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I’m still on the prowl for new insurance

This week I started my quest to find another insurance provider. I printed out my policy docs (after once again enraging myself at the thought that they want to increase my premium so much), and spoke to my first call centre agent of the week.

We had a lovely chat (I actually don’t mind talking with the agents, as long as the call was initiated from my side and was not unsolicited) and while we waited for the quotes to generate we joked around. When I heard her gasp though, I knew it was bad news.

The number the system spat out was an effective 41% increase on my current premium. And that was just for the car, we hadn’t even gotten around to the home contents insurance yet. No amount of excess fiddling or benefit tweaking would have brought that number down. She thanked me for my time and I ended the call.

I’m pretty sure that it’s because all the banks dinged my credit record in December when we did the bond applications. As far as I know, that kind of action hangs around on the record for at least three months, even if the applications are successful (which they all were).

What it seems like is I’ll have to negotiate the increase down with my current insurer (to like 10%), and hang on a few months while my record settles down, then try again with the other places. Sigh.

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The Lumia 950 range is here!

I haven’t made much (any?) noise about the new flagship Lumias, but local pricing has been announced. Of course, the prices are far too high for what anyone would be willing to pay for a Microsoft phone, but that’s neither here nor there since these are for the fans anyway. Everyone is saying so.

On a more interesting note, Microsoft launched their local store. No Surface yet though, so what’s the point? Also, the 950 range is quite a bit cheaper on Orange, but doesn’t include the “free” Fitbit Flex. Here I was, hoping they would bundle it with a Display Dock :-/

At least Cell C is giving a free Xbox 360 with their package (to the first 1000 customers).

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SA is trying so hard to make Black Friday a thing

I walked past Pick n Pay yesterday, and they had a board up announcing their “extended trading hours” for this week. It had all the days of the week listed, including Black Friday. I’ve been down this road before, and it pains me to say that the retailers still haven’t learnt.

Typical Black Friday sales should have a bunch of items that have at least 30 – 40% off, with some items going for 50 – 60% off. In SA though, we get offered 10% off (20% off if the retailer is feeling particularly benevolent). Not that I haven’t taken advantage of some actual deals already – since I’m in the process of replacing my wardrobe due to my epic revamp, I scored some clothing off Zando that I had my eye on, for half price. See, Zando gets it!

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My experience using AliExpress: An analysis.

I’ve known AliExpress existed, and I’ve toyed with the idea of ordering some stuff from them. I was a bit hesitant about ordering things from China, and even more apprehensive about my goods going through the South African Post Office.

In August, I had a lengthy chat with one of my colleagues about ordering goods from them, so I decided to give it a shot. I chose items which had free shipping and were small. After getting lost on the site for a few hours (it’s so massive!), I ended up ordering a pair of sports Bluetooth earphones (for the SO), a pink rhinestone phone cover (for me), a pink Vivofit band (for me), a Hello Kitty pink and black wireless mouse (for me), and some wedding shoe stickers (for us).

I figured that the items were small enough to send via normal post and that indeed was the case. I received the stickers after 6 weeks in a small envelope that I had to go pick up. I didn’t get a collection slip, but a call from the Post Office instead. Hmm.

Sadly, none of my other items arrived. The total cost was R235 + R18 for the USD conversion, so since this was an experiment I am willing to write that money off. Luckily, Ali has this awesome Buyer Protection programme. Even though my expected delivery time on all the products is 2 days away from expiring (after ETA was 15 – 60 days), I’ve selected to extend the buyer protection time by another 30 days. If my items don’t arrive within that extended time frame, the seller will ship me another item for free.

Nice. I’ve already made peace with the fact that my Hello Kitty mouse was stolen when it reached the airport here. I say this because when I contacted the seller, he sent me this:

My mouse arrived at ORT on the 6th of September. That was two weeks after I ordered it. It’s been in the country for 6 weeks. I’m pretty sure I won’t be seeing that mouse. I had a discussion the other day about stealing being the national pastime (although some say it’s hijacking, others say it’s denial).

Customers try to rip businesses such as insurance companies off (thereby increasing the rates for those of us who try to live honestly). Businesses try to rip customers off (all the monopolies we enjoy here in Mzansi) and act like they are mercifully bestowing their products and services on us (leading me to have to lose my mind in order to get merely adequate customer service). It’s all good if everyone is stealing from everyone, because then it would balance out, but not all of us are playing that game.