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Sep 14

So I decided to take a vacation to Portland, OR. It would have required a night of overnight stay so I started looking for good hotels online. Since we were 4 people I wasn’t able to use a lot of websites. Sites like Hoteltonight.com don’t even have an option to configure the number of people in a room. Not wanting to argue with check-in staff later, I started to use Hotwire to book my hotel, I would like to point out that at this point Priceline was unable to find me a hotel for my price and Hotwire was in fact showing me such a hotel. Pricewire is also a much more shitty interface. Maybe all the money they pay Kaley Cuoco and William Shatner came from product development. For those uninitiated with Hotwire, here is how it works, you tell Hotwire your hotel location and check-in and checkout dates and Hotwire will show you hotels available with amenities and ratings from their customers. The actual hotel names and locations are only revealed post booking. Kind of like Name your price tool of Priceline except you don’t have to keep guessing a price.

Day 1

Anyway, so day 1, I search for hotels in Portland, OR. I got a nice 3 star hotel for $100. Remember the stars here are their own ratings and 3 star doesn’t really mean anything. It turned out to be Extended Stay America in Hillsboro, OR. The location was pretty premium and I was happy. We drive down to Crater Lake in the morning, calling at 11am to confirm our booking at Extended Stay. We checked in at 8pm and lo and behold, crap unfolds. I am told there are only smoking rooms available and there is ‘no wiggle room’ to fix it. Wait, didn’t I just pay you in advance and book my room. The hotel was sparsely staffed. At 9pm, I really was in no mood to fight with customer service and find another room. I did leave poor feedback after the stay to Hotwire, no followup from the company. Boo ! Also, the taxes and fee is a little shady at Hotwire :

This is what they claim :

The taxes are tax recovery charges Hotwire pays to its vendors (e.g. hotels); for details, please see our Terms of Use. We retain our service fees as compensation in servicing your travel reservation.

 

hotwire - extended stay america portland hillsboro

 

Day 2

Unhappy with our demotion to a smoking room and no remorse, I didn’t want to extend my stay at ironically named Extended Stay America. I was able to get a better deal near the Portland Airport area, less prime area, no breakfast but $20 cheaper. It turned out to be a Holiday Inn. The hotel was much nicer and cleaner. No free breakfast though. Again see the disproportionate tax and fee added.

 

hotwire - holiday inn portland airport

 

Verdict

Overall I think I did save some money thanks to Hotwire, however be careful about these loopholes like no smoking rooms. I also read online about some people landing at their hotels only to be told the hotel was overbooked and then hotwire making them do the turnaround. I would advise to use Amex cards in that case. Amex has very consumer friendly policies, I would just take it in written that the hotel room was not available, book another room and chargeback Hotwire and sure them. Even though they may have terms against this and USA’s most stupid arbitration laws are applicable here.

 

Would I use hotwire again, probably only if I save a lot, but I would be very aggressive about pushing and flexing my rights. So if you do book through them, call and confirm your booking even though hotwire tells you not to. You do end up saving some money. For some people $15 you save maybe an expense they are prepared to give for peace of mind.


Sep 13

clearance sale


Sep 12

while foods logosafeway logo

Recently on television I saw a sensationalist segment on Fox News regarding the prices at Whole Foods v/s Safeway. Everything was great, there was even a caveat that prices vary by region, however something didn’t seem right. Safeway is absolutely not more expensive in my limited experience here in the Pacific Northwest.

 

To be honest, my headline is also a bit sensationalistic, Fox News was showing the results of a study and it wasn’t original research by them.

 

The pricing shown would have been genuine, however it looks like they forgot one crucial detail. Safeway has this awesome app and has this thing called club card. If you have used Safeway’s app, you would know they routinely have decent discounts on everything from milk to fruits and vegetables to even giftcards and sometimes bonus points. Infact at this very moment my Safeway app has a spend $30 and get $5 off coupon in it. Wholefoods almost never has sales on basic staples and never have I seen a proper off sale on Whole foods. So its important to view any news article with the right perspective.

 

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Sep 11

image

 

They have 2 hours to fix it, otherwise apple fanboys are going to be very unhappy ! iPhone6s and iPhone 6s plus to be released today.


Sep 09

So I do try to live healthy, but every once in a while I cheat by having chicken mcnuggets at Mcdonalds. They are the kryptonite to this superman. Chipotle, I love you, but your taste nothing like the engineered taste of chicken McNuggets. Anyway a few weeks ago McDonalds released their mobile app which on registering gives you a free premium sandwich. So at a minimum you get a free sandwich. Over time I have seen rewards such as free french fries, free sundae on another purchase and they even have a punch card system for McCafe coffee so every 6th coffee for you is free. Overall I think this is one of the most rewarding customer loyalty apps out there and the McDonalds app team has done a great job.

 

Even as I write this post my coupons page is full of so many good coupons :

 

McDonalds App

As you can see there is a coupon for a free McDonalds burger, free happy meal with a salad and a free sundae with any purchase.

 

Give it a try and let us know how you found it.


Aug 30

Ok so I got tempted to try out the new Amazon Prime now app, they were giving a 20 off 50 discount in Seattle and I was running out of some groceries so a 40% discount sounded good.

I downloaded the app and quickly realised that prime membership is needed to ake advantage of the app. No problems, switching to my prime account I chose $50 worth of groceries. Never mind that most groceries on Amazon are overpriced and you are better off paying for gas and going to Safeway and Fred Meyer to get them. It was I think around 9-10pm at night and as I checked out I noticed something strange. Amazon wanted me to tip $5 to the delivery person. By that logic I should be tipping the postman, the UPS man and the Fedex guy. What it means is that Amazon’s delivery persons make money off tips in WA state atleast. Amazon, I am not going to pay for your undercutting your employees.

I changed the tip to zero dollars (sorry, I know, but quite frankly I will not tip someone to deliver from an online store, the tipping in this country is anyway out of hand). For a 2 hour delivery Amazon wanted 7.88 dollars I think and delivery next morning was free. Amazon gave me a 2 hour delivery window and since it had perishables someone had to be there to take the delivery. The stuff was packaged in brown bags and the one with eggs was marked as fragile. Overall most groceries on amazon are more expensive than offline and the ridiculous shipping and tipping charges make this service a no-go for me, I live within a mile or 2 from QFC, Target, Safeway and Fred Meyer, I don’t need to pay extra for fast delivery and even more for tipping. I only envisage using this in an emergency.

Below you can see the unboxing of my Amazon Prime Now order, just don’t judge me Smile with tongue out . Apologies for the vertical video.

Disclaimer: The author owns stock of amazon and works in a company which is a direct competitor of Amazon in the enterprise cloud space in IT (not in Retail).