I just had the most mind blowing experience with Bluebird American Express.   I have finally spoken to the world’s dumbest customer service rep in the world!   A few weeks ago, I decided to do a sweep of my Bluebird account and have the funds send directly to me.   Since there is a fee for taking money out using an ATM and since there is usually so low dollar limit like $300 or so, I usually opt to take $1000 or more at a time by writing myself a check through BillPay.

Well it’s been two weeks and the bill has yet to arrive so I called up to find out where the check is and the agent was quite literally the world’s most stupid person.   She insisted the check would have gone out and been received within 1 to 2 business days and I kept telling her that was not humanly possible because the address was a residential address and not a business much less an electronic funds transfer.   The agent could not conceptually understand these basic components of banking and how money moves from point A to point B.     I even tried to walk her through how if a check or any piece of paper is mailed out of New York to say Arizona or New Mexico, it cannot possibly get there in one day or two using the regular mail system.   If you’re using FedEx or overnight service, of course, but not if you’re using the USPS without paying some hefty fees which I doubt Amex does to send a check out.

I ended up wasting 20 minutes with her on the phone and was no better off than I was when I started the conversation.  I’m going to wait a few more days to see if the check arrives but if it doesn’t I’ll need to put a stop payment on it and I’m dreading how long that will take with these brain dead agents on the phone.

I was excited when this service first got started primarily as a way to transfer funds to my kids accounts but I’m probably going to end up closing all my accounts after I clean up this mess.  I just can’t trust my money with a bunch of idiots.  This is very surprising given it’s Amex but it is a product targeted for the “Walmart” shopper and not higher income individuals so maybe I should have avoided it altogether the way I avoid Walmart.   I feel sorry for the poor people that use this service and may have difficulty with English because the rep was so stupid that anyone with even a small problem with English would have no way of communicating with the rep!

I’m in the market for a new car and I’m open to all options.  I really would like a luxury car so I’ve been checking out Audi’s, Lexus, BMW’s, and Cadillacs but I saw an ad for an Equus made by Hyundai and I thought I’d do a test drive.   What lured me there was the promise of a 10 year warranty for the vehicle and as most readers know, I have a tendency of buying vehicles new and driving them for 10 years before I sell them and move on to something else.

Before I went on a test drive however, I googled “Hyundai 10 Year Warranty” to see what the internets have to say about Hyundai and I run across this financial website with a post entitled, “America’s Worst Warranty – Why I Will Never Buy Another Hyundai” and proceed to read it and the 200 or so comments posted on the site.   There is also this site dedicated to complaints about Hyundai as well.

Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed one bit with Hyundai after reading all the complaints but I show up to the dealership anyway to do the test drive.   The car actually drove fairly well and I was really impressed with the leather interior so supple and soft I thought they must have skinned babies and used their skin  to make the seats in the car.   I ask them about the blog posting and the 200 or so complaints and the various other sites I found on the internets.   The kids at the dealership don’t really know what to say which said more to me than anything else.

I say “kids” because not a single one of them seemed to be over the age of 25 and the one thing about “Millenials” and younger generations is that they hold no loyalty to the Corporate Hegemony of the world.    If these sales people and manager had been in their 40′s or 50s or older, they would have spun themselves as hard as they could to get the “right message out” and that’s what I loved about my interaction with these kids.

In any event, I told them that I probably wouldn’t be buying the $62k Equus marked down to 50k special for me and they understood my reasons:  too many bad reviews on the internet = no sale.   Ironically, they all understood how the ratings systems worked on Yelp and Amazon and agreed with me that if something has anything less than 3 or 4 stars on a 5 star scale it’s not worth wasting money on and they agreed.

As for the other dealerships (Audi & Lexus), well I’m dealing with old timers there so I’ll need to bring my best game to the match.

As some of you know, a couple of years ago I gave my kids an ultimatum.   If you want iphones you must give up cable TV.   Every year since I gave them this ultimatum I offer them the chance to give up their phones and get cable back but every year they refuse.    Watching TV on our Roku and Apple TV devices is now an ingrained way of life for the whole family.   Generally speaking, we’re usually a season or two behind the current season since I just finished watching the last season of Breaking Bad as an example.

Where I think Hulu does a GREAT job is bringing new shows and content from around the world.   I can now watch shows from the UK and Latin America that I’ve never seen before.   My current crop of shows that I enjoy watching include PramFace, The Booth and the End, Endgame, and a day doesn’t go by when I find something new that I haven’t watched.  I’m getting ready to start watching British TV show “In the Thick of It” soon which promises to be quite funny.

Perhaps these shows are available on cable TV or perhaps they are not, the one thing I am sure of is that I can’t stand paying for 100 channels of ESPN or 100 channels of cartoons when I barely watch sports or cartoon TV.   Even better yet however is that HuluPlus always has the shows I want to watch when I want to watch them, I just click a button and it streams it to my TV, no need for DVR, no need to schedule recordings, no need to worry about running out of disk space, no need to do anything but just click to watch.

If you want to save some money, try dumping your cable TV, there are more and more options everyday!

While this is a personal finance blog, I do on occasion stray into a few tangent subjects.  I hadn’t thought too much about the whole Edward Snowden fiasco but as I watched Edward Snowden tonight on NBC, I began to see this guy as more of a HERO than a ZERO.    I don’t know the full details of what he did other than to reveal the incessant spying the U.S. Government has on its own citizens taken from a page of the old Soviet Union “how to spy on your citizens” manual but he seems to have done the right thing.

The most important thing I learned was not to google Rangers scores or more importantly don’t use any google products at all.  This guy definitely deserves some level of clemency.  Let’s face it, he’s already done hard time by living in Russia!

The real question now is which politician will stand up for liberty and which ones will continue to carry water for the gestapo state.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, which I spent at home, I watched an old show on TV that I hadn’t seen in decades, it’s a TV show called the Price is Right.   The premise of the show is for people come up and try to guess the prices of items to win various prizes then vie for a chance to enter the “ShowCase Showdown” for a chance to win a few more prizes.

During the summers of my youth, I watched this show almost daily and was always in awe of the prizes.   A funny thing happened as I was watching the show and the famous spinning of the big wheel to determine who gets to go to the showcase.  The host, Drew Carey, notified the contestants that if they land on the 1.00 mark, they’d win a whopping $1000!   Whoa….wait…what?  Just a measly $1000?

The show started in 1972 and I don’t know if the jackpot for landing on the 1.00 was $1000 back in 1972 or not but by the 80s I’m pretty sure that landing on the 1.00 awarded you a $1000 prize.    I went back and did the calculations and adjusting for inflation at 3% per year for 42 years (1972-2014), the Showcase 1.00 should payout $23,701 today in inflation adjusted dollars.   To be fair, the jackpot does offer $25,000 if you hit the 1.00 mark twice but that’s what the jackpot should be for just landing there once if all things were kept equal and consistent.   You can think about this another way, how much groceries or gasoline do you think you could have bought with $1000 in 1972 with what you can buy today?

In today’s world where wages are stagnant and minimum wage barely pays for substandard living, it’s important to understand the real enemy: Federal Reserve fictitious interest rate policy to inflate currencies.     Dim-witted people that call themselves “Republicans” or “Democrats” with hopes of working through a “political process” to solve problems don’t ever seem willing to handle the real cause of all economic problems.   Don’t expect any changes any time soon for as long as clowns are in charge, that ShowCase jackpot will continue to be worth $1000 and people will laugh in a decade or two when $1000 buys a can of Coke.

 

Cable TV is undergoing some strange turns lately but it is a good indication that cable TV has become relatively worthless.   I keep seeing commercials from Comcast and AT&T which highlight the benefits of their service.

For Comcast, it seems to be how many shows you can record at once which seems to now be four.  Really?  You have enough free time to watch four shows?  Presumably, if each show is an hour that’s four hours of TV to put on your “to watch” list and that’s just one day.   If there are seven days in the week and you’re recording 4 shows at once per day then that’s 28 hours of TV shows in one week.   Are Comcast customers clamoring for this nonsense service?   How much TV do these people watch?

For AT&T, it seems watching TV everywhere anywhere with either that wireless receiver so you can take your $3000 65″ LED TV outside in the patio to watch your favorite show or Mark Cuban walking around with his ipad watching TV every step of the way like a stoned idiot.

Let me give both Comcast and AT&T customers a hint, you can watch most of the shows from around the world on a little box called a ROKU with subscription to HuluPlus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.    These three services will cost you less than $25 per month (assuming you already have internet) and there is no need for a “magic box” that you can take outside to your patio or one that can record 5x shows at once.    And while I haven’t tried Chromecast, the new FireTV from Amazon or some other new products, I’m sure they offer way more than either Comcast or AT&T.

 

 

 

This is a Public Service Announcement: Stay the HELL away from KeeperSecurity.com.    Here’s the story….

For the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping my password set on my iPad on an app called Keeper HD.  The app worked well and I kept it up to date regularly.  Well a couple of weeks ago, the app stopped working cold.  No notice, no rhyme or reason why the app stopped working but it stopped working.    You can read the comments here and this was once a 4/5 star app but it’s dropping fast and within the next month it will probably be a one star app and this group of idiots will end up filing for bankruptcy.

After desperately trying to contact tech support I finally got a reply that basically stated the following: “The free version does not include Sync and Cloud Backup capabilities, we cannot guarantee that data is unaffected by software updates, device replacement.”

So what I’ve been able to piece together….the company decided they wanted to force everyone to mandatorily provide an email and create an online account for their “service” and subsequently disabled/killed/messed up the old application in iTunes leaving hundreds if not more stranded and unable to access hundreds of passwords.   Hey, it’s a free app so what did you expect?  No support, No help, No care in the world because it was a FREE app and you get what you pay for right?

Essentially, if you were using this app to manage your passwords you are now officially screwed.  I have started the slow painful process of manually recovering password by visiting websites and going through those annoying questions and answer sessions x 100 times.

There is an old saying, “Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me” so consider this a fair warning about this or any other FREE app you may be using to secure your passwords.   Also be weary of a company that insists on storing your passwords in the cloud – haven’t there already been dozens of reported hacking incidents into credit cards, banks, and other “secure”  cloud spaces and now I’m supposed to store my passwords there?  Get real!

Keeper You Suck!

After many decades of better than normal vision, I am now finally in need of glasses.   I actually bought a pair of nice reading glasses a couple of years ago through my optometrist and was just SHOCKED to learn the glasses I ordered were $600.  While insurance paid for most of it, I thought it was still ridiculous that glasses should cost $600 so I decided I would search for a cheaper alternative online.

I ended up finding several low cost internet shops and settled on Zenni Optical for their somewhat good reviews.  Big Mistake!  While the glasses only cost me $70, they are barely useable.   There is a large distortion on both lenses.  I complained to Zenni Optical and they did give me an RMA number but when I recently got the glasses back, they’re still unusable.   This is after waiting weeks for the first bad lenses to arrive only to follow that up with several more weeks of waiting for the same horrible lenses.

I am wearing them right now and I might as well be looking through Coke bottles.    Lessons learned here is don’t get ripped off by low cost glasses.  I’ll probably just go to Costco next time and get a new pair from their through my insurance program.

ZenniOptical.com sucks!

For the last two years I was a Sprint customer with four iPhone 4S devices in our family.   Unfortunately, those phones did not work to well when we visited France, Spain, Italy or the half dozen other places I flew around the world over the year.  While voice service worked sporadically, data was absolutely horrible on Sprint.

I essentially had enough with the international problems but was considering renewing with Sprint simply because I was already there but then lo and behold, T-Mobile offered something I could not pass up – free international data on their plans!

I immediately switched after waiting weeks and weeks for Apple to deliver four new shiny apple iphone 5s devices. With my new service working as awesome as possible even working perfectly when landing in Sweden late last year I started to think about what I could do with my old iPhone 4S devices.

TmobileRocks

I posted a “For Sale” sign on our company’s intranet to see if anyone was interested.  Much to my surprise, I got 12 interested parties wanting the phone but ONLY if they were T-mobile compatible.   Unfortunately, these phones won’t work on T-mobile and will ONLY work on Sprint or some convoluted international networks.

I ultimately did find someone that wanted to purchase two of the phones and then someone else that wanted the third but I still have a fourth phone sitting on my desk now idle.   Had these phones been T-mobile compatible, they would have sold immediately.   The good news is that if I want to upgrade in a couple of years, I know I’ll be able to sell these iPhone 5S devices in no time.

Sorry Sprint, but I won’t ever be coming back to you, your CDMA branded phones have little value in the resale market and that ultimately costs me money which has to be factored into the money equation.

Tmobile will you marry me because it’s looking like you’re gonna be rich.

I’ve used eBay on exactly two occasions to purchase something and only because I was desperate and Amazon didn’t have something I needed desperately in stock.   The first was 2004 and the last was in late 2013.  I know the exact times because I keep very good records and both experiences have been absolutely horrible.

I don’t remember the first time but it must have been something bad enough to keep me away for nearly 10 years but this time I’m going to document my experience here so I’ll look back at why I should never repeat business with these clowns again.

For Christmas, I received a Phantom Quadcopter and a GoPro camera.  If you want to see the cool things and fun you can have with this thing head over to YouTube and type Phantom+GoPro.     In any event, after a few days of playing with my Phantom, one of the locking nuts flew off along with the rotor blade causing my Phantom to come tumbling down from the sky and crashing into the ground.   Fortunately it was only about 15 feet off the ground when it happened and the Phantom received little damage sans the rotor.

Unfortunately, I lost the locking nut for the rotor when it flew off.  It was a small little nut and while I had spare rotors, I did not have any spare locking nuts.  The bird would not fly without the locking nut.    The counterclockwise nut is/was out of stock on Amazon and still out of stock to this day…

I found a couple of the nuts on ebay from two different vendors and desperate to make sure I get some, I ordered from two different vendors a set of four nuts.    Keep in mind that I ordered these nuts right after Christmas a couple of days after it crashed.   Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’m still waiting.    I tried emailing the vendor but was surprised to get a message from ebay that I had already, “exceeded the maximum number of messages I can send per day.”   Seriously, I had sent a message two minutes earlier to describe my problem then forgot to mention a couple of things and was going to send a follow up but I’m done and need to send a message some other day.

ebaysucks

WTF kind of experience is this at eBay?   To this day, I have no idea when I’ll get my nuts but it doesn’t matter because shortly after I placed the order, I drove 180 miles to a hobby shop that had them in stock and loaded up on them and some new rotors that don’t require the locking nut.

Contrast this against Amazon.com where I’ll have virtually anything I order delivered in two days with no need to send messages, wait a day or two to communicate with the vendor, and know when I’m going to get something delivered.

People think eBay saves them money until you realize the hours you waste trying to track down something is a huge waste of time/money in of itself.

So long eBay, as soon as I get my merchandise, if ever, I’m throwing my account away…..

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