Nov 262009
 

While we were out dining the other night, it came up that occasionally, I go through a lot of effort to save a couple of bucks.

Now you can too.

$3 gets you a $25 coupon at Restaurant.com.  That $25 coupon is usually on a $50 total bill.  So it’s basically a $22 coupon if you spend $50 bucks.  They’ll automatically add 18% tip, but that shouldn’t be an issue either.  Or you can spend $6 and get a $50 coupon at some places.  I think I’ve bought one of those for Fuel near Santana Row.

The first time we used the coupon, it didn’t work out that well, as we ate too much at a little sushi joint.  It was easy to use the coupon – just we felt bloated making the $50 quota.

But then we noticed that a local bar, which has all the NFL games and chicken wings and ribs (for Sal) was letting you get $25 off a minimum purchase of $35.  So I have 8 of those coupons to use over the next couple of weeks.  And I might buy a few more.

Anyway – the way to get it is to follow this link – and use it to search for Restaurant.com.  The $3 promo should only last a few days, but the coupons you buy are good for a year or so (hence I’ve stockpiled 8).  There will be additional messaging about using the marketing kickbacks for your own kid for college (recommend signing up for uPromise) or letting a few nickels go into Sal’s account.  Doesn’t matter to me – just wanted to share the link for the $3 Restaurant.com coupons.  Use discount code “thanks” when checking out to get the discount.

Oh – you gotta browse their list of participating restaurants.  But we’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the places on there…

Oct 072009
 

A kid needed help getting to college by getting me to sign up for the paper.  His 30 second spiel closed with:

I know, with the internet and everything you don’t need papers piling up on your doorstep.  That’s why I’m offering this service where I call in within 30 days and cancel your membership for you. You get your money back and I get credit for the sale.

I’ll get a call in a few days from the paper confirming a high school kid signed me up.  Then in 2-3 weeks, he’s going to call the paper for me and cancel.

That works for me.  At worst, I contributed 20 bucks to a good little scam – with or without the paper.  I didn’t trust him enough to give him my credit card though.

Turns out the kid wants to goto Santa Clara University…business school no less.

May 232009
 

Lately, been having conversations about people and donations. Just a philosophy in life I suppose. But donations, paying extra for service and tipping in general seem related…

A different conversation made me wonder about being so price conscious on things (before I buy things online, I usually search for coupons for that store…just today I saved 30% off an item cause I spent 5 minutes trying out various promotional codes).  We were talking about REI versus Any Mountain.  Recently, I was impressed with the staff at REI – they gave me some spare parts to attach a rear bike rack for my bike that doesn’t have mounts.  These are spare parts that come from a rack I did not buy from them.  Well, I bought a rack from them, but it was a different rack.  And I found out that they’re a co-op that will give you back 10% of your money spent with them on an annual basis – it just comes as a credit to be used in the store.

So I was kind of bullish on them from a little encounter. Sharing that story and someone else brings up that they used to work at REI and the people there are the best, but that they use REI to do the research and learn about what to buy, then go buy it from Any Mountain.  Any Mountain, when I’ve been in it, is kind of a mess.  Dishevled.  They agreed and called Any Mountain the Fry’s of sporting goods.  Which makes complete sense.  I don’t really like making any substantial purchase at Fry’s, cause I know they’re a little dicey.  But I like their convenience and their prices.

Which got me to thinking about why do I worry about a dollar or five here and there from store to store?  Sports Basement had the same rack that REI had for 3 dollars less, but they didn’t have as good a selection of panniers and I wasn’t gonna drive back and forth between the two for a couple of bucks (especially when the whole point of buying this stuff was to ride my bike instead of drive…)  So convenience was the selling point – not the service.

Yet I’ll tip 15-20% on reasonable service for a meal.  25% on excellent (they didn’t visibly complain while Sal was making a mess and calling for his dog to eat the food off the floor…and screaming when no dog came).  So why wouldn’t I pay an extra couple of percent to support a store that gives much better service?

So REI’s my store now.

And yes, the 10% kick back is really the main reason.  But it sounds like a better story if I phrase it like I’m supporting their overall company vision.

Biking to soccer practiceSal did get some really great biking gloves for 7 bucks there too – decked out in them over to the left.

But this whole tipping/service thing really hit home in Vegas.  There was a decent roll and afterwards, for the come out roll, I wanted to bet the world for me and the dealers.  And I had been messing around with $5 chips in my hand for most of the time cause that was usually all I had, but this was post decent roll and I had $25 chips in my hand, so since I didn’t look at my hands, I threw out 2 $25 chips for the bet.  I started to call it back, but then felt that would be cheap and so I let the bet stand.

First roll was a 7.  Which means you lose $20 and the other $5 pays $20 and the bet stays. Some dealers in some places take that $25 bet down since it was a winning bet, but some let the bet ride.  These dealers discussed it a bit, some wanting to pocket the $25, others wanting to risk it for more. They kept the bet alive.

Next roll was a 3.  Which means you lose $20 and the other $5 pays $75.  For my bet, they’ll take $20 off the $75 and leave my $25 bet there and give me $55 in change.  The dealers took their $80 and were pleased with the way things turned out. Since I got my $50 back for the initial bet for the 2 of us plus $5 and the dealers got an $80 tip, the bet was a positive all around.  And I still had $25 on the world bet.

Normally, I press these things.  But normally, I’m betting $5 on them.  So I’d throw another $10 there to press mine to $10 and put the dealers back on for $5.  I wasn’t going to do that with $25 chips though.

Next roll was a 12.  So I lost $20 and the other $5 pays $150.  They put $20 back on the world and pay me $130.  And the dealers complain to each other for taking their bet down…

…and I am reassured about the karma in tipping.

(Next roll was a 6 so there were no further lessons to be learned…)

Apr 302009
 

They wouldn’t give me a new promotional rate for 90 days after my last promotion ended, so I threatened to cut my premium channels and they called my bluff.

Then they sent me a letter saying that they were going to lose NFL Network in May or something like that and to apologize, they would give me 6 pay per view movies if I called in.  So I called in. And while talking to them, asked them what kind of promo I could get on the triple play.  Lady said I should use the internet to upgrade and get bundles.

Internet says that their advertised bundles only are for new customers.  For more information, call some 800 number.  So I call.  I was bored.  Sal was already asleep for the day.

That person asks me what my internet offer is.  It was kind of odd, like he was fishing for a price.  So I say the price. And he automatically says “Oh, you qualify for that.”  Almost too quickly. I feel like I should have said a price 20 bucks lower or something.  But it was too late.

Then he said that to qualify for the new promotional pricing, I would need new hardware which would bring my modem speeds up to their new tier.  I ask how much more that costs and he says it’s in the promotional price that I’m getting.  And he says I won’t get the premium channels activated until this new modem is activated.  So we schedule a meeting.

They’re delayed, then the tech isn’t sure that the connection is strong enough, then we mess around with the box a little bit and then we spend 30 minutes waiting for the new modem to connect to the mother ship.  He then uses their own speed test and shows me 50+ mbps download speed and 20+ mbps upload speed on their box.

We talk about how the 802.11g router/card that I’m using are going to cap those numbers.  And if I even plug in to the router, there’s going to be some limiting too, due to the hardware within the router. The fastest connection would be straight to the modem.  But that takes restarts and blah blah blah, so since Catherine’s home, we’re using the router.

Wirelessly, I’m kind of capped at around 7 mbps and change.  But I just plugged in to the router and got these numbers:

This is all for the sake of bwebb…who has his house wired with a gigabit switch, but only has a 3 mbps pipe coming into his house…I’ll plug directly into the modem some other time.  To really rub it in.

Updated with a direct connection:

Apr 292009
 

SoleCollector had a little review on some shoes I was interested in.  I was interested in them cause they were on sale if I was willing to get the IU branded version.  I got them, but didn’t like their fit. Exchanged them and got more expensive shoes.  Which, turns out, gave me a few blisters anyway.  So maybe I’ll go back and give those IU shoes another try, cause they were such a deal and I’m a sucker for deals.

I did not get a deal on these shorts though.  I got them, cause I’m a sucker for marketing.  Give 100%, get 104%.  They’ve got some “powerweb” lining which stores your energy and releases it back into you as you’re leaping.  Supposed to give you 4%.  But as the dude on SoleCollector pointed out for himself, “I’m not within 4% of dunking.”  But 4% is 4%.   So I’m 4% closer to dunking now.

Do the shorts work?  Not really sure.  I mean, I feel better in them.  And that’s more than half the battle, no matter what G.I. Joe says.  If anything, yesterday, as I was playing in them for the first time, my shot was off.  About 4% off.  Instead of getting just the net, I was hitting the back of the rim an awful lot.  So perhaps they were working and I just need to adjust for these new abilities.

The 1-2 punch that sells me on the shoes is that Dwight (in the photo) is in SI last week wearing the powerweb and the shoes…but his version of them, not the IU branded ones. I figure once I get the shorts and the shoes, then those arms would be next…just need to find the right website.

Jun 232008
 

I don’t.

I understand how easy/hard it is to build applications that work right all the time.

Plus, for travel (topic of this rant) there are always the complicated algorithms for price…and comparing prices is difficult.  For instance, I thought that some flights were cheaper tonight, when I was about to buy them, than they were last week.  I figured it was just typical fluxuation.  Turns out, i entered my cities backwards and the roundtrip that wasn’t what I wanted to do, was cheaper. But the round trip I wanted to do was the same price.

Then we can’t use our freq flyer passes, cause they want double.  Blah blah blah.  What a pain.

So then I start looking into hotel rooms. And this little Lanai room looks like fun.  I browse around the site a bit, then get to a page that’s got some funky layout.  Ignoring the funky layout, I enter the dates I’m interested in.  I get a price results page.

Top of the page says lowest price is 199.

Down at the room details, the first room is 179.  But it’s description starts with a comma.  That is “, Traditional…” so there’s some missing information, obviously.  There are “null” values in the description too later on.  And I figure that I just got to this page in an unexpected way and that the system is screwed up.

Then I see a little further down, that this Lanai room is 179 too.  And these rooms have their own secluded pool with a little waterfall.  Wouldn’t Sal dig a little waterfall?  Book it and argue the point later when talking in person at the front desk with a little heartbroken 3 year old…

Car rental sites were also similarly broken.  Compact car?  $131.  Mid-size is 123. Full size is 105.  Premium car is only 91 bucks.  How does that work out?  Are people really so worried about gas prices that they want to get sub-compacts?  I dunno.

All I know is that I’ve got an assortment of questionable reservations…