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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Online Shopping - Getting More Bang For The Buck...

I'm one of those gals who avoids much of the holiday chaos- namely Black Friday and the chaotic mall shoppers.  Why should I feed the frenzy when I can maximize my dollar with online sales, shopping and cash back, right?

Well, here's the refresher course for y'all along with some new finds and for the new readers - welcome, bookmark and enjoy.

First of all, here are the sites to sign up with - g'head, it should open in a new window so I'll wait for ya.

Cash Back:

Coupon Sites

Now that you are all signed up and bookmarked, here's how this works.  First thing you need to understand is that most cash back will be available 60-90 days after the purchase - to allow for returns, etc.  So, let's say you are doing your holiday shopping - well, in March, you should be getting some extra green in your wallet - just in time for St. Patty's Day and everyone is a winner.

Start off with going to EVReward to see who offers the MOST cash back - that's vital.  If you know where you are going to shop, then why not get the best deal out there, right? 

I often know the item I'm looking for - like, let's say a great pair of Elizabeth & James shoes from ShopBop.  I head to EVReward to see who's giving the most cash back on ShopBop which is, in this case, Cashbaq with 7% cash back on my purchase.  So, let's say I buy the boots I've been coveting - which are $276.  7% cash back of that will mean that come March, $19.32 will be my cash back reward.  To maximize my cash back dollar, I will also make note of any coupon codes for ShopBop through or any of the other coupon sites that have done great by me in the past. Works like a charm every. single. time.  Often you can find coupons for free shipping, etc. especially with the retailers wanting to make this holiday season their best one ever.

Here's another thing - my bff, Meowmix, often shops online via eBay.   Did you know you can get cash back for any eBay shopping?   Big Crumbs offers up to 36% cash back.  Bing! offers 10% cash back while Ebates offers 2%.  You see where I'm going with this. 

Now, for those of you buying those big ticket items from, let's say BestBuy - here's my suggestion - buy online through Bing! with 5% cash back, select the "Pick Up In Store" option and you don't even have to worry about the shipping.  Most times, it's ready in an hour or so and you don't have to deal with all the craziness.  This helps especially when you are looking for that TV, Video Game System or other high ticket item and you don't want any shipping drama but still want the maximum cash back.

Basically - most of the stores you shop online are on the cash back wagon and why shouldn't you be too? 

Now, the disclaimers - keep track of your purchases and receipt emails to make sure that you get credit for everything.  Most of the cash back companies are great with tracking, but some purchase can fall through the cracks.  Just send their customer service an email after a week or so and they'll jump right on it.  Secondly, yes there are referral links which means that both you and I are getting a Win/Win as they put a little something in your cash back stocking.

I am happy to say that after 3 years of living the cash back mantra, I can never go back to online shopping the old way.  I always make sure that I've maximized everything through cash back and coupon codes and couldn't be happier.  Heck, I've even gotten cash back for my cable installation - who the heck knew you could do that.  

So, while the holiday brings out the crazy in shopping, know that you can enjoy CyberMonday behind the computer with your coffee in one hand and the mouse in the other as you click your way to cash back happiness.  And, if you have any questions, know that I'm only an email away to help.

Happy Shopping!

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Posted by Lys :: 11:41 PM :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More DirecTV Stupidity...

Did you know that DirecTV:

I'm happy to report that after 4 hours of my life that I will never get back, constant repeating of my story again, and again, and again, howls for a MANAGER v. Supervisor, etc., it took ONE LONE Supervisor, Ms. Laura, who apparently was no stranger to this mess and probably has heard it all before.  She gave me the requisite addresses and told me that there is nothing she can do - it's in the offices of the Billing Dispute department and the General Counsel.  She also is sending me a final bill - turns out I was paid up through Sept. 15th when I paid on Sept. 4th and the $141.65 should have never been billed.  No kidding Sherlock!

One bright note, USAA has been a godsend in this drama and are helping me through the ramifications.  As much as I whined about the cable install upon moving here, I could hug Comcast right now.  I am a stickler for brand loyalty and I will NEVER leave USAA and Comcast and I will be BFF from hereon out.

Monday - I have tons of letters to write to the Attorney General in Florida & California, the Better Business Bureau, the FTC and the FCC about the DirecTV drama.  DirecTV's in-house counsel's assistant will be none too pleased at the amount of paperwork coming their way.

DirecTV - we're done.  There is no Ross/Rachel break - lose my phone number, lose my name and, yes, GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK!

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Posted by Lys :: 3:36 PM :: 3 comments

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Here's the story of a girl who moved and the company who didn't cancel the gal's cable service when directed to.

Remember how I was in the midst of a massive work project right up until the move.  Well, during my very few minutes of downtime, I made all the move arrangements - canceling Electric, Telephone AND Satellite TV.  I also arranged new service of electric, gas, telephone and cable to the Philly apartment.  Now I'm a smart gal and I will toot my own horn thankyouverymuch.  However, guess what I find out when reconciling my bank accounts - DirecTV took it upon themselves to charge out $141.65 to my bank account for service up until NOVEMBER!  What the @*@*!*!*!  They "disconnected service"   Well - DOH - that should have been done in SEPTEMBER WHEN I ORDERED IT, specifically SEPTEMBER 15th! 

I call today and speak with two very competent CSRS who seem to have the right info and immediately get me over to the proper manager after holding for 23 minutes.  I'm routed to a Marie/Mae or whatever she wants to call herself and this gal has the NERVE to tell me "Well I need to see what's disputed".  HELLO - the whole effin' amount. I should have only paid a prorated amount for 11 days since my last payment on September 4th.  

So - smartazz Mae tells me "You work in law - you can send us a formal dispute correspondence to our PO Box and they can handle it from there."  First of all, yes, I do work in Law - so that means I want a signature and someone to hold liable for receiving the correspondence or a fax number.  See, when you inevitably will drop the ball again, I want someone's head.  I'm not stupid.  And then, compounding the drama, Mae snottily remarks, "Well there IS an early termination fee"  Early termination my butt!  I MOVED and I had been a DirecTV customer for over 4 years.  Hell, now that I think about it - I think it was close to 5 or 6 years.

Manager Mae turns out to SUPERVISOR Mae and clearly has a chip on her shoulder.  That chip got worse when she was told to find someone higher than her - even after angrily remarking "There's no manager available!"  Well, FIND ONE because I don't believe that Mae was the highest in the food chain on that call center floor.  Turns out I was right and, on the line comes April - a manager.  April is just as frustrated as me because DirecTV won't give them an address or fax number of the dispute idiots.  Plus their website is down so finding a legal contact is impossible.  So, after much apologizing, she and I were calmly trying to find an adequate resolution and after she put me on hold for another 7 minutes to see what she could do, I hear her come back on the line with "Ms. Lys" and then the dreaded DISCONNECT. 


So I have to call back - and start to tell my story for the 4th time and, CSRs - take note - NEVER tell a customer "I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!" because that is when I lost it - throat was ripped out at the unfortunate CSR who uttered that phrase and I told him - "FIND APRIL or a MANAGER.  Do not, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD put me back in touch with MAE!"

And, after 17 minutes, KEVIN a SUPERVISOR gets on the phone and - yet again - DISCONNECT as he's speaking. 

I finally had a come to Jesus chat with Joanne, a very sweet CSR and told her that if a manager doesn't get on the line soon, I'm about to go to the executives with this drama because DirecTV should have NEVER pulled this crap in the first place.  I know they are all about customer retention but c'mon already - I MOVED and into a COMCAST footprint.  I CANCELLED MY SERVICE.  

Again, I was put on hold and subsequently routed to a ROSE in some call center in the Philippines.  SO I had to go through the arguing AGAIN.  Even better was Rose telling me "Well, you get routed to managers all over the world".  So, the bell in my head goes off - we're dealing with outsourcing (you know how I detest companies that doe that).  And as she remarks "Well we mailed you a hard copy bill on Sept. 17th and Oct. 17th.  You know how the mail system is"  Well "ROSE", the mail system in my country - while not perfect - knows a FORWARDING ADDRESS plus I gave it to DIRECTV's girl on Sept. 4th when she tried to get me to stay with the company.  However Rose tells me that the note was only about payment and not the disconnect.  Now irate and boiling, I insisted on transferring to a manager in the states.  And, again during the transfer - you guessed it - a disconnect.  And their website is down and their office is closed now until the morning. 

However, know that in the AM, I will have a nice chat with USAA who will be made aware of this drama and a request for reversal of the charge will be put in if need be because I did NOT authorize DirecTV to use my debit card on November 16th, nor was authorization implied for ANY future use when I made a payment with said card on Sept. 4th.  And I will have a chat with the people in the DirecTV US offices when they open for the correct info as well as a hard copy of the bills.  And the legal dispute will begin because, as I was only supposed to be billed for 11 days of service, by their error and oversight, I was charged for 2 MONTHS of service.  Somehow 11 days does not equal $141.65.

Also, DirecTV - EPIC fail because for someone who always touted how great you were even during the hurricanes, your customer service - horrid.  For something so simple as a disconnect, your people couldn't even do that right. 

This fight is FAR from over...

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Posted by Lys :: 1:29 AM :: 1 comments

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

So Late In Posting This....

I know, I know - I'm bad.  Anywhoo - here is a pic of Wiggy in his Halloween costume.  He's not one for clothes, dressing up nada - he ripped off the fireman costume the minute I tried to put it on him and as for him being a medium - NEVER.  He's a large - couldn't keep anything on him.  He consented and wore the pirate hat around the house to answer the door and was far from happy until the delivery guy told him how freakin' adorable he was.  Never saw that dog prance until then.

He must have caught the vain-virus from Ms. Shadow... Go figure.


OOPS - let me try again...



RAWRRRRRR - Iz Pirate!

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Posted by Lys :: 11:25 PM :: 4 comments

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bitch Is Back...

No, not me - I never left.  How excited am I that Amanda Woodward, my fave character EVER on Melrose - well, except Rob Estes - is back.  It makes suffering through all things Simpson bad acting somewhat okay.  Who knew that Melrose Place (from the 90s) was my guilty pleasure.  Go figure. 

And for the love of God will someone tell me where the hell they found these shoes for Amanda's return - they are screaming to be in my closet.

Check out the clip - best line ever "You know when I hired you to give this place a makeover, I didn't mean to smear it with lipstick and turn it into a five dollar hooker."...

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Posted by Lys :: 1:55 AM :: 2 comments

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The One Where My [Driving] Past Resurfaces...

You know my theory of "don't put it out there" or "don't think about it" or "stop thinking about it because you know if you focus on something, it's gonna happen".  Well, it's happened - I got a flat tire in Philly.

See, being up north they have a nasty thing called potholes.  You know that daggone Geico commercial where the pothole has a "discussion" with a tire that it kicked the crap out of?

Take a sec and watch...

Doesn't that pothole remind you of Britney Spears?  Well, I digress.

I might have mentioned that back in college A. & B. often came to this gal's rescue because potholes and I are not friends in ANY way - and the amount of tires I went through was epic (at least for me).  It was the running joke and one that I wasn't too proud of.  I can change a tire but I reason that AAA can do that (and don't get me started on the AAA south club - They won't transfer my membership to Philly until renewal NEXT SEPTEMBER!) Stilettos are NOT made for changin' tires ;)

I thought recently that "Gee Lys, you haven't had any flat tires recently - thank god!"  Well, then that stupid commercial has been on repeat on the networks.  And that commercial reminds me often of the college tire trauma - thereby making me think about flat tires often.  Not good.

I had a meeting in Center City this a.m. and I decided that I should leave an hour or so early and, as I'm backing out of the parking space I hear "SCREEEEEEEEECCCCCHHHHHHH" and thought "WTH?!?" as I jumped out of the car to be greeted by a flat tire.  These were BRAND NEW TIRES that were purchased in September - what the #*!@*@#*#@*!*!*#*@

Turns out there was a screw on the sidewall so I had to get another whole new tire (thanks Goodyear on Ridge Ave - Love those guys!) but damn - and I'm sure that there was a pothole somewhere that was laughing and junk...

Welcome to Philly, right?

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Posted by Lys :: 7:36 PM :: 2 comments

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Obsessed With: Elizabeth & James Lace Pumps...

You know, I detest loving this new line by the Olsen twins.  I see a pair of their shoes, not know it's made by them and *boom* fall in love - HATE IT!  And what's worse is I have a pair of E&J boots that fit fabulously (yes, THOSE boots I waxed poetic about before).  Not to mention the quality is stellar.  Perhaps I should get over my celebrity brand issue, huh (except with Jessica Simpson - that one will NOT change.  Same with J-Lo.  And Britney Spears.  And.... let me shush).

So now they have these Elizabeth & James Lace pumps and I adore anything lace.  Couple that with the buttons down the heel and they had me at hello.  So now this means I'm going to start scouring for coupons/sales/cash back and hope my size doesn't sell out in the meantime. 

*le sigh*

EaJ-LacePumps           EaJ-LacePumps-2

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Posted by Lys :: 2:26 AM :: 0 comments

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Wiggy Better Pack A Lunchbox..

Quick amusing (well, not to him at the moment) story...

I ran out of the house quickly to drop off the trash before my father arrived.  Well, Mr. Wiggles who detests whenever I leave the house without him, threw one of his infamous temper tantrums in the span of 3 min.  This time, it wasn't dumping the trash, knocking over Shaddy's litter, overturning the laundry and making a bed or going through the trash in my bathroom.  The target of his anger - my purse which he dumped the contents of which all over the entryway.

Currently, he's in a timeout but damn, doesn't take him long to show he's annoyed. 

Does anyone want a pug with an attitude problem?

Posted by Lys :: 11:07 PM :: 2 comments

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Moving In Stilettos: Becoming A Legal Pennsylvania Driver...

Philly is quite *ahem* interesting when it comes to vehicles and drivers' licenses.  Last week, I finally headed to the DMV in neighboring Montgomery County to get a Pennsylvania License and a Pennsylvania Car Registration... The one day I was planning on going, well, it was a madhouse because Jon sans Kate was to appear in court and Norristown was crawling with those lovely vermin known as paparazzi... So I decided to table it until the end of the week and went to face the music.

First of all, the DMV requires your Social Security card, birth certificate, two bills to show that you do, indeed, live there and your first born.  Well, I'm kidding about the first born but it felt like that - I was about to hand over Wiggy if they asked for anything else.  I went through the hoops, brought the requisite paperwork and $28 dollars and one bad photo and I was holding a temporary license with the official one headed my way in 10 days.

Then, off to a "Tag Agency" to get the plates - oy vey.  While they tell you to register your car within 20 days of moving to the city, they tell you that you have to get a Pennsylvania license within 60 days after establishing residency.  HOWEVER, you can't get Pennsylvania plates WITHOUT having a Pennsylvania license or ID.  So, which came first the chicken or the egg?

Well, I had a duplicate title, I was told by the Tag Agent that perhaps I'd have to pay sales tax because the title wasn't 6 mo. or older.  HELLO - Florida TAKES the title and I lost it.  I understand that but hot damn - it's not rocket science.  I finally said "Fine, I'll pay the tax if I have to but seriously, how stupid are the state workers".  Then I remembered having to deal with some state workers and it all made sense.  Apparently it's the same in all states - laziness abounds when you work for the government.  Thankfully, the agent saw my reasoning and highlighted it for the idiot in Harrisburg that would have to process the paperwork so there was no confusion - I bought the car in 2001, move to Florida in 2002 and I was NOT paying sales tax.  Period...

Finally, now the piece de resistance - the car inspection.  Thankfully, before I moved down here, David Maus Toyota went through the car top to bottom and did a HELL OF A JOB getting it "inspection readY".  That will take a whole 'nother post because of the lovely bug issue.  Anywho - Rifleman told me to go visit one of his buddies to get the car inspected but I couldn't remember the name for the life of me.  Instead, I went to this place down the street and, after 45 minutes of Nick's Auto Body inspecting EVERYTHING, I have new shiny stickers on my car saying I have the right to drive in Pennsylvania for the next year.  They even told me that the car was in excellent shape thanks to David Maus Toyota and crew!!!

So, it's official - I'm a Pennsylvania gal and so is the Cougar.  However, never again will I move across state lines - too many hoops.  And, yes, I've got the car title and the social security card in a safe place.

Posted by Lys :: 10:19 PM :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Barnes & EPIC FAIL!

First of all, can I tell you how red in the face I am - seriously I'm livid.  It's my birthday for cryin' out loud and I shouldn't have to wage war AGAIN with Barnes & Noble's inept customer service center for their idiocy.

Some background.  I've been a loyal B&N customer for YEARS.  I've held the membership faithfully.  I buy a TON of books, DVDs, etc.  I often enjoy the website's interviews, etc. and make a point to buy all my magazines there.  Needless to say they make a good sum of funds off me.  I've noticed that recently my orders have been *ahem* shall we say slow.  Now one of the perks of buying a certain amount online is "Free Super Saver Shipping" which you could set your clock by - 3 business days or so and *boom* it's in my hands.  Which is great like when I want to review Jaden's fabu new cookbook "Steamy Kitchen" and I am looking forward to the UPS guy knocking on the door with that gorgeously shot book (yes I leafed through a copy in the store - I couldn't wait).  I also ordered the Foodie Handbook by the one and only Pim.  Can we say I'm crazy stoked about both of these books - both of which I put back in anticipation of the order coming to my mailbox. 

Well - it's two weeks later and, guess what - not one but TWO orders are "lost in the mail".  That's my original order AND the order that they issued as a replacement for the first one that is "M.I.A" from a distribution center in NEW JERSEY - the next flippin' state over.

When I called with concern at the end of the week last week to find out what the heck is going on because well, you just can't get tracking from their inept distributor ARGIX DIRECT, they informed me that there were a few complaints and that the replacement would ship out via UPS to me from now on as I'm a member who has been with them for years.  The B&N operator was very understanding and also told me that she was having problems personally with this dumb as rocks (my description - NOT hers) ARGIX DIRECT.   She assured me it would ship out post haste and I again waited patiently for the little present to come to the door.  Now, mind you my Sephora order came and that I ordered SUNDAY NIGHT via UPS.  The UPS here in Philly rocks!  Love them (which, if you know me is quite the event because UPS in Orlando and New Hampshire seriously sucked!)

Well, I get an email from B&N which tells me that it reshipped my replacement order and *wait for it* it went via ARGIX DIRECT via US MAIL.  AGAIN - from New Jersey - next state over.  Shipped out and *boom* guess what - it's lost in the mail again and we can't find ANY tracking info for it because B&N and/or ARGIX dropped the flippin' ball.  What happened to "Ms. Lys - we're going to ship it to you ASAP through UPS so you won't have this problem again"

Needless to say, I lost my patience today when I had to talk to this gal "Cecile" or whatever who not only told me my address was wrong (newsflash - I changed it immediately when I moved and it's on all my receipts so check your flippin' screen dummy because the gal prior to you knew the right address) and then told me "ohhh - it's got to be lost".  When I told her I just renewed my membership and I wanted it canceled and refunded - no go.  She begrudgingly refunded my order cost for both books and I told her that we're having a hell of a breakup.  This is no Ross/Rachael Friends Breakup - this is the real deal as in don't call me, don't email me, lose my damn number we are O.V.E.R.  Seriously - OVER.  Which is sad and hurts me deeply because I really did love going to B&N and browsing the aisles.  Now, it's all Borders & which is 20 min. out of the way for me but to prove my point, I'll do it. 

So Barnes & Noble - I don't believe a word of what you say anymore.  Clearly, while I know you are "cutting costs" by using this supposedly cheaper ARGIX DIRECT service, you just lost a very loyal (and profitable) customer.  I've put up with your lack of changing magazines, lack of stock in the Plymouth Meeting Store, etc. because to me B&N has been a part of my shopping loyalty since I was in college.  I just can't sit by and say "Oh it's okay" because really it's not.  What you are doing to customers is disappointing.  So, here's where I tell you publicly (and my readers) - do NOT buy the membership - it's not worth it.  And, that's money I will never see again but I'm sure you will need that $25 because you will lose more customers than me by year's end if you keep this inept shipping distributor.  Clearly, ARGIX has proved itself to be useless in my eyes not once but TWICE.  Go figure.

So excuse me while I head over to BORDERS to go buy the Foodie Handbook and Steamy Kitchen at FULL PRICE because, you know what, Borders has NEVER did me wrong like you have Barnes & Noble.  And I'm sure they will welcome my business (and wallet) with open arms.

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Posted by Lys :: 6:15 PM :: 2 comments

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Adventures In Moving: Living In A Sports Town...

Living in Philly has taught me the importance of Sunday being a day of rest - specifically for all things Eagles, Phillies and Flyers.  The complex is abuzz with activity with football jerseys, high fives and screams of "C'mon - let's GO!" and that's just from the gals trying to get their men out to the sports bar to see the game.  One of the unspoken fashion mantras of this town is gals do wear sports jerseys/tshirts and they do come in pink.

I head out to walk the dog and my neighbors are often out at the same time I am - the commercial breaks.  When people are screamin' - good or bad, you know it's game related.  And if you are in a restaurant or club or even walkin' down the street in the Italian Market when there is a game on, there are TVs everywhere - and people drop what they are doing to find out the score and to talk about how good (or bad) the players are doing.  Don't even get me started on the FaceBook crap talkin' that goes on with my Philly/NY/Boston pals.

Yes, the trials of livin' in a sports town.   Now if only I could understand football...

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Posted by Lys :: 11:50 PM :: 0 comments

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Monday, November 02, 2009

What A Day

Philadelphia Phillies win

Martha Stewart


Cocktails with OurBuddy and Rifleman...


Posted by Lys :: 11:56 PM :: 0 comments

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Seriously, Am I Ready For This...

This bad blogger that I know *ahem* has decided to sign up for NahBlahBlah with not only this blog but also Cooking in Stilettos...

I guess perhaps I could use some of the writing practice, huh? 

So, tomorrow - be prepared for a doozy of a post recounting my trials and tribulations getting reacquainted with a city that I adore as I finally start to settle in...

For now, I'm off to nurse a headache from my Phillies giving it up to the Yanks AGAIN!

Posted by Lys :: 11:59 PM :: 1 comments

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