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May 20

gamestopcheats[4]

 

I am boiling with rage right now, the reason being the scum of the earth company called GameStop. Their dwindling stock price should be a good indicator of the inherent value they provide to customers. However my story is more retail than fundamentals.

Here is the gist of it. I needed to purchase some stuff of GameStop, as I normally do I got a discounted gift card (around $300) for GameStop from Cardpool and went on my merry way to make a purchase at the local store. I have done this many times before however this time it was going to be a bit different. As I went to the checkout counter the young lady there told me she had to ‘call it in’. Wait, was I at a GameStop or at a traffic stop, law enforcement usually uses terms like ‘call it in’. Being Indian, I am used to some level of discrimination, so I pretended to not mind and waited as the agent talked to someone on the line and boy she was in no hurry to resolve the matter. After a few jokes she hung up and looked at me. What she said next totally shocked me, she told me she couldn’t accept the gift card as it had been issued to someone else.

That makes absolutely no sense. Gift cards are by nature transferable and are like cash. The gift card I had also said nothing about any such terms. She told me there is nothing she could do and they have further frozen the gift card (WTF!). She further asked me to contact customer service.

I went home and I contacted customer service, waited a couple of days and got no response. Shitty service indicator number 1. I then filed a BBB complaint against this company and finally got a response, Here are their replies in their full glory :

Gamestop Response 1 :

On behalf of GameStop, we apologize for this poor experience in association with our company. 
After further research into this issue I have verified that the information you have provided does not match the information with the trade transaction.  We will only be able to speak with the owner of the account used on the trade transaction.
If you have additional questions, I am here for you.

Shilo | Guest Care Support Associate | GameStop | Service Matters

Service matters is their slogan, how ironical. How about unethically and illegally making money from unsuspecting customers.

My Response  :

 

Gift cards are transferable entities, if someone trades with GameStop and gets a gift card it does not mean that he has forever wagered his/her soul to Gamestop and must use it. He/She is able to sell the gift card and I purchased one such gift card. Its not a credit card or a debit card.

Then things got a little too personal, GameStop apparently wanted me to establish a chain of ownership to the person who 1st had the card. A good analogy is every time you use a $20 bill, you must establish a chain of ownership to the 1st person who was issued the bill. That’s obviously ridiculous. Gift cards are like cash, almost every gift card says its like cash. Anyway, this is how they responded :

GameStop Response 2 :

 

On behalf of GameStop, we apologize for this poor experience in association with our company. 
As you have stated this gift card was not purchased or obtained from GameStop.  You will need to contact Card Pool about this issue.

If card pool can provide proof of them purchasing the card from the previous customer and then sold the item to you we will be able to resolve the issue by providing a new card to you.

If you have additional questions, I am here for you.

Now to those who say this is reasonable, think of it this way, what if the gift card has changed multiple owners. Also, why would card pool ever reveal who they bought the card from, it would be a breach of privacy for the original seller.

Dear Shilo from GameStop ends with : “If you have additional questions, I am here for you. “

I did have a few more questions and points :

My Response  2 :

Do all gift cards sold by GameStop need to have change of ownership reported to GameStop ? Now you are just making up rules. The reality is that your associate who felt she was being super diligent committed an error in judgment possibly due to my race ? Your overzealous associate on the phone went ahead and disabled the card at his/her end just because he didn’t want a large transaction to go through. The store clerk actually said she had to ‘call it in’ a terminology which law enforcement uses kind of getting to my point of overzealous-ness again.

Even though I had possession of the gift card and had purchased it legally, GameStop went ahead and disabled it without having any legal basis to do so. Gift cards are like cash and unless reported lost or stolen this suo-moto action of GameStop is most definitely illegal. Its a legal debt to the person with the possession of the gift card.

Like I said, I am under no compulsion to ask cardpool or to give my information to you, you have the burden of proof to show the gift card was stolen or obtained by illegal means. By not allowing me to use a legal debt like a gift card GameStop is the company which needs to provide clarifications and not me.

I will be sure to report this matter to my state’s AG office as its obviously illegal and also use the social media to spread the message.

And they never replied back.

True to my word I filed complaints with the FTC as they regulate gift cards and also complained to the Washington state attorney general. I would have sued them in small claims but looks like Cardpool will be refunding my money. If someone else had a similar experience, let me know, maybe we can get a class action lawyer to take this up if we have enough victims. Making consumers prove the ownership trail for store Gift cards is moronic to say the least.

Conclusion

I am going to wait for their response to the WA State Attorney General, hopefully their legal department would be smart enough to see their snafu. Imagine how much money Gamestop will start amassing by introducing this arbitrary rule and then just freezing gift cards. I am safe thanks to card pool, but you may purchase a GC from a friend or a colleague and then GameStop will just freeze it and steal the money.


Apr 24

I am a dashcam enthusiast, so when I got a chance to review this unit, I jumped on it. I also got this unit for a discount to test out, but as you would see the review is 100% genuine.

I am comparing this to my Roadhawk DC2 dash cam which has been my primary camera for more than a year, that camera was bought for $200 so yes I would expect it to have more features, but when you are going for a dashcam you want something which would be useful incase of a court case or insurance claim. Otherwise whats the point of getting a dashcam.

Sample Videos :

Day :

Indoor Video :

Night Video :

 

Now that you have had a chance to look at the image quality and the date stamping on the camera, 

Lets move onto the PROS :

  1. Good LCD Screen – Unlike my Roadhawk camera, this one has a screen which is really useful for replaying footage after something interesting has happened. The LCD screen is clear even in bright sunlight.
  2. In-built battery backup – This is a game changer, the internal battery is a godsend as it allows this to be a parking sensor. My roadhawk has an attachment which allows it to connect directly to the battery however I believe that would just drain my car battery. An internal Li-On battery is a nice solution to that problem.
  3. Good image quality – The videos are of good quality, not great, not awesome, not excellent no matter what the other reviewers tell you. They need to get a real dashcam if they think this is the best video quality they have ever seen. Don’t be carried away by those hyperboles.
  4. G-sensor – Any good camera needs to have a G-sensor which would capture collisions and not overwrite on them as you could discover a dent weeks later and then that image might have been overwritten.
  5. Good mounting equipment – The mounting equipment which comes with this camera is great. Never underestimate its importance. My $200 dashcam from Timetec came with a ridiculously badly designed mount which I had to go get replaced.
  6. Image taking – The camera does allow you to take images instead of locking videos, I love that :) , sometimes its nice that instead of taking out my camera phone I can take the image on a click.

 

Now the CONs :

  1. A little buggy – I have noticed a couple of bugs, the most annoying being when I start my car the camera starts and then immediately shuts down. I have no clue why that would happen. I have to remove power and restart again for the camera to start. I will be emailing the company about this.
  2. File sizes are too huge, for a worse image quality than my Roadhawk, the file sizes seem to be a lot larger.
  3. Funky white balance – The WB on my unit is funky, its washed out (as the video also shows) , it does have an adjustment which I need to play with.
  4. Video stamping is inadequate – The video cannot be stamped with speed unfortunately, that’s a deal breaker for me. As this has no GPS, I don’t think it can measure speed.
  5. Unintuitive buttons – The buttons are a little bit hard to understand if you are just starting out. It took me a while to understand how to lock and erase video segments, unfortunately not before I had erased a clip I wanted to save :(.
  6. Poor Microphone Quality – The bass is just out of whack with the camera, in the sample video you can almost feel the mic vibrating and distorting the sound.

Verdict :

Overall, this is a solid camera for the price, with good video quality and a ton of features more expensive cameras don’t seem to provide. However depending upon your budget you may just decide to go forward with a camera that has GPS. If you are just a hobbyist and don’t really care about insurance aspects or ticket aspects this might just be good enough. Speed is the only thing this cant capture. I would give it 3/5 stars.


Apr 03

So I have decided to give Robo-Investing a shot with Wealthfront, the only reason I chose Wealthfront over Betterment for the time being is the promise of free investing irrespective of a time period. I find that more generous than Betterment’s offering of free investing for a few years or so.

So here’s the thing, I don’t expect radically different gains but I am hoping that the tax loss harvesting will save me some $$$ especially since I invest a lot in my ESPP and have capital gains.

Stay tuned here for the full results of my experiment, if you are looking for a referral code to Wealthfront for a free $5000 in investing, sign up using my link : https://t.co/YWjBFOtc0c


Apr 02

This is a bizarre video, the Mumbai traffic police should be ashamed of cheating innocent people like this and this racket should be busted immediately.


Apr 01

The TimeTec RoadHawk DC-2 camera is a fairly high end camera for the dash-cam enthusiast in you. Whether you love to record long drives or are looking for a camera for insurance purposes, this can be your goto camera depending upon your budget. The camera’s standard price is around $179.99 which when compared to other options in the market is a bit steep, but is the price worth the quality ? Lets have a look.

image

Specifications :

Real Full HD 1080p@30fps video latest A5s Processor (Ambarella).

  • High quality image sensor providing excellent video quality and tuned for low light sensitivity.
  • Gyro balanced image stabilisation
  • SD XC compatible up to 128GB (8GB included)
  • Built-in 1hz GPS Receiver
  • Built-in microphone
  • New vertical mount designed to have the lens of the camera sitting closer to the screen of the vehicle minimising reflection
  • Algorithm for detecting SD card errors.
  • Alarm input for remote triggering events and output for communicating with tracking devices.

 

Construction and Installation
The camera feels sturdy to hold and comes with some 3M stickers and a long winding cable. I have connected it to my cigarette lighter but some people may feel like attaching it to the battery directly. The mount that comes with the camera I feel is pretty useless as you cannot take off the camera in a market or a crowded area while parking the car. this is an open invitation for prowlers.

I ended up spending some more money to buy the suction mount which I believe should be standard on this. The camera also has no battery which is a big negative for me since I use it with the cigarette lighter. What that means is that if my car is parked and someone hits it, I wont be able to find out who hit my car.

Audio/Video Quality

One of the main features of this camera is its HD 1080p recording. The company takes great pride in the recording quality of the camera and to be honest it doesn’t disappoint. Here is a sample video where a jerk runs a red signal, as you can see the violation if any would have been recorded quite clearly. Regarding recording number plates, the camera cannot do much on moving cars. However if you stop behind a car you can be certain that its number plate is recorded.

Daytime Video

Nighttime Video

The internal Mic does work well, I cancelled some noise in the video but nothing that should be of concern.

GPS Logger and the G-Sensor

The GPS works great and so does the G sensor. GPS takes a minute or so to lock in at mornings and the G-sensor does go off on rough bumps so I believe if I were ever in an accident it would go off.

Offline software

The Road Hawk comes with a nice side software through which you can view videos with speed overlays and Google maps integration. The software also shows X and Y G-Force for those interested.

image

Overall Impressions

Overall I am very happy with this camera. The battery is one thing I miss the most. Another thing is that the wire is so long it kind of coils near my cigarette lighter. But the joy of recording jerks driving like jerks is really priceless.


Mar 02

It hits you, it hits you hard. While growing up we all had laggards in our classes, while the toppers went on to become doctors and engineers, the laggards went onto become IAS/IPS (through reservations) or become lawyers or become journalists. The fact that usually the worst of the lot become junior journalists can help explain how stupid news stories are published without any corroboration. In some cases publications have been known to copy faking new or the onion verbatim and post it as news.

A couple of days ago, I came across an article on the Times of India (affectionately known as the TOIlet of newspapers in India) around an Indian Bengali village teenager Satparna Mukherjee who claimed to have won a NASA fellowship. I was intrigued, why would NASA be sponsoring a random kid from a non-descript part of India, Don’t get me wrong, Indians are smart, however the kind of shit science we are taught under the aegis of CBSE with very little emphasis on practical aspects leaves little to the imagination of the kid. Serious pure sciences research is non-existent even in Indian colleges. So for a school kid to impress scientists across the world would be a very special feat. And while we are at it, why just shame the kid, lets shame the journalist Saubal Gupta who wrote the piece with no fact checking. Journalism is about fact checking, fact checking and fact checking. Even without contacting NASA, the article reeks of fakeness and smells of deceit, lets go through the article.

The article starts by making an outrageous yet plausible ? claim :

Eighteen-year-old Sataparna Mukherjee, a Class 12 student from a village around 30km from Kolkata, has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) for its prestigious Goddard Internship Programme under the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). She is among five scholars chosen from across the world for this programme.
Nasa’s GIP selects five exceptional individuals from across the world every year and funds their entire education after school.

However as someone random on the Internet pointed out, these are only meant for US Citizens. Ms. Mukherjee cannot be by any stretch of imagination a United States Citizen. Also look at the fine editorial work by TOI, NASA is spelled in title case and programme (sic) is misspelled. Here are the requirements directly from the NASA  website.

Eligibility Requirements

  • U.S. citizenship
  • GPA: 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • High School students
    • At least 16 years of age and a current sophomore, junior or senior
  • Undergraduate or graduate students
    • At the time the opportunity begins, must be accepted/enrolled full-time in an accredited U.S. college or university

The article goes on becoming funnier as you read through it  :

Oxford University, where she she will pursue graduation, post-graduation and PhD (as Nasa faculty) in aerospace engineering at its London Astrobiology Centre.

Umm, why would NASA send her to a UK university and then sponsor her bachelors, masters and PhD in aerospace engineering at Astrobiology center. So many things wrong with that sentence. Aerospace engineering at a Astrobiology center in UK ?

The article then quotes the wonder kid herself :

“It all started in May last year when I was a member of a group on a social networking site where there were many members, including some scientists. One day I shared some of my thoughts on ‘Black Hole Theory’, and one of the members of this group gave me Nasa’s official website and told me to post my findings, which I did.” Sataparna’s paper on Black Hole Theory, and how this could be used to create a ‘Time Machine’, was hugely appreciated. “I am very happy to get this opportunity where I will also work as a researcher at the Nasa centre in London,”

A little jargon here and a little jargon there and our journalist is thoroughly impressed, black hole theory, time machines, loch ness monster and Godzilla. Ofcourse this time she is going to be a researcher at a NASA center in London. Wait, wasn’t she going to study at Oxford ? When did NASA open a center in London ? Even at this point our journalist didnt think something was wrong.

Sataparna will work as an “employee and researcher”, where she will be part of its earth science and technology development programme.

As any class 10 student will tell you aerospace engineering, astro biology, black holes, time machines, earth science are all very different things. How many PhDs is this wonder kid getting ?

“She is a very good student and her ability should not be judged through her marks alone. She is original, and that has made her attain so much.”

This is the quote from her referee at Oxford, a professor in English (yeah right) at some random Bengal college. Physical sciences is one of the few places where marks do have a strong correlation with talent.

Anyway, I do hope she has gotten some kind of admission and this is all a big misunderstanding and this doesnt impact the kid’s career. However one has to wonder about the mental capacity of this journalist and his peers who have not fact checked the story with NASA, or Oxford and have published the news articles with such glaring discrepancies.

What’s funnier are the comments on this article praising the daughter of Bengal and talking about Bengal producing thinkers.