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January 29, 2009

Shopping has gotten harder

On several separate occasions lately I've gone shopping for specific items but returned with nothing. It seems so much harder to buy stuff these days.

I went shopping for a coffee mug. That should be a very simple and straightforward purchase. I stopped at a few places including Walmart and was unable to find anything other than a single set of tea cups, about a half dozen or so in the package. I was baffled.

Jeans used to be the easiest thing to shop for. With the brand and two numbers in mind, you could pull exactly what you wanted off the shelf and walkaway. Not so easy now, that model number seems to change and disappear constantly. The product and sizing is incredibly inconsistent. I have many pairs of "identical" jeans -- the same brand, model and size, and yet no two are anywhere close to the same. They use different materials, fit differently, have different size pockets, etc.

Shopping for many other items seems to run into "seasonal" issues. The products are only stocked during some "season" the retailer has defined, which may or may not make sense for the item. The products will arrive on shelves shortly before the season arrives, but not early enough to be bought much before you need them and disappear off shelves shortly before the season ends. Soon after the season starts though, the stock is dwindled and never replenished. Out of season it's impossible to find the items.

For other items, when I'm shopping for a specific brand and model, it seems very difficult to find a retailer at all. Contacting the manufacturer, distributors and retailers indicated often ends with no results, no one will sell me the product I want to buy. Seems counter-intuitive for a salesman to ignore a sale.

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January 08, 2009

Goodbye Accord

On December 22, I returned my leased Honda Accord to the dealer and bid a fond farewall. Ken at Winnipeg Honda made it a quick and simple process and was quite knowledgeable. He even gave me a ride home. The lease return process as a whole on the other hand was not as quick and simple. I'll detail this in another entry as it has yet to conclude.

As for the Accord, I was very pleased with it. Getting another one was high on my list and it made finding a replacement as good as or better very difficult. I took it everywhere and it performed amazingly well. No major faults or issues. In fact I don't recall having to take it to get anything other than regular service. It had developed a issue after a winter accident some years ago though. The tires were due for replacement and the battery was near dead as the last time it was in the shop, they left it dead and out in the cold. But that's basically stuff that was done to the car and not the car's fault. Comparatively, the Accord was pleasant to drive, comfortable and functional. Everything worked clearly, simply and just as you would expect, I could figure it out just by looking at it without resorting to the manual. It had lots of storage and cup holders, the giant bin in the center console especially (in addition to the armrest bin) was extremely useful. Power and fuel economy was very good, as was handling. It had the aura of a very well designed and thought out vehicle. I was sad to see it go, it felt like a trusted old friend, but the few issues it had developed make it just a little bit easier.

I would have bought another one, if I could get one just about like it. The new model had several things going the wrong way in my opinion. It got larger with a bigger engine. Both things I'd prefer the opposite. The interior also got much uglier, with lots of ugly painted plastic, too many buttons, odd layouts and malfunctioning style.

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