AndyO Blog

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ARCO's ATM is anything but convenient

On Thursday, on my way to get car tabs, I stopped at an ARCO gas station to get gas and cash. I pulled up to the pump and inserted my debit card into the ATM. Of course, there was a 45-cent convenience fee (actually not bad for a cash machine).

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After I started pumping gas, I examined the ATM a little more; it soon became clear that there wasn't an option to get any cash from this machine. I was paying 45-cents for the convenience of using ARCO's gas pump, which is odd because Shell and Chevron don't charge extra fees for using their gas pump. 

I felt a little swindled by ARCO. I think most people would agree that an ATM should include the ability to spit out some cash. Even if you pay with a debit card at Safeway or 7-11, there's usually an option to get back some cash. And they don't charge you a convenience fee.

What does ARCO have to say about this? Here's their website, which says this about how convenient their gas stations are:

Straight up convenience.

You can pay on the gas island with cash or your ATM card using PayQuick, It�s an easy way to purchase at the pump to get in, out and on your way quickly.

To avoid the 45-cent convenience fee, use your ARCO Debit MasterCard. Plus you can earn reward points when you use it!

Because I was in a hurry (and I needed cash for the emissions test you have to get in Washington state), I went inside to see if they had a real ATM. They did, but now they wanted $2.00 for the convenience of withdrawing cash.

I don't know about you, but I don't find $2.00 in fees very convenient. Which is why I won't be visiting ARCO again anytime soon. I also recommend that ARCO change the language on their pumps to be more accurate. For example:

Pay with cash or debit card

The worst part was that I did pay the $2.00 convenience fee at the real ATM, because I was in a hurry. I know that ARCO was counting on this, but you would think they'd be interested in forming a long-term relationship with me so I'd be willing to return to their store and buy snacks -- because that's where the real profit is.

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posted by AndyO @ 4:49 PM   4 comments

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The highest-grossing movies (adjusted for inflation)

All this talk about Avatar racing toward Titanic's record as the highest-grossing movie of all time made me wonder: If these movies (and many others) were released the same year, which would really be the biggest money maker?

Well, the results are surprising. Thanks to Box Office Mojo, you can actually see how these movies stack up when you adjust them for inflation. For example, when I saw Star Wars back in 1977, the average price for a ticket was $2.23. Today, the average price is $7.35.

So, here's the list: (^ indicates multiple releases)

Rank Title (click to view) Adjusted Gross Unadjusted Gross Year^
1 Gone with the Wind $1,485,028,000 $198,676,459 1939^
2 Star Wars $1,309,179,000 $460,998,007 1977^
3 The Sound of Music $1,046,753,000 $158,671,368 1965
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial $1,042,629,400 $435,110,554 1982^
5 The Ten Commandments $962,850,000 $65,500,000 1956
6 Titanic $943,342,300 $600,788,188 1997
7 Jaws $941,379,300 $260,000,000 1975
8 Doctor Zhivago $912,395,600 $111,721,910 1965
9 The Exorcist $812,679,700 $232,671,011 1973^
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs $801,150,000 $184,925,486 1937^
11 101 Dalmatians $734,391,800 $144,880,014 1961^
12 The Empire Strikes Back $721,627,700 $290,475,067 1980^
13 Ben-Hur $720,300,000 $74,000,000 1959
14 Return of the Jedi $691,336,700 $309,306,177 1983^
15 The Sting $655,200,000 $156,000,000 1973
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark $647,842,600 $242,374,454 1981^
17 Jurassic Park $633,612,900 $357,067,947 1993
18 The Graduate $628,949,700 $104,901,839 1967^
19 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace $623,469,700 $431,088,301 1999
20 Fantasia $610,369,600 $76,408,097 1941^

So, as you can see, Avatar is nowhere to be found, but Titanic is.

The way this is calculated is through estimated number of tickets sold. For Star Wars, the number of estimated tickets is 178,119,600.

Here are the estimated tickets sold for Titanic and Avatar:

Rank Title (click to view) Studio Est. Tickets Unadjusted Gross Year^
6 Titanic Par. 128,345,900 $600,788,188 1997
52 Avatar Fox 60,917,000 $441,024,441 2009

It makes you realize that while Titanic did indeed sell a lot of tickets, Avatar is making most of its money from higher ticket prices -- both from inflation and the higher cost of the IMAX and 3-D format.

If Avatar were released the same year as Star Wars, it would only have grossed $135,844,900 instead of $441,024,441. (As of 1/13/09.)

Either way, James Cameron and George Lucas are both very wealthy. And they both make pretty good movies.

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posted by AndyO @ 8:12 PM   0 comments