Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From Scam to Scram! Credit Card Follow-Up.

When I finished my last posting about the credit card scammers, I said that I would be calling  to speak with supervisor.  Here is what happened:

I called and was connected to a supervisor after the representative on the phone apologized to me for what had happened.

After explaining the situation to the supervisor, she asked me what I wanted her to do about it.  Could she at least have come up with a solution on her own?

"I want my money put back into my checking account and I will pay you in January, when that amount was due, that is what I want!"

She agreed but never apologized for what had happened.  

I also inquired as to why, when they call, do they not state who they are and only ask if "so and so" is home?

At first she said she didn't know why the collection dept. did that, but stated that it is the policy.  I suggested that possibly, if they said who was calling, the person called may hang up.  "Yes, that could be the reason," the supervisor responded.

If only she had shown as much concern about what was done as did the first representative I spoke with, I would be inclined to continue using the card.  But instead, she chose to act as if the matter was just another annoyance to her.

Goodbye credit card. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sometimes Credit Card Companies Are Better Scammers Than The Scammers.

My morning starts off with a call from one of my credit card companies.  They don't state right away who they are, they just ask for my husband. I ask them who is calling, they tell me and then they ask if I am "Shelley," since my name is also on the account.

I ask them why they are calling.  Apparently my payment is 5 days late. What payment?  I have no statement.  The representative tells me that some customers have said that they hadn't received their statements, possibly with all the Christmas mail, maybe things just got lost.  This is interesting.

I am then told that she will waive the late charges if I pay right now.  Since I am not at my computer, I can't see the statement, the late charges or anything else to know what I will be paying for.

I am given a total amount due and told this is what I have to pay in order to get the late charge removed.  I take her word for it and give her my checking account number etc., so she can show that I made a payment in good faith.

When I was able to get to the computer, I checked and realized that I did not actually owe the amount this representative told me I owed. What I really owed were the charges from  last month's statement only - the one I never received.  The representative also had me pay for the current month's charges which were not due until 1/21/11. She just lumped the totals together.  Now I am angry. She also did not reveal to me an interest payment for the money owed, charged to my account, which she obviously did not remove.

I quickly called the credit card company and got a very nice representative. She said that I have an excellent payment record and removes the "interest" charge. She also lets me know that on the next month's statement, I will again see interest charges for the days the payment was overdue.  I am to call when I get this statement and this will be removed.

So here is the scam:  I don't have my statement.  I am given an amount to pay.  I pay it.  I find that I have overpaid.  Now they have more of my money than they should have.  And I have to wait for my account to get credited for the late fee and the interest.  They now owe me money.  I will be calling to speak with a supervisor after the holiday. I will ask them to reimburse me the interest I am charging them for having more of my money than they actually were entitled to at this date.

All this because I never received a statement. And now I have the burden of having to call them to get the other fees reversed.

This is the first time I have ever experienced this situation.  I am telling you about it so it doesn't happen to you. 

I will not be using this credit card again.  My business will be better served elsewhere.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Opening A Bottle of Wine The Easy Way

I need to update a previous posting about an electric wine bottle opener.  While I enjoyed using it, I was getting tired of having to recharge it.

When I opened my "wine accessories drawer," I found an old Screwpull by Le Creuset, wine bottle opener.

It is called a "Pocket Corkscrew," and you can't ask for an easier way to open a bottle of wine, no recharging necessary!  It has a small knife on the side to cut the foil so no need for an additional foil cutter, which is also available on many sites, including

The one I found in the drawer was all taped up since it was old, but it worked perfectly.  I went out and purchased a new one for $14.99.  These are not hard to find, but I purchased mine at

There is another version of this one called "The Table Model," and it functions the same way.  It is just a matter of your handle type preference. This one does not have a small knife  so you will need a foil cutter or your own knife. There is a Table Model which comes with  a foil cutter but this unit costs more.

Enjoy drinking your wine and make opening the bottle enjoyable!

Where to buy:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gift Cards Have New Regulations

In the past, I have had a few gift cards I had forgotten about, only to find them and discover that they had expired.

Here are the new rules for gift cards if you are considering buying them or if you are given any this holiday season.  These rules apply to specific type of gift cards so read all the way through:

New Federal Reserve rules provide important protections when you purchase or use gift cards. Here are some key changes that apply to gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010:

Covered by the new rules

  • Store gift cards, which can be used only at a particular store or group of stores, such as a book store or clothing retailer.
  • Gift cards with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover brand logo. These cards generally can be used wherever the brand is accepted. (Not all cards with a brand logo are covered; see "Other prepaid cards" below for exceptions.)

New protections

  • Limits on expiration dates. The money on your gift card will be good for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. Any money that might be added to the card at a later date must also be good for at least five years.
  • Replacement cards. If your gift card has an expiration date you still may be able to use unspent money that is left on the card after the card expires. For example, the card may expire in five years but the money may not expire for seven. If your card expires and there is unspent money, you can request a replacement card at no charge. Check your card to see if expiration dates apply.
  • Fees disclosed. All fees must be clearly disclosed on the gift card or its packaging.
  • Limits on fees. Gift card fees typically are subtracted from the money on the card. Under the new rules, many gift card fees are limited. Generally, fees can be charged if
    • you haven't used your card for at least one year, and
    • you are only charged one fee per month.
    These restrictions apply to fees such as:
    • dormancy or inactivity fees for not using your card,
    • fees for using your card (sometimes called usage fees),
    • fees for adding money to your card, and
    • maintenance fees.
You can still be charged a fee to purchase the card and certain other fees, such as a fee to replace a lost or stolen card. Make sure you read the card disclosure carefully to know what fees your card may have.

Other prepaid cards

These new rules apply only to gift cards, which are just one type of prepaid card. The new rules do not cover other types of prepaid cards, such as:
  • Reloadable prepaid cards that are not intended for gift-giving purposes. For example, a reloadable prepaid card with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover brand logo that is intended to be used like a checking account substitute is not covered.
  • Cards that are given as a reward or as part of a promotion. For example, a free $15 gift card given to you by a store if you purchase merchandise or services of $100 or more may have fees or an expiration date of one year rather than five years. Regardless, you must be clearly informed of any expiration dates or fees for these cards.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Look Down To Find Your Worst Enemy

Recently I came across a very interesting article explaining what damage we can do to an already abused part of our body.

Because I have some "foot" issues, I mostly wear Merrells, so I don't pay attention to all those other shoes out there.  I do find myself wondering how so many women can wear those high heels and actually walk in them.

With my ankle problems, all I can see is someone twisting their ankle in these shoes and I feel their pain.

I found this article on: and wanted to share it.

Here is the link:

Maybe it will encourage you to think about the next pair of shoes you buy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

lf All You Need Are New Tires For Your Car, That Is All You Should Buy!

Deciding which brand of tires you want along with which model tire you need is exhausting enough.

Shopping for prices is not as difficult if you don't try to price shop all over the place.

I have bought tires from only 2 tire shops in my area because they do a good job and offer competitive pricing.

After doing my own research to find the best tire for my car, I called the 2 shops to get pricing. They told me that I came up with the best tire choice for my car in the price range I had in mind.  I decided to go with the shop that had a nice waiting room because it was freezing that day and they were willing to meet the price I had.  This particular shop had to get "permission" to do the price match.  I told them nicely that if it was a hassle, I could go to the other shop, but they wanted to do the job.  

Now that we agreed on the price, I am told that I should do an alignment each time I get new tires so that I don't mess them up.  I declined, knowing that if I was going to do this, I would do it at my car dealer.  Besides, I just had an alignment at my last service.
When the car was ready, I paid and left.  Once back home, I noticed that on the receipt there was a notation that my rear shocks were leaking very badly and needed to be replaced.

I called them and asked why they neglected to mention this at the time I paid for my tires?  They said that it was an oversight on their part.  They then asked if I wanted to bring the car back in to replace the rear shocks.  I said that I would have to get back to them.  

Feeling a bit surprised at this news, I called my trusted service contact at my car dealership  and he told me I could look at the shocks myself as long as I could get under the car.

And that is exactly what my husband did along with taking photos of both shocks. What we saw were shocks with dust/dirt and some rust on them.  I sent an email with the photos to the service department.  The service manager said that he could not see any leakage at all and that the shocks looked fine, although one had some rust. At my next big service appointment they will check them, as usual. 

My 2005 Toyota 4-Runner is driving fine with the new tires.  It may be that the money I paid for the tires was just too good a price and that this particular tire shop was looking for a way to make up for the low price by trying to sell me an alignment and new shocks.

You may get a great price somewhere, just make sure you don't pay any more for it!

If you own a Toyota, you may want to have your Toyota serviced at Greentree Toyota in Brookfield, CT.  By the way, they sell cars too!

Where to shop for a car:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Great Hair Care Discounted...Ends Soon

I have shopped here at: many times and want to share this Friends and Family Discount with you.

The offer ends 11/13/10 at 3am EST.  Seems to be such a strange time to end something, but I guess it is good if you can't sleep and need to shop.

The deal:  25% off and Free Shipping if you spend over $50.

The code:  FRIENDS25

Enter code at checkout.


**Free shipping on orders over $50. Valid for shipment to continental U.S. addresses only, includes PO Box and APO/FPO addresses.

*Offer expires 11/13/2010 3:00 AM ET. reserves the right to modify or terminate this promotion and its terms & conditions without notice. Offer cannot be combined with other offers or promotions. Excludes CHI appliances.

When you first get to the site, you may see another discount offer.  You don't have to do anything else, other than enter the above code at checkout.  Each deal has a different code and you should get the best one they are offering which is the one for 25% off.

Where to shop:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

ZogoFlex Toys - Watch My Puppy Play

A first, showing something I wrote about in action:  watch Drew try to destroy the ZogoFlex Huck toy!

You can see what I wrote about this at this posting:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What You Need To Know About Rawhide for Dogs

As I always find myself looking for the newest dog toys, I came across an article from Dr. Jon's Pet Advisor newsletter, talking about a Pentapull Squirrel. Dogs love tug-of-war and this toy should do the trick.  More about this toy in another posting because I want to make sure it works.

Since I subscribe to Dr. Jon's newsletter, and you can also at:  I appreciate his take on the many products he touts on his site which he also sells through I have purchased many of them, but to be truthful, I haven't shopped through his site yet because I have found better prices at other sites after adding in the cost of shipping.

While shopping around for the Pentapull Squirrel, I started looking at rawhide chew products because that puppy of mine just finished eating my rug, which is now rolled up and out of the room! The telephone book became the latest object of his desire and the Zogoflex toys I wrote about are great although some diversity may be necessary.

He needs to chew non-stop and when I thought about ordering a rawhide bone, I started to research rawhide to make sure what I would buy would not become problematic.

Here is a link to a site explaining rawhide which had helped me decide which product to purchase:

Not all rawhide is the same and if you are going to give your prized pup anything, you have to make sure it is as safe as possible.  To begin with, buy with products made in the USA! There is much information provided on this site, so start reading soon.

Let your dogs have a way to use up all their energy by chewing on what is fun and safe.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Finally... A Toy My Puppy Has Not Destroyed

Drew is my 4th Labrador Retriever and I have never seen such an aggressive chewer.  Every stuffed "animal" dog toy is ripped open, squeakers gone, stuffing all over the house.

The Nylabone chew toys are pretty good, but they are so chewed, the ends of each one have become too sharp.

My new chew toy of choice is from Here is how they describe this new item:

A new twist on an old favorite! Made from our extremely durable, one-of-a-kind material, Zogoflex®, Huck will keep your dog jumping…literally! With its hefty weight and grooved shape this incredible ball will bounce in all directions, giving your dog added exercise, and a good mental workout, to boot. Fling it across the field, bounce it on the ground, or toss it in the water (it floats!) – Huck can handle nearly anything your dog dishes out.
Complete with a full, one time replacement guarantee to stand up against doggy destruction. Choose from 3 bright, fun colors and available in 2 sizes. Small Huck is similar to the size of a tennis ball, and is compatible with toys that throw tennis balls.
Made in Montana, USA. 

They also have a bone shaped chew called HurleyBoth come in different sizes and colors. There are a few other shapes made from the same material, so choose what you think will work for your dog.

I also like the colors because they are easy to find anywhere, even under the sofa. 

When my puppy is in the back of the car, I give him the Hurley and I can hear the intense chewing.  So much better than his chewing on any part of my car his mouth can reach.  

If a dog is meant to chew, then these Zogoflex toys are meant to be chewed.

Where to buy:, and, for starters.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do You Know What Is Covered in Your Rental Apartment's Insurance Policy?

Picture this:  Two laptop computers sitting opened on a desk.


The wall shelf above the desk falls, smashes the screens of both laptops.

Then you call your insurance company.   They say, "Sorry, you are not covered for this damage under your policy."

Why?  It is so simple: breakage is not covered under your basic apartment insurance policy.  For the computer to be covered, it has to be put on a "schedule" or "rider" for which there is an additional cost.

I called my favorite insurance agent at for advice.  I was told  that under a general policy, your computer could be covered if, for example, water from a leak from another apartment, or even a leak in your own apartment, got onto your computer and messed it up. Anything covered is subject to your deductible.

Items which are not too expensive can be listed on your policy under blanket coverage. When you do this, you have to make sure that your insurance company has your list of items to be included.  Let's say you have a few jewelry items worth $500 or a guitar worth $700.  You tell your agent to include these on the policy. Usually blanket coverage is good for up to $10,000 total, but please check with your insurance agent for your specific policy limits. Remember, these items are still not covered for something like breakage.

More expensive items, or items which are of a certain nature which you may not be able to replace, have to be put on a "schedule" or "rider."  A ring worth $5,000 for example, could be separately insured.  These items which you put on a "schedule" are covered for the value you give them whether stolen or damaged.  Also, items on a "schedule" most likely are not subject to a deductible. You have to discuss all parameters of your policy with your agent as not all policies are the same.

Make sure you have the actual value for those scheduled items.  Sometimes your insurance policy will need an appraisal to be sure the value is correct .

Please check with your insurance agent to see what monetary value your apartment is insured for, including all contents and special items and see if it is enough.  Then take into account your real valuables, whether it is a computer, jewelry, IPhones etc. Discuss it all with your agent.  A good one will make sure you are doing the right thing. Not every insurance company's policy is the same.

Always expect the unexpected when it comes to protecting your most prized possessions.

Where you might shop for insurance:

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Chewed Dog Collar Needs Replacement

There it was, the plastic snap broken in half.  Leave it up to our puppy, who will chew anything in sight.

Even at 7 months old, he managed to get up to the counter top in the kitchen and steal my eyeglasses along with his dog collar.

We usually keep an old collar on him when he is around the house and have a good one for his walks. Thankfully it was the old one he managed to destroy.

I started researching sites for new collars and while I was at it, new leads.  I find that my hand hurts whenever my dogs pull me with the lead I currently have.

There is a brand called Lupine, which is the brand I currently own as our puppy's "good" collar.

Apparently, their leads have a somewhat padded handle, which could help me during those pulling moments.  

As I usually do, I searched for the best prices for these collars and leads.  I found a site I had never come across before called  There are so many collars there and various manufacturers are represented.  From patterns, prints, designs of all sorts, you will most likely find something you like. 

And if you are a dedicated sports fan, you can find collars and leashes and dog bowls for NFL Football, Major League Baseball, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey Teams, NASCAR and NCAA Schools.  And to think I settled for solid color collars and leads!

Right now there is a coupon code for Free Shipping if you spend over $25.  Having 2 dogs, it was not difficult to arrive at that amount.  

The collars and leads from Lupine are guaranteed, even if chewed.  They will replace your damaged or defective item at no cost. (Not all manufacturers have this guarantee so if you think you will have a problem with a "chewer," stick to Lupine.)

When you see how many products are available for our pets along with our own particular tastes, you realize that there is no end to which a manufacturer will go to satisfy the consumer, whether or not they bark.

Where to shop:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Find a Parking Garage in the City Before Leaving Home

Lately I find that I need to be in the city.  Before I even leave the house, panic sets in just thinking about finding a parking space.

Some friends seem to love the challenge of driving around and getting that prized parking space.  I don't find driving in the city to be something I enjoy doing.  I want to get to my destination, park and get on with my business.

I came across a website: while investigating prices of monthly parking garages.  This site lists parking garages in 18 cities as well as garages at airports in those cities. 

You can search for a parking garage by neighborhood, address, location or attraction.  You highlight an area in the city you are searching and a map appears with pop-ups of all garage locations in that neighborhood.  Once you locate a garage, you can reserve a space by filling out the info requested in the banner which appears above the list of garages.

Book a space for when you need it.  You can save more money depending on time of day you park and the location of the garage.  Sometimes it may be less at a garage a few blocks away from your destination.  This is why the site, works so well - you can do all the research at your computer.

They offer applications you can download for your IPhone, some Blackberry models and  Androids.

There may be a coupon offer for a discount so look for those. The site lists many parking garage companies to choose from, such as Icon, Quik Park, Edison Park Fast, Rapid Park, to name a few. 

To get back to my original reason for finding this site, I did get a list of parking garages in the area I wanted, filled out a form and received a call a day or so later.  The representative gave me prices for at least 5 garages in the area, letting me know their exact location, and how far they were from my starting point.  It was interesting to see the how prices varied a block or two away.

If my arrival into the city can be made a little easier, I can save panicking for other things.

Where to park:

P.S.  You may not be able to get to the website directly through this post.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Need A New Book to Read?

Have you just finished reading a book and need a recommendation for your next one? I find that I am always asking my friends who are in book clubs to share with me the title of the newest book they had enjoyed reading.

Many times the answer is that they did not like the book and I should not bother reading it.

A good friend of mine suggested that I take a look at this site:

What a great idea for a website!  There is so much information on this site so plan on spending time here. 

It seems that you would get the most out of once you start adding books you have read.  You can then get recommendations based on your reading selections. There are also various chats taking place at any given time to discuss a book.

I started out by adding 2 books I had read and when I highlighted the tab, "recommendations,"  a huge list was generated. 

What is useful is the fact that you will add the books you read so that you won't get caught trying to remember a particular book title or author, as I find myself doing, a month after I finished reading. 

What I really thought to be helpful was, under the tab "local," you see a list of libraries and bookstores in your area along with scheduled events. When you highlight a library, for example, another window opens with info on that particular library, its website address, address and a map showing the location.

There are so many links on this site and I suggest you do your own exploring once you register, add some books and start reading.

Where to look:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who Said We Had to Wash Our Jeans?

I once knew a guy who never washed his jeans.  We would joke that when he took them off at night, they would stand up by themselves.  Well, maybe he had a point.

Take a look at this article from The Wall Street Journal:

Carl Chiara, director of brand concepts and special projects for Levi Strauss & Co., is among the growing number of jeans enthusiasts who believe in washing them as little as possible.
Eurydice Galka
Carl Chiara, director of brand concepts and special projects for Levi Strauss & Co.
Mr. Chiara, who says he wears jeans every day in both work and social situations, believes that "the less people wash their jeans, the better their jeans become. Denim really does shape to people's bodies, and when you wash a jean you lose some of that shape."
He doesn't like to put his jeans in a washing machine because agitating the denim makes the fibers on the cotton fabric swell and "bloom." That in turn causes the yarns to tense up and actually get shorter, shrinking the jeans. This also mars the "open" look of the denim, Mr. Chiara says. The color may fade or change as well.
He also avoids heat—using hot water on his jeans or throwing them in a dryer—to protect the quality of the jean, he says.

Jeans: Fashion Statement or Faux Pas?

At the theater, in a house of God and elsewhere around Washington, DC, WSJ's Neil Hickey looks at when and whether denim is appropriate attire.
So does he dry clean his jeans? No, because he doesn't like them coming back stiff—and perhaps with a center crease if they get pressed like trousers. "The jeans should take on your personal day-to-day life and look like you," he says. For example, his own jeans bear the weathered marks of his keys, which he keeps in his front pocket, and his bag, which tends to rub against his upper thigh.
This is not to say that Mr. Chiara doesn't ever clean the 15 pairs of jeans that he owns. He gently spot-cleans spills with a damp sponge and "whatever is under the kitchen sink—usually Windex or 409."
At the end of each day, he hangs his jeans on a hook in his bathroom. When he takes a shower, the steam "freshens [the jeans] up a little bit," he says. He prefers hanging jeans by a belt loop to preserve their shape.
After six months of wearing a pair of jeans, Mr. Chiara does a comprehensive cleaning; his method could also be used by those who like to wash their jeans more often. Usually, he fills a bathtub to about six inches with room-temperature water and adds two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's Magic Liquid Soap, which he likes because it is mild. Then, he immerses the jeans in the tub, laying them flat.
Sometimes, with dark jeans, he'll add 1/8 cup of white vinegar to the water. "The vinegar sets the indigo and keeps it from fading," he says.
Mr. Chiara is careful not to scrub the jeans or move them around vigorously. He just lets them soak for 20 minutes before hanging them by the belt loops to drip dry. While letting the jeans air-dry, he may slip a "woodsy" scented sachet of potpourri into the jeans as he lays them flat.
If it's sunny out, Mr. Chiara sometimes likes to wear the jeans when they're "almost completely dry" and sit in the sun. "This final phase of drying them out on my body helps the jeans take on my shape," he says.
Write to Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at