Monday, December 26, 2011

It's the simple things...

I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into a Myers department store earlier today.

Boxing Day. My guess is that it's the busiest day of the year for retailers. It seemed it anyway.

Hordes of people pushing and shoving. Orderly but endless queues for the fitting rooms. Loooong queues at pay stations.

Killing time, I wandered off to look at stuff for men. I thought I might compare prices with Duty Free and if they were anywhere near I was prepared to spend some money.

No prices marked on the stuff. Just a barcode.

So they expect me to go in search of a customer service executive, a marketing consultant, or whatever they're called these days, which are harder to find than a Tasmanian Tiger.

In the unlikely event that I find one, I would then have to traipse after her so that she can check the price of the item.

Then I have to take it back where I found it if I think it's not value for money.

Repeat for every item I'm interested in.

No thanks.

They can't be bothered to do something as simple as put a price on the stuff they want us to buy, I can't be bothered to give them my money.

Retailers have been whingeing all year that we're not spending enough with them, yet they do so little to make it easy for us to shop with them. And it's the easy stuff they get so wrong so consistently.

Putting a bloody price on your stock is hardly rocket science is it.  It would even give your staff, most of whom stand around bored out of their minds for most of the time most of the year, something to do.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Airport rip-off

The flight I was meeting this morning arrived late, so I was stuck at Sydney Kingsford Smith for something like two and a half hours.

Naturally the coffee and snacks are overpriced, at a good 50% more than the same thing outside the airport.

But the worst rip-off has to be the parking. Less than three hours and I was stung for $52.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brunei pics

The two weeks in Brunei were in the country's second largest city, Kuala Belait.  Second largest but it's very small - the town centre is three streets covering an area of about 100 metres X 250 metres.

There's a very nice little park on the riverfront next to the hotel we stayed in and that's where I took this photo.  They obviously take littering very seriously:

This sign in the main street intrigued me, especially the second item that can be treated:


Small country town it may be but multi-tasking has reached Kuala Belait in a big way:


Brunei is very close to the equator so it gets rain. Lots of it. So they have big open drains to run the water off:


 You need to watch where you're walking so you don't fall in...but that's only half the problem;


Monday, December 05, 2011

Happening Dubai

We've been back in Dubai for a week after our trip to Brunei and it's a good time to be here.

Daytime temperature is in the high twenties celcius with very low humidity and, for Dubai, the sky is quite clear.

There's plenty going on too.

Sporting-wise, the Third Dubai International Parachuting Championship is happening here in Dubai Marina. The huge international Dubai Rugby Sevens have just finished...with a win for England. And next weekend is golf's Dubai World Championship.

Global Village is open for business, with pavilions from many countries forming what's in reality a huge souk (market) with some real bargains.

And the Dubai International Film Festival, with Tom Cruise here for the world premier of his latest Mission Impossible movie, which was partly shot around, and on, Burj Khalifa.

December 2 was the 40th anniversary of the formation of the country. It's the longest lasting union in the Arab world which gets stronger each year and there were major celebrations all over the country.

Flight's booked for Sydney next week...and in spite of it being summer there now the weather looks less than inviting. The Sydney Morning Herald is telling me cloudy, showers, maximum 20C. And the coldest first week of summer for more than four decades.

Talking of flights, there's a story in the paper here this morning about Emirates, my airline of choice.

The traditional carriers all complain about the unfair advantage Emirates (and Etihad & Qatar) have in being government owned and demand their governments' protection.

But as I've said before, that's not the real reason they're doing so well. It's mainly about product and service.

A couple of examples.

Reading about American Airline's Chapter Eleven application we're reminded that many US (and other) airlines charge for checked baggage. Others with a free allowance give 20kg for economy pasengers. Emirates gives 30kg free.


Now Emirates are offering a baggage delivery service here in the UAE. Travellers coming through Terminal 3, the dedicated Emirates terminal at Dubai International, can arrange to have their baggage collected and delivered to them. Up to four bags will cost AED200 (US$54) delivered to Dubai or neighbouring emirates, and AED250 to the further emirates. Extra bags are AED10 (US$2.72) each.

It's the sort of thing the other airlines omit to say when complaining about Emirates taking their business. And it's service they don't match. Their default strategy in hard times is to cut services, give their passengers less and charge them more.

It rarely works, in any business.