The ingenuity of the Swedish people

Posted by: Jason

I’ve traveled to Sweden numerous times and I’m always struck by the automation and simplicity of their everyday lives but also in regards to their attention to detail and consistently improving things. Most of it, I think, is borne out of the fact that there are only 9,000,000 people that live in Sweden and therefore for their survival, they all learn English at a very early age and are very entrepreneurial as seen from several global companies that came from Sweden including Volvo, IKEA, H&M, Skype, Spotify, Ericsson, and Husqvarna to name a few. In essence, they’re very efficient.

Watch out for the mafia

Watch out for the mafia

Take for example their blood donation system. When you give blood you can voluntarily give them your mobile number that will be attached to your donation. When your donation is used, you receive an SMS message saying,”Thanks! The blood you donated has been used to benefit a patient. Regards, The Blood Center”. This simple message encourages people to donate over and over as they get satisfaction knowing that their donation was just used to help someone.

Notification of using blood

Notification of using blood

On Blood Center’s website, geblod.nu , there is a real time graph showing the levels of all of the supplies of blood so that you can quickly see which kind is in need. It also shows you where the blood mobiles are located at should you wish to donate.

Blood chart

Blood chart

Lastly, it even trickles into the hotel industry. I stayed at the Quality Hotels in Stockholm and upon checkout received a simple printed receipt with all of the pertinent information. It was interesting that it wasn’t 2-3 pages of invoices stuck into an envelope but rather a simple, small receipt.

Quality Hotel Friends Solna

Quality Hotel Friends Solna

The travel industry took a large leap from printed ticket to etickets, I’m interested to see if they can follow the Swedish example and find ways to automate and simplify our travel lives.

Citibank really wants me to keep the AAdvantage Platinum Card

Posted by: Jason

Citicard loves me

Citicard loves me

I currently have two AAdvantage cards issued by Citibank. Each year the annual fee comes due and as I never use either card, I always call the cancellation line to cancel. Surprisingly each and every year, I’m given a retention offer to stay. I don’t even ask for it, I fully intend to cancel.

The offer is usually along the lines of spending less than $100 in 3 billing cycles in order to get a $85 annual fee credit. I’ve received the same variation of this offer at least 7 times through the years between the two cards.

I happily fulfill the offer then return the credit card back to my credit card trifold where it sits dormant for another year.

So why does Citibank want to retain me as a customer? I never fly American Airlines living in a Delta hub and I never charge anything to these cards. I wonder if the retention agents are bonused or incentivized on keeping customers from canceling and therefore each agent is tripping over themselves to keep customers.

The only other thought I have it that perhaps it is so ultra competitive to obtain customers that it’s worth it for Citibank to retain me for another year in the hope that I’ll start using the card regularly.

Last year, American Express offered me 25,000 Skymiles to keep the American Express Delta Business Card and that was without begging for a retention offer.

I’m happy to keep the AAdvantage card for another year by fulfilling their spending requirements but still don’t plan on making it one of my normal cards.

If anyone of you have retention stories from Citibank, please feel free to share in the comments section.

You could be the owner of a historic inn worth $900,000 by writing an essay

Posted by: Jason

Courtesy of FaceMe on Flickr

Courtesy of FaceMe on Flickr

The Center Lovell Inn and Restaurantownership is being given away in an essay contest. Located in Lovell, Maine, this inn was acquired by Janice Sage in 1993 when she won a similar essay contest held by the previous owner. The Inn sits on 12 acres and is over 200 years old.

The Inn is located about three and a half hours from Boston in the Lake District of Maine and sits across from Kezar Lake, designated by National Geographic Magazine as one of the three most beautiful lakes.

In order to have a chance to win ownership of this inn – you must be 18 years or older, pay an application fee of $125 and two self-addressed stamped envelopes along with an essay in 200 words or less about why you would like to own and operate the Center Lovell Inn. Entries need to be postmarked by May 7th with the winner being announced May 21 by a panel of anonymous judges.

The entry form is located here.

$25 Amazon Gift Card for filing up at Exxon

Posted by: Jason

Exxon gas station is trying to get people to start using their new SpeedPass+ app (iTunes link) (Google play link).

speedpass

To sign up for SpeedPass+ you do have to offer a lot of information and use your checking account. When you launch the app, you’ll be asked for a driver’s license number, name, email address, and checking account. They’ll deposit two small amounts in your bank account two days later and you’ll confirm those amounts in the app to activate it. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to go. You can scan a QR code at the pump or use location services and select the pump you’re at. Then you’re ready to fill up and pay using the app.

You can get a $25 Amazon Gift Card for free by using the SpeedPass+ app three times at the pump for $25 or more. I’ve already done this and once you’ve done your third $25 transaction, the Amazon gift card code pops up automatically in the app.

speedpass2

It’s quite simple to get a $25 Amazon gift card simply for filing up at an Exxon rather than your normal gas station.

An update to my experience cutting the cable cord

Posted by: Jason

Back in February 2013, I wrote a post about my decision to cut the cable cord in order to save money towards future travel.

It’s been two years and I thought I would give you an update on how it’s gone especially with some of the new news directed at cord cutters.

The setup
Getting the over the air channels with my setup has been perfect. I mounted the antenna in the attic and have had no reception issues whatsoever. For DVRs, I’m using Series 3 Tivos with dual tuners. I was able to call customer service and since I’ve been a long standing Tivo customer, was able to get lifetime service on both boxes for $99 each. Therefore my monthly cost now is $0.

For streaming services, I have a Roku 3 downstairs and an Apple TV upstairs. I’m the biggest Apple fanboy out there, having had Apple products since an Apple ][ when I was a kid. However, I must say I’m not really happy with the Apple TV. It’s slow and buggy and I don’t like the interface. Prior to a couple of months ago, the channel offerings were quite sparse, though that’s recently changed.

The Roku 3 by comparison is fast, has a great interface and a ton of channel options. I subscribe to Amazon Prime and therefore use the Roku to view the Prime movies offered. I also have a Netflix subscription that I use on both devices.

I thought I would miss a lot of the shows offered on DirecTV, however I’ve found that I’m satisifed to wait till they come out on Amazon Prime or to just purchase them outright. I’ve been watching each season of Top Chef and am happy to pluck down $20-$25 per season with episodes available the day after they air.

A lifeline for cable cutters
One of the reasons a lot of people don’t cut the cord is they don’t want to miss out on ESPN and sports. SlingTV has just launched this past week and offers ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT, Disney Channel, Food Network, Cartoon Network, Travel Channel, HGTV, plus others for $20.00 a month with no long term contract. It will work with Roku, iOS, Android, Mac, and PC. There are additional bundles that can be purchased for $5 extra per month to add more channels.

This is something I will definetly be trying out as it will be good to get some of these channels back.

Conclusion
It’s amazing how many other things you can do without having to watch TV. If you’re sick of paying thousands of dollars each year for TV subscriptions, try cutting the cord – there has never been as many options out there as there is now to supplement the programming lost by cancelling your contract.

Hilton Honors targeted offers: 100,000 free points for Diamond and double stay bonus for Gold

Posted by: Jason

Gary from View from the Wing via Double Wides Fly posted a link to a targeted offer for Hilton Diamond members to receive 100,000 free Hilton Honors points.

100,000 free Hilton points?

100,000 free Hilton points?

Though I’m not a Diamond but a mere Gold, I thought I would try to register and see what would happen. I was given the following offer:

“You’re now registered to take advantage of this exclusive offer. Each stay through April 30, 2015, will count double toward the number of stays needed to achieve your 2016 tier status. Book now and get a boost on upgrading your tier status today. “

As with all of these targeted offers, it’s always YMMV but take a few seconds to see if you qualified for some free Hilton points or a 2016 tier status.

The End Of Garden Gnomes – Skymall Is No More

Posted by: Jason

The main distraction on long flights used to be Skymall. Skymall opened up a whole new world of the possible – from hot dog bun toasters to rare autographs, I used to flip through the magazine wishing that I was extremely wealthy so that I could buy the Family Ties chess set. As technology has changed, however, more people are surrounded by other electronic distractions and sadly, the need for Skymall became to shrink more and more. Unfortunately, Skymall announced today that they’re filing for bankruptcy.

In their honor, let’s recap a couple of awesome things that you never knew you needed.

1. Kickboard carry on- $399

Designed to move quickly and effortlessly through the airport, the kickboard carry on is the perfect piece for the frequent flyer who’s in a rush. Never miss another tight connection with this gem.

Courtesy: Skymall

Courtesy: Skymall

2. iFetch – $99

Feeling too lazy to throw a ball to your dog? Thankfully, there’s iFetch, a clever tool that puts the control of throwing that ball in the hands of your dog. No more need to throw over and over, teach your dog to drop the ball in themselves so that you can get back to more important things in your life.

Courtesy: Skymall

Courtesy: Skymall

3. Litter Robot – $350

The litter robot can help you automatically take care of your favorite cat without having to handle any of the mess. Let Litter Robot automically clean up the waste, hiding it in a small drawer.

Courtesy: Skymall

Courtesy: Skymall

4. Batman pajamas – $40

Holy comfort, Batman! Designed for either gender, be comfortable and sleuthful in these great Batman pajamas. Lay down in your bed and POW! you’ll be asleep in seconds.

Courtesy: Skymall

Courtesy: Skymall

What were some of your favorite Skymall items?

Save $25 off a $100 hotel booking with Expedia app three times

Posted by: Jason

Expedia is offering a $25 off coupon by providing them with your cell phone number. They will text you a discount code which can be used for booking a hotel room with the Expedia app through March 31, 2015. You can get three $25 off coupons, though you must wait 24 hours per coupon request.

The link to the coupon is http://www.expedia.com/privatecoupon

$25 off $100 at Expedia

$25 off $100 at Expedia

Coupon must be redeemed on Expedia.com by 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on March 31, 2015, for travel between December 17, 2014 and March 31, 2015. Limit one (1) coupon per user account, per qualifying hotel booking every 24 hours.

Siri: What’s the best way to smuggle iPhones into China?

Posted by: Jason

Answer: Not this way.

A man was arrested for trying to smuggle 94 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones. With prices fetching over $2,000 for phones, there is certainly a financial benefit to trying to bring in phones without declaring them at customs.

However, Chinese customs officials were tipped off when this man was walking strangely and stiffly. After running him through an Xray machine, they had him lift up his shirt to reveal the 94 phones.

He had over 25 pounds of iPhones taped to his body, so mark this down as how not to smuggle iPhones.

1 Day Left For 100 FREE Wings From Buffalo Wild Wings With A Little Work

Posted by: Jason

There is one day left to get your inner glutton on as the postmark deadline is tomorrow.

As a preface, this does involve a little work, but if you’re as crazy as I am for free stuff, you’ll do it.

Courtesy: Buffalo Wild Wings Facebook page

Courtesy: Buffalo Wild Wings Facebook page

Buffalo Wild Wings is currently doing their “Blazin Bonus promotion” where you can get a promotional card with every $25 purchase of gift cards. You can find out the amount of this promotional card after January 1st by going online and entering the card number. The card will be worth $5, $15, $25, or $100 with obviously the majority being $5 and must be used January 1 – February 28, 2015. You can use multiple promotional cards with one order.

As with every contest, no purchase in necessary, so here’s how to get your free promotional cards:

* Send a hand written self-addressed, stamped envelope (Vermont folks don’t need to remit return postage) to BWW Blazin’ Bonus® Game, PO Box 50188, Minneapolis, MN 55405
* inside the envelope include a hand written note with your name, street address (no PO Boxes), age, daytime phone number
* Must be 18 or older
* Limit of four separate entries per person
* Limit of four entries per household

So here are the calculations:

4 entries per person = 4 * at least $5 = $20
4 entries per house = at least $20 * 4 = $80
32 stamps (1 to send it, 1 for return envelope) $15.68

Total profit = at least $64

I personally used the (now expired)$10 off $50 Office Depot sync offer to buy my stamps in order to save some money.

Once you have your gift cards, stretch this free food even further by going on Wing Tuesdays for $.60 for traditional wings or Thursdays for $.60 boneless wings! $64 / $.60 = 105 wings!

Does this take a lot of work? Sure. Is it worth it? Of course! I’ve done this the last three years and have enjoyed free food.

Two Night Hilton Certificate with DirecTV signup

Posted by: Jason

DirecTV is offering a two night Hilton weekend certificate with new DirecTV service. You must select the “Select” package of $49.99 or higher.

hilton

Weekend night certificates are valid for two (2) weekend nights, standard accommodation, double occupancy, subject to availability on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, at properties in the Hilton HHonors portfolio

I signed up for DirectTV back in 2008 when they were offering 15,000 Priority Club points – if you’re in the market for DirecTV service, this may be an interesting offer for you.

Thanks to Sice for the tip.

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