Things that happened today - puncture costs

Fragments of a glacier floating in a lake in Iceland, in case you were wondering.

In which I reveal some less than startling facts about puncture costs and cross subjects effortlessly to rail against the inefficient and often stupid nature of the world we live in. Ranting... commence!

Exploding tyres

I've had plenty of punctures over the years. Punctures caused by nails, glass, tiny shards of metal, tiny shards of metal I didn't find during the replacement of the inner tube that then caused a second puncture, slow punctures, completely unexplained punctures, the works. One time, I even had a tyre spontaneously explode while I was stationary at a set of lights.

The other night, I had what I think was my first impact puncture, caused by hitting a pothole at speed. There's not a lot you can do about those - even my puncture resistant tyres weren't of any use. You just have to hope the impact hasn't bent the wheel. Fortunately, it hadn't. But it did lead me to wonder about the cost of getting the tyre replaced, compared with just buying the inner tube and fitting it myself. Behold, some quick and dirty research. Here are some costs for buying a regular, road bike inner tube and getting it replaced in the shop.

Shop Cost Inner tube Total
Bikefix £15 £5 £20
Cycle Surgery £12 £6 £18
Condor Cycles £10 £5 £15
Brick Lane bikes £14.50 Included £14.50
Evans Cycles £8 £5 £13
Brixton Cycles £8 £5 £13
Balfe's Bikes £12.50 Included £12.50

Prices correct at time of writing, may be subject to change.

I was slightly disappointed to not find a shop that attempted to charge me something utterly ridiculous for replacing an inner tube, but the gap is still interesting. Something to consider perhaps, the next time you get a flat.

Well that's enough crack investigative journalism for one day. Interestingly though, when I rang Evans and asked how much to replace an inner tube, the guy asked if I was inside or outside of London, suggesting that they charge (presumably) more inside the M25 than out. I wonder if they pay their London staff more than their staff in the rest of the country?

But I'm not from there

This is a little late to the table, but did anyone notice an "important" Windows update on or around the 25th of February? No? I suspect most people have their system set to auto-update. Me, I get annoyed by the unpredictability of that (turning on your computer to find it now needs ten minutes to configure the update it quietly installed the last time you were using it) so have it on manual. But, like most people, I generally don't look into the details of the updates too much.

For some reason on the 25th of February I did decide to look and see what was so important about this update, so I clicked on the link and read the support article. And do you know what it was? A change to "the currency symbol of Lithuania from the Lithuanian litas (Lt) to the euro in Windows". All of which requires a download file size of 5.2 MB and a system restart.

I don't know a lot about operating systems. Sometimes I wonder how much the people who write them do.

Because email hasn't been invented yet

I got a letter in the post recently, from my energy company. Here's what it said.

"We recently got in touch to let you know you're owed a rebate following your transfer to another supplier by mistake. However we've noticed we didn't apply the correct rebate amount..."

Yeah, they got me confused with my neighbour and transferred me to another supplier even though that's not supposed to be possible without my say so. It all got sorted out in the end. Anyway.

"...your new rebate is £1.26 instead of the original £1.23. We've added this new amount to your account and removed the previous incorrect rebate. This will show on your next bill."

So... they wrote to tell me what my next bill is going to show me anyway, the fact that they owe me a grand total of three pence? Just out of interest, how much did this sheet of A4 paper, the enclosing envelope and the postage to send it to me cost?

This letter was from my energy company's 'Erroneous Transfer Department'. I'm not sure whether knowing that such a department exists is funny or slightly worrying. I feel like the guy from Broken Arrow... "I don't know what's scarier, losing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often there's actually a term for it."

How many pairs of underwear does Superman wear?

What? It's a perfectly valid question. I'm talking the original, underwear-over-the-top Superman, not the new, massive-plot-holes, no-visible-underwear Superman. If you think about it, presumably it's two - one on the inside and one on the outside. Although because he's a superhero he probably doesn't call them underwear - they're probably 'exowear' and 'endowear'. Exopants?

Anyway, if he does wear two pairs (which seems fairly probable) then that means he uses twice as much underwear as a normal person, increasing his laundry by a small but not insubstantial amount. Basically, all the good that Superman does has to be offset against the impact all this extra laundry is having on the environment.

And it's not just Superman. Batman wears his undies on the outside too, and they're bound to get dirtier a lot quicker, what with all that hanging round alleyways and scrambling across rooftops. Of course, Batman probably has a special Bat-washing-machine, that does the job with half the water and detergent. That's fine, but does Superman have that? Doubtful. Is there any data on the terrible impact Superman's laundry is having on the environment? I doubt it, but I bet it's massive.

Who knew. Superman: almost as evil as Lex Luthor.


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