I’m A Little Bit Less Of A Fan Of Amazon

I have always been a big fan of Amazon since the advent of online shopping. I’ve always thought that they had many great features that appealed to me. Some of the best features in my mind included:

  • Excellent pricing – I’ve always felt that they are very fair in price and have good deals
  • Order history – They keep ordering history of every purchase I’ve made. Many sites keep your history for only 12 months, if even that long. I’ve always been able to look back at previous purchases for reference.
  • Recommendations – Many sites have now built in features where you are recommended products based on your ordering history. Amazon was one of the first and I think still one of the best at it.

A few months ago, my list would have included one more thing that was key: 30-day price protection. Amazon guaranteed that if their price went down anytime within 30 days of your purchase, that you were eligible for a refund. You had to e-mail them the price you paid as well as the new price, and after checking it out, they would refund your credit card. I used this several times.
That was an excellent feature, but unfortunately they discontinued that as of September 1, 2008. I just found out about it today as I was going through and checking my prices, and discovered that the new policy had been instituted.
This is a huge letdown to me.
I can understand the business reason behind it. They were probably losing money by having to return part of the sales back to people. But, I still think that’s a big short sighted. Why?
Well, not everybody checks the prices to see if the price has dropped. There are sites such as PriceProtectr.com which automates this process for you (plug: it works with over 150 online retailers and is one of my favorite sites), but even so, my guess is that a very small percentage of people actually remember or take the time to check.
The people that do take the time are probably among the people that spend the most at Amazon. I feel that this decision might have turned away many loyal customers. Yes, Amazon might save money in avoiding refunds, but what if they lose all that plus more in sales because people gravitate to other e-commerce sites?
In other words, why take the risk of alienating your best customers?
Now, I won’t boycott Amazon and they’ll probably still get a majority of my online business. But, it’s just a bit of a letdown and a bit puzzling that one of my favorite shopping sites got rid of a great feature, and one that gave them a pretty big competitive advantage.

I’m A (Somewhat) Reformed Techie

I’ve always been in the computer industry and therefore, naturally, have always been somewhat of a ‘techie’. I always knew what gadgets were out, what was coming next, and was always about getting the latest and greatest ‘toys’.
But, I realized that I’m not that much of a techie anymore.
The First Signs of Techie Withdrawal
When I was in college, I always dreamed of building the perfect computer. I subscribed to PC Magazine, which for those not familiar, was a monthly or bi-monthly magazine that in it’s hayday was huge. It was probably 400-500 pages, mostly advertising, and the pages were huge. I would flip through that regularly and ‘put together’ the perfect model. The motherboard, the memory, the hard drive, the monitor. I knew exactly what I wanted.
I never got that perfect computer, but even at that time I started (in the back of my mind) to realize that what I wanted the month before was now a little bit cheaper and now not as ‘cool’.
I started to get it. You could wait and get something cheaper and/or better. What a novel idea!
After College
Once I graduated, I wasn’t as willing to hold back. Probably the fact that I actually had the money to buy stuff had something to do with it, but I was pretty into a lot of the gadgets after school. I was the first one of my friends to buy a TV over 30 inches. I bought a DVD player when Best Buy had one aisle of DVDs, and paid over $300 for the pleasure of doing so. I bought one of the original XBox machines for full retail price, which I’m pretty sure was $350.
But it was all cool.
Learning Lessons
It was all cool until I realized that just a few short months after those purchases, the DVD player that I bought was half the price, and the XBox was $100 less money. Yikes!
I think around this point I started to remember that if you wait, you get it better and cheaper.

The Computer Lesson
Where I really learned my lesson was with computers. Since I have always worked with computers and have made my career from doing so, this is the one area that I always loved to be on the cutting edge for.
I bought a couple of computers within graduating college. I always loved how cool they looked, how fast they were and what the capabilities were. I never got the biggest or the best, but it was always good enough and was right up there with the current standards.
Then, the inevitable happened as it always does with computers.
The newer ones kept getting faster. And mine kept getting slower.
It seems all computers are designed to slow down over time. They run fast for about a week, then slowly they churn a little slower and a little slower. Every piece of software you install makes it creep along just a bit slower. Every update or security patch makes it apparent that computers can never come with enough memory, even though you seem to recall thinking it was more than you could ever need when you bought it.
Eventually, the computer gets so slow that you start to wonder if it has a crank you can turn to speed it along.
Once all this started hitting me, I realized that buying computers and other gadgets aren’t as important, because the ’shine’ of having the latest gizmo only lasts for as long as it takes for the manufacturer to come out with the newer model. I still buy electronics, but more from function. I still plan on buying a flat screen TV at some point, but more when the current TV (still the one from right after college, by the way) finally gives out.
But, holding back lets me save money and lets me think about the purchases, versus buying on impulse which can so often guide purchases of ‘toys’.
I’m glad I have slowed it down because otherwise I’d probably have a pile that looks something like this:

Catching Up After A Long Weekend

Back in the swing of things after a nice relaxing holiday weekend. My wife and I spent most of the time decorating and relaxing. I will get back to my posting schedule starting….now! Thanks for being patient.
Odds and ends from the holiday weekend:

  • Giving Thanks – We had a lot to be thankful for this year and it was wonderful to get to spend time with our families. Even though we have a troubling financial year, it’s nice to remember the things we have to be thankful for. In our case, we have wonderful families, my wife and I both have jobs, we have Baby Beagle on the way, great friends, and so many other things. It’s nice to reflect on that and hopefully we all take the time to do it more often.
  • Black Friday – We didn’t do too much shopping. We weren’t planning on going out at all, but we both woke up around 6am, which is our normal time for getting up for work, and decided to go look around. I got some LED Christmas lights at 50% off for one of our indoor trees, and my wife got some odds and ends at Michael’s at door buster prices. So, we didn’t actually buy any gifts but we did get some good deals and do our part to add to the mad rush. Surprisingly, none of the stores were that busy, but I guess it seems that most of the attention is reserved for electronics for the early rush.
  • Health Insurance – I am not happy with our insurance provider, Empire Blue. They sent an explanation of benefits that about sent me through the roof, for my wife’s first doctor’s visit. Apparently they are claiming that some of the services fall under a ‘routine checkup’ which are limited to one per calendar year. I have to call them this week to verify that is the case, and see what needs to be done to re-classify the visit.
  • Fantasy Football – It was a depressing week for me in my fantasy football league. I’ve been atop the standings for most of the season, and the regular season winner gets $40. I lost my last two games to knock me down into third place, which means I got nothing. The playoffs start next week so I’ll have a chance for some additional money, but even the small money would have been nice. I know, such a small thing to be concerned about, but it’s fun to share!
  • Recession – So the markets tumbled 8 or 9 percent today on news that we really are in a recession. Wow, that’s news? I had thought the markets were supposed to factor in future events. And the fact that we’re in a recession is the oldest news out there, so I’m surprised that the market dropped in such dramatic fashion on that news.
  • Snowfall – We had our first snowfall which required shoveling. It was actually very beautiful and looked a lot like this picture (which is just a random picture). I was very pleased with the new shovel that I bought, much more so than the plastic coated one that I used last year and was good for only one season.
  • Disappointed in JoAnn Fabrics – We bought a new Christmas tree on November 13th, as it was on sale and we wanted to make sure we got it before they ran out. It listed for $180, and we got it for $100. They had a sale following Thanksgiving where it was $90, plus they had a ‘door buster’ coupon for an additional 20% any sale priced item. They didn’t have any more in stock, and they refused to do a price adjustment, as they said that they normally only do those for 7 days after the purchase. I am used to retailers price matching for 30 days or so. This will probably prevent me from considering JoAnn for any future purchases of higher priced items.
  • Baby Update – Mrs. Beagle reported that she felt the baby move for the first time this past week. She described it as feeling like a muscle spasm, which matches what others say the first noticeable movements feel like. Exciting times!

I hope that everybody had a great weekend!

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe to my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, or check out my Facebook page. Copyright Money Beagle. This post is authorized to appear only on www.moneybeagle.com. Thank you for reading and remember: It’s a great day to be alive!

Putting Doors Back In Frozen Foods

The grocery store that we normally go to recently went through and put in all new freezers in the frozen foods section. In doing so, they addressed a problem that I’ve had with grocery stores in general, that I feel has been getting worse and worse. This problem, of course, is having entire sections of frozen and refrigerated goods stored in cases that don’t have any doors, but instead are wide open.

I could never understand this practice and how it was a good idea.

I understand that a lot of the cold is being lost regardless every time that somebody opens the door to take something out. I get that. But, there still has to be more loss of cold in open freezers than those with doors. How do I know? Easy.

When there are no doors, it is COLD! I hated walking down the frozen food aisles because I would freeze my tail off. Don’t tell me that this isn’t a tremendous amount of energy loss every time this happens.

I could never understand why the doors came off in the first place. It’s everywhere. Did stores really figure out that they were losing sales because people refused to open the door and take out the item? Huh? I know we got lazier and lazier as a society, but really?
If there is anybody that can shed some light on this, I’m all ears.

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe to my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, or check out my Facebook page. Copyright Money Beagle. This post is authorized to appear only on www.moneybeagle.com. Thank you for reading and remember: It’s a great day to be alive!