Falling $NZ causing TV price increases

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-Jan-2009 08:08

I've been having a quick look around over the past few days at TV and it's interesting to note the significant price increases that are now hitting due to our falling $NZ.

Panasonic PZ850 50" Plasma TV's are one of the best TV's in the NZ marketplace at present. These TV's had a street price of around $4000 in mid December. During the boxing day sales prices fell as low as $3399 at DSE for this TV.

A quick look at DSE and LV Martin stores yesterday shows this TV now has a street price of around $5499. That's a whopping increase!

Speaking to a couple of retailers it appears price increases of around 20% are now taking effect. If you're in the market for a big screen TV then it'll pay to get in now!

If you are in the market for one of these TV's JB HiFi appears to have the best deal in the market - they still have these at $3993 but only have limited stock available.

BP raises fuel prices by 5c per litre.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 14-Jan-2009 12:59

BP has today increased the price of it's petrol by 5c per litre.

Infamous for having lead every petrol price increase in New Zealand for well over two years until prices started a downward slide in mid 2008, the company seems to have identified an increase in oil prices, refined fuel costs or a lower kiwi dollar, something no other company has identified as no other fuel company has yet followed this increase.

Rumors have been circulating for months that the company is soon to change it's logo to "the bird" so customers entering the forecourt are well aware of what the company really does think of it's customers.

When will NZ banks start taking card security seriously?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 28-Dec-2008 08:38

It's been revealed today that yet another case of ATM card skimming has occured. This time National Bank machines in Queen St, Vulcan Lane and Parnell all fitted with "anti skimming" devices had card skimming attachments fitted and card details taken.

It's well known in the security world that both NZ and Australian banks have some of the most lax card security in the world. This is the reason that New Zealand is now being hit by card scammers - it's becoming increasingly difficult to skim card details in Europe due to enhanced security measures in place. There are also numerous reported cases of European retailers now refusing to accept NZ or Australian credit cards due to the risk of fraud.

So what can we do? New Zealand banks should immediately be replacing all credit and EFTPOS cards with chip cards which offer a significantly higher level of security compared to existing magnetic stripe cards which are very easily cloned. PIN numbers should also be required on all credit card transactions as is the case in the UK and very soon all of Europe. Chip cards are not entirely foolproof however - there has been a case in the UK where EFTPOS terminals have been phyically altered to capture card details and send details via Bluetooth to capture equipment nearby due to a fundamental flaw in the architecture of the 3DES security for terminals that doesn't encrypt PIN numbers between the pinpad and the terminal.

So why don't NZ banks do something? Like everything banks do it's all about risk management. Replacing cards and upgrading infrastructure to replace mag stripe cards with chip cards costs money. Large amounts of money. It's obvious right now that these costs exceed the amount it costs backs to refund customers for fradulent transactions. Due to our lax security New Zealand is now turning into a prime target for scammers and skimming is a problem that is now going to become progressively worse until the tide turns and banks start taking security seriously.

So what can you do? Ensure that your credit card never leaves you sights.


* Hand over your card at a service station if they want to hold onto it when pumps are on prepay.

* Hand over your credit card at a cafe/restaurant for payment. Take the card to the counter yourself.


* Ask your bank what THEY are going to do to step up their security measures. In particular when THEY will be introducing chip cards for EFTPOS and credit cards issued by them. Remember YOU as a customer are in effect paying for fradulent transactions as its's simply part of their cost of doing business and reflected in the charges they pass on to you.

* Check your bank statements carefully. Report any suspcious transactions immediately.

* Be aware of any suspicious activity near ATM's.

$211 Freeview|HD Receiver - NZ's cheapest Price

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 25-Dec-2008 10:10

If you've been wanting to grab a Freeview|HD Set Top Box then DSE's Boxing Day sale is just what you've been waiting for.

$211 for the DSE branded Freeview|HD receiver. That's a bargain in anyone's books.

DSE's sale features 15% - 40% off everything in store for 3 days only, 26-28th December 2008.

The simple solution to petrol driveoffs.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 10-Dec-2008 21:35

Anybody who has a car will know that petrol driveoffs have become a real issue over the past year as fuel prices have increased. Go to fill up these days and it's not uncommon to find the pumps on prepay forcing you to pay for your fuel first to stop people filling up and driving off without paying.

The issue of prepaying for fuel was discussed earlier this week on Campbell Live, it seems that many stations are wanting to hold your credit card inside at the till if you choose to fill your tank, since they have no way of knowing exactly how much this will cost. This causes significant customer inconvenience while you stand in line, hand over your card, go outside, fill your own car (since chains like BP don't have forecourt staff), join the queue again and pay for your gas. Not only does this take time it exposes you to the risk of fraud due to the ability of staff to capture your credit card details or duplicate a card. Under no circumstances should you do this - never let your card out of your sight.

So how do we fix this problem? Simple. We go back 10 years.

Remember all those fancy EFTPOS at pump terminals that the service stations trialled everywhere? They are in use today at Pak 'N Save and New World Fuel sites and many truck stops but have virtually disappeared from forecourts everywhere else.

Why you may ask? They made life so simple for the customer, infact they made life so simple they were bad for business.

Every time a customer paid for their fuel using one of these they didn't enter the premises to pay the cashier. Get annoyed every time the cashier at Shell tries to upsell you to the special of the week on the counter? This is because the profit margins on goods in service stations is exceptionally high. As fuel margins have declined it's become a significant revenue source however if people don't walk in the door to pay for their fuel they can't be upsold overpriced drinks or snacks.

A source tells me over 85% of fuel transactions these days are card based, this figure is fairly typical for most retail outlets as we move towards a cashless society. Reintroducing EFTPOS at pump obvious has significant costs but can virtually eliminate driveoffs and speed up the whole process of buying fuel. But will it ever happen? I have a feeling the answer is no..

The next time you are inconvenienced standing in line just remember the reason you have to do this. Life could be so much easier if you were able to pay for your fuel at the pump but it's those damn greedy fuel companies intent on selling you snacks you don't need that are intent on not only ripping us all off with their fuel pricing, but making life as difficult as they can because the simple solution is a threat to their business model.

Go figure..

RIP Boston Legal

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 10-Dec-2008 08:57

The last show ever has now screened in the USA.


Briscoes - you just lost a sale. Damn Christmas Carols..

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 4-Dec-2008 21:04

If you read my blog yesterday you will realise I hate Christmas Carols. Especially 3 weeks out from Christmas.

Briscoes lost a $95 sale tonight. 50% off 600 thread count Egyption Cotton sheets that looked rather nice. While picking a colour Bing Crosby started putting me to sleep singing "I'm dreaming off a White Christmas". That was enough to cause me to put down the sheets and walk out.

Bad luck Briscoes. I know you're doing poorly so that $95 would have helped the bottom line but you obviously don't want my business.

The return of the Christmas Carol

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 3-Dec-2008 15:13

It's that time of year again.

Time for me to remind retailers who might read this blog that I hate Christmas Carols on instore radio.

I can stand the odd carol on the days leading up to Christmas Day but not a selection of sleepy elevator music style carols on continuous random shuffle that make me fall asleep while I'm perusing your store three weeks out from Christmas.

Play carols and I will walk out. Guaranteed. I'll spend my money somewhere that actually wants me to enjoy my shopping experience and not put me to sleep...

What a shame competition doesn't exist in in our mobile market..

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 30-Nov-2008 13:02

Isn't competition in the mobile marketplace amazing. It happens everywhere except New Zealand where Vodafone and Telecom are content trying to extract every single cent they can out of their customers.

Vodafone Australia are now offering a Dell Mini 9 with built in HSDPA data card and 5GB of data per month for A$69.95 over 24 months. There is $0 upfront cost for the mini note.

If you're after a new phone for Xmas how about a new Nokia N96? They are free if you're committing to a $99 cap for 24 months.

Want to compare what $99 per month on Vodafone Australia buys you? How about 10 x 4 minute phone calls every day for a month. That is around 1200 minutes of airtime to any network.

How much will you get in NZ? Not much - 250 minutes on Vodafone Talker will set you back $109.95 per month and Vodafone will give you $300 off a mobile.
That would mean you'll be paying close to NZ$1399 for the same phone with a total cost over 24 months of just over NZ$4000 vs just under A$2400 in Australia and receiving around 4 x the number of airtime minutes per month.

We're not being ripped off in NZ? Yeah Right...

Air NZ Airbus A320 crashes off the coast of France.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 28-Nov-2008 08:02

An Air NZ A320 has crashed off the coast of France this morning with 7 crew missing.

From reading reports on airliners.net this Aircraft was in service with Air NZ as rego ZK-OJL and has been on lease to German Airline XL Airways flying under rego D-AXLA. Reports are it was undergoing routine maintenance and was on it's way back to NZ to commence flying again under Air NZ colours from the 1st December.

More news as it comes to hand..

UPDATE 08:16 - Reports are the aircract had undergone it's C check and was undergoing an acceptance flight with 2 XL crew and 5 Air NZ Crew on board.

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com