Saturday, August 30, 2008

New Bell as assholish as the old Bell

A few years ago, my parents were screwed out of a few hundred bucks because of long-distance charges to Tavulu or some miserable place like that. Lots of people were screwed because of a virus that took over people's old-fashioned dial-up modems and made the long distance calls.

Bell said it wasn't there problem, even though newspaper reports say they knew about it but did nothing to, say, block calls to those places. The sudden spike in calls to some place no one ever calls didn't worry Bell. They get paid either way.

Soon after, I looked at my $50 Bell phone bill and decided I would find an alternative. I did. It was VoIP and it cost me just $25 each month. Ha. Screw you, Bell. Later, I jettisoned by DSL Internet connection. Ha, two times! No more Bell. I was free.

When I called to cancel, the agent told me that I would still have to pay an extra 30 days, even though I didn't use the service. I explained nicely that was not going to happen. After a back and forth, I asked to speak to her manager. Pause. Hold on sir, she said. A few moments later, she said that she would not charge me this time.

What a company. They decided not to charge me for a service they were no longer providing. But I would be charged, she said, but then my refund would be pro-rated.

Whatever, I thought. As long as they pay me back, I don't mind waiting a few weeks.

The weeks passed. No refund on my credit card. Hmm. I call. Another agent explains that is normal. It will happen soon. Another few weeks go by. It is now two months after I canceled. Still no refund.

I call again. There is no record of a refund in their system. But he will send the request to the refund department and I will get a cheque. In four to six weeks.

Bell continues to operate like assholes. Which is a huge problem as they face more competition than ever.

A new logo isn't going to save them.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Montreal-style Vermont bagels versus Montreal bagels

The frozen Myer's Bagels: A Taste of Old Montreal caught my eye at the Price Chopper in Burlington, Vermont. Unlike the white-bread-style bagel rolls sold in the United States, these bagels looked like Montreal bagels. The product packaging played up that fact with its name and one of its features: Wood fired bagel.

But how would it compare to a Montreal-made bagel?

The competitors
Myer's Bagel versus Bagel de l'ouest bagel

A closer look
The Myer's Bagel looks like a Montreal bagel with its prune-like bagel skin. But notice that the Myer's Bagel comes pre-cut.

Inside surface
The inside of the Myer's Bagel looks rough, as if it was cut with a weird knife. Montreal bagels are never pre-cut, so the inside is cut by its owners. Will this affect the taste, I wonder.

Following moderate toasting and the application of Becel Light margarine, the bagels are ready for testing.

While it's true that I was testing a poppy seed bagel (black) versus a sesame seed bagel (white), I was still able to make some observations based on my knowledge and extensive experience eating bagels.

1. Density: The Myer's Bagel was a bit less dense than Montreal bagels. It wasn't as light as those disgusting white-bread style bagels. However, in fairness, the average bagel eater might not even notice.

2. Sweetness: Montreal bagels are known for their sweetness. The Myer's Bagel was not as sweet. Again, not as bad as the white-bread style bagels, but not quite a Montreal bagel.

3. Freshness: Part of the experience of Montreal bagels is buying them hot and fresh from the bakery and eating one on the way home. It makes a mess of the car, but it is one of those private common experiences that all Montrealers enjoy. The Myer's Bagel is frozen and bought at a supermarket, so it is unfair to compare it to a hot and fresh bakery-bought Montreal bagel. However, if you are like me and freeze your 10 and a half remaining bagels after buying them from the bakery, this is not a big deal.

4. Overall: If I lived it Vermont and needed a Montreal-bagel fix, the Myer's Bagel would be acceptable if my goal was to toast one.

Myer's Bagel: Not a bad choice if you live in Vermont.

UPDATE: I just learned that Myer's Bagel is also a bakery store in Burlington. Next time, I'll buy a fresh one and post my comments here.