Reader Question – What Is The Best Straight Talk Phone?

I received a question from reader ReelNauti, who asked:

Ron,
In your opinion, what is the best Straight Talk phone out there?

I gave the question some thought and I decided to break down my answer into two parts. Straight Talk offers services from both AT&T and Verizon. Since the phones available work only with one of the services and not both, this needs to be taken into consideration before buying a Straight Talk phone. The second consideration is which one of the services works best where you live and work. If you haven’t used AT&T or Verizon before, I would ask your family, friends, and co-workers which service they use and how they like the average signal strength in your area. I would also want to know if they experience dropped calls and, more important, how often are the calls dropped.

Once you have decided which service works best where you live or work, you can now take a look at the phones that Straight Talk offers.

For the Verizon service I personally like the Samsung R355C because I find it easy to text with. Others state that they enjoy using the Samsung R451C with the hidden keyboard. My neighbor has the LG 220C that he uses just for phone calls, since he does not send text messages. He like the flip design that he can keep in his pocket and the keys don’t get pressed accidentally.

For the AT&T service you have two smartphone options. Either the Nokia E71 Smart Phone or the Nokia 6790 Smart Phone. Be aware that both of these phones require the $45 unlimited plans.

So how do I answer the question posed by reader ReelNauti?

First, talk to those who use either AT&T and Verizon where you live. Second, I recommend going to your local Walmart and taking a look at the phones offered by Straight Talk.  See which phone, for the service you wish to use, meets your needs. Third, which phone feels good in your hand? This, to me, is very important since, if the phone doesn’t feel right in your hand, you will be disappointed no matter what others say.

Comments welcome.

Source – Straight Talk

Source – Walmart

Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner – Class Action Settlement

If you have ever used Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, and suffered damage to your toilet, you may be entitled to a cash settlement. According to court documents, if you used Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner between December 13, 2002 and September 15, 2010 and your toilet was damaged y by the product you may file a claim. Claims range in amounts from $30 or under up to $175 per claimant. Here are the details:

Details: The Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner (CATBC) settlement resolves a class action lawsuit over Clorox’s claim that the Drop-In Clorox Tablets do not harm plumbing. The CATBC class action lawsuit alleges that the chemicals in the Drop-In Tablets corrode the toilet tank parts, causing the rubber and plastic parts to deteriorate until the flush mechanism fails or no longer seals properly. The Clorox class action lawsuit also claims that Clorox — based on its own tests — knew or should have known that the Drop-In Tablets would deteriorate the toilet sink parts, and yet sold the product by telling customers that it would not harm their plumbing. Clorox denies any wrongdoing and maintains that the Drop-In Tablets are safe for plumbing when used as directed. Clorox has decided to end the litigation, however, by establishing an $8 million settlement fund to pay out class members and pay for administrative costs.

You’re considered a member of the CATBC settlement class if you purchased, used or suffered any property damage from using the Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Drop-In Tablets between December 13, 2002 and September 15, 2010. Damages can include purchase price refunds, flapper replacement cost, etc.

On the class action web site you can fill out the claim form for a $30 or under refund or print out a claim form for a higher amount. Claim forms must be submitted before January 18, 2011.

Comments welcome.

Source – Top Class Actions

Straight Talk Free Phones + How To Decipher Models For Verizon Or AT&T

On their website, Straight Talk is offering a limited number of free reconditioned cell phones when you purchase either a $30 or $45 a month phone card. These models are limited to models that only work on the Verizon network. So before you buy a phone or phone card, confirm that you can get Verizon in your area.

The models available are the LG220C, LG290C and the Samsung R451C. Straight Talk also is offering free shipping for all phones.

I also received this information from reader Steve a few days ago:

I work for WalMart, and here is some info for you. Straight Talk phone models ending with the letter “G” are GSM phones that will work on the AT&T network. Phone models ending with the letter “C” are CDMA phones that will work on the Verizon network. If you are not sure which phone will work in your neck of the woods, you can find out at Walmart.com, or at http://www.straighttalk.com/. Shop for the ST phones, and enter the zip code for your area. I use the cheap LG 220C, because AT&T won’t work in my area. Those who do have AT&T (both contract and prepaid) report unreliable service, including dropped calls, even in town where there are many AT&T towers.

The two Nokia smartphones currently being offered by Straight Talk are for the AT&T network only.

Comments welcome.

Source – Straight Talk

Overstock.com Being Sued For Misleading Pricing

According to the San Jose Mercury News, 7 district attorneys in Northern California are suing Overstock.com for misleading advertising. The news article states that Overstock.com has been advertising  itself as a low price leader, when in fact the prices they quote as retail may have been over inflated. In the court filing it stated that:

“Beginning no later than January 1, 2006, Overstock routinely and systematically made untrue and misleading comparative advertising claims about the prices of its products,” the civil complaint states. “Overstock used various misleading measures to inflate the comparative prices, and thus artificially increase the discounts it claimed to be offering consumers.”

One example cited in the complaint: Overstock advertised a patio set on its website for $449. Overstock said the next best price for the patio set was $999.99, but when the furniture was delivered, it had a Walmart price sticker on it showing it was selling for $247.

“Overstock’s misrepresentations about its pricing were likely to mislead consumers into believing that Overstock’s prices would always be significantly lower than the prices offered by other merchants for the identical products,” the complaint states.

“Such misrepresentations were likely to discourage consumers from making the effort to search elsewhere for lower prices.”

Overstock.com stated:

Mark Griffin, vice president and general counsel for Salt Lake City-based Overstock, denied the allegations in the complaint and said the district attorneys failed to understand how Overstock advertised its prices.

“No one is perfect. We do deny the allegations and we deny the interpretations,” Griffin said. “We do not deserve this, especially the timing of it.”Griffin said the patio set example cited in the complaint was an isolated incident and said that the company follows “standard advertising practices” informing its customers how it generates comparison prices to its products. He said the civil complaint was filed after negotiations between the company and the district attorneys failed to end in an agreement.

“We tell our customers what it means,” he said. “These (district attorneys) have taken the position that they don’t think our customers understand.”

The civil complaint was filed by district attorneys in Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Shasta and Sonoma counties.

My wife is an avid shopper at Overstock.com and swears by the deals she has gotten. As an example, she was looking for a comforter set for our bed in our guest bedroom. She found an extremely attractive bed spread/comforter, bed skirt and two shams for only $30. She told me the cheapest set she could locate, even at the low price retailers was over $100 for a similar set. She also bought a 100% wool carpet for our entry hall for $80 from Overstock.com. She said similar carpets were priced at about $200 or more.

My wife is a very good shopper. She price shops and always finds the best bargains available. I call her my cheap shopping queen. LOL

What has been your experience shopping at Overstock.com? Share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.

Source – SJ Mercury News

Will You Be Standing In Line On Black Friday To Get The Best Deal?

As we approach the traditional Black Friday shopping season, I have been going over the ads and I must admit that some of the sales are tempting. But what is not so tempting is the idea of getting to a store at 4:00 am just to save a few bucks. Not only is the hour early, but if you are able to read the tiny print at the bottom of the ads, so are the number of in stock items that are offered. In one retail ad I saw a 50% off offer for a new wash-dryer combo, but each store was limited to just 4 pairs.

I am just curious?

How many of you plan on getting up in the wee hours of the money and plan on getting in line for a Black Friday special?

More importantly, if you are getting up early to show, tell us why?

Comments as always are welcome.

Walmart Is Offering Free Online Shipping To Increase Sales

Walmart is going to be providing free shipping on their online Web sites beginning now until December 20, 2010, The retailing giant is hoping to increase its sales by using free shipping as an incentive to consumers to do their shopping with it. They company hopes that this offer will lure shoppers from the likes of Amazon and other online retailers this holiday season.

One recent article states that:

But given Walmart’s scale and influence in the marketplace, its free pass for shipping sets a new high — or low — in e-commerce. And it may create an expectation among consumers — free shipping, no minimum, always — that would make it harder for smaller e-commerce sites to survive.

Walmart says it will not raise prices to offset shipping and will not press shippers, like UPS and FedEx, to absorb the costs. But Walmart and other big retailers already have low-price contracts with shippers, and the stores maintain distribution centers nationwide that reduce shipping distances and costs.

For smaller retailers and Web sites, which pay regular mail rates and may ship from only one location, free shipping is not nearly as affordable and often must be added into prices.

This is one statement that I agree with:

Retailers say that shoppers have already started to revolt against shipping fees. While consumers are sensitive to what an item costs online, shipping costs can have even more influence, according to market research.

I will not order an item online from any retailer when I see a high shipping and handling rate. I have seen some items offered for sale on Amazon or eBay where the shipping fee is more than the cost of the item. If online retailers want my business, they’d better offer free or low-cost shipping on the items they sell.

What about you? Are shipping costs a factor in your online purchases?

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

Tube Free Toilet Paper Has Arrived For Beta Butt Testing

In what is being hailed as an effort to be green, Kimberly-Clark is introducing tube free toilet paper. However, the new TP is currently being beta tested at Walmart and Sam’s Club in the Northeast U.S. only. If the test is successful, Kimberly-Clark will expand the tube free TP to all of its products, including paper towels. It is estimated that the tube free approach could eliminate the 17 billion TP tubes that end up in the trash.

In one recent article it states that:

Suddenly, there’s news in the $9 billion — but stagnant — toilet paper market. More important, it’s got a “green” halo.

The 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA account for 160 million pounds of trash, according to Kimberly-Clark estimates, and could stretch more than a million miles placed end-to-end. That’s from here to the moon and back — twice. Most consumers toss, rather than recycle, used tubes, says Doug Daniels, brand manager at Kimberly-Clark. “We found a way to bring innovation to a category as mature as bath tissue,” he says.

He won’t disclose the tubeless technology used but says it’s a special winding process. A similar process is used on tissue the company sells to businesses but not to consumers.

Behind the marketing push is a growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.

One environmentalist applauds the move. “It’s a positive example of how companies are seeking creative ways to reduce environmental impact,” says Darby Hoover of the Natural Resources Defense Council. But more relevant than nixing the tubes would be more recycled content in its paper, Hoover says. While Scott Naturals normally has 40% recycled content, this test product does not — but future versions will, Daniels says.

Hoover says she hopes other toilet tissue makers follow Kimberly-Clark’s lead. How soon that may happen is unclear. Procter & Gamble, maker of top-seller Charmin, declined to comment.

It is amazing the amount of trash these tubes consume in our land fills. Hopefully if the test is a success, more companies will follow using tube free TP and tube free paper towels. One would also think that this would save the paper companies an additional expense by eliminating the tubes. I wonder if this savings will be passed on to the consumer?

Comments welcome.

Source – USA Today

Idiot Of The Month Award Goes To Man Who Masturbates In Walmart Toy Aisle

Sometimes it is hard to believe how stupid some people can be, but this guy proves that every village does have their own idiot. But it gets better because this idiot is also a substitute teacher. Here is what happened. A Walmart observed the suspect with a copy of SI swim suit edition, playing with himself in the toy aisle. He then wiped his hand offs on a Stars War toy and was going to leave, when he was detained for the cops.

In a recent article it also stated that:


A police source told TSG that the toy in question was a lightsaber (apparently of the “Star Wars” variety), and that the magazine Black used was the 2010 SI swimsuit issue with model Brooklyn Decker on its cover. Though published in February, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue can still be found on sale months later at many retailers.

When cops confronted Black, pictured in the above mug shot, he said he was in the store “shopping for a toy for his daughter.” He was hit with the battery on a child count since investigators concluded that a “reasonable person would believe that a child would come in contact with the fluid on the toy being that it was left in the toy aisle of the store.”

This incident brings new meaning to an announcement over the Walmart intercom for a ‘cleanup in aisle 3’.

Comments welcome.

Source – the smoking gun

Guess Who Is Going To Offer Its Own Wireless Cell Service? Walmart!

I have written a few times about my satisfaction using, Straight Talk which I originally ordered from Walmart. Straight Talk uses the Verizon network through Tracefone, and recently Straight Talk stated it would also be offering service through AT&T. The company also offers service on the Sprint network with the Common Sense plan. But now Walmart has a new branding called Walmart Family Mobile on the T-Mobile network.

According to one article it states that:

Walmart Family Mobile will be “postpaid” like conventional contract-based plans, so the family bill is paid at the end of the month. But in other ways it works much like prepaid service, and it won’t come with a contract requirement or early termination fees. Buyers also won’t need to go through credit checks.

Greg Hall, vice president of merchandising at Walmart U.S., said there’s a perception among customers that prepaid service doesn’t offer access to the best phones or the best network quality. He said the postpaid nature of the plan is a way to avoid that.

Starting Monday, the chain plans to sell five phones, including a full-blown smart phone, the Motorola Cliq XT, which will cost $249. T-Mobile sells it for $329 without a contract, or gives it away to buyers who sign two-year contracts (with monthly fees that are higher than the no-contract option).

The cheapest phone for the service will be a simple Nokia phone for $35.

The plan undercuts T-Mobile USA’s own prices, but Jim Alling, its chief operating officer, said that Walmart putting its own stamp on the brand name was a “tremendous endorsement.”

While there’s no contract, Ailing said the phones will be “locked” to Walmart Family Mobile, so they won’t be usable on another network, or even under a T-Mobile-branded plan.

It seems that Walmart is serious about becoming your cell phone company. With so many different plans at reasonable prices being offered, Walmart should be able to grab a large segment of the market place.

What do you think? Will there be a Walmart phone in your pocket or purse?

Comments welcome.

Source – Yahoo News

Thinking Of Buying A BlackBerry Torch 9800? $99 At Amazon With Contract

Amazon wants to get into the cell phone business and is discounting the BlackBerry Torch to $99, which is 50% less than any other retailer. So how is Amazon going to make any money? Well according to the WSJ, Amazon is getting rewarded by AT&T for every contract it sells. Whatever the situation, Amazon is on the attack and wants to sell more BlackBerry Torches than any other retailer.

In the WSJ article it also stated that:

Contrary to other reports, Amazon hasn’t dropped its price — Amazon has discounted the Torch to $99.99 since the phone launched Aug. 12.

“That is indeed correct — since launch, we have offered the Torch for $99.99,” said Amazon.com spokeswoman Stacy Page. “As in all Amazon.com product categories, we work consistently to maintain competitive prices on AmazonWireless.”

On the cellphone section of its website, Amazon is currently offering a range of phones for as low as a penny, including the Blackberry Bold and some popular Android devices from HTC, LG and T-Mobile. In addition, Amazon is offering free activation of the Torch, worth up to $36 to consumers who upgrade or sign a new two-year contract before Aug. 31.

Still, the low price can’t be good for BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion or for its other retail partners who are retailing the device at far higher prices. Best Buy and Radio Shack are currently offering the Torch for $199.99, while Wal-Mart is selling it for $179.99, with a two-year contract.

The low price for the Torch undermines the message from RIM that the Torch is a high-end product that commands a premium price. And it will put pressure on other retailers to slash their prices.

My goodness. Consumers are actually going to be given a phone at a price that actually reflects the true cost of the product. The inflated retail price of  $649.99 is ludicrous. $99 for any phone that is made in China is closer to the actual cost of production.

Comments welcome.

Source – Amazon link is here

Source – WSJ

Walmart To Expand Straight Talk Phone Offerings To Include AT&T

Walmart may have stumbled upon a gold mine when it first introduced Straight Talk cell phone service via the Verizon network. Straight Talk cell service has become more popular as consumers opt out of the two year contract agreements and services which most consumers never use. Walmart has added 896,000 new users to the Verizon network and now plans to expand the Straight Talk services to include cell phones from AT&T.

In a recent news article from the WSJ it also stated the following:

AT&T confirmed that phones compatible with its network will be available to Straight Talk, which is a prepaid service exclusive to Wal-Mart. Previously, phones using the service could only run on Verizon Wireless’s network. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk first reported the use of AT&T-compatible phones on Straight Talk.

I became a Straight Talk convert about a month ago. I purchased two Samsung R355C phones from Walmart which came with a $30 a month prepaid card for the Straight Talk network. For $30 a month you get 1,000 minutes of talk time, 1,000 text messages and 30MB of data service for email and surfing the Internet. If a user needs more services Straight Talk offers a $45 a month prepaid card which offers unlimited talk time, texting and Internet access.

By Walmart adding the AT&T network to the Straight Talk service, this will provide service for those who may not be able to access Verizon.

Comments welcome.

Source – WSJ

Walmart Wants To Get Into Your Pants – And Underwear Too!

RFID technology may be coming to a store near you if  Walmart has their way. The mega retailer wants to tag men’s jeans, underwear and socks to better track their inventory. This will make it easier for clerks to find out which sizes are being sold and need to be replenished. But some privacy advocates fear that the technology could be used to scan customers as they enter the store. It seems that some states use RFID technology in the drivers license’s they issue, that could track customers and ID the person as they enter Walmart.

But according to a Walmart spokesperson, this will not happen:

Wal-Mart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said customers are in control because they can remove the electronic labels after they buy the items.

“We’re not able to read any other products that walk in or any personally identifiable information,” Lopez said.

He said Wal-Mart sees the system as a way to gain insight into its inventory and figure out quickly its best-selling sizes and products so that clerks can keep the shelves stocked.

In another related article it also stated that Walmart is not embedding RFID chips into the clothing article, but on the packaging or clothing labels. They want to assure the public the RFID can be easily removed.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source

Walmart TV Movies – Are They Meant To Advertise ‘Great Value’ Products?

Back in April, Walmart premiered a movie called ‘Secrets Of The Mountain’ which one could say was a family friendly movie. There was no swearing or sexual explicit content, but their was plenty of advertising for Walmart’s brand of products called Great Value. In one scene which took place in the kitchen, it was very noticeable that this family were Walmart people. Pictured was a box of Great Value cereal and also a 1/2 gallon of milk which were plainly in view, also with the Great Value logo.

So this evening we are going to have the privilege to watch another Walmart production called The Jensen Project which will air on NBC at 8:00pm eastern time. I am going to be interested in how many Great Value products pop up this time on our screen during the airing of the movie. Out middle daughter calls Great Value products Great Crap. LOL

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

PS Get the Great Value popcorn ready for tonight’s movie!

Internet Sales Tax Before Congress – Will It Pass?

For the past 10 years, city and state governments have been asking Congress to tax the sale of goods sold over the Internet. Merchants have complained that the process of trying to collect different taxes, for different jurisdictions, would be an accountant’s nightmare. Yet the bottom line is that there are billions of dollars being lost that could help the states bail themselves out of their financial woes.

In one recent article it states that:

But with states scrambling for new sources of revenue during what may be a double-dip recession, pro-tax lobbyists are hoping that they’ll have better luck this year. The National Conference of State Legislatures applauded Delahunt’s legislation, saying he should be commended for allowing states to collect as much as $23 billion in new taxes.

So did the Retail Industry Leaders Association, whose tax committee members include Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, AutoZone, Target, and IKEA.

On the other side are groups that advocate for lower taxes and retailers including Amazon.com and eBay. In a statement on Friday, Tod Cohen, eBay’s vice president for government relations, said: “At a time when unemployment rates are high and small businesses across the country are closing shop, we are confident that Congress will protect small Internet retailers and the consumers they serve from another Internet tax scheme.”

Co-sponsors of Delahunt’s bill, the “Main Street Fairness Act,” include Reps. Michael Capuano, John Conyers, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and Peter Welch, all Democrats. No Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor.

In response to complexity concerns, the pro-tax forces have offered a proposal that they hope Congress can be persuaded to adopt. The concept is called the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, invented in 2002 by state tax officials hoping to straighten out some of sales tax laws’ most notorious convolutions.

Since then, some 24 states have signed on, either wholly or partially, to the agreement, meaning they agree to simplify their tax codes and make them uniform. If enough states participate, proponents believe it will be easier to convince Congress to make sales collection mandatory for out-of-state retailers.

The timing might be right this time around. Passing a bill to tax all sales on the Internet may just become a reality. What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – CNET News

Paper, Plastic, or Buy A Polypropylene Bag? Walmart Wants To Know

California may not be able to balance its budget, but the one thing the Golden State can do is try to be on the cutting edge for environmental issues. This time the state, along with some of the local cities, are tackling the problem of the waste associated with paper and plastic bags. In fact a recent survey of California families show that on average, a family uses about 600 bags per year. With this in mind, Walmart is trying an experiment at three stores located in Sacramento and Ukiah, CA. Instead of allowing customers to use the free bags, customers instead purchase reusable bags or can bring their own.

One recent article stated:

This past October, Walmart launched an experiment: three stores in Sacramento and Ukiah stopped selling single-use bags. Instead, the Walmart claims that each reusable bag offsets the use of 75 plastic bags — not bad for the price.

The Walmart ban has, of course, brought out passionate voices from both sides. Triple Pundit points us to this article from the Sacramento Bee that features commenters raging against the “environmental extremists” that are foisting these “lousy bags” upon an unsuspecting public.

Which brings up an interesting question. Should the ban on both paper and plastic bags be nationwide? Would you purchase a reusable bag or bring your own bags to the store?

I recall as a kid that it was common for people to bring their own sack bags when they shopped.Would this be inconvenient in today’s society where convenience is paramount?

Comments welcome.

Source