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Comcast 'drip pricing': higher rates — again

Comcast, a company even more beloved than Delta, is … raising its prices, again. Leslie Brooks Suzukamo of the PiPress writes: “Another year. Another Comcast rate increase. Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, raised the price of cable television service in the Twin Cities for 2013 by an average of about 3.3 percent for all its packages. While the increase was not unexpected, the more interesting story may be the reaction it got when January's bills were mailed. In short, there wasn't much of one. George John, an expert on marketing and consumer behavior at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, thinks he knows why. ‘In marketing, we call this 'drip pricing,'  John said. ‘The bill gets larger, but it's hard to see the pieces. As in, 'drip, drip, drip.' "

With that somewhere in mind, Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the PiPress writes, “When you think of a TV antenna, you probably imagine the kind that sits on top of your house, or perhaps an indoor model jacked directly into your family-room HDTV. You probably don't visualize an antenna far away from your residence, tuning in shows as usual but transferring them over the Internet for viewing on a PC, smartphone or tablet. Yet that's the service debuting in the Twin Cities later this year. … The best way to describe this newcomer is a personal-antenna service with Netflix-style video streaming and DVR-like recording features — all for a modest monthly fee.” The antenna is … the size of a dime.

Silica sand/frac mining critics want the state to put the brakes on the booming industries. The AP says: “Critics of a booming silica sand mining industry will ask lawmakers to hit the pause button Tuesday when the Minnesota Legislature holds its first-ever hearing on a subject that has so far been left up to local governments. Activists chartered two buses from southeastern Minnesota to the Capitol for a joint hearing of the Senate and House environment committees. They hope to convince legislators that sand mining is a regional issue that needs broader regulation than it now gets in Minnesota or neighboring Wisconsin, where the ‘sand rush’ has been roaring for several years.”

Elizabeth Stawicki of MPR files a piece on new W2 info for some workers: “Under the federal health care law, W2 forms now must include the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance. The form includes both how much the employee paid and what the employer contributes. The new information is designed to show consumers the true cost of their health insurance, said Larry Levitt of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘Their employer typically pays most of the premium,’ Levitt said. ‘So what people actually see, in terms of coming out of their own pocket, is only a small piece of the total cost of health insurance.’ Levitt added: ‘There's this idea that if people understood more about how much health insurance costs, it might change their behavior or certainly change their perspective.' "  Ignore the cost. It’s still got to be better than one of those socialist hellholes.

The Alexandria Echo Press has a piece up, saying: “The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers and businesses to be on alert for phone calls or visits from people going door to door trying to collect money fraudulently by claiming utility bills are overdue and must be paid with reloadable debit cards, such as Green Dot MoneyPak cards. The BBB reminds consumers and business owners not to be pressured into making payments on the spot and to contact their utility companies directly if the status of their account is called into question or if they suspect the possibility of fraud. ‘This is a particularly bold scam,’ said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.” … because as I understand the Castle Doctrine …

The GleanMnDOT is looking at ways to ease up the bottleneck on I-35W between I-694 and Hwy. 10.  The Strib’s Tim Harlow says: “[I]f 35W is left in its current configuration, things are only going to get worse. An additional 14,500 to 23,000 vehicles each day are expected to be on the freeway between downtown Minneapolis and Forest Lake by 2030, according to projections by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. With that ominous forecast, MnDOT commissioned a study to look at ways to reduce congestion … the study does envision MnDOT building a High Occupancy Toll Lane (also called a MnPASS lane) running in both directions along the 27-mile stretch.”

The Strib editorial board has some thoughts about transparency in the affairs of doctors, medical device manufacturers and drug companies: “Three years ago, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Congress passed the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. This important legislation requires public disclosure of the large sums sometimes paid to providers by drugmakers and device manufacturers — such as those deals in which doctors research a new drug or device. … Device and drug manufacturers will start collecting data in August, meaning some 2013 payment information will be reported. That information is slated to be made public via a searchable database in fall 2014, although the website has yet to be built. Federal officials shouldn't delay the database's debut after dragging their feet on so many other milestones in this law's rollout.” Which feds, exactly?

Another paper mill may be heading for extinction. The AP says: “Rhinelander could be the next Wisconsin community to lose its paper mill. The sprawling Wausau Paper plant on Boom Lake has provided Richard Johns and thousands of other workers with solid wages over the years and is a centerpiece of Rhinelander's industrial base. … Johns is keeping a positive attitude … but there's concern that the northern Wisconsin city of 7,800 could go the way of Port Edwards, Kimberly, Neenah, Ashland and most recently, in 2012, Brokaw. All of those Wisconsin communities have lost their paper mills as the industry contracts under market pressures that include cheaper products from China.”

The latest face of our angry, aged, white-male crisis is apparently out of a job … for a while. In the aftermath of that toddler-slapping incident aboard a Minneapolis-to-Atlanta flight, the AP says: “[Joe Rickey] Hundley was suspended from his job as president of Unitech Composites and Structures, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Al Haase, president and chief executive of AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group — Unitech's parent company — said the firm was taking the matter seriously. ‘In accordance with our company's personal conduct policy, we have suspended the employee pending investigation,’ Haase said in a statement.”

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Comments (7)

35W Congestion Relief

Couple ideas...

1) Toll/carpool lane replaces an existing lane. Not an addition. Adding another lane will induce the demand MnDOT is 'projecting'

2) Stop subsidizing people to live out in the suburbs up to Forest Lake. No TIF, subsidies for big box retailers, widening of single-lane country roads, expanded exit ramps, state/federal funds for new schools, etc etc. Stop subsidizing the parking in our downtown to make it economical for people to drive in. Take all that money and either save it or spend it on increased capacity and frequency of transit in the core parts of our cities.

3) Change zoning code in Minneapolis and St Paul to allow for more housing. Re-work the property tax split to encourage development rather than speculation (this goes hand-in-hand with the vast amounts of surface parking downtown that CAN exist in large part because the land tax is so low).

4) If these are all done and people are STILL moving out to Forest Lake and commuting to Mpls, put in bus service. Stop making it attractive to drive cars 27 miles in to the city for work. Make it attractive to live and work in the suburb or live and work in the city. We cannot afford to continue to pave new miles of road.

Yes, when people say that transit won't work because we

don't have "density," they act as if God laid the country out in one-acre housing lots, shopping malls with huge parking lots, and office "parks." The suburbs are there not because the Minnesota landscape demanded sprawl (note that the parts of the city built before the automobile are dense) but because we as a nation and state decided that accommodating cars was a priority.

I noticed this when I was on the Pedestrian Advisory Committee in Portland. Developers with projects in the city limits had to submit their plans to us for non-binding advice. In most cases, their plans were all about how to accommodate cars, with pedestrian access as a grudging afterthought if it was included at all, even, in one instance, when the project was right next to a transit station where two light rail lines and several bus lines came together. When we pointed this out, the developer's reaction was on the order of "Oh, I never thought of that."

We should have land use policies that encourage business and local governments to locate their facilities near the centers of all those outlying towns that are turning into suburbs, so that people who want to live closer to the countryside don't have to drive into the city to work.

Another possibility is that local companies with multiple branches could use the same policy as a certain bank I used to bank at (it doesn't operate in Minnesota): reassigning employees to the branch closest to their homes. After nearly the entire staff of my bank branch changed over the weekend, there was a brief period of adjustment as staff members became familiar with individual customers' situations, but actually, each branch performs the same day-to-day operations, and things were soon back to normal.

If we only use our imaginations and resist the temptation to fall into established patterns we can get around the "need" for more and more asphalt.

Pay The Piper

Transit spending is often criticized on the basis that it "doesn't pay for itself" as fare box collections don't cover 100% of construction and operating costs.

So, how will I-35W users be paying for 100% of this expansion? Gas taxes won't come close.

Frankly there is a rail line that runs to Forest Lake

that could be used for transit, if people want to give up their bike path.

Seems like a good idea to me. Or at least take the line to Hugo.

Which socialist hellhole is that?

"It’s still got to be better than one of those socialist hellholes."


I hope that MNDOT intends to

I hope that MNDOT intends to hold more meetings on their plans for these highway expansions than the two this week, neither well-announced and neither in neighborhoods that would be affected in the inner city: Beltrami, Northeast Park, Southeast Como, and Marcy-Holmes in Minneapolis, to name those impacted by a possible addition of a ramp to northbound I35W from East Hennepin Ave. (they don't know Minneapolis well enough to have appended the necessary "East" to Hennepin Ave. in their plans). To add a freeway ramp in an already crowded city core means destroying some of the density everyone seems to say Minneapolis needs more of: houses and businesses. All to serve the suburbs.

MNDOT really needs to work on its outreach and transparency.

Nice post to read on!What is

Nice post to read on!What is drip pricing, and why has the Federal Trade Commission put its foot down over the practice, although the FTC's full disposition is not entirely known? According to the Federal Trade Commission, the drip pricing practice involves retail pricing in which a company advertises only a portion of a product or service's total cost. The remaining charges are exposed once the customer is responsible for the purchase. Resource for this article: