Tag Archives: Amazon

Amazon or Bust… Now With Charitable Giving!

I have a crazy Amazon addiction. Last year alone I had 138 orders that included everything from Tide to a Blender to Special K cereal. This year I’ve slightly scaled back. Through today, I have 89 orders. This year includes everything from a Halloween costume to a box of Candy Cigarettes to more Special K (Note: the price of cereal changes almost every day. The target price is around $14 for four boxes). I love love love Amazon.

It was great news when Amazon introduced a program called Amazon Smile. In a nutshell, the program gives 0.5 percent of your purchase to the charity of your choice when you start at smile.amazon.com. The beauty is that they have thousands of charities to choose and it’s incredibly easy to use. My two favorite charities, Citizens for Humane Action and the Louisville Weimaraner Rescue (LWR) were both on the list which means that any purchase I make (some restrictions apply), they’ll get a donation. I ended up going with the LWR because I haven’t been as active as I would like to be in the Weim community.


One thing to note with Amazon Smile is that if you don’t start at smile.amazon.com, your purchase won’t qualify. Thankfully, if you use Google Chrome as a web browser (which everyone should), someone has created an extension that automatically loads Amazon Smile anytime you navigate to Amazon. The link is:


Either way, it’s a win-win…. you get the great products you want and you’re helping charity at the same time. I encourage all four readers of this blog to make a difference and pick the charity of their choice and sign up. Every little bit helps and it certainly makes me feel better about 300+ orders over the past three years!


If you have any suggestions of products from Amazon or want to talk about great charities, leave a note in the comment box below.

Ball Four: The Final Pitch Review

This Christmas and New Years, my plans involved driving thousands of miles to visit family. Because of this, I thought it would be a good time to give Audible.com a try. If you are unfamiliar with Audible, they are an Amazon company that specializes in audio books. I signed up for a 30 day free trial that included two free downloads and promptly pulled down Michael Lewis’ book titled ‘The Big Short’ that detailed the financial crisis in the subprime mortgage lending business. I chose this title because I liked reading ‘Moneyball’ so I thought this would be an equally interesting read/listen. It was a good book, but it was about as interesting as the financial crises can be, which is not very. I was looking for a more moving experience.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine | [Michael Lewis]

I had always known about the book ‘Ball Four’, but beyond knowing the author’s name and that it was regarded as the best baseball book ever written, I couldn’t tell you anything about it.  After listening to an episode of the great podcast ‘Gleeman and the Geek’ (see http://wp.me/pEvHa-2Z), co-host Aaron mentioned if he could download any book to listen to off Audible.com, it would probably be ‘Ball Four’. This was enough for me to give it a try.

Ball Four: The Final Pitch | [Jim Bouton]

After pulling the book down on my Samsung Galaxy S III using the Audible.com app, I was stunned to see the book came in at a whopping 18 hours and 32 mins. I figured it was probably a mistake and dove right in. The book itself is narrated by Jim Bouton himself which adds to the charm. The emotion he reads with makes the listener feel like they’re reliving the moments while they were happening.

The book itself is a diary of Jim Bouton’s experiences during the 1969 season with the newly formed Seattle Pilots (the only team in the modern history of Major League Baseball to go bankrupt) and his subsequent trade to the Houston Astros. After finishing the main book, it is no wonder this was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the “Books of the Century.” The stories in the book are both hilarious and genuine.

What made the audio book amazing was what came after the reading of ‘Ball Four’. Every 10 years after the initial publishing, Jim wrote a follow-up (starting with the aptly titled ‘Ball Five’). These chronicled not only what had happened to Bouton over the previous 10 years, but updates on a lot of the ballplayers in the original book and commentary on the state of the game. Jim offered insightful comments on Pete Rose being banned from baseball (he thinks a gambling addiction is no worse than a drug addition and it’s hypocritical of baseball picks and chooses which addictions to punish rather than focus on the disease of addiction), Bouton’s being blacklisted from Old Timer’s Day from the Yankee’s and how he co-founded Big League Chew. In one of the final updates, Jim details any parents worst nightmare… the night he and his wife received a phone call that his daughter Laurie had been in a bad car accident and was in a coma. As a listener, hearing him talk about that night and losing his youngest child made not only the author tear up, but it got a little dusty in the car. His voice quivered and my eyes watered. I never expected to be so moved from what I thought would be a baseball book.

In the end, this book wasn’t about baseball, but rather a remarkable group of people living their dreams in an extraordinary time period and about perseverance and hard work. At the end of the book, I fondly look back at my baseball memories and the great friends I made playing baseball and can’t help but be thankful that Audible and Jim Bouton came together.

If you have any thoughts and you’re not too busy ‘beaver shooting’, feel free to drop a note in the comments.

Great Customer Service

I haven’t updated the blog for a while because I’ve recently enrolled at Ohio State for a night class and I’m trying to get out and run as much as I can before the days get too short and the weather turns. I have some ideas for future blog posts. Some of these include ‘How T-Mobile is the Worst Company Ever’, ‘Recommended Podcasts’, and maybe a post about my Amazon addiction or an update on life without cable.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is the exact opposite of the upcoming T-Mobile post. In this day and age, it’s extremely rare to get amazing customer service. So when it happens, it should be rewarded. Here are some of my favorite stores for amazing customer service.

PetPeople (http://www.petpeoplestores.com/)

PetPeople is a local pet store in the Columbus area. It’s not just a pet store, they bill themselves as a nutrition store for pets. Every time I walk in, the staff is overly friendly. At one point the manager knew both dogs by name. The store allows dogs in the store and actually encourages it. They support numerous local pet events through sponsorship and supply top notch products. They also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. My example of incredible customer service is two-fold. They sold a toy that was tested by lions to be indestructible and also sold a toy made of recycled fire hoses to be extra strong….. well…. lo and behold, Tobey destroyed both within 15 minutes. PetPeople was great allowing me to return them since they didn’t live up to the promise. I absolutely love this store.

iOttie (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main?ie=UTF8&asin=&isAmazonFulfilled=1&isCBA=&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&orderID=&seller=A2FE6D62A4WM6Q)

When I bought my Samsung Galaxy SII (since replaced with the Galaxy SIII), I needed a universal car mount. After looking at the reviews on Amazon, I purchased the following. – http://www.amazon.com/iOttie-Windshield-INCREDIBLE-BlackBerry-Revolution/dp/B00687N0GK/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

However, after a few months, the product wasn’t working that great. I took to Amazon to write a review and let people know that the item wasn’t performing how I would like. Within 24 hours, the company emailed me directly and offered to send the next model up as a replacement for free since I was dissatisfied. If anyone needs a car mount for their phone backed by great service…. this is the one to buy.


That’s My Ticket (http://www.thatsmyticket.com/)

After attending the 2001 National Championship Game (Fiesta Bowl) in which The Ohio State Buckeyes won their first national championship since 1968, I fell in love with the ticket lanyard. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the lanyard I had at the Fiesta Bowl had extreme sentimental value and was part of the ticket to the game forever (in fact it is still hanging in the home office). I needed a solution for future OSU home games. That’s where ‘That’s My Ticket’ came in. I ordered from them off Ebay. Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong size laminate (the pouch that holds the ticket). I emailed them directly to order the right size, but they wouldn’t let me pay. Instead, they sent the correct size and called us square.

Amazon and Zappos

This goes without saying and any google search will bring up countless tales of when zappos or amazon went above and beyond. For me, Amazon has been amazing in responding quickly to any inquiry and correcting mistakes. Even if it was my fault. For instance, I rented a movie from them. Once I started streaming, I realized it wasn’t in HD. I then ordered the HD movie and emailed them asking if there was any way for a refund for the first rental. Within an hour they had it credited back to my account.

If you’ve got any amazing customer service stories or any stores you recommend. Feel free to comment.