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By fourseven in Op-Ed
Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:47:07 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

Not too long ago I stumbled upon and interesting problem. I found a real situation, in which a company has more rights than "just a person." This is not about a billion-dollar lawsuit, or lobbying the government, this is about a simple AA battery.

A friend of mine works for a media company, they take care of the technical side of concerts, shows, conferences, etc. Through the said friend I had an opportunity to come in contact with Duracell ProCell batteries. I'm sure you might've seen them too.

These are "professional grade" batteries, and this time it's no gimick. My mp3 discman gets a -lot- more mileage on these than on any regular batteries I've been buying. They definitely outperform any of the consumer grade batteries, twice around the block and then some. I thought to myself, "Great, finally, I found a battery that can outlast an mp3 cd." I looked around for a source of my own amazing little nukular batteries (can't "borrow" forever.) Hah, what I found out: they make the AAA's, they make the AA's, gosh, they even make the big 9V cells in cool black "ProCell" edition. I dug a little deeper.. a single AAA battery for $0.41.. 24-pack for $9.84? a 144-case of AA's for fifty six bucks? I vaguely remembered a -pair- of AAA's costing something like $3.89 canadian (say, two american dollars.) I took a moment to reflect on life, nature, and all that is capitalistic. Sure, they come in bulk, no fancy boxes or anything, they can be a bit cheaper. But they're twice as good.. how does that work? Then I dug some more and found a "non-customer policy explanation." Here's an excerpt:

    "Duracell Procell batteries are high-quality batteries intended only for businesses, organizations, and agencies. These batteries are not intended for sale to the general consumer. Duracell has asked their distributors to gather the Business Name and Tax ID number for validation purposes."

Which meant that I, as a non-incorporated human person, could -not- purchase these batteries. In fact, had I provided fake information to "work around the system," it would be outright illegal. Now, I've lived on this continent for not too long, so things like this still strike me as odd. Maybe it's normal, and this story talks about nothing out of the ordinary. But wait a minute..

This is where Porky the Consumer gets a shoddy "consumer product" with price jacked up and potential full quality witheld in the name of profit. And all companies may buy a better product at a lower price, as if to provide an advantage over us humble mortals. Oh, did undeciferable green characters just flicker down the inner surface of my glasses, or was that my imagination?

So as an incident per-se this is nothing, another piece of static in my brain. But it caused a thought train, this uncoordinated rant being the indirect final result. What if this wasn't the only company that had this brilliant idea? What if the flour mill was selling richer, cleaner flour to the cookie and bread factories, while putting second-grade merchandise into the bags that go to grocery stores? What if Evian sold cleaner water to companies (eg, your high-tech's cafeteria) and restaurants, but the bottles you bought personally were a bit murkier (but still better than tap water?)

Before you accuse me of being paranoid, or seeing malicious intent in everything around, this is not about my shortcomings. I don't suggest that the corporate policies are planned by mad evil scientists. I believe that these policies go thru something like evolution, shaped by streams of greed, and by natural selection only the most effective prevail. And the motivation to write about all this is to discuss the possibilities arising from the observed state of things. I intend to extrapolate.

I imagine Duracell does this for profit, because why else? I'm not aware of any legislation forcing them to do it, and certainly they are not doing it out of charity for other companies. Maybe it's like in that joke about lawyers and sharks and professional courtesy, but I don't think so. So, presumably, they're doing it for one simple reason. And it's perfectly imaginable that other companies may follow this policy as well, I mean, why wouldn't they? But I digress..

What really got my panties in a knot was an unfocused look into the blurry future. So, I can't buy good batteries, and my home-made missille-defense shield can only run for a minute fifteen seconds. I can't bake my own cake, coz the flour is .. not like it used to be, and they stopped selling butter three years ago.. I have to go to the supermarket and participate in the dance of the hungry bears.. I would like to choose otherwise, I have the freedom to do so, but every time I do, my non-confirmist actions are noted by the corporate machines as compromising profits, and to maximize profits the machines discourage or take my options away, since taking the freedom of choice away is still illegal.. oh, what a bad dream!


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Batteries | 183 comments (171 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
No joy for me, no Tax ID (4.75 / 8) (#3)
by Blarney on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:27:59 PM EST

I filed at the courthouse to do business under an "Assumed Name" a while back. So far, all this has done for me is provide an official-looking contact for a consulting thing I did, and has also helped me obtain a couple free samples of integrated circuits (as evaluation, of course!). If I was a corporation or a partnership I would be required to file for a Tax ID from the Federal government of the United States. In fact, I haven't done so, so I still can't buy these cool batteries. Duracell is much more clever than the electronics companies I dealt with - the Tax ID requirement eliminates unincorporated sole proprieterships from consideration. Keeps the riff-raff out.... If I wanted these batteries all that much, I might go and file for this. Of course, then I'd have to deal with possible questions from the Feds like "Where's our tax money?"

This seems to me to be the same thing as the age-old practice of selling things at "wholesale" and "retail". Maybe a moral outrage, but it's an outrage that has been around for a while and has even been codified into sales tax law! It's a way of keeping merchants in business, so that customers can't cut out the middleman. Perhaps good for the economy, I don't really know.

TaxID = your SSN (4.33 / 6) (#18)
by enry on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:31:18 PM EST

I have a DBA (Doing Business As) legally, the company and I are the same. On forms I receive from others, the Tax ID is my SSN, since that is what gets listed on the 1099 tax forms I get.

If you're not form the US, then you should not have read this. Go find your own tax laws.

[ Parent ]
Hmm.. so I can get batteries for my SSN (4.87 / 8) (#23)
by Blarney on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:50:32 PM EST

So I can go and order these batteries, at the cost of giving out valuable personal information. Sigh - that can't be helped. It's not like I don't give it to an army of low-wage clerks on a regular basis.

My personal theory is that the SSN is all about power - it is like the "true name" in some societies. If you give the SSN to someone, you are granting them magickal power over you. Therefore you must keep it secret, and only allow it to be accessed by those who are more powerful than you and can compel you to provide it under penalty of joblessness, insurancelessness, creditworthlessness, homelessness, or petty-cash reimbursementnessless. Should you be careless with your SSN and allow it to fall into the hands of criminals, you will face a lifetime of bad debt - or false criminal charges under your name, or even worse! There is no easy way to change the SSN, even if criminal use has been proven - it is forever associated with you, for good or for evil.

Every use of the SSN is a conundrum - if you need the SSN to open a bank account, you are providing it to a great and powerful entity (the bank), but you simultaneously provide it to a fellow worker who might well be a criminal! You fret and fear that the bank teller might wish to borrow money as you, purchase things as you, or even obtain a false ID and become you, committing crimes as you, fathering illegitimate children as you, and leaving you to pay the bills and be arrested for the warrants, but you have no choice. You must completely trust the bank, and all the people who the bank hires, because the bank is a great powerful being who will compel you to utter your true name.

I think the SSN is a big racket which should be busted wide open. The telephone number is a unique household identifier which does not create identity theft problems - why not? Because it is in a book. The SSN is a wonderful database key, and perhaps every person in the United States needs a unique number for data processing purposes. However, it cannot be a database key and a secret PIN at the same time. Let another authentication mechanism be created by the Federal government, with a PIN that may be easily changed at any time, and let the SSN be openly published for every single resident of the United States for all to see.

Of course, according to your information a corporation has the exalted privilege of creating a Tax ID by filling out forms, while us peons must make do with the identity given to us at birth. Perhaps I will incorporate and than enjoy these purchasing perks - perhaps it is not safe to use my SSN to conduct wholesale business, regardless of the savings.

[ Parent ]

SSN (none / 0) (#54)
by katie on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:54:54 AM EST

OK, could someone explain to me what this thing with SSN numbers is? How come possessing it lets someone pretend to be you to borrow money?

In the UK we have SSN numbers (We call them National Insurance numbers) but we rarely need them: taxation and benefit entitlement is the only thing that uses them - my employer knows it, the tax office, my accountant and that's about it. My bank doesn't know it and doesn't need to.

Is knowing the SSN that matches a name *really* the proof of id for things?

Over here to open a bank account they need at least a driver's licence and something else with an address on it. (the two forms of id need to have, between them, a picture, a signature and an address normally, and some of the things duplicated) and then they get to say whether they'll take something or not. {The people at the bank need to recognise the bits of paper. Things like gas bills and bank statements and benefit books are ok, letters from your uncle aren't.

Non-face-to-face places tend to do a credit search (which of course means someone else that the reference agency trusts has verified you), and require you to be on electoral registers (which actually means nothing except you signed the form) and so on, or mail them the bits of ID.

How come it doesn't work like this in the UK?

[ Parent ]
SSN (none / 0) (#55)
by katie on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:55:45 AM EST

I mean, of course, "How come it doesn't work like this in the US?"

Must learn to read properly...

[ Parent ]
SSN in the U.S. (5.00 / 2) (#69)
by dennis on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:25:23 AM EST

SSN numbers in the U.S. started out working just like your National Insurance numbers. It was supposed to be used only for that, and nobody else was supposed to know it.

Now, it's used everywhere. Most health insurance uses it, so every doctor's office you go to gets it. My credit cards use it as a password to access my account, so if I use my credit card at the doctor's, they can access my account too. To get someone's credit report, you need name, SSN, and birthdate, and the credit report gives you enough info to spoof someone's identity and get credit cards in their name. Any bank account, any loan, a lot of states' drivers licenses, heck when I rented a storage unit they asked for my SSN, though I didn't give it to them.

In sum, it's exactly the sort of function creep that makes people call you paranoid when you predict it in advance.

[ Parent ]

SSN (none / 0) (#87)
by katie on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:15:06 AM EST

And here I was complaining recently about the huge number of id codes I have: NI numbers really just do NI - my doctor doesn't even know it, they have my medical number which is different.

My health insurance has an ID for me, and an ID for the scheme and everyone gets their own driver number..

A cute thing about NI numbers is that they're not unique - they re-use them. Hence hospitals can't key off them to retrieve data.

Getting credit reports; the last time I tried they wanted money, and they wanted me to tell them who'd recently run a check on me and then they'd only mail the report to the last address held for me on their system.

And as for using public information as a CREDIT CARD PASSWORD!! Oh my god! Can you not change them?

And surely you have to pass a test to get a driving licence? Here you also need to provide a birth certificate original, which means in turn you need to know my full name, my mother's name, my father's name AND you have to know which registry office holds my birth certificate. Or you can supply a passport, but getting a passport requires having got a birth certificate...

I mean, OK, you CAN work round all this, but it takes a lot of time. The easiest way would probably be to get someone's birth certificate, get a provisional licence, pass a test and then apply for a full driving licence and hope they haven't - otherwise the driver numbers will clash, and someone will notice.

I can see why ID theft is such a serious worry in the US if your ID basically relies on public domain information. I didn't quite see how it was an issue, but if they're using the same number as both the login AND the password... brrr.

Here in the UK I have the opposite problem. I'm currently locked out of one of my bank account's phone banking due to forgetting the magic words (which of course need to be different to all the other accounts ones) and I need to go to main office and give them photo ID to reset it..

[ Parent ]
You got it (none / 0) (#96)
by dennis on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:23:25 PM EST

You understand the problem precisely. I can't change my credit card password - there's an automated phone line, it asks you for the SSN to log in, and there's no option to change that. You do have to go through a process like you describe for the drivers license, but some states use the SSN as the number printed on your license.

[ Parent ]
Forged ID (none / 0) (#70)
by Elkor on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:30:49 AM EST

If you know someone's real name, you can look up their address in the phone book.

If you know their SSN, you can have a driver's license forged (most states us the SSN as your Driver's license number by default).

Most credit card companies use a few simple pieces of info to verify who you are:
Name (obviously)
Address (gotten from the phone book)
Birth Date (Obtained from public record of birth certificates)
Mother's Maiden name (Obtained from public record of marriage licenses)

So, you can see that the Social Security number is the only "not easy to find" piece of ID that a forger would need to obscond with your identity.

As with many things, the original purpose of the SSN number has been perverted over the years. Used to be that noone could use your SSN as a form of ID except the Federal Government.

Well, then Banks asked to be able to use it for financial reasons. States wanted to use it since they also collect taxes, like the federal government does. And, since banks are using it, stores need to know it to be able to validate your check.

And, now we are where you see us.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Technically, (none / 0) (#73)
by Alarmist on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:39:43 AM EST

Nobody except the government (and then only for tax purposes) can use your SSN as an identification number unless you request it.

The reality is that people ask for it all the time and get quite annoyed when you refuse to surrender it. It's illegal to make it mandatory, except for certain functions (mostly related to finance), but so many people have been asked for it that it's second nature for a lot of people in the US to give it when asked.

[ Parent ]

not exactly (none / 0) (#77)
by mpalczew on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:17:37 AM EST

my girlfriend almost had her identity stolen recently.

Address, not gotten from phone book, but by checking previous addresses from previous accounts. If they don't match the credit company gets suspicious.

Birth Date, They don't really check this to verify it at all.

Mother's Maiden Name, Again you could make something up, when I apply for cards I tell them I don't know and they tell me to just make something up.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
Yes, but.. (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:41:25 AM EST

If you have an employer id number (EIN), or you are supposed to have one for tax purposes, you can't just put in your SSN on forms. I guess that sounds pretty dumb but I think it's a common mistake of small business owners. Self-employed folks like you are OK, but you need an EIN if you have employees or your business is incorporated.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Why batteries are still bad (3.60 / 5) (#6)
by GaussZ88 on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:34:34 PM EST

CNN has an interesting article on the (non-)evolution of batteries.

Battery powered cars? Yea right. (none / 0) (#78)
by kuran42 on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:20:11 AM EST

Typical of CNN's poor quality of reporting. The entire article goes to the point that battery technology hasn't gone very far in a hundred fifty years and isn't likely to go anywhere any time soon, and concludes by saying we'll be driving battery powered cars in "a handful of years". Get real. *If *the automotive industry moves away from current internal combustion engines, it will be to fuel cells, not batteries.

kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
not entirely correct. (none / 0) (#117)
by rebelcool on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:16:26 PM EST

Hybrid cars have large battery packs in them for powering the electric motor when it is activated. Though the car is not *entirely* powered by battery packs, it is *considerably* powered with batteries.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

True, but... (none / 0) (#179)
by kuran42 on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 10:35:51 AM EST

Either way CNN got it wrong :) Maybe I'm incorrect about where the industry will end up, though. I don't see batteries as a viable solution though, because, 100 to 1, your batteries are being charged by your neighborhood coal-fired power plant, and that's no better than burning gasoline (some would argue worse).

kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
Not for retail sale (4.75 / 4) (#7)
by sticky on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:36:57 PM EST

It'a actually quite common. Try opening up a restaurant and then you'll see all of the high quality stuff you can get. Commercial grade appliances are all superior to consumer models (though they do cost more) and a lot of the food you get from distributors is better as well. For example, Dairyland (a Western Canadian dairy) sells commercial whipping cream with a higher milk fat content than what is available for consumers.

While in the case of appliances there is no stipulation that the item can't be sold to the consumer, it is difficult to impossible for an average consumer to get their hands on them. You have to know someone in the business. In the caseof foodstuffs it's different. Commercial grade foodstuffs are usually labelled "not for retail sale". It's the same with the Duracell Pro batteries I guess.

Don't eat the shrimp.---God
Institutional Food Better? (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by Blarney on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:31:15 AM EST

a lot of the food you get from distributors is better as well

When I was an undergraduate student I used to work in the cafeteria. Our University strongly encouraged all students to work on-campus, they liked the cheap labor. I spent quite a few years of my life handling large packages of food which were labeled "For Institutional Use Only". I assume they were purchased wholesale, for well under the retail price.

Anyway, a lot of it was inferior in quality. Gray, funny-smelling hamburger, rotten vegetables, and worst of all rotten potatoes. If you've never bitten into a cooked, but still rotten potato, than you are indeed fortunate. The sickening feel of squishy decomposed compost in the mouth, the taste and smell of fresh mud.... When made into soup, there were always enough rotten ones to impart a distinctive earthy flavor to the dish.

Some of the Institutional Food Only was just plain bizarre. Do you drink milk? Perhaps you buy it in a glass or plastic jug - not us. We got Milk In A Bag. A 5-gallon bag weighs about 50 pounds, and is very slick and easy to drop. If you are foolish enough to hold it by the nozzle at the end of the bag, or by gripping the side of the plastic, it will rip. If you drop it, it will become a Milk Bomb. One of my regular duties was to pick such a bag out of a crate, and flip it upside down into the milk dispenser. I have no idea how it tasted - I don't drink milk. Cheaper? Maybe. Better? Probably not.

We got oversized canned food, sometimes 10 or even 20 pounds in a can. This was pretty trustworthy - it had at least been sterilized and packed. Huge 20 gallon clear bags of lettuce, in appearance much like trash can liners, were another regular delivery (sometimes contained insects). Not to mention the 10-gallon plastic drums of salad dressing.

I have no doubt that customers are missing out on some very good deals on some very high quality products. However, some of these corporate sales are of stuff which could never meet the quality or convenience standards of a typical retail purchase. It's not all good.

[ Parent ]

It certainly is not all good (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by sticky on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:17:53 AM EST

And that is a good point :-)

The thing is that you CAN get better quality food through a distributor than you can at a regular supermarket. You can also get cheapo no name garbage as well...perfectly suited to a cafeteria. If your lettuce had insects in it then I would have switched distributors. The best distributors are often the larger ones as they have their supply/demand pretty much worked out (no rotten potatoes).

Oh...and the milk...yes the milk. If there's one thing I've learned in life: always make sure you have the flow cut-off assembly in place before you snip off the end of the tube :-) The restaurants I worked at always went through those bags in less than a day, sometimes twice in a day so it's usually quite fresh. I'm less likely to trust a random grab in the store since people seem to like to look for the freshest ones and leave all of the older ones for last.

Of course, the freshness of food that you get in restaurants is HEAVILY dependent on food handling procedures in the restaurant in most cases (budget cafeterias and greasy Chinese take-outs notwithstanding).

Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Quality and location (4.50 / 2) (#74)
by Elkor on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:40:33 AM EST

The quality of institutional food is directly proportional to where you are.

Schools, hospitals and prisons tend not to care what they are feeding to their "customers" because they have a capitve audience. In one case literaly, in the other because students have few alternatives. Either eating someplace else that would cost more (either in price or convenience), or preparing their own food. The last is quite difficult when you live in a Dorm.

Anyway, so those three classes of organizations tend to buy the "cheap" food because food isn't what they are about. They don't care what it tastes like as long as it fills their needs.

Restaraunts, however, make their living off the food they serve. They tend to care about it more, and will spend some extra money to get the Grade A or B food instead of the Grade D food.

I had a gf who became a vegitarian for a whole year because she saw a package of meat in the cafeteria at college labeled "Grade D: Fit for Human Consumption."

Made her wonder whether it was fit for animal consumption....


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Just a quick note... (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by Rhamadanth on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:18:00 PM EST

Even McDonalds uses meat that's labelled 'Grade D: Fit for human consumption'. The thing with that (I've heard - I'm no meat ratings expert) is that it's been ground up and reformed. When you go eat a McRib, it's not actually rib meat...it's ground up meat that's been formed into a rib shape.

-- The /bin/truth is out there.
[ Parent ]
Institutional is another matter (none / 0) (#129)
by heatherj on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:03:05 PM EST

Especially if you went to a public university, much of the institutional foodstuffs you were handling may well have been gov't surplus stuff that had been sitting around awhile. I agree with you about the general quality of large-scale institutional food, though. It tends to be the cheapest, nastiest, lowest-grade stuff available-but largely because serving good food isn't important enough to such places to warrant spending the money. Actually, this was a factor in why I chose to go to college without doing the dorm thing.

[ Parent ]
Well, it's not impossible to get (none / 0) (#72)
by Karmakaze on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:36:54 AM EST

When I was a little girl, my father (the hippie communist that he is) used to get together with four or five other guys and buy from a restaurant source. They did it as a group because restaurant supply stores generally sell in more bulk than one household can eat.

I was too young to know whether they had to incorporate themselves to do this, but it didn't seem that whatever they did was too complex.

Restaurant sources don't also seem to be terribly picky what kind of business you are. I was recently at a convention where the convention TID was sufficient to get us into a restaurant supply house (we were running the hospitality suite for the guests).
[ Parent ]

The good and the bad (4.57 / 7) (#8)
by xrayspx on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:37:12 PM EST

The good, now I know that there's a battery that will probably power my pager for more than two weeks at a shot.

The bad, or should I say, the indifferent, is that you'll find this with just about any product made.  Look at light bulbs, there are professional grade fluorescent lightbulbs that take a hell of a beating before they die.  Not to mention 'industrial' foods, mustard, ketchup, big big bags of M&Ms that we mere humans couldn't afford to buy as much as we'd love to roll around naked in 30lbs of M&Ms for $10.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'm reasonably certain that the same should go for tires, car batteries, or just about anything else.

Duracell would sell a whole lot fewer batteries to the public if they lasted twice as long.  I also doubt that anyone would accept a 100% price increase for a 100% battery life increase.  It's slightly less sinister than corporate conspiracies against the common man, it's about their ability to make a profit.  "Professional" battery users will have much much higher turnover than an average schmoe like me with two AA's for his remote, they'll buy in volume so the battery manufacturer can afford to sell a much higher life product for the same or lower price. They'll actually USE a gross of batteries at a pop, and buy another gross probably in less time than it takes for my two AA remote control batteries to die.

That said, I voted to section, and so should you, assuming some p tags get added where appropriate. It's always nice to see how we're getting robbed and the ways around it.

"I see one maggot, it all gets thrown away" -- My Wife
This is absolutely true (3.50 / 2) (#9)
by CokeBear on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:38:23 PM EST

From first hand experience, I can tell you that resteraunts get much better quality produce and supplies than the local grocery store.<P>Corporations consider themselves to be a higher class of citizen, and they treat other corporate customers far better than the average consumer. This is a problem, and I'm not sure what can be done about it. Any suggestions?

Maybe (4.66 / 3) (#14)
by martman on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:06:11 PM EST

What's to stop individuals incorporating or becoming consulting businesses. When they ask what business you're in you can just say 'living'. Sure it costs money, but think of all the more powerful batteries and cleaner water that you'd be getting!

By the way, i'm not being serious. The thing that *should* happen in this wonderful system of ours is that some battery manufacturer (for example) should release the better batteries at the lower price with the crappy packaging to the public. When the other manufacturers notice that noones buying from them any more they have to follow suit. Sadly, if noone breaks the trend then it's like a monopoly of equals, whatever the technical term for that might be.

[ Parent ]
the problem (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by luethke on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:27:18 AM EST

the problem with this theory is that basically in a consumer situation flash sells. Take me for instance, I am fairly well educated, work in comp sci research and yet I would not give a battery in a cheap no packaging a second look at wal-mart. It would take word of mouth that the generic batteries are just as good. Partially it's because i've been bit so many times by things in cheap packaging. The other part is that if they can't spend the extra 3 cents on color how good can they be? On the other hand, since my parents own a company, I have been exposed to contractor grade equipment/supplies. When I go into one of those stores I would not think twice about buying something in plain brown paper because of where it is. For another exmaple take a look at stereo equipment. consumer grade equipment has all these flashing lights, lcd screens, space age materials. Now go look at a krell reciever - 5 buttons with LED's above them with brushed aluminum case. I know krell - top of the line equipment. Basically what havong what you suggest happen is to have both an informed consumer and willing to expiriment (Things like in college I had no money so it was experiment like mad untill I found something cheap that worked good, it's why you see so many people out of college eat/using weird combo's of stuff, check them a few years later and they have been "assimilated").

[ Parent ]
Short comment (none / 0) (#58)
by Kalani on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:34:16 AM EST

I'm surprised that you didn't make the Unix/Macintosh (or Windows) comparison.

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
exactly (none / 0) (#147)
by luethke on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:02:45 AM EST

didn't think about it, but yea - windows has a flashy box and linux doesn't. Being in the industy and knolegable I much prefer linux on the whole (though I have to keep windows around for a few apps) but a good example

[ Parent ]
Prime cuts, the best produce (4.33 / 3) (#24)
by /dev/niall on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:08:08 AM EST

Restaraunts get the prime cuts of meat and best produce because a) there's not that much of it, and b) they're willing to pay more for it. It's probably not profitable for giant grocery chains to muck around with, since the majority of their customer's won't be willing to cough up the extra cash. ;(

Bad news for us, unless you can find speciality stores near you.

-- 报告人对动物
[ Parent ]

"Prime Cuts" (none / 0) (#71)
by HoserHead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:35:14 AM EST

I must be going to just horrendous restaurants, then. Any steaks I've ever had outside of my home have never equalled the quality of steaks I've eaten that we bought in the grocery store.

I'm not talking cooking quality here - the one I had last had a big string of fat through it. There was a part of the steak I couldn't chew, it was that bad. It wasn't cheap, either.

Maybe that wasn't the same type of "Prime Cut" you're talking about, but the restaurants I've gone to throughout my life have always had, almost uniformly, food of worse quality than I can buy at the local Loblaws.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps you try somewhere besides Denny's... (none / 0) (#86)
by jforan on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:06:25 AM EST

Sorry for the snide remark, but I would have to disagree. Even at the specialty butcher and fish shops I've tried, I have never been able to find meat or fish quite like that which is served at the upper-class restaurants I've been. Perhaps I just cook it wrong, but it seems to come out the right temperature and all.

Or perhaps you live in a small town somewhere where this phenomenon is true, but every big city I've been to seems to have at least one restaurant that serves up a kick-ass steak.

I would have to agree with you, however, for barbequing... Home barbeque kicks restaurant barbeque's ass.

I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
BBQ (none / 0) (#89)
by mrvis on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:34:30 AM EST

Dinosaur Bar-B-Q

Syracuse NY and other places.

To die for.

[ Parent ]
yummy! (none / 0) (#144)
by irksome on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:16:50 AM EST

mmmm ... Dino ... :)

(I'm in Syracuse for now, and Dinosaur is great. Just a bit hard on a student budget)

If you're in Ann Arbor, MI, try to stop at Mr. Rib (right now, located by the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport, but this changes)
I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]
"At least one restaurant..." (none / 0) (#90)
by HoserHead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:54:10 AM EST

Well, "at least one restaurant" does not make commercially-available steaks better quality than regular-folks-available steaks. You can go to an excellent restaurant and get just about everything delicious (and expensive), but that's because they have the money and influence to get special deals with their exclusive contacts, not because commercial-grade meat is better than retail.

By the way, I've never been to Denny's - actually they've only just recently opened a store near my home-town here in Ontario :)

[ Parent ]

Where in Ontario are they opening denny's? (none / 0) (#91)
by glip on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:14:22 PM EST

Ack no! Say it ain't so!

[ Parent ]
Whitby (none / 0) (#93)
by HoserHead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:17:40 PM EST

In Whitby, at the new AMC 24 "entertainment complex." Denny's, Outback (I wouldn't trust their steak either), Montana's - it's a veritable smorgasbord of American companies. What with that and Walmart, we'll be lucky if we can even go to a Canadian place for entertainment or a nice non-fancy dinner in 5 years.

[ Parent ]
Does it list the capacity? (4.25 / 4) (#10)
by demi on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:39:43 PM EST

In mAh? Some batteries list that now (my Radio Shack hydride AA batteries are 1600 mAh, I think normal alkaline AA batteries are like 2500 mAh). That way you could quantify just how much juice the batteries hold, and see for yourself whether or not they store more potential energy.

Not as easy as you think (5.00 / 4) (#21)
by webmaestro on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:37:57 PM EST

IANAL, but I recently formed an S Corporation (S for small business) for tax purposes, and while it is not extremely complicated, it's not easy.

Filing the articles of incorporation are easy, usually just filling out a simple one page form, and then filing it with the secretary of state. Then you have to get a tax id number and file an S election (if you so choose). You also have to file yearly corporate and franchise (depends on state) tax returns. You also have to write bylaws and issue stock.

Before doing it I would suggest doing research. You probably should talk to someone who has done it before, or a lawyer.

Check out Worldofun.com. It's a world of fun.
Buy rechargables (4.83 / 6) (#22)
by enry on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:43:29 PM EST

I have a pretty large variety of battery-dependant devices (Handspring Visor, 3 MP3 players, CD player, and digital camera). Every one of 'em is being powered by rechargable (AA or AAA) batteries. I went on a cruise two weeks ago and brought most of them to keep me entertained while on a very boring and long plane trip.

Why? Here's some reasons to think about:

1) Always have batteries around. No more scrounging around, testing batteries to see if they're good, or remembering you have to go to the store before your Visor loses its memory. Leave a few sets in the charger all the time and always have charged batteries available.

2) Standard sizes mean you have to bring only one charger that works with both AA and AAA. Bring a few spare batteries, and you'll be set for a long time.

3) 1000+ charges. The up front cost may be a bit high, but you'll make up for it when you're not buying AA in bulk.

4) Camera power getting low? Pull the batteries from the CD player for a little while, charge the (now dead) batteries and you're set. Chargers work with regular wall sockets, and there are fast chargers (1 Hr) that have car adapters.

But there are a few downsides:

1) Keep track of batteries. At a few $ US/ea, you don't want to lose them as you would $.49/ea batteries.

2) Less runtime. Yea, whatever. So my visor runs gets 8 hours runtime instead of 10. Big Honking Deal. My digital camera will eat regular batteries after about 20 shots with flash. With the rechargables, I get 40-50+.

3) Technology creep. I bought the Nicd when they first came out, and the Millenium, and watched them all disappear from poor performance, really high cost, and be stuck with a charger and no batteries, or batteries without a charger. Nicd had memory problems, so you had to drain them before recharging. The newer batteries use NiMH, so there is less of a memory problem, and the batteries have been around for a few years. Enough to spend some money now and stock up.

ProCell rechargables.. (4.25 / 4) (#25)
by fourseven on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:12:00 AM EST

Imagine that ProCells come in the rechargable variety as well (don't know, haven't found any) Then would you rather buy consumer-grade rechargables, or pro-grade rechargables? What if the pro-grade was not available to "general consumers?" That brings us back to the original problem.


[ Parent ]

Alkalines fully suck... (4.14 / 7) (#26)
by bani on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:15:34 AM EST

Rechargeable NiMH's run 2-3 times longer. And you can recharge them several hundred times.

Sort of makes Duracell Procell batteries seem completely irrelevant...

Depends on the current load. (4.77 / 9) (#29)
by demi on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:33:36 AM EST

Rechargeable NiMH's run 2-3 times longer. And you can recharge them several hundred times.

Well, the capacity of a hydride battery is actually much less (about 40% less), but the reason they last longer in some applications is because they discharge more efficiently under high drain conditions (like flashes, loud radios, etc.) than alkaline batteries. The problem is that they rapidly lose their charge just sitting around (like a few percent capacity per day). If you have a device like a smoke detector, for instance, an alkaline battery is much better because it has longer life and a slower decay rate (a few percent capacity per year).

For cameras and mp3 players, though, rechargeable batteries are the way to go.

[ Parent ]

Palm (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Ranieri on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:51:49 AM EST

But in your Palm they are not. I could get almost 3 months out of a pair of (regular) duracell AAA, while NiMHs would last just over two weeks.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
3 months... (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:30:54 AM EST

... wow. Do you actually use it that much? I mean, I only get something like two weeks. Also, what is your useage like?

[ Parent ]

Depends. (none / 0) (#56)
by Ranieri on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:10:31 AM EST

I generally use it just as an agenda. That means i flip it out a few times a day and tap on it for a few seconds. With this type of usage the superior charge retention properties of alkaline batteries are a major advantage.

Sometimes i take a long train trip and spend hours playing silly games. Battery life will decrease noticeably.

I noticed that i get significantly better life out of Duracell batteries than i get out of other brands. Also, i have an m100 with 2MB. Newer/older models might be more powerhungry.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Yeah, older and more use... (none / 0) (#62)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:03:57 AM EST

... I'm sticking with an old IIIx until something that can't be fixed breaks ("mending is better than ending") or I get a wearable. And I use it a lot: notes in classes, agenda, deadlines, running lists of things to get when in certain areas, lots of reading (books, articles, and some websites), alarm clock (some days I can't have too many), pretty girl name reminder (I've a list I read before going in the pub)...

Same here with Duracell.

[ Parent ]

NiMH (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Tsuraan on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:25:33 AM EST

I've been using the NiMH batteries that they sell at rat shack for quite a while now, and I have not noticed any gain in life expectancy. They also, for some reason (I'm a math person, not a chemist), only supply 1.2V rather than the 1.5V that all my electronics seem to like. On the other hand, they are rechargable...

[ Parent ]
1.2V is okay (4.00 / 1) (#146)
by emmons on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:43:31 AM EST

NiMH batteries are okay at 1.2 because normal alkalines don't stay at 1.5 very long and drop an average of about 1.2 rather quickly.

Here's more info:

In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
However. (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by bakuretsu on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:46:54 AM EST

I also have friends that work in the sound business, i.e. providing PA's for bands and recording material in their studio. Merely for credibility, I'm talking about Planet of Sound in Hartford, CT, USA, one of the only all digital sound studios in the east, not counting one in NYC. This is not an amateur company.

Truth be told, you can't use anything but Duracell ProCell batteries in wireless microphones. Period. They're the industry standard, no other battery can compete. Now, I'm not sure about the specifics, as I don't do this stuff myself, but that has been my impression.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]
Someone's lying... (4.85 / 7) (#27)
by baka_boy on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:27:35 AM EST

Okay, I'm going to take you at face value and assume that the batteries have indeed proven to be much better than any of the consumer-grade models on the market. Given that, this portion of the 'Non-Consumer Explanation' seems extremely odd:

If you are not a business and just want to get these high-qualtity batteries (the same internally as a Duracell Coppertop) we would recommend that you purchase the Energizer, or Sanyo packs that we carry. They are comparable in quality to the Duracell Coppertop batteries and similar in price.

ZBattery, at least, seems to be saying that there isn't any internal difference in the batteries aside from the packaging.

Non-conspiracy theories (4.40 / 5) (#28)
by sigwinch on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:30:15 AM EST

1. "Tax ID" probably means SALES TAX ID. US jurisdictions tend to have a single tax applied at the point of sale, collected by the retail sales organization. Distributors, warehousers, and stores who buy direct from Duracell pay no sales tax. This means that Duracell doesn't have to do any paperwork or transactions for sales tax. They just have to keep the tax ID on file for gov't auditors.

It would cost Duracell a lot to put in all the infrastructure to collect sales tax, so they just sell to non-consumer entities.

2. The "professional" batteries could contain chemicals that are not allowed to be sold to the general public. Unlikely I think, but possible.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.

and the price.. (2.50 / 2) (#61)
by Stomil on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:44:44 AM EST

3. the non-consumer grade batteries may be much more expensive that the consumer-grade ones.

[ Parent ]
Federal Employer Identification Number (5.00 / 3) (#76)
by webmaestro on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:59:57 AM EST

Actually their order form specified (and probably what Duracell requires) that the "Tax ID" number is a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). IANAL, but you don't have to have a corporation to get a FEIN, all you have to do is fill out an IRS Form SS-4. You really don't have to have any employees. Information for small business and the self-employed can be obtained from the IRS.

Check out Worldofun.com. It's a world of fun.
[ Parent ]
Well then, here's another theory (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by sigwinch on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:58:00 PM EST

I stand corrected.

How about this: Duracell is trying to discourage small sales that have a higher overhead cost. They want to sell whole pallets of batteries at a time, and not packs of 6.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Solution: Incorporate yourself (4.37 / 8) (#30)
by Pseudoephedrine on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:48:36 AM EST

I kid you not. In Canada, once you hit the highest income bracket (which is anything over $100,000 Canuck [$67,000 American] or so these days), it's more profitable to become a corporation anyhow (11% Fedtax versus ~26%, plus a small fee for corporations). Incorporating yourself also saves you money on large purchases like houses, boats, and as we've seen, gets you access to higher quality products at lower prices. You start paying wholesale prices (which can be significantly cheaper) and getting other bargains. It's a fantastic way to save money.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
I gotta know (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by scruffyMark on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:20:30 AM EST

So, are you yourself a member of the illustrious Inc. family?

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately not. (none / 0) (#80)
by Pseudoephedrine on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:21:51 AM EST

Someday, though, someday.

I get a tear in my eye just thinking about legally depriving the government of my money. *sniff*

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
off topic (none / 0) (#92)
by Subtillus on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:16:24 PM EST

i saw pseudo ephedrine on the label of my dayquil, what is it?
i know some basic physiology and molecular biology so don't dumb it down.

[ Parent ]
It's a precursor to amphetamine (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by Pseudoephedrine on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:10:06 PM EST

It's a CNS stimulant commonly used in 'No Drowze' cough syrups. You can find ephedrine, the natural version, in things like echinacea and other plants in small amounts, which is why you sometimes hear things about 'herbal speed'. Pseudoephedrine is, as I understand it, a synthetic analog of ephedrine. Either can be used in the manufacture of amphetamine and methamphetamine, and a fair majority of bulk purchases of these chemicals are intended for just such a purchase.

Some robo-trippers (people who drink cough syrup for the high - from Robitussin) take pseudoephedrine in combination with dextromethorphan (DXM), though they probably shouldn't, considering the quantites of cough syrup they're consuming. Both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are powerful stuff, evidently a mere four times the recommended dosage can put a small child's life in risk, though obviously they don't compare to amphetamines of one stripe or another.

Pseudoephedrine is also two steps away from E - you turn it into methamphetamine, and then process that using chemicals found in sassafras oil to make it. the-hive.ws has more information on the subject than it probably should for a 'purely informational' site. ;)

Of course, under the methamphetamine anti-proliferation act of 1999, I'm a thought-criminal and you will be too if you visit The Hive, but c'est la vie.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
You forgot to say why it's in Dayquil... (5.00 / 1) (#118)
by Shpongle Spore on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:16:27 PM EST

It's a decongestant! I've read (take with a grain of salt) that all amphetamine-like substances are decongestants, but pseudoephedrine just happens not to be a very good stimulant. I even know people who describe the effect as making them "drowsy"! Ephedrine, an isomer of pseudoephedrine, works much better as a stimulant, although both give you a very edgy adrenaline-rush kind of feel compared to caffeine or amphetamines, so I don't use either one for that purpose unless I really want to be awake and alert.
I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
[ Parent ]
Decongestant... (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by SvnLyrBrto on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:57:09 PM EST

Ephedrine is also just about the only decongestant that works worth a damn for me. Not even pseudoephedrine will do. I dunno what it is... I just seem to have these muntant nasal passages that will just NOT clear up with anything less.

Also, pseudoephedrine is designed to act as less of a CNS stimulant than the real thing... the idea being to dialate the bronchial passages without actually getting you high. That's why you'll find it in ny-quill... less likely to keep you awake.


Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

less likely? (none / 0) (#168)
by scruffyMark on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 07:20:39 PM EST

I sure wish. When I take pseudoephedrine (Nyquil), I get all weird edgy and twitchy. I can sleep, sort of, but I don't feel rested in the morning. Only if I'm really stuffed up do I go near the stuff.

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#169)
by SvnLyrBrto on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 07:43:59 PM EST

Everyone's body is different of course. My mom is the same way: even pseudoephedrine hits her pretty hard.

But on average, pseudo is less likely to keep you up and twitchey as the real thing. I can sleep just fine on a normal dose of psuedo, where real ephedrine has me feeling downright tweaky.

As an experiment, you might try taking the same dose (60mg) of REAL ephedrine sometime. I'd bet good money you'll be considerably MORE edgy and twitchy than if you had taken pseudoephedrine.

'Tis all relative.


Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

I thought taxes were high in Canada (none / 0) (#45)
by ariux on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:43:22 AM EST

If you make $100k a year in Canada, your taxes amount to only $26k?

[ Parent ]

taxation rate (none / 0) (#64)
by paelon on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:53:00 AM EST

the poster was referring to the amount of federal tax paid. you pay additional tax to the province you live in (somewhere in the area of 17%). so more like you make $100k a year in canada and your income tax amounts to 43%. plus you pay (usually) 14% tax on most goods and services, and your dollar is worth $0.68usd.

[ Parent ]
I think... (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by wbear on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:07:21 AM EST

You're thinking of the marginal tax rate, which you only pay on additional dollars in a certain tax bracket. For 100k, the marginal rate is something like 40% (29% federal, 11% provincial).

Because it is that time of year, I just checked my federal T1 form; for $100k your basic federal tax is around $21694, less 7412*0.16 or around $20500. Provincial tax is charged on top of that. For Ontario, let's say a rough estimate is $8600 - for a total of $29100. For these calculations I've included absolutely no deductions. With any reasonable deductions (e.g. RSP) this amount could go below 26k.

That's not to say taxes in Canada aren't high -- you are also paying (say) a 15% combined sales tax (it depends on the province).

[ Parent ]
That's FedGov Tax only (none / 0) (#79)
by Pseudoephedrine on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:20:28 AM EST

Most Canucks end up giving up about 51% of their incomes in tax once you throw in provincial income tax, sales taxes (everywhere but Alberta), various government fees, etc.

And taking 1/4 of what I make isn't "low" either. We outlawed serfdom for less.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
dont incorporate yourself (none / 0) (#49)
by chia on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:22:38 AM EST

I think that the whole point is that you shouldnt have to do this.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. O Wilde
[ Parent ]
No one /likes/ consumers (3.66 / 3) (#32)
by blues is dead on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:07:10 AM EST

There are a few companies out there that do well from selling to customers, like Microsoft and Walmart. These companies provide middling-quality and muscle out competition, but can get huge profits.

On the other hand, most companies do well by selling to other companies. Corporations do not suffer the great unpredictability of consumers' desires, and frankly, most people in a service industry consider consumers to be assholes, worthy of great contempt. And having known many people doing service, it is often a fair assessment.

One lead programmer smiled at me during an interview, and said the nice thing was that his team didn't have to deal with the customer.

I know this is a bit unfair, but economics and social issues bring huge advantages for "B2B." The goal is to find a way that mitigates these problems.

General Electric (3.60 / 5) (#34)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:31:22 AM EST

If you're ever at GE Corporate R&D in Schenectady, NY, check out the lobby. There's a light bulb there (I assume - I haven't been there in a few years), sitting on Thomas Edison's desk. The light bulb has been running for something like 50 years. I assume that the technology used in it makes it prohibitively expensive, but it makes you wonder...

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
Long-lasting lightbulbs aren't too uncommon (4.62 / 8) (#36)
by ocelotbob on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:08:53 AM EST

The light bulb has been running for something like 50 years. I assume that the technology used in it makes it prohibitively expensive, but it makes you wonder...

There are several light bulbs that have been burning for several decades, such as the famous Livermore fire station light bulb. From what I understand, the longevity comes from a number of environmental reasons, not any special manufacturing techniques. These long-lived bulbs are often run at a much lower voltage than they're rated for, and are also kept on all the time. The reason they're kept on all the time is the fact that most bulbs don't burn out while they're running, but rather, due to the thermal stress from heating up when the bulb is turned on, and from cooling down then the bulb is turned off. If you were willing to leave your lights on all the time, they'd last a lot longer as well.

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
[ Parent ]

Interesting. (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by thePositron on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:12:13 AM EST

This seems to explain why light bulbs seem to burn out predominately when I turn on lights.

[ Parent ]
Thank you! (3.00 / 1) (#111)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:42:18 PM EST

I've had more than one EE tell me I was crazy when I said bulbs usually burn out at the moment they are turned on.

Knock Knock.

[ Parent ]
At some point... (3.00 / 1) (#124)
by John Miles on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:00:45 PM EST

...we started graduating EEs who don't know which end of a soldering iron to pick up. You seem to have encountered one of them. :-(

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
Prohibitively expensive for GE perhaps. (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by thePositron on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:02:28 AM EST

Prohibitively expensive for GE perhaps.
In terms of revenues that would be lost without the planned obsolescence of their current offerings.

As far as I know the long lasting bulbs are not that much more expensive to make (I could be wrong) but they would not provide GE with the steady revenue that light bulbs that burn out provide GE and other companies that manufacture light bulbs.

[ Parent ]
But you *can* get these... (none / 0) (#99)
by pla on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:24:51 PM EST

Somewhat relevant to the parent article, the average consumer *can* buy "industrial grade" lightbulbs...

About five years ago, I built a rec-room in my basement. I wanted to do this on a shoestring budget (poor student at the time), and so when I visited Home Depot and saw a dozen 60-watt "industrial" bulbs for $0.49, I grabbed them up immediately.

At first, I expected them to have a pathetic life for that price, but if they burned out over six months or so, I figured I could afford to replace them one at a time with the nice high-frequency low-electricity-use fluorescents (I had used the entire dozen).

Well, five years later, only one of them has burned out (and another broke when hit by a flying potato, but I obviously can't blame the bulb for that <G>).

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the info (none / 0) (#119)
by thePositron on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:50:13 PM EST

Thanks for the info.
Do you think they will last for 50 + years?

[ Parent ]
Back in the good old days (4.00 / 4) (#60)
by A Trickster Imp on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:33:22 AM EST

Back in the good old days, up to the mid 70's or so, the electric company (in Detroit, anyway) used to give out free light bulb replacements. You brought in all your burnt out ones, and they gave you new ones.

This benefitted them because they encouraged electricity use.

So Phillips (booo!) came along and sued them claiming restraint of trade or some such nonsense, saying the free bulbs caused their ones sold in stores to do not so well.

Umm, thanks government, for "helping" us.

Anyhoo, those bulbs were a lot better than the crap Phillips or anyone else sells now. I love replacing the outside side door bulb four times through the winter.

Remember the socialist mantra: why try harder when you can just point a gun at the competition and put them out of business in the name of helping the people?

[ Parent ]
Compact flourescent (2.00 / 1) (#113)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:00:52 PM EST

"those bulbs were a lot better than the crap [Philips] or anyone else sells now. I love replacing the outside side door bulb four times through the winter. "

I got sick of replacing the filament bulbs in my home office every 2 or 3 months and replaced them with Philips compact flourescent bulbs. I haven't replaced any of those bulbs in a year now. They're quite a bit more expensive initially, but when you figure how many filament bulbs they're equivalent to, and that they use a quarter the electricity, they're a pretty good deal. They're supposed to be good for the environment too, in a Kyoto Protocol kind of way.

[ Parent ]
SuperLamp! (none / 0) (#137)
by arkannis on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:52:22 PM EST

I used to work at a college as a security guard, and I was wandering through one of the libraries one day, when I noticed them taking a bunch of lamps out and replacing them with new ones. I asked the guy doing it if there was anything wrong with the lamps. He replied that the college was having them removed because of some warning stickers that came on them that said the bulb had some trace amount of radioactive materials in them. It was a fairly liberal school, and I guess that some of the students had complained about them. I asked if I could have one. The guy said yes, and I went home with a new lamp. This was in 1999 and I haven't had to replace the bulb once. This is through about six moves, and various droppings and bangings of said lamp. Still the brightest desk lamp I've ever seen.

[ Parent ]
Can you tell me more? (none / 0) (#138)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:01:30 PM EST

Wow! What type of bulb is it? Who makes the lamp?

[ Parent ]
You're dim. :) (4.50 / 2) (#75)
by Robert Minichino on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:52:26 AM EST

We sacrifice long-life in our lightbulbs for brightness. Those little things that slip into the socket to prolong the life of your bulbs are little power resistors that reduce the power going to the bulb, so it's dimmer, thus cooler, thus lasts longer. These things are good for when it's inconvenient for a bulb to be out and you don't need it to be at its maximum brightness.

[ Parent ]
a resistor? (none / 0) (#97)
by Subtillus on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:24:22 PM EST

i thought it was an induction coil, but that's just my vague memories of E&M physics.

[ Parent ]
for those who don't know what an induction coil is (none / 0) (#100)
by Subtillus on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:27:36 PM EST

an induction coil is like a pseudo battery, it opposes the rate of say change in current at a proportional rate. thus as the current floods in, this kind of slows it down, losing effect exponentially as the current flow in a given circuit stabilizes.

feel free to correct me if you want, i was in that class two years ago and i'm a biology major.

[ Parent ]
all that to say in the end it's not dimmer (none / 0) (#101)
by Subtillus on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:28:27 PM EST

[ Parent ]
No, it is dimmer (none / 0) (#170)
by bgalehouse on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:01:35 PM EST

He's just saying that it uses something other than a resistor to accomplish this dimming. Using an induction coil might be more energy efficient.

[ Parent ]
canadian tire (none / 0) (#95)
by Subtillus on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:21:59 PM EST

they sell something like that at canadian tire actually, but at something like 10x the price.
we've got some running at home, but we just got them recently.

[ Parent ]
Pynchon (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by tps12 on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:54:05 PM EST

Reminds me of, I think it was, "Gravity's Rainbow" where lightbulbs communicated with each other on the Grid. There was one lightbulb who lived to be really old and was plotting a revolution or something crazy.

[ Parent ]
lower wattage? (none / 0) (#106)
by Rhodes on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:19:14 PM EST

I remember reading a story about a low watt bulb in some firehouse that has been running since 1904 or something ridiculous like that- lower wattage bulbs are less apt to have their tungston filaments oxidize or have other nasty side effects, and tend to last longer. This is primarily for "standard" incandescent filament type bulbs.

[ Parent ]
The origins of the GE and other lightbulb legends. (none / 0) (#123)
by Inoshiro on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:57:10 PM EST

True, here's the backstory and info about the bulb from 1901.

It's interesting how people confuse and/or distort the information about the lightbulb over time. That site has other info on urban legends.

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Oh, but they are ... (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by grumpy on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:41:16 AM EST

I don't suggest that the corporate policies are planned by mad evil scientists.

Oh, but they are ...


Mmmm ... I'll have a take away large decaff soy mocha
several reasons why (3.25 / 4) (#40)
by luethke on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:47:49 AM EST

this is very common. There are basically three main reasons. First has to do with supply and demand. At a certain cost you will have a supply. At that cost you will have a demand, where they meet that is where the price is. The thing many people over look in this is that the supply curve not only takes into account selling price (one of the axes) but also cost of manufacturing and tertiary cost. this is accomplished by the shape of the curve - it's not explicit. So in most cases there are several curves, a consumer curve and a contractor curve. contractors genreally require better quality items than a consumer - just look at computers. The clusters I run are pretty much hit 24/7, servers are hit that hard - consumer machines don't come close. Server machines are better, while more expensive they have more bang for the buck in many cases. Not only that but they will typically purchase in bulk. Where a consumer may buy 10-20 batteries per year a contractor may buy 10-20 per day. So the producer can get buy with much smaller margins on the contractor grade stuff. Usually this results in contractor grade stuff being more expensive but better quality per dollar. Of course there will be unusuall cases where not only is the battery cheaper, but also better. So why not allow consumers this battery? again - back to the supply and demand curves. Since demand on contracotr stuff typically allows a much smaller margin selling small quantities of these batteries, and only these batteries, would lead to the company most likely going broke. Unfortunatly this is going to be true of any free market. The idea (and it has been succesfull so far) is that while consumers do not get the absolute highest quality available at the time aver all they get better than other wise. To use numbers lets say that a contractor grade gets 20 hours and a consumer gets 15. contractor grade costs .50 and the consumer 2.50. while this sounds cruddy if they only were allowed to offer one grade you more likely see something like the battery only getting 10 hours and costing 3.00 - over all the consumer has benefited. I will end with a concrete example of something. Here in the towm I live in the hospital did something that is becoming popular for hospitals to try (and usually get such bad press they quit). That is a "premium" service. For an extra fee you can get better food, better rooms, get the newest equipment, and extra visits by the nurses. Again the view was that someone (the rich) were getting a better chance to survive a surgery - they were correct. But what was not mentioned is that this was extra - no one was getting less than before. Not only that but the extra money was being used to subsidise poorer patients and to buy some new heart equipment. After all the fuss they cancelled the program which in turn cancelled the cheaper health care for poor people and they didn't have the buget to get the new heart equipment. In the end the poor who fought this only raised thier own costs and didn't get the better equipment (note: I am not saying that every hospital that has tried to do the premium service has had this motive - the other hospital in the area was doing it also but only for pure profits).

crumbs (1.00 / 1) (#104)
by drivers on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:54:36 PM EST

So what you're saying is when we give feasts to the rich, the poor people can get more crumbs. :-)

[ Parent ]
yes (1.00 / 1) (#115)
by luethke on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:58:01 PM EST

me, being one of the poor people now, would MUCH rather have 5 crumbs than none. Kinda short sighted if it is worth it to you to have 2 instead of 5 just so someone else doesn't have much. If you disagree I would be very much interested why you are willing to get worse health care to spite someone else. Unfortunatly life is hard and unfair sometimes but trying to live in lala land doesn't help much. plus, in the US it helps that one day it is possible that I could be the one getting the bread and not the crumbs.

[ Parent ]
Or if you're in the UK (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by deaddrunk on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:10:46 AM EST


Hey, you can buy them! (4.75 / 4) (#43)
by Jack of Hearts on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:27:32 AM EST

Check it out, it looks like you can buy them at CDW: http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.asp?edc=151563

Now keep it quiet so they don't notice ;-).

Form a purchasing co-op (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by ariux on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:38:18 AM EST

...if it's that important.

This whole article is a crock (4.00 / 7) (#47)
by hulver on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:07:07 AM EST

These are not "magic" batteries. They are just the bulk version for companies to buy. They are cheeper, because they are sold in bulk. THAT IS ALL.

They arn't better than the consumer versions either. A quick bit of googleing, and look what I turned up.

  • Duracell Alkaline Long life power battery. $7 for 10. 2850 mah.
  • Duracell Procell (Box of 10) 5.60 2700 mah.
The procell actually have less capacity than the consumer version. OK, so I could only find prices in (not $) for the procell, but it's not that different.

In short, there is no conspiracy. Do you think if duracell was holding these "extra long life" batteries back, energiser wouldn't have come out with there own version to get more sales?


Volume discount (2.50 / 2) (#48)
by LeftOfCentre on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:12:17 AM EST

I think the real issue here is that businesses buy products in more volumes, and it therefore makes sense to offer them lower prices.

Commercials? (2.50 / 2) (#50)
by abo on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:44:54 AM EST

Maybe the pro's don't want to pay for all the cute bunny commercials Duracell is showing us? That would explain the price, but not the capacity.

Where do you dispose of your used batteries? All batteries should always be disposed of in such a way that they end up being handled by a professional in that area, but perhaps these batteries are even more toxic than consumer-grade batteries?
-- K鰌 BRUX!

professional in that area? (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by enterfornone on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:16:58 AM EST

My batteries are disposed of in such a way that they end up being handled by a professional in the area of garbage disposal. Printed on an AA in front of me it says "don't sispose of in fire". Don't think I have an AA battery pack handy, but the pack that the lithiums for my camera come in just says "dispose of used battery promptly".

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
The Bunny (2.00 / 1) (#110)
by Guncrazy on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:50:19 PM EST

Yes, in America, Energizer uses a pink bunny in its commercials and packaging. However, when I lived in China, I found it odd that Duracell has a pink bunny on their packaging, while said bunny is absent from Energizer battery packaging. I don't recall seeing any television commercials for either company, though.

Race is irrelevant 99.999% of the time. And the 0.001% of the time it is relevant, someone is looking for a donated organ.
[ Parent ]

Why are you bying alkalines, anyway? (3.50 / 2) (#59)
by jonr on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:06:56 AM EST

I own a digital camera. These toys are notorious power-eaters. I have 3 sets of 4 AA NiMH batteries, (2 1600mA+1 1800mA) I keep them charged all the time. On average, I go through 1 set a day. If I would buy alkalines instead of using the NiMHs, I would probably go through 2-3 sets a day. You do the math. Alkalines have their uses. Flashlights, smoke detectors and other stuff which NiMH are not optimal for (They slowly discharge). Break the Alkaline habit, get a one set for your MP3 and a charger. They last longer, and you will never buy batteries again for your MP3 player.

Well for one thing theyare only 1.2V (none / 0) (#130)
by jolly st nick on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:06:06 PM EST

THe big advantage of NimH is that they have alow internal resistance, and therefore deliver power well where high current is necessary (think motors). However, they deliver 20% less voltage than a standard alkaline battery. This makes them a poor drop in replacement for alkalines in many devices. For devices that require higher voltage and don't draw too much current, a fresh NiMH batteries looks like a drained alkaline.

[ Parent ]

1.2v is what all devices draw (none / 0) (#180)
by muztafa on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 12:31:29 PM EST

Even high drain devices like digital cameras work with 1.2v NiMH batteries.

Noraml 1.3v alakalines provide 1.3v only for a very short duration. After a few minutes, the voltage they provide drops steadily to 1.2, 1.1 and lower.

The second* biggest selling point of NiMH batteries (and Li I think) is that the voltage they provide over time is relatively constant. There is a very large plateue where the provide a constant 1.2v. The continue to provide 1.2v until the end where there is a sudden drop.

I've used them in a digital camera, and in a CD mp3 player with very good results.

The biggest selling point of NiMH is that the are rechargeable, of course.

[ Parent ]
Alkaline is 1.5v, not 1.3v (none / 0) (#182)
by pin0cchio on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 02:18:23 PM EST

Noraml 1.3v alakalines provide 1.3v only for a very short duration.

AA/AAA/C/D alkaline batteries are 1.5v, not 1.3v. A 9v battery is essentially six stacked 1.5v cells in a case. I'm just waiting for a five-cell NiCd pack (5 x 1.2v = 6.0v) that won't screw up voltage-sensitive devices (which expect 4 x 1.5v = 6.0v).

[ Parent ]
It depends on the circuit. (none / 0) (#183)
by jolly st nick on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 03:17:21 PM EST

The voltage delivered by a cell is determined by its chemistry and is constant over the life of a cell. The alkaline cell you throw away because it is "dead" still produces 1.5v. However, the internal resistance increases as the battery wears out, so that the voltage you measure at the terminals will drop as a linear function of current load. Maximum power transfer occurs when load impedence is equal to internal resistance in a constant voltage circuit; this power level is inversely proportional to the load resistance. Thus, as internal resistance goes up, the maximum power transfer goes down. Furthermore, the impedences are not normally matched to get maximum power transfer, some applications are low current and will "see" a fresh NiMH to be equivalent of a drained alkaline in terms of the voltage delivered to the circuit.

I've even seen some small motors, which you would think would be excellent NiMH applications, not work properly with fresh NiMH. Perhaps their impedence is relatively high, and so they can extract more power from alkalines.

So the bottom line is that NiMH batteries work great in some applications, poorly in others.

[ Parent ]

Lithium? (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by Sc00tz on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:22:07 AM EST

You think about trying Lithium batteries? I've used them in my digital camera.. they last a LOT longer then even your ProCell's would.. great for CD players as well.. They're also more expensive, but so are your ProCells.. The lithium batteries are also a lot lighter (always nice for portable devices). But for cost effectiveness I'd go with the NiMH batteries..

You might want to check out cheapbatteries.com too

-- http://scootz.net/~travis

Inventing a conspiracy that doesn't exist (4.83 / 12) (#68)
by AnonymousEngineer on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:23:25 AM EST

I think you have a misunderstanding of what the Duracell Procell product is. Basically, it's just the same as the consumer version of the Duracell products but with a slightly different label. The Duracell Procell page even says so (see http://www.duracell.com/PROCELL/Products/index.html). To quote them, "And since PROCELL batteries are Duracell batteries with a different label, you can count on the same superior product performance." All you need to do is figure out which of the consumer labeled batteries correspond to the Procell batteries you were using. I presume they were probably the relatively new Duracell Ultra M3 type that work better in high drain devices (see http://www.duracell.com/batteries/ultra.asp). With a little research (it took me less than 15 minutes to look this up), you could have saved yourself a rant on possible corporate improprieties when IMHO there weren't any in this incident.

Wow this is great. (4.25 / 4) (#81)
by bakuretsu on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:39:02 AM EST

I live down in the US, and in most states you can get a Tax ID for $50 or so. You just go down to the town hall and get some lengthy paperwork. I also had myself established as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), but that costed me a few more dollars in legal fees (maybe $200, all said, because the lawyer was a friend), but now I have this spiffy Tax ID, and I'm going to buy me some batteries.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
Tax ID's are FREE (Do not pay for them) (4.33 / 3) (#107)
by quasipalm on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:34:39 PM EST

Please people: Do not go to a lawyer and buy something the IRS will give you for free.

Fill this out and file it with the IRS. Of course, you should have a legitimate purpose for applying other than just buying batteries. :)

A few years ago two good friends and I started an investment club. Since then we've been using the appropriate ID and Name for lots of additional, unforeseen benefits... Business memberships, discounts, etc., etc. It's a great thing to have. But, incorporating is not necessary, and tax ID's are free so please don't pay a lawyer $200 to do something you can do in an hour for yourself.
[ Parent ]
Tax implications? (none / 0) (#125)
by mgarland on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:03:48 PM EST

Does having a Tax ID have any personal income tax implications?

many thanks,

[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#181)
by quasipalm on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 02:12:38 PM EST

Yes, having a tax ID for your org. will create a structure where your org. will make money separate from you and will pay taxes separately too. There is a lot of info on it online, try google.
[ Parent ]
paranoia (3.62 / 8) (#82)
by turmeric on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:44:52 AM EST

ok, first off, how do you know they arent more dangerous? if you put batteries in backwards or mix charged/uncharged, bad bad things can happen. furthermore batteries are nasty nasty chemicals, are you SURE the long-life is not worse than the normal-life? this is all just speculation, but if it were true it would explain why duracell wants to insulate itself from 5 billion lawsuits by people injured by these things.

second of all, alot of people are bitching about grocery stores getting worse produce than restaurants. that has nothing to do with some conspiracy among grocers and farmers, it has to do with the fact that american consumers will NOT BUY BETTER PRODUCE but when they go to a restaurant they expect to be treated like the queen of sheba and will bitch at the manager like he is their personal slave if they feel like the lettuce is the wrong shade of green.

you can buy perfectly wonderful produce from an organic food store, but it will cost more. imagine that, better produce costs more money? or you could join a co-op aka 'buyers club'. or you could buy from a local farmer's market. but are you going to? no, you are going to bitch and whine about how wal-mart is 'cheating you' meanwhile you give old sam walton's boys all the markup they put on everything and leave the farmers, co-ops, and organic people 'twisting in the wind' waiting for your business for their superior products, while you sit at costco or safeway thumping and smelling the cantelope.

In other words, there may be conspiracies where corporations get a better deal than joe blow consumer. But on the other hand, joe blow consumer is part of the problem, because he allows these corporations to continue to exist by his patronage.

Costco (2.00 / 1) (#108)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:38:03 PM EST

Actually, the (farm-raised) salmon from Costco is by far the best salmon I have ever bought at any (normal) retail store. I've eaten it raw (lomi lomi salmon, or salmon poki, for those interested), and it's wonderful. It's 3.99 or 4.99 a pound. Most other places, it's at least 6.99.

Since I don't feel like driving 60 miles to the nearest fish market, this seems like a pretty good deal to me.

[ Parent ]
Sam's Club (none / 0) (#128)
by heatherj on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:36:59 PM EST

I've had a Sam's Club membership for upwards of 10 years, now. Quality is great-especially in the meat department. Prices are such that the $35 for an annual membership pays for itself if all you buy is a set of tires. Costco is in our area, too, and is comparable, pricewise, but doesn't carry some of the brands I really like, so it's prety much a matter of preference. Produce is pretty good, too, although not better than farmer's market or garden-fresh, of course. Actually, as grocery stores go, Wal-Mart has a fairly good produce department. Not as good as some of the more upscale urban grocery chains, of course, but it blows most small-town produce departments clear out of the water.

[ Parent ]
They don't last longer (4.66 / 12) (#84)
by MichaelRoy on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:47:49 AM EST

Something must be explained here: Procell batteries don't last longer. They are physically identical to regular duracell batteries, except without the fancy packaging. THEY DON'T MAGICALLY LAST LONGER (unless they were lithium).

One other thing to note: i too work in the theater production industry. The last musical i worked on, we had 18 wireless microphones, which we used for 5 shows and 4 rehearsals. We went through over 450 batteries (since we had to replace them each time). Now, it would be ridiculous to buy batteries in retail packaging for that show, both in terms of cost, and in terms of the time spend rippiing open packages. All ProCell is intended for are businesses who use tonnes and tonnes of batteries. Local theater groups in Winnipeg (read: MTC, etc) go through literally thousands of batteries for wireless mics on longer (month-long) productions. There is no other way of doing thigs.

-Michael Roy Despite the rising cost of living, it remains a popular activity
they might afterall... (none / 0) (#140)
by thadk on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:18:15 PM EST

Actually they may, I'm just going on my speculation but I think that it sounds like the "industrial" duracell batteries refered to in this article linked above sound like ProCell.

Unless someone else has a more informed answer this guy (fourseven) has a point. The industry is hiding NiMH technology in the US. I've use a set of nonbrand 1800mAh that I picked at a amatuer radio convention with my mp3 player. They work quite a bit longer than alkalines and have a huge amount of potential recharges

(I'll assume that there was a mistake in this posting. Maybe he's right)

[ Parent ]
No mistake (none / 0) (#151)
by hulver on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:01:43 AM EST

The figures I quoted are for standard AA alkaline batteries. Different batteries work well in different situations. High drain, low drain etc etc. You might have just found the right sort of batteries for your mp3 player, but they might last half the time in a CD player (high drain because of the constantly running motor).

[ Parent ]
Yup (none / 0) (#145)
by Go5 on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:29:28 AM EST

Used in the fire/EMS biz too. They're no different, they're just sold in bulk. We use 'em in everything from pulse oximeters to pagers to flashlights.

I've seen them for sale over-the-counter, without an ID, prescription or retinal scan, at pro-audio shops, industrial supply stores and commercial communications outfits.

Same battery, different label, bigger box.

[ Parent ]

Hate to burst your conspiracy bubble, but... (3.33 / 3) (#85)
by jforan on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:58:06 AM EST

This could easily be a case of the Procell consumer marketing failing after overproducing the labeled batteries (perhaps after tests in a non-statistic conforming test market). Coppertop (which according to the referenced article is the same) could have done better in test markets by a lot (just cuz the stupid name (for us stupid consumers) sounds better). Now, duracell has ten million extra Procell labeled batteries which they have to get rid of to the non-public (cant have two exactly the same interior products competing with themselves) so they release it for business use only.

Or it could be the CEO convinced the board that coppertop sounded better because the guy who came up with Procell got fired.

Or whatever.

That's my theory of conspirancy anyway. I'm sure a few calls to Duracell would clear this all up. (But that would take actually talking to people, which is hard.)

I hops to be barley workin'.
quality (3.25 / 4) (#102)
by drivers on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:41:28 PM EST

But what about the [alleged] doubling in capacity of the procell model?

[ Parent ]
Its a load of crap (none / 0) (#152)
by hulver on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:03:29 AM EST

Sorry. see this comment of mine I posted earlier.

[ Parent ]
Batteries and chargers. (4.00 / 3) (#98)
by magus123x on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:24:37 PM EST

There are ways to crush further performance out of your batteries as well.

I've been into RC for a few years, though mostly nitro. When I decided to also take up electric racing at the pro level, I knew batteries were going to be expensive, but not as bad as I thought.

6 sub-C 3000mAH NiMH pack? $65 - 100; keep in mind I have about 4 of these on-hand for race day. Why so much? The cells all have identical or VERY similar internal resistances and voltage to ensure consistent performance of the pack and to maximize runtime. We don't simply stick these in a plastic jig either, we solder our cells together and solder on the plugs. A little excessive at first, but there is a noticable difference.

Chargers aren't cheap too. $150+ certainly isn't unheard of. You can set the voltage drop for peak detection, amperage, etc. to not only charge your batteries quickly (less than an hour) but to their full potential without overheating, overcharging or ended up with a false reading. Some of the chargers can even profile individual batteries and can even attempt to recondition them for optimum charging characteristics.

I actually know a few photographers that have actually gone out and purchased pro-level RC battery chargers to keep their NiMH cells in top working order for their digital cameras and other equipment.

Batteries are just one part of the equation, chargers are the other. Without a quality charger, you aren't getting the full potential from your batteries.

even cheaper (none / 0) (#143)
by luethke on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:43:36 PM EST

I just bought my RC car (a rc4 pro3 for any interested :) ) and a 3000 Mah 6 cell for around 45 dollars. The big price for the premium batteries is because they are matched (the 45 dollar suck for racing but are quite good for practice runs and driving at the local parking lot). they run individual batteries with a 20 amp discharge and group them based on thier resitance/discharge rate (so all the cells fall at the same rate - the most efficient way) and will only ship the best ones for race batterires - this as much as double thier price. for pot luck (all are good but youll loose when racing someone with a matched set because of run times/consistency). most people who race also have a seperate discharger. BTW do you know what needs to be done to charge AA's with the charger? I hate using the 20 dollar charger for AA's when I have a MUCH better one for my car batteries. oh, yea check out http://www.smc-racing.com/ for all you NiMH battery needs (I think you can buy individual cells there)

[ Parent ]
Battery madness (none / 0) (#157)
by magus123x on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 08:19:54 AM EST

I actually have been using World Class for a while since their prices are sane ($60) and are suitable for racing. I used to buy trackside but they were $100-$120/pack.

NiMHs aren't supposed to be discharged by the way, only NiCd. NiMHs also run better if you use the pack several times during the course of a day. RC Car action magazine has an article on it.

As for charging AAs, I just make my own pack of em (shoe goo, copper battery bars, 60/40 rosin solder, some 14 gauge or so wire) and plug em into the charger. It also depends on the charger you use too. I'm using a Novak Millenium Pro and it's quite flexible. This of course depends on how adept you are with a soldering iron, and having a decent battery jig (i.e. Deans) helps. Lee Cao has a nice guide on how to build packs well.

I'm running a Pro3 as well, though there is the flex problem on carpet. It has a VERY tough time staying with the TC3s and XXX-Ss, but it does contend. For Nitro I run a Racer2 (2 years old now) and my Micro RS4 and its stuff comes in today.

[ Parent ]
OT (rc car racing) (none / 0) (#164)
by luethke on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:58:51 AM EST

My understanding for NiMH is for storage (not running for a few weeks) you want to discharge them and then put a slight charge on them. but yea, I knew the rest on the hydrides.

do you run one of the woven graphite frame? or a woven graphite thing that runs between the bulk heads (can't remeber what it is called, fits above the batteries)? With both of those people seem to be doing well. I, on the other hand, suck as a driver and it makes no difference, plus I also race on the road some so the flex is a Good Thing. One good thing I was reading the forums on www.hpiracing.com and one of the hpi staff said they are getting ready to release a lot of new hop ups - personally I hope they come out with many more aluminum parts as strength matters more to me then weight (I'm terrified of hitting a curb at full blast). Even better would be titanium so I cen get both strength and weight good :)

[ Parent ]
Battery Conspiracy [MLP] (4.00 / 2) (#109)
by Scandal on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:41:01 PM EST

A google cache of an editorial on NiMH batteries, and the conspiracy theory to go with it. (John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine, 1998.)


avoid name brand rechargables, others are better! (3.50 / 2) (#112)
by gps on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 02:50:14 PM EST

Name brand NiMH rechargable batteries are pathetic (energizer)! They sell wimpy weak ones. For instance Energizer's AA NiMH rechargables are 1200mAh. Rayovac is better and on most shelves, theirs are 1600mAh. But if you go online to greenbatteries.com you'll get 1800mAh AA batteries. There is some good reading on rechargables there as well.

Don't be fooled by a mAh comparison of alkaline vs. NiMH. Alkaline batteries continually decline in voltage during their lifetime; they are "dead" when the voltage becomes too low to be useful. NiMH maintain their 1.2v per cell voltage pretty solidly up until they're empty. For that reason good NiMH cells will last longer than alkaline in most digital devices.

note: the rayovac 1 hour battery charger can be bought in stores cheaper than on greenbatteries.com (frys here had one with 2 rayovac AA batteries for $32) but they are still a better source for batteries themselves.

[ Parent ]

pure energy batteries (3.33 / 3) (#114)
by sageb0 on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 03:37:29 PM EST

What about alkaline rechargeables? They're green and good for 75 charges after each 1-2 hr use i.e. don't use them until they are depleted because that shortens their life to 50 recharges. The website is http://www.pureenergybattery.com/

you're right (4.00 / 5) (#116)
by el_guapo on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:00:39 PM EST

there are ALL sorts of these situations around. Ever look at a hospital bill - big bad insurance company that actually can afford stuff get it STEEPLY discounted - if you're uninsured, you get charged literally >10x the cost. They absolutlely want the public fed the cheapest, highest marging :thing: they will accept. I THINK you could buy those batteries if you A)do a DBA and thus become a "company" (5 bucks and a form), and then just use your social seciurity number as TaxID (I know, you're Canadian - I think) - do they have the same thing there? I found out about this after working in the engineering/procurement/construction field. We'd by these totally BADASS electric motors for say 137.54 after our "discount" - the same rated motor, albeit built WAY worse (plastic case, aluminum leads, etc) would be like $350.00. needless to say, I don't buy my a lot of my stuff from the same places as most people....
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
Since when is this a RIGHT? (3.87 / 8) (#121)
by bodrius on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:10:32 PM EST

Since when is it a consumer right to have better batteries?

Actually, since when is there a right to have a better product in any way?

The consumer may WANT to get the best possible product, but it is not the producers' DUTY to provide it. When you're a company you don't have to service anyone. It's not an obligation. It's something you do to get profits, because that's how you make money, not because of some legal or moral obligation to someone who wants better batteries.

The consumer gets better batteries if someone offers them. The way companies are forced to offer better products is by competing with other companies: if someone else is offering batteries that last for a long time, the consumers may buy only those, and everyone has to catch up. Or the consumer may not care, and there is no reason to improve the quality since the consumer actually does not want it bad enough (i.e. is not willing to pay for it).

People form corporations to make money, not to please the consumers because of their good heart. They will try to provide the product that offers the best benefit for them (profits), incidentally satisfying the consumer's demands. If a company can offer better batteries and make money out of it, they probably will... and Duracell will probably follow. If they released a better battery for businesses, is because they figured out a way to get money out of it. That's part of what makes the system self-sustaining, don't expect it to be any different unless you change it for another self-sustaining system.

Talking about this as if it were some kind of "consumer right" both demonizes corporations for being corporations (yipee, let's blame them for what they're legally required to do!) and trivializes actual consumer rights, which have more to do with protection from fraud, free, fair and enforceable contracts, and not being sold arsenic as baby food than complaining about the lack of mail-order Pascal's Differential Engine Kits in the market.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
Right?? (3.50 / 2) (#122)
by StephenFuqua on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:19:14 PM EST

Where did the poster declare better batteries to be a right? Oh, he used the word "right" in the opening, but I don't think your comment applies at all.

[ Parent ]
Re: Since when is this a RIGHT? (none / 0) (#133)
by sal5ero on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:26:31 PM EST

Or the consumer may not care, and there is no reason to improve the quality since the consumer actually does not want it bad enough (i.e. is not willing to pay for it).

If it was a matter of consumers having to be willing to spend more for the supplier to sell them to consumers, then why are these better batteries cheaper for businesses than the crap consumers are sold?

People form corporations to make money, not to please the consumers because of their good heart.

Which is what annoys me about capitalists who say that this system is designed to bring optimum results for the consumer. Clearly it doesn't. It is designed to bring optimum results to the shareholders.

If they released a better battery for businesses, is because they figured out a way to get money out of it.

... they figured out a way to get money out of selling better batteries more cheaply to businesses? Surely, the optimum equilibrium point to maximise profits would be with the better batteries available to businesses AND consumers, at a price somewhere between what each is paying now...

[ Parent ]
Re: Since when is this a RIGHT? (none / 0) (#155)
by bodrius on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:42:20 AM EST

If it was a matter of consumers having to be willing to spend more for the supplier to sell them to consumers, then why are these better batteries cheaper for businesses than the crap consumers are sold?

Because businesses, as consumers, do care about how long their batteries last. So there is competition in that market, where some company found that better batteries sold better and everyone had to catch up.
Since the markets are different, there is no need to bring the new product for the consumer market for no reason. Maybe someone tried, and realized that consumers don't notice (and pay for) the difference.
Note that the better batteries are only cheaper when compared to the consumer market. We're talking about two different markets, to get a valid comparison you would have to see the prices of the "worse" batteries on the business market (it should be "even cheaper"). Comparing these two prices is like comparing five-star hotel suites in Latin American hotels to three-star suites in New York: it makes no sense and misses the point.
That is, of course, assuming these batteries are actually better. There seems to be some discussion on that.

Which is what annoys me about capitalists who say that this system is designed to bring optimum results for the consumer. Clearly it doesn't. It is designed to bring optimum results to the shareholders.

No honest capitalist would say something like that, with those words, if they know what they're saying. But then again, most people self-proclaimed capitalists I've met are no more learned on their philosophy than most self-proclaimed socialist/communists I've met. Reading Adam Smith is as rare in the first as the second in the later two (surprisingly rare).
In a capitalist system, everyone is consumer/producer, playing different roles at different places. Consumers happen to be most of the shareholders too.
What I think the system is designed to do, however, is to bring optimum results and stability IN THE LONG TERM.

... they figured out a way to get money out of selling better batteries more cheaply to businesses? Surely, the optimum equilibrium point to maximise profits would be with the better batteries available to businesses AND consumers, at a price somewhere between what each is paying now...

Read the first part of this reply.

Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Re: Since when is this a RIGHT? (none / 0) (#173)
by sal5ero on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 05:17:15 AM EST

No honest capitalist would say something like that, with those words, if they know what they're saying. But then again, most people self-proclaimed capitalists I've met are no more learned on their philosophy than most self-proclaimed socialist/communists I've met. Reading Adam Smith is as rare in the first as the second in the later two (surprisingly rare).

I'm from New Zealand, and this is exactly what the politicians who led the country into the "neo-liberal experiment" constantly say to justify their position.

[ Parent ]
The whole idea of capitalism. (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by haflinger on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:39:28 PM EST

The theory behind capitalist markets is that, when producers are allowed to compete, consumers will gain access to the best possible products at the lowest possible prices.

This story (if true; there are several people claiming that ProCell is just a generic bulk-branded term for the same batteries) would indicate that capitalism has broken down in the battery marketplace; there is a better product that could be made available at a lower price than inferior products that are currently available on the market, and yet it is not on the market.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

no, it's not (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by luethke on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:27:40 PM EST

the idea behind capitalism is to get the best price/performance option - not the best at the cheapest. You get where the supply and demand curve meet - i.e. the most efficent part - not the maximum.

[ Parent ]
math (5.00 / 1) (#148)
by eudas on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:11:18 AM EST

or as has been said before, elsewhere...

it is only mathematically possible to maximize for one variable at a time.


"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, but... (none / 0) (#171)
by haflinger on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:13:04 PM EST

The article claims that the item that's not currently available to consumers is both better and cheaper than what's on the market.

Logic would dictate that at least one of these variables could be improved on, at least if the article is accurate.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

The whole idea of capitalism. (none / 0) (#154)
by bodrius on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:27:05 AM EST

Actually, the product will only be "better" if the consumers consider it "better".

This might mean that it's cheaper, or improved in some way, or just that it is perceived as "better" because of brand names or a good marketing campaign or simple fashion.

This might also mean that an improved, cheaper, very innovative product is considered "worse" than the current solution because consumers don't care.

The "whole idea of capitalism", or at least the relevant part of it, is that competitors are encouraged to create better products until they satisfy the customer, and that in the long term, with enough competition, they will.

This could mean that the system is broken in the battery market, OR that consumers don't really care that much about the duration of their AA batteries beyond a certain point.

Since consumers are most likely to buy batteries because of the Pink Bunny than because of real statistics of the duration of different products, I think the second point is more likely.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
the problem... (none / 0) (#136)
by phlux on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:42:36 PM EST

is that you are correct. and I am dissapointed in that fact. The reason why the world is so messed up today. sorry but even though you may have a valid point, I totally disagree. I have have co-founded a company that provides services (IT services) and even though making a profit is nice - the number one goal is always providing the absolute best product (service) that we are capable of providing. If your parents have raised you properly you too would see the value in this. and maybe eventually the world will be a better place. at least I know that my workplace will be.

[ Parent ]
the problem... (none / 0) (#153)
by bodrius on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 06:19:58 AM EST

This is a privately owned company, right?

If that is the case, congratulations, you have the right to do whatever you want with the company. However you want it. If you want to spend every penny in helping those in need, you're more than welcome.

But if it's a publicly-owned corporations, if I understand these things correctly (and I'm sure someone will take the liberty of correcting me if I don't), then you have a legal obligation to maximize profits.

A corporation is a legal entity created to defend the interests of its shareholder. For a for-profit corporation, that means profits, profits, profits, profits. There are way too many owners, and way too many intermediaries (banks, mutual funds, etc) to come up with any other consensus.

Therefore management has a legal obligation to defend profits. This is not just greed, although there is plenty. If they don't, they get fired. If they don't get fired on time, I think they can even get sued in some countries.

For some reason, consumers tend to forget that corporations are legal entities created with some specific purposes they are legally required to, at least, try to meet. Not trying to do that is, technically, illegal (it's fraud against the shareholders).

Curiously enough, those same consumers can get very angry when their stocks fall a couple of bucks at a crucial moment. And then they wonder why managers don't see beyond the bottom-line.

By the way, raising me properly was an impossibility, so I'll take the liberty of declaring my parents blameless.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
the purpose of a corporation... (none / 0) (#158)
by fn0rd on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 09:53:51 AM EST

... is not simply to acquire profits. It must also serve the public interest to be granted a charter. Presumably, it is up to the public itself, through its representatives or directly, to determine what this interest is, and whether a particular corporation is serving it. This is a necessary check, in my opinion, on greed for greed's sake, which would make any true libertarian capitalist society a less attractive proposition to the majority of people than a marxist totalitarian dictatorship, as bad as that is. The reason: unfettered corporations would eventually become monopolies, which would be controlled by an eilte that amassed more and more of the world's finite resources, stifled competition, and subjugated the rest of us to living on their terms. The whole point of capitalism is to concentrate the property of a society into as few hands as possible, and since any particular human life is finite, those at the top would only be concerned with the short term consequences of their actions as it affected their own lives. Since amoral people have a disinct advantage in acquiring property (they're willing to cheat or break the law when the reward outweighs the risk), these would be the ones at the top. Case in point: Enron.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Re: Profit laws (none / 0) (#162)
by seanasy on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:47:05 AM EST

Could you please cite the law that requires companies to achieve a certain level of profitability?


[ Parent ]
Re: Profit laws (none / 0) (#172)
by bodrius on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 12:33:16 AM EST

(Note:IANAL, nor a manager, nor anything like that. So take everything with a grain of salt, as you seem to be doing already)

Not a certain level of profitability. A certain will, an honest attempt to defend the interests of their shareholders.

Said interests are declared in the charter of the corporation. For a charter to be recognized legally, there can be many requirements, but usually these are quite flexible. These requirements depend on the jurisdiction, so they differ between countries, and even regional jurisdictions.

So, I cannot cite a law that is meaningful to you not only because I'm not a lawyer, but because if I were, it could be different for your respective country and state/department/dependency.

My arguments are based on the definition of corporation, since the main concepts do not vary.

A corporation is formed with a charter and assumes some duties and responsabilities, as well as rights. The fundamental duty of a corporation is to defend the interests of the shareholders, everything else comes after that.

If a corporation defined as its duty to achieve profit for its shareholders, everything it does must be judged against that claim first.

If the shareholders believe the directors of the company are not considering that interest first and foremost, they can take legal actions against them. The directors are legally required to be greedy, unless the purpose of the corporation is substantially (or even primarily) non-profit.

The reality is that corporations do not join the NYSE to save the world, but to make profits. To deviate from that purpose is an illegal action by the board of directors. It's illegal because it's a breach of contract on their part.

Note, again: they are legally required to TRY, not to succeed. Incompetence on a for-profit corporation CEO is not illegal, but lack of greed usually is.

Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Consumer's equal rights (none / 0) (#163)
by parliboy on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:50:07 AM EST

It's not the rights of the consumer to get the best product possible, if it's not being sold, that's right. But, if a product is being sold, and it is only sold to businesses, I suggest that this is a civil rights violation. No, really. If corporations are people, then they essentially constitute a race. If one race is selectively allowed to purchase products that are being denied another, than this is a civil rights violation. Go sic'em, Rev. Jackson!

Eat at the Dissonance Diner.
[ Parent ]

Rechargeable Alkalines (none / 0) (#127)
by fugufish on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:18:25 PM EST

ok, this is my first post here, and i jumped in a bit late -- i expect next to zero people will read this, but whatever :)

i bought some "pure energy" rechareable batteries a while back, and a charger. i thought they would be a good solution for my digital camera and mp3 cd player.

and they were! for a couple weeks. now, all 8 of the batteries i bought, do not hold a charge worth spit! that is to say, i could power a radio, probably for a few hours, but in my digital camera, it powers off immediately (even when not using flash or lcd screen) and my mp3 cd player won't even spin up. they degraded to that state after less than 30 charges each. the package says they are good for hundreds of charges, i believe.. which may be true.. but the claim that they are always as good as new when charged, is obviously false.

just a heads up, don't buy them. i think i'll be buying the rayovac 1 hour charger and a couple cells. i hope i don't end up feeling as cheated as i do now :)

Alkaline or NiMH? (3.00 / 1) (#139)
by fremen on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:12:02 PM EST

Did you say Alkaline or Nickle Metal Hydride (AKA NiMH)? Alkalines are horrible in digital cameras whereas NiMH batteries are perfect. There are quite a few resources on the web about this, but the key issue is the discharge curve of the two battery types. My understanding is that NiMH batteries hold a constant voltage and then drop off suddenly. Alkalines drop of continuously over the length of the battery charge. Look here for more information.

[ Parent ]
Alkaline (none / 0) (#165)
by hackerhue on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:16:11 PM EST

Pure Energy batteries are rechargable alkaline.

[ Parent ]
Batteries are important (2.50 / 8) (#131)
by President Steve Elvis America on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:08:17 PM EST

Good batteries are very important for business use. While you might want to power them using a CD player, businesses use them for better means.

For example you can find hospitals using lasers that have AAA batteries powering them. You can also find plenty of businessmen using them for their pagers and cellular phones to keep this country up and running. These uses are far more important and critical than your personal entertainment. Don't you think?


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America

Re: Batteries are important (none / 0) (#132)
by sal5ero on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:15:09 PM EST

what - so there's such a shortage of these better batteries that they can't be "wasted" on consumers?

[ Parent ]
Yes there is a shortage (3.25 / 4) (#134)
by President Steve Elvis America on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:31:36 PM EST

They sell them so cheaply and they are more expensive to make. That is why the battery businesses charge more for the consumer batteries, to make up for the expensive loss on the professional batteries. It is ok though because the professional batteries mean that the businesses save money and charge us less money on their services. That way we get a better price from another source than just cheap batteries.


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America
[ Parent ]

LOL (none / 0) (#175)
by boomi on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 08:16:27 AM EST


good one :))

[ Parent ]
The trolls are moving in (none / 0) (#142)
by emmons on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:38:04 PM EST

Oh well, at least this one is easy to pick out.

In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Uh (3.66 / 3) (#149)
by skim123 on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:35:41 AM EST

I've yet to read the other posts, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are a lot of them sounding like mine will: the Libertarian angle. Now before you stop reading altogether, please just read the next paragraph, it's worth your time!

You say that Duracell is charging more to consumers than to businesses. You seem to view this as restricting your choices, as harming the consumer. A libertarian would say, "If there is truly demand for these high-tech batteries and the cost is indeed much cheaper than what Duracell cells them at, then another company will come along and sell a similar batter for a lower price, thereby making money." Now before you dismiss this as total bull, please realize it isn't. Following the link you provided I found another link explaining why only business could buy the batteries. As you mentioned, it said that I need a TaxID# and Business Name. Shoot! But then, the Libertarian's dream came true. It read: "If you are not a business and just want to get these high-qualtity batteries (the same internally as a Duracell Coppertop) we would recommend that you purchase the Energizer, or Sanyo packs that we carry. They are comparable in quality to the Duracell Coppertop batteries and similar in price." Ah! Choices! Miraculous choices!

I think your article has an interesting point - what if it is in companies's best interests to favor one another and screw us. That is, the flour is sold cheap to another company but expensive to the consumer so that the consumer will buy premade cakes as opposed to trying to bake their own. But for such a situation to arise, capitalism would have to cease as we know it. I promise you this, if you have to pay extraordinary fees for flour one day, other folks will see this as a business opportunity and come along and try to make a buck. Happens all the time, it's why free markets are a Good Thing.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

the joys of reading comprehension (3.66 / 3) (#160)
by fn0rd on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:11:46 AM EST

I found another link explaining why only business could buy the batteries.

No you didn't. You found a link explaining that only businesses could buy the batteries, not why. As to why, well, I imagine Duracell doesn't want to upset the battery-cart in the vastly larger and less edumacated consumer market for batteries. They're making more money by not competing than they would be if they did compete. Why this is, I dunno, but you and I are getting screwed out of better batteries because of it (and no, we don't have a right to better batteries, but I for one sure have a serious want for some.)

As you mentioned, it said that I need a TaxID# and Business Name. Shoot! But then, the Libertarian's dream came true.

Not quite, unless Libertarians read Kafka before going to bed.

It read: "If you are not a business and just want to get these high-qualtity batteries (the same internally as a Duracell Coppertop) we would recommend that you purchase the Energizer, or Sanyo packs that we carry. They are comparable in quality to the Duracell Coppertop batteries and similar in price." Ah! Choices! Miraculous choices!

Choices indeed! But you don't get an equivalent to the Duracell Procell, you get an equivalent to the Duracell Coppertop, in other words, the consumer grade Duracell. The retailer is trying to pull a fast one, and you fell for it, sucker! Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

My thoughts (none / 0) (#166)
by Emir Cinder on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:37:07 PM EST

I know nothing about the battery industry. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there are environmental taxes on disposable batteries and the industrial batteries don't have that worked in to the price. Perhaps the tax id number is so the company could possibly be billed by government later for such charges or to ensure proper disposal.

[ Parent ]
good idea, but... (none / 0) (#167)
by exZERO on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:11:53 PM EST

the problem with saying that he can just buy the consumer alternatives is clear if you remember a few rules while reading. the Z Battery site, which sells both consumer and non-consumer batteries, has a note about "Non-Consumer" batteries. it encourages you to buy the alternative consumer products it has available. the problem? it is basically a form response. ANY non-consumer battery page has the same response for if you click on the "non-consumer" link. the Coppertop is listed for EVERY product, as if EVERY product is in fact a Duracell coppertop. this means that they are simply trying to push you away from a better good with a rather robotic answer to any and every query. the reasoning here(assumed of course) is that people will never attempt to buy any non-consumer batteries, because of this simple formulaic response they get when they question the idea that the batteries are for corporations only. i for one will try these batteries. i happen to work at a small business, and i'm sure we can buy these using our business tax ID. i'll post up a little "review" of the batteries and a comparison of them with consumer batteries when i can.
[ Parent ]
Built In Obsolescence (3.00 / 1) (#150)
by GRiNGO on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 05:40:07 AM EST

This is a typical example of modern money driven society. Years ago, things were built to last. These days they aer built to soon become obsolete, or to last a minimum amount of time.

If you bought a washing machine 15 years ago the chances are it could have lasted till now. If you bought one now, it wont last more than 3 years. Similar with cars, older cars were built to last, new ones arent.

Computers and electronice are especially subject to being built to become obsolete - instead of bringing out the best products they can, manufacturers bring out revision after revision, slowly improving on the last one - so that people buy, then a time later are forced to upgrade.

Lightbulbs too. What would it profit a company to supply you with lightbulbs that last for years? Its all about the money, and as long as we allow society to continue in its present form, where the law seems to favour those with money, we will always be subject to being palmed off with inferior products.

The poor vastly outnumber the rich, yet the rich become richer the poor become poorer. Why do we allow this?

"I send you to Baghdad a long time. Nobody find you. Do they care, buddy?" - Three Kings

so you're implying (2.00 / 1) (#156)
by kubalaa on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 07:52:38 AM EST

That companies fifteen years ago were just incredibly stupid, or what? Give me a break. If this tactic works now, it would have worked then -- but things aren't that simple. There will always be demand for high-quality products and companies willing to supply that demand. Have you heard of, i.e. Birkenstock?

[ Parent ]
Nope... (none / 0) (#177)
by GRiNGO on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 09:14:55 AM EST

Products used to be made with good materials: cars had stainless steel chasseys, washing machines were made, for example, with durable pumps: nowadays they are made with little magnetic ones that dont last at all.

Nowadays, companies use cheap materials that they know will expire relatively quickly. What Im saying, not implying, is that this is a sad indicator of the way the modern world works.

"I send you to Baghdad a long time. Nobody find you. Do they care, buddy?" - Three Kings

[ Parent ]
"way the world works" (none / 0) (#186)
by kubalaa on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 07:44:02 AM EST

I reject any theory which implies that things change fundamentally (from time to time, or perspective to perspective) because such theories are largely unprovable, and there are always simpler explanations.

You say that the fundamental character of people has changed, from one interested in quality and benefitting the consumer, to one interested solely in profit. Why? It seems much simpler to observe that people have always had an irrational romanticism for the past (the Good Old Days), and so the odds are it's just an artifact of limited perspective and a way of justifying our complaints against our society without having to do anything about them.

[ Parent ]

An Old Fallacy (4.50 / 2) (#159)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 09:57:59 AM EST

It's a time-honored fallacy that "they don't make 'em like they used to." In fact, there has always been a plentiful supply of cheaply-made junk. But the junky old stuff was scrapped years ago, while the well-made old stuff is still around. That skews our idea of old-fashioned build quality. That applies to, in the shorter-term, cars, washing machines, etc, and in the longer term, to buildings, bridges, roads, etc.

As far as modern computers and electronics goes, the process of gradual, iterative improvement hasn't changed, it's just that the cycle time keeps shortening. I agree that it's frustrating to see a new toy (say, a DVD player) go from bleeding-edge to hopelessly lame in a year or two. I might be happier if I could stop myself from wanting or buying the latest thing. But do you expect all the manufacturers of DVD players to wait until they've developed the perfect, ultimate DVD player before selling even one? Even if the developers somehow magically didn't run out of R&D money, we'd still be waiting for DVD, because they'd still be R'ing and D'ing.

As far as lightbulbs goes, the manufacturers are actually doing us a favor by selling us relatively short-lifetime bulbs. Something like 95% of the cost of running a light bulb is energy cost, not bulb cost. And there's a tradeoff between bulb life and efficiency. When you buy a 6-pack of 1000-hour 100w bulbs, you may only shell out $4 at the cash register, but you're committing to something like $60 in electric bills. Would you rather buy 6 2000-hour bulbs that used $200 worth of electricity? Would you feel that was less like a conspiracy? I wouldn't. You can buy extended-life bulbs if you want, but there's a reason they're not too popular.

And as far as magical "pro" batteries lasting longer goes, well, don't get me started. Somebody show us some actual measurements and maybe I'll be impressed. Sheesh.

Sorry to come off so grumpy. I've watched this thread get longer and longer with these (IMHO) goofy conspiracy theories for a while, and I guess I finally had to vent my frustration. I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but this battery/light bulb stuff isn't even remotely plausible, let alone dark and mysterious. Surely we can do better than that! ;-)

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 0) (#174)
by boomi on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 05:45:00 AM EST

Your lightbulb example just sucks.

Why should high quality lightbulbs use more electricity? Because they last longer? Or because you think of 200W bulbs?
Or, do you want to say that long-life bulbs are less efficient?

There are new "lightbulbs" that run longer AND use less electricity BUT provide good light.
Of course, you'll have to pay more for such a bulb.
Did you ever hear of the compact fluorescent lights?

Why aren't these bulbs pushed?
It makes sense to buy a bulb once and be done with it for ten years. It makes sense to use a more effective bulb.
But the manufacturers rather stick to their good old technology and the customers just buy the cheapest bulbs.
And then you strike with such a lame argument.

Stupid customers, that's it.

Here http://www.efi.org/articles/bulbs.html is a comparison of some bulbs.
And here http://www.sunset.com/Premium/Home/2001/06-Jun/ecohome0601/bulbs0601.html you get some nifty pictures of "new" bulbs.

[ Parent ]
Incandescent Bulbs (3.00 / 1) (#178)
by Lagged2Death on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 10:03:41 AM EST

Why should high quality lightbulbs use more electricity? Because they last longer? Or because you think of 200W bulbs? Or, do you want to say that long-life bulbs are less efficient?


Did you ever hear of the compact fluorescent lights?

Yes, in fact, I have a couple of modern electronic-ballast fluorescent lights myself. I even like one of them.

But I was speaking of incandescent bulbs. And not only did I mean to say that long-life bulbs are less efficient, I believe I did in fact say it when I said:

there's a tradeoff between bulb life and efficiency...

If I wasn't clear the first time, what I meant was that long-life incandescent bulbs tend to be less efficient than ordinary or high-efficiency incandescent bulbs. Long-life designs burn the fillament at a lower temperature, moving more of the radiated energy into the useless (for lighting purposes) infrared, and slowing the evaporation of the metal fillament that eventually causes the bulb to fail. Burning the fillament at a higher temperature produces more useful light for a given amount of electrical power, but causes the fillament to decay faster. Halogen bulbs extend the life of their fillaments with a special gas mixture, allowing the fillament to be run extra-hot, which makes for high efficiency and a very white light. But even including the expensive halogen gases, the tradeoff still applies, which is why super-bright bulbs like projector lamps just don't last very long.

You can check this stuff out for youself easily enough; bulb input is usually given on the box in watts, and bulb output is given in lumens. I think you'll find that long-life incandescent bulbs generally give off fewer lumens per watt than the ordinary ones. If you're really interested, The Great Internet Light Bulb Book contains a small section devoted to luminous effeciency.

Why aren't these bulbs pushed? It makes sense to buy a bulb once and be done with it for ten years. It makes sense to use a more effective bulb. But the manufacturers rather stick to their good old technology and the customers just buy the cheapest bulbs. And then you strike with such a lame argument.

Stupid customers, that's it.

Sorry I'm so lame. I wasn't really intending to "strike" anyone; sorry you feel that way.

Yes, you're right, there are good reasons to choose compact fluorescent bulbs. There are also some reasons not to, and for good or ill, most people don't. Personally, I've been stymied both by the difficulty of finding good ones for sale in the store and by the difficulty of fitting them into the fixtures I've got.

I don't think CFs are held back by manufacturers stubbornly "sticking to their good old technology," I think it's a matter of consumers feeling (in some ways rightly) that CFs are a pain in the ass. The higher capital cost is a big turn-off (heh) for many people, and energy efficiency has always been a hard sell to consumers in the US. We drive gas-guzzling SUVs, we use wasteful top-loading washers, we have giagantic and expensive hot water heaters, we fly when we travel, and we like old-fashioned, hot, inefficient incandescent bulbs, by George. I think summing up all the practical, financial, and socio-cultural arguments against CFs as "Stupid customers" is a not-too-useful oversimplification, but you're entitled to your opinion.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

Conspiracies? (none / 0) (#176)
by GRiNGO on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 08:56:47 AM EST

But do you expect all the manufacturers of DVD players to wait until they've developed the perfect, ultimate DVD player before selling even one?

No, dont be silly. But wouldn't it be nice if they brought out the best product they could at the time, instead of releasing product after product, each one slightly better than the last, inching towards a technology they could already supply. Take CDRW drives for example.. 2x,4x,8x,.. now we have 32x. Ill wager theres no reason they couldnt have brought those out a year ago.

I know this will never happen, but it would be nice, wouldnt it? No conspiracy theories from me..I was just reflecting on an aspect of human nature that makes me sad: greed.

And what makes me even sadder is, that if I ran a business, Id operate it exactly the same way, to make as much money as I could...heh

"I send you to Baghdad a long time. Nobody find you. Do they care, buddy?" - Three Kings

[ Parent ]
Why Do You Even Bother With Single Use? (3.33 / 3) (#161)
by Lethyos on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:30:56 AM EST

Even if you manage to buy the professional grade batteries, you're still falling into the clutches of an evil corporation. They honestly don't care, they just want to sell batteries. The reason being is they know there are far superior solutions out there for portable power. Here's the solution.

Go down to your local Radio Shack or all purpose department store. Go and buy yourself a pack of Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries and a charger kit. STOP USING SINGLE USE BATTERIES. You complain about how you get raped, but *very* high quality reusable batteries have been available to consumers for years. NiMH batteries are particularly decent products in general. They have long life (as in they don't typically acquire a memory until MANY charges) and they also long drain time.

Save yourself some money and help protect the environment to boot. Buy a pack of 4 AA batteries for 10 bucks and never buy batteries for another 4-5 years. At your burn rate, that ought to save you a ton of money. Chargers aren't that expensive, and of course they never wear out.

As for brands, I recommend GP Batteries (as linked to earlier) and Toshiba. Radio Shack are OKay, but probably just as good as anyone else's. The quality doesn't vary too much for products like these. It's mostly how you take care of them.

earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath; fire, my spirit
Seems like a common practice (3.00 / 1) (#184)
by Dphitz on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 03:59:00 PM EST

In this capitalistic world things aren't built to last. How else would they keep us coming back? This can be seen in most products we buy from automobiles down to office supplies. Has anyone opened up one of those cheap plastic BIC pens lately and noticed that the plastic tube that holds the ink is barely half full, maybe less? This makes you buy pens faster and most of us don't notice or the corporate budget doesn't care. It's not like you can do much about it. Sure it sucks, but it's a common practice

God, please save me . . . from your followers

destructive (none / 0) (#185)
by fourseven on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 12:34:35 AM EST

that is a really sad state of affairs. meaning that we waste a lot of natural resources, and generate excessive garbage. no wonder the rest of the world wants to kill us.. can't really blame them.. by doing nothing to stop these practices, we in fact endorse them. i mean, if we just got together and got rid of all the revolting things we know of and tolerate daily, don't you think it would prevent further terrorist attacks much more effectively than some ridiculous missile shield?

[ Parent ]
Batteries | 183 comments (171 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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