NEGATIVE REVIEW SUPPRESSION ON AMAZON

WHAT CONSUMERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NEGATIVE REVIEWS ON AMAZON

There are 3 cautions all consumers need to know about negative reviews on Amazon:

1. Some negative reviews are posted by the competition posing as a customer/buyer. This is often done by a company that’s selling a similar item and they want you to buy their item instead, so they post a negative review of their competition. Unfortunately this is not as rare as you may think. A good thing to keep in mind is the more reviews there are for a product, the lower the percentage of fake negative reviews posted by the competition. The same goes for fake good or positive reviews – the more reviews there are, the lower the chances are for seeing a fake review. How do I know these things happen? I’ve spent over 30 years in customer service, much of it online, and I’ve worked for or know of companies that do this. And many of our volunteer consumer advocates have similar experiences. It’s common.

2. Some negative reviews are posted by a vengeful angry customer that had a small problem with a product or just with customer service, or for some reason they just have it “in for” a company. They may not like the owner, or the policies of a company, or that they’re based in a foreign country, or they may have had a problem with that company 20 years earlier and still hold a grudge.  What ever the reason, some consumers will post an exaggerated or fake negative review purely of out of spite. This is rare, but it does happen. I know it does because as a consumer advocate I’ve heard from people who have done it.

3. Many negative reviews are real, and honest. In fact most of them are real and honest, but Amazon uses a system that allows negative reviews to be voted down, as “not helpful”, which often keeps the honest negative review from being seen and read, and that system is being abused by Amazon, by sellers, and by angry consumers. Unless you understand how the voting system works at Amazon, this may be hard to understand, so I explain it below.

HOW THE AMAZON REVIEW & VOTING SYSTEM IS MANIPULATED

All Amazon reviews can be voted as “yes” helpful, or “no” not helpful. This type of voting system is commonly used on the internet, and was originally created and utilized by websites with helpfulness in mind. The idea is to list all the most helpful reviews first (in an auto-generated list, done by software and computers), because after all, when wandering through a maze of reviews, knowing your time is valuable, wouldn’t you most want to be shown only the reviews others felt were helpful? Of course you would. So the system of vote YES to helpful reviews and vote NO to not helpful reviews was created. But over the years websites and sellers have found a way to manipulate this kind of review voting system, and in doing so they found a way to suppress negative reviews from automatically being shown to shoppers. This type of review manipulation has become common place at Amazon, with Amazon actually participating in the manipulation. Both Amazon and sellers manipulate reviews by voting them up or down, bad or good, helpful or not. They do this so good reviews are shown at the top of the list, and negative or bad reviews are less likely to be seen and read by consumers and shoppers. Here’s how it’s done…

REVIEW MANIPULATION BY CONSUMERS

Sometimes consumers just don’t like reading negative reviews about a product they like. And out of loyalty to the product they will vote a negative review for that product down, as NO “not helpful”. This is relatively harmless, but annoying and not helpful to fellow consumers.

REVIEW MANIPULATION BY OTHER REVIEWERS

Amazon and sellers rewards reviewers for getting a lot of YES “helpful” votes on reviews they post on Amazon. For this reason reviewing on Amazon has become competitive. Thousands of reviewers are vying for top positions as a “Top 1000 Reviewer” or “Top 500 Reviewer”, right on up to “Top 10 Reviewer” and “Hall of Fame” reviewer. These coveted spots not only earn a kind of prestige, but it also gives the reviewer opportunities to get free products from Amazon, or sellers, to test and review. For this reason some reviewers will go out of their way to vote down reviews posted by those they feel are their competition – other reviewers closing in on being a “top” reviewer or “Hall of Fame” reviewer. The more NO, “not helpful”  votes a reviewer gets, the less likely they are to advance their position or ranking at Amazon and the less likely they are to be offered free products to test and review. So, those who review on Amazon in hopes of becoming a “top” reviewer will vote down reviews of others, even if it’s a good and honest review. This is very dishonest, and not helpful to fellow consumers. But it happens on a regular basis. Amazon is aware this happens, but since it doesn’t affect their sales or their bottom line, they don’t do anything about it.

REVIEW MANIPULATION BY SELLERS

When a review is posted on Amazon the seller (or manufacturer) is informed within a few hours, through their seller’s account with Amazon. They know a review is posted well before the average Joe gets a chance to find the review online. Sellers are informed of reviews posted for a seemingly legitimate reason – so they can respond in a helpful way or with an apology to the customer, thank the customer for the review, etc. But the problem with this system is many sellers will not respond in a helpful way, but instead will just vote a negative review down with a “not helpful” vote of NO. They do this because they know reviews with “not helpful” votes will be less likely to show up in review results for shoppers to find and read. To put it simply, reviews with “not helpful” votes are suppressed, shown last or not at all, when a customer looks at reviews for a product on Amazon. But seller’s aren’t the only ones trying to manipulate reviews.

REVIEW MANIPULATION BY AMAZON

Since Amazon is also a seller, and because everything sold on Amazon (regardless of the seller or manufacturer) makes money for Amazon, Amazon has a vested interest in making sure you want to buy a product. For this reason Amazon tries to suppress negative reviews much the same way sellers or manufacturers of a product do. Amazon can’t rig the voting system through computer code, because that would leave behind evidence of electronic tampering and would be considered fraud, and this would be flat out illegal. But since Amazon knows about a negative review the moment it’s posted, they have the opportunity to suppress the review with a NO, “not helpful” vote. They do this with fake consumer accounts set up solely for this purpose, or consumer accounts of employees – so they can vote YES to positive reviews and NO to negative reviews. Again, it’s important to know they do this because reviews with “not helpful” votes are suppressed, shown last or not at all, when a customer looks at reviews for a product. Amazon knows the more negative reviews are read, the least likely the product is to sell, and selling is the only thing Amazon is interested in. How do we know this is being done? In part because insiders (whistle blowers) at Amazon have told us. It’s also kind of obvious, when negative reviews are routinely voted down, as NO “not helpful”, within hours of being posted – even when posted in the middle of the night. What are the chances thousands of negative reviews are being found and voted down by consumers within moments or hours of the review is posted? The chances are so low it’s ridiculous.

WHERE DO WE GET OUR INFORMATION?

We know about some of this because the founding members of Practical Ways To Save Money (PWTSM) have decades of experience working in customer service and industries that deal with consumer products and services. As industry insiders we know how things are done. And, as consumer advocates, we investigate and do research. We also occasionally get insider information from whistle blowers.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT REVIEW SUPPRESSION

One thing you can do is contact the website and tell them to stop manipulating reviews, to make it easier for consumers to find and read negative reviews, and to automatically show the newest reviews first instead of showing reviews voted as helpful first. Tell them you know the system of review voting is manipulated and abused and as a consumer you want this practice to stop. Many websites make it difficult to contact them, for obvious reasons, but most websites do give you a way to let them know how you feel either through a “feedback”, “contact us”, or “help” page. Links to these pages are often buried at the bottom of the web page, in find print. Or they may be found in drop down menus on the top of the page. A contact page might only be offered to you after you go through a series of links and buttons. Some companies also sometimes make it hard to contact them by only allowing registered “members” of a website to find or use the contact page. Amazon is one of those companies. You have to be registered and logged in to contact them (here is their contact page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us). But if you want to stop the manipulation, and if you want your voice to be heard, it’s worth taking the time to contact the website to let them know how you feel. If they hear from enough people on one issue, they will make changes. If they think something they’re doing will cost them money or make them loose sales, they will make changes. It’s up to us, as consumers, to take action when we see something we don’t like or something unfair.

BOTTOM LINE

Always read reviews, but know a percentage of them will be fake or unwarranted. And always take the time to seek out and read negative reviews, even if they aren’t offered to you in auto-generated lists of reviews offered by a website. To do this you’ll most likely have to take the time to click on the “one star” reviews and see what they have to say. Know that some reviews will be fake, but most reviews are real and honest. The more reviews a product has, the higher the chances are the reviews are real and honest. And if you suspect a fake review or if you suspect a website is suppressing negative reviews, take the time to contact them and let them know how you feel.

~ ~ ~

I hope this information helps you make informed decisions when shopping at Amazon and other online retailers and in turn helps you save money.
Yours truly,
Dan, Consumer Advocate
Practical Ways To Save Money (PWTSM)
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Calling 911 – No Longer Free with MagicJack and other wireless companies

As of August of 2013 MagicJack will charge their users for 911 calls. The reason for this is that 911 centers across the country are choosing to charge a fee to companies like MagicJack to connect their customers to 911. MagicJack users have the option to opt out of paying these fees, but then you won’t get put through to 911 if and when you need it.

Being charged separately per individual call to use 911 (directly or indirectly) is shameful, in our opinion, but we do not blame MagicJack for trying to recoup these fees by passing the cost onto its customers, which in some cases can be as little as $6 per year, or as high as $60 per year. Since MagicJack only charges $20 to $40 per year for its services, you can see how any extra fee can cut into their profits to the point where they must charge extra to cover these fees.

The 911 fee is not the same for everyone. The 911 fee is set by the 911 center where you live (your town or city), not by Magic Jack. Below is a copy of what MagicJack is sending to its customers via email. The email will come from no_reply@magicjack.com and the subject line is “911 Calling”.

Why are 911 centers charging the fee? Well, that depends on who you ask.

Some say it’s because there has been a huge rise in unintentional or “phantom” 911 calls since the rise in cell phone and wireless phone use in recent years. Unintentional calls happen mainly due to “fat fingers”. Phantom calls happen with improperly keyed in automatic dialing, butt dialing, redialing after a true 911 call, and random 911 dialing (some older wireless phones will dial 911 when the phone’s batteries are low).

Some say it’s simply due to the rising cost of keeping the 911 system manned, regardless of what kind of calls come in, and the cost of sending police, fire, and/or rescue to a caller’s location. Keep in mind, even if you do not speak when 911 is dialed, in many cases the 911 operator can know your location and send help, just in case.

Others say it’s just a way for local communities to gain revenue, especially as more and more people shut off their landline service (where every fee possible is added to your bill) and choose to use services like MagicJack, Vonage, Skype, and cell phones – then as state, federal, and local governments realize they are not collecting fees and taxes from everyone they will find a way to do so, and that is by charging the company you do business with which then forces that company to charge you.

Regardless of the reason this time, add-on fees will most likely become routine in the future. Up until now companies like MagicJack and Skype, and some cell phone companies, or your local cable TV company, have been able to dodge many extra fees and surcharges. But it looks like the tax man (and service/surcharge fee man) has decided to come after us once again.

Please note that these 911 fees, charged by MagicJack or other calling services are for the call itself, not for any ambulance, fire, or rescue that may come to your aid. In some cases, in some municipalities, citizens and residence are charged separately for these services either after the use of the service or before, in the form of a separate tax similar to or included in property or business taxes. There have been documented cases of people who did not know they had to pay these taxes, or knew but did not pay, and they were refused emergency services to their home. If you are not sure of the rules and taxes regarding this subject in your area we highly recommend you find out immediately, and take any appropriate action to be sure you and your family (or employees in a business) will be helped in any emergency. If you’re recently moved and are not familiar with your local emergency services rules and regulations, double checking this information in your area is extremely important.

We also strongly suggest you choose to pay for the 911 calling service (with MagicJack or other phone service company) IF YOU HAVE NO OTHER WAY TO CALL 911 IN AN EMERGENCY, and IF IT IS A REASONABLE PRICE in your area. We recommend this only for the safety of you and your family (or you and your employees if the phone is used in a business setting), because you never know when you might need it. We also recommend all citizens do their best to reduce mistaken 911 calls, and do not abuse the 911 system.

For more information regarding 911 calls, the costs of the 911 system, how to prevent problems, new fees, and the new rules and regulations, we recommend these websites and articles:

http://www.popcenter.org/problems/911_abuse/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124371594

http://johnrlott.blogspot.com/2013/02/chicago-police-will-no-longer-respond.html

http://www.911.gov/whencall.html

http://www.fcc.gov/document/net-911-e911-911-fees-information-collection

http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/services/911-services/enhanced911/Welcome.html

~ ~ ~

EMAIL SENT TO MAGICJACK CUSTOMERS:

“Dear customer:

This is not a bill, but a choice for you as described below. If you decide you will not pay, you do not have to take any action.

Due to recent changes, magicJack will start to charge for 911 services for 911 capability. If you decide to continue to receive certain limited 911 calling privileges as described in our TOS, you will need to go to my.magicjack.com and fill out the necessary forms and give new debit/credit card information.

magicJack will not profit by collecting these pass through charges for the 911 authorities.

The charges will be billed annually by email and may cost anywhere from $6.00 to over $60.00 a year. On average throughout the country it will cost about $12.00 a year.

magicJack will provide limited exceptions for hardship cases for people who made a 911 call before July 1, 2013 and will post notification or email these certain customers later concerning the eligibility.

These unfortunate changes were made necessary because certain emergency 911 Districts in certain jurisdictions requested we attempt to bill on their behalf and benefit.

Dan”

~ ~ ~

“Dan” is Dan Borislow, the inventor of MagicJack, the man you see in the commercials with his young daughter.

~ ~ ~

Read more about MagicJack in our review article:

http://www.practicalwaystosavemoney.com/?p=729

 

Posted in Computers & Software, Consumer Rights, Electronics, Emergency Preparedness, News & Views, Phones / Cell Phones / PDAs, Relocating / Moving, Taxes, Utilities - Cost & Supply | Comments Off on Calling 911 – No Longer Free with MagicJack and other wireless companies

Books That Can Help You Save or Make Money

BOOKS WE RECOMMEND

Money Saving Piggy Loves To ReadThere are many great books that can help you manage your finances, save money, and even make money. We highly recommend the books below. We offer links to these books on Amazon.com mainly because we like to use Amazon for their reviews before deciding if we want to buy a book, but you can also get some of these books at a cheaper price by ordering “used” copies from independant Amazon.com Marketplace sellers. There are other places to get books at deep discounts or even for free. See our Best Book Sellers page for a list of places to get discounted and free books here.

And if buying a book is not in your budget, not to worry, you can get many great books at the public library. In fact we recommend visiting your local library to read books instead of buying, or you can preview books before buying, so there are no surprises in what you’re getting for your money.

~ ~ ~

We must admit we’re huge fans of Suze Orman and haven’t found a book of hers we didn’t like. Suze is often referred to as The Queen of Finances, and for good reason. Here’s a list of books by Suze Orman that at least one of us here at PWTSM have read and recommend, and are available now on Amazon.com. But remember, there are other great places to get books at a discount, or even free. You don’t have to buy from Amazon.com. As a reminder, here’s our page on other places to buy books at discount price or free. We can’t garantee you can get Suze’s books for free, but it never hurts to look around.

and these great books:

 

Posted in Amazon.com, Banking & Finances, Book Stores & Websites, Books, Books & Reading, Business Expenses, FICO Scores & Credit, Jobs & Employment, Making Extra Money $, Non-Food Misc, Recommended, Recommended Buys, Recommended Products, Recommended Websites, Retirement / IRA / 401K, Reviews:, Taxes | Comments Off on Books That Can Help You Save or Make Money

Car Alarm/Remote Protective Covers – Review

Car Alarm/Remote Protective Covers – Review

Car Alarm Remote cover colorsMy husband’s car alarm/remote bail broke – on both remotes. Not only can’t he attach the remote to his key chain any longer, but if he didn’t hear it hit the ground when the bail broke he could have lost the remote altogether. Very annoying since it costs up to $150 or more to replace a car alarm/remote these days. And then there’s the hassle of having to find and visit a dealer to get the replacement. So, we searched the internet hoping to find a cheaper replacement. We were thrilled to find out you don’t have to replace your remote if the bail breaks. All you need to do is buy an inexpensive cover, similar to skins for cell phones. The cover has it’s own bail so that solves that problem (even if your bail is not broken, we recommend it so it doesn’t break) and the cover itself protects your remote from damaged if dropped, which was an added feature we didn’t think about but we were happy to discover.

This review is for a cover for a 2002 Toyota 4-Runner, but you can buy them for other makes and models of cars & trucks.

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We purchased 2 Car Alarm/Remote Covers, for a 2002 4-Runner, from Amazon.com independent seller High-End Motorsports. Our cost was $8.99 each with free shipping. We were very happy to receive our order within 2 days by first class mail in a padded envelope. Each cover came in a protective plastic box. There was no packing slip included in the envelope but they did include a flyer with contact information for the seller.

None of the information above (about the seller and shipping) was used to determine this product’s 5 star rating of this product (5 stars as per Amazon.com’s rating system), but we include it for those who may want to know about our experience with the seller.

Car Remote Cover front viewWe are very happy with this purchase.
See details below.
We include some photos here. Additional photos included with our Amazon.com review.

These types of covers have two main purposes:
1. Protects your remote from damage if dropped.
2. Allows you to hang from a key chain if your remote’s bail breaks.

The covers we purchased are made from pliable, very flexible silicone rubber. We chose black, but we think the choice of other colors is great, this way you can easily tell one family member’s (or employee’s) key set from another. Also, bright colors may be easier to find in the dark.

Car Remote Cover end viewThe cover includes holes for the remote buttons and a slot for the radio frequency transmitter (on the end of the remote) in the exact shape & size needed for the 2002 4-Runner remote. Since the fit was so perfect we assume this is the same for any car & truck model you buy the cover for.

The cover’s bail is very thick but most likely needs to be so it does not tear easily. The thick bail made it a bit hard to slide it onto a key chain ring, but it’s nothing you can’t work through. The thickness of the cover itself makes great cushion to protect your remote if you drop it, but it does make your remote a bit bulkier than it was before. We expect to get use to the extra bulk quickly, and we feel the extra bulk is worth the protection you get.

The only true worry we have is the seam that runs down both sides of the cover (see the photo below for a close up of the seam). We wonder if the seam will eventually split. We have no reason to believe it will other than the fact that our experience with rubber bands is that they dry out and break over time. But, the new modern silicone used in this product is most likely much higher in quality than the average rubber band – or at least we’re hoping it is. We’ve only had the cover for a short time. We’ll update this review if we have any problems in future.

Car Remote Cover side view

Some may complain about the price. We paid $8.99 per cover. Since this type of item most likely costs the seller no more than .50 cents each (purchased in bulk) this may sound like a huge price mark up, but it really isn’t. We realize the seller must also pay for the protective plastic boxes, padded mailing envelope, and the shipping from our seller was free. Put that together with the time involved in packing and shipping and we feel the $8.99 price is very fair. We feel this product is well worth the money we paid. After all, it does protect your remote from damage if dropped, and allows you to use it even after breaking the bail. Since replacing your remote usually costs $100 to $150 or more, the $8.99 is relatively cheap.

When we first looked at this item on Amazon.com we were a little confused by the wording of the title of this listing “Toyota 4-Runner w/ hatch button Silicone Rubber Remote Cover 1999-2009 Black” but we figured the description was of the vehicle, not the remote cover, and the “hatch” they were referring to was the ability to open the back of a 4-Runner like a hatch back car. When we received the item this was confirmed – there is no “hatch” or door-like opening on the remote cover. We think the “hatch” wording should be removed from the title of this listing, to end any possible confusion.

For consumers who may be using a car alarm remote for the first time, we include basic information about this type of alarm remote below.

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Most modern car alarm systems are much more sophisticated than they were years ago. Currently they consist of:

> An array of sensors that can include switches, pressure sensors and motion detectors
> A siren, often able to create a variety of sounds so that you can pick a distinct sound for your car
> A radio receiver to allow wireless control from a unit you hand from your key chain.
> An auxiliary battery so that the alarm can operate even if the main battery gets disconnected
> A computer control unit that monitors everything and sounds the alarm — the “brain” of the system

The brain in most advanced systems is actually a small computer. The brain’s job is to close the switches that activate alarm devices; your horn, headlights or an installed siren, when certain switches that power sensing devices are opened or closed. Security systems differ mainly in which sensors are used and how the various devices are wired into the brain.

The brain and alarm features may be wired to the car’s main battery, but they usually have a backup power source as well. This hidden battery kicks in when somebody cuts off the main power source (by clipping the battery cables, for example). Since cutting the power is a possible indication of an intruder, it triggers the brain to sound the alarm.

Parts of a Car Alarm - How a Car Alarm Works

Review by PracticalWaysToSaveMoney Contributor – Mary

Posted in Amazon.com, Car / Vehicle / Gas, Car Accessories, Electronics, Electronics, Non-Food Misc, Recommended, Recommended Buys, Recommended Products, Recommended Websites, Reviews: | Comments Off on Car Alarm/Remote Protective Covers – Review

We Need to Know – Who Makes The Products We Buy?

WE NEED TO KNOW
Who Makes The Products We Buy?

Many people don’t realize there’s a relatively small group of companies that manufacture and distribute the great majority of food and common household products most of us buy and use each and every day. But there are many reasons consumers need to know who makes and markets these products.

I’m sure every one of us has, at least once in our lives, had this thought; “I’m not happy with this company, I don’t want to buy anything else they sell”. Or, you might have an important question about a product and need to contact the company quickly and easily, but don’t know who to contact or how to contact them.

Knowing who makes the products you buy is important, especially when many companies use questionable (possibly harmful) ingredients or engages in questionable manufacturing practices, or if you have questions that need to be answered. We also find this question, of who makes what, more important as the top 10 manufacturers try to edge out the smaller companies many of us turn to when we’ve had enough of the chemicals and unfair practices of the large greedy corporations.

Many of us now prefer to rely on smaller companies, who make and distribute all natural foods, organic foods, natural supplements, and environmentally safe products. But the big 10+ (10 are shown below) are doing their best to either run the smaller companies out of business, take business from them, make it hard for them to do business, or buy them up and take them over – often changing the way those great healthy products are made. What a shame, when a huge multi-billion dollar company takes over or bullies a small honest company and changes the ingredients or business practices or just makes it impossible for them to compete. For example, now that most consumers have discovered the importance of eating healthy & organic foods, and taking natural supplements, the big 10+ are doing their best to take over the market for these types of items – even if it means resortin gto dirty play, like lobbying for laws that make it harder for the smaller companies to do business, or taking over a company in order to not have competition, then changing the ingredients of the original company’s products.

Just one example of this is when Colgate-Palmolive bought up and took over Tom’s of Maine. Everything changed after that – the product ingredients, packaging, business practices, and more. But go to the Tom’s of Maine website and you’d never know Colgate-Palmolive bought the company and made changes most loyal Tom’s customers are not happy with. By looking at the website you’d think nothing has changed. But using their product or reading the new ingredients clues you in really fast. This is just one of the many reasons we try to keep track of who makes what. This type of take over and change of ingredients and business practices has happened to many of the better, but smaller, companies (food, health, and home goods manufacturers).

Another reason a smart consumer would want to know just who makes what is having the power to put their money where it works best for them – and to facilitate and promote honest and competative pricing and products. For example, if one of the big 10 companies doesn’t make the type of quality products you want (organic, for example) at a fair price, you can choose to buy from one of the smaller companies. If enough of us do this there will be more competition and this may cause the larger companies to start making healthier, better quality foods and products and better prices. Competition often causes this in business, but how can you choose the competition’s products if you don’t know who makes what? Again, another good reason to have this information.

But when you try to track down the company or parent company you often find most of the items you buy are made by the same company or one of thier subsidiaries. And if you’re a savvy consumer this will make you just a little uneasy. No one should have a monopoly on the products most of us need to get through our daily lives. But there are about 10+ companies who do.

For this reason we’re compiling lists of the Top 100 Food & Beverage Manufacturers and household product manufacturers (worldwide, national, and regional), with a list of their products as well as contact information for the company. It takes a lot of work to compile this information but we’re researching and typing as fast as we can. You can find our food manufacturer’s page here. We hope to have these pages completed very soon, and we hope you bookmark the pages and refer to them often – to keep those companies on their toes and make sure they know we (the consumer) is keeping track of them.

For now we include the chart below, of just some of the huge corporations (the top 10) that are doing their best to be the only companies you buy from. Some of this information may surprise you.

Food Manufacturers Chart

Posted in Bed & Bath, Boycotts, Children / Babies / Infants, Consumer Rights, Food & Groceries, Health & Wellness, News & Views, Pet Food & Supplies, Toiletries & Amenities | Comments Off on We Need to Know – Who Makes The Products We Buy?

Understanding the New Energy Guide Label for Appliances

Appliance Shopping With the New Energy Guide Label

If you’ve shopped for appliances in the U.S. then you’ve seen the bright yellow Energy Guide label and possibly you’ve ignored it or have been confused by it. Recently the U.S. Government revised these labels so they’re easier to use. The label helps you easily understand how much energy an appliance will use and allows you to quickly and easily compare similar appliances.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s government run consumer protection agency, puts together this information so you can compare the energy use of different models as you shop for an appliance. The more energy efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run, and the lower your utility bills. Using less energy is good for the environment, too; it can reduce air pollution and help conserve natural resources.

So, where do you begin? Start by getting to know the Energy Guide label — the sample below explains how to use the label as you shop.

How to Use the EnergyGuide Label

Understanding Energy Guide Labels

Posted in Appliances, Electronics, Energy & Power, Home Maintenance & Repair, Kitchen, Non-Food Misc, Utilities - Cost & Supply | Comments Off on Understanding the New Energy Guide Label for Appliances

WARNING – Power4Home System – Scam!

John Russell’s Power4Home System – Scam!

This review also gives suggestions for how to find information about solar and wind power without getting ripped off, some for free. This information is important to any home owner or small business owner that wants to save money on energy, but it’s also a must know subject for those who wish to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, preppers, and those wishing to have emergency power that does not need gasoline or diesel generators. Scroll down to the bottom of the article for honest information on this subject (no, we’re not selling anything).

Scam Warning!Millions of emails are being sent every day, distributed through numerous marketing companies (even those you might trust) for a company or “product” called Power4Home System. These emails tell you to click thru to a website to get you to watch a video that entices people to buy books on creating your own “personal power plant” for your home or business. The video is actually just a guy talking about how he “discovered” how to make his own solar panels and wind turbines to produce power for his home for a fraction of what it would cost to buy pre-made kits from companies or have them installed by big companies. 

Now, we’re not saying this can’t be done. Yes, using solar and wind power does save you a lot of money (and we recommend it). And yes, if you’re handy and can read and understand technical information (electrical), you probably can build your own solar and wind systems. You can build your own solar system, not  your own solar panel. And while you can put together a wind turbine from a kit, the chances of being able to put together a working turbine from scratch (without a kit) is slim. Yes, solar and wind turbines are worth installing and using, they will save you money. But not as cheaply as this guy claims, and certainly not by buying his hyped up product.

The problem is:
> He exagerates about how easy it is to build your own solar panel or wind turbine without a kit. This is clear by watching his marketing video (his ad) and knowing anything about the subject, which I do. He also exagerates the cost of buhying a kit or premade system that you can install yourself. Years ago they were ultra expensive. These days you can get a starter kit (that will power most of your appliances) that you can install yourself for a few hundred dollars.
> He lies about the address of his company (855 Village Center Drive Suite 386, North Oaks MN). The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has proven the address is incorrect. Mail sent to this address is returned undeliverable.
> He lies about what you get for your money (you don’t get any paper books). You get a disk, either a DVD or CD ROM. We’re really not sure which it is since the one we recieved didn’t open, but we think it’s a CD with e-books.
> The CD you get does not work properly, the software won’t start or open. We believe the books he claims he’s sending you are e-books, included on the CD, but we’ll never know because the CD we got wouldn’t work. And just by looking at it you can tell it was home made, not professionally produced.
> You might not get your refund. To date, there have been over 60 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Now, that’s just the complaints people bothered to file with them – there could be, and probably are thousands of unhappy customers.
> At this point we’re not even sure his real name is John Russell. We believe John Russell may be a fake name. We believe he may be a man who is also calling himself Damien Campbell, who sells e-books on surviving when there’s a shortage of food due to some kind of disaster. It’s called “Sold Out After Crisis”. At this time we can’t tell you if either name is real, but we can tell you that the similarity between the email and video ad productions for the “Power4Home System” and “Sold Out After Crisis” are nearly identical (a man talking while you see cartoons drawn on a white board), and so are the cheaply made CDs for both products, CDs that would not work.
> Our experience with Power4Home System is not unique. We’ve found hundreds of similar complaints online. You’ll find countless “reviews” of this product on the internet that are really just more advertising. Some of these reviews will even use the word “scam” in the title to entice you to read the review, then find a link in the review that brings you to a website created to sell you the product. All of the true reviews we’ve found for this product state they either did not get the item, the item would not worl (the CD ROM), or they did not get the promised refund. There are not real, legitimate reviews that praise this product.
> So our warning to you is this – we recommend you don’t buy this product. You can get all plenty of books on the subject in just about any large book store, at the public library, or from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. And when you buy from Amazon.com you can read reviews about the books first. Yes, some Amazon reviews will be set up, fake reviews planted by the author of a book, but when you find a book with a 5 star rating and 120+ reviews you can pretty much consider the majority of the reviews as real. It’s only when there are very few reviews that you should assume most of them can be faked. Plus, Amazon.com also has great customer service, and if you buy an item shipped & fulfilled by Amazon and you’re not satisfied, you get a quick and easy refund. Just remember, the key to making sure you always get good customer service when buying any item from the Amazon.com website is to buy items that are “shipped and fulfilled” by Amazon.com. They have never let me down.

But, if you decide to order the Power4Home System we highly recommend you only do so with a credit or debit card that you know will help you get your money back (get the charge reversed, also called a “charge back”*) if you have a problem. Call the card issuer before you make the purchase and confirm they will give you a refund if the seller refuses to.

And while we never recommend use of a debit card for any purchase where you may need a refund, we suggest if you use a debit card make sure it’s one with prepaid charge limitations – NOT the kind of debit card that’s connected to your checking or savings account. Why? Because with so many known problems with this company it seems ripe for other problems, like using your personal information and credit card number to steal your identity.

* A “charge back” is when your bank (the company that issues your credit card) gives you a refund even if you can’t get the seller to do so. The bank has the power to electronically take the money back from the seller’s account and refund it back to you. The seller also gets fined for not making good on a promised refund policy. You will of course need to prove you purchased the item and tried to resolve it on your own (contact the seller, etc.), but it is a protection you can use if needed. This can almost always be done through a credit card purchase, but not always with a debit card. Just another reason not to use debit cards for purchases where there’s any chance you’ll want a refund.

Residential & Small Business Wind & Solar EnergyPlease don’t let this scam discourage you from considering using solar and wind power to save money on electricity. We highly recommend it for homes and businesses, and so do thousands of experts all over the world. You just need to get your information from someone who is trustworthy.

Below are just a few suggestions for solar & wind turbine kits you may want to consider buying. While buying online is sometimes cheaper, you should also look around locally at stores like Lowes and Home Depot. Even if you don’t buy locally you can see the items up close first, before you buy online, and possibly get a demonstration.

If you choose books first, to gain more knowlege on the subject and to see if it’s even possible for you to install these systems yourself, we suggest looking for any book at your local library first, to see if it’s what you need and want and is as good as it claims to be, and if it is, buy it from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

We also suggest visiting as many websites (including YouTube) as you can on the subject, especially those with chat boards of real home owners talking about what systems they use. Google is our favorite search engine. Just type in these key words and spend some quality time reading up on the subject for free: residential solar wind power

BOOKS:

Homebrew Wind Power

Wind Power Workshop: Building Your Own Wind Turbine

Solar Power Your Home For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden))

Solar Electricity Handbook – 2011 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy – Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems

KITS:

Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Charging Kit

Windmax HY400 500 Watt Max 12-Volt 5-Blade Residential Wind Generator Kit

Ramsond 100 Watt 100w W Monocrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel Module 12V Battery Charging

Sunforce 44444 12-Volt 400-Watt Wind Generator

We’ll add more links and articles on the subject as we gain more reliable information.

Best to you all!
Kevin
PWTSM Contributor

Posted in Amazon.com, Books & Reading, Electronics, Electronics, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, Energy & Power, Home Maintenance & Repair, News & Views, Non-Food Items, Reviews:, Self-Sufficient Living Saves Money, Solar Power, Stop! No! Don't Do It!, Warnings, Wind Turbines | Comments Off on WARNING – Power4Home System – Scam!

Get $100 FREE MONEY just for signing up for and using AARP Chase Visa

AARP Foundation Drive To End Hunger

 

Get $100 FREE MONEY just for signing up for and using AARP Chase Visa one time!

What’s the catch? All you have to do is sign up for (qualify for) an AARP Chase Visa credit card, use the card once to make ANY purchase, and make sure you pay your bill on time as you would with any other credit card. 

How does it happen? Like other cards that give you points, this card gives you points for certain purchases for as long as you use the card and as long as your account is active and in good standing. But as an incentive to get you to sign up for and use the card, AARP, CHASE, and VISA are offering the 10,000 bonus points on your first purchase. That first purchase (of any amount) qualifies you for 10,000 bonus points which you can redeem for a $100 check or any other reward you choose.

You do not have to make any other purchases to get the $100 cash bonus. All you have to do is pay off the charge you made on time. But, if you want to get more cash back or rewards you can. With every additional purchase you’ll earn even more points that you can turn into other great rewards. You’ll earn 3% cash back on travel and 1% on all other purchases. There are no limits on how many reward points you can rack up, as long as your account is in good standing.

> There is no annual fee.
> If you qualify you’ll also be offered an introductory rate of 0% for balance tranfers for the first year.

Bonuses of this kind use to be offered everywhere, back before the bank’s needed a bail out from our government. Since then bonuses and good points systems have been hard to come by. This bonus and cash back incentive program is being offered to help end hunger in America. It’s a combined effort between AARP, CHASE, and VISA. We think it’s worth applying for. Just make sure you’re good at paying off your credit cards. We’d hate to recommend a credit card to someone who ends up charging purchase but can’t afford to pay the balance. Our recommendation, for any credit card you use, is to pay the balance in full as soon as you can to avoid interest fees.

DETAILS ABOUT THE $100 CASH BONUS:

$100 Cash Back After First Use
As per AARP’s website offer details link: “You will receive 10,000 bonus points with this bonus offer, which can be redeemed for a $100 check. You will qualify for and receive your bonus after your first use of the card. First use includes using your account for purchases or balance transfers, or using any checks that access your account; cash advances are not included. After qualifying, please allow 6 to 8 weeks for bonus points to post to your account. To be eligible for this bonus offer, account must be open and not in default at the time of fulfillment. This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time card members with new accounts. Previous and existing card members/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer.”

For complete information and offer details click on the link below then click on the “offer details” link found on the right side of the page or Visit AARP.org and search for the AARP Drive To End Hunger Chase Visa Card Offer.
http://www.aarpcreditcard.com/

AARP Drive To End Hunger

 

 

 

 

We get nothing for sending you to AARP to sign up for this card except the satisfaction of helping you get $100 free money and helping feed hungry senior citizens in the United States.

I just applied moments ago. It took me less than five minutes and I got instant approval.
Here’s a screen shot of what you’ll see if you’re approved.
It states  “You will receive your new AARP credit card along with your Cardmember Agreement within 7 to 10 business days.”
Looking forward to my free $100 check and other rewards!

AARP Chase Visa Credit Card Instant Approval

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all Happiness, Good Health, and Prosperity
Michelle, Co-Founder www.PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com

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Posted in AARP, Banking & Finances, Credit & Debit Cards, Free Stuff, Non-Food Misc, Rewards Cards | Comments Off on Get $100 FREE MONEY just for signing up for and using AARP Chase Visa

CatholicMatch.com – Review

CatholicMatch.com Review


CatholicMatch.com - senior success

The last time I dated I was in my twenties. The last time I was in a serious relationship was more than 10 years ago, before my husband passed away. Serious is an understatement. He was my love, my friend, my soul mate, my match on heaven and earth. Just before he passed he made me promise to find someone to live the rest of my life with, someone with the same likes and dislikes, someone who would take care of me, respect me, and most of all someone who had the same religious views as I did. He wanted someone who would be kind and faithful. He wanted me and the kids to have a good man in our lives but he also wanted us to have a good provider. Life is tough enough as it is but it’s even tougher as a single mom on a single income raising 4 girls, all who are looking to get into college. I’m not a gold digger in any way. But my husband and I both very strongly believe in a man providing for his family and I my husband wanted me to meet a man who believed in that too because we had our children late in life. It was hard for him to talk about but it was important for us to talk about. And we agreed faith (our strict Catholic faith), being faithful, and a good provider was what the kids and I needed and deserved.

It was hard. It took me ten years to allow someone else in my life. In the first few years I really didn’t think it could happen, but it did. After getting set up by friends and family so many times I’d almost given up because no one really touched my soul, reached my soul, or my heart and my sensibilities. I saw commercials on TV for Jdate and thought there must be something like that for Christians. Well not just Christian. I was looking for Catholic, strict traditional Catholic. I asked around at my church and I was surprised to find several people recommended Catholic Match. So after talking with my girls, they gave me their blessings, and I gave it a try. I also have to say the entire process was easy, comfortable. I always felt safe. You’re allowed to look over profiles before committing to a subscription so you can see how you feel about it.

If you decide to go ahead and communicate with other singles the fees aren’t bad at all, considering how detailed selective it is. Being able to find someone who has the same religious views as I do was worth a lot to me. Their sign up process lets you get very detailed. You state what parish you belong to in your area, what Prayers and Sacrament preferences you have and you get to specify how important your faith is to you, even how you feel about contraception and premarital sex. I wasn’t expecting all that but I was very happy to see so much detail and thought goes into the profile process. It’s all very detailed and done in a respectful way and that’s what really impressed me.

If you subscribe for one month it’s $24.95. But once you look over the website and profiles and forums (for free) you’ll probably want to spend more time because there’s so many profiles to look at. And the more time you take to look them over and communicate with others, the less it costs. A three month subscription is only about $16.50 a month and if you sign up for 6 months it’s about $12.50 per month. And you even get dating advice and access to forums. I admit I looked over some of the articles, but I knew what I wanted and I knew to follow my heart and my devotion so advice was just something interesting to read.

If you’re like me you’ll want to take your time looking over profiles and communicating with other singles. Communicating doesn’t mean you have to go out on dates. You can take your time with that. That’s what I did and I’m glad I did because the to my greatest surprise, the first man I met, the first date I went on, I felt so comfortable. It was one of the most joyous and happy days in my life.

We’ve been on several dates since, we’re taking it slow, but when we’re together everything just seems to click. I’m not saying I’m about to marry him tomorrow, but I’m not ruling it out either. He truly makes me happy. And he tells me I make him happy too. And most importantly he believes in the same core values that I believe in. It’s like we were made for each other. I know that sounds corny but that’s really the way it feels.

I recommend Catholic Match to any Catholic. If you’re devout traditional Catholic, someone who only goes to Church on holidays, or Born Again, it doesn’t matter. As long as you are looking for a serious relationship and for someone who is honest about their faith. I know I’m just one person, but I’m one person who is very happy I followed my heart and my faith and I found they brought me to the same place. I can hardly believe I wrote this. I didn’t think I could because I’ve always been such a private pereson. But I’m glad I did. I only pray others who try this service will be as happy as I am.

Sarah B. – Atlanta GA
Volunteer Review Contributor for PracticalWaysToSaveMoney

Posted in Dating Services, Non-Food Items, Non-Food Misc, Recommended, Recommended Services, Recommended Websites, Reviews:, Services (misc non-medical), Website Services w/ Memberships, Websites | Comments Off on CatholicMatch.com – Review

Enter to WIN the GE Freshpedition Pinterest Sweepstakes! (ends 8/22/12)

Enter to WIN the GE Freshpedition Pinterest Sweepstakes!
GE-appliance-logo



 

 

 

You must have a Pinterest account to enter this sweepstakes.
Pinterest accounts are easy to create and free: http://pinterest.com/

Follow this link for official rules on how to enter the GE Freshpedition Pinterest Sweepstakes:
Make sure you sign up for your Pinterest account first!

http://www.freshpedition.com/sweepstakes/?omni_key=Freshpedition_sweeps_enews

This Sweepstakes ends 8/22/12 at 11:59:59 P.M., ET.

About the GE Freshpedition: http://www.freshpedition.com/#/about/

GE Freshpedition Sweepstakes
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweepstakes Official Rules:
http://www.freshpedition.com/sweepstakes/rules.htm
Sweepstakes Terms & Conditions:
http://www.geappliances.com/plcy/tandc2.htm


Posted in Appliances, Cooking, Home Goods & Decor, Kitchen, Non-Food Misc, Pinterest Promo Specials, Sweepstakes & Giveaways | Comments Off on Enter to WIN the GE Freshpedition Pinterest Sweepstakes! (ends 8/22/12)

AARP – Can They Help You Save Money?

AARP - The American Association of Retired Persons

AARP stands for the “American Association of Retired Persons”. But don’t let the “retired” part throw you. When you join AARP you become a member of a huge organization that advocates for people age 50 and older, retired or not, regardless of your economic status and political association. Just like iron workers, auto workers, plumbers, carpenters, teachers, cops and firefighters have their unions that fight for their needs and their rights, AARP fights for the needs and rights of all citizens 50 years and older.

One of AARP’s stated goals is to make sure getting older and retiring is affordable, which is why we pay close attention to everything related to AARP. What are they doing? Do they really save you money? Are they doing enough? Can they do more?

Another thing to keep in mind; in actuality, AARP isn’t just for older Americans. It’s for everyone.
Everyone needs to pay attention to what AARP does.
Why do we say that?

> Even if you’re 30 or even just 20 years old now, you’ll eventually be 50 and older and benefit by what AARP does now because AARP fights not only for today’s 50 and over crowd, but for future 50+ citizens. What AARP does now may very well affect you later in life.

> AARP’s actions can benefit anyone who has loved ones 50 and older because by making life easier and more affordable for those 50 and over it makes life better for everyone in the family – having less for everyone to worry about when it comes to the needs of those you love 50 and over, whether that be your parents, grand parents, sister, brother, aunt or uncle.

> AARP can also help the younger generation understand and deal with the needs of the older generation, acting something like a life coach for the entire family.

> AARP can also inform the younger generation about what they might expect in the future – laws, rights, and the cost of getting older.

> Even if you’re not an AARP member, AARP is fighting for your rights because AARP fights for the rights of all Americans 50 and older.

Besides their lobbying and advocacy efforts that benefits everyone, AARP’s yearly membership (currently $16) allows you to take advantage of discounts non-members don’t get. Sometimes this yearly membership dues can be worth the discounts alone, but sometimes these “discounts” aren’t as great as advertised, so we look at these offers and discounts and review them to see if they’re actually saving you money or if you can get an even better savings someplace else.

Along with fighting for your rights and offering discounts, AARP researches and offers information on a huge range of subjects such as health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, and all types of private insurance), life insurance, dental coverage, doctors & nurses, jobs & employment, money management, business management, loans, mortgages & reverse mortgages, home owner’s & renters insurance, safety, health, wellness & nutrition, exercise, product & service reviews, discounts, coupons, politics that affect you and your family (and your wallet), vacation and travel, 401K and IRAs, taxes, and so much more. It’s all about life and being able to afford and enjoy it, not only when you’re over 50, but as you approach retirement. It’s all about you, your family, and your future.

Retirement Savings & ExpensesBut this article isn’t just about AARP. It’s about you. Can you afford to retire? Will you be able to pay all of your expenses as you get older? Can you actually relax and enjoy retirement or will you need to work well into your 70s, and 80s?

These are subjects important to us, and we know they’re important to you too, and for that reason we’ll be posting detailed information about AARP, what they’re currently doing to help Americans save money, and even what more they can be doing. We hope you join us as we follow AARP because we feel what AARP does is of importance to all of us. And besides getting information on savings and discounts, there may be times when you’ll need to, or when you’ll want to get involved and have your voice be heard. So please stay in touch, and don’t be shy, because this is about you and your future.

For future posts regarding AARP click on the AARP link in the right margin of the page.
We’ve listed all of our subjects alphabetically, so they’re quick & easy to find. >>

To see what the current AARP membership cost is, to join, and to see details about what type of discounts & benefits you would currently receive as an AARP member, visit their website:

LEARN ABOUT AARP DISCOUNTS AND BENEFITS
JOIN AARP or RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP

Wishing you all Good Health, Happiness, and Prosperity
Dan, Michelle, Katie, and the entire crew of www.PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com

~ ~ ~

Posted in AARP, ACTION ALERTS, Announcements, Boycotts, Business Expenses, Car / Vehicle / Gas, Consumer Rights, Coupons, Dental / Dentists, Emergency Preparedness, Family Fun & Vacations, FICO Scores & Credit, Food & Groceries, Funerals / Burials/ Memorials, Health & Wellness, Home Maintenance & Repair, Homes - Buying & Selling, Insurance, Jobs & Employment, Making Extra Money $, Mortgages & Rent, News & Views, Non-Food Misc, Phones / Cell Phones / PDAs, Recommended, Recommended Services, Relocating / Moving, Retirement / IRA / 401K, Tax Rebates, Taxes, Transportation, Travel, Utilities - Cost & Supply, Vacations & Road Trips, Website Services w/ Memberships, Work From Home | Comments Off on AARP – Can They Help You Save Money?

LET COUPONS.COM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!

LET COUPONS.COM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!

Coupons.com

Coupons.com has changed their website format and there’s so much wrong with it. To begin, they no longer have numbered pages, but instead you must upload all pages at once to get to the last page. It also means you can’t jump from one page to another quickly. This new format takes a long time to find and review coupons and on older browsers and older computers it bogs down your CPU, sometimes freezing the page. It can take up to 15 minutes or longer just to see which coupons you might want. Changing your zip code is no longer easy either, and there are many glitches too, in result of these changes.

Users are starting to post their opinion on Coupon.com’s facebook page but each time we post our opinion on Coupon.com’s facebook page Coupon.com has removed our posts. We’re not sure why they’re trying to suppress our opinion, but we think everyone who is unhappy about the changes should head on over to Coupon.com’s fb page and protest the changes.

They make a lot of money on advertising – don’t let them get away with it. Don’t allow them to think you don’t deserve a website that is user friendly! Go to their facebook page and protest today!
http://www.facebook.com/couponscom

Sincerely,
Dan and the crew at PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com

Posted in ACTION ALERTS, Announcements, Coupon Websites, Coupons, News & Views, Non-Food Misc, Printable Coupons | Comments Off on LET COUPONS.COM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!

Mission Athletecare Enduracool Towel – Review

Mission Athletecare Enduracool Towel – Review

Can’t Afford Air Conditioning? Can’t Stand The Heat?
Try This New Product!

When we turned on our 10 year old living room air conditioner for the first time this summer it made such a loud and horrible grinding noise we had to shut it off immediately. The local repair man wanted $80 just to take a look at it, even if he did nothing to fix it. With that in mind, and facing 90+ degree days ahead, we thought it would be best to buy a new air conditioner with a warranty.

Good air conditioners are very expensive but I can’t stand to be hot. It makes me cranky and it even tends to make me dizzy. I also feel sick to my stomach when I’m too hot and I can get nothing done around the house or at work. So I really don’t have much of a choice when it comes to spending money on an air conditioner and the high electric bills it creates. Luckily we had some emergency money set aside and we used it on our new air conditioner. Our new a/c cost us over $300 and our electric bills have doubled since we’ve been running it – and it’s an energy efficient model! Geeez!

Enduracool towelsOne night, a few weeks after buying the new a/c, when I couldn’t find anything to watch on TV and couldn’t sleep, I saw an ad for the Enduracool Towel on HSN. And as I always do when I see a product I want to try, I jumped on the computer to compare prices and read reviews. I found them cheaper at Amazon.com along with reviews and videos that convinced me to order one. I also found a bunch of videos on YouTube. I prefer to buy from Amazon whenever possible because I trust that if I need to return something there won’t be any hassle. And while a few of the items Amazon sells are high in price, I often find items cheaper at Amazon than anywhere else.

So, what’s an Enduracool Towel? To be honest, I’m still not sure how it works. I just know it does work. I can describe it as thin and soft to the touch on your skin. It’s a special material, that when wet (damp, not dripping wet) and stimulated or “activated” by snapping it a few times, it becomes cool to the touch – about 65 degrees. And it will stay that way for about 2 hours (longer if you add more water and snap it again). It works in extreme heat, even if pressed against your warm body or in the sun for long periods of time.

You use it by wrapping it around your forehead, neck, or wrists. Or you can just lay it on your body, on your chest, stomach, legs, or back. It’s the coolness against your skin, against your arteries and veins, that cools you off and keeps you cool. All you need to do is get it wet and snap it (see video demonstration). You can use any kind of water, at any temperature too. And it can be washed because there are no chemicals to wash out. According to the manufacturer, it’ll last a life time if not abused or misused.

 

Honestly, I was extremely skeptical until I tried it for myself. It comes in two sizes. I ordered the regular (small). The day I got it in the mail it was 98 degrees outside. To test it I turned off my air conditioner, opened the windows to let the hot air in, and put the Enduracool Towel around my neck while I did house work. I tucked one end under my t-shirt in back and one in front. I immediately felt cooler, I even got a little “chilly” feeling. Then I started getting busy. Normally in that type of heat I’d feel so dizzy and sick I’d have to lay down and take a nap. But I didn’t get sick and I didn’t get over-heated. I was sold immediately and ordered another one for my husband. I also bought one for my best friend as a birthday gift.

I’d recommend this product for many reasons. It saves you money and makes you comfortable on the cheap – not having to pay high electric bills for air conditioning. You can take it to the gym or to sports games, whether you’re playing or a spectator. You can take it with you while traveling or while on vacation, when you go camping, to the beach, to the park, while gardening or doing yard work, in the kitchen while cooking. I even think it’s a great item to put in your emergency preparedness kit or GO BAG. And I think it makes a great gift for just about anyone. I know my neighbor would love one. She’s over 90 and can’t afford to pay air conditioning bills. And since heat can literally kill the elderly or those who are sick and have weak immune systems, I’ll bet there are millions of people who can benefit from this thing. I might even buy one for my sister’s dog. Not sure if claw marks would void any warranty though. 😉 And I’m thinking ahead to birthdays and the holidays. Yes at first it might seem like a strange gift for Christmas if you live where it snows, but unless you live in Alaska my guess is you’ll be hot at least a few months out of the year and who ever you give it to will appreciate it.

One towel that costs $10 to $25 (depending on size and where you buy it) in place of a $300+ air conditioner and hundreds of dollars a month in electric bills! There’s no comparison. The choice, to me, was obvious. This little diddy is now saving me hundreds of dollars a month and my wallet couldn’t be happier. And not having to close my windows allows me to breathe fresh air again instead of circulating the same chilled air in the house – that’s a virus waiting to happen.

Yes, we still have the a/c in the window, but we only use it when company comes over (they’ll have to buy their own Enduracool towels). But my husband and I no longer need the air conditioner for ourselves, even on the hottest day of the year so far, which was 101 degrees just last week!

I hope this review helps at least one person save money.

Happy Summer to everyone!!

Beth K.
PracticalWaysToSaveMoney Volunteer Contributor

Posted in Amazon.com, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, Family Fun & Vacations, Gardening: Grow Your Own Food!, Gifts (all ocassions), Health & Beauty, Health & Wellness, Holidays, Kitchen, Non-Food Items, Non-Food Misc, Pet Food & Supplies, Recommended, Recommended Buys, Recommended Products, Reviews:, Travel, Utilities - Cost & Supply, Vacations & Road Trips | Comments Off on Mission Athletecare Enduracool Towel – Review

Review of the documentary film “FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD”

Review of the documentary film 
FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD

FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEADWhy is an article about a movie about juicing on a website about saving money? Because being unhealthy and/or being overweight costs you a lot of money.

As you’ll see by watching this documentary, one heart attack alone can set you back over $56,000.00 plus the cost of monthly medicines which can be upwards to $500 or more per month. That’s if you live past the heart attack. If you die you leave your family with the cost of your burial (upwards to $7,000 to $10,000 or more) and the burden of living life without you, which can be very expensive if you’re the bread winner. It’s a fact that a heart attack is something nearly every obese person is on their way to. And even those of you who aren’t “fat” – you too – you’re on your way to a heart attack or other health issues if you eat processed foods and fast food.

There are also daily and yearly costs for being unhealthy and/or over weight. Everything from having to pay for extra large sized clothes to the cost of medications you may be taking (even OTC allergy medicines), diet pills and packaged diet foods that don’t work, paying more to fly because you can’t fit into an economy seat, and the cost of the food you’re shoveling in your mouth and so much more. Then there’s what some call the global cost of obesity and how it affects the economy. The nation’s rising rate of obesity has been well-chronicled, such as higher health insurance premiums everyone pays for and all kinds oif costs built into doing business. For example businesses having to build or buy wider seats for customers. This affects sports stadiums, medical offices, bus stops, restaurants and more. You can read more about this at MSNBC.com.

And, when you’re over weight or noticeably unhealthy it can keep you from getting a raise, advancing to a higher position, or keep you from getting a job at all. You’re even more prone to getting laid off or fired, if you don’t have a union or state laws protecting you. Why? Partly because employers don’t want employees that will cost them money (missed days due to health issues, slower productivity due to inability to do the job as well as someone who may be faster and/or more flexible or have more energy). And partly because most people discriminate – they look at over weight people as being lazy and irresponsible. And in some ways that’s true. Yes, I can say that because I’m fat and I know the truth. I’ve been overweight off and on for over 30 years.

Joe with local farmersIn my opinion Fat Sick & Nearly Dead is a must see film. It’s a very interesting documentary that holds your interest. But it’s not only interesting, it’s truthful and it’s inspiring. It’s about a man (Joe Cross) who is over weight and very unhealthy. On a quest to know more about his eating habits, and the eating habits of others, he drives cross country, talking with people about health, nutrition, and diet. And all along the trip he eats nothing but juice made from fresh fruits and veggies – for 60 days. He changes his life. He looses weight. And he gets healthy. And along the way he touches and changes the lives of others.

I hope everyone watches this documentary. And I beg my friends and family to please watch it too, and take it very seriously. I want everyone, especially the people I care about, to live as long as possible and be happy (healthy) all the while and I think watching this documentary may help.

Soon I’ll be driving cross country to visit with my parents. I’m not traveling to mimic what Joe Cross did. It’s just a coincidence – I just don’t want to fly. But that’s another story for another time. I own a Vitamix and I need to get healthy and loose weight so I’m seriously considering taking my Vitamix with me on my journey cross country and plug it into an power inverter or battery in the back of my car just like Joe did with his juicer, to make my meals along the drive.

The only difference between what I want to do and what Joe Cross did is my juice will contain all the fiber from the fruit and vegetables because I won’t be “juicing” as much as pulverizing fruits, veggies, and nuts to a liquid. That’s what a Vitamix does the best and the fiber is very good for you. I may also eat one apple or a fist full of nuts a day only because I know that if you don’t use your teeth to chew regularly you can cause dental problems (there are tiny muscles that hold your teeth in place and they need to be exercised – this can only be done by chewing). That too is another story for another time, which I probably will be writing about since dental problems can also be very expensive. But I don’t have to mimic what Joe did exactly. The idea is to eat as many healthy fruits and veggies as you can and little to no meats and processed foods.

Some things to think about as you watch the documentary:

I can tell you I once went on a juice fast and gained 30 pounds. That was many years ago and the reason I gained weight was that I only drank bottled processed fruit juice (very high in sugar), not fresh juice. And I did not juice any veggies. I won’t make that mistake again.

A “juice fast” is not really a fast like most people think. Most people think of eating nothing at all when fasting. A juice fast just means you’re eating no foods in solid form. But you are drinking the healthy juices of solid fruits and vegetables. And according to most doctors, as long as you don’t have any extreme health issues, this is something you can do for a prolonged period of time. If you do have health issues you can probably still do it, maybe with a little moderation (eating some solids), but you really should only do it under the strict supervision of a medical practitioner.

Joe Cross & Phil the truck driverIn his documentary Joe helps a truck driver he met, named Phil, go on a juice fast. Phil talks about how some of his family have been asking him if he wants to be cremated or buried, because he’s that unhealthy (over 400 pounds), and looks it. He talks about how sick he is, how much pain he’s in. He can’t even get normal medical tests done because he’s too large to fit in some machines and on some tables. His story really hit home with me. I know several people, including myself, who have at one time have been there or are now to that point. Some of these people are no longer with us, in part because of obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

Phil the truck driver started on a 10 day juice fast and was so inspired he went on to do another 20 days. He improved his heart function and health in just 30 days by doing the fruit & vegetable juice fast – all proven by medical tests. And of course he lost weight. His doctor’s words were “you’re much healthier than you were a month ago”. This is a man that just 30 days before could barely walk and was admittedly a cheeseburger away from death. He continued on the juice fast for another 60 days then after that he continued to eat a healthy and mainly plant based diet and continued to improve his health. He was able to stop all medications and get his cholesterol and triglycerides within normal ranges just by eating healthy and exercising. Yes, it took him weeks before he felt good enough to do anything more than just go for a short walk, but once he got going he got back to running, swimming, and going to the gym. And you could see it in him – he was truly enjoying his new found health and energy.

When I watched the clip of Phil running for exercise (after loosing over 100 pounds), and then tossing around a football with his young son, I cried because I just lost a family member to complications of obesity and his family, all of us, are missing him greatly. And I know I’m on my way to an early death too, like so many other family members and friends I know. We have to do something. All of us do. And if statistics are correct, over 60% of those reading this know exactly what I mean because you too are obese, overweight, gaingin weight, or know someone who is.

VegetablesAt one point in the documentary Joe is interviewing a man at a gun shop who says his brother is a doctor and a vegetarian who is dying of cancer. He didn’t go into if he ate organic or not. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers can cause cancer. So please don’t let that discourage you, just make sure you eat as much organic foods as you can afford. Growing your own food can fix that problem and as long as you are physically able and have a small yard, you can grow your own food – no excuses. I only wish I had a garden. Eating fresh whole fruits and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your health. No, you don’t have to give up bacon and burgers forever, but if you want to live a long, healthy and prosperous life you do need to eat healthy and not be fat.

Well, there’s not much more I can say except please watch this documentary. It’s available to watch in full right now, for free, at JoinTheReboot.com. Reboot refers to your body rebooting or restarting itself when you go on a juice fast and allow your body to “reset” itself for a healthy start.

If you have RealPlayer you can even download the documentary to your computer to watch later or share with others. Watch it with someone you love. Watch it with your family. And by the end of the documentary you’ll be inspired to get healthy and you’ll find there’s a place to go for help, information, and continued inspiration: www.JoinTheReboot.com. You can also go to the FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/FatSickandNearlyDead or purchase a copy from Amazon.com: Fat Sick & Nearly Dead

Please don’t get discouraged when you go to JoinTheReboot.com and find Joe Cross does sell juicing machines. While he may be making a small amount of money from selling juicers on the side that’s not the reason he made the documentary and you’ll also find by watching the documentary that he’s not in need of the money he makes from selling them.  And, you don’t have to buy a juice from him. You can go to any number of websites or stores to buy your juicer or food pulverizer like a Vitamix or the Nutri Bullet.

I also highly recommend watching the documentary Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock. In fact in my opinion it’s also a must see film. Watch it back to back with FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD for a good dose of reality. The first scene alone (children singing) is eye opening. This documentary is available for under $10 at Amazon.com and is also currently offered at Hulu.com to view online for free, although there will be commercials just like on regular TV. And, if you have RealPlayer you can download it from Hulu to your computer for free.

Healthy Loving HeartsOne last note: To those of you who don’t support friends and family, by eating fattening and addictive food in front of those who are dieting, please reconsider your actions. Please know that not only are you causing problems for that person in your life who is trying to eat  healthy, but you’re also pushing yourself closer to an early death. If you love and care about your friends and family you’ll do everything within your power to help them do what needs to be done to get healthy and live a long and happy life.

Thanks for visiting and reading. And thank you for your time. I hope you take the time to watch the documentary in full (while it’s still free) and share it with others.

Shelly M.
Volunteer Contributor for www.PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com

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For those of you who are not aware, the USDA has changed the food pyramid yet again. Due to their indecisiveness on this subject, and due to the fact that the old pyramids just weren’t helping, some doctors, nutritionists and naturopaths have come up with their own, based on science and experience. This is it. These are the types of foods you should be eating and in the correct proportions. You can learn more about this at http://www.drfuhrman.com/. Dr. Fuhrman is well known and respected. He’s been seen on PBS and other television and news channels. Dr. Fuhrman is the author of several health and nutrition books, including Eat to Live and Fasting and Eating for Health, and is the doctor that helped Joe Cross to make sure he was getting the proper nutrition during his 60 day juice fast.

Food Pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Announcements, Cooking, Films & Movies, Gardening: Grow Your Own Food!, Health & Wellness, News & Views, Recommended, Recommended Films | Comments Off on Review of the documentary film “FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD”

BOX TOPS & LABELS FOR EDUCATION FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

Box Tops & Labels For EducationBOX TOPS & LABELS FOR EDUCATION FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

This is our second Box Tops & Labels for Education Facebook Giveaway.  The giveaway starts right now. See rules below:

1. You must “like” this website. See facebook button or link in the top right index to “like” us here. You have to be a facebook member to “like” our website.

2. You must “like” our facebook page (no fair liking us just to enter then unliking us later). Liking us will also allow you to receive our other announcements regarding future giveaways and articles. You have to go to our facebook page to “like” it. Click on this link to go to our facebook page. A new browser window should open so you’re not taken away from this website. Sorry, but this giveaway is for facebook users only. We will have other giveaways in the future, that anyone can participate in.

3. You must “like” our official post on facebook announcing the giveaway rules. This has just been posted, the clock is ticking. The first line of the facebook post you must like and comment on is: OFFICIAL BOX TOPS & LABELS GIVEAWAY STARTS NOW!

4. To win all of the Labels and Box Tops we have on hand you must be the first person to post a comment on our facebook page under the official post announcing this giveaway. There are also prizes for runners up. See # 5 for info regarding runners up.

5. We’ll send the next 3 runner’s up a free sample item, randomly picked from our grab bag of goodies. Value about $1 to $2.

6. We’ll announce who the winners are, on our facebook page, within 24-48 hours and give instructions on sending us a home mailing address.

7. To decide who was first (who gets the Labels & Box Tops) and the three runners up, we go by how it is displayed by facebook, on our screen.

8. Individuals and organizations (PTAs and such) are welcome to participate but if you participate as an organization or business you are not allowed to sell or raffle off the labels, you must turn them in for items needed for a school or other educational supplies.



 

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ABOUT OUR BOX TOPS & LABELS GIVEAWAYS:

We often accumulate Box Tops for Education and Labels for Education from our volunteer admins, neighbors, friends, and family who donate them to us because their children a no longer in school or they don’t know a teacher who collects them. We in turn give them away to our facebook friends by posting a notice on facebook when we have some available, then giving them to the first to reply to the post.

We’d like to give an official shout out to all who like our page, post on our page, and/or send us emails regarding Box Tops for Education or Labels for Education. We’re proud to do what we can to help children and teachers. Feel free to let us know how these programs have helped your school by posting comments on our facebook page or in the comment box below – it will lift our spirits and help spread the word to others about collecting and clipping box tops and labels.

We never know how many labels we’ll have available and exactly when we’ll have enough to offer them, but it’s usually once a month or every 3 months. To be eligable for our box tops and labes giveaways be sure to like us on facebook, follow the rules posted, and check our facebook status daily, then respond when we post that we have labels to send out. The first one or two to respond will get that group of box tops and labels. We hate to make it a race but with so many people needing them it seems the fairest way. If we have a large amount, we can send out to more than the first one or two who respond.

For those of you not yet familiar with these programs, they are an on going effort by Campbell’s (Labels) and General Mills (Box Tops) to help parents & teachers, educators, and schools get free or low cost school supplies or merchandise and cash by clipping labels from cans, boxes and other packages (as proof of purchase).

You can also earn Box Tops & Labels from companies who partner with Campbell’s and General Mills, and on the web at participating websites. Please visit each program website (click on the images below) for complete details.

Box Tops for Education allows you to turn them in for cash.
Box Tops for Education

Labels for Education allows you to turn them in for supplies.
Labels for Education

 

Anyone can collect Box Tops and Labels, but only registered participants of the programs can redeem them for cash or merchandise. Please visit each program website (click on the images above) for details.

Wishing you all Happiness, Good Health, and Prosperity
Michelle and the crew at PracticalWaysToSaveMoney
www.PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com
http://www.facebook.com/PracticalWaysToSaveMoney

 

Posted in Announcements, Box Tops for Education, Facebook Promo Specials, Free Stuff, Labels for Education, School & Office Supplies, Sweepstakes & Giveaways | Comments Off on BOX TOPS & LABELS FOR EDUCATION FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

Ode To Barter & Trading

This is our first article dedicated to barter and trade. This article was first posted in August 2010 on our sister website (barterandtrading.org) which our volunteers hosted but has been reposted here since the old website has merged with PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com. The old websites will be gone by the 17th of July, leaving volunteers to concentrate all of their efforts here, at PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com as well as our facebook page and YouTube page coming soon. We hope you find this article interesting, but mostly we hope you find it inspiring. We invite you to post your comments.

Barter & Trading SymbolOde To Barter & Trading

This website and our corresponding facebook page were created by a group of people who want to help people save money, and who also realize the great value and potential barter and trading (and swapping and swap meets) have to impact and improve lives. We believe barter and trading makes it possible for individuals and businesses to afford things they normally might not be able to afford, simply by using the age old practice of trading services and/or goods for services and/or goods instead of relying solely on paper money and or coins.

It’s our opinion that for too long now we (“modern” society) have been conditioned to think the only way we can obtain the things we need is to work ridiculously hard (usually for someone else), usually being made to feel inferior, feeling used and abused, in hopes that someone will be willing to pay us a decent and fair wage in the form of paper money or coins so we can go to someone else and get what we need. But one of the problems we’re quickly discovering during these hard times is when there are no regular jobs available for us, when those who can hire us can’t afford to pay us in the customary fashion (paper money and coins), won’t pay us what we’re worth, or can’t afford to pay us what we need to survive, we all begin to suffer. And this suffering, this inability to obtain and spend paper money and coins, then spreads like a disease. Economists call this disease recession, the great depression, unemployment… well, you get the idea.

One of our goals is to gather and disseminate information about barter and trading so all people can understand and utilize the practice of barter and trade. We hope this will help make people’s lives and businesses as prosperous and successful as possible.

We’ve all been brainwashed to worship money, and we’ve become so dependent on it that obtaining and owning it seems almost as essential as the air we breathe. We feel it’s time we all stop assuming only man made money and coins are of value. And we hope hard working people can stop worrying only about how much money they have, but instead expand their horizons to their see their self worth, to realize and use all of the things and skills they have to offer.

Trading Grain for Fruit - Trading Crops You GrowWe believe in a world where working for money should not have to be the only way, or have to be the main way to obtain the things we need. We believe in a world where people should be encouraged to use the simple act of trading goods and/or services so they don’t have to rely so heavily on “the economy” and on man made money and coins, which can become so scarce so quickly. Think about it. You may not have a job, but you may still be able to trade your services or goods for what you need. To us this means you have much greater worth then most of us are led to believe. Your mind, your labor, your skills, your time, your possessions, the goods you make and create or grow and catch, all have value and you do NOT always need to have a job (or a second job, or a high paying job) to get what you need and what you want.

No, we’re not anti-work, we’re not anti-establishment or anti-government, and we’re not anti-capitalism. What we are is pro-people. We choose to think outside the box, to not allow others (bankers, bosses, closed-minded thinking) make us believe the only way we can obtain the things we need and want is by working for someone else (and hoping they pay us a fair wage) or by working only for paper money and coins. We believe greatly in the worth of the individual, and our ability and our right to use something other than the so-called “all mighty dollar” (or the pound, Euro, yen, rupee, etc.) to get the things we need and want. We believe in the free trade of our services and goods without being forced to first turn it into paper money and coins and without having to be a slave to an employer or to a low wage job, feeling like that’s our only option to make money and get the things we need for ourselves and our family.

Yes, we do understand the history of money and the need for money, for some things. We do understand the reason money was created as a standard unit of measure and legal tender, and we understand all of its intended practicalities. But we also feel very strongly that making people believe money is the only way to obtain the things they need is irresponsible and serves to hold many people back, keep them from improving their lives, and keeps them under the thumb and at the mercy of banks and bosses, and “the economy”. We want people to know the use of barter and trade can often take the place of money they don’t have so they can obtain the things they need and want. Our goal is to not only spread the word about how barter and trading can often be as useful as money, but we also want to do what we can to make the practice of barter and trade more widespread and accepted in our “modern” society. We want to help people get ahead through the use of barter and trade, and hopefully help them live better, happier, less stress-filled lives in the process.

For those who aren’t familiar with barter and trading we’d like to point out that barter and trade has been used for commerce for thousands of years, comes in many forms, and can be utilized in many ways, in ways most people may never even consider at first. In the near future we’ll be adding articles and tips pointing out the many different ways barter and trade can be used, how to network, sharing examples of true life barter and trade success stories, and how to spread the word.

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Barter - We Have A DealOur ultimate goal on this subject is to gather and disseminate as much information about barter & trading as we possibly can so that all people can understand and utilize the practice of Barter and Trade, and save money. We hope this will help make people’s lives and businesses as prosperous and successful as possible.

Spreading the word is very important. In order for barter and trade to truly catch on in main stream society, be useful to everyone, and become a fully accepted practice in our society, we need to spread the word and help others understand how important it is and how to use it. For this reason we’re using this website and our facebook page to spread the word about barter and trade.

So, if you haven’t already, please share this page and web site with friends, family, and colleagues. And if you’re a facebook user please “like” this website and take a few moments to click through to our facebook page and click on the “like” button, then use the “share” link on our facebook page (next to the “like” button) to share our page and ask everyone on your facebook friends list to do the same. The more people we can get behind and understand all the different was to save money, including the barter & trade movement, the better it will be for everyone!

If you have any suggestions or feedback please feel free to contact us either through the “contact us” page on this website or by posting on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PracticalWaysToSaveMoney

Thank you for your support.
Wishing you all Good Health, Wealth, and Happiness!

Dan, Michelle, Karen, and the rest of the crew at PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com / PWTSM.com

Website: http://www.practicalwaystosavemoney.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PracticalWaysToSaveMoney
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PWTSM

Posted in Barter & Trading, Flea Markets, News & Views, Swap Meets | Comments Off on Ode To Barter & Trading

Welcome Barter & Trading Enthusiasts!!

Welcome Barter & Trading Enthusiasts!!

Barter & Trading SymbolToday we’re officially welcoming our Barter & Trading friends who have joined us here on our PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com website and facebook page. The volunteers who helped launch and manage barterandtrading.org are joining our team to combine both websites and both facebook pages as we combine our passion for barter and trading with saving money. After all, they do go hand in hand.

This combining of sites and pages will allow us to post to one single website and facebook page (PracticalWaysToSaveMoney) and will help us conserve on what it has been taking us all to run two websites and two facebook pages. So now it will only be one website and one facebook page (and a YouTube page coming soon) under the subject and title of PracticalWaysToSaveMoney and PWTSM. It will make it much more manageable for our volunteers to research and post information now that it’s all combined.

Facebook users – If you haven’t already, please go to our facebook page and “like” us there, then share our page and website with your friends and family.

Thank you for your support. Please continue to share our website and facebook page with friends, and in the future our YouTube page too!

Wishing you all Good Health, Wealth, and Happiness!!

Dan, Michelle, Karen, and the rest of the crew at PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com & PWTSM.com

Website: http://www.practicalwaystosavemoney.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PracticalWaysToSaveMoney
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PWTSM

Posted in Announcements, Barter & Trading | Comments Off on Welcome Barter & Trading Enthusiasts!!

Tears for Sears AND JC Penney – Everyone Suffers

Tears for Sears AND JC Penney – Consumers, Employees, and Stockholders All Suffer

JC Penney ShoppersOn January 26th we posted an article about the new JC Penney marketing and price structuring campaign and we predicted it would cause problems for consumers and employees alike. Our prediction was so scary we even took heat from loyal JCP employees who harrassed us here and on our facebook page.

Unfortunately it looks like we were right. The backlash has begun. And it’s one of those times when we hate to be right. Not only did JC Penney’s restructuring plans cause layoffs nearly a year before consumers were told about the changes, but it also seems consumers are rejecting the “new” JCP and financial problems are the result, just like the types of problems Sears is now having as they try to get past the many troubles and changes made over the years. Not that we have anything against Sears right now (but let us not forget the infamous car repair scandal from the early 1990s), but when must remember that when any company is revered by and trusted by millions they have a responsibility to do better by consumers, and by their employees (not to mention stock holders). Whether you’re a fan of JCP and Sears or not, they are needed in order to keep stores like Walmart and Kmart from becoming monopolies – competition is needed to keep prices down all around. Irresponsible decisions affect millions in many ways, and now both JCP and Sears has a lot of fixin to do.

JC Penney layoffsBut at this time it’s hard to tell if the reduced revenue JC Penney is experiencing is due to it’s new sales and price policy or due to its advertising campaign which included a non-biased view of same sex couples, or both. Here’s a link to some comments JCP workers and shoppers are posting about these subjects: (scroll down the page when you get there, for the comments)http://ecorporateoffices.com/JCPenneyCorporationInc-1969 

We will be the first to admit it is a hard decision to make, if you boycott a company because you don’t like their policies, sales, and/or pricing, your decision affects employees. But we must also think about our own wallets when we shop. We are not going to debate the issue of same sex couples (there is no “debate” to be had anyway, it’s a civil rights issue) but we do see the decisions JCP has made this past year regarding their prices and sales policies as something they need to reconsider, and this does in fact affect millions of people’s wallets.

Writing to JC Penny and telling them what you want by way of prices and sales is one way to help yourself and the country (your economy, the country’s economy, and those affected by lost JCP jobs). These days we feel snail mail gets the most attention when it comes to protests. When thousands of emails are sent they can easily be deleted or ignored, but when thousands of letters arrive at company headquarters someone has to open and read them, they have to land on someone’s desk. Phone calls are also very hard to ignore.

Here’s how to contact them:

J C Penney Corporation, Inc
Corporate Office & Headquarters
6501 Legacy Drive
Plano, TX 75024
(972) 431-1000

JCPenney

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Posted in ACTION ALERTS, Announcements, Bathroom, Bed & Bath, Boycotts, Car / Vehicle / Gas, Children / Babies / Infants, Children's Clothes, Children's Clothing, Home Goods & Decor, Jobs & Employment, Kitchen, Men's Clothes, Men's Clothing, News & Views, Non-Food Misc, Sales, Women's Cloths | Comments Off on Tears for Sears AND JC Penney – Everyone Suffers

ABOUT YOUR FICO SCORE (credit score)

ABOUT YOUR FICO SCORE (credit score)

Your FICO® Score (pronounced FY-koh), also known as your “credit score” is a system used for scoring your credit, loan, and payment history. The reason it’s called your “FICO” score is because the system was developed by and is owned by a company called FICO (formerly known as the Fair Isaac Corporation). Although there are other companies that analyze credit scores, FICO is the most popular, the one most banks, businesses, utilities (including cell phone companies), credit reporting agencies, and employers use.

FICO is a company that provides analytics and decision making services, including credit scoring and credit risk analysis, to help other companies (credit rating agencies, banks, stores, employers, etc.) so they can make decisions regarding finances. Companies usually offer better interest rates on mortgages or automobile loans and higher credit limit amounts to people with higher scores. Some insurance companies may quote higher rates, utilities may require larger deposits, cell phone companies may deny services, and some employers may decide to hire or not hire someone based on an individuals credit reports, with the assumption someone with a lower credit score or with unsatisfactory reports may not be a responsible individual.

Yes, that means the company FICO makes money from the formula they created that analyzes your credit history and worthiness and the credit, and the companies that use this formula (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) sell their findings to just about anyone who will pay for it. And, you are at the mercy of your credit score and credit reports when it comes to your reputation for worthiness when getting a loan, a credit card, mortgage, insurance, services & utilities, and sometimes even when getting a job.

FICO scores range from 300-850 and are calculated based on information supplied to FICO by there major credit bureaus’ individual reports (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). This means you have three FICO scores, one for each of the three credit bureaus. They are not averaged out, they are reported and considered individually.

When someone wants to know your FICO score they might look at all three (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian), but since it costs money to buy a FICO score report many companies only look at one. And until or unless you are turned down for something due to your FICO score, you are not legally entitled to know which FICO score a company buys or considers. That means you can’t predict which of your three scores a bank will consider when you ask for a loan or which three scores an employer will consider when you apply for a job. For this reason it’s very important to make sure all of the information Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian has is correct. This way you insure you get the best (highest) FICO score possible for all three credit reporting agencies. The only way to make sure the information reported by Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian is correct is if you have a copy of the reports. In some cases you may have to buy this information.

Got that? The companies FICO, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian collect all the information regarding anything related to your financial history (information from your entire lifetime) and use that information to create a report about you and give you a numerical rating based on the information they collect. Then FICO, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian all get to sell your scores and reports to others, including you.

Your FICO score is currently based on five key pieces of information (listed below). This is known as the components of your FICO score. We say your score is “currently” based on this information because in the past this formula has been different and in the future it can change.

> 35% of your score is based on the timeliness of your bill payments (if you pay your bills on time or if you pay late).
> 30% of your score is based on your level of debt (how much you owe compared to how much credit already available to you).
> 10% of your score is based on the types of accounts you have (credit cards, loans, mortgage, insurance, utilities, student loans, court judgments, tax liens, child support payments you make, etc.).
> 15% of your score is based on the length of time you’ve had credit (how long you’ve been paying bills of any kind).
> 10% of your score is based on the number of recent credit applications (credit cards, loans, etc.).

And although your score is based five “areas”, this is not the only information about you that’s collected by Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian and sold to others. They also collect personal information such as every address you’ve ever lived at, every telephone number you’ve ever had, who were your present and past employers, and they have a record of any company you ever had an account with (stores, utilities, banks, etc.), they keep a record of any judgments you may have had against you in court, any lawsuits against, arrests, large fines that may have been levied against you, child support payments assigned to you, and they may also keep a record of your marital status and your family members, especially children and spouses. You should also keep in mind that in order for these companies to collect this information they have access to your social security number, your tax statements, and your employment records, and much more.

You can purchase your three credit scores directly from FICO or you can purchase your three reports from the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) by visiting their websites. You can also buy this information from a growing amount of companies that offer “3-in-1” credit reports, and other related products and services advertised to help you keep track of your score and, they claim, to help you improve it. Many of these companies use deceptive advertising to get you to pay for their services, so be very careful before paying anyone for any information.

But, it’s important you know that as a result of the FACT act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) passed by Congress, every legal U.S. resident is legally entitled to one free copy of each of the three credit reports (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) once a year. This does not mean you’re entitled to know your score. It just means you’re entitled to the information compiled and used to create your score – your credit reports. This law (the FACT act) is monitored by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). You can request  your free copy of all three reports by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is a website created and controlled by the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to make it easier for them to process requests.

You are also legally entitled to a free copy of any report that was used in a discussion to turn you down for a loan or credit card. For example, if you apply for a credit card and you’re turned down the credit card company (or store) is required to tell you which credit reporting agency they used to make their decision and you then in turn are legally entitled to a copy of the report. Problem is, even though you’re legally entitled to these reports it can be as hard as pulling teeth to get these companies to give them to you. And even though it’s the law that they give you these reports, we’ve heard about many complaints that the law is rarely enforced. In fact, from what we’ve been told, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone to respond to your complaints of not getting your free credit reports when you ask for them.

And although it may seem like a daunting task, it’s very important that everyone obtain their three credit reports and check them for accuracy regularly (at least once a year). The reason for this is not only so you can monitor what’s going on with your FICO score and financial reputation, but also to make sure the information contained in these reports is correct. Mistakes on credit reports are very common. And, when you monitor your credit reports, you can also look for information that may indicate identity theives are trying to steal your identity or gain access to your finances. If there’s any activity you don’t recognize that would indicate possible identity theft or fraud has been attempted and is possibly still happening. Please be sure to visit this FTC.gov web page for more detailed information about how to deal with and prevent identity theft and problems with your credit report: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/detect.html

Lastly, in recent years many business have begun to suspect FICO scores can no longer accurately predict a person’s credit-worthiness as well as claimed, or as well as in the past. This is in part due to the game changing economics we’re all experiencing in the United States in recent years. We’re in uncharted territory, all of us, consumers and lenders. In fact some banks no longer use FICO scores. They will instead purchase your credit reports and use a different way to analyze if you’re a high risk or not. This may or may not be a trend that’s just begun, but for now the great majority of banks, companies, and employers still buy and use FICO scores and credit reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian to decide if you’re someone they want to do business with.

If you’re upset and confused by all of this, you’re not alone. But it will literally take an act of Congress to change any of it. We don’t want to turn this into a political debate but you should keep this in mind the next time an election comes around. Educate yourself on the specifics of how your elected officials vote on these issues, then contact lawmakers, let them know how you feel, and vote for those who will do the best thing for you, the working class in America.

Posted in ACTION ALERTS, Announcements, Consumer Rights, Credit / Debit Card Theft, FICO Scores & Credit, Identity Protection & Security, Insurance, Jobs & Employment, Mortgages & Rent, News & Views, Phones / Cell Phones / PDAs, Utilities - Cost & Supply, Warnings | Comments Off on ABOUT YOUR FICO SCORE (credit score)

When you can’t get a refund you deserve: About Charge-backs & Payment Disputes

WHEN YOU CAN’T GET A REFUND
or
WHEN YOU CAN’T GET AUTO-SHIPMENTS TO STOP

All too often we consumers are faced with paying good money for shoddy workmanship, poor quality merchandise, and sellers who won’t do the right thing. It seems customer service and quality control are nearly non-existent these days. It can be very frustrating, even maddening, when a seller or company won’t issue a refund you’re due or when they try to force you to pay for something you don’t want or didn’t order. Most of the time these issues happen when you buy items through the mail or from the Internet because many sellers take advantage of not being face to face with their customers when they want a refund or customer service. Many hope you’ll just give up. But if you take the proper precautions you can reduce your frustration and get what you deserve. One of the first things you need to know is paying for products and services with a credit card is a great way to protect yourself. Not paying by debit or check cards, but credit cards.

If a company/seller will not give you a refund you’re due, or if they ship you products and charge your credit card without your permission (or ship after you asked for the shipments to stop), or won’t stop charging you a monthly/yearly fee for a membership or service, you have the option of initiating a complaint with your credit card company (the bank or company that issued your card) who can intervene on your behalf and try to get the charges and shipments/payments to stop and/or get you a refund if one is due. Virtually every bank and credit card issuer gives you this protection. This dispute process the bank will help you with is called a payment dispute, disputed charge, or “charge-back”.
 
WHEN YOU ARE DUE A REFUND
In most cases, as long as you are legally due a refund, and have taken all the proper steps in an attempt to get your refund on your own, you will get your refund if you initiate a charge-back through your bank or credit card issuer.

STOP AUTO-SHIPMENTS / MONTHLY MEMBERSHIPS
If you can prove you asked for the shipments to stop, your credit card issuer can help you stop them, keeping you from being billed for these unwanted shipments. If you were already charged for the shipments, they can assist you in getting a refund. Legally, if you did not ask for an item to be shipped to you, you do not have to pay for it and you do not have to return it. Unfortunately though, even if you’re legally in the right, if you do not ship an item back (after getting your refund) the seller will probably report you to the credit rating agencies as a non-payer and this can lower your FICO score.

AUTO-SHIPMENTS. THE GAME:
Many items sold on late night TV have an auto-shipment clause in fine print of their Terms and Conditons of Sale or Service. Meaning, when you place the order you are essentially agreeing to auto-shipment of additional product, usually monthly. If the seller is legitimate all you have to do is follow their clear instructions to end shipments (usually just an email or click through on a link on their website will do the trick, sometimes a phone call is needed). But if the seller is shady they will either make it difficult to contact them about stopping shipments, or they will simply ignore your requests. This is a game commonly played by many mail order companies. They make a profit from those who do not know their rights or who are not capable of fighting for their rights. This is why using a credit card for payment is very smart and the best way to protect your self.

Auto-shipments are sometimes also referred to as memberships. Memberships can also be a type of dues or monthly payment for services or access to a website and information.

How does a disputed charge or charge-back work?

> First you need to follow the seller’s written (published) return/refund policy or termination of membership/shipments policy. That means if their policy is that you call them to get a refund or stop shipments, then you must call them. If they want you to send a letter, you must send a letter. If you must contact them within 30 days, make sure you do so, don’t wait 31 days then expect a refund. Just do exactly what the seller’s policy indicates. Keep records of the steps you take.

> After you give the seller a reasonable amount of time to take proper action, if they do not, you call your credit card issuer and tell them you want to dispute a charge (if you are due a refund for a one time payment or if you are getting shipments you don’t want and being charged for the shipments).

> Typically what happens next, during this call to your credit card company, is you are transferred to a special department, your statement regarding the details of the problem will be taken by phone, and your credit card issuer will most likely also ask you to fill out a form they mail to you.

> When the form comes in the mail you fill it out and sign it (like an affidavit swearing to the facts, that the information you gave is correct), and send it back to them immediately. The normal requirement is that they get it back within 10 days. So don’t delay, fill it out, sign it, and get it back to them ASAP.

> The credit card issuer then informs the seller of your dispute (by sending them a copy of your sworn statement) and gives the seller time to resolve the problem (issue refund, stop shipments, etc.) or the seller must convince the credit card issuer why they should not. The bank usually gives seller’s 30-45 days to comply.

> If you have taken all the right steps, if you have done everything right, if you are legally entitled to the refund you’re asking for (or other action), you will get your refund or end of membership (stop shipments).

> In many cases you will get a refund before the 30-45 days. This refund will be issued to you as a credit to your card statement by the bank (credit card issuer) on the condition that everything you claimed is true and correct. This is often called a “provisional” credit. Most banks will send you a letter by mail informing you about this credit or refund.

> The bank then gets their money back (the money the refunded to you) from the seller. However, if it is found you were wrong, if you were not legally entitled to a refund, the amount refunded to your card will be charged to your card once again. This is rare, as long as you are telling the truth and you are in fact legally due the refund you asked for.

> In extremely rare cases a bank may issue you a refund even though you are not legally entitled to one. For example if you waited past the seller’s 30 day refund policy or if you cannot prove you were ripped off. This is done solely at the discretion of the bank. Basically what it comes down to in cases like this is the bank feels you are entitled to a refund but legally they cannot make the seller refund your money. So the bank may, as a courtesy to you, issue you a refund. Again, this is rare. This kind of “gift” is usually reserved for a bank’s upper tier clientele, those that have a lot of money invested or who generate a lot of business with the bank. Some business credit card accounts are also afforded this kind of privilege.
 
Hopefully you did not pay with a debit card since most debit cards do not have this kind of buyer protection. 
 
IF YOU PAID BY CHECK OR MONEY ORDER
If you paid by check or money order it is more complicated, because when you pay with a check or money order a seller cannot force you to pay for the extra shipments you don’t want, but they can report you to the credit bureaus for non-payment (even if you asked for them to stop shipments) and this can lower your FICO score. If this happens you should contact your state’s Attorney General’s office and ask how to proceed. They may assist you or they may refer you to a different department, possibly the department of consumer affairs. Which department they refer you to may depend on what the item or service is that you are reporting a problem with. For example, billing disputes regarding insurance companies or a health care provider often have a special department assigned to them. There are also special departments to deal with financial agencies. Each state may have a different agency or policy for what department will handle your complaint, but every state has an agency or department to help consumers.
 
We sincerely hope this information helps you.

Posted in Consumer Rights, News & Views, Warnings | Comments Off on When you can’t get a refund you deserve: About Charge-backs & Payment Disputes