Tag Archives: review

Can eBates help you to save money on your eBay purchases?

Just recently I saw an eBates commercial and went to check out their website. They can offer you from 1 – 5% cashback on your eBay purchases, Amazon purchases, and so on. With all the holiday shopping, I guess that can really add up.

I am wondering if anybody used it and what their feedback would be about this platform. I personally wouldn’t sign up because I think I may be thus biased in how I make my online purchases.

Here’s how they describe themselves – “… is the pioneer and leader of online cash back shopping.  … pays members cash back every time they shop online as well as provide them with the best coupons and deals online. Sign-up and start earning towards a giftcard.”

There seems to be a Canadian version too in case you live in Canada just like me. My first impression was that the site is new, but now I see there are reviews online from people who used it for over 5 years.

There is an option to shop at  a store IN PERSON and get cash back as well. Now there are 22 stores that are affiliated with Ebates and offer cashback  IN PERSON if you link your credit card to eBates. I saw some cool Wolford tights for example at one of the American stores through the eBates search. As far as I know, there is none of this in Canada yet.

 

Choosing Movers in Calgary – Review

I moved from SW Calgary to SE Calgary and before I hired movers, I compared top 7 companies that appeared on Google.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR MOVERS

best rates, cheap movers

Riteway Movers truck full of our stuff. As you see, we didn’t have much to move.

Before you call anyone, ask these questions to avoid hidden fees:

– What do you charge for your travel time?

– Are there any extra fees when I pay by credit card of debit?

– Do you charge extra money for sports equipment?

– Any extra fees for padding?

– If something needs to be carried on the stairs, do you charge extra per each flight of stairs?

 

COMPARING MOVING COMPANIES IN CALGARY

I was asking for a quote for 2 hours of work. But since most of them charge you 1 hour for their transportation, we are looking at a 3 hr booking. We were hiring them on a very short notice.

Big Joe Movers in Calgary

1-844-211-4440 http://www.bigjoesmovers.com/ 3 hrs  $ 357.00

This company charges $119 per hour and 1 hour for their travel time to your location and from it. So if you want 2 hours of work, you are looking at 3 hours booking.

 

Jays Calgary Movers

(403) 775-6066 http://www.jays-calgary-movers.ca/ 3 hrs  $ 525.00

Jays movers charge $175 per hour and 1 hour of travel time.

 

Riteway Moving in Calgary – our final choice! 

(403) 714-7483 http://www.ritewaymoving.com/ 3 hrs  $ 297.00
great moving rates in Calgary - compare and review

Riteway Movers Truck

 

These are the movers that we ended up hiring. They charge $99 per hour and 1 hour of travel time.

It’s best to pay cash (of course you get a receipt) to avoid extra credit card fees. The person’s name who booked our move was Tarun.

Two guys came to do the job with a giant truck that had all the padding and strapping equipment there. They were polite and professional, also quite fast. In our new house they put their covering on the floor to avoid getting it dirty or scratched.

 

Two Small Men Calgary

1-800-231-9695 http://www.twosmallmencalgary.com/ 3 hrs  $ 480.00

This company charges $160/hr and 1 hour of travel time.

 

High Land Moving

403 720 3222 http://www.highlandmoving.com/  $122/hr + drive

This company charges $122 per hour and whatever time it takes them to get to your destination and from it. They are based in South East Calgary. So in terms of travel time, you are not sure what you are looking at.

 

OO Movers in Calgary

403-539-9308 https://www.oomovers.com 3 hrs  $ 357.00

These guys charge $119 per hour and 1 hour of travel time. I found it harder to get rates from them because they would forward me to sales people who didn’t pick up their phones.  I had to call several times.

 

M Movers in Calgary

(403) 775-2244 http://mmovers.ca/ 3 hrs  $ 237.00

These movers were our primary choice, but they were not available on such a short notice unfortunately. I spoke to Simon and he was very nice.

They charge $79 per hour and  1 hour of travel time. It’s best to pay them cash to avoid credit card fees.

 

IOSEC Anti Flood Security Gateway Module – It blocked me, not the bots!

blue stocking nerdThis is a plug in for WordPress by Gokhan Muharremoglu that is supposed to block robotic visits. However, I used it and I was very disappointed. It blocked me, not the bots! Not only me actually, my customers too.

I took it down after I had a customer telling me that he tried to make a purchase, but was blocked by the anti flood module. However, based on the access log, the bot traffic was still the same.

The most effective way to fight a DDOS attack was to actually change the htaccess file. In my case there was bot traffic on the images, so I blocked that option and things got back to normal at least for now.

payfirma review customer service vancouver

Payfirma in Vancouver – Review

My first encounter with Payfirma was at a tech event. Their CEO, Michael Gokturk, talked about how their company helps people to build dreams, being authentic, thinking big at Payfirma. He finished his talk with ” if we inspired you, come and inspire us”.

I actually used their services for some time. The statements come in from First Data actually, that’s a company located in Mississauga, Ontario.

They are pretty good and they have nice customer service. They even had a $100 promotion VISA card to join and there is a referral program too. Their ethics are much better than of some previous horror stories I’ve got from previous providers. They really care to keep their customers.

One thing though that sort of didn’t make sense was that they charged interchange fees on some premium cards and I had no way of knowing that upfront. I even asked if they could tell me at least which specific transactions had those fees (which they should be able to, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to calculate them), but I was told that they can’t.

Rates that are charged are reasonable, but there is a small monthly fee. So if you are doing a lot of transactions, that’s good. However, since business to business transactions often involve premium credit cards, account for the possibility of those interchange fees.

The software itself needs some tweaks. It is not acceptable in my industry to ask for tips, but my clients every time would get a receipt on it stating “TIP – $0.00”, thus maybe hinting to them that they should have tipped me. I mean, tips in certain industries are not at all normal, so I’d rather have that taken out, but even though I addressed it, it still remained like that.

The best thing about this company is that there is no contract! Yes, that’s amazing. Contracts are terrible because their cancellation fees are usually very high.

My business is sort of seasonal, I may come back to Payfirma if I don’t find anything else to accommodate the seasonality of my transactions. In general I recommend their services, especially if you’d like to have a live person on the phone.

Their main competition in my opinion would be Square and Northpay.

coctail drink Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacation

Melias Las Dunas Review in Cayo Santa Maria Cuba

crab eating grass after rain Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationSo I went to Melias Las Dunas with my parents, April 22-29th 2014. It is located in Cayo Santa Clara, a city that has a big crab symbol because they actually come out after rain. Lucky for me, I even got to see such one big crab eating grass after rain in our hotel. I never knew that they even come out of the water and somehow I began to consider them more as animals as compare to just fish after this experience.

Mixed emotions about this trip though. It was great to spend time with my parents and to enjoy the beach and warm weather. However, some things are just not acceptable considering that this was supposed to be a relatively high end hotel (4.5 stars). Please let me remind you that I’ve been to Cuba prior to that 3 times.

airplane at the airport Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationCan you imagine, we were victim of one of the most common tourists scams? My father went to change some money and got tricked at the currency exchange that was located in the hotel. Actually even though it is not part of the hotel officially, the Sunwing representative recommended to change money there.  So he exchanged over $200 Canadian dollars there as soon as they arrived. Perhaps he though this was normal, but they didn’t give him a receipt. I guess that should’ve been the first warning.

However, only when we went shopping 10 days later we had another not so nice surprise. Turns out that instead of $50 Cuban peso the staff person substituted a $50 Mexican peso, thus ripping us off in the difference of the exchange rate. He didn’t notice among the other bills that one of them was not Cuban since all the currency was foreign to him anyway. We reported it only when we found, but there was nothing they could do because there was no receipt, even though we spent a good portion of the day explaining and writing reports. My dad, as a matter of principle, would go as far as filing a police report, but they said that police will not come to the hotel and we’d actually have to go to Santa Clara for this.

Currency exchange scams are common in Cuba. Actually there are many cases on the internet where they will give “Cuban peso” instead of “Convertible peso”. However, I have not come across a scam where they’d substitute it for another currency all together.

street tabby cat in Cuba relaxing in the hotel Cuba Melias Las Dunas Cayo Santa ClaraLike any tropical country, Cuba is full of all sorts of critters, some pleasant and some not. I am somewhat phobic of spiders and cockroaches I must admit and I had a selection of all sorts of things in my room – small ants, big ants, a couple of roaches, moths, mosquitoes, a spider and a gecko lizard climbing on the wall. I love the lizards, so I had no problem with those, but the other insects I wasn’t so keen on having there. Perhaps a better solution would be to ask for a room on the 2nd floor.

Outdoors, where they belong, there were many cute lizards and chameleons. One review on trip adviser claims that they had a toad jump out of their toilet. There were also some street cats that seemed to be quite happy, I even saw one playing with its kitten.

OK, so insects maybe manage to get in somehow, but how do you explain the basic negligence like not doing laundry properly? At first I saw that the linen wasn’t flawless and thought that probably it’s just an odd case. My pillow had black marks on it and some of my towels too, I also saw some yellow stains on the bed sheets. There was some kind of a musty smell from the linen. Usually I am not picky about beds, but the beds there in Las Dunas were not as comfortable like in other hotels. I kept on missing my bed at home that is so comfortable to sleep on.

city square Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationSo later on I made friends with some Polish women and they were quite upset about the same thing. Turns out that one of them marked her towel with some nail polish and threw it on the floor. When she returned, it was neatly folded, with that same mark. What made her do that was that she had a suspicion of her towels not being chanced since she felt that the “new” ones were somewhat damp to touch.

Turns out to they don’t wash your towels that you use, they just fold it. That Polish lady brought it up and got an answer that there is a problem with the laundry. Well, she had to throw a real fit to ensure that her towels would be changed daily. Lucky for her, she spoke Spanish fluently, so they couldn’t pretend like they don’t understand.

May be some people notice, maybe some people don’t, but sometimes it’s the small things that make a difference. We had no facial tissue paper there in the room. Even cheap motels offer a box of Kleenex in their rooms. Another thing that was quite crucial in my opinion that was missing was a an alarm clock or at least some kind of a clock to tell the time. Even in buffets there was no time anywhere.

exotic fruit selection Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationIn every room there is a mini bar and it was constantly refilled. That was a pleasant surprise and something to enjoy in front of television in the evening. Beer, pop drinks, water. If I would have a “don’t disturb” sign, they’d leave a bottle of water by the door.

Food selection was alright, but could be better if compared to hotels in Mexico let’s say or in Punta Cana. I really enjoyed freshly cooked seafood and meat. However, some tourists mentioned that squid was undercooked frequently. Exotic fruits were always a nice touch, but of course I must admit that mangos could be cleaned better and at least peeled. Every morning there were freshly squeezed juices.

fresh fried fish at the buffet in Cuba Melias Las Dunas Cayo Santa ClaraOn one of the reviews I saw a person writing about seeing roaches at the buffet and the manager said that it is an isolated incident. I’d like to confirm that it happens because I had a shocking story to share. I saw a cockroach on top of the cheese plate at the buffet and asked the waitress to come, hoping that she’ll change that plate and get rid of the pest. To my surprise she simply chased off the roach without harming it, put the plate black, smiled at me and laughed that the roach was hungry. Then she walked off to do her work and that plate, sampled by the roach earlier, was still there for customers to enjoy. On another recent review I saw a person mention that there were cockroaches in the bread basket on daily basis.

In customer service employees learn that to the customer they are the brand, they represent the brand. Maybe hotel management at Melias didn’t get that training. I was surprised to see so many students with no English in customer service positions. I am all for training and so on, but these students should’t actually do the job, simply observe it and learn first. I asked twice for something at front desk and the young girl didn’t understand me at all. One of the questions was quite simple – “can I go see another hotel?”.  Only later another one there told me that she is a student, otherwise I wouldn’t know. I wonder how this is OK, especially in front desk where visitors get their first impression and last impression.

Same story happened at the snack bar when I went there with my mom to get a pizza. Whoever came up to our table didn’t understand anything at all and said something in Spanish, then walked off, came back, and said “NO”. My mom asked why, since she got pizza there before, and then finally someone emerged who spoke some English and said that pizza is only for lunch. Why do students approach customers when they can’t even talk about the menu?

fashion show models posing Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationOtherwise staff are friendly. We went to the same waiter / waitress on daily basis and they gave good service and were really nice. Of course, we left them gratuity and even some of our used clothing for their families. People in Cuba don’t have much, they appreciate whatever clothing they can get.

I gave away most of my used clothing to girls who did the fashion show there, they were skinny, my size, so it would work for them. They were so happy to get it and thanked me so much. Here is a photo of them all posing together.

At some point my parents decided that I went dancing and didn’t come back, they were freaked because they couldn’t get a hold of me. Turns it that calls didn’t go through. Actually I was in the room, waiting for my guy to call me from Canada all evening and in the morning surprised that my parents didn’t call. So for whatever reason the phone half the time would not ring. I missed many calls and that drove me crazy and my parents too. I reported the problem with my phone to front desk and to the phone service room, but it was not fixed. Later on other reviews I saw that some people complained about the phone service too.
coctail drink Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationThere are some stores in the hotel (even though they officially don’t belong to the hotel) that sell rum, cigars, and other items. Demand receipts at all times because otherwise they don’t give it to you and make up other prices. My dad at first was surprised that on some items there were no price tags, so he right away suspected something dirty there. If you ask for a receipt, you will see that the price they charge you is lower than what they told you. Once I even demanded a receipt for 3 cigars, and the staff was refusing to give, saying that I don’t need it for Canada, but I still insisted to have it.

One night there was a man in the lobby with a whole set up, he was making fancy cocktails like you see here, but I don’t remember the name of them. It had liquor, whipped cream, coffee beans, and chocolate. These were delicious! I think I even got a little buzz after. That was quite an experience just to observe how it was made and many people were making videos.

sandy beach in Cuba Melias Las Dunas hotel Cayo Santa Clara vacationThere is a craft market walking distance from the hotel and another market that is accessible by a bus or by cab. I saw many cool things there and bought some leather flip flops for myself and leather slippers for my guy. Well, that was basically the memorable visit when we found out that we had Mexican currency instead of Cuban currency.

OK, finally let’s get to some good things. Very good beach there, one of the best ones I’ve seen! I enjoyed beach aqua fitness, it was so much fun to do exercise in the water. The water was warm, the beach was clean, and there was no rocks or sea urchins there. I had a really good time at the beach and in the water. My parents would have to wake up early though, at 7 a.m. in the morning, to reserve a spot in the shade.

kids little mermaid ariel show hotel Cuba Melias Las Dunas Cayo Santa ClaraThere was also a live band playing every evening and lots of shows on stage like contests, acrobatics, and so on. I even got to dance a little. As far as I know, there was a disco there too, but I never went there and drinks there are not inclusive as it turns out. One of the big entertainment high lights for me were the fashion shows and the magician.

I already knew that I’ll have no chance to go on the internet, so I delegated it to my assistant to do herself while I’m away. But in case you want to know, there is no Wi-Fi and the only computers provided by the hotel have very slow internet.

Overall it wasn’t so bad because I enjoyed spending time with my parents, but this is not a 4.5 star hotel. It’s more like 3 star hotel. Actually, maybe in some cases even less, because according to some recent reviews I see that the laundry problem and the roach problem didn’t disappear.

It was under different management before and this hotel was recommend to us by our travel agent and her daughter, both of them went there and loved it. So it had good reviews over a year ago, but it went downhill. But now it looks like they cut a lot of costs and the service goes with it.

Some videos from Melias Las Dunas in Cayo Santa Clara:

airline Westjet

Saving Money – how to find the cheapest flights?

Whether you travel for business or for fun, saving some money is still a nice thing to do.  There are some websites out there that can help you to find best and cheapest tickets.

According to an economist Makoto Watanabe, the best time to book your tickets is 8 weeks in advance.  But where to find the best price?  According to LifeHacker youtube channel, here is a poll for some ideas – Kayak, Hipmunk, Travelocity, ITASoftware, Priceline.

sites to book cheap tickets

 

flights

yoast-logo wordpress plug in

WordPress SEO Plugin – Yoast Review

yoast-logo wordpress plug inYOAST SEO

Do you forget to include keywords? —
The plug-in feature for SEO is the most recent that I tried to optimize my blog.  It is a great tool to add extra META data to a post and to highlight the main keywords.  It serves as a check list to include the main keyword where it is supposed to be.
I use Yoast plug in.  I would say it’s pretty straight forward, but it reminds me to put enough keywords and to write enough text.  If you have questions, they have support on twitter.
From Yoast website:
Home of team Yoast, led by Joost de Valk, developer of many WordPress plugins and an authority on WordPress & website optimization.
infolinks earnings

Terrible Experience with InfoLinks

infolinks earningsWhat is InfoLinks?

From their website:

Infolinks leads the online advertising industry by driving new revenue opportunities for publishers while overcoming banner blindness for advertisers.

It wasn’t worth it.

ENTRY FROM JULY, 2012

I just took off infolinks from my site www.fantasystockings.com
Why?  Almost 7,000 views, 74 hits, and only $0.02 in my account.  It’s not worth it.  The look of those links is quite distracting to the reader.Maybe I am not being patient enough, but it’s just not working for me at this point.

I don’t know if that’s the reason, but I think that it also caused a drop in Alexa ranking.  I’ve heard that Google penalizes for selling links.

ENTRY FROM JUNE, 2012

Infolinks is something else that I just added to my http://www.fantasystockings.com/

Let’s just say that I don’t see much money from it yet, only a few cents.  However, it could be because I took their standard design of underlining, instead of creating something that doesn’t look like an ad.

I need to try some more tricks with it.

My goal is to try out all different type of advertisement out there to find out what works for me.

kick out of chitika

Chitika Ads Kick me Out for Adult Content

YES, TO SOME PEOPLE LINGERIE = NUDITY.

kick out of chitika

My Fantasy Stockings Blog gets kicked out of Chitika.

For what reason?  Adult content!  You should have seen all the nasty things that robot sent me in that e-mail, listing all possible causes for violation.

Can someone please find adult content anywhere on my sites?  I never do any nudity and there is nothing that you won’t see on the beach these days.  Actually, you see more on the beach. Used to be a model before, so I don’t care to show off some leg.

http://www.fantasystockings.com/