Rip Off Alert: Abe’s of Maine

Everything was going so well. I found a great TV that I was really excited about and I put together what I thought was an impressive deal. I bragged to a couple of my close friends about it and as far as I knew at the time my amazing TV was mere days away from my possession. Then I got a call from the seller, Abe’s of Maine. There was an issue with my order. 

My first thought was that they had sold out and that I wouldn’t be getting it in time for Christmas. A bummer, but the Bride and I could live with that, we’re adults. Perhaps they would knock some more of the price to compensate me? I was wrong and I had been wrong about a lot of things as I was about to find out. 

I called Abe’s of Maine and a rep immediately got on the phone with me. ME TVHe told me that there was an issue with my order. I had selected a TV with the Chinese made AU panel and did I want to upgrade to the TH01 Samsung made panel. He informed me that the Samsung panel, it’s a Samsung TV, is a better proposition. Now I work in TV, I know a lot about the industry and I had no idea what this guy was talking about. Still I said that I wanted the better Samsung panel. He told me it would be $200 more. 

Now right now alarm bells are going off in my head. Unfortunately I was at work and I didn’t have time to fully assess the situation. I agreed and he thanked me, he even offered to speed up my shipping and throw in white glove delivery. I got off the phone and immediately felt a growing sense of betrayal. It lingered in the back of my mind all day. 

The next morning I contacted Samsung and spoke with one of their reps. He confirmed what I suspected, the salesman was lying. He was either trying to juice up the price of the TV or he was selling non-US market models of that television. The Samsung rep asked me for the model number and when I did he told me that it was a US model TV and the panel was made by them, their was no cheaper Chinese panel. That was all I needed to hear. 

As luck would have it my credit card denied the charge, Abe’s e-mailed me asking me to contact them so the order could process. I jumped right in and told them I knew about their lie and I wanted nothing to do with them. I called my credit card company and told them not to accept any charges from “Abe’s of Maine”. To make sure they understood I sent Abe’s a second e-mail telling them not to charge my card, that I would block the charge of they did, and if they tried to deliver it I would refuse the TV and send it back. 

A trip over to Yelp confirmed my experience. Over 80 reviews and almost all of them bad and most of them sharing the same experience. A cheap price is offered, the buyer accept it and then a phone call asking to raise the price, if the buyer refuses they get an opened box item or a damaged item or some other defect. These guys are real slime, money grubbing criminals. 

But I thought you said you bought from them before? I had, several years ago. I don’t know if I was lucky them or if the site changed owners. I suspect it did as Abe’s of Maine is now located in New Jersey. Please heed my warning and stay away from these losers. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. 

I had to relearn that lesson the hard way, but I came out relatively unscathed. I apologize to you for steering you towards what I thought was a good deal. I will continue to look for another TV deal from a factory authorized Samsung dealer and share it with you when I find it. I will chalk this up as a reminder to always double check your deals. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Hopkins SnowBrush

Common wisdom is often wrong. It is widely believed that America can no longer manufacture small things. No profit in it they say. An airplane or a car can be made here because of the expense, particularly with shipping. Small stuff, don’t even bother. The Chinese can do it cheaper. 

It’s a good thing for us and their employees that Hopkins did listen to that bit of advice. ice scrapperThey make well reviewed quality snow brushes right here in America. I bought one, I haven’t used it yet, but it seems fine.  I got it on Amazon and they have cut the price since then. You can have it for $3.39. That is not a type, for less than 5 bucks you can have an American made snow brush. 

Another incorrect bit of common wisdom is that American made stuff cost more. Looks like they were wrong again. If you need  a snow brushes I an;t see why you wouldn;t buy one, at that price, buy it and out it in the closet until you do. Buying American couldn’t get any easier. 

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My 4k TV Christmas Deal Can Be Yours Too!

**** RIPOFF ALERT: DO NOT TAKE THIS DEAL, PLEASE SEE MY LATER ARTICLE ABOUT WHY*****

 

I bought my current HDTV back in 2006. It cost $2000, down from $2500, and I was over the moon. To have a flat panel plasma TV was a movie lovers dream come true. Now almost nine year later, my beloved little (40 inches) TV is starting to show its age. From time to time the screen will go black and I will have to jiggle the cables to get the picture to come back on. Now it’s only a matter of time before a catastrophic failure ends my set. Could I open the case and reenforce the connections? Maybe, and that’s  big maybe, sometimes opening up a set and messing around with it can cause more harm than good. From the looks of things, it’s time to get a new television. 

If I am completely honest about it I welcomed the opportunity to buy a new set. So much has changed in TV’s since 2006. Sets have gotten bigger, cheaper, 3D, smarter, and with better (4k) resolution. I still love movies as much as I did so many years ago and I was pumped to bring an even better movie watching experience into my living room. The search was on. 

I clicked over to Cnet and poked around. The true champ of picture quality was one of the OLED sets, but the price was north of three thousand dollars, no go. Eventually I paired down my search to one TV, the Samsung UN55HU8550, which I viewed as the perfect balance of quality, features, and price. My parents have a Samsung TV 4K TVwith a smart remote and I was very impressed. Reputation goes a long way with me. 

From Cnet I went to my trusted first stop for shopping, Amazon. They are selling this set in the 55 inch size for $1797.99. As much as I wanted the 60 inch, its almost 1000 bucks more or 200 dollars and inch, way too much. The original price of this set was $3000.00, high for sure, but it is a 4K set. At nearly 1/2 off I was heading in the right direction, but I knew I could do better. On a side note, I checked the price one Cyber Monday and I could swear it was around $1500.00.

From Amazon I went to the search engines and compared prices. Most sites were in line with Amazon’s, but here is where things get a little tricky. Some retailers that I have never heard of were offering much lower prices. I avoid such sites because of the high potential for fraud. These cheaper TV’s could be different models that are being miscategorized, they could be refurbs, who knows. Not worth the risk in my opinion.  

I continued my search and then, up popped a cheap price from a seller I had heard of “Abe’s of Maine”. These guys have been around for decades and have a good reputation. I have bought electronics from them before and don’t recall having any issues. Their price for my future TV is $1399.99, about $400 dollars less than Amazon. They were offering free shipping and depending on where you live they don’t charge tax. Of course being the obedient citizens you are you will check your state laws and submit the appropriate taxes where applicable.

Now this is where a little leg work can pay off. I didn’t want to leave any savings on the table. The first step was easy, right on their home page was a 2% coupon code, “save2″. Boom, 2% or about $27 right off the top. On top of that I went over to BigCrumbs and found a 3.5% cash back offer. Build that deal! Finally at check out, I paid with my discover card for a sweet 5% cash back. Now I have to check on that BigCrumbs offer because it says up to 3.5% so I might not get the full amount, but all in all it looks like I saved and additional 10% off or about $140. 

So when all is said and done “the Bride” and I bought ourselves a 4K, LED, 3D, 55inch, Samsung Smart TV that originally retailed for $3000 for $1260.00 or about 65% off. It’s being delivered for free and should get to out home a few days before Christmas. A gift to each other that we hope we can enjoy of many years to come and a deal that I am sharing with all of you. 

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Cyber Monday Pre-Shopping Check List

It’s here, I was going to say final here, but the sales and commercials this year have made everyday since Halloween feel like “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday”. Hype aside, Cyber Monday has arrived. 

Time to find those deals! So many places to look, so much to decide. It can be overwelming and that can cause you to act too fast. Resist this temptation and realize a few moment of planning before hand can lead to huge savings. Almost any deal can be made a little sweeter if you follow these steps. 

  • BigCrumbs – An old favorite of mine, big-crumbs-logothey are a very effective way to stack a deal. For those of you who may not know, BigCrumbs gets cash back from purchases you make on site they direct you to. They then turn around and split that money with you. The percent differs from site to site, but it’s always worth a peek
  • Ebates – They are a competitor to BigCrumbs ebates2which is good for you as a user because they are always trying to out rebate each other. You should always check both to see who is giving you the edge.  
  • DiscoverCard – Did you know that right now they are offering 5% cash back on online purchases? Have you enrolled? It literally takes a few seconds. (Please know that this is capped at $1500)
  • CardPool – If or when you max out your cash back from Discover you can always go to the gift card exchanges to find a few more percent of savings. 

By incorporating these deals into your shopping its very likely that you could add another 5-10% of savings onto of even the sweetest deals. So stack them up and keep that money in your pockets. 

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Black Friday: Load Up Your Apps and Bring Your Friends!

Here we are, right in the thick of it, the deal hunters moment of glory. Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is mere weeks away. It’s time to get out there and find those deals, right? Not so fast! You can’t just run out into the mall willy nilly. You need to prepare, you need a plan, you need tools. 

Specifically, you need your smart phone and you need apps. Long gone are the days when you walked into a store, found something you liked and hoped you were getting the best deal. Now you can investigate, you can research and compare, all before you even walk up to the register. Here are three must have apps that will allow you to build the best possible deal:

1. PriceJump: This is savings.com’s own app. pricejumpIt is a price comparison app that searches over 5000 retailers to provide you with a snapshot of available prices. In addition to that, it will search local stores near you and show you their prices as well. This provides you with an online and in store comparison. Be mindful though it does not factor in shipping costs or taxes. 

 

2. RetailMeNot: I have been using this app retailmenotfor over a year now and I can honestly say that it is the Cadillac of shopping apps. You get updates and offers pushed to your phone the moment you even walk near a mall or shopping center.  They work with all the big retailers and will show you every possible sale or door buster imaginable. While I enjoy these features my favorite “RetailMeNot” feature is the coupon codes. They are hands down the champs when it comes to codes. Whenever I buy something online, I always look for codes with them before I complete me order. 

 

3. Raise: Finally, when you have found the raisegreatest gift at the best prices, this little app can give you just a little bit more. Raise is a gift card marketplace, people sell and buy gift cards, usually at a slight discount. This discount is where you can save and extra few percent. Let’s say you found a great deal at “Bestbuy”, now all you have to do to sweeten that deal is load up your raise app and buy a gift card. Right now they are selling at a 3% discount, so you would have made your deal that much better. The card loads right into the app and you show it to the cashier for them to scan. Two seconds of effort for a nice little reward.

 

This apps are a great start for your smartphone shopping tool bag. Load them up and keep them at the ready when you head out into that Black Friday world. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Pelican Cases

Electronics, regardless of brand or intended purpose they all have two things in common, you shouldn’t get them wet and its probably not a good idea to drop them. It’s great that you new camera has 23 megapixels and can take 12 pictures a second, but if it isn’t protected then you are setting yourself up for disaster.

You need a strong, solid case. As a professional TV news camera man I have been using “Pelican Cases” for many years.  microcaseFrom my small “1020 Micro case” that I use to protect and transport my personal point and shoot digital camera to much larger cases that I use for my professional camera gear, theses cases stand apart from most of their competition.

Pelican products are used by professional photographers, police, firemen/EMT’s, and the military, occupations where expensive equipment is often places in extreme conditions.

Theses cases are water proof, crush proof, and dust proof. Best of all they are made in Torrance California and have been since 1976. Another great American product for buyers who value quality. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Quick Cable – Jumper Cables

It seems like no one has a set of jumper cables. I found this out the hard way in New York City back in 2006. My work SUV was very old and ran out of juice. For over an hour I stopped dozens and dozens of cars. I didn’t have cables and neither did anyone else that I asked. Finally an FBI agent that I stopped took pity on me and gave me a jump. The take away, if you car is more than 4 years old, you need to keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk. 

Jumping a car is a simple process, but it can go horribly wrong. This is usually caused by operator error, but it can also be caused by faulty cables. You are essentially directing a powerful current of electricity with wires you hold in your hands. You want to have good well insulated wires that won’t fray or crack over time. This is not a time to get cheap. 

Some quality “American made” jumper cablescables from Quick Cable are just what you need. The “Rescue” line of cables that are tangle proof, perform well in subzero temperatures, and are constructed with fine stranded copper for maximum conductivity. They retail for $33.18 and are engineered and manufactured in the good ol U S of A. If you have an older car you should probably consider buying a pair. Keep them in the truck, they’ll be waiting for you when you need them. Who knows, you might be giving a stranded Piggy Bank Builder a jump one day. 

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Triple the Ebay Bucks!

For the next two days Ebay is offering a special promotion to “Ebay Bucks” imgeBayBucks_174x36_1enrollees. For those of you who aren’t familiar, ebay bucks are a cash back on any items you buy on Ebay. It’s usually 2% of the selling price. For the rest of today and tomorrow they are tripling that offer. Now you can get 6% back on your purchases. A nice deal, but you can sweeten it by adding some Big Crumbs and a good cash back credit card. If you work it out you could potentially get 12% back.

Please keep this in mind, you have to enroll first. It takes a few seconds, but it is certainly worth it. Perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to get an early jump on your Christmas shopping? Or just buy something for yourself, I won’t tell. 

 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Seventh Generation Diapers

Going green is more than just a trendy slogan, its even more then being environmentally friendly, its about making healthy choices. The last two decades have seen huge change, a questioning into what we put in and on our bodies. When I go food shopping I check the ingredients and I am always comforted by a very short list. If I pick up a bottle of iced tea and it reads “black tea leaves, sugar from sugar cane, and citric acid” I feel good about buying it. I don’t want to eat a chemistry experiment or have one touching my body. 

My Bride is even more aggressive at this than I am. When we first moved in together she was very critical of my cleaning products. I reluctantly switched. When a choice didn’t work, we switched to something else. Despite my reservations, I am happy with this decision. I feel that all of the alternate products that we have adopted have worked out just as well as their chemically counter parts. 

One of the most common brands that we have started using is “Seventh Generation. It’s a relatively new brand, founded in the early 1990’s.  Until about 2 years ago, I was unaware of it and as I mentioned prior, I was skeptical.  I am happy to report that I was wrong. I enjoy their products and would recommend them to others. 

As my wife and I move towards starting a family, I have kept an eye out for products that would work for us. diapersOne of the first products you are going to need if you are going to enter parenthood is diapers. Seventh Generation make chemical free, hypoallergenic diapers right here in America.

A 144 count pack sells on Amazon for $43.96, even less if you are an Amazon Mom or subscribe and save member. The reviews are very strong, it seems like many parents are opting to go chemical free and I agree with them.  A safe, American made product will be at the top of my Daddy grocery list. If you are a new parent you might consider doing the same. 

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – 10 Month Update

Two months remain in the year and my fictitious portfolio is chugging right along. Recently the stock market has taken a bit of a dive, let’s see how I did. 

  • Cablevision (CVC) – Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $18.23 a gain of $18.63, down big from August.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $47.33, a gain of $325.38, up slightly since August. 
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $15.39 a crushing loss of $232.98
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $9.25, number of shares 160, Current Price $10.16 a gain of $145.60

So as things stand now, my gains shrank to $256.63 or just over 5%. As you can see much of the damage was done by silver, dollarwhile that is frustrating, my decision to dump oil and move over to BlackBerry has kept my portfolio green for the year. 

These are choppy markets, and no one knows what is in store. Will today’s election spook Wall Street? Will low oil prices help the economy? I hope so. Looking out over the next two months I feel good about my portfolio’s short term prospects, but only time will tell. 

***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.

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Filed under Earning Ideas, Intro