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Lexar USB memory stick
Luxaflex Duet blinds
Davey pump
Vineyard posts-plastic
Dodo internet service provider
Yahoo Web Hosting
Telstra Mobile Broadband
Honda Jazz
Virus protection
E book reader
Edwards solar water heater

Businesses
Dick Smiths
Fisher and Paykel


My experiences with various products

On this page I intend to document interesting experiences I have had with various products, especially those that have surprised or disappointed me. My hope is to provide useful information to other people before they buy similar products.

I have previously written pages on several other products (see the box on the right). This page is for experiences that did not warrant a page of their own.

Written 2010/11/22, modified 2015/10/14
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com
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Also see...

Evaporative air conditioning
Evaporation reduction
A cellar
Solar power





Lexar USB memory stick

I bought an 8GB Lexar memory stick in early December 2011. It worked perfectly well for a while, then worked intermitantly, then stopped working all together.

I contacted Lexar, explained the problem, they asked me to return the product to the USA together with a number that they had given me, and said that they would replace the item. I sent it back in January 2012 and by mid May had received nothing from Lexar.

On 2012/05/13 I emailed Lexar. They replied that they had received my package, but that it had been ripped and did not contain the memory stick. Obviously they didn't bother contacting me at the time. They do not intend to replace the device.

Not satisfactory.

This section written 2012/05/13 and 2012/05/15.

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Luxaflex Duet blinds

 
Luxaflex 1
Luxaflex blind, seen from the inside, with sun shining on it from the outside
Luxaflex, part
A small section of the above photo
Luxaflex, detail
A close-up view of the end of the blind, showing the air pockets
Luxaflex Duet blinds are designed to insulate windows, to keep heat in or out of a room. To achieve this they have three air pockets running for the full width of the blind (see the third image on the right) through which heat must travel to get from one side of the blind to the other. I was disappointed to find that, while the blinds may be good at stopping heat entering or leaving by conduction or convection, they were very poor at stopping the entry of heat by radiation.

On the warm, sunny morning when I took the photos, with the sun shining through the window on one of my two blinds, I could feel heat radiating from the blind on my face. I used an infra-red thermometer and found that while the temperature in the room was around 22°C, the temperature on the inside surface of the blind was much higher, up to 37°C at the warmest point.

There is a variation on the blinds that has reflecting metal foil dividers between the inner and outer layers; if your aim is to keep heat from sunlight out of a room, I would strongly advise getting this type rather than the type I have. The disadvantages with the blind with the foil dividers are that they do not pass any light and are more expensive.

This section written 2010/11/22

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Davey pump

 
Pump
The pump
I bought the pump in the photo on the right in September 2007 to lift water from a dam into a tank so that I could then use the water on my garden and in my shack.

On the first of December 2010 I turned it on, after it had not been used since perhaps May. It didn't run; the motor had seized up. Three years was beyond the warranty of the pump, but not an acceptable life for a pump; to replace a pump every three years would be very expensive. I have a Grundfos pump in a well, where the water is at least twice as saline as in the dam, that is still running after 15 years use.

Fortunately I was able to free-up the motor by disassembling the pump, putting a spanner on the motor shaft and applying a bit of force, but how long will it be before it seizes up again, and will the next time be the last?

Not satisfactory.

This section written 2010/12/02

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Plastic vineyard posts

 
Post Top of post
One of my plastic vineyard posts
I own a small vineyard in the Clare Valley premium wine-growing region in South Australia. When I planted the first patch of shiraz grapes in 1999 I used posts made of plastic recycled from disposable shopping bags, which were very much experimental at the time, and the business that produced them failed a few years later. The posts have proven their value in the following eleven years.

There are several types of posts that are used in vineyards in South Australia: steel and treated pine. The pine is treated with creosote or other preservative substances, in some cases toxic heavy metals and/or arsenic, to deter termites and fungus. I have had no experience with the steel posts, but have a second vineyard patch (planted in 2001) in which I used creosote treated pine posts.

The clips used to support the foliage wires (the clips are visible on either side of the post in the photo, near the top) are still holding securely in the plastic posts while a number of clips in my creosote posts have come loose and fallen out due to cracking (along the grain). The plastic posts are showing practically no sign of deterioration. None of my posts, plastic or creosote, have broken.

Another alternative that was available, but is now either banned or at least its use discouraged, was copper-chrome-arsenic treated pine. Pretty obviously there was a potential for the heavy metals to get out of the posts into the environment. The CCA posts cracked at least as badly as the creosote-treated posts with aging.

This section written 2010/12/03
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Dodo internet service provider

I joined Dodo in 2006 or possibly earlier; first with a dial-up service, and then with 'broad band'. All this time my subscription was automatically paid by credit card.

About three days before writing this (2010/12/10) I received an SMS on my mobile phone saying that the payment had failed and asking me to ring a phone number to sort out the problem. I didn't take it very seriously thinking it might well be some sort of phishing attempt. About two days later my internet service was cut off by Dodo – note: cut off with two days warning after five years membership!

I spent about an hour trying to fix the problem via Dodo's net page (which was all I was able to reach on the Net) and by Dodo's computerised phone system (it wasn't manned until 10am), unsuccessfully and with steadily increasing frustration. Using Dodo's Net pages to do anything was not easy, for example I had to make two attempts to log on, the first would invariably fail, the second invariably succeed, and most times I changed from one page to another I had to log on again, same procedure. After 10am, when I was finally able to talk to someone, the problem was eventually sorted.

Shortly after this I had to replace my old computer. The Modem that came from Dodo was not compatible with the new computer. I changed to using a wireless Modem from a service provider other than Dodo. Had Dodo not cut me off following only two days warning just before this I might have felt some loyalty to them, as it was I did not.

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Yahoo Web Hosting

These net pages were on Yahoo's free Geocities web hosting service for several years, then I upgraded to Geocities Plus (or some other name), which allowed higher traffic, but had a US$5 per month fee. When Yahoo closed Geocities I changed to Yahoo Web Hosting.

I have had good service generally with Yahoo, both Geocities and YWH, with one interesting exception. The old service used to provide a fairly reliable set of site statistics; I could (usually) see how many hits each of my pages had. With the new service I can see the total number of hits on the whole site for each of the last seven days, but not the number of hits on individual pages.

I have pointed this problem out to Yahoo several times, but with no resolution. Nothing about my pages has changed from the times of Geocities to the present, except that there are now more of them and some are probably bigger.

Yahoo have told me that it must be because I'm using something like Java. In fact I use about 99% html and about 1% simple Java Script, no Java or anything else out of the ordinary.

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Telstra Elite Pre-paid Mobile Broadband

I bought a dongle for this wireless unit in early January 2011. I'm writing this in early April.

When it works as it should it is good. It is faster and cheaper than my previous copper wire broadband service from Dodo.

But it is unreliable. Sometimes I have to connect three or more times before the connection will remain; it drops out for no apparent reason. Sometimes the service is so slow, over a period of more than an hour at a time, that I give up.

Perhaps 85% of the time it is good.

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Honda Jazz

 
Radiator core
In general my wife and I are very pleased with our Jazz, but this is how our radiator core looked after hitting a few locusts. The copper fins are obviously not sufficiently sturdy for the job they need to do.

We were careful when driving anywhere that locusts were present, and slowed right down (to 60 or 70 km/h) when locusts were present in anything but very small numbers. Had we been less careful our radiator might well have been ruined.

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Virus protection

I have used both Vet (from CA Technologies) and Zone Alarm. While they seemed to protect my computer from intrusion I was annoyed by both when I wanted to terminate my subscription. Both automatically billed my Visa card acount for subscription renewal when I didn't want it.

In the case of Vet I first wanted to upgrade from simple virus checker to virus checker and firewall. I found I could buy the firewall, but I couldn't upgrade. Finally I decided to change to Zone Alarm for both virus checking and firewall.

Then I bought a new computer that came with a virus checker, so I attempted to terminate my subscription to Zone Alarm, and found I couldn't do it. After they made an unwanted subscription renewal, I wrote to them asking for a refund; no response.

The only thing I could do to stop the automatic renewals of both, and get my money back, was to make a 'disputed charge claim' on my Visa card account.

So I purchased McAfee (2012/02/04). McAfee seemed an especially good deal because they advertised that you could install it on up to three computers and I needed a virus checker on both a desktop and a laptop. I first installed it on my desktop; no problems. It failed to install on my laptop; no reason given, just that it had failed. To add insult to injury, I was unable to delete the useless McAfee files from my computer.

McAfee having failed on my laptop, I bought Norton (2012/02/09). Norton has an unistall that works, should one need it.

All of the virus control programs try to make the buyer agree to an automatic renewal of subscription. McAfee and Norton do permit cancellation of this once the first year's subscription has been paid.

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E book reader

In early 2011 I bought an Elonex e-book reader. It had a number of annoying faults and shortcomings, none of which were quite bad enough to justify taking it back to the retailer and asking for a refund. It could not properly display html files (especially those including tables and images) nor pdf files that included images. It was slow to boot-up, I could sometimes not get the text size that I would have liked to use, and I never did work out how its book-marks were supposed to be used. It's menu system was not easy to use either.

After about four months it got itself into a loop (while attempting to boot up) that I could not break, even by pressing the reset button. (There is no removable battery). All I could do was let it go until its battery went dead.

My impression was not just that the Elonex was a poor unit, but that e-book readers are probably at an early stage of development and are not yet worth buying. Give the industry another year or two and the situation might change. I strongly suspect that they have a huge (eventual) potential.

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Comments on businesses

Dick Smiths

The E book reader discussed on this page was purchased from Dick Smiths, Gawler Place, Adelaide. When it failed I took it back and they sent it off to be repaired under warrantee. They phoned me when it came back and I asked if they would post it to me as I lived 200km from Adelaide. The answer was that they could send it by courier and that would cost me $35! I inquired at the local post office and found that if they were willing to post it to me the postage would be $5. Quite unsatisfactory.
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Fisher and Paykel

My wife and I bought a F and P freezer at the end of June 2010. After a few days it indicated a fault and it turned out that the fault was in the automatic defrost; it was very likely that the fault was present when the freezer left the factory.

The first replacement part that F and P sent was the wrong one. The repairman eventually got the correct part and fixed the freezer.

F and P did not pay the repairman the full fee; my wife and I had to pay the difference and then seek repayment from F and P. F and P did not repay us on the first request. They did not pay until I wrote a Net page complaining of the poor treatment we had had from them and pointed the Net page out to F and P.

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Edwards solar water heater

I had an Edwards L305 solar water heater installed on 2012/03/06. That was the easy bit.

The heater comes with 30 Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The plumber who installed the heater told me that I could either pass the RECs to a middle-man who would immediately give me $29 each (total $870) or I could put them into the REC Clearing House of the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER), in which case I would get $41 each (total $1230), but I might have to wait anything up to a couple of years to get payment. I chose the latter path; it seemed an easy way of getting an extra $360 and I'd have the satisfaction of cutting out one more middle-man.

The first hurdle was ORER's system. You might think that registering some RECs should be simple, easy and quick. You'd be very wrong! If I was to go into details this section would become very long and boring; so I won't.

The next hurdle was that Edwards water heater model L305 was not registered with ORER, and while it was not registered I could not register my RECs. I phoned Edwards (08 8343 0000) about this and was told that perhaps the real model number was 4645940029? But this number meant nothing to ORER.

At the present (2012/04/09) I'm going to try again to get satisfaction from Edwards and if that fails will take the matter to the Renewable Energy Ombudsman.

If you look Edwards up on the Net you will see that they do not provide a postal address. They do provide an email address (info@edwards.com.au), but it's not easy to find.






Index

Businesses
Davey pump
Dick Smiths
Dodo internet service provider
Edwards solar water heater
E book reader
Fisher and Paykel
Honda Jazz
Lexar USB memory stick
Luxaflex Duet blinds
Telstra Elite Pre-paid Mobile Broadband
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Vineyard posts-plastic
Virus protection
Yahoo Web Hosting
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