American Airlines and sneaky processing charge

While I generally like American Airlines (@AmericanAir) and have been using them for years for my overseas trips, I thought this was on the sneaky side.

I needed an extra 11,000 miles to top off my balance for a trip next month to the U.S., so I don’t want to cancel the transaction or request a refund. In other words, they have me exactly where they want me.

But I do think American Airline’s mile purchase page is rather sneaky.

First they coax me with emails about a time-limited sale. On the sale page, the price quoted for the extra miles I needed was $275.82. And when I select 11,000 miles I got a “You just saved $48!” message and feel good about that and I proceed to purchase.

Then – wham – I am slammed with two charges – a tax for $20.69 and a $30 “processing charge.” Taxes are taxes. But why the $30 processing charge? Who charges $30 to process a credit card and buy something? I think that is pretty sneaky.

I wrote to American Airlines to complain and got this non-answer answer in reply:

“Thank you for contacting Customer Relations.

I’m sorry you were disappointed to learn you were still charged the processing fee. The fee is required in order to process the transaction, meaning regardless the price to obtain those additional miles, it will still be charged.

I’m glad we could save you the $48 on the extra miles and we look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon.”
Sigh.
I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family, but I can’t describe how much I loathe international travel. And I wish some agency or consumer group would look into this kind of practice.

A quarter hour before sunset by the river

For the first time in a while (there have been some stressful things going on), I walked down to the river for some exercise. These photos were taken at 6 PM, just 15 minutes before sunset. Today was completely overcast, with occasional rain. But it’s been cooler lately. It was 24°C (75°F) so it was a pleasant walk.

During my last quarterly hospital visit, all my blood tests and vital signs were great, but my doctor said I need to do more, and harder, exercise. He recommended running. Hmm…

I read somewhere that even running for five minutes is good for your health. My question is, does the five minutes have to be all at once?

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Abnormalities found in trees near Fukushima plant

A bit scary. From NHK:

Japan’s Environment Ministry has found abnormalities in fir trees near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The ministry has been observing about 80 species of wild animals and trees near the plant since 2011, when Japan suffered its worst nuclear accident.

At the request of the ministry, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences analyzed fir trees in areas where radiation levels are relatively high and published the results on Friday.

The results show that Japanese fir populations in the area showed a significantly increased number of morphological defects, including deletions of leader shoots of the main branch axis.
The study shows that 98 percent of fir trees in a 3.5-kilometer area from the damaged plant have defects. The radiation dose in the area is about 34 microsieverts per hour.

The results also show that 44 percent of fir trees have defects in an 8.5-kilometer zone with 20 microsieverts of radiation, and 27 percent in a 15-kilometer zone with 7 microsieverts of radiation.

The institute says the results indicate that radioactive materials emitted after the nuclear accident may have caused such morphological abnormalities.

The results have been also posted on the website of the British science magazine, Scientific Reports.

The institute’s Satoshi Yoshida says conifers such as fir trees are more susceptible to radiation.

But he said relations between such defects and radiation are still unclear and that further studies are necessary.

The Environment Ministry says no abnormality has so far been confirmed in other animals and trees.