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UPDATE: Canadians retreat from Texas

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

About a week ago I did a silly posting on our geographically challenged friends at the Ultra Rebate Center. I received a rebate check at my address in Houston, Texas, USA that was made out in Canadian dollars and clearly denoted in the last line of the address “CANADA”. Well, I’m happy to report that Texas is no longer under the tyranny of Canadian rule, ketchup flavored potato chips have been replaced with the more traditional BBQ, and salsa is once again the condiment of choice. Oh yeah, and I received my rebate in US Dollars. =)

April 28, 2007 Posted by | Rebates | Leave a comment

Coupon fun for your CVS adventures

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

A couple of new CVS coupons have been posted over at SlickDeals I thought I would share. There is now a $5 off of $30 purchase and a $10 off of $50 purchase.

Some have reported being able to stack both of these coupons along with the $4 off $20 coupon on the same order, effectively creating a $19 discount on a $50 purchase. Unfortunately I tried last night without success, but if you can pull it off more power to you!

Another helpful hint courtesy of Bax on SD: use the System Restore functionality in Windows to get around limits on printing coupons off of websites. System restore allows you to revert your computer back to an earlier point in time. The thought is that if your computer becomes infected with a virus, you uninstall something you shouldn’t have, or you otherwise start having operating issues, you can go back to the settings you had before you started having problems. However, in this instance you create a restore point before installing the web applet that generates the coupon, print your allotted number, and then through System Restore go back to the restore point you just created and the computer will behave as if you never installed the applet or printed the coupons. Lather, rinse, repeat! Read Bax’s instructions on SD here. Works great for the Mentadent and Nestle coupon links I posted previously!

April 27, 2007 Posted by | CVS, Deals | 1 Comment

Thoughts on the Economics of Speeding

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Trent over at The Simple Dollar had a post recently about the economics of speeding, in which he details how a recent speeding ticket messed up his day and makes the argument that speeding doesn’t save enough time to justify the costs when you do get caught. Interesting post, but here is my take on it…

Trent’s entire posting is based in logic, which is fine and all, but this is America. Deep down almost all of us are hard-wired at birth with the attitude of “I wanna go fast!”, with the except of most of the population of Texas, who can’t do anything fast. That’s just who we are. In most places if you were only going 6 over the limit as Trent was, you would receive approximately 2.1 raised middle fingers per mile driven.

It is true that speeding may not make much of a difference on a short trip, but for people with extended commutes or on long road trips it makes little since not to speed. If you have a 25 mile commute, you save 7 minutes each way going 75mph instead of 55mph. For a 300 mile road trip, it is almost an hour and a half saved (4 hrs vs. 5 hrs 27 mins).

Drivers should use good judgment, but if you are the only car around I think you are justified in exceeding the limit, especially by only 6 miles per hour! Giving tickets for such an infraction shows that the police are not concerned with safety but are being pushed to write tickets to raise revenue because our elected officials don’t have the testicular fortitude to either raise taxes or cut spending.

BTW, be sure to check out his blog. There is some great content over there, and right now he is doing a giveaway contest for intelligent responses to recent postings on his site. He has five different books he is giving away, so take a look and make your voice heard.

April 27, 2007 Posted by | Automotive | Leave a comment

Free admission at select museums from Bank of America

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Thanks to our friends over at Credit Card Watcher for finding this deal/freebie!

Bank of America is running a promotion offering free admission to select museums as part of its Museums on Us 2007 campaign. You can browse the listing of participating museums at http://www.bankofamericapromotions.com/museums . Bank of America customers simply need to show their Bank of America issued debit or credit card along with a photo ID for admission.

Unfortunately, no participating museums anywhere close to Texas. I guess the folks over at BofA don’t think we are sophisticated enough for museums down here. Hopefully this will help some of you on the East Coast and in California.

April 26, 2007 Posted by | Freebies | Leave a comment

Slow week for CVS deals

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

For all of you who do the CVS deals, this week is kind of slow. Here is a summary of the best deals of the week. AnnetteP over at SD has summarized all of the deals and corresponding coupons here.

  • SoyJoy Bars are 4/$4 and you get $4 in ECB, making them free. With the BOGO coupons from last week’s Sunday paper, you make $2 on four.
  • Precision Xtra blood glucose monitor is $9.99 with $9.99 in ECB back, making it free.
  • Alavert Non-Drowsey Allergy Medication is $6.99 for the 12-15ct. Buy two and get $3 in ECB back. There are $6 off coupons printable here and here. With the coupons you make $1.02, even more if you have one of the CVS coupons for allergy medication that have printed from the register in recent weeks.
  • Kellogg’s Cereal is 2/$4 with $1 in ECB back when you buy two. At $1.50 not a super deal, but still a good use of excess ECBs.
  • Nestle 8 pack candies are $0.99 and there are $1 off printable coupons here when you register at verybestkids.com.
  • Excedrin 24ct is on sale for $4.29 with $3 in ECB back. Reportedly there are $1 off coupons attached to the package, making these $0.29.
  • In some areas, tubes of 3.5oz Mentadent toothpaste are on sale for $1.99. For some Mentadent is pictured in the ad, for others it is in the text below the picture of Arm and Hammer toothpaste which is also on sale for $1.99, and in some areas it is not on sale. There are $2 off printable coupons at mentadent.com making these free.

Don’t forget about the $4 off $20 coupon you get for updating your email address at www.cvs.com/email to make the deals even better. If you can transfer a prescription, try using this printable coupon for a $25 gift card (thanks to SD’s Richard98)!

April 25, 2007 Posted by | CVS, Deals | 1 Comment

GPT Scam: FreeNezy.com run by Vikram Jhaveri

4/22/08 Update:  The FreeNEzy.com website written about in this post appears to have been sold and under new management, as documented on this recent post. While this change in ownership does not change any of the events that have occurred previously with this site (and my friend never got his reward), there is currently no evidence we are aware of that the new owner has continued any of the fraudulent practices previously associated with the site. As always, use caution when dealing with this or any other site.

College students are so busy these days! Their days are filled with classes, projects, papers, exams, socializing, and creating websites to defraud internet users by promising to give them prizes for completing trial offers and then pretending to be a user of the site on a popular internet message board to drum up traffic and then ducking users when they ask questions about the promised prizes.

Ok, that might not be the lifestyle of every college student, but apparently it is the life of Vikram Jhaveri, engineering student at California State University – Chico. Mr. Jhaveri created several GPT sites, where registered users complete trial offers through the site to earn points towards various rewards.

Bastard

One of those sites was freenezy.com, which Mr. Jhaveri then promoted in the forums at SlickDeals.net pretending to be a user of the site under the username StaplesCrazy and not disclosing that he actually owned the site (the original postings were deleted by the moderators after the scam was uncovered, but cached copies of the postings are linked here). Once he was found out users started reporting extremely slow if any response to inquiries, requested reward items not shipping, and accounts being deleted for no reason. There are several users over at SD that are still fighting for their reward items.

Anyway, several users have emailed this guy with limited success. Some have reported that they finally did receive their items, while many others are still fighting for them. One user over at SD even had this scumbag reply to an inquiry accusing him of fraud!

Well I’m sure that several users have already filed complaints with the BBB and the California AG’s office, so we will see what happens. Hopefully we will see this skinny little turd doing the perp walk real soon. If you come across this site or any of his others (see list below), STAY FAR AWAY! There are other legit sites out there that really will send your items as promised.

If you have been victimized by this bastard, are just bored, or have pre-teen children that are going through that prank calling stage, here is some of the contact info that the fine users over at SD have compiled for him:

Emails: vgjhav@hotmail.com, vgjhav@yahoo.com, updates@freeNezy.com, support@ejawab.com, admin@ejawab.com, vgjhave@ilstu.edu, vgjhave@csuchico.edu

Addresses:
300E Shelbourne, Normal, IL 61761

PO. Box 481, Normal, IL 61761

PO. Box 3332, Chico, CA 95928 – 9998

Phone numbers:

309-436-9555 (old number for archive sakes)
309-436-1683 (old number for archive sakes)

586-435-0675 *
530-591-9998 *
806-209-0837 *

Some of this guy’s other fraudulent sites are as follows:

www.freenezy.com
www.fastezyfree.com
www.affiliateflix.com
www.freeisagoodprice.com
www.dhulan.com

Credit for the information in this posting goes to our friends at SD and www.heyyoudeadbeat.com

April 24, 2007 Posted by | GPT, Scams | , , , , | 17 Comments

Rant: City of Houston sells property at 77% discount!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I posted previously about a sweetheart deal where the City of Houston was leasing 6 acres of prime real estate valued at $26 million to a non-profit for a whopping $1 per year. Mayor Bill White and city officials began reviewing some of these leases and had decided that this particular lease was no longer valid and was beginning to pursue options for selling the property at market value or renegotiating the lease to call for rental at market rates. Finally, an elected official in this city had grown a pair and was willing to do right by the taxpayers, or so I thought.

It was announced late last week that the non-profit and the city had reached an agreement for the non-profit to purchase the land (remember valued at $26 million) for $6 million under favorable financing terms. For those of you playing along at home, that is a 77% discount to true market value of the property. Just when we thought that Mayor White could develop a pair of his very own, it seems that they have withered away in the blink of an eye. This idiocy has cost the taxpayers in Houston $20 million, plus the additional jobs and tax revenue that would have been generated from the construction of the sure-to-be high priced residential development that would have gone in at the site, along with the perpetual stream of property tax revenue that would have been generated.

Hey Mayor White – while you are feeling so generous, how about a 77% discount for all of us who pay property taxes to the City of Houston? Sure it wouldn’t be a financially prudent thing to do, but this surely shows that isn’t a concern. C’mon! What do ya say?

April 23, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | Leave a comment

Off-topic: My brother-in-law’s travelling issues

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I posted a little while back about my brother-in-law’s adventures with Northwest Airlines trying to get from Houston to Gatlinburg Tennessee. In summary, he missed his original flight due to unusual traffic backups, a fender-bender in the airport parking garage, a change in gate to a different terminal, and a broken metal detector (none of which were his fault). He retried the trip the next day only to have what was supposed to be a four-hour journey take a 16 hours due to a very small delay in the arrival of his first flight followed by Northwest Airlines gate agents closing the gate for his next flight a full 10 minutes early and numerous other instances of incompetence by Northwest Airlines employees which gave him the run-around (both figuratively and literally) throughout the Memphis airport. As a follow-up to that, on the flight back he lost his trusty Cleveland Indians hat, which had survived (if you can call it that) nine years of use and for whatever reason he absolutely loved. He filed a missing item report (surprisingly the phone representative didn’t laugh at him when he made it) with Continental, which operated the flight he lost it on, and was told he could check the lost and found in Houston in five days for the item. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem Continental has a lost and found, or if they do they didn’t tell the ticketing agent at Houston Intercontinental he talked to this past week, as my brother-in-law received a look that I would imagine most closely resembles that of a monkey doing a math problem.

Anyway, late Saturday night he and a friend were coming back to Houston from Austin on US Hwy 290 when a vehicle came at them at a high rate of speed going the wrong way on the freeway. Luckily the wrong-way vehicle didn’t hit them, but did cause them to crash into the concrete wall of death blocking the median, severely damaging both axles and the undercarriage and rendering the car undrivable. They both walked away from the accident, and the police tracked down the other driver shortly thereafter, still going the wrong way on the freeway, whom they described as a “very confused old man”. It remains to be seen if the other driver even has insurance, and even if he does whether my brother-in-law will get compensation to fix the car (preferable) or if the car will just be totaled out. It is an older vehicle in excellent shape, so the fear is that he couldn’t find anything in as good of condition or as reliable for the book value of the vehicle. He got the car for a steal used a couple of years ago and is very mechanically inclined and has taken great care of it. Perhaps I can talk him into doing his own blog to chronicle his fight on this.

It occurred to me this morning that he is a disastrous train ride and an overly friendly yet sadly lonely fat man away from being Steve Martin’s character in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”. At least we can be thankful that no one was hurt in this.

April 23, 2007 Posted by | Customer Service, Off Topic, Travel | 2 Comments

“The Snack Deal” Card at Blockbuster – Potential Hot Deal!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I had posted before about the stacks of gift cards I have, and that I had two Blockbuster gift cards that I was having particular trouble finding a good use for. I use the online service, however you can’t use gift cards online – they are only good in the store. Well, I finally found a use for the card!

Blockbuster is now selling in the store what they are calling “The Snack Deal” card. For $5.99, you get a card that entitles you to a free popcorn, beverage, or candy product priced $1.99 or less with a rental transaction (limit 1 per day). If you subscribe to the online service and exchange your DVDs in the store, that is considered to be a rental transaction. The card is valid for 30 days from date of purchase, and is restricted to a single store and membership account.

I drink a lot of Diet Cokes, and Blockbuster sells 2 Liter bottles for $1.99, so I will probably use the card to stock up on these. If I go only every two days (usually I go more often), that’s 15 2-Liters for $5.99. Not a bad deal in my book!

April 21, 2007 Posted by | Deals, Gift Cards | 1 Comment

Cool CVS Deals this Week

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

If you have read my prior posts on CVS, you can tell I am going nuts with their Extra Buck promotions. This week has some pretty cool deals, many which can be made even better with recent coupons from the Sunday papers. Here are my favorites of the week:

  • Purchase $20 in Mylanta products, get $10 in ECB back. Buy 4 bottles of the Mylanta Ultimate Strength 12oz and use 4 $3 off coupons that can be printed from Mylanta.com (hint: use four different email addresses to generate four different coupons). There is also a “try me free” rebate on some bottles in the store with a limit 1 and a limit of $7. Have the cashier ring up the Mylanta before your Extra Bucks card and it will show on the receipt as $7.29 (the $2.29 per bottle savings will be listed further down on the receipt after the card is scanned).
    • Without rebate: $20 less $12 printable coupons less $10 in ECB = $2 profit plus 4 bottles of Mylanta
    • With rebate and receipt listing price at $5.00: $20 less $12 printable coupons less $5 rebate less $10 in ECB plus $0.39 for the rebate stamp = $6.61 profit plus 4 bottles of Mylanta
    • With rebate and receipt listing price at $7.29: $20 less $12 printable coupons less $7 rebate less $10 in ECB plus $0.39 for the rebate stamp = $8.61 profit plus 4 bottles of Mylanta
  • Purchase $10 in Gas-X or Maalox products, get $10 in ECB. There are $1 off coupons in last Sunday’s paper for Gas-X and Maalox
  • Purchase Aqua Velva Ice Balm at $5.99, get $5.99 in ECB (some have said they have had trouble finding this item)
  • Purchase $20 in select baby items (mainly Huggies diapers and wipes), get a free umbrella stroller. There were coupons for $1 Huggies a couple of weeks ago, in addition to coupons for some of the other selected items.
  • Purchase Aleve Liquid Gels 20 ct for $3.99, get $3.99 back from mail-in rebate using form from CVS circular. There is also a $2 off coupon in last Sunday’s paper along with another rebate form. The rebates are different offers, so you could buy another on a different receipt and get another free bottle of Aleve. At worst with the coupon you make $1.61 and get two bottles of Aleve.
  • Purchase Eclipse Big E Gum for $1.99 and get $1 ECB. There is also a $1 off coupon in last Sunday’s paper, making this free after coupon.

There are other deals, but these are my favorites. Remember to go to www.cvs.com/email and update the email address on your card to get a $4 off $20 purchase coupon to make the deals even sweeter!

April 20, 2007 Posted by | CVS, Deals | 4 Comments