by dropping them.

TVLand was supposed to be "classic TV all the time". Now, they continue to show "original" shows and movies in prime time and on weekends instead of the reruns of true classic shows. I barely watch it now after constant viewing years ago. I should be able to send them a message by dropping them.

ESPN Classic was implemented to show true classic sporting events. During its first few years, they provided an outstanding lineup heavy on older baseball, football, and basketball games of note, taken from the original telecasts. Have you checked them out lately? It seems to be mostly crap such as poker. I should be able to send them a message by dropping them because they also severely reduced the quality of programming from what it first was.

CNN Headline News provided continuous 30 minute updated newscasts 24 hours a day for years. Now, they show more talk and interview shows, recycling them several times a day, than they spend giving current news headlines. I should be able to send them a message by dropping them because they no longer constantly do what they used to either.

What about the BIO channel? Created because of all the great A & E Biography shows from over the years. Try going through their current schedule for a 24 hour period and see if you find a day with more than 33% of their programming being actual "Biography" shows. That's not what got them started.

I could go on. Chances are you have thought of some other channels which have come to disappoint you and have been taken out of your "favorites" button on the remote.

My point is that many of the TV station and network programmers have let consumers down. They have gone away from what made them, reduced the quality, and become less appealing to viewers.

How dare they force us to pay to continue to receive them? These were supposed to be "advertiser supported" channels. If they want consumers to support them, they need to either listen to what their paying customers really want, or not require us to paying for what we don't want. And if they don't receive enough revenue to support operation, then let them go away. These channels should not be my problem.

Instead, consumers often suffer by not having choices. Within the past year, NFL Network has come to Charter Cable, and MLB Network has come to AT&T U-Verse. Both companies made a big deal about now having these. What a bunch of crap!

We the people should have been able to get these channels, if we want them, via whatever cable or satellite provider we are paying each month.

Now, let's get back to today's news. Record numbers of consumers are getting rid of cable and satellite. Sure, some of it is the economy. But let's tell the stations and networks, and the cable and satellite companies, that we are sending a message.

We want to choose what we watch, and demand the right to do so.