The fine print

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Don’t you just hate it when businesses offer something to their customers, only to find out “the fine print” would exclude you from receiving the offer?

Over the last couple of days I have been considering an upgrade on my cell device, an iPhone 8 Plus. I have done my research and I am ready to make the leap and upgrade to an iPhone 12 Pro. I have been watching the sales, the promotions, and looking at a different carrier so see if that would make a difference in the offer. I am currently with AT&T, and honestly I haven’t had any issues with them other than the cost, which seems steep in comparison to some of the others at the moment.

Anyway, I finally decided to pull the trigger after talking to one of the people at the phone kiosk in Costco. They told me that I could get the iPhone 12 Pro, 256GB, for only about $15/month with a trade-in of my current phone. That basically worked out to about an $800 trade-in value for my 8+. WOW! That’s a pretty good trade, which I have never done in the past because it just wasn’t worth that much and I could get more from selling it myself. Trigger pulled…I started the process.

So, I spend about an hour with the guy and we were most of the way done with the process and then I got, “Oh, wait, I didn’t see in the fine print of the ad that you have to upgrade your phone plan. Are you wanting to do that today too?”

WTF.

Is it “bait & switch”? I don’t really know, but it sure feels like it.

Why the hell do these phone companies give deals to new customers but really don’t care much about retaining their current customers? That is what really rubs me the wrong way. They do very little to incentivize you staying with them. There is no loyalty program – I’ve been their cellular customer for probably close to 20 years. No discounts or special upgrade deals for those who have been with the company for a long period of time.

Ultimately, I am going to end up doing what I have always done. Upgrade and then sell my current device privately.

It could have been so easy, except for that fine print. That fine print always makes easy not easy. It gets you every time.

Take my money

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Every had something you really, really, really wanted to buy but couldn’t because they can’t keep it in stock? I am sure you probably have, so that is kind of a silly question.

To throw a whole twist to the situation is that it is only available online, which is more convenient than having to go into the store to check the inventory but it still causes an issue because there is no way to find out when it is back in stock. Like, there is no way to sign up for a notification when it is in fact back in stock. That’s seems weird because, ya know, technology…but it just isn’t an option for this retailer.

I do have some information that it will be restocked “at the end of May,” so there is that to go on. It was also previously not showing up on the website when it was out of stock the first time, but now it is again. That leads me to believe that it could be stocked at any time. So, now I am reduced to checking every hour to see if it pops up.

A similar item was in stock, then out of stock, then magically appeared as in stock, only to be out of stock less than 6 hours later. It wasn’t what I really wanted, but seriously debated the purchase as it was close and did I want to risk waiting for the other one I really wanted? I decided to wait. Which might pay off, but the waiting is excruciating.

I just want to give them my money. Why do they refuse to take it? Hell, I’ll even pre-order it, but they won’t even accept that either.

So, I am left to checking the website….OFTEN…in hopes that it suddenly appears in stock.

Frustrating and exciting at the same time. Know what I mean?

Registered?

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Lots of companies want you to register the product you purchased. Probably so they can track you or something, but hopefully it is because they want to provide you with excellent customer support when the product breaks or malfunctions or something.

Why then, if they want you to do this, does it have to be so difficult?

I went to the Ryobi website to register a product and to make sure the warranty was going to be there if needed. I signed into my account and the very first thing I noticed was that EVERY page I went to the “live chat” box popped up, even after closing it. Annoying…

When I finally got to the product registration page and inputted the model number, the correct product doesn’t come up. WTH? I searched through everything that was suggested and they were the right type of tool, but not even close to the correct model.

So, I had to use the “live chat” after all…only to have to agree to have them send me an email so they could get all the pertinent product details and then they would register the product for me and confirm via email that it was done.

I am still waiting for that email.

Again, this is a large tool company. It’s their website.

Think it should work correctly? Think it is good customer service to have the customer go to your website and then they can’t do the thing they were directed to do on the website in the first place?

Not even remotely.

I hope I get a satisfaction survey…

Sirius-ly annoying

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Does it astound you how companies or corporations or whatever you wanna call them when they assume the customer is stupid? Does it astound you that they don’t realize in today’s world that there are other options that you, as the customer, have when it comes to entertainment? It frustrates me. Gets me all pissy, and stuff. Guess I am in the right place…

So, the subscription to SiriusXM is up in my car. Well, in another month, but basically I have gotten the renewal notice already. Knowing there is a “game” to play with these companies I called and went through the stupid hassle again. The whole point here is that as the customer we shouldn’t have to play the game in order to get the best deal. Sirius-ly.

When I got the car I had and used the free trial. When the trial was up I cancelled the service. I wasn’t going to pay $20+ a month for radio in my car when I can literally get it for free or use whatever streaming service I have on my phone. Sure, there are lots of choices available via the service but they a pretty much the same as the apps I can get on my phone and they are actually better than listening to the regular radio because there are no (or rarely) commercials. So there is some give and take when it comes to features.

After about eight months and multiple offers at different pricing tiers, SiriusXM finally hit one I couldn’t pass up. It was better than some of the streaming services on the phone, Amazon, and Apple. So, for just over $6 a month I felt it was worth it. After a year at that price, and a pandemic going on, they offered another year of the service at the same price. Of course I accepted it have enjoyed it more since used it nearly every day while working from home.

Now, two years later, its that time to renew again.

I did the messaging online and long story short, they didn’t offer me the same deal to start with. They instead offered just six months and then back to their “regular” price.

Uh, I just said if I wasn’t going to get the same price I was going to cancel. Did you not believe me?

So I told them to cancel it.

Oh, wait, suddenly now the same price is available again…weird…

No, not really. They just like to yank people’s chains hoping you’re stupid enough to pay any attention to the deal you’re getting. It’s irritating. Sirius-ly.

Anyway, I renewed at the same price I have gotten for the last two years. Do you supposed since I have had the price for three years that it should now be the “regular” price?

Probably not. And I’ll have to cancel again next year.

Or not.

Hard to hear

These aren’t the version of Airpods I am talking about.
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Well, here’s a new on for you. Apparently, I am allergic to my Apple Airpods Pro 2. Based on what I can find via online research, there is something in the little silicone ear mold things that irritate people. I guess I am not alone in this.

But it is still kinda weird because I used them for about 8 months (maybe a little longer?) with no issues. Then at the beginning of this year, while traveling by plane, I noticed something weird going on with my ears after having worn them for an extended period of time.

My ears hurt, they were weeping really badly (like that water in the ear feeling), and they they were getting really crusty. After about a week, it would go away. It was uncomfortable and I looked funny with tissue sticking outta my ear.

It took at least another wearing and cycle of symptoms to put things together…is it the really the airpods? So, after the second time of noticing the symptoms, I wore them a third time just to see if that was really the cause.

It is.

Pretty sure it was the worst round yet of symptoms and now I also have an ear infection as a result of the drainage and pluggage (that’s not a word, I made it up). It’s strange to have those two symptoms at the same time but that was the case.

So, now my ear hurts, I’ve been to the doc, and I’ll have drops to install twice a day for seven days.

Annoying.

Worse yet, now I am going to have to find some replacement ear mold things to fit the airpods, which were expensive to begin with.

Really annoying.

What’s that you say? Ha ha. Very funny.

Estimate on the estimate?

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Working with contractors is a frustrating endeavor. Sometimes I wonder how some of these outfits stay in business since they apparently have a hard time following through with even the simplest part of the job – giving a potential customer an estimate or bid for a proposed project.

Now, maybe I am wrong (I have been know to do that once in a while) but I would think that these business would be falling all over themselves to line up jobs for the year. At the very least, get the estimate out there for consideration. Granted, not every potential client will choose them for varying reasons, but you can’t get a job if you don’t give the customer even the chance to consider you.

I am looking at having a concrete patio build off the back of the house (its not a small job) and I would like someone who knows what they heck they are doing rather than a few “weekend warriors” to tackle it with me. So, I have called about 17 different businesses in the landscaping to concrete categories. Of those calls, only 14 had the courtesy to call back, 11 came out to look at the project, and only 8 have submitted a bid for consideration.

Are these companies THAT busy that they just don’t need the work? Are they overwhelmed with job opportunities and can’t get the process started? I am confused as to why even the easy part is difficult to do.

I texted two of the businesses that came by to look at the job and said they would submit an estimate within a few days. Four days after they stopped by I asked for an estimated time on when they would get the estimate sent off to me. So, I asked for an estimate on the estimate. Only one has bothered to respond so far, and he has set his deadline for himself as “today.” I guess I’ll see.

Anyway, thought I would vent about a frustrating process I have been dealing with for over a month. I am hoping to have a decision made by the end of the week, so fingers crossed I get a couple more estimates to work with and compare.

Anyone else had a (or multiple) frustrating interaction with a contractor as of late? What has been your experience in the last year or so (setting aside that many couldn’t work for a short while because of “precautions” related to Covid-19)?

Space fatigue

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Space is not endless, at least not in the “out of this world” sense.

We humans like to collect stuff. Some of it is useful, some not so useful. Some of it is because of nostalgia, memories, sentimental value, or whatever and then sometimes it’s just because it’s cool. Whatever the reason we collect stuff, there is always a tipping point that each of us reaches.

“Where am I going to put this?”

Space, especially in a small-ish house, comes at a premium. There is only so much space. You can only rearrange it so many times before you just don’t have any options left. You can stuff it full (hoarders?) or you can try to maintain a balance, but for every single thing that comes into the house there has to be a space for it to go.

Why do we have a hard time letting go of things? What is it about an item that makes us keep them for whatever weird reason it is? Why do we even store things for other people (kids, relatives, friends) when we don’t have space for ourselves?

A tipping point has been reached here.

There can be no more things brought home without giving up ground on something that no longer has a useful purpose, or is used more than a couple times a year. There just can’t be more. It’s hard to say, “No,” to someone or even myself but there is this fatigue that becomes too great for trying to make things “work” or “fit.”

This space is either going to be the final frontier with manageable things, or it’s time to explore different worlds and expand this universe.

Good idea?

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Well, I am not sure what to make of it, but the early indications are positive. I decided at the end of December to try something new and dabble in a little something I don’t know much about. I decided to “invest” in digital currency, or cryptocurrency, or virtual currency.

It’s not a large investment because I wanted to see how it works and just kind of dip my toes into it. Because of the high volatility of cryptocurrency, I am a bit leery of the stuff but at the same time kind of intrigued by it. As such, the time and money and opportunity all seemed to come together.

I have money that goes into a PayPal account that just kind of sits there. The long and short of it is that the money is basically “free money” that I get each month from resources that I published online while I was a teacher. I get sales from that each month and the amount varies widely based on the number of items purchased. So, there is a lump of “cash” sitting in the account mostly doing nothing. I could transfer it my regular bank account, but why? I look at it as a blind account for a rainy day.

Anyway, at the end of December I saw that PayPal was going to offer the ability to purchase digital currency. So, I decided to take a small-ish amount of that lump and see what happens. There isn’t a need to have access to that money, really, so it is mostly a long term investment.

I bought some Bitcoin and Ethereum, two of the most popular forms of digital currency. Why these two? Well, from what I can gather they are also the most stable – as far as that goes.

Anyway, I put $90 into Bitcoin and $20 into Ethereum. At that point, I was a very small, fractional, owner of the currency. Exciting right? Not really. When you look at the amount per share it is less than thrilling. One share is worth $55.4k at the moment. So, I own all of 0.00339408 for my $90 investment. Cool, right?

Well, that is the interesting part. For my original investment of $110, I now have a chunk of “cash” that sits at just under $242 (at time of publishing). I have more than doubled that little toe dip in just under two months. Is that a good return? I would say so, but at the same time it could go right back down to where I started in a heartbeat so I am not getting real excited.

BUT, I can certainly see why there are lots of people so enticed by this idea. Buy in, watch it go up, sell at a higher price. If you’re talking in BIG dollar amounts, this would make total sense. In fact, Elon Musk (he’s kinda bright, right?) just sunk $1.5 billion into Bitcoin from his Tesla company at the beginning of the month. He was looking to create more capital by leveraging Bitcoin. Seems it worked since the price has shot up since he invested.

I am not making or giving any financial advice, by any means. However, I am curious if there are any others out there that have ventured into these relatively unknown waters and what their experience has been.

Hit me up in the comments and let me know what you think. Good idea? Bad idea? Had good or bad success yourself?

Sticky situation

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Warning labels can only go so far. Warning labels exist because people are stupid. Warning labels can’t possibly tell you all the things you are NOT supposed to do because the label isn’t big enough, the packaging would be horrendous, and no one can think of all the stupid stuff you shouldn’t do. Truth be told, if you see something stupid on the warning label it is because someone actually did it. No kidding.

People still need to use common sense. I realize the stuff is in short supply these days, but we really really gotta have people think before they do stuff.

So, I am sure by now you have heard the Gorilla Glue incident. I don’t know about you, but I have been glued to it since I heard about it. I have read every story I can get a hold of. The tears of laughter just spray from my eyes because I can’t believe the ridiculousness of it all.

If you haven’t of it, good job not paying attention to what is going on in the world! Ignorance is bliss, so they say.

Anyway, I think the lesson here is that you can get into a pretty sticky situation if you let your vanity get in the way of common sense. You’re going to get stuck with something you didn’t expect. And once the consequences hit, you’re probably going to come unglued.

All right, I’ll stop.

It isn’t nice to make fun of stupid people. But it sure it fun!

Sales?

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Anyone else feeling like the Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales are a little lacking this year?

I haven’t found anything that I have said, “Oh, I gotta get that cuz it’s a great deal!” Seriously. The sales are kinda disappointing this year.

Considering that most people will be shopping online, it’s felt a little underwhelming. I know there have been lots of calls to “support local” and I would like to do that too, but gift cards (or cash) sure seem rather impersonal and not real exciting.

I have been looking for three very specific items and only one (general category) has good sales. Of course, the item will also have (typically) good sales again in two months for the Super Bowl so it isn’t like I have to rush right out and get something.

The other items I am keeping an eye have either not had a markdown at all (Ryobi leaf blower), or the markdown was so piss poor (Sonos sound bar) that it was hardly worth the purchase (not even 10% off!!). So, I will continue to wait on those items too. Nothing exciting or anything to feel good about at the moment.

Has anyone found anything that excited them or enticed them to buy?

Tell me about your exciting purchase in the comments, or give me a recommendation of a sale you think is worth getting excited about.