Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Staples $15 off $15

There's a deal going now, as I write this. Load your cart with at least $15.01 worth of products and then enter the coupon code 25172 which deducts $15 off your order! Then, choose the site to store shipping method so you don't need to pay anything. I've just completed three orders that included: Crayola color pencils, Pilot G2 pens, paper trimmer, and paper clips (as a slick filler). That's over $45 worth of stuff, for about $3. An awesome day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ukala Sydney High boot

  • Very good quality suede that feels thick and smooth.
  • The merino wool lining doesn't make your feet feel hot.
  • Depending on time and place, they may be stylish.
  • Much cheaper than very similar UGG boots.
  • The sole is made of a very lightweight foam so you don't have to expend extra energy while walking. It's also very smooth and has no grip.
  • The sole is lightweight, but it looks like the type that will erode quickly.
  • The fur sticks to your legwear for quite a while until it becomes matted down.
  • There is a seam running down the back that will eventually dig into your foot once the fur becomes thinner.
  • There is absolutely no arch support.
  • Although they're called "high" the reach to about 4 inches below the knee. 
  • The pink logo patch on the back is kind of tacky and childish.
As you must have read, I got these boots as replacements for the original EMU boots that became defective. Ukala Sydney is a new line of boots under the EMU brand. The boots definitely look nice, but they lack some basic features (e.g. an arch, smooth seams inside, heaver sole with more traction). They're not very practical either since they're made of seude which stains very easily. I recommend using a suede leather protector (spray) to prevent snow and snow-salt from leaving white marks (that don't come off, no matter what you do). In short, they're really not worth $79. As a free boot, sure, but otherwise no way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's the deal with a free trial?

If a company wants to sneak money out of you, probably the best way would be to offer you a free trial. You sign up with your credit card information, receive 14 days or 30 days of some premium service which may or may not be worth it, and then you cancel before you actually get charged. But what's if you forget to cancel? You get charged some enormous fee like $79. That's how they make money. There is absolutely no argument you can stand on if they charge you because you don't cancel. They make it even easier for themselves by this oh-so-nifty feature called "auto-upgrade" -- let your account upgrade to the paid membership without you lifting a finger! How cool is that?

Uh, not so cool. So what I suggest is this: Do sign up for free-trials whenever you want, but set yourself an alert/reminder on your phone, computer or other device (or a paper calendar) so you don't forget to undo the membership. If there's an auto-upgrade feature, turn it off. If they ask "are you really really really sure you want to turn off auto-upgrade" just say "yes I'm very very very sure."

So why sign up for these free trials if you will anyway cancel them? Two reasons:

  1. You get a taste of that premium service (e.g. free two-day shipping, access to more features, unlimited whatevers).
  2. Once you're in their system, you're more likely to receive more promotions. Now read below to see what happened to me.
Last year I was buying college textbooks on because they usually have excellent coupons that work on textbooks (most bookstores have coupons, but very few allow theirs to work on textbooks). My order was below the minimum required to receive free shipping, but I noticed a green running-man icon with a message on the side: Receive free 2-day shipping. Learn more! I click it and discover something called ShopRunner, which is a service that offers you free 2-day shipping for several stores, but you pay some huge amount each year for it ($79 -- which is still wayyyy more than the price of all my orders per year shipped). They do offer a 30-day free trial, so I signed up. I made sure to cancel before I was charged. 

A few weeks ago I got an email from ShopRunner saying something like "Oh, we miss you, come back back for a free full year on us!" I never would have received that had I not done the 30-day trial first! So now my freinds, family members and I are happily using ShopRunner (free 2-day shipping) at all sorts of stores like Toys R Us, American Eagle, Borders, etc. 

What's so cool about ShopRunner besides for the free shipping aspect? Many times, if you have a promotional code, it works for EITHER free shipping or a percentage/dollar amount off. Not both. But if you have ShopRunner, and the promo is for 40% off, you can get the best of both worlds.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Be a dope, it's fine!

Sometimes it really pays to act like a dope. Like you don't know anything. Immature, slow, stupid, foreign etc. These tactics work. Here's how to apply them to certain situations:

Remember my Amazon promotional credit story? So my account's got around $18 in promotional credit as of today. Their credit is divided into different categories and you can get promotions in either one or several of them. I have the $18 in each category, one of them being "Kindle editions". This means you can use the credit to buy e-books readable on Kindles and many other devices. I wanted to get an e-book version of a book that only was published electronically so I figured I can use my promos, right? Wrong. Apparently, as I later found out, the credit works only on e-books sold by Amazon, not by another publisher. Of course I only find out after I was charged.

They don't give you any "review your order" page when you buy e-books so I was charged as soon as I hit the Buy button, which isn't cool if you asked me. I get a charge for $3.99 instead of $0! I contacted them immediately and they explained that the book has to be sold by Amazon for me to be able to use the credit. After explaining, I donned my dopey mask.

Me: But I didn't know this before buying the book!
Him: Ok, so I can cancel your order if you'd like and you won't be charged.
Me: But see, so now I have $18 in credits and I never buy e-books so what am I going to use it on? I was hoping to use some of it now!
Him: I'm sorry ma'am blah blah blah policies blah blah blah. I can cancel your order if you'd like.
Me: Aww, so now I'm gonna be left with tons of promotional credit? (as if that's a bad thing)
Him: Let me contact the supervisor...
(supervisor shows up to the chatroom)
Sup: I can cancel your order if you don't want to be charged. (yeah, I know)
Me: But can you maybe refund me the $3.99 and then deduct it from my promotional credit?
Sup: What I can do is credit you the $3.99.

Conclusion: I am left with an e-book that cost me $0, without digging into my credit stash.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An EMU interaction

First, it's pronounced EEM-yoo. EMU is a manufacturer for all kinds of stuff like suede jackets and wool boots. Their boots look much like the UGG-style boots, but they're slightly cheaper. I bought a pear of  them last winter, retail price $99. I paid $79.20, but that's another story. A lot happened since then but basically I had issues with them. Here is the first email I sent to EMU: 

Last winter I bought the Women's Nelly Boot in black suede. I wore it maybe 15 times and I am extremely disappointed with what happened. You see, there is a hard seam running down the whole back of the boot, from the inside. The fur lining covers that but if you press your finger onto the fur, you can definitely feel that thick seam. After wearing it a few times, the lining (the white puffy fur/wool) became more matted down (which, I was told, is normal) and now the seam is totally coming through. It's so uncomfortable and the seam is digging straight into the back of my foot and giving me red bruises. This is not what I expected when I shelled out over $90 for "quality" boots. Something is wrong here. It's winter season again and I would have definitely bought another pair had this not happened. Now I'm stuck with uncomfortable and unwearable boots which have no use. Please tell me what can be done about that. 

After TWO weeks I get a reply saying that I need to officially fill in this whole complicated-looking claim form. The form had me provide pertinent and not-so-pertinent information, along with several photographs of the boots, the soles, and the area that has the problem. Ever try sticking a 18-55mm lens down the shaft of a boot to the heal? It doesn't work. I had to roll the boot shaft down and then use my feet and hands to keep it in place while I shot the picture. I completed the form and sent it back with my photos. A week later, which was today, I receive a nice email that totally overjoyed me: We have reviewed your case. Unfortunately, we no longer manufacture this product. We will be sending a replacement of similar value today.

That's no problem for me! She then sent me a link with a picture of the new boots and I must say they're quite acceptable. More than acceptable even. I can't wait to receive them! What do we learn from this, readers? Complaining gets you someplace, when you do it right :)

Another meaning of "ask"

Remember when I asked you all to ASK ASK ASK? Well, that referred to asking for refunds, discounts, etc. But here's another reason why you should exercise your right to ask. Ever been to a store where they had like every brand of the product you wanted, just not the one you were looking for? For an educated consumer like me and yourself, I can imagine you becoming frustrated. Especially when you have a coupon for Brand A and all the store carries is Brands B, C, D, E all the way through Z. Just our luck!

My goal was to purchase a leather conditioner and cleaner to use on my new Coach watch (that sports a white patent leather strap). I had researched the problem of "dye transfer", which basically refers to that ugly phenomena where colors of clothing seep into leather and make it their home. I had that happen to my Coach shoulder bag and it wasn't pretty, but at least it was only on the back of the bag, the part that hugs my hips. I didn't want this to happen to my white watch strap so I read online what can be done about it. Many people on the forums I read recommended two products by Apple Brand, a conditioner and a cleaner.

So I went to the shoe repair shop where they sell these leather care products. They had every type of item imaginable but of course no Apple Brand cleaner or conditioners. I asked the man if he carries them at all, and if so, when he will get them in. He told me that he doesn't sell this particular brand, "But you know what? My salesman is coming tomorrow at noon so if you let me know what products you want, I'll have him get them for me... and I'll give you a nice discount." Just what I wanted to hear. So I went online and found the product information for him. I hope to visit there soon and find the item!