Monday, February 19, 2018


I liked Mezzetta's Nappa Valley Bistro. It carried a premium price but I didn't mind paying it. "I found the best pasta sauce." I had thought.

And they changed the ingredients, mainly they removed the wine, but they kept the premium price :).


Customer Service responded to my inquiry about the change:

Napa Valley Homemade (NVH) is Mezzetta's next generation of our Napa Valley Bistro (NVB) pasta sauce. We evolved this line based on thorough market research and analysis that indicated an overwhelming consumer desire for an all-family product that's clean, simple and natural.

To do so, we updated our label and our ingredients to be just that - clean, simple and natural. Many consumers loved our NVB sauces, but found the wine ingredient polarizing and limiting, so we removed the wine to accommodate their need for an all-family offering.

The truth is you cannot please everyone, but now their pasta sauce tastes the same like the others, and the price is almost double. They lost me as a customer and I do not understand why they could not make both: 'Napa Valley Bistro' without 'evolving' it and the 'Napa Valley Homemade'.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Watch any sports competition

Sky wins bulk of Premier League rights as value slips

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch’s Sky (SKYB.L) will pay 3.58 billion pounds to show 128 Premier League matches for three seasons from 2019/20 in a deal that brings to an end rampant inflation in the value of the domestic rights for English top-flight soccer.

There was speculation that a U.S. internet giant such as Amazon (AMZN.O), Facebook (FB.O) or Netflix (NFLX.O) would enter the fray.

But, unfortunately, they did not. We are in 2018 and it is still not possible to watch all soccer matches (or for that matter all sports competitions) on Internet. And I mean a sports competition anywhere in the world, not limited by your IP (the dreaded message "The broadcast is not available in your country.").

If Steve Jobs had lived perhaps he could have done something about the sports broadcasting rights the same way he did it for music. Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg or Reed Hastings could follow Steve Jobs' steps or perhaps they tried and it is not possible (not yet at least).
“When we first approached the labels, the online music business was a disaster,” Jobs told Steven Levy, author of The Perfect Thing. “Nobody had ever sold a song for 99 cents. Nobody really ever sold a song. And we walked in, and we said, ‘We want to sell songs a la carte. We want to sell albums, too, but we want to sell songs individually.’ They thought that would be the death of the album.” (my bold)
Downloading music before iTunes wasn't hard, as long as you didn't mind breaking the law. But paying for a song online and storing it legally on a hard drive? All but impossible. Major labels had responded to the digital revolution by filing lawsuits against services like Napster instead of making it easier for members of the public to access music. By April 2002, the fans were starting to get pissed off – and so was Steve Jobs.
So Apple's CEO called the president of AOL Time Warner to complain. The president quickly patched in Paul Vidich, an executive at Warner Music Group, the storied label that acts including Madonna, R.E.M. and Neil Young called home. Vidich listened as Jobs snarled that the labels' digital-music services – clunky, pricey, unpopular options like MusicNet and Pressplay – had gotten it all wrong. Jobs had something better in mind, a new product that would actually get consumers to pay for online music in huge numbers. As he shared the beginnings of an idea that would eventually become the iTunes Music Store, Vidich listened in awe. "That's exactly what we need," Vidich told him.
The vision that Jobs started sketching out that day would soon redefine the future of music. Over the next eight years, Apple went on to sell 300 million iPods and 10 billion tracks via the iTunes Store, leapfrogging Wal-Mart and Best Buy as the world's biggest music retailer. And digital music helped Jobs transform Apple into the world's most powerful technology company after years as the underdog. "It was all intuitive to him," says Vidich. "He had a passion for music, and it was that passion that led him to iTunes."
In the months leading up to the iTunes Music Store's April 28th, 2003 debut, Jobs made it a personal priority. Many tech companies had already tried and failed to convince the labels to license their vast catalogs for online use – but none of them had Steve Jobs as their lead negotiator. "He pushed us in ways we needed to be pushed," recalls Roger Faxon, who, as CEO of EMI Group, helped license the Beatles' catalog to iTunes last year. "He sometimes didn't hold the executives in very high esteem, but he always put the creators of music at the pinnacle of the business. That's what he was trying to create – a way for their music to reach consumers."

A website with all the sports competitions does exist in fact. If the competition is broadcast, anywhere in the world, it will be on the website.

I do not know about the legality of the site, but it works (most of the time). However, I would prefer an 'official' website where I would not be afraid of being infected by viruses and malware.

Recycling Bin - Organics Only

I have noticed people put the coffee cups in the organics only bin. There are drawings on the bin depicting food, but they are very small, the photo of the girls drinking coffee is more noticeable, so I suppose most people think the cups should be put in the 'Organics Only' bin. 

I let the administration of the mall know about this and they responded very quickly:
Thank you for letting us know.  Our operations group will look into this.

SoFresh Cold Brew Café Latte

Cold brew coffee (Filtered water, Cold brew coffee extract), Cashew base (Filtered water, Cashews), Cane sugar, Cocoa powder, Calcium Carbonate, Natural flavour, Sea salt, Potassium citrate, Sunflower lecithin, Gellan gum, Locust bean gum, Vitamin a palmitate, Riboflavin, Vitamin d2, Vitamin b12, Zinc gluconate.
It was too sweet for my taste, but 'de gustibus non est disputandum'. Also, I would have preferred a more natural drink with only the ingredients, that I have bolded. 
Customer service replied to my inquiry about the long list of ingredients:
Our plant based beverages are all fortified with vitamins and minerals  to provide the nutrients that you need for healthy bones and optimal health. The gellum and locust bean gum are used to stabilize all the ingredients together.  The other ingredients are used for taste and mouth feel.  
Perhaps I should create my own drink :).

Nutritional Information

per 175ml serving

Calories / Calories 45
Fat / Lipides 1 g2%
Saturated / saturés 0.3 g + Trans / trans 0 g2%
Polyunsaturated / polyinsaturés 0.1 g
Monounsaturated / monoinsaturés 0.7 g
Cholesterol / Cholestérol 0 mg
Sodium / Sodium 140 mg6%
Potassium / Potassium 135 mg4%
Carbohydrate / Glucides 8 g3%
Fibre / Fibres 0 g0%
Sugars / Sucres 6 g
Protein / Protéines 0.5 g
Vitamin A / Vitamine A8%
Vitamin C / Vitamine C0%
Calcium / Calcium20%
Iron / Fer2%
Vitamin D / Vitamine D30%
Riboflavin / Riboflavine15%
Vitamin B12 / Vitamine B1235%
Magnesium / Magnésium4%
Zinc / Zinc8%

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"You’d need to contact them to find out."

I inquired about the availability of a specific product at a company that was listed as a distributor.

Initially I was told "we are retailers not suppliers/distributors".

After I pointed out they are listed as a distributor the answer was that the information was wrong and their sister information should have been listed.

Then, after an additional message I was advised to contact them directly.

I would have expected the contact person to do this, at least forward my message, after all it is their sister company :) but anyway.

Why bother?

I have been doing this and I still do.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Product Recalls

Product recalls seem to happen more often than before or perhaps I was not paying attention, as statistics might disapprove my assumption (see the article The World Is Not Falling Apart with the subtitle 'Never mind the headlines. We’ve never lived in such peaceful times').

In my case first it was the Tanaka airbag and the fire extinguishers Kidde. The car dealer sent me a letter, but anyway I would have found about the recall due to the scale of it.

However it is a different story with the fire extinguishers. I happened to be at home and heard on the radio about the recall, and I don’t listen to the radio very often. What if I had not been listening to the radio? I would still have the defective extinguishers.

I have learnt about the ‘Kidde Recalls Talking Combination Smoke and CO Alarms’, a recall from November 10, 2016 that I did not know of, but I do not have this model.

Another case in point is the Samsung top loader washer recall, that only recently did I learn about it as I was "researching" the subject of product recalls (the recall was in November 2016, 'Samsung recalls washing machines over injury reports from malfunctioning units'). I have a Samsung washer, but a front loader.

Also, I went once to a walk-in clinic and there a notice said:
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is warning consumers that Hepatitis A virus has been detected in a sample of Western Family brand fresh pineapple chunks sold in ready-to-go cups.

It was first time I had learned about this food recall so I got curios about the food recalls and Save-on-Foods' Products Alerts is “scary”. I wonder how many people, who shop at Save-on-Foods, check the report (24 pages) - I don't - or even know about it.

And true scary:
Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.
Symptoms can include facial paralysis or loss of facial expression, unreactive or fixed pupils, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, and a change in sound of voice, including hoarseness.

My suggestion: consumer card for anyone who would like to have one.
The customer would have their card scanned every time they purchase something (like a reward card) - of course if they want to - and what they have purchased will be sent and stored on ... government servers, consumer organization, FDA? This is to be determined as it will be a very sensitive topic.
The stored data will only be used in case of product recalls by automatically sending emails to the registered consumers.
This way people will not miss any product recalls. 

 In Canada, and something similar must exist in the U.S. also, you can register to receive a notice on the day that the recall is posted. I registered but after a while I un-registered, as there were too many emails, for example:  
  • Village des Magi-Prix (9237-7415 Quebec Inc) recalls plastic squeeze toys Screams of Animal kingdom and Angry Birds
  • Northern Souvenirs recalls Kids' Full Zip Hooded Jacket with drawstring at the hood 
  • Novelty Imports Inc. recalls Fish Shaped Bath Toys
  • NETGEAR, Inc. recalls Power Adapter for Arlo Pro Outdoor Cameras
  • Ravin® Crossbows Recalls Nocks Used with Ravin® Crossbows
  • Metabo USA recalls Rat Tail Angle Grinders
  • Jackfield - Distribution Eugène Gagnon Inc. recalls Jackfield work boots
  • International Specialty Services, Inc. recalls Evercraft and NAPA 800 pound low profile transmission jacks

Earny is a very interesting app. It syncs with your inbox and identifies receipts (I hope it does not save/use anything else that is not related to receipts). It then keeps track of price changes and follows through to get your money back in case of a price drop within a certain period that varies from seller to seller.
I wrote to them suggesting they use the system for product recalls as well.

The replaced fire extinguishers (left the old ones, right the new ones):