Retail therapy

Just a quick few points while I work on a more complicated post that’s (inevitably) transport related

Shopping bags

Many major retailers are phasing out single-use plastic bags. Or to be precise, they’re phasing-out free bags.

This is not the first time Target has tried this. They stopped issuing free plastic bags in 2009, but brought them back in 2013. Part of the problem seemed to be that the bags they sold were the same as the previously free ones they’d given away. Other retailers sell higher quality bags.

An outright ban has been in place for all retailers in NT, Tas, SA and ACT, plus Qld and WA joined them on 1st July, which no doubt is why the retailers have pushed ahead. Victoria is set to follow at some stage. Unclear what NSW will do.

I’m happy to see this change. Yet there’s been some unbelievably ridiculous hand-wringing from some quarters:

C’mon. If you still want a bag, it’s typically just 15 cents to buy one. FIFTEEN CENTS! That’s just one percent of a $15 shop.

For me, the only behaviour change is I now stuff a green bag into my work bag, so I have it for my detours to the supermarket on the way home.

We’ll all adapt. In fact, at this IGA at Nagambie (snapped on 30th June, before Coles switched) the locals seemed to be coping without any fuss whatsoever.

Nagambie IGA: Bring your own bags

Update 2/8/2018: Coles backflipped on 1st of August and made the reusable bags free for an indefinite period.

Then the next day they backflipped again, and said the free bags will end on 29th August.

Dish washer

The Fisher and Paykel dishwasher, which had been in my house since I moved here in 2005, broke down again.

I’d previously thought that, given it was a pretty old model (circa 2000), I’d replace it the next time it failed, so that’s what I did, and found a good price on a Bosch.

Why Bosch? The Bosch washing machine I bought nine years ago hasn’t skipped a beat, and they also rate very well on the Choice web site (which is well worth joining if you’re grumpy that The Checkout hasn’t been renewed).

I paid the installation fee. While it didn’t take long, it was satisfyingly complex enough that I’m glad I did.

Dishwashers aren’t for everybody, but I hate washing dishes, so for me, this is money well spent.

The new car: 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer

The new car arrived

I picked up the new car last night. That’s it above.

I suspect the web has changed the shopping experience. I no longer go and look around car dealerships unless I already know what I want.

The car dealers I’ve dealt with during this saga seem less slimy than the ones I encountered the first time I bought a car.

When scouring Carsales, I had pondered that if I saw the perfect deal somewhere out in the country, I’d be willing to go to grab it. In the end I bought from a local dealership, which will make servicing it with them to maintain the warranty much easier.

In fact as part of the handover, they showed me where the service area is, and how the after hours drop-off/pick-up works. Clever. The chief service guy there recognised me from when he used to work on my old Magna years ago. Heh.

The dealer bloke showed me the basics of the car, then sent me on my way.

Amusingly/horrifyingly I scraped the bottom of the steep driveway just exiting the dealership. Can’t see any visible marks. Also amusingly, I thought the engine was revving loudly on the drive home, until I realised it was in Sports mode, not Drive. Oops.

Today I’ve sat in the car for a while with the manual and figured out all the controls. Or at least, the important ones.

The psychology of buying a new car and wanting to drive places is powerful.

Anyway, I like it so far, though I could do without the spoiler, which I don’t think helps visibility out of the back window. Perhaps I should have asked if the car was available without it.

Using less water

My latest water bill arrived, and I’m feeling pretty smug about it because without even trying, my water consumption has dropped by about 20% compared to a year ago.

Water consumption

A few years ago household use had been around 250 litres per day. A switch to a water-efficient showerhead in 2007 saw it drop by about 20% to 200 litres per day, or 110 litres per person per day (taking into account the normal 13 “person nights” in the house per week).

This latest bill shows household use has dropped again to 165 litres per day, or 89 litres per person per day, not too far over half the “Target 155” goal.

The only recent change I can think of is the new Bosch washing machine I got in November, replacing a 15 year-old Hoover. I don’t know how water-efficient the Hoover was, but it seems the Bosch (at 56 litres per wash, and with a larger capacity) beats it hands down.

I’m quite impressed.

(Update lunchtime: To be clear, the Hoover washing machine broke down, and had to be replaced.)

Brief things and followups

Star Trek TNG — We started watching them all about a year ago, and are so far up to season 6. I wonder if in remastering for DVD, they changed the framing of some shots — it’s surprising how often we spot a boom mike in shot. (Reminds me: Must watch the “Car Pool” interview with Patrick Stewart, being driven around by Robert “Kryten” Llewellyn.)

Washing machine — I’m liking the new washing machine, but the 6.5 Kg capacity does have some disadvantages. I feel guilty about running it when it’s not full, so it’s taken a little re-organising of the schedule to work out the best days to run it. And when it does get used, hanging it all out on the line seems like a much bigger job than it used to be.

Grey water — I try and save my grey water; specifically I have a bucket underneath the shower which we fill up while waiting for the water to get hot. But sometimes if I’m slack at emptying the bucket, it sits there in the shower, full of water. Sometimes I notice this attracts mosquitos. I’m not sure how they get in, but listening to this Background Briefing programme on mozzies and dengue fever in Queensland recently has prompted me to ensure the buckets are emptied promptly.

The Weber Q barbecue which I got on points — I love it. Everything tastes better when cooked on it.

UPDATE — Mucho amusement that XKCD from the other day references a Star Trek TNG episode we watched on Monday.

Smug – the washing machine

The washing machine is going well.

Reading the new Myer catalogue, I thought I could feel smug that I’d paid $200 less than their sale price of $1099, then I noticed that the mob I bought it from has since dropped it by $80. Ah well, still happy with it.

Washing machine

The only question is — should I peel off the energy and water rating labels, or leave them there for prolonged smugness?

What do the rest of you do? Peel them off, or leave them on?

Leave them on only until better ratings are commonplace, perhaps, and the 4 and 4.5 star stuff seems sad and pathetic and wasteful?

Round and round and round

Washing machineMy washing machine is a Hoover, which is about 15 years old. It’s been pretty good over the years, though in that time I reckon the service people have been called out perhaps 4-5 times (twice that I recall for blockages which I later learnt to fix myself).

Now however the spin cycle is making a helluva lot of noise, and vibrating way more than is healthy. It’s dying.

Given it was only earlier this year I replaced the fridge (and pondered afterwards if I shouldn’t have paid for the old one to be repaired, though my conclusion is I did the right thing), I did call in the repairman to see if the washing machine could be fixed.

As is always the way with me (it happened with the fridge, and also the old car), I ended up paying a fee ($95) to be told it would cost something like $600 to fix, because the parts for a machine this old are expensive to find. You can get a (cheap) brand spanking new machine for not much more.

So I’m in the market. I’d want another front-loader, for space reasons. In fact, I’m looking for one with more-or-less the same width and depth as my current machine, so with a bit of luck the dryer (which doesn’t get much use, and is still going strong) will still fit on top, without having to muck about with mounting it to the wall.

As it happens, my friends at Lasoo don’t really track many washing machines… though they did reveal that Myer has 15% off until the 21st, and Betta has some specials too (though they don’t list specific model numbers, silly people).

A quick look around Myer showed some of the contenders, in various price ranges:

…though I wouldn’t just automatically pay the Myer price. The Bosch model for instance is available for $929 at the Good Guys, and shows one mob have it for $895.

I didn’t bother listing the star ratings above, because all of the above rated exactly the same: 4-stars for energy, 4.5-stars for water. (Except the LG, for which I can’t find an energy rating.)

Electrolux in general gets some flak from readers in Choice over reliability, but this specific model was rated a Best Buy in August 2009, despite it not having a proper cold wash cycle.

The Choice reliability survey put Bosch as the highest-rated brand (97%), leading the other contenders by a significant margin. My sister has a Bosch and agrees all her Bosch stuff has been very reliable. I looked at the Asko because Marita and Justine have one, and I really like the inner-spring system which makes the spin cycle virtually silent, and with no vibration at all. Very clever.

That said, the Asko is also the most expensive (by a significant margin) and has the least capacity. That particular Asko model didn’t score well with Choice for rinse performance. (Myer also stocks a Miele, which looks nice but which is probably too expensive. They also had Simpson; I’m not sure why I didn’t look too closely at those.)

Any views? Who’s got what? And would you buy it again?