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March 31, 2004

Rebate Challenges 2

I neglected to mention the fact that I also filed a complaint with the BBB about the Gigafast rebate. I already got a partial response:


Company ID # : 13171857 Complaint NO.: XXXXXXXX

Re: GigaFast Corporation - CMPL ID#XXXXXXXX

Regarding the company you filed about
GigaFast Corporation
1100 South Hatcher Avenue Suite C
City of Industry, CA 91748

We have written to the above named company concerning your complaint. We will send you a copy of their response as soon as we receive it. Please allow three weeks for a response before you inquire about the status of your complaint.

If the company contacts you about your complaint, let us know. This will help us to keep our information current and take timely action on your complaint.

Thank you for using the Better Business Bureau.

Customer Service Representative

March 30, 2004

Tax Time

Despite having bought TaxCut Deluxe back in December, I didn't get around to actually doing my taxes until last night. I finished at some strange hour in the morning, and began the steps to e-file the Federal portion of my tax return. There's no point in e-filing the State portion, for two reasons: 1) it costs money (Federal is FAR), and 2) I am not due a State refund, so there's no hurry there.

The way TaxCut's e-filing system works is one's tax return is uploaded to their computers, where something mystical and magical transpires, prior to actually submitting it to the US government. Apparently it takes around 24 hours to go through this process.

Despite having passed the TaxCut error check, I was informed via email that:

We've found a problem with the federal tax return you electronically filed (e-filed), and this problem is preventing IRS computers from accepting your transmission.

Please return to TaxCut and check your e-file status for detailed information about your federal tax return.

Annoyingly, the only way to check what's wrong is with TaxCut, which I won't have access to until this evening. Until then, I am simply left to wonder. It makes me feel good that I didn't hurry to mail in the state portion, in the event there are corrections to be made.

UPDATE: Much to Hootie's surprise, the problem did not lay with TaxCut, but with the fact that my wife has not yet changed her name with the Social Security Administration. I've modified the tax return accordingly, and now it's time to see if it goes through this time.

UPDATE 2 (3/31): As of this morning, the IRS has accepted my federal tax return!

March 29, 2004

Rebate Challenges

There is a bit of pride associated with my ability to navigate the choppy rebate waters. The vast majority of the rebates I submit process smoothly. However, some of the rebates I have sent in have required phone calls and/or emails to receive results. Despite this, I have yet to lose out on a rebate. The latest problem is the rebate for the Gigafast 5-Port Switch that I bought back in December. The rebate center reports that they have received the rebate, processed it on 1/19, and that it is in "the final stages of approval." It is, however, over 14 seeks since the rebate was mailed, making the rebate over 6 weeks overdue. Having lots and lots of experience with rebates for items purchased through OfficeMax, I sent off an email to omxrebates@officemax.com, and hope to receive a positive response shortly.

March 26, 2004

Good Inventions

Previously, I posted about the stupid inventions that had made their way to the finals as well as the winner of the Staples "Invention Quest." Today, I received a piece of mail in an Inter-Departmental envelope that was actually cool. In place of the traditional string and rivet closure, this envelope employed adhesive surfaces on the flap and the corresponding part of the envelope. Essentially operating as two Post-it notes stuck sticky-side together, the envelope is easily sealable, unsealable, and resealable. However, what's most amazing is how un-sticky the adhesive surfaces feel, and the fact that they don't stick to anything but themselves (kind of like Velcro).

To the inventor, whoever and wherever you are, I salute you!

March 25, 2004

OT: My Life, a Seinfeld Episode

The Seinfeld episode, The Parking Space (script), is infamous. Many people, even those who don't watch the show often, have seen it. While it exaggerates a problematic situation (lack of parking), it highlights a true problem - just what are the rules of parking.

A case is point occurred when I returned home this evening. As I cruised down the block, I found a spot, with a car double parked about a car-length in front of it. The car had it's right-blinker on, but wasn't moving. I idled behind the car, waiting to determine if it was just double parked (with a dead hazard light on the left), or actually parking. After a healthy length of time passed and the car didn't move, I pulled forward a bit, and began backing into the spot. As I did this, the horn-honking began, and continued until I gave up my pursuit and pulled next to the car. I wasn't that interested in the spot - it wasn't particularly close to my apartment, and there were other spots, it was just the first that I had come across. (Keep this in mind as you read on.) When I was directly next to his car, I rolled down my window as he did his. Presented for your viewing pleasure, a recreation of the exchange that followed:
Me: What's the problem?
Him: That's my spot! I've got my blinker on! Didn't you see my blinker!
Me: Well, if you were going to park, why didn't you park?
Him: It doesn't matter! As long as my blinker is on, it's my spot!
Me: What were you waiting for? What, were you reading a book?
Him: It doesn't matter what I was doing! As long as my blinker is on, it's my spot! I could wait here two hours, but as long as I've got my blinker on, it'd still be my spot!
Me: Why are you pulled up so far past the spot?
Him: I've got my blinker on! It's my spot!
At this point, it was clear that he was irrational, and interested in the spot. In my relaxed and rational state of mind, I moved on to another spot, just up the block, amused at the ridiculousness of others.

CSS Claims

A few days ago I called to request forms to file CSS claims for the camera I bought for my in-laws ($138.01 - over 30% off the price I originally paid, and nearly 45% off the price my in-laws were originally going to spend) and some books for my wife ($16.96 - over 42% off!). They arrived yesterday, I prepared them today, and they'll go out in tomorrow's mail.

New Style 2

I'm still toying with the styling.

I've reduced the quantity of $uperman logos, tweaked the colors and formats of various page elements, and changed my name in the "Posted by" field from "Bargain Dave" to "$uperman". I have no idea how such a name would be pronounced (any suggestions?), but it works in printed form.

I also added flags next to the names of the various countries from which I've had visitors (listed on the bottom left of the page).



I haven't had much to order lately, but some stuff has been arriving nonetheless. Yesterday, I had three deliveries:
1) Swiss Army Knife from SAB
2) Phone Cord Coupler from Buy.com
3) Eureka Vacuum from Amazon.com

1) I was interested to see that they made some slight modifications to the design of the knife, in particular to the pliers. There is now a tab on one side that slides into a notch in the other, probably to help prevent the problem I had with mine.

2) Surprisingly, Buy.com did come through with their claim that the item would in fact ship, but they have yet to charge me the $0.99 they are due for the coupler.

3) I realized I never posted about the vacuum I ordered. It was the Eureka 7686BH Boss Upright Vacuum with Bonus Eureka 56 Handvac (included in the box). Though the vacuum retails for $120, Amazon normally sells it for $59.99. It was reduced during Amazon's 3/12/04 Friday Sale to $39.99. I threw in a $10 GC that I had, and the final price for both vacuums was $29.99. After easily assembling it, I gave it a quick trial run yesterday, and it did a satisfactory job.

The 56 Handvac is like a corded dustbuster. Though I haven't yet given it a try, it looks like it'll be useful for small jobs.

Today, I received my re-shipped phone from NewEgg.com. This time it looks like the box has not been opened yet. :)

March 23, 2004

New Style

If you've ever been here before, I'm sure you noticed that I changed the look and feel of the blog. While I'm still tinkering with it, please let me know what you think!

March 22, 2004

FedEx is Weird

I don't ship much, and when I do, I don't use FedEx. I do order a lot of stuff (duh), but it is shipped almost exclusively via either UPS or USPS. In short, I don't know that much about FedEx.

So when my Amazon vacuum wasn't delivered on Saturday (my employer was closed), I was surprised that they didn't even try to come back today. I called them to find out why, and was informed that the item was shipped by NewEgg via "FedEx Home" and they only deliver Tuesday - Saturday. As I said, weird.

Buy.com is Weird

I still don't have any major complaints about Buy.com myself (though plenty of others do). Though the DVD player shipped in a timely fashion, the order I placed about a month ago is still incomplete - they haven't found my RCA TP262 In Line Phone Cord Coupler (Ivory). They have sent an email every 1-2 weeks since the order, stating they are still looking, but that I can cancel. Before doing so, I was concerned that doing so might ruin the coupon I used initially (the sole reason I ordered the coupler in the first place). So I called them at their super-secret number, and the CSR confirmed my fears. For that reason, I asked just how long this game would proceed. My actual words were "if the vendor won't have stock for another year, will my order really hang out until then?" She initially responded in the affirmative, but then corrected herself to state that orders automatically die after 90 days. Yay - only about 60 to go!

The ridiculous thing is not that they are refusing to cancel the item without sacrificing my coupon per se, but that it is costing them more to do so! After all, they will have to pay shipping and deal with me on the phone, both of which will cost more than whatever profit they can make on a $.99 item (for which they are now charging $2.95).

As I was composing this post, the CSR emailed me to inform me that "[they] have received an estimated time of arrival from [their] distributor and expect [my] product to ship on or about 3/22/04." That's today. That's very unlikely, but fear not, I'll keep you updated.

March 19, 2004

Victorinox Swiss Army Knives

When I was around 13, I bought a Victorinox Deluxe Tinker Swiss Army knife. It had many tools, and I got a lot of use out of it. Over time, the springs on the pliers and scissors broke, both tools lost their alignment, and some of the blades became dull, especially the awl, which isn't particularly easy to sharpen.

Because of this, and because I later got a Leatherman Wave, the Swiss knife ended up in a drawer. I finally decided to get it fixed, once and for all. I shipped it via UPS on 2/25 and it arrived 2/26. I waited until today, when I called, to find out what was going on. They had no record of having received it, and will therefore replace it.

March 18, 2004


A few weeks ago, I received an email offer to sign up for Infone (free), and in exchange I would receive a $10 Amazon.com GC. As usual, I went for it, and I've already received and used the $10 GC. I did not, however, expect to ever use Infone, despite their many interesting radio advertisements.

You can use Infone for any of their various "enhanced directory assistance" features, or more valuably, as a calling card. They will connect you to any number in the US or Canada. Since they do offer 5 free calls, when I was away on a trip last week, I decided to try Infone to make a call back home. I actually wanted to make 3 calls - to leave various messages with various people. Infone has a special feature that they call StarBack.
After being connected to call, one can press * to return to an Infone operator, who will connect you to another call, etc, up to 4 times. So for $.89, I was able to make my 3 calls, and even try a second number when one line was busy.

Their basic fee structure (After the first 5 calls) is $.89 per call (up to 15 minutes). For each additional minute, they charge $.05. They only charge you what you use (unlike phone cards, which typically pre-charge), which makes Infone a very useful tool for those on the road.

One last interesting tidbit. They have this deal that they'll donate 5% of your usage charges to the school of your choice, plus they'll donate an additional $5 once you have made your first ten calls under the program.

Surprisingly, their marketing scheme may well have worked. After I use up my remaining calls, there is a fair chance that I will continue to use them, though I'm not sure they'll ever reap a profit from me. (Their costs right now are $10 Amazon GC + 5 calls. If I make 10 total calls, they'll get $4.45+ from me, only to dish out another $5 to the school of my choice. Assuming the GC only cost them $8, it'll take 19 calls (14 paid) to cover their costs, excluding the cost of the calls themselves.)

March 17, 2004

I've Been Schwagged!

As I previously reported, FW decided to recognize my contribution to FW with some free stuff. They originally contacted me about it on 2/27. A lot of time has passed since then, and I had been wondering just what was taking so long. It turns out they didn't ship it until 3/9. It finally arrived yesterday, and I got the following:
-Black FW T-shirt
-FW sticky-note cube
-FW can insulator
-FW branded Uni-ball Deluxe Micro pen
-A "Thanks for supporting FatWallet! Your contribution to our community is greatly appreciated!" note

Thanks FW!

PS: According to my recollection, this t-shirt represents my 52nd! That's one a week for a whole year, without doing any laundry....

March 15, 2004

Reusable Money

Today, I went to buy a chocolate milk from the vending machine in the coffee shop. However, the paper money feeder wasn't working, so I got change (3 quarters, 2 dimes, 1 nickel) from the guy working the register. I put in the latter 3 coins, and it returned all of them, but showed a credit of 20 cents. I put the dimes in again, and it showed a credit of 40 cents. I continued reusing the dimes until a $1 credit was reached, and it dispensed my milk. I walked over to the guy at the register with the chocolate milk in one hand, and my change in the other, informing him that the machine was broken. He thanked me for my honesty, told me he wouldn't take my money, and to enjoy the free chocolate milk. I've never had 2 dimes work so hard for me!

March 12, 2004

NewEgg Begins to Hatch

NewEgg has very good ratings for a good reason - they do what they say. Today I got an email confirmation of the $10 credit described earlier.

Bar Ilan Deal

Josh @ YUTOPIA found a deal and was surprised I didn't post it. While I normally only cover deals in which I partake (or other really good deals that I don't need but feel someone should take advantage of), I figured I'd list it, if for no other reason than to make him happy. Excerpted from YUTOPIA:

TES, purveyor of fine Jewish software, is running a sale on the popular Bar Ilan CD-ROM. Why is this blogworthy, you may ask? The sale creates an unusal pricing plan:

Cost to purchase new: $529.00
Cost to upgrade from v. 5: $599.00

So if you own Bar Ilan Version 5 and you want to upgrade, don't tell them about it. It'll [save] you $70.

'Stupid Inventions' Update

About one month ago, Staples listed the semi-finalists in their "Invention Quest." Today they announced the winner - WordLock. The ridiculous thing about this product was the problems involved in using the alphabet (26 characters) instead of numbers (10 characters or an infinite number of values). My original critique was based on the traditional style combination lock. In the announcement regarding the winner, they pictured a different style lock, which has its own problems:

In the image, there are 5 positions, which might lead one to expect 26^5 combinations (11,881,376), which is a lot. However, the wheels aren't large enough to accommodate the full alphabet. In the picture, only 4 letters are visible per wheel. Assuming half the wheel is visible, that's 8 characters per wheel (8^5 = 32,768). Considering that's twice my original estimate (based on the traditional style lock), it's a bit of an advancement, but still negligible.

Further harming the situation is the fact that there are far fewer words than numbers. Traditional combinations don't have meaning, and weren't intended to. The point of WordLock was to create combinations with meaning - which basically means using words as combinations. In 5 characters, there are a lot of words (around 7,000), but how many of them can be created when the letter for each position is drawn from a set of only 8 letters? Far fewer!

The end result here is that there is virtually no reasonable way to make a reasonably sized alphabetic combination lock, except as follows (my own idea):

Start with the basic design of a standard lock, but instead of 50 numbers, use capital and lower case letters. This will lead to 52 choices per wheel, for a total of 140,608 combinations. The only problems are printing the letter on the wheel in a legible fashion and the fact that these types of locks are NOT user-customizable. (Therefore the manufacturer must pick the words, and the consumer has only the choices available in the store at the time of purchase.)

March 11, 2004

NewEgg Lays a Rotten One

For some as yet unclear reason, previously opened packages seem to be drawn to me. The last time this happened was the Micorosft Money Standard, from Staples. Before that, it was a saw from Home Depot. This time it was a Panasonic phone from NewEgg.

Last week, I ordered the Panasonic KX-TG2248S, a cordless phone with answering machine. I didn't really need the answering machine part of things, but I did want another good cordless. The deal was pretty good - $50 (no tax or shipping) with a $30 rebate. There's a also a $20 rebate, but the odds of both getting approved is rather low.

The phone was finally delivered yesterday, while I was out, so I didn't get the phone until today. When I opened the shipping box, I found that the inner Panasonic box, though still sealed, looked like it had been opened. I didn't want to open it to check the status of the contents, as that might hurt my return opportunity. I therefore called them immediately (unlike Buy.com, NewEgg's phone number, 800-390-1119, is easy to find). The guy I spoke was very nice about it, and immediately offered a replacement. That was fine with me, but I wasn't going to pay to ship it back, so he offered me two choices:
1) They'd credit me $10
2) I could fax in a receipt from the shipping charges

I stalled the guy as long as possible while I looked up the shipping price online. When I finally determined that it would cost $8.20 to ship it via UPS, I told him I'd take the $10. He game me an RMA#, and the case was closed, temporarily. It will now probably take a few weeks before I see the replacement phone, but I'm not in a real rush.

BTW, they have since changed the price to $70 and removed free shipping from the item.

US Airways Shuttle

I had a meeting at the NIH yesterday, and I flew US Airways' Shuttle. This was a new experience for me in two ways. First, I had never flown US Air before. Second, I had never flown a "Shuttle" before.

I have to report that both experiences were great. The staff was courteous (when I asked for an extra bag of pretzels, the steward gave me two; when I finished those, he asked if I wanted more), the planes timely, and the process was smooth. Officially, you only need to check in 20 minutes before flight time, but I got to the airport a bit early to be on the safe side. The only problem I ran into was when they X-rayed my bag - forgetting that I was carrying-on my one and only bag, they found and confiscated my little scissors. :(

The only surprising thing on the flight was the announcement prior to takeoff. "Due to the length of our trip, and the nature of the destination, the seatbelt sign will not be turned off during the flight. If you need to use the lavatories, do so now." Not that it happened to me, but what happens if you really have to go?

March 9, 2004

Gas Prices Follow-up

One of the many recipient's of the email mentioned in my Gas Prices post responded as follows:

[The Gas Prices] email sounds good at first, but like a similar idea about not buying gas from companies that use Arab oil, it suffers from false logic. While in theory if gas sales at ExxonMobil decline they will lower prices, in fact the market is more complex. In any case, as sales at other companies go up, they will raise prices. The market will adjust prices until there is equilibrium. Plus, if you have to drive further to find another station, you'll burn up more gas and $$ than if you bought it from Exxon in the first place (not to mention wasting time and polluting the air). Don't believe me? See http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/petition/gasout.htm. Snopes is a website that disproves urban legends and email hoaxes.

Want to save money on gas? If you own an SUV, get rid of it. SUV's are inherently unsafe, both for their occupants and for people in other vehicles. They get the worst mileage and pollute more than other vehicles. Need a big car for the family? Try a minivan (more room for passengers and cargo, much safer and better mileage) or a station wagon. Walk or bike. Minimize short trips. Also, don't idle while waiting for someone (most pollution and obviously the worst mileage per gallon). In the summer, open a window when not on the highway (but use the a/c when on a highway). Etc. Etc.

Gas Prices

I recently got an email (forward) with a plan to force the gasoline companies to lower their prices. While there might be something to the theory, I don't foresee the plan coming to fruition. Regardless, for your reading interest:

Join the resistance!!!!

I hear we are going to hit close to $3.00 a gallon by the summer. Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some intelligent, united action. Phillip Hollsworth, offered this good idea: This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work.

Please read it and join with us!

By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $1.50 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $1.97 for regular unleaded in my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50- $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace ... not sellers. With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas!

And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers.

It's really simple to do!! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point ... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to, at least, ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it ... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all. (If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people.... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician. But I am ... so trust me on this one.)

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this email out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!! I'll bet you I didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you! Acting together we can make a difference.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $1.30 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

March 8, 2004

Drill Deal

It's not often that I talk about deals in which I don't participate. However, when I find a really good deal that I really don't need, I like to share the info. Here goes:

Sears has an 18V Cordless Drill (w/ Work Light) for $49.88, which is a very nice price. Sears item #00911461000.

I don't need one, but otherwise I would have jumped on this.

March 7, 2004


I'm always interested in how people get here. Sure, many of my friends make up a portion of the readership, but being listed on Google helps, too. I've been getting a lot of hits from Google, especially for the Buy.com Phone Number page that I posted. In fact, shawnz28 linked to that page from anAnadTech thread.

March 4, 2004

Buy.com DVD Player Arrives

The DVD player I ordered from Buy.com arrived. Unlike many unfortunate FWers, the UPC on my box wasn't covered with the UPS label (or the packing slip adhesive), and it came with a packing slip. I did not, however, get the microphone(s) with which the description on Buy.com's website (Techincal Specs) indicates (probably erroneously) it comes. There were, however, people who got not only two microphones, but also the 5 karaoke CDs.

Many FWers posted comments ranging from, "My box doesn't have a UPC" to "Those @$#% @#^#$& at Buy.com put the UPS label over the UPC on purpose." I find these rather humorous, if not a bit hard to believe. The UPC is on the side of the box. Why would they put the UPS label on the side, when there's so much room on top? Then again, if I had gotten a box like this, I'd be complaining, too.

March 3, 2004

Phone Service 2

As previously stated, phone service is a rip-off. Large companies charge lots of money for simple services with poor customer service. Nonetheless, there are some deals that are better than others. I used to use AT&T for local and regional calls, and Isterra/Primus for long distance. After taxes, the former was roughly $54 and the latter varied, but was usually in the $5-$10 range.

I just signed up for IDT's America Unlimited plan. The pretax cost of the plan is $39.95, and includes unlimited local, regional, and long distance calls, plus Caller ID, Call Waiting w/Name, 3-way Calling, and more. Here in NY, the expected monthly charge (after taxes) is roughly $55. (FYI, the service is available in NY, NJ, PA, MD, NH, WV, MA, RI, DE, and ME.)

If you're interested in signing up, call 800-296-5402, then press 3. If you tell them I referred you, I'll get $20 credited to my account.

March 1, 2004

Cashback on Dell Purchases

FW recently cut back on FatCash for purchases at the Dell Small Business division. Specifically, cash back is not available on Dell Dimension, Dell Inspiron, and Dell PowerEdge SC products.

However, there is still a site out there that pays cash back on Dell Small Business, Mr. Rebates. While they give a rebate of "only" 1.5%, it's better than nothing. And to get you started, you earn $2.50 just for signing up! Sign up here.

OT: Elevator Safety Tips

This post really needs no explanation. As published by my employer:

We use the elevators on our campuses every day without a second though. However, it's a good idea to review the following safety tips1 to help avoid accidents.

When you approach the elevator:

  • Know your destination. Push the elevator CALL button for the direction you want to go.

  • Stand aside for exiting passengers.

  • If the elevator is full, wait for the next car.

  • Don't try to stop a closing door. Wait for the next elevator.

When you enter and leave the elevator:

  • Enter and exit carefully. Step up or down if the elevator floor and hall floor are not level.

  • Stand clear of the doors-keep clothes and bags away from the opening.

  • Push and hold the DOOR OPEN button if doors need to be held open, or ask someone to push the button for you.

When riding on the elevator:

  • Stand next to the elevator wall.

  • Stand aside so that those who are entering or leaving may do so.

  • Pay attention to floor indications.


  • Watch your step.

  • Leave closing doors alone.

  • Take the stairs in a fire, NEVER take the elevator.

If you become trapped:

  • Don't panic.

  • Ring the alarm button and wait for help.

  • Sit down and stay put. Never attempt to pry open the doors or crawl out of the opening on the roof of the car, the elevator could start moving again with fatal results. Wait for rescue personnel.

For more information on elevator safety go to www.eesf.org, "The Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation" or call EH&S at (212) 960-0081.

1. Adapted from Elevator Safety Tips at www.eesf.org

Staples is Great

I contrast to OM, Staples is great. First off, they do things well. Then, when things don't live up to expectations, they take care of it. As mentioned in prior posts, I have recently received several "Staples Dollars" gift certificates for various reasons. They act like $X of $X coupons, which are stackable. Today, I spent two of them (valued at $5 and $15) on a small order.

Because I am a Staples Business Rewards Gold member, I get free shipping. On any size order. So when I had a $19.88 order, and added a small value item to break $20 (to enable use of both coupons), I brought the order total down to $0.91 (including tax). On an order such as this one, it is simply impossible for Staples to make a profit.

In the case of this order, there will actually be two shipments, though both will be delivered by Staples courier, a nearly cost-free option given that the deliveries are to my place of work, which is served daily by Staples.

However, it is not uncommon for Staples to ship stuff via UPS, which is obviously more expensive, and even a single shipment would cost more than this order.

Ignoring delivery costs, the cost of the items I ordered far exceeds the $0.87 not going into the government's pocket. I almost feel sorry for them, but it's more of a worry that one day things won't be so great. But in the meantime, I must enjoy.