Thursday, June 14, 2007

A concerning development, but first, a car test!

Because I'm a car nut, I check out websites, sign up for promotions, and all that stuff. So back in March I received an offer from Mazda...come test drive something and get a $25 Visa debit card. Oookay. What to try out? The sports car nut in my wanted to hit that RX-8, but the practical side of me said to check out the CX-7 crossover SUV. Sporty, 244 horsepower turbo, and much better mileage ratings than the Jeep. So I take that for a whirl. Not a bad little ride. Starts at around $24k, and loaded just hits $30k. I was really hoping to like it, but there were a few issues I had with it. First, it rode harder than a lot of sports cars I've driven. The test drive route took us over some potholed pavement, and it was a nasty ride. I know the thing is supposed to be sporty, Zoom-Zoom and all that crap, but this was just an ugly ride. C6 (meaning current) Corvettes don't ride that roughly.


Then there was the turbo. Years ago, I had a Mazda 626 GT with a 2 liter turbo 4cylinder engine with a 5 speed. That car was a blast. Turbos are known for an issue commonly called "turbo lag", and that's the delay from when you first step on the gas pedal before the car starts making serious thrust. Not to get all technical, but this is because the turbo makes power by being pressurized by the engine's exhaust gases. And when you first step on the gas pedal, the engine is simply not putting out a lot of exhaust gas (I'm not saying it's not putting out greenhouse gases or anything, just exhaust gas in the sense of what you physically feel coming out of the tailpipe), so it's not making a lot of power. As the revs go up, the amount of exhaust generated increases, and the turbo starts making more power. Anyway, with a stick shift, it's easier to get the revs up before you drop the clutch, thus getting the turbo going earlier. The CX-7 was an automatic, so it had pretty bad turbo lag. I discovered this when I was trying to make a quick left turn across a busy road, and the car didn't accelerate as quickly as I'd hoped.


But the killer was the mileage. Now, it was rated higher than my Jeep (19/24 vs 15/20), but turbos are notorious for getting lower mileage than their estimates (side note, the EPA is finally going a little more "real world" with the way they calculate mileage estimates for new cars. The numbers you'll see on the window stickers of 2008 models will be lower than the 2007 models, even if there are no changes...a 2007 Prius that is rated at 60 mpg will probably be rated around 48 mpg, as an example, and my 15/20 Jeep will probably drop to 14/18 or so). What was worse, though, was the fact that it doesn't take regular unleaded...it takes premium! Our prices have dropped here in the past week, but there was a point where the cheapest stations here in San Diego were selling premium for roughly $3.89 a gallon. Not what I'm looking for, so the CX-7 is off the list. But I did get my $25 debit card from Mazda the other day, which brings me to the ultimate purpose of this post.


As I've mentioned in recent posts, my hot streak from the end of April has long since evaporated. It has been a cold cold world, and I got to the point where reloading was a strong consideration. Tilt had been dropping, and I was dry in Stars. Tilt requires a minimum $50 deposit, but Stars only asks for $10. So why not take my free $25 and load up Stars? I try, and wonder of wonders the card is declined. No big deal. I'll go to the store and use the Mazda card to buy one of the All Access Visa debit cards that Troll and I have used in the past. Unfortunately, Vons is out of the lower denominations, so I have to buy a $100 card. Fine. I'll use $25 on poker and then just use the rest for groceries, fuel, or whatever. So I try it on Stars. It gets denied!!! WTF?!? So a little more concerned, I'll go ahead and try Full Tilt. Denied again!!! Holy shit! Well, I really wanted to play, so hmmm. What the hell, I'll try my Capital One Visa (it's what's in my wallet, dammit). Sunuvabitch, it goes thru! I didn't think the major banks were allowing those transactions! So a no-name preloaded Visa debit card doesn't work, but a major US credit card does. I don't get it. Any thoughts?

2 comments:

TripJax said...

I guess they are more comfortable with something that has a name attached to it than something that is just a debit card without a name attached to it. I don't know...weird.

I've deposited one time using a debit card from walgreens that hoy mentioned in his blog and it worked great...

FWIW, I have the Mazda 5 and we really dig it. A great family car...

iamhoff said...

Yeah, I remember when we were talking about what you were gonna get for Trip Family. Glad you like it. And the cards are working now. Not sure why they weren't working on Thursday, but as of Friday evening they're just fine.