33% more evil than the beast?

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Was Sears in the wrong here?

So yesterday, after having our dryer die for the third time (this time, it’s Really Dead) we ordered a new washer and dryer off sears.com after shopping around at a bunch of sites.  One of the main reasons was their Appliances site said (and at the moment, still says):

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Here’s the exclusions listed when you click on the "See details" – yes, they misspelled Efficiency, but I’m going to let that go.

1.) 20% Off High Efficency and Energy Star(R) Home Appliances, plus, 10% Off All Other Appliances thru 04/09/08. Excludes Great Price items, Electrolux, LG Brand, Kenmore PRO(TM) small kitchen appliances, floor care, sewing machines, closeouts, dehumidifiers, water heaters, air conditioners, compact refrigerators, countertop appliances, microwave hood combinations, and outlet store purchases.

So what did we buy?  This Energy Star washer from Frigidaire, expecting to get the 20% off.  Looking at the exclusions above, none applied to this washer, so it seemed to definitely qualify for the 20% as it’s quite clearly Energy Star compliant.

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So, it’s quite clearly Energy Star, but the listed price shows only 10% off.  I figured there was one of two possibilities:

  1. It’s accidentally marked 10% off and we’ll get another 10% off
  2. or even better, the 10% it’s already off is unrelated and we’d get an additional 20%

Either way, it seemed clear to be that we should get at least another $75 off the price (the additional 10%), so I went ahead and ordered it (yeah, I know, in retrospect that was a bad idea) and just sent in a customer service request after the order went through asking for the price to get adjusted.

Today the response comes as:

We appreciate your consideration of Sears for your shopping needs. Unfortunately, the Black w/ silver trim Frigidaire 3.5 cu. ft. I.E.C. King Size Capacity ENERGY STAR Washer, Sears item# 02606296000 did not qualify for the 20% discount. You may view the appliances we offered this discount for on our Sears.com homepage. To view the list please click on the "20% off" wording on Sears.com. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced and hope to provide you with a more satisfactory online shopping experience in the future.

So, when I follow their instructions and hit the main page instead, sure enough it adds in the word "These" with a link provided, and following the link (and a couple extra click) leads to a list of 29 specific washers that are in the 20% category, one of which is basically the identical washer, but "Arctic White" instead of "Black with silver trim" (neither of us care about the color, so that’s fine)

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Now, the story has a happy enough ending – I call the 800 number in the email, explain the confusion, and they go ahead and cancel the order (although the web site doesn’t show that order as canceled yet) and tell me to go ahead and place to the new order, which goes through fine and it’s scheduled for delivery 3 weeks earlier than the first one (woo hoo!).

Admittedly, I didn’t push to get the 20% on the original washer since the other version (both same specs, same maker, same list price of $750, etc) was available sooner, and I’m willing to blame the appliance page’s lack of clarity on an honest mistake instead of malice.  Since everything worked out fine (assuming the original order *does* end up actually being canceled in the system), then I guess it’s no harm, no foul.

when is a point not a point?

(when it’s an area)

I get a few questions per week regarding weight watchers points stuff.  Some of them I don’t know and couldn’t easily find on google ("how many points do I add to each day if I’m pregnant?", to which my answer was "First ask your doctor if you should (still) be on the diet when pregnant!"), but some I know.

Here’s one from today, mainly because I want to just point to blog posts (like I do for work stuff) rather than continuing to answer the same questions 🙂

Note that in this instance, I didn’t exactly answer the initial question, but I answered the question I thought she should be asking 🙂

Q:

A friend of mine is in the Weight Watchers program, and for fun I was adding up my points for the day to see if my calorie counting was less or as productive as points.

Last night for dinner I had 2.5 servings of mac’n’cheese. Now from what I understood of the calculating process you count things out separately so I calculated it by each serving. My friend said that I should have counted it all together. But if I were to eat 2.5 servings throughout the day, then I would count each serving separately. I don’t understand how this doesn’t come out to the same thing. I mean 2.5 servings should be 2.5 servings regardless. So if I eat it throughout the day should I add all the servings together, or when I eat it all at once should I separate it?

If I should separate it when I eat it at different times, and add it together when I eat it at once, why? What is the reasoning behind doing it sometimes and not others?

A:

This is an ongoing point of turmoil and confusion, unfortunately.  You’re absolutely right, 2.5 servings should be the same regardless.

There’s a good amount of foods that are, for instance, 0.4 points per serving, but it rounds down to 0, so some people end up eating many of those servings and still counting it as 0.

IMHO the easiest way around it is, while unfortunately a little more complicated, more fool-proof regarding the rounding – keep the points to one decimal place throughout the day.  This is one of the main reasons that my own points calculator site gives you both the exact and rounded points, so you can decide for yourself which to use.

If you take this kind of approach, the 2.5 servings should be the same number of "whole" points regardless of whether you count is as 1 lump sum or 5 portions.  Let’s say it’s (random guess) 0.8 points per serving.  If you ate 5 portions of 1/2 serving each, then that would be 5 * 0 (since the 0.4 would round down to 0), making it a total of 0.  Or 2.5 times 1 (0.8 rounded up), for a total of 2.5 (which would round to 3).  However, if you counted it to a decimal place, then 5 parts is 5 * 0.4 = 2.0 and 2.5 parts is 2.5 * 0.8 = 2.0 and 1 part is 1 * 2.0 = 2.0 – all are the same value, regardless of how you break it up.

Admittedly, this is picking a point value that is exactly 1 decimal place (0.8), and you could get the same kind of issue with something that’s 0.85, but then your rounding error makes you off by ~0.1, so the total points for the day isn’t affected.

Hope this makes sense – since there’s a good chance it doesn’t (the above is very stream-of-consciousness), just ping me back and I’ll try to rephrase it with a bit more clarity 🙂

ExtensionMethods – flavorful syntactic sugar

A potential place to use an extension method cropped up in our team this week, and I gave feedback that I’d like to avoid it (for this case) because in this scenario, it enabled something that just felt wrong to me – working instance methods off null instances. 

Remember, null in C# isn’t like Ruby’s nil – in the typical case, you’d get a NullReferenceException (like if the below snippet had called GetType() instead of GetName()).

It’s not a big deal, just a funny little thing.  If you don’t use extension methods, of course, then you won’t see this 🙂

public static class ExtensionMethods
{
    public static string GetName(this Program prog)
    {
        return "oooooooooooohhhhhhhh";
    }
}
public class Program
{
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
        Program prog = null;
        System.Console.WriteLine(prog.GetName());
    }
}