The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Consumer]

C'mon, cut the crap.

(Example are for T-Mobile)

 by tickerguy

But if you're a single person..

 by tickerguy

In other words if you're a single person you get half the data, and 140% of the price what a married couple pays on a per-person basis.

Look at Verizon and AT&T. They don't make it as easy to figure out, but it's the same basic scheme.  This is the problem -- lock-step pricing, basically -- nobody is actually innovating.

Do you really think there's a reason to charge 140% of the price for one person as opposed to two -- and only include half the service limit as well?

No, you don't -- and neither do I.

The same thing is true with "added features."  One carrier dropped tethering restrictions on their plans as an extra cost thing (complete with phone manufacturer enforcement embedded into their firmware) and suddenly so did the others. Yet another lock-step move.

Why does this pricing model persist and why do MVNO's (like Straight Talk) look attractive to single people?  Because there's an oligarchy when it comes to cell phone service in the United States.

Is there some reasonable decrease in cost to the carrier to send one bill instead of two?  Sure.  Is it so extreme as to justify 140% of the price for half the service bucket?  Oh hell no.

Where is the FTC?  Where is the Department of Justice?

Where is the Sherman and Clayton Act, in short?

John Legere, shut up.  You're no different than the others; in fact you're all playing the same game.  If there was any sort of real competition in this industry a single person would be able to buy a one-line, 10Gb plan for $60/month -- or, perhaps, $50/mo for the above 5Gb plan.  At $50 as an individual you wouldn't have lost me as a customer to an MVNO with superior coverage and a lower price.

And this, my friends, is why you should stick the big fat middle finger up toward all of the so-called "mainstream" carriers.

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As they say, oops....

VW’s software trick allows the cars to emit up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, environmental officials said. The automaker will have to recall all the vehicles and modify the emissions systems at its own expense, regulators said. Additionally it could face a fine of about $18 billion, or $37,500 per car, federal environmental officials said.

The claim appears to be that VW programmed the ECU to detect the EPA's emissions test (from the conditions under which the car was being operated) and then adjusted the ECU parameters to meet NOx emissions.

The problem is that NOx production goes up with the temperature in the combustion chamber -- but so does efficiency.

Since it appears VW's engine can meet the specifications this means that the "recall", such as it were, will be to enable the combination of parameters that produce a legal NOx level all the time.  This is likely to impact fuel economy, performance or both.

It's probable that there will be poor compliance with this "recall" on a voluntary basis, but it's also probable that what will happen is that as vehicles come into the dealer for routine maintenance they will be reflashed without the customer's knowledge or consent.

I expect plenty of lawsuits over this -- including class-actions -- arguing destruction of value and consumer fraud, since the customer was induced to buy based on the performance and fuel economy while and as a consequence of the car violating the emissions rules.

Never mind that the fines are well beyond the purchase price on a per-vehicle basis -- not that I actually expect the EPA to enforce such a fine.

This sucks folks....

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Ok, 53,000-odd miles to be exact.

The tires have been replaced (with BFG G-Force Comp2/AS rubber), as the Yokos were getting worn and noisy.  They still had 10k worth of rubber on them but I got a great deal on the replacements, so off they went.  Incidentally if you're looking for a nice-performing set of "all-season" tires (really, anything but snow) these are damn hard to beat.

Nothing else, other than filters and oil changes, has been done to the car and the local stealer has never seen it in their shop.  The brakes are wearing evenly (unlike the Jetta that eats rear brakes at 2x the rate of the fronts) and I estimate they have another 20k miles or so before they'll require replacement.  Dampers (struts and shocks) remain fine.  The last UOA I ran had astonishingly low numbers -- would you believe 2ppm of aluminum in an all-aluminum block, 5ppm of iron and 1 ppm of copper on a 7500 mile interval?  Neither would I, but there it is and that's repeated against the last two samples.

Oh, and no fuel dilution problems either, and the last oil change interval was near-zero in consumption.

Amazing.  This looks to be an easy 200k mile engine with utterly nothing internal being touched, maybe 500k miles with some luck.  The potential places for trouble are in the VVT and timing chain area, but neither is expected to cause problems.  Pretty impressive for a gas-burner.

I dumped the gear oil at 50k and replaced it -- it was perfectly serviceable with only a bit of discoloration.  Hell, I'd run that 100k miles no problem on the factory fill given what I saw when I drained it, but given that it cost me the two+ quarts of oil and a new drain plug gasket it wasn't a big deal to know for sure.  I am running MTL now in there which has almost completely gotten rid of a slight balkiness in the 3rd gear gate coming from 2nd when the gearbox is cold.  Not a big deal, but difference are differences.

My retrofit on the audio system continues to perform admirably; no complaints.  Nor do I have any in any other part of the vehicle, actually.

A nice blast or six down the terminal (southwestern) end of the Blue Ridge Parkway yielded much joy and no complaints, likewise in the north woods.  I've added a set of high-power LED fogs in the OEM holes, which are utterly monstrous in terms of light output and pattern -- when you need 'em, you need 'em, and they're worth the relatively small-ball investment.

No interior wear problems of note have shown up.  My only complaint is a few minor stone chips from thrown highway crap on the front body work (the "touch up" pen is reasonably serviceable for those) and one douche nozzle who appears to have hit me with his door in a parking lot while opening it, as there's one tiny scrape there by my driver door handle.

The EPA has ****ed everyone in this regard when it comes to paints; the older and very-environmentally unfriendly stuff is no more, and someone needs to give those jackasses a chainsaw enema for that.  My old boat, a 1985 that was old enough to drink while I owned her, managed two decades and still looked pretty good -- and that was in the hot sub-tropical sun of Florida and points further south.

Would I change anything?  Sure.  I'd like a bit less spacing between the loud and brake pedals, and a slightly different height adjustment too -- toe/heel is essentially impossible so I don't.  Then again, how often do you need to?  The over-center behavior in the clutch that I noted before has either settled down or I'm used to it.  When the stock dampers wear out I'll probably stuff a set of Koni FSDs in the car; they're reasonably priced and almost-certainly of better performance than what is in there now.

Lifetime fuel economy average is 33.6 mpg.  It's remarkably consistent and the car returns an honest 36-37mpg on the highway and over 30mpg in mixed-cycle driving.  For a midsized sedan that's damned impressive.

I had all the covers off the bottom recently to do the gear oil change and there's no sign of trouble in anything up under the chassis.  All the suspension bushings and components remain tight and trouble-free, and there are no leaks.

Buy this car again?

Oh hell yes, I would.

PS: The 2016 model, as I noted before, has two black marks against it -- an electrical parking brake (barf!) and a highly-integrated entertainment/sound system that precludes replacement.  You decide if those matter; they did for me and I'm glad I have the 2015 version.

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