Entries Tagged as 'Shopping'

A new way to buy…

I’ve been using Amazon.com to buy most goods for years now; and I’ve used Drugstore.com for awhile, their use of coupons and rewards points encourages you to continue to use them every quarter… their prices are good (not always great), but when you consider their rewards and discounts sometimes the prices are very good.

Yesterday I went ahead and used my last quarter rewards to buy something I’ve never purchased online before, something I thought I would likely never purchase online: toilet paper.

Normally I buy toilet paper when I find it at a very good price, and that’s exactly what I found yesterday.

While it’s not earth shattering to buy toilet paper online, for me it shows a definite shift in shopping — anything is a candidate to order online and have delivered to your doorstep rather than drive to a store to pickup.

I think part of what is compelling about buying online is that the simple process of looking for a good deal is really the end of getting a good deal — you don’t have to jump in the car (hopefully schedule it as part of more errands), go to the store, find what ridiculous place they’ve put the sale items in (if they have them in stock at all), stand in line at the checkout, carry it to your car, drive home, and bring it in the house…

Even in the case that you pay the same it just seems that online shopping makes more sense.

The one thing I’m not thrilled about with online shopping is the carbon footprint of the delivery… that’s something Amazon is partially addressing in larger cities (with their dropboxes).

Originally posted 2013-04-16 12:00:31.

New Car Shopping Preamble

So you already know how the story ends — I’ve posted that already; but I felt it would be a good exercise to go through the exercise of buying a new car.

I’ll start with all the research I did online, all the possibilities (the field started out pretty large); my requirements for a vehicle, the items that became deal breakers… and finally what vehicle I narrowed it down to and then how I closed the deal; plus I’ll provide a little more information on getting an extended warranty.

Up front I’m just going to re-iterate what I ended up doing before we get into each of the posts.

I purchased a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited with Premium package; exterior Titanium, interior Black (leather).

I purchased my vehicle from Palmer’s Airport Hyundai in Mobile, AL.

I purchased my extended warranty from Palmer’s Airport Hyundai in Mobile, AL.

I purchased floor mats and a trunk mat made by Lloyds (Rubbertite) online (go with the absolute best price you can find and look for coupon codes).

The bottom line, I’m please with the car (it has actually exceeded my expectations thus far); and I’m happy with the dealership.

2011 Elantra Limited 2001 Elantra Limited

Originally posted 2011-05-17 02:00:38.

BigLots! — Caveat —

If you’re a savvy consumer you can save a great deal of money at BigLots! (of course, that’s true of any surplus store, dollar store, clearance sales, etc).

And while I’m not going to stay away from BigLots! because of what I’m about to tell you… I’m just going to continue to watch the prices that are rung up on the register (and you can easily watch while they ring up each item there — not like some stores where you can’t see the price they actually charge until you get the receipt [which is after you sign the credit card slip]_.

At the end of each and every season, BigLots! further reduces seasonal merchandise; however, they don’t actually change the prices on the items (for the seasonal reductions — though they do sometimes change prices for items they’re clearing out) they just post a sign that says extra XX% off such-and-such items.

What they don’t make clear (nor do I really think they want to) is that only some of item in that class are marked down; not all of them are.  And there’s really no way to know what’s marked down and what isn’t except to either find an employee that will check (or happens to just know) or take it up to the cash register.

I found this out a while ago; but it bit me again the other day when I was going to buy a pack of LED Solar lights, the sign said “30% off Patio Lighting”, and sure enough the package I liked the best (well — I really wanted ones made from metal not plastic — but at least these had the solar cell under the lens so that it was protected) wasn’t marked down at all… and I certainly wasn’t going to pay that price for an item that wasn’t really what I wanted.

So, remember, always watch what you’re charged for items, and go over your receipt — and don’t be the least bit shy about asking why it’s more than you expected, and having them void out the item (or the transaction) or returning the over-priced item.  Retailers in general do what ever they can get away with — and my advice to you is not to let them get away with anything ever.

Originally posted 2009-08-28 01:00:58.

Bed Bath and Beyond

I can tell you what the Beyond is in their name… that would be their service.

First, I’m not much for “assemble yourself” furniture… I prefer well made, solid wood furniture (which generally means I buy turn of the century — that would be circa 1900; and have no problem paying for it).

Unfortunately I wanted a piece of furniture for my bath room, and I wasn’t having much luck finding an older piece (I guess bath room furniture wasn’t very popular 100 years ago), so I looked around a found a couple places that had at least solid wood frame furniture that seemed relatively well made.

The local Bed Bath and Beyond didn’t stock the piece I was interested in (they had a similar piece, and another piece in that collection — but the piece I wanted was being discontinued — figures), so I had to order it (the upside was that it was about $50 less).

I placed the order, got a confirmation, and a shipment notice the next business day (all of which I expect from any decent e-Tailer).

The piece arrived, and the UPS person delivered it and for the most part the box looked like it was in pretty good shape, two of the corners were a little dented — but no reason to assume that item was damaged.

As I started to assemble the piece, I noted that one side piece had a very small chip, but I felt that it probably wouldn’t be noticed, and it would be easy to touch up.  Then I got to the top — damn — the back right corner must have been right where one of the packages corners took a hit, it was slightly deformed, and with light shining on it it was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I wasn’t sure what to do, but I figured I’d call customer service before I continued the assembly.

I called, and the hold time was much longer than I would have liked — and the annoying message that I could leave a message (over and over) was beginning to get on my nerves just as an agent picked up my call.

She was polite, and immediately made what sounded to be a genuine apology for the inconvenience.  She would have been happy to have the warehouse ship me both parts, but as I told here I’d probably cause more damage replacing the side piece, and really only the top was a “must replace”.

I haven’t seen the confirmation of shipment of the replacement parts yet — but I have every confidence that there won’t be any issues…

Now, we’ll see if the local store is as easy to deal with doing a return of another item.

Originally posted 2009-08-06 01:00:42.

Apple Apps Only???

WTF is it with businesses that have only Apple iOS Apps?  Hello, Open Handset Alliance (Android) devices account for nearly 60% of all smartphones / tablets shipped… iOS accounts for less than 20% (only slightly more than Windows smartphones / tablets)… why on Earth would a business make a decision to provide a service to far less than a quarter their potential customers and ignore over half of them???

Sure, I understand that Apple exists mainly because they’re trendy — but for businesses it’s not about being kewl, it’s about money in the bank.

Maybe what these businesses that choose to ignore me and those who choose Android need to see are people choosing to ignore them…

Originally posted 2013-05-24 16:00:38.

Sam’s Club Discover

I was at Sam’s Club on the first of this month, and they had a promotion going on that you’d get a $40 instant credit on $100 (or more) purchase if you applied for and were accepted for a Sam’s Club Discover Card.

It was a no brainer —  what I was going to buy was $120, and the $40 instant credit would pay the fee for renewing my Sam’s Club card (NOTE: the renewal fee was excluded from the $100 minimum purchase).

GE Money Bank (the issuer of the Sam’s Club and Walmart Discover cards) issued a stated on the second of the month (the day after the charges); and had my statement to me less than a week after I’d opened the account.  However, I just received the actual card today.

Like with most credit cards you needed to call a toll free number and enter just about every piece of personal and confidential information you’d provided when applying for the card — at what seemed like the end of the activation, I got a message to please hold that I was being transferred to customer service.

After almost five minutes on hold, a very cherry woman come on the line, ask me how my day was and immediately launched into a sales pitch — I cut her off and told her whatever it was she was trying to up-sell to me, I wasn’t interest… that their system had kept me on hold for nearly five minutes to just try and sell me something I wasn’t the least bit interested in, and then I told her I wanted to close my account.  She responded that I’d need to look on the back of the card for the number, and I told her I wanted the number from her.

She gave me the number, and I hung up and called.

The automated system answered immediately, forced me to hear all about my account balance and due date — presented a myriad of twisty little turns to finally get to a customer service representative.

I told her I wanted to cancel; I told her why — she started to sputter out some apology and ask me to reconsider and I told her I didn’t care about her time, but I was tired of wasting my time and I just wanted the account canceled now.  The call was disconnected.

I called back; and same thing, a very long hold.  By the time that I actually got to talk to a customer service representative I’d been at this for over half an hour — and I pointed this out to her, and told here that I was in none to good a mood — that she would cancel the account, and I didn’t want to hear anything but it was done.

I wrote an electronic message to Sam’s Club on their web site after all this was done telling them what a poor reflection GE Money Bank was on their reputation.  The reply I receive (almost immediately) was just an apology, and told me what a valuable customer I was.

Right — GE Money Bank had been telling me what a valuable customer I was all the time on their automated system… but the bottom line, they didn’t value me as a customer — they wanted to treat me like a schmuck who’s time was totally worthless.  Clearly a company that didn’t value my time — or value me as anything but a potential source of revenue.

I’ve always considered Sam’s Club as low rent compared to other warehouse clubs such as Costco — and they continue to reinforce that image time and time again.

Costco selects American Express (which I consider to be thieves and liars — but they at least do pretend to respect their customers) for their credit card; Sam’s Club chooses GE Money Bank (how much more low rent can you get).

I don’t do much business at Sam’s Club; and I certainly won’t be increasing the amount of business I do there… but I certainly won’t be doing any business with GE Money Bank — and personally I think they tarnish Discover Card’s exceptional customer service.

Originally posted 2010-09-16 02:00:55.

Un-Freshpair

I’m probably not the most typical shopper in the world… when I decide to buy something it’s generally because there’s a sale and when I shop — I buy enough to last awhile.

Today I was going to take advantage of the FRIENDS13 25% off your entire purchase on Freshpair.com (I was actually thinking about setting up an affiliate account — in the past I’ve made several $200-ish orders and I figure the small kickback and coupons they offer might actually save me money in the future)…

But after adding 21 items to my cart ($216 after the 25% promotion) I read a few reviews and I decided that one of the items I was considering purchasing I just wasn’t going to be happy with, so I went to remove it… simple enough, you either change the quantity to zero or you hit the delete link, right???

Well, no — not on Freshpair.com … it doesn’t seem to work.

So I called customer dis-service… and while they answered the phone quickly and I spoke to a real person without having to go through an automated attendant (normally I’d have praise that as incredible customer service).

I was connected to a man who was to put it politely was snippy — which of course didn’t sit well with me.  While I started the conversation polite, business-like, and courteous (as I would always do when I was calling the first time for customer service), the call quickly went down hill… apparently the “solution” is empty out your cart, clear your cookies, and start over… oh, and if you’re wondering — it’s a known problem (and it’s been a known problem for sometime).

Well, I ask to speak with his supervisor… he told me he was the supervisor, that everyone else had gone home (at 3:50 pm EDT on a Thursday… hmm — my guess is he’s the only customer service person there or he outright lied).

Even more pissed I asked to speak to Matthew the president of the company (I’d seen the very nice thank-you notes included in each of my previous shipments… and I decide to see how far I got).

Well, Matthew was apologetic  but was very quick to tell me that the technical issues of fixing removing items from a cart where people what more than a handful of items just wasn’t a priority for them, that it would require too much effort.

Like I remarked to him… it must be nice to have so many customers you don’t need to worry about customers who want to spend a lot of money with you…

So, I decide I wanted to help them…

I tried to place a separate order for each and every item (free shipping why not punish them by maximizing their shipping cost, after all, they can’t handle large order, so give them the smallest orders possible).  Eleven orders (I cut back on the items) most right at or under $10 each… on a different credit card, and each appears to have been authorized fine (I actually called Chase to check on the three placed on Chase issued cards), but the orders were canceled — no email was sent indicating the order was canceled, and once again when I called their (pathetic) customer service I was told, they couldn’t determine why the orders where canceled, just re-order (lol — like I haven’t heard that before).

Well I guess the only solution is to take my business elsewhere… enough of my time has been wasted on Freshpair.com.

And I encourage everyone else to consider taking their business to a company that actually wants to provide not only competitive prices but good customer service… and that would not be Freshpair.com…

Originally posted 2013-05-02 15:00:52.

The Anti-Green – Catalogs

Decades ago company after company mailed out or otherwise distributed large, printed, mail order catalogs.

The age of print advertising is gone, and the environmental cost of print advertising is horrific.

However, there appears to be many companies that don’t realize the impact of print advertising, nor do they understand that most (if not all) really don’t want (or need) a large mail order catalog.

Several months ago I ordered an item online from B&H Photo Video, and item which I researched online and located the “best” price using search engines.  I never requested to be subscribed to any postal mailing or email mailing lists — nor was there any obvious option to make sure that I was never subscribed to junk mail from B&H.

My feeling is that companies that do not believe that they actually represent a value to consumers are the companies that are quickest to force a subscription to any type of mailing list.  Companies who believe they offer something consumers want understand that consumers will come back and they don’t need to destroy the environment in order to attempt to promote future purchases.

For me, I’ll never purchase something from B&H Photo Video again.  I simply cannot support a business that engages in ravaging the environment [cutting down forests to produce paper, wasting energy to produce a catalog, wasting energy and polluting the environment to distribute that catalog, and further wasting energy to dispose of / recycle that catalog].

Do your part, take simple steps to make the world a better place — adopt more sustainable practices — join me in boycotting companies that don’t have a place in a sustainable world.

Originally posted 2010-05-07 02:00:32.

Lowes Ceiling Fan Followup

I got two calls from the local Lowes store regarding my ceiling fan issue, and I have to say I was quite impressed by how efficiently the local store handled the issue.

They had a replacement fan ready for me when I stopped by, and they actually had no problem just putting the purchase price of the fan onto a gift card so that I could select a different model.

I would say the greatest failing of Lowes in this entire incident is that the corporate offices has put together an online system that poorly reflects on the ability of local Lowes management to handle problems; perhaps the best thing for Lowes to do is simply forward online request to local management and not ever try and resolve issues at a corporate level…

NOTE:  I actually purchased a Hunter ceiling fan at The Home Depot since Lowes didn’t have a suitable replacement fan in a brand I trusted.  The Hunter fan’s motor is easily three times the weight of the Harbor Breeze’s motor, and like the other Hunter fans I have (and have had in the past) it’s totally silent (and was much easier to install).

Originally posted 2009-10-28 01:00:12.

Adorama – Rebuttal

The following:

  • is a rebuttal from Adorama Camera Customer Service.
  • is included here as provided to me by Adorama unchanged (with the exception that an email address was removed from the signature block to prevent harvesting).
  • is Adorama’s perspective (not necessarily mine).

Links to my original posts are included at the end.

Roger stated on his blog that ‘I had received an Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) from Adorama” and that “…apparently they felt it was quite acceptable to subscribe an email address they obtained from Amazon”

Following correspondence with an Adorama representative, Roger now appreciates that his statement “…they felt it was quite acceptable” was an incorrect assumption on his part as it had no basis in fact. It was also incorrect to assume and suggest that Adorama sends Unsolicited Commercial Emails to customers that bought goods from Adorama through Amazon.

Adorama has confirmed to Roger that email addresses obtained from Amazon are not automatically subscribed to our mailing lists. His address was automatically subscribed because Adorama placed a replacement order directly for him, as part of the fulfillment process of his Amazon order.

Adorama provided Roger with assurances not only of our strict policy not to send commercial emails to Amazon customers, but also provided information that reassures him that he was incorrect to make unsubstantiated allegations regarding his perception of the attitude of Adorama staff, based upon his assumptions – which he now knows to be without substance.

Adorama also provided Roger with the name of Director of Email Campaigns along with the raw candid conversation that clarifies without doubt his commitment to Adorama customers, and his overwhelming concern that he mistakenly emailed an Amazon customer.

Roger stated previously that this action by Adorama “Seems a consistent gauge of a bad company – they do what ever they want, why should they care if it’s legal, ethical….” It is clear from the conversation referred to above, and the email exchanges with Helen Oster, the Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador, that Adorama employees do not, in fact, deserve the accusations he directed at them in relation to how we feel about our customers.

We hope that this public acknowledgement that Roger made a mistake, will clarify that he does appreciate that data processing errors are just that – errors; they are not deliberate and certainly don’t reflect personality. In retrospect, it would be accurate to state that the words on Roger’s blog were controlled by him and a true reflection of how he was feeling towards Adorama at the time. He is fully aware that respect works both ways; he demands respect for his Inbox therefore he agrees that it is not asking a lot in return to ask him to respect the feelings of the Adorama employees, rather than attributing ideas and attitudes that are remote and alien to their consciousness.

Roger now understands that at Adorama, we invest genuine effort and goodwill in every email sent, in an effort to ensure that we are not offending any customer,

Roger stated in his blog that “From my perspective subscribing any email address to a mailing list without first obtaining a customer’s permission amounts to UCE and it totally unacceptable irrespective of the fact that you include an unsubscribe link in the email”

Adorama shares that opinion, which is why when a customer checks out on the website, he or she has the option to decide whether or not to receive marketing emails from us. Currently, the opt-in option is checked by default. However, the email marketing team have already discussed and agreed that this is not satisfactory, and changes are in an advanced stage of planning.

The new check out will feature three options:

1. Opt-in to Adorama marketing emails

2. No Adorama marketing emails, ever

3. Defer the decision until Adorama has followed-up post check-out, with options that provide control to the customer over what to receive and what not to receive, together with additional information describing the benefits of each category of marketing email.

This applies to the orders originating on the Adorama website, which takes the greater share of our orders. For ‘phone orders, the opt-in/opt-out is verbal on the ‘phone; there is a field where sales associates must indicate Y/N.

Helen Oster

Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

My previous BLOG posts concerning Adorma:

Originally posted 2009-02-02 01:00:48.