Friday, October 15

Worried about the Oil Price?

"While oil prices are more than 70% higher than a year ago, they are still around $25 below the peak inflation-adjusted price reached in 1981. " link

Thursday, October 14

Discovery Vitality Rip-off

Last week I posted on the "premium" discovery members pay for goods from Digital Planet, when they were supposedly getting a huge discount. I posted a complaint on the HelloPeter site, and as usual Discovery replied promptly to my complaint.

Hello Richard
Thank you for your feedback regarding the Vitality and HP pricing structure.

The retail prices for the HP products are the recommended retailprices as advised directly by HP. We are aware that you may be able to receive a greater discount elsewhere if the retailer is able to reduce this price according to their preferred sales structure.

In future, we hope to provide Vitality members with access to products that are not available through other retailers and that can only be bought through Digital Planet. We are constantly re-negotiating with Digital Planet and have already seen positive results with the reduction of some retail prices.

Kind Regards
Discovery Vitality

This really wasnt satisfactory however. I responded with the following letter:

Thank you for your response. I cannot accept it however.

Discovery Vitality is a rewards program. It should reward its clients, not take advantage of their trust in your company. The fact that your ‘partner’ is giving better deals to anyone else who wants it is inexcusable. It means either you or they are making a profit from your clients trust in your good intentions.

The fact that Digital Planet might be able to supply ‘something’ that other retailers cant in the future is both irrelevant and hard to believe.

You say that the retail price “as suggested by HP” is much higher than you could realistically expect to pay anywhere in South Africa. I can certainly accept that, as it is a standard business practice. My problem is solely with the fact that there is what appears to be collusion between Digital Planet and Vitality to fool Discovery clients into thinking they are getting a “good deal”, when in fact they are paying a premium for goods freely available at Digital planet.

It is comparable to asking Vitality members R300 a month to join a Virgin Active gym, instead of the R250 it would cost any other person.

The only acceptable solutions for me would be for either digital planet to start offering vitality members a real discount, or for vitality to discontinue the partnership.

Anyone want to bet that Im going to get anywhere? Thought not.

Wednesday, October 13

Sounds About Right

I'm Caligula!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

On the other hand, are the Americans winning the war on drugs? This American woman certainly needs to be on something (via Andrew Sullivan who seems to take this oh so seriously).

Heres another of Carols encounters in the dangerous and hostile land that is England. In this episode a bobby, an actual policeman, speaks to her rudely. Carol is the editor of CurrentViewPoints.

Thursday, October 7


Well, I’m still on blogabbatical. At least until the American elections are over. Its like a giant black hole sucking in all punditry in the blogosphere. Must....resist....

I’ve been able to sort out some personal issues (as in what the hell am I going to do for the rest of my life) and I was very happy to hear that I've been accepted for a post-graduate diploma at UCT. It’s in business, basically a BCom in a year kind of thing, so it’s going to make a nice change from the comp-sci/electronics/physics spiel I’ve been caught up in the last ten years.

Preparing for the course, I’ve been looking at buying a printer/copier/scanner for my home. Heh, since I’m a loyal member of Discovery vitality soon to reach gold status I thought the 35% discount I receive on HP products should come in handy. These are the two offers I got from their website

All-in-one HP OfficeJet 4255 Bundle
R1,679.30 (Silver Status)
R1560.00 (On Gold Status)
All-in-one HP OfficeJet 6110 Bundle
R2,939.30 (On Silver Status)
R2728 (On Gold Status)

So I’m looking around for some reviews, and lo and behold what do I find. The hp online shop in South Africa. The HP OfficeJet 4255 retails at R 1,549.00 (incl. VAT), while the HP OfficeJet 6110 retails at R 2,599.00 (incl. VAT). Both the discovery and HP offers include 2 ink cartridges. The hp offer doesn’t include the R19 printer cable which they sell as an accessory. Shipping costs R65 from the HP shop.

So not only does discovery use retail prices that are completely wrong, they are so wrong that even at the highest discount levels your still paying more than you would elsewhere. Lets see. Member status can be either Blue (25% discount), Silver (30%) or Gold (35%). Given that the Gold status "discount price" is actually just slightly more than retail, this means that silver members pay a 5% premium above retail and blue members pay a 10% premium above retail. What a "discount"!

Arent there laws against crap like this?

Update: Taking a closer look at the people involved, I found this article announcing the agreement between discovery vitality and digital planet, the company which offers the hp products to discovery members at a "discount". But hey, what do you know, this is the same company that "powers" the hp online shop (See bottom left). So they cant say that they dont know that their "RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE" is completely bogus.