How to Use Multiple Credit Cards for a Single Amazon Purchase

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Amazon doesn’t let you apply multiple credit cards to one purchase. This can be a problem when buying a high ticket item whose cost exceeds your available limit on one card. Probably not a good idea in general, but this happened to me recently when I wanted to use an American Express gift card. However Amazon does let you buy Amazon gift certificates with as many cards as you like in any denomination you like from $5 to $5000.

eBay is Unfair to Buyers

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Every time I bid on eBay I see this:

	By clicking on the button below, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder.
Confirm Bid.
You are agreeing to a contract -- You will enter into a legally binding contract to purchase the item from the seller if you're the winning bidder. You are responsible for reading the full item listing, including the seller's instructions and accepted payment methods. Seller assumes all responsibility for listing this item.

Notice that bit about “You are agreeing to a contract — You will enter into a legally binding contract to purchase the item from the seller if you’re the winning bidder.” Why don’t sellers have to adhere to it too?

Newspaper Suicide

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

I am not yet convinced that newspapers are doomed. I am however convince that the inbred bluebloods running major American newspapers will kill their companies. Latest example: I’m reading an interesting article at the Washington Post about the future of newspapers no less. I decide to link to it from one of my sites with the title and the URL and the source, and suggest people go read it. So I try to go back to the first page of the article and I’m hit with a fucking registration page! Why the hell should I have to waste my time typing in yet another fake name and address, and letting them track what I read? What exactly do they expect to gain by this?

I can tell you what they lost: a few hundred extra page views and a few ad clicks that would have made them some money. Not a lot of money I’m sure, but more than enough to cover the miniscule marginal cost of the extra page views. Get enough page views and maybe they can actually cover their fixed costs and start showing a profit on the newspaper for the first time in lord only knows how long. (The Washington Post company did show a profit this quarter, but only because of non-newspaper businesses like Stanley Kaplan, which is apparently now more than half their revenue. Yes, you thought the Washington Post is a newspaper, but really it’s just a corporate shell for test preparation.)

The New York and L.A. Times are just as bad. Half the time I don’t even follow links to those sites because I can never tell when they’re going to show me the article and when they’re just going to block me with a pointless login page. They complain about bloggers stealing their content, but they actively chase potential readers away from their own sites. When your business model is ads (the only business model that has ever worked for newspapers) you don’t try to keep people from looking at your ads. Nor do you reject people who are attempting to boost your circulation. Bloggers know this. New media knows this. Hell, anyone under the age of 40 knows this! Who doesn’t know this? Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. and Katharine Weymouth to name two. In a world that wasn’t based on nepotistic dynasties, these dinosaurs would be lucky to have a job running the local Penny Saver.

The Internet is over 30 years old. The Web is almost 20. Isn’t it about time newspapers hired someone to run them who actually understands the world we live in? Unfortunately given the shareholder-hostile preferred stock plans at the major media empires, this seems unlikely. When new media writes the final obituaries for the Times and the Posts of the world, the cause of death won’t be listed as the Internet. It will be nothing less than sheer managerial incompetence.

Why Circuit City’s Bankrupt

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

So I stop by my local Circuit City this evening to see if anything worth buying is on sale. I actually have a couple of items in mind. However, the game I want is selling at full list price, despite the going out of business “sale”. The camera I want is actually 10% off, at which price it is still a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the same camera on Amazon. I do pick up one cheap game that is actually 14 cents less than the price on Amazon, sales tax included.

For all the talk about how Wal-mart killed Circuit City, I’ve never found especially good prices on electronics at Wal-mart (or Target, or K-Mart, or similar); and I’ve never found competent service at Circuity City either, even before the layoffs. It’s Amazon and eBay other web stores that are killing the big box retailers, especially for high margin items that don’t cost a lot to ship. It’s amazing that anyone still buys anything at brick-and-mortar stores like Circuit City and Best Buy.

Buy Negative Today

Friday, November 28th, 2008

As usual today is Buy Nothing Day, in which we reject the notion that shopping is patriotic and endeavor to prove that we are people, not consumers. Usually on the day after Thanksgiving, I attempt (mostly successfully) to spend absolutely nothing, not even subway fare or fast food. But today what if we tried to go one step better? Suppose we actually became a net negative drain for the consumer society? How about today instead of shopping, we returned?

You know you’ve got at least one item sitting on the shelf that needs to go back to the store: the bathing suit that didn’t fit, the gift from Aunt Marge who still thinks your 12, the camera that just flat out doesn’t work. Take some of your free time to gather up the receipts and bring some of this useless flotsam back to its point of origin. Make the cash registers go backwards today.

The Pirate Bay Goes Mainstream

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Used to be the Pirate Bay posted ads for gambling, borderline porn, and questionable dating sites; the real bottom feeders of Internet businesses. Then I started using Adblock Plus; and didn’t see ads at all. :-)

However I just happened to be using Safari for a few minutes while Firefox downloaded an extension update, and followed a link that happened to point into the Pirate Bay, and I was quite surprised to see this: