Monthly Archives: December 2012

Looking for last-minute gift ideas? Check out these magazine deals

If you’re one of those folks who waits until the day before Christmas to select gifts, you’ll face a sea of craziness at your local stores on December 24. Instead of battling the elements and the mayhem, you might consider shopping from the comfort of your home or local coffee shop. You can find a number of affordable gift options from Magazines.com. I’ve ordered from this company several times and found them to have good customer service, great prices and a huge selection of magazines.

Check out some of the options currently available for $15 or less:

Start your shopping at Ebates.com and you’ll get 26 percent cash back, which is like taking another 1/4 off the purchase price.

While the subscriptions do automatically renew, they are easy to cancel before the renewal, and Magazines.com sends you a reminder when the renewal approaches.

If you’re one of those people who feels you must have a physical gift for the recipient under the tree, head to your local convenience store, grocery store or newsstand and grab the current issue of the magazine, then wrap it with a copy of the recipient’s gift subscription.

Happy gift hunting!

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Best digital photo calendars: Snapfish vs. York Photo comparison

I’ve received thousands of views of and numerous comments on my 2012 comparison of digital photo prints from four companies: Snapfish, Shutterfly, Mpix and AdoramaPix. Due to the popularity of that online photo company comparison, I’ve decided to repeat the experiment with additional companies in the future. Today’s showdown: a photo calendar from Snapfish versus a photo calendar from York Photo.  I purchased each as Christmas gifts at the end of 2012. Here are my findings:

Photo quality: York Photo holds a slight advantage in this category. Almost all of the photos in my Snapfish calendar appeared “soft,” lacking the crispness found in the originally submitted images. By comparison, York Photo delivered an output that was true to my original images. The difference wasn’t huge, but it was definitely there. I’ve included snapshots of each calendar in this post, but it is hard to capture the exact quality of each item with a photograph.

YP-calendar-top

Click on this image to enlarge this photograph of the York Photo calendar.

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Click on this image to enlarge this photograph of the Snapfish calendar.

Calendar layout: Here, I’m referring to the actual calendar grid found in each product. Snapfish is the winner in this category. Its calendar grid had a cleaner, more modern and more attractive design than that of York Photo. The grid in the York Photo calendar seemed a bit overwhelming, and the numbers were placed too close to the calendar’s gridlines.

Online interface: Both companies offered calendar-creation software that was easy to use and provided numerous options for customizing your photo layouts and the contents of the calendar grid. However, Snapfish offered more calendar design choices. It had 37 templates to choose from, compared to the 15 designs offered by York Photo. Snapfish’s collection included a larger percentage of children’s designs than York Photo. Both companies let you choose which of your selected template’s backgrounds to use for each specific month.

Click on this image to enlarge this photograph of the York Photo calendar.

Click on this image to enlarge this photograph of the York Photo calendar.

Snapfish-calendar-bottom

Click on this image to enlarge this photograph of the Snapfish calendar. 

Overall, Snapfish gets the edge here due to its expanded choice of calendar themes.

Price: Both companies’ websites provided promo codes I could use to save on my calendar purchase, and I took advantage of the best deal available on each site. (Snapfish offers a lot of coupon codes, so be sure to compare to determine which one helps you save the most on your specific product.) With shipping, the Snapfish calendar cost me $15.89, and the York Photo calendar cost me $13.59. These totals aren’t too different, but York Photo gets the edge here.

Communication: Snapfish is the winner in this category, sending me both an order confirmation and a shipping confirmation. I received neither from York Photo.

The verdict: York Photo had the best image quality and price, while Snapfish had a better calendar layout, online interface and communication process. Because image quality is my deciding factor, I choose York Photo as the winner, but a calendar order from Snapfish is also a safe bet.

Have you ordered photos or customized products like calendars from either of these companies? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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Libman delivers great customer service for cleaning product

In a recent post, I recommended some cleaning products I love. Another item that helps me conquer my cleaning chores is my Libman Tornado Mop. I know many people use Swiffer pads or sponge-based mops to clean their floors, but I’m convinced “old-school” mops do the best job of removing dirt and stuck-on food from my tile floors. I bought the Libman Tornado Mop because you can wring out the the mop head without getting your hands wet.

I also love the fact I can remove the mop head and toss it in my washing machine. My recent attempt to do that is what led to my contact with Libman’s customer service department. On the mop head replacement instructions, Libman clearly states you should take care not to lose the plastic connector that clips your mop head into place. Unfortunately, I did exactly that. I looked high and low for it in my laundry room, but I still can’t figure out where it went.

I contacted Libman by email and asked how I could obtain a replacement connector clip. An automatic response told me to expect a reply to my email within 48 business hours. I actually received a reply within 24 business hours. A customer service representative noted she had mailed the replacement part to me.

The package from Libman arrived quickly, and I was pleased to discover I was given three replacement clips — all free of charge.

Speedy customer service and free replacement parts are hallmarks of companies that care about customers. This great customer service experience has made me an even bigger believer in Libman products.

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Endless.com absorbed by Amazon

It’s been a while since I bought a pair of shoes, so I was rather surprised when I visited my favorite shoe store online and discovered an announcement that it is no longer in operation. Endless.com is one of the stores I featured in a post earlier this year about sources of hard-to-find women’s shoe sizes. Now it’s been absorbed by its parent company, Amazon, and its offerings can be found at amazon.com/fashion. It will no longer exist as a separate website.

I’m glad the shoes offered by Endless will still be around, but it’s disappointing they’re now incorporated into the Amazon website. The Endless website was easier to search and use than Amazon’s is. One of my favorite parts of shopping with Endless was that it offered free shipping and free returns, allowing me to try on shoes without costly shipping charges. According to its online returns policy for shoes, it looks like Amazon will offer free returns on many products, but not all of them will have free shipping both ways. Make sure you look for the words “Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping and Free Returns” if you’re interested in this benefit.

I’m glad that I haven’t totally lost access to the shoes offered by Endless, but it appears some of the benefits the site offered are gone for good.

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Save big on gas with Kroger gift card promotion

I saved $16.20 on my gas purchase last night — 90 cents per gallon! How? By using the fuel points I accumulated during Kroger’s quadruple fuel points promotion, which ends December 9. The concept is simple: get a 40-cent fuel discount for every $100 spent on gift cards. You can find more details in this previous post. Buy gift cards for yourself or others and earn substantial savings on fuel. This is one of my favorite ways to save.

What’s the most you’ve ever saved when buying gasoline at Kroger?

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