Back From The Dead (For Now…)

Leave a comment

​Yes, I am still alive much to the disappointment of many of you.

The last few months have been extremely difficult for me as I had given up most everything because of a medical condition.
This was not a simple problem:  I was basically blind in one eye and was quickly losing vision in the other.  Whether I liked it or not, I needed surgery to reattach my retina in my left eye and fill holes in my right eye.

The recovery process has been long, lonely and very difficult.  I spent many hours watching YouTube videos on my phone to pass some time as I could not see my laptop.

It is ironic that right after I was getting my laptop back to a working version of Windows 10 again and much lost on it, my health would immediately take a nosedive.

What happened to me basically happened overnight and was very frustrating along with scary.  While I have regained most of my sight back, I still need another procedure done on my right eye early next year. 

Now onto the business at hand:

My plans right now is to continue my postings alternating between my 2 blogs on a weekly basis.  I will, however, be not doing any postings during the last 2 weeks of the year, as I normally never post during those weeks.

My plan is also to resume where I initially left off and that was with trip to Florida earlier this year.  

I will also be doing my annual predictions in early January as I normally do.  However, this year they will be posted exclusively to my rants blog.  I also plan on discussing some post election thoughts as well in early 2017.

Now for some changes that will happen.  I am officially renaming the “Staples blog” to “Retail Land”.  The reason is that I find myself writing more about other retailers than I do about Staples.  This does not mean that I will not write about Staples is that they are dying whether they want to admit to it or not.  I plan on writing my next post about what I found shocking on a recent visit to a Staples store.  To some it may not be, but I look at it as the dismal future of the company.

I am also changing the name of my Facebook page as well to “Retail Land”.  I am hoping that it will grow more than the very few who liked it in the past.

Eventually, I may change the page format to each of my blogs to make them different from one another, but that it is the future.

For now, until next week, email me or leave me a comment below, or visit me on Facebook and become friends with me.  Don’t forget to like my Facebook page as well.

Good bye for now.

Why I Didn’t Caucus in Maine

Leave a comment

Writer’s warning:  The following post may contain material that may be offensive to some people.  Reader is advised.

 

Spoiler alert:  This post contains information that it is a major part of my other blog about Staples.  If you don’t want to know things ahead of time just skip that segment when it comes up.  It will be indicated as such.

 

It was 32 years ago this year that while in college I took a course called “Introduction to Political Science”.  This 3 time a week, 50 minute course was probably one of the most interesting courses that I took during my time in college.

 

It was during this time that the primaries of the 1984 election were happening and much of the conversations in class were the discussion of that.  Since I sat in the front of the class, I always had to turn around to see who was talking and to listen intently to what they were saying.  Of course, it was also a good excuse to look at the pretty redheaded girl Rebecca, who sat right behind me and seemed attracted to me (that is a story for another post).

 

Since this was a core class, the room was filled of people with various majors and the love or hate in the political system.  We did have a textbook but it was rarely used except for the occasional test we took.  The professor was retiring after this semester and seemed to let the class run loose with their various comments of the current political environment.

 

While the conversations were always cordial, one thing was obvious:  the people were not deciding this or any other Presidential election.  It are the delegates who make all the decisions no matter what the will of the people is.

 

Sound familiar?

 

This is exactly the same sort of thing that we are seeing this Presidential election cycle.  We have states that have primaries, caucuses like Maine, and others like Colorado, where the residents don’t even get a vote.

 

Really, does all this seem fair?

 

Of course not, while people in Maine spent hours in line for a chance to caucus in their town or a nearby one, I figured that this time would be better spent elsewhere and not wasted on expressing my political choice.

 

Now the question is what political choice?

 

This year it seems that people are picking the person who they hate the least rather than those that they really support.  This is exactly the way that I feel this time around.

 

Sorry people, I am not really attached to any candidate this time around nor do I think that some should even be elected at all.  However, now that the field has whittled down to 5 major candidates, I think it is fairly safe to give my opinion of each of them.

 

First we have the three Republican candidates:

 

By far the furthest ahead for now is Donald Trump.  He is the most outspoken person on either side and enjoys putting people down and calling people liars or stealers.  Overall, he does have a good point as many states award their delegates at disproportional level.  You can have the most votes, but still lose in the delegate count.  I call it math gone wrong and Donald may have hit on something that has always been part of the establishment.

 

In second place, we have Teddy Cruz.  I call him Teddy because he likes to use the name Ted as part of the word “Trusted”.  To me, he cannot be trusted as he seems to have connection to SuperPACs and has his people send out false emails saying to vote for him as his competition were going to be dropping out.  While he seems to talk like someone who should be more of a preacher, his actions are less than religious.

 

Lastly we have John Kasich.  Ironically, this guy sits in fourth place in a three-man race.  Marco Rubio, who dropped out a few weeks ago, still has more delegates than Kasich does.  Unfortunately, Kasich seems like he is the most qualified and part of the establishment that everyone is avoiding in this election cycle.  Every interview that he is in, he seems to get angry that people have already cast him off as a no-chance candidate.  Do we really want an angry guy to be our next President?  Why do I keep thinking that this guy is going to change into some big green creature when he gets angry?  (To those who remember the old “Incredible Hulk” TV show of the 1970’s, you will understand the reference.)

 

 

Now the Democratic candidates:

 

The most well know Democratic candidate is Hilary Clinton.  Given her email scandal, she may be more qualified for the real life “Orange is the New Black” or maybe she is trying to be just like us by saying that she always tells the truth.  If you believe that, then you have not been reading my other blog as liars seem to be running rampant.  How many of us really want a 3rd Obama term?  Do we really want to continue to fail?

 

The other Democratic candidate is Bernie Sanders.  This socialist wants to change the country in ways that would destroy our economy.  He wants to ignore the ISIS problem.  He wants to break up big banks, but has no clue on how to do that.  He wants to have free college and healthcare for all, at the expense of big corporations and raising taxes even more on the general public.

 

I have a couple of Facebook friends, who seem to be very supportive of Sanders’ social destruction of our economy.  It is unfortunately that they don’t understand that such radical behavior would cause huge job losses and many companies to leave the United States.

 

 

****Spoiler Alert****

 

During my time at Staples, I wound up in the hospital because of a leg problem caused by them.  It cost thousands of dollars for the treatment that I needed during my weeklong stay in the hospital.  Because I had used my insurance, I received a letter threatening me that I would be terminated if I did not follow the procedures that Staples had in place regarding using vacation time to offset my time in the hospital.  While I did not follow that directive, I was constantly harassed on a weekly basis by the management because I required the use of a stool because my legs were still infected and I was still being treated by a doctor.  They kept asking when I would no longer need the stool because they felt that I was abusing the “privilege”, despite the fact that I had my leg constantly wrapped in bandages to help it heal.  Seven years later, I am no longer under a doctor, but walking is difficult and standing in one spot still hurts significantly.  Sadly, Staples was always in denial of the harassment and just considered me a “bad employee” after my termination.  This is why I have not been able to get a job since as their lies have continued to follow me all these years later.

 

Do we really want people like Sanders to have businesses dictate the healthcare of employees?  Given my own case, let me say that NO employee should have be subjected to the type of harassment by the management just because they needed to use their insurance.  Under a Sanders administration, employees would be fired for similar reasons as I did.

 

Sort of puts forth the following quandary:  Does Sanders support big business to destroy its employees?  My answer is yes.

 

***End of Spoiler Alert***

 

So overall, I expect that the delegates this year will pick someone to alienate most people in both parties.  There is no reason to think otherwise given that how fractured the parties are this year.

 

My personal choice this year right now is NONE of the ABOVE.  I could only imagine what that same “Introduction to Political Science” course would be like this year.  I know it would not be as civil nor would it have Rebecca and I together in it.

 

Sometimes if I could turn back that clock…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mysterious Case of the Former Friends

Leave a comment

Today is the 12th anniversary of Facebook.

 

This makes it the perfect day to discuss the disappearance of 2 people from my friends on Facebook.  Let me say that I knew both of these people in person and quite honestly I have no idea why either of them decided to unfriend me.

 

Unlike other posts, I will not disguise their names as I feel it is better to expose them for what they are rather than protect them.  People who leave without any explanation don’t deserve any protection as far as I am concerned.

 

First up is Norma Jean.  I have known her for over 30 years, actually since junior high school.  I was never overly friendly with Norma Jean as we had different circles of friends.  My friends were a cross section of jocks and smart people for the most part.  Her friends were more of the lower class bunch.  She hung around the bullies and troublemakers.

 

For the most part, I tried hard to stay away from these people as they were always getting into trouble and most had nothing to do with me.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of times where I ended up in classes with some of these lower lives along with Norma Jean herself.

 

After high school, I (thankfully) lost track of everyone from my graduation class.  When I came onto Facebook in mid-2006, Norma Jean became one of the early people who wished to friend me.  Reluctantly, I accepted her friend request as I thought that after so many years, people would have changed and matured, but with people like her, I was mistaken.

 

While I did have a couple of online comment sessions with her, I always felt that she really was not interested in anything I said.  So I believe out of boredom, she decided to unfriend me.  A few months later, I confronted her online in a mutual friend’s post as to why she unfriended me.  She seemed to blow it off and didn’t give me an answer.  Apparently, she has not changed in over 30 years. I have declined to friend a couple of people from high school as I felt that those people would unfriend me as well because they were part of the same bullying group.

 

However, the most bizarre unfriending happened over the past week, with my now apparent former friend Bridget.  She and I became friends while we both worked at Staples.

 

During her time at Staples, it was apparent that Bridget had social problems.  She never really seemed to get along with many of the associates, managers and most importantly the customers.  It was this type of attitude that made her be called into the manager’s office for one of their “little talks”.  These talks never really seemed to help and she seemed to always get a little meaner and ruder with each passing day.

 

I am not saying that she overall was a bad person; we always seemed to get along as we both had similar feelings toward people in general.  She always seemed like a rollercoaster of emotions, one minute happy the next angry and the following giggly.  Overall, she was rude to people as she did not seem to have the words “please” or “thank you” in her vocabulary.

 

I think this type of disrespect has more to do with her upbringing, sort of like how Norma Jean treated me.  Unfortunately this type of rudeness continued when she became one of the earliest people to friend me on Facebook.

 

Rarely did I ever make a comment to any of her postings, but when I did I was either ignored or never acknowledged for it.  For someone who was a friend of mine at work, I really thought that she would have a little more respect, but apparently I was very wrong.

 

Everything seemed to be fine, up until this last week when surprisingly decided to unfriend me.  I have absolutely no idea why she unfriended me as I have not had any conversations with her online in weeks.  So this was certainly a headscratcher at best.

 

I will probably never find out the true reason why either of these women unfriended me, but all indications point to the fact that both shared a common rudeness, which is not the type of indication of what a real friend is.

 

Overall, let me point out that I found out about these people unfriending me by using a plugin to the Chrome browser (also available for Firefox as well).  Without using a tool like this, both of these women could have remained anonymous in their unfriending of me.

 

But in the world of the internet, you can run but can never hide.

 

Maybe both of these rude people should go and hide forever if they have no respect for me anymore.

Predictions of 2015 and 2016

Leave a comment

It is now 2016 and that time of year where the predictions are made.

 

First a quick look back at 2015.  To be honest, 2015 will be known as the year of being ignored, not just a little bit but by virtually everyone I knew and the public in general.  Am I really that invisible?  Last time I checked I still was somewhat visible.  Hopefully, 2016 will be a better year, but so far it has not been any better.

 

2016 also marks what would have been my 20th anniversary with Staples.  Unfortunately, I never even made it to the 13th year before I was terminated.  Looking back now I am sort of glad that I was terminated before the company collapsed.

 

Speaking of companies collapsing, I also had 2 other jobs back in 1996 as well.  I was terminated from Woolworth in March of that year and I worked at HQ for 7 weeks during the summer of that year.  Both companies were gone by mid-1997 and I escaped both before they fell.  Staples seem to follow suit as they are not doing very well today.  During the coming year, I will reflect on 20 years ago and give some insight into what really happened back then.

 

Now onto the predictions of 2015 where last year, I said that only 2 of my predictions would come true.  Let’s see how I did.  The results are in bold parenthesis.

 

  • The merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast will be placed on hold as both companies would have to discharge some of their market holdings. (The possibly of this merger was dissolved.)
  • The possibility of a Staples/Office Max (Depot) merger is canned as neither side can agree on any merger details. (This merger is still in government negotiation.)
  • Given no merger, Office Max (Depot) shuts down at least half of their remaining locations.  (This did not happen.)
  • As well, Staples shuts down an additional 300 stores as the hack attack of 2014 grows larger.  (This did not quite happen—they shut down stores but not nearly that number.)
  • On the brink of bankruptcy, RadioShack is saved by a last-minute investor who wants to merge it with another big box retailer. (This did now quite happen but there are still some independent stores remaining.)
  • Walmart suffers a major hack attack, which causes millions of credit and debit cards to be compromised.  (This did not happen.)
  • The E! Network finally cancels everything Kardashian as the network struggles to survive.  (This did not happen.)
  • Adam West, TV’s 1960’s Batman, will be the voice of an aged Bruce Wayne on an episode of the Fox series “Gotham”.  (As far as I know, this did not happen.)
  • California will suffer a substantial earthquake in the area north of Los Angeles.  (This did not happen.)
  • Keystone pipeline will be defeated in Congress.  (This did happen.)
  • MTV will cancel “Eye Candy”.  (This did happen.)
  • My ex Tanya will get a divorce and return back to Maine wanting to search me out and try and patch things up. Of course, I accept (what choice do I have?).  (This only happened in my dreams or nightmares.)
  • I will either get a new job or a new girlfriend in 2015, but not both.  (I got neither but the girlfriend was closer to getting.)

Overall, I got 2 right and 2 half right so this could be called 3 right – one more than I had predicted.

So what does this year’s crystal ball have to offer—let’s gaze into it.

  • The Dow will slip to a low of 9,000.
  • JCPenney will file for bankruptcy and close all its stores.
  • Sears/Kmart will close at least half of their remaining locations before going out of business by year’s end.
  • OfficeDepot/OfficeMax will shut all their locations to allow Staples to buy the company and satisfy the government.
  • Playboy will have centerfolds again by September after suffering a huge drop in readers and its main focus will be on getting celebrities to pose for the pictures.
  • Nickelodeon will replace all its programming with imported teen shows similar to what happened to Teen Nick over the past few years.
  • Star Wars 8 will be delayed as a major accident on the set causes filming to cease.
  • The Muppets will not see a second season.
  • The Voice gets cancelled.
  • A new format superseding Blu-ray will be introduced, but will fail as it will not be embraced.
  • MTV, CMT and VH1 will merge into one station.
  • Windows 10 will experience a widespread update problem that causes updates to fail for weeks.
  • Kylie and Kendall Jenner will both get pregnant.

So those are my 13 predictions for the new year.  I predict that 4 of them will happen this year.  I am hedging my bet that my above average will carry over to this year.  We will check back next year to find out the results.

 

The Most Wonderful Time of Year?

Leave a comment

Note:  This week’s post is being presented in both blogs as I feel it is important to interest all my audiences.

 

This SHOULD be the most wonderful time of year for retailers as many of them bask in the profits of all their hard work leading up to this time of year.

 

However, that idea of SHOULD for many is more like NEVER.

 

Just ask employees at the 13 Tim Horton’s locations that suddenly closed up here in Maine a couple of weeks ago.  No warning just closed down all from Waterville down to Kittery, Maine including two here in the South Portland area.

 

Or you could ask those people who work at the Gap stores in the Bangor Mall or Maine Mall about their future as these stores will be closing in mid-January.  I know that closing the one at the Maine Mall will leave a huge GAP (pardon the pun) in one whole section of the mall.  I doubt that will be filled anytime soon.

 

Speaking of vacancies, the Friday before the Black Friday, our family decided to take our annual trip to 3 New Hampshire malls in one day.  It seems that every year this trip gets shorter and shorter because the stores just keep getting worse and worse as I will explain.

 

The day started heading to the furthest location first of the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua NH.  This mall usually takes a little time to get through as it is a 2 story mall and doing 2 levels take a little time.  This mall has changed very little from last year’s visit and it is the only mall on my trip that still had an open RadioShack store, although there were no customers in the store at the time nor could I find an employee in the store as I walked by it.  The store appeared well stocked given that this is one of about a third of its remaining stores.  Most all of the stores in this mall were of national names with only a couple of local shops within it.  This mall also appeared mostly occupied by stores with only a couple of small vacancies, including a couple of vacancies in the food court.  Overall, I spent about 2 hours in total at this mall.

 

We then headed to the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester.  This mall takes almost as long to get through even though it is a single story mall because it is so large.  No sign of RadioShack could be found where it used to be, but the area is now occupied by a women’s clothing store.  The area near the center court, which last year had a then-vacant Disney Store now has been completely remodeled and now houses a shiny Apple Store.  A section just to the right of that location is vacant, which along with a couple of others are the only vacancies in this mall.  Most of the stores in this mall were of name brand national stores with only a couple local retailers in there.  All together probably spent about an hour and half at this mall, which is about average for a mall of this size and stores that I really wanted to visit.  However, one store missing in this mall that was in the other 2 malls I visited was a FYE store.  Apparently if you were looking for videos then Best Buy is your only choice at this mall.

 

Finally, we headed back to the Portsmouth area to wind up our shopping trip.  Before arriving in the Portsmouth area, we stopped at the Target in Greenland, which is about 5 miles or so from the rest of the Portsmouth shopping area.  Certainly not what I would call close at least not as close as what I am used to around where I live in Maine.

 

When we arrived in Portsmouth (actually Newington area), I noticed that the Kmart in one the plazas, which was vacant last year, still has not seen a new occupant since.  Our first stop was the Fox Run Crossing shopping area.  This area, which years ago was known as the Newington Mall, is lined with stores like Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Staples, and Kohl’s.  I visited the first 3 stores but didn’t walk all the way down to Kohl’s, even the distance is no further from one end to the other as when it used to be a full indoor mall.  Maybe I am just getting way too old to walk that far anymore.

 

I purchased my annual diary and calendar at Staples down there, my only purchase that I ever make with that company anymore only because they are the only store that carries it, otherwise I would never do any business with them.  Overall, I spent about an hour shopping at all 3 stores that I wished to visit in this plaza.

 

It was then off around the block to the Fox Run Mall.  Needless to say that this mall created the most shock of any mall I visited on my trip.  Gone from this mall was one of the few CVS stores located in malls that I ever visit.  This store was always busy and surprised to see it gone.  In its place was a boarded up area with an indication that H&M store would be coming soon in the “Fall 2015”.  If my indication is right, they probably missed that date and possibly not even coming to the mall at all.  Unfortunately, for this mall, there are several boarded up vacancies with no indication of any new tenants coming in.  The only place not boarded up is the spot where RadioShack was, just a curtain covering the opening of the store with a bench sitting in front of it.  A couple of other late stores in this mall still look like their past tenants, but have new tenants.  One which is a sport memorabilia store occupies the old Suncoast Motion Picture Company store that vacated about 5 years ago and it has never been remodeled.  Walking by this store reminds me of just how much money I used to spend in this video store over the years…oh the memories there.  The other non-remodeled store is the now vacant GM Pollack jewelry store now occupied by a local store selling cellphone accessories.   Overall, this mall is about 1/3 local stores, 1/3 national stores, and 1/3 approximately vacant.  This sort of split is reminiscent of how the Newington Mall was before it died and was eventually razed.  If the Fox Run Mall doesn’t get more national retailers, I see it getting the same fate.  Overall, I spent a mind-numbing 20 minutes in this mall as it offered nothing to really shop in except a lot of disappointment.

 

So overall, the trip saw a lot of changes but to the average shopper would also present a lot of disappointment in some of the shopping areas.

 

This leads me to the next idea of what happened on Black Friday.  Word is that nationally retail sales were down about 11% from the previous year (or for those keeping track about 25% over the last 3 years total).  It is understandable why this is happening:  no good places to shop and those that are good just didn’t have in stock what people want.

 

From my own experience over the 3 day shopping weekend, I found no problems parking at the local Target, Walmart, and at the Maine Mall nor did I find any of the 3 places overly busy when I arrived to each in the early afternoon.  Walmart was the least busy even to the point that I was able to park about 10 rows up from the entrance.  Of course, the couple of things that I wanted to buy was readily available for purchase in substantial quantities even though they were advertised specials.  So either, the stores didn’t sell that much or had more inventory than they expected to.

 

This leads to the question of what happened this year.  Of course most people are shopping online and buying in store as a last resort.  This could spell curtains for struggling retailers who need to do well this year or will end up in the history books.

 

However, there are some signs of stores that won’t make it another year.  For example, JCPenney, which for years, have advertised free Disney snow globes to their early customers announced this year would be the last year of that program.  Apparently they may be thinking that this will be their final holiday season.  Other stores at risk include the previously mentioned Gap, which may close even more stores, Sears/Kmart (closing more stores), and Staples, which continues to shed stores to save themselves and prepare for a possible merger with OfficeMax/OfficeDepot.

 

Finally, I would like to mention that I really have not missed leaving retail 6 years ago.  After spending nearly 25 years in retail, I am seeing that retail as we know it is quickly falling apart and as I have written in the past malls are becoming a thing of the past.  It would be sad for people of today to tell their grandchildren of how retail of today becomes obsolete tomorrow just like downtown retail of 40 years ago no longer exists.

 

For everyone, what used to be the most wonderful time of year is no longer as such anymore?

 

But the real question is:  Is it too late to get back to old-fashioned retail again?

 

I believe it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Didn’t Vote This Year

Leave a comment

Yesterday was Election Day in the United States.

 

I did not perform my civic duty as I usually do for one very simple reason: there was just nothing I cared enough about that would sway the general vote.

 

This year no Congressional seats up for grabs/

 

No governor position to fight for.

 

And last, no Presidential election this year to vote on.

 

That didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in some of the elections going on around the state of Maine.  I just wish I lived in some of the other communities to vote on some of the important things that were happening in other towns than my own.

 

I will now give comments on some of those other elections.

 

First up is the Lewiston mayoral race.  For anyone who has read this blog will realize that I have written about current mayor Robert Macdonald a couple different times in recent years.  He is most popularly known for his comments against the growing Somalian community in his city.  This has now caused him to have several opponents for his job as mayor.

 

However, under Lewiston rules, if nobody gets at least 50% of the vote (which they didn’t), a runoff election must be held with the top two candidates to determine a winner of the mayor position.  His opponent, Benjamin Chin, is of Chinese descent and may play a factor toward supporting the immigrant population.  So this runoff may be more an election of the immigrants vs. those who don’t want the immigrants.  Personally, I see Macdonald recapturing his position and will continue his dislike toward the immigrants flooding his town.

 

Portland had 2 interesting referendum questions on its election ballot.  The lesser of the 2 questions, as confusing as it was, now will allow developers to build properties no matter how much it destroys any scenic view within the city.  This basically means that people who pay big money for those wonderful ocean views may lose them to some greedy developer.  Maybe people didn’t understand the question or maybe it was twisted in such a way that nobody could understand the ultimate result of the question.

 

The second referendum question of greater importance was to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for all employees within the city limits by 2019.  While on the surface this would sound wonderful, most small businesses fought this one hard as it would create massive layoffs and possibly have many businesses leave the city.  Thankfully, this was defeated by a 58% to 42% margin.  However, and this is a big however, the city will be raising the wage to $10.10 starting in January.  This means that Portland, Maine will be the 7th highest minimum wage in the country.  I expect to see many businesses to start leaving or scaling back very soon.  Let me point out as a side note that in the near 13 years I worked at Staples, I barely got above the $10.10 rate at the time of my termination.  I think Staples is probably glad they don’t have a store within the Portland city limits as they would probably close it just to save money.

 

Speaking of Staples, my own city of South Portland had one of its city council seats up for grabs by a former Staples sales manager.  I would never vote for the guy because I felt the type of antics that he did to get himself fired from Staples was unprofessional and uncalled for.  What makes it worse for him was that he had a strong ethic to wanting to make the city more business friendly.  While this sounds like a great idea, it throws all the regular taxpayers under the bus and not being supported.  Thankfully, the taxpayers agreed and he was soundly defeated.  Ironically, 7 of my Facebook friends are mutual friends of his, but I am not.  Maybe he is still bitter over being fired from Staples?

 

Overall, this election year was a ho-hum year for the most part with some key issues being decided locally and around the country.  However, next year I will definitely be voting in November as I want to make sure that I cast my ballot for the proper person to be our next President.

 

Until next year…. No I will have posts before next November (I hope).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deal That Died…

Leave a comment

It is officially dead.

 

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) is history.

 

The federal regulators ended this possible merger by saying that the combined company would be too big.

 

Mostly, the combined companies would have over 30% of the total television market and over 50% of the broadband market in the country.  While the television amount is not that large, the broadband amount may have spooked the regulators to throw out the merger.

 

However, I believe that with so much competition out there that those broadband figure is way too high.  With so many getting their content on so many different devices and with so many different services, I think that this number is wrong.

 

While many have complained that the service would have gotten worse, I believe that the combined companies would actually have improved both the quality of service and quality of how it is delivered.

 

Anyone who has been a long time reader of this blog knows that TWC has had many problems with their recent upgrades to their service.  Many times the cable boxes freezes up and must be restarted and just as often channels just come up blank requiring a reboot as well.

 

Certainly the boxes could stand a complete program rewrite.  To those who remember the old blue & white screen system may recall that rarely did the cable box need to reboot.  Ever since they changed to the black version, problems have been epidemic.

 

While I haven’t reported any recent changes to the software in the cable boxes, the only significant change that I have noticed is that the guide now can go up to about 14 days in advance for most channels even though after about 7 days, the guide just gives generic descriptions.  This is a small step forward to getting full cloud guide and DVR service, but I expect that someday it will happen.  I believe that if Comcast and TWC had worked together, the software process would have been updated more frequently and been much more stable.

 

Now there is rumor that TWC wants to merge with the smaller company of Charter Communications (CC).  Since CC is a much smaller company, I think that this merger has a much better chance of going through.

 

But before we start thinking this is a done deal, the truth is that this is a lousy deal for those who have TWC service.  From a couple of checks of different areas, the number of available HD channels and channels in general are significantly less for CC when compared to TWC.

 

Does this mean that TWC will lose many of its channels when this sort of merger takes place?

 

My answer is quite possibly and the chances are that the number will drop significantly.  However, on the plus side, the CC DVR system looks more advanced and much more user-friendly.  If we could keep the channels and get CC’s DVR service, it would be a better combination.

 

But that is just my opinion of what I would like to see happen.  Reality usually would bring us the crappy TWC system for everyone and that would be mean that we would all lose.

 

While this entire merger idea is still in its earliest phases, I am slightly optimistic that this would be more of a positive than negative.

 

In the meantime, there are 2 other mergers that may meet regulators roadblocks as well.

 

The first is the possible merger between AT&T and DirecTV.  This one like the Comcast/TWC merger may have the same problems as these are two large companies that may create a monopoly in one category or another.  I don’t see this merger happening at all.

 

The other, which I have discussed in my other blog, is the Staples/OfficeMax/Office Depot merger.  While Staples claims that such competitors are companies like Amazon and Walmart, I don’t believe that this sort of logic will hold any water whatsoever.  Yes the 3 office supply stores are dying and must do something to survive, but in reality they should just admit to their death and become part of the retail history landscape.

 

Overall, any merger of that involves large companies never have a very good chance of happening.  The government wants to keep monopolies from happening, but sometimes misses what could be something good for all involved.

 

Then again, when has the government ever gotten anything right anymore (or ever).

Older Entries