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In spite of the fact that Amazon is incredibly convenient, I have to disagree a little with my fellow reviewers here. I rated Amazon as average on price/value and customer service for the sole reason that the whole Amazon experience varies so vastly from transaction to transaction. I do use Amazon currently and it can certainly offer some spectacular deals. However, I have also had some pretty negative experiences with it in the past. Seller ratings are not always as reflective of trustworthiness as it seems. For example, I bought my sister the perfume L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani for Christmas. I have admired this scent for years and I would recognize it anywhere. As I smelled it on her so frequently over the holidays, I decided to get myself a bottle. I was looking for a deal and bought some on Amazon from a seller with a 99.8% buyer satisfaction rating. When the perfume finally came in, it was more than obvious that it was a cheap fake. The scent was heady and thickly layered, almost like filler had been added to a low grade substance- nothing at all like the real L.A.M.B. perfume. It also came in a bottle nearly identical to the L.A.M.B bottle, so I know I got scammed. I have also had positive experiences with Amazon and, as I said, I will continue to use Amazon. I will use it cautiously though, and recommend everyone else do the same.
Visa is pretty much the entire reason that I still haven't written off credit cards. Every time I find myself staring at a bill, wondering how I spent so much, and considering getting rid of my card, it's less than a week before I end up somewhere without cash and thankful that my Visa's sitting in my wallet. Just because absolutely everyone takes Visa, it's a real life saver. I've only ever worked at a couple places that accepted American Express or MasterCard. I didn't even realize how obscure those cards had become until I was apologetically turning down so many people every day at the cash register. What says even more than the number of customers I had to reject is that it was rare for any of them to be surprised by it. It's just hard to find yourself in an emergency you can't escape or truly "out of luck" when you've got a Visa card. There's just not another card you can say that about. For this reason alone, I highly recommend it.
I've had a credit card with Capital One for several years now. I've had both positive and negative experiences, but on the whole, I would not recommend getting a credit card with Capital One. A positive aspect is that using the card "builds you cash" over time and that can be put toward paying off your balance. To me, though, it's definitely not enough cash credit to warrant choosing this card over another one. Another attribute of the card is that it's a pretty decent card to amass flyer miles, if you're into that. I've completely paid for two separate plane trips within the continental U.S. with saved miles points. Finally, the interest rate of the card is my biggest complaint. Capital One often has great "teaser rates," but be careful! When I was first solicited for the card, the interest rate was fantastic. The offer was just too good to pass up. Now, my interest rate seems astronomical. It's bad enough that I am going to switch cards solely for that reason. In the interest of being fully informative here, it's worth mentioning that I have perfect credit and have never missed a credit card payment. So, this wild interest rate isn't due to personal delinquency, etc. Unless you can get a super teaser rate and can seriously get rid of the card after that period, pass on this one! (I think Chase is offering some no interest plans right now; I will be attempting to transfer the balance of my debt to a card with them as soon as possible.)
Wells Fargo is a good bank, especially for young individuals or college students. They have several nice options for student checking and savings accounts. Something I really appreciate about Wells Fargo is their online banking. I usually don't like to "over complicate" the traditional, but I recently started online banking with them and it's so simple and easy to use! They also offer an automatic bill pay service through which they will physically mail your money to your landlord, cable provider, etc. at the same time every month. In the midst of other life chaos, it often slips my mind to pay bills so this service is extremely helpful. It's a foolproof way to keep good credit!
I have been pretty under-impressed with AT&T. I've tried several different service providers over the years, and while AT&T isn't the worst, it just isn't great. AT&T can be a good choice for cell service in a few very specific scenarios. Otherwise, I would recommend going with Verizon. My main problem with AT&T is a coverage issue. I currently use AT&T and live in the mountains; I do mean the mountains, as opposed to the boonies. I do not live in a rural area. Yet, I am so frequently unable to use my phone that I operate almost solely via skype and e-mail. I just haven't gotten around to switching services yet, but I definitely plan on it. I've missed important calls from employers several times while literally holding my phone in my hand. It just won't even ring. The second biggest issue I have with AT&T is that even when I'm in an area with excellent cell coverage, I still find that voice mails will register late. By this I mean that someone may leave me a voice mail on Tuesday and in spite of the fact that I'll check my messages that night, the message won't "show up" in my voice mail box until Thursday. Going hand in hand with that problem is that I will receive a voice mail from a "call" that just came through, but the call itself never registers. So, I get a voice mail from a call that supposedly happened just one minute previously, but the phone never rang or vibrated or anything else. Both of these problems are really bad if you work in a business where quick communication is vital. Repeatedly telling people "oh, I just didn't get your message," gets old and it just doesn't cut it in the business community. That being said, if you live in an area with great cell coverage and you don't use your phone that frequently, AT&T is worth a consideration. I say this because they sometimes offer very affordable plans- especially when it comes to family plans. Otherwise, take a pass on this one.
TD Bank is as fantastic as they come! Their customer service is top notch. Their entire staff is incredibly friendly, genuinely personable, and extremely helpful. They are open every day of the week, even Sunday, and are so motivated to help you find solutions and optimal approaches to any situation. I can't say enough about how much their employees go out of their ways to help. They also not only allow dogs in the bank with you, but give them treats and little TD bandannas. Sometimes the employees even bring their own dogs to work with them all day. I love that. I'd also like to present an aspect of TD Bank that no one has mentioned yet. TD Bank treats its employees very well and that, to me, is a true sign of a caring, organized, ethically run business. Their employee benefits package is phenomenal. They also pay a third party company to provide a free and confidential "complaint hotline" service to all employees. Basically, an employee can call and rant to someone about his boss- or anything else stressing him out- for as long as he wants, and the call stays confidential. What a fantastic investment in the health and happiness of their employees! Two thumbs up for TD Bank!
I'm a pretty big fan of Target. The customer service isn't outstanding, but it's "fine," decent. The prices are good- sometimes great- relative to value. They have an awesome range of products, but what I appreciate even more is that Target is very much on top of current trends and styles. As a budget conscious fashionista, I love a bargain but I won't buy clothes from Walmart because their styles are very generic and behind the times. I would snap up a cute sundress from Target in a blink, though. I also buy a summer bikini- or two- there every year, and peruse their shoe department on a regular basis. A lot of their home decor is also very well designed and surprisingly, Target is even one of my favorite places to purchase unique dinnerware sets. Plus, to not have a full grocery department, they have quite an expansive range of groceries. Target is always clean and well maintained. I give it a thumbs up!
I have a love, hate relationship with Walmart. Patronizing Walmart has serious pros and cons and I will outline both. First, I love Walmart because it is convenient, open late, extremely affordable, and it has great customer service. Walmart is always open late or 24/7. Anyone with a hectic lifestyle can appreciate the value here. In that vein, they also have just about everything you could ever "suddenly need" at a great price. Another point to their credit is that their customer service is surprisingly good. As large as the store is, it is darn near impossible to wander around there for very long without being approached by a well meaning employee. They are well staffed and their staff is usually comprised of "people people." If they don't know the answer to your question, they will find it out. The customer service in their return department is also awesome. I have returned several items and have never had to wait long for service. More importantly, they are as accommodating as possible. I have never been denied a return, and have usually been offered a complimentary product upgrade. For instance, when I returned a phone I purchased earlier this year, I was able to switch it out for a more expensive phone without being chargeed the difference in price. When you get down to it, the only real objections I have toward Walmart are more "corporate" in nature, and most everyone has heard them before. Walmart does utilize underpaid workers in foreign nations for product construction. Working conditions are defended by corporate representatives but spoken against by actual workers. They do outsource potential American jobs. These are unsavory snags and when you shop at Walmart, you do support these immoral practices. So to summarize, a Walmart shopping experience is a positive one, but the ultimate repercussions of your shopping at Walmart may be unpleasant. It just comes down to a decision of morality, convenience, and what each one is worth to you.
My experience with Kmart can be summarized by saying that Kmart is a much lower grade version of Walmart. As far as I can tell, Kmart tries to do about the same thing but pulls it off much less successfully in all regards. General condition of the store, product/value, and customer service are all points of complaint for me. I will address them respectively. The first thing that hits me when I walk into Kmart- and doesn't stop hitting me until I leave- is the overall poor condition of the store. I have been to many Kmart locations over the years and have yet to visit one that isn't generally dirty. I mean this very literally. Aside from being aesthetically unpleasing, there is always visible dirt on the floors, an unappealing smell in the air, and "banged up" looking product. (Don't get me started on the lack of sanitation in the bathrooms. I will just say that they are seriously repulsive, and "unattended" at best.) Kmart customer service is about what you would expect from a store that unkempt. The employees are generally hard to find and unfriendly. They certainly wont find you or ask if they can help you with anything. They tend to seem pretty unmotivated. They may be nice individuals but if you need a product that is not already in an obvious location, no one is going the extra mile to find it unless you really, really press for it. The last time I was in Kmart, I wandered around for a solid hour before an employee so much as spoke to me. Another thing I've noticed literally every time I've visited Kmart is that quite a few of their product boxes look worn and torn, giving the whole place the appearance of a second hand goods store, without the second hand prices. Particularly the exercise equipment, for some reason, is housed in dusty, ripped packages and looks as if it's been sitting there for at least a year. The dinnerware sets are also frequently battered; many of them have been obviously opened, packaged again, and have paper etc. hanging out of the box. The products described above- being housed in the store I described above- are not products most people would relish paying a large sum of money for. While Kmart is not an expensive store, it is certainly no more affordable than Walmart. Walmart, on the other hand, is usually pretty clean and products move quickly. They also have decent customer service and friendly employees who don't mind truly exhausting their resources to hunt down a product for you. Therefore, in a nut shell, there is really no reason to visit Kmart unless it is truly your only [economy] option.
Let me be the first to trumpet, "I love Walgreens!" Walgreens is, by far, my favorite drug store for a plethora of reasons. Their customer service rocks. First of all, they are open 24/7 and that's hard to beat, especially if you live in a small town where everything else closes around 9pm. They also have a 24 hour pharmacy. Anyone who has attempted to pick up some much needed medication only to find that the pharmacy portion of their choice drug store closed 5 minutes earlier can appreciate how awesome that is. More importantly, their employees are consistently personable and will really go out of their ways to help you. When I lived in another city, the Walgreens makeup counter employee would clip coupons for me every week and save them until I came in. One time, I even came in to find that she had a home made loaf of zucchini bread waiting for me. (I kid you not.) I didn't even know this woman outside of Walgreens. As far as product value goes, some Walgreens locations have fabulous overstock sales on makeup, on a regular basis. I would say that typically, product cost at Walgreens is average but the prices during these sales are hard to beat. For example, a lipstick that usually runs almost $8.00 might cost $1.96. I used to frequent Walgreens weekly and some brand of cosmetics was always marked down in this fashion. Lastly, Walgreens has everything. They have all basic necessities, and then some, but they're also a surprisingly great place to shop for last minute gifts. I have purchased many a frantic Christmas gift there. I highly recommend Walgreens to everyone.
While there is not one particular "last straw" incident that stands out, I have had a consistently negative experience with Best Buy. The customer service and tech team leave much to be desired and the products are consistently overpriced. Realistically, Best Buy is the tech store for consumers who don't know any better. Often the same product is offered at Walmart- or even Office Depot, etc.- for a more attractive price. When it's not, you are better off to order the product directly from the manufacturer. Either one is better bang for your buck than Best Buy. Worse than the overpriced product is their employees' lack of expertise. Best Buy peddles tech products through college students who often know no more about a given product than a lay individual. They have all day at work to read the boxes; that's about the only difference. Don't bother asking them for assistance because they can't answer your questions. That brings me to their "Geek Squad" team of computer repairmen. Again, they are often nice people but they're just not experts at what they do. I've taken my laptop by there to be worked on several times over the years, and they just can't get it together. Oftentimes, they are unsure of what the problem is, and/or report that it can't be fixed when, in actuality, it can. Secondly, even if they can and do fix it, they take forever to do so. I once left my laptop with them for a month straight only to be told it couldn't be fixed. Just to get a second opinion, I took it by an independent computer specialist; he fixed it and had it back to me within 2 days. On a separate occasion, Best Buy kept my laptop for a full 2months. I have to wonder what they could even have been doing with it for that long. In short, avoid Best Buy when you can help it. Order through a manufacturer, pay a visit to your local Walmart, or seek the help of an independent "computer geek."