Search found 941 matches

by criticalmass
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:32 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Newbie international traveler
Replies: 62
Views: 3193

Re: Newbie international traveler

I use a Scwab debit card. Reimbursed ATM fees. However, I am writing this to address security that many people have about their cards. I plan on the approximate amount I will need to withdraw in total per ATM during a trip. I only have about that amount plus a buffer in the account. Should the ATM ...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Newbie international traveler
Replies: 62
Views: 3193

Re: Newbie international traveler

The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account. 1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high convers...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Newbie international traveler
Replies: 62
Views: 3193

Re: Newbie international traveler

Your American or Canadian passport is very valuable. In what way? EU passport is equal or better for traveling. What else? If somebody steals your passport is probably by mistake. An EU passport doesn’t get you access to USA territories without additional security checks. Passport theft is real for...
by criticalmass
Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:20 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Questions on identity theft, fraud alert, credit reports, Chexsystems, etc.
Replies: 6
Views: 585

Re: Questions on identity theft, fraud alert, credit reports, Chexsystems, etc.

Basically, my wife and I were victims of identity theft. Two credit cards were opened in my name and two credit cards were opened in my wife's name (one application didn't go through though and was denied). In addition, a checking account was also opened in my wife's name through a bank that we don...
by criticalmass
Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Can you buy a new car with a cashiers check without unfreezing a credit freeze?
Replies: 68
Views: 4036

Re: Can you buy a new car with a cashiers check without unfreezing a credit freeze?

There are at least 3 reasons why a dealer wants your social security number and/or wants to do a credit check: 1.) So they can do a credit check to offer you their own/partner financing in attempt to increase profits, even though you don't need financing. Nobody wants this unless they are getting fi...
by criticalmass
Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: pool heat pump vs gas heater in northeast US
Replies: 15
Views: 604

Re: pool heat pump vs gas heater in northeast US

really appreciate all the feedback. Thanks so much!! we've got a kidney shaped pool, which I've read can be a hassle to cover with solar pool cover. one vendor told us about "cover free", liquid solar blanket for ease of use instead of a solar cover. says it's about 70% as effective. Has anyone use...
by criticalmass
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:58 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: pool heat pump vs gas heater in northeast US
Replies: 15
Views: 604

Re: pool heat pump vs gas heater in northeast US

Hi, I have an in-ground pool and looking to add an external heat source. Hoping to use the pool weeknights and weekends, aiming for temperature of 85'F in northeast US. For this climate, are heat pumps able to get and maintain a temperature of approximately 85'F? Or are the natural gas burning pool...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Car Repairs - Make Insurance Claim or Self-Pay?
Replies: 22
Views: 1304

Re: Car Repairs - Make Insurance Claim or Self-Pay?

We have a teenage driver (almost 19), who wiped out a couple of construction cones driving home a few weeks ago. Luckily for him, no one was hurt, no other cars involved, etc. Only damage was the loss of a handful of DOT cones and mostly cosmetic damage to the car - windshield cracked, hood dented,...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Standalone Security Camera Recommendations
Replies: 6
Views: 582

Standalone Security Camera Recommendations

I'm looking for security camera recommendations to hopefully catch vandalism in the act outside. The requirements are: 1. Standalone camera that can save to a SD card (or possibly send locally via wi-fi) 2. Be mounted outside in the weather, likely on a fence 3. Operate with rechargeable batteries o...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:17 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Our account on] walmart.com Hacked - Fraudulent purchase
Replies: 9
Views: 1201

Re: walmart.com Hacked - Fraudelent purchase

Woke up Friday to a pending charge on our bank account. Apparently someone hacked DW Walmart.com account and ordered over $300 worth of stuff and paid for it using the card on file which is a visa debit card linked to our bank account. We called bank and Walmart to let them know we didn't make the ...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 08, 2019 3:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [Our account on] walmart.com Hacked - Fraudulent purchase
Replies: 9
Views: 1201

Re: walmart.com Hacked - Fraudelent purchase

Woke up Friday to a pending charge on our bank account. Apparently someone hacked DW Walmart.com account and ordered over $300 worth of stuff and paid for it using the card on file which is a visa debit card linked to our bank account. We called bank and Walmart to let them know we didn't make the ...
by criticalmass
Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:11 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard Checkwriting Account
Replies: 20
Views: 1788

Re: Vanguard Checkwriting Account

If you need to write normal checks, then you need a normal bank/credit union checking account. Why? Because those can have money pushed into them from an external source (deposit pay,...), and pulled from them from an external source (automatic bill payment plan,...). While you might be able to pus...
by criticalmass
Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:18 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: [On-going Scams - Post them here]
Replies: 118
Views: 4457

Re: Scam alert - USPS new feature playing a role

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:38 pm
Agree that the Informed Delivery connection seems to be unfounded. And it is not new, started 2 years ago yesterday.
In some areas, Informed Delivery has been available for much longer than just two years.
by criticalmass
Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:07 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: terminate the lease of a tenant amicably
Replies: 28
Views: 2235

Re: terminate the lease of a tenant amicably

I have an out of state rental condo. Tenant is undocumented and got arrested for assaulting a person who happened to be on the HOA board. I want to get this tenant out of here but they are in 3 year lease. I know I can just call their lease for them being in violation from that fight but Im guessin...
by criticalmass
Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:41 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: A 23% increase from ATT Wireless
Replies: 84
Views: 5886

Re: A 23% increase from ATT Wireless

I'm not sure why you get so frustrated. There's absolutely nothing wrong with prepaid, This reminds me of an episode a couple years ago where T-Mobile and I seriously butted heads. DW and I took a trip to Europe (a Viking river cruise including Switzerland, France, and Germany). At the time, Consum...
by criticalmass
Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: COPA Airlines
Replies: 13
Views: 1144

Re: COPA Airlines

Yes, a good airline. Flies a fleet of mostly 737 in and to/from Panama. First class seats are comparable to other airlines flying 737. Has had a close partnership with Continental Airlines (now renamed United after 'merging' with United) for many years, and followed their alliance from SkyTeam to S...
by criticalmass
Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:22 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Lifelock
Replies: 15
Views: 912

Re: Lifelock

This article has gotten a bit stale, but it's still highly amusing. LifeLock CEO's Identity Stolen 13 Times "Apparently, when you publish your Social Security number prominently on your website and billboards, people take it as an invitation to steal your identity. LifeLock CEO Todd Davis, whose num...
by criticalmass
Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: COPA Airlines
Replies: 13
Views: 1144

Re: COPA Airlines

Anyone have any experience traveling on COPA Airline? BF Yes, a good airline. Flies a fleet of mostly 737 in and to/from Panama. First class seats are comparable to other airlines flying 737. Has had a close partnership with Continental Airlines (now renamed United after 'merging' with United) for ...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Rental Car insurance
Replies: 16
Views: 969

Re: Rental Car insurance

.............................................................................. Yes, you might have a good chance to win in court, especially if you bring OJ's dream team back from the dead, but the process might be long and difficult and drawn out. Agree w/the last part............. https://en.wiki...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:31 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Rental Car insurance
Replies: 16
Views: 969

Re: Rental Car insurance

Last summer I had my first claim ever with a rental car: brutal hailstorm in Denver-Boulder area left dents and cracked glass. I use a Chase Sapphire Reserve card for rentals, which includes the usual rental coverages as the primary payer, meaning your own auto insurance is not involved. Took 4-5 m...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Water Heater Anode Replacement
Replies: 24
Views: 1650

Re: Water Heater Anode Replacement

When it is replaced, perhaps practice once on the old one before it is hauled away. If you have the right thread sealer, risk removing the new one then re-inserting it before it is installed. Caveat: That is simple on electric ones but a BH would not have electric hot water. I recommend using Teflo...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:06 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: SEC Settles With Brokers To Return Fee Overcharges
Replies: 3
Views: 478

SEC Settles With Brokers To Return Fee Overcharges

:moneybag This month the SEC has settled with many "investment firms" who were caught steering their own customers into higher fee investments so the firms and affiliates could make excessive profits from those investments. These $125 million of excess fee profits were at the expense of the poor cus...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:28 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: I would like a boat. I also know nothing about boats
Replies: 147
Views: 8578

Re: I would like a boat. I also know nothing about boats

I am accustomed to being (or thinking that I am) reasonably educated on most purchases that I make; however, I find myself in a situation where I will be purchasing a boat for the family. Congratulations on considering boating! It is a whole dimension of enjoyment for responsible owners. Here is a ...
by criticalmass
Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:13 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Water Heater Anode Replacement
Replies: 24
Views: 1650

Re: Water Heater Anode Replacement

I have a Bradford-White gas hot water heater in my garage that was installed about 30 years ago. As far as I can tell there was never any maintenance performed on it. It still functions great. It is not near anything that would be damaged if it started leaking. The water would just run out the gara...
by criticalmass
Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:06 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How much is a parking ticket where you live?
Replies: 23
Views: 1043

Re: How much is a parking ticket where you live?

Last one I received in Cambridge, Kendall Square area (MIT), $20. In my home town, I have no idea. Our police log has more cows in the road reports than parking tickets. The only day of the year there could potentially be a parking problem, the roads are all closed and if anyone were to try to park...
by criticalmass
Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:59 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Shut off water before a vacation
Replies: 78
Views: 5698

Re: Shut off water before a vacation

I have the cameras in 3 places including in the basement next to the water meter all with a digital thermometer within view of the cameras. An easier and cheaper way to do the same thing is to just use a smart thermostat with internet connection. I can see the temperature of my home anywhere with m...
by criticalmass
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:55 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Experience with replacing heat pump - Carrier or Lennox?
Replies: 16
Views: 835

Re: Experience with replacing heat pump - Carrier or Lennox?

There's a dirty secret in the HVAC manufacturing world. I think there are only about 4 or 5 top level manufacturers who manufacturer the same parts and use them in different name brands. For example, Trane and American Strandard are the same components....just branded/marketed it differently. Goodm...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:58 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight: Would you rebook?
Replies: 63
Views: 5015

Re: Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight: Would you rebook?

This is outside the scope of the original question (should I fly on this airplane), but there are many angles here: 1.) Boeing decided to base their new more efficient single aisle plane on the old 737 platform, so there were a lot of self-imposed limitations. The 737 sits low to the ground--since ...
by criticalmass
Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:30 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight: Would you rebook?
Replies: 63
Views: 5015

Re: Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight: Would you rebook?

I hate to say this but the best time to fly in terms of safety is actually after an accident. Inspections are tighten up security is tightened up protocols are tightened up. Not so since in this case it is a control systems and pilot training issue. Unfortunately they didn't do anything after the f...
by criticalmass
Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe conversion fee scam at hotel..what would you do?
Replies: 26
Views: 2101

Re: Europe conversion fee scam at hotel..what would you do?

Also beware of ATMs and read screens very carefully to avoid DCC. Indeed. I've noticed that ATMs in tourist hotspots are even worse than merchants who run DCC on their credit card systems. With credit cards it seems to be around 5%, while with ATMs that offer to debit your account in dollars it's c...
by criticalmass
Sun Mar 24, 2019 2:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe conversion fee scam at hotel..what would you do?
Replies: 26
Views: 2101

Re: Europe conversion fee scam at hotel..what would you do?

I checked into a European hotel for work in the next week, so a 5 night stay. I work for Megacorp and this is one of Megacorp's "preferred hotels" so I booked it. When I checked-in I just finished a long flight and just wanted to get into the room to relax. They inserted my card, pressed a button, ...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Need Foreign Currency
Replies: 25
Views: 1250

Re: Need Foreign Currency

I've been to CR. I would never go anywhere that uses a foreign currency hoping that they will 1) accept dollars everywhere and 2) everyone will give you a good exchange rate. I was just in Mexico last week and saw Americans using dollars everywhere. I thought "naive American tourists". Not one plac...
by criticalmass
Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:22 am
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: Vanguard - dissappointed
Replies: 44
Views: 5727

Re: Vanguard - dissappointed

So far, very disappointed in Vanguard. Setup a brokerage account recently - took 5 days for it to be opened and money transfer. Added my bank account so i could transfer money in the future - took 4 days. Now i went to transfer money and my bank is missing, no way to transfer, says i need to add a ...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:13 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: BofA is improving their autopay
Replies: 15
Views: 1371

Re: BofA is improving their autopay

I have been autopaying statement balance for years. It is doable just not obvious how to set up. I think there are even 2 ways to do in online. See this post: https://thefinancebuff.com/autopay-bank-america-credit-card.html +1. Been doing this for at least a year. Autopays balance in full. Works pe...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:59 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should we have renters insurance?
Replies: 68
Views: 3334

Re: Should we have renters insurance?

I am not necessarily a huge fan of renters insurance. Yes, it's cheap. In large part, that is because it doesn't pay out much. If it did pay out much, it wouldn't be cheap. For the value of your posssessions, you clearly don't "need" renters insurance. You might want renters insurance should your i...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:57 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should we have renters insurance?
Replies: 68
Views: 3334

Re: Should we have renters insurance?

Add up what clothes/ shoes/ boots, furniture, kitchen items, and other odds and ends cost. It is easy to get in the tens of thousands of dollars if you had to go out and replace all of this at once. After seeing our neighbors house burn down last year the wife and I were sure glad we had renters in...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 20, 2019 12:28 pm
Forum: Personal Investments
Topic: My fee's are too [darn] high!
Replies: 31
Views: 3272

Re: My fee's are too [darn] high!

Looks like you have a ton of funds + individual stocks (e.g. Visa). Without commenting on the fund performance, it probably makes sense to consolidate. You don't need to have funds which might have a lot of Visa stock and then hold Visa stock separately. And you certainly don't need to be using fund...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:25 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Should we have renters insurance?
Replies: 68
Views: 3334

Re: Should we have renters insurance?

My wife and I live in a rental house in the San Francisco Bay Area. Combined we gross ~$280k / year, net worth of ~$750k, roughly 50% savings rate, both are 35 Y.O., have (2) medium sized dogs. I'm wondering if we should get renters insurance or not. Up to this point I've thought we're "self insure...
by criticalmass
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee
Replies: 34
Views: 3354

Re: The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee

Do folks reading papers still pay 6% to sell a house? I've paid between 1-4%. In my opinion, the real antitrust or consumer issue isn't how much or what percentage a person agrees to pay a real estate agent, it is the anti competitive and defacto monopoly of the multiple listing service in each mark...
by criticalmass
Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:39 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Paris - Is It Safe?
Replies: 143
Views: 8632

Re: Paris - Is It Safe?

Paris is more dangerous than most usa cities in one regard: failure to pick up. Watch your step, some chiens have inconsiderate owners, especially in more residential neighborhoods. Enjoy your trip, and avoid feeling compelled to spend a minute more in a museum than your instinct feels like. There's...
by criticalmass
Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?
Replies: 47
Views: 4983

Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

One resource I found extremely helpful when shopping for a new car recently - online forums for that brand's enthusiasts. There are all kinds of posts where people shared information on what discounts they got off MSRP and at which dealers. This. Also, see my post on truecar in earlier thread. If y...
by criticalmass
Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:05 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do you confirm that bills are successfully paid?
Replies: 38
Views: 2371

Re: How do you confirm that bills are successfully paid?

.......Personally, I wouldn’t use any bill pay for something important and recurring when the payee doesn’t accept ACH payments........ Why? As long as the bill pay service guarantees they will send an old-fashioned paper check thru the mail? If they can't do an electronic ACH-type transaction? Wha...
by criticalmass
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Teen got into auto accident, fight ticket or pay fine?
Replies: 79
Views: 4152

Re: Teen got into auto accident, fight ticket or pay fine?

It sounds like it's hard to predict what will happen in traffic court. I was in Arlington Virginia traffic court many years ago to testify in an accident case. Before the proceedings began there was an announcement to the effect, "If you're here to contest a ticket, you're unlikely to win, and you'...
by criticalmass
Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do you confirm that bills are successfully paid?
Replies: 38
Views: 2371

Re: How do you confirm that bills are successfully paid?

I have no idea how Schwabb operates its bill paying service. Is OP familiar with the way ordinary, regular, brick and mortar banks do? For customers who sign up for online access to their account(s) Very simple. You designate whom is to paid, how much, on what date. In return, the bank gives you it...
by criticalmass
Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:58 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: My lamp exploded - can I re-wire it so that it will work with different voltages?
Replies: 49
Views: 2540

Re: My lamp exploded - can I re-wire it so that it will work with different voltages?

Thank you, everyone. I think what I will do, just to be extra safe, is just get someone to help me re-wire everything and put in the higher voltage socket and bulb. Short of using (1) a voltage converter or (2) and E26 LED bulb, is the answer to my question of whether I can re-wire the lamp to work...
by criticalmass
Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:36 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: My lamp exploded - can I re-wire it so that it will work with different voltages?
Replies: 49
Views: 2540

Re: My lamp exploded - can I re-wire it so that it will work with different voltages?

One other detail if you change the plug on the lamp. Polarity does matter. Typically, one of the two power wires is grounded (also called a neutral) at the service entrance. In the US, it is the white wire in a cable or cord and the black one is the "hot" wire. The hot wire needs to go to the botto...
by criticalmass
Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Global Entry Application turnaround times?
Replies: 35
Views: 2534

Re: Global Entry Application turnaround times?

But what does that do when going through the security line for an outgoing flight? You don't need Global Entry ($100/5 years) for security screening line Pre Check. Alternatives: Pre Check enrollment by airline - no cost to traveler)/b] Pre Check: ($85/5 years) Nexus: ($50/5 years). Includes Pre-Ch...
by criticalmass
Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:44 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Global Entry Application turnaround times?
Replies: 35
Views: 2534

Re: Global Entry Application turnaround times?

I would save your money and download the mobile passport app. The official app of US Customs and Border Protection. In my opinion it is just as fast as global entry and no interview. The app is very easy to use. Take a selfie, input pertinant data, name, dob, passport number etc.. When you arrive a...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Global Entry Application turnaround times?
Replies: 35
Views: 2534

Re: Global Entry Application turnaround times?

I would save your money and download the mobile passport app. The official app of US Customs and Border Protection. In my opinion it is just as fast as global entry and no interview. The app is very easy to use. Take a selfie, input pertinant data, name, dob, passport number etc.. When you arrive a...
by criticalmass
Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:29 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Diminished value claim advice
Replies: 41
Views: 1964

Re: Diminished value claim advice

It doesn’t matter because it’s wrong. Something is only worth what someone will pay for it. You may find someoen that will not care about the accident and pay full vale. Someone may not. You don't know until you sell it to find out. A diminished value claim, by its nature, is to reclaim your lost a...