A few weeks ago my Sonicare toothbrush went kaput. Looking to find a replacement, i saw a seller selling the handle for cheap on Ebay. Since Ebay guarantees purchases, it seemed to be a good deal. I ordered the sonicare toothbrush from this seller who seemed to be some kind of a distributor.
Anatomy of The Fraud
When I received the sonicare toothbrush from Ebay, I was shocked to see that it was shipped by Philips directly. I was sure I bought it off a random account and the Paypal transaction showed me it was a middle aged person on the Easy coast.
However the proof of the fraud was in the package itself. It had a warranty claim with my name on it. Looks like the seller files a fake warranty claim in the name of the buyer stealing their identity.
Ebay is useless (and so is Philips USA)
Despite alerting Ebay to this scam, Ebay has taken no action against the seller. It did have to refund my money as the seller was probably scared that I exposed their scam.
I also alerted Philips to the scam who took some time to find a good team and then just decided to let the seller use their systems and scam others.
Since the identity theft seems to continue and eBay is not doing anything, I have filed a complaint with the State Attorney General so that they have to respond.
I have too many thoughts about this company and their performance in my portfolio. Today I finally decided to pen some of them down.
First of all, Kickfurther is not a scam, its a company with a skewed business model. As I will explain below, as an investor you are the worst off in the equation, between the company, Kickfurther and you, you are the one that is most likely to lose money in my experience, especially if you keep investing. The POs, guarantees, UCC Liens mean nothing when shit hits the fan and you lose your entire principal.
The business model is quite simple, you fund inventory for companies, companies sell through the inventory. Kickfurther takes two cuts, once at disbursement to the company and once during withdrawal. Note that there is some conjecture here in my business model paragraph since I have not seen the actual agreements and I have got to know that Kickfurther itself invested in at least one co-op.
Recently, a good majority of the last few companies I have invested in have not paid back.
The risk I did not expect
However its all part of the risk you would say, right? Well, its not so simple. The risk most investors including me signed up for is the risk of inventory not selling out. However in my experience, many companies actually sell off inventory and then refuse to pay back.
The model in my opinion encourages such “scams” for the lack of a better word by these companies. No action is taken against these companies by Kickfurther until buyers vote no confidence against this company. Usually a 50% threshold is required to make a co-op as cancelled. So many bad co-ops were not getting cancelled that Kickfurther has now pro-actively started doing affirmative votes. That’s actually one of the only steps where I think Kickfurther is working for investors in these unfortunate situations.
What happens when a company defaults? In my experience, you often times don’t get anything back. Kickfurther has stated that they have no obligation to sue the companies who refuse to pay. They end up sending the companies to a collection agency. These collection agencies in my experience end up with little success so investors have to write off their loss while Kickfurther has made their money and move onto the next company.
Kickfurther just hides the companies that don’t pay so its hard for you to figure out what’s happening overall on the platform, they often quote some research numbers but its of little solace to investors who are facing losses.
Example Failures – Kickfurther is broken!
Lets take a few examples of what happened (again its what is visible to me as an investor in these companies, reddit is a good source to see other egregious stories of scammers using Kickfurther including a case wherein the CEO Sean Clerq had to issue an apology).
Company 1 – This company is super popular on the web for their equipment. I invested in it looking at its presence and almost certainty that it would sell through the inventory. It did, however the company initially denied any liability, then got onto a payment plan with a bulk payment at the end and then defaulted on that payment. This company is still active but they owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to investors.
Company 2 – This company also seemed to have a decent web footprint, after selling through, the company shared how their payment would be a month late. After that they stopped updating and sent no response to Kickfurther. Guess what a few months later, this company sold all of its assets but not the liabilities (Wink wink). According to LinkedIn, all execs of the company quit. Kickfurther knew about the sale and despite being a creditor claims that it had no right to interfere in the sale. The collection agency is still collecting against the old company which actually may not even have assets. This incident is what broke the camel’s back for me. Its the first time I actually think I am sure Kickfurther does not give a damn about me as an investor. All detective work here was done by investors and Kickfurther had not even shared the sale information.
And these are just 2 examples, there are a lot of other examples wherein the company just didn’t pay even after selling the inventory and Kickfurther’s updates are only about collection agencies collecting against them. In many cases I have seen the companies continue to sell other things.
The model is inherently broken for individual investors, as Kickfurther has no incentive to get the money back if a company refuses to pay. The 1.5% withdrawal fee is a pittance against what would be required to get a judgement on a company. Despite the horrible recent performance new companies continue to get funded in days which shows me this hide the bad performers model is working.
So what’s the moral of the story?
If its too good to be true, it probably is. I don’t have the heart to do full math on my losses on the Kickfurther (yet) platform, but its significant with the 1.5% withdrawal fee and the companies I think would be permanent defaulters. I also have no clue on why these are not considered equity and under the SEC. I plan to ask the SEC that.
Be Prepared to lose your principal. Investment Rating:
One of the reasons I am writing this is that sites like Trustpilot are flooded by experiences of companies who were able to get money via the platform and hence leave 5 star reviews. If I were to fathom a guess, I would say Kickfurther solicits reviews from these companies just due to the regularity with which these companies are posting on Trustpilot.
As I write this, I have thousands of dollars pending on the platform, keeping my fingers crossed for a Christmas miracle but not holding my breath.
My car is one of my most prized possessions, after my house its also my most expensive possession. One car accessory that is an absolute must have for every car enthusiast is a dash camera. Its an essential accessory for insurance purposes and in general if you love your car.
I used to have the Roadhawk camera for quite some time. However with time I was getting more and more annoyed with the extra set of wires and how it didn’t merge into the interior of my car. The long wires looked super shabby and I didnt like the fact that it took over my cigarette lighter slot.
At that time I discovered that BMW had a dash camera system: the BMW Advanced Eye 2.0 camera. Not much was known about this camera on the Internet.
At the time I was thinking about buying it, no one in my car dealership had heard about it. The accessory shop was ready to order it but was asking for close to $1000 to install it. Mainly because BMW of Bellevue had no clue on how to install it. Its a pretty shitty dealership but there are only a handful in Western Washington.
Anyway, the camera proposition seemed to be great. It was BMW branded which meant it was covered by the car warranty. It would connect directly to the car systems and it would look sleek and fit into my interior. I ordered the camera from an out of state dealership which gave me a great discount and got it installed by a local shop Zahntech. They did it for 30% of BMW of Bellevue’s cost.
Build quality for the camera is surprisingly solid. The wires hide pretty well into the car when well installed and the functionality of parking mode and general move works pretty well.
Overall no complaints with respect to build quality. Even in super hot and super cold weather the camera worked perfectly.
As someone who works in software development, i am embarrassed that BMW felt it was ok to ship the Advanced Eye 2.0 application. The application is perhaps one of the most frustrating I have ever used in my life. That would explain why the application has 1.1 rating on the Apple Itunes App store.
Why you ask? Where do I even start? The UI is un-intuitive, the application and interface to the camera is buggy and updates are few and far between. I remember spending close to 60 mins configuring the app for the first time.
One of the features that should work the best, video downloading often hangs, the device uses modal popups to share simple messages to the user. Its almost impossible to use the application and to be honest i would rather just take the SD card out and use it. Unfortunately there isnt a native way to see the rear camera view when you do that.
There is a Windows app that is also published for this camera but that also didnt work for me. I am shocked that BMW endorsed such a shitty product.
If you can get over all the software hangups and still want to give it a try. Here is a sample video for you.
Video quality is nothing to write home about. There are always random glitches present in the video where the image would gray out for a split second or so. Again poor quality hardware plus software.
That is right, dont waste your money on the BMW Advanced Eye 2.0 camera, you will do better to get other more conventional options than relying on the BMW Advanced Eye 2.0 camera system. Its a cheap system with a lot of functional gaps and not so great video quality.
When I contacted BMW around issues with the camera they asked me to talk to the dealer, the dealers dont even know about this camera. So BMW is letting its customers bear the brunt of this poor product.
Despite staying away from India, I usually handle the digital affairs of my parents. My parents try to be as much self sufficient as they can so they do handle some things by themselves. Its only in India that a company like Tata Sky can openly try to cheat someone and then have the impunity to claim that its their policy to not refund.
Sometime in the beginning of 2020, one of the two set top boxes in my parent’s house was having trouble. My dad called the Tata Sky helpline and as usual they came in and swapped the set top box with a refurb one. Tata Sky set top boxes go kaput all the time but this isn’t a post about the equipment quality they have.
As the swap was done, the agent did not remove the old set top box from their account. Note that my dad is 70 and would usually expect people to do the right thing.
Another swap was made in July 2020, then also the agent didnt think it was important to tell my parents how the previous agent was cheating them.
A few days ago, he asked me to recharge their account since it was coming up for renewal. It was not supposed to come for renewal for a few more months so I got suspicious.
Imagine my shock when i saw three set top boxes(one primary and two multi TV) on their account. I immediately understood what had happened and decided to contact Tata Sky. Here is the screenshot of being charged 2 multi TV fees for July.
On chat they removed the extra set top box but refunds are handled by another team the agent told me and assured me it would be processed.
That night, I was telling my friend from MIT that Tata’s are an ethical company and would definitely refund the cheated amount to my parents discussing how a rogue agent must be the cause of this issue.
Boy was I wrong, since then we have escalated multiple times, but the agents keep telling my parents its their policy to not refund money. I checked atleast three statements wherein they have been wrongly charged.
That is nothing but pure cheating and theft by a company like Tata Sky, how can a policy not account for billing errors, what if that billing error is 100% Tata Sky’s fault and additionally what if the billing error could potentially be malicious and a ploy by agents to increase Tata Sky’s revenue. Possibly all three are true in this case.
At this point I am still taken aback by the blatantness of this and how Tata Sky is obviously in the wrong but not taking responsibility for an amount that is peanuts compared to how much we have already paid Tata Sky and will continue to pay if we keep their service.
Shame on Tata Sky, next step is to get more visibility to this post.
Today I will review a slightly different snack than I usually do. Today I will review the Goodfish salmon skin crisps. I will admit, I got curious after watching their ads on Instagram and crispy salmon skins super rich in Omega 3 sounded like an amazing idea. As always, this review is unpaid and I paid for the chips with my hard earned money to bring you an unbiased review of these very Instagrammy chips.
Ingredients and Nutrition
Maltodextrin is a Sugar!!!
Dont be fooled by these names, Maltodextrin is a sugar which is actually sweeter than Glucose. A product claiming to be Keto should not have sugars in it.
Lets have a look at the Ingredients in chilli lime flavor:
Oh my God! notice the amount of junk in this thing including maltodextrin and soy. Their website is truly deceptive on ingredients and foolishly i did not double check.
Keto friendly? Want my opinion, No f-ing way. Maltodextrin has a high GI and causes insulin spikes. That alongwith the sugar makes it a no-no for the Keto diet in my opinion.
Maltodextrin has a higher Glycemic index than glucose as well. I also recommend avoiding any kind of Soy. This is definitely not a clean product no matter what they say. Some other flavors even have corn starch. To see something with clean ingredients, have a look at the Golden Milk by Sports Research available to Costco.
I love all the organic stuff in the ingredients but its really bad that they are misleading people on the health aspects calling this keto friendly and not being open about the ingredients. This obviously deserves a 1 star. However I will give it 2 stars for using organic stuff.
Look at how their website shows the ingredients for the same flavor:
That’s it? Seriously guys!
The taste of the chips is very fishy. The texture is light and crispy and the palm oil does not come across. The flavoring is on point though and adds a nice subtle hint to the fish. I liked the chilli lime flavor the most and the cranberry flavor the least. Overall the fish skin chips taste A-OK. Nothing much to be said here.
Overall I would not buy these again. Partly because of the ingredient mess up but also because they are super expensive. An 8 pack costs 25 dollars so that is more than $3 a bag. Not just that, the bag is only 15g.
So its like paying for air, in my test batch there were 5 small pieces of skin and some crumbs. My recommendation would be to go for an old fashioned salmon fillet for your omega 3s and give the Good fish chips a royal skip. Shiny Instagram ads cannot make up for the junk ingredients in otherwise what could have been an amazing product.
So today we are going to review one of the two healthy pancake options available to Costco. The “Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix”. Now that’s quite a mouthful. I was intrigued as most Paleo and Keto diet experts in their Costco runs were recommending these but I had to have a look by myself.
Ingredients and Nutrition
Before we get into the ingredients and nutrition, if you are reading this and you are from Birch Benders, please fix all your serving models and packaging. You need to be a math major to understand how the servings map to any of the actual recipes. Is it deliberate? Maybe, however not giving discerning consumers an easy way to calculate their calorific input is a poor strategy.
Delving deeper into nutrition, on an average you will be consuming close to 420 calories per 6 small pancakes which a normal athletic person would be expected to ingest.
This obviously does not include any toppings you may use. Please do not use syrup if you care about your health, I use nut butter which adds another 190 calories for 2 table spoons. So this is definitely not a low calorie or a weight loss food once you make it a lunch replacement.
In terms of ingredients it has Cassava Starch(note that deceptively almonds is the first ingredient on the packaging) with a low glycemic index (46 per livestrong), very good! They use organic coconut cloud which is the only organic food used here. It matters a lot in Almonds IMO wherein they are sprayed with a ton of pesticides but they use regular almond flour to keep costs low. For the sweetener they use monk fruit and no other sugar alcohol so that’s really great and has unnamed spices and leavening agents. Monk fruit adds no calories and does not evoke an insulin response like other sweeteners. Overall very clean ingredients, would be even better if they had used organic almond flour and Eggs.
The eggs are actually an interesting twist to this saga though, organic eggs have a much better nutrition profile than regular eggs but at least you save on cost and messes because eggs are already there in the powder. I prefer to have my pancakes with organic eggs for what its worth. So I will deduct half a point for the non-organic ingredients.
The proof of the pancakes is ofcourse in the eating. I made my pancakes with the original recipe first which I found to be too thick and my pancakes werent cooking fully. Later I modified it by adding more water for perfect fluffy pancakes. The pancakes stick together well due to the egg and no additional binders or milk is needed. I added some organic blueberries because why not.
However when I ate it, overall I was not very impressed with the taste. It tastes like eating fluffy paper with a hint of sweetness. No real taste comes out in my opinion. I have tried cheaper brands like Krusteaz and not to cheaper ones like Kodiak and they do taste a lot better but they have worse ingredients. I will finish this pack and then I look forward to trying their new Keto blend instead hoping that the keto blend tastes better.
If you are in it purely for the health, you probably sacrifice taste all the time. Only then would I would recommend getting this. Otherwise I will probably recommend the Krusteaz whole grains protein pancakes as a much better tasting alternative to the Birch Blenders Paleo Pancakes. The pancake mix at my Costco costs $11.49 for 42oz which is 27 cents an ounce, compare that to Amazon which sells it for a pricey pricey 41 cents an ounce 🙂