Did we say unlimited?

Om Malik notes that Verizon’s VoiceWing Unlimited VoIP plan may not be so unlimited after all. From the fine print:

Usage must be consistent with normal residential use for one household. Verizon reserves the right to monitor usage for possible abuse of service. For packages with unlimited calling, more than 5,000 minutes a month is considered beyond normal residential use and may be investigated, resulting in potential termination of service.

As Om notes, that’s about 2 hours and 46 minutes a day each month.

Wiktionary defines “unlimited” as “limitless or without bounds; unrestricted”. Doesn’t putting a limit on “unlimited” violate truth in advertising laws? Either there is a limit, or there isn’t.

Excuses, excuses.

The latest excuse I’ve heard for increases in retail gasoline prices is that gas prices follow the daily wholesale price. Today gas prices declined:

October unleaded gas ended at $2.138 a gallon, down 5% Friday and for the month.

So why did service stations in Ontario, Canada, raise their prices to $1.15 per liter ($4.60 per gallon), an increase of 40 cents per gallon?

And just a day after the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report indicating that gouging was occuring already before the increase:

The study, released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) on Thursday, concluded soaring gas prices have more to do with oil companies playing on consumer fears of a gas shortage than any real market forces.

The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute’s Ontario division called the study “severely flawed”:

“First of all, it ignores a foundational principle that Canada’s energy policy is based on a notion that says commodity prices are set by the international market. Canada is a price taker. So whether it’s crude oil or gasoline, we don’t make markets,” she told CTV’s Canada AM.

When Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, about 10 per cent of the U.S. refining capacity was wiped out, she said.

“So you have a tremendous supply shock…The price on the international market, the wholesale price ratchets up.”

But as I noted above, the wholesale price went down. Ah but that’s for gasoline futures you say. Then shouldn’t the price increases also have taken their time?

What am I missing?

Make a difference.

I’ve been searching for years for a company that can actually make use of my abilities; a company that will let me contribute as much as I want to. I’ve found a couple that were pretty close, but I find that most companies are mired in the world of job descriptions and salary bands, and can’t deal with people who don’t fit into narrow job categories.

What do you do if you have experience in everything from engineering and software development, through consulting and support, to marketing and sales, and you don’t fit neatly into one category? What do you do if you’re driven by a burning desire to do more every day?

Are there still any companies that are looking for people who are willing to do whatever it takes to make a difference?

Lucky 13.

Canada has risen to 13th place on the Business Competitiveness Index released by the World Economic Forum:

In this year’s ranking, the United States is No. 1, followed by Finland, Germany, Denmark and Singapore. The index is designed to measure the set of institutions, market structures and economic policies supportive of national prosperity.

On the Growth Competitiveness Index, which estimates the underlying prospects for growth over the next five to eight years, Canada also improved, rising one position to 14th.

In that ranking, Finland placed first, for the third year in a row, followed by the United States, Sweden, Denmark and Taiwan.

Unfortunately that is still substantially lower than just a few years ago:

“In 1998, Canada stood sixth in (the business competitiveness) ranking and by last year we had fallen to 15th, so a move up two spots to 13th in 2005 may be the start of a turnaround,” Martin said.

He noted, however, that Canada fell further behind the United States in important factors such as the intensity of local competition and the sophistication of customer buying processes.


I’m trying Google AdSense on my site, and it is doing a few weird things to my template, which is long overdue for a redesign anyway.

I guess I’ve gotten in the habit of only seeing it though an RSS newsreader. Hopefully I’ll get around to prettying it up this weekend.

The law of line extension.

In introducing their new line of Dell XPS luxury computers, Dell fails to understand what Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti already know. Nobody will buy a luxury product from a discount brand.

Honda, Toyota, and Nissan were known for decent reasonably priced vehicles. In order to sell luxury automobiles, they created independent companies and premium brands Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti respectively, so that they could provide a different customer experience without offending an existing subset of those customers.

Though they claim to be following Toyota’s model for creating Lexus, Dell instead is going to put pretty much the same stuff in shinier case under the Dell name and charge a whole lot more, so that you can get a support representative in half the time of the unwashed masses of average customers.

Sadly the New York Times points out that Dell extolls the virtues of faster support for luxury customers:

But Dell says the real feeling of luxury will come from its customer service. Buyers of the XPS laptops will be connected with a customer service representative within five minutes of calling, about half the time that regular Dell customers wait.

Perhaps it would be better if they had spent the extra money to ensure that you didn’t need support in the first place.

Of course a post about Dell wouldn’t be complete without seeing what Jeff Jarvis has to say:

Dell announces a luxury line – its Lexus – with better computers and better service: … Which is to say that all the rest of Dells customers get crappy customer service and long waits and that in its other models, it doesnt sell quality and only sells price.

As I’ve said lately, if you want luxury and good design, buy a Mac.