December 20, 2013
For years, I subscribed to Time Warner’s “lite” internet, the lowest priced offering, which was fast enough for me. Recently, a Times Union story (that appeared to be a press release), followed by a television ad from TW, announced a new “everyday low price” service to replace the “lite” service, at greater speed and lower cost.
I braved TW customer service hell on the phone to try to ascertain if I would automatically be switched to the new sevice or, if not, what I had to do to get it. The first rep I spoke with had not heard of the new ELP service. The second said it was for new customers only. Only on the third try was I able to find someone who, after some cajoling, agreed to switch my service.
The fight was worth it, though it should not have been necessary. ELP is indeed faster and cheaper and, because it is not priced on a promotional basis, I should not have to periodically fight with TW about unwarranted increases. Yipee!
December 18, 2013
For many, many, years, the TSA treated all air travelers alike, subjecting each to the same security screening procedures. Just recently, I was pleased to see that I was selected for the new “Pre-check” program that let me, a somewhat frequent flyer who has no criminal record and never did anything to compromise travel safety, to breeze through the line without taking out my laptop and liquids, and without taking off my shoes, belt and “light” jacket. I understand that eligible travelers can either pay to enroll in the program or, like me, be selected for it on an ad-hoc basis (I was told that being selected for one flight does not guarantee selection for future flights). Either way, it makes sense, both to the traveling public and to an agency with limited resources, to deploy those resources where they are most likely to discover safety threats. While some may say that this targeting of resources is “discriminatory,” especially if it is perceived to be directed at certain ethnic groups, it simply makes no sense to apply the same procedures to different passengers who present objectively different risks. I applaud the TSA for this common-sense move that will benefit all travelers and increase safety.
Of course, implementation of the new policy is not perfect. Recently, I booked a trip with a companion. Though we were on the same reservation, only one of us was selected for pre-check, making it basically useless, since the other would have to go through the full screening. I called the airline about this, and was told to contact the TSA. I left a comment on the TSA web site, but I did not receive a meaningful individualized response. Overall, though, Pre-check is a step in the right direction.
December 4, 2013
I recently read that NYRA plans to increase rates for admission, parking and reserved seats. I cannot imagine how a group of executives, whose salaries recently were reported to be almost a quarter million dollars, could be so dumb. While it is true that the casual fan at Saratoga won’t mind paying an extra five or ten bucks for her day at the track — though she may bet less to make up for it — the regular horse player has just been provided another reason to give up the game as unwinnable.
Assuming on track attendance, as opposed to simulcasting, is a significant source of revenue for NYRA, what it should be doing to meet existing and planned competition for the gambling dollar is lowering the prices it plans to raise and lowering the confiscatory takeout, which you never hear about.
The racing fan, who funds the game, gets no respect. The horsemen get theirs. NYRA employees, especially the executives, certainly get theirs. The fan gets asked to pay more by someone who obviously does not understand that NYRA cannot survive all year on Saratoga and that regular year round players cannot be asked to pay more and stay in the game. The decline in racing handle over the years is largely due to changing tastes and competition from other forms of gambling, but I would be shocked if it did not correlate closely to increases in the takeout over that period.