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CTP FTW: Chasing The Points has discovered that you can use a certain type of ATM found at numerically named convenience stores to generate points and miles to your heart’s content. Some essential details:
- Despite an option to reload a prepaid card, our experience is that you can not load a Bluebird or Serve account
- Bill Pays cost $2
- Nationwide Visa Buxx can’t be used at all
- Gift cards with PIN can’t be used at all
- Paypal debit card works
- Max amount may be $1000/transaction
Go read the whole thing at CTP’s site, of course.
AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT TRAVELOCITY AND EXPEDIA: Courtesy of Quora, I found this interesting tidbit:
The loading screens you see primarily on travel websites are artificial. Finding the cheapest flights, the best hotels, and whatever else you may be looking for takes less than a second. In fact, a lot of hard work goes into making all that information very easily accessible for the web app.
The loading screen exists because when the information is returned to the user as quickly as possible, he or she will often perceive it to be less valuable. It’s as if the server didn’t put much effort into really finding a great deal. No customer ever actually articulates that; but surveys, customer testing sessions, and most importantly conversion rates support the notion that when a seven or eight second loading screen tells the user that the numbers are being crunched just for this one query, the result is perceived to be more valuable.
CREDIT CARD FRAUD NO LONGER AS LUCRATIVE: Apparently social network fraud is more lucrative than credit card fraud. Who knew? Reuters reports:
In the latest twist, a computer virus widely used to steal credit card data, known as Zeus, has been modified to create bogus Instagram “likes” that can be used to generate buzz for a company or individual, according to cyber experts at RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.
These fake “likes” are sold in batches of 1,000 on Internet hacker forums, where cyber criminals also flog credit card numbers and other information stolen from PCs. According to RSA, 1,000 Instagram “followers” can be bought for $15 and 1,000 Instagram “likes” go for $30, whereas 1,000 credit card numbers cost as little as $6.
1,000 credit card numbers for $6? Even crime’s not personal anymore. You’re just a number to those crooks. Now criminals in my day, they cared about you as a person…
Wells Fargo is now offering 5% cash back on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months. No earnings caps–the T&Cs state “unlimited cash rewards.”
I’ll note this warning from the Fatwallet thread where I found out about the offer:
Wells froze my account for spending more than my credit limit in a month by paying off my bill when the charge hit and then spending some more. The very friendly and knowledgeable CSR said it was frozen because thats not how you are supposed to use a credit card.
And so it begins… Anybody getting a new credit card today?
$45 IPHONE PLAN: My Money Blog has a very informative post on how to get (almost) unlimited voice, text, and data on your iPhone for $45 per month–with no contract. I say “almost” because there’s a 2GB monthly cap on data, but that shouldn’t bother most people.
The key to the this telephonic wizardry is something called the Straight Talk SIM Card. From the article, here’s how you do it:
- Go to straighttalksim.com.
- Buy a SIM card (micro for iPhone 4/4S/5, regular for 3G and 3GS) for $14.99. iPhone 5 will need to be trimmed down to nano-SIM size. You will also need a $45 unlimited plan card to activate your SIM, which will include your first month of service.
- Activate new sim card by calling in and getting a new number or porting old number (have your old phone company info ready)
- Install SIM on iPhone and wait for activation process to complete by giving it maybe an hour to a couple hours.
There are some nuances though, so definitely go to MMB’s post for the full instructions. And if $45 is too rich for your blood, don’t forget about the cheaper (but more limited) Mr. Money Moustache $10 iPhone plan.
- Delta is bumping up award prices for low level Business Elite seats world wide by 20-25% effective TODAY for flights after June 1, 2014
- Delta is dumping all award holds as of September 9 this year.
LIFE IN A TIPLESS RESTAURANT: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees provoked a mini-controversy when he left a $3 tip on an $74 bill… at a takeout counter. Some have suggested our nation might be better off if we scrapped the whole tipping thing, while others maintain it’s absolutely necessary to raise the level of service.
As it happens, a man named Jay Porter has been performing a sort of experiment for the last seven years. He’s been running two similar restaurants: one with tips and one without. The results:
Once established, the tipless/service charge model made us more successful in every dimension. Having a sister restaurant that used the traditional model was helpful in evaluating this — at our second restaurant, for instance, we could never achieve a consistently high quality of service. We believed the block came from the sense that, once the guest delivers a tip, the quality of service has been validated — even though studies clearly show that, across a large sample, guests tip basically the same regardless of quality of service.
Meanwhile, our revenue was always higher at the tipless restaurant, I think because quality of food and service were both better due to the more consistent pay system (which at the Linkery was much closer to that of a normal, non-hospitality business than that of most restaurants, where server pay varies with a lot of randomness).
With higher revenue and more consistent pay system, our retention was better. This continued to be a “virtuous circle” of benefits we saw from having a tipless/service charge model. On a personal level, it was much more fun to work with the non-tipped team; in that environment it was easier to build a focus on doing great, worthwhile work, and doing it well, when those thoughts weren’t being interrupted every couple minutes by a guest deciding how much to pay a team member for their last few minutes of services rendered.
Obviously one restaurant is not conclusive, but it does show that things don’t automatically go to hell if you take tipping out of the equation. Slate published an article about this as well if you’re interested.