Anti-Virus Software: Needed but…

… the pricing on this stuff is nuttier than a Brazil Nut grove! Yes I have talked about Anti-Virus software being a Scam before, but hey, I get to rant sometimes about the same things (I’m old, respect your elders).

For now I am speaking of the mainstream Anti-virus folks (not the AVG and Malwarebytes who offer free stuff which works fine (heck even Microsoft’s free security essentials is pretty good these days)), no I speak of Norton and McAfee and their insane pricing methodologies which force me to go to a store and buy NEW copies of their software instead of making a renewal as cheap (if not cheaper) than it is to buy something new.

Before you think I am saying you don’t need this software, that is definitely NOT what I am saying, you need this software, so get some, or you are asking for trouble.

OK, just so I don’t have someone claiming I told them not to get anti-virus software (oh and all you Mac snobs, don’t be thinking you are somehow exempt from Viruses, they are already here for you too), but I grow weary of the game that is played for Anti-virus software on the PCs.

Example: you buy a new computer, and it comes with a 30-day trial of either Norton or McAfee (depending on who you buy the system from). OK, that is good, your new PC is protected for the first 30 days you own it, however, pretty much every day your PC now flashes up a “You Should Renew Your Anti-Virus Software” advertisement. You decide that yes it would be a good idea to do that, so you click and see that to “renew” your software will cost $59 (for one machine). This seems a little expensive, so you go to Staples, or better still to the Dell On Line store and you see you can buy a 3-Computer license (so software for 3 of your home computers), for $69 (or less), you scratch your head and wonder why these companies price this way?

Why? My guess is they catch many folks, who simply don’t want to be bothered to look around and check the prices of software, so they simply “renew” their anti-virus that way. This has been going on for more than 10 years, so it must be working, or the Anti-virus biggies would have changed their ways, but no, I saw this again Sunday morning, so nothing much is changing.

Shop around for software prices. I found a McAfee 3 computer license on sale at the Dell Store (on “Boxing Day”) for $12.99, so yes this stuff does get steeply discounted as well. Shop around and don’t get your pocket picked by the big software companies.


 

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Charity as a Holiday Present

As eyes turn towards the juggernaut coming at us called the Christmas spending orgy (I am thinking of trademarking that phrase), let me reflect on the idea of using Charity as a holiday present.

Let me first point out that I feel that I do a fair amount of charitable work, and I do give to charities as well, so as a rule and as a concept I completely support charities and feel their good works are a wonderful thing. I strongly suggest to you, good reader, that you give at this time of the year (and all year round). Remember that giving is not just a monetary thing, many charities would love your skills and time as well, so please remember that as part of your charitable works.

What a Crock of Beans!

Now, for those of you who plan on sending me a card that says something like:

“We thought of you this holiday season and have made a donation to the Human Fund in your name”

let me be very succinct: BULLSHIT (note the Seinfeldian reference).

If you wish to give to Charity, wonderful, I applaud your giving, however, do not believe that your “giving” in any way, shape or form makes me feel more festive because of it. You giving to Charity is not a gift to me. If you don’t want to give me anything this year, that is cool, and you don’t even need a card, just drop me an e-mail something like:

“Dear Scrooge, we didn’t feel like sending you jack this year, enjoy the Holidays you unlikeable so and so”

No, I have not completely gone off my nut, but I am really kind of tired of Pious folks showing me how Good they are by “giving for me”, I give as much as I can, and that is as good as it can be.

If you want to give, please do, but don’t masquerade that it has anything to do with me, thanks. Oh and if you send out a card like that and DO NOT give, Karma and or the wrath of whichever God you worship will get you eventually (isn’t that a Happy Holiday thought as well)

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Evil Genius: Canada Day Sale

I received 3 different e-mails about On-Line Canada Day sales (Best Buy, Future Shop and Indigo) at various stores and at first I simply ignored them, but after thinking about it, this is really evil genius at work in the retail trade.

From the retailers point of view these “sales” are pure gravy for them:

  1. Their retail stores are closed,  yet they are still selling stock (from their distribution centers).
  2. They aren’t paying any retail sales staff, yet things are being sold (yes they are paying web folk to be around in case things crash, but I am sure they are relatively cheap).
  3. No order is actually dealt with until the day after Canada Day (since you couldn’t ship, even if you had folks in your distribution center). No distribution center staff need to be working on Canada Day (thus you don’t have to pay them time and a half).
  4. You have an interesting audience of folks either waiting to go out and party, or those that have come back from a party  and might be more motivated (read imbibed some alcohol).

This is truly evil genius on the part of these retailers and I salute their ingenuity. I like reading the e-mails and day dreaming about what I might buy one day, but unless there is something specific I am looking for, that I have the money for, I don’t usually take advantage of these “sales”.

Eating and Drinking Out More?

Even with the financial apocalypse Stats Can points out that Eating and Drinking out expenditures continue to increase in Canada:

Current dollar sales for the food services and drinking places industry increased 1.3% from March to just over $4.0 billion in April.

The price of food purchased in restaurants increased by 0.3% between March and April, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Very interesting numbers, given I would have thought folks would be staying home and eating more home cooked meals, however, this seems to contradict this a bit. Maybe this is a sign of a recovery, or more confidence folks have? We’ll see.

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When did Cash Stop Being Money?

I have said many times that Cash is King, but I may need to review this idea given the odd situation my wife ran into a week or so ago, where we had to ask, when did cash stop being money?

The Cash Tale

Our son’s Nursery School was running a Scholastic book fund-raising book service. My wife found a couple of books she figured my son would like, and she filled in the form. She gave the form in with the exact cash needed to pay for the order.

Money RESP

This is not money? What?!?

My wife has decided to see if she uses cash instead of cheques and direct withdrawal, if it will give her the “tactile feedback” she needs for budgeting (I applaud this idea). My wife’s plan is simple once the cash is gone, there is no more spending.

Mrs. C8j dropped off the order and thought no more about it. She was cornered by the mother who has volunteered to run the book order. The volunteer told my wife that Scholastic did not accept cash. A cheque was the only way to pay.

My wife then asked the woman, why didn’t the volunteer write a cheque on her own account and take the cash as a cash advance and the problem would be solved. The volunteer said she couldn’t do that. The volunteer told my wife that she must submit the order with a cheque or the order would be refused. My wife ended up writing a cheque to get the books.

Cash is not Money?

This incident leaves me scratching my head, asking the question, when did Cash stop being currency? I realize there are situations where cash shouldn’t be used (sending cash in the mail is a bad thing), but it seems more and more, society is frowning on the use of cash, or is making it very difficult to use cash.

This made me wonder what would happen if I did the following experiment: Buy a car and walk into the dealership with the entire payment for the car in cash, would the dealership take the money? I am curious to hear if anyone has actually done this.

With counterfeiting of Canadian $100 bills, most establishments do not accept bills over $50, and they don’t really like taking those bills either (try to pay for a $11.00  charge with a $50 bill and see the reaction of the cashier). How long will it be, before cash and bills in specific stop being accepted as currency?

Did Cash Stop Being Money ?

Canadian Money now is less counterfeited, but cash continues to lose traction as a method of payment.

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Consumerism Case Studies Best Buy

As I mentioned last week we purchased a new camera last week and didn’t get the extended warranty.

This past Friday (6 days after purchasing the camera),  I read the Future Shop flyer and saw that the same camera is now selling for $50.00 less. I tend to read the Future Shop and Best Buy flyers because I am a techno-geek and like to window shop for things I can’t afford (and know I shouldn’t buy), and this time it paid off very nicely.

I went off to Best Buy, and was my normal polite self, I had my bill with me from the previous Saturday and spoke to the young lady at the Customer Service (sic) desk (I also brought a copy of the Future Shop Ad for the camera). The young lady was very polite as well and then checked and Best Buy was in fact carrying my Camera (Canon S5 IS) for $50.00 less also, and because of this my account was credited for $56.50 (after tax rebates and such).

Well worth the trip, even though I most likely spent $4.00 worth of petroleum to get my money, but money well retrieved. Most electronics stores, and I believe most big box stores (aka Wal-Mart) have this kind of purchase protection plan and it is important to make sure you are not being over-charged and you are taking advantage of later sales on products you have purchased.

I am thinking now, I should have raised a mild stink and asked for more than $50.00 back, because the sales person at Best Buy should have known this camera was going to be on sale in the next few days, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

Extended Warranty?!?

As I stood in line I saw another interesting piece of consumer sleuthing that I feel it is important to report on as well.

A young lady was in front of me, and she had her iPOD touch with her, and there was some issue with it not working correctly. The young lady had her original box, and her extended warranty (which we said she paid $70 for (I believe)), and the Customer Service rep was very polite and said she’d have a look at it.

The Customer Service rep then told her something that caused my ear hear to prick up. Evidently if the Best Buy Customer rep couldn’t repair or make the iPOD work successfully, the young lady (customer) would have to send it to Apple, because it is within a year of purchase and Apple does all repairs in the first year.

Let that sink in, the customer has purchased an extended warranty from Best Buy, however, Apple’s warranty covers the exact same repair in the first year (presumably the first year of the extended warranty as well).

Read that previous sentence again, and tell me you didn’t at least have a “WTF” moment.

What is the use of this “Extended Warranty” if Apple repairs this and not Best Buy? The Customer Service rep in fact said, the customer must send the iPOD back to Apple, because Apple will not accept the iPOD if it is sent in by Best Buy. Another “WTF” moment for me.

So the extended warranty you purchase overlaps with Apple’s, and is effectively redundant (i.e. useless).

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