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Archive for December 2014

Trust But Verify

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Just checking

Just checking

This topic is related to one from October 2014 called Crime Does Pay. In this story I am not certain a large business was playing tricks but this is a cautionary tale that needs told. In early October we decided to replace our 17-year-old refrigerator with a new one. We actually got lucky that we started our search during Georgia’s tax free weekend for certain energy-saving appliances. Our new refrigerator qualified so we saved about $70 on sales tax – woo hoo! That was one of the good things that happened. Another money savings opportunity was a promotion to get an additional 4% in cash back from our credit card company if we purchased products on-line from various retailers. We were able to do all of this while still getting the best deal and the refrigerator we wanted.

Now it is time for the cautionary tale. A few weeks later our credit card statement was ready for download and I did so and began to check off receipts in hand with charges on our credit card. (If you do not do this you should begin immediately.) As I finished this I looked at the cash back amount and noticed something was wrong, terribly wrong. It appeared, quite obviously, that our extra 4% was not credited to us.

“Here comes the ugly conversation”; I thought to myself as I reached for the phone. I made my call and talked with a customer service representative and after she could not help, she transferred me to her supervisor. She understood my problem and was cooperative but did not have the authority to adjust my account. As I began with the supervisor she quickly saw the problem and agreed to credit my account without a fuss. The story was over with a happy ending and some fodder for a blog topic as a bonus.

The takeaway is to trust but verify. You need to pay attention to all aspects of your bill before you pay it and maintain the records to do so. I don’t know if their “mistake” was intentional or not but if I wasn’t paying attention they would have made an extra $50 from a retailer at my expense.

Have a great week.

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Written by pacelinebiz

December 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

Ten Things Never To Give As A Christmas Gift

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Buy Good Gifts!

Buy Good Gifts!

Last week I suggested that Toys Make Great Christmas Gifts. This week I will help you avoid making a big mistake by providing a list of things you should not buy for someone as a Christmas gift.  Most are obvious but there is always that one person who needs a little help with common sense.

  • A live animal such as a dog, cat or pony unless it is your child and you had a lengthy discussion with your spouse
  • Money. As in cash, greenbacks, dough, Federal Reserve notes, cabbage or whatever else you call the green and grey paper currency. I know gift cards are popular and I am ok with going that route if it is a person that you do not know real well. A gift card can at least seem like you gave some thought. Unless it is a Visa gift card then that is the same as money.
  • Something too practical like 5 quarts of oil for your dad or a new vacuum sweeper for your wife. I hope you understand.
  • Something the person doesn’t want and you know it. For example, buying me tickets to Cirque Du Soleil.
  • Anything age inappropriate. A classic example of this is a Red Ryder BB Gun for a 5-year-old. You’ll shoot your eye out!
  • Something that you should know is insulting. An example of this is buying a diet book for your wife.
  • Clothing that is even remotely on the cutting edge of high fashion. A nice conservative tie or sweater vest is always welcomed by me (Hint).       Just don’t get me something that they wear in music videos. Do they have music videos anymore? Don’t force your avant-garde sense of fashion on boring old me.
  • Hard liquor for a wine drinker or vice versa. You may like wine but if your recipient is a Scotch drinker you are wasting your time and money. This is similar to the item above.
  • A gag gift. Maybe a gag gift is ok for someone at work who is turning 40 but don’t do it for Christmas for anyone – ever.
  • Something that is noisy or will make the house a mess unless it is for your kid. An example is a toy lawn mower or chain saw, or a 250 pack of Army men. I know the Army men were on the list of greatest toys of all time but have you ever stepped on one? As far as the noise makers go, let me tell you a story about my dad and what happens when you run around with a toy lawn mower when 60 minutes is on TV…

I hope it is not too late to take that bad gift back. Have a great week and Merry Christmas to all.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

December 22, 2014 at 8:01 am

Toys Make Great Christmas Gifts

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Toys are great gifts

Toys are great gifts

Toys are on every kids Christmas wish list and I was no different. I stumbled upon this article and thought I would share my thoughts on it with you.  It is a 2011 Time magazine article that has a list of the greatest toys of all time.  It actually was the best from 1920 to the present but that is close enough I guess. 

Here are a few that I had as a kid listed by the decade they first appeared.

1920’s

  • Chemistry Set
  • Yo-Yo

1930’s

  • Finger Paint
  • Army Men

1940’s

  • Slinky
  • Little Golden Books

1950’s

  • Silly Putty
  • Paint By numbers
  • Wiffle Ball
  • Matchbox Car

1960’s

  • Etch A Sketch
  • Barrel Of Monkeys
  • Hot Wheels

1970’s

  • Nerf Ball
  • Simon

After the 1970’s I had outgrown the toy age but I must say the entire list is very cool and a good starting point for the kid on your list. My only question is where are Lincoln Logs?  I hope you enjoyed this walk down the virtual toy store.  Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

December 15, 2014 at 8:01 am

A Conversation With Santa

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A new bicycle, with that attitude?

A new bicycle, with that attitude?

I had some time earlier this week to talk with Santa as he took a break from a production scheduling meeting. We talked about several things but I wanted to highlight the conversation we had about his naughty list.  After I pressed him he told me ten things that would definitely get you on his naughty list.  He told me to make sure I was clear that these items are not all-inclusive and are not ranked in order. 

  • Cutting someone off in the mall parking lot for a parking spot.
  • Hand gestures of any kind unless it is a friendly wave hello.
  • Talking nonsense about his existence – especially in front of young children.
  • Being stingy at any time of the year, no make-up points will be given by dropping coins in the kettle by the person ringing the bell at the mall.
  • Leaving lousy, low-fat snacks for him on the big night.
  • Rearranging the furniture after December 10th when he finalizes his maps of each residence.
  • Forgetting to leave the flue open on the chimney.
  • Keeping a cluttered house, there have been many times he has almost blown his cover when he stepped on a rogue Lego block in his stocking feet. If this keeps up he is going to keep his boots on and he wants you to know that reindeer have a very ample “output”.
  • Writing songs like The Twelve Pains of Christmas or Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.
  • Insinuating that his red nose comes from anything other than the cold North Pole Temperatures.

I hope this will help keep you off the naughty list for next year, have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

December 8, 2014 at 8:01 am

Christmas 1964

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Rotary Phone

Rotary Phone

Let’s go back in time 50 years to December 1964. It is December 1st and it is time to begin your Christmas shopping.  How times have changed in 50 years!  You would first notice the changes when you got in your car you would see that you needed a hand-operated choke on the dashboard to start your cold car.  You would also notice that the old reliable “grocery getter” had a manual transmission and AM radio with a telescopic whip antenna on the front fender. 

After you got the car moving, you would start shopping, not on-line or even to the mall, but some would be done at the new shopping plaza and the rest would be done downtown at the various shops in the shopping district. Since you had your Christmas club account paid out a few weeks ago you would be itching to start the lay away process so you could have all things paid for in time for the big day.  A Christmas club account was a savings account that you would use to make regular (weekly) deposits to prepare yourself for spending big bucks for Christmas.  This was before credit cards were universally given away to anyone who wanted one at age 16.  Lay away was a method to secure a gift by making small payments and when you paid the price in full it was yours to take home.  Lay away has come back in style after the 2008 banking crisis and with the continuing economic doldrums is with us even today.

When you were downtown shopping you would always save up for a lunch at the restaurant located in the department store. A department store of this type was usually on many floors and would have one or more departments on each floor – hence the name.  For example, menswear and sporting goods might be on one floor and ladies wear and house wares on another.  In the basement of these stores the marked down merchandise would reside and that is where the term “bargain basement” comes from.

If you forgot what you were supposed to get for Aunt Martha you would have to dial-up your sister for a reminder. Of course this was as easy as walking down to the street corner to the bank of pay phones.  It was only a nickel for 3 minutes.  Since minimum wage was $1.25 an hour back then, that call would cost you about 30 cents in today’s dollars.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you they didn’t have cell phones back in December 1964.  In fact, payphones used the old rotary dial method.  That is why people of a certain age say “dial me up” when they want you to call them.  The push button phone was introduced in late 1963 but was very rare during the Christmas of 1964.  They did not arrive at most homes until much later.  I don’t think my parents ever had a push button phone until they began using the cordless phones that became popular in the late 1980’s. 

After you got home from a long day of shopping you would treat yourself by heating up a TV dinner instead of slaving over the stove top making dinner. A TV dinner was like a hot pocket for the microwave but it took 45 minutes to heat up and was usually Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes with mixed vegetables. Later in the evening, you could heat up some Jiffy Pop Popcorn – it was as much fun to make as it was to eat. 

Have a great week of shopping and be happy you have the modern gadgets to make your life simple.