Monday, April 20, 2009

"change" in New York

I went to a super market last night. I bought some groceries and drinks. The store clerk input the all prices of goods on a register and said that the price was ¥2,267. I had a ten thousand bill and some small changes, so I gave her ¥10,267. I expected her to give back ¥8,000. I could have given just ¥10,000 and get ¥7,733 change, but I wanted to have less small change, so I took this way.

I sometimes do a little more complicated way. For example, when I have to pay ¥2,276 and I have some thousand yen bills, a five hundred yen coin, some ten yen coins, some one yen coins, and I have no other bills and coins. In this situation, I will give ¥2,531 and I expect to get back ¥255 change (2 one hundred yen coins and 1 fifty yen coin and 1 five yen coin). I think that many Japanese shoppers like to do the similar way to have small change as less as possible.

I did the same way of paying while I was in New York before. I heard that New Yorkers hate it. They say that most of New Yorker’s didn’t like to use small change in shops and they sometimes willfully got no change. However, I did it and enjoyed their reaction.

According to my “research”, I had no problem in most of super market by this way. They coolly input the amount of my paying to their register, and smoothly gave back the collect change. At small deli store, they also had register machine, but some clerk hesitate my paying. They didn’t try to input it to their register and said I had paid a wrong amount. However, most of Korean deli clerk (there are many Korean deli store in New York) make smile and gave back collect change immediately.

When I went to a Starbucks, I gave $10.53 for the price of $5.43. I expected to have $5.10 change. At first, the store clerk input $5.43 to his register without watching my amount, and he found that it was different after that. He got upset, but he maybe realized my purpose, then he seemed to calculate in his mind for a moment. Finally, he gave back me $6.47. I had to tell him that the change was wrong.

I think that someone like to do this way, but someone think this is a curious way and don’t like it. It’s a personal problem. I hope many people to accept this way in the world.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wi-Fi service in New York

When I was staying in New York, I needed to use my computer and the Internet. Fortunately, New York City has a lot of Internet connecting services that were provided by public organizations and private companies like AT&T, T-mobile and Verizon. For example, I could use Wi-Fi services, you know it is a wireless Internet service, at many parks in New York for free, Bryant Park or Washington Square Park.

I often went to Starbucks Coffee Shop with my computer, and did my works that were computer programming and web site maintenance. Therefore, I needed to use Wi-Fi service there. I knew that AT&T provided Wi-Fi service there, but it was not for free. I had to pay the fee to AT&T. I registered my credit card number on AT&T site, and I got the account for their Wi-Fi service. The price is about $20 par a month. I thought that it was my necessary expense for my job.

One day when I complacently used Wi-Fi service in Starbucks, a young American woman spoke to me that she wanted to use the Internet, and asked me if I used Wi-Fi service there for free or not, so I answered that I paid a fee to AT&T. Her face was distorted with agony like she would want to say that it was bad. Just then, a American man who stayed at the next table, I didn’t know who was he, interrupted us and told her if she bought a Starbucks card, then she could get a free account for Wi-Fi service with it. She appreciated the gentleman and went to the casher counter straightly. I’d like to know about the card more, but I couldn’t ask him detail by shaming my ignorant, so I searched the information about it in the Internet stealthily.

I found that the Starbucks card is a kind of prepaid card for Seatbacks’ products, and they gave an account of AT&T’s Wi-Fi service through the card number. Therefore, it is not for free, but we could get the same price of the Starbucks’ products by it.
Additionally, this service had some limitations. First, AT&T provided their service at a lot of place and shops except Starbucks, but this account was available at only Starbucks Coffee Shops. I thought that I just needed this service at the Starbucks, and there are a lot of Starbucks in New York, so it is OK for me. Of course, I could use it outside New York City. Actually, when I went to Boston and Washington D.C., I could use it in both place’s Starbucks.

Second, if I have not used this prepaid card for a month, the service has become to be unavailable. I had to buy something at least once a month by the card to continue the service. When I could not have connected to the Internet once, I found that I had made it be unavailable by no using it for a month. However, I bought a cup of coffee by the same card after that, and then my account became revival immediately – I thought that they maybe controlled accounts through online cash registers of Starbucks’ shop. Therefore, I thought that it was not big problem.

After I knew it, I closed my pay account of AT&T, and I bought a Starbucks card, and I got a new account with it. I didn’t always like Starbucks, but I thought that it was a good service for the Internet user like me. I hope Starbucks provided the same kind of service in Japan.