credit cardEver had a charge show up on your credit card from a web site you forgot to join? Don’t worry, it isn’t just you this happens to.

Many subscription based web sites use a tactic called “opt-out” to their auto-renweing subscriptions to confuse consumers.  What this means is that the site automatically sets your account to automatically renew each time your subscription expires.  To stop it, you must go and change the setting yourself, which is known as “opt-out”.

Sadly I just went through something like this with Classmates.com, and I have no one to blame but myself at the end of the day, but that doesn’t mean it stings any less.  You should always go to your account settings immediately after joining a site, look at your billing information and make sure there isn’t a checkmark next to something that says something like “this account will automatically renew at the end of your subscription.”  Wording can vary quite a bit, so be careful, and read everything multiple times.

It would be nice to see every site adopt an “opt-in” policy, but that seems unlikely.  Under that system you have to tell the site that you wish it to auto-renew as opposed to telling it you don’t want it to.  It would be the friendlier thing for consumers, hence why it seems unlikely to ever happen.

Categories: Security, Shopping, Web Browsing   
 

google checkoutEver wanted to have your own online store, but had absolutely no clue how to do it?  Leave it to Google to come up with possible one the simpliest, and cheapest, solutions ever.

According to an announcement on the Google Docs blog, there is now a system to use a simple spreadsheet in Google Docs to tie in with Google Checkout and create your own online store in three steps, or just a matter of minutes.

1. Sign up for Google Checkout
2. List products you want to sell in a Google spreadsheet
3. Place the Google Checkout store gadget on your website. (Also supported: Google Sites, Blogger, and iGoogle).

Seeing as this can be used with sites such as Blogger, which is a free blogging service from Google, every one under the sun now has the ability to open their own online store completely for free.

If you haven’t heard of Google Checkout, don’t feel bad, this is exactly why Google created this system.  This online payment system was supposed to be Google’s answer to PayPal, but it has failed to gain much traction over the past few years of its existence.  Since one of the biggest barriers to starting an online store is figuring out accepting credit cards, Google handles all of that for you without a whole lot of hassle.

While this is not a solution for people with hundreds or thousands of products to sell, it is perfect for your smaller sellers who make handmade items, have only a few items related to their blog or site and so on.  This could also be a good avenue for the ever growing number of people disenchanted with with eBay.

We here at StarterTech plan on creating a small store with this ner service for another site very soon, and once we do we will post a full review here for everyone to check out.

Categories: Google, Shopping   
 

playstation 3As the Sony Playstation 3 nears its third year of release, prices have held study since the day it came out. There are some indicators that the price may finally be dropping.

Kotaku is reporting that they have received information that this weekend at Best Buy there will be a special deal on an 80 gb Playstation 3 packaged with Metal Gear Solid 4 and Killzone 2 for $400, the price the 80 gb version normally sells for on its own.  This is not the first time Best Buy has run a similar promotion, but with the approaching holiday shopping season, this smells of an attempt to clear out some inventory.

Rumors have been circulating for some time of a redesigned PS3 that has been nicknamed “slim” due to its thinner size.  Lets face it, the current PS3 is a behemoth, and combining the gigantic size with its inflated price, sales are not skyrocketing like they should have to the point that even game company executives has been asking Sony to lower the price. Thus far Sony has remained silent on the subject, but effectively pricing the console at $299 (after deducting the retail price of the games) seems to indicate something is about to happen.

We only bring this up so if you are considering picking up a Playstation 3 any time soon, we highly suggest you wait a bit as it sure sounds like things are about to change.

Categories: Shopping, Video Games   
 

circuit city logoCircuit City has announced that their stores will close for good as of March 8th.

Ahead of their original schedule, all of the final Circuit City stores will close this coming Sunday, March 8th.  Originally they were scheduled to close at the end of March, and that was then moved up to March 15th, but due to the success of their liquidation sales, that has been moved up again by a week.

As we originally posted, the Circuit City liquidation sale was brought on by the weakened economy, and they simply so no other solution but to close all of their stores after 60 years in business.  While they had always had a mixed reputation with consumers due to pricing, policies and practices, it is never a pleasant thing to see a company go out of business.

Categories: News, Opinion, Shopping   
 

amazon logoProving once more that Amazon wants to be your “go to” store for everything, they are now accepting trade-ins on used video games.

In an unexpected turn of events, Amazon has opened up a video game trade-in store where you can trade in your used games for Amazon gift cards.  You simply tell them what games you have to trade-in, they tell you a total value, give you a pre-paid mailing label for you to send them in, and once they receive them you will get an Amazon gift card that you may use on any products you want.

What they will do with the games is a mystery as Adam Ostrow of Mashable accurately pointed out, Amazon does not currently have a used video game store.  Perhaps they will be opening one, or are they selling them to other retailers?  It is anyone’s guess at this point.

Currently you can trade-in games for the following systems.

  • Microsoft Xbox
  • Microsoft Xbox 360
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Game Boy Advance
  • Nintendo GameCube
  • Sony Playstation 2
  • Sony Playstation 3
  • Sony PSP
  • Nintendo Wii

While you might get more money selling them on your own through eBay or Amazon’s used option, this removes a lot of work and headaches for you.  Certainly this is a new option for a lot of people with growing video game collections.

Categories: Shopping, Video Games   
 

circuit city logoCircuit City has take to their website to give everyone a better idea of what exactly their liquidation means to consumers that have been shopping with them.

As we reported yesterday, the major electronics retailer, started in 1949, has added information on their website to clarify how exactly their liquidation sale will be handled, what it means for people who bought extended warranties through them and more.  The most important point is that sales are beginning today in some stores, but each location will be handled seperately by the liquidation managers, so don’t be surprised if you walk in to one of their stores today and the sale has not yet begun.  If your nearest location has not yet started, it should any time now as all stores should be closed by the end of March.

Possibly the best news to come out of the information they posted was that their extended warranties they sold in the stores are actually handled by a third-party company, Assurant Solutions, and they are in no way involved with the closures.  They will continue to sell new plans through out the closure period for the stores, but make sure you weigh if they are really worth the extra amount you have to pay for them, as we have warned you before.

Not too surprisingly, all sales made during this time period will be final, so make sure you check over all purchases thoroughly before leaving the store.  You don’t want any nasty surprises a week or two down the road when you finally set up whatever it is you purchased.

Gift cards are being honored for their full amount, but if you do not use them by the time of the final closures, they will be worth nothing.  Make sure if you have any laying around that you use them immediately so that you don’t lose out.

All in all there weren’t too many surprises in what they said, but good to have some actual hard facts from the company since so many rumors have been running around since the announcement yesterday.

Categories: News, Shopping   
 

circuit city logoAfter only two months in bankruptcy protection, Circuit City has announced they will be closing their doors for good.

According to the New York Times, Circuit City is awaiting final approval from a federal bankruptcy judge, but they may begin liquidating their 567 stores as early as tomorrow, Saturday January 17th.  With those stores closing down, the company will also close out all 30,000 of their employees.

While it may be tempting to run out and partake in this liquidation sale, do use caution.  Remember there will be no returns, it is unlikely any warranties you bought through the company will be honored after they close and, if you have gift cards, make sure to use them as quickly as possible.

While Circuit City has had a spotty reputation, it is always sad to see this many people losing their jobs, and this many more empty store fronts across the United States.

Categories: News, Shopping   
 

Now that you’re recovered from your Christmas dinner stupor, now is the time to hunt for those after Christmas bargains.

With the economy not in the best of shape, retailers did not have the sales success they had hoped for during the sales period leading up to the 25th.  It appears that starting today all of the major retailers will be having enormous sales to help make up some of the lost difference, and this can only benefit people looking for deals on electronics.  To give you an idea of how severe these discounts will be, some people are now referring to it as “Black Friday 2″.

Circuit City

It is well known that Circuit City is in financial trouble, so make doubly sure not to purchase an extended warranty through them.  For outright purchases, they should have some amazing deals across all over their product lines such as HDTVs, computers, video cameras, video games and more.

Target

The sales at Target will begin on the 26th and be in every department, and they have no set end date, but will be on a “while supplies last” format.  Expect to find heavy discounts in DVDs and HDTVs.

Walmart

Apparently Walmart is going to be having huge sales, but they are hiding the details pretty close to the vest. The only thing that seems certain is the sales will be both for in-store and online, and there will be a heavy focus on HDTVs.  It looks like the sale will begin on Sunday the 28th.

Make sure to check all of your favorite retailers to see what kind of sales they are having on this day.

Categories: Shopping   
 

christmas treeNow with all of your Christmas bounty unwrapped, don’t forget there are some things you need to do quickly!

After all the excitement of unwrapping gifts is over, there is still some work you need to do with all of your new gadgets, computers, gift cards and so on.

Gift Cards

As we recently discussed in Are Gift Cards A Safe Gift This Holiday Season, these are uncertain economic times, and those cards may not be worth the plastic they are made out of if you don’t act quickly.  First you need to see if the company the card is for has published any news about bankruptcy or going out of business.  Even if they haven’t, do not throw them in the back of a drawer and forget about them, use them as quickly as possible just to be safe.

Rebates

With all of the sales going on this holiday season, some items required you to mail-in for your rebates.  Make sure to sit down and do this as soon as possible so you don’t lost out on them.  Believe us, there is nothing the companies would like you to do more than to put it off and forget to mail it in.

Returns

Most stores have limited return windows, and while doing it on the 26th may not sound appealing, you need to do it as quickly as possible for the same reason you have to worry about the gift cards.  And if they only want to issue you store credit, use it immediately, do not wait!

Warranty Cards

Did your new electronics come with a mail-in warranty card?  Just like with the rebates, the companies are hoping you forget to send that in.  Make sure to sit down and fill it out immediately, and get it mailed in.  Even if it is an online registration, do it as soon as you can to make sure you don’t lose out.

Categories: Shopping   
 

Walmart has launched over a hundred items at bargain prices on their website today in the lead up to the final push for the holiday season.

The items are heavily discounted and feature a good mix of toys for young children… and toys for the older ones, too. (also known as “adults”)  The majority of the prices bring them into line with the everyday prices of online retailers like Amazon, but they are still good deals.  With their free Site To Store shipping on the majority of the items, you can have them shipped to your favorite Walmart location and pick them up the next time you are in the store.

Some of the better deals include

There is a lot more items to be had, and many rumors are circulating that you can expect to see more sales like this from multiple retailers between now and Christmas.

Categories: Shopping   
 
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