Posts Tagged ‘review’

Boy, Did Sam’s Club And My Asurion Warranty Ever Come Through For Me

February 26, 2015

I bought a Samsung tablet about a year and a half ago and meant to use it at my gym to listen to music during my cardio sessions.  But I started watching a TV program and didn’t need the tablet for that.  So the tablet didn’t get much use in spite of the many excellent features it had.

Anyway, I switched gyms and the new gym is still working on getting the cardio room squared away so that people can plug headphones to listen and change channels on the bank of televisions.  So I finally started using the tablet.

I kept the tablet in a plastic bag to keep the screen from getting all scratched up when it was in my gym bag because I had (as one example) a metal lock for the lockers.

Anyway, one night I’m walking home from the gym (proximity to my home being a big factor in my gym-switching decision) and had some water leftover from my water bottle in the bag along with my tablet.  And when I opened the bag I noticed that a little bit of water had gotten on the bag with the tablet.  I didn’t see any water ON the tablet and didn’t think anything of it.

Six or seven hours later, my tablet suddenly came on.  It came on so brightly it woke me up.  And I couldn’t shut the darn thing off.  I literally finally took it into a different room.

When I woke up, the tablet had the opposite problem; I couldn’t turn it ON.  Even after putting it on the charger.

I vaguely remember buying a warranty when I bought the tablet at Sam’s Club.

But danged if I could find the receipt.  I had kept everything in the box.  Which is when I remembered – to my horror – that I had let my nephew use the thing.  And of course he’d very probably (being a kid) just tossed the useless pieces of paper to the side somewhere.

So I didn’t have the receipt and couldn’t even remember when I’d bought the darn thing.  The only thing I had was a PDF manual I’d downloaded subsequently to purchasing the tablet.  And I went to the properties to see when I’d downloaded it and then tried to match that approximate date to my credit card bills.  And was able to see a purchase amount for the ballpark figure to what the tablet would have cost.

So I called up my Palm Desert Sam’s and talked to Esmerelda at the customer service desk.  And she went to work for me.  No, I didn’t buy it when I assumed I had; I’d bought it a couple of months earlier.  She gave me the item number for the tablet, told me that yes, I had bought a warranty and the tablet was still covered, and told me I could come in and they’d print me out a copy of my receipt.

THANK YOU, Sam’s Club.

Armed with that, I called my warranty service, which was a company called Asurion.

I told the representative what happened.  My warranty did NOT cover water damage.  Heck, they could have denied me my claim right over the phone, but the fact that I’d had the thing in a plastic bag was enough for them to grant me the benefit of the doubt that water probably didn’t get on the unit and therefore the cause of the thing not working would have been something else.

They switched me over to a tech, who listened to my story again and again gave me the benefit of the doubt regarding water damage.  He had me try a couple of possible fixes over the phone.  They didn’t work.  So he gave me a UPS label to mail it to them.

I sent it away on a Monday afternoon.

I was bringing in the trash containers on Thursday when the UPS truck came by and screeched to a halt in front of my house.

He had a package for me.  From Asurion.

Oh, oh, I thought.  I assumed that they had looked at the tablet, concluded it was in fact water damage, and rejected my claim and sent me my busted tablet back.  I mean, there was NO WAY they would have fixed it that quick and got it back to me.

Wrong.  I opened up the box and to my delight they fixed it as good as new.  The accompanying paperwork said: “Date Received: 02/17/2015” and “Date Shipped: 02/18/2015.”  It also said, “Our favorite park of the job is saying, ‘Problem solved!’  Your product has been inspected and repaired…'”

Well, we’ve got that one in common: because it just so happens that MY favorite part of their job is hearing them say, “Problem solved!”

They even sent me a new USB cable and charging attachment.

I’m not a rich man, so when I buy something for a couple of hundred bucks and it blows up on me, I’m in the “sad” category.

And when I get something like that back, good as new, when I know that Asurion could have easily rejected my claim, when I know that Sam’s Club could have not gone the extra mile to research my purchase for me, well, I’m in the “happy and grateful” category.

Anyway, I was so pleased I wanted to say “Thank you!” to all parties concerned.  Not every business is honest, by any means.  And even the honest businesses can’t come through every time for every customer.  But Sam’s Club and Asurion sure came through for me, and based on my experience I am a big fan of both businesses.

Product Review: Sportline Digital Distance Tracker Pedometer

March 22, 2014

A little about myself: over the past two years, I’ve lost about a hundred pounds, going from an obviously unfit 330+ pounder to an obviously fit 230+ pounder.  Obviously (seems like a good word), I’ve had to make a few changes to accomplish that.

I joined a gym and have worked out hard.  But even before I joined the gym, I was working toward losing weight – and it was that previous exercise routine that enabled me to have the courage to join a gym.  What was that “previous exercise”?  Walking.

I live in the California desert, and started heading out with my dog every day for a walk.  At first it was hard to psych myself up for it.  But it became easier and easier as I made it a habit.  And those walks are now the highlight of my day.

One of the things I discovered that really helped me transform my walking is a pedometer.  By keeping track of how far you’ve walked, you 1) know how many calories you’ve burned and 2) know how far you went yesterday so you can challenge yourself to go further today and further yet tomorrow.

You can read up on pedometers and see how weight loss specialist recommend them as an aide/tool (for another example, see here).

I wear mine everywhere I think I’m going to do a fair amount of walking.  I wear it shopping, for instance.  And there’s something about seeing those step numbers go up and then click over to the distance and see that I’ve gone x.xx miles that makes me want to go just a little bit further.  If I’ve gone nearly a mile, something in me makes me want to keep walking until I’ve gone that full mile.  If you think that’s crazy, all I can say is that it’s really nice to finally use my crazy to my benefit for a change.

But then there’s the question: which pedometer should I buy?

Well, I’ve bought four of them.  And the first three weren’t very good.  The last one has been so good I’m singing its praises.

I bought it at Wal-Mart for about $15.  It is a “Sportline Digital Distance Tracker” (UPC 095121107035).

The units I bought prior had the advantage of being cheaper.  But they had the disadvantages of being far more fragile, far less accurate, far less easy to attach to yourself, and frankly far less easy to use.

Let me take those in order:

The Sportline Digital Distance Tracker has been durable.  I’ve actually screwed up and let the thing go through the washing machine.  I was sure it was destroyed.  But believe it or not, I removed the battery, kept the compartment open, actually took the thing on a walk just to wave it around so it would have a chance to air out, and when I put the battery back in the thing came on and worked perfectly.  Since that mishap, I check all my pants and shorts pockets for pedometers before they go into the washing machine.  I’ve also dropped it a couple of times, which was more than enough to kill one of my cheaper units.  I mean, don’t do that stuff, but this unit has proven to be a pretty durable gadget for me.

The Sportline Digital Distance Tracker has been more accurate.  It has what they call “3 axis digital accuracy.”  And since I walk out in the desert, up and down hills and over uneven terrain, I discovered that cheaper units simply don’t record all of your steps if you don’t walk in such an even-stride manner that makes them happy.  As an example, I walked up a steep hill with another unit and was depressed to note that it hadn’t recorded a single step after all that work.  This unit has been by far the best at keeping count of my steps no matter where those steps have been.  Whatever unit you buy, I strongly suggest you get one that has that 3 axis deal.

The Sportline Digital Distance Tracker has been easier to attach to myself.  It’s part of the “3 axis” thing.  Most units will clip to your belt or tie to your shoelace.  And this one will do that, too.  But you can also just stick it in your pocket.  Which is what I do.  Warning: if you’re absent-minded, you run the risk of accidentally throwing it in the washing machine.  Please don’t do that – although my unit did come back to life.

The Sportline Digital Distance Tracker has been easy to use.  I remember one unit that was so awkward to use I practically needed to have the manual with me for the first month.  And by the time I figured out how it worked, it wasn’t working any more.  This unit is REAL easy to use.  Once you have programmed your stride length, you only need to click ONE button to go from your total step count to your distance walked to your calories burned to your time spent walking and back to your total step count.

Now, let me say something about the stride length.  My advice: don’t worry about it being hyper-accurate with your stride length.  The first time I started using pedometers, I was as hung-up with precisely measuring my stride length as a sprinter coach is about his stop watch.  But what I’ve learned is that the key to using these things is to keep pushing yourself to go a little further and then a little further.  And as long as you don’t keep monkeying around with the stride length, it will be the same from walk to walk to walk and you’ll know how far you’ve gone relative to your previous walk.  That bit of wisdom came to me as I pondered my walks: when I walk uphill, my stride length is one thing, when I walk downhill it is another, and when I walk on soft sand or over an uneven trail it is another thing yet.  But while my pace is uneven, I still have a much better idea of how far I’ve gone than I would have without the darn thing and I definitely have a good idea of how far I’ve gone today relative to yesterday as I hike different trails.

If you want to lose weight or just get your heart and lungs in better condition, I urge you to get off your butt and start walking.  And I advise you to start out with a small, manageable walk – don’t tell yourself you’re going to start walking ten miles a day because it will be too much for you and you won’t be able to keep it up – and then build your body and your schedule and your desire to keep going up so that you go further and further.

Oh, a dog helps, too.  It is nice to have a buddy to walk with.  And nobody loves going for a walk more than a dog!

I Like Red Wing Boots. But What Happens When They AREN’T ‘Built To Last’?

February 15, 2012

Update, September 24, 2012: I changed the title to better reflect what is now going on with this article.  The original title was “Built To Last? What In The World Has Happened To Red Wing Boots?”

Update, March 14, 2012: I have completely changed my tune about Red Wing: as the comments below indicate, Red Wing immediately reached out to me and resoled my boots absolutely free of charge (even shipping).  The customer service rep explained that there was a recall on the particular sole due to a defect issue (that I never found out about) and I sort of fell through the cracks.  But Red Wing ultimately took care of me.

To thank Red Wing for the customer service that I had always counted on, I also purchased a brand new pair of Red Wing boots (style #2233).  As I have stated: when it comes to my feet, I want the best boots I can afford.  I learned when I was in the Army that if you can have quality anything, get a quality weapon and then get yourself some quality boots.

I will be editing this article substantially in the near future: but I wanted to immediately acknowledge Red Wing’s excellent treatment of one customer.

I’ve had a long relationship with Red Wing Boots.  Other than when I served in the military, I have had a pair of Red Wings in my closet since I was in high school.  I actually own three pairs of Red Wings as I speak:

But I’m not real happy about Red Wing these days.

The latest addition to my Red Wing flock was a complete fiasco.

I’ve been happy with the low quarters shoes on the right side of the picture; I’ve had them since 2006/07 and they’ve been great.

The pair in the middle are positively ancient; I bought them when I lived in Oregon in the 1980s and had them resoled this year (I have a complaint about that, too, and will talk about it later; but it’s minor compared to the remaining pair of Red Wing boots on the left side of the above picture).

There is no question that Red Wing used to be a shoe and boot company of premium quality.

The nutmeg boots that utterly failed about as much as a pair of boots could fail are Style #2406 (Nutmeg).  I note that they are still for sale at outlets such as CityShoesOnline as of February 13 – though I was told when I called customer service that they were NOT sold online.  He wasn’t interested in looking at my link to demonstrate otherwise.  I bought these boots in late 2006/early 07 as well because they were on sale and I thought steel toed boots might come in handy.  But I barely wore them and ended up storing them the exact same way and in the exact same place I’ve stored my other boots.

When it came time to have the black boots – again, that I’d had since the 1980s – re-soled – I dug out the Nutmeg Red Wings to wear on my hikes.

I wore them about a month.  And then one day I noticed this had happened:

Here’s a close-up:

I could provide more pictures, but I think it is rather obvious from these that the tread is virtually new.  They had very little wear on them.  But the soles just little fell apart.  It’s like they still looked brand new other than the fact that they were disintergrating.

When I picked up the boots I had resoled, I brought these Nutmegs with me (the Euclid store in Anaheim, California was also the store of purchse of the Nutmegs) and asked what Red Wing would do about it.  He said he couldn’t do anything about it but told me to contact Red Wing customer service.  He also said they could not be re-soled.

So I called customer service.  They told me only the stores could do anything.  But that they could be re-soled.  This frustrating exhange occurred following my sending three different emails to and receiving not so much as a “go to hell” back from them.

Red Wing “customer service” used to be a lot better; and the deterioration of their customer service has matched the deterioration of the quality of their products.

The boots are obviously “out of warranty.”  I understand that.  Legally, Red Wing does not have to do anything.

But here’s the thing: I’ve got three other pair of shoes/boots that are FAR older than the Red Wings that fell apart – and which were stored FAR longer under identical conditions (in boxes which were in totes in an air-conditioned closet) – and have held up fine.  Here they are:

A little history on these:

The pair on the left is the oldest; they are Corcoran “jump boots” that I was authorized to wear with my dress greens as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.  I bought them in 1983.  Unfortunately, I scuffed the toe of one boot badly enough that they were no longer dress uniform “worthy.”  And the sole of Corcoran jump boots is rather smooth and slick.  So I had an additional sole added in 1984.  And I have had them ever since.  They are still fine; the soles are still fine.

The pair in the middle are also rather ancient.  They are Browning insulated and waterpoof boots.  I bought them about 1988.  I wore those on all kinds of hiking/backpacking expeditions.  They are also still fine.  And the soles – while worn now – are still in decent shape.

The third pair on the right is a surprise.  They are Rockports, and I have had them since the late 1980s.  As ugly as the things are, they have lasted and lasted, and they are quite comfortable with my medical insole that doesn’t fit in most of my other footwear.

When I was at the Red Wing store, the manager felt bad enough about the boots to offer me free plastic heel clips that prolong heel life (they cost about a buck).  He put them in a bag that had this logo:

The serious question is: How “built to last”?

Do they last anywhere near as long as Corcoran?  As long as Browning?  As long as Rockport?  Not anymore, apparently.

Does Red Wing stand behind their products? Not anymore, they don’t.  Are they “built to last?”  Nope.

If you want “built to last,” you’d better look somewhere else.

Am I going to be investing any more of my money on top-dollar Red Wing products that are no longer anywhere NEAR the level of quality they need to be to justify their prices?  No.

It’s amazing.  I am seeing a marked deterioration in quality in nearly everything I buy these days.  Practically nothing is “built to last” anymore.

Btw, I mentioned I had a pair of Red Wing boots re-soled.  Guess what?  They had a one year warranty (which means you figure that’s the absolute minimum length of time they should last), and they managed to peter out just short of that period.  But having already had my previous experience with Red Wing “customer service,” I didn’t even bother to complain.