Monday, November 15, 2004

Little things

It's the little differences which strike you:

American toilets work by whirlpooling, not the brute-force flush that British toilets use. Urinals always have flushes, either a button or handle to press or (disconcertingly) a magic eye which flushes it as you turn away.

American road markings seem the wrong way to me. In the UK an instruction on the road would be written to be read top to bottom: BIKE LANE. In the US, they're written the other way around, as if you read successive lines as you travel: LANE BIKE. Maybe the last remmnants of Burma Shave?

Coupons are a big deal here: Sunday papers come crammed with advertising fliers filled with coupons to clip out and use. In fact, in general it's the land of the Great Deal: whatever you want, somewhere there's probably a special offer, a coupon, or a mail-in rebate for it. Often in supermarkets these are linked to the loyalty card: in the UK, loyalty cards let you build up points to redeem against future purchases. Over here, loyalty cards get you special prices on selected products right here and now. I wonder if there's some sort of law driving this difference?

Mail-in rebates are peculiar: buy a product, mail in the receipt and maybe the barcode from the packaging, and 6 weeks later get a cheque check for part of the price. They're very common, particularly on electronic equipment; often when a specially low price is advertised, part of the discount will be via a mail-in rebate. Sometimes it's taken to extremes: an instant rebate at the store plus a mail-in store rebate plus a mail-in maunfacturer rebate. Sometimes it gets ridiculous, as with one computer advertised in the Sunday flyers: multiple mail-in rebates on each of the computer, printer, monitor, scanner... My guess is that a good proportion of customers either forget to mail in the form, or get it wrong in some way which disbars them from the rebate.

American chemists drugstores sell booze. And often cheaper than supermarkets do. Which seems odd: as if Boots still sold laudanum.

Categories: Food