Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pep Boys Review

I wasn't going to do this, but I'm afraid that the situation is so absurd that the only way I am going to get it out of my mind is to write this Pep Boys review.  Pep Boys in California is a three-ring circus. Some of the guys that work there are very nice, but nice doesn't make up for rocks where there should be marbles.

I used to like Pep Boys a lot. Like most people in this economy, I need to save money where I can, and their prices are decent.  They are great at putting on tires and replacing batteries, but it seems they are not competent enough to handle anything remotely more complicated.  I have had a few bad experiences at various California Pep Boys in the last few years.  And I'm done.

Firstly, after four day-long visits to one to install new brakes...and three to replace the faulty new brakes that they installed...which they did ONE AT A TIME, I still have one bad brake. I knew that when I started to pull out of their lot.  It was making noise...the very noise I had told them it was making when I brought it in. They didn't believe me so I had the mechanic drive the car around the block and see for himself.  He came back and told me that that wasn't the noise he had fixed....he hadn't been listening for that noise. Well, I hadn't been listening for that noise either, but it was the one I reported.

Yeah, they screwed up, but yet would not even let me make an appointment so that I didn't have to spend yet another (5th) entire day there.   The manager was rude and asked me if I had driven to to Los Angeles or something.  Huh? What difference did that make??  They didn't guarantee their work for the 12 mile drive to Los Angeles? My brakes were guaranteed as long as I didn't visit that evil city?  Seriously, what?

I was done with Pep Boys (with the exception of breaking down on the freeway last July and having to have my alternator replaced at the nearest possible place) at that point.

Fast forward several years, and I need an expensive part put in my car in order to pass smog...a new idle control motor.  Having just moved to an unfamiliar area, I go to a mom & pop shop. That was no fun. These clowns wanted to charge me for an expensive part that they did not have on hand without fully diagnosing the problem.  They said there was a chance that I did not need the part...I'm sure they didn't want to yank the idle control motor out and test it, only to have to put it back in if it turned out not to be faulty.

Sorry, blonde though I am (sometimes),  I wasn't going to shell out more than 300 dollars on a part I would be stuck with if it turned out my current one was just dirty and could be cleaned. I decided to go elsewhere.  Of course, that was not before mom and pop charged me for for the pleasure giving me an inconclusive diagnosis. Half price for half a diagnosis.  Full pile of crap.

I am actually missing Pep Boys at this seems time heals all automotive repair wounds.  I start to wonder what Pep Boys would charge, and if I'd get better service there.  I had, in fact, had that alternator replaced at a different Pep Boys location after the brake fiasco, and I thought that had gone well. Surely, the brake episode was a one-off.  Surely Pep Boys would not do me wrong again.

I call Pep Boys. They can diagnosis the car, and order the part. They will overnight the part. The part is cheaper than at the other place. They will not charge me for the part if I don't need it. I have a crush on Pep Boys again. Pep Boys and I have a date for two days later.

Sooo...let me tell you how that went.

They don't have the part when I get there.

Them: hasn't come in yet.

Me:  it was supposed to be over-nighted.

Them: oh, um, oh, eh, well... the shipment hasn't come in yet today.

Me:  it was supposed to be over-nighted two days ago.

Them: yeah, but the arrival schedule blah... blah... blah.

Me: why did the guy who said he would over-night the part make an appointment for me at this time, knowing the part would not be here yet?

Them:  oh, um, we don't know, sorry.

Me:  you couldn't have least at called me so I didn't make a wasted trip here?

Them:  yeah, he should have called you.

I'm NOT stupid... it was clear that the ball had been dropped, and the part had not been ordered.  They went ahead and diagnosed the car (to their credit, they did not charge me for the diagnosis), and it turned out that I did need the expensive idle speed control motor that the local clowns said I might need.

I'm not feeling confident during the hour I spend there while they diagnose my car. I hear an employee telling one customer that her car couldn't be smogged because their smog guy was at home "hugging the porcelain bowl", and they were having trouble locating the keys that belonged to another.  This would be highly entertaining under different circumstances.

Three days later, I get a call that my part is in, and I make another appointment after explaining to them (though I'd done it before) that I also need a smog check. No problem, they tell me.

I keep my appointment and have the idle control motor replaced only to find out that I will have to drive it for 40-50 miles to have the electronics reset before it could be smogged.  Gah...I would have appreciated knowing this beforehnd, but whatever.

By now, I'm getting used to (and disturbingly more comfortable with) driving around with expired tags. After driving what I figured was an acceptable distance, I call Pep Boys back to make an appointment to have my car smogged.  Just one problem.

I can't make that appointment because their smog machine is broken.  HUH?  I would never, ever put in print what I was thinking at that point, and I stifled my frustration and asked when it would be fixed.  I was told that it would be fixed on Tuesday, and to call back then.

Okay.  I did as I was told and called back Tuesday.  On Tuesday, I am told that the smog mechanic is OFF WORK for 2 days!!  I am rendered incredulous.

HEY PEP BOYS...I have an idea...why not change the schedule and make your smog guy take the days off during the time your machine was down?  What...makes too much sense?  Gahhhhhhhh, what is your problem??

All right.  Let's finish this.

I finally make an appointment to get my car smogged at Pep Boys, and they assure me that the machine is working, and so it the smog engineer.  I ask for a morning appointment, but they cannot get me in until 2:30 in the afternoon.  So be it.  I take the 2:30 appointment that they suggest.

You didn't think this could get any worse, did you?  Well, it's Pep Boys, so... can.  I wait 45 minutes with no word on my car, so I decide to go check on it.  Do you want to know what I am told?  That the smog mechanic was OUT TO LUNCH (which was his normal lunchtime), and so my car had not been looked at yet. They had not only (at their suggestion) scheduled my appointment for the time that the mechanic is normally out to lunch, but they had also told me that everything was running on time (after I had inquired), when I got there.

They had just crossed the line from ineptness to deceptiveness.

It was time...I let loose...I like to think in a nice way, but I was outside my body at this the guy who gave me this little bit of news.  2:30 was the time they gave me for the appointment, not one I had suggested.  Why the hell would they make an appointment for me to smog my car when their "smog guy" was going to be taking his "regularly" scheduled lunch break?

The last guy I talked to actually "got it", and in lieu of going back in time and actually making things right, at least he made sure that my smog check was free.

As someone who does not know enough about cars (but would never let a mechanic know that), I constantly face the dilemma of where to take my car when something happens. Will I ever go back to Pep Boys?  I don't think so, but my fickle side can't promise that.

On another note, my DMV tags just arrived. I best go put them on the car before any more time elapses.

Because every little bit helps...

Carole Tee

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Online Survey Reviews

When I first turned to the Internet as a way of earning money, one of the first things I did was take online surveys. I don't do a whole lot of it anymore...I enjoyed it but eventually tired of it.  However, there are many people that absolutely love taking surveys online, so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite online survey companies by writing some online survey reviews.

Note: It should not cost you anything to sign up with any of the online survey companies. If you are asked to shell out money for a list of companies or to join some forum or club, run in the other direction. The information you seek can be found freely all over the Internet.

Here are some of the online survey companies that I had the most luck with:

1. Survey Savvy
One of the most frustrating things about taking online surveys is that you typically have to meet a threshold of earnings before you can cash out.  The nice thing about Survey Savvy is that the threshold is only a buck. However, they do send earnings by mail, and the check can take weeks to arrive.  This is okay if you just want some fun money.

Survey Savvy also has a referral program, which means that you can make a little kickback from the earnings of others who've signed up under your link. You can post a link on your blog (like I did above) or invite friend to join via email.

2.  Survey Spot
Survey Spot rewards you with points that can be traded in for gift cards or cash if you have a verified PayPal account.  You need a minimum of 1000 points to cash out.  I never traded for gift cards, but it only took a day or so to get the money through PayPal.

3.  testspin
testspin works much like Survey Spot.  The rewards you can get are points you can use on or cash through PayPal.  You need a minimum of 10,000 points before you can cash out.  Typically, it takes five to seven days to get money through PayPal.

4.  American Consumer Opinion
This one is almost* my favorite.  Before sending you a survey, American Consumer Opinion sends out a "screener" survey with a few quick qualifying questions first to see if a survey is right for you.  I like that because you don't have to waste your valuable time answering a bunch of questions on a survey to find out that you don't qualify to take it. (one of the things I don't like about online survey taking)

I qualified for a phone survey about gift cards through them....made 50.00 for a one-half hour phone call. Loved that.  I received points which I redeemed for cash through PayPal. One penny equals one point and you need a minimum of 1000 points to cash out. It took several weeks to get paid, if I remember correctly, but all in all, I found my experience with this online survey company far easier than most.

*I called that last one "almost" my favorite, because there is still a better way to take surveys, and that is through Amazon Mechanical Turk. However, because it's unique, that subject deserves its own post, and I'll get to that shortly.

Don't believe any advertisements that tell you you're going to find a full-time income taking online surveys. You won't qualify for every survey, and you can spend a lot of time trying. The bottom line is that you're not going to get rich doing this.  But if you just want some knocking around money and are looking to kill some time, online survey taking can be fun and rewarding.

Tip: Make sure you fill out your profiles at these companies so you're more likely to receive invitations to surveys that you will qualify to take.

Because every little bit helps...

Carole Tee

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Survey Savvy - Survey Scam Phishing eMail

I received an email that purports to be from Survey Savvy yesterday.  It is a survey scam.  A phishing email, and I want to make you aware of it.  If you get an email like the one below, don't respond to it.  Some unscrupulous soul is trying to get your personal information.  Here is the survey scam email:

You have been invited to participate in our Business Evaluation Survey !!!
$150 per survey
SurveySavvy assigns over 150,000 in-store surveys each year and has provided
business evaluation services for over 15 years. It is free to sign up and we are
always looking for enthusiastic new shoppers.
Through our business evaluation surveys, SurveySavvy delivers an accurate
picture of the customer experience and services using on-profile people in real situations to report
on their interaction. Apply to join our panel and get paid to shop, enjoy leisure activities,
or have your say on customer service standards.
If you would like to be considered for assignments, please fill out the Application below:
Address Line 1:
Address Line 2:
Zip Code:
Home Phone Number
Cell / Mobile Phone Number:
Thank You,
1365 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101-4208
SurveySavvy 2002-2012 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The information contained in this e-mail, and any attachment, is confidential and is intended solely for the use of the
intended recipient. Access, copying or re-use of the e-mail or any attachment, or any information contained therein,
by any other person is not authorized. If you are not the intended recipient please return the email to the sender and
delete it from your computer.
I will soon be posting an online survey review which includes what I think about the legitimate Survey Savvy company.  

Drop me a line via the comments below or stay tuned.
Because every little bit helps...
Carole Tee

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hidden Online Workforce at Amazon Mechanical Turk

In light of a recent article I read on the web (I won't pay it homage by providing a link) regarding how much to pay the on demand workforce that frequents Amazon Mechanical Turk, I find it necessary to offer a different view for wanna-be requesters. In the article I just read, yet another requester suggests that the available online workforce be paid no more than 6.00 per hour. The author also stated that 4.00 an hour is okay depending on the task.

Well it's not. There are so many things wrong with this thinking. Never mind that this is a cheap, greedy and immoral mindset; I'm not even going to go there. What I will ask you to consider is that paying your workers low wages may not be the best business strategy.

Surely the belief held by requesters that they can pay people (yes, we are people) as little as 4.00 an hour must have to do with the incorrect perception that people who use Mturk to make money are stupid. After all, who else would work for that? But what many requesters don't know, what you probably don't know if you're a new Mechanical Turk requester, is that there is a whole community of talented turkers thirsty for work....and they're hiding from you.

By offering low wages, you're never going to have access to these talented turkers. They are a highly intelligent, full-time online workforce with a lot of experience and stellar work ethics - and they won't work for next to nothing. You'll never get to use them if you don't treat them right.

Offer a fair wage, and watch your HITs disappear faster than Houdini could shake a straightjacket under water. Pay a low wage and your HITs could sit for a while. Even if they don't, you're certainly going to experience low-quality results from inexperienced workers and complete rubbish from those trying to game the system. How's that going to help your bottom line?

Are you going to see contradictory information when you do random searches on this topic? Yes, you definitely are. But keep the following in mind. Most of the people doing penny HITs are not the best the platform has to offer. You can add qualifications to your HITs in an attempt to avoid poor results, but you really can't afford to set the bar too high when you're not even paying a decent wage.

If you want to build a rapport with the elite online workforce that makes a living on Mechanical Turk, visit Turker Nation. If you have any questions about your HITs and whether they are fair or not, you can ask the on demand workforce directly. These turkers will not be shy about giving you their opinions whether you ask for them or not.

There will always be fly-by-night requesters who want something for nothing and who don't care how they go about it. That's not who I'm trying to reach - it can't be done. It is the new requester that wants to do the right thing that I'm hoping will read this message - loud and clear.

You really do get what you pay for.

If you're a Mechanical Turk worker or requester who has something to say, please feel free to leave your comments.

Because every little bit helps...

Carole Tee

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Can I Use PayPal For?

What can I use PayPal for? Absolutely anything if you know what to do! That's what I told a friend who recently asked me when she found out that she must have an electronic payment option on the eBay auctions she intends to list. She didn't want to take PayPal because she was afraid the money would be "hard to get at". My friend was mistakenly under the impression that she would only be able to use the money online at places that accept PayPal. That's just not true.

So, what can you use PayPal for besides shopping online? If you don't want to use your PayPal funds to purchase goods on the web, you have two other options. You can withdraw funds to a bank account, or you can get the PayPal Mastercard debit card and have instant access to your money.

While it is true that withdrawing funds from a PayPal account can take anything from three to five days before the deposit actually makes it to your bank, using the debit card is a much simpler and faster way to "get at" the cash. You can use it immediately after receiving an instant payment for your eBay item.

You can use it like a credit card anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. Or you can use it as a debit card and get cash back at the grocery store. You can also use it at the ATM machine, but you'll incur a PayPal fee as well as an ATM fee, so I don't recommend this as a practice. Good to have in a pinch, though.

The PayPal Mastercard debit card is not a credit card, so it's pretty easy to get, and there is no credit check. There is no charge to get the card and, if you like, you can also order a card for another person, so he or she also has access to your funds. You can cancel the second card at any time.

PayPal also offers a student card for the teenagers in your household. The PayPal student debit card can only be opened by a parent, who can also monitor all activity on the account. Students can't spend more than what the parent puts into the account. I have no experience with this particular card so I can't vouch for it, but I will tell you that I love my PayPal Mastercard debit card.

Some words of caution though:

Be careful using the card at gas station pumps. Gas station pumps are typically designed so that they place an automatic hold on your card (this amount can be as much as 75.00), so if you charge 20.00 worth of gas, it could tie up an additional 55.00 in funds for several days. Or, if you don't have 75.00 in the account (even if you only want to make the 20.00 purchase that you do have funds for), the card will be declined. Both of these things can be avoided, however, by going inside and paying the cashier.

Another thing to be aware of when using this Mastercard debit card is that if you have it linked to your bank account, your bank account will work as an overdraft of sorts. However, instead of withdrawing whatever the difference is between the available amount on your card and the purchase price, it will bypass the card entirely and take the entire amount from your bank account, something you may not have intended.

All in all, the Paypal Mastercard debit thing is a great thing to have. Especially if you don't have a credit card.  You'll also get 1% cash back when you use it to charge purchases.

Because every little bit helps,

Carole Tee

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Using Mechanical Turk - Turker Nation Can Help

Turker Nation Knows The Best Ways For Using Mechanical Turk.

People have so many questions when they first start using Mechanical Turk that I thought I would post some information about a wonderful resource (besides my short ebook) that can help you make money. The resource is the Turker Nation forum.

This forum is a community of workers who help each other understand how Mturk works, and I personally have found it an invaluable tool in my turking endeavours.

While Turker Nation is a forum for the turkers, they are not the only ones who can benefit from membership. Requesters can also get quite an education. Requesters are encouraged to communicate with the forum's moderators if they want to reach out to their workforce.

The features of Turker Nation include a requester's boardroom where you can find information about and communicate with some of the most popular requesters on Mechanical Turk and a special survey area where people post links to the most popular surveys of the day.

While you can gather a ton of information on Turker Nation, you should know that access to all areas of the forum is not instantaneous. You are required to participate in the forum (by posting) before you get to the best stuff. The site's mods won't tell you how many posts you need to make before that happens, but I will tell you that it's well worth it.

The only thing I'd caution you about is that you may find the site so dang entertaining that you're distracted from working, so put on your best work ethic hat when visiting.

Hope this helps you make lots of money using Mechanical Turk.

Because every little bit helps,

Carole Tee

Sunday, April 1, 2012

eBay Has Jumped The Shark

eBay, just a few short years ago, was an unfathomable concept. Born in the 1990's, along with just a handful of other Internet marvels, eBay started as a simple forum for Pez collectors.

It wasn't supposed to be for you and me (unless you happen to be a Pez fanatic) but it eventually grew into a place where any John or Jane Doe could auction off the entire contents of the garage. And it was a blessing for any collector who suddenly had access to his perception of the Holy Grail, whatever that may be.

For a while, eBay could do no wrong. That was when it was fun. That was when it was a good time. That was then. Now eBay has "jumped the shark".

Today, I have mixed feelings about eBay and I'm pretty sure those feelings are mutual. I used to think (maybe falsely so but who cares?) that eBay truly valued their multitude of small time sellers....the ones who helped put them on the map. But in the last few years, it has become clear that eBay wants to fit in, rather than stand out.

Rather than continue the natural progression of its own unique destiny, somewhere along the line, eBay took a 180 degree turn towards a more traditional business model. It's pretty obvious that eBay, catering now more to big box sellers, wants to be another With this ambition, eBay has lost its charm.

I miss the eBay of yore. I still buy and sell on ebay but unlike before, I don't always have good things to say. It is still good for finding bargains if you can stomach the hunt. For sellers preferring the auction format, there is no eBay alternative. No other venue gets as much traffic, so eBay maintains it's stranglehold on those of us battling inner auction demons.

Of course, there are worse things than eBay... like famine...and flooding.

Wanna discuss the good, the bad and the eBay? Leave a comment!

Because every little bit helps,

Carole Tee

How To Receive Money On PayPal Without Incurring Fees

How To Receive Money On PayPal Without Incurring Fees

Receiving money on PayPal is easy and you can do it without incurring any fees, even if you have a business account. You will incur fees if you sell an item through eBay or if you send someone an invoice for goods but if someone owes you money for something, request that they send personal funds. Send them these instructions if you have to.

1. Log Into PayPal.
2. Click the SEND MONEY tab at the top of the page.
3. Type in the PayPal email address in the TO field. (the address of the person that
the money is to go to)
4. Type in the Amount in the AMOUNT field: (i.e. 30.00)
5. Scroll down and click on the PERSONAL tab.
6. Select OTHER.
7. Click CONTINUE.
8. Review your payment information and click SEND MONEY.

You will get your money and no one will be charged any fees. Hope this helps you when receiving money on PayPal. PayPal is owned by eBay, and as far as I am concerned, they already get way too much of my money and are about to get more with their new scheme (see last post). Stay tuned for how to print a label from PayPal (and save money) even if there was no PayPal transaction.

If you have any questions, please drop me a comment!

Because every little bit helps...

Carole Tee

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kindle eBook Mechanical Turk Guide

I have just published my first Kindle eBook on Amazon. Well, it's actually more of an e-report. Anyway, it's a starter guide for making money on Amazon Mechanical Turk. If you don't have a Kindle, no problem. You can download (FOR FREE) a version of the Kindle for your PC, MAC, Tablet or phone with the FREE Kindle reading apps from FREE KINDLE READING APPS.

My eBook is an informative, quick and easy read: WILL TURK FOR FOOD - Finding work on Mechanical Turk.

I wrote it because when I first started making money on Mturk, I couldn't find a user guide. I found written materials for the requesters, but none for the turkers themselves.

I think my cover rocks:

so I must thank my graphic artist, Sandra Riffero for the brilliant artwork. Sandra can be reached through her blog: INSIDE THE ARTIST'S MIND.

I hope this guide helps out newbies or people struggling to make money with Mechanical Turk. It can be done - but is just a little tricky to figure out.

Question or comments about my Kindle ebook? Please tell me your thoughts below.

Because every little bit helps...

Carole Tee