Why I am not buying an electric car after the Democrats latest bill

I have been trying to run my old BMW into the ground, i bought it in 2016-17 and it has done around 60k miles. If you know anything about BMWs, they don’t age well. After 5 years of usage, the BMW doesn’t have much juice left in it but I was trying to ride it out and had booked a Lucid and BMW i4. I was going to buy one of those also relying on the $7500 electric credit in federal income tax.

I make more than $150k and am what democrats consider as someone who does not need a subsidy to buy an electric car. Maybe they are right and now I am not buying one. The latest democrat electric bill just excludes anyone who is in the tech industry from getting an EV subsidized. However where it falls apart is that they have also excluded the cohort of people who are most likely to buy an electric vehicle.

In general, tech people are also math people. The only way buying an electric car makes financial sense even with the rising gas prices is with the subsidy. Otherwise for 1:1 cars, its not worth spending the premium for electric cars. Electric cars end up being vanity objects to show that you want to do something about the environment but financially it does not make sense. The $7500 credit used to help with that, alas no more. Anecdotally some of my friends are also cancelling their deposits.

Well, EV’s loss is Gas’s gain. If only the democrats actually applied common sense to their bills instead of an appeasement mindset.

A saga with Ebay Top Seller ‘blackdiamondpawn’ who lied, tried to cheat me and then got negative feedback removed in less than 30 mins

Ebay has come a long way, after its partnership with Paypal ended, I always wondered how buyer friendly would its policies be and what all would eBay do to promote businesses on its platform at the cost of buyers.

Last year i had uncovered a warranty scam on eBay, wherein sellers were illegally farming personal information to file fake warranty claims for Philips toothbrushes. eBay took no action on those complaints and wrote an unsatisfactory response to the WA state AG.

This time I have uncovered a new eBay scam. A few weeks ago, I ordered a faucet from eBay. Unfortunately i discovered that I would have no use for that faucet and decided to return it. I returned it without even opening the package.

The seller did offer 30 day free returns. After the return was complete, I saw that I was refunded only 50% of the item value. There was a note by the seller which I saw later:

“This item was open installed and removed shows marks from use … sold brand new sealed”

This is obviously a lie. I filed a case and left negative feedback for the seller to warn other buyers. eBay eventually decided to give me back the entire amount. However to my surprise, my negative feedback was removed in less than 30 minutes.

The seller in this case is blackdiamondpawn which is Black Diamond Pawn shop based in Florida. They never responded to my angry messages calling them out on their fraud. They did however get their negative feedback removed in less than 30 minutes.

At present, eBay shows no negative rating for this seller. I wonder how many other negative ratings were removed by eBay without any regards to the genuineness of the ratings.

The lesson is never trust eBay and always pay using a strong credit card like Amex which protects consumers. Lesson #2 is not to but anything from Black Diamond Pawn shop based in Florida or their ebay store ‘blackdiamondpawn

I plan to file a WA ATG complaint asking eBay on what basis was my negative review removed and isnt it biasing its marketplace by removing legitimate negative reviews. I dont think anything will come off it but the state AG should be aware of these incredibly shady tactics by eBay.

KickFurther.com: My worst investment ever

Last year I wrote a review of Kickfurther.com, I had mentioned how the platform is inherently broken for investors and how a large amount of money I had invested in the platform was delinquent.

I believe its time for an update. Over the last few months, I have been following lots of discussion on Kickfurther.com on Reddit. Curiously, KickFurther seems to send warnings to users talking negative things about Kickfurther.com on Reddit or removes data when it gets highlighted there(see this link which was supposed to show late co-ops and Kickfurther immediately took it down). All that should tell you what kind of a company KickFurther really is. They also prohibit talking about their deals anywhere on the internet. Ever heard of an investment company doing that. I go into the system and how its broken into detail in my previous post.

The current post is just an yearly reminder, if you are considering investing via Kickfurther.com. STOP. Slap yourself hard. Turn around and don’t invest.

Losing money can happen on any platform, but the apathy KickFurther.com shows to its investors once the money is lost, is cruel in my opinion. This warning is based on my experience investing and losing a lot of money on Kickfurther.com (A LOT, I have around $16.9k of late payouts on that platform with many co-ops not returning a single penny). I expect almost all of it to never come back (except around $900). Kickfurther will just toss the company off to a collection agency and in turn collect more money for newer co-ops. Its a no risk model for them and all risk is on investors unless they also invest in a co-op.

DSTLD IPO shows crowd funding does not work for individual investors

A few years ago I had discovered crowd funding, individual investors could get access into early stage companies. Some of them would perish, some would grow slowly and some would IPO. The strategy was to sprinkle your investments so overall you may come ahead.

This year finally something miraculous happened, one of the companies that I had invested in IPO’ed. DSTLD or Digital Brands Group finally IPO’ed. To call the whole thing a shitshow would be an understatement. The reddit thread here captures most of the new action but I will try to summarize my understanding of the situation, why investors lost out and what changes I am making to my portfolio. Spoiler alert: I made no money (atleast for now)

The company Digital Brand Group used incentives to drive up individual investors investing in their company(offering store credit in exchange for investment). I infact invested twice in the company, once via SeedInvest and once via Startengine. Apart from those two platforms, from the thread it seems apparent that the company also did a convertible note via a site called WeFunder which I have never used (Thank God).

A few things happened with the IPO. The IPO seems to have completed earlier this month but most crowdfunding investors don’t even have access to their shares. Not that it matters, the company although has increased its value has reverse split the stock making a loss for each one of its individual investors. I don’t have access to my stocks yet(cue shitshow, however the CEO Hil Davis made a mockery of the early investors by sending an email as late as November with the following quote(I got this letter from reddit, but multiple sources have confirmed this is true):

“In Closing The original founders, Corey Epstein and Mark Lynn launched the first Reg A+ because they believed that the individual investor should make money early on in great companies, not just the Private Equity and Venture Capitalist firms. This offer shows everyone how much we continue to believe in this direction.”

It is super ironical because each individual early investor stands to lose money at this time if they liquidate. There is no guarantee on when(and if) they will make money. Its possible in the future one may be able to turn a profit, however at this time the company has been caught vastly unaware and no individual crowdfunding investor has access to the stock they had bought. The platforms of Startengine, WeFunder and SeedInvest are all blaming the company and the company blames them. The loser is the investor who trusted their money to this company. As of writing this post none of the three platforms seem to have gotten their shit together and Vstock which is supposed to handle the transfer of stock has not responded to my emails.

My future investments in crowd funding

Overall I have invested in over a half a dozen pre-IPO companies via crowd funding. Another shitshow is Trubrain in which I had invested also via Startengine. The company is now doing another round of crowdfunding more than a year later at the same valuation. While claiming the company is doing great, they basically told every investor who had invested early that their money has gained no value. The company is defending against criticism in their latest offering. I think the criticism is fair and the company has just showed a good old fashioned middle finger to its investors.

Similarly, most other investments via StartEngine have been shitshows. Startengine also invests in the companies themselves but post closing of investments provide zero support to companies and/or investors. Another company I had invested in ‘Glow Beverages’ struggled to get terms of its convertible note updated via startengine. The CEO of the company told me he had no luck escalating to StartEngine’s CEO for help. Eventually they had to circumvent start engine to modify their note.

My experience with start engine support has been equally bad. The support is mostly useless and responds with irrelevant things when asked questions about investments.

Between Kickfurther(don’t touch with a 20000ft pole) and Startengine type crowdfunding campaigns i have lost money almost everywhere, the only diamond in the rough for me has been TerraCycle which increased its dividend this year and seems to be a pretty solid company. I feel like that is one company that may end up helping me break even or even come out ahead. I also made some money in TelaDoc which was from a platform that eventually shut down.

My future investments however will never touch Kickfurther or Startengine and I would recommend you to do the same. As is clear from the post, I am invested in a number of companies via these platforms. For the time being, I am exploring complaining to SEC and FINRA for the shitshow that has ensued. While institutional investors are able to sell the stock, investors like me are struggling to get custody of our investments.

How I got an overflow COVID vaccine in Washington State!

I am in my early 30s but was able to get a Moderna vaccine in Washington. How you may ask?

Vaccine Card from CDC

Its simple, the logistics around the current vaccines mean that pharmacists have a tough choice to make at the end of the end, either dump the vaccines or give them to any available arms.

There is a new group of hackers looking to get their hands on these vaccines. Facebook groups now exist where people hunt for waste vaccines, get on waiting lists and talk to pharmacies to see if they can get a vaccine that was going to be thrown away.

Here is how I did it, I scoured mass vaccination site announcements on the web. I would ignore the ones close to urban areas for two reasons. Urban people are more savvy about these things so you have more competition and in general counties near urban areas have been more snobbish about eligibility even though it may mean not saving the vaccines. Now needless to say, I dont have any data to prove this.

I found a few semi rural vaccine sites near the Seattle area namely in Auburn. I am happy to report on my first try, I got the vaccine.

I reached a couple of hours before the vaccination center would close and asked for leftover doses. I was redirected to a waiting area wherein we had around 30-40 cars waiting already. As the site was closing, they redirected everyone into the center. Turns out it was our lucky day and they had hundreds of doses left that day.

I was able to get the Moderna shot and they even scheduled the second shot for me. For a few hours of driving and waiting, I got a vaccine and a sore arm 😀

I would like to warn that YMMV, I have shared this store with many friends. While many of them were able to replicate my success, some of them were not. It all depends on when you show up, how the appointments are going that day and the demographics of the people waiting with you.

When the waiting line is cleared, the volunteers generally go in decreasing order of age. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this process.