Tales of Financial Persistence

Yesterday I was relentless in reaching my goal of erasing from my monthly bills one of the most embarrassing charges I could have, as a High Tech Financial Blogger, and that is paying for America On Line services.

It all started in 1993 when I first joined AOL, and I got e-mail address awhit34109 AT aol.com . Back then we needed dial-up access to get to the Internet, and back then, it really wasn’t the Internet, it was just a bunch of Newsgroups and Forums all complaining about things (so not much has changed really). Back then AOL used to send you a CD every month (or every day) in the mail so that you would sign up with their Internet Service Provider software. It was a magical time, and I have used the e-mail accounts from there for a very long time.


The America On Line

Time passed, and the Internet changed, and suddenly I had Internet access that didn’t rely on a phone line and a modem to get connected? What? How is that possible? I was part of the initial trials of the Nortel 1 Meg Modem, which was in ill-fated product that got bulldozed by the Tech Standard DSL, and Nortel missed out big time on that, but I had unlimited, always up Internet access, and it was all good.

AOL saw this change and they introduced a “bring your own access” solution, which was much cheaper, so I chose to stay with them, paying about $8 a month for this privilege. I also got some emergency dial-up access if I needed it, and some other free stuff, and the AOL interface too.

Time continued to pass, many different e-mail providers appeared, and when Google introduced Gmail, AOL had already started to die (remember AOL/Time/Warner?) but I kept paying AOL, mostly because I was lazy and just never got around to it.

Finally yesterday, I called 1-800-AOL-HELP to cancel my fees based AOL, but evidently I can keep my AOL E-mail accounts too. After 140 minutes on hold (I kept track of it, on my phone, I had to wait that long to get through on the “I want to cancel my AOL” hot line), a nice young man tried to cajole me into paying $3.95 for some other odd service (basically for a version of McAfee that AOL would supply), but I stuck to my guns and said, “No, I want to cancel my AOL, but keep my e-mail addresses“. Evidently I succeeded, but I will see if they continue to keep charging me for this.

This AOL service is evidently what is keeping AOL afloat, as there are countless lazy uninformed stupid folks like me that have just never cancelled their AOL and continue to pay $11 a month for a service they don’t need to pay for? Many folks think they are paying for their mail services with this, but no, you can keep your e-mail for free (it has been that way for a long time), you are actually paying for Dial-up access, McAfee software, and AOL service line, none of which I have used in years (yes, I should be derided and ridiculed for this).

Hopefully, I think after a lot of persistence (and a lot of Muzak on hold), I may have succeeded.



Insurance Claims: Timing is everything

I ran into an interesting financial faux pas a few months ago, when Mrs. C8j decided she needed new glasses (her eyes are deteriorating at a high rate it seems). I checked my insurance to see and yes she was allowed to buy glasses this year, so she went out and bought a nice new pair.

Optical Device Glasses

I have replaced these glasses since this photo

Mrs. C8j has her own insurance (which is nice for a full part-time job), so she first submitted her glasses claim to her insurance provider and was told, “No, we won’t pay for these because you already had new glasses, in this time period”. I believe the obscenity yelled by me was similar to #WTF! , I was not well pleased, but from this I learned that timing is everything when it comes to Optical Device Insurance Claims.

The interesting point is that both Insurance Companies claim you can purchase glasses every two years and they will cover an amount for the glasses (with a bunch of riders about styles, types of lenses etc.,) up to a maximum of about $250 (not the real number). In theory then, if Mrs. C8j went and bought $600 worth of glasses, the arithmetic should end up:

  • Insurance Company #1 pays about $250
  • Insurance Company #2 pays about $250
  • We are $100 out-of-pocket on the glasses

Fine and dandy, and that was the (flawed) assumption we went forward with, but the mistake we made was how each insurance company computes 2 years.

How can this be? I will try to elaborate

  • My Insurance company computes two years as a calendar event. If I buy glass on January 1, 2012 or on December 31st, 2012 I can then buy a new set on January 1st 2014. This is a nice way of calculating two years (and it was what I was used to with insurance).
  • My Wife’s insurance computes two years, as two years from the day you last bought glasses. Mrs. C8j had bought glasses in September of 2012, thus she wouldn’t be allowed to buy another pair until September 2014, and that is where the problem arose.

This is where the consternation on my part arose, Mrs. C8j purchased new glasses in March, thus we ended up only being reimbursed by my insurance company for their “cut” of the glasses pay out, only.

I don’t think anyone is “at fault” here except myself for not checking closely with BOTH insurance companies before telling Mrs. C8j about when the insurance might pay out, but remember with Insurance (and all things financial) check dates, riders, provisos, and the fine print closely before acting!


Guest Post: How Hard Could it be to Book a Hotel Room?

As my regular readers know, I have a great dislike for Guest Posts, however I do allow for a few, especially those offered up by someone I sleep with (yes Mrs. C8j). She ran into quite a quandary doing something she has done many times before, and assumed it would be quite simple, or maybe not?

It shouldn’t be this hard, should it??

I do consider myself sort of savvy in the hotel booking process.  After 6 years of booking hotel rooms for many teams, for  basketball tournaments, I thought I was well ready for the process.  In my attempts to book a hotel on-line, I found many twists and turns in the road.

History: Lovely Cajun daughter (LCD) #2 sent us a text saying she has applied to graduate from school and graduation “weekend” will be May 9th to 12th.  Her actual ceremony will be on Monday, May 12th but there are events planned all weekend.  (Apparently it’s a lovely way to spend Mother’s day).  Unfortunately, we missed the memo about booking some kind of lodging for that weekend long before you actually know you will graduate.

The simple steps to do this should be:

  1.  Google “hotels near Wolfville, Nova Scotia, multiple websites and pages appear.  Hmmm, enter the dates you want.  I enter the seemingly famous weekend, “There are NO rooms available for those dates, do you want to expand your search.”  OK, let’s go outside of Wolfville.  Found some in Windsor, but don’t really know how far that is……..Here’s one, HOW MUCH??  OH, by the way, that one weekend is HIGH season in the middle of mid-season.  After much back and forth between the BCM and myself, I relent and book a room with 2 double beds.  (for potentially 4 of us, but better than nothing)
  2. Text LCD and tell her we have a room, by the way, “how far is Windsor?”  Oh, not far, maybe 20 min.  Hmmmm, time to look at rooms there again.
  3. A different hotel in Windsor looks great, bigger room, bigger beds, breakfast, pool with water slide for Big Cajun Son (just in case he comes)
  4. Expedia site gives me a good price, that is cheaper than the first Inn.  I enter all pertinent info, press book and voila, print confirmation and cancel room at the first Hotel (see step 1).
  5. HOLD ON, What do you mean I just paid IN FULL for 3 nights.  CRAP!
    Cancel reservation on Expedia for Super Pi Hotel  Print cancellation confirmation
  6. Let’s try booking through the hotel, type Super Pi Hotel in Windsor NS into Google, find site.  OK, re-enter all info, find the same room, seems to be 1 dollar more per night, OK I guess.  Press book, wait for confirmation email…………….HOLD ON, what do you mean you are charging me in American funds, what is going on???  Turns out I’m not on the OFFICIAL Super Pi Hotel Web site, just one that looks like it…….
  7. Cancel Booking (again!!!!)  print out cancellation confirmation.  Big Cajun Husband now believes I am incompetent (not really, I think I was actually chuckling and trying not to have a laptop computer hurled at me).
  8. Google Super Pi Hotel again, after a few wrong turns find the OFFICIAL site.  Enter dates, info, CAA number, the room got even cheaper, yeah!  We even decided to book an extra night.  Re-enter credit card number totally expecting Master Card to freeze my card.  Press book, get confirmation, print out, put in “safe place”.

Now we just have to decide and figure out how we are getting there, hopefully it’s not this exciting.

For those husbands reading this who are thinking, “I could do better”, I dare you to say that a loud to your wife after she has done something similar. Yes there is no such thing as the Super Pi Hotel chain, however if you replace Pi with say a number between 7 and 9 you might have the real Hotel Chain name.








Another Interesting Funeral Cost

With the passing of my Mother-in-Law this past week, I was exposed (yet again) to the Funeral Industry and I am starting to think that I might soon be lumping them in with the Pay Day Loan Industry for attempting to suck as much money out of people when they are the most vulnerable.  For those who haven’t dealt with them (yet) the “small town funeral home” really seems no longer to exist, and most are owned by a few very large conglomerates.

The overall cost, I won’t go over, since it is a very large cost and it can vary wildly from funeral to funeral, but I did come across a very interesting “extra fee”, should you be cremating your loved one.

RoseIf you cremate your loved one, there is the issue of the ashes and what you do with them. If you want to keep the ashes to spread them in a special place, you can get a beautiful urn and for which you’d pay a good deal of money, or you could have a cheap and cheerful box (with the ashes in it (in a plastic bag)), my guess is it might be cheaper to buy your own urn.

Most crematorium or funeral parlors offer to “inter your loved ones ashes in our memorial garden”, or more simply, we’ll bury the ashes for you in our Rose garden (and we’ll keep track of where, and promise not to dig it up). For my family the idea of burying the ashes in a Rose Garden would be nice (my late Father and Mother were rose mavens), however the cost of this privilege threw me off.

The price quoted to my Father in Law was $500 for this service. As a young lad I dug in the garden (begrudgingly) and to dig a hole large enough to bury a loved one’s ashes is about a 5 minute job (if not less), and it will cost $500? Wow!

Any other funeral service charges folks have heard of ? I am curious.





Tire Storage the Business

So in the fall I wrote a slightly off colour piece Do You Store Your Tires, where I bragged about my wife’s rack (the tire storage rack that I include in this post, because I am very proud of it), but after retrieving my tires from my mechanic I learned something more interesting about the ever growing business of “storing our stuff” (to quote the Late George Carlin from Brain Droppings).

A very Nice Rack

A very Nice Rack

Someone at my mechanic’s shop pointed out that they stored over 1600 sets of tires this past winter, and I thought, “WOW! That is a lot of stuff!”.

That is more than 6400 tires stored somewhere (actually it was being stored in a set of storage containers (a big (but not huge) place to keep your stuff) beside his property.  I guess if you have the space, storing your customers tires is a service that is in high demand, but I was just floored by how many tires that was.

Will I be storing my tires next winter? I am hoping I don’t because I plan on putting a shed on my property where I can store that kind of stuff (tires, lawnmower, snow blower, bikes, etc.,), because I have a lot of stuff . Is it cheaper for me to store my own stuff, or to pay someone to keep my stuff somewhere else (where I might have to call to go look at my stuff)? I don’t know, but I don’t feel safe leaving my stuff somewhere else, I like having my stuff close by, to make sure no one is fooling with my stuff.

Every time I turn around when I am driving in a rural area there is yet another “store your crap here” business popping up, so storing your stuff must be a growing business. Where I live in Ottawa storage is a booming business where folks store their stuff, their RV’s (which are places with wheels to store stuff, which then need to be stored when you aren’t using them), and other stuff.

At the end of it all, Mr. Carlin had it right when he said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”, do you store your stuff, or do you not have enough stuff to worry about it?

Some crazy folks get rid of their stuff, but what if they needed it later? I like my stuff, but I am not sure I like paying to store it, maybe I just need a bigger house to put my stuff in?


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