Bait and switch literally applied to fish


The Saint Petersburg Times purchased fish from several local restaurants and found that nearly half of the time, the fish they got wasn't what they ordered. A state DNA lab came to the same conclusion.

Comments (23)
  1. Reader says:

    Not to go off-topic, but I am somewhat annoyed by how NPR’s website serves data.  Is it really cheaper to serve relatively high-bandwidth audio than it is to pay somebody to transcribe it and serve the low-bandwidth text files?  They want $3.95 for a single transcript or $12.95 for a month (with a maximum of 10 transcripts per month).  I guess NPR’s audience is used to listening to the programs, but I can read so much faster than they can talk.

    [If only I could type “Why does NPR charge for transcripts” into some edit box somewhere and it would search the Internet for the answer. Alas, that day may never come. -Raymond]

  2. xix says:

    Oh, Oh, Oh! I have it, I know the answer

    http://www.npr.org/transcripts/help_whycharge.html

    Well, not quite.  That’s why they charge, which is fine.  But still, Reader’s original question was why they produce audio at all and host it on the site rather than just transcribing it themselves and hosting low-cost text.  

    Probably has something to do with it being radio, I used a textbox for that one too.

  3. Reader says:

    But transcription is a one-time cost.  I guess it would depend on how much it costs them to get a show transcribed and how many people are downloading that show.  At some point you would think that the cost of hosting audio for X number of people would be greater than the cost of transcription + hosting text for X number of people.  But bandwidth is probably much cheaper than professional transcription, and I would guess that NPR is not popular enough to reach that threshold.

  4. e.thermal says:

    I like the CBC for this reason, they usually offer both a text version (not just a transcription) and an audio version.  Much more web friendly in my mind.  Like at work where I get my news, no sound card/speakers.  

  5. John O says:

    Most programming is not "off-the-cuff", so a script exists for it (even if only for the questions). As well, I am pretty sure it is much more labour intensive to edit and script the segment together than it is to transcribe it. I am also sure people spend time listening to the show to ensure it is legible and nothing untoward gets on the air (more hours spent).

  6. Jeff says:

    Or you could go to the source instead of trying to deal with NPR’s crappy second-hand version.

    http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/06/Tampabay/You_order_grouper_wha.shtml

    Maybe one of these days a couple of guys from Stanford might write a program that keeps track of website content and can search for things like this.

    I don’t think they’ll make money at it though.

    Back to Raymond’s original subject: Here in Orlando there’s an "Ale House" restaurant that serves totally different fish for the fish’n’chips lunch special on Fridays.

    You order it Monday-Thursday and it tastes like crap. Friday, it’s delicious. It’s different fish and a different batter.

    I’ve asked management and the waitstaff and they all insist it’s the same stuff. And I’m not the only one that’s noticed it’s different, either.

    I’ve not figured that one out.

  7. Jeff says:

    This is a strange quote:

    "Stea said the frozen fish cost $6.14 a pound and was labeled "Gulf grouper" on the invoice. The box had a bar code. Whoever phonied it up, "fooled us good," he said."

    So it has a bar code on it, and that somehow means it’s grouper? Am I missing an obvious connection here?

  8. Ray Trent says:

    If only there were a tool for automatically converting from speech to text that Reader could use to do his or her own conversion…

    (yeah, yeah, existing e.g. closed captioning tools aren’t nearly as good as a professional transcriber… as if you really care)

  9. Reader says:

    That’s it; I’m going to transcribe the radio shows myself.  With blackjack and hookers.

  10. Wang-Lo says:

    "I’ve asked management and the waitstaff and they all insist it’s the same stuff. And I’m not the only one that’s noticed it’s different, either.

    I’ve not figured that one out."

    My guess is that on Thursday nights they clean the  grease traps and replace the oil in the fryer.

    It is the "same stuff", but on Fridays it’s clean.

    -Wang-Lo.

  11. kaellinn18 says:

    "My guess is that on Thursday nights they clean the  grease traps and replace the oil in the fryer.

    It is the ‘same stuff’, but on Fridays it’s clean."

    They may also get their fish fresh on Fridays to prepare for the weekend rush. They may have a problem keeping their food fresh for a whole week.

  12. Maggie says:

    I guess this fits your blog’s title well since it is "old" news; I heard this on npr when it aired in 2006. New news about old things would be more interesting.

  13. Brian says:

    Am I the only one who read the title and opened the post expecting to find switch / case statement about fish?

  14. Dean Harding says:

    @Maggie: It’s common knowledge around here that Raymond queues his posts up months (years?) in advance. He is not an up-to-the-minute news service.

  15. Worf says:

    The reason the restaurant is confused is that the box and the barcode are accurate… if the fish was grouper.

    Since it wasn’t, the restaurant thought they bought grouper (the box said so, and the barcode matches those for grouper from the supplier).

    So it isn’t that the restaurant sold cheaper fish intentionally, they paid full price – someone earlier in the supply chain did the swap. The supplier might not know, since they import and inventory based on the code (customers tend to frown upon opening packages to verify authenticity prior to sale).

  16. Dean Harding says:

    I was confused by this quote:

    "We buy our fish in 10-pound boxes and its says right on it ‘fresh frozen grouper’ right on the box"

    What is "fresh frozen grouper"? Would not the very ACT of freezing it make it no longer "fresh"? By definition, something that is frozen is not fresh…

  17. Frymaster says:

    It means "was frozen immediately after capture" as opposed to left out at room temperature.

    The thing is, "fresh" can mean "not undergone any spoiling", or can mean "not been stored in non-amgbient conditions (which implies it is not suitable for long-term storage)" – which is better depends on the food in question.

    Bread never seems the same to me, if it’s been frozen.  Conversely, fish which is frozen as soon as possible will spoil less and taste nicer, imo

  18. Hieronymous Coward says:

    When bait and switch is literally applied to fish, you offer a juicy worm but give them a pointy hook.

    It’s amusing that a page about bait and switch turned out to be a discussion of financial and ethical obligations of government-funded media.

  19. Igor Levicki says:

    We are in a desperate need of a new product — I can already see the ads:

    "Universal Pocket DNA Tester Pro V2.0 — now you can be sure you haven’t just eaten a fellow human"

  20. SkookumPete says:

    By coincidence, there was a cartoon on this subject in the New Yorker this week. A man in a shack with the sign "Bait and Switch Shop" is saying to a customer: "I’m fresh out of night crawlers, but I can let you have this combination VCR/DVD player."

  21. Igor Levicki says:

    Bait and Switch:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bait_and_switch

    "In retail sales, a bait and switch is a form of fraud in which the fraudsters lure in customers by advertising a product or service at an unprofitably low price, then reveals to potential customers that the advertised good is not available but that a substitute is."

    So, this isn’t exactly Bait and Switch because customers never find out they’ve been "switched".

  22. Maggie says:

    @Maggie: It’s common knowledge around here that Raymond queues his posts up months (years?) in advance. He is not an up-to-the-minute news service.

    OK, I just thought if there was reform in the fish industry (possibly due to original story)in Florida then the blog article could hurt businesses.

    [This is a blog not a newspaper. That means I post my reactions to events; I don’t conduct my own investigations into them. Feel free to research whether there have been any reforms in the fish industry and post your findings as a comment. -Raymond]
  23. V. Garg says:

    …..Feel free to research whether there have been any reforms in the fish industry and post your findings as a comment.

    If you promise to keep the comments open till the research is over:-)

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