Rants, Raves and Reviews

Review of Survey Site Opinion Outpost

In hopes of earning a few extra dollars, I have joined a few survey sites.  I’ve read some reviews, and thought Opinion Outpost was worth trying.  I had been taking surveys for several months with no problems.  The surveys were relatively short, most less than 10 minutes, 30 minutes at the absolute most with pretty good points awarded.  I actually enjoyed the surveys.  All was smooth sailing.

review opinion outpost survey

About a month ago, I tried to login to my account, and it said I had been locked out due to data concerns.  I emailed them, and they got back to me saying there may have been a data issue, and could I send them my information to verify my account.

No problem.  I sent them my information.  I did not get a reply for almost a month.  This is the message I received:

‘We thank you for your patience with us and apologize for the inconvenience caused. After a thorough review of your account, our Accounts Department has determined that the activity on your account has violated our terms and conditions. Unfortunately, accounts that violate our terms and conditions can no longer be restored. Our Accounts Department has made the final decision to permanently deactivate your account along with your point balance.
We truly apologize for the inconvenience. We value our members as well as our clients who make important decisions based on input from the responses our members provide.’

Conclusion

I got no explanation of HOW I violated any terms and conditions.  What made me the most upset, was they took away my point balance.  I can’t remember how many points I had, but I think I was up to about $25.  I put in a lot of time and answered a lot of questions just to lose them.

I’m still waiting on an explanation of why they closed my account, but I”m not holding my breath. I would have given this site 4/5 stars, but now I’d say 0/5, and use at your own risk!

Servpro vs. Servicemaster; My Experience

servpro, servicemaster

Recently we had over 11 inches of rain in a 48-hour period.  There was widespread flooding, and many homes were damaged.  For the first time in 16 years, our home was one of those. Water backed up into our basement.  (Side note: They make an expanding drain plug that costs about $4.50 that you can stop your floor drain with in case it looks like water might back up.) Luckily, compared to many other people, our damage was very limited.  The water never ‘stood’, it just fanned out in a thin layer.  A third of our basement is carpeted, and the outer 3-4 feet of the carpet became wet.  I planned on putting some fans out, but the power went out for about 6 hours.  When the power came back on, I was able to put out several fans, and a dehumidifier.  All of this happened Friday night/Saturday morning.

SERVPRO

I knew that my insurance was not going to cover whatever it was that I would need done.  I do not have flood insurance, so all of this would be directly out of my pocket.  Sunday morning I called Servpro because, well that’s the first name that pops up in a search.  I asked around on Facebook and talked to my insurance carrier, and the consensus was that they were good, but pricey.  Monday evening a guy stopped by to look at our basement.  Even though Servpro had ‘local’ franchises, they guy that came by was from Lexington, Kentucky, which was 300 miles away. By this time, we had been soaking up water with towels, had fans going, and a dehumidifier, and had moved anything that was getting wet.  I reiterate, we did not have standing water, just a wet perimeter.  The water was not even ‘over’ the carpet.  The guy looks around for about 30 minutes and says ‘it should be about $4600, worst case scenario’.  He said he would send me a detailed estimate the next morning.  My wife and I were in shock, as we tried to make it clear this would be all us-not insurance.  He was talking about taking the baseboards off, putting in air movers and dehus (the cool short term for dehumidifier I guess),  and removing some drywall.  He said the carpet should be salvageable and would not need to be removed. My wife and I decided that in the morning we would get a second opinion.

SERVICEMASTER

So as we waited for our detailed estimate, we called another contractor, Servicemaster.  At this point everyone was slammed, as there was much flooding in about a four county area.  Servicemaster called back that day (Tuesday by now), and said they would try to get over to look at it on Wednesday.  So I waited all day Tuesday for the estimate from Servpro that was coming that morning.  The estimate finally came Wednesday afternoon.  Now we were up to $5100!  They had decided that the carpet needed to be removed.  They were also charging for ‘furniture manipulation’ of $110 to move around the sectional we had that was in a dry area.  We had already moved everything else.  They wanted to put 15 air movers in a 860 square foot area  for 3 days, at $25.36 each (that’s 15 x 3 x$25.86)!!  They also had 3 dehumidifiers for 3 days at  $114.72 each (3 x 3 x$114.72)!! They were going to remove all of the baseboards, charge for carpet AND pad removal separately AND charge for water removal from the carpet they were ripping out!  Again the total was over $5100.  By this time, our floor was 99% dry anyway, and I checked the drywall and there was no water soaking into it.  But I was about to tear out the carpet myself to save a few dollars.  My wife convinced me to just wait on the second estimate from Servicemaster.

Later that evening, two brothers from Servicemaster came by.  Their office was about 3 miles away.  They looked around, took moisture readings in the air, carpet and walls, and showed me each reading.  They said that I didn’t need to remove anything because quite frankly, it wasn’t wet.  If it isn’t wet, it wont grow mold.  They explained the acceptable ranges for moisture content and nothing needed to be torn out.  They suggested that we continue with our fans and dehumidifier, and they would comeback next week and shampoo the entire carpet for $110.  Yes, I’m not missing any zeros!  On Tuesday of the following week, they came and totally cleaned the DRY carpet.  They took some moisture readings to make sure.  After they were done, they praised us for being patient with them because they had been so busy.  I know there were many people with FEET of standing water in their basement, and what we had to endure was very minor.  They said how much they appreciated our kindness, and said ‘how does $60 sound?’. I was shocked!  They even did our stairs, which we had not asked for.  These guys were very professional, and I really was impressed by how they walked us through every detail when they were taking readings.

Maybe we just got a Servpro representative who needed to meet a quota, but I cannot imagine whey they would charge if someone has flood insurance.  That would be borderline insurance fraud in my opinion.  But from this experience, I would definitely recommend Servicemaster the next time someone is in need of any kind of restoration.

Testing Site Review-UserZoom

USERZOOM

 

Userzoom is a company that pays people to test websites. You can also hire userzoom to get feedback on your websites. My experience with the company is that of a ‘tester’. Using a webcam or the camera on your phone, you give feedback and complete tasks to test the usability of a particular website. The tests can either be on PC, tablet or on a smartphone. Most of the tests are short, requiring only 15-20 minutes of your time.

userzoom review

Once you fill out the application, you will be sent a sample test. You will need a working webcam, or smartphone with a front-facing camera. There are separate sample tests for the PC and the smartphone.
There are some studies that are ‘standard’, and they pay less, $5 per study on average. These do not require video recording. Most of the studies take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete.

Getting paid for testing has been really easy. They deposit directly into your Paypal account. Payments are made within 21 days of testing, and your tests are usually reviewed and approved within 2-3 days. So far since I joined, I have taken 6 tests, and have been paid $10 each time. I have not qualified for all tests, but there have been some good opportunities. Tests are based on user demographics.

Userzoom has been one of the better user testing sites that I have tried so far. It was very easy to register. Getting paid $10 each time for 10-20 minutes of my time has been well worth it, and they are very prompt with the payments.

User Testing Review: Validately

Recently, in order to make a few extra dollars, I have begun looking into different apps/websites that allow the user to earn money by reviewing or testing a website or product. There are many of these sites, but today I am just going to focus on one; Validately. This website allows you to submit your website to be analyzed. You choose the parameters, and they match you up with real people to provide real feedback.

That’s where you step in.  Once you register as a tester with Validately, they may contact you wanting you to review a website.  Tests are available to take on smartphones, tablets, and PCs.  You will need to invest in a webcam, as the testing is live.  The moderators will ask you questions, and your responses are recorded.  They may ask you your opinion, or ask you to click on a certain area. You might be asked to try to go through a sample transaction, so they can get feedback on how usable the site is. Payment from Validately is through Paypal. Payment amounts vary, and some tests may be short, say 15 minutes, and some may be longer, an hour or more.

user testing validately

THE TEST

So far I have only done one test, but it was remarkably easy.  You will get an email when a test is available, or like this one, they even gave me options as to when I could do it. They tell you up front how much your test will pay, and they pay through Paypal. If you can’t do it, they just try someone else.  Since I am just doing this on the side, I unfortunately have had to turn a few tests down. Communications with Validately are great, and they send  several emails to remind me of the appointment.  I was asked several questions, some about the product itself, and some about the functionality of the website. It took almost an hour, exactly as they said.

For this review I received a payout of $50.00.  Not bad for an hours work!   The test was administered in the late afternoon, and my account had been credited before noon the next day. I was pleasantly surprised by the quick payment. I found this test fun, and they made me feel like my input was really valuable. Just think how many websites you check out every day. Now imagine someone is paying you to do it!

I am looking forward to more tests from Validately. Their communications are great, the testing is fun, and payment is prompt.  In the future I will check out other user testing websites, and I will review those as well.

Thanks for reading!

Matt

 

Rant of Rants-GE microwave handle replacement

First, let me apologize for this post not being on topic of my typical blog posts.  But I have been served a great injustice that I thought this rant really needed an audience.  Ok, so in the grand scheme of all that is wrong in the world, it is probably no big deal.  But in the smaller scheme of ‘C’mon are you kidding me???,’ it’s a real big deal.

So…picture this..my son is making popcorn in the microwave.   He opens the door; mind you, he is not hanging on or otherwise doing acrobatics on this door.  The handle breaks.  Well, not even the handle.  The ‘handle support’.  (WHY not just make the handle one piece???).  So at the thought of an appliance breaking, my engineering instincts come in to play.   Locate the problem.  Done.  Its a broken handle-support.  Next, how can we alleviate this problem most efficiently?   By doing what most people do.  Google it, see if someone else has already done this, and copy what they have done.

 

The Culprit

The Culprit

 

Temporary Solution

Temporary Solution

Well the search turns up a short 3 minute video about replacing it.  Minimal tools, level one repair.  I am feeling great at all the money I am going to save by doing this myself.  (Engineers are VERY cheap by the way, hence the roll upon roll of duct tape around any engineer’s house.)

The next series of events was like a bad dream.  How much will this broken piece be? $5? $10 at the most?  Its not even the handle, its a thumb-sized piece of plastic.  Imagine my horror and shock when I find the handle-which is $123.50!! Then I take a breath, and say to myself, its not even the handle, its the handle SUPPORT.  Whew.  Then disbelief sets in.  And denial.  The handle SUPPORT…this thumb sized piece of plastic.  Is $50.25!!! A piece!! After I woke up from hitting the floor, my engineering economics kicked in.  Lets see…I paid roughly $200 for this microwave; The support is $50.25.  That means this PIECE OF PLASTIC is 1/4 the cost of the microwave!! If I had to replace both pieces plus the handle we are talking almost $175, or 88% the cost of a NEW microwave!!!  What bizzaro world are we living in?!?

What in the heck is this thing made of??!

What in the heck is this thing made of??!

Diabolical!! I KNEW I should have been a mechanical engineer.

Diabolical!! I KNEW I should have been a mechanical engineer.

Ok, so for the purpose of shock value, I have used the highest prices I could find.  Even so, the cheapest piece I have found is $27, or 14% the cost of the microwave.  Diabolical.  I really wished at this point I had invested in thumb sized pieces of plastic.  Since I am a civil engineer, I have no idea the parts it takes to make a microwave, but I know not to put metal in it, and that it has some sort of nuclear device in there.  But apparently these insignificant parts cannot hold a candle to the importance of this handle assembly!!!

So, anyway, I guess my rant is over.  I’ll be out $27  (before tax, and shipping and handling), and there will be $27 less dollars to spend on Black Friday.   I don’t really have a point to this story, but I hope maybe some of you found it entertaining in your break from pre-holiday preparations.  Happy Thanksgiving!