Bought a smart watch in the past 90 days on an AmEx or Discover? Don’t want it? Get your money back

If for some reason you’re no longer happy with that smart watch you bought within the last 90 days and you want to get your money back, there’s a way. If you bought it on select credit cards.

Many cards come with a product called “Return Protection,” which lets you return items that you can’t return to the retailer. (Generally because they have a 14- or 30-day return policy.) You submit a claim, send the product to the credit card company’s return handler and get either a check or statement credit. 

AmEx, Citi, Chase and Discover offer some form of this. They aren’t universal across each issuer; some products have them, some don’t.

With AmEx, products that include return protection are Platinum, Mercedes Benz Platinum, Business Platinum, Costco Business Card, Starwood Business Card, Blue, Starwood and Blue Cash Preferred. AmEx has a limit of a $300 refund. You can start the claim process online. (That link also allows you to check if your card is eligible; my list may not be comprehensive.) 

Discover offers a $500 cap and the same 90 day period.

Citi’s Prestige card also offers a $500 cap.

 

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The death of nuance: Komen, ALS and Uber

It seems to me there’s been a death of nuanced thought. Or at least a death of nuance in public discourse. You’re either with us or against us. Some things are purely good and some things are purely evil. But nothing is really that way. Most things have complexity and nuance to them.

Komen

I had a great conversation with a friend last week about charity. One of the things we talked about was the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the most prominent charities fighting against breast cancer. He had some big problems with the organization — the biggest being that it encourages over treatment. Treatment itself has risks; anything that involves anesthesia has risks. By encouraging aggressive treatment, he argued, Komen was putting women at risk. But there’s no way he’d ever discuss that in public.

I posted this on Facebook. I got this response from another friend:

Komen funds some good research, but I’m not a fan of “how” they do it (though they re-wrote fundraising through their pink parade of rah-rah community — they understand there are people who want to do something — take some action — and they’ve turned that into a marketing juggernaut more powerful than almost any commercial brand other than Apple). And just in case you thought only men can’t say that, I can’t say it either, even though I’m female, and my partner has had breast cancer twice.

 

Don’t question the unquestionable.

ALS

I have some problems with the current hoopla around the Ice Bucket Challenge. Yes, it’s fun and viral. But according to the ALS Association, they have raised more than 30x what they normally do in the same period. It’s a massive windfall. Historically, people and organizations that receive a massive windfall have a hard time dealing with it. They generally can’t grow fast enough to take advantage of it. This time could be different, but that’s unlikely. (I’ll be doing my own variant of the challenge, with the money going toward a charity that funds research on NMO, a rare disease that affects a friend.)

It’s also a broader problem around how (at least) Americans give to charity. Many contributions happen in response to specific events. It’s usually a major disaster like Hurricane Katrina. We contribute en masse when there is something visible versus supporting charities on a steady, ongoing basis. Massive contributions also create the opportunity for scandal.

Uber

I’ve been pretty vocal about how Uber and Lyft have been trying to free ride on the auto insurance system; they’ve tried to push the costs and risks of their business on to the rest of the car-driving public. As many companies do, they’re trying to internalize profits while externalizing risk.

That’s been interpreted by some as me hating innovation and these companies. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I use Uber and Lyft all the time; I’m annoyed when I have to use a taxi instead. (Especially in Las Vegas, where the corrupt taxi industry has managed to keep Uber out.)

The insurance aspect is a nuance to what I consider companies that on the whole could be really good for society. They help to break up a system that was designed decades ago when gas prices were cheap, people traveled less, there was no concept of climate change and technology like GPS and smartphones didn’t exist. That created local fiefdoms; people in charge of those fiefdoms rarely want to let them go. (See my LinkedIn post on the taxi industry for more on that topic.)

The “with us or against us” attitude that a lot of people have hampers quality discussion and the type of discourse that can really help us move society forward. Instead we get shouting matches on TV where each side speaks their talking points. No one listens to what people on the other side are saying. Everyone talks their book.

Short attention spans and brevity in communications is part of the problem. (If you’ve gotten this far in the post, thank you!) You’re generally not going to have a lot of great discussion in 140 character doses or 2-minute TV segments. As someone who has done a lot of both, I know that those media are as much (or more) about entertainment as they are about elucidation.

The permanence of those communications is also a problem. It’s easy for someone to take a comment out of context and brand you as someone who hates women.

It would be great if we had a forum for nuanced dialogue. Know of any?

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PR tip: Don’t use a celebrity’s death to pitch your company

This must be a bad week for PR. In the payments industry, Square put out a stupid blog post listing all the reasons why someone might want to worry about the company.

That was topped by the pitch below. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t use a celebrity’s death to pitch a book. But apparently not.

Robin Williams’ tragic death leaves consumers at high risk of identity theft. The 1.2 billion people already endangered from the massive Russian hacking just got more vulnerable as identity thieves lure curious citizens with links promising details about Robin Williams.

Cyber security expert Steve Weisman, founder of www.scamicide.com, author ofIdentity Theft Alert & seasoned media interview can talk about:

  • Celebrity tragedies and how they endanger consumers – Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and now Robin Williams
  • How to spot tainted emails, texts and Facebook links to ‘unreleased police photos’
  • The urgency of cyber security in light of the recent Russian breach 
  • Likelihood of spear phishing and increased cybercrime following the Russian breach
  • Tips for consumers to protect themselves

Would you like to set up an interview with Steve Weisman?

Contact Sarah Gadway at sarah@wilkspr.com, [redacted] for interview requests or for a review copy of Identity Theft Alert.

Thanks for your time,
Sarah

About Steve Weisman
Steve Weisman, BA, JD, is one of the country’s leading experts on scams and identity theft and has been featured on CBS News, ABC, Fox, NPR, PBS, CNN, CNBC, and the Dr. Phil Show and quoted in numerous publications including The Boston Globe, Barron’s, The New York Times, Money Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He founded the blog www.scamicide.com, where he provides the latest information about scams and identity theft. Weisman is a weekly commentator on scams and identity theft on WGGB-TV in Springfield, Massachusetts and the nationally syndicated radio and television Big Biz Show, is a frequent contributor to New England Cable News (NECN) and hosts the Boston area radio show A Touch of Grey, syndicated to 50+ stations nationwide. Aside from his scam and identity theft work, Weisman is a lawyer and member of the Massachusetts Bar and Federal Bar. He has been a faculty member at Bentley University since 1998, and currently serves as a senior lecturer of law, taxation and financial planning. Weisman has authored eight books, including The Truth About Avoiding Scams (2008) and 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity and Your Credit(2005).

 

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You have a friend who is depressed? Here’s what to do

A friend posted this on Facebook:

My suggestion for how to honor Robin William’s passing: Skip watching his movie clips and reach out to a friend or family member who may be in a bad place/suffering from depression.

As someone who has had a lot of friends with depression, here are some tips I’ve come up with:

  1. Don’t confront someone about their depression unless it’s obvious or they are in imminent danger of hurting themselves.
  2. Don’t tell them “things will get better,” “just buck up,” etc. These are just platitudes. They imply that it’s the person’s fault.
  3. Pick up the damn phone. Calling will tell you a lot more than exchanging SMSes or Facebook wall posts. This is probably a good idea regardless, just to keep up with friends. I’d rather have three close friends call me on my birthday than 150 Facebook wall posts.
  4. Make time for them. Depression sometimes has to do with loneliness. Ask them for drinks, go see a movie, a hike. Whatever. This is also a good opportunity to get a better feel of where they’re at.
  5. Don’t make empty promises. If you say you want to help, actually mean it. Offering help when you don’t actually mean it will make the person more depressed. It sound like just being a good human, but too many people want the credit for “being good” without actually following through.
  6. Don’t lawyer conversations.
  7. Recognize when you’re out of your depth. Depression is a disease. It’s likely going to be too big a burden on you to try to help your friend on an ongoing basis. Help them find the appropriate resources.

Over on LinkedIn, I wrote a post on what Google, Twitter and Facebook should do to help address depression and suicide.

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The smartest question I was asked by an entrepreneur and team member

I’ve been quite active behind the scenes with some angel investments and building up the team for redesignmobile.

A big part of that has been having deep conversations where I ask questions about what they want to do and they ask me questions. I evaluate people as much as by what they ask me as how they respond to the questions I ask.

The smartest question I was asked recently was “What happens if you lose all of your investment doing this?”

It shows me that the person I’m working with is not immoral or amoral. They care about a partnership, not maximizing their personal gain.

My answer: Although I will take big risks, they are always calculated risks. And I don’t take risks that I can’t afford to take.

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Why I retweet racist assholes

You’ll often see me retweet the racism that is directed my way.

Why do I bother? Because I think it’s important to be reminded that racism still exists, even though SCOTUS and Fox News like to pretend that we’re in a post-race world.

The racists comments roll off my back because I just don’t care. Most racists I’ve encountered are just looking to blame others for their own lack of success. (People like Sterling being an exception, of course.)

I’ve dealt with racism my whole life. In elementary school, I had people call me “Gandhi”. Well, if you consider that an insult, you are the ignorant one. I’d be thrilled to be compared with Gandhi. (Though I in no way consider myself worthy of that comparison.)

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A response I sent to a friend just now

I’ve been receiving messages of concern from my friends. Here’s a response I sent to one of them.

Thanks for the concern. Farhan’s post is way off base and I’ve told him that many times. I’ve told him more than half a dozen times now that I wasn’t fired or forced to resign. He refuses to believe it. He won’t change his blog post. I think he’s being utterly irresponsible.
i have been depressed a few times in my life; that’s not the case now. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been. All the things I’ve wanted to do over the last 20 years — but were blocked by management — somehow seem possible. I had a Eureka moment and got really really excited.
I feel great. I’m building an important company w/o the usual challenges:
  • I don’t need to write a pitch deck.
  • I don’t need to raise money. The company I designed is so capital efficient that I can fund it with my own bankroll. I’m accepting money from a few select friends and family as well as people who I think are brilliant. (And that’s a very small list — I had to cross off one name earlier this week.)
  • I don’t need to screen and woo people — I’ve already got my initial team and they are amazing.
My biggest challenge right now is Farhan and Marcus’ idiotic blog posts about mental illness. Mental illness is definitely a problem in our society. And it’s stigmatized as much of the media coverage seems to be pointing out. I have told Farhan he is wrong. We haven’t had a real conversation. Marcus — wow, I mean just wow. The president of a huge public company questioning the mental state of someone who resigned voluntarily from his company? That’s incredible. The lawyers have been filling up my Inbox.
Because of Marcus, I now have to fly around the country convincing people I’m not mentally ill. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that — mental illness shouldn’t be stigmatized. It’s another disease, like cancer.) That’s a huge waste of my resources. Talk about kneecapping your opponent at the starting line. He is today’s Jeff Gillooly.
By the end of the week, this will be obvious. But in the meantime, please hang tight.
I will see a psychologist. But that’s to placate those who are concerned; like I said, I feel great and I’m super excited.
I will be in SoCal Wednesday through Friday. If you know any good psychologists out there, please refer me.
Thanks,
Rocky
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