“Stop your whining little girl; be a man.” ~Richard Gere's character  to Ed Norton's in Primal FearAH-white-Desert-IMG_0709crop.jpg

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    Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

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    Mystery Shopping Fraud ScamRecently I’ve taken up mystery shopping. www.ShadowShoppers.com (here after referred to as SS) lured me in so I registered, and received multiple emails with available jobs, but the links would not open for me to apply.  SS required that I pay a monthly fee to apply for the jobs.  What!?  Bait and switch…I’m not a fan, sounded like a scam…until I received an email offer to pay a discounted one-time fee of $3.  I could afford to lose $3 so as my curiosity led the way; I paid et voila! the world of mystery cracked wide open.

    Turns out SS is an umbrella for multiple mystery shopping companies.  Fully aware that I would not pay another monthly fee, I registered within those thirty days with as many of the companies as I could.  Since then I’ve evaluated employee performance and products at:  an optical shop, a Lasik facility, coffee shop, car wash, auto dealership, and a high end restaurant and hotel.

    Since that time I’ve learned a few major things:

    The companies pay slow, normally within 6-8 weeks.

    My attention to detail wasn’t as excellent as I thought.

    Don’t drive fifteen miles for a $5 “re-imburse” shop.

    If the follow up report takes longer to do than the shop, it’s probably not a good use of your time.

    Pizza photo shops will ruin your diet.

    I’ve been paid by all save the high end restaurant.  I was contracted by www.RestaurantEvaluators.com to evaluate the bar, bartenders, drinks, dinner, servers, bussers, staff, and restaurant.  I performed the job on 3/25/11, racked up a bill for $99 which was to be re-imbursed under the conditions of the shop as follows:  Reimbursements are paid by check 30 days from the day you turn in all parts of the review including the Reimbursement Request Form (RRF), itemized receipt, credit card receipt and the review itself.”

    The on-line follow up report was by far the hardest, and most detailed that I have ever completed.  The multiple essay sections would not let you proceed until you had reached the allotted amount of words, like 500 for each section.  I started it when I got home around 11:45 p.m., and didn’t finish until 3:45 a.m.  And then I still had to scan & email receipts so total time was about an agonizing 4.5 hours.  To find my hourly “pay”, I use this calculation:   4.5 hours divided by $99 is $22 an hour.  Remember I had to pay for this as the shop was performed (in good faith might I add) on the basis of  reimbursement.  I received an email back from www.RestaurantEvaluators.com approving the report, and actually giving me kudos as “the effort made on the report was quite apparent.”

    I’d be happy if they just let me know they will eventually pay me, but it’s been over sixty days and I haven’t heard a word from the company.  I’ve left phone messages, and followed website directions to a link to submit a re-imburse help ticket.  Guess what?  That link was either removed, or plain doesn’t exist.  I’ve written a letter and also submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The FTC cannot provide remedies, but they enter complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.  Has a crime been committed? You betcha!  My next step will be to contact Georgia Attorney General.  Will follow up at a later date.

    Please hit the comment link and tell me about your experiences.

    Be well!


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    2010 REVIEW


    I have had an absolutely fantastical year, full of change.  Here’s a review of the highlights:

    Took on an teenager as a kind of foster parent sort of (was I nuts?)  Saw him through to successful high school graduation and on to college

    Turned 50

    Turned 50 while on a fabulous active tour vacation of Egypt.  Experiences:

                Hot air balloon ride

                Fell off a donkey

                Trotted on a camel


               Jeeped thru the desert

               Slept under the stars in a desert

               Climbed sand dunes and a mountain

               Found out Oasis’ are real!!

    Had a first surgery and hospital stay

    Had first adult outpatient procedure – the dreaded colonoscopy (the worst part was           

                  ingesting the Movi-Prep)

    Was downsized from my employer of 8.5 years

             First time in 35 years without a secular job.

    Created multiple websites

    Started a home based business

    Facing future with courage (does not denote absence of fear)

    Whew!!! I’m afraid next year might be the same, and afraid it may not be the same. 

    I will always remember 50, and 2010!  Happy New Year to you all. 

    If you are so inclined, I would love to hear your year’s review!  Click on the comment link below.

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    I’m considering using a talking avatar for my website www.1ecare.com.  According to experts, one only has 3 to 4 seconds to grab the visitor, lure him in, and make him stay and read.  I’ve incorporated a flash widget to catch attention, now a nice lure would be a talking, shows expression avatar representative of myself.  Sitepal.com (for a fee) offers use of  their avatars and voices, or you can upload a pic of yourself and voice blurb to create your own look alike, sound alike, avatar.  I couldn’t help but play around with it – my five minute limit turned into an hour sigh.  Now trouble is, since my new company is on a strict budget, I can’t find a free version of an avatar which will do anything similar.  That’s what happens when you look at Caddies before Kia’s.

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    Let’s talk about credit scores…we are all supposed to strive for a good credit rating in order to be able to buy “stuff” on credit.  It doesn’t matter that we might not be able to pay for it in full next month, twelve months or even twenty-four minimum or not so minimum payments later.  We slide that treasured plastic rectangle, and keep making those on-time payments to keep our credit scores top high, so we can buy more things that we can’t really afford.  What bill of goods have we been sold?  Is this paradigm really going to continue working with today’s economics? 

    The nation’s unemployment rate is racing toward 10%, foreclosures abound, people are walking away from mortgage debt and student loans. When you owe more on your home than what it is worth, and when you will never be able to pay off your student loan– it just don’t make sense to keep throwing money at a problem that’s never going to resolve.  So good credit scores are going out the window with the baby and the bath water.  

    My grandparents didn’t use credit.  They used cash.  If they didn’t have the cash, they didn’t get the thing.  Is it true that the more material things we have around us, the less we have to think about who we truly are (on the inside)?  American society seems to  assign value to things.  People then assign great value to others who have a lot of very very expensive things.  What happened to assigning great value to someone with a wonderful character and personality?  But that is another blog post. 

    There are so many variables that are causing credit scores to degenerate.  With little to no credit, we’ll have to go back to buying with cash.  Cash used to be king, and cash will return once again to reclaim its throne.

    P.S.  Article of Interest by AnnaMaria Andriotis: Credit Scores: How 720 Became the New 680

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