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.
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 🙂
My car is my prized possession. I splurge on my car as is apparent from my Dash camera reviews. Here is the AUSDOM dash camera review and here is the Road Hawk DC2 review. Coming soon is the BMW Advanced Eye 2.0 review.
However that is when my car is moving. When my car is parked, one of my biggest worries is that I do not have a garage and everyday my car is braving the elements(sun, rain, pollen, dust etc.). It used to be slightly better in regular times since during the day my car would be parked at the office garage, however in COVID times my car has been taking a beating every day of the week. My car is a black BMW X1 and everything shows on black, everything!
So a few months ago I decided to finally bite the bullet and get a car cover to protect it while its parked. I zero-ed in on the Covercraft Evolution custom car cover. It was pricey, but nothing but the best for my car? Wink! I went in for the custom cover since I have seen people struggle with one size fit all covers in the past. I wanted something that is easy to put on by one person which would be me most of the time. I finally received it 4 weeks after ordering and have been using it for a month now. I think I am ready to review it so here it goes:
Value for Money
This cover is not cheap, it cost me around $300. For the price, the Covercraft evolution custom car cover is pretty thin. For the ding protection rating on Covercraft’s website, I would have expected a thicker material. Overall if I look at the price and what I got, I do feel a bit shortchanged.
Most other cover companies will also give you a Tote Bag or a Carry Bag, Covercraft charges extra for that as well. So in terms of value for money, I truly believe its not. However maybe its a luxury product like the BMW?
The cover seems to protect on average against most elements pretty well, dust and pollen were my main enemies followed by the Sun and the Seattle rain. Although Seattle has more rain, rainwater by itself doesn’t damage the paint or the finish. Its often acidic rain or bird droppings which do the damage and that was my main concern.
Sun Protection – 5/5
Even on really hot days, my car is cool inside when I lift the cover.
Dust Protection – 3/5
Some dust seems to filter through the cover onto the car.
Rain definitely seeps through, see the photo below. The rain and dust mix to create a dirty look for the car. Its pretty apparent on a black car and you can see how the water flowed through the cover and mixed with dust.
Overall Protection Rating
Ease of installation/removal of the custom evolution car cover
At the end of the day, the cover is only good if you can put it up in time. The ease of installation is definitely one of the most important factor. If you feel lazy and dont put the cover up, its not going to protect your precious car.
I did find the custom cover here blowing away my expectations. I usually put it on in 2 minutes and take it off in a minute. They could improve it further by marking the front with a black border of something.
One big problem is that without a bag, after removing it, if you are keeping it in your car trunk, good luck. It is going to take up most of the space in your trunk. So its easy to remove but really hard to store.
I can hear you all, so Wisetechie what’s the verdict? Should we spend the extra money on a Covercraft custom evolution cover? My answer is a very gray no and here is why:
Despite the cost, the quality of the cover leaves a lot to desire. The ratings/reviews on their site seem to be biased and the protection ratings don’t mean anything.
For this much cost, it does not even come with a Tote bag or a carrier. Its very hard to keep the cover in your car trunk, it will literally take 50% of the trunk space as you cannot compress it. I will have to buy one or repurpose an old bag here.
It takes 4 weeks to ship with no interim updates from the company.
If I could do it all over again, I would go for a cheaper brand which comes with a Tote bag and locks and other accessories. I do not think Covercraft is worth the premium unless they fix some things. The brand (According to me) is built on hype propagated by reviews on their site..
No matter where you live you cannot escape the hype and benefits of Golden Milk. Since I am Indian I have had it since I was a kid but America has just discovered Golden Milk and I am here to give you the run down on the Golden Milk at Costco. I know you have been tempted to buy it, but is it any good? This is the second review in our Costco Snack review series after the Sonoma Vegetable Crisps.
This Golden Milk is made by Sports Research and is available at Costco for $28.99 ($29.99 online – Membership Required) and Amazon has it for around $34.99. So ask your Costco member friends to grab you a box if you want to try it.
Ingredients and Nutrition (4/5)
Sports Research does not disappoint with the ingredients they have chosen for this product. At 60 calories, its not really a low calorie food but a bunch of those come from MCTs which may actually help you lose weight.
The organic ginger and organic Turmeric are the main ingredients you should be looking for in the Golden milk and there is enough of those. Lets have a look at the other ingredients:
Other ingredients mostly help in sweetening and overall flavor and its good to see the manufacturer sticking to mostly organic spices. I would have preferred a better quality oil.
One thing to be cognizant of is that if you make this with milk, you are possibly creating a 180 calorie drink with around 120 coming in from the milk. Absolutely not a diet or low calorie drink. Have it if it fits with your macros.
The proof of the golden milk is in drinking. I made the Golden Milk with Planet Oat’s Vanilla oat milk. That is 90 calories per serving so my drink is net 150 calories.
The taste is one of the best in terms of Golden Milk I have had in the US. The Golden Milk has a nice nutty flavor and the monkfruit adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the drink. 10/10 will recommend. Infact I might be addicted to this. Unlike the Bio Schwartz golden milk, it doesn’t have a stevia after taste and mixes well in any medium.
Incase it wasnt clear from the Taste section, my verdict on this is a clear buy. The only con is that is very expensive. I would have been happier if 30 servings cost around $20 but it is what it is. I use it as a nice pick me up after a hard workout to help with inflammation. Have you had it as well, what did you think?