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Comment Re:Buyback deal (Score 1) 123

No, it's like countless other businesses with good customer service. Granted, cars are expensive, but VW screwed up big.

There are countless businesses where you can take back a defective product and get a replacement with minimal hassle. Clothing, food, electronics. If you take the product back to the retail establishment it is VERY common that they'll give you a new one even if the package has been opened as long as the item is clearly defective.

The VW cars were clearly defective. Worse, they were fradulently defective. The person who was defrauded should not be obligated to jump through hoops.

Every car has a unique VIN. VW can take on the burden of verifying the title and verifying that the car is not reported stolen. There's no reason this should be the customer's obligation.

Perhaps the customer should call the dealer first and give them the VIN verbally, or go to a website where the only fields are a VIN field and the dealer that you plan to go to.

Once they have the VIN, VW can do all the legwork and if you pull into the dealer with a car that matches the VIN you claimed it has, VW should have all the paperwork done. There's no justification for making the customer go through multiple steps when it's VW's fault.

Comment Re:Buyback deal (Score 3, Insightful) 123

I don't think there should have been a buyback at all. Why should VW be allowed to make their customers jump through hoops or file paperwork. The way it should have been ordered by the courts to work is this:

1) VW owner drives car to VW dealer.
2) Dealer looks up original sticker price (if necessary, look up VIN to find if it was purchased at a different dealer and get the sticker price there.)
3) Customer picks out a car off the lot (possibly with a restriction that the sticker price must be within x% of the sticker price of the car they are returning)
4) If sticker price of new car is lower, VW issues customer a check for the difference in price
5) If sticker price is higher, customer pays the difference (or chooses a different car off the lot)
6) Customer drives away in new car

If customer can't find a single car on the lot that they would want to have, they can go to any other VW dealer and have the same options.

If customer doesn't want a VW at all they can still follow the steps above and sell the brand new car. They ought to be able to get enough from a used car dealer to be worth at least as much as the used price of the VW they originally bought.

VW should do all the paperwork. All the customer should have to do is sign the papers agreeing to a straight swap of the old for new plus the dollar amount of the difference in sticker prices.

Comment Re:'Developed a Clear Preference' For Trump (Score 1) 732

Yes, I know that it's the Electoral College that matters. That doesn't mean the popular vote is not of interest.

The popular vote might be of minor interest if a candidate with greater than 50% of the popular vote failed to win the election and if the discussion was in the context of what the constitutional amendment should look like to change the part of the constitution that defines the electoral college.

According to a CNN article that I just Googled, Clinton received 48.2% of the popular vote. I am completely unable to generate any sympathy for anyone bringing up the popular vote in a specifically anti-trump context, especially if they aren't advocating for disbanding the senate. The Congressional representation follows exactly the same heuristic as the electoral college. Anyone griping against the electoral college without also advocating a change to the structure of congressional (specifically senate) representation can't be taken seriously.

The popular vote DID NOT give Clinton (or Trump) a mandate to lead.

Comment Re:'Developed a Clear Preference' For Trump (Score 1) 732

I'm trying to remember if there was so much grief when Bill Clinton won with 43% of the popular vote. I honestly don't remember.

But I'm fairly certain there wasn't so much outrage over the electoral college before the election.

I didn't vote for Trump or Clinton, but I'd give more credence to the Clinton camp if someone can cite clear evidence that the Democrats were upset about the electoral college before the election.

Harping on it only after the election is bullshit.

Comment Re:That investment has been in the works for a whi (Score 2) 267

and will shoot dead teenagers who throw rocks at armored vehicles.

If dead teenagers are throwing rocks at armored vehicles then I strongly support not only shooting them but decapitating them and burning the zombie corpses. The last thing that area needs is a zombie apocalypse.

Comment Re:ZOMG (Score 1) 1069

Healthcare is not a normal market. When people are really sick they will pay anything up to getting bankrupt so that they are treated. Normal people cannot shop around too much or wait a month or two for a better offer. So a little of collusion between healthcare providers will go a long way towards gouging "customers".

Everywhere else in the entire Western world, government have established single user pay systems. Even in America this is true for the elderly with Medicare. For the general population, the actual cost of care in the US is 2x or 3x more than everywhere else in the world. Why is that?

Healthcare is not like a new smartphone and market principles do not apply to every situations.

This meme is stupid. Collusion in any market will affect the operation of the market, but healthcare is not special. Sure, if you're unconscious you don't make choices about what treatment to receive, but if I'm conscious and need to be rushed to the hospital I certainly do know which hospital I will go to. If you don't have multiple hospitals to choose from it's because you've previously CHOSEN to live in an area with only one hospital.

But the vast majority of medical decisions aren't a "seconds count" life or death decision. Most Americans who are dealing with health issues do so for years, sometimes decades, of daily medication and weekly or monthly doctor visits. They have plenty of time for research and choices for the vast majority of their medical decisions.

In fact, I'll bet that smokers with lung cancer probably spend more time researching doctors and treatments than they ever spent researching which brand of cigarettes to buy.

Market principles certainly do apply. If you've just GOT TO HAVE an iPhone then you'll pay whatever Apple is charging, but if you are willing to look at options, they exist. If you've just GOT TO HAVE the one drug that you're sure (either based on your deep scientific expertise or just your gut feeling) is the best for your condition then you'll pay whatever the price is, but there are certainly other treatment options even if they are objectively inferior. But depending on what your phone buying criteria are, it's quite possible that the non-iPhone is objectively inferior on the specific evaluation criteria that you weight the highest.

Also, the per capita death rate is and always has been constant. It's one death per person, eventually.

There is some variation in years lived per person and in level of comfort during both the healthy years and the last days/weeks/months of dying, but there is no credible evidence yet of any cure for death. So hysterics over "people are going to die" or "republicans don't care if people die" is utter nonsense. Neither Obama, nor Clinton, nor the DNC has a cure for death. The question is how to ensure the best availability of treatment options and the best incentives for researchers to develop new treatments and find ways to provide existing treatments more efficiently.

Comment Re:So what's the stock market (Score 1) 153

As for the "publicly traded" bullshit: Very few people can afford to own enough stock to matter. Your 401k is being eaten alive by fees. It is not a pension. It is not guaranteed or even likely to support you as you age.

If your 401k is being eaten alive by fees then you need to change your elections. If there are no low fee options offered you need to either get together with other employees to complain to your employer or else move your retirement to an IRA.

You have to actually read some of the information about each investment option available within your 401k plan, but the information is there. The fees and the historical return on investment is all available for you to review. If you're paying excessive fees, it's ultimately your own fault and within your power to change.

It took me longer that I'd like to admit to actually look at the fees on each of the options offered by my company's 401k plan and move all my money out of the high fee funds and into the low fee funds. But I did it, the low fee funds are offered by my employer's plan and I no longer have any portion of my 401k in high fee funds.

Comment Re:Really bad jobs (Score 1) 153

Why do you want to limit peoples' choices and options? For many people it would mean that instead of earning a little extra cash on their schedule to make ends meet, they wouldn't have that option and wind up seeking government assistance and/or become homeless.

Except that these 'job's would still need to be done and the companies be forced to pay an appropriate wage.

Are you speaking from specific knowledge of specific jobs that you are paying people to do? Jobs that you'd willingly pay more for but choose not to? Or is this just an article of faith?

There are lots of things I want, that I could afford, but which I do not buy because I think the price is too high. There are also things I could do to make extra money which I don't do because I don't think there's enough money in it to be worth the loss of my time to do other things.

If you're speaking on your own behalf about jobs that you're paying people to do that you would be willing to pay more for, that's one thing. If you're claiming certain knowledge of other people's price tolerance, I think you need to do more to prove you have reliable knowledge.

Absolutely everyone who's selling anything would love to know with certainty the maximum price that buyers would be willing to pay before walking away.

Everyone who is considering buying anything has a "walk away price" whether they've consciously pondered it or not. If they do know their "walk away price" they are generally very careful not to let the seller know what it is.

Comment Billing address? (Score 2) 110

The article didn't mention billing address, but I don't think I've ever entered my credit card number into any website that didn't include billing address as a set of required fields. Shipping address is always an additional set of optional fields.

Now, I suppose if the backend doesn't validate billing address then you could use a fake addresses for the brute force part of the job, but when you go to use the card isn't a fake billing address going to be a dead giveaway that the transaction was a fraud and therefore guarantee a successful charge back with zero questions?

But if Visa has any sense they ought to require billing address verification as part of the preauthorization step for all card not present transactions.

Comment Re:Chromebook (Score 1) 288

Can you be a little more specific? I'm currently using an Asus T100 with windows as my ssh and Web terminal. A little slow for anything else but gets a bit over 10 hours on battery. Every Linux laptop review I read seems to think that six battery life in the 5-6 hour range is great. I wouldn't buy anything that couldn't get at least a solid 8 hours of ssh and Web browsing.

When you write "battery lasts forever" I figure you mean 10-12 hours, but I'm not sure I believe you.

Comment Re:Not mine, you won't... (Score 1) 243

There are some awesome EVs you might replace it with. I live in rural Minnesota. EVs won't cut it for me, especially since I take long trips away from Interstates.

And do you drive quite often from rural Minnesota to Paris, Madrid, Athens or Mexico City?

Or to LA, SF Bay area, NYC, DC etc for that matter, if large US cities decided to introduce similar restrictions?

Or are you just posting to declare how the article has absolutely no relevance to you? Because if everyone posts to every article just to point out that it has nothing to do with them and they have no opinion that's relevant to the topic then the SNR around here would be even lower than it is.

Comment Re:From the 4th floor (Score 2, Insightful) 392

Ok, I'm sorry for being insensitive, and maybe Amazon is a horrible place to work, but maybe this guy wasn't entirely a stellar performer who was unfairly underrated.

If you attempt suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of a twelve story building and you don't even double check that you've got a full four floors to fall, what conclusions might we draw about your ability to plan and complete your assigned tasks?

Ending your own life is a pretty important decision and not something you should just handle in a half-assed manner. If you half-ass your own suicide I wouldn't be surprised if you half-ass a lot of other stuff, including your paid day-job responsibilities.

Comment Re: employee improvement plan (Score 3, Insightful) 392

I'll see your anecdote and raise you one. I know someone who was put on an improvement plan (likely due to personality conflict with their manager, quite possibly the manager's fault) and continued on with the company until eventual retirement age and left at well over 70 years of age with full pension and retirement benefits.

Do we have enough anecdotes to call it data yet? I'm guessing no.

Comment Re:employee improvement plan (Score 4, Insightful) 392

employee improvement plan, a step that can lead to termination if performance isn't improved

Whoever invented "employee improvement plan" needs to die.

Sure, wouldn't want to actually let the employee know why they're getting bad performance reviews, just fire them.

That was sarcasm, by the way. I know nothing about Amazon's employee improvement plan, but the general idea of giving extra assistance to employees who aren't performing as well as their peers is absolutely a good idea.

It's utterly naive to think that everyone can be in the top X% or that all employees will perform so equally that better or worse can't be distinguished. As long as some employees perform worse you only have three choices:

1) Do nothing. Just keep paying them for doing worse than their peers
2) Fire them. Hire somebody else that you hope will perform better.
3) Help them to identify why they perform worse than their peers and try to help them improve

I can't see any reason why option 3 is worse than option 1 or 2.

Unless you dispute my assumption that there exist some employees who perform worse than others, it absolutely makes sense for companies to have a goal and plan for improving their lowest performing employees rather than firing them or ignoring them.

Obviously if someone is utterly hopeless then you have to just get rid of them to prevent them from contributing negative value (i.e. creating problems for their peers to fix to the net loss of the company's productivity) but if they're just "ok but not great" then actively working to improve them benefits everyone. Maybe Amazon's plan is broken, I wouldn't know, but the general concept is a good one.

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