Tag Archives: corporate greed

Lame Adventure 386: US Open Tennis TV Watching Strategy

In July, my thieving cable provider, Time Warner, increased the price of my service $4, raising the monthly cost to $109 including taxes and fees. This was for digital TV with no premium channels and “lite” Internet i.e., Internet so cheap and slow it could easily be mistaken for dial up’s Tai Chi practicing spawn following hip replacement surgery. That $109 tab brought me to my breaking point with these professional swindlers. I canceled my TV service, returned both the cable box and leased modem, and purchased my own modem to cease paying the Time Warner leasing fee ‑— which increased this month from $3.95 to $5.99. Next, I spent $9.04 to upgrade my Internet to Standard grade. My TV is a pre-digital era set, rendering it obsolete, so until I figure out a way to unload it, it is now an 86-pound paperweight. I signed up for Aereo, a streaming TV service where I can watch all the major broadcast networks on my computer to the tune of $8 a month. Now I spend less than $45 including taxes and fees for both Internet and TV. The $64 in savings will be applied toward my upcoming $54 rent increase October 1, so until then, I will party hard with this extra ten dollars in my pocket.  Maybe apply it toward something whimsical like a curling stone.

I seldom watch TV so I cannot say I miss it. At the moment, my most pressing TV programming concern has been accessing US Open Tennis. By upgrading my Internet, I am streaming the entire event for free via USTA.org. Sweet! Over the Labor Day weekend, I streamed CBS’s coverage via Aereo. I felt so thrilled with my cost-effective decisions, I did a happy dance, but I immediately twisted an ankle when I got images like this.

All you can watch buffering here.

All you can watch buffering.

The buffering went on so long that I completely missed the rest of that tiebreaker. So, I had a brainstorm. While watching a match on my computer via CBS, I would simultaneously stream it on my iPhone via the app for USTA!

Desperate times calling for desperate measures.

Desperate times calling for desperate measures.

Pure genius, if only my eyes could swivel like Marty Feldman’s.

Ironically, whenever a TV commercial played on CBS, there would not be any buffering at all.

Happy Hump Day from Geico.

Happy Hump Day from Geico.

I called Time Warner to investigate if my Internet upgrade was working properly.

Me: Or is Standard service supposed to work like a geriatric hamster drawing its final breaths?

Time Warner: It looks like your Internet is a bit problematic. We’re putting a 24-hour watch on it.

I wondered:

Me: Like a dying hamster deathwatch?

I asked:

Me: What exactly does that mean?

Time Warner: Every five minutes over the course of the next 24 hours, we’re going to monitor it. You can also run a speed test yourself.

I did that, too. Pictured here is my result.



I have no idea what this test is supposed to be telling me, but it streamed well.

Much of Monday’s day session got rained out.  During the rain delay my streaming was perfect. Both picture and sound were clear as a bell.

Streaming pride or the middle finger of streams?

Streaming pride or the middle finger of streams?

To take my mind off my combined Internet frustration and tennis accessing anxiety, my pal, Coco, texted me after walking past the Chobani Greek-style yogurt store in lower Manhattan.

Add this to the bulging file of useless factoids.

Add this to the bulging file of useless factoids.

When play resumed, my streaming also resumed hanging. It has occurred to me that the problem with my Internet could be that the USTA site is  globally accessible, so I am competing for my drip of stream with the entire world. I am already anticipating that when I try to stream the finals over the weekend, I will be subject to more hanging, crashing and rebooting. It seems that I just can’t win. But I suppose my pain could be worse; I could find myself subject to a lightening fast return serve from Serena Williams aimed straight at my person — as she did to Sloane Steven. Broadcaster Al Trautwig called Serena, “The Lamborghini of women’s tennis.” Speed test her, Time Warner.

Serena delivering a pain in the ego.

Serena delivering a direct hit at Sloane.

Lame Adventure 179: Insult in a Tube

A creature of habit, I have brushed my teeth at least twice daily ever since early childhood.  My brother, Axel, liked to say that I shot off my mouth so much, I must have brushed with gunpowder.  When I was a small fry, my toothpaste of choice was my mother’s, Crest.  In my teen years I switched to Colgate because Axel bought into the myth that Crest’s parent company, Proctor & Gamble, was linked to the Church of Satan due to a controversy surrounding P&G’s former logo.

Devil worshipper logo?

Looking back I now think that links to the devil would have inspired heathens like Axel and I to not only continue brushing with Crest but to purchase P&G stock.  In the early 2000’s I went granola and switched to Tom’s of Maine because my then dentist, when I had dental coverage, suggested it would help me hang onto my remaining natural teeth longer.  It has thus far.

Unfortunately, in 2006, 84% of Tom’s was bought out by Colgate-Palmolive to the tune of $100,000,000 and it’s been downhill ever since as they scramble to make massive profits.  Once Tom’s was taken over by this corporate behemoth, the packaging has gotten flashier but the product within has been steadily shrinking.  What used to be a 6-ounce tube was gradually reduced to 5.5 ounces.

The good old days of Toms ... February 2011.

Much to my horror, when I went to the store on Monday to buy my most recent tube of Tom’s the packaging had shrunk an additional  8/10 of an ounce to a paltry 4.7 ounces.

The incredible shrinking toothpaste.

At this rate of 1.5-ounce reduction every three years, a tube of Tom’s should be reduced to approximately a .2-ounce size by the year 2020.  The approximate $5 price per tube continues to hold steady.  How considerate.

One of corporate America’s favorite ways to bitch-slap the consumer is to repackage less product for the same price, so the allegedly unknowing spending fool is paying more for less as the fat cats in charge just get fatter.  Tom’s spins itself as being a healthier product that’s good for both the user and the environment, even though since it was taken over by a cluster of greedy suits in a boardroom, it is now one of the biggest poster children representing the worst of transparent corporate greed.  The board of directors at Tom’s may not worship Satan, but they’re influenced by a far worse devil that’s forever ripping off the consumer and making record profits, big oil.

Tom’s web site boasts a ten-page “Find Answers” section where they discuss everything from if the stock is publicly traded to does the new tube signal a formula change.  Nowhere is the question addressed about why the product is continually shrinking but it still costs the same.  Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to ask and answer this question with Tom’s mint-flavored spin.

Why do you keep decreasing your tube size and not your price?

Our decreased tube size gave us the opportunity to improve the amount of space inside our recycled cardboard box to better meet our consumer needs!  The toothpaste inside all of our decreased tubes still delivers the same great brushing experience you have come to expect from Tom’s of Maine.  Nothing else in the formula has changed, just the size.  Enjoy less as you pay more you tree hugging sucker.

A tool of corporate greed, Sheryl Crow. My hero(ine), Patti Smith, probably would have told them to perch on it had they asked her.