Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In regards to the closing of Surfmed Pharmacy in Miami Beach

I am not a fan of large chain stores. Take, for instance, office supply stores. The other day I went to buy a bona fide stationary item at Office Max, and guess what, they did not have it. Not a very uncommon item, I might add. However, should I be inclined to stock up on popcorn, candy, Coca-Cola or toilet paper, I could buy loads upon loads of it.

Back in the old days, you could walk into a stationary store, and pretty much find thousands of stationary articles. Sometimes I wondered where they found room to stock everything, but they did. They were really specialized stores. Then Office Max, Office Depot and Staples came along and simply decimated the stationary business. We are stuck with them, really, them and their popcorn, candy and Coke.

The trouble with this is that you can find popcorn, candy and Coke in thousands of other stores, but how about some stationary guys??? Who run these stores, by the way? Probably some 21-year old high school graduate, not very well versed in office goods, who is glad to be called manager to impress girls and makes $ 8.23 an hour.

Pharmacies pretty much follow the same pattern. The other day I read an article in Forbes magazine that provided the number of CVS stores in the USA. I almost fainted. Actually, in this neighborhood there are Walgreen stores almost every 1000 feet, it seems .

Do I shop in these pharmacies? Sure I do. For one, insurance companies cut deals with the chain pharmacies, and I suppose, leave out the few independents out there sucking their thumbs. I am stuck with CVS, in that regard, cannot really buy prescriptions anywhere else.

CVS and Walgreens, like the office supplies stores, are well stocked up in items such as high sugared drinks and candy/food, alcoholic beverages, and tons on non pharmaceutical or medical items. And they simply drove Miami Beach's Surfmed out of business.

"Joans, business is a Darwinian thing, the survival of the fittest". Here is the trouble, CVS and Walgreens, with all their junk food, booze, and in Walgreens' case, cigarettes (at least CVS dropped that product from their offerings), fail to provide surgical items, or specialty medical goods, which Surfmed sold. These are more related to their supposed core business, Pharmacy. But no, they drove the one store that sold this product in an area with a large elderly population, but are obviously not intent on selling this type of product.

So, you see, large is not always best.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Translations for US$30 a page, I don't think so

Here is the scoop.

The other day, I got thinking about ways of saving money. Every once in a while, I am faced with the requirement of obtaining certified translations of documents. I normally use this company, however, I got the notion they are a tad expensive. So I googled.

Then I found quite a few companies that charge only US$30.00 per page, and I was in heaven! I could save a bundle from now on.

So I contact one the companies that had an Ad stating "translations for US$30.00 a page". I said that I had a power of attorney with about 600 words, one page, and wanted confirmation it cost only US$30.00 a page.

Much to my disgust, this is the response I got:

____________________________________
Hi Joans:

The price of $30.00 is for Certificates and similar documents, of no more than 250 words.
Legal documents are charged by word at $0.12 a word. If your Power of Attorney is 600 words long, then the price is $72.00.
You can send me the document for a no obligation free quote to see what best price I can give you.

Regards,


NAME OF PERSON (I DON"T WANT TO EXPOSE HIM)
2500 NW 79th Ave, Suite 209, Doral, FL, 33122
Phone: 305-440-4773  |  Fax: 1-866-931-8852  |  Cell: 305-519-7292
Web: www.tranlanguage.com

___________________________________

Guess what? The company I have been using charges only US$60.00 for this document, so they are US$12.00 less expensive! So the "tranlaguage" ad is not really telling the whole truth, and I am surprised google is running it, for I know they have strict advertising policies that prohibit this very type of thing!

Then I google further, and found out this is common practice. Other companies go as far as charging US$10.00 to issue a document in paper!!!

If an ad says the cost is US$30.00 a page, it should be US$ 30.00 page, irrespective of how many words there are on the page. I felt a little betrayed in my trust, and of course, would never use this company.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Congratulations Miami Beach Government

Sometimes I tend to be overly critical, so let us give kudos where kudos are due.

Today, I saw that MB government can be very efficient indeed! I was parked at the public parking lot at 72nd and Collins, with a validated sticker until 3:55 PM. I kinda forgot about time, and when I returned to my car, there was one of those US$18.00 parking tickets. Well deserved, after all, I was paid in until 3:55 PM. My surprise was finding that the ticket had been written at 4:05, only ten minutes after my validated time!!!

I was dumbfounded by such efficiency. It took the zealous parking guy (or gal) only ten times to find my violation!!!

On the other side of the story, the same parking lot is full of ticket dispensing machines that work whenever they want, sometimes, never. Apparently, the city is very careful about sending employees to find cars that bypassed the allowed time by a mere ten minutes (having paid for six hours, by the way), yet, nobody obviously checks those dispensing machines, which would not be a difficult thing to do. Placing an OUT OF ORDER sign would be a nice thing, for, at times, I have had to try four different machines to get a ticket, walking around the lot like a zombie.

The non-working machines also sprung up a new industry. Every once in a while one can find a few folks of questionable pedigree hanging around in the parking lot, offering "help" with the machines. After "help" is provided (often telling tourists the machines are not working, duh!), they ask for money. This is obviously adding insult to injury. Plus people that openly solicit right on the parking lot, with open liquor containers, without any police intervention whatsoever.

How about the corner of 71st and Harding? I have seen MB crews working on the storm drainage system there, on and off, and they never get it right! In fact, once somebody hit a sewer line that literally spread feces all over the place. A recent heavy rain caused the whole area to be seriously flooded.

I know. Giving out parking tickets means revenue for the city. Checking out on broker dispensing machines, loitering on parking lots and storm drainage does not. I get it.

Let me rephrase. No congratulations, MB. Shame on you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Miami New Times, where hipocrisy never stops

A recent edition of the Miami New Times had an article signed by Michel E. Miller, entitled "Porky`s Revenge". This was a follow-up to an article published in 2012, concerning an American who had been jailed in Panama.

In the third paragraph, the author says "Galeota admits he's done bad things, such as running Miami`s most infamous strip club, Porky`s, for years before moving to Panama and opening a brothel".

So, while the article says that strip clubs and brothels are "bad things", the New Miami Times is undoubtedly the largest promoter or smut in Miami EVER! The last pages of the paper are filled with ads of "bad" strip clubs plus tons of smaller ads for Oriental Massage spas, which a lot of people say, are nothing more than mini-brothels. Thus, we assume that the paper cares very little about bad things in the community, in fact, it might be highly responsible for a large share of condom sales and STDs in Miami!!!

The problem is that the NMT spends tons upon tons of paper uncovering all types of corruption that happens in this area. Maybe, by taking paying ads from "bad things", the paper lacks moral standing, if I dare say it, to criticize corruption, another bad thing, at all levels. After all, even the most stringent protector of civil liberties will not say tons of strip clubs and massage parlors are good for a community!

I do not at all recall the paper running an expose on such massage parlors or even the activities of such strip clubs, although it takes direct hits on political corruption, business in general, not for profits, religion, card readers, car dealerships, gambling, universities, criminals, sports franchises, artists, celebrities, real estate developers, police, etc.  

Sure, the paper and the author might actually say that Galeota was the one referring to brothels and strip clubs as bad things, that this did not reflect the paper's view. Or they might say running strip clubs and massage place advertisements does not mean they condone or support these businesses, that they will take an ad from any legit business. I wonder what would happen if a church attempted to place an ad in the NMT....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shame on you Experian

Nothing against credit reporting agencies. I believe they serve a noble purpose in society. Not to say that I did not have problems with them. A couple of years back, I found that my credit report contained a couple of issues (fully resolved, not a cent due for many years) dating back almost 20 years ago,  plus a tax lien that should not have been there, for it was also mistakenly filed by the tax authority, which by the way, was not even federal. Beats me how much communication there is between creditors and bureaus, once matters do get solved. Apparently, not much.

Notwithstanding this contretemps, I do not loathe them as enemies. They help  a smoother running society, I always thought.

The other day, I decided to get my free copy of a credit report, which I am entitled to once a year. I kept on getting calls from a collection agency, calling my name, however, the last four digits of the SS were different. Just in case, I thought I should check.

That site run by the three major agencies was of no help. It kept on asking questions that made no sense, and when I replied them in the negative, I was told I needed to provide more identification for security reasons. That raised a flag, so I went to the Experian site.

On that site, I was told I could get a US$1 Credit Report immediately. Hey, almost for free, good deal. I just went for it. Of course, there was a catch. I would be charged 1 buck for that report, however, that meant I would agree to subscribing to a service they offer for 17 bucks and change a month. I could cancel the subscription within 7 days, though, and nothing would additional be charged.

So I decided to do it. These are the folks that oversee credit in the USA, they would not play hooky, would they? I signed up for everything online. Easy as a breeze, and my credit report was clean, good credit rating so I was happy as Madonna when she says something stupid. All I would need was remembering that I had seven days to cancel the US$204.00 annual additional expense I can do without - yes, 17 bucks a month adds up to about 204 dollars annually.

My memory has not gone to the dumps as much as I thought, and seven days after I signed up, I remembered that I needed to cancel the unwanted subscription.

Then, the first surprise.

As with most companies, signing up for things is easy. 1-2-3, everything on-line no problem. To cancel, though, it is an altogether different story. I needed to call a number, and you know what that means. Waiting on the line for quite a few minutes.

I decided that there was no way I would get stuck with the US$204.00 expense that would probably go on forever, or at least until my credit card expires. So I waited, and waited, then I got this cheerful female voice on the phone.

I explained my intent. Then she started telling me about the advantages, blah, blah, blah, blah. She was very pleasant, so I reconfirmed my intent, once again, and she continued babbling about how my life would be so much better with their service. Once I rejected the offer one more time, then she hit me. "Well, today we are offering nice subscribers such as you at 50 % off, with the same benefits".

That totally outraged me. These are, after all, the sparkling clean folks who are supposed to protect uf from crooks, yet, their flip flop tactic, although not illegal, is a bit immoral if you ask me. If they can make money running this "program", which is not really a program, the information is just sitting there, for 8 dollars and change, why offer it for 17? I do not dream of doing this in my business. I have my price, and I will just negotiate up to a certain extent if the client is extremely pushy, but I never do a switch and bait. This is the stuff of dishonest lemon-car salesmen, not a reputable credit reporting agency.

The one thing that really annoyed me was that she was trying to convince me that I was lucky enough that the offer was available TODAY! She was trying to convince me what a lucky human being I was, right day to call and cancel! Maybe I should recheck my lotto tickets!!!!

Well, the end of story is, I still rejected the offer, and gave the pleasant lady a pleasant piece of my mind, saying this was a despicable marketing technique, blah blah blah.

Is this the stuff MBA's are learning at Harvard?   

Monday, December 17, 2012

Oriental massage in the Miami area

Is this a problem that should concern us?

I do not know, I have never been to one of these places. The fact is that in the last few months, they have been springing about all over the place, in locations where they have never been set up. For instance, one has just opened at Collins in the mid 70s, another one in 71st Street, nearby Normandy place.

According to some, these are legit businesses, where an over stressed individual can obtain relaxing massage for little money. According to others, including Hollywood, I mean, film, Oriental massage places are nothing more than prostitution fronts, or prostitution light, if you may, where you can get massages with "happy ending".

Who is to judge? The fact is, I had to use massage therapy in the 90s for a condition. I used a few massage therapists, most of them were men, not very nice looking or sexy, and when I had to resort to women, they were not young and sexy as well.

The ads for all of these places show very young Oriental girls, leading me to think that perhaps there is more than muscle relief and therapy in mind.

Just a while ago, these places seemed to be hidden in strip malls at US 1 and other roads, and as I say, now they are sprouting all over residential neighborhoods.

It is nigh time the New Miami Times do an expose on the matter. The newspaper seems intent in unveiling all type of scandal and corruption scheme in South Florida, so maybe, it should do a story to elucidate the public.

The suggestion is made, however, I am not holding my breath. The newspaper that seems to want to moralize an overly corrupt South Florida has, after all, tons of Oriental massage places as advertisers in the back section of the paper. Most of them, again, have pictures of very young, sexy Oriental girls, not a single fifty-something, experienced masseur or masseuse, and offer things such as "table showers".

Thus it seems that the New Miami Times is highly unlikely to rock the boat with its dozen of Oriental Massage advertisers. That is, considering there is some type of sex-business angle involving them. If there isn't, then such a report might actually benefit the advertisers. If all they do is only provide soothing massage, with no ancillary "services" at hand (pun intended), then I might even become a client.

I would not dream of entering one of these places only to be faced with MB Police doing a raid, if you know what I mean.

If, on the other hand, the local press is not intent on discussing the matter for commercial reasons, then I have this to say. Corruption has several different guises, besides political.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The new Publix at North Beach

Call me grumpy.

I am not going to criticize the new Publix at North Beach, right in front of Canyon Ranch. No, it is a great market, clean, spacious, with great selection. Publix prices, you know, not the best, in spite of what they say. The local hispanic markets and the market at Collins and 75 have way better prices, but less variety.

Everybody, it seems, had been waiting for the market to open. Supposedly, it has more parking spaces than the old market, but apparently, at least in the first days of operations people from as far as Tallahassee are coming to shop here! The parking lot is mostly congested, and although sometimes there is a police car parked in front of the market itself, there is no one to guide traffic.

There lies the problem. The market causes bits of traffic jams, because there is only one entry and one exit. The architect who designed this should have designed an extra exit-entry, but nooooooooooo, there is a single one!! So there is a whole lot of impatience, horn blowing, and a few middle fingers and name-calling going on. Holiday spirit, Miami Beach style.

I wonder if once the novelty wears off, the problem will go away. I am not keeping my hopes up. I think this is a new problem we have to deal with in Miami Beach. 

A funny thing. Again, it deals with parking, always bloody parking...